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Logic, Inductive and Deductive

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The question has sometimes been asked, Where should we begin in Logic? Particularly within the present century has this difficulty been felt, when the study of Logic has been revived and made intricate by the different purposes of its cultivators.

Where did the founder of Logic begin? Where did Aristotle begin? This seems to be the simplest way of settling where we should begin, for the system shaped by Aristotle is still the trunk of the tree, though there have been so many offshoots from the old stump and so many parasitic plants have wound themselves round it that Logic is now almost as tangled a growth as the Yews of Borrowdale—

An intertwisted mass of fibres serpentine

Upcoiling and inveterately convolved.

It used to be said that Logic had remained for two thousand years precisely as Aristotle left it. It was an example of a science or art perfected at one stroke by the genius of its first inventor. The bewildered student must often wish that this were so: it is only superficially true. Much of Aristotle's nomenclature and his central formulæ have been retained, but they have been very variously supplemented and interpreted to very different purposes—often to no purpose at all.

The Cambridge mathematician's boast about his new theorem—"The best of it all is that it can never by any possibility be made of the slightest use to anybody for anything"—might be made with truth about many of the later developments of Logic. We may say the same, indeed, about the later developments of any subject that has been a playground for generation after generation of acute intellects, happy in their own disinterested exercise. Educational subjects—subjects appropriated for the general schooling of young minds—are particularly apt to be developed out of the lines of their original intention. So many influences conspire to pervert the original aim. The convenience of the teacher, the convenience of the learner, the love of novelty, the love of symmetry, the love of subtlety; easy-going indolence on the one hand and intellectual restlessness on the other—all these motives act from within on traditional matter without regard to any external purpose whatever. Thus in Logic difficulties have been glossed over and simplified for the dull understanding, while acute minds have revelled in variations and new and ingenious manipulations of the old formulæ, and in multiplication and more exact and symmetrical definition of the old distinctions.

To trace the evolution of the forms and theories of Logic under these various influences during its periods of active development is a task more easily conceived than executed, and one far above the ambition of an introductory treatise. But it is well that even he who writes for beginners should recognise that the forms now commonly used have been evolved out of a simpler tradition. Without entering into the details of the process, it is possible to indicate its main stages, and thus furnish a clue out of the modern labyrinthine confusion of purposes.

How did the Aristotelian Logic originate?...