One might ask, “Why formal logic?” even if he or she is familiar with classical education. One might also find themselves asking the question, “Why online logic?” if they were to run across the online classical academy at Memoria Press. Having spent a great deal of time the last few years in graduate school studying philosophy and teaching online logic, I have encountered this query a number of times. What exactly is the benefit to studying logic online? To answer this question I will discuss two crucial components: 1. The importance of logic in se, and 2. The importance of a learning community. These two components will lead us to our rationale for the study of logic, as well as studying it online.
First, our approach to logic is one which stresses the importance of traditional formal logic. In other words, we are focused primarily upon the study and mastery of the categorical syllogism. Having said that, some may see this as too narrow a focus. After all, what about informal fallacies, symbolic and predicate logic, truth tables, the probability calculus, modal logic, and so on? While these systems of logic are beneficial, reflect truth, and are quite frequently and successfully implemented, they have little to do with the classical trivium. Contemporary systems of logic are more mathematical rather than language oriented.
Traditional formal logic is not always at odds with the more modern systems of logic, though there are differences. Its purposes are simply different. In teaching traditional logic, my purpose as an instructor is to assist the students in putting a formal structure to the knowledge already attained in their study of the language arts (e.g. English and/or Latin grammar, reading and comprehension). This is one key difference between the systems: numbers versus words.
Though mathematics can and should be considered a kind of language, it is not the language that we speak in our conversations, lectures, debates, and our efforts to persuade others. For this we reserve words, and this necessitates that these words have structure. Every single day our minds are bombarded with ideas, whether they be in written, oral, visual, or in electronic format. Without qualification, at some time or another, these ideas are communicated with words. These words make up sentences, sentences form paragraphs, paragraphs form pages, and pages form books, treatises, and so on. In order to resist the often overwhelming and seductive pull of the newest ideological fads and gimmicks, one must be able to connect the dots, so to speak. This is crucial to formulating a Christian worldview and honoring God with our minds as well as our hearts. For example, in the 2008 presidential debates you did not hear the candidates debating in a language of symbols and numbers. They were using words, and with at least one important moral and social issue, the definitions of these words have life or death consequences for the smallest and most defenseless among us. This is but one example of why defining terms is perhaps the most important aspect of logic, and we define words rather than numbers.
The second crucial component in answering our question is the importance of a learning community. Many of our students are educated at home by a parent, participate in a cottage school, or something similar. We have found that being able to interact with other students enthusiastic about the same subjects engenders a unique medium to facilitate learning and cultivate understanding within the context of something that can truly be called a “learning community.” Our students are awed by the process of analyzing what constitutes rational thought and by the fact that others are learning it as well. From my experience the more students work with other likeminded students on a mutually stimulating subject, the more understanding occurs. It doesn’t stop there either. For centuries the most influential thinkers have insisted that a well-ordered, logically rigorous mind is one of the keys to unlocking the storehouse of our highest pursuit: Happiness through wisdom.
Mr. Piland is a logic instructor for the Memoria Press Online Classical Academy. He teaches Traditional Logic I, Traditional Logic II: Advanced Formal Logic, Material Logic, and Informal Fallacies. Mr. Piland and his family reside in Louisville, KY.
How the program works
The Memoria Press Online Academy is designed to be a userfriendly online educational tool. Here are a few tips to help you get started.
After registering for a course, the student has access to a course page, which includes forums for Q&A, a course calendar, a syllabus, weekly quizzes, and the weekly class chat module. The student accesses the course by logging in with a username and password. The student meets once a week for approximately 1 1/4 hours with the instructor and other students for chat, which covers a lesson, explanation, questions, drilling, and competition.
While there are certain rules of decorum students are expected to follow, our instructors are noted for their ability to engage students on an academic and personal level in a way that makes their learning experience both fulfi lling and enjoyable. For more information, please visit www.memoriapressacademy.com. Or, call (877) 862-1097.