The Training of the Logical Faculty – Sri Aurobindo

The Training of the Logical Faculty


There are three elements necessary to correct reasoning,

first, the correctness of the facts or conclusions I start from,

secondly, the completeness as well as accuracy of the data I start

from, thirdly, the elimination of other possible or impossible

conclusions from the same facts. The fallibility of the logical

reason is due partly to avoidable negligence and looseness in

securing these conditions, partly to the difficulty of getting all

the facts correct, still more to the difficulty of getting all the

facts complete, most of all, to the extreme difficulty of eliminating

all possible conclusions except the one which happens to

be right. No fact is supposed to be more perfectly established

than the universality of the law of gravitation as an imperative

rule, yet a single new fact inconsistent with it would upset this

supposed universality. And such facts exist. Nevertheless, by care

and keenness the fallibility may be reduced to its minimum.

The usual practice is to train the logical reason by teaching

the science of Logic. This is an instance of the prevalent error

by which book knowledge of a thing is made the object of study

instead of the thing itself. The experience of reasoning and its

errors should be given to the mind and it should be taught to

observe how these work for itself; it should proceed from the

example to the rule and from the accumulating harmony of rules

to the formal science of the subject, not from the formal science

to the rule, and from the rule to the example.

The first step is to make the young mind interest itself in

drawing inferences from the facts, tracing cause and effect. It

should then be led on to notice its successes and its failures and

the reason of the success and of the failure; the incorrectness of

the fact started from, the haste in drawing conclusions from insufficient

facts, the carelessness in accepting a conclusion which

is improbable, little supported by the data or open to doubt, the

indolence or prejudice which does not wish to consider other

possible explanations or conclusions. In this way the mind can

be trained to reason as correctly as the fallibility of human logic

will allow, minimising the chances of error. The study of formal

logic should be postponed to a later time when it can easily

be mastered in a very brief period, since it will be only the

systematising of an art perfectly well known to the student.




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