Being Logical Is For You

“Make sure you think things over.” 

“Be logical in the decisions you make.”

“Base your beliefs on the evidence, not feelings.”

All of the above is great advice, but here’s an important point that needs to be included in any discussion on the importance of being logical:

Being logical isn’t the same thing as being able to silence your critics or defeat your opponents in a debate about the rationality of your beliefs.

When logicians and other critical thinkers say “be logical”, they often mean “examine the evidence, maintain consistency in your beliefs, follow the truth wherever it leads, and be brutally honest with yourself.” Sometimes when people say “be logical”, however, what they really mean is “don’t make that decision until you can first convince me that it’s a logical choice to make.”

Here’s something to keep in mind in your quest to be logical:

Being logical is good. Being a slave to your need to convince other people that you are logical is dangerous. 

Being logical is for you, not for your critics. The main reason why you want to be logical is because you want to avoid decisions that are unethical, dangerous towards others, foolish, self-destructive, and unhealthy. Striving to be logical gives you some assurance that you’re not overlooking very important things when you form judgments and make decisions.

Being logical, however, isn’t going to protect you from the experience of being criticized. Show me a logical person (or show me a person who considers themselves to be logical) and I will have a very easy time finding critics who dismiss that logical person as crazy, irresponsible, or wrong.

When someone questions your judgment, use it as an opportunity to examine your assumptions and premises. Just remember that being logical is all about holding yourself accountable to the evidence. It’s not about holding yourself hostage to another person’s disapproval of your final decision. You shouldn’t base your decisions on your feelings alone, but you also shouldn’t base your decisions on other people’s feelings either.

When you refuse to act on your own honest, examined, and substantiated understandings just because someone else thinks you’re being illogical, you’re allowing yourself to be ruled by someone else’s emotions. And there’s nothing logical about that.

Logic is a tool that helps you think clearly, critically, and creatively about the choices you make in life. Logic is not a protective shield that makes you immune from misunderstanding, controversy, and social disapproval. You’re going to have to deal with those things no matter what you do or believe.

So be logical, but don’t make the illogical mistake of believing that logic will force other people to recognize and appreciate how logical you are.