Torn Fingernails
Anything approaching a fully satisfactory explanation of the phenomena of knowledge requires the co-operative efforts of all those who believe that there is a world of real existence independent of human minds and that this real existence can be truly known as it really is.
— Francis Parker, “Realistic Epistemology
Most recent essay (June 5, 2020)

Mr. Spock of the Star Trek francise probably gave more people a greater misunderstanding of the nature of logic than any single character of fiction, and perhaps than any single philosopher. Many of his conclusions appear logical for no better reason than that he began with preposterous premises that were never examined, but which are accepted by a large proportion of the population, and it was they that made his pronouncements seem worthy of acceptance.

Logic is further disparaged by the belief that you can use it to prove anything, which is like saying that food can be used to poison anyone. Of course, any tool can be misused, but when someone uses a screwdriver to open a can of paint, no one imagines that screwdrivers should then not be used to tighten screws or to remove them.

For my part, I am, to use a phrase never employed by Aristotle, fed up with the misuse of logic and disparagement of it nearly every time I open a book or read an article. I have no illusion that my little webpage will be able to reverse the trend. What I do hope is that it will help me to preserve my sanity, which is beginning to feel a little, shall we say, undermined.

If some others benefit from my efforts, that will be to the good, but it is not my purpose.

I do not imagine that logic will cure all the world’s woes. It will not lead us to all knowledge or wisdom. It may not reveal God to us. It may not be able to explain to us what makes a painting by one of the pre-Raphaelites or the solution to a chess puzzle beautiful. It will not explain to me why I got choked up when I first saw Hayez’s painting “The Kiss” or when I heard Anna Moffo sing Rachmaninov’s song “Vocalise.

But without it, we are dead. The “what about feelings” crowd may think they can do without it — they may even attempt the cheat of saying that of course logic is important, but ... — but what? They may “feel” themselves into the spittoon-hell they are creating for themselves and for us if they like, but a few of us will continue to hang on to reality by whatever torn fingernails remain to us.

If there are any who are sympathetic to my efforts, I ask your prayers to the God who gave us reasonable intellects, the capacity to detect and judge truth and falsity, and the hunger that only they can satisfy.

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The “Torn Fingernails” section was last updated June 6, 2020
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