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ART. VIII.—1. The Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences.
By WILLIAM WHEWELL. London. 1870.
2. Lectures on Metaphysics. By Sir WILLIAM HAMILTON, Bart.
Par BARTHELEMY SAINT HIL
3. De la Logique d Aristote.
4. Traite de Logique. Par L'ABBE DE CONDILLAC. Paris.
IF, instead of aberration and eccentricity, man had always exhibited a fondness for rectilinear motion, and were found yielding a willing and uniform obedience to some known principle of gravitation—itself equally uniform ; if he loved restraint more and license less, seeing in a wholesome exercise of the former the utmost enlargement of freedom of which he is at all capable, and suspecting in the latter a specious, seductive lure, which, under promise of liberty, conducts to rockhewn dungeons and to chains fastened in the rock; and then, this being his normal condition, if his external environments were of a nature to favor growth and expansion in the same direction, his requirements would be quite unlike what they are to-day. Indeed, as to a vast proportion of his ailments, he would be very far on the road towards perfect convalescence, a great array of quack nostrums, and sick-room appendages to be instantly swept out as rubbish—attending physicians to be straightway dismissed.
And were either of the above-named conditions true, so that, in a given case, his mental economy remaining as it now is, he might, in some sort, seek refuge against it, in certain medicative provisions afforded by external accidents, then, too, the aspect of things might be somewhat changed for the better. But we may imagine a case, where these accidents of the external, instead of yielding such antidote, or contributing anything in the way of alleviation even, rather invite and encourage the mischief. Nor need we travel far to find the parallel for such a supposed case. Going back less than a century, we may make ourselves present witnesses at the inauguration of a republican government, and listen to the announcement of certain cardinal, fundamental principles, among the rest of liberty and equality—an announcement unfolding altogether a theory of government so unlike anything the world had before witnessed that it appeared not an improvement of an old thing, but the very birth-struggle and creation of an absolutely new thing. And as we stand there, spectators of the august ceremony, we may not unreasonably ask ourselves whether we are listening to this great announcement-whether we who are rendered almost giddy in this lately-acquired possession of these great truths, thus enunciated in those general terms which were the only suitable and becoming terms, and thus placed in our hands without those qualifying, restraining, explanatory clauses which would have been out of place and unseasonable—we say we may not unreasonably ask ourselves whether, in being made the recipients and the administrators of these great truths under such circumstances, we shall not be very likely to put upon them too liberal a construction, to give them too free a scope, to ask from them extravagant results, to be betrayed by them into untenable positions—in a word, whether, in our delighted rapture over the newly-received gifts, we shall not be very likely to forget, as we are not reminded of it, that although we and our children are to be henceforth free, we are to be free only upon conditionswe are to be free by law, and by acknowledging the authority of law. And as we ask these questions we may well fear, lest in our eagerness to receive the gift we shall forget the conditions, and so in the end become inflated with romantic hopes for ouselves, with extravagant schemes for others.
Passing on from these remarks—somewhat in the nature of an introduction—to the main subject, but still keeping in mind, as the case above supposed, we ask, whether standing there, interested spectators of the inaugural ceremonies, our hopes of a brilliant future, clouded more or less, as might be by dim revelations of the ever attendant evil, where was promise of so much good, did it enter into our speculations at all that the licentiousness we deprecated would extend to our modes of thought-our habits of argumentation? Did it occur to us at all that this thing we call logic, founded as it is in strict law, in whatever it at. tempts, and for whatever it accomplishes, dependant always upon strict law, no foreign auxilliary of passion, or prejudice, or emotion even, ever for a moment admitted into its service-did it occur to us at all, that in the general licentiousness, which was more or less a cause of apprehension and uneasiness, this very thing we call logic, would be first of all to give sign of the danger ? Did we once think of any peculiar sensitiveness appertaining to it in this regard, which would cause it to be first in announcing that our forebodings were about to be realized ? Possibly, to some few of us, such questions may have occurred—to most of us, probably, not at all. For multiform as are the objections which have been from time to time urged against a democrative form of government; they may most of them be resolved into this one-your liberty will degenerate into licentiousness. And it is a noteworthy fact that the authors of this objection, in constructing their argument, have bestowed very little, if any, attention upon what we have here termed licentiousness of logic. Nor, indeed, is this any cause for surprise. The past history of the world furnishing scarcely any precedents or reliable data towards this inquiry, applicable to our American type of civilization; it has been necessarily of a speculative character-hypothesis, conjecture, and analogy being chiefly relied upon to furnish material for the solution of the problem. Now, however, we might, following these guides, be very naturally led to conclude that free institutions would be likely to beget an excessive and hurtful freedom of conduct, so that under them we should find lawlessness, disorder, and insubordination; it would seem that this mental obliquity, of which we are speaking, would hardly be detected and brought into notice, except by the light of experience only. We say hardly detected, not denying all possibility thereof, for we are too familiar with a similar mode of reasoning on another and a kindred
subject, to have been absolutely precluded from applying it here. We constantly speak of the contagious effect of one virtue upon another, and when we teach our children even so humble a virtue as neatness, or order, we feel assured we have gained some help towards something vastly higher. But if one virtue thus contributes towards the formation and growth of another, between which and itself there is no special sympathy or connection, only a general habit of virtue being thus established, then with still greater reason might we expect, that by this law of contagion a habit—as a habit—of freedom should extend its influence beyond that circle where it was designed to find exercise, and where its hurtful excess was apprehended, and affect also prejudicially very much that lies without. We say we might so have reasoned, and we are at pains to give place to this remark, since however clear the testimony may be, which experience furnishes to the truth of any theory, that theory will be received with still additional confidence and force of conviction, if it is considered that reason itself, unaided by experience, might have taught the same lesson.
We seem then to have presented for our survey a somewhat anomalous case-a condition of affairs where, so far as may be given us, we must serve two masters. For in its very essence, logic is not only law, but despotic law. Has it any power for good or for evil—it is the power of despotism. Has it any gifts for us—it is a despotic hand that bestows them. In its domain it is sole, supreme monarch, its decisions resting not upon, caring little for cumulative approbation of councils, sanction of parliaments, or the still inferior tribute of applauding multitudes. Elsewhere fit may be true, that in a multitude of counsellors there is wisdom; but the moment she listens to other voice than her own, that moment she becomes unworthy to be listened to. Elsewhere aid from abroad may be looked for to supply a deficiency at home. The moment she enlists into her service a foreign ally, that moment her strength is weakened, and her usefulness impaired. Not wholly unknown to us, nor wholly disesteemed, is a magnanimity which favors an inferior and spares a fallen foe—a generosity whose open hand scatters its largesses far and wide on this side and on that—an amiable benevolence of temper, which will have concord and smoothgliding peace, even at a questionable price—a fervid eloquence and an impassioned rhetoric, which shall stir the languid soul into a new and higher life. But logic cares for none of these, mourns the loss of none of them ; nay, these banished forever, she rather now rejoices, since now no breath of unseasonable intruder shall jostle the nicely-adjusted scales she holds with steady, impartial hand-no unhallowed step, with hostile jar, shall disturb the process, within whose quiet depths shall crystallize, by an undeviating law, those angular forms of beauty she loves so well.
Keeping in mind then the true nature of logic, and by no means allowing ourselves to forget, how certain unfavorable accidents of the external are often superadded to a natural innate repellency of authority, whose united tendency is to affect whatever lives and moves by law prejudicially, and so, of course, logic, even to the extent of destroying its value altogether, let us pursue the investigation a little more in detail, and inquire into a few of the more prominent forms under which a licentiousness of logic, in its relation to theories of reform, shows itself. And this main division of the scbject at once suggests itself, certain abstract principles, in themselves of indisputable trust, are strained beyond their legitimate scope; or they are surveyed in an isolated position, dissevered from other principles equally indispntable, and so fail of that wholesome, nay, indispensable assistance, which such acknowledged relationship imposes; or such abstract principles, hastily assumed to be true, are either wholly false, or require, in the very act of stating them, reservations and qualifying conditions. And although indirect allusion has been made to the fact already, it may not be amiss to add here, and once for all, that it matters not under what temptation, supposed to afford more or less ground of exculpation, or with what greater or less degree of self-consciousness we are betrayed into the above errors. Such considerations as these, however worthy of notice elsewhere, have no place here,