If A, then B; If B, then C; If C, then D; If D, then E. THEREFORE, IF A, THEN E!

Dianne N. Irving
© September 20, 2019
Reproduced with Permission

I. Introduction

This is a short but serious comment about the critical need for today's young people to be able to do simple Aristotelean Logic(1) -- to be able to think straight -- for their own good. Young people need to learn how to find the causes of harms to them and where those causes necessarily take them, not just wallow in the harmful consequential effects, with no possibility of changing things harmful to them for the better. (As ole Aristotle said, "A small error in the beginning [or middle!] leads to a multitude of errors in the end")! Harm inherent in the causes leads to harmful consequences to people later on.

II. The Logic Syllogism

We professors noticed this decline in basic thinking skills and lack of capacity in searching for and thus dealing with "causes" of any sort with each new freshman class.(2) First, when I would put up the classic Aristotelean syllogism, they just could not do it: "All men are mortal; John is a man; therefore John is mortal." They weren't trying to be obnoxious or troublesome. They just really couldn't do it. They can "feel" really well, and they can "imagine" beyond the imagination -- but they can't use Reason (think)!

III. The Logic of "IF, THEN"

Second, another Aristotelean Logic method is: "IF A, then B; IF B, then C; IF C, then D; IF D, then E. THEREFORE IF A, then E"! They can't do it!

Our schools and teachers need to bring back Aristotelean Logic so that students can figure out where their harmful "E"s are coming from -- so that they (and our law makers and other officials!) can do something about it!!! A, B, C and D are inherently contained within E. If E is harmful, then to find out where it's coming from one can look back to D, C, B and A for the source of the harm. For example, if E is harmful because the group I'm hanging out with promotes the use of drugs or violence, by looking back to where E came from one can discover that B contained such harmful aspects to it when it required me to join gangs or demanded that I "can't be judgmental"! If you can't judge where your harm is coming from, then you'll just have to suffer on ...

Or, one can use this to look ahead! If I discover that E contains something harmful that it picked up in B, then I know that and why I don't want to pass it on to or encourage it with my good friends or children who I don't want to hurt. Instead, I can just explain to them why it would be harmful to them, and get rid of it myself.

IV. Suggestions

When my kids were in our local elementary school here (Norwood) the students were required to read a really great book written for young students that walked them through this second Logic method. The book began by placing the student on Road A, then requiring them to choose various different roads at various crossroads that came along the way throughout the book. By the time the student got to the end of the book they were on some road that they never thought they would ever be on -- but determined by what road came before it. Understanding this inherent connection helps even these young students choose alternatives more wisely.

Similarly, if the good in E is to be hailed, then its source/s in D, C, B and A should often be acknowledged as well.

Applications of this Logic can also be used to help people in general grasp what is concerning and dangerous about various social and political movements running rampant today, like Communism, ANTIFA, Socialism, Progressivism, anarchy, Gnosticism, Islam, MS-13, Nazism, Liberation Theology, pantheism, Anonymous Group, multiple George Soros et al groups, Climate Change, the "Green New Deal", etc. It allows people to see the whole picture, to look behind the glitzy propaganda and discover the harmful and often even vicious side of any particular "ism" that they don't want you to know about (until it is too late and the harm is done).

It would be so easy for books like this to be written for students of various ages (and for teachers and parents, too!). Time for a new movement that helps people think straight -- for the good of all of us! As philosopher Josef Pieper sagely warned:

"Yet new, clever and ever erroneous scientific claims and linguistic rhetoric continue to confuse and darken the human conscience. Josef Pieper, a contemporary Catholic philosopher and theologian, recently wrote an amazing small book concerning the advertising and communications industries, The Abuse of Language – Abuse of Power, that is astonishingly applicable to the rhetoric found in these related debates about the human embryo today. Such rhetoric, he notes, is not new. Plato attributed it to the Sophists whom he described as, "highly paid and popularly applauded experts in the art of twisting words; able to sweet-talk something bad into something good and to turn white into black." The truth itself cannot in all honesty be the decisive concern of those who aim at verbal artistry, he notes. Rather, as Plato forces Gorgias to admit, "such sophisticated language, disconnected from the roots of truth, in fact pursues some ulterior motives." Language is thus invariably turned into an instrument of power. "The place of authentic reality is taken over by a fictitious reality; my perception is indeed still directed toward an object, but now it is a pseudo-reality, deceptively appearing as being real, so much so that it becomes almost impossible any more to discern the truth." This is precisely what bothered Plato with his own contemporary Sophists. What makes the sophists so dangerous, said Plato, is that they "fabricate a fictitious reality." That the real world in which we all live can be taken over by pseudo-realities whose fictitious nature threatens to become unnoticed is truly a depressing thought. And yet this Platonic nightmare possesses an alarming contemporary relevance, for the general public is being reduced to a state where people not only are unable to find out about the truth but also become unable even to search for it."(3) (emphases added)

V. Conclusion

Time to start thinking again, rather than just "feeling", imagining, and random talking that gets us nowhere -- before it's too late, as Pieper has wisely warned.