Wednesday, November 18, 2009

she blinded me with logic.

in Logic recently i've been instructing the duke on the 'Either, or' sentence. and in Logic you get sentences that say things like, 'Either you have three arms, or you don't have three arms.' and 'Either all the animals in the world are giraffes, or all the animals in the world are elephants.' you know, fun stuff like that. and you have to decide whether, based on the 'choices' given, the sentences are true or false.

the thing about Logic is that it is, well, logical. free from emotion and personal interest. it is what it is. which i find refreshing. oh, sure, i enjoy the conversations the duke and i, and wingman and i for that matter, have stemming from what he may be learning in history, okay WE because i never learned it the first time around, or a book we're reading together. but there is something freeing in the concrete. for just seeing something for what it is, free of true interpretation.

so, that being said, teaching a near teenager Logic, which i once feared, has turned out to be brilliant beyond belief. because yes, while he is finally getting the tools to see the flaws in *my* arguments to him, he also has the tools to properly argue. which means if he's being irrational and not properly arguing his point, i can point out why and he understands. he may not like it, but he understands.

it's nearly genius. i say nearly because he's smarter than me. he just doesn't realize it yet. and when he does, well...

but what i like most about Logic brings me back to the 'Either, or' sentence.

now, there are lots of ways to use this sentence. like the mother may say to the toddler, 'you can either have grapes or you can have raisins.' which is less a logic question and more a choice. and yeah i see that it's not presented in the classic 'Either, or' pattern. and yes, grapes can be a choking hazard for toddlers and raisins stick on teeth and cause cavities. okay, so i suppose this whole analogy is shit. BUT you get the idea.

so, there's choice.

and then there's the *idea* of choice. and this is where the 'Either, or' sentence gets tricky. and sometimes mean. often, mean.

now this one is from the cesspool of parenting tools, 'Either you stop crying, or I'm going to give you something to cry about.' really? i'd like to meet the bastard that came up with this one.

or from FOX news and its ilk, 'Either you're with us, or you're against us.' one of my personal favorites.

or from a date/boyfriend/girlfriend/friend with benefits/spouse, 'Either you do *this*, or I'll do *that.*' crossed arms, bitchy face, wash. rinse. repeat.

now. none of these are 'choices.' sure okay yeah, they are *technically* because they are being *offered.* but if you're employing logic they are not.

stop crying. how is that a choice? it's a command. and the whole i'll give you something to cry about? who chooses this?! ever!

either you're with us or against us. this is just crap. because so often politics are NOT black and white and yet the most strident of political players want us to believe they are and choose from two non-choices. they CREATE the dividing line exclusively *by not offering any choice.* i don't want to be with you, and yet i am not *totally* against you. (okay, yeah, mostly...but still!) how is that a choice?

and the whole intimate partner ultimatum. how is this EVER a choice? it's not. it's manipulation by one person over the other. if you do not do what *I* want you to do then you will suffer. so it's 'Either this, or that.' and NEITHER *this* NOR *that* is an actual freakin' *choice. * okay, rarely.

it's usually 'Either you put your balls in this vice grip, or you string them from that flag pole.' or, you know, something to that effect. (you can insert your own gender specific metaphor)

just because somebody presents something like it's a choice doesn't mean that it is one. not by a long shot. and it's your job to figure it out.

so when, for instance, the sentence in the Logic book says 'Either you have three arms, or you don't,' you have to ask yourself if you are being given actual choices to consider. and yes, you are. you either have three arms or you don't. so the sentence is T for true. and so i mark it T. it is true that either i have three arms or i don't.

but when the sentence in the Logic book says 'Either all the animals in the world are giraffes, or all the animals in the world are elephants,' it's obvious, after you ask yourself of course, that you are NOT being given a choice. there is NO way all the animals in the world could be one or the other. and yet it's being presented to you as if you ARE being given an actual choice. and so the answer is F.

so using these examples, i gave the duke another lesson. and the lesson was as follows;

if someone is trying to manipulate, bully, guilt, or ultimatum you into choosing one thing over another when neither are proper choices then you should refuse. don't buy into it. further, if they keep pressing and won't let it go, you should say the following, 'what you are saying is completely illogical. either you give me two proper choices, or you can...'

and then i gave the duke some very choice phrases to choose from. ACTUAL choices. some of which may or may not have been instructions on activities the other person could perform on themselves. but i can't share them with you here because they are trade secrets.

the bottom line is while foul language and vulgarity (two things i LOVE) in general are discouraged here at the big red house, there is a time and a place. and one should always have an arsenal of choice phrases at the ready should the need arise. and i say adolescence definitely presents those opportunities for the need arising.

and then at the very end of the lesson i did have one more lesson for the duke;

if your mother is royally pissed to the point that she offers you two completely illogical NON-choices to choose from, it would be in your best interest to be smart and just choose one and don't. say. a. word. above all, whatever you do, DO NOT try to employ logic in that situation. ever.

motherhood does come with its perks.

and hey, in my defense, *i* never took logic.


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