Sol Lewitt’s Art and Multiple Form Logic: Paradox is NOT irrational

Sol LeWitt, Tower, Figge Art Museum, Davenport...

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Sol Lewitt is a rare, interesting, and famous artist. His philosophy was recently discussed by the Greek artist Dimos Dimitriou, in his blog «Dromos» (in Greek).

Examples of Lewitt’s work are displayed on-line, in the «Barbara Krakow Gallery» (art exhibition on-line). Here are a few typical examples, in reduced size (if you click on the first link, you can also see them full-size):

lewittredbluebigdet200.jpg Irregular Tower (Val d’Elsa), 1997

Also very interesting are Sol Lewitt’s Sentences on Conceptual Art archived by the Greek artist Dimos Dimitriou. 35 aphorisms written almost three decades ago.

Some of these aphorisms inspired me to write some comments, from the point of view of Multiple Form Logic:

1. Conceptual artists are mystics rather than rationalists. They leap to conclusions that logic cannot reach.

Correct, if by «logic» we mean processes of thought based on Absolute Truth (logical One) and logical implications. These fundamental logic processes are transcended by Multiple Form Logic’s axioms 2 and 3.

2. Rational judgements repeat rational judgements.


3. Irrational judgements lead to new experience.

Not exactly! Judgments which seem irrational, can be -in reality- logically consistent «relativistic distinctions», performed by a Mind which does not use Absolute Truth as the basic truth-value. Such judgments follow exotic rules of derivation which are different than those of conventional logic, or «monologic» (as Ralf Barkow and other researchers of the «Pile System» call it).

3. Formal art is essentially rational.

4. Irrational thoughts should be followed absolutely and logically.

Yes, because there are no «irrational» thoughts, as such! In reality, what we call «irrational» vanishes, or cancels out completely (by the Second Axiom of Multiple Form Logic). This particular cancellation happens when a distinction distinguishes itself, but no cancellation take place when it distinguishes another distinction. At this point, it should be added that Axiom 2 of Multiple Form Logic is not necessarily always correct. Under certain conditions, the self-reference of a «distinction distinguishing itself» can be assigned to an «imaginary truth value»; many other extensions of George Spencer Brown‘s logic system (Laws of Form) have been devised, where «imaginary truth values» are very useful, e.g. leading to the formation of Arithmetic Systems. In any case, under no circumstances do «irrational thoughts» reduce to a mystified, reified «false truth value», which is supposedly «irrational»; there is simply no such thing. I.e.

Irrationality (as such) cannot be defined without (first) defining an «Absolute Truth Value» (constructively, by axiom 1). Strangely enough, irrationality needs Reason (Absolute Reason), in order to exist. However, once Absolute Reason (or «monologic») is wiped out of existence, what we call «irrationality» becoms either non-existent, or (else) a particular (new) distinction, which is a conglomerate of other distinctions (the simplest such conglomerate being «one distinction distinguishing another«).

There are other aphorisms by Sol Lewitt, which are interesting from the point of view of Multiple Form Logic:

10. Ideas can be works of art; they are in a chain of development that may eventually find some form. All ideas need not be made physical.

Yes, indeed, ideas can be works of art, «in a chain of development» because they are distinctions formed by mind, on mind, by mind. However, «mind» is not an «exclusive property» of a single mind-agent; «mind» exists inside and through all other mind-agents (conscious beings), making Art (as well as communication) possible.

I.e. Art can transfer Forms or Distinctions from one mind to another, without regard for «Logic implications», or other conventional properties of ideas, which are not really intrinsic nor necessary ( for the Forms or distinctions to be «valid»).

Ideas do not necessarily proceed in logical order. They may set one off in unexpected directions…

YES! What is «logical order»? If by «logical order» we mean «chains of implications» (transitively), then Multiple Form Logic has shown that this is not a necessary characteristic of valid thought-processes. ALL distinctions (or forms, formed by the mind) are valid. Multiple Forms change the Philosophical Semantics of Logic Implication, showing that Logic implications are in reality Acts of Perception. They have also shown that if an «Absolute Truth Value» is not assumed, certain «logical laws» (e.g. of implication) are no longer valid; some of them become valid in other ways, e.g.

  • The «transitiveness» of Logic Implications, theorem T7 in Multiple Form Logic, is NOT valid if there is no «Absolute Truth Value» («one» = «The All»); in its place (see note 3, in the link for theorem T7), there is a strange lew logical law that can be stated as follows:»The validity of logic implicational transitiveness is reduced to the totality of ALL the (relative) distinctions participating in current implications«.

21. Perception of ideas leads to new ideas.

Of course! Ideas ARE perceptions, and perceptions ARE distinctions (per)formed by Mind, on Mind, through Mind. Multiple Form Logic regards these principles as self-evident, and also regards the operation of «perceiving an idea«, functionally and ontologically identical to a (new) idea, which is neither the same nor different than the original idea(s) (using the aphorisms of the ancient Buddhist philosopher and logician Nagarjuna). It is not the same, because it is a distinct new perception or a new distinction of distinction(s). It is not different, however, because it is identical to the combined operation of all constituent distinctions (participating). This particular formulation is new for me; it arose from recent contemplations of the Pile System (which is a system based on associations rather than distinctions; nevertheless I begin to suspect that it is a complementary or conjugate Way of Seeing the same thing: Acts on Mind, by Mind, through Mind).

24. Perception is subjective.

Of course! In fact, all ideas, or all distinctions (formed by the Mind), i.e. all perceptions, are subjective a priori (in Multiple Form Logic) because they are boundaries of Mind formed by particular (i.e. subjective) conscious (mind-)agents . The illusion of a non-subjective or «Objective Truth«, equivalent to an «Absolute Truth» or «Oneness«, is a mere construction (disguised as «axi0m 1» of Multiple form Logic; which is not really an axiom).

So… Sol Lewitt is right!

  • As stated (in the Multiple Form Logic site) the ONLY axiom which can be considered more-or-less fundamental and necessary (in any universe) is Axiom 3, the «Law of Perception». The other 2 axioms are assumptions, leading (under particular circumstances) to useful Formal Results (e.g. Boolean Algebra in generalised form).

Back in 2003, it was noted (in that:

Moreover, my intuition compels me to speculate that only axiom 3 of Multiple Form Logic is fundamental in this «universe». I.e. we can play around with the other two axioms as much as we like, generating all kinds of logic systems with different properties, but it seems unlikely that we can play around too much with axiom 3.

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