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The logic of Aristotle has been on the decline more than a century; and is at present relegated to schools and colleges. It has occasionally been criticised by different writers; but this is the first attempt to draw it out of its obfcurity into day-light. From what follows, one will be enabled to pass a true judgement on that work, and to determine whether it ought to make a branch of education. The Doctor's essay, as a capital article in the progress and history of the sciences, will be made welcome, even with the fatigue of squeezing through many thorny paths, before a distinct view can be got of that an. cient and stupendous fabric.
It will at the same time show the hurt that Aristotle has done to the reasoning faculty, by drawing it out of its natural course into devious paths. His artificial mode of reafoning, is no less superficial than intricate: I say, superficial; for in none of his logical works, is a single truth attempted to be proved by fyllogism thac requires a proof: the propositions he undertakes to prove by syllogism, are all of them felf-evident. Take for instance the following proposition, That man has a VOL, III, Qq
power of self-motion. To prove this, he assumes the following axiom, upon which indeed every one of his fyllogisms are founded, That whatever is true of a number of particulars joined together, holds true of every one separately; which is thus expressed in logical terms, Whatever is true of the genus, holds true of every fpecies. Founding upon that axiom, he reasons thus: “ All animals have a power $ of self-motion: man is an animal: ergo,
man has a power of self-motion.” Now if all animals have a power of self-motion, it requires no argument to prove, that man, an animal, has that power : and therefore, what he gives as a conclusion or consequence, is not really so; it is not inferred from the fundamental proposition, but is included in it. At the same time, the felf-motive power of man, is a fact that cannot be known but from experience ; and it is more clearly known from experience than that of any other animal. Now, in attempting to prove man to be a selfmotive animal, is it not abfurd, to found the argument on a proposition less clear than that undertaken to be demonstrated? What is here observed, will be found ap
plicable to the greater part, if not the whole; ,
Unless for the reason now given, it
Some ages hence, when the goodly fabric of the Romish fpiritual power shall be laid low in the dust, and scarce a veltige remain; it will among antiquaries be a curious enquiry, What was the nature and extent of a tyranny, more oppressive to the minds of men, than the tyranny of ancient Rome was to their persons. During every
step of the enquiry, pofterity will rejoice over mental liberty, no less precious than personal liberty. The despotism of Aristotle with respect to the faculty of reason, was no less complete, than that of the Bishop of Rome with respect to religion; and it is now'a proper subject of curiosity, to enquire into the nature and extent of that despotism. One cannot peruse the following sheets, without sympathetic pain for the weakness of man with respect to his noblest faculty; but that pain will redouble his fatisfaction, in now being left free to the dictates of reason and common sense.
In my reveries, I have more than once compared Aristotle's logic to a bubble made of soap-water for amusing children; a beautiful figure with splendid colours; fair on the outside, empty within. It has for more than two thousand years been the hard fate of Aristotle's followers, Ixion like, to embrace a cloud for a goddess.—But this is more than fufficient for a preface: and I had almost forgot, that I am detaining my readers from better entertainment, in listening to Dr Reid,
A Brief Account of ARISTOTLE's
Logic. With REMARKS.
CH A P... I..
Of the First Three Treatises.
SECT. 1. Of the Author.
Ristotle had very uncommon advan
tages : born in an age when the philosophical fpirit in Greece had long flourished, and was in its greatest vigour; brought up in the court of Macedon, where his father was the King's physician; twenty years a favourite scholar of Plato, and tutor to Alexander the Great ; who both honoured him with his friendship, and supplied him with every thing necessary for the prosecution of his enquiries.
These advantages he improved by indefatigable study, and immense reading. He was the first, we know, says Strabo,