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Philosophy Takeaway Newsletter 45 - Logic

What is logic? Logic is hidden behind every conversation, joke, story or argument.
Logic is necessary in order to be able to have an understandable form of communication. Without it, conversation, jokes, stories or arguments could not take place. Aristotle was a famous old bloke from Ancient Greece who thought a lot about a lot of stuff, but most importantly, for this subject, he thought about thought; what it was and how it takes place. He said that thought has laws. There are rules which enable the process of thinking to happen. The most crucial law of thought is the law of identity. The law of identity states that:

A = A.
The equals sign is another way of saying the same as. Anything can be put in the place of A. For example, 'A = A' can stand for that orange is that orange, you are you and logic is logic. This means that a thing is identical with itself. The other thing that Aristotle said was that if it follows that if everything is the same with itself and that this is a law, then it cannot be a contradiction. This thought is expressed in the law of non-contradiction. It cannot be that:


We cannot think this orange is both an orange and not an orange. Lets put this in a scenario: lets say you and your mate Kinglsy arranged to go out on the pull. You both agreed to meet outside Tottenham Court road tube station at 10:00pm.

You are standing there, its pouring down with rain and Kingsly isnt there. You try calling him, but its forwarding to 02 voicemail and taking your last bit of credit and your thinking, I hope this twat has got a good reason why Ive been standing here for half an hour like a mug in the rain . He turns up causally at 11.00pm. Youre very angry, so you say, Where the hell have you been? Kingsly says, Mate, by 10.00 pm I did mean 10.00 pm, but I didnt mean 10.00 pm and I meant 11.00pm. Do you know what I mean? This is an example of a contradiction and is not a reason at all, let alone a good one. When we are met with a contradiction we are just utterly confused. We have to ask, Kingsly what the hell are you on about? Kingsly then goes on to say some other nonsense because he has taken acid. Kingsly is no longer using the laws of identity to express himself. This raises an important point as it doesnt matter how logical you are being if the other person is being illogical, a conversation cannot take place. Now, it seems pretty obvious that things are what they are and are not what they are not. Therefore, when we talk about whether an object is either an orange or not orange, whether it is either 10.00pm or not 10.00pm, we are referring to the last law of thought called the law of excluded middle. An example is as follows: I am a human being Or I am not a human being. One of these statements has to be true. However, they cannot both be true or they cannot both be false. When Aristotle thought about the laws of thought thousands of years ago, he realised that human beings cannot think outside of these laws. As a last exercise, try it yourself. Can you think of an orange and not an orange, which are both properties of the same thing? Can you understand what Kingsly means by 10.00pm and not 10.00pm? Or do you think it is true that you are a human and not a human? If you could think of any of these things you may have a hard time explaining it..... Ellese Elliott

The limits of logic: The purpose of

this piece, though explicit in the title, and implicit throughout, is to argue that logic is rather limited. As such, it makes little logical sense to view the world within a narrow logical sphere. Once, when engaged in conversation at The Philosophy Takeaways stall with none other than the mathematical genius that is Dmitry Dereshev, I was drawn into a debate regarding how useful emotions are. The conversation -- as far is my fallible memory can recall went a little like this: DD: I do not see how emotions are useful. They are, to be honest, a waste of time. SMP: Yet, if we are forced to experience emotions, doesnt it make sense to understand them? Having thought about this, I have to say that the latter statement can only be true. There are a couple of trite archetypes that come to mind: firstly, we have the autistic genius. He or she can understand particle physics, but when it comes to maintaining friendships, is proved to be woefully inadequate. Conversely, we have the overly emotional artist who is so dominated by their emotion that they are blinded by it. However, if they were given something highly logical to do, they would be flummoxed. Therefore, it is clear that when it comes to the human condition, balance is essential. Thus, when it comes to philosophy, should we be obsessed with logic? Isnt philosophy, by definition, about wisdom, rather than logic? If we are obsessed with logic, are we in fact illogical? A notable example of the limitations of logic is the liar paradox. Ive written about this before, but it is applicable in the context of this article. A liar paradox is a sentence that carries a contradictory binary truth. An example of this is as follows: All men are liars. St Jerome elaborated upon this: I said in my alarm, 'Every man is a liar!' "(Psalm. 116:10) Is David telling the truth or is he lying? If it is true that every man is a liar, and David's statement, "Every man is a liar" is true, then David also is lying; he, too, is a man. But if he, too, is lying, his statement: "Every man is a liar," consequently is not true. Whatever way you turn the proposition, the conclusion is a contradiction. Since David himself is a man, it follows that he also is lying; but if he is lying because every man is a liar, his lying is of a different sort. Moving away from the liar paradox, Im sure weve all met a very persuasive sophist in our lives. I use the word in the modern, sense. A sophist can be defined as: a person who uses a specious argument for deceiving someone . In a truly modern context, one may call such a person a rhetorician. Such a person may be very skilled at making arguments. Despite the fact that the arguments are linguistically sound, they can often fly in the face of the truth. A modern example of sophistry has been committed by Jeremy Hunt, the secretary for health. He is, of course, a member of the current Conservative-dominated government. Although the term of sophist is applicable to many politicians, Hunts words on the closure of Lewisham Hospital really are a shining example of sophistry. He stated that his plans will deliver better clinical services. This is, quite obviously, a dubious statement to make in the light of the facts. Closing a hospital in Lewisham, and then telling people to go to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich is in no way an improvement of local services. Moreover, it seems like a harrowing example of Orwellian doublethink.

Another notable example of logic being limited is through its perfection against itself. If two opposing arguments are equally logical, what are we to think? If two of The Philosophy Takeaways finest philosophers wrote an essay about the ethics of advertising, with one pro-advertising and the other anti, Im sure both could include equally logical, non-contradictory and sound arguments. So, if we are, as philosophers, confronted with arguments that are equally logical, how do we proceed in making our decisions? It seems that life experience, intuition and emotion all play a part. Or, more concisely, we use wisdom. A quote from Pascal -- yes the very same Pascal who (sorry for the pun) coined Pascals wager -- is of extreme salience in the context of this article. Pascal once stated, The heart has reasons of which reason is ignorant. I do wonder if emotions and logic have to be at odds. Can they not be used to aid each other, instead? Please dont think I have been attacking logic, as that has not been my goal. The purpose of this article has been to demonstrate the limits that logic has. If logic, however beautiful and profound, is so limited, should it be put on such a pedestal? To do so, it seems, would be unwise, and, ultimately, against the very essence of philosophy. By the philosophical Prometheus, Samuel Mack-Poole

The Board game: Social Logic The board game is the height of human interaction. It is the ultimate defense against boredom and blandness,
standing up there with the icelandic family huddled around the fire, recounting their imaginative sagas. It is as powerful as the very idea of narratives and stories which will always remain in our human psyche. The board game, for all of it's development throughout the millennia, is nothing more than the very primitive experience of the hearth, around which are gathered friends or family. On top of all this, it is also tapping into that most fundamental human experience - intelligent games and play. A board game is a complete experience of touch, sight and smell (mmm, cardboard!). It is quite a shame taste has not yet been incorporated yet, but I am sure it is on its way. This is a combination of 'nature', here defined as direct sensory experience, and 'civilisation', the abstract higher-reasoning of logic and imagination. You must meet the board game half way, becoming engrossed within its artificial world, for most of the time it is not given to you on a plate. Yet nothing feels more natural than immersion, that unique ability we have to turn little bits of cardboard, plastic and a few dice into something active, and dare I say it - alive. Hanging over the pieces, so simple in our world of microchips, electronics and engineering genius, are the rules. These are laws which are to be placed on top of the physical aspects of the game world like a sheet of snow. They are entirely imaginary, abstract laws which must be interpreted and then applied to make the pieces move and carry out the objectives (it's quite an obvious thing to say really, but then again my level of philosophy is often just stating the obvious!). We become so accustomed to the rules being part of the physical aspects of the game that we come to associate the knight with his leap, the queen with her multi-directional fury, the bishop with diagonality, and so on. These moves are contained not in the actual pieces themselves, but are completely separate, operating in a world of logic within our minds. Nowhere in life can we be more assured of purpose and function then upon

the board, where disputes still arise, yet an appeal to logic and a powerful code of 'ethics' can be drawn upon! It is meaning itself, contained in that wood, plastic and paper - even if it is illusory. Take this in contrast to the world of television and the video game. In front of a digital screen the rest of the body evaporates, leaving a pair of floating eyes and ears, with a disembodied hand clutching at a joypad or a remote control. If the human being is a complete entity, experiencing reality through all of its senses, with this mind-thing on top of it, then the degradation of the natural body cannot be a good way to become 'sensate' - a total bodily intelligence. This is the latest form of sociality plaguing my generation (sorry about that everyone, not that your generation was any better though - our problems are just different to yours). The faces are turned away from other human beings, hyponotised by that alluring cobra we call the screen. Millions of pounds are funnelled into each project, to feed this snake so wretched, and the more there is at stake, the less risk they will take, creating an overall taste in the video gaming world of microwaved baked beans which have been left in the fridge for too long (and have gone a disturbing shade of grey). In terms of getting the logical part of our brains ticking, there is little to be found in the digital world. That is not to say it does not exist, for there are always gems which deserve to be sought out, yet fundamentally social logic belongs more to the humble board. Which brings us nicely along to the next point. Namely, that sociality and logic may seem like opposites; the difference between the stuffy mathematician and some form of inane socialite, but they are fused together perfectly in chess. This is the most obvious example of social logic, where the extent of seriousness and challenge is determined only by how russian ones opponent is! If we shift out focus back onto the outside world, we can see some parallels with our chess boards, for our own world is itself a game, with its artificial laws of varying utility. To dredge up an old cliche, life is one massive (board) game, or at least it might as well be. The outcome of this game is not determined by the number of actual pieces available, anymore than putting a thousand chessmen in a pile will change anything, or mean anything. The game is determined by rules which organise how the physical pieces are arranged, and it is this arrangement which makes the game; its laws, its objectives, and all of the informal rules which accompany it (see custom). Eventually, the rules and logic of the game become nature itself, tied in to the otherwise meaningless components that make it up. Naturally, it is a game skewed in the favour of the rules-writer in real life, who will appeal to the 'always true' realms of logic and/or nature to justify themselves, but we won't go into a cryptoanarchist rant just here. The good boardgame at least is different in that the designer has to balance their creation, ideally in a way where everyone has a chance to win, sometimes individually and sometimes cooperatively, with no particular favour incurred on any party (see the bourgeois management class and their political cronies!). Perhaps then the board game is a true representation of logic, which incorporates a fairness and reciprocity (that is, a mutual exchange of one thing for another) within it, for the mutual benefit of all parties involved. You cannot, after all, truly win anything if you cheat. The useless and selfish designers of life's board game could learn a thing or two from chess to say the least. One cannot be alone with a boardgame. Just as ideas come to fruitition when they are brought out into reality and discussed, so too do we come to life as social animals in a mutual environment. The board game staves off boredom like a ward. Imagination is what truly enriches life, drawing from a well of infinity, filling us up like protein-rich bread. It can also fuse all of this with the challenge of logic and puzzle, which other forms of interaction do provide in all fairness, yet in lesser quality and quantity. Selim 'Selim' Talat

Well, for the first time a Norfolk pine has adorned the front page of this Newsletter, and I am sure it is fitting that such a tree be considered the Tree of Logic. From any picture of one, one can see the branches pleasantly grouped, towards the top isolated branches, then a few in pairs, then threesomes and then in larger clusters the lower one gets. And so it is with logic, we add to our concepts, and likewise we must add to our axioms (self evident truths which require no proof). We do know of course that two frownies make a smiley, as displayed at the top-most point of the Tree of Logic, and of course that it is entirely wishful thinking that two frowns make a smile, but of course two negatives do make an affirmative, when they are composed. Now if we try and do an overview of logic, we can either survey how it has developed, or survey its applications. But if you survey its applications, you will view each at its most recent, most technical stage of advance, and you will be looking at matters of similar complexity. Such applications include mathematics, computing, language, the logic of possibility and the logic of time. If we look at the development of logical theory, Western philosophy sees its beginnings in Classical Greece, and this includes logic, as one of the Classical trivium, which also included grammar and rhetoric. In these Classical times, such pursuits were far from trivial, and rhetoric in particular was essential for the new Athenian democracy: slavery gave the masters time to be democratic, and logic was a key weapon. Types of fallacy could be collected as an informal analysis, such as argumentum ad hominem, sustaining an argument by attacking the personality of the opponents. But then formalisms appeared, for example in Aristotles Prior Analytics the use of symbols for logical variables was used for the first time. Aristotle further introduced laws such as his Three Basic Laws of Thought, which importantly included the Law of the Excluded Middle. All propositions have to be either true or false. And one of Aristotles most detailed systems is that of syllogisms. Maybe we should look a little bit more closely at what syllogisms are about. There are basically three key models, Barbara Dimatis/Disamis and Daraptis: (I, Barbara) (i) All X is Y, (ii) All Y is Z, (iii) Therefore all X is Z. Note that if we say that no capitalist has a heart, we mean that all capitalists are heartless - or more strictly nonhaving a heart. Note also the formulaic convention of using is when it will often be replaced by are. Let us capture Barbara by means of my Bridge of Transitivity:


Now modern logicians will say that X need not exist, and if so, Y need not exist, and if the latter, Z need not exist either, so now we can look at our second format, where we change (i): (II, Dimatis/Disamis) (i) Some X is Y (Dimatis), or some Y is X (Disamis) (ii) All Y is Z, (iii) Therefore some X is Z. Our third basic form is Daraptis, where we have to assume that all X are Y means that X exist, and I give the example from my previous article: (III, Daraptis) (i) All socialism (Y) is theft (X), (ii) All socialism (Y) is against human nature (Z), (iii) Therefore some theft (X) is against human nature (Z).


Now with Laws of Thought, and syllogisms, we have powerful tools in argumentation, be it logic or rhetoric, but when we look at Dimatis and Disamis, they are listed as having the same result, captured in mediaeval mnemonics by having the same vowel pattern, but this doesnt say why some X are Y means that some Y are X in logical rather than contextual terms. Developments appear to have lapsed, in the Christian world at least, till around 1100, with the work of Pierre Ablard, born in Brittany in 1079. According to the Stanford Encyclopaedia, He is, arguably, the greatest logician of the Middle Ages and is equally famous as the first great nominalist philosopher. He championed the use of reason in matters of faith (he was the first to use theology in its modern sense), and his systematic treatment of religious doctrines are as remarkable for their philosophical penetration and subtlety as they are for their audacity. Despite Aristotles Law of the Excluded Middle, it was Ablard who introduced the doctrine of Limbo, which was accepted by Pope Innocent III. He was later a great icon of the Enlightenment and brought back knowledge of the Classical philosophers to the mediaeval world. But anything can be examined, and maybe there is an excluded middle, making a similar deduction to Ablard when he deduced there must be a Limbo. Modern logicians say that while the Law of the Excluded Middle is taken as axiomatic, we must be on the safe side, and look to see what coherent systems will look like if we relax this assumption. Those working in Quantum Theory wish to, saying that moving particles can be neither large nor small in their size, despite the logical requirement that a particle must be either small or not small. So we must perhaps chop off the top of the Tree of Logic:

But I for one am not sure Im happy to saw off the branch I am sitting on... because someone tells me it is to be on the safe side... :][

Martin Prior

To continue this philosophical journey...

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