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ject, not of the series which we submit, in discourse or in written works, to the consideration of others. Though it is impossible for us, even in these cases, to will a single conception or a single feeling of relation,-since this would be to will into existence that which already exists,-it is, unquestionably, in our power not to clothe in words the conceptions or relations that have arisen in our thought; and, by this mere omission of the parts of our internal series, which we regret as feeble or irrelative to our principal object, the whole series of propositions, as expressed, may seem very different, certainly far more forcible, than that which really passed through our mind, and produced in us that conviction or persuasion which we wish to diffuse. But still it must be remembered, that it is the omission only which makes the difference, and that in the whole series of propositions which we express in language, there is not a single conception or feeling of relation which we have directly willed.
Such is the process of ratiocination, considered as a natural process of the mind. But what are we to think of that art of reasoning, which, for so many ages, banished reason from the schools; -of that art which rendered it so laborious a drudgery, to be a little more ignorant than before, which could produce so much disputation without any subject of dispute, and so many proud victories of nothing over less than nothing! I need not say that it is to the scholastic art of logic I allude.
That there may be, or rather that there is, a rational logic, I am far from denying; and that many useful directions, in conformity with a certain system of rules, may be given to the inexperienced student that may facilitate to him acquisitions of knowledge, which but for such directions, he would have made only more slowly, or perhaps not made at all. The art of reasoning, however, which a judicious logic affords, is not so much the art of acquiring knowledge as the art of communicating it to others, or recording it, in the manner that may be most profitable for our own future advancement in the track which we have been pursuing. Its direct benefit to ourselves is rather negative than positive-teaching us the sources of error in our mental constitution, and in all the accidental circumstances of the language which we
are obliged to use, and the society in which we must mingle,and thus rather saving us from what is false, than bestowing on us what is true. Indeed, since we cannot, as I have shewn, produce, directly, in our mind, any one conception, or any one feeling of relation, it is very evident that the influence of any art of reasoning on our trains of thought must be indirect only.
But if an art of reasoning is to be given to us, it is surely to be an art which is to render the acquisition of knowledge more easy, not more difficult,— -an art which is to avail itself of the natural tendency of the mind to the discovery of truth, not to counteract this tendency, and to force the mind, if it be possible, to suspend the very progress which was leading it to truth. With which of these characters did the syllogistic logic more exactly correspond?
The natural progress of reasoning I have already explained to you, and illustrated by examples both of the analytic and proportional kind. One conception follows another conception, according to certain laws of suggestion, to which our Divine Author has adapted our mental constitution; and by another set of laws which the same Divine Author has established, certain feelings of re lation arise from the consideration of the suggesting and suggested object. This is all in which reasoning, as felt by us, truly consists. We have the conception of A, it suggests B, and, these two conceptions coexisting, we feel some relation which they bear to each other. B, thus suggested, suggests C; and the relation of these is felt in like manner, and thus, through the longest ratiocination, analytical or proportional, each subject of our thought suggests something which forms a part of it, and is involved in it, or something which has to it a certain relation of proportion; and the relation of comprehension in the one case, or of proportion in the other case, is felt accordingly at every step. Nothing, surely, can be simpler than a process of this kind; and it is not easy to conceive how the process could be made shorter than nature herself has rendered it, unless every truth were known to us by intuition. Objects, and the relations of objects,-these are all which reasoning involves; and these must always be involved in every reasoning. While reasoning, then, or a series of propositions is necessary for the devolopement of truth, the intervening conceptions which form the subjects of those propositions that con
nect one remote conception with another must arise successively in the mind, and their relations be felt, in like manner, successively. What is it which the syllogistic art would confer on us in addition? To shorten the process of arriving at truth, it forces us to use, in every case, three propositions instead of the two which nature directs us to use. Instead of allowing us to say man is fallible he may therefore err, even when he thinks himself most secure from error-which is the spontaneous order of analysis in reasoning, the syllogistic art compels us to take a longer journey to the same conclusion, by the use of what it calls a major proposition, a proposition which never rises spontaneously, for the best of all reasons, that it cannot rise without our knowledge of the very truth, which is by supposition unknown. To proceed, in the regular form of a syllogism, we must say all beings that are fallible may err, even when they think themselves most secure from error. But man is a fallible being-he may therefore err, even when the thinks himself most secure from error. In our spontaneous reasonings, in which we arrive at precisely the same conclusions, and with a feeling of evidence precisely the same, there are, as I have said,no major propositions, but simply what in this futile art are termed technically the minor and the conclusion. The invention and formal statement of a major proposition, then, in every case, serve only to retard the progress of discovery, not to quicken it, or render it, in the slightest degree more sure.
This retardation of the progress of reasoning, is one circumstance which distinguishes the syllogism; but the absurdity, which is implied in the very theory of it, distinguishes it still more. It constantly assumes, as the first stage of that reasoning, by which we are to arrive at a particular truth, our previous knowledge of that particular truth. The major is the very conclusion itself under another form, and its truth is not more felt than that which it professes to develope. Thus, to take one of the trifling examples, which, in books of logic, are usually given, with a most appropriate selection, to illustrate this worse than trifling art-when, in order to prove that John is a sinner, I do not adduce any particular sin of which he has been guilty, but draw up my accusation more irresistibly, by the major of a syllogism. All men are sinners. John is a man; therefore John is a sinner. If I really at
tached any meaning to my major proposition, all men are sinners, I must, at that very moment, have felt as completely that John was a sinner, as after I had pursued him, technically, through the minor and conclusion.
The great error of the theory of the syllogism-an error, which, if my time allowed, it would be interesting to trace in its relation to the ideal systems of forms and species, which prevailed when the syllogistic art was invented, and during the long ages of its sway-consisted in supposing, that, because all our knowledge may be technically reduced, in some measure, to general maxims, these maxims have naturally a prior and paramount existence in our thought, and give rise to those very reasonings which, on the contrary, give rise to them.
It is not on account of our previous assent to the axiom, a whole is greater than a part, that we believe any particular whole to be greater than any part of it; but we feel this truth, in every particular case, by its own intuitive evidence, and the axiom only expresses briefly our various feelings of this kind without giving occasion to them. The infant, from whom half his cake has been taken, who has seen it taken, and who yet does not believe that he has less cake afterwards than he had before, is very likely to prove a most obstinate denier of that general proposition, by which we might attempt to convince him, that he now must have less cake than he had at first, because a whole is greater than a part, and consequently a part less than a whole. "Is it impossible," says Locke, "to know that one and two are equal to three, but by vir tue of this or some such axiom, the whole is equal to all its parts taken together? Many a one knows, that one and two are equal to three, without having heard or thought on that or any other axiom, by which it might be proved; and knows it as certainly as any other man knows that the whole is equal to all its parts, or any other maxim, and all from the same reason of self-evidence; the equality of those ideas being as visible and certain to him, without that or any other aixom, as with it,-it needing no proof to make it perceived. Nor, after the knowledge that the whole is equal to all its parts, does he know that one and two are equal to three, better or more certainly, than he did before; for if there be any odds in those ideas, the whole and parts are more obscure,
or at least more difficult to be settled in the mind, than those of one, two, and three."
The general axiom, then, is in every case posterior to the separate feelings, of which it is only the brief expression, or, at least, without which, as prior to our verbal statement of the axiom, the axiom itself never could have formed a part of our system of knowledge. The syllogism, therefore, which proceeds from the axiom to the demonstration of particulars, reverses completely the order of reasoning, and begins with the conclusion, in order to teach us how we may arrive at it. It is, in the great journey of truth, as if, in any of our common journeyings from place to place-from Edinburgh to London, for example-we were to be directed first to go to London, and then to find out York, or some other intermediate town, when we might be quite sure of knowing the way from York to London, because we must already have travelled it. Is this the sort of direction which we could venture to give to any traveller, or would not every traveller, if we were to venture to give him such a direction, smile at our folly? It would have been happy for science, if the similar folly of the dialectic directions of the schools had been as easily perceived. But we all know what it is to journey from place to place; and few know, accurately, what it is to journey from truth to truth. case, we are fond of the shortest road, and very soon find out what that shortest road is. In the other case, it is by no means certain that we are fond of the shortest road, or at least we have an unfortunate tendency to believe that a road is the shortest possible, merely because, being a great deal longer, it may have made us go through much very rapid exercise to very little purpose. "God has not been so sparing to men," says Mr Locke, 66 as to make them barely two-legged animals,† and left it to Aristotle to make them rational." Indeed the most convincing proof of their own independent rationality is, that, with the incumbrance of the logical system of the schools, they were able to shake this off, and to become reasoners in the true and noble sense of that term, by abandoning the art which made them only disputants.
In the one
• Essay Concerning Human Understanding, B. iv. c. vii. sect. 10.
Essay Concerning Human Understanding, B. iv. c. xvii. sect. 4.,