Logics and Metaphysics 1

The Principles Which Lead and Direct Philosophical Enquiries; Illustrated by the History of the Ancient Logics and Metaphysics

  • In every transmutation, there was something different and something the same.
  • When Fire was changed into Air, the Stuff or Subject–matter of this Air was the same with that of the former Fire.
    • But the Nature or Species of the Air was entirely different.
  • When fresh, green, and fragrant flowers were thrown together in a heap, they entirely changed their nature in a short time.
    • They became putrid and loathsome.
    • They dissolved into a confused mass of ordure.
      • It did not resemble their former beautiful appearance in its sensible qualities or effects.
  • But no matter how different the species, the subject–matter of the flowers, and of the ordure, was the same.
  • Therefore, in every body, whether simple or mixed, there were two principles of the whole nature of that body.
    • The first was the Stuff, or Subject–matter, out of which it was made.
      • This seemed the same in all bodies.
      • It did not have qualities nor powers of any kind.
      • It was inert and imperceptible by the senses until it was qualified and rendered sensible by its union with some essential form.
    • The second was the Species, the Specific Essence, the Essential, or the Substantial Form of the Body.
      • All the qualities and powers of bodies seemed to depend on their species or essential forms.
      • It was not the stuff or matter of Fire, Air, Earth, or Water, which enabled those elements to produce their effects, but that essential form which was peculiar to each of them.
      • It seemed evident, that Fire must produce the effects of Fire, by that which rendered it Fire.
  • All other simple and mixed bodies must produce their effects, by their specific Essence or essential forms which constituted them such or such bodies.
    • It is from the effects of bodies on one another that all the changes in the material world arise.
  • Since these depend on the specific essences of those bodies, it must be the business of philosophy.
    • It is the science which tries to connect all the different changes that occur in the world together, to:
      • determine what is the specific Essence of each object
      • foresee what changes may be expected from each object
  • But the specific Essence of each object is peculiar to all other objects of the same kind.
    • Thus, the specific Essence of the Water before me is not in its being heated by the Fire or cooled by the Air.
    • It is in its being contained in a vessel.
  • These are all accidental circumstances extraneous to its general nature.
    • Water does not depend on the effects of such circumstances.
  • Philosophy, therefore, takes no notice of those particularities which are peculiar to this Water.
    • It confines itself to things common to all water.
  • If philosophy should consider the nature of Water modified by such accidents, it still would not confine its consideration to this water in this vessel.
    • It would extend its views to all Water contained in such vessels.
  • In every case, therefore, Species, or Universals, and not Individuals, are the objects of Philosophy. 
    • Because whatever effects are produced by individuals, whatever changes can flow from them, must all proceed from some universal nature that is contained in them.
    • It was the business of Physics, or Natural Philosophy, to determine the Nature and Essence of every particular Species of things to connect together all the events in the material world.
  • There were two other sciences which originally arose out of Natural Philosophy.
    • They were thought to go before Natural Philosophy to communicate the knowledge of Nature.
  • The first is Metaphysics.
    • It is considered the general nature of Universals and the different sorts or species into which they might be divided.
  • The second is Logics.
    • It was built on this doctrine of Metaphysics.
    • From the general nature of Universals and the sorts which they were divided into, it tried to:
      • ascertain the general rules to distribute all objects into general classes
      • determine to what class each object belonged
  • They thought that this was the whole art of philosophical reasoning.
  • Metaphysics is subordinate to Logic.
    • Before Aristotle’s time, they were regarded as one.
    • They made up that ancient Dialectic of which we hear so much but understand so little.
    • This separation was not much attended to by Aristotle’s own followers, the ancient Peripatetics, or by any other of the old sects of philosophers.
  • The later schoolmen distinguished between Ontology and Logic.
    • But their Ontology contains but a small part of the subject of Aristotle’s metaphysical books.
    • Since the days of Porphery, the doctrines of Universals and everything preparatory to the arts of defining and dividing, has been inserted into their Logic.
  • The objects of science, and of all the steady judgments of the understanding, must be permanent, unchangeable, always existent, and not liable to generation nor corruption, nor alteration of any kind.
    • Such are the species or specific essences of things.
  • Things of so fleeting a nature can never be the objects of science, or of any steady or permanent judgment.
    • While we look at them to consider them, they are changed, gone, and annihilated forever.
  • Nor are the causes of those sensations more permanent.
    • No corporeal substance is ever exactly the same in whole or in any assignable part during two successive moments.
      • Instead, they are in continual flux and succession by the perpetual addition of new parts and the loss of old ones.
  • Our sensations, therefore, never properly exist or endure one moment.
    • They perish the very instant of their generation and are annihilated forever.
  • According to Plato and Timaeus, there were three eternal principles out of which the Deity formed the World.
    1. The Subject–matter of things
    2. The Species or specific Essences of things
    3. The sensible objects themselves, or what was made out of these
      • These last had no proper or durable existence, but were in perpetual flux and succession.
      • For as Heraclitus had said, no man ever passed the same river twice, because the water which he had passed over once was gone before he could pass over it a second time.
        • In the same way, no man ever saw, heard, or touched the same sensible object twice.
        • When I look at the window, for example, the visible species which strikes my eyes this moment, though resembling, is different from that which struck my eyes previously.
        • When I ring the bell, the sound, or audible species which I hear this moment, though resembling, is different from the sound I heard the moment before.
        • When I lay my hand on the table, the tangible species which I feel this moment, though resembling, is numerically different too from that which I felt the moment before.
  • Man is perpetually changing every particle of his body.
    • Every thought of his mind is in continual flux and succession.
    • But humanity, or human nature, is:
      • always existent
      • always the same
      • never generated
      • never corrupted
    • Therefore, this is the object of science, reason, and understanding, as man is the object of sense, and of those inconstant opinions which are founded on sense.
  • The objects of sense were thought to have an external existence, independent of the act of sensation.
    • These objects of the understanding were much more supposed to have an external existence independent of the act of understanding.
  • According to Plato, those external essences were the exemplars, according to which the Deity formed the world and all the sensible objects in it.
    • The Deity comprehended within his infinite essence, all these species, or eternal exemplars, in the same way as he comprehended all sensible objects.
  • However, Plato regarded the first of those as equally distinct with the second from the Thoughts of the Divine Mind*.
  • He even supposed that they had a particular place of existence, beyond the visible corporeal world.
    • This has been much controverted by the later Platonists and by some very judicious modern critics.
      • Those critics followed the interpretation of the later Platonists, as what did most honour to Plato’s judgment.
  • Plato said that all the objects in this world are particular and individual.
    • Therefore, the human mind cannot see any Species, or Universal Nature.
    • Its ideas of such beings must be derived from the memory of what it has seen before, when it had an opportunity to visit the place or Sphere of Universals.
  • During its infancy, childhood, and youth, the violence of its bodily passions, hinder it from turning its attention to those Universal Natures.
    • Its attention is all directed to the particular and individual objects of this world.
    • The mind was conversant with the Universal Natures in its prior world.
  • The Ideas of the Universal Natures seem overwhelmed in this first period of its existence during the confusion of those turbulent emotions.
    • These are almost entirely wiped out of its remembrance.
  • During this state, it is incapable of Reasoning, Science and Philosophy, which are conversant about Universals.
    • Its whole attention is turned towards particular objects.
    • Since it is directed by no general notions, it forms many vain and false opinions.
      • It is filled with error, perplexity, and confusion.
  • But when age has abated the violence of its passions and composed its confusions, it then becomes more capable of :
    • reflection
    • turning its attention to those almost forgotten ideas it had been conversant in its former state of existence
  • All the particular objects in this sensible world, being formed after the eternal exemplars in that intellectual world, awaken because of their resemblance.
    • Insensibly, and by slow degrees, the almost obliterated ideas of these last.
  • The beauty shared among terrestrial objects, revives the same idea of that Universal Nature of beauty which exists in the intellectual world.
    • Particular acts of justice shares the universal nature of justice.
    • Particular reasonings and sciences shares the universal nature of science and reasoning.
    • Particular roundnesses share the universal nature of roundness.
    • Particular squares share the universal nature of squareness.
  • Thus science, which is conversant about Universals, is derived from memory.
    • To instruct anyone about the general nature of any subject, is to awaken in him the memory of what he formerly knew about it.
    • Plato and Socrates imagined that they could further confirm this by the fallacious experiment.
      • A person might be led to discover himself, merely by being asked a number of properly arranged and connected questions concerning it, without any information or any general truth, of what he was ignorant of before.
  • The more the soul was accustomed to the consideration of those Universal Natures, the less it was attached to any particular and individual objects.
    • It approached the nearer to the original perfection of its nature, from which it had fallen.
  • Philosophy accustoms the soul to:
    • consider the general Essence of things only
    • abstract from all their particular and sensible circumstances.
  • Philosophy was thus regarded as the great purifier of the soul.
  • Death separated the soul from:
    • the body
    • the bodily senses and passions
  • Death restored the soul to that intellectual world, from where it originally descended, where no sensible Species called off its attention from those general Essences of things.
  • Philosophy, in this life, habituated the soul to the same considerations.
    • Philosophy brings it to that state of happiness and perfection, to which death restores the souls of just men in a life to come.
  • Such was the doctrine of Plato concerning the Species or Specific Essence of things.
  • He is understood by Aristotle who was his most intelligent and renowned disciple.
  • Like many other doctrines of abstract Philosophy, it is more coherent in expression than in idea.
    • It seems to have arisen more from the nature of language, than from the nature of things.
  • It was excusable with all its imperfections in the beginnings of philosophy.
    • It is not much farther from the truth than many other doctrines which have since replaced it by some of the greatest pretenders to accuracy and precision.
  • Mankind has always had a strong propensity to realize their own abstractions.
    • We immediately see an example of such abstractions in the notions of Plato and Timaeus.
      • They first exposed the ill–grounded foundation of those Ideas, or Universals.

* Plato calls them ‘Ideas’.

  • It is a word which Aristotle, and all the other writers of earlier antiquity, signifies a Species.
  • It is perfectly synonymous with that other word Ειδος, which is more frequently used by Aristotle.
  • Some of the later philosopher sects, particularly the Stoics, regarded all species or specific essences as mere creatures of the mind.
    • They are formed by abstraction which had no real existence external to the thoughts that conceived them.
  • The word Idea came gradually to its present signification, to mean:
    1. An abstract thought or conception
    2. Afterwards, a thought or conception of any kind
      1. and thus became synonymous with that other Greek word Εννοια, from which it had originally a very different meaning.
  • The later Platonists lived at a time when the notion of the separate existence of specific essences were universally exploded.
  • They commented on Plato’s writings.
  • They strangely thought:
    • that there was a double doctrine in his writings
    • that they seem to mean one thing, though they ultimately mean something very different.
      • No sensible man ever intended or could have intended this.9
  • They represented his doctrine to only mean that the Deity formed the world after an Idea, or plan conceived in his own mind, in the same way as any other artist. 
    • But if Plato had meant this most natural and simple of all notions, he surely would have expressed it more plainly.
    • He would not have talked of it with so much emphasis, as of something that needed the utmost reach of thought to comprehend.
  • According to this representation, Plato’s notion of Species, or Universals, was the same with that of Aristotle.
  • However, Aristotle does not seem to understand it as such.
  • He bestows a great part of his Metaphysics on confuting Plato’s Universals.
  • He opposes it in all his other works.
  • He does not give the least hint that the Universals, through Plato’s Ideas, was meant as the thoughts or conceptions of the Divine Mind.
  • Aristotle spend 20 years in Plato’s school.
  • Is it possible that Aristotle should have misunderstood Plato during all that time, especially when his meaning was so very plain and obvious?
  • This notion of the separate existence of Species, distinct from the mind which conceives them, and from the sensible objects which are made to resemble them, is not one of those doctrines which Plato seldom talked of.
  • However it may be interpreted, it is the very basis of his philosophy.
  • There is no single dialogue in all his works which does not refer to it.
  • Aristotle appears to have been so much superior to his master Plato in everything but eloquence.
  • Shall we suppose that Aristotle willfully and always misrepresented one of the deep and mysterious doctrines of Plato’s philosophy, but the first and most fundamental principle of all his reasonings; when Plato’s writings were in everyone’s hands
  • When his followers and disciples were spread all over Greece;
  • when almost every Athenian of distinction , that was nearly of the same age with Aristotle, must have been bred in his school;
  • when Speusippus, Plato’s nephew and successor, as well as Xenocrates, who continued the school in the Academy, at the same time that Aristotle held his in the Lyceum, must have been always ready to expose and affront him for such gross disingenuity.
  • Does not Cicero or Seneca understand this doctrine in the same way as Aristotle has represented it?
  • Is there any author in all antiquity who seems to understand it otherwise, earlier than Plutarch?
  • Plutarch seems to have:
    • been as bad a critic in philosophy as in history
    • taken everything at second–hand in both, and
    • lived after the origin of that eclectic philosophy, from whence the later Platonists arose, and who seems himself to have been one of that sect?
  • Is there any one passage in any Greek author, near Aristotle and Plato’s time, in which the word Idea is used in its present meaning, to signify a thought or conception?
  • Are not the words which express reality or existence in all languages, directly opposed to the words which express only thought or conception?
  • Or, is there any other difference between a thing that exists and a thing that does not exist, except that the existing thing is a mere conception and that non-existent thing is something more than a conception?
    • Therefore, how could Plato talk of those eternal species as the only things that really existed, if they were no more than the conceptions of the Divine Mind?
  • According to Plato and the Stoics, had not the Deity from all eternity, the idea of every individual, as well as of every species, and of the state in which every individual was to be, in each different instance of its existence?
    • Therefore, were not all the divine ideas of each individual, or of all the different states, which each individual was to be in during the course of its existence, equally eternal and unalterable with those of the species?
  • Therefore, with what sense could Plato say that the first were eternal, because the Deity had conceived them from all eternity, since he had conceived the others from all eternity too, and since his ideas of the Species could, in this respect, have no advantage of those of the individual?
  • Does not Plato talk of the Ideas of Species or Universals as innate, and having been impressed upon the mind in its state of pre–existence, when it had an opportunity of viewing these Species as they are in themselves, and not as they are expressed in their copies, or representative upon earth?
  • But if the only place of the existence of those Species was the Divine Mind, will not this suppose, that Plato either imagined, like Father Malbranche, that in its state of pre–existence, the mind saw all things in God  or that it was itself an emanation of the Divinity?
  • Anyone who knows the history of science will not accept that he maintained the first opinion.
  • That enthusiastic notion may seem to be favoured by some passages of Malbranche, who followed Descartes.
    • It was never coolly and literally maintained by anybody before Malbranche.
  • That the human mind was itself an emanation of the Divine, though it was the doctrine of the Stoics, was not of Plato.
  • though, upon the notion of a pretended double doctrine, the contrary has lately been asserted.
  • According to Plato, the Deity formed the soul of the world out of:
    • that substance which is always the same, that is, out of Species or Universals,
    • that substance which is always different, that is, out of corporeal substances, and
    • a substance that was of a middle nature between these.
      • It is not easy to understand what he meant by this.
  • Out of a part of the same composition, the Deity made those inferior intelligences who animated the celestial spheres.
    • The Deity delivered its remaining part to those inferior intelligences to form the souls of men and animals.
    • The souls of those inferior deities were made out of a similar substance or composition,
      • They were not regarded as parts, or emanations of the soul of the world.
      • In the same way, the souls of animals were not regarded as parts or emanations of those inferior deities; much less were any of them regarded as parts, or emanations of the great Author of all things.

Words: 3245


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