Quote Originally Posted by Amaril View Post
In real life, that's all true. But fiction, or at least a certain subset of fiction that can use this kind of magic, doesn't run on real-life logic. It runs on symbols, on meaning. Within the context of a story, magic is perfectly capable of being inherently nonsensical and nonscientific, because that's what it represents in the story's allegory. I think the appropriate term might be Doylist vs. Watsonian thinking: in this case, you're concerning yourself with the Watsonian explanations for the way magic works in a story, while I'm focusing on the Doylist. My point is that you can't apply both perspectives to every kind of story. Some fictional settings are constructed specifically to appeal to Watsonian logic, to be internally consistent in a way the characters can understand just as well as the reader (that'd be your Sanderson); conversely, there are settings where Doylist logic is the only thing that's reliable, because they make symbolism a priority over in-world consistency (that'd be your Tolkien).
Here's anoher place where the Discworld series does it right. In Discworld it is known to educated people that events seem to follow narrative lines and various characters make use of this knowledge on several occasions