As an engineer, I am used to thinking logically in a very narrow sense. In everyday life, I often come across claims that are passed off as logical, but instantly trigger my bullshit detector. Yet, because I am not trained in philosophy, I have a hard time articulating exactly how they are flawed. This morning I saw the following quote on a bus poster on my way to work.
If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world. (C. S. Lewis)
What I'm concerned with here is not the existence or non-existence in itself of another world (presumably heaven), but the argument being made for it, which I think is absurd. My question is: as a philosopher, how would you go about picking this (or a similar) statement apart?
What I find particularly hard is the following: on the one hand, it seems to me that for fruitful philosophy (as opposed to science), logic needs to be understood in a somewhat broader sense; otherwise, we would be restricted to science. On the other hand, if logic it is understood too broadly, we quickly get to the point where, especially when dealing with complex issues such as the human condition, almost anything can be phrased eloquently and/or vaguely enough that it appears logical.
My initial thoughts on the quote above are as follows:
The word "reductionist" immediately comes to mind.
The poster is an appeal to emotion, aesthetic and authority. It's trying to make you feel better about yourself by quoting a famous person using nicely-designed graphics.
This is not logic but wishful thinking. It could be rephrased as "If I find myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the most comforting explanation is that I was made for another world [that I will eventually inhabit]".
An equally logical (but less comforting) explanation would be that I have some desires that will remain fulfilled forever. Tough luck for me.
The conclusion rests on the premise that any desire that I have must eventually be fulfilled. This premise is neither self-evident nor proven from other true premises.
The quote, at least in its context, is referring to 'good' desires - perhaps unconditional love or an existence rid of suffering. But the logic would equally apply to sinister desires: what if I desire total power and control over all other humans? Does it mean that I'm destined for a world in which I can do whatever I want? If only good desires are allowed, then this is cherry picking.