Emotions are powerful. In newspaper headlines and on social media, they have become the primary way of understanding the world. But strong feelings make it more difficult to see the reality behind the rhetoric. In The Art of Logic, Eugenia Cheng shows how mathematical logic can help us see things more clearly - and know when politicians and companies are trying to mislead us.

Here's why Eugenia wrote The Art of Logic

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Eugenia Cheng with book 

 

 

My previous books focussed on showing that maths can be fun, creative and open-ended. But then came various political developments in the last couple of years, the rise in the prominence of "fake news", and the continued swerve towards clickbait headlines, simplistic memes, soundbites and short social-media-style attention spans. There have always been people manipulating the news, manipulating statistics, and having futile divisive arguments, but the political developments made me feel very urgently that I should do something.

The Art of Logic is what I decided to do. I thought about what I, as an abstract mathematician, could possibly contribute to social and political discourse, and I realised that good use of logic is what is so often missing from arguments - on all sides. And that good use of logic doesn't solve the problems or declare some people right and others wrong in the argument, but it enables me to see much more clearly what everyone is trying to say, from their point of view and using their logic rather than mine. It also helps me see where the argument is going wrong, and where the points of disagreement are coming from which is often a little deeper than it might first seem. And understanding and empathising with other people is a crucial first step in reaching some kind of unity. It sometimes seems that nobody wants unity any more, and everyone just wants to take sides and yell at one another.

But I am optimistic that this is not the case, and it's just that those who yell loudest are indeed the loudest.

In writing this book I was very motivated and inspired by the art students I teach at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. I teach them maths although some were previously rather reluctant if not actively negative towards the subject. I have found that they are deep thinkers, and are artists who want to change the world with their art. In my three years teaching there (so far) I have found that the thing that motivates them the most when learning mathematical concepts is when I can use them to elucidate social and political issues.

When teaching, it is of utmost importance to discover what makes your students' ears prick up, what makes them sit up and want to hear more. 

I know that I think about everything through the lens of mathematics and the rigour that comes with it and so I found more and more ways to relate abstract mathematics to the issues my students care about the most: social justice, racism, sexism, bigotry, harassment, power dynamics, exploitation, violence, poverty and so on.

This book is a compilation and development of those ideas, that have helped me and my students and I hope will help many people who truly desire to unite and make the world a better place and, importantly, who believe it is still possible.

Order your copy of The Art of Logic with 10% off and free UK shipping

Follow @dreugeniacheng on Twitter