In this pioneering work, Łukasiewicz applies the analytic tools of mathematical logic to Aristotle’s seminal defense of the principle of contradiction in Book IV of the Metaphysics. He aims to show that the principle is not nearly as secure as the generally accepted, mostly uncritical, and often dogmatic belief in its universal truth would have it. Łukasiewicz’ goal, however, is far more ambitious than a critical analysis of the principle. He wants to develop a revolutionary new logic, a non-Aristotelian logic, a formally constructed logic that does not include or endorse the principle of contradiction in its Aristotelian conception! As such, his work on Aristotle and the principle of contradiction marks the first step in his search for a new logic that does not entail the consequence of an all-encompassing logical determinism, a search that saw its first success some ten years later with his development of a three-valued propositional calculus in 1920.
Łukasiewicz’ approach to the issues surrounding the Aristotelian conception of the principle of contradiction and its modern descendants is both historical and analytical—it is a sustained and methodical effort to think critically and historically about logic and the foundations of logical inference. The arguments and results that Łukasiewicz develops in his metalogical analysis touch on many topics that are still part of a lively and often inconclusive debate that continues to this day.