How the mind falls into error - PDF by Henry Bradford Smith

How the mind falls into error - a brief treatment of fallacies for the general reader 

How the mind falls into error
How the mind falls into error 

Nothing has a higher value in the eyes of the mere teacher attempting to present some subject dry and forbidding in itself, than a fresh illustration; and a teacher of logic is no exception to the rule. Every student in this field who has suffered at the hands of preceptors is familiar with that ancient argument: " What you bought yesterday, you eat today; you bought raw meat yesterday; therefore, you eat raw meat today."

 A well-known writer observes of this case: "This piece of meat has remained uncooked, as fresh as ever, a prodigious time. It was raw when Reisch mentioned it in the Margarita PhilosopJiica in 1496: and Doctor Whateley found it in just the same state in 1826." 

The fresh illustration is as much of a necessity for teacher or student in this field as in any other and it is this need for which the present essay hopes in some sort to provide. The writer, encouraged by certain favourable attention which the chapter on fallacies in his First Book in Logic has aroused, has tried to give that material through expansion and amplification a somewhat wider appeal.


I. Paradox and Its Reduction 1
Fallacy, sophism and paradox. An opinion in the teeth of general fame. The sopliism of Bossuet. A little logic is a dangerous thing. Common measures for solving paradox.
II. Equivocation and Amphibology 18
Ambiguities of common words. Cases of equivocation. Achilles and the tortoise. Historical attempts at a solution. A case of amphibology.

III. Satire, Exaggeration, and False Association. ... 29
A pun may have a serious intent. Parody and caricature. Satire, irony and innuendo. The fallacy of accent. Conscious exaggeration. False association. The example of Cournot. Many statements. Tautologous assertion.
IV. Special Cases of Non-Sequitor. 44
Misstatement of fact. Ignoratio elenchi. Implications that are not designed. Popular judgments. The fallacy of affirming the converse.
V. Begging the Question 55
The materialistic fallacy. A formal fallacy in Euclid. Further examples of petitio principii. The incomplete disjunction. The fallacy of accident. A sophist in search of dinner.
VI. Humorous Situations and Literal Statement ... 69
Ambiguities that cause humorous situations. Agreement to disagree. Whistler versus Ruskin. Literal statement. The practical mind is literal. Ambiguities from questions of fact.
VII. In Defense of Prejudice 81
The cold comfort of scientific indifference. Emer- son's paradox. The human value of prejudice. The historian's bias.
the book details :
  • Author: Henry Bradford Smith
  • Publication date: 1923
  • Company: New York, Harper

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