Friday, June 19, 2009

Spock-like logic

I've recently been reading up on the history and nature of logic, with attention on Aristotle, Frege, Russell etc . So, my inner genius just came up with the following syllogism:

  1. The effect of violence on a person can be good for that person's soul
  2. Things that are good for one's soul are always good
  3. Therefore, violence is always good.

I thank you.


At 6/20/2009 12:03 AM, Anonymous James said...

Modus ponens, I think?

At 6/21/2009 7:08 AM, Anonymous One of Freedom said...

What is a soul?

At 6/22/2009 7:25 PM, Anonymous Michael Barber said...

Whoa! Faulty logic!

Your major premise is that violence "can" produce a good effect on the soul. The most that can be demonstrated from your first premise is that the effect of violence "can" be good for the soul, not that it always is.

For your conclusion to be valid you must establish in your major premise that violence is always good for the soul, not that it simply can be good.

Spock would tell you that your argument "is not logical".

At 6/24/2009 1:17 AM, Anonymous Edward T. Babinski said...

[Continued from above]

"Mamma, Mr. Hollister says there isn't a bird or fish or reptile or any other animal that hasn't got an enemy that Providence has sent to bite it and chase it and pester it, and kill it, and suck its blood and discipline it and make it good and religious. Is that true, mamma, because if it is true, why did Mr. Hollister laugh at it?"

"That Hollister is a scandalous person, and I don't want you to listen to anything he says."

"Why, mamma, he is very interesting, and I think he tries to be good. He says the wasps catch spiders and cram them down their nests in the ground - alive, mama! - and there they live and suffer days and days and days, and hungry little baby wasps chew the spider's legs and gnaw into their bellies all the time, to make them good and religious and praise God for His infinite mercies. I think Mr. Hollister is just lovely, and ever so kind; for when I asked him if he would treat a spider like that, he said he hoped to be damned if he would; and then he…"

"My child! oh, do for goodness' sake…"

"And mamma, he says the spider is appointed to catch the fly, and drive her fangs into his bowels, and sucks and sucks and sucks his blood, to discipline him and make him a Christian; and whenever the fly buzzes his wings with the pain and misery of it, you can see by the spider's grateful eye that she is thanking the Giver of All Good for…well, she's saying grace, as he says; and also, he…"

"Oh, aren't you ever going to get tired chattering! If you want to go out and play…"

"Mamma, he says himself that all troubles and pains and miseries and rotten diseases and horrors and villainies are sent to us in mercy and kindness to discipline us; and he says it is the duty of every father and mother to help Providence, every way they can; and says they can't do it by just scolding and whipping, for that won't answer, it is weak and no good - Providence's invention for disciplining us and the animals is the very brightest idea that ever was. Mamma, brother Eddie needs disciplining, right away; and I know where you can get the smallpox for him, and the itch, and the diphtheria, and bone-rot, and heart disease, and tuberculosis, and… Dear mama, have you fainted?"

At 6/24/2009 1:17 AM, Anonymous Edward T. Babinski said...

Chris's conclusion that "violence is always good, for the good of the soul" reminded me of one my favorite Mark Twain pieces:

"Little Bessie"

"In His wisdom and mercy the Lord sends us afflictions to discipline us and make us better…All of them. None of them comes by accident; He alone sends them, and always out of love for us, and to make us better, my child."

"Did He give Billy Norris the typhus, mamma?"


"What for?"

"Why, to discipline him and make him good."

"But he died, mamma, and so it couldn't make him good."

"Well, then, I suppose it was for some other reason. We know it was a good reason, whatever it was."

After a pause: "Did He make the roof fall on the stranger that was trying to save the crippled old woman from the fire, mamma?"

"Yes, my child. Wait! Don't ask me why, because I don't know. I only know it was to discipline some one, or be a judgment upon somebody, or to show His power."

"That drunken man that stuck a pitchfork into Mrs. Welch's baby when…"

"Never mind about it, you needn't go into particulars; it was to discipline the child - that much is certain, anyway."

"Mamma, Mr. Burgess said in his sermon that billions of little creatures are sent into us to give us cholera, and typhoid, and lockjaw, and more than a thousand other sicknesses and, mamma, does He send them?"

"Oh, certainly, child, certainly. Of course."

"What for?"

"Oh, to discipline us! Haven't I told you so, over and over again?"

"It's awful cruel, mamma! And silly! And if I…"

"Hush, oh hush! Do you want to bring the lightning?"

"You know the lightning did come last week, mamma, and struck the new church, and burnt it down. Was it to discipline the church?"

(Wearily) "Oh, I suppose so."

"But it killed a hog that wasn't doing anything. Was it to discipline the hog, mamma?"

"Dear child, don't you want to run out and play a while? If you would like to…"

At 6/25/2009 1:04 AM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Michael, I hope you realised I was only joking!

Frank, what kind of question is that?! Soul is a type of music genre. Of course.

James, modus ponens? Yea, got similarities ... Modus ponens - sounds like it should be the title of a poem.

At 6/25/2009 3:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tell your Dad, Lao Tsu says 'The wise stay behind and go ahead. He wants nothing and has everything.' And then when he agrees, say 'Lao Tsu lived in a hut and ate straw!' Now there's some logic.

At 6/26/2009 8:52 PM, Anonymous solarblogger said...

This might be restated as follows:

Sometimes violence is good for the soul.
Whenever something is good for the soul, it is good.
Therefore, sometimes violence is good.

The minor premise seems to be a bit vague, even here. I don't know if by "good" it is meant that it is a good choice, or merely productive of good that may be outweighed by other evil.

At 6/28/2009 8:14 PM, Anonymous Edgar Foster said...

I know that you're only joking Chris and I love reading your blog. However, while we're picking on logical fallacies here, let me point out something that bothers me as one who teaches people modus ponens and modus tollens, etc.

You wrote (in your minor syllogistic premise):

"Things that are good for one's soul are always good."

One thing that I find problematic with this proposition (i.e. utterance) is that it defines "good" in terms of "good." That is a major faux pas in logic. One basic rule is that a definiens (i.e. the defining part of the sentence) should never include the definiendum (i.e. the term that is being defined). One example of this misstep is when someone defines "goodness" as that which marks the conduct of a good man (Aristotle makes this mistake). See Alburey Castell, A College Logic, page 67ff.

At 6/29/2009 12:35 AM, Anonymous Michael Barber said...


Of course, I realized this was a joke. I was being sort of being silly by saying, "Whoa!" However I have taught logic so I couldn't resist. Faulty logic drives me nuts! Especially since I seem to find it on page after page of New Testament commentaries!

By the way, Nick Norelli's answer to my meme has made me especially eager to read your thesis. I can't wait for it! I hope you'll remember all of us lowly bloggers when you're a household name in Pauline studies!


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