Friday, March 27, 2015

Logic - the lost art

Thou shalt not commit logical fallacies.

The poster hung in our classroom while we were introducing our children to their first course in logic. We used The Fallacy Detective by Nathaniel Bluedorn and Hans Bluedorn. It is designed for children as young as twelve which is a perfect age for them to start on their journey of reasoned thought and discourse.

A woman at Dalrock's blog asked: "Is there a resource for what to do, or not do, when raising a young girl (she’s preteen, in elementary school), in order to avoid this senseless entitlement and obscene debauchery that seems to be normal now?" I referred her to The Fallacy Detective. In raising daughters, one of the best things we can do for them, in this culture, is cultivate within them an understanding and love of logic and rational thought. When this is coupled with a love for the Lord and biblical instruction, they will be more equipped to avoid the rebellious temptations of the world.

When one of our children would present an irrational argument we would tell them to go to the poster and let us know which logical fallacy their argument contained. We would then teach them how they can debate/discuss/argue the issue in an honest manner. We have never had a problem with our children disagreeing with us. We don't, however, allow irrational outbursts or rhetorical fallacies. There is so much for them to learn and they are with us for such a short time that we don't want to waste a minute of it. What they have learned so far of logic and reasoning has been demonstrably beneficial to their maturation and thirst for wisdom.

Unfortunately logic is not taught to the majority of individuals they'll encounter and converse with. It can be very frustrating for them when they attempt to debate a hot topic with one of their peers. They aren't very skilled, yet, in identifying individuals that can not be reasoned with.
Before some audiences, not even the possession of the exactist knowledge will make it easy for what we say to produce conviction. - Aristotle
It is our utmost concern for our daughters to become logical thinkers. We understand that one of the most challenging things they will encounter in marriage is the ability to communicate effectively with their husbands. It is imperative for them to be honest and rational in this communication.

As wives, we need to learn to recognize when we are communicating dishonestly with our husbands. We need to be educated in logic so we can understand what fallacious reasoning is. In addition we need to learn other destructive manners of communication and thought such as neurotic projection and solipsism.

Consider the husband who makes a statement: "My mother's roast beef is delicious, could you get the recipe from her?"

Here we have a subjective opinion and a request. Considering this is a husband and it is regarding a preference in food that he has, it is likely something that would bring him great joy to hear this response from his wife: "Sure! I'll give her a call."

How many husbands endure this response: "Why, what is wrong with my roast beef?" or "You don't like how I've been making the roast beef?"

Sadly, many husbands will have to encounter this escalation: "Everything your mother does is better than what I do! I'll never be able to measure up! Nothing I do is good enough! I wish you could just love me for me!"

The husband really just has a palate for his mother's roast beef. He's not comparing his mother's cooking to his wife's. His words should be understood as he literally said them. No matter what has taken place in a marriage previous to this statement, the statement needs to be heard and understood as it is said without a response containing the fallacy of presumption. This is an honest way of communicating.

More to come as time allows...

Friday, March 13, 2015

A good read: "On a Good Wife"

Aristotle: On a Good Wife, from Oikonomikos,
c. 330 BCE

A good wife should be the mistress of her home, having under her care all that is within it, according to the rules we have laid down. She should allow none to enter without her husband's knowledge, dreading above all things the gossip of gadding women, which tends to poison the soul. She alone should have knowledge of what happens within. She must exercise control of the money spent on such festivities as her husband has approved – keeping, moreover, within the limit set by law upon expenditure, dress, and ornament – and remembering that beauty depends not on costliness of raiment. Nor does abundance of gold so conduce to the praise of a woman as self‐control in all that she does. This, then, is the province over which a woman should be minded to bear an orderly rule; for it seems not fitting that a man should know all that passes within the house. But in all other matters, let it be her aim to obey her husband; giving no heed to public affairs, nor having any part in arranging the marriages of her children.
Rather, when the time shall come to give or receive in marriage sons or daughters, let her then hearken to her husband in all respects, and agreeing with him obey his wishes. It is fitting that a woman of a well‐ordered life should consider that her husband's wishes are as laws appointed for her by divine will, along with the marriage state and the fortune she shares. If she endures them with patience and gentleness, she will rule her home with ease; otherwise, not so easily. Therefore not only when her husband is in prosperity and good report must she be in agreement with him, and to render him the service he wills, but also in times of adversity. If, through sickness or fault of judgment, his good fortune fails, then must she show her quality, encouraging him ever with words of cheer and yielding him obedience in all fitting ways – only let her do nothing base or unworthy. Let her refrain from all complaint, nor charge him with the wrong, but rather attribute everything of this kind to sickness or ignorance or accidental errors. There‐fore, she will serve him more assiduously than if she had been a slave bought and taken home. For he has indeed bought her with a great price – with partnership in his life and in the procreation of children....Let her bethink herself how Alcestis would never have attained such renown nor Penelope have deserved all the high praises bestowed on her had not their husbands known adversity. To find partners in prosperity is easy enough; but only the best women are ready to share in adversity.
Such then is the pattern of the rules and ways of living which a good wife will observe. And the rules which a good husband will follow in treatment of his wife will be similar; seeing that she has entered his home like a suppliant from without, and is pledged to be the partner of his life and parenthood; and that the offspring she leaves behind her will bear the names of their parents, her name as well as his. And what could be more divine than this, or more desired by a man of sound mind, than to beget by a noble and honored wife children who shall be the most loyal supporters and discreet guardians of their parents in old age, and the preservers of the whole house? Rightly reared by father and mother, children will grow up virtuous, as those who have treated them piously and righteously deserve that they should; but parents who observe not these precepts will be losers thereby. For unless parents have given their children an example how to live, the children in their turn will be able to offer a fair and specious excuse for undutifulness. Such parents will risk being rejected by their offspring for their evil lives, and thus bring destruction upon their own heads. Therefore his wife's training should be the object of a man's unstinting care; that so far as is possible their children may spring from the noblest of stock. For it is only by this means that each mortal, successively produced, participates in immortality; and that petitions and prayers continue to be offered to ancestral gods. So that he who thinks lightly of this would seem also to be slighting the gods. For their sake then, in whose presence he offered sacrifice and led his wife home, promising to honor her far above all others saving his parents, a man must have care for wife and children.
Now a virtuous wife is best honored when she sees that her husband is faithful to her, and has no preference for another woman; but before all others loves and trusts her and holds her as his own. And so much the more will the woman seek to be what he accounts her. If she perceives that her husband's affection for her is faithful and righteous, she too will be faithful and righteous towards him. Therefore it befits not a man of sound mind to bestow his person promiscuously, or have random intercourse with women; for otherwise the base‐born will share in the rights of his lawful children, and his wife will be robbed of her honor due, and shame be attached to his sons.
And it is fitting that he should approach his wife in honor, full of self‐restraint and awe; and in his conversation with her, should use only the words of a right‐minded man, suggesting only such acts as are themselves lawful and honorable. And if through ignorance she has done wrong, he should advise her of it in a courteous and modest manner. For of fear there are two kinds. The fear which virtuous and honorable sons feel towards their fathers, and loyal citizens towards right‐minded rulers, has for its companions reverence and modesty; but the other kind, felt by slaves for masters and by subjects for despots who treat them with injustice and wrong, is associated with hostility and hatred. By choosing the better of all these alternatives a husband should secure the agreement, loyalty, and devotion of his wife, so that whether he himself is present or not, there may be no difference in her attitude towards him, since she realizes that they are alike guardians of the common interests; and so when he is away she may feel that to her no man is kinder or more virtuous or more truly hers than her own husband. And if the husband learns first to master himself, he will thereby become his wife's best guide in all the affairs of life, and will teach her to follow his example.
Source: Aristotle, The Politics & Economics of Aristotle, Edward English Walford & John Gillies, trans., (London: G. Bell & Sons, 1908).