Language and logic are inseparable. There’s a question going around LinkedIn: “Name a city that does not have the letter ‘A’ in it. I bet you can’t.” Easy. You’ll find every letter from A to Z present in every city. The question doesn’t reference the word ‘city’. In the absence of a qualifying adjective it references the noun ‘city’. Logic (including logical and lexical semantics) should be taught in schools. The answer should be intuitive. Failing intuition, the 2nd sentence trigger (I bet you can’t) should immediately tell you that the answer is that there is no city without the letter ‘A’ …. and you just have to identify why.
I was horrified to see endless lists of people responding with the names of cities.
Perhaps in this digital age of dumbing down and ‘close to zero’ attention spans we need to heed the warning signs and review our education systems. I’m academically trained as a scientist and a self-trained polyglot that understands semantics. That may be one reason the answer was intuitive for me. Probably. It shouldn’t be the reason. However I believe that logical reasoning is a very basic thing. It is not a complex thing. Logic is about simplicity. It’s about taking things at face value and not ‘hearing’ that which is not ‘said’. It’s not about heaping assumption upon assumption so fast that facts just can’t keep pace.
Logic should never be an exclusive thing. That’s a frightening thought actually. When I view the world through that prism, I fear for my daughter. Logic can be taught in school at an early age. I know my little girl will not learn how to reason in school or university. Hence I will teach her. We should be taught to reason, not to simply remember. We have external memory systems everywhere now anyway. The long lists of people (originating from many cities) writing the names of cities in response to a trap that advertises itself as a trap tells me that there is indeed something rotten in the state of global formal education systems. It’s another reason why people should never have academic letters written after their names on the profile. What is with MBAs? Seriously. If you write academic letters after your name, you’re basically saying that this is the roof of your intellectual achievements. It’s the opposite to that which it purports to imply – it’s a statement of intellectual poverty and an indication that your ego is a barrier to further learning.
Anyway. I suspect we are prewired for logical thought. It’s an obvious evolutionary advantage. It may well be that our ‘education’ systems are unwiring the natural connection that exists between logic and language in the human brain. It is possible that oft times we create clutter instead of clarity. I don’t know if that is true. I do know that our centres of learning, with very few exceptions, fail to effectively teach logic and semantics. The evidence for that is irrefutable.