Re: virus: Logic

Tim Rhodes (
Tue, 7 Oct 1997 10:58:11 -0700 (PDT)

On Mon, 6 Oct 1997, David McFadzean wrote:

> The MS Weapon thread has raised some important questions around the
> role of logic. Is it "just" a tool? What is its scope and limits?
> Do we need means outside of logic to determine when it is appropriate
> to use it? Can a logical argument say anything about reality, or is
> it (as one contributor put it recently) just "smoke and mirrors"?
> I have a few ideas, but I'd like to hear from others first.

I do not think there is anything wrong with logic. The failing is not
with logic, it is more often the use of it by humans that runs a rye.

Many human interactions are just too complex for logic to be useful. The
"making friends" example is a good one. Many of the techniques we utilize
while making friends (spending time with them beyond the need to,
listening attentively to things of relatively low personal interest to us,
protecting them from dangers they perceive, but which we know are not
real, etc.) will be seen as parational in retrospect, they are not the
answers logic would give us at the time.

Logic also requires a lot of givens to work. In mathematics or Logic this
is not a problem (we have axioms and whatnot). But in real life we often
have to make decisions based on less than complete evidence. Often the
logical answer, based on partial information, is not the best one. Other
modes of operating may yield better results in those situations. Yes, it
is logical (or more accurately, parational) to abandon logic in those

I do not think it is a contradiction to say we use logic to know when to
not use logic. These are decisions taking place on different levels of

This weekend I was with a group of people and one brought up astrology as
an example of foolish beliefs. Soon though, everyone else was trading
stories of how such-and-such was a Scorpio and wasn't that just like a
Scorpio to act that way, or how everyone of a given sign seemed to have
this certain trait, etc. 7 out of 8 at the table had adopted an illogical
system of understanding personalities (but not the future, at this table
at least) and were using that system because it gave useful results for
them. It was a logical choice based on results. Does that make astrology

-Prof. Tim