We live in a world where we’d like to think that logic rules. After all, when was the last time you heard a person proclaim that they’re not logical? We like to think of ourselves as logical, but not necessarily the ‘other guy.’ However, with a little self-criticism, we might step back and reflect upon those times where logic was nowhere to be found. That our lives were utterly barren of it and that it’d vanished from our existence. That it simply went into hiding.
According to the Oxford dictionary the prima facie definition of logic is “reasoning conducted or assessed according to strict principles of validity.” It’s as good a definition we’ll find anywhere. Yet in an age where the mantra ‘anything goes’ is standard fare, more than a few may have trouble conceptualizing “strict principles of validity.” Who needs logic when one is free to do whatever one pleases? Isn’t logic for those boring, conventional types after all?
When French philosopher Jean de la Bruyere (1645 to 1696), surmised that “Logic is the technique by which we add conviction to truth,” he was expecting that a person of conviction was necessarily operating from a foundation of truth. Unfortunately, we know that this isn’t always the case (see A Lesson in Cognitive Dissonance…). We know that people often convince themselves of ideas that bear no resemblance to reality whatsoever. They become so caught up in their conviction that any fact to the contrary is but an annoyance to their self-righteous thoughts. We describe such people as ideologues. And an ideologue is a primary example of logic gone astray, since logic plays no role in the world of the ideologue.
When ideology takes precedent over logic, it’s then that the boundary of freedom has been crossed. Without logic there can be no freedom. Freedom predicates that logic ultimately reigns supreme as it supposes freedom of thought, speech and action. It’s in freedom where we test the limits of logic. When we’re no longer allowed to test the limits of logic, then we’re no longer free.
The danger in an ideological world, where everything supposes perfection down to the percentile, is that there’s no basis in reality for this. The world by nature is an imperfect place weaving its path through a never-ending maze between chaos and order. The world couldn’t care a dime about empty platitudes or proclamations, but it does care about logic. For by definition, logic exhibits the truisms of the world. It reflects the reality of the world as we know it. To deny that reality, is to do so at our own peril.
So the next time, we witness the drum-beating of some popular notion or another barren bromide, let’s raise our heads from the sands and ask the question: is this logical? Is this something a rational human being can relate to? If the answer is no, then it might be incumbent upon us to voice our concerns, lest we let logic go into hiding. And lest we watch the freedoms we so enjoy and take for granted, to also go with it…
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