Logic: A God-Centered Approach to the Foundation of Western Thought

Vern Poythress’s Logic: A God-Centered Approach to the Foundation of Western Thought is a hefty book. If you cut out the bibliography and the indices, it still clocks in at 708 pages. As such, it’s hard to review it all in one go. I’m going to try though by listing the things I particularly liked about this book and the areas in which I felt it fell short.

Pros

  • This book gives a breathtaking picture of the breadth of Logic in ways that other Introductory texts that I have read do not.
  • It is written from a theologically Reformed, presuppositional perspective (might not be a pro for everyone)
  • The author works hard to unify all the different types of Logic (i.e. categorical logic, propositional logic, Boolean algebra, predicate logic, set theory, modal logic, etc.) and to show how they all fit together and support one another.
  • The author clearly loves his material. His excitement seeps through the pages.
  • The author continually attempts to show how logic relates to other fields of study such as philosophy, physics, computer programming, theology, and science.


Cons

  • Even though it has over 700 pages, the book moves along at a very fast pace. Sometimes the concepts are zooming by so quickly that you might miss something because it didn’t seem significant at the time only to realize a few chapters later that the earlier concept is being used to build even more theoretical structures later on in the book. This means that there was a lot of going back and reading earlier parts of the book for me in order to follow his arguments.
  • There are very few exercises for a student or reader to work through. Even thought this book was purportedly written as an introductory logic text, it doesn’t seem to have been designed with the student in mind.
  • Some of the author’s theological explanations become repetitive over the course of the book. There are only so many ways to restate the relationship of logic concepts to the problem of the many and the one or to ideas of transcendence and immanence.
  • Syllogisms are really shortchanged in this book. I guess if I want more syllogisms I need to get my hands on Peter Kreeft’s Socratic Logic next.

Overall, I wouldn’t recommend this for students just starting out with Logic. If this is your first encounter with Logic, I imagine it might be overwhelming. If you already have a grasp of basic Aristotelian Logic and you want to expand your idea of what Logic is and what it can do, this would be a good book to read through.

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