|THE TEACHING OF LOGIC.|
UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS.
IT is a well-known fact that logic is not so generally studied to-day as formerly, and that, on the whole, the attitude towards its educational value is one of indifference. If, however, we try to account for its present status in our colleges by granting that logic is an inherently difficult and uninteresting subject, our explanation is both inadequate and unfair to the subject itself. True, logic does require a distinctively analytic and reflective quality of mind. It does not afford the possibility that some subjects do, of getting through it by leaning upon memory, or by appropriating the thoughts of another; but, on the other hand, it constantly demands a conscious effort to think, in the absence of those substitutes for thinking things out for themselves which the weak and lazy-minded resort to. True, logic can make no exclusive claim to being an intellectual discipline. Other academic studies furnish just as severe tests of mental power. The real truth of the matter is that the formal conception and abstract presentation of logic are responsible for a large share of its unattractiveness and needless difficulties.
What I have to write has reference only to elementary or introductory logic. As to the metaphysics or the higher problems of logic I have nothing to say, in this connection, save to express my firm belief that the less an elementary course in logic has to do with metaphysical questions the better. In fact, the discredit into which logic has fallen is in part due to the teaching of the subject from the philosophic standpoint. To hold the place that it deserves in the college curriculum, logic must be shown to have some practical value. I know that this word is in disfavor. We are told of the mathematician who thanked heaven that he had at last discovered a truth which no one would ever be able to make any use of. Perhaps this seeker after truth was but voicing the common antipathy for the word practical. If it is a hopelessly obnoxious term, why not adopt a word used by President Eliot and then always aim to make truth serviceable? It is my purpose in this article to point out some changes in the mode of presenting logic, whereby it may be modernized and made an attractive and useful undergraduate study.
In the first place, the definition of logic should convey to the be-