Logic: Dialectic Whatever

Aristotle spent much of his time defining the terms of his discourse. At times it seemed as if his definitions were the entire thought. We too shall find that definitions are important.

Idealism has been a concept in which the supremacy of mind is predicated.

Historically, Didactic idealism has dominated the moral thinking of man for at least six thousand years. Didactic idealism is a teaching form of discourse in which the spirit of the mind is affirmed. Didactic idealism specifically states that there is a God, and/or Gods, and the didactic idealist seeks to clarify and teach His/Their will. This understanding was that there was no order to Nature and that everything was attributable to the whims of God. For example: "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

"In the past, ostensibly, facts were few and far between.  They were not near enough together to be closely related.  To relate them, one had to bridge long gaps with logic.."  This was the beginning of didactic idealism.  In contrast materialism is a philosophical feature that resolves existence into matter and into an attribute and an effect of matter. For example: "Life was created from the dust at the shores of the sea, and, from that first infinitesimal speck of life, man evolved over the ages."

Matter is the ultimate reality in contrast to a spiritual being. These contrasting ideas dissolved into material and spiritual concepts. Ultimately, it was mistakenly understood that one would destroy the other. This was feared because it was not at first evident that concepts of right and wrong would come from material considerations.

Thales (640-546 B.C.)
Seven hundred years or so before Christ, logical philosophies occurred almost simultaneously in both India and Greece. The founding of Greek philosophy is generally ascribed to Thales (640 - 546 B.C.). None of his work has survived, but tradition credits him with findings in astronomy, plane and solid geometry. When we consider the evolution of philosophy, we find "logic" as an important dead end spur. The obsolescent line is especially "dialectic" logic. Dialectics is a type of logic used by all the historical philosophers since Thales.

Contradiction of logic
To clarify the meaning of dialectics we must know that the first and most important characteristic of all logic is that any affirmative statement can be balanced by an equally true contradictory statement. There is nothing inherently true in logic by itself. For example: "The Clymbors originated in Mambia, and therefore are related to the Mambiams." Dialectic response: "The Clymbors did not originate in Mambia, and therefore are not related to the Mambians." Many of the early philosopher's written ideas would be presented in a dialogue form in which the philosopher would have a friendly argument with his alter self. This useful arrangement presented the philosopher in a situation where he was always right and never surprised by a question or disagreement to which he did not know the answer. His protagonist always saw the point immediately and never lost his temper. In such fashion the discourse went on filling volumes.

Socrates (470?-399 B.C.) used dialectics to show the inadequacies of popular belief. Socrates was an elitist and considered himself above the "hoi palloi" (the crowd). Though he used dialectics, he did not identify it as such. Plato (428-347 B.C.) Was the first great Greek philosopher whose works have survived. He was a disciple of Socrates and prolonged this method of dialectic dialogue. He reasoned that knowledge is metaphysical. He also founded the Academy in Athens, and Aristotle was his most famous student. Aristotle (384-352 B.C.) first formulated the syllogism. The syllogism is a form of deductive logic, and consists of two premises and a conclusion. It can be permutated into 256 forms. An example of a syllogism is: All Americans are humans. All humans are mortal. Therefore, all Americans are mortal. Also, it was Aristotle who first defined dialectics. As a pragmatic philosopher, however, he grew to distrust that method of reasoning. One can imagine that any philosopher using such a method of thinking would eventually become frustrated. His final conclusion was that deductive logic was the best way of proceeding. Deductive logic is reasoning from the general terms to specific terms. Besides his frustration with dialectics, he broke with Plato in one other major respect. Aristotle maintained that knowledge was derived through sensory perceptions. This was Aristotle's' way of introducing what was in the eighteenth century called logical positivism.

Logical Positivism
One can outline the steps taken in the mind of a person engaging in logical positivism. Position A is a mental observation of a real situation A' in the material world. Since the real world on the prime level cannot exist in the mind, the observations must be projected into the mind, by the senses, study, and memory. One has two choices: either to logically move to B and observe B' to see if one's reasoning is valid, or to observe B' and justify the step A to B. Aristotle believed that whatever he saw was illuminated by a beam from his eyes. This is illustrated by a downward pointing arrow in the illustration.

The logical steps within the mind of a reasoner are verified by successive observations in the real world. These are exemplified in scientific observations concerning the eating of fish in a seaside country in which iodine is endemically absent from the soil. In that country:

(A) Many people who do not eat sea food have goiters. This is verified by observing a real situation at A' where people live inland and do not eat sea food.
(B) Most all people who do eat sea food do not have goiters: B' where people live on the shore and do eat seafood.
(C) Most all people who live inland and eat sea food at least once a week do not have goiters, C'.
(D) Thus, it is a requirement that people regularly ingest some iodine, such as is found in sea food, to replace excreted iodine.

These relationships in early times could have been interpreted as revealing that it is the Will of God that man eat fish once a week. However, the historical fact is, it was the Catholic Church of England that first promoted the rule: "one should eat fish once a week" in order to promote the English fishing industry.

In a certain sense it is the Will of Nature that we ingest iodine at least once a week. We now understand that. using iodized salt will take the place of eating fish. This is not a denial of God as the Creator, but rather a scientific substantiation of the idealistic logic. This bares a consistency in Nature in which mammals evolved where iodine is a constantly available factor. When they migrate to a land where iodine is absent in the soil, they suffer. This finding is also consistent with the fact that ninety percent of the time of the existence of life from its creation until now has been in the sea where the presence of iodine is a constant. It was only four hundred million years ago that plant life first invaded the land from the sea and other life followed.

There were highly perceptive men throughout history who were reverent in their attitude toward Nature even though they felt that everything is related to the Will of God. An example from didactic idealism is the following: "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine, but a broken spirit dryeth the bones". This proverb, ascribed to Solomon, is doubly astute in that the wise men recognized both the healing qualities of happy optimism as well as the deleterious effects on arthritis of a profound frustration. A broken spirit is deeper than a momentary disappointment. It bespeaks of a profound and lasting unhappiness and parallels a modern observation that: an arthritic patient may appear jolly on the outside, but his is crying on the inside. It was not till after 1942 that this principle became understood in scientific medicine.

Dialectic materialism
A person who uses dialectics uses the principle that all logical statements have contradictions that are equally true. Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Hegel, and Marx each had his own way of camouflaging this simple statement.

Hegel (1770-1831 A.D.) glorified the dialectic principle by defining thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. His disputes began by stating the thesis of his antagonist, and then stating a contradiction in the antithesis, usually using similar words in an opposite sense. He then synthesized his own idea of the subject.
Marx (1818-1863 A.D.) in his own words discussed the process of change through conflict of opposing forces whereby any given contradiction is characterized by a primary and secondary aspect, the secondary succumbing to the primary, which is transformed into an aspect of a new contradiction all of which is metaphysical. I'm afraid Marx said all that with a knitted brow. If he had had any sense of humor, he would have burst out laughing. How anyone can substantiate such an untidy bit of definition is hard to understand, but make no mistake, such a fraud has moved the Earth!
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 today.

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 point:

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 formula.

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. For instance:

"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."

Albert Einstein


"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 process.

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.

Closing thoughts
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".

Copyright©Alden Bacuzmo

Chapter 5: The Dilemma of Logic and Ethics

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