Logic: The Art of Critical Thinking

Two subscribers to my blog indicated an interest in learning about logic. Now what does this have to do with a holistic health blog? The mind is a most important part of Holistic Health.  Without the ability to think critically…one does not have the ability to discern truth from error.  Logic is the ability to analyze data and evaluate whether it is true or false. Unfortunately, in America the public school system teaches rote learning, not logic.

I remember how it was, when I was in public school. If anyone offered the teacher information that was not in the text book, he/she was graded down. The information was rejected. There was no debate. Even if the information was valid, the student was put down for offering it. It was all about rote learning. Students were given information and were graded on memorization. If they gave this same information back, they earned an A. They weren’t given an opportunity to discuss the validity of the information that they had received.

We have been programmed to be a nation of sheep. We are taught not to question information that we have been given starting in early childhood. My father told me, when I was very young…”Don’t believe everything you read.” Unfortunately, I didn’t listen. I was just like everybody else. I had to learn the hard way…trial and error. Now, this does teach, but it is a hard way to learn.

Logic is very important, if you wish to be in a position to make intelligent choices. Many people are not open-minded and are closed to the truth. They have been given information by their teachers, doctors or other “experts” – and they accept it verbatim. For example, they find that they have cancer and their doctors advise using chemo and radiation. These people don’t seek out any other answers. They blindly accept these treatments. They don’t question authority.

Many people have listened to nutritionists who are promoting various foods. Have they done their homework? How do they know whether these foods are right or wrong for them? If they used logic, they could determine whether the foods were right for their bodies. For example, grains have only been around for about 5,000 years…cooking is a relatively new modality. Cooked grains offer nothing, except taste and they fill the stomach. They do offer many physical problems, such as, arthritis, allergies, Celiac Disease, etc. With the internet, people can look for dangers of specific foods, if they would do a little research.

Logical thinking in regard to dairy. What is milk for? It is the first food for a baby calf’s 500 lb. growth in its first nine months. Each species has its own food requirements. Human babies have an average 14 lb. growth during their first year. Logic should tell us that cow’s milk is not a food for human consumption. Cheese, which is concentrated milk is even worse. It takes 8 quarts of milk to make one pound of cheese. It is a deadly food that creates excessive mucous, acid blood and its excessive protein accelerates the growth of tumors.

Logic (Greek logike) is the formal study of the principles of valid reference and correct reasoning. Logic is used in most intellectual activities, but was studied primarily in the disciplines of philosophy, semantics, and mathematics. Today, it is used in the study of computer science, too. Logic examines general forms, which debates or arguments may take, which forms are valid and which are fallacies. In philosophy, the study of logic figures in most major areas. Studying logic and the relationship between logic and ordinary speech can help a person better structure his own argument and critique the arguments of others. Many popular arguments are filled with errors, because so many people have not been trained in logic and are unaware of how to formulate an argument correctly.

Epistemiology is “the study of knowledge” distinguishing true from false ethics. Logic has its origins in several ancient civilizations, including India, China and Greece. Let’s start with the Greek philosophers. Logic was established as a discipline by Aristotle, who gave it a fundamental place in philosophy. In Plato’s view, knowledge is merely an awareness of absolute, universal ideas or forms, existing independent of any subject trying to apprehend to them. Though Aristotle puts more emphasis on logical and empirical methods for gathering knowledge, he still accepted the view that such knowledge is an apprehension of necessary and universal principles.

The study of logic in medieval universities was part of the classical trivium, which comes from the Latin meaning three roads or three ways. It referred to the study of grammar, logic and rhetoric. The trivium  formed the foundation of  medieval Liberal Arts. The word trivial came from the word trivium. These subjects, grammar, logic and rhetoric were not considered as important as the Quadrivium comprised of arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy.

Averroes (Ibn Rushd ) (1126-1198) Muslim philosopher who was born in Cordoba, Spain; defined logic as “the tool for distinguishing between the true and the false

Following the Renaissance, two main epistemological positions dominated philosophical empiricism, which sees knowledge as the product of sensory perception – and rationalism, which sees it as the product of rational reflection…knowledge being developed by observation.

Logic is often divided into two parts, inductive reasoning and deductive reasoning:

The first, inductive reasoning: draws general conclusions from specific examples. The premise of an inductive logical argument, indicate some degree of support (inductive probability) for the conclusion, but do not ensure it. It is based mainly on a set of observations. In itself, it is not deemed a valid method. For example, a flock of white swans are observed over a period of time. The observer could say that only white swans existed, if he had never seen a black swan. This would not be valid as many know that black swans do exist.

The second deductive reasoning is the process of reaching a conclusion that is guaranteed to follow, if the evidence provided is true and the reasoning used to reach the conclusion is correct. One of the most common and useful forms of deductive reasoning is the syllogism consisting of a major premise, a minor premise, and a conclusion. For example, all humans are mortal, the major premise, I am a human, the minor premise, therefore, I am mortal, the conclusion.

The important properties that logical systems have:

* Consistency: which means no theorem(statement proven to be true) of the system contradicts another.

* Validity: which means that the system rules of proof will never allow a false inference from true premises. A logical system has the property of soundness, when the logical system has the property of validity and only uses premises that prove true (or, in the case of axioms are true by definition).

* Completeness: which means that a theorem is true. It can be proven.

* Soundness: which means that the premises are true and the argument is valid.

Some logical systems don’t contain all four properties.

Logic began, because of a concern with correctness of argumentation, The ancient Greeks tried useing debate rather than weapons to settle problems. The motivation for the study of logic in ancient times was clear. It was so that one may learn to distinguish good from bad arguments, and so become more effective in argument and oratory (speech), and perhaps become a better person. Half of the works of Aristotle’s Organon treat inference ( how humans draw conclusions from given facts) as it occurs in, an informal setting, side by side with the development of the syllogistic and in the Aristotelian School. These informal works on logic were seen as complementary to Aristotle’s treatment of rhetoric (oratory).

The ancient motivation is still alive, although it no longer takes center stage in the picture of logic; typically dialectical logic (contradictions) will form the heart of a course in critical thinking, a compulsory course at many universities.

Argumentation Theory is the study and research of informal logic, fallacies, and critical questions as they relate to every day and practical situations. Specific types of dialogue can be analyzed and questioned to reveal premises (a proposition supporting or helping to support a conclusion), conclusions, and fallacies.

A well known German philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) argued that logic should be conceived as the Science of Judgment, an idea taken up by Gottlob Freges (1848-1925) who became known as the founder of modern logic…logical and philosophical work, where thought (German: Gedanka) is substituted for judgment (German: urteil). On this conception the valid inferences of logic follow from the structural features of judgment or thoughts.

Philosophical Logic deals with formal descriptions of natural language. Most philosophers assume that the bulk of “normal” proper reasoning can be captured by logic. If one can find the right method for translating ordinary language into that logic. Logic can have an immediate impact on languages or studies.

We just covered a short dissertation on logic. I hope that you learned from this, too. It totally is important to be aware of the subject of logic, because most of us have never studied it, but it is something that we use every day. How do we make rational decisions, if we don’t use logic. Perhaps, you are unaware how much you are using it daily. For example, it takes logic in making a decision on what you are going to wear – you need to know if it will be a hot or cold day. It takes logic to think ahead and eat right in order to avoid illness. I know that playing chess taught me to think ahead…it is a game that teaches logic.

If you have any questions, just Google it. The web is fascinating and you can find answers to almost everything you want to know.

Holistically Yours,

Barbara Charis

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