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Greek Culture in the Ancient World and Ancient Philosophy



The aim of this course is to introduce the student to the principles and methods of formal logic. The centerpiece of the lectures will be the syllogism, but preparation for that topic will consist of acquainting the student with the way in which formal and material logic differ as well as with the building blocks of the syllogism: the concept, the term, and the proposition. It is crucial that the student firmly grasp the difference between formal and material logic in order to see that the former is concerned with inference, not truth, and accordingly that what counts as a valid syllogistic argument depends on the conclusion following consistently from its premises rather than its correspondence with an object.

Considerable attention is also given to developing the skill of spotting formal fallacies. Besides the obvious ability of enabling the student to distinguish valid and invalid syllogisms from each other, the acquisition of that skill brings with it a solid understanding of the syllogism itself, thereby conferring the ability to use the syllogism adroitly for the organization of the student's own arguments.

Because the primary focus of the course is on the syllogism, the principles of deductive thinking receive the most attention. Nevertheless, substantial time is also devoted to inductive thinking since inductive generalization is at the heart of statistical reasoning, which plays so important a role in the natural and social sciences.

No course in formal logic is complete if it omits attention to informal argumentation. By attending to the latter, the student has the opportunity of deepening two insights: (1) the principles of formal logic operate implicitly in our daily thinking, whether that thinking be philosophical, scientific, political, or ethical; and (2) formal logic is no mere idealization of how the mind should operate but, on the contrary, is a living, practical tool of daily human thinking.

As in all so-called "skill" courses, the student is required regularly and frequently to work out logical problems in addition to acquiring an understanding of the theoretical principles underlying them.


Possible sequence of topics:

  • The term
  • The concept
  • The proposition: the square of opposition
  • The syllogism: a. deductive syllogism: its forms and moods; b. inductive syllogism
  • Formal fallacies
  • Informal argumentation; informal fallacies
Text: Any book that the instructor finds suitable for acquainting the students with the above topics and demands enough work from them to develop their skills in thinking logically. Logic: An Aristotelian Approach by Mary Michael Spangler (University Press of America) is one such.