Archives For reasoning


One of the greatest responsibilities we have as humans is to learn how to correctly use our minds. In yesterday’s post, we began looking at common problems we run into when exercising reason and logic from Isaac Watts’ book on Logic. We are creatures made with logic and reasoning capabilities. We are made by a logical and rational Creator. Thus, we are obligated to exercise our minds with correct reasoning in all things. But this does not always come naturally.

We began looking at what Watts calls, “prejudices of thought,” which are common errors we make in our reasoning skills. Here are the final three prejudices, which are both the most common and serious:

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As I look back, one of my greatest educational irritations is that I never was offered a class on thinking. Even if I was, I probably would not have taken it. Consequently, I operated contently with a sloppiness of thought and did not know it. And the problem seems to be widespread. Our day is one which is filled with thinking errors. We persuade with sentiment and experience rather than truth and logic. Rules of reason are violated often in the public sphere with little concern. Subjective fancies carry more sway in convincing us than objective revelation. It’s a day of serious errors in thought and reason.

Enter a well-educated, logic ninja, Puritan to the rescue. Isaac Watts is typically most known for his classic hymns, especially “Joy to the World,” which is resounding this time of year. But in his spare time amidst pastoring, writing children’s poetry, books, and 750 hymns, he wrote an excellent book on how to think. Written in 1724, it is concisely-titled, Logic: The Right Uses of Reason in the Inquiry After Truth  With a Variety of Rules to Guard Against Error in the Affairs of Religion and Human Life, as well as in the Sciences. It’s a great introductory book on the art and science of responsible human thinking, or, logic. For about two centuries, it was the go-to textbook at places like Oxford and Cambridge (where Watts was earlier forbidden from attending for his non-conformism), and Harvard and Yale.

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