Logic, Critical Thinking, and Philosophy

In this sentence, the word ‘Logic’ is used to refer to someone’s argument or reasoning. It exemplifies one of the various ways the term ‘Logic’ is defined.
However, we are more concerned here with the word ‘Logic’ as referring to the name of an academic subject taught in colleges around the world, as in “Philosophy 101: Introduction to Logic.”

Logic defined

Etymologically, the word ‘Logic’ came from the Greek word ‘logos’ which means ‘reason.’ It is thus not surprising that the subject deals with human reason or modes of reasoning. As a field of study, Logic teaches the rules for correct and proper reasoning.
            The famous philosopher Thomas Aquinas defined Logic as “the science and art which directs the act of the reason, by which a man in the exercise of his reason is enabled to proceed without error, confusion, or unnecessary difficulty."
The classic Logic textbook ‘Port Royal Logic’ (1662), on the other hand, defined it as “the art of using reason well in the acquisition of the knowledge of things, both for one's own instruction and that of others."
          Nowadays, Logic is comprehensively defines as “the philosophical science and art that analyzes arguments and inferences to discern valid from invalid forms of reasoning.”

Logic as a science and an art

Though Logic is fundamentally under Philosophy, it is also considered a science and an art. Logic is a science for it is a ‘systematic study’ of the standards of good reasoning. In formulating rules for correct thinking, for instance, Logic does not do it arbitrarily but deduces those rules from general principles.
As an art, Logic is an act of the mind which directs one to create or formulate thought-provoking works like agreeable reasons or explanations. So as the fine arts direct a person to produce a beautiful painting or sculpture, Logic leads one to generate sensible and sound arguments.

Philosophy and Logic

In almost all schools around the world today, finishing a course in Logic means earning units in Philosophy. But why is this so? What’s the relationship between Logic and Philosophy?
The word ‘Philosophy’ came from the Greek words ‘philo’ (love) and ‘sophia’ (wisdom) and is thus literally defined as “the love of wisdom”.
Considered by some as ‘the mother of all branches of knowledge’, it may be defined as the systematic examination of principles and presuppositions of any field of inquiry.
One basic relationship between Logic and Philosophy is that Logic is a branch of Philosophy. Among the many branches of Philosophy, Logic, however, is special or unique for it serves as the ‘language’ of Philosophy.
By this, we mean that any other branch of Philosophy, say Ethics, uses the principles of Logic in analyzing and presenting the theories under that field. Logic is thus used in all areas of philosophy.
Historically speaking, Logic grew out of Philosophy. Considered the founder of Logic for teaching the first Logic classes on record, Aristotle was in Plato’s Philosophy class, pondering on various philosophical theories, when he began thinking of an independent field of study that studies the universal standards of reason itself.
Aristotle would eventually write his Logic textbooks, collectively known as the ‘Organon’, the logical principles therein are still used today. Thus, the study of philosophy had inspired the birth of Logic as an academic discipline.
Today, Logic is considered a basic tool in philosophizing that no writing can be considered philosophical unless it conforms to the fundamental logical principles of coherence and consistency. Philosophers subscribe to the principles of Logic in justifying their theories.

Critical thinking defined

As an academic discipline, Critical Thinking may not be as old and widely recognized as Logic is but it is undoubtedly as important. 
The word ‘critical’ in ‘Critical Thinking’ came from Greek κριτικός (kritikos)which means discerning judgment.As a field of study, Critical Thinking thus means ‘evaluative’ or ‘analytical thinking’.
Quoting from various sources, the Wikipedia defines Critical Thinking as:
- “reasonable reflective thinking focused on deciding what to believe or do”
- “the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action”
-“purposeful, self-regulatory judgment which results in interpretation, analysis, evaluation, and inference, as well as explanation of the evidential, conceptual, methodological, criteriological, or contextual considerations upon which that judgment is based”
As an attitude, Critical Thinking may be defined as “a determined effort to indiscriminately evaluate any belief or supposed knowledge and its corresponding implications in the light of its basis and supporting evidence”.
As a reflective practice, Critical Thinking involves the willingness and ability to examine even one’s thinking or principles as it is a commitment to use sound reason in the formulation of beliefs. If necessary, Critical Thinking prescribes the adoption of an attitude called ‘suspension of judgment’.

Logic and Critical Thinking

Logic and Critical Thinking are essentially linked to each other. In fact, in no way can an illogical person be counted as a critical thinker.
Like Logic, Critical Thinking traces its historical roots in analytic Philosophy as in the Greek Socratic tradition.
Socratic method is asking a series of incisive questions to determine whether a supposed knowledge could rationally be justified, defended, and accepted with clarity and logical consistency. In many ways, both Logic and Critical Thinking use this Socratic method. (Read: Socratic Method: The Elenchus)
Experts in Critical Thinking agree that the necessary elements involved in the ability to think critically include the knowledge of the methods of logical inquiry and some skills in applying those methods. Hence, to practice Critical Thinking is to apply some principles of Logic. Indeed, Logic forms the heart of Critical Thinking.
Some find Critical Thinking as more applicable in evaluating everyday life reasoning where one deals with gray areas, fuzzy boundaries, and less clear cut responses. Its subject matter is also deemed as more wide-ranging and its topics are considered more relevant to almost any situation.
These points, nonetheless, do not make Logic an inferior subject because Critical Thinking, without the proper guidance of the sensible principles of Logic, will become groundless and unsound.Indeed, studying Logic is an imperative exercise in developing one’s critical thinking skills. (Related: Logical argument)
© 2013 by Jensen DG. Mañebog
About the Contributor:
Jensen DG. Mañebog, the contributor, is a book author and professorial lecturer in the graduate school of a university in Metro Manila. His unique book in Logic and Critical Thinking is uniquely loaded with practical applications, compatible with online education program, and advocates e-learning and blended learning. (e-mail: jensenismo@gmail.com)
Tags: Philosophy, Logic, Critical Thinking, e-learning, blended learning
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