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Logic: The Right Use of Reason in the Inquiry After Truth

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In Logic, Watts address proper thinking under the four basic functions of the human mind: perception, judgment, reasoning, and disposition. In part one, Watts addresses human perception, the cultivation of ideas, and how we associate them with words. In part two, Watts treats human judgment and its ability to construct various kinds of propositions, while giving guidance f In Logic, Watts address proper thinking under the four basic functions of the human mind: perception, judgment, reasoning, and disposition. In part one, Watts addresses human perception, the cultivation of ideas, and how we associate them with words. In part two, Watts treats human judgment and its ability to construct various kinds of propositions, while giving guidance for avoiding the formation of bad judgments. Part three covers our ability to reason, giving instruction on the use of syllogisms for constructing a good argument. Part four discusses the mind's disposition as a method of arranging our thoughts for better understanding and memory.


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In Logic, Watts address proper thinking under the four basic functions of the human mind: perception, judgment, reasoning, and disposition. In part one, Watts addresses human perception, the cultivation of ideas, and how we associate them with words. In part two, Watts treats human judgment and its ability to construct various kinds of propositions, while giving guidance f In Logic, Watts address proper thinking under the four basic functions of the human mind: perception, judgment, reasoning, and disposition. In part one, Watts addresses human perception, the cultivation of ideas, and how we associate them with words. In part two, Watts treats human judgment and its ability to construct various kinds of propositions, while giving guidance for avoiding the formation of bad judgments. Part three covers our ability to reason, giving instruction on the use of syllogisms for constructing a good argument. Part four discusses the mind's disposition as a method of arranging our thoughts for better understanding and memory.

30 review for Logic: The Right Use of Reason in the Inquiry After Truth

  1. 5 out of 5

    Rick Davis

    Isaac Watts organizes his Logic text according to what he calls the four functions of the human mind: Perception, Judgment, Reasoning, and Disposition. Most logic books jump quickly to reasoning. I was surprised at how much time Watts spent on the nature of ideas, the categories of ideas, the way we use words as symbols to create categories, the way we should define various kinds of things and ideas, etc. It impressed on me something that I think often distinguishes a good logic student from a po Isaac Watts organizes his Logic text according to what he calls the four functions of the human mind: Perception, Judgment, Reasoning, and Disposition. Most logic books jump quickly to reasoning. I was surprised at how much time Watts spent on the nature of ideas, the categories of ideas, the way we use words as symbols to create categories, the way we should define various kinds of things and ideas, etc. It impressed on me something that I think often distinguishes a good logic student from a poor logic student, but that I had never been able to see before. Over half the book is taken up with categorizing ideas, defining terms and words, and using those terms to make statements. It’s not until about 70% of the way into the book that he even begins to talk about arguments, syllogisms, or reasoning. His section on statements and how we determine the truth value of statements was especially good. He talks about how truth value is determined for different kinds of statements. His discussion of prejudice and the sources and kinds of prejudice is fantastic. He has a good, and very thorough discussion of syllogisms focused on how arguments in their many different forms actually work in English. Finally his book is full of practical advice for reasoning, learning, and communicating. While many of the scientific examples he uses in the book are outdated, and one example he uses contains some, ahem, outdated notions of race, the book still stands as a great primer in logic and a fantastic source of practical advice on reading, learning, thinking, and remembering, as well as putting what you have learned to good use in your life.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Bruce

    It is hard to believe that this was the standard textbook used in primary schools. Have we really become that "dumbed" down that this book seems more appropriate for a university level course? I am sure that as secularism took over the school system this book and course were forced out. If logic, like in the book, were still taught in the school system the average atheists would not even have a platform. His fallacy laden arguments would be easily exposed and corrected by school age children. The It is hard to believe that this was the standard textbook used in primary schools. Have we really become that "dumbed" down that this book seems more appropriate for a university level course? I am sure that as secularism took over the school system this book and course were forced out. If logic, like in the book, were still taught in the school system the average atheists would not even have a platform. His fallacy laden arguments would be easily exposed and corrected by school age children. The book explains concepts and gives definitions to help the reader better understand logic. I love the simple examples, and often biblical ones, that the author uses to illustrate his points. Some of the language may be a little outdated as words change meaning over time. There were parts that were a little dry, but overall a good read. The book closes with practical advice for those engaging in debate. My favourite quote from the book, and argument used against the skeptic/agnostic is: "Whatsoever is dictated to us by God Himself, or by men who are divinely inspired, must be believed with full assurance. Reason demands us to believe whatsoever divine revelation dictates; for God is perfectly wise, and cannot be deceived; He is faithful and good, and will not deceive His creatures; and when reason has found out the certain marks or credentials of divine testimony to belong to any proposition, there remains no farther inquiry to be made, but only to find out the true sense and meaning of that which God has revealed, for reason itself demands the belief of it."

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jana Light

    This was a wonderful book in so many ways. Watts presents a very clean and detailed process of how to put together coherent, valid arguments and is quite insightful in his recognition of the pitfalls we need to guard against in our own thinking and reasoning. His goal in this book is not just to instruct students on how to put together a good argument, but to instruct students on how to find the right argument. Or, should I say, to instruct students on how to find their way to the truth. It's a This was a wonderful book in so many ways. Watts presents a very clean and detailed process of how to put together coherent, valid arguments and is quite insightful in his recognition of the pitfalls we need to guard against in our own thinking and reasoning. His goal in this book is not just to instruct students on how to put together a good argument, but to instruct students on how to find the right argument. Or, should I say, to instruct students on how to find their way to the truth. It's a difference of purpose that I think deserves more emphasis in the classroom -- we should approach thinking, arguing, and writing as tools to discover truth, not as tools to defend existing viewpoints (though of course the latter can be accomplished if the former is the focus). Considering Watts' truth focus, I was not surprised that he wove in his religious faith, but was yet slightly disappointed in the way he did it. He uses many Biblical examples throughout, which I didn't mind, but stopped short of using the framework he was explicating to evaluate his religious beliefs. Ultimately, Watts prioritizes faith over reason, making religious faith on some level beyond the grasp of reason and logic. On one hand, I do agree that there are things in our belief systems that cannot be proved with the same kind of evidence or even logical argument as something more concrete (like scientific processes such as photosynthesis or discoveries such as that of the atom). On the other hand, I felt that he might have been prioritizing faith or revelation so much that he failed to highlight those areas where we can and should use reason to clarify (and even change!) what we believe. Perhaps because he is a scriptural literalist he needs to be devoted to that way of thinking in order to defend all his beliefs. Perhaps not. Regardless, I thought the infusion of religious elements throughout weakened the power of some of his prescriptions for finding truth. Others may very much enjoy that he refers to the Bible so frequently to demonstrate the processes or elements he lays out. Two minor points worth mentioning: I would have liked the chapter on fallacious argumentation to be longer. It seems there is a wealth of history on the subject he could have referenced and used. Also, the last chapter is fabulous for writers -- of nonfiction or fiction. Overall, I very much enjoyed and benefited from Watts' presentation of logical thinking and good argument construction, and very much enjoyed the priority he gave to discovering truth (rather than defending a viewpoint). I would recommend many excerpts from this text be used in the classroom, though with the religious overtones the work in toto may not be appropriate or fitting for all schools.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Karin

    What do you say about a book on logic that was used at Oxford for over 100 years, and as a text for nearly 200, including schools such as Cambridge? Granted the language, although modern English, is somewhat antiquated now, but this introductory book on logic is still very strong and really begs to be read by anyone with any interest in the subject. Certainly it isn't perfect, and given that Watts also wrote many Christian hymns has that bias (but then, all logic books have bias one way or anoth What do you say about a book on logic that was used at Oxford for over 100 years, and as a text for nearly 200, including schools such as Cambridge? Granted the language, although modern English, is somewhat antiquated now, but this introductory book on logic is still very strong and really begs to be read by anyone with any interest in the subject. Certainly it isn't perfect, and given that Watts also wrote many Christian hymns has that bias (but then, all logic books have bias one way or another, as does all philosophy and rhetoric), but it's not something that spoils the basic teachings which start with what are ideas, what are words, and so on, then builds slowly but thoroughly from there. This was written with pupils in mind, so isn't mind-boggling even if it requires thinking, particularly if you are new to the subject. Most of it is written in relatively short sections, so you can take time to ponder and mark your page. I did that more because I was reading a number of other books throughout this time and was in no hurry to finish. Plus, first my copy was stolen when I left it behind in the RMV, then I had to get library copies, etc. I do recommend this even if I didn't give it five stars.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Andy

    Much has changed since this volume was written. Watts wrote this as a text book for children whom he tutored. This text could easily be used for a college course on logic. What is particularly fascinating about this work is Watts' acknowledgment of the effects of sin on the mind's ability to reason. For this reason, Watts spends a great deal of time dealing with the ways in which our fallen nature prejudices our ability to reason as we should. A very good read. Tightly argued and presented mater Much has changed since this volume was written. Watts wrote this as a text book for children whom he tutored. This text could easily be used for a college course on logic. What is particularly fascinating about this work is Watts' acknowledgment of the effects of sin on the mind's ability to reason. For this reason, Watts spends a great deal of time dealing with the ways in which our fallen nature prejudices our ability to reason as we should. A very good read. Tightly argued and presented material, but not stodgy or off-putting.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Mwansa

    I once thought of Isaac Watts as nothing more than a hymn writer, how wrong I was. He wrote a fantastic book that is well worth reading for everyone who can find a copy. Master Watts gave it a very lengthy title that has been shortened to 'The Right Use of Reason in the Inquiry After Truth' and shortened even further for us modern readers to 'Logic'. It shows just how far we have fallen for down the rungs of attention. A side thought before I get to at least two things I got from the book would I once thought of Isaac Watts as nothing more than a hymn writer, how wrong I was. He wrote a fantastic book that is well worth reading for everyone who can find a copy. Master Watts gave it a very lengthy title that has been shortened to 'The Right Use of Reason in the Inquiry After Truth' and shortened even further for us modern readers to 'Logic'. It shows just how far we have fallen for down the rungs of attention. A side thought before I get to at least two things I got from the book would be that this book was once made use of in the teaching of primary level children and yet now it may be considered heavy at university level even though it shouldn't be. I wish my teachers of English took the pains to do this much groundwork with me early on in life, I would be much better off for it. One thing I saw is how inseparable the issue of logic and the understanding of language and grammar are, after all in order to understand what a person is saying you have to be able to understand why they have used the words that they have used. Once Mr Watts has finished setting the stage for what Logic is he goes around giving several pointers in understanding language that might seem tedious but go with it and you will soon uncover treasure troves therein. If nothing else it will help you read your bible better and is there any better use than that. The second thing is the relevance of logic and reason in communication of thought and ideas after all what is the purpose of gaining knowledge if not to pass it on to others who would need it. More often than not we get so caught up in our webs and trip over ourselves in the effort of communication that we miss out on actually communicating. Watts gives several guidelines on how to avoid this. Overall it was another fascinating read. I long to read more of Master Watts' work now that I have gotten a taste

  7. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    I have sung many of Isaac Watts hymns, but I only recently realized that he wrote a book on logic, a book which, if I understand correctly, was used as a textbook for generations at places like Yale and Princeton. That does not seem to me to be a very likely combination, but having read the book, it is evident that Isaac Watts was a man of many talents. Until I read this book I never realized how complicated formal logic was. A lot of it went over my head, but the parts that I understood I often I have sung many of Isaac Watts hymns, but I only recently realized that he wrote a book on logic, a book which, if I understand correctly, was used as a textbook for generations at places like Yale and Princeton. That does not seem to me to be a very likely combination, but having read the book, it is evident that Isaac Watts was a man of many talents. Until I read this book I never realized how complicated formal logic was. A lot of it went over my head, but the parts that I understood I often found helpful. It particularly impressed on me that it takes a lot of work to think rightly! One of my favorite quotes: "The power of reasoning was given us by our Maker, for this very end, to pursue truth; and we abuse one of his richest gifts, if we [use it instead to bolster our arguments for what we were already determined to believe]." The first half of the book was the hardest part for me to get through and I appreciated the second half more. So if you are tempted to give up, as I was, I would encourage you to keep plugging away. However, I was surprised and saddened at the example he gave of a moral universality: "All negroes are stupid creatures." I realize that back then stupid probably had a somewhat different meaning than it does now, it probably meant uneducated and not necessarily having inferior mental ability, but still it seems to show that for all his talents and graces, he did not rise above the prejudices of his times and it is a stark reminder of just how prejudiced those times were.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sophie

    This book provided a phenomenal introduction to such topics as logic and reasoning. It included helpful tips for what to be on the lookout for in faulty assumptions/decision making based on how our minds work. Throughout this was a quick, easy and interesting read. Thoroughly enjoyed it and learned from it

  9. 5 out of 5

    Troy Clark

    The book invests a considerable portion of the reader's time in grammar and definitions, but there's a plethora of logical nuggets to be discovered. The book invests a considerable portion of the reader's time in grammar and definitions, but there's a plethora of logical nuggets to be discovered.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Buai Puol

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. J

  11. 4 out of 5

    Arjelia

    This book was hard for me to grasp. It's been a long time since I've read it but I do remember having to go back several times to read a specific concept. I do remember that it was good though. A friend loaned me the book and wanted to discuss it after I finished it because it was really hard for him to follow as well. I would like to read this again. This book was hard for me to grasp. It's been a long time since I've read it but I do remember having to go back several times to read a specific concept. I do remember that it was good though. A friend loaned me the book and wanted to discuss it after I finished it because it was really hard for him to follow as well. I would like to read this again.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Hardy

    A wealth of knowledge. It took me a while to get through it, but it is actually very well structured and written. I recommend it highly not only because it teaches the principles of Logic, but that in many cases it uses God's Word for teaching the principles. A wealth of knowledge. It took me a while to get through it, but it is actually very well structured and written. I recommend it highly not only because it teaches the principles of Logic, but that in many cases it uses God's Word for teaching the principles.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Buddy Williams

    This is my favorite book next to the Bible. It has transformed my ability to reason more rightly. The book itself is well organized and thoughtful.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Thokozaneolben

  15. 4 out of 5

    Rebekyah

  16. 5 out of 5

    Tommy Nichols

  17. 4 out of 5

    Newelle

  18. 4 out of 5

    David Roush

  19. 4 out of 5

    Aaron

  20. 4 out of 5

    Michael Spellman

  21. 5 out of 5

    Adam

  22. 5 out of 5

    Andy Young

  23. 4 out of 5

    Joshua Nuckols

  24. 4 out of 5

    James Goering

  25. 5 out of 5

    Corey

  26. 4 out of 5

    Emily

  27. 4 out of 5

    Aubrey Amundson

  28. 4 out of 5

    Joe Taylor

  29. 4 out of 5

    Paul Barth

  30. 4 out of 5

    Heath

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