Why Logic Fails When Describing Abstract Ideas

Quite recently on the forum, there was an excellent thread about the life and work of Ludwig Wittgenstein. Although the man himself was fascinating, this article was simply inspired by his questioning of language and logic. If you wish to read more about the man himself and the subsequent discussion, check out the thread here.

How do we know what we can’t know? Let’s think it through, step by step.

Physical Existence

We can describe everything that physically exists with language. For instance, I can describe the shirt I am currently wearing. It is a grey, crew neck, long sleeved shirt made out of cotton and polyester. It helps to insulate my body and keep me warm. My description, although perhaps not comprehensive, is enough to paint a picture in your mind of what my shirt is like.

Were I to describe my shirt further, I might go into more detail on the shade of the color, the direction of the stitching, the slight discolorations, or the exact length. In fact, I could even pull out a microscope and describe the shape of every little dust particle on my shirt.

Supposing technological limitations were not a factor, I could continue to describe my shirt for all of eternity, focusing on smaller and smaller pieces until we get to sub-atomic particles and sub-sub-atomic particles. Never once would language fail me in this instance. There will always be words to describe what I am seeing, because the shirt physically exists. We could perform the same exercise with a red shirt, a baseball, a human being, or the Grand Canyon and still be able to describe with language that which we see.

Non-Physical Existence

How about non-physical entities? Can words describe those? First, we must dissect what a non-physical entity is. If something is non-physical, it, by definition, has not been seen, heard, touched, smelled, or tasted by a human. Suppose I told you that you have a tail. You ask me if I have seen this tail, and I say no. 

‘Have you felt it?’ No. 

‘Have you heard it?’ No.

‘Have you tasted it?’ No.

‘Have you smelt it?’ Yuck, no.

‘Well, then, how do you know I have a tail, Will? Prove it!’ I can’t. I just know it.

This anecdote is a trivial illustration, yet demonstrates an important point. We cannot empirically prove that non-physical things exist. If it doesn’t physically exist, the senses cannot process it. However, this brings is us to a conundrum: if we cannot empirically prove that the non-physical exists, how can we be sure that logic exists?

We seem to think that logic exists, and it is definitely not a physical, tangible thing. Well, the answer is simple: we can’t. Can we describe what logic looks, tastes, sounds, feels, or smells like? Nope.

Non-Sensory Methods of Description

“But, AHA! William! The dictionary has a definition for logic! They’ve described what it is! Checkmate, you pretentious sot! Merriam-Webster says logic is “a proper or reasonable way of thinking about or understanding something.”

Ok, well let’s unpack this definition a bit. What is the dictionary definition of “proper?” According to the same dictionary it means, “Correct according to social or moral rules.”

What does correct mean? “True or accurate”

True? ‘Agreeing with the facts’

Fact? ‘Something that truly exists or happens’

Exist? ‘To have actual being’

Being? ‘The state of existing’

Existing? ‘To have actual being’

Being? ‘The state of… Wait a second! This looks familiar!’ Well, my friend, you’ve learned your lesson. The dictionary is nothing but a big circular argument.

“Well, we never went down the path of ‘reasonable’ in our original definition…” If you really want to, I’ll humor you, then.

Reasonable: ‘Fair and sensible’

Fair: ‘Agreeing with what is thought to be right or acceptable’

Right: ‘Morally or socially correct or acceptable’

Correct: ‘True or accur… well, by Jove, we’ve done it again.’

What does this little traipse through the dictionary prove? It proves that language is useless when trying to describe the non-physical, because it will always end up in a circular definition: a fallacy. It’s meaningless to say that logic is “proper,” because “proper’s” definition ends up in a fallacy (which is, ironically, illogical). Therefore, we still have not succeeded in describing logic.

All is lost?


What can we do now? Kill ourselves and hope for some answers in the afterlife? No. All we need to do is stop using logic.

“Stop using logic? That’s absurd! What are you, a Christian or something?”

Calm down. We need to explore other venues of understanding. I know just the guy who can help us… let me grab my Lamp of the Enlightenment and rub it a few times. Suddenly, the ghostly apparition of Blaise Pascal appears before us.

‘Why have you disturbed my rest, William? I was chilling with Pook in heaven.’

‘Pook’s dead?!’

‘Uh, never mind. What did you want to ask?’

‘We wish to know how to understand without logos, oh master.’

‘We know the truth not only through our reason but also through our heart. It is through the latter that we know first principles, and reason, which has nothing to do with it, tries in vain to refute them. The skeptics have no other object than that, and they work at it to no purpose. We know that we are not dreaming, but, however unable we may be to prove it rationally, our inability proves nothing but the weakness of our reason, and not the uncertainty of all our knowledge, as they maintain. For knowledge of first principles, like space, time, motion, number, is as solid as any derived through reason, and it is on such knowledge, coming from the heart and instinct, that reason has to depend and base all its argument…

It is just as pointless and absurd for reason to demand proof of first principles from the heart before agreeing to accept them as it would be absurd for the heart to demand an intuition of all the propositions demonstrated by reason before agreeing to accept them. Our inability must therefore serve only to humble reason, which would like to be judge of everything, but not to confute our certainty. As if reason were the only way we could learn!'(Pascal’s Pensées, 1995, 28, #110)

Blaise Pascal slowly fades back into nothingness.

Read More: Women Don’t Know How To Argue With Logic Or Facts

110 thoughts on “Why Logic Fails When Describing Abstract Ideas”

  1. Logic will always fail when describing abstract ideas to someone who is not capable of logical thought – most typically, a woman and her white knights.

    1. thought I dislike Popper in the main, falsification is still better than verification. The world does not consist of an accretion of verifiable positive facts, although I quite like the idea that the world is ‘all that is the case’

      1. Falsifiability is wonderful because it sets hard limits on science: if you can’t falsify the theory, you’re not conducting science. Where the blind spot lies is in thinking that science is the only way to go about understanding the world and the universe.

        1. You must have been a good student.
          I hope at least half of my former students remember that lesson.

        2. I didn’t come to this realisation after being a student, unless it be the most informal of students and enrolled in a course called “Read wide, read open, and don’t read any of the shit they gave you at university again.”

        3. most of the current ideologies we suffer under are unfalsifiable in their assertions, and Roger Scruton for instance has described how easy it is to indoctrinate people when you can’t prove a claim false. That certainly describes most of feminism, but it could also describe some religious claims too, including where feeling is the bottom line. Falsification (and the scientific method built around it) was definitely an improvement on logical positivism etc but its not perfect as people like Paul Feyerabend realised noticing the differences between formal scientific method and how science actually was done – intuition etc. The link below notes that einstein’s special relativity theory should have been abandoned under ‘dogmatic falsification’ – there may well be realms of knowledge that are off limits because of falsification even if it is the best that we have

        4. Beware anyone who calls science more than a tool, or says that it allows one to obtain an absolute truth. Leaving aside that science itself does not say so, whenever someone claims to find an absolute, immutable truth — be it political, religious, or scientific — blood flows, always.

        5. true – I presume that assertion doesn’t qualify as a case in point – made me think of russell’s paradox : the class of all classes that are not members of themselves – is it a member of itself? If it is, it isn’t, if it isn’t, it is and so forth – wittgenstein saw that as an artefact of language rather than a problem of logic, and I wouldn’t be surprised if blood has been spilled in the debate that ensued

  2. logic is presupposed by the question, “what is logic?” some things are such that their non-existence would render the existence of everything else impossible or contradictory. these things are beyond question precisely because they are the prerequisites of questioning and assumed to be the case by the very existence of questions. they are like kant’s categories, descarte’s cogito or his “clear and distinct ideas”, or the rules of wittgensteins language games. they are the at the borders of thought. other things can only be known mystically or intuitively.

  3. As one of the comments below exemplifies there is a tendency for men to compare favourably our ability to think logically and argue with reason compared to women, often while also taking pride in male science. I think we are far better at thinking in that way, but there are indeed dangers in thinking oneself to be reasonable and logical, when in fact it is emotion, unregistered or perhaps unconscious that underlies what we say or do, and insofar as that is the case and insofar as it goes unregistered we run the risk of being less rather than more attuned than women when they realise they are governed by some whim or fancy or teary emotion that originates not in the head, but in the blood or belly. This piece which is very well written, albeit almost cryptic in the lightness of its message allies here, not with woman-think I think, but at least with that non-rational more spirited part of our selves. I suspect as such its a defence of religion, and of the importance that Wittgenstein has for religious “language games”. Wittgenstein has a strange status as a thinker who has been useful to a great many, from the language theorists who more or less created feminism to the religionists who have found within him both a challenge to religion (the unintelligibility of private languages) and a potential saviour, someone who for example both condemns and challenges religion by saying whereof we cannot speak clearly’ we should remain silent. Religious claims are not wrong, but rather are unsophisticated, or meaningless just as Russell’s paradoxes were meaningless. Under Wittgenstein religion actually fares quite well because a) the above leaves the ultimate truth of religion / metaphysics unchallenged (i.e. it is meaningless for an atheist to say there is no God) and b) within his later philosophy religion can function as a language game, meaningful within its own frame of reference, within its own socially and institutionally grounded ‘language game’. Its difficult to say whether he was religious but apparently during his service in the first world war he would always carry a copy of Tolstoy’s Gospel in Brief in his pocket
    Its hard not to like and be terrified by Wittgenstein in equal measure. An incredibly wealthy jew who gave up his worldly things to study under Bertrand Russell, he later did his own MGTOW thing by disappearing to Norway to study in a log cabin.

  4. I think you are wasting your time trying to teach logic, reason and it’s limitations to this crowd.

    1. Agreed. It’s like every article on ROK (some of which are quite good and insightful), you scroll down to the comments section and it’s all “yeah! all women are bitches who just want to take their man’s money and suck lots of alpha dick on the side! men are oppressed!” Like, this article wasn’t even about male-female relations and there were comments that were like that. Lots of people on here that just want to bitch about women and act immature. makes me embarrassed that I read this site.

      1. There are a lot of weak men lurking this site. However there is a handful of commentators that make it all worth it. Most of the posts are pretty good too.

      2. The problem with most of the men out there is this. They behave just as the women they blame all the time. Same difference. Not assuming responsibility, blaming anything and anybody except themselves. I am not saying things are not fucked up, they are. But the first step in righting the wrongs starts with looking within, at our own faults. Unfortunately that’s not an easy thing to do… Anyway, I kind of agree with you. Too much gratuitous blame going around.

        1. Yea, i remember last week making a comment advising men to stop pumping and dumping women because that just feeds into women bad behavior.
          Their response, they all just accused me of “blaming men for women’s behavior”. They just refuse to admit that some men are making the problem worse with their own degenerate behavior. They use women’s degenerate behavior to justify their own. Pure insanity. Not an ounce of personal responsibility from these losers.

        2. Yes spider, you are absolutely correct. Most men would stab you in the back and walk all over you for a little bit of pussy. If she puts out, yeah let’s just fuck her.. It doesn’t matter the consequences. Children growing up in broken families etc. Who gives a shit…Two wrongs don’t make it right. Let’s just say it like it is.

        3. There are.. And that should be every man’s main preoccupation. Not pussy. They all want the pussy shortcut. They pay money to all these PUA muppets teaching them how to LOOK alpha. Big difference between looking for the easy way vs. improving yourself as the main focus. PUAs are charlatans IMHO.. praying on the weakest of men and making money off them.. Sometimes I don’t even agree with Roosh, although I understand where he’s coming from. As of late he changed his tone I noticed..

        4. There are guys who are hellbent on getting laid as much and as quickly as possible. These guys only look for sluts, and then complain when all they see are sluts.

        5. And when you point his out to them they cry “it womenz falultz not mineeeeeeeessssss”. It is fucking sad.

        6. That is because the appearance of being “alpha” is enough to get western women just as effectively, if not better, than actually being “alpha.”

        7. Well… I was thinking exactly about that.. Now, regardless of what we talk about here, women are not stupid. Actually they are more red pill than most men (in their hamster, instinctual brain they are a natural). I think, they’ll figure us out, just as we figured them out, pretty soon. Better said, they’ll understand what we are doing.. What’s gonna happen then, I have no idea….

        8. But it’s a mask – will it not eventually slip off? Would assume having to pretend to be Alpha all the time would be extremely stressful. Especially under the ever critical eye of a woman.

        9. I believe the purpose of most of these articles is to identify the problem and arrive at solutions. I understand that this has been reinforced repeatedly, but it does seem to require a good amount of reinforcement before some are willing to accept those conclusions.

        10. Plenty of guys aren’t interested in more than initial appearances, for whatever reason. There are others that are “alpha” naturally, some that are progressing that way, and still others that will never be. The point is that not every guy can be an “alpha” and that women didn’t used to require such characteristics as much as society reinforced different roles than it does now.

        11. That is part of the problem. Society is reinforcing their red pill mentality while at the same time marginalizing men who take the same approach. See my response to Hieronymous.

        12. It’s a lack of common decency coupled with the narcissistic demand for instant gratification, which is only exacerbated by exposure to digital mediums.

        13. Do you really think it is possible to become alpha if you’re not alpha to start off with?

        14. Absolutely. Human behavior is shaped by environment and genetics. I’ve witnessed a good number of men transform from being your typical “beta” that was constantly seeking female approval to completely indifferent to female attitudes. And transformations in the other direction as well. I know I have personally changed some as well due to my experiences, though probably not as extreme as others. I certainly have a lower general opinion of westernized women now than I used to.

        15. It is possible to become any kind of mindset/personality that you wish, barring physical limitations of course. You may want to be a star basketball player, but if you’re 4’5″ and a parapalegic you’re stuck with faking it. But if you want to be an alpha, free will can allow that, with enough exercise of it.

        16. So, what if I have never had trouble with women, from the day I was born – what category does that put me in?

        17. ‘Looking Alpha’ is fine for impressing women (and younger guys I suppose). If you want to lead men, then you have to BE alpha. I should make it clear that to me this does not mean being the best/loudest/strongest male in the group; nutting up and doing what needs to be done – THAT is alpha.

        18. And that is fine. I agree with your definition and think it is more amorphous than what some people believe. I just think that there is a certain parameter that attracts modern westernized women and it is not consistent with what is beneficial to western society. I believe that is where much of the angst stems from.

    2. Great ad hominem bro. You’re so deep and spiritually profound with your insults. We are all duly impressed.

    3. I dissagree.
      Lyrics come mind :,,
      Discard the strain of mortality, reset and display anger sequences
      Improve your connectivities, conceived in reverse of your neural patterns of hate
      A mass of coalescent material, your mind is weapon to control
      Your eyes now see the flesh in pure design
      So pull the trigger of dissidence, and focuse your soul
      Cryogenic fluids to irrigate your skin
      [Repeat first verse]
      Delete the pain, divide your mind
      Clench your teeth and stand, overload
      Don’t need to except, don’t need to know
      The ride will end in fuckin’blood
      A violent wave expanding directionless, you crush the structure
      Charged to the maximum capacity
      [Repeat fisrt verse]
      So pull the trigger of dissidence, and focuse your soul
      Cryogenic fluids to irrigate your skin
      Don’t need to except, don’t need to know
      The ride will end in fuckin’blood
      No time to moralize, no time criticize, just time to fight and win… or die ”

  5. The idea that existence is real and absolute is an axiom and requirement to logical and rational discourse. Saying otherwise has the potential to become the destroyer of everything.

    1. On the other hand, the suggestion that existence is not fully comprehensible using logic and reason alone is the first step to freedom. It is as important a change of mindset as physics undertook when it threw out determinism as a viable philosophy for understanding the universe, as it had to do when it stumbled onto quantum mechanics.

  6. Logic can be seen and heard in the neural pathways through decision making. Heuristics vs algorithms as one example. Exchanging the mind’s tendency towards one approach to an alternate decision pathway and examining their physical expressions.

  7. Yes, it’s important to recognize the limits of logic and reason alone. Experience is required to understand.
    One of the poisonous trends in our society is the favoring of reason and “logic” over experience. This leads to:
    1) Bureaucracy, because every rule and procedure needs to be particularized and defined to the minutest detail, with no tolerance for variation.
    2) Progressivism, in which people push for give-a-man-a-fish welfare and family-destroying feminism because of “reasons” and “logic,” without regard for experience and evidence.
    3) General distrust of authority. Those who fetishize reason and logic might heed their own personal experiences, but they distrust the unverifiable experiences of others, often to their detriment. (If grandpa can’t prove his observations on life with logic and reason, then it’s just his opinion and I can ignore it).

    1. Ironically if you experience the politically incorrect things, which Steve Sailer calls Noticing, and then you report your experiences, you open yourself up to accusations of racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia and other imaginary crimes.

  8. It is important to recognize the limits of ones education.
    Please review the component of Applied Behavior Analysis called verbal behavior, otherwise known as rule governed behavior.
    The ability to transmit knowledge through language is unique to humans, as far as we know now. Logic exists because we agree that it does. But logic is nothing more then a collection of various “rules” that are symbolic abstractions. It exists because it can be shown to shape behavior in a given environment – no physical component, beyond what ever our wetware translates the rule.
    I’m oversimplifying significantly, as there is a very specific technical jargon precisely defined within the context of ABA (the only hard science of psychology), and it’s philosophic underpinnings, Behaviorism, in all its flavors. And it is a most contentious field, and really, really pisses people off. The red pill is easier to swallow.

  9. Let us remember our Spock from Star Trek VI: “Ahh, logic, logic: logic is the beginning of wisdom, lieutenant, not its end.”

  10. All discussions are useless. We live in a Matrix. A real one.. Well, I’m not sure I am 100% on board with this, but it certainly is very intriguing… This guy claims he found error correction computer code in the fabric of the universe. If that’s the case (long way to prove that though), then it means it’s all a simulation, and maybe there is no free will. The implications are profound.

    1. Go to Roosh’s website and look at his post for December 29th 2014 – goes through the same concept.

      1. I know. I posted this link there too, in the comments section. Didn’t get any traction though 🙂
        I am no racket scientist, but I am fascinated the things humans are already looking into.

        1. On the other hand, that article was fascinating even if I only understood about 50% of it.

        2. It is.. I don’t understand it all either, but I have a pretty good idea what’s going on… What’s interesting is, one can go back and forth between those adinkras and real equations. Honestly, I would not be surprised if it all proves to be right.. Then we have a Creator in the cards.. Fucked up stuff tbh…

        3. It seems there is more work along these lines..
          I remember reading something that stuck with me, in I think “Our Mathematical Universe”, a book by.. can’t remember his name, a Swedish mathematician.
          He said, “being alive is what information processing FEELS like”.

        4. Right. And if we find God, then next question is. Why? Why did he create the Universe, and us for that matter..
          Looking around me, I can probably answer that. A sick joke, and probably God is an asshole. 🙂

        5. “Why” asked of God is a Category Error. A God that is, necessarily, not confined to the laws of physics is not a God that we can fully conceive of, so the question is almost meaningless. I prefer Zen’s approach on this: unask the question, and be content with the search for the answer, for that is what gives life meaning, though we may not gain the answer to the question.

  11. Sit in an isolated place, preferably in natural surroundings. The edge of the Grand Canyon, a field, a park, the edge of a roof, even an isolated chair in an exceptionally large lounge.
    Stay still. Don’t think. Don’t talk. Drink in the ambience of the surrounds.
    Logic can fail.

    1. I have no idea what you’re saying. Even feelings can be logical, excluding those of the insane.

  12. The scientific method is the best thing we have to understand reality. It is thoroughly lacking in testing abstract ideas.

  13. As a matter of fact, even logic fails in pure mathematics. Godel’s theorem is, ironically, a mathematical proof of this.

  14. I can’t decide whether the author is trying to be a bit tongue-in-cheek as he sets up a caricature for dismissal, or whether he is honestly advancing the opinions prior to Pascal’s arrival on the scene, as though Pascal helped us out of the “jam” that the prior opinions necessitated.
    There’s a knock at Christians being illogical, immediately preceding an extensive quotation from one of the more famous Christian philosophers, who fought against atheism and skepticism by defending the need to trust our basic insights into first principles…
    There’s the rather obvious observation that an English dictionary inevitably winds up using some English words in each definition, which words can in turn be looked up in the dictionary, resulting, occasionally, in circular references; this is then described, nonsensically, as a “fallacy” (an entirely irrelevant term, here). Underneath it all, is the unintelligible assumption that the dictionary’s definition is *the* meaning of a term, as though the dictionary were not simply trying to give the pithiest definition, and as though it were not possible to explain these terms in more circuitous ways if necessary…
    There’s the assertion that logic fails when describing abstract ideas, when in fact logic deals exclusively with abstract ideas (since, while the things a logical argument mentions may be bodies subject to empirical verification, the logical connections between the things mentioned, which is the substance of the discipline of logic, are necessarily abstract)…
    There is also the odd assertion that only a tangible object that can be empirically examined may be said to exist, and that abstract concepts such as logic cannot, therefore, be known or said to exist certainly. This should be self-evidently false since, at the very least, the power of thought and perception – which is what you use in any empirical inquiry, after all – can clearly perceive the difference between imaginary concepts (that could easily be otherwise) and those concepts which bear an ineluctable bearing upon reality, furnishing the exigencies of logic, proportion and analogy. Mathematics, for example, is a purely logical discipline that routinely deals with abstract concepts whose existence, if anything, is more ideal and certain than are their imperfect reflections in the material world. Sometimes the logical propositions of mathematics may be demonstrated in a concrete way by creating a material mock-up of the abstract concept. But even then, the mock-up merely demonstrates the substantial truth of mathematical concepts via material analogy, whereas the mathematical concepts themselves remain certain and proven by reason alone. It is self-evident that 2(2x) is 4x; you don’t have to substitute a value for x and then prove it all to be true with pennies on a table, and if you did, you wouldn’t be “proving” it true, so much as creating a material analogy that might help someone to understand that it is and always must be axiomatically true… otherwise, we could never know that our algebraic reasoning is producing mathematically true expressions, until we get out the penny jar and sit at the table to “prove” every single mathematical expression that ever occurs. To assert, then, that all of these axiomatic truths and valid processes of reasoning do not really exist simply because they are abstract concepts, and that we therefore have to “stop using logic” in order to perceive them “with the heart,” is ludicrous. Certainly I believe in a noesis that is superior to (and in fact generative of) dionoia (i.e., raw perception, of which reason is an inferior subset), and this is (in part) what Pascal described. But much of what is discussed here, does not belong to that category so far as the experience of fallen man is concerned. In the case of mathematics involving straight lines, circles, spheres, etc., we are always dealing with abstract ideas, since perfectly straight lines, perfect circles, perfect spheres, etc., are not available for our observation, though this does nothing to undermine our confidence in the true and authentic existence of the abstract concept of pi or its relation to the radius of a circle/sphere abstractly conceptualized, which are certainly beyond the first principles perceived by the heart…
    If the author was intending to take us on a magical ride to the hallowed shade of a Christian philosopher, who reveals to us that everything prior to that point of the article was pure bullshit, I feel like there are still a few false notes in the journey. It’s possible that’s what he was trying to do. But it seems more likely that this is a man who has recently begun to exercise his capacity for abstract and rigorously reasoned thought. If so, I wish him the best as he continues to develop. I would recommend reading Plato’s dialogues, Aquinas’ works in general (especially the Summa Theologica) and CS Lewis’ essays, for developing an habit of making fine distinctions in thought.

    1. I support your point of view but respectfully disagree with the concept of fallen Man. I think that we, in our incarnation here, are but a small and rather near-sighted part of our greater selves but that this small and near-sighted element is slowly growing into a greater awareness. Sometimes there come those who do not need to be here, do not need to suffer, but do because it is time for new guidance and then we take a leap forward. You know who I’m talking about, Brother.

    2. “There’s the rather obvious observation that an English dictionary inevitably winds up using some English words in each definition, which words can in turn be looked up in the dictionary, resulting, occasionally, in circular references”
      I took that as a reference to the non-referential (anti-Augustinian) view of language that Wittgenstein helped critique. Use of the word fallacy amongst other things is iffy though

    3. I’m the author.
      Being a Christian myself, the reference about Christians was tongue-in-cheek.
      The bulk of your comment is intelligent, though misguided, seeing as I never said that logic does not exist, but rather that it is alone insufficient for a true understanding of universe both material and immaterial. I would posit that the reason logic can exist is because it is part of who God is.
      Perhaps it was not clear in the article, but I am showing the folly of logic without a God from who it proceeds, I may expound on it in a future article, if the publishers at RoK so choose.
      I would also remind you that it was the hyper-scholasticism and logic-chopping of the Middle Ages which led to Protestantism and the modern train wreck that is Western Christianity.

      1. are you evangelical? I was getting a catholic vs protestant vibe from Cui’s response, but I’ve only ever known evangelicals to recommend abandoning logic (which is what some are up in arms about). I had an evangelical friend who used to tell me to stop thinking things through logically and feel the truth with my heart – and although I didn’t get that from reading the article the comments are bringing out a sense of the same kind of thinking i.e. if religious belief starts with the heart (or faith or something) and logic finds flaws in that belief what gives?

        1. I’m a Conservative Anglican with strong Orthodox leanings.
          The other question is an interesting one… when does logic stop and intuition take over? I don’t have an answer to this, yet. I think there is definitely something wrong with the Western approach of dissecting Christianity as if it was a dead animal, trying to satisfy its Aristotelian and Augustinian roots by explaining everything. The Roman doctrine of transubstantiation is case and point of this.

        2. thanks for the clarification. Don’t know the answer either but yes its interesting
          “something wrong with the Western approach of dissecting Christianity as if it was a dead animal, trying to satisfy its Aristotelian and Augustinian roots by explaining everything. The Roman doctrine of transubstantiation is case and point of this.”
          Probably best not to replay the wars of religion. There are some issues where points of doctrine will be irreconcilable. For a practical way forwards its probably better to work around them rather meet them head on.

        3. “An honest religious thinker is like a tightrope walker. He almost looks as though he were walking on nothing but air. His support is the slenderest imaginable. And yet it really is possible to walk on it”–Wittgenstein

        4. “I was getting a catholic vs protestant vibe from Cui’s response,”
          Understandable, given Cui’s a Catholic monk — Carthusian order if I remember right, if not just plain Benedictine.

        5. I harp on a bit about it, but try Karen Armstrong’s “The Case For God” on this subject.

        6. I know, but I didn’t see the catholic / protestant stress points before his comment – putting the article to one side I suspect wittgenstein is less liked by catholics

  15. I think that logic is the rationalization process most consistent with the algorithms, so to speak, of the human neural network. However, human wetware is an evolved mechanism, its heritage being those algorithms best suited to our background as intelligent apes. That heritage makes us extremely sensitive to aspects of the universe such as space-time, but it is poor – for now – at recognising and dealing with things that were not immediately relevant to our evolution.
    Ramon Valdez, below, reminded us that Gödel’s Theorem shows that human logic has its limits in mathematics. That, and the many paradoxes one encounters with logic, serve as boundary markers pointing out roughly where those limits lie and that beyond “Here be monsters”.
    There is a lot, lot more to the universe than we are equipped to make sense of and, I submit, other forms of consciousness and logic are possible which are not yoked so closely to space-time. I witter on about that kind of thing in The Divine Sea.

  16. The author is playing a few games with language I think… 🙂
    To argue whether logic exists or not is a bit like arguing whether happiness exists. In the case of emotion, it is something we experience individually. Does it exist outside of ourselves? No and possibly it is an illusion as it is not something we can control.
    Logic is a little different because it is the opposite of emotion but again the question is it something we can control? Have I made a decision to explore logic, logically or is it in the fact the only thing I can do at this moment in time? I would say that logic is an physical aspect of our bodies that provides the illusion we are thinking when actually we have no choice but to think logically. This is in much the same way we can only walk by putting one foot in front on the other. The dominance of emotion or logic in each of us may well be predetermined. Logic is our own ability to conceive the way in which the Universe works.

    1. Yes. Logic is a method for discerning fact, a framework used to get from point A to point B by the clearest way possible.

  17. “Suppose I told you that you have a tail. You ask me if I have seen this tail, and I say no. ”
    A tail is a physical thing though.
    In 5th grade English class we learned about the 4 nouns: person, place, thing, and “idea”. The first 3 exist physically, the last one mentally. We can’t use our 5 senses to describe an idea like we could with the grey shirt, but ideas can also be described in great detail. I can’t hold in my hands an education, a dream, a business plan, a thought, a story, etc but they do exist.
    This article is stupid

    1. Just had an after thought…. borders between countries also do not physically exist. Try illegally crossing a border and telling the authorities that you couldn’t see, hear, smell, touch or taste the border

      1. you might like john searle on social constructionism where he grapples with such issues….

  18. No. All we need to do is stop using logic.
    Right, let’s abandon one of the strongest tools in the Male Toolbox.
    Feelings ftw! Now where do I sign up for my Jezebel account?
    This article is nonsensical. Math is an abstract. Algebra is particularly abstract. X + 2 = 5 is an abstraction you solve for using logic (math). X does not exist as an actual entity, but as a variable to represent any given object, an abstraction. Yet, only logic can solve the problem. Here, let me show you how:
    X + 2 = 5, thus X = Lemur (non-logic)
    X + 2 = 5, thus X = 3 (logic)

  19. Great Article!
    This faith in Logic as our only savior is what got us in this mess in the first place.

    1. I don’t think it’s faith in logic, it’s a failure of logic.
      Look, most all of our troubles stem from accepting, either implicity or explicity, the tenants of Marxism, even if we tell ourselves we are not doing so. Our public policy is based on socialist tenants, even many of the policies of the so-called “right”. Our culture is dominated by feminism and social justice weenies abound.
      How did we come to this?
      Two ways: Deliberate infiltration of our institutions by the Communists from the 1920’s forward, as well as turning individualism into atomism.
      Both of these causes rely on an anti-logic and anti-reason stem to flourish. While Marxism and to a lesser degree various forms of socialism like to lay claim to rationalism and science, the truth of the matter is the exact opposite. They rely first and foremost on emotionalism, not just as a means to manipulate the masses, but also as a central tenant of their pie in the sky policies. Logic, reason and rationalism are handmaidens to *justify* their emotional goals, tactics and whims, they are not the primary tools used to craft the end goals or the means to achieve these goals.
      In fact, they are anti-logic and anti-reason. A casual conversation with any socialist, social justice weenie, or dyed in the wool Marxist shows this quite clearly. Even a casual perusal of Marx’s works shows this quite clearly.
      Now granted, logic is a tool and CAN be used incorrectly. For example, the policies of the National Socialists were irrational HOWEVER their logic was sound from soup to nuts if one accepted their irrational premise. Kind of similar to the logic being sound for the pre-Copernican concept of the retrograde motion of Mars, yet when examined in modern times, fully irrational because the evidence for the actual cause is totally different. But the logic was sound.
      I’m not certain I proved or disproved your point, rather rambling this morning. Need coffee.

  20. It would have helped if you described logic and abstract ideas in the beginning; regarding the latter, did you intend to refer to a priori principles (space, time) or to ideas e.g. freedom?
    As to the article: 1. almost everything abstract has an empirical basis (thoughts are electrical impulses and compassion, for example, is the activation of certain areas of the brain and sociopaths often are unable to activate other areas)
    2. the “existence” of abstract ideas is different from existence; while the latter is used in the article as physical existence, abstract ideas exist in as much as all of reality exists namely only because we agree it does (just as we agree we should have laws or a shelter or a government); however, this doesn’t mean logic doesn’t exist at all
    3. following “the heart” or the intuition can be useful in knowing as some concepts are easier to ingest subconsciously rather than consciously; however, the advice here seems to say we should leave logic and follow the heart which could be misinterpreted as preferring emotions rather than reason; nevertheless, it’s slightly vague how one is to approach knowledge without categorising and prioritising and doing other things pertaining to logic

  21. Women don’t have logic though, and that’s why most of the, are ruining the world right now.

    1. I think the private sector is at saturation point with female employees. They take 43% more sick days than men and definitely don’t bring innovation to the table. A staggering 42% of female doctors are working less than full time.
      That’s why government and academia are filled with female ‘leaders’ and ‘managers’….because they are all bullshit jobs with no tough requirements. There are many University Presidents whom are females….it’s a figure-head, bullshit job.
      All these tech companies were founded by male inventors but theyre demanding more women be on the board of directors (another bullshit ‘advisor’ job which doesn’t do the innovating).
      It doesn’t matter how educated they are, they lack logical rationality required to lead large groups of people. Obama keeps placing unqualified women in bullshit speaking positions (susan rice, etc) to show how ’empowered’ they are at ‘running’ the country.

  22. What do you use to make all of those assertions? Logic, ergo your statement is a contradiction, you use logic to refute logic.

  23. And so the first Post-Modern salvo is fired at RoK from within RoK.
    Next, RoK will deconstruct itself.
    Then it’s a mere hop, without even skipping and jumping, to redefining it as a cultural Marxist, sex negative feminist site.

  24. Logic is axiomatic. Meaning: in order to attempt to disprove it, you must use it. As you have done here.

  25. For the people talking about mathematics as an example of how logic can describe the abstract, how do you know that mathematics are even correct? What is a number anyway? Of course, numbers end up as nothing more than representations of physical things. You can’t own a “2” or “54.” You own 2 apples or 54 pinecones. Numbers are an indirect way of representing real-life things.

  26. Also, I think the author’s intent was not to say that logic is worthless, but rather that it is insufficient on its own.

  27. Suppose you saw a tiger track, what would you do? Would you follow it in expectation of have a nice tea time with the old beast? There’s your logic here. Seriously, some people make a mountain out of the molehill sometime. Logic is a useful tool as long as it follow the observation.

  28. Beside logic, what is time? Some think it’s real. I say it’s an intellectual tool we use to measure the distance in space, a very useful tool when you need to decide if the lion is about to pounce you or it is pouncing a deer 20 minutes away from you.

  29. This seems like a very pointless article that has far too much in common with inferior continental philosophers.

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