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chapter 4: On Method, and Logical Practice - Gershom Carmichael, Natural Rights on the Threshold of the Scottish Enlightenment: The Writings of Gershom Carmichael 
Natural Rights on the Threshold of the Scottish Enlightenment: The Writings of Gershom Carmichael, ed. James Moore and Michael Silverthorne (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2002).
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On Method, and Logical Practice
On the general rules of method.
To investigate the truth or expound it to others with success, we need to do more than look at individual acts taken separately, we must also arrange them in due order among themselves. We would not wish this compend to omit any of the essential parts of logic, and so we have included here the three following general laws of method. We postpone to another place a more detailed explanation of the individual methods and the rules belonging to them.
On logical practice, and first on the treatment of the simple theme.
The special practice of logic is the careful and precise investigation of truth, and virtually the entire discipline seeks to direct this investigation and remove obstacles to it. But what is called logical practice usually gives precepts about certain exercises which pertain to the disclosure of truth, and it has been found to be extremely useful to bring these precepts to the attention of the students of the university. We therefore include here some of the most important and useful of them.
Logicians reduce these precepts to two classes: one concerns genesis, the other analysis. They define genesis as the mode of using the tools of logic by which one forms and produces for oneself a discourse on a theme. They define themes as anything that may be put before the intellect as a subject of knowledge, and divide them into simple and complex.
A simple theme is said to be a term, whether complex or noncomplex; or rather, the thing itself so far as it is merely represented by an idea, and is signified by one or more words which denote that idea.
A complex theme is any proposition; or rather the very truth of the thing, so far as it can terminate the act of affirming or denying, and is expressed in the form of a statement or perhaps a question.
In treating a simple theme the following rules must be observed.
On the solo treatment of a complex theme, or on exegesis.
If a complex theme is put forward for treatment, it is handled either in a speech by one person, which is called exegesis, or by argument between two or more persons, which is called disputation.
There are three important and essential parts of exegesis. The first is called paraskeuê,1 or preparation for treating the question. The rules are as follows:
The second part is called kataskeuê, or confirmation of truth, of which the rules are these:
The third part is anaskeuê, or the solution of objections; these are the rules:
One may preface all these matters with a proparaskeuê as a proem on the importance and timeliness of the question; one may also annex to all the aforesaid parts an episkeuê as a peroration, which gives the gist of the whole dissertation in a few words, together with the corollaries that flow from it.
However, for the right treatment of any theme, whether simple or complex, no rules direct us so well as a well-formed judgment and an accurate knowledge of the subject under discussion. For the method must be suited to the different conditions of things, and the things must not have their necks twisted, so to speak, to fit the more rigid laws of method. No one therefore will expound any proposed theme more elegantly than one who has looked thoroughly into it and has set himself carefully to observe this one rule above all others, to give a simple account of what he has learned by paying serious attention to the matter for himself, with an attitude of benevolence toward others and a desire to make clear the truth, for the glory of God.
On the social treatment of complex themes or on disputation.
The next subject is disputation; its laws regard either the matter or the form of disputation. Of the former there are three:
As for the form, since three persons are necessary to the proper organization of a formal disputation, i.e., opponent, respondent, and president, some rules are common to them all; some are peculiar to each.
The rules all three must observe are these:
The rules peculiar to the opponent are these:
The rules to be observed by the respondent are these:
As for the president, he intervenes either merely to keep order (eutaxia)5 or also to give assistance to the respondent. A president of the first kind merely has the duty to admonish the disputants to follow the aforesaid rules, and to bring them back to the proper form of disputation, if they wander from the straight path. But a president of the latter sort, in addition to the duty just mentioned, which he shares with the first kind of president, must also solve a difficulty which has been advanced when the respondent fails to do so, and defend the truth of the thesis; but in such a way that he also finds out how much the respondent can do for himself, and should lead him gradually to the true solution of the argument rather than do all the work himself, which makes the respondent uninterested in the outcome of the disputation.
The other part of logical practice is analysis. This is defined as, the mode of using the tools of logic by which we resolve a discourse which has already been made and composed into the principles from which it was made and composed. It is particularly useful in understanding other men’s writings, and since we owe to them by far the largest part of our knowledge, it is rightly considered all the more useful and necessary to have an acquaintance with analysis.
Our first concern should be to reach the real meaning of the author; to this end we must use means to guide us in understanding an ambiguous or obscure sense. These are either external or internal means.
The external means for discovering the sense of a statement are these:
Internal means are those which regard the discourse itself considered in itself. In this, lexicons give the meanings of individual words; grammar indicates the construction and its force; rhetoric, the figures of speech. In making out the real sense of a complete discourse, there are sometimes difficulties which cannot be removed by any of these aids. They are overcome most especially by careful attention to the subject under discussion and by previous knowledge, if not of the actual doctrine being given, then at least of the principles on which it rests (and which are assumed rather than laid out in the actual treatise).
After reaching a good understanding of the sense of the piece of writing whose resolution we are attempting, the following preliminaries are usually prefaced to the actual analysis:
Analysis may be of a single proposition which has to be resolved into its subject and predicate, or of a whole discourse; whether it treats of a simple or a complex theme, we should observe the same order in taking it apart as the author followed in writing it. If the discourse consists of all or some of the parts which we assigned to the treatment of a theme above, whether simple or complex, we should note them and point them out one by one. If the author has departed from the usual rules of method, such departures should also be pointed out, and emphasized for imitation or avoidance, as they seem to deserve. In a word, the meaning of the treatise should be frankly laid bare, without trickery or deceit, and by distinguishing what is particularly pertinent from the digressions, the sequence of the thoughts and their connection with the proposed aim are to be revealed as clearly as possible.
Corollaries or conclusions deduced from the doctrine as expounded are sometimes annexed to an analysis, but one must be careful that their consequences are quite evident. It would certainly be very unfair to ascribe a conclusion to any author as his own, of which the author himself might question whether it follows from the doctrine he has taught.
Early Writings: Philosophical Theses
Philosopical Theses were presented to students as a graduation exercise to be defended (in Latin) in the presence of distinguished guests, other professors, and students. In the regenting system, in use at the University of Glasgow until 1727, this exercise took place at the end of the fourth year of study. Carmichael chose to publish the theses he assigned his students in 1699 and 1707. It will be evident that the second set of theses may be read as a sequel to the first set presented here. In both Philosophical Theses (and occasionally elsewhere) the editors have divided sections of the original text into paragraphs.
The full text of Carmichael’s
Which, under the Guidance of Almighty God,
Students of the renowned University of Glasgow,
Scholars and Gentlemen,
Who are Candidates for the Degree of Master,
will submit to Public Examination by Learned Men
On the 3rd. of May
Under the Presidency of Gershom Carmichael
Printed by Robert Sanders, Printer to the King and University,
The majority of men are so careless and unreasonable that they make no distinction between the word of God and that of man when they are joined together; as a result, they fall into error by approving them together, or into impiety by indiscriminately condemning them.
(Nicolas Malebranche, The Search after Truth, bk. II, pt. 2, ch. 8)1
To the high and noble Lord,
[Basil Hamilton of Baldon,]
the most worthy Son
of illustrious and noble Parents,
Leaders of their Country in Peace and War,
Duke William and
Anne Duchess of Hamilton,
As remarkably distinguished by the splendour of their Birth
as by Virtues worthy of that Eminence,
Generous Benefactors of the Muses,
these Philosophical Theses are dedicated and devoted
in Honour of his Patron2
and in witness of his devotion and everlasting respect
Gershom Carmichael, President,
all the Candidates
who have submitted their names for examination for the
degree of Master at this time: to add the names of others,
not on the list, even though they may have completed
their course of studies, is not permitted by the
Rules of our University.
[1.] Carmichael’s use of these Greek terms indicates that he was following a version of the “preliminary exercises,” or Progymnasmata, of Aphthonius (especially chs. 5 and 6). This text was widely used in Latin translation in grammar schools in England in this period. See M. L. Clarke, Classical Education in Britain 1500–1900 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1959), pp. 2, 184.
[2.] This sentence was a footnote in Carmichael’s text.
[3.] The previous two sentences were a footnote in Carmichael’s text.
[4.] This sentence was a footnote in Carmichael’s text.
[5.] Cicero discusses eutaxia at On Duties, I.142.
[1.] Nicolas Malebranche, De la recherche de la vérité où l’on traite de la nature de l’esprit de l’homme et de l’usage qu’il en doit faire pour éviter l’erreur dans la science (1674). Malebranche (1638–1715), following the purpose of the Oratorian order to which he belonged, set out to renew the study of St. Augustine, in the light of Cartesian philosophy. He was influential in Britain in the last years of the seventeenth century, as two contemporary English translations testify: Father Malebranche’s Treatise concerning the Search after Truth, translated by Thomas Taylor (Oxford, 1694), and Malebranche’s Search after Truth. … done out of French from the last edition by Richard Sault, 2 vols. (London, 1694–95). A more recent translation is now available: Nicolas Malebranche, The Search after Truth, translated from the French by Thomas M. Lennon and Paul J. Olscamp (Columbus: Ohio State University Press 1980); all references are to this translation. Carmichael’s 1699 Theses show the influence of Malebranche at several points; his epigraph is at Lennon and Olscamp, pp. 158–59.
[2.] See above, pp. x–xi, on the involvement of the Hamilton family in Carmichael’s appointment at the University of Glasgow.