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"Introduction To Logic", By H.W.B. Joseph

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I am a long-term student of history. I am not a logician -- not even close. I have made one reading through Joseph's Introduction to Logic, and then reread some sections as needed. However, I have referred to it with particular questions many times. Its index can serve as a glossary of sorts.

This text is a traditional logic course. It follows the same general sequence of subjects that appear in Aristotle's Organon, a later name for Aristotle's six books on logic. Joseph was sometimes called "The Last of the Aristotelians," I have heard. His terminology, in some measure, is Aristotle's terminology, translated into English.

The best approach to the book depends on the reader's purpose, which must be stated explicitly. For example, how does this book fit into the reader's central purpose in life, if it does? If, for instance, a reader intends to be a professional philosopher, then this book deserves close, slow study -- no more than one chapter per week, for 27 weeks. Even slower would be better. But either way, expect to reread some sections later. A close study may benefit students and professionals in other fields such as intellectual history and history of ideas, especially for ancient, medieval, and Renaissance culture.

If the book is crucial to the reader's central purpose in life, then I would recommend that he apply all his study skills to the book: underlining, marginal note-taking, and perhaps even developing flashcards for key terms, in English and Latin or Greek. This is not a book for casual study!

If the reader's purpose is simply to gain basic concepts of logic for everyday use, then perhaps a shorter, simpler text on syllogisms and fallacies would be more appropriate. A lot of them are around.

An excellent intermediate source is Dr. Leonard Peikoff's audio-taped Introduction to Logic. It too deserves close study, but is not nearly as detailed. He adds a lot of material from an Objectivist perspective. I highly recommend it for serious students.

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I am a long-term student of history. I am not a logician -- not even close. I have made one reading through Joseph's Introduction to Logic, and then reread some sections as needed. However, I have referred to it with particular questions many times. Its index can serve as a glossary of sorts.

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Excellent advice, thank you.

My purpose in reading the book is not for any professional reasons, but rather to understand the science of logic; and even more generally than that, how the mind can reach truth. A secondary purpose would, perhaps, be - I am simply interested in reading a challenging book.

Edited by Free Thinker
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If the reader's purpose is simply to gain basic concepts of logic for everyday use, then perhaps a shorter, simpler text on syllogisms and fallacies would be more appropriate. A lot of them are around.

Aside from Ruby's text, can you recommend any in particular? In addition, can you recommend any translations of the Organon?

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BOOKS ON LOGIC

For anyone serious enough to even consider studying the Organon -- a collection of very difficult treatises by Aristotle -- I would recommend, as a first step, Dr. Peikoff's course, Introduction to Logic. I suggest studying half a lecture per week, for 20 weeks. Be sure to take detailed notes. Ask questions here in the Premium Forum, and perhaps someone will be able to discuss issues with you. Once you have absorbed all that, then you might attempt a second step, which would be a close study of Joseph's book. It is an introduction to all the issues (and more) that Aristotle covers in the Organon. It is much, much easier than the Organon.

Summary: Study Dr. Peikoff's course as preparation for studying Joseph's book which, in turn, would be preparation for the very difficult study of the Organon.

To "understand the science of logic" would be a vast enterprise, one requiring thousands of hours of study and intense thought. I cannot even imagine anyone completing such a program unless it was for professional reasons. I certainly wouldn't even attempt it.

By the way, I have been assuming that anyone seriously interested in Aristotle has studied all the appropriate material from Dr. Robert Mayhew. He has presented a lecture on the study of Aristotle. I have not heard it, but I have heard good word about it. Perhaps that should be preliminary to study of any of Aristotle's texts

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BOOKS ON LOGIC

For anyone serious enough to even consider studying the Organon -- a collection of very difficult treatises by Aristotle -- I would recommend, as a first step, Dr. Peikoff's course, Introduction to Logic. I suggest studying half a lecture per week, for 20 weeks. [...]

Sounds good. Thanks for your post.

Edited by Free Thinker
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TRANSLATIONS OF THE ORGANON

I have not made a survey of the many English translations of Aristotle's six treatises on logic. I can only suggest ones that I have in my library and that I found suitable:

- Categories and De Interpretatione, translator J. L. Ackrill, 1963; includes notes.

- Prior Analytics, translated and edited (introduction, notes, and commentary) by Robin Smith, 1989.

- Posterior Analytics, second edition, translator Jonathan Barnes (somewhat hostile to Aristotle), 1994; includes notes and discussion.

- Topics -- no suggestion, except to try the one in the Barnes two-volume complete works of Aristotle.

- Sophistical Refutations -- no suggestion, except to try the one in the Barnes two-volume complete works of Aristotle.

Expect to invest up to 1000 hours in a full, serious study of the Organon. It is vastly more difficult than Joseph's Introduction to Logic.

As a final caution, I should say that anyone who doesn't have a professional interest in Aristotle or logic should not invest the huge amount of time required into reading the Organon. The payoff will be very small compared to the investment.

Investing that time into a slow, close study of Ayn Rand's Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology would be more profitable to anyone seeking better methods for learning truth. ITOE is the single-most challenging work of philosophy that Ayn Rand wrote.

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