A common mistake among many of the simple ones, is that, as long as we keep calm and use logic, we can solve any conflict. It was understandable that one could do such a mistake due to naivety and inexperience, before the Twentieth Century. However, we have now, black on white and well known, demonstrations to the contrary, in formal systems studied by professional logicians. Besides, as The French Republic is demonstrating in Libya again, in collaboration with the USA, war has a logic which squashable critters don’t have.
Yes, I am also thinking of the famous Incompleteness Theorems, but, obviously, not only. There is way worse.
Before I get in incompleteness and further evils, let me recap some of the traditional approach. I thank in passing Massimo P, for calling my attention to this.
This is going to be short and rather self-explanatory, with no additional commentary on my part necessary at all. Here is the full transcription of Epictetus’ Discourses, II.25, a gem to keep in mind for future use:
“When one of his audience said, ‘Convince me that logic is useful,’ he said, Would you have me demonstrate it?
Well, then, must I not use a demonstrative argument? And, when the other agreed, he said, How then shall you know if I impose upon you?
And when the man had no answer, he said, You see how you yourself admit that logic is necessary, if without it you are not even able to learn this much–whether it is necessary or not.”
Actually Epictetus uses “logic”, it seems to me, rather in its original sense, a discourse. Yet Massimo, like the moderns, will tend to use logic as it was meant in, say, 1900, just before Bertrand Russell objected to Frege’s forgetfulness of the “Liar Paradox” in his formal system justifying arithmetic. A further exploitation of the Liar Paradox brought the incompleteness theorems.
Logic is indeed how human beings communicate. Logic enables debate, and debate is the equivalent of sex, among ideas. It generates entirely new species. However post Gottlob Frege and Bertrand Russell, logic has progressed much.
Modern studies in logic show formal logic can be pretty much anything. Formal systems contradicting the most cherished axioms have been found to be consistent. Some have cute names, such as “paradoxical logic”, “fuzzy logic”, “linear logic”. Thus, Logical Pluralism has been discovered. “Classical Logic” (which neither complete nor coherent) is just a particular case. In some logics, a proposition can be neither true, nor false.
Along the line of ones of the greatest logician and mathematicians of the 20th Century, Generalized Tarski Thesis (GTT):
An argument is valid if and only if in every case in which the premises are true, so is the conclusion.
So yes, madness can be logical. “Logic”, per se, is not much of a constraint. It’s only a set of coherent rules to draw a conclusion. The only constraint is to keep on talking.
The Ancient Greeks would have been very surprised.
So if logic is not the end-all, be all, what is?
Knowledge. Knowledge of the details. In other words, knowledge of evil. That is why, when I demonstrate, using knowledge, that Marcus Aurelius, supposedly the big time Stoic philosopher, makes the apology of Intellectual Fascism, I hear the cries of the Beotians, whose pathetic logic have crushed underfoot. What happened? I went outside of their logic. So they insult me. (Should I spurn them, and make them feel that I have nothing to say, or insult them back, by showing them, and others, what idiots they are? Sitting on one’s hand in front of rabid fascism is neither wise, nor safe!)
In other news, French special forces are operating on the ground in Libya, helping, among other things, very precise US strikes. This is a case of using the same logic as the enemy. The Islamists terrorize and kill: a logic which is pretty drastic. It can also be adopted. Let see how it goes, when the country with the greatest, longest military tradition, adopts it too. (France has a long history of drastic war against invading Islamists, since the Battle of Toulouse, in 721 CE)
Speaking of the enemy, the French Internal Revenue Service is forcing Google Inc., the famous monopoly. to pay back taxes. Google has sent the clown it uses as CEO to Paris. Google was transferring profits it made in France through Ireland, and then Bermuda. The bill? 1.6 BILLION Euros. Great Britain has a similar situation and economy, but is asking for only a tenth of that. Such is plutocracy: greater in the UK than in France.
Ah, the French Defense Ministry is not denying media reports that the French army is in combat, on the ground, in Libya. Instead, the French government has announced the start of an inquiry for finding out who compromised National Defense. In other words, it wants it to be known. Or there is much more coming, which it wants to hide. Or then American paranoia is contagious.
In other news, Belgium, historically a part of Gaul, has closed its border with France, as if Belgium were Great Britain, and France, full of Huns (instead of only Afghans). Amusingly, and a testimony of how much old gripes have subsidized, the Franco-German border stays open.
Logic is not all. Facts are much more important, including facts on the ground.