« AnteriorContinuar »
represented it) as its principal or proper busi
The Greek philosophers generally have unfortunately devoted too much attention to it; but we must beware of falling into the vulgar error of supposing the ancients to have regarded as a serious and intrinsically important study, that which in fact they considered as an ingenious recreation. The disputants diverted themselves in their leisure hours by making trial of their own and their adversary's acuteness, in the endeavour mutually to perplex each other with subtle fallacies; much in the same way as men amuse themselves with propounding and guessing riddles, or with the game of chess; to each of which diversions the sportive disputations of the ancients bore much resemblance. They were closely analogous to the wrestling and other exercises of the Gymnasium; these last being reckoned conducive to bodily vigour and activity, as the former were to habits of intellectual acuteness: but the immediate object in each was a sportive, not a serious contest; though doubtless fashion and emulation often occasioned an undue importance to be attached to success in each.
Zeno, then, is hardly to be regarded as any further a logician than as to what respects his
erotetic method of disputation; a course of v argument constructed on this principle being
properly an hypothetical Sorites, which may easily be reduced into a series of syllogisms.
To Zeno succeeded Euclid of Megara, and Euclid and Antisthenes; both pupils of Socrates. The former of these prosecuted the subject of the third part of his predecessor's treatise, and is said to have been the author of many of the fallacies attributed to the Stoical school. Of the writings of the latter nothing certain is known; if, however, we suppose the abovementioned sect to be his disciples in this study, and to have retained his principles, he certainly took a more correct view of the subject than Euclid. The Stoics divided all lektà, every thing that could be said, into three classes : 1st, the simple Term; 2d, the Proposition ; 3d, the Syllogism; viz. the hypothetical; for they seem to have had little notion of a more rigorous analysis of argument than into that familiar form.
We must not here omit to notice the merits of Archytas, to whom we are indebted for the Archytas. doctrine of the Categories. He, however, (as well as the other writers on the subject) appears to have had no distinct view of the proper object and just limits of the science of Logic; but to have blended with it metaphysical discussions not strictly connected with it, and to have dwelt on the investigation of the nature of terms and propositions, without
maintaining a constant reference to the principles of Reasoning; to which all the rest should be made subservient.
The state, then, in which Aristotle found the science (if indeed it can properly be said to have existed at all before his time) appears to have been nearly this : the division into Simple Terms, Propositions, and Syllogisms, had been slightly sketched out; the doctrine of the Categories, and perhaps that of the Opposition of propositions, had been laid down; and, as some believe, the analysis of Species into Genus and Differentia, had been introduced by Socrates. These, at best, were rather the materials of the system, than the system itself; the foundation of which indeed he distinctly claims the merit of having laid, and which remains fundamentally the same as he left it.
It has been remarked, that the logical system is one of those few theories which have been begun and perfected by the same individual. The history of its discovery, as far as the main principles of the science are concerned, properly commences and ends with Aristotle; and this may perhaps in part account for the subsequent perversions of it. The brevity and simplicity of its fundamental truths (to which point indeed all real science is perpetually tending) has probably led many to suppose
that something much more complex, abstruse, and mysterious, remained to be discovered. The vanity, too, by which all men are prompted unduly to magnify their own pursuits, has led unphilosophical minds, not in this case alone, but in many others, to extend the boundaries of their respective sciences, not by the patient development and just application of the principles of those sciences, but by wandering into irrelevant subjects. The mystical employment of numbers by Pythagoras, in matters utterly foreign to arithmetic, is perhaps the earliest instance of the kind. A more curious and important one is the degeneracy of Astronomy into judicial Astrology ; but none is more striking than the misapplication of Logic, by those who have treated of it as “the art of rightly employing the rational faculties,” or who have intruded it into the province of Natural Philosophy, and regarded the Syllogism as an engine for the investigation of nature : while they overlooked the boundless field that was before them within the legitimate limits of the science; and perceived not the importance and difficulty of the task, of completing and properly filling up the masterly sketch before them.
The writings of Aristotle were not only absolutely lost to the world for about two centuries, but seem to have been but little studied for a
long time after their recovery. An art, however, of Logic, derived from the principles traditionally preserved by his disciples, seems to have been generally known, and to have been employed by Cicero in his philosophical works; but the pursuit of the science seems to have been abandoned for a long time. Early in the Christian era, the Peripatetic doctrines experienced a considerable revival ; and we meet with the names of Galen and Porphyry as logicians : but it is not till the fifth century that Aristotle's logical works were translated into Latin by the celebrated Boethius. Not one of these seems to have made any considerable advances in developing the theory of reasoning. Of Galen's labours little is known; and Porphyry's principal work is merely on the predicables. We have little of the science till the revival of learning among the Arabians, by whom Aristotle's treatises on this as well as on other subjects were eagerly studied.
Passing by the names of some Byzantine
writers of no great importance, we come to Schoolmen. the times of the Schoolmen, whose waste of
ingenuity and frivolous subtilty of disputation need not be enlarged upon. It may be sufficient to observe, that their fault did not lie in their diligent study of Logic, and the high value they set upon it, but in their utterly mistaking the true nature and object of the