Logical Thinking

 

Benefits

Nothing like conviction gives security to the mind, deeper and longer than that given to it by fantasies, hopes, memories, recitations, mantras ... Neither social nor intellectual stereotypes can make us secure when we follow them without applying logical rules first. Only after arguing can the mind relax, even when it doesn't find the truth, merely satisfied for searching for it. No other brain function gives such satisfaction: reminiscing, fantasizing, observing, memorizing, etc.

Logical thinking speeds up understanding, and life. It is the best tool for making the right decision and reaching a sound judgment, that we constantly need for satisfying our endlessly conflicting desires, wisely arbitrating between them all life long. By following the rules of logic we safely drive on a well designed, paved and monitored network of neural pathways without getting lost or injured.

Logical thinking gives coherence to our thoughts, restoring order to the different conflicting signals stored in the brain. Using arguing skills, natural and acquired, makes coherence more sophisticated in humans and their choices, compared to the less evolved species.

Just like the tension-relief cycle we go through to enjoy physically, so through doubt and certainty, we mentally enjoy truth-finding by the act of arguing. Arguing is an intense pleasure, more like teasing and seduction than actual intercourse; we only reach climax at the Eureka moment.

Like other intellectual pleasures we enjoy for diversion sometimes, arguing can be so absorbing. The faster we argue, the more brain areas teem with activity by the energy directed towards them, automatically slowing down the rest of the body and temporarily dulling its outer senses, while we are absorbed in deep thinking. There is no need to worry then, for the mind can efficiently work under great stress levels, even with pleasure, like an automatic pilot driving in a maze of pathways.

 

Tools

Questions are the fuel of thinking. So, have a list of questions before starting off a lesson/lecture/argument, ready to cross out those answered and add more when the need arises. You can also "generate" questions easily on the spot for any subject, however trivial/unusual/abstract it seems.

Ask all the wh-questions, to get enough data about the subject in question, with the priority for WHY, i.e. where from and where to: the cause and effect.

Ask all the possible yes-no questions about the existence of things, doubting every detail you hear or read. As a rule, never believe anything without proof.

When evidence can't be found, you must deal with possibilities:

  • Count all possibilities.
  • Put them in groups, as separate or overlapped (circles). Group them according to the following:
    • Likelihood: common, rare, absurd.
      • Thinking differently is a must when typical thinking methods don't work; it opens up whole new horizons we couldn't see before.
      • Creating relationships or analogies between all things in life makes us discover unexpected solutions to our problems.
      • Applying abstract rules of mathematics and logic is very useful in creating endless relationships, giving different examples of such rules.
    • Complexity: containing more possibilities, containing facts, requiring more facts/data.
    • Position: general/particular.
    • Time: temporary/long/permanent; present/past/future, etc.
  • Experiment with each, treating it as a fact, till it's proven or discarded. Many facts started as possibilities, and many facts were found BY possibilities. Counting possibilities is as important as collecting data: just as some facts lead to facts, some possibilities lead to facts too. Use deductive logic to handle possibilities.

For regular maintenance during an argument, to check you are on the right track or not, ask yourself:

  • "How certain am I now?"
  • "What am I fully certain about?"

The outcome "level of certainty" is the measure of a successful argument (even if we become certain that we are not certain). It gives a temporary satisfaction encouraging us to move on to upper-level arguments built on the certainties we have reached. The latter can finally be transformed into action, applied to more concrete fields of knowledge, or to solving everyday problems.

For a healthy argument one should follow the rules of logic to avoid any unwanted logical fallacy. It's better to learn about fallacies in advance and be careful not to commit them, as they easily sneak into and spoil our thoughts and discussions, if one is not constantly vigilant.

Discover new knowledge:

  1. It doesn't happen suddenly. Learning is a continuous process of gathering small data that leads to larger ones.
  2. It's less about discovering new knowledge, than uncovering, reshuffling, and re-organizing the same knowledge we already have.
  3. It's more about work and devotion, than genius and luck.
  4. It takes place collectively, more than individually. No one finds the truth alone, as every being takes part in uncovering part of knowledge, intelligent or not, intentionally or not.

 

Habits

Together with learning logic, some habits and behaviors improve logical skills:

Focus to benefit most from thinking, by avoiding any sensual or social distraction that unfortunately stimulates lower brain functions you don't need, rather than higher brain ones, hampering the latter from producing sound argument. Distance yourself from your immediate environment to see the whole picture, that only the mind's eye can see; ignore all voices, to hear the "voice of reason," whether you argue, read or meditate.

Face everyday problems. Treat problems as puzzles and puzzles as problems, when solving either. Treat your problems as somebody else's problems, to be able to think neutrally, not nervously. All problems have the same logical rules puzzles have, even easy puzzles sometimes; it's only stress that makes us think otherwise, or not think at all.

Play interactive games simulating dangers and everyday problems. Good games require intelligence rather than luck. Once a game becomes easy it becomes useless. One should try different types of games requiring different types of intelligence. Playing different games is better than playing "difficult levels" of the same game, that are usually intended to make you addicted to the game—except for very good games that have endless levels of difficulty, like chess.

Ask questions, then search for satisfactory answers. Have a checkout list of questions of all the things in life that need answers, to keep your thirst for knowledge (quenching it only with flawless logical answers, following strong healthy arguments). Everyday new questions should be added, and some hopefully marked off ... when answers are found.

Learn, practice & enjoy abstracts: mathematics, philosophy, abstract arts, classical music ... Symmetry is what makes a picture beautiful, not its colors, shades or lines, which can equally create ugliness. The same dots can draw two different pictures: only coherence makes one beautiful, and incoherence makes the other ugly.

Improve your language skills that a good argument is handicapped without. Language is a double-edged weapon that is safe to use as long as it serves meaning, not vice versa. Logical language should be to the point ("true, relevant, clear & not too long/short"—not flouting the four speech maxims), almost like "mind-reading" that we will eventually talk, replacing our present lame verbal language and sparing us many linguistic fallacies.

Have a vivid imagination to remember why you argue. Arguing is a medium, not an aim. We do not argue for an argument's sake, nor drive with no destination (happiness is our destination). Arguing only cements fantasies and words together, to make them meaningful. It gives meaning to life, but it's meaningless without it.

Imagination and language make the job of arguing easier, by assigning different words to the different images, fantasies and concepts, that are to be later processed in arguments. Imagination gives life to abstracts, and language helps us remember our purpose of arguing, by repeating it whenever we forget. Both spontaneously, effortlessly speed up thinking, when arguing for propositions, solving problems, making decisions, etc. Understanding is most effective when preceded by imagination and followed by memorization, rather than any other order. (Imagine, argue then repeat!)

Nonfiction is always superior to fiction and poetry. Yet, the latter are the two wings the former cannot fly without. Good fiction and poetry not only improve imagination and language skills, they improve arguing. We need both most when we are tired of thinking, yet still interested in learning. Imagination is a form of effortless learning. When imagination simulates everyday life, it becomes even better than arguing, because it offers a life-like experience

Lack of logical thinking is so common in society to an epidemic degree, that it needs governments to allow more space in curricula and media for learning the ABC's of logic. For individuals, it's good for a start to get the gist of logic from logic books written in a simple, interactive way anyone can relate to. Philosophers and logicians must leave their ivory towers and help people who lost their way in the flood of information, social media and sensual disturbances baffling and loosening the mind.


 

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