Thursday, September 14, 2017

Book Review: The art of logical thinking

'The art of logical thinking, or the art of reasoning' by William Walker Atkinson is about the theoretical and practical aspects of reflective functions of our brain.
The word reason itself is far from being precise in its meaning. In common and popular discourse it denotes that power by which we distinguish truth from falsehood, and right from wrong, and by which we are enabled to combine means for the attainment of particular ends.' The processes of reasoning may be said to comprise four general stages or steps, as follows:
L Abstraction, setting aside from an object, person or thing, a quality or attribute, and making of it a distinct object of thought II. Generalization by which is meant the process of forming Concepts or General Idea. III. Judgment, by which is meant the process of comparing two objects to find similarity or difference. IV. Reasoning, to produce further results of comparison.
Next chapter deals with concept, a mental representation of anything. Here explained is the process of forming concepts, how our concepts are determined not only by our simple perceptions, but also materially by our perceptions. Which is followed by a discussion on judgment, or the process of perceiving the agreement or disagreement of two conceptions. Propositions and how they take part in various types of reasoning is then covered. How all these can lead to formation of theories and syllogisms forms the heart of next chapters. Finally, a treatise on the fallacies one can expect in this branch of knowledge, brings the book to a close.
I liked this book. The last sentence, that “all correct reasoning consists in substituting like things for like things^ and inferring that what is true of one will be true of all which are similar to it in the points of resemblance concerned in the matter”, and “all incorrect reasoning consists in putting one thing for another where there is not the requisite likeness” quite beautifully sums up the duty of all who indulge in logical thinking. That it is as simple as this. Even more brilliant is the assertion that “the rules of deductive and inductive logic to enable us to judge as far as possible when we are thus rightly or wrongly reasoning from some things to others”.

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