Tuesday, September 27, 2005


Another class I wish I had taken in college is logic. It was part of the philosophy program at Indiana University Southeast. I took boolean algebra as part of the computer science department, but somehow that's just not the same. There is still so much of me that needs to be educated. But you know what? That's what's fun about life. There will always be something new to learn. That's the beauty of it all.


Anonymous said...

Could the beauty possibly be in the 'unlearning' of it all ?

Sophia said...

I don't know. That wouldn't be much fun. But it depends. Do you think less knowledge leads to further enlightenment or vice versa?

VINO said...

I believe that every person is individual. If I was able to read with much concentration and work that way I can be a lot educated. But what will be the use if i died in a accident ?
By the by i had a accident which required some face job.
When I was thinking about it I figured the universally accepted truth, "Life all about giving the best shot". Every one has a limited timing compared to the history of the elements in the universe and what one learned is always very less when he sees what is yet to learn.
So give ur best shot.

Aaron said...

I highly recommend learning formal logic, if you have the time and inclination. Since you studied math in college, I imagine you should be able to use any decent logic textbook for self-study.

There's also a book called "The Logic of Real Arguments" by Fisher that's good for what its title advertises.

Additionally, if you're interested in the different varieties of logic (classical, modal, temporal, probabilistic, etc), there's a short book called "Logic: A Very Short Introduction" by Graham Priest. It's very brief and accessible, and makes a good intro to a somewhat longer (but still accessible) work of his called "An Introduction to Non-Classical Logic".

Oh, and you've probably heard about "Godel, Escher, Bach". I haven't read it, but it seems to have been very popular. Another book that looks interesting is "Infinity and the Mind", by Rudy Rucker. Given your predilection for spiritual and metaphysical musings, I think you might like this last one.

Well, sorry to go on for so long, but you've hit upon an interest of mine.

RedBark said...

Good Morning Stacey,

The desire to learn is another one of the many monkeys. It takes the space that belongs to you.

utenzi said...

Aaron's right, Stacey. Given your background you should be able to breeze through any logic textbook. Just taking some online primer is probably all you need.

Learning the history of logic isn't as important as knowing the argument patterns and logical fallacies. You can understand that stuff in an hour or two.

Sophia said...


For the present moment my "ego" likes to learn. I'm not talking about the egotistical ego, I'm talking about the self that I currently believe myself to be, as opposed to the much larger expanded Self that I am a part of. The ego has a desire to be entertained. For me, education is how I entertain that ego. It might not be wise to entertain it too much, for it just might cause the illusion to become stronger, but I can't help it. :) There may be no other purpose for it than to feed the ego. It's all about personal satisfaction. I haven't reached the level of enlightenment that would allow me to give up my hunger for knowledge.

Sophia said...


I have a strange feeling that logic might be a lot like solving puzzles and problems. I enjoy that greatly so I will probably really appreciate logic. I know I enjoyed boolean algebra, and I'm assuming that logic might be similar. I do have a book here that my best friend from college gave me because she hated the class and thought I'd like the book. It's a textbook, and it's called _Introduction to Logic_ (Who would've guessed?) by Patrick Suppes.

While I am not a member of Mensa, I did use to hang out in the Mensa newsgroup and someone mentioned that I might like the _Godel, Escher, Bach_ book you also recommended. Also, I've been interested in giving Rudy Rucker a try, so I might just have to add another book onto my huge pile.

I just can't stay focused! It seems I'm all over the board and I want to know a little bit about everything. I should just stick to one thing for a while and give it the attention it deserves.

Sophia said...


It would appear that this particular "monkey" is chained to my mind. :) But I don't know who's the prisoner - it or me.

Sophia said...


That all sounds good to me. In my math classes, I was more interested in the actual math than I was the history part of it.

utenzi said...

Speaking of books and history, Stacey, this is more stats than locic but have you read the book "Against the Gods: the Remarkable Story of Risk"? It's pretty interesting and in some ways parallels the Sophie book.

Sophia said...


I haven't read that book but I just went to read the synopsis on Amazon.com. It seems to have received mixed reviews. I guess that's to be expected with a book on this particular subject.

Aaron said...

Hi Stacey,

yes, logic is somewhat like puzzle-solving. In formal logic, the basic activity is to assume that a certain formula (or sentence) is true, and try to see what else must be true as a consequence, according to established rules of inference. To use a common (and dated) example:

All men are mortal.
Socrates is a man.
Therefore, Socrates is mortal.

If you assume that the first two statements (the premises) are true, then the third (the conclusion) is also necessarily true according to the rules of logic. The proof in modern notation, which would be covered in your book by Suppes, is:

(1) (Ax)(Mx -> Rx)
(2) Ms
(3) Ms -> Rs
(4) Rs

(That "A" should be upside-down.) Not very interesting for this particular example. Anyway, you basically start with some premises and a desired conclusion, and try to see if the rules offer some path from the former to the latter. I think it's like puzzles and brain-teasers in that the general activity is to lay out a network of constraints, and determine what values propagate to which areas. For example, those Mensa number puzzles you posted on your other blog can be seen as a set of constraints which have to be balanced against each other, on order to arrive at some equilibrium (ie, the answer). In logic, I think the fundamental constraint is the conditional statement: 'if P is true, then Q must also be true'. It doesn't say anything about P and Q in isolation; rather, it expresses a relationship between them. It constrains the value of one, depending on the value of the other. I think such things can be a bit clearer when viewed in this way.

Well, sorry to go on for so long again, but like I said.... Anyway, if you do decide to stick with one thing, I don't think you can go wrong with logic. And let me know if you decide to read Rucker's "Infinity and the Mind"; I've been meaning it pick it up, and it would be fun to have someone to talk to about it!

Sophia said...

Hi Aaron,

For years I got addicted to doing those Logic Puzzles that you sometimes see for sale in the magazine section of grocery stores.

When I was a kid in elementary school, I was part of an accelerated learning program. Once a week they'd pull us from class in sixth grade and take us to another room in the building. They'd teach us things like how to do logic puzzles and other similar things. We did a lot of puzzle solving. That is probaby where my love for puzzles came from.

Aaron said...

Hmm, that sounds like a pretty cool class. I don't think they had anything like that at the schools I went to. :-(