Two Sides of the Coin: What Role Should Logic Play in Our Society?
I've been writing a series of posts about the foundations of Western History.
Yes, I've been writing the posts after 1:00 AM when I am too tired to think. I probably made a huge number of mistakes because I decided I had to hit the publish button before my head hit the pillow.
The posts all centered around one rhetorical question: What role should logic play in our society.
Most historians trace the origins to Aristotle. Aristotle loved studying the natural world and he employed a system of classification in his investigations.
Aristotle examined the ideas expressed by Pythagoras, Parmenides, Zeno, Socrates, Xenophon, Plato and others. He classified different arguments and found that some led to error. These we call fallacies. The most promising form of argument is a thing called a syllogism.
The traditional syllogism had a major premise, a minor premise and a conclusion. The major premise is often called a reason. The if then statement used in computer languages is a modified form of the syllogism.
It turns out that logic is extremely powerful.
Aristotle tutored the son of King Phillip of Macedonia. His student Alexander applied logic to the question of military conquest and conquerred Egypt and Persia. He then died mysteriously.
Ptolemy Soter was a childhood friend who probably learned logic alongside Alexander. He became the ruler of Egypt. His lineage built the Library of Alexandria. The Ptolemies applied logic to the study of the stars and developed actual scientific based astronomy.
Euclid, who taught at the Library of Alexandria, applied logic to the study of math and developed an axiomatic approach to Geometry.
Theologians in Alexandria applied Greek Philosophy to the relation between man and god. Yes, I intentionally said "philosophy" and not "logic" as theologians tend to be more Platonic than Aristotelian. Jewish theologians in Alexandria translated the Jewish Scriptures into Greek.
Apparently Greek and Roman architects applied logic to the question of building as they made remarkable structures including a system of aqueducts.
The leaders of the Roman Republic had a tradition of sending their children to Athens or Alexandria for education. They learned Greek philosophy and logic. For several centuries Rome was ruled oligarchs who deliberated about events in the Roman Senate.
Roman Generals such as Scipio and Julius Caesar studied logic. Like Alexander the Great, they applied logic to the question of military conquest. The Roman legion developed formations that could beat the Greek Phalanx and Rome conquered most of the land surrounding the Mediterranean.
Caesar formed a conspiracy to take control of the Senate. Senators formed a conspiracy and stabbed Caesar on the Ides of March.
I guess one could call this the start of partisan politics.
Augustus Caesar was able to gain political power and Rome transitioned into an Empire.
The Empire applied logic to the question of administering a huge empire. They were notably brutal.
In 86 BC, the Roman Lucius Cornelius Sulla destroyed both the Academy and Lyceum in Athens. We start seeing a general repression of the study of logic in the ancient regime.
The books of the Christian Bible appeared sometime between 0AD and 200AD. IMHO, these book apply ideas from Greek Philosophy.
People in the Middle East learned Aristotelian Logic. People in the Middle East made enormous strides in mathematics.
The book "Aristotle's Children" by Richard E. Rubenstein put forward an interesting observation. Whenever a society holds Aristotelian logic in high esteem, the society thrives.
What often happens is that scholars will discover the works of Aristotle. They will apply analysis to the problems of the day and the society will start to prosper.
A generation or two after the rediscovery of logic, the rulers would realize that anyone who knew how to apply logic could unseat them. The grandchildren of the people who benefited from logic will start forming tricks to suppress logic.
In this light, I sincerely ask the question: What is the ideal role of logic in society?
IMHO, we should aspire to logic to as many people as possible as logic will help people solve the problems that they face in life.
The ruling class seem to want logic restricted to the rulers.
Should our society promote learning of logic to everyone or should access to logic be restricted to the ruling elite.
I am asking this question on Proof of Brain. To make the question topical I will point out that Aristotelian logic is something that can be executed in the human mind. The human brain is unique among the brains of other animals in that the human brain has the ability to process of a syllogism..
The picture from Wikicommons shows the School of Athens by Raphael completed in 1511. Plato is pointing to the sky. Aristotle to the earth.