Sunday, September 04, 2005

Logic Low-Down

Somehow, our whole approach to teaching and learning has gone awry. Do you sometimes have an uneasy suspicion that the product of modern educational methods is less good than he or she might be at disentangling fact from opinion and the proven from the plausible? Although we often succeed in teaching our pupils subjects, we fail lamentably on the whole in teaching them how to think. They learn everything except the art of learning. Dorothy Sayers

Discernment is not a matter of simply telling the difference between right and wrong; rather it is telling the difference between right and almost right. Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Logic—the art of reasoning born from sound judgment—is the second stage in the classical approach of the Trivium. Following the grammar stage and preceding the stage of rhetoric, logic is the vital transition between knowledge and wisdom. Its purpose is to cultivate an environment of thought, to begin to understand purpose and pattern, and make connections.

Logic has been defined by some as "the science and art of reasoning". Some have argued that logic should stand apart from the sciences, but few know why nor do they see the link that logic can be bridging the rigid and the refined, the structured and the sensate, the numbers and the narrative. It would seem that the grammar stage is dealing mostly with facts and figures while the rhetoric stage is primarily polished dictum and practicality. Because most people lean to one extreme or another in relating to the arts and sciences, the middle stage of logic tends to get passed over due to a lack of understanding when in fact it is the perfect marriage of the studies. Pattern and order are an originally biblical idea after all. "In the beginning God created..." and the vivid portrait of God's masterpiece is put on display before our eyes to both observe and imitate. There is a pattern in the daily structure: God spoke and thus made, He separated and called forth, He blessed and saw that all was good. There is and order that is made more resilient by the poetry of the words: Light and darkness; the expanse of the waters; earth, sea, vegetation, and seed bearing plants; sun, moon, and stars; great sea creatures and birds; livestock and creeping things; man, within whose nostrils was breathed the breathe of life.

There is a place for structure just as there is a place for beauty. While it is true that the point of logic, ultimately, is not to win and argument but to restore order, it is simultaneously true that one must first learn how to rightly win an argument based on sound judgment and the understanding of thought patterns. Hand in hand, the sciences can merge with the arts to craft a lasting and substantive apologetic for truth...if we will only cross the bridge.

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