What Is Logical Thinking

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What is logic

Have you ever heard logical thinking? If you live in European countries or The U.S., you might understand the importance of logical thinking. However, can you explain the meaning of logic and the purpose? Logical thinking means a sense of making sense. This definition is enough to understand the meaning of logic. However, the definition of logic has high versatility, and therefore, the meaning of the logic also varies. I am going to make you comprehend and organize the meaning of logic.

Logic or logical thinking differ between general and academic meaning. In general meaning, logic is a way to prove the validity of the statement for someone by offering evidence, and there are a lot of definitions, depending on the philosopher. According to Shigeki Noya, a professor of philosopher at Rikkyo University, Logic is considered as a power of thinking, but logic is not a power of thinking itself. Thinking ends up epiphany after all. Therefore, the essence of thinking is rather a progress and liberty of thinking than an ability of thinking, and logic does not serve the role.

Logic is not an ability that creates a power of thinking, but an ability to convey information properly and receive the conveyed information. In the narrow sense, Logic is defined only as deduction reasoning. On the other hand, in the broad sense, Logic is a consistency that organizes diverse fields and claims without a discrepancy.

The above explanation can be enough to understand the meaning of logic. To comprehend logic profoundly, you should have an image that logic is the structural relationship (connection) of the statement that is plotted on the spatial coordinate. Have you heard about the logic tree? The process of logic is the same as the logic tree.

First, extrapolate statements for a structure.
Second, apply statements and rationale to a positional relationship.
Lastly, schematize and plot them for coordinates.

Just plotting the points is not enough because each component has to be connected with solidarity (causation or correlation) that links each factor. For example, there are hamburgers, beef, steaks, and roast beef. Then, we can see a commonality that they are related to beef. Besides, we can see that hamburgers, steaks, and roast beef have a common point that they are cooked foods. The structural relationship determines the connections, depending on our arbitrariness.

The spatial coordinate is important to understand the logic. Do you know absolute coordinate and relative coordinate? For instance, there is a station, and you live in the north, and I live in the south. The station locates the south for you and locates the north for me. This is the perspective of the relative coordinates that the direction of the station varies depending on observers. However, as you know, the absolute origin is given in math, and we can calculate coordinates by being given absolute coordinates for each point. That is the absolute coordinate. They are related to logic. For example, suppose you and I promised to meet at the station, and you say you are walking in the south to meet at the station. Then, if I say you have to walk in the south, you might think I am kind of an idiot. This is the negative effect of relative coordinates that logic does not make sense because we see different points and judge based on our viewpoint.

It is the same thing with the business strategy meeting that the marketing department recommends applying marketing strategy and the technical department recommends applying technological development to yield a profit. They tell opinions from their perspective based on their knowledge, and the meeting takes a lot of time to make a decision after all. Therefore, it is crucial to set an absolute coordinate that everyone can share coordinate system to discuss and to prevent the negative effect. The attitude that tries to match the coordinate system of thinking is a part of logical thinking.

The history of logic

The history of logic originates from Ancient Greek, and Aristotle contributed to the development of logic. The logic of Aristotle, his theory of syllogism, has had an enormous influence on Western thought. According to Wikipedia, A syllogism is a kind of logical argument that applies deductive reasoning to arrive at a conclusion based on two propositions that are asserted or assumed to be true. In its earliest form, defined by Aristotle in the Prior Analytics, from the combination of a general statement (the major premise) and a specific statement (the minor premise), a conclusion is deduced. For example, knowing that all men are mortal (major premise) and that Socrates is a man (minor premise), we may validly conclude that Socrates is mortal. Syllogistic arguments are usually represented in a three-line form:

1, All men are mortal.
2, Socrates is a man.
3, Therefore, Socrates is mortal.

According to Aristotle, there are three factors to convince people; logos which means logic, ethos, which means speaker’s personality, and pathos which means listener’s emotion. Only logic cannot convince someone. For example, a fraud that lacks ethos cannot convince you if you know he/she is a fraud who tries to deceive you. When you have a stomach ache, logical negotiation cannot be successful because the action ignores pathos to convince you.

Analytical philosophy has been a close relationship with logic. Analytical philosophy is a philosophy that emerged at the beginning of the twenty century and compared with Continental philosophy. Continental philosophy is a philosophy based on literary-oriented thinking in short, and a representative example is Existentialism and Phenomenology. Existentialism is a philosophy, considering such as “why do human-being exist,” “What is the purpose to live on for human-being.” Analytical philosophy is a philosophy that sets the purpose of clarification of logical thinking and based on science-oriented thinking. To digress for a moment, you can comprehend and organize the philosophy when you see the purpose of the philosophy, whether what does the philosophy focus on.

A famous logic in analytical philosophy is symbolic logic. Symbolic Logic is similar to math, expressing the truth of the proposition using “and” and “or.” For example, assume you decide to play soccer if it is sunny tomorrow, and A is a proposition that it is sunny today, and B is a proposition that you play soccer. If you do not play soccer even though you decided to play soccer when it is sunny today, that means it is not sunny today. In analytical logic, it can be expressed like this below.

((A → B) ^ (¬(A)) → (¬(A))
^ means “and”
¬ means “not”

Symbolic logic contributed to form a logical circuit of computational calculation. Josef Johann Wittgenstein, an Austrian-British analytical philosopher, devised a logical and perfect language. The perfect language assumed that a proposition with a combination of factors and symbols is like Symbolic Logic. However, this language cannot describe the symbol itself. Therefore, there are things that can be described in this world, and we might good not to talk about them.

Logical positivism is a movement that the Vienna Circle deploys based on the influence of Josef Johann Wittgenstein. It states that everything can be described with a combination of simple sentences and logical symbols, no matter how the theory is complicated. The Vienna Circle is like a referee that judges the validity, whether it is scientific or not. Positivism was criticized owing to an excessive science-oriented principle subsequently. In a nutshell, the meaning of logic in philosophy is an approaching method to judge truth by piling up conceptions step by step.

Why did logical thinking become important?

Logical thinking becomes popular for business people because they have to do presentations to convince someone to build consensus in the modern age. Logical thinking is used to share information because it makes the contents clear and understandable. Therefore, logical thinking is convenient to form a consensus with others in the meeting. Logical thinking contributes to making a positive first impression. It is said that a first impression connects with an evaluation of a person irrespective of how much the person has a skill or knowledge. Hence, logical thinking can be helpful to receive a positive evaluation.

As Aristotle supposed, logic is one of the factors to convince someone. All companies run businesses, and it is paramount for the company to convince someone to yield a profit. Logical thinking becomes indispensable in the surroundings. In other words, logical thinking becomes a weapon for salespersons. Logical thinking is effective for presentation and fosters others to convey information for a majority of people because the presentation follows logic which makes information clear.

Besides, the interview of the consultant industry checks the ability of logical thinking through Fermi problem (a method to estimate an approximation based on information that is accessible relatively when an exact number cannot know) and case interview (It is said an application of Fermi problem and is an interview that leads in the answer of the question whilst hypothesizing a valid theory by offering a question that cannot answer). This emergence of various interviews enhances the demand for logical thinking.

 Logical thinking that business people and consultant equip

There are two types of logic in logical thinking; vertical and horizontal logic.

Vertical logic is a consistency of logic and indicates causation, such as if A happens, then B will happen. For example,    purchase percentages of ice cream increase when it is summer. Then, this causation will be established like this: it is hot(A). Therefore, purchase percentages of ice cream will increase(B). We can say there is a causation between heat whether and increase the percentage of purchasing ice cream.

Horizontal logic is a logic of horizontal connection and means completeness that does not leak and overlap, and covers whole information. For example, I talk about the history of the soccer team in England for you. However, what do you think if I talk about only Machester United? You might want to listen to the other team’s explanation. Then, I have to talk about other soccer teams for you such as Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Everton, etc. Accordingly, completeness is more logical than biased because it covers the other factors of contents. Moreover, this conception of horizontal logic is called MECE (Mutually Exclusive, Collectively Exhaustive) in logical thinking. For instance, assume we categorize human-being with MECE. Classifying men and women is MECE. However, classifying human -being into elderly people and children is not MECE because there is a leakage that adults have to be included. Next, categorizing human-being into men, women, and children is not MECE because there is an overlap such as a male child or a female child.

MECE provides us a way to overlook the whole thing without leakage and overlap and to consider a thing objectively. For example, you manage a hamburger shop and estimates the sale with MECE by factorizing the number of seats, rotation speed, customer price, business hours, and utilization. Then, you can examine each factor and do a constructive discussion to increase sales. However, it is not good to stick to MECE because we collect information and factorize wrong estimations arbitrarily. For example, suppose we factorize a person who has exceptional ability such as the person equals confidence X skills X energy to take action. It is impossible to estimate the person’s ability with MECE because the formula might have a high potential to overlap, and it is complicated to distinguish.         

There is Framework in logical thinking. Framework is a combination of various business methods and is made from the principle of MECE. Framework is produced to save the amount of thinking. It is inefficient to invent a way of strategic planning every time when the company devises a business strategy. So, it was necessary to develop reusable knowledge, and the method spread universally.

The conception of Framework is similar to constructivism. According to Wikipedia, Constructivism is a view in the philosophy of science that maintains that scientific knowledge is constructed by the scientific community, which seeks to measure and construct models of the natural world. The constructivist, natural science, therefore, consists of mental constructs that aim to explain sensory experience and measurements. Framework assumes that there is a system(structure) in the corporate management, and each company runs management by following the system.

As examples of types of Framework, there is 3C analysis and 4P analysis. 3C analysis is a way to analyze the external environment from three perspectives; Customer, Company, and Competitor. When you think about how a company yields a profit, it is essential to consider not only your company but also the external environment, such as the power of competitors. Thus, companies organize the external environment with 3C analysis. 4P analysis is a way to analyze the marketing strategy from four perspectives; Product, Price, Place, and Promotion. 3C analysis focuses on analysis for external factors. On the other hand, 4P analysis focuses on analysis for internal factors. You have to be careful when you use Framework because the purpose will vary depending on the situation, subjects.

When business people use Framework, they attempt to elucidate factors or relations by cutting off time cross-section of companies. The thing that cuts off time cross-section is called static or dynamic time cross-section, or synchronic or diachronic time cross-section. However, companies are like living things and change over time. Therefore, historical thinking is important to clarify the dynamic formation process from the viewpoints of past, modern, and future companies. For example, you are an examinee for a top university. To pass the admission exam, solving a lot of past questions can be the best measure to pass the exam. This knowledge based on the structural logic that can be applied and reusable for the majority of people cannot always be applied. If you do not learn knowledge of math, it is better for you to learn the basics of math first rather than solving complicated questions of math. Thus, there is a timing for an examinee who has to learn basic things or who should solve past questions. Historical thinking identifies the timing.

The trap of logical thinking

Logical thinking itself is not bad because it contributes to developing various academics. However, people who believe in the effect of logical thinking firmly have to remind that logical thinking cannot solve every question. There are three assumptions for the people.

The first is that they assume that they can refute or convince someone only with logic. For example, if a person who has the experience of being arrested due to drunk driving warns you not to do drunk driving, what do you think? You will think the person is not convincing and not listen to the person’s word. This is because we cannot separate and think about a person(a person’s background, a person’s personality, a person’s status, etc.) and logic(a person’s messages). We cannot refute and convince someone with only logic and need to have a factor of ethos(speaker’s personality) as Aristotle proposed. However, people who are stick to logic heavily focus on the speech of content, and they assume there is no relationship between the people’s personality and the speech of content. On top of that, the logic people make worse situations when they attempt to argue a discussion. The logic people will insist proudly; “you are changing issue” or “it is sophistry.” Logical correctness is not everything. We have to consider personality and human relationships and judge comprehensively. Hence, it is important to consider various factors and not to have an assumption that logical thinking can solve all problems when we convince someone and not to succumb to the power of logical thinking when people convince us.   

The second is that they assume that logical thinking is righteous and perfect. We include arbitrary assumptions into logical thinking. For example, suppose the sun was observed that it rose 10 billion times from the east, and we found out a principle that the sun rose from the east. However, the principle is also an assumption because we are not sure whether the sun rises from the east tomorrow also. Philosophers consider this kind of thing. We believe that rising the sun from the east is an unshakable Physical law. This is because we assume the sun rises from the east from experience. Logic has leaps and contradictions to some extent. It is conceivable that logical people have logical leaps, contradictions, and arbitrary assumptions when being able to apply these assumptions for the law of Physics. We have to notice that logical thinking contains logical leaps, contradictions, and assumptions, and it is imperative for us to introspect ourselves whether we have excessive logic.     


The third is that they assume that communicating logically is righteous and perfect when interacting with others. Logical constructivism sets a value on logical communication at any given time. We are in an environment that we have to be logical to live in a society. This kind of notion, sufficient reasons are required for all things to be so, is called the principle of sufficient reason that is full of rationale and meaning, advocated by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. Logical presentation, such as saying conclusion first, is a kind of trend in the logical world we live in. This conclusion-first presentation is helpful for us in fact because we can comprehend the rest of the presentation while comparing it with a proposed conclusion. However, we should not talk logically in every situation, such as daily talking. For example, you order pasta and say, “I have never eaten this kind of tasty paste. This is the most delicious pasta I have ever eaten.” After that, if I say, “It does not make sense because you judge the tastiness subjectively and there is no evidence and data the paste is the most delicious pasta,” what do you feel? You might not feel good. A straightforward and logical conversation is not all of the things. Literary and poetic expression is required for human activity.

There are two types of philosophy; clear reasoning that elucidates thinking logically, such as analytic philosophy, and thinking inspiration that enlightens thought in the form of literacy expression. We seek excessive logical communication for others. The listener should not seek logic too much. Conversely, we should not truncate redundant remark just because it is intangible. Furthermore, the speaker should recognize there are diverse expressions, not only logic but also rhetoric and literary expression style.   

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