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4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars

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VINE VOICEon 31 October 2005
It may seem petty to complain about the omission of one logician in a book that covers such a vast scope in such little space, but really the absence of a key figure like George Boole is very strange. However, the book remains a great summary and overview. It introduces many important ideas and thinkers, is fun and readable and will help you decide if you want to pursue the subject further. If you do, the reading list at the end will steer you in the right direction. If you are completely new to the subject, I would not actually recommend this as your very first book. Ironically enough, you would be better starting with an elementary text on Boolean algebra, to show you some formal logic in action. Then you would get more out of this present work, the great strength of which is that it provides a historical and conceptual framework for further study.
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on 16 July 2012
I do not own this book, but have flicked through it both in a shop and using the 'look inside' function here on Amazon. I would strongly advise people not to buy this if they are interested in learning about logic. Even from a cursory glance there are a number of glaring errors. From the bits that I have seen:

- p.7 describes a valid argument as being 'false'. One of the first things that a student would learn in a logic course at university would be that arguments are never the kind of thing to be false or true. They are valid or invalid, and they are sound or unsound. Calling an argument false is a simple category error. This may sound like minor quibbling, but it is as important as a book on physics not getting 'mass' and 'weight' mixed up.

- the material on Leibniz' law is very muddled. It mixes up a number very different ideas: identity (saying that of two objects that they are in fact one and the same object), universal generalisations (statements of the form 'all Fs are Gs'), and equivalence of statements.

- The material about Frege's context principle is bizarre. The context principle does not say anything like what this book claims it says -- it has nothing to do with the context of the *utterance* of a sentence, but is instead a claim about how certain linguistic items---in particular, for Frege, number words---get their meaning. In any case, even a good exposition of the context principle does not belong in a book on logic, but rather in a book on philosophy of language or philosophy of mathematics.

- It wrongly describes Frege's logic as propositional logic. What was notable about Frege's contribution to logic was that it went *beyond* what we now call propositional logic -- which deals with sentences connected by words like 'not', 'and', 'or' and so on -- and towards *quantified* logic, which deals with statements involving 'for all' and 'there exists'. Again, this might seem like a minor quibble, but terminology is important. You wouldn't want a book about chemistry to mix up the word 'covalent' and 'ionic'.

- The stuff about set theory contains numerous errors, not least in the discussion of Russell's Paradox. The book makes an extraordinary error in confusing one set's being a member of another set with its being a *subset* of that other set. A set X is a subset of a set Y if every member of X is also a member of Y. But that does not mean that the set X is itself a member of Y. This is, quite possibly, *the* most fundamental distinction in set theory. That the authors would make such a mistake is simply staggering. That the book would then get published with such a mistake is even more staggering.

These are just a small number of errors from the part of the book that I have seen, and from the precise topics with which I am familiar. I have no doubt that, if the authors are incompetent enough to make these mistakes, they are incompetent enough to make numerous other mistakes in the other parts of the book. Again, please do not buy this book, it is a load of codswallop (even if the rest of it is exemplary, even these bits would bring it down to less than worthless). Maybe buy 'Logic: A a very short introduction' instead. It's written by somebody who is actually an expert in the field, and knows what he's talking about. If you want pictures, buy 'Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth', which covers the history of logic in the first part of the last century.
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on 23 July 2009
this little book is a thought-provoking, inspiring introduction into the history of logic, following different attempts to understand and formulate what is logic from aristotle to now. i have come across other introductions to logic that have been disappointing to me because they have purely outlined the basic rules of mathematical logic. But this book offers a much wider and more exciting viewpoint by presenting systems of logic, including philosophical and symbolic logic, concentrating not on calculations but on the reasoning behind them. this compact book provides plenty of food for many logical and illogical thoughts - it will make your brain work! Further reading list in the back.
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on 26 July 2017
This book helped me in understanding how logic theories have developed through the history without getting into too much detail.
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on 6 March 2005
I studied quite a lot of the material in this book at universtity. I understood many of the different contributions but could not see the development of logical ideas in the 20th century as a whole. After reading this book you will be able to see the relationship between major ideas in philosophy, logic, mathematics and linguistics. One could quibble about details but why bother? Overall the book makes hard ideas accessible and puts them into context. What more can you ask for?
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on 1 January 2003
This book actually does what it says - give a introduction to logic.
But, and this is why the book is worth 5 stars, it is an textbook example of how a slim volume can sumarise an entire subject in human history.
My belief in rationality was overturned, matured and finally reconstructed!!!
Buy this book if you a techie, and think that almost all problems in the world could be managed if the world would come to it's senses and stop oversimplifing everything!!!
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on 28 August 2014
This is a good overview, explaining key ideas briefly and inviting deeper looks elsewhere. If you're just curious about the run of ideas about the nature of logic in the last 120 or so years. You'll learn enough to ask Wikipedia the right questions for a little more depth.
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on 1 February 2015
I enjoyed reading this book. I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in learning about logic. A good starting point and the graphics are great. I found the kindle version more enjoyable.
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on 27 November 2015
a great way to teach and demonstrate this subject!
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on 11 July 2015
A fun way to start ogic
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