To admit you are a fool…

… is to begin your journey of learning.

Image of the Tarot card called The Fool by teMan at deviantArt
I’ve been a fool…

Is this not typical of the learning process? To realize that one has been naïve and therefore perhaps not utterly wrong, but too hopeful or certainly over confident.

I’ve just finished reading the “Logic: Very Short Introduction” by Graham Priest (Oxford University Press), and man oh man have I got much to learn! It’s not two or three introductory books on Formal Logic that’ll hack it. No Sir! Logic is a vast field of study. Priest did warn that he aimed for breadth, not depth. He certainly succeeded. I’d been dealing with such a narrow, and obsolete form of Logic until his book. But Modern Logic has made such huge advances that the landscape has gone from a very grainy black and white picture to a full HD 1080p billion-colour image.

Not only that, but as I read through the book, I kept noticing how reckless I’ve been in my writing and reasoning. Sure, I might be ‘on to something’, but I didn’t just run with it, I sprinted.

Well… much work lies ahead. See ya ’round!


7 thoughts on “To admit you are a fool…

  1. I think the only fools are those who are never willing to reassess their own views.

    I haven’t read Graham Priest’s book. It’s been sitting in my Kindle account for a year or two now. You’re reminding me that it’s there, and that I really need to swing back around to it, although I have read many of his articles and interviews he’s done.

    I think one of the most powerful things I saw Priest say in an interview, is that logic is basically a theory about how reality fundamentally works, and that like all theories, it must be subject to revision. I had already come to something like the same conclusion, but hearing from an expert in logic validated it for me.

  2. Hi Mike,

    Thanks for commenting.

    Yes, I /had been/ a fool. Now not so much – at least I hope!

    Well, if you have the kindle copy of it, READ IT! I recommend it. Be warned however, that he has structured it in such a way that it seems like each chapter introduces an idea, then just before the end of it, he undoes his work by showing you its problems and one or two tools for the next chapter and so on. At the end, you’re left with all the latest tools and a huge question-mark (which is wise if his objective is to whet your appetite, as he put in the preface!).

    That being said, it does mean you’ll go back to it again and again. Also, his notation is somewhat different to what is custom and his vocabulary also (e.g. he will talk of ‘situations’ where others will call them ‘possible worlds’ or maybe even ‘domain of discourse’ I can’t quite tell yet).

    But I felt kind of like a dog whose head is sticking out of the car window (tongue lolling out and all!) watching the immense landscape of Logic whizz by…

    I agree that logic can give you a grip on reality, but let’s not forget the illogical and the irrational and the nonsensical! Reality-as-a-whole cannot solely be logical. Otherwise it wouldn’t be ‘whole’ would it? A Zen master would whack you on the head with his bamboo stick…

  3. I like those VSI books that OUP produce, and have a few myself – Marx, Spinoza, Schopenhauer, etc. – along with the Penguin ‘Great Ideas’ series, which is very similar. If you like flitting around various disciplines without getting bogged down, they’re great.

    As to having a misplaced confidence in one’s beliefs, then I certainly know that one. Nowadays, I tend to believe nothing at all! Well, I’m a Relativist, which is terribly unfashionable, I know, but it sits well with my Buddhistic leanings, and there’s always more than one way of looking things, it seems.

  4. You know, Hariod, the more I work and think about all this, the more I become ‘a relativist’ also. To hell with what’s fashionable or acceptable – if it’s true then it behoves us to sit up and pay attention! I’m beginning to see just how decisive perspective is in all things. As a consequence, I’m very careful to keep as many perspectives simultaneously in mind as I possibly can. No easy feat I assure you.

    1. Hi Thomas,

      I sometimes feel a bit oppressed or wearied when people come at me with their certainties, or even their conviction that such certainties can be arrived at – be they physical or spiritual. I feel such certainties have efficacy and are valid enough, of course, though only within certain contexts and paradigms, essentially, within pre-existent assumptions and beliefs.

      Just widening the whole thing out rather than giving specific and everyday examples, then as creatures with a physiology that can detect only three dimensions, we can only hold personal convictions about our perceivable world, and of course, within the evolved capacity of our ape brains. This alone would seem, to me, sufficient a reason to hold a Relativist perspective as regards our facility to perceive and to reason.

      Good to hear from you!


  5. Salut, Thomas! Je l’ai découvré ton blog par hasard accidentelle 😉 ( je ne crois pas aux accidents) parce que je cherche le symbolisme du Möbius bande cassé. La cherche continue.

    Pour moi, la seule chose qui La Logique me dicte c’est certain est que tout est bien tout et bien rien dans la même moment et elle n’existe pas la contradiction.

    Courage et bonne chance en suivant le chemin de toi-même!

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