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Logic Alone is Illogical

Try Good Thinking Instead

By Jack DrakePublished 2 years ago 4 min read
Logic Alone is Illogical
Photo by Yves Alarie on Unsplash

In some recent political debates in a social media group I used to belong to, many would say that only logic matters, that feelings are irrelevant. My assertion is that such a view is itself illogical and ignores the evidence of reality. To ignore evidence and expect accuracy in theory is inherently illogical, impractical, and untenable. It has been said that to use "logic alone is a great way to go wrong with confidence." (R.A.H.) If you start at the wrong place, logic cannot get you to the right place. Leaving out evidence and data is very much the wrong place to start.

Try thinking, instead! Good thinking that includes every tool you can bring to bear - including evidence, reason, etc. - will lead you closer to an actual answer, or at least a place with a more focused set of questions than uninformed and unbalanced logic could ever do. Your best efforts will yield the best results, and if shallow logic which only evaluates basic surface structures is all you can bring to the table, you need to go back and get some depth for your mental bench.

Often accompanying this shallow logic preference is a slavish belief in a specific philosophy, ideology, or school of thought that has been accepted without studying the philosophers, ideas, or consequences behind it. All philosophy and ideology boil down to being someone's argument about the validity of their own thinking. Sometimes that thinking is going to be proven valid, but often it is just speculation, hopes, desires or regurgitation/rephrasing of beliefs. Knowing the beliefs, actions, history, context, ideas, and influences of the philosopher or organization you want to embrace helps you to apply better, more complete thinking to your understanding of their assertions. You are gathering evidence both direct and meta; the more dat you have, the greater the resolution of the picture that is formed.

Ask yourself and others questions often when encountering firmly held "logical" beliefs: What were the philosopher's motivations? How closely did they live to their own idea and beliefs? What were their goals?

Some of the most self-proclaimed "logical" people I have met in working in politics the last several election cycles have had some of the most uncontrolled negative emotional behavior. While they froth at the mouth, they try to hit you with the logic stick, and condemn you for acknowledging the natural emotional state of humanity, or the prior consequences of similar "logical" paths. I often feel that if that pedantic and low-dimensional thought is what passes as "logic" in the modern era, I will pass. Such a behavioral position is certainly not thinking, reasoning, or a rational approach to communication or promoting ideas, much less to actually solving problems or making true progress.

Humans are emotional creatures, of various personality types and behavioral spectrums. We each have behaved irrationally at times, and more to the point others have treated us irrationally. These are basic facts, and experiencing life builds copious amounts of data based on these areas. Humans process life emotionally both internally and externally. Reason, thinking, logic, meditation, and related attempts at regulating and containing emotional engagement and response derive from those very same urges, drives, and emotionality that are the essence of human existence. Our emotions are what have driven us to try to stabilize our emotions.

The truth of our emotional existence remains persistent. It is exemplified both positively and negatively by each of us, every day - including those "logical" browbeaters. Their abuse of what they consider "illogical" defeats their assertions without even having to address the merits thereof. It stands to reason that some of what they may have "logically" arrived at as conclusion might just bear examination and reflection, and we might benefit greatly. Their lack of emotional intelligence, their refusal to consider all the facts and evidence that surrounds us fails to promote their ideas, and if they are good ideas their poor presentation denies them to us. Being caught in such a circular prison is anything but logical! Or effective.

If a "logical" argument fails to include reality, then it fails. If a person hears your "logical" idea that doesn't include historical attunement, emotional allowance, or respect for experience, then how can they even engage? What if your "logical" idea sounds a lot like something that was once discriminatory, exclusionary, or violent to your audience? You will fail to sell it on its merits, if it has any. You will have forgotten to consider all the factors. But adding those dynamic and diverse factors to the mélange may force your idea to fail or evolve. Either way, it is best to truly think about a thing, with all the evidence possible, instead of just using the most basic "logic." Less time and effort will be wasted all around!

Logic is not truth, nor is it facts. It is a process, much like any program or mathematical consideration; it is only as good as the person who created it, as good as the data fed into it, and as accurate as those factors can make it. Logic as analysis tool makes sense, but logic as an ideology leaves a lot on the table.

We can do better than just being "logical." Good thinking includes logic, but does not exclude anything else.

-- J.R.H.

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Jack Drake

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    Jack DrakeWritten by Jack Drake

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