Cover image for The art of logic in an illogical world
Title:
The art of logic in an illogical world
ISBN:
9781541672482
Personal Author:
Edition:
First US edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Basic Books, 2018.

©2018
Physical Description:
xii, 304 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Contents:
The power of logic: Why logic? ; What logic is ; The directionality of logic ; Opposites and falsehoods ; Blame and responsibility ; Relationships ; How to be right -- The limits of logic: Truth and humans ; Paradoxes ; Where logic can't help us -- Beyond logic: Axioms ; Fine lines and gray areas ; Analogies ; Equivalence ; Emotions ; Intelligence and rationality.
Summary:
"In a world where fake news stories change election outcomes, has rationality become futile? In The Art of Logic in an Illogical World, Eugenia Cheng throws a lifeline to readers drowning in the illogic of contemporary life. Cheng is a mathematician, so she knows how to make an airtight argument. But even for her, logic sometimes falls prey to emotion, which is why she still fears flying and eats more cookies than she should. If a mathematician can't be logical, what are we to do? In this book, Cheng reveals the inner workings and limitations of logic, and explains why alogic--for example, emotion--is vital to how we think and communicate. Cheng shows us how to use logic and alogic together to navigate a world awash in bigotry, mansplaining, and manipulative memes. Insightful, useful, and funny, this essential book is for anyone who wants to think more clearly."--Amazon.com.
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Summary

Summary

How both logical and emotional reasoning can help us live better in our post-truth world

In a world where fake news stories change election outcomes, has rationality become futile? In The Art of Logic in an Illogical World, Eugenia Cheng throws a lifeline to readers drowning in the illogic of contemporary life. Cheng is a mathematician, so she knows how to make an airtight argument. But even for her, logic sometimes falls prey to emotion, which is why she still fears flying and eats more cookies than she should. If a mathematician can't be logical, what are we to do? In this book , Cheng reveals the inner workings and limitations of logic, and explains why alogic--for example, emotion--is vital to how we think and communicate. Cheng shows us how to use logic and alogic together to navigate a world awash in bigotry, mansplaining, and manipulative memes. Insightful, useful, and funny, this essential book is for anyone who wants to think more clearly.



Author Notes

Eugenia Cheng is the scientist in residence at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and an Honorary Fellow at the University of Sheffield. The author of How to Bake Pi and Beyond Infinity , she lives in Chicago, Illinois.


Reviews 4

Publisher's Weekly Review

Mathematician Cheng (Beyond Infinity) considers how the principles of math can be used to help define one's personal ethos and bridge the gap between differing points of view. She explores real-life ethical and philosophical problems, like white privilege, "arbitrary standards" in education, and racially-motivated police brutality, through the lens of data-driven logical precepts and mathematical techniques. These include proofs, Venn diagrams, truth tables, flow charts, fractal trees, and more. Using these methods, Cheng argues, can help people avoid mistakes in logical thinking and recognize fallacies. However, she posits that there is more to having a constructive conversation than logic alone, stating that "we should look to engaging people's emotions to convince them of logical arguments." Discussing thorny issues, she says, requires a sense of "nuance," rather than the "false promise of black and white clarity," and a more intuitive and feelings-based approach. Cheng is largely successful in making mathematical principles and formulas accessible to a lay audience, though the occasional statement-such as "it is the contrapositive of the converse so is equivalent to the converse"-will be challenging for those unfamiliar with math jargon. Cheng's suggestion to combine the persuasive powers of logic with emotional appeal to find common ground is original and pragmatic, particularly in these divisive times. Agent: George Lucas, InkWell Management. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


New York Review of Books Review

This land By Dan Barry. (Black Dog & Leventhal, $29.99.) For a decade, from 2007 to 2017, Barry's column for The Times explored everyday life and everyday people in America - from a hairdresser in Vicco, Ky, to the owner of a small oil company in Dixfield, Me. This book collects nearly 100 of his columns, providing a panoramic view of the country as it passed from Bush to Obama to Trump, the fabulous bouvier sisters By Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger. (Harper, $28.99.) A book-length exploration of the complicated sister love between Jackie Kennedy Onassis and Lee Radziwill (née Bouvier) - their shared appreciation for fashion and art, as well as the intense jealousy that characterized their relationship, the art of logic in an illogical world By Eugenia Cheng. (Basic, $27.) Cheng is a mathematician who believes we need to appreciate the value of alogic - emotion, that is - if we want to understand a world filled with irrational behavior. Yet she also thinks smartly applied logic might help address some of our problems. accessory to war By Neil deGrasse Tyson and Avis Lang. (Norton, $30.) The celebrity astrophysicist and a research associate at the Hayden Planetarium examine the ways military branches have used the science of astrophysics to bolster their power. It's an alliance between science and warmaking that has been, Tyson and Lang write, "curiously complicit." the parting gift By Evan Fallenberg. (Other Press, $19.95.) An erotic, mysterious novel set in Israel that takes the form of a letter. The unnamed narrator describes a consuming love affair that threatens his own well-being and that of the man with whom he has fallen in love. "Most of my reading these days is taken up with a book project that I've been working on for more years than I like to contemplate, but on the advice of a friend, I recently read fly girls, by Keith O'Brien. It's probably the most entertaining book I've looked at this year, a slice of Americana that gives us a sideways glimpse into what life was like in the 1920s and '30s, when aviation was a popular spectator sport. O'Brien's subject is a group of pioneering women aviators who, as one of them put it, had to fight for the same right to die as the men. We all know Amelia Earhart, whom O'Brien manages to diminish somewhat as an icon while elevating her as a human being, but she was only one of many courageous, innovative, barrierbusting women who deserve to be remembered. 'Fly Girls' is feminist history of the best kind. It describes individuals who didn't submerge their identities in feminism, but employed feminism to achieve their identities as individuals." BARRY GEWEN, AN EDITOR AT THE BOOK REVIEW, ON WHAT HE'S READING.


Choice Review

Cheng's latest volume is a primer on critical thinking. In clear, crisp prose, she demonstrates how basic logic relates to relevant, real-world problems. Cheng is the scientist in residence at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. This may seem an odd post for a Cambridge PhD whose dissertation was on higher dimensional category theory, but her task is that of making rather abstract concepts accessible to students of the arts. She has embraced the role of popularizing mathematics in general and logic in particular and has a talent for communicating mathematics in a clear, entertaining fashion. Among the areas in which she demonstrates the uses of logic are racism, the Affordable Care Act, same-sex marriage, rape, religion, and many others. Examples abound. She also points out the limitations of logic. This informal, richly informative, entertaining book is well worth the read. Those who enjoy it will appreciate Cheng's other works: How to Bake Pi (CH, Dec'15, 53-1820) and Beyond Infinity (CH, Aug'17, 54-5649). She has a YouTube channel, and her videos features the same enthusiastic presentation found in this book. Summing Up: Recommended. General readers and lower-level undergraduates. --Robert L. Pour, emeritus, Emory and Henry College


Library Journal Review

At the heart of mathematics is the proof-a logical argument from an agreed-upon set of axioms to reach some conclusion. In the real world few things are that simple. In her latest work, mathematician Cheng (Beyond Infinity), using current areas of disagreement from political to social, explains how logical arguments should be constructed and why they frequently fail. These include some cases in which a statement does not necessarily follow logically from the one before but still manages to fail in a different way. For example, people may have similar yet different or unspoken sets of basic assumptions. Other disagreements may arise from unclear generalizations, false equivalencies, or faulty analogies. In clear and easy-to-read prose, Cheng walks readers through simple logic, the limitations of the law of the excluded middle, handling gray areas, and even a little about logical paradoxes. -VERDICT This well-written, accessible book offers insight into other people's positions and may even help us find the flaws in our own reasoning.-Harold D. Shane, Mathematics Emeritus, Baruch Coll. Lib., CUNY © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Table of Contents

Introductionp. ix
Part I The Power of Logic
1 Why logic?p. 3
2 What logic isp. 22
3 The directionality of logicp. 42
4 Opposites and falsehoodsp. 58
5 Blame and responsibilityp. 81
6 Relationshipsp. 101
7 How to be rightp. 115
Part II The Limits of Logic
8 Truth and humansp. 129
9 Paradoxesp. 147
10 Where logic can't help usp. 165
Part III Beyond Logic
11 Axiomsp. 183
12 Fine lines and gray areasp. 191
13 Analogiesp. 208
14 Equivalencep. 235
15 Emotionsp. 262
16 Intelligence and rationalityp. 278
Acknowledgmentsp. 299
Indexp. 301