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On Logic On Logic
by Eleana Winter-Irving
2012-12-24 08:44:09
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Logic is a subject that should be taught in all schools from kindergarten to graduation. The teachers must never make a mistake, otherwise they will confuse the student.  Confusion will lead to illogical thinking from time to time. If all students were grilled in logic, misunderstandings would be few and frustrations and exasperations would be limited with fewer illogical answers to questions all round.

Simple examples of logic for the kindergarten student:

1.      A little boy has oil on his hands; he picks up a glass to get a drink of water. What do you think might happen when he picks up the glass?

2.      A child is riding a tricycle along the footpath and he is watching his feet on the pedals. What is likely to happen?

3.      If you eat food that has gone bad, what might happen to you?

The above question have no specific answer, but logic can be applied. If a child answers to #1 He drinks water? The child has not taken into consideration that the child has oil on his hands. So the question must be asked again with the emphasis on ‘oil’. The teacher could ask the child if they know what oil is. If the child does not know, then a bottle of oil could be produced and a plastic cup. We don’t want broken glass in the classroom do we? Related questions can be asked, such as, “If this cup was a glass, what might happen?” And so on.

 To #2, a child may answer that he is looking at the colour of his shoes. This is not a logical answer as to what might happen if he looks at his feet. He must be aware that there may be a consequence if he does not look where he is going.For question #3. The children must know what bad food is. There is a difference between food that is bad for you and rotten food. If the teacher were to produce food with mould growing on it or meat that stank, I think they would quickly get the idea. Most children would answer that they would get sick.

Just one class per week would suffice, as long as it was devoted to logic. In Year 1, questions can be more involved. Every child must have a turn at answering a logic question.  In high school questions can be complicated and relevant to curriculum as well as daily life or world events. This will help the student understand the subject matter to a greater degree. Of course not all subjects apply such as math where only one answer is correct.

With continued teaching and use of logic throughout school life, bigotry, racism and sexist ways of thinking can be eliminated. Is it logical to hate a whole nation because they are black? Is it logical to refuse a capable wo man because of her gender? Is it logical to assume a fe male is beneath/inferior to a male, based solely on gender and not merit?

I have been on Twitter now for 4 months and at least 25% of those showing up in my feed line do not apply logic to their tweets. I am very careful to apply logic at all times, but I have noticed that those who are careless, do not comprehend logic. Some of it is plain ignorance, but if they applied logic, they would not appear as ignorant. For instance one person said on Twitter, “I’m an LNP supporter and you are a Gnostic, how come you didn’t know that?” What the person had written previously was ambiguous and so I asked if they were an LNP supporter. I replied, “Being a Gnostic does not mean I am clairvoyant, lol.” The reply came back, “You call yourself a Gnostic, but you say you are a swinging voter and ALP supporter.” What has being a Gnostic got to do with either being an ALP supporter or being a swinging voter? There is no logic to the comment. It is actually not the first time someone has made this same comment. I wrote back, “A swinging voter votes for the Party that is doing the best job or is the best prospect to lead the country well at the time of election.” Next tweet, “I am not a rusted on voter, no matter who is leader or which MPs are on front bench.” I support the ALP at this point in time, but if the situation changes, I will also change.  I am flexible. If the leader of the Opposition gets the boot, and someone takes his place that is ethical, prudent and good with economics. also sacks his shadow front bench, then I would vote LNP at the next election. I support the ALP at this time, because I know this country will be doomed under LOTTO leadership. This is logic. To vote for a party no matter who is leader even when it is led by a moron and a bunch of fools is not logic. To vote for a Party just because your parents did, is also lacking logic.

However, to argue with a person who does not know how to apply logic is of no use; as a person ignorant of the use of logic, cannot also comprehend it in others.

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Emanuel Paparella2012-12-24 13:57:50
All men are mortal; John is a man; therefore John is mortal. This is the famous Aristotelian logical construct or syllogism. Logical positivists place it in the field of mathematics, that most precise of sciences of which left brained people are most proud and to which they even tried to reduce language itself, as far away as one can surmise from that of the poetical or the imaginative, those fuzzy right brained fields. Hitler for one was proud of his prowess with what he called “iron clad logic.” He would set up a false premise and then give the logical ineluctable conclusion, which included enormities such as the extermination of 11 million innocent civilians. If so is so, he would exclaim, then it logically follows that... This had already been debunked in the 19th century by that imaginative writer Lewis Carrol, who was also a logician: “contrariwise, continued Tweedledee, if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be: but as it isn’t, it ain’t. That’s logic.” (Through the Looking Glass—1872, chapter 4).

More directly J.B.S. Haldane, the Scottish mathematical biologist had reasoned “logically” against the positivists that “if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain, I have no reason for supporting that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms.” (From Possible Worlds, 1927)

Let us consider this too: are theoretical entities, as introduced by logical empiricists in the 20th century, logical or not? Theoretical entities are in fact very precise but are they ontological and logical? They are neither sense data nor a logical construct; they exist solely to facilitate more precise predictions of sense data to be applied in fields such as economics and sociology. For example, “the average American housewife has 1.78 children.” Unlike the self-contradictory idea of a four sided circle which is logically impossible (a thing cannot be and not be at the same time as the Aristotelian principle of non-contradiction dictates), she is logically possible but she does not exist and it would be idioti to go look for her to conduct an interview.” So we are left with a conundrum given that not everything that is logically possible is ipso facto empirically real. Back to right brained and left brained.

But perhaps going back to Socrates 2400 years ago may help us here. He refused to engage in the Sophist’s main educational tactic: rhetoric which certainly included logic in setting well construct logical arguments by which to trap one's interlocutors and ending with a triumphant “got you!” That is to say, he thought that winning an argument logically did not mean that one had discovered the truth. His wife Xantippe, who may or may not have been right brained, was not very happy with his refusal to imitate the sophists, for you see, the sophists were charging hefty fees to teach the young rhetoric and logic with which to win arguments and persuade the naïve and the vulnerable; Socrates charged nothing to teach them how to know themselves better and how to search for Truth. Socrates’s enemies in fact saw an opportunity here to turn the table on him and charge him with “ corruption of youth” which was in fact the veiled charge of teaching the young how to search for the truth, not conceived as relative to one's country or society but as universal and absolute. As we all know, Socrates lost that trial and his life too. All very logical one supposes, but the question persists: who really won at that trial, logic or truth?

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