Sunday, April 19, 2009

All It Takes Is One

Syllogisms got me into Philosophy.

All men are mortal.

Socrates is a man.
Therefore Socrates is mortal.

Syllogisms keep me going in golf.

I thought I had room about this big
The ball is smaller than that

Aristotle authored the first piece of deductive reasoning. Angel Cabrera the second. There was a time when the Greek philosopher and student of Plato was my B.P.F.F. Now it is the overweight and unstylish Argentinean winner of the 2009 Masters Golf Tournament.

Syllogisms always look true -- not in the "Wow I never thought of that before" sense of the word, but more in the "Oh yeah. Of course, it goes without saying" way.

As a college freshman I liked that. It affirmed that I already knew everything and simply needed the tricks of the trade for showing off that knowledge.

All crows are black
Socrates is a crow
Therefore Socrates is black.

Then one day I looked out on my front lawn and saw a real, live all-white crow. All it takes is one.

Angel Cabrera was in a sudden death playoff at the Masters Golf Tournament when he hit his tee shot far to the right of the fairway, onto a bed of pine needles, and directly behind one of the trees that contributed to that pile. From the angle shown on television it did not look as if he could even see the green that he was shooting towards, never mind land the ball on it.

The TV commentators agreed that he should "lay up", hit the ball back onto the fairway in the easiest way possible, even if it meant going backwards.

He didn't.

"'I thought I had room about this big [placing his hands about three feet apart] and I said the ball is smaller than [that],' he said."


"His shot caromed off a tree into the fairway." [into a perfect position to par the hole].

I am frequently in that same situation on the golf course. And, even though my skills are absolutely nowhere near Cabrera's, I have reasoned in exactly the same way.

I will next time too.

All it takes is one.

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