Logical Gal and Syllogisms everywhere

7 Apr

Bird Syllogism

I don’t always see what is right in front of my eyes.  It’s that common experience that occurs when you notice what was present  all along.

Today I was reading the last sentence of the book of Judges in the Bible.  It goes like this: There was no king in Israel.  Everyone did what was right in their own eyes.  (Judges 21:25)

The commentary mentioned that the author of the book meant to communicate Israel’s need for a king who was powerful enough to enforce God’s laws.  Had I not read that explicit conclusion, I would NOT have connected the 2 sentences: a) no king b) chaos as people live life as they please.

My first response to the commentary is ” Well, duh!  Thanks for bring this to my brain’s attention, because my brain (ever in self-protective filter mode) had not seen the connection.”  As it turns out only when there is extra LIGHT given to some facts do we notice the details, the nuances, the relationships.  I had read that passage numerous times.  It is also an oft-quoted observation of errant people wandering far from God.

I mentioned that thought to my husband and he responded, “Well, there’s a syllogism, for you!”  And his addition of critical thinking brought more light!  Here was a 1st degree enthymeme.  What was missing was the major premise.  The Judges passage stated the following:

  • the 2nd or minor premise – No king in Israel was reigning and enforcing the Mosaic Law
  • the conclusion – Therefore, no people followed the Mosaic Law but did what they wanted

It was then easy to construct what HAD to be the 1st or major premise:

  • All kings in Israel reign and enforce the Mosaic Law

Mosaic Law (10 Cs)

Once you know the structure of a syllogism,  you can spot arguments in toto or in fragments.  Understanding the structure not only gives you a sense of where an argument should go, it also provides NEW information that might not have been so apparent at first glance.

Ah, the usefulness of logic!



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