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Logic: A Very Short Introduction [Paperback]

Graham Priest
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)

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Book Description

January 18, 2001 0192893203 978-0192893208
Logic is often perceived as having little to do with the rest of philosophy, and even less to do with real life. In this lively and accessible introduction, Graham Priest shows how wrong this conception is. He explores the philosophical roots of the subject, explaining how modern formal logic deals with issues ranging from the existence of God and the reality of time to paradoxes of probability and decision theory. Along the way, the basics of formal logic are explained in simple, non-technical terms, showing that logic is a powerful and exciting part of modern philosophy.

About the Series: Combining authority with wit, accessibility, and style, Very Short Introductions offer an introduction to some of life's most interesting topics. Written by experts for the newcomer, they demonstrate the finest contemporary thinking about the central problems and issues in hundreds of key topics, from philosophy to Freud, quantum theory to Islam.

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Editorial Reviews


"This book is terrific... It covers a lot of ground, but in a wonderfully relaxed and interesting way."-Simon Blackburn, University of Cambridge and author of Think

"This text is ideal for giving students a quick introduction to formal logic or for adding pizzazz to an otherwise dry logic course."--Glenn Ross, Franklin & Marshall College

About the Author

Graham Priest is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Queensland. He has also held positions at the University of St Andrews and the University of Western Australia. He is the author of In Contradiction, Beyond the Limits of Thought, and over 100 articles in philosophy books and journals. He has held visiting positions in universities in Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States, Russia, and Brazil, and is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Humanities.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (January 18, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192893203
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192893208
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 4.5 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #150,632 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
238 of 243 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb, comprehensive Intro to Logic January 24, 2002
I am a novice in logic. But I need logic--some of it sophisticated--to understand a philosophy paper I am working with.
I found Graham Priestly's Logic, a Very Short Introduction superb and immensely helpful. I searched full-length texts, but I knew I would never wade through them. I didn't want to take the time for a college course. I searched the Web and found some excellent material, ... However, Graham's book proved far and away the simplest and best.
Here are the advantages I found. Some advantages are simply due to the brevity of the book that suited my needs, but some stand out in any context.
1. The book goes into topics early-truth tables and modal logic, for example. Copi's Introduction to Logic, while undoubtedly very good, and used in many logic courses, does not get to truth tables until Chapter 10 while Priest starts using truth tables in Chapter 2, page 9. Another text, Stephan Layman's The Power of Logic, did not get to modal logic until about page 450. Graham starts the topic in chapter 6, page 38, about 1/3 of the way through his book.
2. The book had every single logic symbol that I needed. I found no one book, full-length text or web source that did this. Equally important every symbol was used and discussed somewhere in the book. Some symbols were missing or introduced very late in other books.
3. Graham doesn't spoon feed the reader with great detail like other books, nor employ elaborate introduction to a topic.
4. Logic, a Very Short Introduction is about 10% the length of other books I looked at (Copi & Layman were about 550-650 pages, for example)-considering Graham's page size is probably ˝ that of a normal book. Other books cost roughly 3 to 8 as much.
5. Graham has a very clear, engaging, and often humorous, style.
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137 of 140 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intro to Graham Priest's Logic May 12, 2005
For its length and breadth, I'd recommend this little book to most people. I teach a course on Logic, and even I learned a bit from this short introduction.

The worry, however, is that Priest takes this book as an opportunity to push his own non-standard view on formal logic, which is why a better title for this book would be `A short Introduction to Priest's Logic'.

Most immediately evident is that Priest uses many of the chapters as a place to show how an argument for the existence of god. For example, much of the chapter on predicate logic is devoted to showing the fallacy inherent in the cosmological argument for the existence of god. His chapter on decision theory is in part devoted to showing how Pascal's wager goes wrong.

Probably even more subversive is that, in an introductory level logic book, Priest presents his own unorthodox solutions to paradoxes in logic. For example, to solve the problem of self-reference, he presents his own view regarding four valued logics, without even a word explaining that not only is this not the standard view, it's not even a very popular one. He also offers fuzzy logic as a solution of vagueness and sorites paradoxes.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, and would offer it to any friend interested in a brief introduction to some advanced topics in logic. But I'll be sure to emphasize that much of what he offers for solutions is hardly accepted by mainstream analytic philosophy. Priest took advantage of this chance to write an introductory level text as an opportunity to push his own views, and anyone reading this should be aware of this fact before beginning.
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51 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent brief introduction to logic January 14, 2003
This is just the book to whet one's appetite for a deeper engagement in logic. Priest's little book has short, clearly written chapters on validity, truth functions, quantifiers, descriptions, self-reference, modal operators, conditionals, tenses, identity, vagueness, inductive logic, and decision theory. Virtually every chapter shows how interesting philosophical problems arise from or are tied in with logic. The only possible drawback to the book is that new initiates to the philosophical foundations of logic are likely to never again have a good night's sleep after Priest introduces them to some of the classic puzzles.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I've never studied logic before so this seemed like a good place to start. I don't know how you could possibly get more information into a little book this size! It's possibly the best value in a book that I've ever seen. If there's anything else to the field of logic that isn't here then I don't want to know. But be prepared to spend some time reading it.....you'll need to keep a notepad handy and you'll definitely need to re-read many sections more than once to get the full understanding. BUT....when done I can guarantee you that you'll be glad you did it. This is an excellent little book and is worth more than $10.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Very Good Introduction to Logic January 8, 2001
This is a lucid introduction to logic, ideal to introduce the interested high-school student or non-specialist in the field, or as a refresher for anyone who has already dipped a toe into the field. It contains plenty of interesting examples and puzzles, and as always, with Priest's work, points you to important philosophical issues tied up with the notions of logical consequence. It's short, it's clear, it's written by an expert, and it contains pictures! What more could you want?
Graham Priest taught me logic (so perhaps I'm biased), and I'm delighted that his clarity and expertise are made available to a really wide audience with this book. If you want to know what's been going on in logic in the last few hundred years, and you don't know where to start, I'd unhesitatingly recommend this book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Not Good
Awful. The other reviewers have already gone over the bad points in detail. Oxford ought to be ashamed to have published this.
Published 2 months ago by Greg McConnell
3.0 out of 5 stars Difficult and Boring and left out information
First of all this book is boring, I mean I didn't find it boring because I like philosophy but if you don't like philosophy you will find it boring. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Xman Zeenoph
4.0 out of 5 stars professional
Actually not for the uninitiated...
However, a decent place to begin study
especially around other texts... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Eric H. Edwards
3.0 out of 5 stars very short review
Have mixed feelings about this book. I read it during one evening, partly skimming. I felt the presentation is bit uneven: quite lot of space is given for example to truth tables,... Read more
Published 13 months ago by jari pietila
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic.
Graham Priest is one of the best known logicians in the field of non-classical logics, besides being well versed in classical logics. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Nahatz
5.0 out of 5 stars Good introduction
Graham Priest provides a step by step, well connected and easy to read -as far on books on logic can be- manual. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Shabeer
4.0 out of 5 stars an unusual introduction to logic
Logic is hard to teach, very likely because - pace Aristotle's contention that humans are the rational animal - most people just don't naturally think that way. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Massimo Pigliucci
4.0 out of 5 stars Lots of examples but still succinct
Every idea is introduced with examples, which keeps the motivation for the questions considered at the fore. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Thomas Bengtson
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Deal!
This is a very great deal! The book looks just like new, and very clean. Like it. It is well packaged.
Published on June 11, 2012 by husainaloos
3.0 out of 5 stars brain cramps 2
ok but print too small and it hurts my brain to try to fathom this without formal logic training-start with irving adlers "logic for beginners"

Published on April 9, 2012 by billyboo
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