Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Logic, Preliminary Lesson: Division of Logic


[O]ne should view the parts of logic according to the diversity among the acts of reason. Now there are three acts of the reason, (A) the first two of which belong to reason regarded as an intellect.

(1) One action of the intellect is the understanding [i.e., simple apprehension] of indivisible or uncomplex things, and according to this action it conceives what a thing is. And this operation is called by some the informing of the intellect, or representing by means of the intellect. To this operation of the reason is ordained the doctrine which Aristotle hands down in the book of Predicaments, [i.e., Categories].

(2) The second operation of the intellect is its act of combining or dividing [i.e., judgment], in which the true or the false are for the first time present. And this act of reason is the subject of the doctrine which Aristotle hands down in the book entitled On Interpretation [i.e., Peri hermeneias or De interpretatione].

(B) But the third act of the reason is concerned with that which is peculiar to reason, namely, to advance from one thing to another [i.e., discursive reasoning] in such a way that through that which is known a man comes to a knowledge of the unknown. And this act is considered in the remaining books of logic. It should be noted that the acts of reason are in a certain sense not unlike the acts of nature [...]. Now in the acts of nature we observe a threefold diversity [...]. These three are found also in the acts of the reason. For there is (1) one process of reason which induces necessity, where it is not possible to fall short of the truth; and by such a process of reasoning the certainty of science is acquired. Again, there is (2) a process of reason in which something true in most cases is concluded but without producing necessity. But (3) the third process of reason is that in which reason fails to reach a truth because some principle which should have been observed in reasoning was defective.

(1) Now the part of logic which is devoted to the first process is called the judicative part, because it leads to judgments possessed of the certitude of science [...]. Furthermore, the certitude obtained by such an analysis of a judgment is derived either (a) from the mere form of the syllogism—and to this is ordained the book of the Prior Analytics which treats of the syllogism as such—or (b) from the matter along with the form [...]—and to this is ordained the book of the Posterior Analytics which is concerned with the demonstrative syllogism.

(2) To the second process of reason another part of logic called investigative is devoted. For investigation is not always accompanied by certitude [...]. But just as in the works of nature which succeed in the majority of cases certain levels are achieved [...] so too in that process of reason which is not accompanied by complete certitude certain levels are found accordingly as one approaches more or less to complete certitude.

For (a) although science is not obtained by this process of reason, nevertheless belief or opinion is sometimes achieved (on account of the provability of the propositions one starts with), because reason leans completely to one side of a contradiction but with fear concerning the other side. The Topics or dialectics is devoted to this. For the dialectical syllogism which Aristotle treats in the book of Topics proceeds from premises which are provable.

At times, however, (b) belief or opinion is not altogether achieved, but suspicion is, because reason does not lean to one side of a contradiction unreservedly, although it is inclined more to one side than to the other. To this the Rhetoric is devoted.

At other times (c) a mere fancy inclines one to one side of a contradiction because of some representation, much as a man turns in disgust from certain food if it is described to him in terms of something disgusting. And to this is ordained the Poetics. For the poet’s task is to lead us to something virtuous by some excellent description.

And all these pertain to the philosophy of the reason, for it belongs to reason to pass from one thing to another.

(3) The third process of reasoning is served by that part of logic which is called sophistry, which Aristotle treats in the book On Sophistical Refutations [i.e., Elenchorum].

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