Review of Peter Kreeft’s “Socratic Logic”

Kreeft, Peter. Socratic Logic: A Logic Text Using Socratic Method, Platonic Questions, and Aristotelian Principles. 3.1 Edition. South Bend, IN: St. Augustine’s Press, 2014. $40.00. 399 pages.

Socratic Logic

Peter Kreeft provides an introductory textbook on the argumentative logic of Socrates in his book Socratic Logic. The 16 chapters of Kreeft’s book could be divided into three main sections: the First Act of the Mind–Understanding; the Second Act of the Mind–Judgment; and the Third Act of the Mind–Reasoning. These three sections are based upon the three main functions of any argument. First, one must define the terms to see whether they are clear or ambiguous. Then, one must evaluate the premises to determine whether they are true or false. Finally, one must test the argument to see whether the argument is valid or invalid.

The first section of Kreeft’s book helps the logician define the terms being presented in an argument. In other words, the terms are defined within the argument. A helpful section on material fallacies is given in chapter 3. Chapter 3 should be given great focus. The reader will find the listing of 40 material fallacies quite helpful. Personally, I found it quite fascinating how often these fallacies are used in popular media and politics.

The second section of Kreeft’s book demonstrates how premises are tested for their accuracy. The essence of truth and contradiction is given in this section of Kreeft’s book. For a person who is interested in logic–which it is assumed that the reader of this book would–great concentration will need to be given to the universal propositions (A, E) and particular propositions (I, O) given on page 146.

The third section of Socratic Logic focuses on the third test for logical accuracy which involves testing the argument for validity. By far, the third section is the longest and most difficult of all. Kreeft provides an array of various arguments from the more basic syllogism to the more difficult enthymemes and epicheiremas. Chapter 9 is especially good as Kreeft provides four ways to test the validity of any argument: Euler’s Circles, Aristotle’s Six Rules, “Barbara Celarent,” and Venn Diagrams. Because I am a visual person, I really enjoyed Euler’s Circles. However, I think Aristotle’s Six Rules are perhaps the best test as Kreeft argues on page 263.

Kreeft gives some helpful information in the latter chapters as it pertains to reading books in a logical fashion. Chapter 15 gives excellent information on how to write logically. Chapter 16 is perhaps the capstone of the book. Kreeft shows how logic applies to every part of a person’s life from theology to modern ethics.

Socratic Logic finds strength in its layout. Kreeft emphasizes the importance in knowing the three fundamentals of an argument: clarity of the terms, truthfulness of the premises, and the validity of the argument. The book is laid out according to these three fundamentals. This provides excellent structure and imprints the fundamentals upon the reader’s mind.

Another strength is the applicability of Kreeft’s book. While mathematical logic is extremely important, Socratic logic is applicable in everyday life. It seems as if there is an instantbologna detector found in this form of logic. As this reader read through Kreeft’s book, common examples of modern fallacies entered this reader’s mind. One will even find oneself evaluating posts on social media according to the principles learned in this book…something for which I had to apologize to one friend.

The greatest weakness of Kreeft’s book is its readability. If a person is looking for an easy read, this book is not for you.Socratic Logic is a book that must be slowly digested rather than quickly consumed. If one does not care about how much they learn, then it is supposed that a person could read through the book much quicker. But if one did not care to learn the information, then why read it in the first place?

I strongly recommend this book to anyone who desires to know the truth and how to test truth claims. Relativists will not like this book because Kreeft presents truth as it truly is: objectively known. This reader agrees with Kreeft’s definition, but relativists may not. Essentially, truth is calling something what it is. Truth, and the knowledge thereof, should be of utmost importance to all people.

I give this book 5 glowing stars!!!

Copyright, May 15, 2016. Brian Chilton.


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