It’s Logical

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Logic cover


Submitter: Apparently in 1958 people could learn complex topics like logic from pages and pages of dense text. The diagram and table included are just about the only pages that aren’t pure text in over 200 pages.

Holly: I guess if you major in philosophy in college you might be reading these kinds of things. Please tell me that this was found in a university library and not your neighborhood public library! It does seem kind of old…weigh in on this, everyone: should books like this be weeded specifically because they are old, even if the principles covered are still sound? There’s the whole idea of appeal in public libraries, which maybe universities with dense subjects like logic don’t need to worry about. Will students of philosophy and logic use this? Or will they scoff at it like public library users and assume the library has nothing newer than 1958?


Disjunctive Propositions

analytica priora

truth tables and equivalence


  1. I would lean towards circulation statistics on this. If people are using, by all means keep it. If not? Trash can it!

    Books like these, and of that age, really should be digitized. That 1923 wall needs to be a moving wall!

  2. Reading this makes my head hurt.. The logical conclusion is that I will not check it out from the library. Ever.

  3. As a former academic librarian and retired professor of library science, most good texts come out in new editions unless the orphan work problem intervenes. If the older text is in a field where knowledge doesn’t advance quickly or where the historical perspective is valuable, perhaps it should be kept in larger academic research libraries.

  4. Philosophy degree holder here. This is inherently a pretty technical, detailed topic, so no matter how new the book it’s going to seem stuffy and dull to many (many!!) people. But the prose in this book looks extra old and unappealing. I’d rather read either a more notable older work, or something written in this century.

    1. Philosophy student here, saying that I agree with the above… and, more especially, the bit about reading a more notable older work. In fact, the best is an original work (in the original language for those who can, in translation for the rest of us) with footnotes by a respected modern scholar. Original writers are surprisingly fun to read in a good translation. I think “even” public library patrons can and will appreciate them.

    2. I am sorely flabbergasted that I have to find people here considering to esteem this book an expendable relict, the more so, as they count as philosophers. Wit you not, what notable a name A A Luce represents? Certainly this work of arguably the most distinguished Georgy Berkeley connoisseur is a small treasure a library can look up to demonstratively, if only it just wants to give youth taste of the styles of a bygone epoch no less than its history of ideas. Is this maladie of sense what analytic philosophy has led the world to? Shunning the depth of a mere text to give everything over to some abstract ideas laid out in winsome portions? It does not seem to me a sottery to assume that this simple book of the art of logic would be turned to account best by some lad at the peak of his intellectual formation, not needing to dedicate itself to coaxing the ephemeral whims of institutionalized education processes for everyone and everyday.

  5. Computer Science and Math majors at my school were required to take a course covering this material. The textbook we used did have lots of dense text, but more examples, Venn diagrams, truth tables, etc than the book above. I’d say replace with a more approachable book on the same topic.

    1. Agreed. I think the problem here is the “teach yourself”–the interested layperson probably needs something a little, well, easier than this as an intro. Leave the contents of this book to the serious students, who probably aren’t going to grab a “teach yourself” title off the shelf when something else is available.

  6. I was tempted to say keep it, since logic isn’t a subject that changes quickly. Then I scrolled back up to the first scan of text and noticed something. Logic may have changed little since 1958, but language has. The varying distinctions between “shall” and “will” in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd person are no longer clear to many people (and frankly never were, even among grammarians), but are possibly significant in the examples. From what I recall, the difference between something being likely to happen and assuredly occurring is important in logic.

  7. Anybody ever read Basic Logic by Raymond J. McCall? I think it is still in print and it seems to me that it’s a better introduction to the subject than this one. He died in 1990, though his book lives on. He had been my father-in-law — a very educated and active person, with two PhDs, one in Philosophy and one in Psychology. He practically had one in tennis as well.

  8. My own experience of studying formal logic is that it’s a topic where sometimes, another description makes all the difference – another author puts it in a different way and suddenly it clicks. I would, personally, start with a newer text than this; but if I got stuck, I might read the passages on, say, constructing formal proofs, from every book I could lay my hands on, and that would include this one. That being so, I might recommend a university library keep it if that makes a significant percentage increase in the number of different texts covering the subject – if you have three books on logic and a budget for replacements, it might be better to keep this one and buy a new one, resulting in four books on logic, rather than just replacing this. Someone serious can then consult all four (off the shelf, perhaps without showing in your circulation stats). If you only have shelf space for one, this might not be the best choice – I’d pick one with suggested exercises (photocopiable pages?) for the reader to do, as this helps the retention of the ideas hugely.

  9. I had an equally dense book from the Teach Yourself series (Finnish) back in the 70s, when, aged 13, I tried to learn it. Not a user-friendly guide: by chapter 2 we were learning such obscure vocab as ‘eaves’ and ‘to bleat’ (hadn’t yet learned how to say ‘good morning’). The grammar was ultra-dense to say the least. And yet I did learn some, and retain an affection for it. And I still remember Finnish for ‘eaves’!

  10. As both a reader who’s long enjoyed this blog and as a professor teaching “Introduction to Symbolic Logic” every year, I’d suggest that this book is not outdated except in a little bit of the farmer language. What’s depicted there is pretty much exactly what we teach, and it has a lot of relevance and applicability. Moreover, it’s not all that technical, even though it LOOKS that way; most students new to the topic grasp the material in those pages quickly. I do think it’s possible there has been a little cultural shift in how much patience we have for teaching ourselves slightly technical things from books. Perhaps most of us now prefer to “teach ourselves” by being taught by videos instead of being taught by texts?

  11. Not all general-library users are uneducated or want only the easy stuff. There’s a place for books like this.

    Weed this one for age and condition if you like, but not for content. You might consider some more approachable books on logic to accompany it — I’d recommend Raymond Smullyan’s works myself.

    1. I’m also curious by what types of pictures the submitter would expect to be there. Maybe a picture of the farmer looking at his apple-less tree? With apple devouring worms nearby…

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