What I Learned in Logic

Posted: April 28, 2016 in Articles
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Today in my logic book, I learned that Ray Charles is God!

This certain passage in my book caught my attention as I was flipping through it, and I looked more carefully.

“God is love. Love is blind. Ray Charles is blind. Therefore Ray Charles is God.”

Obviously, the above sequence of statements was written to prove a point, but I found it quite amusing anyway. I’m really glad that this is not how logic works. The world would be an odd place 🙂

NOTE: a reader suggested I point out what is wrong with the line of logic above. So here it is, and thanks to the reader!

“God is love. Love is blind. Ray Charles is blind. Therefore Ray Charles is God.”

This statement is an example of the fallacy of equivocation (the use of ambiguous language to conceal the truth or to avoid committing oneself – being a sneaky sneak in other words). This fallacy of equivocation results when a single word that has two different meanings in an argument is treated as if it only has one meaning.

In this line of reasoning, the word “is” is always taken to mean “is equivalent to.” In English, that is not always the definition of “is”. This word can also refer to attributes of something or someone. In the statement, “God is love,” “is” denotes equality. The sense of the statement is that God is the same thing, or is equivalent, to love. The statement, “Love is blind”, however, does not equate love and blindness; it does not say that they are the same thing. Rather, it says that love possesses the quality of blindness. In this case, “blind” has the meaning “not based on reason or evidence”. In the last statement before the conclusion, the word “is” describes an attribute of something, in this case, a person. The statement does not mean that Ray Charles is equivalent to blindness, but that Ray Charles is a person who is blind.

The logic errs when it treats the word “is” the same way in all three premises. “Blind” also has two definitions within this argument but it is treated the same way both times. Both of the errors are examples of the fallacy of equivocation. They are the mistakes in this line of reasoning and they are why this reasoning is wrong.

Comments
  1. Thanks for spelling out the mistake in logic.

    Are you familiar with Kantian epistemology?

  2. Libby says:

    Wonderful logic!

  3. But Ray Charles is dead……..

  4. “God is love. Love is blind. Ray Charles is blind. Therefore Ray Charles is God.”

    It would be interesting if you spell out the mistake in it.

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