If a person has had experience, however, and can relate his thoughts to reality, dialectics literally
makes no sense. The communistic philosophy of Karl Marx had one great flaw. He believed that all human behavior
could be changed by enculturation. He did not consider that Nature dictates laws that define human behavior,
and he probably would have ignored them if they had come to his attention, just as would many modern Scientists.
However complex the successive uses of dialectics by Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Hegel, and Marx may seem,
they are merely more complex definitions of the same thought process of contradiction. It really isn't that difficult
to understand. No matter with what thought a person may begin, the dialectic disputant can immediately contradict him.
The more clever and obscure the logic the better. Obscurity confuses and weakens a protagonist. Dialectics is a
unilinear disputatious logic derived from an assumption which may have no part of reality, and where it does
occasionally touch on factuality, it exhibits no comprehension. Ironically, such logic, when immature, can lead to
some reasonable derivations, but never for long before the logic reaches levels quite distant from the factual plane.
This characteristic is far from being limited to the ancient philosophers for it is prevalent in society at large
The blase futility of logic
As dialectic arguments mature to where each positive argument is balanced by
an equal and opposite negative argument, the intellect of the participants finally settles on a stagnant center of
thought with no place to go and no defined solution. All dialectics will lead to this type of dead end when fully
developed. Unbelievably, to some, this stagnant center is sought as a state of Nirvana, equanimity, stale frustration,
or "beat!". Dialectics is a free floating self-dependent logic. It is monistic. It is solely metaphysical and in the
minds of the participants. However, one's first encounter with dialectics in the mouth of an experienced charlatan
can be devastating. From the lips of a practiced disputant it can be a mind consuming principle, unless one had been
previously provided with one's own armor of reason. The giant dialectic cannibal shouts: "Thesis, antithesis, and
synthesis!" instead of: "Fee, fi, fo, fum!"
The exception to the rule and dialectics
A rule is a helpful generality which could be of use in making a
decision. The dialectic disputant takes advantage of the exceptions to the rule to confuse his antagonist. A case in
Since the beginning of academic testing there have always been exceptional students, average students, below
average students and some students who are illiterate and are unable to be tested. As a rule, the offspring of
exceptional students are also exceptional, and so it goes down the line. Illiterate people are having more babies
and the illiterate population is growing. Students who are illiterate find it more difficult to obtain employment
or start their own business, as a rule. However, exceptional people have come from average parents just as people
of normal height have come from parents who are midgets. As well, there are people who are not exceptional who
accomplish exceptional things. Babies are innocent and we love all of them. So, if we find that crime and violence
are correlated with illiteracy, it could be said, it is the fault of the schools for not teaching them to read. If
these individuals had jobs, they would not have the time to participate in crime and violence. Then it could be said,
crime and violence is a product of too much unemployment and the inability of our teachers to educate their students
to read. To continue on this line of thinking, we find that poverty is also associated with illiteracy, crime and
violence. Therefore, if we give them money there would be no poverty, and crime and violence would disappear.
The shortness of the preceding paragraphs makes the contradiction of the beginning by the end very obvious and
difficult to accept, but consider such a contradicting logic taking place over many paragraphs, chapters, and books.
It would then be less obvious, even obscure and confusing. This type of argument, if accepted, negates the judgment
of a person with pertinent experience, and clears the way for a seasoned dialectic materialist to take over regardless
of the fact that he may have no valid scientific understanding to back up his statements. Here is a second example:
of how a dialectic disputant might take advantage of the exceptions to a rule to imply that the rule does not exist.
A physician may state that overweight, heavy smoking, and alcohol generally lead to an early death. Whereupon, the
dialectic opponent will bring up a well known case, such as Winston Churchill, who was fat, smoked cigars end to end,
and drank a lot of hard liquor, but lead a productive life until he was over ninety. The physician must insist,
however, that under such circumstances the age of ninety-one is hard to come by. Winston Churchill had a statistical
run in which adverse probabilities were circumvented. A didactic idealist, who might have written in the Old
Testament, might conclude that, though Churchill had sinned, God had forgiven him so that he might longer serve
humanity by his sagaciousness. A dialectic materialist, the godless logistician, would reason whatever he wanted to,
depending on whether he liked overeating, hard-drinking, or smoking.
In such dialectic discussions people have a
great tendency to identify their own misconceptions and use them in an artificial logic to reach preposterous
conclusions. This is the essence of dialectics.
Logic in general
In some cases people still confuse the meaning of the word: logic. In talking to a friend about these considerations
I used the following bit of logic:
1. Iron is more valuable than zinc.
2. Zinc is more valuable than gold.
3. Therefore, iron is more valuable than gold.
My friend exploded: "That is not logical!" Of course, what was meant was: "That is not true". However, I'm sure that
you will agree that commercially, gold costs more per ounce than zinc and iron. You will also agree that economically
iron is a greater factor than zinc or gold, and more money is spent on iron than on zinc or gold. Physiologically, the
above relationships are also true. The animal body needs more iron than zinc, and gold is of no known value at all. This
is true because gold is inert and will not react chemically with any other element at body temperatures. Here is an
illustration of apparently contradictory conclusions, both being true.
Arithmetic is a rather rigid type of logic, but if one tries to balance one's check book without entering the right
amount for all the checks, the book will not balance. A computer knows nothing but a rigid type of electronic logic,
but if the machine is not fed the right premise, its conclusion is always wrong. Being logical does not guarantee a
true conclusion. One must refer to concrete evidence to assure a true statement.
The story of the pendulum
It is also quite possible for a person to use valid scientific facts as premises and logically end up with the wrong
answer. We have a true example of this. One cannot get the full appreciation of this point without the whole story. In
1581 Galileo Galilie (1564-1642) (Seventeen years old?!) counted his pulse while watching a cathedral chandelier swing
back and forth and noted the periodicity of the pendulum. He made sketches of a pendulum time piece, but the escapement
was crude and impractical. So, there is some doubt as to whether he ever actually made it. In 1656 Christi?n Huygens
made a practical pendulum clock. He thought that the periodicity of the pendulum depended solely on the length of
the pendulum. It was not long, however, before it was mathematically noted that the wider the swing of the pendulum,
the longer the period. This was called a "circular error".
Now, one can visualize a paradoxical situation where a spring actuated clock would lose time when first wound up,
because the pendulum would swing wider, and become more accurate as the spring wound down because the pendulum swung
just right. For a short time the pendulum would be accurate. Then it would be too fast because the period of the pendulum
would be too short, until the clock were wound again.
This would seem logical based on the fact that a wider swing of a pendulum makes for a longer period, and a shorter
swing of a pendulum makes for a shorter period. To compensate for this "circular error", clock makers hung their pendulums
on strap springs. This is where logic trapped them. They reasoned that the more the spring was deformed the more
restorative force would tend to quicken the pendulum swing and the clock would be more accurate. Elaborate rituals
evolved such as: 1) Winding the clock at the same time each day or week, depending on the length of the motive spring.
2) Counting the number of turns in winding. 3) Saying a short prayer of the same length each time.
The above mixture of mathematics, science, and logic proved backwards when we invented more accurate electronic time
measuring devices. The facts turn out that spring clocks run faster when first wound, and run slower when run down,
because of the physics of the escapement device. It works harder when driven by a tight spring.
A Recent interesting aside, is that it was found that a pendulum will swing slower when the Moon is over head,
counteracting the Earth's gravity with its own. When the Moon is on the opposite side of the Earth, the pendulum swing
is faster, when the gravitational pulls of the Sun Moon and Earth are added. The distance of the Sun during the summer
and winter solstice will affect the periodicity of the pendulum. It has not yet been determined if the position of
Jupiter affects pendulums.
It was fantastically difficult to check the accuracy of the first clocks. They had to set up in an astronomy observatory
to check them against star time. Early observatories were for more accurate astrology. Quadrants were used to measure how
far certain stars had moved during the time of a given event. This soon gave a sense of star time. This star time was the
standard against which all clocks were eventually checked. A problem evolved when we realized that the Earth wobbles
around in an irregular fashion due to perturbations by Jupiter. Now-a-days, with atomic clocks, the problem is turned
around. We now confidently check the Earth's rotation against the atom. Only time will reveal if atoms are completely
regular. I suspect not. Very elaborate bi-metal pendulum suspensions were designed to compensate for changes in temperature. At observatories
pendulums were suspended in vacuums to compensate for changes in barometric pressure, but they still were a bit off.
Three hundred years passed with dedicated people studying pendulums with only a few of them detracting from the use of
the strap spring suspensions. Finally, very recently, accurate crystal clocks were used to check the periodicity of the
pendulum. The periodicity of pendulums was checked against various thickness and lengths of spring suspensions. What do
you know: No measurable improvement with any given spring suspension! The problem is that the restorative force of a
spring is linear while the periodicity of a pendulum varies with the square of the amplitude of swing. This was the factor
left out of the earlier logic.
Though they started with true Scientific factors, and their logic was valid according to the rules, they came up with the
wrong conclusion. We do not know how many of our cherished Scientific ideas are not true just because we used logical
thinking but left out some unknown necessary factor to get the right answer. Even with the most careful scientific
thinking, sometimes logic may sneak in and destroy our work!
The logic of mathematics
Under the subtitle of metaphysical logic we should discuss mathematics. Mathematics is a particularly deceptive type of
logic. In nearly every binomial solution one has to sort the contradictions and consider only the positive results that
conform with Nature. If one is not careful, one can easily run into the ghostly square root of a negative number. It is
particularly deceptive because a neophyte is apt to accept an argument as a fact if it can be reduced to a mathematical
Mathematics is a shorthand of a linear argument with rigid rules of interrelationships: Two and two are always four.
With mathematics, Einstein was able to probe far into the unknown and leave signposts that have been followed long after
his death. Mathematics, hopefully, can be made to conform to Nature, but it is not without its pitfalls in application.
"a.) As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality they are not certain, and as far as they are certain, they do
not refer to reality." And
"b.) Pure logical thinking cannot yield us any knowledge of the empirical world; all knowledge of reality starts from
experience and ends in it. Propositions arrived at by pure logical means are completely empty."
"It is usually taken for granted that the processes of mathematics are identical with the processes of reasoning,
whereas they are quite different. The mathematician is more akin to a spider than to a civil engineer, to a chess
player than to one endowed with exceptional critical power. The faculty by which a chess expert intuitively sees the
possibilities that lie in a particular configuration of pieces on the board is paralleled by that which shows the
mathematician the much more general possibilities latent in an array of symbols. He proceeds automatically and
faultlessly to bring them to light, but his subsequent correlation of his symbols with facts of experience, which
has nothing to do with his special gift, is anything but faultless, and is only too often of the same nature as
Lewis Carroll's correlation of his pieces with the Red Knight and the White Queen - with the difference whereas
Dodgson recognized the products of his imagination to be wholly fanciful, the modern mathematician imagines, and
persuades others, that he is discovering the secrets of nature."
Professor Herbert Dingle, Science at the Crossroads (1972)
Historically, mathematicians have been able to prove that heavier-than-air craft could not fly. Likewise, physical
sciences had to live for generations with the uncracked proof that bumble bees could not fly. A rigid mathematical
consideration most often seems to fail with respect to a fluid and gaseous situation where the rigid characteristics
of the process is in contrast with the elastic nature of the subject. In the world of pure logic the same subject can
be made to look finite in one sense and infinite in another. Logic can be deceptive, even in its appearance, and seems
rational as if one depends on man's symbolism. A good demonstration of the paradox of logic is two ways of illustrating
the trigonometric function of the sine of an angle. Expressed in polar coordinates the sine of alpha looks like the sun
rising over the horizon. In Cartesian coordinates, the sine of A looks a sea serpent winding its way above and below
along a flat horizon. In the first case the demonstration is finite. It can be covered by an ink bottle. In the other,
it is infinite in both directions: left and right.
Logic: an inspirational source
Although logic, by itself, has not realized what many have hoped for in discerning reality, the use of logic in
concert with language has been the inspiration for much of the most admired literature in the history of humankind.
This was expressed exquisitely by Eli Chudnoff:"What most people understand by logic is a stagnant and vacuous formalism
with little advance on Aristotelian syllogisms.. this cannot be further from the truth. The subject of logic is a
dynamic one with significance for every problem that may be called philosophical, and far from the gross incapacitated
language of the three step syllogism, modern logic, or logics, as I should say, are beautiful, rich, and complex systems
whereby we gain some of the greatest insight into the limits of what can be meaningfully said."
Early discomfort with logic alone
The effects on history of dialectic logisticians can hardly be overemphasized. We have only to reiterate the name of
Karl Marx to awaken some feeling of the extent of its effects. Such are the political effects of communism. But it also
has political effects in all other forms of government. It also has extensive effects in historical, legal, and religious
fields. All along there have been people who have been uncomfortable with pure logic.
David Hume (1711-1776) said that the supreme moral good is benevolence - an unselfish regard for the general welfare of
society consistent with individual happiness.
Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) is the best known of such philosophers. He proposed to consciously obey the laws of the
universe as revealed by reason.
Compte de Saint-Simon (1760-1825), was one of the founders of modern socialism. He recommended social organization
directed by men of science and industry for the benefit of the whole society.
Bertrand Arthur William Russell (1872-1970) was a positivist and a socialist.
Auguste Compte (1798-1857) was the first to apply the term "logical positivism". He stated that empirical sciences are
the only source of knowledge.
In the nineteen twenties Ludwig Wittgenstein, and Bertrand Russell rejected metaphysical doctrines for their meaninglessness
and promoted empiricism as a basis of philosophy.
The attempts at a functional logical philosophy are interesting from the standpoint of history. They were an essential
endeavor by people who had nothing else. If their work had not been done, we would still have that area of human intellect
to explore. Many philosophers subsequent to Thales outlined rules of logic and added them to the literature. Studies of
logic have revealed nineteen rules of inference and eighteen fallacies of which all logic is constituted. These numbers
may vary slightly from text to text, but there is a general accord in all of them. These rules were derived from a study
of human thinking rather than a study of Nature.
Logic and humans
It has been conjectured by some that logic is distinctly human. However, humans share biologically determined
characteristics of learning with the animal kingdom (chapter 14). The fact that rudimentary logic and learning mechanisms
are shared with us by the animals is a strong indication that logic has its roots far back in the neurological evolutionary
Kittens play with each other in the most comical ways. I have watched one chase the other around the couch. On the
second or third pass, the one running behind jumps over the couch and poises above the exit point of the kitten being
chased to pounce on it as it runs by. Kittens have an inherent ability to be logical in this way. However, in this book
when we refer to logic, we refer specifically to thought processes covered by these terms and these terms only. Such a
field as computer logic is another field to which we do not refer in this single word of "logic". Any relationship of
logic to the Truth and factuality is purely coincidental.
A dilemma of ethics and nature
There is another principle which is a fact in human psychology which has been known for at least fifty years. When a
person hears of any one else, even a friend, having a wind fall of good luck and somehow even being rewarded for good work,
there is a tinge of resentment. There is the contrary condition too. When a person hears of another person, even a close
friend, having bad luck, there is an initial small tinge of joy. During my tour as a physician in the Normandy Invasion,
those in my position and chaplains had to deal with combatants who felt depressed and guilty for first feeling glad when
a good friend was mortally wounded. They had to be told that this was not happiness but rather relief that the injury
had not occurred to them. This is normal and they need not feel guilty.
There is magic where a subject can be both finite and infinite. Most of the world believes in magic and trusts in it to
save them from extinction. From this chapter we can see that logic and reason are not about to dispel this belief in
magic. On all sides we see man violating the laws of Nature through misguided reasoning and unfounded idealism, rushing
toward population explosion, almost as though they wished to force God's hand to bring His kingdom to Earth as it is in
Heaven. The sooner we create complete chaos, the sooner will be His salvation! The dialectic contradiction could be that
God's kingdom will come if ever we bring about His will on Earth as it is in Heaven. An example of this contradiction
would be the aversion to birth control in countries that are starving due to over-population. One is rewarded for success,
not for failure. It is promised that the firm foundations upon which ethics ("The dilemma of Logic and Ethics") can be
built will be discussed when we have disposed of logic. When we do discuss Scientific ethics, we have to make a distinction
between facts and the Truth ("What is Truth"). Some facts are particularly pertinent for survival, and such facts are
THE Truth. This distinction between these two words, fact and Truth, is deeply imbedded in human psychology. We want
and need the Truth. For some of us the search is a basic instinct connected with the instinct for survival, but such
cannot be found through pure unmodified logic. Brilliant people have fumbled repeatedly for thousands of years, and
some are still trying, but the results are sometimes disastrous, as will be shown in the chapter entitled: "Reverence".
The Dilemma of Logic and Ethics