Book Review: Sherlock Holmes – The Complete Novels & Stories by Arthur Conan Doyle

A Veritable Critical Thinking Continuum Wrapped Up In Fiction

SherlockHolmes

TheBreakaway | BreakawayConciousness
Zy Marquiez
March 20, 2017

Ironically, it was through the most serendipitous of circumstances that this novel was suggested to me.  Following a lengthy discourse with my economics professor a long time ago in which I asked what he thought was the best way to learn logic, he, in his classic fashion, suggests not a textbook, but Sherlock Holmes!  At the time, thought it was a joke myself.  Interestingly enough, he wasn’t joking.

Here, now, many years later, the adventures of Sherlock Holmes were the way that yours truly was introduced to logic, and great fiction to boot, too.

Arthur Conan Doyle’s magnum opus, Sherlock Holmes, features characters that are rather unique but very believable; the setting is always top-tier and authentic, the mysteries abound, and there’s puzzles wrapped in enigmas all woven into phenomenal fiction as well.  This is one of the great reasons rereading this series is so easy and serves as a fictional fall back for reading, especially when a lot of modern fiction is quite lacking.

In more modern times, there have been great mystery writers, and many imitators in countless ways, but none has truly come close to creating a fun, readable, witty, critical thinking, logical, and intriguing series in the way that Arthur Conan Doyle did when the Sherlock Holmes series.  Those who attempt to follow in the author’s footsteps fall quite short, even when the authors have a template of what worked in the past.  This is why, after my third reading of this series, it’s still a great as ever, and nothing really compares.  And what’s more, there’s always something to learn from it, too.

Let’s boil it down.  Great fiction is great, because it allows wonder, and sparks the imagination like nothing else.  Sherlock Holmes definitely creates an auspicious and believable adventure upon which any curious mind would love to venture.

This fictional series does way more than that though.  If it had only sparked imagination, it would have been a really good, or even great series.  But even so, it offers so much more.  Sherlock Holmes is a veritable crashcourse into how to critically think and employ logic, wrapped up in a fantastic fictional package that is as timeless as it is robust.

For me, this book falls within what Mortimer J. Adler & Charles Van Doren referred to as the top tier of books.  As the authors note in their landmark How To Read A Book – The Classic Guide To Intelligent Reading:

“Of the few thousand such books there is a much smaller number – here the number is probably less than a hundred – that cannot be exhausted by even the very best reading you can manage.  How do you recognize this?  Again it is rather mysterious, but when you have closed the book after reading analytically to the best of your ability, and place it back on the shelf, you have a sneaking suspicion that there is more there than you got….In fact, you cannot put your finger on it, but you know it is there.  You find that you cannot forget the book, that you keep thinking about it and your reaction to it.  Finally, you return to it.  And remarkable things happen.”[1][Bold Emphasis Added]

Furthermore, the authors elucidate:

“…if the book belongs to the highest class – the very small number of inexhaustible books – you discover on returning that the book seems to have grown with you.  You see new things in it – whole new sets of new things – that you did not see before.  Your previous understanding of the book is not invalidated; it is just as true as it ever was, and in the same ways that it was true before.  But now it is true in still other ways, too.”[2] [Bold Emphasis Added]

For me, this book – all of its fictional stories – accomplishes all of the above and more.

Sure, there are many other books that offer many life lessons, and the classics are riddled with them. However, none teach the individual the foundation for critical thinking and logic like Sherlock Holmes does.  This is why this stands above and beyond countless other books when it comes to those two crucial points for me personally.

If you homeschool, if you’re an autodidact, a self-directed learner, or simply someone that wants to read a great book, then read this.  You will not regret it.

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Footnotes:

[1] Mortimer J. Adler & Charles Van Doren, How To Read A Book – The Classic Guide To Intelligent Reading, p. 333.
[2] Ibid., p. 333.
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This article is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Zy Marquiez and TheBreakaway.wordpress.com.
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About The Author:

Zy Marquiez is an avid book reviewer, researcher, an open-minded skeptic, yogi, humanitarian, and freelance writer who studies regularly subjects like Consciousness, Education, Creativity, The Individual, Ancient History & Ancient Civilizations, Forbidden Archaeology, Big Pharma, Alternative Health, Space, Geoengineering, Social Engineering, Propaganda, and much more.

His own personal blog is BreakawayConsciousnessBlog.wordpress.com where his personal work is shared, while TheBreakaway.wordpress.com serves as a media portal which mirrors vital information usually ignored by mainstream press, but still highly crucial to our individual understanding of various facets of the world.

 

Book Review: Socratic Logic [V3.1] by Peter Kreeft PhD

An Indispensable Piece For The Autodidact; A Vital Component To Education For Individuals Of All Ages

socraticlogic

TheBreakaway
Zy Marquiez
January 17, 2017

Having not taken a logic course since the university, attempting to find a book on logic that would be ‘worth its weight in gold’ took a bit of time, but this particular book has more than delivered in spades.

Socratic Logic by Peter Kreeft PhD is an essential reading for anyone who values the use of logic.  In fact, going one step further, this book should be read by everyone, because we could all benefit from it in many ways.  Mostly though, most of us have not been taught logic in elementary nor high school, and rarely in college, especially how it was taught in the past.   This is taking place because logic, as well as the trivium have been nigh completely removed from most school curriculums and when they do have these courses, they are merely a facsimile of it, and nowhere near the quality of logic taught in times past.  You can conjecture yourself why this has taken place.

Moving forward, this particular book showcases a very in-depth approach into all the nuances that logic involves, while also keeping it simple so to speak.   Describing the book as ‘simple’ might be a misnomer, but when compared to The Organon by Aristotle, which is a much more complex/demanding read, this seems like a ‘walk in the park’.

Kreeft makes it a point to give the individual everything they might need to comprehend logic, sprinkled generously with many real world examples, historical quotes and issues that will make the book quite practical in its application once the concepts are mastered and implemented into one’s repertoire.

Socratic Logic serves as an excellent jump-off point into the realm of logic due to the pragmatic approach taken by Kreeft.

As the author himself states, the book is: simple, user friendly, practical, linguistic, readable, traditional, commonsensical, philosophical, constructive, clearly divided, flexible, short, selective, interactive, holistic, and classroom oriented [if the individual so decides], and those descriptions were rather apt.

Conveniently, the book also features a differentiation where one can find the basic sections (B) and the philosophical sections (P) marked in the table of contents.  This helps greatly in focusing on whatever specific area the reader might want to hone their skills in.

Also of note, the book – as mentioned by Kreef – may be used in at least 10 different ways:

[1] the basics only
[2] the basic sections plus the philosophical sections
[3] the basic sections plus the more advanced sections in logic
[4] the basic sections plus the practical application sections
[5] the basic sections plus any two of these three additions
[6] all of the book
[7] all or some of it supplemented by a text in symbolic logic
[8] all or some of it supplemented by a text in inductive logic
[9] all or some of it supplemented by a text in rhetoric or informal logic
[10] all or some of it supplement by readings in and applications to the great philosophers

What one gathers from the book will depend greatly on how much time one chooses to spend on it.  Socratic Logic may be studied independently for an autodidact, or used for schooling.  The book can be studied in single class lessons, once a week class lessons, semester formats, etc.

Another useful element in the book is that if featured a healthy amount of exercises throughout the book in order to further buttress one’s understanding of the material.  This definitely helps hammer in the concepts shown in the book with precision.

Taking all into account, Socratic Logic should have been the book taught in school.  In fact, it should be taught to everyone because our society lacks logic in myriad ways.  Then again, that is what happens with the removal of classical education and logic from the common-to-the-rotten-core type of school system we’re all “lucky” to have.

In the information age not being educated and not knowing foundational pieces of essential knowledge such as logic that venture into every crevice of our lives is folly.

And if conventional schooling continues on the downhill grade it’s at, knowledge in areas such as this will be worth more than its weight in gold, and that’s not an understatement.  With the student loans costing over a trillion dollars, and with real education dissipating right before our eyes within the conventional establishment, taking your education into your hands is not only responsible, but vital.

To seek or further one’s education is a choice, and luckily Socratic Logic makes it an easy to choice to make.

 

13 Great Reasons To Study Logic

logic3
TheBreakaway
Zy Marquiez
February 1, 2017

In age where the public dumbing down is reaching new lows [Read Here For More], a much more proactive approach to an individuals education is vitally needed.  This will certainly aid them in gravitating away from the crumbling education paradigm that keeps failing us, because, as John Taylor Gatto stated in A Different Kind Of Teacher [Review Here]:

Schools were designed by Horace Mann, E.L. Thorndike, and others to be instruments of scientific management of a mass populationSchools are intended to produce, through the application of formulas, formulaic beings whose behavior can be predicted and controlledTo a very great extent, schools succeed in doing this.”[1][Bold Emphasis Added]

In other words, school system is about social engineering the masses, and not producing educated individuals.

Furthermore, as Professor Patrick Deneen shared in his landmark piece, How A Generation Lost Its Common Culture:

“Our students’ ignorance is not a failing of the educational system – it is its crowning achievement. Efforts by several generations of philosophers and reformers and public policy experts — whom our students (and most of us) know nothing about — have combined to produce a generation of know-nothings”[2][Emphasis Added]

It isn’t by accident that the school system has reached the state of decline it has.

Knowing that, what’s an individual to do?  Go back to the roots.

For this, there is no better place to go but to the realm of logic.

Why is Logic so vital?

To answer this poignant question, let’s take a look at the work of Philosopher Peter Kreeft Ph.D has to to say.  Kreeft, in his phenemonal book called Socratic Logic [Review Here] outlines the many reasons why logic is important to an individuals growth.

Kreeft minces no words in stating that in the past, most students were privy to was called “the old logic”.  Due to this, those individuals were much better prepared to “think, read, write, organize, and argue much better than they can today”.[3]

Getting back to classical education, which employed The Trivium – composed of Logic, Grammar & Rhetoric – is what will ultimately help individuals break away from the downward avalanche public schooling is manifesting.  And Logic undoubtedly is an integral component of The Trivium.

Please ruminate at length regarding what follows.  It shows how and why logic seeps into all areas of life.

Below follow salient reasons why to study Logic:

13 Good Reason Why You Should Study Logic

1. Logic brings order.

Logic builds the mental habit of thinking in an orderly way.

No course is more practical than logic, for no matter what you are thinking about, you are thinking, and logic orders and clarifies your thinking.  No matter what your thought’s content, it will be clearer when it has a more logical form.  The principles of thinking logically can be applied to all thinking and to every field.

2.  Logic brings power.  Logic brings the power of proof and persuasion.

The power of logic comes from the fact that it is the science and art of argument.  Any power can be either rightly used or abused.  This power of logic is rightly used to win the truth and defeat error; it is wrongly used to win the argument and defeat your opponent.

3.  Logic helps reading. Logic will help you in education and learning, for “logic will help you to read any book more clearly and effectively.  And you are always going to be reading books; books are the single most effective technological invention in the history of education.

On the basis of over 40 years of full time college teaching of almost 20,000 students at 20 different schools, I am convinced that one of the reasons for the steep decline in students’ reading ability is the decline in the teaching of traditional logic.

4.  Logic helps writing.  Logic will also help you to write more clearly and effectively, for clear writing and clear thinking are a “package deal”: the presence or absence of either one brings the presence or absence of the other.  Muddled writing fosters muddled thinking, and muddled thinking fosters muddled writing.  Clear writing fosters clear thinking, and clear thinking fosters clear writing.  Common sense expects this, and scientific studies confirm it.  Writing skills have declined dramatically in the 40 years or so since symbolic logic has replaced Aristotelian logic, and I am convinced this is no coincidence.

It is simply impossible to communicate clearly and effectively without thinking clearly and effectively.  And that means logic.”

5.  Logic brings happiness.  In a small but significant way, logic can even help you attain happiness.  We all seek happiness all the time because no matter what else we seek, we seek it because we think it will be a means to happiness, or a part of happiness, either for ourselves or for those we love.  And no one seeks happiness for any other end; no one says he wants to be happy in order to be rich, or wise, or healthy.  But we seek riches, or wisdom, or health, in order to be happier.

How can logic help us attain happiness?  Here is a very logical answer to that question:

(1)  When we attain what we desire, we are happy
(2)  And whatever we desire, whether Heaven or a hamburger, it is more likely that we will attain if it we think more clearly.
(3)  And logic helps us to think more clearly.
(4)  Therefore logic helps us to be happy.

Even fantasy is not illogical.  In fact, according to the greatest master of this art, J.R.R. Tolkien, “Fantasy is a rational, not an irrational, activity…creative fantasy is founded upon a hard recognition that things are so in the world as it appears under the sun; on a recognition of fact, but not a slavery to it.  So upon logic was founded the nonsense that displays itself in the tales and rhymes of Lewis Carroll.  If men really could not distinguish between frogs and men, fairy stories about frog-kings would not have arisen.”

6.  Logic helps with religious faith.  Even religion, though it goes beyond logic, cannot go against it; if it did, it would literally be unbelievable.  Some wit defined “faith” as “believing what you know isn’t true.”  But we simply cannot believe an idea to be true that we know that has been proven to be false by a valid logical proof.

It is true that faith goes beyond what can be proved by logical reasoning alone.  That is why believing in any religion is a free personal choice, and some make that choice while others do not, while logical reasoning is equally compelling for all.  However, logic can add faith in at least three ways.

First, logic can often clarify what is believed, and define it.

Second, logic can deduce the necessary consequences of the belief and apply it to difficult situations.

Third, even if logical arguments cannot prove all that faith believes, they can give firmer reasons for faith than feeling, desire, mood, fashion, family or social pressure, conformity, or inertia.

7.  Logic helps attain wisdom.  “Philosophy” means “the love of wisdom.”  Although logic alone cannot make you wise, it can help.  For logic is one of philosophy’s main instruments.  Logic is to philosophy what telescopes are to astronomy or microscopes to biology or math to physics.

8.  Democracy.  There are even crucial social and political reasons for studying logic.  As a best-selling modern logic text says, “the success of democracy depends, in the end, on the reliability of the judgments we citizens make, and hence upon our capacity and determination to weigh arguments and evidence rationally.”  As Thomas Jefferson said, “In a republican nation, whose citizens are to be lead by reason and persuasion and not by force, the art of reason becomes of the first importance.”[Copi & Cohen, Logic, 10th edition, Prentice-Hall, 1998.).

9.  Defining logic’s limits.  Does logic have limits?  Yes, but we need logic to recognize and definite logic’s limits.  Logic has severe limits.  We need much more than logic even in our thinking.  For instance, we need intuition, too.  But logic helps us recognize this distinction.

10.  Logic helps in testing authority.  We need authorities because no individual can discover everything autonomously  We do in fact rely on the human community, and therefore on the authority of others – parents, teachers, textbooks, “experts,” friends, history, and tradition – for a surprising large portion of what we know – perhaps up to 99%, if it can be quantified.  And that is another reason we need logic: we need to have good reasons for believing our authorities, for in the end it is you the individual who must decide which authorities to trust.

11.  Logic helps recognizing contradictions.  Logic teaches us which ideas contradict each other.  If we are confused about that, we will either be too exclusive (that is, we will think beliefs logically exclude each other when they do not) or too inclusive (that is, we will believe two things that cannot both be true).

12.  Logic brings certainty.  Logic has “outer limits”; there are many things it can’t give you.  But logic has no “inner limits”: like math, it never breaks down.  Just as 2 plus 2 are unfailingly 4, so if A is B and B is C, then A is unfailingly C, Logic is timeless and unchangeable.  It is certain.

And logic never becomes obsolete. The principles of logic are timelessly true.

13.  Logic helps one attain truth.  Logic helps us to find truth, and truth is its own end: it is worth knowing for its own sake.

Logic helps us to find truth, though it is not sufficient of itself to find truth.  It helps us especially (1) by demanding that we define our terms so that we understand what we mean, and (2) by demanding that we give good reasons, arguments, proofs.[4]

In the age of information, ignorance is no excuse.

And Logic, more than anything else, helps eviscerate that ignorance in a way that nothing else can.

That’s exactly why its been removed from the public school system, and exactly why all individuals need to employ it into their repertoire.

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Sources & References:

[1] John Taylor Gatto, A Different Kind Of Teacher, p. 16.
[2] Professor Patrick Deneen, How A Generation Lost Its Culture
[3] Peter Kreeft Ph.D., Socratic Logic, p. 1.
[4] Ibid., pp. 1-7.