Logic vs Passion

Lancelot White, writing in his 1961 edited collection of pieces on Roger Boscovich says, without attributing it to Boscovich (or to anyone else for that matter), “It has been said that …

Man loves logic,
but chooses his premises with passion.”

Googled various whole and part versions of that expression, but cannot find it attributed specifically to anyone – though similar word combinations crop up with Aristotle, Aquinas and (god forbid) Ayn Rand.

It struck me immediately. I’ve used the idea as far back as my original “manifesto” that people often construct arguments that look (are formally designed to look) logical and objective, but forget that they’ve already chosen what to include in their considerations on the basis of more personal, informal, subjective, implicit or even totally invisible and forgotten values (*). My example was even a simple business-like “bid tab” to justify selection tabulated on price against a specification of some kind.

It’s part of my wider agenda, aligned with Nick Maxwell, that even science, or scientism in socio-politico-economic decision justification (evidence-based-policy, management-by-objectives, simple majority voting, etc.), often proceeds in total ignorance of its underlying value-based subjectivity. Something which it denies with a neurotic (hence ironic) vengeance of course.

[Post Note (*) – I should perhaps be explicit. It’s a good thing that they do (include these less objective things), the bad thing is that their real inclusion in practice, is forgotten / ignored / devalued / denied.]

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