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grammatic, yet unanswerable remark, that "there is always some "radical defect in a syllogism, which is not chargeable with that "species of sophism known among logicians by the name of petitio "principii, or a begging of the question."*
The idea which is commonly annexed to intuition, as opposed to reasoning, turns, I suspect, entirely on the circumstance of time." The former we conceive to be instantaneous; whereas the latter involves the notion of or of progress, This
•. Dif: Intuition & distinction is sufficiently precise for the ordinary purposes of dis- reasoning
course; nay, it supplies us, on many occasions, with a convenient phraseology: but, in the theory of the mind, it has led to some mistaken conclusions, on which I intend to offer a few remarks in the second part of this section.
So much with respect to the separate provinces of these powers, according to Locke; a point on which I am, after all, inclined to think, that my own opinion does not differ essentially from his, whatever inferences to the contrary may be drawn from some of his casual expressions. The misapprehensions into which these have contributed to lead various writers of a later date, will, I hope, furnish a sufficient apology for the attempt which I have made, to place the question in a stronger light than he seems to have thought requisite for its illustration.
In some of the foregoing quotations from his Essay, there is another fault of still greater moment; of which, although not immediately connected with the topic now under discussion, it is proper for me to take notice, that I may not have the appearance of acquiesc-veticisin ing in a mode of speaking so extremely exceptionable. What I al-' lude to is, the supposition which his language, concerning the pow-on ers both of intuition and of reasoning, involves, that knowledge consists solely in the perception of the agreement or the disagreement of our ideas. The impropriety of this phraseology has been sufficiently exposed by Dr. Reid, whose animadversions I would beg leave to recommend to the attention of those readers, who, from long habit, Mr Sachis may have familiarized their ear to the peculiarities of Locke's philosophical diction. In this place I think it sufficient for me to add language sug to Dr. Reid's strictures, that Mr. Locke's language has, in the pres-fated by ent instance, been suggested to him by the partial view which he took of the subject; his illustrations being chiefly borrowed from mathematics, and the relations about which it is conversant. When applied to these relations, it is undoubtedly possible to annex some sense to such phrases as comparing ideas,—the juxta-position of ideas, -the perception of the agreements or disagreements of ideas; but, in most other branches of knowledge, this jargon will be found, on examination, to be altogether unmeaning; and, instead of adding to the precision of our notions, to involve plain facts in technical and scholastic mystery.
This last observation leads me to remark farther, that even, when Locke speaks of reasoning in general, he seems in many cases, to
* Phil. of Rhet. Vol. I. p. 174. [Boston edit. p. 93.]
have had a tacit reference, in his own mind, to mathematical demonstration; and the same criticism may be extended to every logical writer whom I know, not excepting Aristotle himself. Perhaps it is chiefly owing to this, that their discussions are so often of very little practical utility; the rules which result from them being wholly superfluous, when applied to mathematics; and, when extended to other branches of knowledge, being unsusceptible of any precise, or even intelligible interpretation.
position to Corning.
Conclusions obtained by a Process of Deduction often mistaken for Intuitive Judgments.
It has been frequently remarked, that the justest and most efficient understandings are often possessed by men who are incapable of stating to others, or even to themselves, the grounds on which they proceed in forming their decisions. In some instances, I have been disposed to ascribe this to the faults of early education; but, in other cases, I am persuaded, that it was the effect of active and imperious habits in quickening the evanescent processes of thought, so as to render them untraceable by the memory; and to give the appearance of intuition to what was in fact the result of a train of Common reasoning so rapid as to escape notice. This I conceive to be the true theory of what is generally called common sense, in opposition to book-learning; and it serves to account for the use which has
been made of this phrase, by various writers, as synonymous with
These seemingly instantaneous judgments have always appeared to me as entitled to a greater share of our confidence than many of our more deliberate conclusions; in as much as they have been forced, as it were, on the mind by the lessons of long experience; and are as little liable to be biassed by temper or passion, as the estimates we form of the distances of visible objects. They constitute, indeed, to those who are habitually engaged in the busy scenes of life, a sort of peculiar faculty, analogous, both in its origin and in its use, to the coup d'oeil of the military engineer, or to the quick and sure tact of the medical practitioner, in marking the diagnostics of disease.
distinction For this reason, I look upon the distinction between our intuitive and deductive judgments as, in many cases, merely an object bet. intuition of theoretical curiosity. In those simple conclusions which all men are impelled to form by the necessities of their nature, and in which + deductive we find an uniformity not less constant than in the acquired percepJudgment. tions of sight, it is of as little consequence to the logician to spend his time in efforts to retrace the first steps of the infant understandfno conse-ing, as it would be to the sailor or the sportsman to study, with a quin. view to the improvement of his eye, the Berkeleian theory of vis
ion. In both instances, the original faculty and the acquired judg ment are equally entitled to be considered as the work of Nature: and in both instances we find it equally impossible to shake off her authority. It is no wonder therefore, that, in popular language, such words as common sense and reason should be used with a considerable degree of latitude; nor is it of much importance to the philosopher to aim at extreme nicety in defining their province, where all mankind, whether wise or ignorant, think and speak alike.
In some rare and anomalous cases, a of in the more complicated concerns of life, appears in individuals who have had so few opportunities of profiting by experience, that it seems, apparente on a superficial view, to be the immediate gift of heaven. But, instantan all such instances (although a great deal must undoubtedly be ascribed to an inexplicable aptitude or predisposition of the intellectual powers,) we may be perfectly assured, that every judgment of the understanding is preceded by a process of reasoning or deduction,
Of this I can no more doubt, than I could bring myself to believe that the Arithmetical Prodigy, who has, of late, so justly attracted the attention of the curious, is able to extract square and cube roots by an instinctive and instantaneous perception, because the process of mental calculation, by which he is led to the resuit, eludes all his efforts to recover it.*
It is remarked by Mr. Hume, with respect to the elocution of Oliver Cromwell, that "it was always confused, embarrassed, and "unintelligible."" The great defect, however, (he adds) in Oli-Elocution "ver's speeches, consisted, not in his want of elocution, but in his of Olive "want of ideas; the sagacity of his actions, and the absurdity of "his discourse, forming the most prodigious contrast that ever was Cromwell “known.”—“In the great variety of human geniuses (says the "same historian, upon a different occasion) there are some which, "though they see their object clearly and distinctly in general; "yet, when they come to unfold its parts by discourse or writing, "lose that luminous conception which they had before attained. "All accounts agree in ascribing to Cromwell, a tiresome, dark, "unintelligible elocution, even when he had no intention to dis"guise his meaning: Yet, no man's actions were ever, in such a "variety of difficult incidents, more decisive and judicious.”
The case here described may be considered as an extreme one; but every person of common observation must recollect facts somewhat analogous, which have fallen under his own notice. Indeed, it is no more than we should expect a priori, to meet with, in every individual whose early habits have trained him more to the active business of the world, than to those pursuits, which prepare the mind for communicating to others its ideas and feelings with clearness and effect.
• See Note (E.)
An anecdote which I heard, many years ago, of a late very eminent Judge (Lord Mansfield) has often recurred to my memory, while reflecting on these apparent inconsistencies of intellectual character. A friend of his, who possessed excellent natural talents, but who had been prevented, by his professional duties as a naval officer, from bestowing on them all the cultivation of which they were susceptible, having been recently appointed to the government of Jamaica, happened to express some doubts of his competency to preside in the court of Chancery. Lord Mansfield assured him, that he would find the difficulty not so great as he apprehended. "Trust (he said) to your own good sense in forming your "opinions; but beware of attempting to state the grounds of your "judgments. The judgment will probably be right;-the argu"ment will infallibly be wrong."
From what has been said, it seems to follow, that although a man wood should happen to reason ill in support of a sound conclusion, we 7 judgment are by no means entitled to infer with confidence, that he judged right merely by accident. It is far from being impossible that he may have committed some mistake in stating to others (perhaps in and retracing to himself) the grounds upon which his judgment was cannot really founded. Indeed, this must be the case, wherever a shrewd be stated. understanding in business is united with an incapacity for clear and luminous reasoning; and something of the same sort is incident, more or less, to all men (more particularly to men of quick parts) when they make an attempt, in discussions concerning human affairs, to remount to first principles. It may be added, that in the old, this correctness of judgment often remains, in a surprising degree, long after the discursive or argumentative power would seem, from some decay of attention, or confusion in the succession of ideas, to have been sensibly impaired by age or by disease.
In consequence of these views, as well as of various others foreign to the present subject, I am led to entertain great doubts Joubt, ves-about the solidity of a very specious doctrine laid down by Condorcet, in his "Essay on the Application of Mathematical Analysis to "the Probabilities of Decisions resting upon the Votes of a Majority." "It is extremely possible (he observes) that the decision which "unites in its favour the greatest number of suffrages, may compre"hend a variety of propositions, some of which, if stated apart, "would have had a plurality of voices against them; and, as the "truth of a system of propositions supposes that each of the propo"sitions composing it is true, the probability of the system can be "rigorously deduced only from an examination of the probability of "each proposition, separately considered."*
ructing o octrine of indovus.
Essai sur l'Application de l'Analyse à la probabilité des Décisions rendues à la pluralité des Voix. Disc. Prél pp 46, 47.
Some of the expressions in the above quotation are not agreeable to the idiom of our language; but I did not think myself entitled to depart from the phraseology of the original. The meaning is sufficiently obvious.
When this theory is applied to a court of law, it is well known to involve one of the nicest questions in practical jurisprudence; and, in that light, I do not presume to have formed any opinion with respect to it. It may be doubted, perhaps, if it be not one of those problems, the solution of which, in particular instances, is more safely entrusted to discretionary judgment, than to the rigorous application of any technical rule founded on abstract principles. I have introduced the quotation here, merely on account of the proof which it has been supposed to afford, that the seeming diversities of human belief fall, in general, greatly short of the reality. On this point, the considerations already stated, strongly incline me to entertain an idea directly contrary. My reasons for thinking so may be easily collected from the tenor of the preceding remarks.
It is time, however, to proceed to the examination of those discursive processes, the different steps of which admit of being distinctly stated and enunciated in the form of logical arguments; and which, in consequence of this circumstance, furnish more certain and palpable data for our speculations. I begin with some remarks on the Power of General Reasoning; for the exercise of which (as I formerly endeavoured to shew) the use of language, as an instrument of thought, is indispensably requisite.
OF GENERAL REASONING.
Illustrations of some Remarks formerly stated in treating of Abstraction.
I SHOULD Scarcely have thought it necessary to resume the consideration of abstraction here, if I had not neglected, in my first volume, to examine the force of an objection to Berkeley's doctrine concerning abstract general ideas, on which great stress is laid by Dr. Reid in his essays on the Intellectual Powers of Man; and which some late writers seem to have considered as not less conclusive against the view of the question which I have taken. Of this objection I was aware from the first; but was unwilling, by replying to it in form, to lengthen a discussion which savoured so much of the schools; more especially, as I conceived that I had guarded my own argument from any such attack, by the cautious terms in which I had expressed it. Having since had reason to believe that I was precipitate in forming this judgment, and that Reid's strictures on Berkeley's theory of general signs have produced a deeper impression than I had expected,* I shall endeavour to obviate them, at
See a book entitled, Elements of Intellectual Philosophy, by the late learned and justly regretted Mr. Scott, of King's College, Aberdeen, p. 118, et seq. (Edinburgh, 1805.) I have not thought it necessary to reply to Mr. Scott's own reasonings, which do not appear to me to throw much new light on the question; but I thought it right to refer to them here, that the reader may, if he pleases, have an opportunity of judging for himself.