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Home :: Archive :: 1993 :: December ::
Re: The Human Condition
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 956. Saturday, 18 December 1993.
 
From:           John Cox <
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Date:           Friday, 17 Dec 1993 13:03:04 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 4.0953  Re: The Human Condition
Comment:        Re: SHK 4.0953  Re: The Human Condition
 
For those of us who believe that mortality defines the human condition, as
Al Cacicedo suggests, I offer the following anecdote.
 
I was recently discussing the rudiments of logical argumentation with my
first-year composition class.  I pointed out that the limitation of induc-
tive reasoning is the necessity for the inductive leap:  even "the sun will
rise tomorrow" is subject to the reservation that we haven't actually seen
it rise yet.  Turning to deductive reasoning, I pointed out that no "leaps"
are necessary in a well-constructed syllogism, but that if the syllogism is
to have some application to real life, then the premises have to be true to
life.  As an example, I used the traditional syllogism that begins, "All
people are mortal."  When I explained the example, one attentive student
raised her hand to object that the major premise in that syllogism involves
an inductive leap:  though we know of no exceptions to the rule stated by
the premise, those who are alive have not yet died, so the same reservation
applies to the syllogism as to the inductive inference that the sun will
rise tomorrow.  I wish my student had been in Aristotle's class when he
expounded the syllogism.
 
John Cox
 

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