|© SGT Report|
Once upon a time, in medieval universities, new students enrolled in the Trivium. It was the foundation curriculum. It was required. Its parts were: grammar, logic, and rhetoric.
Grammar: the interior construction of language.
Logic: the valid and invalid connections in the course of a formal argument; the method of proper reasoning; the deductive links in a chain, at the end of which appears a conclusion.
Rhetoric: oral and written presentation; the use of language to make a case; the capacity to persuade, even in the face of counter-argument.
Today, the subject matter of the Trivium is not only downplayed. It has been shattered.
This article focuses on the death of logic in schools.
When the intensive handling of ideas is seen as a laughable goal for education, indoctrination is plugged in as the only alternative.
The mind of the student shifts from being an active force to being a container.
The destruction of logic perverts rational thought at its core and inserts ideology masked as insight.
The actual meaning of an idea is firmly placed on the back burner. Instead? Praise or attack the people who forward ideas.
This strategy has gained great prominence.
“The revered Founders of the Republic? Shysters, con men, slaveholders, monopolists who saw rebellion from England as the way to win greater power for themselves, at the expense of everyone else living on American soil.”
Therefore, the argument continues, and this is crucial, the Founders’ IDEAS, as expressed in the Declaration and the Constitution, were rotten to the core. The ideas can be dismissed out of hand as coming from “a bad source.”
Ideas no longer need to be judged on their sense, merit, and alignment with basic principles. Nor are they judged by their position in a well-formed argument. All that is out. Now, you only have to “look to the source” and make ALL your decisions based on “who these people really were who expressed the ideas.”
And since that’s the case, learning to think or reason is unnecessary.
In logic, this used to be called the fallacious ad hominem argument. Now it’s not called anything. It’s praised as the insightful way to do intellectual business.
One by one, core ideas fall to the ax, and finally they cease to exist at all.
(To argue that very bad people have taken over an idea, and therefore the idea itself was never good, is like arguing that, since hijackers took over a plane, the plane was a despicable object altogether and probably deserved to be stolen or blown up.)
You might be surprised by the number of people who believe that the value of an idea depends entirely on who expressed the idea. If the wrong person first expressed it, it was never worthy.
Students with a vast sense of self-entitlement and meaningless self-esteem love this strategy. It allows them to parade around and call the shots and decide which ideas are important and which aren’t, without reflection. They have a scorecard of good guys and bad guys and that’s all they need.
In our teaching institutions, you could look in vain to find courses on the individual, his freedom, his power. That’s gone. It’s no accident that serious training in logic is also gone. And by serious, I mean the application of logic to formal arguments on issues that determine our future.
In many cases, instead, education is about: what group do you belong to? What are the needs of that group? Who is oppressing your group? How can you get government to solve the problem?
If you can educate the young to make snap judgments about core ideas, you eliminate their capacity to reason. You own them.
From that point on, they hold a hostile attitude toward anyone who can discuss and analyze ideas. They look at such people as an entitled and privileged class who is speaking a foreign language.
In order to engage in meaningful debate, people have to be able to recognize a train of thought and follow it. If they can’t, because they were educated not to, where are we? We’re in the dark. We’re living by slogans.
Freedom? Liberty? Collective need? Responsibility? It doesn’t matter what ideas are on the table, because the overwhelming number of people don’t know what an idea is. They don’t know how to walk up to one and look at it from several sides. They don’t know how to trace its implications. They don’t know how to fit that idea alongside its cousins. They don’t see a Whole. They see the ceaseless spinning machinery of an alien process, from which they’ve been excluded.
Then, no matter what shape society takes, it’s a dumb-show, as far the majority of its citizens are concerned.
Who solves that?
The invasive State takes charge. It picks up the pieces of the wreckage it was a key actor in delivering.
The goal of educating citizens about what it means to take part in a Republic has been blunted. This was done, a step at a time, through education.
Dismantling the ability to reason, employ logic, and handle ideas was the prow of that destructive campaign.
Therefore, the people who still know what logic is need to teach it in any way they can.
The first steps are the hardest. But when a student suddenly sees that world open up to him, when the lights go on, when information that was formerly a blur and a blob snaps into place as a recognizably logical (or illogical) sequence, when the student’s aimless wandering mind suddenly focuses with power…when he knows that he knows…the rewards are self-evident.
A dullness becomes bright.