April 3, 2012

Regents Daily News:
April 3, 2012

“What is logic and what is it good for?”: Reasons to Study Logic—Part 2

2. Power. Logic has power: the power of proof and thus persuasion. Any power can be either rightly used or abused. This power of logic is rightly used to win the truth and defeat error; it is wrongly used to win the argument and defeat your opponent. Argument is to truth as fishing is to fish, or war to peace, or courtship to marriage.

Logic is so powerful that it can be dangerous to life. Socrates, the father of philosophy, was literally martyred for being logical—by the city of Athens, the ancient world’s most “civilized” democracy. The Apology, Socrates’ “swan song,” is his defense of philosophizing, of his life of logical inquiry. It is one of the greatest speeches ever made. No one should be allowed to die without reading it.

Whether you use logic for right or wrong ends, it is a powerful tool. No matter what your thought’s end or goal or purpose may be, it will attain that end more effectively if it is clearer and more logical. Even if you want to do something with logic rather than let logic do something with you—even if you want to deceive others, or “snow” them, or toy with them—you need to know logic in order to be a successful sophist. You must be a real logician even to be a fake one. [Adapted from Peter Kreeft, Socratic Logic)

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