Logic

Logic is structured thinking. Like all thinking, logic is a story, but very specific and very organized.

Logic is an abstraction. Unlike understanding, logic doesn’t have to connect to reality. Thus, it can often be useless.

As a structure, logic builds on logic, but being human requires us to also integrate the most basic logic with feelings and intuitions.

We infer logic off everything, and everyone naturally forms all their thoughts with some form of logic. However, that logic may not link to reality, for a variety of reasons. But, even when someone isn’t sensible, they’re still logical upon the framing of thought they’ve held.


Processing

Each logical statement is a value of its own, but is made of multiple steps according to a purpose:

1. Data collection

First, a person gathers data from perceptions, both theirs and others. Each datum is a “premise”, which is a declared statement of fact:

  • A exists
  • B exists
  • C exists

The data can be inferred or perceived, but finding a 100% true datum is always difficult. We’re stuck with mostly secondhand perceptions, and often trust the secondhand perceptions of other people, and it could all be based on a networked set of beliefs that go back to one person who was actually lying or delusional.

The best data comes from excessive details. While it sometimes happens with scientific and philosophical rigor (and in specific trades like accounting and insurance), most people have very little reason to take extra time in their everyday routine for that and simply trust their intuition.

2. Combination

By combining premises, we form natural conclusions that the premises stated or implied:

  • A exists
  • If A, then X is true

While logic must include at least one premise, conclusions usually use at least two:

  • A exists
  • B exists
  • If A and B, then X is true

We often use the negative of a concept:

  • A exists
  • B doesn’t exist
  • if A and NOT B, then X is true

Deductive logic is certain, while inductive logic is likely:

  • If A, then X is true
    vs.
    If A, then X is probably true

Life itself is typically uncertain, so 99.99% of daily life is made of inductive logic:

  • Using comparisons between equivalent or same things.
  • Broadening a particular element of something into a general idea, or its opposite by applying a general idea to a particular element.
  • Creating contrasting opposites.
  • Drawing connections between something’s part versus its whole.

3. Test

While premises and conclusions don’t need to be true, they’re built to fulfill a purpose, so the logic must conform to reality. Purposes require presuming, so we’re incapable of making zero presumptions or implications of thought, which means entirely logical thinking is technically impossible.

Barring someone’s mental illness, a conclusion must adhere to the boundaries of its premise(s).

If experience dictates differently than the conclusion, then the logical statement has premises that were overlooked:

  • If A, then X is true
  • BUT at B time I remember when NOT A, but X was still true
  • Thus, if A or at B time, then X is true

As we gain experience, we often discover logical fallacies we overlooked when we were younger. Logic is a framework built on past-tense experiences, so purging inaccurate thoughts is a never-ending effort.

A good conclusion that withstands reality’s tests requires many premises to make it precise enough to be useful:

  • If A, NOT B
  • But when NOT B , C generally happens when D happens
  • And, if D, then E, F, and probably G
  • And, C and D probably mean X with the possibility of Y
  • Y might be B at a later time
  • In other words, A isn’t B, but also expect C, D, E, F, G, X and Y to potentially lead to B later

As we gain self-awareness, we tend to discover many more premises we held and weren’t aware of.


Details

For all logic, each premise is a prior conclusion we made beforehand, going all the way back to when we were babies. Once we form those conclusions as “given”, we use them as part of the framework for the next logical thing.

Most logical reasoning is habitual, so we’re unaware of its formation. As you read this, you’re acting on hundreds of “given” elements, in this case by observing language.

This built-up logic system is immensely helpful because we don’t have to think about it. The downside, though, is that we’re constantly stuck with old information that might be inaccurate or outdated. In the case of an unhealthy family upbringing, most of our old information is bad, even after we’ve grown up.

Input

Contrary to how we may intuitively imagine, we often receive the conclusions first from our environment and perceptions. We first perceive what exists, then try to estimate what caused that thing.

Mythology, origin stories, cosmology, and history are all calculated stories of how we got here and where we’re going. They’re relatively unreliable because there aren’t enough premises for us to understand fully, though individuals’ logical discoveries usually drive people to believe certain things over others.

Failing

Logic can break down either in the structure itself (formal fallacies) or in the context surrounding it (informal fallacies). Philosopher debate endlessly about where to draw the line between those two.

Most everyday logic is made of informal fallacies. We trust many, many things, and don’t usually realize it. The faster we must think, the more we trust, but even the deepest and slowest philosophical pondering never entirely removes our need to trust specific foundational premises.

The most frequent logical fallacies are where the premises and the conclusion are true, but unrelated:

  • The dog is wet, so therefore it took a bath.
  • HOWEVER: the dog may be wet for many other reasons.

The easiest way to detect bad logic is by inverting things or adding something else to see if it becomes silly:

  • I don’t see the moon in the daytime, and the earth is round, so the moon moves around the earth.
  • SWAP: I don’t see the [sun] at nighttime, and the earth is round, so the sun moves around the earth.

Generally, if there’s a simpler premise-conclusion connection, it’s probably more correct (Occam’s Razor). Even when it isn’t more correct, it’s easier to figure out.

Most humor involves bad logic, but often taken to complete absurdity.

Logic vs Truth

Most of our logic is inductive and/or fallacy, so we require feelings to attach logic to reality. Thus, the truth isn’t always logical, and logic doesn’t always point to the truth.

Further, the basis of logic must, by its nature, be inductive. All logic can come from a previous logical concept, linking together like a chain. But, if the chain links itself back to somewhere on itself, it’s circular logic, which is a fallacy:

  • If Y, then Z
  • If X, then Y
  • if W, then X
  • If Z, then W?

At its core, we’re forced to believe at least one thing is the original source to avoid the ultimate flow of logic from becoming circular:

Within reality, negations are generally easier to prove than assertions because it requires less effort. Saying “NOT all of X is Y” only requires finding 1 X that isn’t Y, but saying “all of X is Y” requires proving a complete and absolute link between the two.

While we can use logic to discover truths, it’s not always the best solution. Emphasizing logic strictly will make a person perpetually critical of everything and create many false-negatives. Logic has its place in the good life, but isn’t the only tool necessary for healthy understanding.

Analysis

To make sense of the world, we slice up reality into various groups:

  • SWOT analysis: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Strengths
  • PEST analysis: Political, Economic, Socio-Cultural, and Technological factors
  • STAR points: Situation, Task, Action, Result
  • The 5 “Why’s”: ask “why” in a sequential chain five times to discover something close to the original cause

We form those groupings as their own values. In a sense, we’re creating and imposing a model of reality onto our raw perceptions. Math is the most popular form of this analysis, and is a broader derivation of logic with symbolic numbers instead of simply true/false.

Great analysis about anything in particular will always include questioning preconceived beliefs and ideas, meaning that true critical thinking includes self-criticism. While anyone can think critically with patience, intelligent people don’t need as much patience to do it, which is why smart people have an easier time thinking critically (even if they don’t).

With enough good inputs, analysis can be amazingly effective at predicting reality. By magnifying it with logic technology (i.e., a computer), great analysis can be terrifyingly reliable about the approximate likelihood of large-scale trends (though not precisely accurate).

Since we can’t gather all the inputs, we can never fully predict the future. There’s no way to anticipate things we couldn’t have known, so we should only try anticipating if we are fully certain we can do something with it.

One useful way to track our values and understanding is to perform thought experiments. By creating imagined scenarios which force extremes, we can observe nuances we otherwise would overlook.

Over-analysis is when we should be doing something else (like gathering more information or unpacking feelings) but instead are trying to logically slice up what we know. Over-analyzers often believe their analysis on the principle that they worked very hard and spent lots of time on their thoughts.

Sensibility

While everyone is logical, everyone is not sensible. To have “sense” is to understand broader intuitive context that clarifies whether logic conforms to truth. The following statement is 100% logical, but complete nonsense:

  • All Icelanders are professional dancers, and all professional dancers are women, so all Icelanders are women.

Most people understand at least some nonsense as being truth, though. They either miss some key premises (especially when they’re young) or believe a few bad premises (because they were educated poorly or are mentally unwell).

But, everyone thinks they’re rational and sensible, which is a product of natural conceit. This becomes especially dangerous when people reinforce their logic with statistics.

While analysis divides, sense combines. But, most intelligent people look down on sensible thinking and often fail to conflate information to make it more useful.

We can all become sensible by doing the following, but they all require a great deal of humility:

  • Believe the opposite of what you believe, then debate fairly with yourself how you’re wrong, both ways.
  • Consider all perceptions and perceived facts as simply opinions.
  • Expect that everything you believe might be wrong.

Application

Logic is often built on feelings within our perception, so we must consider why we believe things whenever we disagree with others. Instead of fighting against an outside force, our largest conflicts should be in our minds (and typically are anyway).

Some philosophers and scientists imagine we can make all things logical or even deductively logical with enough thinking or observation, but we can’t. We’re stuck as feeling beings that form those feelings around logic, irrespective of gender, religious doctrine, or understanding.

Deductive logic makes us more certain about everything related to it, so we must seek it out whenever possible. For example, you may not know if someone will say “yes”, but you do know that people never refuse certain things without other reasons.

Just because you can’t prove that a set of logic isn’t sound doesn’t mean it automatically is. Your intuition may understand unspoken logic you weren’t aware of.

Even if you have many qualifiers, you can still find complete certainty in reality (e.g., “I am completely certain that, assuming the world is not an illusion and that I’m not crazy, I am presently sitting in a chair right now”). The easiest of these are negations (e.g., “I know I am not a fish”).

Imagine daily life without the following inductive logic statements, all which require trusting unknown things to achieve a habitual benefit:

  • “People will drive inside the lines on the road.”
  • “My paycheck will come at the end of the month.”
  • “My friends like me.”
  • “The world will keep spinning and I won’t die today.”

To the degree of our dysfunctional upbringing, we can’t trust our logic. Most of it is based on faulty premises.

If you disagree with someone, they understand the world differently from you. That doesn’t mean anyone is wrong or right. You can only discover that by consulting reality, irrespective of anyone’s conduct, reputation, or popular opinion.

Analysis can be fun! If you can understand others’ logic, you can often discern almost exactly what someone is thinking when they receive a cue. Most comedians use this to amuse and entertain by adding bad premises that feel right, removing premises, or making perfectly logical nonsense. Stories, of every type of media, are created this way.

To be more logical, think more slowly. Consider all the premises that make the idea 100% true for anyone observing. While an intuition grounded on what you’re certain of is possible, it takes lots of work with reasoning to build.

Over-analysis is the easiest way to lose track of the truth. It sabotages common sense, deadens intuition, and makes the person generally insufferable.