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Imagination on human character and happiness, is also clearly shown. But the part which this faculty plays in suggesting scientific hypotheses to the philosopher, and its agency in leading to important discoveries, are passed by almost without notice.
Almost the whole of volume second of Mr. Stewart's " Elements” is devoted to the subject of Ratiocination. The power of ratiocination and Conscience are the great distinguishing faculties of man. The former makes him intelligent, the latter makes him moral and accountable. Hence it is of the first importance to understand correctly the principles of each, their connection with one another, and with the powers of the human mind. As the mechanical philosopher must develop the laws of the mechanical powers, and must also show what is the essential principle on which the force of steam, wind, and gunpowder depends; so when the intellectual philosopher investigates the “Élements of the human mind," a just and entire view of the subject of reasoning in all its parts should be presented. All its principles should be clearly developed, and every point, to use the quaint, expressive language of Locke, should be "bottomed." All its divisions should be genuine and ultimate. The query, whether the principles of reasoning be changeable, or whether the materials about which we reason be alone the variable quantity, should be distinctly answered. The relative degrees of certainty with which we may rely upon our conclusions, and the ultimate law on which every result must at last be based, should be clearly pointed out. But upon examining this volume, we do not find these just requisitions complied with. The book exhibits more learning than discrimination-more refined verbal criticism than just philosophical distinction. Common mistakes are frequently alluded to; but the principles which reveal those mistakes are seldom brought to view. The writer plans edifices which are truly magnificent;"but he does not, like a wise masterbuilder, first lay a sure foundation, so that the reader may rely upon the stability of the superstructure. To do this should be the first care of every philosophical writer. For if we yield full assent to the truth of the fundamental principles of any subject, we are ready to follow with bold assurance wherever the principles lead.
But we will now examine this volume more minutely.
The substance of it is contained in the last three chapters. The subject of the first of these is “General and Demonstrative Reasoning.” Under General Reasoning, the vexed questions at issue between the Nominalists and the Realists are again discussed. Now all the controverted points relative to Abstraction should have been determined when our author was upon that subject. Abstraction has no place here. We do not form abstract general notions by a process of reasoning. Reasoning is that act of the mind by which from two things which are known, we infer a third, which before was unknown. “Deductio er concessis” is its essential and constant principle. The process is always syllogistic; and is the same with the peasant, as with the philosopher. But the subjects upon which we reason are almost innumerable. Hence one's success will depend upon the clearness with which he perceives the relations and the “nexus" of things concerning which he reasons. Hence acuteness and discrimination, as well as knowledge, are necessary to constitute an able reasoner.
Reasoning is called Demonstrative, when conceptions constitute the subject; when facts or “res gestæ" form the subject, it is termed probable or moral. In either kind, the conclusion from the data is inevitable; but in demonstrative reasoning, since the conceptions or data are fixed and definite, the truth of the conclusion is absolutely certain; whereas in probable reasoning, the truth of the premises is so uncertain, the relations are so subtle, and the modifying circumstances are so slight, that the truth of the conclusion may be either barely possible, or it may be established beyond a doubt. In mathematics and even in metaphysics, definitions constitute the conceptions. Hence conceptions are always just what we define thein to be: hence the superiority of Demonstrative over Probable reasoning. Now had these broad lines of distinction been clearly drawn by Mr. Stewart, the whole subject of Demonstrative reasoning might have been fully presented in a very small compass. The lengthened discussion, whether axioms or definitions constitute the principles of mathematical reasoning, would thus have been wholly prevented. It would then have been easy to assign to general reasoning its proper place. It is so named only because it is employed about a particular species of
data; these consist of general principles or laws, and abstract and comprehensive terms. Although we thus point out these serious deficiencies, as we consider them, yet we cheerfully acknowledge that this chapter contains much refined criticism, and many valuable hints respecting the proper method of conducting philosophical inquiries. The remarks on the difference between the logical and the popular use of the term probability are highly ingenious.
Chapter third of this volume is “Of the Aristotelian Logic.” It may with truth be said that the “Stagyrite" suffers violence at the hands of Mr. Stewart. His Logic is spoken of with deep contempt. He is even accused of writing "unmeaning enigmas and unintelligible riddles.” Now Logic is a science, and not a mere speculation. Accordingly its true principles should first be fully established, and ihen in the light furnished by these, the errors of all false systems could easily be shown. If Mr. Stewart had adopted such a method in this case, his opinions would have had more weight, and his severe treatment of Aristotle would have been more satisfactory.
The last chapter of this volume is upon the “Method of inquiry pointed out in the inductive Logic." The ob-jects to be aimed at in investigating the Physical Sciences are truly, though not concisely stated. Our author again endeavors to establish a difference between physical and efficient causes. This distinction, however, as we have before remarked, appears entirely arbitrary. Mr. Stewart discusses the subject of Experience and Analogy, quite too vaguely. His language respecting Analogy is especially open to this charge. He has not distinguished between Analogy in Zoology, Analogy in a Rhetorical sense, and Analogical reasoning. To be sure his remarks when classified will be found to apply with considerable pertinence to each of the above divisions of Analogy; yet for want of such analysis, the reader is liable to be misled, and to receive erroneous or confused impressions respecting the subject as a whole. Again; some things which the author refers to analogy, seem to us to come under the head of Experience or Observation. Thus, when the physiologist finds grinding teeth with broad flat surfaces, and proceeds to draw inferences respecting the stomach and the extremities, etc., he does this, not from any principles of Analogy, as Mr. Stewart maintains, but
because he has observed a necessary connection between the teeth and the structure of these parts.
It remains only to examine Mr. Stewart's remarks on Analysis and Synthesis. Analysis consists in resolving compounds and combinations into their constituent elements-in separating the accidental from the essential and in ascertaining precisely what is cause and what is consequence. Synthesis is that “process of reasoning in which we advance by a regular chain from principles before established or assumed, and propositions already proved, until we arrive at the conclusion." Had Mr. Stewart thus given a precise definition of these two processes of inquiry, adding pertinent illustrations of each, his reader would have been enabled to comprehend their nature, their distinctive difference and the manner of their application. But so general are the terms in which he has described Analysis and Synthesis, and so diffuse is his disciission respecting the merits of each, that no reader, without assistance from some other source, would be able to define these terms in his own words, or to give an original illustration of their use. While one's understanding of the subject is so incomplete, he is at once called upon to read quotation after quotation from various writers, each of which is assigned expressly to exemplify the
vague” use of the terms "Analysis and Synthesis." As might have been expected beforehand, the result of all this is confusion. This must always be the case when a controverted subject or term is treated in like manner.
Having thus reviewed Mr. Stewart's articles pon the Elementary powers of the human mind, we are prepared to decide upon his merits “as an Intellectnal Philosopher."
A Philosopher is one who "interprets” the secrets of Nature, bringing to view those far-reaching nexus that pervade the whole of things” and “draw all to agree.” To develop fundamental principles—to discover those general laws that give rise to infinitely varied phenomenato search out causes, and to follow all things quite up to that chasm across which the “ vulture's eye” hath never pierced—these things constitute the peculiar work of the philosopher. He exhausts every subject he investigates, either reducing it to its ultimate principles, or resolving it into its constituent elements. Hence original knowledge and unadulterated facts constitute the materials on which
he labors. Accordingly the Intellectual Philosopher is one who investigates our mental constitution, for the purpose of ascertaining the elements of which it is composed, and the laws by which it is governed. Hence the data on which he founds his reasoning are obtained by patiently reflecting upon the subjects of his own consciousness. Now had Mr. Stewart rigidly adhered to this course—had he carefully scrutinized the operations of his own mind, and, from the facts thus derived, had he inferred its principles and laws, he would have been worthy the title of philosopher, and the results of his labors would have been truly the “ Elements” of the human mind. The subjects of discussion would have lain directly between the author and his reader; while the latter by referring to his own consciousness and recollections would be prepared to decide whether the facts were correct, and the inferences just. Instead of thus appealing to the reader's own reflections, Mr. Stewart pursues what may be termed an eclectic course. He makes constant reference to the works of his predecessors or contemporaries. As soon as a topic is proposed, his uniform practice is to invite the attention to the various opinions and conflicting theories of other authors respecting it. Hume, Locke, Berkely, Condillac, and a host of other worthies are ever and anon called upon to give their sometimes united, though more frequently discordant testimony. The consequence is, the real subject under consideration does not long retain a compact and definite form-instead of remaining under our own eye where we may survey it minutely, it soon recedes into the distance, where it makes a confused and indistinct impression upon the mental vision. Accordingly after reading such articles we shut the book, feeling very much as we do after listening to that class of speakers who always please and interest, but furnish with nothing substantial to carry away. The point at issue has not been decided—we have gained no deep insight-no avail. able power. Mr. Stewart evolves but few principles. He does not love to elaborate heterogeneous facts and separate them into genera, species and families. He establishes more of those general laws that so beautifully explain apparently conflicting phenomena. This we may always expect from one who constantly quotes other authors or refers to their opinions. Pure water wells up only from the