8 Logic – Is It Logical?

Mica Giberti

To myself, for continuing to push forward, even when it felt impossible. To my parents and siblings, for teaching me the greatest and the purest form of love and support anyone could ever ask for. To teachers everywhere, for believing not only in me but in all students, as well as making a difference in our world and the lives of so many. To my friends who sat by me and brought me endless cups of coffee at any given hour of the day. To everyone who has supported me throughout this process, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Lastly, to any and everyone who feels lost or without meaning, do not give up – it’ll find you.

Keywords: Logic, Reasoning, Individualism, Boundaries

 


The world we live in is often evolving, consistently adapting to the ever-changing habits of the individuals who populate our planet. From technological advancements to environmental disasters, in order to understand the world we occupy, individuals must make certain aspects of everyday life make sense. As an individual with the ability to think, feel, and process events, thoughts, and emotions, understanding the way things work is essential to my existence, whether emotionally, mentally, or physically. Without a proper manner of defining and understanding the experiences we continuously live through – our world is defined by chaos. Due to the constant need to understand the world around us, human beings employ logic, a tool that allows us to determine what and how we choose to understand and approach a situation. Logic consists of a formal or informal language together with a deductive system and/or a model-theoretic semantics (Shapiro, Stewart; Kouri Kissel, Teresa, Classical Logic). Fundamentally, logic deals with the reasonable manner of thinking about something, involving rules and processes that determine how a situation is approached. While logic may be defined as a science, as there are a variety of theories that revolve around this concept, logic is individualistic and differs in application, shaped by each individual’s thought process. Essentially, while logic remains a theory of study and science, it cannot be taught in a coherent manner, as reason remains almost entirely individualistic, attributed to human nature rather than knowledge and focusing specifically on reaching a ‘logical’ conclusion, rather than defining what a logical conclusion contains. In this chapter, I argue that while logic remains one of the fundamental tools humans use to survive and adapt to the world around them, there is no correct way to employ logic and no accurate manner of teaching individuals how to use this tool. My argument consists of understanding both the scientific and psychological aspects of logic, identifying how logic varies in terms of analysis and response, and the limitations of logic and why this reasoning tool may not always yield the most relevant results, specifically concerning logic in everyday scenarios.

 

There is no correct way to summon or teach others how to use logic. The science behind logic was introduced in 1812 by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel in his book Science of Logic. Hegel defined logic as a dialectic system, or a dialectical metaphysis, a development of the principle that thought and being constitute a single and active unity. Essentially, the science of logic involves the idea that existence and contemplation occur together – without thought, there is no being. The modern scientific study of logic deals with the study of correct reasoning, especially regarding making inferences. As a science, logic seeks to discover the rules that distinguish between correct and incorrect reasoning, aiming to simplify and systemize said distinctions. On the other hand, the psychology of logic, also known as the psychology of reasoning, draws on how individuals draw conclusions in order to solve problems and make decisions. Current research in this area, specifically research by Donald Simanek, Nadine Jung, and other scientists, focuses on understanding the various forms of reasoning that stem from logic, including rationality, judgments, intelligence, and development. While both the science and psychology behind logic pertain to understanding how individuals think, one field focuses on generating a set of rules based on proven assumptions, while the other field focuses on understanding how certain conclusions are drawn and what causes them to form. Comprehending the nature of scientific and psychological logic is essential for understanding the individualistic employment of reason. Specific protocols, limitations, and incertitude have been developed from both these forms of research. As these logic fields indicate, there is no correct way to employ or focus on logic, as there is no proper way to summon or teach others how to use logic.

 

There is more than one ‘correct’ manner to employ logic, focused on achieving the most’ logical’ solution.  While there are various forms of logic, there are four processes of reasoning that are essential to understand. These four reasoning methods are as follows: formal logic, informal logic, symbolic logic, and mathematical logic (Hardegree, Symbolic Logic). Formal logic deals with the study of valid rules of inference, meaning that the relations that lead to the acceptance of one proposition – the conclusion – are based on a set of other propositions that are deemed accurate – the premises. Informal logic focuses on developing non-formal standards, criteria, procedures, interpretations, evaluations, criticisms, and constructions of argumentation. Mainly, informal logic emphasizes the reasoning and argument an individual finds in personal exchange, advertisement, political debate, legal argument, and other forms of social commentary. Symbolic logic is the study of symbolic abstractions that capture the formal features of logical inference. This form of logic deals mainly with the relations of symbols to each other in an attempt to solve intractable problems. Mathematical logic explored the application of formal logic to mathematics, with themes such as the study of the expressive power of formal systems and the deductive power of traditional proof systems. These four systems of logic are essential to understanding thought processes and responses. However, in order to fully grasp the effects and intentions of logic, these three forms of reasoning must be understood as well – deductive reasoning, inductive reasoning, and abductive reasoning. Deductive reasoning starts with a general statement and examines the possibilities to reach a specific, logical conclusion. Inductive reasoning makes broad generalizations from specific observations, using data in order to draw conclusions. Abductive reasoning starts with an observation or set of observations and seeks to find the most straightforward and most likely conclusion from these observations. Altogether, these logic and reasoning forms determine how an individual will approach, understand, and respond to a specific situation (Shapiro, Stewart; Kouri Kissel, Teresa, Classical Logic). Through the comprehension of these concepts, the understanding that there is more than one ‘correct’ manner to employ logic is furthered along, as each process is stemmed from the belief of finding the best, most logical solution.

 

If the level of correctness strengthens logic in how an individual thinks – such as how they analyze a situation, make a decision, or understand something to be accurate or untrue – its limitations are structured around thought processes that are not as clear, simple, and defined as logic makes them out to be. One limitation of logic is language, as formal language is the root of most logical theories. The existence of natural languages cannot be considered by logic, as they are often difficult to perceive and define. Austrian-British philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein introduced this limitation in his book Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, where he stated that language contains walls, restricting an individual’s thoughts and mind to a specific format. The limitations of logic through the lens of language lie in the notion of expressing reality through spoken words and written thoughts. Language in itself presents a scenario where an individual is restrained by the rules, definitions, and overall meaning of the words spoken within the specific language said individual uses to express themselves. Another limitation of logic is partial truths, as many forms of logic may only handle true or false scenarios. Many forms of reasoning fail to account for uncertainty, as many real-world decisions involve an air of uncertainty that is not accounted for when regarding theories of logic. Perception plays a prominent role in weakening reasoning, as understanding the specific aesthetics, emotions, or concepts behind individually crafted pieces is complex and often incorrect. What one individual perceives may not align with others’ perceptions, creating a gray area in a scenario where logic represents only black and white. Limitations are essential in understanding logic because boundaries are essential when pertaining to the human mind. There is no correct way to think, therefore there is no proper form of demonstrating logic. The limitations of logic align with individualistic tendencies that illuminate the fragility of reasoning and strengthen the idea that reasoning is attributed to human nature rather than knowledge.

 

Although logic remains a theory of study and science, it is essential to understand how specific and unique each invocation of reasoning is in regard to the lives of human beings. While logic remains one of the fundamental tools humans use to survive and adapt to the world around them, there is no correct way to employ logic and no accurate manner of teaching individuals how to use this tool. Through the comprehension of both the scientific and psychological aspects of logic, identities of logic and reasoning, and the limitations behind logic, the individualism behind logic is clearly in display and can be seen through the thoughts, actions, and feelings of individuals, prompting an understanding that every human being thinks, feels, and understands the world differently.


Works Cited

 

Castaneda, Hector-Neri. Thinking, Language, and Experience. University of Minnesota Press, 1985. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/wfu/detail.action?docID=316640.

Copi, Irving M., et al. Introduction to Logic. Routledge, 2018.

Jung, Nadine, et al. “How Emotions Affect Logical Reasoning: Evidence from Experiments with Mood-Manipulated Participants, Spider Phobics, and People with Exam Anxiety.” Frontiers in Psychology, vol. 5, June 2014. PubMed Central, doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00570.

Pfänder, Alexander, and Donald Ferrari. Logic. De Gruyter, Inc., 2013. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/wfu/detail.action?docID=1195445.

Quine, W. V. Philosophy of Logic: Second Edition. Harvard University Press, 1986.

Shapiro, Stewart, and Teresa Kouri Kissel. “Classical Logic.” The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, edited by Edward N. Zalta, Winter 2020, Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University, 2020. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2020/entries/logic-classical/.

“The Importance of Logic and Critical Thinking.” Wired. www.wired.com, https://www.wired.com/2011/03/the-importance-of-logic-critical-thinking/. Accessed 20 Feb. 2021.

Tomassi, Paul. Logic. Taylor & Francis Group, 1999. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/wfu/detail.action?docID=168646.

 

Why Logic Alone Won’t Lead to Good Decisions. https://www.fastcompany.com/3024270/why-logic-alone-wont-lead-to-good-decisions. Accessed 20 Feb. 2021

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Rhetoric in Everyday Life by Mica Giberti is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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