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has always found these artificial methods of reasoning more adapted to catch and entangle the mind, than to instruct and inform the understanding. And hence it is that men, even when they are baffled and silenced in this scholastic way, are seldom or never convinced, and so brought over to the conquering side: they perhaps acknowledge their adversary to be the more skilful disputant, but rest nevertheless persuaded of the truth on their side; and go away, worsted as they are, with the same opinion they brought with them, which they could not
do if this way of argumentation carried light and conviction with it, and made men see where the truth lay. And therefore syllogism has been thought more proper for the attaining victory in dispute, than for the discovery or confirmation of truth in fair inquiries. And if it be certain that fallacies can be couched in syllogism, as it cannot be denied ; it must be something else, and not syllogism, that must discover them.
I have had experience how ready some men are, when all the use which they have been wont to ascribe to any thing is not allowed, to cry out, that I am for laying it wholly aside. But, to prevent such unjust and groundless imputations, I tell them, that I am not for taking away any helps to the understanding, in the attainment of knowledge. And if men skilled in, and used to syllogisms, find them assisting to their reason in the discovery of truth, I think they ought to make use of them. All that I aim at is, that they should not ascribe more to these forms than belongs to them; and think that men have no use, or not so full an use of their reasoning faculty without them. Some eyes want spectacles to see things clearly and distinctly; but let not those that use them therefore say, nobody can see clearly without them: those who do so will be thought in favour of art (which perhaps they are beholden to) a little too much to depress and discredit nature. Reason, by its own penetration, where it is strong and exercised, usually sees quicker
and clearer without syllogism. If use of those spectacles has so dimmed its sight that it cannot without them see consequences or inconsequences in argumentation, I am not so unreasonable as to be against the using them. Every one knows what best fits his own sight. But let him not thence conclude all in the dark, who use not just the same helps that he finds a need of.
$ 5. But however it be in knowledge, I Helps little in demon- think I may truly say, it is of far less, or stration, less no use at all in probabilities. For, the
assent there being to be determined by bability.
the preponderancy, after due weighing of all the proofs, with all circumstances on both sides, nothing is so unfit to assist the mind in that as syllogism; which running away with one assumed probability, or one topical argument, pursues
that till it has led the mind quite out of sight of the thing under consideration; and forcing it upon some remote difficulty, holds it fast there, entangled perhaps, and as it were manacled in the chain of syllogisms, without allowing it the liberty, much less affording it the helps, requisite to show on which side, all things considered, is the greater probability.
$ 6. But let it help us (as perhaps may to increase
be said) in convincing men of their errors our know
and mistakes: (and yet I would fain see the ledge, but
man that was forced out of his opinion by fence with
dint of syllogism) yet still it fails our rea
son in that part, which, if not its highest perfection, is yet certainly its hardest task, and that which we most need its help in; and that is the finding out of proofs, and making new discoveries. The rules of syllogism serve not to furnish the mind with those intermediate ideas that may show the connexion of remote ones. This way of reasoning discovers no new proofs, but is the art of marshalling and ranging the old ones we have already. The forty-seventh proposition of the first book of Euclid is very true; but
the discovery of it, I think, not owing to any rules of common logic. A man knows first, and then he is able to prove syllogistically. So that syllogism comes after knowledge, and then a man has little or no need of it. But it is chiefly by the finding out those ideas that show the connexion of distant ones, that our stock of knowledge is increased, and that useful arts and sciences are advanced. Syllogism at best is but the art of fencing with the little knowledge we have, without making any addition to it. And if a man should employ his reason all this way, he will not do much otherwise than he, who having got some iron out of the bowels of the earth, should have it beaten up all into swords, and put it into his servants' hands to fence with, and bang one another. Had the king of Spain employed the hands of his people, and his Spanish iron so, he had brought to light but little of that treasure that lay so long hid in the entrails of America. And I am apt to think, that he who shall employ all the force of his reason only in brandishing of syllogisms, will discover very little of that mass of knowledge which lies yet concealed in the secret recesses of nature; and which, I am apt to think, native rustic reason (as it formerly has done) is likelier to open a way to, and add to the common stock of mankind, rather than any scholastic proceeding by the strict rule of mode and figure.
$ 7. I doubt not, nevertheless, but there Other helps are ways to be found out to assist our rea- should be son in this most useful part; and this the sought. judicious Hooker encourages me to say, who in his Eccl. Pol. 1. 1. $ 6, speaks thus: “ If there might be added the right helps of true art and learning (which helps, I must plainly confess, this age of the world, carrying the name of a learned age, doth neither much know, nor generally regard) there would undoubtedly be almost as much difference in maturity of judgment between men therewith inured, and that
which men now are, as between men that are now and innocents.” I do not pretend to have found, or discovered here any of those right helps of art, this great man of deep thought mentions; but this is plain, that syllogism, and the logic now in use, which were as well known in his days, can be none of those he means. It is sufficient for me, if by a discourse, perhaps something out of the way, I am sure as to me wholly new and unborrowed, I shall have given occasion to others to cast about for new discoveries, and to seek in their own thoughts for those right helps of art, which will scarce be found, I fear, by those who servilely confine themselves to the rules and dictates of others. For beaten tracks lead this sort of cattle, (as an observing Roman calls them) whose thoughts reach only to imitation, non quo eundum est, sed quo itur. But I can be bold to say, that this age is adorned with some men of that strength of judgment, and largeness of comprehension, that, if they would employ their thoughts on this subject, could open new and undiscovered ways to the advancement of knowledge.
$ 8. Having here had an occasion to
speak of syllogism in general, and the use ticulars.
of it in reasoning, and the improvement
of our knowledge, it is fit, before I leave this subject, to take notice of one manifest mistake in the rules of syllogism, viz. that no syllogistical reasoning can be right and conclusive, but what has at least one general proposition in it. As if we could not reason, and have knowledge about particulars: whereas, in truth, the matter rightly considered, the immediate object of all our reasoning and knowledge is nothing but particulars. Every man's reasoning and knowledge is only about the ideas existing in his own mind, which are truly, every one of them, particular existences; and our knowledge and reason about other things is only as they correspond with those of our
particular ideas. So that the perception of the agreement or disagreement of our particular ideas is the whole and utmost of all our knowledge. Universality is but accidental to it, and consists only in this, that the particular ideas about which it is are such, as more than one particular thing can correspond with, and be represented by. But the perception of the agreement or disagreement of any two ideas, consequently our own knowledge, is equally clear and certain, whether either, or both, or neither of those ideas be capable of representing more real beings than one, or
One thing more I crave leave to offer about syllogism, before I leave it, viz. may one not upon just ground inquire, whether the form syllogism now has is that which in reason it ought to have? For the medius terminus being to join the extremes, i.e. the intermediate idea by its intervention, to show the agreement or disagreement of the two in question; would not the position of the medius terminus be more natural, and show the agreement or disagreenent of the extremes clearer and better, if it were placed in the middle between them? which might be easily done by transposing the propositions, and making the medius terminus the predicate of the first, and the subject of the second. As thus,
6 Omnis homo est animal,
ast 701 18
“ Omne corpus est extensum et solidum, Nullum extensum et solidum est pura extensio, Ergo corpus non est pura extensio."
I need not trouble my reader with instances in syllogisms, whose conclusions are particular. The same reason holds for the same form in them, as well as in the general.