What are the ten ways in which something can be said to exist? What are the five ways in which something can be said of something else? What are the four questions you must answer in order to really know something? In ancient and medieval times, the answers to these questions were common knowledge among educated people.
When most people think of logic, they think of formal logic—the study of the structure or form of reasoning. But what most educators don’t realize is that formal logic is only one part of a complete logic program. The other branch of logic study was called “material logic,” and focused not on the form of reasoning, but on its content. In short, while formal logic studied the “how” of reasoning, material logic studied the “what.”
The principles of material logic, an important part of trivium language study, are now almost forgotten—a casualty of the almost exclusive modern secular emphasis on math and sciences. Formal logic was once termed minor (or lesser) logic, while material logic usually went by the name of major (or greater) logic—a measure of how important classical thinkers considered them.
There is a huge gap between formal logic courses and so-called “thinking skills” courses. Formal logic focuses exclusively on the systematic study of the structure of reasoning. That is important, but it hardly covers all you need to know to reason effectively. “Thinking skills” courses, on the other hand, tend to suffer from a highly nonsystematic topic-hopping approach, where the student is unable to see how one principle connects with another.
With the publication of Material Logic: A Course in How to Think, these ancient techniques are a lost art no more. Whether you want a follow-on course to Memoria Press’ popular Traditional Logic program, or simply an introductory thinking skills course for high school grades, this new addition to Memoria Press’ widely acclaimed Classical Trivium Core Series is a valuable tool in teaching your student to think.
Our monks wanted to call the program “Concerning the 10 Categories, the Five Predicables, the Four Causes, and the Five Elements of Classification and Their Use in the Art of Thinking”—in Latin! But we convinced them that a simpler title would get the message across just fine. And by the way, their words for it were: “Logica summa est,” which roughly translates: “It’s just tops!”
Material Logic, like all of Memoria Press’ programs, is designed to ease the job of the teacher or parent—with straightforward explanations, an easy-to-read text layout, and digestible daily exercise sets.