Audiovisual communication review

, Volume 2, Issue 4, pp 282–290 | Cite as

The feltboard in the teaching of logic

  • George Kimball Plochmann


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    The extremely difficult passage on the construction of the world-soul,Timaeus 34 C-36 E, would be even less intelligible without the image of crossed strips with which Plato helps us. One of the more obvious examples of a visual aid in Plato is described inRepublic VI, 509 E, where a line is divided (in a very peculiar way, it turns out) and each division and subdivision accorded special significance illustrating being or knowing. See, Robert S. Brumbaugh,Plato’s Mathematical Imagination (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1954). Plato’s “imagination” is not co-extensive with what is merely visible and ordered, but it can be abundantly illuminated by the several score “diagrams” which Brumbaugh finds buried in the text. Plato, by the way, looks upon sight as the sense of greatest benefit to our intellect—Timaeus 47 A.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Aristotle,Prior Analytics, I, 4, 25 b 31-26 a 1. For important notes on this, see Sir W. D. Ross,Aristotle’s Prior and Posterior Analytics: A Revised Text with Introduction and Commentary (Oxford: At the Clarendon Press, 1949,ad loc.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    See, for example, the scholium to Proposition 15 in Book I of theEthics. The famous illustration of the proper defining of a circle in theImprovement of the Understanding is another case in point.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Of the period of Psellus and shortly after, William Stanley Jevons, in hisStudies in Deductive Logic: A Manual for Students (Third edition; London: Macmillan and Company, 1896) says: “During a visit to Italy in 1874, I was much surprised and interested by the multitudes of curious diagrammatic exercises to be found in theological MSS. of the great public libraries of Italy. The abundance of these diagrams shows that rudimentary logical exercises were very popular in the country where, and at the time when, the dawn of modern science began to break. I estiamted that a single MSS. in the Biblioteca Communale … contained at least 800 such diagrams … The MSS. containing these (among others) is assigned in the printed catalogue to the 11th or 12th Century …”—Preface, p. xxii.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    For light on this material, consult Clarence I. Lewis,A Survey of Symbolic Logic (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1918),ad loc. Leibniz lived during a century when many of the leading mathematicians wished to find visual or even mechanical methods of solving difficult problems—Descartes, Pascal, Napier,et al. Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Letters of Euler to a German Princess on Different Subjects in Physics and Philosophy, translated from the French by Henry Hunter (London: H. Murray, 1795) 2 vols. See Letters CI–CVIII, written between February 10 and March 7, 1761.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    J. H. Lambert, “Sechs Versuche einer Zeichenkunst in der Vernunftlehre” inJohann Heinrich Lamberts logische und philosophische Abhandlungen, edited by Johann Bernoulli (Berlin: 1782) Vol. I. A number of diagrammatic devices are found scattered through these papers. For brief accounts, see Lewis,op. cit., and J. Welton,A Manual of Logic, 2 vols. (Second edition, London: W. B. Clive, 1901). See also Lambert’sNeues Organon (Leipzig: Johann Wendler, 1764).Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Sir William Hamilton,Lectures on Metaphysics and Logic, edited by Henry L. Mansel and John Veitch (Edinburgh and London: William Blackwood and Sons, 1874). See especially the Appendices to Vol. IV: Appendix VI (c), (d), (e), (f).Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    In hisStudies in Deductive Logic, Jevons slightly modifies the Euler circles, p. 52. See also hisThe Principles of Science: A Treatise on Logic and Scientific Method (Special American edition; New York: MacMillan and Company, 1874), which contains a description of the logical abacus (p. 119–23) and the logical machine (p. 123–31), the latter being sometimes dubbed the logical piano. See further W. Mays and D. P. Henry, “Jevons and Logic,”Mind LXII, 248: p 484ff (October, 1953) for a discussion of this machine in relation to the theory behind it.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    John Venn,Symbolic Logic (London: MacMillan and Company, 1881). This is one of the most important books to consider spatial representation of logical forms: its contributions are chiefly contained in chapters 5 and 11. There is an interesting historical summary given in chapter 20; here Venn lists no fewer than 25 ways in which “No S is P” can be indicated symbolically. We must remember that Venn was writing three-quarters of a century ago; the additions to this list are no doubt overwhelming by now. One notes that Venn has a difficulty in separating symbolism from geometrical representations, a difficulty quite similar to one that perhaps ought to be raised in the present essay. But in the case at hand there would be little purpose served in making the separation: both symbols and designs can be shown clearly on the feltboard.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Gottlob Freger§ rather notorious diagrams were first expounded in hisBegriffschrifft, eine der arithmetischen nachgebildete Formelsprache des reinen Denkens (Halle, 1879). The first chapter of this is rendered into English in Peter Geach and Max Black,Translations from the Philosophical Writings of Gottlob Frege (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1952), p. 1–20. There is a brief account in Joergen Joergensen,A Treatise of Formal Logic (Copenhagen and London: 1931) 3 vols.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Giuseppe Peano and Others,Formulaire de Math’ematiques (Turin: 1895–1908).Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Some of these details were first explained to me by Donald A. Ingli, director, and Rolland P. Schlieve, assistant director of Audio-Visual Aids at Southern Illinois University, and I wish to thank them here.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    The Wittgenstein truth-tables make their first appearance in hisTractatus Logico-Philosophicus (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner, and Company, 1922) par. 4.31.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    —Welton,op. cit.,, contains a good chapter on the value of these circles, and other diagrams of propositions, and syllogisms.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    John Neville Keynes,Studies and Exercises in Formal Logic (Third edition; London: MacMillan and Company, 1894), Part III, chapter 4.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    —Venn,op. cit.,, p. 100 n., says: “Until I came to look somewhat closely into the matter I had no idea how prevalent such an appeal had become. Thus of the first 60 logical treatises, published during the last century or so, which were consulted for this purpose … it appeared that 34 appeal to the aid of diagrams, nearly all of these making use of the Eulerian Scheme.”Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    John Stuart Mill,A System of Logic, Ratiocinative and Inductive (Eighth edition; London: Longmans, Green, Reader, and Ryer, 1872), Book III, chapter 8.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    W. E. Johnson,Logic, Volume II (Cambridge: At the University Press, 1922). Chapter 10 is on demonstrative induction, the type most nearly in accord with Mill’s methods, and easily presentable by the same visual means.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Ronald A. Fisher,The Design of Experiments (New York: Hafner-Publishing Company, 1947). See particularly chapter 5.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Raymond L. Wilder,Introduction to the Foundations of Mathematics (New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1952), chapter 1.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Morris R. Cohen and Ernest Nagel,An Introduction to Logic and Scientific Method (New York: Harcourt Brace and Company, 1934).Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    —Wilder,op. cit.,, chapter 2.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Described in Jevons,Studies in Deductive Logic, chapter 11. A modified form of these cards is given in Martin Gardner, “Logic Machines,”Scientific American 186:71; March 1952.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Edmund Callis Berkeley,Giant Brains, or Machines That Think (New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1949). See especially chapter 9, which furnishes a short account of the relation of symbolic logic to electric relays. These could well be illustrated on the feltboard, preferably with flocked lightweight cardboard strips.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Periodicals Service Company 1954

Authors and Affiliations

  • George Kimball Plochmann

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations