Sunday, January 30, 2011

Thinking Logically: Some Resources

Usually when people ask what I teach and I mention logic, I then get strange reactions. The facial expressions scream “how boring” or “that is way over my head” or I get that blank stare that makes for awkward moments of silence. In truth, most of logic is neither boring, nor excessively deep. When giving reasons for studying logic, I usually give two: 1) Jesus was a logician and 2) logic helps me avoid the trickery of the barbarians.
In the simplest terms, logic (old fashioned Aristotelian logic) is a tool that can assist one to be clear in one’s thinking. Logic is a means to be more orderly and ordering of ideas. In this blog, I want to give some of the best books, of a logical nature, that I have read in hopes of providing helpful resources.
While one should study Aristotle’s Organon, I would never encourage a beginner to start with Aristotle. Start with some people who have “translated” Aristotle into more accessible terms.
Some resent works with the old standards (while some of these are out of print they are still out there):
  • Being Logical: A Guide to Good Thinking by D.Q. McInerny. Wonderful and immediately accessible for anyone desiring to start thinking logically.
  • Socratic Logic by Peter Kreeft. I reviewed this book and have used it for several years on the college level with tremendous results.
  • Logic: An Aristotelian Approach by Mary Michael Spangler. A more advanced, but a thorough and accessible treatment of Aristotle’s logical principles.
  • The Trivium: The Liberal Arts of Logic, Grammar, and Rhetoric by Sister Miriam Joseph. Should be required reading in all classical Christian schools studying the Trivium on the High School level.
  • An Introduction to Logic by H. W. B. Joseph. A thicker (literally and metaphorically) treatment of Aristotle’s logic.
  • Logical Thinking by Richard L. Purtill. A fine little book by a Christian author.
  • Basic Logic by Raymond McCall. A smaller but helpful work.
  • Formal Logic by Jacques Maritain. A masterpiece and really an exceptional example of the philosophical assumptions within logic.
  • Introduction to Logic by Andrew H Bachhuber. A fine and accessible volume.
  • The Metalogicon: A Twelfth-Century Defense of the Verbal and Logical Arts of the Trivium by John of Salisbury. A fantastic medieval treatise on the Trivium. I reviewed this recently reprinted book.
  • The Summa of the Summa (Peter Kreeft edited) Thomas Aquinas’s longer Summa. A real treasure!
  • Aristotle’s Organon. The foundation for all logical writings in the West. While you may not want to start here, you will not be finished until you go here.
If Western civilization is going to be saved, logic will have to play a role in that rescue. While I sometimes wonder if it is too late, I would still argue that logic is worth studying so that we do not lose our minds in a mindless moment.