Archive | October, 2013

Why Would YOU Think Like Aristotle?

26 Oct

So why would anyone, you, I, or the person down the street, the big shot in the office, the bag person pushing a shopping cart  — Why would they, or anyone else, think like, or want to think like Aristotle?

The reason is simple: Because we are human.

Aristotle no doubt believed he came up with a higher form of reasoning. His followers, even to this day, tend to believe that Aristotlean Logic is a higher form of reasoning, largely due to the complex nature of its exceptions.  Fallacies, they are called.

So what is a Fallacy?

Its simplest definition is an error in reasoning: On the surface the argument looks as though it is reasonable and logical, but when compared to empirical data the answer simply does not fit.

The easiest fallacy to uncover results from not closely defining the terms being used. Often these are accidental. If you don’t realize that bacteria, viruses, fungi, yeast, and protozoa, are all called germs: If you don’t realize that some of these are good for you, then you are prone to making fallacies about them yourself or to accepting fallacies about them from others.

This is where questions come in. Even when you know that germs are a category, not things themselves, and even when you know that some are good for you and some are bad for you and some are indifferent — it does not hurt to ask yourself, or the person you are talking too, “Exactly what do we mean by that?”

Why Logic is so difficult to master is because there are so many potential fallacies that have been identified. The lowest number of known fallacies I have ever heard is ninety-nine.  The largest number is over a thousand.

In order to be a logician you need to not only recognize a fallacy, you need to be able to implement it; that is find it and correct it.

The reason why there are so many exceptions in Logic; the reason why there are so many fallacies is not because Logic is complex, but because it is simplistic. It way over simplifies so that our minds, which are incapable of handling the full extent of reality, can deal with, manipulate, and understand reality.

Once we understand that Logic is simplified reasoning, one that is not in any way connected too, or representative of reality, then we can use it to good effect. We take a tiny piece of our insanely complex universe, make it bite size so our brain can deal with it, and then discuss it as though it were real. We can refine our definition to the point where it can be understood and manipulated. We can discuss specific bacteria strains, or domestic cats, without constantly worrying that this small segment of reality is not representative of all reality, even though we are aware of the fact.

Once that is done we can use Logic.

Basically Logic is a system of drawing lines around the various parts of the universe and declaring “This is This and That is That”.

It is important to realize that neither This nor That really exist in and of themselves.

A dog is NOT a dog. There is a self animated fur-bearing thing out there in reality that we call a dog. Dogs share DNA with cats and humans. When we talk about dogs we often do not even realize we are discussing domestic dogs and much of what we say does not apply to their wild cousins. So we can discuss German Shepherds or Border Collies as opposed to Tea Cup Poodles or Chihuahuas.

I am aware I am beating a point in the head here, but it needs to be absorbed.

When we are using Logic we are not talking about “Things” we are talking about our definitions of “Things”. The things themselves do not exist independently or out of context with any of the other things the universe is composed of. The fact things can be treated as though they are separate entities allows humans the ability “Think” about them: To manipulate ideas about them: To, as far as humanly possible, understand them.

We never really know, no can we ever know, exactly what we are talking about. But we can arrange our definitions is such a way that we can discuss them as though we did know.

The problems of reasoning happen when we forget that Logic, Things, or Events, and our understanding of them, are all artificial constructs that allow us as humans to function within a universe we cannot fully comprehend.

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