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Wardrobes, Witches and Why We Need Logic

In The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Professor Kirke listens to Susan and Peter as they wrestle with a conundrum: is their sister Lucy telling the truth about visiting a world called Narnia.  Finally, the professor exclaims, “Logic!  Why don’t they teach logic in these schools?” 
He’s right.  Most schools today don’t teach logic, which is simply the art and science of argument.  And this is puzzling, for no subject is more foundational or practical.  As the Christian Philosopher, Peter Kreeft, notes, “no matter what you are thinking about, you are thinking, and logic orders and clarifies your thinking.”
If you’ve ever read a newspaper article and wished that the journalist had defined his terms more clearly…or worried that friends or neighbours accept the truth of what they hear on TV too easily…or desired that arguments made during committee meetings were more precise, then you’ve felt the likely implications of no longer teaching logic in schools.
Logic studies the common structures of human reasoning, especially the movement of the mind from premises to a conclusion.  To see the importance of this, we need only look to Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

To watch the 3.5 minute "Witch Scene," click on the image above.

Vladimir [to a mob of peasants]: How do you know she is a witch?
Peasant: She looks like one! …
Vladimir: Tell me... what do you do with witches?
Peasant: Burn 'em!
Vladimir: What do you burn apart from witches? …
Peasant: Wood!
Vladimir: So, why do witches burn?
Peasant: Cuz they're made of wood ...
Vladimir: Does wood sink in water?
Peasant: No. It floats! ...
Vladimir: What also floats in water? …
King Arthur: A duck!
Vladimir: Exactly! So, logically...
Peasant (thinking): If she weighs the same as a duck, she's made of wood!
Vladimir: And therefore?
Peasant: A witch!
The habit of asking whether an assertion necessarily follows from its prior assumptions can be a matter of life and death!  This habit is cultivated through the study of logic.
Such training helps students to see more clearly what is true and what is false.  It also helps them to read and write more effectively.  As I mentioned in the last Pillar issue, writing well and thinking well are a package deal.  According to Kreeft, “It is simply impossible to communicate clearly and effectively without thinking clearly and effectively.”
To be sure, logical reasoning cannot prove everything that’s important to know, including insights of faith.  But logic can aid faith in several ways: it can clarify and define what we believe, deduce the necessary consequences of our beliefs, and give firmer reasons for holding them than mere feeling, fashion, or family pressure.  (Just think about how our trust in someone’s testimony can be strengthened by sound reasoning, or how our interpretation of a tragic event can differ through the logical application of certain claims—e.g. that “all things work together for good for those who love God.”)
For all of these reasons, we advocate a recovery of formal logic.  Most students today immerse themselves in studying the content of subjects.  What would happen if they were taught with equal intentionality to construct sound arguments and detect fallacies of reason? 
The Millis Institute is with Professor Kirke.  We teach a unit in formal logic as part of an effort to shape a generation of critical thinkers—the kind of thinkers who can correctly assess and respond to testimony about realms like Narnia!
News & Events

for Years 11-12

Semester 1, 2016

Mondays 4-7pm
(29 Feb - 23 May)

CHC, 322 Wecker Road, Carindale

Would you like to sample a liberal arts education for free? The Millis Institute is once again offering Year 11 & 12 students the opportunity to take a free tertiary subject on calling and higher education. 

"Foundations of Faith, Learning and Vocation" examines the relationship between faith and learning as well as the notion of calling.  Students engage the works of thinkers like Augustine, CS Lewis and Dorothy Sayers in small-group seminars with the goal of forming a framework with which to analyse their own sense of meaning and purpose during their uni years and beyond. Those who pass the subject receive entry to CHC and academic credit toward their degree, saving up to $1,500. See here for more information.

CHC Announces Several New Developments

Skills in logical thinking are valuable in any field.  CHC offers a range of disciplines that liberal arts graduates and other professionals can pursue, including some exciting new programs.  

In 2016, the School of Business will offer the only MBA (Master of Business Administration) developed with the Christian leader in mind.  Advanced units in Finance, Marketing, Human Resources and Strategy will provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary for creating and managing effective organisations.

Also in 2016, the School of Education and Humanities' Master of Education course will tailor a new model of collaborative, customised delivery to the Professional Learning Programs of schools.  Teachers and leaders can study together at school and focus on issues that are highly relevant to their classroom practice, while gaining tertiary credit.