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his syllogistic mode of reasoning to any subject handled by himself; on ethics, on rhetoric, and on poetry, he argues like a rational being, without once putting in practice any of his own rules. It is not supposable that a man of his capacity could be ignorant, how insufficient a syllogism is for discovering any latent truth. He certainly intended his system of logic, chiefly if not solely, for disputation and if such was his purpose, he has been wonderfully successful; for nothing can be better contrived for wrangling and disputing without end. He indeed in a manner professes this to be his aim, in his books De Sophisticis elenchis.
Some ages hence, when the goodly fabric of the Romish spiritual power shall be laid low in the dust, and scarce a vestige remain; it will among antiquaries be a curious inquiry, What was the nature and extent of a tyranny, more oppressive to the minds of men, than the tyranny of ancient Rome was to their persons. During every step of the inquiry, posterity will rejoice over mental liberty, no less precious than personal liberty. The despotism of Aristotle with respect to the faculty of reason was no less complete, than that of the Bishop of Rome with respect to religion; and it is now a proper subject of curiosity, to inquire into the nature and extent of that dsepotism. One cannot peruse the following sheets, without sympathetic pain for the weakness of man with respect to his noblest faculty; but that pain will redouble his satisfaction,
satisfaction, in now being left free to the dictates of reason and common sense.
In my reveries, I have more than once compared Aristotle's logic to a bubble made of soap-water for amusing children; a beautiful figure with splendid colours; fair on the outside, empty within. It has for more than two thousand years been the hard fate of Aristotle's followers, Ixion like, to embrace a cloud for a goddess.-But this is more than sufficient for a preface: and I had almost forgot, that I am detaining my readers from better entertainment, in listening to Dr Reid.
OF THE FIRST THREE TREATISES.
SECT. 1. Of the Author,
RISTOTLE had very uncommon advantages: born in an age when the philosophical spirit in Greece had long flourished, and was in its greatest vigour; brought up in the court of Macedon, where his father was the King's physician; A 3 twenty
twenty years a favourite scholar of Plato, and tutor to Alexander the Great; who both honoured him with his friendship, and supplied him with every thing necessary for the prosecution of his inquiries.
These advantages he improved by indefatigable study, and immense reading. He was the first, we know, says Strabo, who composed a library. And in this the Egyptian and Pergamenian kings, copied his example. As to his genius, it would be disrespectful to mankind, not to allow an uncommon share to a man who governed the opinions of the most enlightened part of the species near two thousand years.
If his talents had been laid out solely for the discovery of truth and the good of mankind, his laurels would have remained for ever fresh; but he seems to have had a greater passion for fame than for truth, and to have wanted rather to be admired as the prince of philosophers than to be useful so that it is dubious, whether there be in his character, most of the philosopher or of the sophist. The opinion of Lord Bacon is not without probability, That his ambition was as boundless as that of his royal pupil; the one aspiring at universal monarchy over the bodies and fortunes of men, the other over their opinions. If this was the case, it cannot be said, that the philosopher pursued his aim with less industry, less ability, or less success than the hero,
His writings carry too evident marks of that philosophical pride, vanity, and envy, which have often sullied the character of the learned. He determines boldly things above all human knowledge; and enters upon the most difficult questions, as his pupil entered on a battle, with full assurance of success. He delivers his decisions oracularly, and without any fear of mistake. Rather than confess his ignorance, he hides it under hard words and ambiguous expressions, of which his interpreters can make what they please. There is even reason to suspect, that he wrote often with affected obsecurity, either that the air of mystery might procure greater veneration, or that his books might be understood only by the adepts who had been initiated in his philosophy.
His conduct towards the writers that went before him has been much censured. After the manner of the Ottoman princes, says Lord Verulam, he thought his throne could not be secure unless he killed all his brethren. Ludovicus Vives charges him with detracting from all philosophers, that he might derive that glory to himself, of which he robbed them. He rarely quotes an author but with a view to censure, and is not very fair in representing the opinions which he cen
The faults we have mentioned are such as might be expected in a man, who had the daring ambition to be transmitted to all future ages, as the
prince of philosophers, as one who had carried every branch of human knowledge to its utmost limit; and who was not very scrupulous about the means he took to obtain his end.
We ought, however, to do him the justice to observe, that although the pride and vanity of the sophist appear too much in his writings in abstract philosophy; yet in natural history the fidelity of his narration seems to be equal to his industry; and he always distinguishes between what he knew and what he had by report. And even in abstract philosophy, it would be unfair to impute to Aristotle all the faults, all the obscurities, and all the contradictions, that are to be found in his writings. The greatest part, and perhaps the best part, of his writings is lost. There is reason to doubt whether some of those we ascribe to him be really his; and whether what are his be not much vitiated and interpolated. These suspicions are justified by the fate of Aristotle's writings, which is judiciously related, from the best authorities, in Bayle's dictionary, under the article Tyrannion, to which I refer.
His books in logic which remain, are, 1. One book of the Categories. 2. One of Interpretation. 3. First Analytics, two books. 4. Last Analytics, two books. 5. Topics, eight books. 6. Of Sophisms, one book. Diogenes Laertius mentions many others that are lost. Those I have mentioned have commonly been published together, under the