Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

found applicable to the greater part, if not the whole, of his fyllogisms.

Unless for the reason now given, it would appear fingular, thát Aristotle never attempts to apply his fyllogistic mode of reasoning to any subject handled by himfelf: on ethics, on rhetoric, and on poetry,

he

argues like a rational being, without once putting in practice any of his own rules. It is not supposable that a man of his capacity could be ignorant, how insufficient a fyllogism is for discovering any latent truth. He certainly intended his system of logic, chiefly if not solely, for disputation : and if such was his purpose, he has been wonderfully fuccessful; for nothing can be better contri

. ved for wrangling and disputing without end. He indeed in a manner professes this to be his aim, in his books De Sophia fticis elenchis.

Some ages hence, when the goodly fabric of the Romish spiritual power

shall be laid low in the dust, and scarce a veftige remain ; it will among antiquaries be a curious enquiry, What was the nature and extent of a tyranny, more oppreflive to the minds of men, than the tyranny of

ancient

ancient Rome was to their persons. During every step of the enquiry, pofterity will rejoice over mental liberty, no less precious than personal liberty. The despotism of Aristotle with respect to the faculty of reason, was no less complete, than that of the Bishop of Rome with respect to religion ; and it is now a proper subject of curiosity, to enquire into the nature and extent of that despotism. One cannot peruse the following sheets, without sympathetic pain for the weakness of man with respect to his nobleft faculty ; but that pain will redouble his fatisfaction, in now being left free to the diathtes of reafon and common sense. 1991,

In my reveries, Thave more than once compared Aristotle's logic to a bubble made of foap-water for amusing children ; à beautiful figure with splendid colours; fair on the outside, empty within. It has for more than two thousand years been the hard fate of Aristotle's followers, Ixion like, to embrace a cloud for a goddess. But this is more than sufficient for a preface': and I had almost forgot, that I am detaining my readers from better entertainment, in liftening to Dr Reid.

.4.

A Brief Account of ARISTOTLE's

Logic. With REMARKS.

с нА Р.

I.

Of the First Three Treatises.

A

SECT. 1. Of the Author. ror

17) Ristotle had very uncommon advane

tages: born in an age when the philosophical spirit in Greece had long flourished, and was in its greatest vigour; brought up in the court of Macedon, where his father was the King's physician; twenty years a favourite fcholar of Plato, and tutor to Alexander the Great; who both honoured him with his friendship, and supplied him with every thing necefsary for the prosecution of his enquiries.

These advantages he improved by indem fatigable study, and immenfe reading. He was the first, we know, says Strabo, VOL. III. Q_q

who

ار

it

Hosting to who composed a library. And in this the Egyptian and Pergamenian kings, copied his example. As to his genius, it would be disrespectful to mankind, not to allow an uncommon share to a man who governed the opinions of the most enlightened part of the species near two thousand years. riu's su Cli Odo

If his talents had been laid out solely for the discovery of trutḥ and the good of mankind, his laurels would have remained for ever fresh : but he seems to have had a greater passion for fame than for truth, and to have wanted rather to be adınired as the prince of philosophers than to be useful : so that it is dubious, wher ther there be in his character, most of the philosopher or of the fophift. ,, The opinion of Lord Bacon is not without probar bility, That his ambition was as boundless as that of his royal pupil; the one at fpiring at universal monarchy over the bolies and fortunes of men, the other i over their opinions. If this was the case, it cannot be faid, that the philofopher puríued his aim with less industry, less abi!!!y, or less success than the hero. ļliş yritings carry too evident marks

of

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

? of that philosophical pride, vanity, and envy, which have often fullied the characz

, ter of the learned." He determinés boldly things above all human knowledge and enters upon the most difficult questions, as his pupil entered on a battle, with full

' assurance of success." He delivers his decifions oracularly, and without any

fear of mistake. Rather than confess his ignorance, he hides it under 'hard' words and ambiguous expressions, of which his interpreters' can make what they 'please. There is even reason'to fufpect, that he wrote often with affected obscurity, either that the air of mystery might procure greater veneration, or that his books might be understood only by the adepts who had been initiated in his philosophy." shs morbo

His conduct towards the writers that went before him has been much censured. After the manner of the Ottoman princes, fays Lord Verulam, he thought his throne could not be secure unless he killed all his brethren. Ludovicus Vives charges him with detracting from all philofophers, that he mighe derive that glory to himself, of which he robbed them. He rarely quotes an author but with a view to censure, and

a Q_92

ill is

+

4

« AnteriorContinuar »