Monday, October 20, 2008

Doggerel #165: "Beyond Logic"

Welcome back to "Doggerel," where I ramble on about words and phrases that are misused, abused, or just plain meaningless.

As far as meaningless goes, this strikes me as a particularly meaningless phrase. I may not have taken formal logic courses in philosophy, but I'm having a hard time imagining a universe that could have anything "beyond logic" that doesn't end up being eaten up in pure chaos, if such a thing can exist. Pardon me for being inarticulate on the matter.

I tend to doubt woos really grasp what they're saying. Sometimes they say this to mean things beyond human comprehension. They always seem so sure of where exactly those limits are, hence no need to push them by asking questions. I've seen some reference infinity and the non-termination of pi, as if I should be impressed. Yeah, it was amazing to think about when I was a kid, but it was within my comprehension even back then. Also, I may not grasp "higher" maths now, but I'm not about to presume any of my shortcomings are universal to my fellow beings.

What's worse is when I bump into woos who think we're all Randroids reading from one of Spock's bad scripts. "What's so logical about loving and protecting someone?" As if selfishness was any more "logical" a motivation than love. Goals are separate from accurately figuring out the best method for achieving them. Of course, there's plenty of rational explanations for why we have those emotional goals, usually involving evolution, and neurology's been doing steady work on how our brains produce them. The data are quite noisy, and the definitions vary, but they're within the grasp of logic and science.

Another use is when woos claim that something is "beyond science." I've covered this pretty well with Doggerel #50. The only ways I can imagine something being beyond science would be if it were completely without effect (and thus pretty much irrelevant), or completely random and unpredictable. Science studies effects and makes predictions based on the observation of those effects.


King of Ferrets said...

I bet I know where the inspiration for this came from.,,

Bronze Dog said...

Yeah. I remember thinking of it, but recent trolls brought it back from the back of my mind.

Rhoadan said...

Ah, BD, I have taken formal logic courses and logic does have limits, but that doesn't mean those limits are in any way relevant to what the woos are talking about.

Basically, logic is a way of reasoning from a premise to a conclusion, and starting from a faulty premise can very easily lead to an incorrect conclusion, even using valid rules of deduction or induction.

One thing I've noticed about the Randroids is they never seem to check their premises. Come to think of it, I have the impression that Rand never did either.

Woos by comparison not only don't check their premises but don't seem to grasp the rules of deduction or induction.

MWchase said...

If they grasped them, I can't really imagine them tossing them aside so lightly.

Well, I presume they have an intuitive sense, but don't call it logic, and don't have as high a standard for rigor. Meet "the gut instinct".

Valhar2000 said...

After all, there are more nerves in the gut than there are in the brain.

I don't realy know that, but my gut tells me so.

Anonymous said...

This reminds me of Star Trek Voyager. Every other episode it seems like poor Tuvok was being shot down with a dismissive "this isn't about logic Tuvok". I just imagine the guy sits in his room all mock-depressed, because he can't actually get depressed.

MWchase said...

"This isn't about logic" calls for a sketch in which, right after somebody says that, the whole thing descends sideways into a morass of surrealism.