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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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  • Douglas
  • 18-08-2013

Wow!

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.

20 of 24 people found this review helpful

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  • Andreas
  • 25-01-2015

Logically

A bit dry content, but fun to learn non the less. Be ready with pen and paper for most of this course. You will need it.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Gary
  • 18-03-2018

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.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • stefan
  • 20-05-2017

excellent audio book



I would recommend it if you are looking for a challenge. go for it

Thank you

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  • Zahid Ayar
  • 14-05-2016

Great course about thinking tools

Great. Additional workbook download for audiobook would be useful. Instructor talks about and refers to diagrams and row numbers for steps of logical proofs and it would be helpful to have a document download or link to follow along. Otherwise great course to go over the tools of thinking and get an introduction to the logical methods that can be used in our lives to come to conclusions that are more probably closer to the truth. May we be guided ever closer to the truth and increase in Guidance.

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  • Tero
  • 18-08-2013

This course is too much based on superstition

Would you try another book from The Great Courses and/or Professor James Hall?

The Great Courses concept is fine by me, but Professor James Hall's insight on taking superstition as an equal part of rational reasoning with (scientific) facts, is just way too much for me - and thus I lost the interest to this book within 2 hours.

Has Tools of Thinking: Understanding the World Through Experience and Reason turned you off from other books in this genre?

No. As long as I don't have to listen to James Hall's opinions.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

He clearly has a theological hidden agenda.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Disappointment.

Any additional comments?

I might listen through the whole book after a while... maybe there is some true substance in this book - as its title suggests.

11 of 30 people found this review helpful

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  • Eric
  • 28-07-2013

It's great, but not for audio-only

Would you try another book from The Great Courses and/or Professor James Hall?

I have tried some of "The Great Courses," even before they appeared on audible. One each on Math, Art, Public Speaking, Meditation, and now his Logic course. "The Great Courses" could be more aptly named "The Hit or Miss Courses" simply because the quality of the Professors, their presentations, and their actual relation to the subject matter varies intensely. Of the courses I have tried, three (math, art, and public speaking) weren't worthwhile for various reasons. The public speaking course was so poor in every way that the professor wasn't even associated with his university's communications program, and was one of the worst presenters I've ever encountered. On the other hand the meditation course was honestly fantastic, and this course, too, would be fantastic. Yet, logic, even a basic and abridged introduction (or recap, depending on your life experiences so far) is complex. You're not going to retain (or even be able to imagine) everything Dr. Hall is discussing, and that's a problem. Apparently it is possible to go to "The Great Courses" website to purchase a hard copy of the workbook/ guide (yet, not the electronic version) without repurchasing the course. Audible should be providing the electronic version of the supplemental material, or it should be available, and heavily discountable, through Amazon with a clearly associated link. Until such an option is available I'd save your money or your credit for use on what you subscribed to this service for, an audio book. There are so many good reads waiting for you!

What did you like best about this story?

Dr. James Hall is clearly an "expert," that word being used as a compliment with the intended meaning being that the professor defines in the course (someone who has spent a long, long time thinking over a set of problems and thus really knows their stuff)!

What does Professor James Hall bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

There isn't a book to read, and that's a problem, unless you have an obscenely perfect memory... Which may be its own sort of problem?

What character would you cut from Tools of Thinking: Understanding the World Through Experience and Reason?

There aren't any characters

Any additional comments?

From here on out I'm sticking to audio books.

5 of 14 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 23-06-2016

Not what I was looking for

I thought this was going to go over logic and reasoning, maybe it does. I didn't listen to the entire audio book, three chapters at most. It felt like the book was going at a slow pace.

I am studying for the LSAT so I was looking for a book that reviewed deductive and inductive reasoning with examples. I didn't get that from this book.

Although It wasn't what I was looking for it may still be a good listen, just not for me at this time.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Hendrick Mcdonald
  • 10-07-2015

The Most Useless Great Course I Have Ever Heard

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

I've listened to quite a few Great Courses and generally very much enjoy them. This course though, taught me nothing. The philosopher babbles on round-about going on listening to himself talk while really saying nothing. Uh...philosophers.

Would you ever listen to anything by The Great Courses again?

I love the Great Courses!

How did the narrator detract from the book?

He rambles needlessly, losing his points in his verbosity.

What character would you cut from Tools of Thinking: Understanding the World Through Experience and Reason?

The speaker.

Any additional comments?

To hear an EXCELLENT teacher, listen to The Great Courses "Great Ideas of Classical Physics". So good, direct, leading you while referring back, tying the pieces together, using imagery and analogy. So good.

1 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Peter Ahlering
  • 15-10-2017

Not good

Slow, vacuous
Repetitious
Drawn out, boring
Painful presentation
I would not recommend this one at all


0 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 15-05-2015

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.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • AGGELOS IOAKIMIDES
  • 10-05-2016

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.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful