Celebrating Logic with Sherlock Holmes

One cannot write a text without sufficient material, and I confess that I don't know much about 20th century England or the time during which the events of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes play out. However, the book strikes a few mental cords that I wish to convey in a public text, and perhaps the manner in which I write this betrays the fact that I recently read its Gutenberg edition.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle does something special with the way he writes. Objectively, it is not a dramatic or even thrilling text. And yet, it shares the tension of these kinds of texts, by the slow unveiling of some event which is carefully explained in further and further detail. We are very rarely in the middle of the action, preferring instead the perspective of a detective who is presented with the facts after the relevant events have already transpired.

In this way, the story allows us, the readers, to partake in the solving of the mystery as if we were there with Mr. Holmes ourselves, but without his excellent wits or quick reasoning. An avid problem-solver like myself would by now begin to take interest in this, as we can all vouch for the enjoyment of solving a difficult puzzle together with a friend, colleague or rival. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes invites this mindset, this interest in the journey of logical deduction, which ends as soon as a conclusion is reached, just as suddenly as the chapters The Adventures present.

Mr. Holmes himself is an ebodiment of this disregard of anything but the facts. A boy with a broken tiara of jewels in his hand at the scene of the crime, known to be in dire want of money, did not at the slightest convince him that he was guilty. He instead conjectured using negative proof that the boy had instead tried to help put the tiara back together for his dear father. Similarly, the cruelty of human ignorance is dealt a killing blow when ...

In the previous paragraph, I attempted to find another example of a feeling of safety that the quick solutions and perceptions of him can induce. Mr. Holmes is simply so quick-witted and talented, that he can deal indeed 'killing' blows to otherwise seemingly impossibly complex problems that are sure to end badly. He also has a sense of justice, letting criminals who truly regret their deeds to escape without punishment (sometimes the crime does not match the punishment the law would give to such a crime). But, each chapter seems to present a different kind of adventure, a different kind of problematic situation, and as such, Sir Doyle manages to match the variance of the problems with an equally varying type of solution.

Mr. Holmes may be ideal, but perceived objectively, he is incredibly sound and reasonable. One can only learn from the Adventures that Sir Doyle has written that Logic and Reasoning are things to be celebrated, no matter the gender, class or appearance of someone in trouble.