صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

For as reason perceives the necessary and indubitable connexion of all the ideas or proofs one to another, in each step of any demonstration that produces knowledge; so it likewise perceives the probable connexion of all the ideas or proofs one to another, in every step of a discourse, to which itawill think assent due. This is the lowest degree of that which can be truly called reason. For where the mind does not perceive this probable connexion, where it does not discern whether there be any such connexion or no; there men's opinions are not the product of judgment, or the consequence of reason, but the effects of chance and hazard, of a mind floating at all adventures, without choice and without direction. $ 3. So that we may in reason consider

Its four these four degrees; the first and highest is

parts. the discovering and finding out of truths; the second, the regular and methodical disposition of them, and laying them in a clear and fit order, to make their connexion and force be plainly and easily perceived; the third is the perceiving their connexion; and the fourth, a making a right conclusion. These several degrees may be observed in any mathematical demonstration; it being one thing to perceive the connexion of each part, as the demonstration is made by another; another, to perceive the dependence of the conclusion on all the parts; a third, to make out a demonstration clearly and neatly one's self; and something different from all these, to have first found out these intermediate ideas or proofs by which it is made. $ 4. There is one thing more, which I

Syllogism shall desire to be considered concerning not the great reason; and that is, whether syllogism, instrument as is generally thought, be the proper instrument of it, and the usefullest way of exercising

, . this faculty. The causes I have to doubt are these :

First, because syllogism serves our reason but in one only of the forementioned parts of it; and that

of reason.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

is, to show the connexion of the proofs in any one instance, and no more: but in this it is of no great use, since the mind can conceive such connexion where it really is, as easily, nay perhaps better, without it.

If we will observe the actings of our own minds, we shall find that we reason best and clearesť when we only observe the connexion of the proof, without reducing our thoughts to any rule of syllogism. And therefore we may take notice, that there are many men that reason exceeding clear and rightly, who know not how to make a syllogism. He that will look into many parts of Asia and America, will find men reason there perhaps as acutely as himself, who yet never heard of a syllogism, nor can reduce any one argument to those forms: and I believe scarce any one makes syllogisms in reasoning within himself. Indeed, syllogism is made use of on occasion, to discover a fallacy hid in a rhetorical flourish, or cunningly wrapt up in a smooth period ; and, stripping an absurdity of the cover of wit and good language, show it in its naked deformity. But the weakness or fallacy of such a loose discourse it shows, by the artificial form it is put into, only to those who have thoroughly studied mode and figure, and have so examined the many ways that three propositions may be put together, as to know which of them does certainly conclude right, and which not, and upon what grounds it is that they do so. All who have so far considered syllogism, as to see the reason why in three propositions laid together in one form the conclusion will be certainly right, but in another, not certainly so; I grant are certain of the conclusion they draw from the premises in the allowed modes and figures. But they who have not so far looked into those forms, are not sure, by virtue of syllogism, that the conclusion certainly follows from the premises ; they only take it to be so by an implicit faith in their teachers, and a confidence in those forms of argumentation; but this is still but believing, not being certain. Now if, of all mankind, those who can make syllogisms are extremely few in comparison of those who cannot; and if, of those few who have been taught logic, there is but a very small number who do any more than believe that syllogisms in the allowed modes and figures do conclude right, without knowing certainly that they do so; if syllogisms must be taken for the only proper instrument of reason and means of knowledge; it will follow, that before Aristotle there was not one man that did or could know any thing by reason; and that since the invention of syllogisms there is not one of ten thousand that doth.

But God has not been so sparing to men to make them barely two-legged creatures, and left it to Aristotle to make them rational, i. e. those few of them that he could get so to examine the grounds of syllogisms, as to see, that in above threescore ways, that three propositions may be laid together, there are but about fourteen wherein one may be sure that the conclusion is right; and upon what grounds it is, that in these few the conclusion is certain, and in the other not. God has been more bountiful to mankind than so. He has given them a mind that can reason, without being instructed in methods of syllogizing : the understanding is not taught to reason by these rules; it has a native faculty to perceive the coherence. or incoherence of its ideas, and can range them right, without any such perplexing repetitions. I say not this any way to lessen Aristotle, whom I look on as one of the greatest men amongst the ancients; whose large views, acuteness, and penetration of thought, and strength of judgment, few have equalled: and who in this very invention of forms of argumentation, wherein the conclusion may be shown to be rightly inferred, did great service against those who were not ashamed to deny any thing. And I readily own, that all right reasoning may be reduced to his forms of syllogism. But yet I think, without any diminution to him, I may truly say, that they are not the only,


nor the best way of reasoning, for the leading of those into truth who are willing to find it, and desire to make the best use they may of their reason, for the attainment of knowledge. And he himself, it is plain, found out some forms to be conclusive, and others not, not by the forms themselves, but by the original way of knowledge, i. e. by the visible agreement of ideas. Tell a country gentlewoman that the wind is south-west, and the weather louring, and like to rain, and she will easily understand it is not safe for her to go abroad thin clad, in such a day, after a fever : she clearly sees the probable connexion of all these, viz. south-west wind, and clouds, rain, wetting, taking cold, relapse, and danger of death, without tying them together in those artificial and cumbersome fetters of several syllogisms, that clog and hinder the mind, which proceeds from one part to another quicker and clearer without them; and the probability which she easily perceives in things thus in their native state would be quite lost, if this argument were managed learnedly, and proposed in mode and figure. For it very often confounds the connexion-: and, I think, every one will perceive in mathematical demonstrations, that the knowledge gained thereby comes shortest and clearest without syllogisms.

Inference is looked on as the great act of the rational faculty, and so it is when it is rightly made; but the mind, either very desirous to enlarge its knowledge, or very apt to favour the sentiments it has once imbibed, is very forward to make inferences, and therefore often makes too much haste, before it perceives the connexion of the ideas that must hold the extremes together.

To infer is nothing but, by virtue of one proposition laid down as true, to draw in another as true, i. e. to see or suppose such a connexion of the two ideas of the inferred proposition, v. g. Let this be the proposition laid down,“ men shall be punished in another world," and from thence be inferred this other, then


men can determine themselves.". The question now is to know whether the mind has made this inference right or no; if it has made it by finding out the intermediate ideas, and taken a view of the connexion of them, placed in a due order, it has proceeded rationally, and made a right inference. If it has done it without such a view, it has not so much made an inference that will hold, or an inference of right reason, as shown a willingness to have it be, or be taken for such. But in neither case is it syllogism that discovered those ideas, or showed the connexion of them, for they must be both found out, and the connexion every where perceived, before they can rationally be made use of in syllogism; unless it can be said, that any idea, without considering what connexion it hath with the two other, whose agreement should be shown by it, will do well enough in a syllogism, and may be taken at a venture for the medius terminus, to prove any conclusion. But this nobody will say, because it is by virtue of the perceived agreement of the intermediate idea with the extremes, that the extremes are concluded to

agree; and therefore each intermediate idea must be such as in the whole chain hath a visible connexion with those two it has been placed between, or else thereby the conclusion cannot be inferred or drawn in : for wherever any link of the chain is loose, and without connexion, there the whole strength of it is lost, and it hath no force to infer or draw in any thing. In the instance above-mentioned, what is it shows the force of the inference, and consequently the reasonableness of it, but a view of the connexion of all the intermediate ideas that draw in the conclusion or proposition inferred ? v. g. men shall be punished God the punisher —just punishment- -the punished guilty could have done otherwise- -freedom -self-determination: by which chain of ideas thus visibly linked together in train, i. e. each intermediate idea agreeing on each side with those two it

[ocr errors]
« السابقةمتابعة »