A bi-weekly dose of logic
Monday Dos of Logos
So what’s this? Logos? What is that and why is it intruding upon your Monday? As if the first day of your week isn’t bad enough. Well, maybe I can answer those questions for you and, in the process, explain a little of what this column — and that pesky word — is all about.
If you’re into philosophy or happen to be a classics major (like me), you may have seen the word “logos” pop up in Heraclitus, Aristotle or Heidegger. The word “logos”gets around — it seems anyone who ever used the word used it in multiple ways for individual purposes. In one of its most basic forms, “logos” means “reason.” The Greeks defined “logos” as an eclectic mix of human creativity, intuitive thinking, logic (the root of which comes from logos) and language (“logos” can also mean “word” as in “written word” or “law” or “speech”). Confused yet? You’re not alone.
What does that have to do with this column? The political landscape in this country is rather polarized, with opinionated people on both sides seemingly on the verge of grabbing pitchforks, pikes and torches. But politics isn’t the only area where hypothetical (we hope) battle lines have been drawn: Secular and religious organizations have been dueling both in and out of the courts over whether God belongs in government. For me, these issues — while important to some — miss the mark. I have no interest at all in making the situation become more fractious. Instead, this column will focus on the facts and what the implications are for those facts. In this manner, I’d like to think that the column is the epitome of logos. It’s a convergence of thoughts and ideas about current events, but not in the same way you’re used to receiving them. I’m not a pundit, I’m a student — with his own opinions and perspectives — at a research institution, and that is how I’m approaching these subjects.
Certainly some of what I write will appear controversial. But that may be because people don’t like hearing anything different, especially if what they hear conflicts with their long-standing opinions. Unfortunately, I have a rather annoying habit of dealing with the facts, especially when history or ancient texts are abused or misused for a political or religious agenda.
For example, women in the Bible are marginalized greatly, to a point where they are more like property. I’m sure most religious individuals don’t really believe that women should be marginalized or considered property. There is a strong emphasis on equality at our University, and that should be applauded. But there are some people who do believe that women are not equal, that women are subservient to men. And some of those individuals that believe this have political power and authority in this country. So is it any surprise that a judge in Arizona can find the nerve to tell a victim of sexual abuse that it was her fault because, if she hadn’t been out that night, the crime wouldn’t have happened? Just to be clear, the judge was a woman, and I’m not certain of her politics or religious affiliation. But is there ever a time where a sexual assault or rape is the fault of the victims? Nope.
Now, I’m not suggesting that religion is at fault — and it isn’t the fault of the Bible (it is an inanimate object after all). There is a distinction to be made between those who practice their faith and those who use it as a tool to abuse others. Maybe there is something important to be said about taking laws written thousands of years ago for a people who no longer exist and attempting to apply their interpretations to today’s situations. Sometimes they work (“love thy neighbor”), sometimes they don’t (a woman must marry her rapist). Using ones best judgment doesn’t help either since we cannot always see the forest through the trees — sometimes one needs some additional perspective. Sometimes you just need a dose of logos. And that, my friends, is the word.
Tom Verenna is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in classics and history. His column, “Monday Dos of Logos,” runs on alternate Mondays.