Op ed

Come let us think together in logic (part 2)

“To be born is to come into the world weighed down with…enigmas and an inextinguishable sense of exile”. This is what the Nigerian born writer, Ben Okri once said.  He also wrote that, ‘the world seems to be a nightmare, a fiendish labyrinth of crossroads calculated to lead us astray’.

In this world, everyone is in a mad quest for something. And, written (either boldly or silently) on the face of every living human is a desperate desire for something that seems to be illusive. Imagine standing by the market place or on a busy street and cautiously observing the people, the hustle and bustle, the hullabaloos and the hankering and bantering that characterize person to person, group to group or person to group interactions. There is always this expression on each person’s looks. One would notice arguments, disagreements, hastiness, puzzlement, elation, melancholy, worry, indecisiveness, apprehension, wonder, desirous, discomfiture, anguish, helplessness, needy, annoyance, satisfaction etc.  But there is one single thing underlying the look in everyone’s face, the search for TRUTH. This is the ultimate human search which everyone scavenges for consciously or unconsciously. Even Pilate who sentenced Jesus to death once echoed out ‘Truth, what is that’ (John 18:38)

Here is what Francis Bacon (1561-1626); one of the great thinkers of the European renaissance has to say on his personal quest for the truth of things: ‘No contentment is comparable to the standing upon the vantage point of truth’. We all search for truth about ourselves, for religious truth, for social truth, for economic truth, for scientific truth, for philosophical truth, for political truth and most of all, for cosmic or universal truth. Some truths are self-evident and others are reached by inner process of thoughts otherwise known as logic. It is this search that had led us to assume different disciplines in life.

In the previous writing, we posed a rhetorical question regarding what truth is. Some thinkers have defined TRUTH as the conformity of the judgment of the intellect with reality. Conversely, something is FALSE if its reality does not conform to the judgment of the intellect. To be categorized as true or lie, every affirmation must be given a reality check. For instance:

                   ‘Nnamdi Azikiwe is still living’ said Helen
                   ‘I shook hands with Obafemi Awolowo today’ said Helen
                   ‘10+10 would give you 90’ said Helen
                   ‘Snakes have hands and legs’ said Helen

The four statements made by Helen are all false statements or lies. This is because; they do not conform to the judgment of the intellect. Their verifications would certainly and eventually end up in the negatives. Thus they contradict simple observational common sense. And there is no way that the human reason (mind) will accrue to their factuality. Therefore, Helen had lied or had made false statement that is not worth believing or relying on. Again, listen to the following statements.

                   ‘1+1 gives you 2’ said Juliet
                   ‘Humans cannot survive without Oxygen’ said Juliet
                   ‘Water is a vital source of life on earth’ said Juliet
                   ‘Every human person inherited a genetic makeup’ said Juliet

All the above statements made by Juliet are verifiably true. They do not contradict the simple judgment of the intellect. Rather they affirm, confirm and validate them. Therefore, Juliet is speaking the truth as contrary to falsification of reality.  In searching for truth, reality them becomes the concrete object of the mind. Truth is measured against reality or facts. It is the mind’s intrinsic duty to evaluate and pass affirmative or negative judgments over them. Searching for truth is therefore searching for a reality. And when the supposed reality is absent or fails to conform to intellect’s reached verdict, falsity becomes the case. But if present, then a legitimate true is established.

It is also worthy of note that there are statements, claims or affirmations whose factual certainty cannot be established immediately. They therefore fall on the levels of PROBABILITY until verification is made and factuality or falsification established. For instance:
                 ‘I know a family where every child has two heads each’ said Jude, a Nigerian Journalist
                  ‘The queen of England is in my house right now’ said Jude, a Nigerian journalist

The statements above are treated as falling under probability. They might be true and they might also be false. This is because; the probabilities of their factuality are not entirely removed. The probabilities of its falsity or negation are not impossible either. Genetic malfunction could cause a sort of deformity where a single body could develop two heads. And on the second case, Jude, who is a journalist could have every personal reason to be linked with the queen of England. And on the negative, Jude as a reporter (in the above statements) might just be creating a public sensation by falsifying statements for easy sale of newspapers. So to obtain the truths in Jude’s statements or affirmations, genuine verification is needed here as a MUST.  It is reasonably good to check whether someone’s statement is true, false (lie) or probable before agreeing or disagreeing. Next week, we would deal with detecting biases, prejudices, clichés and stereotypes when it comes to statements of truth or its negation.

Come let us think together in logic (part 1) – Read the part one

TO BE CONTINUED

References
B. Okri: The Famished Road. Anchor books, Doubleday, New York, (1993)
Francis Bacon: The New Organon, (1620), edited by Lisa Jardine & Michael Silverthorne

 

CSN: 65803-2008-20-34

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