Just because something is logical does not make it true. Here is an example: Premise one: All men are pigeons. Premise two: Socrates is a man. Conclusion: Therefore, Socrates is a pigeon. This is a logically correct series of statements; however, most would agree that Socrates was not a pigeon.
Unfortunately, I cannot speak for everyone. This reveals the limitation of logical reasoning in the pursuit of truth. Logic requires statements that are assumed to be true to determine more truths.
What is truth?
If logic is the tool used to discover truth, but relies upon a foreknowledge of truth, then the foundation of reason is assumption.
As Xenophabes wrote, “But as for certain truth, no man has known it, nor will he know it; neither of the gods, Nor yet of all the things of which I speak. And even if by chance he were to utter the final truth, he would himself not know it; For all is but a woven web of guesses."
If the ideas upon which our reasoning is based are untrue, false conclusions can be reached. Yet one could question every idea infinitely, like a child forever asking the question, “Why?”. Eventually adults respond, “Just because”. Is there any unquestionable truth that can serve as a premise? Rene Descartes thought he had silenced the irksome question with the phrase “I think therefore I am”.
Whilst this satisfied Descartes, philosophers who still embrace scepticism would argue the phrase is another “just because” in disguise. Without a self-evident truth upon which reasoning can be based, are we then stranded in a sea of subjectivity? It would appear so.
Whilst the land of objective truth seems to be out of sight, a raft can be built. One must do as Descartes did and choose a truth to believe. This original truth can be built upon using logical reasoning. It cannot be objective. However, it can be well reasoned, cohesive, beautiful, and useful for thriving.
To refuse to choose an assumption and recklessly pursue scepticism is counterproductive, and worse, it is fiction.
One can never fully rid themselves of assumption, and to do so is to assume it is desirable and thus be self-contradictory and illogical. As previously demonstrated, you cannot be certain about the truth, but you can be certain about your logical reasoning.
Processing and limits
When recognising the fact that logic is how we process information to discover more information, the limits of using logical reasoning to understand truth become clear. Yet there are advantages in acknowledging the uncertainty inherent in subjective creatures trying to grasp objective truth. One is no longer deceived by the illusion of certainty and becomes free to choose their framework for truth.
Efforts that were previously diverted by a search for an undiscoverable foundational truth can be invested in perfecting the process of logical reasoning to form a coherent worldview. Incredibly, abandoning the illusion of our knowledge of truth frees us to pursue it more.
Frances Ducommun is from Brisbane Australia, a student of philosophy and artistic endeavors. She thinks she's funny, is constantly covered in cat hair and will substitute sleep with reading if no one keeps an eye on her.