The Art of Reasoning a Popular Exposition of the Principles of Logic

In by Chris ThomasLeave a Comment



GENTLE READER,—-It is fitting that you, who are about to peruse the following work, should know the design which the Author had in composing it. In looking at the works on Logic now generally read, he observed that they constituted two great classes,——1st. Those which were strictly formal in their character, and which, consequently, appeared to the general reader tedious, precise, dry, dull, and uninviting. 2nd. Those which, aiming at popularity, overstepped the legitimate bounds of the science—denuded it of its rigidly-formal and abstract nature—spread their observations over a widely discursive field ——and thus, by their very vagueness and indefinity, rendered their precepts vain, nugatory, unmeaning, and impracticable. No one appeared to him sufficiently adapted, in manner and in matter, to the spirit of “ the age in which we live.” To write a Logic which would be the synthesis of these


which would be popular in its method of exposition, without abating “ one jot or tittle” of that abstract and formal austerity which science invariably assumes—was the aim of the Author. The projection -—in 1850—of a new Serial, “ The British Controversialist,” to which the Author was invited to contribute, afforded him the opportunity of essaying to work his thought into realization. He drew up an outline plan, presented it to the Editors of that Serial, who were pleased to express their belief that such a work, combining accurate thought with attractiveness and popularity of exposition, was suited to the wants of our time. Accordingly the work was begun, and regularly every month during 1850 and 1851 a paper on “The Art of Reasoning” appeared in that Serial from the pen of the Author. These papers are here reprinted in a revised and greatly extended form, with the addition of an “ Introductory Outline of the History of Logic," and an Appendix on “Recent Logical Developments;” a few “Notes” have also been added,—-all of which he hopes may be found useful to his readers. It has been diflicult to free the work from all appearance of having been issued in a serial form, although considerable pains had been taken, in the revisal, to effect that end. In this work I have not afi‘ecteol originality—as the number of my quotations and references will show—but I should not like it to be understood, from this, that I consider there is nothing in it which may be so denominated. Those who are accustomed to such speculations will readily perceive the points of divergence. from the usual course pursued by Logical writers. I have made no scruple in differing, occasionally, from men highly renowned in philosophical pursuits ; and did I not believe that the attainment of Truth, on these topics, was the most ardent desire of their soul, I might be tempted to apologize for intruding the adversaria of a fameless writer, upon such speculations, on the notice of the public. I am very far, indeed, from asserting that the execution of the task which I undertook, has reached the excellence of my ideal of such a work. It is one thing to plan, another to execute. How can it be otherwise? The plan rises before the mind’s eye, captivating by its beauty and originality; takes no account of the frequent falterings which one must feel in essaying an untried path, allows nothing for interruptions from sickness, sorrow, or fatiguing professional pursuits, takes not within its ken the contingencies of life, the occasional procrastination in which the mind will indulge, and the disadvantages which distance from the press, disjunctness of publication, and the imperative demands of the printer's familiar, may concur in producing. All these several points I am able to plead in excuse of the many imperfections and blemishes, “ the faults of omission and commission,” with which this literary effort is chargeable. How far I have succeeded the public will judge—how far I have fallen below my own estimate, none can know. That it has been so far successful in meeting “the wants of the times,” the favourable notices which, unsolicited, the newspaper press has bestowed on it, as well as the frequent receipt of congratulatory letters from private individuals—some of them of considerable standing in the literary world-abundantly testify. To those who have thus encouraged me—who strengthened my heart to proceed—I owe a debt of gratitude. And to you, gentle reader, for your patience and forbearance, how much shall I be indebted?



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