Oceanic Logic

  • Ermanno Bencivenga
Part of the Historical-Analytical Studies on Nature, Mind and Action book series (HSNA, volume 4)


Hegel called his form of reasoning “logic” and, though many analytic logicians would disagree with his use of the term and judge it illegitimate, one cannot deny that there is an important tradition supporting it. The third logic to be discussed in this book, however, has never been recognized as such; so we must start by giving it a name. The name chosen here, though not entirely without qualms, is “oceanic.” The significance of this logic is upheld by showing it at work in great philosophers of the past: Anselm, Spinoza, Bergson, Heidegger.

Oceanic logic understands opposite predicates and views as different ways of looking at the same thing, different modes of it in the way in which everything ordinarily taken to be an independent thing turns out to be, in Spinoza, a mode of God (or substance or nature). In it, sorites (which in analytic logic spell out the anomaly of vague predicates) are a valuable tool, as they reveal that whether something will be regarded as, say, white or black entirely depends on how one looks at it.

An ordinary practice whose ideal conditions seem to depend on the practitioners adopting an oceanic logic is compromise: whereas in analytic logic compromise can only be obtained by each party to a negotiation giving up something they want, and in dialectical logic it can only be obtained by a narrative step that incorporates and transcends all the conflicting views, in oceanic logic the views remain what they are, and since they are seen to be different views of the same thing, they all may end up obtaining exactly what they were looking for. Win-win is a natural outcome in it.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ermanno Bencivenga
    • 1
  1. 1.University of CaliforniaIrvineUSA

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