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Logic by Isaac Watts

by Nathaniel Bluedorn

I have mixed feelings about Issac Watts’ logic book. On the one hand, he writes in a fine 18th Century English style, on the other hand, the content of his book is often more philosophy than logic. In the first half of his book, Watts teaches his methods for organizing perceptions, ideas, words and thoughts into hierarchies. This would seem to my mind to be more of an introduction to 18th Century empirical philosophy and psychology than a study of logic. Next, Watts turns his attention to rules for making judgments, which includes a small part on syllogisms.

Watts’ book gave me some idea of the development of logic and how logic in his day was mixed with extraneous subjects. Unfortunately, this severely dates Watts’ book. It would not be considered a modern treatment of the subject. For instance, syllogisms can be tested today with ease by the use of Venn diagrams, but that method wasn’t developed until a hundred years after Watts’ time. Watts also failed to clearly distinguish between inductive and deductive reasoning. The practical aspects of logic, such as logical fallacies, were not taught by Watts. I would only recommend Watts’ Logic for adults who wanted to understand the history of logic.

Publisher: Soli Deo Gloria
Subjects Covered: Psychology of thought, classification, definition, categorical syllogisms
Self-teaching: * Difficult language, abstract explanations with gaps, no exercises
Suggested Ages: 18-adult
Thoroughness: Not thorough
Best Features: Watts’ fine 1700’s literary style
Worst Features: Not a modern treatment of logic

Copyright April 03, 2000, all rights reserved. 9205 views

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