Logic, critical thinking in pirate movies

Logic, critical thinking in pirate movies

Current ideas of logic developed from Greek philosophers of the Golden Age, fifth century B.C. Three philosophers in particular are famous in Philosophy 101 college and university classes. These three are Socrates, and two of his pupils who became philosophers themselves: Plato and Aristotle.

Plato, the Rationalist. We are Born with Knowledge

Like his teacher Socrates, Plato was a “rationalist.” He believed that before we are born, we dwell in a perfect world, where everything is true, good, and beautiful. When we are born, we forget these “Forms.” The teacher’s job, according to Plato, is to help the students remember. Thus Plato used his teacher’s method of questioning the students. This is known as the “Socratic method,” and is especially used in law schools. Many professionals in the fields of linguistics and language acquisition subscribe to the rationalist view, that humans are born with knowledge.

Aristotle, the Empiricist. We receive knowledge from five senses.

Aristotle disagreed with his teacher. Aristotle believed that knowledge comes from our five senses. In this belief, Aristotle is joined by modern day psychologists and educators. The stated proofs are feral children, such as children raised by wolves. These children generally never learn human languages, customs, or developments. When offered food at a table, they refuse it, and would rather hunt for their food, as wolves do. Attempts to “humanize” feral children have been unsuccessful. Thus, empiricists believe that we learn what we see, hear, taste, touch, or smell.


One of the most common syllogisms taught in college and university classes follows:

Socrates is a man.
All men are mortal.
Therefore, Socrates is mortal.

This syllogism contains and “if….., then……” provision. If Socrates is a man, and if all men are mortal, then Socrates is mortal.

Syllogism in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

In Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) has been jailed after saving the governor’s daughter, Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightly).

When Port Royal comes under attack that night, Sparrow recognizes the attacking ship as The Black Pearl, the ship that he once captained before the crew and Captain Barbossa mutinied and marooned Sparrow on a deserted island.

In the cell next to Sparrow are other prisoners. One of them says that the Black Pearl doesn’t leave any survivors.

To which Sparrow replies, then where do the stories come from I wonder?

Sparrow’s reply is an example of critical thinking, He is considering what someone has said or written, and then examining it for any sort of illogical thinking. Sparrow’s question is clearly a syllogism, of the if….then….. variety.

If there are no survivors, then there is no one to tell a story about the Black Pearl’s ruthless crew.
But there are stories about the Black Pearl.
Therefore, the Black Pearl crew must leave some survivors.