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Being Logical: A Guide to Good Thinking Paperback – May 10, 2005
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If your interest in logical thought is more casual, however, you may find that about 2/3 of this book is so basic as to not hold your attention very well. In the final third of the book McInerny addresses the common pitfalls of logical thought and the book becomes interesting even if you are a non-academic reader.
For that reason, I'd recommend "Crimes Against Logic" by Jamie Whyte for the reader interested in day-to-day logical thought rather than this book. This is a great one, however, if you are beginning an academic study of philosophy.
As it turns out, I'm not sure this is the book that will help me do it. What I thought was going to be a primer on the ins and outs of rational thought read a lot more like the intro to a textbook. It's potentially interesting stuff, but the book ends too soon, before we get to the real meat of it all.
This is a short read -- 137 pages, including the index -- so it might not be a surprise that my main problem was McInerny trying to cover too much ground with too little space. There are issues with the format and pacing: Each chapter starts with a subject -- "The Basic Principles of Logic," for instance -- and moves through numbered subsections dealing with various aspects of that subject, like "Distinguish Among Causes" or "The Categorical Statement."
But the problem is twofold:
1) With usually only a page or less given to each subsection, the information itself is too brief to seriously mull over and usually simplistic enough as to border on the obvious (Example: One of McInerny's tips for effective communcation? "Speak in complete sentences."); and
2) Very often, there seems to be no correlation between subsections in a given chapter (or at the very least, the transitions need work).
What does this mean? Since the information is presented as it is (in list form), you're basically reading a glossary, only the terms in the glossary aren't specific enough to be of any real help to you.Read more ›
McInerny starts right out with recommendations on how to communicate. Avoid evasive language! Pursue truth! And he explains that truth is divided into ontological (existence) and logical (valid statements).
We then get to principles of logic. These are identity (a=a), excluded middle (a either exists or it does not, not both or neither), and sufficient reason (everything has a cause).
The author tells us some of the causes of illogical thinking. These include overskepticism, evasion, cynicism, naivete, narrowmindedness, emotion, insincerity, and lack of respect for common sense. And, of course, as in "The Art of Controversy," there is a section on forms of illogical thinking. One of the more interesting ones involves precedents. Obviously it is a fallacy to say that just because there is a precedent of something having been done before, it is a good idea to do it again. But the author shows how this fits in with the dubious claim that "two wrongs make a right." Of course, to claim that because it was wrong to do something in the past, it is wrong to do it now would be yet another fallacy. I think the author could have expanded on the question of precedents here.
I recommend this book.
How wonderful, then, to find these virtues and more in one resource. I'm alluding to D.Q. McInerny and his mighty mite of a book, "Being Logical."
Be assured that McInerny deftly covers the positive principles and the tempting pitfalls governing everyone's attempts to think logically. And he accomplishes this with quiet humor, with the patience of the best kind of teacher.
Although I wish I'd encountered him much earlier, I'm happy to discover him now.
Yet there's more to this book. Simply put, it places the force of inspiration in the reader's mind. Every day, now, in his congenial way, McInerny is there, exhorting me to think straighter and better. And he makes me want to do this despite the prospect of failure, which (for me) is usually lurking just around the corner.
What more could be asked of an author than that?
Robert Graves and Alan Hodge have asserted that "the writing of good English is...a moral matter." So is the practice of effective logic, as successfully demonstrated by D.Q. McInerny in "Being Logical."
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Highly recommended! Clear, concise, and thought-provoking of concepts that are usually taken for granted or assumed.Published 4 months ago by Jessica
Love this book! It is well-written. On point. No non-sense. The author gives concrete examples of real life situations and how to apply your logic to solving them AND how to avoid... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Ghena
Don't agree with some of his premises, but I still think McInerny did a wonderful job introducing pragmatic logic to the general public. Read morePublished 6 months ago by MEW