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subject of thought; the thing that is in a certain state, or the subject of that state; and the name of what we are thinking and speaking about, or the subject of a sentence.
There are plenty of logicians and other writers who have not made or recognized this distinction. Locke, for exam
ple, who wrote more than two hundred years A different view of ago, tells us in his celebrated “Essay Concerning judgments.
Human Understanding" that knowledge is “the perception of the agreement or disagreement of our ideas”. This definition takes no account whatever of the things beyond our ideas to which they are supposed to refer. So Jevons tells us in his Lessons in Logic”, a text-book that is very widely used, that an act of judgment " consists in 1 comparing together two notions or ideas of objects derived from simple apprehension, so as to ascertain whether agree or differ”.
But when we judge that the house is on fire we do not compare our idea of the house with our idea of fire, find that in some way or other the two ideas ' agree', and then use the copula is' to indicate the agreement and to fasten the two agreeing ideas together. On the contrary we are usually wholly absorbed in the house and its fate and do not think about our own ideas at all. When we say that a person can tell ' only about his own ideas of things ’ it would be more accurate to say that he can express only his own opinions. But to express an opinion about a thing is to tell not about the opinion itself—about one's own thoughts and their relations to each other—but about the thing as one believes it to be, its states and its relations to other things. If we really agreed with Locke when he says or implies that everything we know is our own idea instead of something beyond it, we should have to agree also with Hume when he
can form ideas which shall be no greater [i.e., larger] than the smallest atom of the animal spirits of an insect or a thousand times less than a mite”, merely because we can think of things so small; when he speaks of perceptions or sensations as “composed of parts
because the things that we perceive or feel are so composed; and when he seriously discusses “the infinite divisibility of our ideas of space and time.” *
If there is no distinction between thought and the object thought of, Hume is right enough in talking of large and small ideas; but if there is a distinction, we must not assume that a thought of a large or complex object is any larger than the thought of one that is small or simple. A good photograph of a single brick involves just as complex a chemical process on the sensitive plate as that of a whole house; to pick a single grape is just as complex an act as to pick a whole bunch; and in the same way to think of a mob is not to have a mob of thoughts. Some acts of thinking are undoubtedly more complex than others; but the complexity of the thought in no way corresponds with that of the object thought about. +
* See his " Treatise of Human Nature", Book I, Part II, Sec. I. David Hume lived from 1711 to 1776. He was probably the greatest of all British philosophers.
| As for the simple apprehension ’ spoken of by Jevons and so many other writers, it has little or nothing to do with an act of judgment. We can divide a sentence into subject and predicate, or, if we like, into subject, predicate, and copula ; but we cannot make any such division in the judgment which the sentence expresses. “Simple apprehension”, says Jevons, " is the act of mind by which we merely become aware of something, or have a notion, idea, or impression of it brought into the mind. The adjective simple means apart from other things, and apprehension the taking hold by the mind. Thus the name or term Iron instantaneously makes the mind think of a strong and very useful metal, but does not tell us anything about it, or compare it with anything else.” (Elementary Lessons in Logic, p. 11.) But let the reader spend five minutes trying to think of such a metal without making some statement about it. He can say · Iron is strong,' or · Iron is useful,' or · Iron is a metal,' or • This is iron,' and during the five minutes he will doubtless make an immense number of other statements; but when he tries to think of it without discovering some relation or passing some judgment he will probably find himself mechanically repeating some word appli. cable to iron and really thinking about something else; or it may be that with the word upon his lips or some visual image in his phantasy
Since all thinking has reference to some reality beyond itself, we think clearly when we discern the object that we
are thinking about without confusion, and we Logical thinking is reason correctly when we see how one relation objective.
of a thing involves another. In order to think clearly and reason correctly it is therefore necessary to look outwards continually beyond ourselves and beyond the words used by others towards the things that we or they are thinking about, in order to see these things and all their essential relations as they are. Unless we do this we cannot succeed either in expressing ourselves plainly and accurately or in forming a right estimate of the reasoning of others. the habit of closely examining the reality beyond us and of testing all our thoughts and words with reference to that reality is necessary for all the aims of logic.
Logic is often defined as the science of the laws of thought; but if what we have been saying is correct, it would Scope of
be far more appropriate to say that it points out logic.
the laws of things which all thought should respect, or that it deals with the mutual implications of the relations of things. The special sciences and metaphysics also study relations of things and the way in which one involves another, but with a somewhat different purpose. Each of the special sciences is concerned with some one group of things and relations, and when it inquires how one relation involves another it is for the sake of gaining more knowledge about the particular things and relations in question. Its aim is thus the attainment of wider or more exact knowledge in some one special field. Metaphysics, on the other hand, inquires into the most fundamental and general relations of all things, and tries to find out what the inmost nature of any thing must be in order that all of these relations should belong to it together. Logic, like metaphysics, he will find consciousness itself Aickering and disappearing.-If simple apprehensions exist, they form no part of our knowledge, of our coherent thought, or of our reasoning. All these involve judgments.
has a very general aim; it too inquires into the most fundamental relations of things and the way in which one involves another. But its inquiry is not so profound as that of metaphysics; it does not ask what the inmost nature of things must be in order that these relations should exist together in them; and the knowledge that it does try to gain about relations and their mutual implications it regards as a means, not as an end. We cannot reason at all in science or anything else unless we have some idea of them, and we cannot reason correctly unless our idea of them is essentially correct; but it may be correct enough to enable us to reason well about most subjects without being nearly so profound as advanced metaphysical inquiries try to make it. Thus in so far as logic tries to make us reason correctly by giving us correct conceptions of things and the way in which their relations involve each other, it is a kind of simple metaphysics studied for a practical end.
There is a sense, however, in which it is perfectly true that logic deals with laws of thought'. A law of thought tells how people actually do think, just as a law of astroromy tells how heavenly bodies actually move, and the real science of the laws of thought is therefore psychology; but inasmuch as there are certain natural ways of thinking that lead to various kinds of logical blunders, it is necessary to understand them in order to understand why we make the blunders. Thus in so far as logic deals with various kinds of fallacies which we naturally commit and tries to explain their origin, it is touching on the field of psychology and dealing with * laws of thought'.
Every judgment, true or false, asserts something about some supposed reality beyond itself, and the difference between the true and the false is that the state of Truth im
personal. affairs asserted by the former really exists and that asserted by the latter does not. Whether it does or does not depends altogether upon the nature of things and the presence or absence of the conditions that might naturally
produce it. It does not depend at all upon the judgment about it. Whether the sun is shining or not at a certain place depends altogether upon the time of day and the presence or absence of clouds, fog, and an eclipse. If such conditions as these are all favorable, the sun is certainly shining whether I happen to think so or not; and if I say
it is not shining when it really is, my statement is false no matter who I ain or how sincere I may be in making it; so likewise if I have nervous prostration or a broken leg, I have it no matter who says that I have or that I have not. Hence it is arrant nonsense to say that something may be 'true for one person and false for another '. may believe that a statement is true and another
believe that it is not, but the facts are what they are wholly regardless of these conflicting beliefs, and one of the persons must
If every possible statement could really be true for one person and false for another, then every one would always be right in what he thought no matter what it was, and there would be no such thing as an error or mistake, and therefore no distinction between correct thinking and incorrect. All logic is based on the assumption that there is such a distinction, and therefore from the standpoint of logic no blunder could be more fundamental or destructive than that which is involved in the serious belief that something may be 'true for one person and false for another'.
The notion that some fact might exist' for 'one person and not ' for ' another doubtless arises from the existence of individual differences in matters of taste and a certain confusion about their meaning. If a picture pleases me, I say it is beautiful; and if it displeases you, you say it is ugly; and all that either of us has any right to mean by the statement is that the picture does please him or displease him. Each statement thus tells about the relation between two things, the picture and the beholder; and because of the difference between the two beholders both statements understood in this way may be perfectly true; the picture really is beautiful