Logic, which I mean as the system or subject not the adjective; like modal propositional logic, etc., and not an adjective stating rationality, sense of thinking, common sense, etc.

Perhaps we all know who Nietzsche is. For me he is the most unique philosopher for he knows how to conceal his notions with clever play of words for it not to be exposed too quickly to the reader without first unlocking the poetic chain, thus he earned not only a title of philosopher but as well as a a poet and a rhetorician, but one of his infamous ideas is his denunciation of logic, thus needless to emphasize he argued not using the principles of logic, as we perceive of today, but in a distinct manner specifically of rhetoric, but even though he is a philosopher and one cannot dismiss his philosophy on the grounds that it did not use logic of formal systems. Thus is it plausible that a philosopher philosophize without the participation of logic?

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    We usually define "logical reasoning" as "valid reasoning", so it would seem not...
    – Xodarap
    Oct 1, 2012 at 12:50
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    This is a remarkably strained reading of Nietzsche -- could you perhaps cite passages supporting this interpretation?
    – Joseph Weissman
    Oct 1, 2012 at 12:52
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    An irrational philosopher could
    – Kenshin
    Oct 1, 2012 at 14:05
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    Yes, but they tend to be called poets or prophets then... Dec 6, 2012 at 6:15
  • No. Philosopher without logic becomes equal to random bullshitter (pardon) because there's no way for him to be wrong or correct. If he's lucky he will become artist (motivated by true random numbers and bad taste) and will sell grilled potatoes embedded in yellow fluorescent bat goo statues - for billions. Actually it sounds good.
    – zaa
    Feb 16, 2013 at 11:58

6 Answers 6


I think there are some assumptions about the meaning of the word 'philosophy' in your question.

Literally, philosophy is the love for wisdom. Philosopher is someone who loves wisdom. To philosophize is to love wisdom. You don't need logic to love something, even the logic itself, because you don't have to understand the object of your love to feel love.

More literally, assume the philosophy as the desire to have wisdom, to be wise. Wisdom in the information theory is the highest form of organizing information. The wisdom is the information formed in the structure, that enables it to be used to effective realize the aims of the information system (in our case human being). So, the 'common sense' is the kind of wisdom. The Proverbs from Bible (translated to many languages as The Book of Wisdom) are the kind of wisdom. The wisdom can come from experience, processed by our subconsiousness, without using formal logic. Such is the character of the teachings of many prophets, including Budda and Jesus - they were teaching people, how to live, and their teachings were for their students the highest wisdom, and they've created philosophical system.

So, the philosophical system can be created without using formal logic and formal reasoning, via intuition (or 'revelation' as the religious thinkers would say).


Philosophy requires logic. It is very difficult to even conceive of how an idea could be expressed independently of logic. Most philosophy is written in language that uses logic implicitly, rather than explicitly/formally. The absence of explicit formulas does not entail absence of logic.

Nietzsche's work is, at times, an extreme example of expressing logical arguments implicitly. However, this does not entail that his arguments were without logic. As @Joseph Wiessman commented, I think that you will have difficulty substantiating your claim that Nietzsche philosophized without or against logic, without concrete evidence from his work.

Nietzsche did denounce formal logic, but: (1) this is different that denouncing logic itself; and, (2) his argument against formal logic was itself dependent on logic. You can read more about that in Stephen D. Hales's paper, Nietzsche on Logic.

I think what Nietzsche was getting at is that there is a point at which excessive focus on the granular details of logical deduction is no longer beneficial. You can often arrive at an answer that is good enough, and you don't have to have a formal logical proof to know if an argument is right or wrong. You can, but since a man's time is finite, it is best spent moving forward with the knowledge you have gained rather than validating for the sake of validation. Further, Nietzsche believed in a constant flux, which entails that what may be true at one time is not always true in the future. I consider his views on the subject analogous to Einstein's views on relativity, although Nietzsche's conception was more abstract and conceptual and Einstein's work was mathematical. Since we know from Gödel that Boolean logic can be expressed as an algebraic system and that no axiomatic system can be both consistent and complete, it seems like Nietzsche's views on the limitations of formal logic were very much in line with knowledge we have learned since his death.

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    Excellent answer. The Hales paper is a classic; I'd strongly recommend it to anybody interested in Nietzsche and Logic. Oct 1, 2012 at 19:23
  • @MichaelDorfman, thanks for the endorsement Oct 1, 2012 at 21:08
  • Let's not forget that formal logic, although as old as ancient Greece or older, is predated by philosophy.
    – CCarter
    Nov 12, 2015 at 11:24

Ludwig von Mises (in Human Action) seemed to argue that even "philosophizing" requires "rationality":

Judicious rationalists do not pretend that human reason can ever make man omniscient. They are fully aware of the fact that, however knowledge may increase, there will always remain things ultimately given and not liable to any further elucidation. But, they say, as far as man is able to attain cognition, he must rely upon reason. The ultimate given is the irrational. The knowable is, as far it is known already, necessarily rational. There is neither an irrational mode of cognition nor a science of irrationality.


One of strong currents in artificial intelligence research, which can be used in actual philosophy too is random generation followed by filtering. You forfeit logic, correctness and such for a time, and at best follow loose heuristics to create a full barrel of nonsense. Then you switch logic back on and go fishing in the barrel for some brilliance, shaping and correcting statements that show promise, recognizing parallels, applying exceptions.

So, yes, a philosophy process can exclude logic for a time, to generate a set of premises and hypotheses that would be difficult or maybe impossible to obtain through normal rules of inference. Thing is, they aren't really useful until you apply scrutiny of logic and filter the true (and non-trivial) ones.

  • Huh, some writers use a similar "vomit words on page, go see what you can do with them" alternating cycle for writing drafts.
    – Weaver
    May 16, 2016 at 8:16

Logic is a phenomena of ideas in written or oral methods; rather than seeing logic as a fixed and rigid presentation labeled logic, it's the study of fluid thought processes; logic studies expressions of thought. Logic is seen as this objective method of reasoning rather than it being a phenomena of expression, where multiple levels of coherency is examined not that these statements are deemed objectively'logical'. Logic is an extremely relativistic study. Logic is not a method of expression of ideas but a phenomena of expression.

When philosophizing, one is not "using" logic to get ideas out but rather, philosophizing is the free expression and/or articulation of ideas; gradually speaking, one advances in communicating clearer ideas. It's as if one need not to try to be "logical" but simply advance one's ideas' sophistication, complexity, clarity and soundness.

Studying logic is being able to see multiple strings of 'logic'. A statement is not logical because it's coherent etc but simply the phenomena of expressed ideas whether coherent or not.

Philosophy is just the expressions of ideas gradually advancing in soundness, clarity, and precision.


Philosophy is love wisdom, therefore philosopher must act with fairness (proper balance). Since we have the left side and the right side of our brain, then the use of both sides of our brain (with the power level closer to each other) must be provided by philosophers.

Through this we can achieve one step ahead closer to wisdom without the need of logical thinking strongly. But further it may be understood (converted) to deductive or inductive.

Through this we can achieve one step ahead closer to wisdom WITH LESS DATA (TO BE INVOLVED ON OUR LOGICAL THINKING). Not entirely reject logical thinking, but somehow we can decrease or increase our logical thinking.

Because, without the use of the two sides of our brain, we tend to use strongly logical thinking (for people with the left brain strongly activated) and it will decrease our abilities to closer to "love wisdom".

Because love wisdom covers both the two world of our perception that has relation with the two sides of our brain. Unless we limit our perception (our world) only to one of our both sides of our brain. It's not love wisdom. Love wisdom loves proper balance.

Can a philosopher philosophize without logic?

  • We can philosophize with less logic as usually we did, if we try to use both sides of our brain to perceive the world.

  • Further, even better, we can philosophize with less logic or more (we do philosophizing properly), depends on situation, because we have wider perception than when we were using only one sides of our brain.

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    For downvoter, can you provide your reasonable objection? :)
    – Seremonia
    Oct 4, 2012 at 5:05

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