Summer 2020 - PHIL 467W E100

Seminar II (4)

History of Logic

Class Number: 4553

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu, Th 4:30 PM – 6:20 PM

  • Prerequisites:

    Two 300 division PHIL courses.



May be repeated for credit. Writing.


Selected Topics: 
History of Logic

(Note: this course is to be taught concurrently with PHIL 812)

Kant stated that “what is further remarkable about logic is that until now it has also been unable to take a single step forward, and therefore seems to all appearance to be finished and complete.” Not wanting to be outdone by the shocking ignorance of their great predecessors, modern logicians have also made disputable claims about the history of logic. For instance, Quine stated that “mathematical logic differs from the traditional formal logic so markedly in method, and so far surpasses it in power and subtlety, as to be generally and not unjustifiably regarded as a new science.” The effect of this view is that contemporary logicians have often looked upon traditional logic opprobriously, identifying as many mistakes as possible and predominantly emphasizing discontinuities with contemporary logic. Premised on the idea that such sweeping claims should be regarded with suspicions, this seminar will focus on examining in detail some of the important episodes in the history of logic. We will focus on pre-Enlightenment developments in logic, especially the Hellenic, Hellenistic, and Medieval periods, perhaps with a touch of Early Modern. In particular, we will critically examine primary sources in English translation, and discuss the faithfulness of modern formal reconstructions of the ideas advanced in the tradition. Accordingly, this course will presuppose a willingness and ability to engage in exegetical work as well as a solid background in contemporary mathematical logic.


This course may be applied towards the Writing Requirement (and the upper division Writing Requirement for Philosophy Majors).

The educational goal of this course is to develop a deeper understanding of the core concepts of logical methodology, including:

- To appreciate the complexity of the core concepts of logical methodology.

- To reflect an understanding of the way in which logicians have both disagreed with each other and built upon each other’s work across the traditions.

- To establish connections between various writers’ views about logic and their views about philosophy and science broadly construed.

- To improve one’s assessment of the way in which some works in traditional logic can inform our understanding of logical methodology.


  • The requirements for this course include:
  • Weekly written participation to our discussion board, in terms of raising questions for discussion, and contributing to discussions arising from other students’ questions. 20%
  • Participation to online seminars by videocall. 5%
  • Online presentation (with slides) of the draft of your term paper. 10%
  • Completion of reading grids (5 x 3pts) 15%
  • A term paper (approximately 12 pages) on a key episode in the history of logic, including both exegesis and formal reconstruction. 50%


Due to the nature of the assignments, and the fact that it’s a seminar, online attendance will be essential.



Remote learning for this semester requires a computer or tablet, camera, microphone, and internet access. Headsets are advisable but not necessary. Classes will be conducted on Jitsi, an open-source videocall system that is non-invasive, easy to use, and not requiring submission to corporate overlords. It is recommended that students use broadband wired or wireless (3G or 4G/LTE) internet connection, with bandwidth of at least 1.5Mbps (upload and download). Moreover, students will be required to access Canvas and their SFU emails at least twice a week as they will be essential means of communication for this course.


Readings will be distributed in PDF on Canvas or links will be provided to free text repositories.

Department Undergraduate Notes:

Thinking of a Philosophy Major or Minor? The Concentration in Law and Philosophy? The Certificate in Ethics? The Philosophy and Methodology of Science Certificate?
Contact the PHIL Advisor at   More details on our website: SFU Philosophy

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University.


Please note that all teaching at SFU in summer term 2020 will be conducted through remote methods. Enrollment in this course acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning ( or 778-782-3112) as soon as possible to ensure that they are eligible and that approved accommodations and services are implemented in a timely fashion.