Tag Archives: Latin

Logical Gal and the value of repetition

11 Dec

I had a student at my old school who often repeated the Latin truism, that repetition is the mother of learning

It follows that we shouldn’t be discouraged when it takes us so long to acquire/absorb a new idea to the degree that it actually changes us.  Hearing something once, 5 times or even 20 times often isn’t enough for the concept or new nugget of information to stick.

I  teach French.  It’s often said that students need to hear a new phrase up to 70 times for that phrase to be IN them, so that it comes out effortlessly.  So why should it be any different with ideas?

All this is to say, that last week I was GREATLY encouraged when I caught myself asking 4 of my favorite words, ” As opposed to what?”  This was a first for me – and something I have wanted to be able to think spontaneously.

I was reading in Romans and came across Paul’s statement:

  • For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, (Romans 1:9)

My happy first reaction was to ask myself, “How else could he be serving God? – if not with his spirit, then with what?” In essence, I had automatically asked those 4 words, “as opposed to what”!

Up until now, I have been able to notice, AFTER THE FACT, when other authors move in that direction.  They are then able to make a distinction about something  that I had sped by.

I really like DISTINCTION-MAKING.  It’s how I can understand a concept. 

But back to other ways Paul could serve God:

Some ways to serve God

  • He could use his 2 hands and feet and go and do, or go and preach
  • He could use his mind and creatively fit analogies to his particular audience to make his words more penetrating
  • Or he could  serve God with his possessions

Personally, I would have probably substituted energy/life/work/hands for Paul’s choice of the term spirit.

Why bother take the time to think through all this?  For the happy benefit of having another question. When we ask ‘as opposed to what’, we are often led to other questions.  When we actively engage with ideas, we are enriched.

So now I get to ponder this: What does it mean to serve God with one’s spirit?

Now that’s a question worth chewing on!

Question:  What new idea have you acquired or absorbed recently that has made an impact on you?

What is Truth?

9 Jul

You don’t have to work so hard!

I’m talking about how to show that someone’s ‘big fat general statement’ is false.

Last time we talked about the beauty of the Law of Non-Contradiction.  Simply stated, 2 contradictory propositions can’t both be true or both be false AT THE SAME TIME and IN THE SAME WAY.

For example:

           All MacDonald restaurants look similar.

To ‘prove’ that this proposition is false, all we have to do is offer ONE counter-example:

           Some MacDonald restaurants do not look similar

(In fact, the other day on a trolley tour of Asheville, North Carolina, the guide pointed out a MacDonald’s sporting a grand piano and the strict architectural façade of Biltmore Village.  I had to do a double take. Was there REALLY a grand piano in a fast-food place!!!!  Yep! )

Today, I want to address the OTHER contradictory pair affected by the same Law of Non-Contradiction, the E/I pair.

What am I talking about with these capital letters?

Propositions are different, one from the other, based on their quantifier (how many of the subject.)

Logicians use 4 letters to represent the 4 possible propositions:

A = All S is P (where S is the subject term and P is the predicate term)

I = Some S is P

E = No S is P

O = Some S is not P

These 4 letters come from Latin:

·         Affirmo (the A and the I)

·         Nego  (the E and the O)

Thus we get: A, E, I, O. One pair is: A & O and the other comprise the E & I propositions.  This pairing tells us what we have to do to show a statement to be true or false.  If from real life, we can come up with the contradictory partner to what someone has said, then we KNOW that their original statement cannot be true simply because of the Law of Non-Contradiction.  Here’s a table to show the color-coded pairs:

A

E

 I

O

On to our E and I pair:

I just read in our local paper an emotional letter to the editor.  The author lashed out with a statement to this effect.

          No one should tell women what to do with their bodies

Let’s put that in logical form so we can see the terms.

No people are people who should tell women what to do with their bodies.

This is an E statement:  No S is P (we can tell from the NO)

The subject term is people and the predicate term is people who should tell women what to do with their bodies.

According to the Law of Non-Contradiction, the above proposition is in fact true unless we can find a counter-example that is an I statement. (its contradictory partner)

So, if we can think of at least ONE person who should be allowed/able to tell women what to do with their bodies, then the original statement is false.

If we can’t (or if there are none), then we have to reason that her E statement is likely true.

So, I toss the ball in your court, is the writer correct?