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What is logic, and why should one study it? One must first and foremost recognize that logic—as traditionally conceived and taught—exists alongside and inseparably from the other arts of the Trivium, Grammar and Rhetoric. But where the other two arts concern themselves more explicitly with the external signs of thinking, logic concerns itself primarily with the rectitude of thinking itself. It has therefore been considered in two ways, historically: as both an art and as a science. If we are to use it successfully as an art—that is, as a kind of know-how for producing determinate results in accordance with a certain plan or understanding of our own constitution—we are greatly aided by study of it as a science.

For logic can be conceived as the study of how we obtain the λόγος, the logos: best understood as the intelligibility of the real: not as it resides in the intellect, but as transcending both the intellect by which it is grasped and the cognition-independent actuality from which it is grasped, and irreducible to either. In studying logic, then, we study how we can grasp the intelligible real, in thought and in the thing, in the mind and out in the world, and in the possible connections between the two.

Of course, this demands that we understand what thought is, and how it happens; and most principally, the role of inference in the progression of thought from term to proposition, from proposition to argument, and back again. Such will be at the core of our study, which is available to all Lyceum Institute members.

Excerpt from Logic as a Liberal Art, “A Note to the Student”:

…before our discourse can be logical or rhetorically effective, it needs first to be grammatically correct in order to be intelligible at all…

Logic as a Liberal Art – HFS Books

[The approach this book takes] is to study logic in its “natural” setting, much as a scientist might study tropic plants or polar bears in their natural habitats. The natural habitat of logic is the verbal and written language of ordinary human discourse, including the high-level verbal discourse that occurs in university courses. The man who invented this approach to logic was Aristotle, who write the first textbooks in logic in the fourth century B.C. The main reason why this approach is preferable for most people is that it avoids the two problems that have plagued the teaching of symbolic logic during its heyday and up to the present. First, the verbal approach is clearly preferable for those who have math phobia. The problems used in the verbal approach are all set out in ordinary language, language that often contains clues that help us to understand the logic of verbal discourse. Such clues, of course, are missing from the mathematical symbols used in symbolic logic. Second, the very study of logic has the advantage of avoiding the problem of needing to translate back and forth between abstract logical symbols and the more concrete verbal symbols we call words. While mathematical symbols do on occasion help us see logical relations, and we will employ some elementary symbols from time to time in this book, by using ordinary or “natural” language to study logic we can avoid the large headache of translating form the language of symbols to ordinary language, and then back again. So we content ourselves with the smaller but real headaches involved in searching out the logic contained within verbal or “natural” language.

The verbal approach to logic has yet another advantage, one not very often admitted even by its proponents. We can see this one by looking at history. The verbal approach to logic and the discipline of rhetoric were invented by the Greeks, those early masters of the spoken and written word. In fact, rhetoric was invented slightly before Aristotle invented logic. Aristotle conceived of rhetoric and logic as correlative, noting that “rhetoric is the analogue of dialectic,” a subfield of logic… If you don’t pursue the verbal form of logic, then you probably won’t see the importance of rhetoric, dialectic’s twin.

Houser 2020: Logic as a Liberal Art: An Introduction to Rhetoric and Reasoning, xxvi and xxviii.

Our primary textbook is R.E. Houser 2020: Logic as a Liberal Art.

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