Thisby Thestoop and the Black Mountain

It’s fair to say that I read a good number of books children’s books. Having kids of my own, I like to pilfer their shelves from time to time. In our house, we like to stock “the classics” as a sort of quality guarantee. Since children’s books became a genre there have been writers who have tried to cash in on the children’s market as a way to make a quick buck with little effort. Reading “the classics” means that you get the best books from every era without having to wade through the formulaic twaddle, most of which has mercifully been forgotten over the years.
It’s a different story with modern children’s books. Picking up a new children’s book means taking a chance on wasting your time, and the modern children’s book publishing machine loves tried and true formulas. After the success of Harry Potter we got books about schools for magical/mythological/specially talented kids who are sorted into groups based on their personalities. After The Hunger Games took off, we’ve have had m…

Logic: The Right Use of Reason in the Inquiry After Truth

Isaac Watts organizes his Logic text according to what he calls the four functions of the human mind: Perception, Judgment, Reasoning, and Disposition.

Most logic books jump quickly to reasoning. I was surprised at how much time Watts spent on the nature of ideas, the categories of ideas, the way we use words as symbols to create categories, the way we should define various kinds of things and ideas, etc. It impressed on me something that I think often distinguishes a good logic student from a poor logic student, but that I had never been able to see before. Over half the book is taken up with categorizing ideas, defining terms and words, and using those terms to make statements. It’s not until about 70% of the way into the book that he even begins to talk about arguments, syllogisms, or reasoning.

His section on statements and how we determine the truth value of statements was especially good. He talks about how truth value is determined for different kinds of statements. His discussion of prejudice and the sources and kinds of prejudice is fantastic. He has a good, and very thorough discussion of syllogisms focused on how arguments in their many different forms actually work in English. Finally his book is full of practical advice for reasoning, learning, and communicating.

While many of the scientific examples he uses in the book are outdated, and one example he uses contains some, ahem, outdated notions of race, the book still stands as a great primer in logic and a fantastic source of practical advice on reading, learning, thinking, and remembering, as well as putting what you have learned to good use in your life.

Comments

Daniel Stepke said…
I need to read this. I own it, too.