"Logic is the beginning of wisdom...not the end"-Spock
What is Logic? Through the Middle-Ages, most people subscribed to the Aristotelian system of principles that lead to both proof and inference. In more concrete terms, logic is the system of using symbols, sometimes mathematical, to determine the valid forms of an argument. Logic can also be a course of action or the necessary steps to accomplish some task.
There is a logic to our degree and ritual work, and that logic is pervasive throughout our meetings. Without the system of signs and symbols, steps and validating statements, whether parliamentary with seconding motions and calling the matter to vote, yea or nay, we cannot hope to proceed...you guessed it, logically.
While logic is an artificial construct we impose on our meetings, it leads to the order that mathematics has dubbed the language of nature, and can be used not only to describe the course of a meeting, but also the times and seasons, years and cycles.
So what, you may say, how is this of any use to me in life outside the lodge? First, a simple example:
"All Freemasons are men."
This is a valid statement, you must be a man to be a Freemason. From this statement, we can infer that if you are a Freemason, then you are a man. However, the opposite of this statement is false:
"All men are Freemasons."
This example of incorrectly contorting an argument's components is called the, "Fallacy of affirming the consequent."
Similarly, if we say that: "If a person is not a mason, then that person is not a man." This is also not a valid inference and is false. The individual might be under lawful age or a categorically un-masonic man. This is called, "the fallacy of denying the antecedent."
Finally there is something called the contrapositive, often used in mathematical context: "If a person is not a man, that person is not a Mason." This statement is both logically valid and true.
The four statements above can be symbolized by the following:
- A => B (If A, then B)
- B => A (If B, then A)
- -A => -B (If not A, then not B)
- -B => -A (If not B, then not A)
And these will hold, no matter the application.
But, we need a first principle, a cornerstone, a foundation. We need Truth. As we know, the great light is the source of that truth. From it flows our masonic obligations, and with it, we can establish the logic whereby to live a righteous life. Taking this sentiment a little further, the logic behind becoming a mason becomes apparent. We admit we are fallible, and subject to the weaknesses of the world. We are constantly surrounded by billboards, internet ads, and radios blaring the solutions to all the problems fit to profit from solving. As masons, we have made the conscious decision to see beyond the marketing of our world and look instead to the wisdom carried by our older lodge brethren. Those with masonic knowledge based on the light of truth can guide us through life and show us hot to live according to the principles of freemasonry, if we let them. These principles build inner strength through self sacrificial service to others, discipline in learning ritual, and dedication to a set of ideals that transform a man into a mason. By following the light of masonry, we are able to strengthen our families and communities, not just ourselves and the fraternity.
We are masons, yet we are men. The logic that you apply to the world after receiving your degrees may not change dramatically at first. But after you learn a small part, or perhaps a charge, even a lecture; go further and research to help write an article or present an educational program; and if able, even take on the responsibility of leading your lodge by committing to the officer line, then, you may begin to appreciate the lessons in the lectures, charges and allegory presented in the rituals.
Some people join a golf or ski club. Its a shame to invest the money into such activities if you never go golfing or skiing. Becoming an active participant in your lodge, as your family, profession and time allows, exercises your membership and the strengthens your understanding of the logic underpinning freemasonry. By participating more, you will understand why, for hundreds if not thousands of years, men have joined and extolled the virtues of this fraternity.
Logic teaches us not only to think, it inculcates in us, in masonic terms, and sometimes in mathematical expressions, to look for what is true by following a process, which leads us to our conclusion:
Without a system to establish what is true and what is false, we cannot know anything. Learning the first principles of your sacred text of choice, and seeing the lessons it lays out is a tremendous first step. Caring for the sick and distressed, treating everyone as a member of the same family of man, aiding and assisting the widow and orphan are empathetic develops from the teachings of any sacred text worth reading. But masonry goes even further by teaching you not to speak ill of others, either by backbiting through character assassination or insulting a man's character to his face, to controlling your passions and holding fast to the golden rule of doing unto others as you would have them do unto you. The lives chronicled in the Holy Bible and other sacred texts show us the way forward by making us aware of our history, and giving us a chance to avoid repeating the mistakes they have made. These lessons provide the logic of life. It is by this logic we are bound by obligation, and congregate in our lodges to celebrate its shared understanding and promulgation.
"Against Logic, there is no armor like ignorance." - L.J. Peter
Warmest fraternal regards,