Thursday, July 7, 2016

Why our understanding of LOGIC needs a thorough re-think ?

Many most educated and knowledgeable men in the world today believe that LOGIC is a kind of magic-wand that, there is nothing in the world that it won't be able find answer for, or ultimately solve. Correct logical probing could unravel any mystery of life and existence ! Such a belief prompts them to declare that, there is nothing in the world and life that could not be known and un-mystified.

This is an attempt to un-mystify the above belief, and the unfounded confidence in the power of Logic. The intention is to show that, Logic could be applied to localized subjects and issues based on localized, very relative principles that could be applicable to very particular situations. There exist no one-Logic that could be valid and applicable to every life situation, and that could be treated as a mother-premise for inferring every other conclusion, except the laws about the FORMS of logic, that guides the ACT of inferring, but NOT anything about the CONTENT subject of inference.

The author also wish to show similar light on what is 'rationality'. It is nothing but an inherent urge in human mind to be consistent with his REASONS, ie. whatever he knows as final in any subject will compel him to be 'consistent' with them in his communication and actions. So, rationality is in simple terms, an inherent urge to be 'logical'.

Bertrand Russell had no hesitation in simply putting it forth that; " it is obvious that the knowledge of logical forms is something quite different from knowledge of existing things...we might understand all the separate words in a sentence without understanding the sentence.. we may also have knowledge of the form without having knowledge of the constituents"

He continues : ' in order to understand a sentence,it is necessary to have knowledge of both the constituents and of the particular instance of the form'..How true ! These days, one with some knowledge of formal logic could repudiate what you have stated, merely on the ground of its logical inconsistency, without his having zero knowledge or insight into the subject matter in question. Language is a delicate, and the most fragile tool to express what one has in mind. The repudiations referred above will simply ridicule and reject what one has said, simply on the ground of the incorrect logical form !

Let us bring some more direct references from formal logic text books, to expose the real role of Logic in day to day life: In the book ' Introduction to Logical theory',( p.1) author P.F. Strawson states; ( Fellow of university college, Oxford)

"The charge of inconsistency does not ..refer to anything outside the statements that the man makes. We simply consider the way his statements hang-together.. .we assert that he has contradicted himself, and, in doing this,we make no appeal to the facts and express no opinion about them. It is this kind of internal criticism that is appraisal of the logic of a piece of discourse"

The picture is clear now. What we claim and celebrate as Logic, as the final yardstick of truth and accuracy is only a set of laws as to how to make correct assertions with regard to what we say or write. It has nothing to do with any ultimate truth, or relevance of the 'contents' in question ! It is all about the 'form' of  expressing ( oral or written) what we have in mind !

It is all about how one links what he proposes with the analogy/argument that he cites directly or indirectly.

If you leave aside the question of correct 'form', what pops-up next is the inevitable need of some past axiom or analogy that could 'logically' link what one proposes with such already known references, axioms or analogy. If one has experienced something that does not have a past precedence by way of any known axiom, known experience of the mainstream, or at least supported by any some or other kind of well acknowledged myth of the crowd, Logic falls flat for its practical use ! There is nothing that the proposition could be compared with, hence the laws of 'form' also loses its relevance !

From the above, it becomes plainly evident that, for reasoning, what man need is this or that kind of a past analogy, or experience, or axiom to reason with, for every current situation. When he invoke reason, he simply refers to one or other of his past experience, axiom, convention, or at least to a well accepted myth or tradition that could now be 'related' in the present context.

Such axioms or principles are what form the 'universal' premise in syllogism. For an agreement to be arrived at some point of debates and discussions, this 'universal' should be some what same for all parties. Otherwise, debates and discussions will fall-flat. So, even before the start of discussion, a recheck would be necessary about the universal premise all parties keep. Some times, parties make hard-stands, that even when they know the other party's basic premise is what is right, he will not budge for fear of losing face ! At other times, the other party may not be as knowledgeable as the other, that he is not in a position to grasp the relevance of such universal premise ever, or its logical connection with the question in discussion. So, besides the length of arguments and validity of evidences presented, for agreement, knowledge, as well as genuine,intellectually frank willingness to agree with what is right, also would be necessary to reach at agreement.

In short, arguments might always be, mostly about bringing the other party to agree with the 'universal'premises. If such an agreement is reached, then the remaining task is to explain, how logically the current issue is related to the agreed universal.

Growth of knowledge of an age or a community or country is closely connected with her ability to evolve improved and new universals. Faculty of Reason certainly has these two functions clearly evident; link below will show this clear light:

So, a certain paradigm with no known past affinities,resemblance or analogy would simply face the threat of logical rejection.

Thus, Logic is merely a set of norms and rules that unites what one asserts with its respective, known analogy, that is known to every participant in the discussion. That 'uniting' aspect is again a very distinct field of reasoning, apart from Logic itself. It requires a sense-organ type of role of a not-yet recognized faculty of human-mind, details of which are at blog link:

The relevance of an all engrossing, all covering mother premise, or universal premise, for making Logic relevant and sensible

By now, hope we have come to the final understanding that, logic is all about the 'universal' premise each person keeps.Universals kept by each person about each subject will be his central reference point. If all parties are agreed on such a central-reference point, then Logic is only about how one relates his stand to it. If such reference point is about all engrossing themes like 'existence' life, God etc, almost every theme under sky, or above sky could be referred to it, or checked the consistency with it, and arrive at indisputable agreements !

Few useful quotes and notes:

Stephen Hawking said:

if everything in the universe depends on everything else in a fundamental way, it might be impossible to get close to a full solution by investigating’ parts’  of the problem in isolation'.
( Hawking. Stephen.  A brief history of time,1992, 12.Bantam Books, UK)

This vital observation indicates that, till every localized laws of science is linked together by one single logic, and one universal premise, we could only endow them
status of working solutions, for meeting our day to day issues. Logic need to be understood and re-defined as one master-relation at the start of a string, and every isolated pocket of logic that we use to explain localized events must necessarily be linked logically to the said ‘master-relation’, in the form of a chain of well connected events.

If human system of logic follow such a must law and precedent, the tendency of mankind and its various institution finding a suitable local logic for justifying every localized decision and conclusion would come to an end. Mankind will get a clear intellectual and logical direction in every field of activity, such as science, politics, industry and education.

Authored by: Abraham J. Palakudy
An independent philosophy, mind, Reason and polity seeker and researcher 
contact me
Twitter: Voice of philosophy@jopan1


  1. Logic seems to be restrictively applied to universal principles serving as the premise of an argument. It is applicable to deduction only leaving aside induction, for instance, that is the mainstay of scientific investigations.

  2. But for induction, please remember what Dr.Whitehead had commented; ' experiments are ways of cooking EVIDENCES, to prove the theory in hand. Experiments are conducted with the sole purpose of proving the theories.

  3. To conclude that there is fire from the smoke I see from far away doesn't prove any theory. It is a conclusion from experience only.

  4. When I see smoke from far away, I conclude that there must be fire close by. There is no theory involved, but only experience.