April 2, 2012

Regents Daily News:
April 2, 2012

Introducing Logic Through the Back Door

As a teacher (and student) of logic, I am sometimes asked to provide a brief and understandable explanation of what logic is and why it is important. I must say that my response to such questions is often neither brief nor understandable. The difficulty in adequately explaining the nature and function of logic and its usefulness to someone who has had no formal exposure to the discipline is that, for it to be successful, the explanation must (1) not include any obscure terminology specific to the discipline itself, (2) be coupled with practical examples of how it works, and (3) provide a case for why it should be employed, provided that task (2) doesn’t make this point evident.

I am learning that instead of trying to offer a broad definition of “logic” and then giving examples of how it is used (and abused), it is sometimes more helpful for someone to hear some good reasons why logic is useful and then from that information, induce for himself what logic is. After all, I sometimes do not understand what something is until I know what it is good for; and once I know what it is good for, then I am able to ascertain, to some extent, what it is. The same, I think, may be true about a person’s introduction to the discipline of logic.

Therefore, in the spirit of introducing people to logic through this back door approach, I’d like to offer a series of posts entitled “What is logic and what is it good for?” that delineate some concrete (and enlightening) reasons for why logic should be studied, especially by Christians. This list is adapted from Peter Kreeft’s fine book, Socratic Logic. Most of what you will read in this series will be his work. However, I have freely edited some parts of it to better fit the purpose and format of these posts. More to come…


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