Logic is man’s method of reaching conclusions objectively by deriving them without contradiction from the facts of reality—ultimately, from the evidence provided by man’s senses. If men reject logic, then the tie between their mental processes and reality is severed; all cognitive standards are repudiated, and anything goes.
This is representative of the typical idolatry with which logic is viewed by orthodox Objectivists. Before I can proceed in my attempt to prove that most political ideals are (and likely will be) based on non-rational and non-logical sources, I must once again clear up the myths about logic that flourish like so many weeds within the Objectivist garden.
On the back of Morton Hunt’s excellent account of the discoveries of cognitive science can be found the following provocative blurb:
How logical are we? Not very. How much does it matter? Less than you think. The human mind ordinarily reasons by natural processes that are illogical—but that generally lead to correct conclusions.
That, in any case, is what cognitive scientists have discovered in their researches. Since this is obviously a touchy subject for Objectivists, it might be useful to take a glimpse at how cognitive science reached its astonishing conclusion about the limits of logic.
Cognitive scientists used some of the following syllogisms to test how well people think logically. Try them yourself and see if you can figure them out:
No Gox box when in purple socks.
Jocks is a Gox wearing purple socks.
Therefore Jocks does not now box.
Those who believe in democracy believe in free speech.
Fascists do not believe in democracy.
Therefore Fascists do not believe in free speech.
Whatever makes for full employment is socially beneficial.
Being in a state of war tends to make for full employment.
Therefore war is socially beneficial.
If it’s raining, the streets are wet.
The streets are wet.
Therefore it's raining.
Disease X is known to produce various symptoms, including A, B, and C.
This patient has symptoms A, B, and C.
Therefore this patient has disease X.
Finally, we conclude with an incomplete syllogism. See if you can figure out what logically proceeds from the following two premises:
Some of the beekeepers are artists.
None of the chemists are beekeepers.
The point of these examples is to demonstrate how difficult it is to think logically. Logical reasoning is not a skill that comes easy. The human mind takes it up only with great difficulty.
If you have any doubts on this score, try to figure out the syllogisms presented above. Unless you are very well versed in logic, you will likely find it hard going. I will provide the answers in my next post and explain what can be inferred from it as to the nature and function of logic in human life.