Modern logic is mostly based on mathematical principles, while traditional logic takes its place as one of the humanities. Author Martin Cothran stresses from the outset that his course teaches traditional logic, the second subject in the classical trivium. He calls it a language arts subject, which makes sense when considering how vital a good sense of logic is to the art of good writing. Constructing a good argument is very much akin to constructing a good sentence, and in his course Cothran certainly teaches students how to construct a good argument.
How Do These Work?
The first part of this course is Traditional Logic, taught over a two-year period through two separate student texts. Formal logic deals with the proper form and style of an argument. Students learn to construct a formal, consistent syllogism, as well as all the terminology they will ever need to know (unless they become professional logicians). Cothran emphasizes that classical logic was not simply an intellectual game, it had very practical applications from everyday discussions to important matters of state. As a Christian, he draws students' attention to the proper Christian use of logic, and how to guard against and detect its misuse.
For both levels of Traditional Logic there is a consumable student worktext, an answer key, and a DVD course and a Quizzes & Final Exam book. There is really no teacher support for the instructor other than the answer key, which only provides answers to in-text exercises and tests and no teaching notes or suggestions. The student text contains everything the student absolutely needs—he reads the appropriate text and completes the exercises. Book I has 14 chapters, while Book II has fifteen, making them each perfect length for single-semester study.
While you could easily get by with just the student book and answer key, the DVD course is extremely helpful, especially if the instructor has no formal background in logic. Author Cothran presents the material chapter-by-chapter, expounding and elaborating the information found in the book. His presentation method is pretty dry, but he gives so much useful instruction that a student who really wants to learn logic will find the DVDs invaluable. Cothran simply stands in front of the camera and talks (and apparently has no sense of humor), and the student better be ready to take notes.
A third book, Material Logic, follows the formal logic books. As with the former levels, there is a student book, answer keyand supplementary DVD course. Whereas formal logic deals with the form of an argument, material logic deals with its content. Material logic is sometimes called "informal logic," though this can be misleading—material logic is just as important to good reasoning as formal logic, it's simply a different aspect or branch of the study.
This is a course for high schoolers. Some younger students could conceivably do the work, but they would be exceptions, and there's really no need for anyone younger than fifteen to study logic except for them or their parents to brag about it. Many adults may find the material interesting and informative, and if anyone plans to study logic in college this would make an excellent introduction.
Classical Rhetoric with Aristotle is a guided tour through the first part of the greatest single book on communication ever written: Aristotle's Rhetoric. With questions that will help the student unlock every important aspect of the book, along with fill-in-the-blank charts and analyses of great speeches, this companion text to Aristotle's great work will send the student on a voyage of discovery from which he will return with a competent knowledge of the basic classical principles of speech and writing. Like the logic books, It has the same easy-to-use features, such as step-by-step daily assignments, giving students explicit instructions at every level, and a DVD instruction set.
Our Honest Opinion:
A thorough study of logic doesn't just make you more educated, it makes you more prepared to function in the world around you. Understanding of logic and its principles will help you read better, talk better, and even just relate to people better (as long as you don't turn into some weird logic machine like in the comic books). For most students (and adults) this course will teach you everything you need to know; for those who want to study more, this is a great place to start. If you can't slake your thirst for logic instruction with this series you may want to move on to the classic Logic by Isaac Watts, long held the standard in secondary and undergraduate education.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here.
Did you find this review helpful?