Introduction to Logic for the Gifted


Introduction

      No one can be a good carpenter, mechanic, engineer, or whatever without mastery of the tools and skills of the trade.  In like manner, no one can be a good thinker and a rational agent without mastery of language, for language is the set of tools and instruments of thought. Indeed, language expands all of our distinctively human powers. Without language we would not be rational beings; deficiency in understanding and use of language is a severe human handicap. Bad grammar and limited vocabulary are shackles of the mind; lack of clarity in the meaning of words and sentences mislead in thought and in communication like a confusing and indistinct map.

      One may choose not to be a carpenter or a mechanic and thus avoid mastery of the tools of that trade; but no one can choose not to be a rational agent —no one can choose not to gain a mastery of language, not to acquire the skills of good reasoning, and yet live a life that is worthy of one as a human being.

      We all have an inherent interest in being logical. We want our perceptions, interpretations, and beliefs to be correct; we want our reasons for taking something to be the case or for doing something to be good reasons; we want our inferences and reasoning to be valid; we want our descriptions, reports, explanations, and arguments to be clear and convincing to others; and we want to avoid being taken-in and mislead by the word magic and sophistries of salespersons, advertisers, politicians, and indoctrinators.

      So I confidently assume that everyone about to become engaged with this little book already wants to become a master of the linguistic tools and logical skills that are so essential to the human trade — the living of a human life, and to all the special trades and occupations open to us. Everyone has some commonsense knowledge of logic just as everyone has some commonsense knowledge of the physical world. But like physics or anything else, to become a master of the tools and skills of thought takes study and hard work. Fortunately, however, we enjoy the development and exercise of our natural powers, whether physical or mental. Learning logic should be fun and it will pay dividends every day of your life.