Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

and an experimental measure adopted for its abatement. A confident hope is thus afforded, that in the event (which I much fear) of the failure of the experiment, some other more effectual measure may be resorted to.

I am sensible that many may object, that this is not the proper place for such remarks as the foregoing: what has the public at large, they may say, to do with the statutes of the University of Oxford ? To this it might fairly be replied, that not only all who think of sending their sons or other near relatives to Oxford, but all likewise who are placed under the ministry of such as have been educated there, are indirectly concerned, to a certain degree, in the system there pursued. But the consideration which had the chief share in inducing me to say what I have, is, that the vindication of Logic from the prevailing disregard and contempt under which it labours, would have been altogether incomplete without it. For let it be remembered that the science is judged of by the Public in this country, in a very great degree, from the specimens displayed, and the reports made, by those whom Oxford sends forth. Every one, on looking into the University Calendar or Statute Book, feels himself justified in assuming, that whoever

has graduated at Oxford must be a Logician : not, indeed, necessarily a first-rate Logician; but such as to satisfy the public examiners that he has a competent knowledge of the Science. Now, if a very large proportion of these persons neither are, nor think themselves at all benefited by their (so called) logical education, and if many of them treat the study with contempt, and represent it as a mere tissue of obsolete and empty jargon, which it is a mere waste of time to attend to, let any one judge what conclusions respecting the utility of the study, and the wisdom of the University in upholding it, are likely to be the result.

That prejudices so deeply-rooted as those I have alluded to, and supported by the authority of such eminent names, especially that of Locke, and (as is commonly, though not very correctly supposed) Bacon, should be overthrown at once by the present treatise, I am not so sanguine as to expect; but if I have been successful in refuting some of the most popular objections, and explaining some principles which are in general illunderstood, it may be hoped that in time just notions on the subject may gain ground: especially if, as I have some reason to hope,

a more able advocate of the same cause should be induced to step forward.

It may be permitted me to mention, that as I have addressed myself to various classes of students, from the most uninstructed tyro, to the furthest-advanced Logician, and have touched accordingly both on the most elementary principles, and on some of the most remote deductions from them, it must be expected that readers of each class will find some parts not well calculated for them. Some explanations will appear to the one too simple and puerile; and for another class, some of the disquisitions will be at first too abstruse. If to each description some portions are found interesting, it is as much as I can expect.

With regard to the style, I have considered perspicuity not only, as it always must be, the first point, but as one of such paramount importance in such a subject, as to justify the neglect of all others. Prolixity of explanation,-homeliness in illustration and baldness of expression, I have regarded as blemishes not worth thinking of, when anything was to be gained in respect of clearness.

Of the correctness of the fundamental doctrines maintained in the work, I may be allowed to feel some confidence; not so

[merged small][ocr errors]

much from the length of time (about eighteen years) that I have been more or less occupied with it, enjoying at the same time the advantage of frequent suggestions and corrections from several judicious friends, as from the nature of the subject. In works of taste, an author cannot be sure that the judgment of the public will coincide with his own; and if he fail to give pleasure, he fails of his sole or most appropriate object. But in the case of truths which admit of Scientific demonstration, it is possible to arrive by reasoning at as full an assurance of the justness of the conclusions established, as the imperfection of the human faculties will admit; and experience, accompanied with attentive observation, and with repeated trials of various methods, may enable one long accustomed to tuition, to ascertain with considerable certainty what explanations are the best comprehended. Many parts of the detail, however, may probably be open to objections; but if (as experience now authorizes me the more confidently to hope) no errors are discovered, which materially affect the substantial utility of the work, but only such as detract from the credit of the author, the object will have been attained which I ought to have had principally in view.

No credit, I am aware, is given to an author's own disclaimer of personal motives, and profession of exclusive regard for public utility; since even sincerity cannot, on this point, secure him from deceiving himself; but it may be allowable to observe that one whose object was the increase of his reputation as a writer, could hardly have chosen a subject less suitable for his purpose than the present. (Though the interest in it has greatly exceeded what I had anticipated, it still can hardly be called a popular subject, or one likely to become so, in any considerable degree at least during the lifetime of a writer of the present day. Ignorance, fortified by prejudice, opposes its reception, even in the minds of those who are considered as both candid and well-informed. Besides that a great majority of readers not only know not what Logic is, but have no curiosity to learn, the greater part of those who imagine that they do know, are wedded to erroneous notions of it. The multitude never think of paying any attention to the correctness of their reasoning; and those who do, are usually too confident that they are already completely successful in this point, to endure the thought of seeking instruction upon it.

« AnteriorContinuar »