Logic and the Constitution
By Jon Rappoport
Note: I include a basic logic course in my collection, The Matrix Revealed. I present an 11-hour audio section, "Analyzing Information in the Age of Disinformation," in my collection, Power Outside The Matrix.
Yesterday, my article, Logic and the Declaration of Independence, traced the structure of Thomas Jefferson's formal argument for breaking away from England.
Today's college students would have a very difficult time perceiving that argument, since they rarely study logic at any depth.
But it would be nearly impossible for them to probe the Constitution and find the basic underlying premises.
The preamble to the Constitution contains rhetoric that gives no warning of what is to come.
Preamble: "We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."
To exhume the purpose of the Constitution, one would have to read it and study it, and then decide what the document is driving at.
But since logic is no longer taught as a required subject in schools, the door is open to all sorts of bizarre reactions to the presence of ANY information.
Here are four favorites:
One: grab the headline or the title of a document, make up your mind about how you "feel," and ignore everything else.
Two: Actually read the document until you find a piece of information that appeals to you for any reason; latch on to it, and run with it in any direction. In all cases, the direction will have nothing to do with the intent of the document.
Three: From the moment you begin to read the title of the document, be in a state of "free association." Take any word or sentence and connect it to an arbitrary thought or feeling, associate that thought with yet another arbitrary thought...and keep going until you become tired or bored.
Four: Ask the most aggressive person you can find what the document is about and accept whatever he says.
You might be surprised at how many people use these four "methods of analysis."
The very idea that the author of the document is making a central point doesn't really register. And certainly, the notion that the author is providing evidence for the central point and reasoning his way from A to B to C is alien.
A college liberal education? These days it could be imparted in a matter of weeks, simply by hammering a small set of values into students' skulls---along with requisite guilt and fear at the prospect of wandering off the reservation.
Logic as a subject is viewed with grave suspicion, as if it might involuntarily take a person down the wrong track and dump him in a politically incorrect ditch---a fate to be avoided at all costs.
Therefore, the practice of rational analysis is on the way out. Too risky. Besides, the preferred method of dealing with opponents is screaming at them, shoving them off stage, and whining about "being triggered."
Studying the Constitution reveals that its driving force is: the limiting of centralized power.
Checks and balances, separation of powers, enumerating federal powers and yielding all other powers to the individual States and the people---it's all there, but today's students would have a hard time seeing it, much less understanding WHY.
Today, the centralized federal government (and its corporate collusions/partnerships) is an awesome colossus. Most people take that as a given.
Unlike the Declaration of Independence, which announces every move it makes and explains why, the Constitution reveals its purpose and method from the inside, so to speak, after analyzing it.
The Constitution was a pact among the former colonies, the newly formed States. The States were not eager to submit to a central government.
The abusive experience of Europe, behind the new citizens, was Rule From Above, by tyrants. Individual rights and private property had been hard won. They had to be protected at all costs.
So: bind up the central government; set one branch against another; allow only certain specified centralized powers; leave the rest to the States; permit as much individual liberty as possible. In fact, individual liberty was at the heart of the document.
Na´ve students, demanding purity and perfection in the document, will never find it. For example, the Constitution was fully ratified in 1790, and slavery was formally abolished in 1865.
The logic of the Constitution was a two-step: limit federal power; these are the ways to accomplish it.
One could argue for or against each piece---but first he would have to recognize the pieces were there. These days, attaining that recognition is a serious problem.
Who would want to teach logic to students? What a waste of time. The purpose of education these days is injecting values and slogans and attitudes; and associating those values with attractive images. For that, you don't need a mind. You only need mush that can be shaped.
And after what passes for a high school education, the mush is there. It has no clues about processes of thought.
Nevertheless, just suppose a teacher wanted to go where no one has gone for a hundred years or so. How would he start? Where would he start?
At the bottom.
Find a coherent newspaper article about politics. Have the students read it. Then ask them: what does the first paragraph state? What is it saying?
You may be surprised at the variety of opinion.
"It says Martians will be here soon."
"It says President Obama was born in Hawaii."
"It says cooking rice is easy."
"It says I'm triggered and vulnerable."
Carry on a discussion for as long as it takes, until most of the students know what the first paragraph actually states. This may be a half-hour, a week, a month. Who knows?
Repeat the process with each paragraph of the article. If that takes a year, so be it, because you can't move further until students understand the text. I know that is a mystical and esoteric notion, but accept it on an experimental basis.
Next step: ask the students whether the author of the article is trying to make an overall point. Ask them what that point is.
"His point is he doesn't like working-class people."
"He loves cats."
"He wants everybody to move to Mars."
"He's asking us to give money to Marco Rubio."
Your work is cut out for you. Keep going until the fog clears. Have the students read the article over and over until most of them see the actual point the author is trying to make.
Then---how did the author try to convince you his point was correct?
Then---did you see a hole in his attempt to convince you? A gap? A wrong move?
This is the general sequence of steps. Basically, you're sticking the students' noses in the text. Again and again. You're focusing them on specifics. You're showing them the difference between their own opinions and random associations and what the author is saying.
You're doing the one thing they've avoided doing. You're standing in for every incompetent teacher they've ever had. You're reversing years of desultory derangement in classrooms.
You're making students more intelligent. That's a very tall order. It takes commitment. If you don't have it, get out of the business.
Mainstream news is a wonderful source for non-logic.
Logic topples arbitrary authority.
Logic allows you to move inside a complex argument. Once inside, you can give the argument a haircut and see its essence.
The interesting thing is: once people actually know what an author is saying; once they know what conclusion he's reaching; once they know how he's getting there; they can see the flaws and the omissions and the insupportable inferences.
They can see the line of reasoning, from beginning to end.
The lights go on.
A heretofore mysterious territory comes into focus.
The differences between fact, lie, assumption, argument, polemic, and propaganda emerge and the mind begins to breathe.
Perhaps for the first time.
Beginning in ancient Greece, coming up through the Middle Ages, and into the 19th century, logic was one aspect of education called the Trivium ("the three"): in sequence, a student learned grammar, then logic, then rhetoric.
Except in scattered places, where people have consciously instituted a revival of the Trivium, that integrated method of teaching is gone now.
Instead, in primary and middle schools, we have superficial coasting through many academic subjects, minus the necessary exercises and drills to ensure that students grasp material. In other words, we have imposed ADHD.
Finally, studying logic gives a student an appreciation of consequences. For example, a politician announces a high-flying generalization, as a plank of his platform. Two things ought to follow. The student does his best to translate that generality into specific terms which actually mean something. Then he traces what would happen if the plank were, in fact, put into effect; what would the consequences specifically entail? There are always consequences---it's just that most people never see them or think about them, because they haven't the foggiest idea about how to flesh them out and map them.
Logic: one of the great contributions to civilization, left to die on the vine.
It needs to be resurrected, in full flower.
The author of three explosive collections, THE MATRIX REVEALED, EXIT FROM THE MATRIX, and POWER OUTSIDE THE MATRIX, Jon was a candidate for a US Congressional seat in the 29th District of California. He maintains a consulting practice for private clients, the purpose of which is the expansion of personal creative power. Nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, he has worked as an investigative reporter for 30 years, writing articles on politics, medicine, and health for CBS Healthwatch, LA Weekly, Spin Magazine, Stern, and other newspapers and magazines in the US and Europe. Jon has delivered lectures and seminars on global politics, health, logic, and creative power to audiences around the world.
You can find this article and more at http://www.NoMoreFakeNews.com.