Becoming a logical person is not just a matter of memorizing and applying formulas, or learning how to tell the difference between a valid and an invalid syllogism. Rather, it involves cultivating intellectual habits and skills that, though they may seem simple and obvious, are only achieved after years of struggle and education.
In his book Being Logical: A Guide to Good Thinking, venerable philosophy professor D.Q. McInerny lays out the following 10 habits that people must cultivate if they are to think clearly and effectively:
1) They’re Attentive.
“Many mistakes in reasoning are explained by the fact that we are not paying sufficient attention to the situation in which we find ourselves,” writes McInerny. The logical person has thus trained himself to always pay attention to the details—even in situations that are familiar—lest he make a careless judgment.
2) They Get the Facts Straight.
“If a given fact is an actually existing thing to which we have access, then the surest way to establish its factualness is to put ourselves in its presence. We then have direct evidence of it. If we cannot establish factualness by direct evidence, we must rigorously test the authenticity and reliability of whatever indirect evidence we appeal to so that, on the basis of that evidence, we can confidently establish the factualness of the thing.”
3) They Ensure That Their Ideas Are Clear.
Our ideas are the means by which our minds understand the objective world. Clear ideas faithfully reflect that world, whereas unclear ideas give us a distorted view of the world. The logical person is constantly testing his ideas to make sure that they accurately depict their objects.
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