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Logica nova

Ramon Llull wrote the Logica nova while in Genoa in 1303 and, for this reason, it reveals the configuration of the Arts of the Ternary Phase, described in the stages of the Art. Llull’s logic was ‘new’ because it sought to govern the correct use not of language, but rather of our understanding of reality, something which remains a fairly unusual claim in the history of logic. However, if it is clear that in order to attain such an end one cannot do without language, this was, for Llull, a question of ‘second intentions’, which were imperfect insofar as they depended upon the ‘first intentions’ of the understanding itself.

Thus semantics is secondary with respect to epistemology, language secondary with respect to ontology, and logic secondary with respect to metaphysics. Furthermore, the knowledge of the universe upon which Llull claimed to impose order is characterised by extreme realism in Ramon Llull. The second distinction, for example, begins with: ‘The question is whether genera have real being. And in response, we say yes’. This means that all other genera are derived from the Platonic reality of the concept of genus, of which they are a kind of pale imitation. Even species receive their being from genera.

This view of Llull’s has two corrolaries. The first is that logical predication is expressed in terms of participation. The second is that concepts are defined more by their intension (and often in Llull by their activity), than by their extension; that is to say, more by what it is (or does) than by the things to which it might be applied. Llull defines goodness, for example, as ‘that thing by reason of which good causes good’.

The Logica nova is divided into seven parts or distinctions, the last of which sets forth certain questions regarding the preceding six. The first section deals with substance and the questions of the Art from the viewpoint of their logical function; the second describes the five predicables; the third presents the ten predicaments [categories]; the fourth reveals the ‘Hundred Forms’, which were one of Llull’s dialectical tools that had already appeared in the Tree of Science; the fifth describes syllogisms and fallacies; the sixth is an application of logic to the sciences (theology, natural and moral philosophy, law, and medicine).

This logic was also new because it was built upon the Art, as was the case with his new astronomy, new geometry, new rhetoric, new metaphysics or new physics.

See: Anthony Bonner, ‘Introducció’ in Ramon Llull, Logica nova, NEORL IV, 1998, pp. xxi-xxii.