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For every wrong there is a remedy in law by one action or another: but sometimes a man may take his choice among several different actions. So every sophistical syllogism may, by a little art, be brought under one or other of the species mentioned by Aristotle, and very often you may take your choice of two or three.
Besides the enumeration of the various kinds of sophisms, there are many other things in this treatise concerning the art of managing a syllogistical dispute with an antagonist. And indeed, if the passion for this kind of litigation, which reigned for so many ages, should ever again lift up its head, we may predict, that the Organon of Aristotle will then become a fashionable study: for it contains such admirable materials and documents for this art, that it may be said to have brought it to a science.
The conclusion of this treatise ought not to be overlooked: it manifestly relates, not to the present treatise only, but also to the whole analytics and topics of the author. I shall therefore give the substance of it.
"Of those who may be called inventers, some "have made important additions to things long be"fore begun, and carried on through a course of "ages; others have given a small beginning to things which, in succeeding times will be brought to a greater perfection. The beginning "of a thing, though small, is the chief part of it,
"and requires the greatest degree of invention; "for it is easy to make additions to inventions "once begun. Now with regard to the dialecti"cal art, there was not something done, and some"thing remaining to be done. There was absolutely nothing done for those who professed the "art of disputation, had only a set of orations composed, and of arguments, and of captious questions, which might suit many occasions. These "their scholars soon learned, and fitted to the oc"casion. This was not to teach you the art, but "to furnish you with the materials produced by "the art as if a man professing to teach you the 'art of making shoes, should bring you a parcel "of shoes of various sizes and shapes, from which you may provide those who want. This may "have its use; but it is not to teach the art of making shoes. And indeed, with regard to rhe"torical declamation, there are many precepts "handed down from ancient times; but with regard to the construction of syllogisms, not
"We have therefore employed much time and "labour upon this subject; and if our system appear to you not to be in the number of those things, which, being before carried a certain length, were left to be perfected; we hope for "your favourable acceptance of what is done, "and your indulgence in what is left imper"fect."
REFLECTIONS ON THE UTILITY OF LOGIC, AND THE MEANS OF ITS IMPROVEMENT.
SECT. I. Of the Utility of Logic.
EN rarely leave one extreme, without run
ME ning into the contrary. It is no wonder,
therefore, that the excessive admiration of Aristotle, which continued for so many ages, should end in an undue contempt; and that the high esteem of logic as the grand engine of science, should at last make way for too unfavourable an opinion, which seems now prevalent, of its being unworthy of a place in a liberal education. Those who think according to the fashion, as the greatest part of men do, will be as prone to go into this extreme, as their grandfathers were to go into the contrary.
Laying aside prejudice, whether fashionable or unfashionable, let us consider whether logic is, or may be made, subservient to any good purpose.
Its professed end is, to teach men to think, to judge, and to reason, with precision and accuracy. No man will say that this is a matter of no importance; the only thing therefore that admits of doubt, is, whether it can be taught.
To resolve this doubt, it may be observed, that our rational faculty is the gift of God, given to men in very different measure. Some have a large portion, some a less; and where there is a remarkable defect of the natural power, it cannot be supplied by any culture. But this natural power, even where it is the strongest, may lie dead for want of the means of improvement: a savage may have been born with as good faculties as a Bacon or à Newton: but his talent was buried, being never put to use; while theirs was cultivated to the best advantage.
It may likewise be observed, that the chief mean of improving our rational power, is the vigorous exercise of it, in various ways and in different subjects, by which the habit is acquired of exercising it properly. Without such exercise, and good sense over and above, a man who has studied logic all his life, may after all be only a petulant wrangler, without true judgment or skill of reasoning in any science.
I take this to be Locke's meaning, when in his Thoughts on Education he says, "If you would "have your son to reason well, let him read Chillingworth." The state of things is much alter
ed since Locke wrote. Logic has been much improved, chiefly by his writings; and yet much less stress is laid upon it, and less time consumed in it. His counsel, therefore, was judicious and seasonable; to wit, That the improvement of our reasoning power is to be expected much more from an intimate acquaintance with the authors who reason the best, than from studying voluminous systems of logic. But if he had meant, that the study of logic was of no use, nor deserved any attention, he surely would not have taken the pains to have made so considerable an addition to it, by his Essay on the Human Understanding, and by his Thoughts on the Conduct of the Understanding. Nor would he have remitted his pupil to Chillingworth, the acutest logician, as well as the best reasoner of his age; and one who, in innumerable places of his excellent book, without pedantry even in that pedantic age, makes the happiest applica tion of the rules of logic, for unravelling the sophistical reasoning of his antagonist.
Our reasoning power makes no appearance in infancy; but as we grow up, it unfolds itself by degrees, like the bud of a tree. When a child first draws an inference, or perceives the force of an inference drawn by another, we may call this. the birth of his reason; but it is yet like a newborn babe, weak and tender; it must be cherished, carried in arms, and have food of easy dige stion, till it gather strength.