Logic and Motivations

People suck their own cocks a lot.

“I am logical, and depend on facts” they say, right before saying anything. This fart-sniffing is practiced by communitarians, libertarians, theists, atheists, Pepsism and Cocacolism. People just want to be right, and I am starting to suspect logic is sold as a “get right quick” scheme. Maybe. But I digress: I’m thrilled to be around so many logical people.

The whole spiel gets tiring when you’re not the one serving it up. It’s posturing. It’s bragging. It’s marketing language designed to puff out chests. Not that I don’t do it. I do it a lot, and I’ll even do it in this post. My dick is so huge. Posturing is a sales pitch that works if you have buyers, but it is also a red herring distracting us from other important details: who people are, what they want, and what they may have planned for you.

You can use logic to evaluate statements about people just fine (“Ben has red hair. Neil Armstrong was the first man to land on yer mom”), but the moment you start looking at the person behind statements, suddenly you risk committing the ad hominem fallacy. This risk is only realized if you are trying to evaluate someone’s claims and the claimant is not relevant to the content of the claim. Ad hominem is an error in logic.

But I don’t always use logic.

Oh, I went there.

Logic is only one tool in the toolbox of reason, and it is designed for evaluation. In isolation, it has nothing to do with decision making, unless you are deciding on the validity and truth value of declarative statements. It has a turbulent and arguably optional relationship with normative statements. The moment someone says “should,” you are hearing the product of preference and motivations, not logic. We’ve known about this disconnect for a long time. Philosophy is Bullshit is an awesome essay on the subject.

A purely logical person cannot change a goddamn thing on this planet, because he doesn’t exist. When you act or make choices, you call upon non-logical forms of cognition. Logic doesn’t decide anything because it has no motivations. People do. Last I checked, stupid people exist and they do stupid things, like stupid people do. They will give you stupid reasons for their stupid items on their stupid agenda, and those stupid reasons will probably contain the word “should.” The moment you try evaluating those normative items using logic is the moment you try cutting down a tree with cheese. Language conveys the product of human reason, but logic only works on a subset of that. The position that non-declarative statements can be logically derived from declarative statements is about as shaky as Michael J. Fox holding maracas in a washing machine’s spin cycle. Logic is non-comprehensive and has some broken bits. If you knew anything about logic, you would know that. Clinging to logic in a desperate attempt to be right is like swearing loyalty to a flickering desk lamp.

What I’m trying to say here is that in evaluating people and the claims they make, logic only gets you so far. Even if you completely destroyed the assumptions backing an idiot with hard logic, did you change his goals? If not, what did you do, really? When you separate out logic and motivations, the possible outcomes of arguments are all ripe for the pessimist’s picking.

People are crazy, and we all want each other to be sane. That is but one reason why logic is such a popular tool. The minute a nineteen year old gets any good with it, he giddily runs around with a snarky shit-eating grin on his face thinking he will prove anyone and everyone wrong. What was that old saying? “When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail”?

If you look at the world with logic alone, you have tunnel vision. What, do you think human relationships are established and maintained on raw logic ore mined from the crystalline mountains of sages? You may find fallacies everywhere, but hey, humans make mistakes. I’m sure there are fallacies all over this blog right now. But is life really so simple that merely saying you are all about logic suddenly makes you logical?

It helps to realize that reason is bigger than logic, but it is still a tool. As I suggested earlier, it’s more like a toolbox, but it’s still something to use. To be used, a tool must have a user. A dildo on Pluto is no more meaningful to the human condition than the rocks around it. If there is no more use for a tool, what the fuck is it there for?

Tools have users. That’s why I find motivations so important. Logic and reason can be used for offense and defense, so what the fuck is wielding the things?

When you make a claim, I don’t really care if you are right or wrong. Everyone is both right and wrong over and over until they die, so expecting everyone to be right all the time is pure arrogance. What I do worry about is power, the people who have it, and what they are doing. If a sticky hobo in the middle of a public library projectile shits onto a keyboard to argue, his words may as well fade into the distance like the reflected light off the dildo on Pluto. He can squawk and bitch while I vote/picket/donate/whatever for the policies I like while he does nothing of substance to resist said policies. Squawk, you brainless vulture. Squawk.

On the other hand, if the President of the United States stands up and says “there should be a 75% increase in tax revenue,” people will react. Logic and facts may assist either the president or his opponents, but someone is going to win, and logic may not the reason for that happening. Logic doesn’t give two shits about what happens. People do.

When the time is right, people think “I should do X.” Action is physically manifested meaning.

I want things and I can only process so much in a constantly changing environment. I’m always selective about what I learn, say and do. Everything is driven by my numerous goals and my unflinching willingness to achieve them. Logic is just along for the ride, alongside imagination, intuition and good ol’ biological programming.

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