Tag Archives: Categorical Logic

Sayers’ Helpful Summary of Logic

Sayers’ Vision for Logic

In her seminal essay “The Lost Tools of Learning,” the author Dorothy Sayers describes her understanding of the medieval scheme of education, specifically the Trivium — the three liberal arts of grammar, logic, and rhetoric. She argues that students in the Middle Ages were taught the proper use of the tools of learning by means of these arts. Of logic she says,

dorothy[1]“Second, he learned how to use language; how to define his terms and make accurate statements; how to construct an argument and how to detect fallacies in argument.”

As I have taught logic in the classroom, written logic texts (and blog posts), and spoken on logic and classical education around the world, I have regularly returned to this quote. It is for me perhaps the most useful sentence (of the 238 sentences) in the essay.

A Proper Pedagogical Progression

In this sentence Sayers explains what logic is for: logic teaches us how to use language. This reminds us that the liberal arts of the Trivium are language arts (whereas the Quadrivium are mathematical arts). Specifically, logic teaches us how to use the language of reasoning, of disputation and proof.

This sentence also describes a proper pedagogical progression of logic:

  1. We must start with terms: how to define them, relate them, and work with them, including understanding the value of defining terms.
  2. Terms are related in statements (categorical statements connect subject terms with the predicate terms). Logic teaches us “how to make accurate statements”; that is, how to make statements that are true and applicable, as well as understanding how we know that they are true, and how they relate to each other. It teaches how to do this with many different types of statements: simple and compound, categorical and hypothetical, immediate inferences, and so on. Terms are the building blocks of statements.
  3. Statements are the building blocks of arguments, as we connect premises together to draw conclusions. So logic teaches us “how to construct an argument”; that is, how to write a valid argument to establish a desired conclusion.  It teaches how to do this with many types of arguments: categorical and propositional, conditional and disjunctive, symbolic arguments and arguments in normal English.
  4. Finally, logic teaches us “how to detect fallacies in argument,” both the formal fallacies from the rules of validity for categorical syllogisms and propositional arguments, and the informal fallacies of ordinary discourse, like circular reasoning and ad hominem. Logic teaches us not only to detect them, but to name them, and to expose them by means of counterexamples to those untrained in logic.

Were I to add one element to Sayers’ list, it would be “to construct a proof in a step-by-step, justified manner.” With this addition, every page, every concept of both Introductory and Intermediate Logic is covered in Sayers’ helpful description of what is encompassed in learning logic.

Logic: A Science and Art

Is logic a science or an art? Of course, a logician would answer Yes, and here is why.

A science is a systematic study of some aspect of the natural world that seeks to discover laws (regularities, principles) by which God governs His creation. Whereas botany studies plants, astronomy studies the sky, and anatomy studies the body, logic studies the mind as it reasons, as it draws conclusions from other information. Logic as a science seeks to discover rules that distinguish good reasoning from poor reasoning, rules that are then simplified and systematized. These would include the rules for validity, of inference and replacement, and so on.

For example, logic as a science could study the apostle Paul’s reasoning in 1 Cor. 15, “If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised… But Christ has been raised, and is therefore the first fruits from among the dead.” It then simplifies this into a standard pattern: If not R then not C, C, therefore R. This rule can be further simplified, named, and organized in relation to other rules of logic.

An art is a creative application of the principles of nature for the production of works of beauty, skill, and practical use. The visual arts apply their principles to the production of paintings, sculptures, and pottery. The literary arts produce poems and stories. The performing arts produce operas, plays, and ballets.

Logic is one of the seven liberal arts, which include the Trivium of grammar, logic, and rhetoric. These arts are the skills which are essential for a free person (liberalis, “worthy of a free person”) to take an active part in daily life, for the benefit of others. Specifically, logic as an art seeks to apply the principles of reasoning to analyze and create arguments, proofs, and other chains of reasoning.

In summary:

Logic is the science and art of reasoning well. Logic as a science seeks to discover rules of reasoning; logic as an art seeks to apply those rules to rational discourse.

What comes after Logic? Rhetoric!

Introductory and Intermediate Logic together provide a complete foundational logic curriculum. Informal, categorical, and modern propositional logic are all included. The next step in your student’s classical education is to begin to apply what he has learned in logic to effective speaking and writing. This means your student should move on to the study of formal rhetoric, the capstone of a classical education. Rhetoric applies the tools of logic – defining terms, declaring truth, arguing to valid conclusions, and refuting invalid ones – to the persuasion of people. Rhetoric puts flesh onto the bones of logical analysis, that we may breathe arguments into life through the wise use of fitting words.

Fitting Words: Classical Rhetoric for the Christian Student is a complete formal rhetoric curriculum. Presented from a thoroughly Christian perspective, Fitting Words provides students with tools for speaking that will equip them for life. Drawing from Aristotle, Quintilian, Augustine, and others, and using examples from the greatest speeches from history and scripture, this robust curriculum guides Christian students in the theory and practice of persuasive communication.

The complete curriculum includes:

  • Student text with 30 detailed lessons
  • Student workbook with exercises for every lesson
  • Answer key for the exercises and tests
  • Test packet with nine tests, review sheets for every test, and speech judging sheets
  • Video course in which the author introduces and teaches through every lesson

Immediate Inference Cheat Sheet

Equivalent Immediate Inferences of the four Categorical Statements:

All S is P
=  No S is non-P  (obverse)
=  All non-P is non-S  (contrapositive)

No S is P
=  All S is non-P  (obverse)
=  No P is S  (converse)

Some S is P
= Some S is not non-P  (obverse)
= Some P is S  (converse)

Some S is not P
= Some S is non-P  (obverse)
= Some non-P is not non-S  (contrapositive)

Immediate inferences work in reverse:

All S is non-P
= No S is P  (obverse)

All non-S is non-P
= All P is S  (contrapositive)

No S is non-P
= All S is P  (obverse)

Some S is non-P
= Some S is not P  (obverse)

Some S is not non-P
= Some S is P  (obverse)

Some non-S is not non-P
= Some P is not S  (contrapositive)

Immediate inferences can be combined:

No non-S is P
= No P is non-S = All P is S  (converse, obverse)

Some non-S is P
= Some P is non-S = Some P is not S  (converse, obverse)

Other translations:

All non-S is P
= All non-P is S  (contrapositive)

No non-S is non-P
= All non-S is P  (obverse)

Some non-S is not P
= Some non-P is not S  (contrapositive)

Some non-S is non-P
= Some non-S is not P  (obverse)

All of this and more is included in this complete Immediate Inference Chart.

A Brief History of Validity #2

The 19 Traditional Forms

In the first post in this series, we saw that Aristotle identified 16 valid forms of categorical syllogisms (though he formally acknowledged only the first three figures). Some thirteenth-century logicians such as William of Sherwood and Peter of Spain recognized nineteen valid forms, giving them Latin names as a mnemonic device for ease of memorizing:

Barbara, Celarent, Darii, Ferioque prioris.
Cesare, Camestres, Festino, Baroco secundae.
Tertia Darapti, Disamis, Datisi, Felapton, Bocardo, Ferison habet.
Quarta insuper addit Bramantip, Camenes, Dimaris, Fesapo, Fresison.

The vowels in each name correspond with the mood, such that “Barbara” is AAA-1, “Cesare” is EAE-2, and so on. Thus the medievals recognized these valid forms:

Figure 1: AAA, EAE, AII, EIO
Figure 2: EAE, AEE, EIO, AOO
Figure 3: AAI, IAI, AII, EAO, OAO, EIO
Figure 4: AAI, AEE, IAI, EAO, EIO

The five forms not included in this list are AAI-1, EAO-1, EAO-2, AEO-2, and AEO-4. Why were these five not included? They are the forms in which the conclusion is the subimplication of moods with all universal statements, namely AAA-1, EAE-1, EAE-2, AEE-2,  and AEE-4. Thus they were seen as “weaker” forms of the syllogisms (why bother concluding the particular “Some S is not P”when you can conclude the universal “No S is P”?).

Defending the Missing Five

Interestingly, these five omitted forms can readily be shown to be equivalent to Bramantip (AAI-4) using immediate inferences, as follows:

AAI-4 (given)
All P is M
All M is S

∴ Some S is P

AAI-1 (taking the converse of the conclusion, correcting the premise order)
All M is S
All P is M

∴ Some P is S

EAO-1 (taking the obverse of the major premise and conclusion of the AAI-1)
No M is non-S
All P is M

∴ Some P is not non-S

EAO-2 (taking the converse of the major premise of the EAO-1)
No non-S is M
All P is M

∴ Some P is not non-S

AEO-2 (From the AAI-1, take the contrapositive of the major premise, obverse of the minor premise and conclusion)
All non-S is non-M
No P is non-M

∴ Some P is not non-S

AEO-4 (From the AEO-2, take the converse of the minor premise)
All non-S is non-M
No non-M is P

∴ Some P is not non-S.

This is one practical application of the immediate inferences learned in Lesson 27 of Introductory Logic.

A Brief History of Validity #1

Which forms of categorical syllogisms are valid? Logicians have disputed the answer for centuries, a dispute that can give us insight into the meaning of validity, the central concept of formal logic. This will be the first of a few posts in which I will briefly discuss the history of syllogistic validity.

Aristotle’s 16

It all started with Aristotle, who in his Prior Analytics, Book I, chapters 4-7, detailed sixteen valid forms:

Figure 1: AAA, EAE, AII, EIO
Figure 2: EAE, AEE, EIO, AOO
Figure 3: AAI, EAO, IAI, AII, OAO, EIO
Figure 4: EAO, EIO

If you read Prior Analytics (which is no trivial task), Aristotle presents only the first three figures as figures, omitting any mention of a fourth figure. But in chapter 7 he admits in passing the forms of EAO-4 and EIO-4 as valid, saying,

If A belongs to all or some B, and B belongs to no C … it is necessary that C does not belong to some A.

It is not difficult to see why Aristotle omits AAI-1, EAO-1, AEO-2, and EAO-2. These four forms are his AAA-1, EAE-1, AEE-2, and EAE-2 with the subimplication of the conclusion. Aristotle apparently saw no need to include syllogism forms with particular conclusions when the premises could imply the universal.

Aristotle and Figure 4

It is rather more difficult to understand why Aristotle does not admit the fourth figure, though logicians have argued that it has to do with how he defines a syllogism. We learn from Bertrand Russell, in his Cambridge Essays, that

The fourth figure…was added by Aristotle’s pupil Theophrastus and does not occur in Aristotle’s work, although there is evidence that Aristotle knew of fourth-figure syllogisms.

Theophrastus apparently recognized three more valid forms of figure 4: AAI, AEE, and IAI, bringing the total to 19. These were given Latin names by medieval scholars, but that will be the topic for my next post.

After Intermediate Logic?

What is recommended after Intermediate Logic? The short answer is: Rhetoric! But let me give you a bit more than that.

Introductory and Intermediate Logic together provide a complete foundational logic curriculum. Informal, categorical, and modern propositional logic are all included. The next step in a student’s classical education is to begin to apply what they have learned in logic to effective speaking and writing. This means that the student should move on to study formal rhetoric. Rhetoric applies the tools of logic: defining terms, declaring truth, arguing to valid conclusions, and refuting invalid ones. Indeed, of the modes of rhetorical persuasion – ethos, pathos, and logos – one-third is applied logic.

With this in mind, Roman Roads has released a new curriculum, Fitting Words: Classical Rhetoric for the Christian Student. I am the author of this text, and in Fitting Words I work to apply in rhetoric much of what the student has learned in logic. I am very excited about this project, because one significant reason that I wrote this text was to provide a satisfying answer the question of where to go next!

Take a look HERE for the most up-to-date information about Fitting Words.

Logic with James B Nance

Introductory Logic Prerequisite for Intermediate Logic?

It is certainly possible for a student who has not taken (or not completed) Introductory Logic to take and successfully complete Intermediate Logic. Though the Intermediate Logic text is designed as a continuation to Introductory Logic, it does not assume a mastery of the concepts in it. Almost all of the concepts from Introductory Logic that are essential for Intermediate Logic are re-taught (the only exceptions being the definitions of logical argument, premise, and conclusion; definitions assumed in Intermediate Logic, Lesson 7, but taught explicitly in Introductory Logic, Lesson 19).

That being said, a new Intermediate Logic student who is familiar with Introductory Logic will have an advantage over a student who is not. The following concepts from Introductory Logic are repeated and re-taught in Intermediate Logic (the concepts are first taught in the respective given lesson numbers): Continue reading Introductory Logic Prerequisite for Intermediate Logic?

Truth Tables for Validity

Truth tables can be used to determine the validity of propositional arguments. In a valid argument, if the premises are true, then the conclusion must be true. The truth table for a valid argument will not have any rows in which the premises are true and the conclusion is false. For example, here is a truth table of a modus tollens argument, with the final columns, showing it to be valid:


The fourth row down is the only row with true premises, and in that row it also has a true conclusion. So this argument is valid.

An argument is invalid when there is at least one row with true premises and a false conclusion, such as in this affirming the consequent truth table: Continue reading Truth Tables for Validity

Help With Establishing Conclusions

One of the most practical lessons in Introductory Logic is Lesson 32, “Establishing Conclusions.” Here you are no longer analyzing someone else’s arguments; you are now writing your own. The hardest part of this lesson is developing an argument for a conclusion while being allowed to use any valid form. In the video for this lesson, I encourage you to find a middle term that connects to the major and minor terms in the conclusion. Let me suggest another way to continue this process.

If you understood hypothetical syllogisms well in the lesson prior, you may use them to help you develop a valid argument. For example, in Exercise 35, question 2, you are asked to establish this conclusion (straight out of Calvin and Hobbes):


Ask yourself why bats aren’t bugs. You might say, “Because mammals are not bugs.” Turn that into a hypothetical statement, and complete the modus ponens: Continue reading Help With Establishing Conclusions