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    « Speaking of Logic | Main | "Thank You" Does Aural »

    Should Logic Be King?

    Here’s an interesting question from a Figarist, and Figaro’s very own answer.

    Howdy Figaro-
    What is your opinion on rhetoric vs. logic? I read a very interesting blog post recently [http://charltonteaching.blogspot.com/2010/09/rhetoric-versus-logic.html ] that talks about how logic gained preeminence as a sort of truth standard, to which all other forms of study are subordinate, while rhetoric always remained secondary to truth, more like a way of pointing towards the truth. The implication I believe was that logic became almost inherently fascistic in a sense. Opinions?
    Dear Gabriel,
    What you’re really talking about is the difference between rhetoric and what the Greek Sophists called “dialectic.” Rhetoric seeks to persuade people into making a choice, feeling loyal toward a group or leader or brand, or convicting someone of a crime. Dialectic engages in dialogue to find the “truth.”
    It’s very nice to subordinate every kind of conversation under King Logic. But people will go on trying to persuade each other. As logical old Aristotle himself put it, “sorry human nature” will employ emotions as well as logic. 
    Which isn’t entirely bad. Most disagreements have nothing to do with truth or falsity. They have to do with choices. If every choice were a true/false question, we wouldn’t need dialogue at all. Just the right manual.
    Figaro is very much pro-dialectic. He loves the ancient dialogues. But when it comes to choosing candidates—or vacations for that matter—he prefers good ol’ rhetoric.
    For more on the distinction between philosophical logic and the rhetorical kind, see Thank You for Arguing.


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    Reader Comments (3)

    We do have such a manual, Fig. It's called the Bible.
    July 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJesusisking
    Well, exactly, JK. But I don't want my surgeon to use the Bible as an operating manual on a hernia repair. I don't want to use it to plan my vacation. And I really don't want to live under a theocracy.

    How about you?
    July 4, 2012 | Registered CommenterFigaro
    Gabriel, I have to agree with Figaro.

    I used to be a research chemist, where much of my reasoning was based on logic (inductive reasoning anyway). I was successful in this line of work and for the most part it was because I could always win an argument using my interpretation of data (my facts and premises) to show my conclusion was more likely than other peoples. It is, sadly to say, in my nature to win an argument. I only enjoy losing when it is on my terms; when I throw it intentionally for the greater good of a situation.

    Then I got the "7 year itch" and pursued a new career as a technical writer. Although my scientific background is strong, and I understand what I am writing about better than my colleagues, I have unfortunately encountered issues working together with them. I suggest ideas, which I know are right and would make the article more accurate, but I am not as dominant in my arguments anymore. Why? Because logic is not the only/best route for persuasion. I am not dealing in a field where logic controls the game anymore. I am in the realm of the rest of the world, so to speak.

    I was the type that never appreciated English when I was younger, so my command of grammar is not where I now wish it would be. Therefore I have recently began to study the trivium; grammar, logic, rhetoric. I love logic, and until recently I expected everyone to use it; family, friends, girlfriends, co-workers, ect. Regrettably, not everyone knows or cares about logic. In order to get along with my fellow man, I need to change and learn to speak with them better. I'm now 30, but I need to learn what my parents and grandparents knew when they were 14.

    I came across the “Thank You for Arguing” book and chose it as my introduction to rhetoric this weekend. Jay Heinrichs explains the basics very well, makes it entertaining, and shows many uses for rhetoric in this modern age; politics, personal relationships, understanding management in the corporate world, ect. He provides many examples and explains in much better than my personal reasoning above. I am a two-day old amateur.

    Now for JK,
    The bible is given to us in human language. Therefore, in order for us to determine and understand what it says we need to apply the rules of language, namely grammar, logic, and rhetoric. It is right for us to use reason as a servant to the text. However, the guidance of the Holy Spirit is essential for its full understanding.

    Psalm 119:73 Give me understanding to learn your commands

    It seems to me God has no problem with us learning. He does warns us though:

    Col. 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive though hollow and deceptive philosophy

    Using logic, it seems God is OK with using philosophy just not “bad” philosophy. The fun part in life is finding what the bad philosophy is. When we recognize it we know not to believe it.

    2 Cor. 10:5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself against the knowledge of God

    Although the Bible is the “manual” as you say, we need to learn how to read it. The New Testament was written in Greek, by obviously very educated people who knew the art of grammar, logic, and rhetoric. After reading “Thank You for Arguing” you will find many ideas that you can now use to interpret the Bible and understand what the authors were doing, such as:

    We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us." Romans 5: 3-5

    Too many to count. Pretty much God’s favorite language. Jesus’ parables rely on it

    Just see Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount from Mathew 5

    The list goes on and on. It is obvious that God wants us to understand things. More importantly, we need to understand when someone is trying to deceive us. Reading “Thank You for Arguing” will help us find the snakes in the grass. However, I agree that you cannot find taboo logical fallacies in the Bible. If you think you do, you must not be studied enough, so the question is to learn why you are wrong. Never assume the Bible is wrong. Your logic or understanding is. See Corinthians verse above.
    July 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJared Nathan

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