Authorship and concatenation

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In A Logic of Exceptions, Thomas Colignatus provides the following insight (p.53):

Logic is a great liberating force, since we do no longer accept statements on basis of authority, but on inference, while there are objective ways to check upon the validity of inference.

This resonates well with me. In my understanding and inspected narrowly, philosophy proceeds without reference to the disposition, status or background of any given author. When examining, say, participation we are solely concerned with the factors at play and their scope of application to decide whether it is indeed the case that an instantiated object partakes of its class, in what ways and given which context.

This is not to suggest that information about the author is altogether irrelevant. It is important and useful, albeit in the kind of inquiry that adopts a broader view of the subject. For instance, the study of Plato’s theory of Forms has a certain need to identify the theory with its author in order to gain a better grasp of it, to fill in whatever lacunae in Plato’s work.

Even where information about the author is necessary, it does not perform the function of legitimation but of concatenation. It contributes to the identification and rational comprehension of the themes that may run through otherwise disparate pieces of work.

To use another example about Plato, many of his dialogues are complementary to one another, given that his ethics/politics are grounded in his epistemology and metaphysics. These are pieces to a puzzle. By having Plato qua author perform the function of concatenation, several sets of propositions can be properly considered as aspects of a broader whole and thus be subjected to a holistic scrutiny.

Still, we are writing about concatenation. Provided the reasonable need for it, it can be achieved by other means, beyond and without knowledge of authorship. The gist is that the value of a statement, a proposition, a claim in general, is intrinsic — it can be examined as such. Whatever allusion to its author is a reference to a factor that could provide extrinsic evaluation.

Thank you for reading!

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Protesilaos Stavrou

EU policy analyst. Philosopher. Web developer.
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