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CHAPTER III.: Præcognita: or, Preliminary and General Indications concerning Logic, according to the Aristotelians. - Jeremy Bentham, The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 8 (Chrestomathia, Essays on Logic and Grammar, Tracts on Poor Laws, Tracts on Spanish Affairs) 
The Works of Jeremy Bentham, published under the Superintendence of his Executor, John Bowring (Edinburgh: William Tait, 1838-1843). In 11 vols. Volume 8.
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Præcognita: or, Preliminary and General Indications concerning Logic, according to the Aristotelians.
Definition of Logic according to the Aristotelians.
“An instrumental art, directing our mind into the cognition of all things that are intelligible.”* Such, according to Sanderson, is the definition of Logic, as given by the School of Aristotle.
Before the above, in the semblance of a definition, comes this short locution—Logic is the art of reason. For recollection, this short phrase may not impossibly have its use: for instruction, for original instruction, it is not in the nature of it to serve.
By this art—such according to the account thus given of it is its nature—the human mind is directed. Good, for so it is said to be by any other art, by every one of those fictitious entities that bear the name of art, Directed?—but into and in what?—Into knowledge—knowledge of all things intelligible, the only things capable of being known, subjectible to the dominion of knowledge: into knowledge, but into nothing else.
Meantime, unfortunately, of the field which nature has thrown open to the dominion of Logic, but over no more than one part out of two, nor that the most useful, did the Grecian philosopher, in so far as this account of what he did is the true one, cast forth his shoe. In point of use, of real utility, and thence, in point of real worth and true dignity, in so far as things are separate or separable, knowledge is inferior to art; so much so, that separated from art, all the knowledge which the human mind is capable of containing, would be of no use. According to their own showing, the logic of the Aristotelians is but an useless, which is as much as to say a worthless art; and so in respect of no small part, though not the whole of it, will it be found.
Even before the first sort of vague and uninstructive definition is completed, comes a parenthesis by which, of the narrowness of the extent attributed to the art by these its cultivators, intimation is given. “Logic,” says the Bishop’s Compendium, “which, according to the figure of synecdoche, is also called dialectica:” the figure of synecdoche is that figure of rhetoric by which the part is put instead of the whole. A very inauspicious commencement this for a treatise on an art which, as to one of its most useful branches, is the art of correct expression and true representation. Before so much as the definition of it is completed, in comes a formulary, taken from that art which, with little impropriety, might be termed the art of misrepresentation.
Again: the art called Logic is the same art, say they, as the art called Dialectics, which, being interpreted, is the art of disputation, viz. in mood and figure. What is true of the art of Logic is, that this art of disputation forms part and parcel of it; but is it thence also true that logic, and the art of disputation, are one and the same object?—that these names are names for one and the same thing? If so, then is a tree, and a branch of that same tree, the same things.
Again, Logic, according to the definition given of it by Aristotle and his followers is an art, the effect, or at least the aim of which is to lead a man to the knowledge of all things intelligible. By Aristotle and the Greek philosophers in general, knowledge taken in the aggregate was an object, on which, to judge from the comparative degree of attention paid to it, and from the comparative quantity of discourse bestowed upon it, a greater value was set then upon happiness itself; and as to its connexion with happiness, either it was regarded as something more valuable than happiness, or as something from the possession of which, in whatever part or shape, at least an equal quantity of happiness would follow, as of course.
Knowledge, or something that with them passed for knowledge, was the prerogative possession of these teachers and their disciples; for happiness, at least in so far as it was composed of pleasures and exemptions from pains, a capacity at least was shared with them by the vulgar herd: hence the transcendent and independent value ascribed by them to everything that went by the name of knowledge, or afforded anything like a promise or prospect of leading to it.
But happiness, including everything that for its own sake is worth having, everything that in itself is of any value, logic, to be of any value, must, in some way or other, be in every part conducive to; and it is only in so far as it is so conducive, that it is worth knowing—that an acquaintance with it is of any value.
Uses of Logic—Utilitates, according to the Aristotelians.
As to the uses of Logic—viz. of their Logic—none, though this topic has been brought to view by them, have the Aristotelians been able to find: practice, they say, will bring them to view. But if practice will, as they are pleased to find it convenient to suppose, bring them to the view of the learner, why not to that of the teacher; and if so it be that to his view it have brought them, why not specify them here at once, as he has done in the case of all the other topics.
Indistinct, indeed, must have been the notions attached by these logicians to the word utilitas. Else, instead of referring under the name of practice to the casual observation of each scholar, how could they have avoided referring to the indication which they themselves had but that instant been giving. Necessary is this art, say they, to the acquisition of every discipline, i. e. of everything that is, or can be the subject of instruction, by which, if they mean anything, they mean everything that is, or can be the subject of anything that ever did go, or ever can go, by any such name as either that of art or that of science. So many disciplines, so many uses—for each discipline a distinct, intelligible, and undeniable use—subsequently to which, in relation to each such discipline, might have come the inquiry into the particular mode in which it administers to well-being. How much more instructive and satisfactory would this indication have been, how much more commensurate with the truth, how much more honourable to the art, would have been such an indication of the uses, than the vague and self-humiliating put off;—go, look for them!—what they are we cannot tell you: if you have good luck, sometime or other you may find some of them yourselves.
End of Logic—Finis, according to the Aristotelians.
After the topic of the uses of Logic—the utilitates, and not before, comes in that list, the topic of the end, finis ejus (scilicet logicæ) i. e. the general end. But of Logic, as of anything else, what are the uses but either so many modifications of the general, the universal end, or so many means tending to the attainment of it? If so, first should have come the end, after that the uses; first the genus, then, and not till then, the species.
This end of logic, this end, when it does come, what is it? Is it the universal, the sole universal end—actually, as well as fitly and properly, the universal end—well-being, i. e. the maximum of pleasures alloyed by the minimum of pains? Not it, indeed: no such amplitude does it possess. It is confined, in the first place, to mere knowledge. But except, and in so far as in some shape or other, it leads to and is productive of well-being—a balance on the side of happiness, what is all the knowledge in the world worth? Just nothing.
In the next place, though the whole of knowledge it might be, and still be worth nothing, it is not so much as the whole of knowledge. Persons and things—under one or other of these heads, may be comprised the subjects of knowledge: of the two, persons a man would be apt to think the most interesting; but to persons, to what belongs to persons, it does not so much as profess to extend: it confines itself, and most pointedly, to things. Finis vero unicus, coqnitio scilicet rerum.
Knowledge of things, viz. either scientific alone, or at least scientific with the addition of unscientific. Knowledge of things, coqnitio rerum; beyond this even the pretensions of the Aristotelians, at any rate any distinct and explicit pretensions do not extend.
Far, indeed, however, were their actual attainments, far even their actual researches from coming up to these pretensions,
The knowledge of words, viz. the import of words,—this was the utmost point, within this field was contained the sum-total of their researches.
A certain sort of coincidence, to exhibit a demonstration, so they termed it, was with them the great work, the object, and, if attained, the fruit of all their ingenuity, and of all them labours.
This demonstration, when exhibited, what did it amount to?—an indication of a certain mode and degree of coincidence between the import of two words, and nothing more.
But this exploit, what did it require? It required that to all the several words employed the same import should have been annexed by the disputing parties. Suppose this identity to have place, then if the demonstration were correct, the opponent could not deny it without falling into a contradiction of terms. But this necessary condition suppose it in any part wanting, in this case no demonstration could take place; not so much as this faint semblance of and spurious substitute for knowledge.
Experience, observation, and experiment, these were the only processes by which real knowledge could be obtained; and by the boasted art of logical demonstration, to what extent soever employed, not a particle of knowledge was obtained through any one of these sources.
Of this assuming science, thus worthless was the end.
In truth, it was not simply worthless, it was positively pernicious. It was pernicious by drawing aside and keeping mankind for so many ages out of the only instructive track of study, as above-mentioned, into and in this uninstructive one.
But out of an ill-directed pursuit, it will sometimes happen that useful results may collaterally, and, as it were by a side-wind, be brought to light.
Though of all the propositions thus demonstrated or demonstrable, the value was, is, and ever will be equal to 0; though logical demonstration, the fruit of all this labour, was and is delusion; yet of the operations which had no other object than the formation and maturation of this fruit, many there are which have been, and will ever continue to be found, applicable to and continually applied to real and most important uses.
The demonstration of the Aristotelian may, in this respect, be compared to the philosopher’s stone. The stone was a nonentity; but in seeking for this nonentity, real entities, pregnant with real and important uses, were discovered in no inconsiderable numbers: for though the stone was never discovered, multitudes of substances applicable to the purposes of medicine and the arts were brought to light.
Functions of Logic—Officia according to the Aristotelians.
Of these no unapt description is given. It is by these functions, as by so many means, that Logic operates towards the attainment of its end.
According to this account, these officia—these functions seem to coincide with sufficient exactness, at least, as far as they extend, with the articles herein above brought to view by the name of operations,—operations of the human mind, or rather of the whole human frame, mind and body together, to all which, in some way or other, Logic is, or is capable of being rendered subservient;—all of them, in some way or other, directed to, and leading to the universal end to which, by the guidance it is capable of affording to them, Logic itself may be, and ought to be made to lead.
Thus much for the general nature of these functions, these means, these operations. But a list, the particular list, any particular list,—anything approaching, or so much as pretending itself to be, or to lead to the finding or formation of anything approaching to a complete list, where shall it be found? Assuredly not in the custody or power of these philosophers. Of these functions, some there are—what, or so much as how many, they cannot tell. Three, however, but no more than three, are what they know of, viz. definition, division, and ratiocination.
Concerning these several functions of Logic or mental operations, how indistinct and inadequate were the notions of these Logicians will be seen in another place.
Object, Matter, and Subjects, according to the Aristotelians.
Of this first chapter in Sanderson, the remainder consists of strings of words* to which no intelligible meaning has ever been attached, and of which no use, no intelligible, no sensible use, has ever been made, or been attempted to be made, which, without any the smallest loss, and with no small advantage, if saving of time and labour be an advantage, the reader may well spare himself the study of. Primary object, the mind; secondary object, language; subject-matter, viz. being and non-being: formal reason, the second intention: logical instruments, so many second notions:—all these so many other subjects.
Words more and more; confusion thicker and thicker: a wood in which, the further a man proceeds, or attempts to proceed, the more inextricably he will be bewildered. Greek, as usual, called in, and why?—that a meaning, which is not to be found in the Latin, may be supposed to be in the Greek.
The subject of Logic,—a subject of information, of operation, or of tractation: the subject of information, primarily the human mind—secondarily discourse or language. The subject of operation, the material subject, alias a theme, or the theme, alias an intelligible question, alias a πᾶγ γοητὸγ,—(a warming pan, a dripping pan, or a patty pan, would have been equally instructive.) The subject of tractation, the formal subject, which, if total and adequate, is a, or the, second intention; if principal, a syllogism, or more specially a demonstration. In all this heap of words will anything useful, or so much as intelligible, ever be found?
[* ] “Ars instrumentalis dirigens mentem nostram in cognitionem omnium intelligibilium.” Sanderson, lib. i. cap. i. The author’s reasons for referring to Sanderson as his text-book of the Aristotelian system will be found above, p. 217.—Ed.
[* ] Sanderson, p. 2.—Objectum Logicæ primario est, mens humana; unde et Logicæ nomen, velut ἀπὸ τᾶ λόγου id est ratione:—secundario etiam et oratio, quæ et ipsa λόγος dicta est quâ sc. sensa mentis nostræ loquendo exprimimus.
Materia circa quam versatur, est omne illud, sive ens, sive non ens, quod vel mente complicti vel oratione eloqui possumus. Ratio autem formalis considerandi est secunda intentio. Logicus enim considerat omnia themata, non secundum proprias ipsorum naturas, sed in quantum Logica instrumenta (quæ sunt secundæ notiones) sunt eis applicabilia. Hinc Logicæ pro diversa ratione multiplex assignari potest subjectum.