When people read a book like The Catcher in the Rye, they can’t help but think about it. What was Martin thinking when he wrote that part of The Catcher in the Rye? Why did he say certain things in that sentence? We can ask this question for ourselves in more than one way. For example, did Martin really mean to say that Jim is a homosexual? Or that he is afraid of needles? To answer these questions, we’re going to use a method called inductive reasoning. An inductive theory is a particular theory in the context of which a set of hypotheses (or inductive premises) is formed.
It’s not uncommon in theoretical physics, mathematics, biology, and chemistry to find these two terms (inductive and inductive) being used together, but that’s not how inductive reasoning works. Think of inductive reasoning as starting with a particular theory (or axiom) and finding a set of premises that can be proven to the satisfaction of all of your assumptions. A particular theory can be called inductive when it is able to prove the correctness assumptions about the world such that all of your assumptions about its axioms have been satisfied. In the case of The Catcher in the Rye, the theory you’re using to form your assumptions has proved to be inductive.
If you’re curious about how inductive reasoning works, read on.
How are inductive premises formed?
A particular theory often starts with an assumption. We’ll see later that The Catcher in the Rye uses a “hypothesis of homosexuality” (or a “hypothesis of homosexuality” as Jerry does in the movie). Let’s use the book’s example of Jim’s fear of needles: Jim is afraid of needles because it’s hard to avoid and difficult to detect. But how else could Jim be afraid of needles? He doesn’t have to fear needles, he just wants to avoid being in bed with a needle. In other words, why is Jim afraid of needles? His fear of needles is simply the result of his fear of needles, which has, we all know, to change in the future if he is afraid of needles for any reason. But if Jim wants to avoid being in bed with a needle, how does he know that the future will be bad? By knowing that the future is bad, Jim can figure out which of his various fears is a more likely reason for the future to be bad, and that would lead to more fear of needles.