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The basis of Western philosophy and science, the philosophy of logic, has a history dating back to the cultural golden age of Ancient Greece. As a mode of thinking, the philosophy of logic evolved as early thinkers attempted to understand the world by asking questions and then isolating and building on facts.

In our own time, this seems like an obvious method of problem-solving. But for the Ancient Greeks, this form of thinking was a revolutionary advance in philosophical reasoning.

Before this point, for example, most natural phenomena were explained through the prism of mythology. In Ancient Greece, a lightning storm was attributed to Zeus; a shipwreck was attributed to Poseidon. If you did not want your farmhouse to burn down in a lightning storm, in other words, you made a sacrifice to Zeus; if you did not want your ships to be wrecked in a storm, you made sacrifices to Poseidon.

However, Ancient Greek thinkers like Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and others saw many problems with this type of thinking.

Firstly, a view of the world that is at heart mythological is an ineffective tool for predicting outcomes: If you want to predict eclipses, for example, you are far better off studying facts about astronomical movements than you are making sacrifices. Suppose you want to predict whether a crop will succeed or fail. In that case, you are similarly better off examining ecological conditions rather than leaving everything up to a nature god or goddess.

As you might imagine, this type of logical thinking was humankind’s first foray into scientific thinking in many ways. This is because the philosophy of logic allows us to isolate facts. For example, take the famous logical statement that “all men are mortal; Socrates is a man; therefore, Socrates is mortal.”

It’s a simple enough statement; indeed, it has become one of the most famous “equations” that the philosophy of logic has ever produced. But it is a remarkable illustration that the natural world can be distilled into a number of truths if we observe reality closely enough. From these truths, moreover, philosophers and scientists can accomplish incredible feats: Thanks in large part to the philosophy of logic, facts about gravity allowed us to travel to the moon.

To wit, the philosophy of logic has in very real terms formed the underlying structure of contemporary society. It has led to advances in healthcare, technology, and agriculture. If you can proceed from a foundation of truth, in other words, it would seem that there is little that you cannot accomplish.