Kant, Bolzano, and the Formality of Logic

In Sandra Lapointe & Clinton Tolley (eds.), The New Anti-Kant. pp. 193–234 (2014)
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In §12 of his 1837 magnum opus, the Wissenschaftslehre, Bolzano remarks that “In the new logic textbooks one reads almost constantly that ‘in logic one must consider not the material of thought but the mere form of thought, for which reason logic deserves the title of a purely formal science’” (WL §12, 46).1 The sentence Bolzano quotes is his own summary of others’ philosophical views; he goes on to cite Jakob, Hoffbauer, Metz, and Krug as examples of thinkers who held that logic abstracts from the matter of thought and considers only its form. Although Bolzano does not mention Kant by name here, Kant does of course hold that “pure general logic”, what Bolzano would consider logic in the traditional sense (the theory of propositions, representations, inferences, etc.), is formal. As Kant remarks in the Introduction to the 2nd edition of Kritik der reinen Vernunft , (pure general) logic is “justified in abstracting – is indeed obliged to abstract – from all objects of cognition and all of their differences; and in logic, therefore, the understanding has to do with nothing further than itself and its own form” (KrV, Bix).2
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