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Tadeusz Kotarbinski: Logic of Reism and Praxeology

Nikolas is interested in a new paradigm of Logic-reism, especially, T. Kotarbinski

The Subject of Thinking

  1. Establishing the subject of thinking in logic theories determines the further development of logic as science today. It says about its qualitatively new paradigm called praxeology. It relates to the previous stages of logic’s development. A new paradigm ought not to become a new turn, rejecting previous stages as outdated and, even, not relating to the logic. A similar turn occurred in logic at the beginning of the XX century with the introduction of its mathematical methods. Those times, all content of the traditional logic was separated from the formalized models of deductive reasoning.
  2. That is why a core aim of this paradigm is the evaluation of previous theories and methods and their following synthesis in one whole. The task of this synthesis is rising of the logic's effectiveness not only as an instrument for new formalized computer languages but as one of rising quality of the individual thinking. It means the process of mutual people understanding in life communication. Its different spheres such as economics, politics, education with science, and everyday various practices must be added here. The paradigm has four basic principles.

Effectiveness and Reliability

  • Effectiveness, reliability are emergent features of thinking in logical culture. Similar features of thinking need special analysis and explanation. Such characteristics of thinking are centered on the category of truth. Correspondently, different aspects of truth and methods of its reaching are fixed as leading, main criteria in the evaluation of thinking's culture. Semantic evaluation is oriented on the conformity the real knowledge. The pragmatic one is studying the role of aims, values.

General Theory of Effective

  • This interpretation of the term allows the sense of the fourth principle in its most general form to be understood as follows: a person must think well, to remain a person, to improve as a person. What does it mean to act "well", just tried to explain Tadeusz Kotarbinski? Briefly, the essence of his position regarding understanding and "good work", and the science about it can be expressed in several points. First, the author proceeds from the recognition of no less ¬ the significance of the deed, action, than knowledge and words; he insists on the indisputable merits of the deed in the life and destiny of a person .
  • Praxeology is understood by T. Kotarbinski as a "general theory of effective" ("correct", "good", "reliable") business organization, as a technological discipline, which ¬ develops and substantiates the norms of "good", "correct" work (activity). The criterion, in this case, is the degree of correspondence of the result of the activity, its consequences to the set ("conceived") goal. Also, praxeology should generalize "practical experience, achievements of innumerable actors" and become the result of generalization } communication and synthesis of all the experience of mankind, starting with recorded in folk proverbs and sayings ending with expressed in the fundamental results of sciences.

Positive and Negative Experiences

  • At the same time, praxeology captures both positive and negative experiences seek to "create a rationally ordered set of the main - positive and negative - recommendations ¬ value for all branches of activity and all specialties.
  • T. Kotarbinski draws attention to the fact that many concepts and ideas of praxeology arose much earlier than praxeology itself. This concerns, for example, such concepts as "method", "choice", "success/failure / counter-success", "feasibility", etc. As it turned out, many of T.Kotarbinski relevant with the outlined above tendencies of formation of a new paradigm for the development of logical research:
  • setting on the synthesis of all practical and theoretical experience, recognition of the importance of activity aspect of thinking, not just content, broad understanding of efficiency, overcoming narrowly pragmatic striving for-profit or a simple increase in intensity.
  • This gives some grounds for the conclusion that the new paradigm of the development of logic can be called praxeological. In this case, of course, one must be aware of the fact that Kotarbinski only has marks of the future discipline that need to be corrected, refined, deepened, and extended.
  • For example, the idea of the priority of action over knowledge and the word contained in the subtext of the book can be corrected by understanding that without sufficient information about the real state of affairs no successful, "good" work is possible. It can only be about equal value and knowledge, and action, about their interdependence. Similarly, we can say about the identification of "good" work with a purposeful and achieved goal. The by itself the coincidence of the goal and the result of an action does not guarantee true success: the choice of a goal also requires analysis and evaluation. A simple empirical generalization of previous experience may be here not only insufficient but also harmful. We need a theoretical analysis of the entire universe of possibilities; we need criteria for weighing and evaluating options in the short, medium, and long term.

Immanuel Kant



What Is Guarantee?

  • Time of logics centered only on knowledge (and truth), and logicians centered only on action (rule, norm) and working autonomously at the same time friend from a friend, passed. The center of their cooperation and unification can only be a person whose activity is "good" for him only.
  • The concept of philosophy as a critique of knowledge is addressed to epistemology and logic. From this side, criticism of knowledge is a semantic analysis of the statements of science and their justification. As a result of such a cultivated philosophy, Kotarbinski believes, it is possible to formulate the conditions for correct thinking and thereby distinguish scientific philosophy from philosophical speculation. Thus, criticism of knowledge allows you to select problems that have a scientific solution and discard pseudoscientific problems. Kotarbinski did not offer any general method for detecting a vaguely formulated and therefore confusing problem. In the approach he cultivated, the influence of reism can be found
  • Thus, he believed that confusion in this formulation can be detected directly using intuition in semiotic analysis. Kotarbinski used the analytical method in all areas of philosophical knowledge, not excluding normative ethics. He characterized the work of the philosopher as follows: "The philosopher as such does not consider and does not experiment. He cultivates thinking, improves the [formulation] of the problem and concepts, statements and systems of statements, doing all this mainly by an internal effort aimed at understanding the true intention of thought, seeking by touch, to a more rational formulation of problems, to reducing concepts, as a rule, inexpressive, to complete clarity, to obtaining obvious statements and solidity of systems. He fights against ambiguity, fuzziness, the uncertainty of thinking, arming himself against all kinds of drunkenness in thinking, which is often the result of concessions to an ingrained prejudice or an illusion seductive to the heart, or, finally, with an addiction that grows out of the personal or social position of the thinker himself. "In contrast, if a philosopher "does not consider and does not experiment," then what, in this case, serves as a guarantee of "correct thinking" and can a philosopher be considered a scientist?
  • Kotarbinski believes that such a guarantee is provided by widely understood logic both in the form of formal systems and in the form of a propaedeutics of logic, including classification, rules of definitions, and reasoning, excluding logical and semantic errors.
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The Definition of Truth

  • In 1913, the discussion of the problem of truth was resumed. It was opened by the work of Kotarbinski, devoted not so much to logic as to questions of possible activity. Kotarbinski's reasoning boiled down to the following: rigid determinism and, above all, pre-determinism, that is, the view according to which the existing state of the world is pre-eternal, excludes creative activity since nothing new can be created. However, Kotarbinski did not doubt that creative activity took place, and therefore believed that pre-determinism was not universally significant. To argue his position, Kotarbinski turns to the problem of the primordial nature of truth. He gives the following definition of truth, inheriting in the definitions of Brentano and Twardowski:
  • The judgment p, in which the object S is asserted, is true if and only if the object S exists.
  • Every truth is eternal but is it it is primordial, that is, for each p, if p is true at time t, then is p true at an arbitrary time t1 earlier than t? Kotarbinski believes that in some cases the truths are primordial, in others they are not. Suppose that something, for example, S, can be created as a result of human activity. Consequently, S does not exist until it is created, and therefore, according to (1), the corresponding judgment p about the object S. is not true either. But, on the other hand, the judgment p is not false, because if it were false, then the negation of this proposition would have to be eternally true, and S, contrary to the assumption, would not be possible to create. Thus, the judgment p is not eternally true, since there is a moment t in which this judgment is neither true nor false. Therefore, in the assumption of possible creative activity, some judgments are neither true nor false.
  • Kotarbinski immediately notes that the existence of such judgments raises the question of the significance of the law of the excluded mean. He looks for a solution in various forms of this law, proposing to distinguish between the following:

Definitely and not Definitely

  • for an arbitrary p, either p or non-p is true;
  • for an arbitrary pp either true or false;
  • for arbitrary p if p is true, then non-p is false
  • Kotarbinsky notes that (2) and (3) imply a completely complete division of all judgments (dichotomy) into true and false, that is, they assume the existence of equality " true = false ”. Form (4) is independent of this equality. Therefore, the supposed decision consists in simultaneously accepting (4) and discarding the completeness of the division of judgments into false and true. Kotarbinsky proposes to distinguish between certain (true or false) judgments and indefinite (third). Expressions (2) and (3) are limited in their application to certain judgments, and (4) continue to be a universal rule. Therefore, the following statement is added:
  • for an arbitrary p p either definitely or indefinitely.

Tadeusz Kotarbinski




For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. What thing determines the further development of logic as science today?
    • The subject of thinking
    • Laws of thinking
  2. What are emergent features of thinking in logical culture?
    • Effectiveness
    • Effectiveness and reliability
  3. How to exclude logical and semantic errors according to T.Kotarbinski?
    • To use logic as the formal system
    • To use logic both as the formal system as proaedeutics

Answer Key

  1. The subject of thinking
  2. Effectiveness and reliability
  3. To use logic both as the formal system as proaedeutics


Tadeusz Kotarbinski, "Philosophical Self-Portrait", in: Jan Wolenski (ed.), Kotarbinski: Logic, Semantics and Ontology, Dordrecht: Kluwer 1990.

Tadeusz Kotarbinski, "Reism: Issues and Prospects", Logique et Analyse, 11, 1968, pp. 441-458

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