Is thinking logic?

• 768
It seems to me that in making decisions logic is just part of a mix, (it might be patently obvious to some, so I’d be interested to hear from them), and the mix might be emotion, intuition and logic. So the best form thinking could take, and the most intelligent decision made, would be a fine balance of the three. This post is partly due to other conversations I’ve had about logic and it’s place in our thinking. It seems to me that using only logic (and I don’t know if that’s even possible) leads to tragic circumstances, even cold blooded in its application. Logic is a tool, not necessarily the answer. Occasionally I’ll see a post here that will say something like, “Logic would say that etc., etc.”, as if that was the final say on any matter, as if thinking in its purest form was logic.
Besides that, if it’s true that there are three elements to thinking: emotion, intuition and logic, then which comes first, or does it all happen simultaneously?
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Logic is a tool, not necessarily the answer.

Agreed. Please define "thinking," that appears in the OP.
• 768
Please define "thinking," that appears in the OP.

“the activity of using your mind to consider something”, Cambridge Dictionary

Though I think people in general would say that thinking is considering something in an intelligent way, or that the activity of the mind is intelligent. Or, of course, I think, therefore I am. Therefore if I think then I am intelligent.

So, it’s the underlying analysis to action. Though I’m not sure if there must be action as a consequence. So I would go with the dictionary meaning.
• 7.9k
I just made a decision--I bought a pair of New Balance shoes on line. 1 hour prior to the decision and act I did not intend to buy anything. But I read 2 articles about New Balance in the Guardian US edition. It confirmed several positive impressions I have of New Balance shoes (I've worn several pair). I Googled NB 990 and in a click was at the NB web site. Ah ha, 990s (normally $175) were on sale for$129. A deal -- only they are a light gray-green. Is this tolerable? Period of dithering about color. Logic only tells me the color will not affect wear. They could be purple with pink dots, and wear as well as gray. IF they were purple with pink dots, I wouldn't wear them if they were free, however.

So far, the only thing that logic has helped with is recognizing that a $48 savings on line is a better deal than full price at a store and that the subtle light green shading will not affect wear. Logic did nothing for the slight unease I felt (feel) about the coloring. I suppose I can send them back if they are ugly. The decision to first look (which is often about the same as the decision to buy) was driven by some consumerist arousal in my brain which led me to FEEL a need to buy these shoes. I am generally successful in avoiding frequent or large stupid purchases -- purchases that are immediately regretted, are embarrassing, and/or unaffordable. But a lot of the purchases I make, if not stupid, are also not driven by any logic. They are driven by desire, eye-catching novelty, status-needs, imagined benefits, and so forth. 4 years ago I intended to buy a black leather jacket for everyday wear in the winter. I shopped carefully and watched for sales, and finally a fairly expensive jacket was put on clearance, and I bought it. Good deal, great jacket, warm, never regretted it. On another day I was at a different store and found a brown leather jacket for$75 and hastily bought it. It was a very good deal, but it is very heavy and is actually not very warm. It looks nice, but I did not, and do not, need it. Why did I buy it? Again, that consumer itch in the brain which has nothing to do with logic. I felt it was sexy looking.

But sexy clothing doesn't do me any good any more, because (LOGIC SAYS) I am not out and about, dating, bar hopping, and so forth where sexy attractive clothing is an advantage. Nobody at Target cares whether I look like a hot number or look like an old troll. So why don't I follow logic on these matters?
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Ah ha, 990s (normally $175) were on sale for$129. A deal -- only they are a light gray-green. Is this tolerable? Period of dithering about color. Logic only tells me the color will not affect wear.

Aren't you using the respectability of logic in this purchase to justify it? You looked for at least one logical reason that made the purchase acceptable.

Edit: A wolf in sheep's clothing.
• 281
If the statement, "the only ultimate truth is that there is no ultimate truth" carries 'meaning' for you (as it does for me), then what we call 'thinking' transcends what we call 'logic'.
• 7.9k
Logic was employed, but yes, after the fact.

Most of our personal decisions are not made using logic, and a lot of our business or professional decisions are made without logic, too. For instance: Hiring new employees for professional jobs is supposed to be a rational process where logic has a strong role. In fact, many hiring decisions (and good ones, at that, are actually made in the first minute or so of the interview--positively and negatively.

Should hiring decisions be under the rationalizing control of the "human resource departments", or is it better if hiring is decentralized and decisions made on much more intuitive bases? I've seen it done both ways, and in combo, and in the end I don't think logic helps us much in hiring people.

Farmers deciding what, and how much, to plant in the coming year can not afford to use much intuition. For one thing, banks won't let them. Everyone is looking at current crop prices, futures markets, weather, disease, insects, international trade, etc. So... it looks like 30% beans, 40% corn, and try to get as much acreage as possible into a set-aside program [for example].

Logic is the only way to go when planning the nuts and bolts aspects of a moon shot. PR is important for funding, but public relations can't steer the rocket.
• 768
Period of dithering about color. Logic only tells me the color will not affect wear.

In your post about the colour of the shoes it seems to be that your application of logic was actually part of the process, not after the fact.
• 768
Nobody at Target cares whether I look like a hot number or look like an old troll.

Is that logic, or emotion, or intuition?
• 5.8k
So far, the only thing that logic has helped with is recognizing that a $48 savings on line is a better deal than full price at a store and that the subtle light green shading will not affect wear. Logic did nothing for the slight unease I felt (feel) about the coloring. I suppose I can send them back if they are ugly. The appeal to logic is an extremely useful advertising tool, far more effective than the appeal to emotions and sentiments, because logic is more universal. Instead of trying to tell you, or influence you in relation to what you want, or need (old school advertising), the logical approach is directed toward those who have already decided what they want, demonstrating with logic, that here is the place to get it. Be aware of the possibility of false premises, "normally$175", for example, or black market counterfeits.
• 768
the logical approach is directed toward those who have already decided what they want, demonstrating with logic, that here is the place to get it.

The seduction. What’s doing the seducing?
• 7.9k
Is that logic, or emotion, or intuition?

Assessing how we thought about something after the fact is a fun game but I am not sure that it is reliable. First, there are mental processes going on out of sight of the conscious mind. Whether those processes are governed by logic or emotion or low blood sugar is very difficult if not impossible to determine.

To make one of those ugly computer and brain comparisons, we have all sorts of drivers and sub-routines running in the background of which we are not aware or in control of. As Freud said, "We are not masters of our own houses."

It may be less of a question of whether we use logic or emotion, and more a matter of how we initiate a decision making sequence. My guess is that emotional drivers initiate most of our decisions; logical thinking tests the possibilities. Actions begin with motivations (simple model), not with logic. The emotions involved in our consumer decisions can certainly be primed and shaped by outsiders using devilish logic applied to the problem of stimulating our emotions to achieve satisfactory retail results for the quarter.
• 10.4k
"Logic" is the smaller circle inside larger "Thinking" circle in a Venn diagram, not the other way around.
• 5.8k
The seduction. What’s doing the seducing?

What seduces us is the logic itself, as well as the premises. We tend to think that if it's logical then it's true. But we forget about checking the premises for truth, so the premises tend to appeal to our emotions.

There is an aspect of critical thinking which is highly neglected in the modern educational institutions of western society, and that is the skill of assessing premises. This skill involves things like understanding inductive reasoning, and recognizing abuses of language such as equivocations, and definitions produced for the sake of a desired conclusion. It is a type of common sense, or intuition. The problem is that we tend to take this skill for granted, as if it were a skill which is naturally gleaned just from existing as a human being within a society. In reality we naturally recognize what is believed as true according to the conventions of the society. But with the explosion of publication, and various forms of media within western society over the past several hundred years, conventions have become varied, scattered, and inconsistent. Now the skill of assessing the truth and falsity of premises cannot be absorbed simply by being within a society, it must come from some other source. .
• 768
Logic" is the smaller circle inside larger "Thinking" circle in a Venn diagram, not the other way around.

Well of course, that’s how logic would like you to see it.
• 768
It is a type of common sense, or intuition.

Yes,I think so. But are you suggesting it’s formed by the conventions of society? I don’t think you are, but a couple of sentences aren’t clear to me.

The problem is that we tend to take this skill for granted, as if it were a skill which is naturally gleaned just from existing as a human being within a society. In reality we naturally recognize what is believed as true according to the conventions of the society.

Edit: I’m muddying the waters a bit there. I don’t think ‘common sense, or intuition’ is logic.
• 5.8k
Yes,I think so. But are you suggesting it’s formed by the conventions of society? I don’t think you are, but a couple of sentences aren’t clear to me.

I think that what is the case is that we tend to take this skill, the skill of determining the truth, for granted. When we take it for granted, we believe that it is naturally handed to us from the conventions of our society. So it's like learning morals, or learning language, we naturally pick up on the conventions of the society which we live in, and these are our truths. This is based in taking it for granted that the conventions of our society are the "truths". So when we judge premises, we naturally judge truth and falsity according to the conventions which we take for granted.

However, in a society such as ours, with a vast variety of distinct publications, and numerous different people using different media forms for different purposes, we are exposed to distinct conventions which may be inconsistent with each other. In this case, we might choose our "truths" according to what appeals to us on an emotional level. To avoid the problems involved with this, we need to learn that skill of determining the truth, even though it is not taught in the educational institutions, because what is taught is the conventions, which might vary from one institution to another. So we need to ask, what is this skill, and how can we hone it?
• 768

I think your post has taken me off the path a little. The appeal of logic to people, as I see it, is in its supposed purity and mathematical conclusions, it’s ‘rightness’, a sort of air tight, objective answer. So my thoughts are not so much about truth, the truth that comes to us through social conventions, but the idea that logical decisions are right and therefore the best decisions made. Our love affair with this idea, the seduction of it, blinds us to the errors we make in the name of logic. Which is why I asked is thinking logic? I don’t think it is.

Terrapin Station thinks logic is the smaller circle inside larger ‘thinking’ circle in a Venn diagram. I’m questioning that and saying it’s the opposite, and that it has assumed more power and influence than it should.
• 768
What seduces us is the logic itself, as well as the premises. We tend to think that if it's logical then it's true. But we forget about checking the premises for truth, so the premises tend to appeal to our emotions.

This part, I believe, is true. But then what is thinking without emotion?
• 3.4k
I guess it's like going shopping. There are a lot of items in the market and, for instance, you can buy shoes from your local store or from an outlet of ADIDAS. Buying from the latter comes with a guarantee which your local shop owner won't be able to match. Intuition is a method of acquiring knowledge but to guarantee what you know is legit and also to transmit it to others requires logic as no one will believe without evidence.
• 10.4k
Well of course, that’s how logic would like you to see it.

That sneaky bastard!
• 768
That sneaky bastard!

Very.
• 225
"Logic" is the smaller circle inside larger "Thinking" circle in a Venn diagram, not the other way around.

I agree but I also think (oh, oh) that 'thinking' and 'logic' aren't quite terms in the same category. Like I would change your quote above to...
"Logical thinking" is the smaller circle inside larger "Thinking" circle in a Venn diagram, not the other way around.
and then as an aside I would say there would also be illogical thinking and non-logical or perhaps a-logical thinking, which could then be further broken down.
• 82
You really would enjoy the preface to logic by Cohen I think. He agrees with you that logic is not contained within the study of thinking or mathematics.

Logic inarguably has rules when it comes to argumentation. Unlike in other fields, the minimum threshold for meeting the burden of proof in philosophy is a logically consistent argument coupled with a citation of someone who is arguing for or against your conclusion.

You might also like to read David Humes essays pertaining to logic and emotion. Cohen disagrees with Humes perspective of logical but they are still required reading within formal philosophy settings. Well Hume is at least, for Cohen it depends on the individual professors really.
• 8k
@Brett As @Bitter Crank alluded to, logic is not normally a method by which thought processes, but a method through which the processes of thought are analysed.
• 5.8k
So my thoughts are not so much about truth, the truth that comes to us through social conventions, but the idea that logical decisions are right and therefore the best decisions made. Our love affair with this idea, the seduction of it, blinds us to the errors we make in the name of logic. Which is why I asked is thinking logic? I don’t think it is.

The point I was making, is that the logical conclusion is only as good as the premises. But it may be as you say, that people believe that logical decisions are "the best" decisions. I think this belief is false, "the best" decisions are the ones which we make in judging the premises. However, we tend to accept and reject premises without making the appropriate effort to judge them properly because we are already conditioned to accept some things and reject others. That's prejudice.

This part, I believe, is true. But then what is thinking without emotion?

Logic is thinking without emotion. Judging premises is thinking with emotion mixed in.
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