Logic from Experience
Sorry Aristotle, but there’s no special neuron areas wired of syllogisms. We can come to know logic in three ways. First, some direct logic arises automatically in our frontal lobe as repeated occurrences of patterns are categorized. Second and more important, we learn logic as it is built into language. Lastly, some of us learn it further in academic settings.
Logic arises automatically in frontal lobe as repeated occurrences of a pattern are categorized. In a similar manner as other patterns are in a self-organized map (SOM).
What does logic incorporate? The question must be asked because logic has abstract areas, like the distinction between truth and validity, that is a stumbling block to start a discussion of logic from. Instead of laying an axiomatic foundation from which logic is derived, let’s discuss how we proceed in choosing and thereby build the framework we use.
First, we identify objects in our environment. We categorize. We truncate. We generalize. Some of these basic patterns precede our learning language; however, once we have language, its words and phrases inevitably shape the patterns we use (weak Sapir-Whorfian theory).
No such circuitry until learned
Where do the premises come from, that logic depends upon? Deductive logic is exact, but to be exact it requires 100% truth in its premises, which mostly are facts. From internal needs, emotions, personal sensory data and from accepting other people’s facts, interpretations, and predictions.
Learning Logic Example
Obviously, we can’t examine a child’s neuron when he’s learning logic and language. However, we can test the idea in a controlled experiment with an artificial neural network which has already shown its ability to develop SOM. Most of the logically thinking an individual does is based on if things happen together, if something isn’t happening when another something is, and if something follows (or doesn’t) other things happening. That is, AND, OR, NOT, and IF-THEN.
Description of program. Starting with an untrained Kohonen network (a tremendously simplified model of our initial cortex structure), it is exposed to a sequence of …
Chart: input. Results of repeated experience. Number of trials, Closeness of match.
Logical thoughts are at the summit of our thinking, but there is no special mental circuitry in our genetics to perform deductive logic. Instead we have dedicated the prefrontal lobe, a cortical structure, to extract patterns from groupings of information, through repeated experience.
Language is the accumulated wisdom of our ancestors. It helps us by giving us solutions (words and concepts) that we would never have come up with on our own. As Newton put it, “standing on the shoulders of giants.” And yet it is possible to make illogical statements in language – a paradox like “I am lying” and meaning mangling like “we went to different schools together.”
Truth and validity distinction. Predicate logic. np computable. Irresolvable from knowledge available.
Now that we have seen premises developed and logic learned, let’s consider the step distance from sense to executive consideration to action.