Monday, August 17, 2015

LOGIC I

LOGIC IS AN EXTREMELY IMPORTANT SUBJECT --- BUT ONE WHICH IS MUCH TOO OFTEN OVERLOOKED THESE DAYS. If you google the word "Logic," you'll see many definitions or forms or aspects of that word. Most are obscure, and have little or no practical application in our everyday lives. Others may have, but we violate their rules constantly and almost unconsciously --- often because we just don't know those rules.

I suggest that my system of Logic stands, mainly, on two legs: The syllogism and the analogy. I must say here that whenever I refer to "my" system of Logic, I do not mean a system that I devised, but one which I embrace or use. I am all too aware that I don't have the "smarts" to develop anything, let alone a system of Logic.

Without getting too deeply into often subtle differences, say, between Analogy and Metaphor, I would in this post like to give a rather cursory overview of the subject of Logic; this, I hope, will help explain why (1) I hold the views I do; (2) some of my views will rankle some of my friends; and certainly why (3) I may embrace certain positions set forth by some people whose overall positions I find unacceptable, even odious in some cases. Re that last point: Understanding my way of reasoning will also help one understand why I disagree with certain people in certain specific areas, even though I may agree with most of their other views and positions.

I used to be quite sharp, mentally, but that's no longer the case. Age is clearly and definitely doing its work. My thinking, even I can see, has slowed dramatically, is often quite muddled, and I sometimes violate even the most basic, obvious rules of the very simplistic system of Logic that I claim to embrace. Emotion plays a much greater part in my thinking these days than it used to, but I'm not at all sure that I find that always to be UN-pleasant. Of course, I know that emotion really should play no role in truly logical thinking, so to the degree that it does in mine, my thinking is not "logical." We humans may find this a difficult concept to grasp, but Mr. Spock would understand it immediately and thoroughly!

In this first, sort of introductory post on the subject of Logic, let me say this here and now: I want to give examples which can best be illustrated (if not thoroughly explained or understood) by using the tools upon which I said above that my system is based, the syllogism and the analogy.

Here's a very practical question which, I believe, can be answered satisfactorily by using the syllogism as a logical tool: Why do people of equal intelligence believe diametrically opposite things? This is a phenomenon which we observe in just about every aspect of human thinking and behavior, but I'm going to limit my discussion to religion and politics.

It can be puzzling how people of such obvious mental ability as, say, the late William Buckley, Dr. Stephen Hawking, and ex-US President Jimmy Carter could believe such totally different things about the nature of Truth and Reality. That is, unless we look at it from the standpoint of my system of Logic, and very specifically, by using the syllogism as a tool of understanding or argument. The syllogism, in its basic and simplest form, consists of three parts: A major premise, a minor premise, and a conclusion.

Please note: A syllogism is not at all concerned with Truth or Reality; it is concerned ONLY with Validity and Invalidity. Sure, it may be used as a tool to arrive at a version of Truth or Reality, but it itself doesn't deal with those things.

So, as an example: If my major premise is that All blacks can dance, and my minor premise is that I am black, my conclusion is that I can dance. Nothing could possibly be further (farther? I always confuse the proper use of those words) from truth or reality, but the argument is a totally, completely, absolutely, inescapably valid one; if we assume, as the major premise asserted, that all blacks can dance, and we know that I am black, the inevitable, valid, logical conclusion is that I can dance. For the record, I can't; I ain't got a drop of rhythm. But we're not concerned here with Truth, see; if the major and minor premises are assumed, then a conclusion based on them will be valid. Maybe not true, but valid.

Now an example in which we will arrive at a true conclusion: Let's say that the major premise is that, Every new Rolls-Royce costs over $200,000, and that the minor premise is that This is a new Rolls-Royce; so the obvious conclusion is that This car cost more than $200,000. That happens to be true as well as valid, but it's not true because it's valid. It's true because it's demonstrably so; it's valid because of our reasoning correctly from our stated premises. 

Now, to the other "leg" of my system, the Analogy. This one is slightly trickier to define nad illustrate, because there happens to be another part of speech, a Metaphor, which is very much like it. I hope I'll give only analogies here; if someone perceives that I'm using metaphors instead of analogies, please point that out to me! 

Anyway: Remember, I'm using this only as an example; of course, my own opinion and view will probably be apparent, but that's not at all the purpose of my using this. Here goes: We liberals bristle at the idea of some people's dragging their religious views into the public arena and basing public policy on those views when it comes to the subject of abortion or gay rights, but how many liberals objected a hundred years ago to the Social Gospel, or fifty years ago to the fact that much of the black civil rights movement was carried out from churches and led by ministers? If liberals saw something as a matter of morality back then, and supported politicians who embraced those positions, why can't more conservative religious people whose ideas are different do the same today?

Another: If people of certain racial backgrounds can run around and proclaim to all who'll listen that they're PROUD of that (for which they were not responsible, and over which they had absolutely no control), why is it awful for members of other ethnic groups to do the same? Why is it understandable and fine for certain people to prefer to live or worship or send their kids to school with "their own kind," but totally unacceptable --- and, yes, racist --- for certain others to want the same? For the record, I am an old-school integrationist, but I gave these two examples as analogous illustrations only.

As we go on, into the second and, maybe, third posts of this series on Logic, we'll have other examples --- most of which I'll tell you now will come from Religion or Politics. But I promise that it's not going to take as long to complete this series on Logic as it has for me to write the series explaining Why I Am NOT A Trinitarian. I'll probably complete this one before I re-tackle the theological subject. As a matter of fact, I'm not even working on the other one now; I'm writing the book I've mentioned (A History of My America) in longhand, which is extremely time-consuming; as soon as I have another computer, I'll work on that book further. Lord only knows when I'll get back to explaining why I'm not a Trinitarian, though.

As always, I welcome any feedback --- especially, from those who disagree with any position I state.