Tag Archives: Jean-Yves Girard

J.-Y. Girard’s Transcendental Syntax, V2

sq_transcendental_syntaxMeaning is use.

– Ludwig Wittgenstein

If people never did silly things nothing intelligent would ever get done.

– Ludwig Wittgenstein

The latest two preprints by logician J.-Y. Girard continue his program for transcendental syntax, divided into deterministic and nondeterministic. He defines transcendental syntax as the study of the conditions of the possibility of language: to begin by discovering the preliminary suppositions in the creating of a logical sentence such as a proposition or deduction.

What are the presuppositions for using propositions? Girard claims the main one is the balance between the creation and the use of words, which is at the heart of meaning. But the notion that a proposition has a meaning that is well defined is prejudice, albeit one that allows us identify the terms of a sentence and thus to perform deductions.

Girard wants instead to find inner explanations of logical rules: explanations based on syntax instead of a semantics that correlates to a mandated “reality”. To emphasize this, he gives the term Derealism as another expression for transcendental syntax. Logical rules should have a normative aspect because of their utility, so his project appears to be one of pragmatism. Others have said that Linear Logic is the logic of the radical anti-realist.

Girard divides all of logical activity into four blocks that weave together: the Constat, the Performance (please forgive my shortening on the diagram above), L’usine (factory), and L’usage (use). These four blocks are partitioned by Kant’s analytic-synthetic and a priori-a posteriori distinctions. The analytic is said to have “no meaning”, that is, “locative”. The synthetic is said to have “meaning”, that is, “spiritual”. The a priori is said to be “implicit”, and the a posteriori is said to be “explicit”.
transcendental_syntax_tableCan we find all the explanations we need to create logic internally? If so, perhaps it is only because of how the brain works, like how John Bolender posits that social relations described by the Relational Models Theory are created out of symmetry breaking structures of our nervous systems, which are in turn generated by our DNA. A realist would certainly say that our understanding of logical rules is enabled but also limited by our brains, whereas an idealist would say that our minds could “transcend” those limits. But it seems pragmatic to say that the mind is what the brain does.

I believe a closer analogy for the fourfold of Transcendental Syntax is to Hjelmslev’s Net than to Kant’s Analytic-Synthetic Distinction. If so, then Performance and L’usage are Content (Implicit), whereas Constat and L’usine are Expression (Explicit). Performance and Constat are Substance (Locative), and L’usine and L’usage are Form (Spiritual). Hjelmslev was a linguist that developed a theory of language as consisting of only internal rules.

Or even to analogy with Aristotle’s Four Causes, which is how I’ve arranged the first diagram: the Constat is the Material cause, the Performance is the Efficient cause, L’usine is the Formal cause, and L’usage is the Final cause. Material and Efficient causes are often considered mere matter in motion, which could be Locative, or meaningless (physical). Formal and Final could be Spiritual, or meaningful, as patterns of matter and motion, respectively.


How can we know that a given named term is the same as another one in a different part of our formula? Rather than using names, or linking them through semantics or a well-defined meaning, we can tie terms together by their locations in our sentences and deductions.


J.-Y. Girard / Transcendental syntax 1: deterministic case (January 2015 Preprint)

J.-Y. Girard / Transcendental syntax 2: non deterministic case (February 2015 Preprint)


V. Michele Abrusci, Paolo Pistone / On Transcendental Syntax: a Kantian Program for Logic?



[*8.122, *8.123]


J.-Y. Girard’s Transcendental Syntax

With the recent release of the paper found at the link below, logician Jean-Yves Girard has updated his program for a transcendental syntax to version 2.0. The first version was available last year only in French, but this new manuscript is available in English. Girard is known for his refinement of classical and intuitionistic logic, Linear Logic, and his exploration into the mechanisms of logic, Ludics.

In this new paper, Girard describes four levels of semantics, his infernos: alethic, functional, interactive, and deontic. They descend into the depths of meaning, and thus are numbered from -1 to -4. The negatively first, alethic, is the layer of truth or models. The negatively second, functional, is the layer of functions or categories. The negatively third, interaction, is the layer of games or game semantics. The negatively fourth, deontic, is the layer of normativity or formatting.

Interestingly, these four levels are in good agreement with Richard McKeon’s schema for philosophical semantics, represented by the fourfold of reality, method, perspective, and principle.






Linear Logic: the dualities

The meaning of the logical rules is to be found in the rules themselves.

J. Y. Girard in “On the Meaning of Logical Rules I: syntax vs. semantics”

There are two types of dualities in linear logic. Linear negation () carries the conjunctions to the disjunctions and back again, as equivalences (≡), like De Morgan’s laws in classical logic.Additionally, the exponentials ? and ! link the additives and the multiplicatives, as linear biconditionals (o—o).

[*5.146, *7.8]



J.-Y. Girard’s Linear Logic

Linear logic is a substructural logic invented (or discovered, if you’re a Platonist) by logician Jean-Yves Girard. Many other logics can be embedded into it, including classical and intuitionistic logic, so in a sense it is a “logic behind logic”. Linear logic can be partially derived from the rejection of the structural rules of weakening and contraction, the first of which adds arbitrary propositions and the second reduces duplicated propositions to single occurrences. Due to these changes in the logical rules, logic is transformed from being transcendental (truth transcends its use) to pragmatic or materialistic (truth is restricted by use). Therefore linear logic can be given a “resource interpretation” that makes it a logic not of truth but of things: producing and consuming, giving and taking, pushing and pulling, like the desiring machines of Deleuze and Guattari (see Hjelmslev’s Net).

The fragment of linear logic I show here is called MALL, for Multiplicative-Additive Linear Logic. The two exponentials that interconvert additive and multiplicative operations are not shown, which also allow for the weakening and contraction rules to be reintroduced.

Note that the two additive operations allow for propositions to be created and destroyed and the two multiplicative operations contain exactly the same propositions. One could say the additive operations allow for change, and the multiplicative operations allow for bearing. In the resource interpretation, note that additive disjunction () is creative and additive conjunction (&) is destructive. Both additive conjunction (&) and multiplicative disjunction () are reversible, whereas additive disjunction () and multiplicative conjunction () are irreversible.

Linear logic was a major inspiration for naming this blog “Equivalent Exchange” (see Introduction), since it is a logic of production and consumption. Linear implication, written as A –o B (and equivalent to A B), can be thought of as exchanging A for B.

Linear logic has also been adopted as the logic for “radical anti-realism”. How can it have both a physicalistic interpretation, and yet describe an anti-realism more radical than ordinary anti-realism? I will need further study to understand these claims.