# Logic-related note-taking question

I have been thinking about note taking from a logical perspective recently. It started when I realized that note-taking is basically a process of extracting "statements" or "arguments" from a piece of text or a speech. This is easy when one knows exactly what they need to take notes of. However, when one is new to a subject it can be much more difficult to know what is important or not. This is what led me to start thinking about note taking and logic.

I then started considering if it is possible to at least know which parts of a textbook are an inseparable part of the subject matter and which parts are superfluous. This is obvious for some pieces of information, eg a maths textbook talking about the history of maths - obviously the history of maths parts can be discarded if we are simply interested in the mathematics. However, as I "zoomed in" more on this, I soon found out just how difficult it is to determine what is or is not part of a subject.

This led me to realize that it would be very helpful to have a definition of a subject before hand. Once this is done in an accurate, water-tight manner, it becomes much easier to determine the "components" that build up the subject and from there it is much easier to know what is and is not part of the subject.

Having reached this far I still feel like I have a long way to go to formulate a science of note taking based on logic. Thus, I would be very interested if this has been done before, or if anyone has interesting ideas on this they would like to share. If I had to distill this into one question it would be something like the following:

How can one determine whether a statement is a part of a subject or not?

• Taking notes is for me more of an art; I always take an intuitive rather than a scientific approach. I rarely actually go back over my notes, as the act of writing them down in the first place seems to be enough to ingrain the ideas into my memory. That said, I typically simplify by reducing each unit or chapter to one main thesis, upon which I may formulate a general outline of facts or principles. – Bread Apr 7 at 16:47
• IMO, there is nothing specifically related to logic, neither to math logic nor to philosophical one. – Mauro ALLEGRANZA Apr 7 at 16:57
• In "American English Rhetoric" (Robert G Bander,1982) a system for writing is employed which can be used to take compelling, accurate notes. It involves capturing the 'controlling idea' in any given sentence or paragraph. It does take some practice but the point is to quickly assess what the most important point is trying to be made in a given segment of any lecture. Good Luck! CS – Charles M Saunders Apr 7 at 17:07
• "It would be very helpful to have a definition of a subject before hand", yes, alas it runs into the paradox of knowledge: "man cannot search either for what he knows or for what he does not know... for he does not know what to look for." At initial stages you won't be able to correctly judge what is or is not important, so try to note as much as possible, reflect on it later, and supplement with additional reading. See Wikipedia's Note-taking for a survey of strategies. – Conifold Apr 8 at 21:41