Monday, December 02, 2013

Logic

There are many definitions of the word “logic," but I prefer this one: "the quality of being justifiable by reason." The problem with that one, though, is that the word "reason" has a number of definitions of its own. 

Like all things not scientifically provable--truth, for example--logic tends to be relative. What is logical and reasonable to me may not be logical and reasonable to you.

I've always thought of myself as a logical person. While the world is made up of far more shades of gray than solid whites or blacks, I use a simple rule when it comes to my own logic: if anything raises a question in my mind, I go with the answer that makes the most sense to me.

It's been a great and constant source of frustration for me that while I know that mathematics is based entirely on logic, I have never been able to get beyond the "if Johnny has three apples and gives Billy two" stage. Try as I might, I just don't get it. The only class I ever failed in my four years of college was geometry (or was it algebra? One of those signs-and-symbols things).

Instruction manuals are another form of logic which totally, completely escape me. I try. Really, I do. I'll buy something requiring "some assembly," carefully take out the manual, set it and the 4,792 various pieces out in front me. I get perhaps as far as the period in the second sentence in the manual, and I'm totally lost. Where's my logic when I need it?

I really don't have trouble with those things ruled by the laws of science. I may not understand them, but I accept them, if only because I don't feel competent to question them in depth. I know the conclusions of science are based on empirical evidence proven by those far smarter than me. But when it comes to things dealing with the human mind and human reactions and responses, I step on the banana peel. I am constantly dumbfounded by the ease with which most people simply ignore or walk around bottomless chasms of illogic as though they weren't there.

While I don't want to get into a discussion of religion here, I've never been able to comprehend how normally intelligent people so readily accept on “faith” things totally unsupported by fact or logic. Maybe that's one of the reasons I'm agnostic...I just can't do it. The same people who readily understand that laws of the physical universe prevent pigs from flying totally accept without question the proposition that Jesus ascended bodily into heaven. I'm really sorry, but the word "faith" utterly dismisses logic.

But religion is only one example of how willing people seem to be to accept the most ridiculous premises without the slightest question. For verification of this theory, one need look no further than the self-presumed righteousness of Tea Party Republicans—the embodiment of utter illogic. Perhaps it is because logic requires a certain amount of question-asking, which in turn requires thought. Much easier to simply accept whatever you're told. The foundations of our entire religious and political systems rest to a large degree on this principle. Even the most cursory glance at a newspaper, magazine, or television program demonstrates that when it comes logic, the most basic rules of common sense simply do not apply.  

Just as The Golden Rule is given universal lip service while being universally ignored, so is the totally logical caveat, "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is." Whether it is naivety or greed or a combination of the two, in almost any conflict involving them on the one side and logic on the other, don't put your money on logic.

While I'd love to take the high ground and claim that my life operates entirely on logic, that very logic tells me I can't do it. A certain amount of illogic seems to just be a part of the human character. I can readily accept that. It’s the overwhelming disproportion of illogic to logic that worries me.

Did that make any sense?

Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday and Thursday. Please take a moment to visit his website (http://www.doriengrey.com) and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (http://bit.ly/m8CSO1), which is also available as an audiobook (http://www.audible.com/pd/ref=sr_1_1?asin=B00DJAJYCS&qid=1372629062&sr=1-1).



1 comment:

Kage Alan said...

I fear that attempting to apply any logic to the Tea Party will only come out looking like satire. However, I would applaud your efforts.

What amazes me is the logic people believe they are embracing in order to do something a much simpler way. Why? Because it typically involves more time and effort than having done it the right way in the first place.