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Publisher's Summary

Everyone has to think in order to function in the world, but what is the best way to reason effectively in your pursuit of reliable beliefs and useful knowledge? What is the best way to prove a case, create a rule, solve a problem, justify an idea, invent a hypothesis, or evaluate an argument? In short, what is the best way to think? 
Professor Hall helps you cut through deception and faulty reasoning in these 24 humorous, clear, and interesting lectures, offering a friendly but intellectually rigorous approach to the problem of thinking. Among the topics you'll learn about are: 

Deduction (this form of reasoning reaches a conclusion based on a set of premises; if the premises are true, then the conclusion necessarily follows)
Induction (less ironclad than deduction, this approach surveys the evidence and then generalizes an explanation to account for it; the conclusion may be probable, but it is not certain)
Syllogism (this simple but powerful deductive argument offers two premises and a conclusion, e.g., "All Greeks are mortals. All Athenians are Greeks. Therefore, all Athenians are mortals.")
Dialectic (a question-and-answer dialogue, called dialectic, is valuable for uncovering first principles)
Venn diagrams (this technique uses overlapping circles to represent different classes of objects or ideas in order to clarify a syllogism)
Some of the greatest philosophers who ever lived have used these tools to separate ideas that make sense from those that don't. Now you, too, can think more clearly, making better lives for ourselves and for those to come. 

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2005 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2005 The Great Courses
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Douglas on 08-18-13


Stunned by the negative review of this wonderful lecture series. I can't imagine anyone halfway versed in metacognition having any problems following this material, supplements or no. Granted, I have done a lot of study in this area and from much more in-depth books than this, but anyone should find this a greatly enlightening book on the process of human thought and logic. I recommend it be read with Novallis' The Deceptive Mind and perhaps Ridgley's Strategic Thinking. Unlike the other reviewer, I have yet to come across a lecture series in The Great Courses that I didn't absolutely love and devour. I wish I could somehow work them into my own classrooms.

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20 of 24 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Gary on 03-18-18

Cultivate your soul and learn, learn, learn!

Logic preserves truth. Logic cannot create truth nor confirm truth through its own capacity. Its existence shows nothing more than a healthy respect we have for the ‘laws of thought’ when we are dealing with dichotomies, a system where a statement must be true or false, a system where something either ‘is’ or ‘is not’. Logic is the method in which we give a narrative and meaning to matters of fact about the real world, and our experiences about the real world. Logic is how the well prepared mind processes the world around us. The truth (‘a comportment to reality’) is not demonstrated by logic it is only preserved. Our feelings determine our experiences and our experiences need our intuitions in order to provide meaning. For logic to comport to reality we must connect the abstract with the concrete through our intuition, reason, rational, empirical and the narrative we construct.

In a well functioning democracy nothing is more important than for its citizenry to understand the building blocks that go into creating knowledge and the justified true beliefs that compose the foundations of science and culture (i.e. ‘the cultivation of the soul’, the original Cicero meaning for the word ‘culture’).

Every time I hear someone say ‘alternative facts’ are real, or all news that they don’t like is ‘fake news’, or ‘Climate change is a Chinese Hoax’, or ‘autism is caused by vaccines’, or 'that no body was there to observe the big bang therefore it never happened [yes, indeed, Mr. Rush Limbaugh said that inanity the day after Stephen Hawkins passed away]. I understand why they are doing that. They want to undermine our democracy. They want us to question our science and manipulate our culture so they can bring back hate of the others who are not like us. They want us to rely on them for our facts which they admit to making up and they will provide the conclusion without providing the logical steps. They want to make our country no better than a third rate authoritarian fascist state as Russia is today.

Science never proves. It can only reject a null hypothesis and replace it with the alternative until a better alternative comes to replace that. The ignorant and stupid are certain in their beliefs. The intelligent are never certain. The strength of science is that it knows it will constantly remake itself when something better comes along. Science's weakness is that at its foundational core it is complex and hard and simple bromides are easier to embrace and repeat.

The simple mind who wants to manipulate will make the world binary and non-subtle in order to force a construct from the limited choices. ‘If you don’t build a wall, you will have rapists and serial killers come through’ after all ‘a Mexican U.S. Judge [who was actually born in East Chicago, Indiana and is actually an American citizen] can’t be trusted to judge’. Perhaps, that’s a false dichotomy. Perhaps, there are other ways to think about the problem. Our understanding can only be constructed from the entities that make up our world view (ontology) and when we allow somebody to purposely limit our perspectives we can blame ourselves as well as the manipulator.

Learning the components of logic, thinking and understanding is a necessary but not sufficient condition for a democracy to strive. I encourage everyone to learn as much as they can about the universe we live in and make part of their meaning of life an inquiry into the inquiry of thought, understanding and logic. Do it as if your democracy depends on it.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
3 out of 5 stars
By Amazon Customer on 05-15-15

Excellent Book But ...

Do you think Tools of Thinking: Understanding the World Through Experience and Reason needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

Of course: Because how on earth someone could understand this book and have a clear view of the presented ideas without provided a visual aid with all the depicted pictures and diagrams mentioned during the narration.

Any additional comments?

The book is Great! The narration is excellent. I would like to complement Professor James Hall for this excellent book.
However, the publisher of this Audiobook is lame and less than professional. Because how on earth we could understand this book and have a clear view of the presented ideas without provided a visual aid with all the depicted pictures and diagrams mentioned during the narration.

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3 of 5 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars

As the lecture is excellent as an audiobook mediocre

The philosophical axis of these lectures is invaluable to anyone but could certainly have been made in the more concentrated way. The tools should have been summarised, a conclusion of the. Worry could have been demonstrated and the value of each brick could have been pronounced for everyday life be for a scientist or someone other than. Definitely has important concepts to pick up but I will use the accompanying documentation for that and not bookmarks within the lectures.

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0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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