Truth, Logic and Tolerance
Life in Progress Ministries
Ask any random stranger if they are reasonable, and almost all will either tell you they are reasonable or at the very least will jokingly tell you they aren’t via some cliché line about how their therapist says they are.
Unfortunately, I do not think any of us are as reasonable as we think we are.
I often thought of “reasonable” as meaning fair or moderate. This is one definition of the word, but the core of a reasonable person is the ability to exercise reason. All of this seems intuitive at first, but in practice, it is not. The ability to reason requires a person to understand sound logic. It is at this point of understanding logic that I have an intellectual bone to pick with our culture and with our education system.
(Before I pick this bone, I want to say that I am writing about education at large. This is not a direct attack on the Potosi School District in any way. In fact, what I have to say applies just as much to a place like Mizzou as it does to an elementary school. )
Did you know there are fundamental rules of logic? Of course you did, but I bet you couldn’t state them. I couldn’t. Neither in grade school nor college had I ever been taught the basic fundamentals of logic. Yet I found myself answering “critical thinking” questions throughout grade school.
Critical thinking begins with good logic. And teaching students to think critically without first establishing the rules of logic is like trying to teach algebra to someone who doesn’t know how to multiply or divide.
Have a look at the four fundamental laws of logic:
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1. The law of non-contradiction: A thing or idea or statement etc., cannot both be true and not true in the same way at the same time. For example, black cannot be white and simultaneously black at the same time.
2. The law of the excluded middle: A statement is either true or false.
3. The law of identity: A thing is what it is. As in, it has a specific nature. For example, I am 5’9” tall, and that does not change even if I say (or wish) I am taller.
4. The law of rational inference: There should be sufficient reason for a thing to happen. For example: If A=B, and B=C, then A=C.
As I said before, many think that logic is implied in critical thinking, but after working as a teaching assistant at Mizzou, I can tell you that contradictions run wild in the essays of many college students.
What is even worse is that these laws do not just apply to abstract thought, they apply to our day-to-day lives as well. Finances, morality, philosophy, law, lifestyles etc. all are thrown into chaos when a person chooses a particular course of action and hopes for a better result than what these laws would dictate.
See, the reason one uses the laws of logic is to come to a conclusion about what is true or not true. However, our culture, especially academia and the social sciences is questioning the idea that truth exists…