There are four ways of thinking that the majority of people use. Each of these is a self-contained, logical and often valid thought process. Some are used more than others, and some are respected more than others. I will call these Deductive, Emotional, Analogical and Revelatory. You probably use each of them at some times.
First is Deductive. Deductive logic is linear. If A and B then C is true. All of Mathematics and most of Science and technology is developed with Deductive logic. Deductive logic is very powerful, but does have some weaknesses.
All Deductive logic uses proofs and starts from a base of axioms. Axioms are those things that are assumed to be true. Without those axioms, deductive logic can come to no conclusions. Most people never question their axioms. With deduction, you go from A to C then on to F. After several steps, it is easy to have a conclusion that has no relation to reality. This happens in Physics all the time. In Physics there are Theoreticians and Experimentalists. They often have disagreements. The Theoreticians propose things, and the Experimentalists try to prove or disprove the prediction. Theoreticians use nearly pure deductive logic. But, without the checks from the Experimentalists, modern scientists would be no better off than the medieval philosophers who argued about how many angels could dance on the head of a pin. Even mathematicians, the most logical of all, check to make sure that their theorems are correct. The lesson for us all here is that no matter how sound your logic is, you need to check periodically to be sure that it matches reality. If not, your logic is faulty.
If there is no failure in your logic, but the conclusion is still wrong, then you have a problem in your axioms. Any paradox is the result of faulty axioms or incorrect processes.
This explains why logic is not infallible. Always check your conclusions against reality.
The Second is Emotional Logic. Emotional logic is often derided by deductive logic thinkers as inferior. This is not correct. Emotional logic is non-linear. It works by attaching values to things or actions. Those values are increased or decreased based on experiences and associations. Emotional logic is the logic of feelings. The relations are done by using a weighted total of the inputs. Often, an emotional conclusion cannot be deductively explained. But the feelings can be explained, even if not with deduction. If deductive logic is linear, emotional logic is parallel. Many different values all contribute to the total conclusion. The relations between these feelings may seem tenuous at times, but the relationship is there, at least to the thinker.
All decisions are emotion based. Any good salesman can tell you this. A very logical (Deductive people always think that deduction is the only logic) person just places a very high value on deductive logic.
Quick decision makers use emotional logic. They may have many associations, both good and bad to apply to a situation. The best quick decision makers will let their emotions be swayed by other logic. But only so far. Deduction can be applied wrongly and lead to bad decisions too.
Emotional logic can also lead you astray. When your feeling are not appropriate to the situation, you will make decisions that are also not appropriate. If you love dogs, and so approach a large junk yard dog and get attacked, you will regret it.
In use of emotional logic, always try to be open to reasons to adjust your emotional values.
Third is Analogy logic. This system relates something unfamiliar to something familiar. A good key to analogy as a form of logic is the term ‘like’. A car is like a wagon, it has four wheels. A car is also like a horse, it can carry things. It is like a ship, it can be steered. It is like a plate of spaghetti, it is a complicated mess inside. All of these are analogies that can be used to explain a car to someone who is not familiar with a car.
We all use analogy when we meet something new. Analogy can allow us to deal with the unfamiliar. But, while the analogy may fit, it is never a perfect fit. In the analogy above, if you try to feed your car oats because it is like a horse, you will not have a good experience.
Always try to be aware of the limits of any analogy.
The fourth is Revelatory. This is the most uncommon form. A revelation is a sudden understanding that seems to have no link to any thought process. It may come from inside or from outside of you. If you are searching to find where a jigsaw puzzle fits, and suddenly you see it, that is a revelation.
Many principles of science were discovered by revelation. Most religions were started as a result of revelation. There is a strong feeling associated with the sudden understanding that comes from this logic.
Revelation though, needs to be checked against reality too. Just because something comes to you in an instant, doesn’t mean it is true. It doesn’t mean it is false either.
In dealing with the world, it is vital match reality with thought. In dealing with other people, we often need to deal with their perception of reality, which may differ from our own. Politics takes groups of people, often large groups, and tries to run things by their perception. When the popular perception is incorrect, the results are not the best. The further from reality the popular perception is, the worse the results. With strong emotional attachment, the political systems will often just try the same things harder, with the result of making problems even worse. This explains much of politics.
Most people will go to great lengths to avoid admitting error in their cherished beliefs. There are strong emotions attached to those beliefs. They will often resort to blame assignment and name calling to avoid any admission of error. This also explains much of political, religious and business behavior.
I have found that having someone to blame doesn’t fix problems. Fixing the problem doesn’t always mean that someone needs to be blamed. Politicians and lawyers seem to always want to fix blame, but seldom if ever fix the problems. I am an Engineer. I am interested in fixing problems. That is after all what an engineer really does.
If there were no problems, we would need no engineers. Buildings and bridges would stay up, roads would never wash away or have curve problems that cause cars to slide off. The office would never be too hot or too cold, Electricity would cause no fires, and there would always be enough power of the right type at any outlet. Cars would never break, and planes would always fly right.
But, that’s not the world I live in. In my world, there are never perfect solutions. There are always better solutions. I would like to see things get better.
What kind of world do you live in? If Barak Obama or Sarah Palin are always either right or wrong, then you don’t live in the real world. If the Democrats or Republicans (or the Greens or Social Democrats, or any other political party) have all the right answers, then you don’t live in the real world either. We should discuss what is important. I hope I can help. You are not the problem, but your emotions or assumptions may be part of the problem. Finding more correct values and breaking things down to a manageable size is where we can find what is important, and then see how to fix things.
More to follow…