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Logic is Important?

When I started out with these Web pages, I had to decide what to write about. Logic is one of my lifelong interests, and I have this feeling that its importance is generally underrated (tautologies are content free aren't they?).

So I was thinking in terms of putting together a story on why logic is important. In this story I was not planning on arguing that all of logic is equally important. There are plenty of topics in logic which so far as I know get just as much attention as they deserve. Linear logic might be one such.

A general argument on the merits of logic in general will not serve my purposes. My interest is in arguments for work in logic, based on applications external to logic which provide a basis for arguing relative merits of different kinds of work in logic.

In this process I concluded that a distinction had to be drawn between ends in themselves and ends as means.

So I started to think about what is important in itself.

By comparison with anything to do with logic, which generally has to be sought out in specialist libraries, signs of things which are really important, in themselves rather than as contibuting to some other end, are all around us.

Here are a few I just stumbled across once I decided to pay attention.

Churchill at Chartwell

I went along to Chartwell this summer, the home of Churchill preserved by the National Trust. This was more interesting than I was expecting. The exhibit on Churchill which concluded the tour of the house was not only interesting, but very moving. The conduct of the second world war really mattered to many millions. The values for which the allies fought, freedom, democracy, humanity arguably ends in themselves.

The Irish Potato Famine

Early September (1995) I passed through Shannon airport in need of some reading en-route to Boston. In the bookstore I found a book on the Irish Famine, The Great Hunger. What this told me, most persuasively, was that through ignorance, incompetence and indifference Britain imposed on Ireland atrocities more appalling than the systematic malevolance of Hitler could later inflict on the Jews. Indifference to starvation is still with us today.

The Shakers

When I got to looking around Massachusetts, the Shakers were on the itinerary. We visited the Shaker village preserved in the Berkshire's.

The Shaker's are one among many religious sects who clearly had very definite and strong views about what is important, and about what our ultimate ends should be.


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