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Of the nature and use of the scholastic art of syllogizing.

by analysis, and ascend from particulars to universals; in syllogizing we proceed by synthesis, and descend from universals to particulars. The analytic is the only method which we can follow, in the acquisition of natural knowledge, or of whatever regards actual existences; the synthetic is more properly the method that ought to be pursued in the application of knowledge already acquired. It is for this reason it has been called the didactic method, as being the shortest way of communicating the principles of a science. But, even in teaching, as often as we attempt, not barely to inform, but to convince, there is a necessity of recurring to the tract in which the knowledge we would convey was first attained. Now, the method of reasoning by syllogism, more resembles mathematical demonstration, wherein, from universal principles, called axioms, we deduce many truths, which, though general in their nature, may, when compared with those first principles, be justly stiled particular. Whereas, in all kinds of knowledge, wherein experience is our only guide, we can proceed to general truths, solely by an induction of particulars.

AGREEABLY to this remark, if a syllogism be regular in mood and figure, and if the premises be true, the conclusion is infallible. The whole foundation of the syllogistic art lies in these two axioms: “ Things “ which coincide with the same thing, coincide with “one another;” and, “Two things, whereof one does, “ and one does not coincide with the same thing, do “ not coincide with one another.” On the former rest

of the nature and use of the scholastic art of syllogizing. all the affirmative syllogisms, on the latter all the negative. Accordingly, there is no more mention here of probability and of degrees of evidence, than in the operations of geometry and algebra. It is true, indeed, that the term probable may be admitted into a syllogism, and make an essential part of the conclusion, and so it may also in an arithmetical computation; but this does not in the least affect what was advanced just now; for, in all such cases, the probability itself is assumed in one of the premises : whereas, in the inductive method of reasoning, it often happens, that from certain facts we can deduce only pro- . bable consequences.

I observe, secondly, that though this manner of arguing has more of the nature of scientific reasoning, than of moral, it has, nevertheless, not been thought worthy of being adopted by mathematicians, as a proper method of demonstrating their theorems. I am satisfied that mathematical demonstration is capable of being moulded into the syllogistic form, having made the trial with success on some propositions. But that this form is a very incommodious one, and has many disadvantages, but not one advantage of that commonly practised, will be manifest to every one who makes the experiment. It is at once more indirect, more tedious, and more obscure. I may add, that if into those abstract sciences one were to introduce some specious fallacies, such fallacies could be much more easily sheltered under the awkward verbosity of this

Of the nature and use of the scholastic art of syllogizing.

artificial method, than under the elegant simplicity of that which has hitherto been used.

My third remark, which, by the way, is directly consequent on the two former, shall be, that in the ordinary application of this art, to matters with which we can be made acquainted only by experience, it can be of little or no utility. So far from leading the mind, agreeably to the design of all argument and investigation, from things known to things unknown, and by things evident to things obscure; its usual progress is, on the contrary, from things less known to things better known, and by things obscure to things evident. But that it may not be thought that I do injustice to the art by this representation, I must intreat, that the few following considerations may be attended to. WHEN, in the way of induction, the mind proceeds from individual instances to the discovery of such truths as regard a species, and from these again, to such as comprehend a genus, we may say with reason, that as we advance, there may be in every succeeding step, and commonly is, less certainty than in the preceding; but in no instance whatever can there be more. Besides, as the judgment formed concerning the less general, was anterior to that formed concerning the more general, so the conviction is more vivid arising from both circumstances; that, being less general, it is more distinctly conceived, and, being earlier, it is more deeply imprinted. Now, the customary procedure in the syllogistic science is, as was remarked, the

Of the nature and use of the scholastic art of syllogizing.

natural method reversed, being from general to special, and consequently from less to more obvious. In scientific reasoning the case is very different, as the axioms or universal truths from which the mathematician argues, are so far from being the slow result of induction and experience, that they are self-evident. They are no sooner apprehended than necessarily as

sented to. . . . -

BUT, to illustrate the matter by examples, take the following specimen in Barbara, the first mood of the first figure : - • * ,

All animals feel ;
All horses are animals;
Therefore all horses feel.

It is impossible that any reasonable man, who really doubts whether a horse has feeling, or is a mere automaton, should be convinced by this argument. For, supposing he uses the names horse and animal, as standing in the same relation of species and genus, which they bear in the common acceptation of the words, the argument you employ is, in effect, but an affirmation of the point which he denies, couched in such terms as include a multitude of other similar af. firmations, which, whether true or false, are nothing to the purpose. Thus all animals feel, is only a compendious expression, for all horses feel, all dogs feel, all cannels feel, all eagles feel, and so through the whole animal creation. I affirm, besides, that the pro

cedure here is from things less known to things better

of the nature and use of the scholastic art of syllogizing.

known. It is possible that one may believe the conclusion who denies the major : but the reverse is not possible; for, to express myself in the language of the art, that may be predicated of the species, which is not predicable of the genus ; but that can never be predicated of the genus which is not predicable of the species. If one, therefore, were under such an error in regard to the brutes, true logic, which is always coincident with good sense, would lead our reflections to the indications of perception and feeling, given by these animals, and the remarkable conformity which, in this respect, and in respect of their bodily organs, they bear to our own species,

IT may be said, that if the subject of the question were a creature much more ignoble than the horse, there would be po scope for this objection to the argument. Substitute, then, the word oysters for horses in the minor, and it will stand thus,

All animals feel;
All oysters are animals;
Therefore all oysters feel.

In order to giye the greater advantage to the advocate for this scholastic art, let us suppose the antagonist does not maintain the opposite side from any favour to Descartes' theory concerning brutes, but from some notion entertained of that particular order of beings, which is the subject of dispute. It is evident, that though he should admit the truth of the major, he would regard the minor as merely another manner of

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