Alfred James Swinburne.

Picture logic, an attempt to popularise the science of reasoning by the combination of humorous pictures with examples of reasoning taken from daily life online

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Online LibraryAlfred James SwinburnePicture logic, an attempt to popularise the science of reasoning by the combination of humorous pictures with examples of reasoning taken from daily life → online text (page 3 of 11)
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' I sincerely trust,' said I, laughing, ' that in so far
•J pas I become more of a logician my peace of mind
will be less molested by what you call the " matter " Q
of thought, for it would save much worry.

That night, my nerves being, I suppose, in an





excited state from mj attempts to follow my tutor's
arguments — for application to study was quite novel
to me — I dreamed a strange dream about the form
and matter of thought. In the midst of a plain I
beheld a huge machine. At first sight it resembled a
coffee grinder, but on closer inspection it proved to
be more like a monster sausage-machine. A college
friend of mind was working it by a small handle, the
perspiration pouring from his forehead.

On the left of the machine sat an old Professor,
and on the right of the machine there was an indes-
cribable confusion of all kinds of things ; there were
birds, balloons, pyramids, and I could not tell how
many more things there — a lion was just entering
the machine, followed by a lady, a frog, a tortoise,
and a clergyman. I should never have had my
curiosity satisfied, had not the lion roared terribly in
his reluctance to enter, thereby eliciting the follow-
ing remarks from my friend at the wheel. ' Now
then, in with you, you needn't make all that fuss ;
you're not in the least degree formidable to us ; why
we had a whole menagerie through the other day,
and trains, elephants, whales, worlds — all have to
pass through this machine and become terms for the
inspection of the great Professor Logic'

For the first time I then noticed some things
that looked like sausages issuing from the left side
of the machine, only from havino- such big things


inside them they were swollen to tlie shape of eg^s.
In one I observed a fish, in another a house, in a
third a bird, and in a fourth a man— all were pain-
fully cramped for want of room.

' Ah ! yes,' he went on, ' it's with our machine
here as it is with the common ordinary sausage
machine, never mind what the material is — so long
as the shape is right. Large or small, young or old,
flesh or stone, yoiT must all pass through, for
Professor Logic isn't particular about the matter, all
he concerns himself with is the form,' and he laughed
as well as he could with his hard work, the thought
of the common ordinary sausage amused him so

' Hard work, Frank,' said I.

' Indeed it is,' said he, without the smallest sign
of surprise at seeing me. ' Do you know the old boy
sitting there says, " One of the advantages, or prac-
tical utilities of being a student under me is that it
affords hard exercise to, and is therefore invigorating
to, your faculties," and I agree with him.'

' But what does he do with these terms when he's
made them ? '

' I'll show you. I've done my share of turning
for to-day. The Professor likes us to work the terms
out ourselves ; he says it makes us understand the
process, and I must get it up, you know, for my
exam. Still, I've done my share to-day.'

So, leaving the handle to another student, he



conducted me to the Professor's workshop, where 1
saw a vast number of terms from the machine linked
together in couples, and they were called propositions.
i I afterwards learnt the meaning of the words written
over them. There were also syllogisms or inferences
composed of these same terms, and wondering at
them, T awoke.




' We can now proceed to reconcile the various defi-
nitions of Logic,' resumed Mr. Practical. ' According
to some. Logic is the science of reasoning. Science
is now no longer a difficult word to us, and reasoning-
is the process employed in the syllogism (to speak
technically), or in the inference as opposed to the
remark (to speak roughly). ^A.sthe syllogism implies
the existence of the proposition, reasoning is equi-
valent in this sense to thought ; and, if we suppose
that science also implies art, the definition becomes —
Logic is the science and art of thought. It has also
been defined as " the science of the necessary forms
of thought," and so it has been called a " formal
science ; " for, as we have seen, Logic is only con-
cerned with the forms or modes in which people
think as opposed to the matter. It has also been
called "the art of thinking," i.e. the application of
universal laws to particular thoughts ; and the
universal laws imply the existence of science. Lastly,
it has been well defined as "the science of the


conditions on which correct tlioughts depend, and
the art of attaining to correct and avoiding incorrect
thoughts." '

But which should we give as our definition ? ' I

' Provided yon were ready with an explanation,
and thoroughly understood what you meant by the
words, you might be content with this — Logic is
the science and art of thought.'

' I begin now to realise the meaning of the ex-
pressions. " Science is knowing " or " a knowledge
of what is," and " art gives rules for practice " and
acts, and science is theoretical and art practical.'

' The next thing to be shown is that Logic is
more of a science than an art ; that is to say, more
employed as a science than an art. Let us consider
the results of the employment of Logic as a science
and as an art, and then, if we find that we already
have the one and not the other, we shall perceive
that Logic is more useful as supplying us with what
we have jiot, than with what we have. Koughly
speaking, the results of Logic as a science are laws,J
and the results of Logic as an art are particular
thoughts in accordance with those laws. Now we
already have the particular correct thoughts. We
do not want Logic to tell us when a thought is
correct or not. The costermonger detects a contra-
diction or inconsistency in almost all cases as quickly
as the Logician, though he may not be able to say


why the thought is wrong. ! Whereas, we have not
already the laws. Therefore _Logic is more useful to
us as a science than an art.' I

Dyver looked a little puzzled, and then asked,
'If art were only manifested in production, or
whether it were not also manifested in criticism?'

' I was about to add that in the case of criticism
-n the art of Logic would be of great use ; but, insomuch
^ as production is the chief part of art) Logic is not
held in good repute as an art. It is for this reason
that the practical utility of Logic ( has so often been
called in^ question. Of this we shall speak again.'
The case would be the same with the science and
art of healthy breathing. It would be interesting
and profitable to know the laws upon which healthy
breathing depended, but few would have any idea of
/ changing^their manner of breathing by an applica-
tion of those laws.j It is thus that Logic is more of
a science than an art.'

It so happened that we had our Logic lecture
after supper this time, to enable ns to make a sailing
expedition in the daytime ; and, partly from fatigue,
partly from the effects of supper and work, I actually
dreamt about Logic again. I thought I was wan-
dering in the parks at Oxford, and I came across an
old woman of so pitiable an aspect and such miserable
attire that I could not forbear stopping to inquire
what she did there and whence she came. She sat,
with a basket on her lap, swaying slowly from side



to side, and took no notice of me. At last she
heaved a sigh and began, ' Ah, me ! poor Dr. Logic
{he ain't what once he was !). Good sir, I'm his
errand girl. I takes round what he makes up.
Deary me ! day after day, door after door, the same

old answer. Fust of all I says, " D' ye please to
require any of my master's beautiful works? I've
two sorts here, I says ; beautiful ' results of art ' on
this right side o' my basket." " What d'ye mean? "
says they. " Why," says I, " pertikler kerrect
thoughts — just made and ready for use — please to
give 'em a look ! " And they says, " 0, then ! we


wou't trouble you — we ain't out of tliem — we've got
as many as we want of our own ; " and 'ow can I ask
'em to buy what they've got aready? Ah, deary
me ! poor Dr. Logic ; he ain't o' much account now-
a-days. I catches 'em up, 'owever, and says, " Wei],
you ain't got these others in this left side — these
splendid 'results of the science,' the laws upon which
them pertikler kerrect thoughts as you've got a'ready
dippends ; and they says, " no, we ain't," and may be
they'll take some o' them — that left side 's all poor
Doctor ever sells ! But, bless yer 'art alive, sir ;
there's many of 'em as won't take even them. " We
ain't got 'em ? no ! and we don't want 'em. None of
yer humbuggy, cranky, theoretical stuff 'ere — prac-
tical results — that's what we want. Come — be off ! " '
I woke, thoroughly moved to pity, and vowing I
would never ti'eat poor Dr. Logic so badly.




'Tell us, De^irajvn^', what you mean by science of

' It seems to me to mean " best of all sciences ; "
science — science — I forget the word — par exemple ?
no, no ! something like that — dear me — '

' Par excellence,' suggested Dyver.

' That's it,' said I ; ' science par excellence.'

' I should rather say that science of sciences and
art of arts means the science which is concerned
with every other science, and the art with every
other art. And this may be put simply thus : —
[Thought is required for every science and art ; for
without thought we cannot ascend from paiiiiculars
to universals, or descend from universals to parti-
culars, and this is science and art. ' It is for this
reason that the animals are said to be destitute of
science and art. ■ They have sensation — that is to


say, they can apprehend particulars, but general no- ,
tions or universal propositions or inferences we have
every reason to suppose they cannot attain to. The
dog knows " this fire " and " this fire burns." But it
is very improbable that the dog can form the general
notion " fire," or the universal proposition " all
fire burns," or the deliberate inference " all fire
burns my nose ; master's cigar is fire ; there-
fore master's cigar burns my nose." Though the
bird and the beaver and the bee evince marvellous
sagacity, it is probably without any power to ascend
to the universal ; or, at all events, to ascend con-
sciously, as man does. ' Thought, then, is required
for every science and art ; but thought itself is, so to
speak, subject to its own science and art, LogicJ
Thought has its laws, and must obey them wherever
it goes, if it would be called correct thought,' as much — ,
as men have their laws and must obey them wherever '^
they go if they would be called respectable men. '
Consequently Logic is the science and art of every
science and art.

' To put it briefly. Where thought goes there the
science and art of thought go also.

' But the science and art of thought were proved
to be Logic.

' Therefore where thought goes, there Logic goes

' But thought goes into every science and art.



' Therefore Logic goes into every science and

' Therefore Logic is the science of sciences and
art of arts.'

'. ' Q.E.D.' muttered I mec'hanically and with an
involuntary shudder at the thought that Logic seemed
to be turning into mathematics ; * but still I don't
understand yet.'

' Here is an illustration. The man with the high-
forehead is Thought. Chained to his neck is Logic,
holding perpetually before his eyes the rules he must
obey, never mind what field he wanders through.
Thought has a staff, for he is a great traveller. It
would be impossible to enumerate the fields through
which he passes. Four of them are given as speci-
mens. Take botany. Thought lingers by a stream
and gathers rushes. " Rushes are light," he re-
marks, and Logic is to all appearance asleep. He
gathers more and murmurs, "Rushes are heavy."
A smart blow on the head from Logic and a cracked
voice crying, " Nonsense ; will you look at your laws.
How can they be both heavy and light ? You meant
when you had a big bundle they were heavy ? — then
I wish you'd say what you mean and not give
me the trouble of showing you the law of contradic-
tion." Thought meekly raises his head to read the
laws once more, and catches sight of some stars in
the sky. Gazing in wonder he meditates aloud,

E 2


" Yonder's a lovely star ; most assuredly that star
must be a planet, for I know some stars are planets."
A violent pinch from Logic and a heap of reproaches
for the unwarrantable inference, and Thought
wanders on patiently listening to the monitor that
accompanies him wherever he goes^ for though his
voice is harsh, dry, and difficult to understand.
Thought knows that the restriction is good for him,
for he remembers that when, upon one occasion, he^
silenced that squeaky voice by diving so deep into
metaphysics that the poor little monitor became in-
sensible, he was caught in a whirlpool of circular
arguments, dashed along wild torrents of fancy, and
hurled into fathomless depths of conjecture to such
an extent that it was with the greatest difficulty he
ever escaped to dry land — to become the laughing-
stock of men. And many a time a Mrs. Cawdle has
made such havoc of the distinction between universal
and particular statements, by turning a deaf ear to
the voice of Logic, that Thought has been exposed to
sad ridicule and contempt. For upon Mr. Cawdle's
once bringing in a friend late at night we find her
indignantly demanding what he meant by day after
day making a habit of bringing in mobs of the
wildest of the wild to eat legs upon legs of cold pork
and send girls miles for pickled walnuts in the
middle of the night through depths of snow. Or,
again, we find her violating the laws of contradic-


tion by lecturing Mr. Cawdle for what he had not
done, on the assumption that a man could both
do a thing and not do it at the same place and
time, e.g., when she upbraids him at length for
flirting at Greenwich fair, and upon his denying the
charge retorts that if he didn't " it was no fault of
his " and continues the lecture precisely as if he had
pleaded guilty to the charge.J Or, again, when she
expresses herself as being very anxious to learn the
Masonic secret, and at the same time declares it to be
, a matter of the utmost indifference to her ; or dwells
Tupon the pain caused her by some slight on the part
of Mr. Cawdle, and at the same time entreats hiin
not to allow himself for a moment to imagine that
any conduct of his can possibly produce the smallest
effect upon her; or, lastly, when she bitterly reviles
him for the loan of 51. to a friend, casting in his
teeth at least 1001. worth of damage in the house
that might have been repaired with that five pounds
— thereby violating the law of contradiction to the
extent of 9ol. Consequently Thought has no wish
to rebel against Logic, whose sway is (in one sex at
all events) undisputed.'

' I have read,' remarked Dyver, who seemed a
little impatient of anything like homely instances
— though I always liked them better than scien-
tific ones — ' that the words biology, zoology, chron-
ology, &c.,are equivalent to " Logic applied to lite,"


" Logic applied to animals," " Logic applied to
time, &c." '


' Quite so,' replied Mr. Practical, * and it is always
well to aid the memory as much as possible by under-
standing the derivation and meaning of the names
you meet with.' /




Next day Mr. Practical was compelled to visit the
metropolis, and after a brief explanation of the
relation of Logic to language he took his departure,
expressing a wish that we should both endeavour
to illustrate his meaning during his absence.

He told us that Logic was really connected with
thought, but as it was impossible to get at thought
(or at least at other men's thoughts) without the aid
of language of some kind or other. Logic was so far
connected with language. The relation of Logic to *
thought he characterised as primary, while that of
Logic to language was secondary. He also showed 2_
us how Logic had been held by some to be pri-
marily connected with language, and so through
errors arising from the inability of language to ex-
press exactly what we think, Logic had fallen into
disrepute. The remedy for such mistakes was tlie
knowledge of more than one language. As an
instance of such errors he gave us the notion that "^
^e copula i mplied exi stence, and promised to explaiiLX-
this further."" Dyver retired to Tiis corner and 1 to



mine, and on the following day we produced a couple
of rough sketches.

This was Dover's relation of Logic to language.

Logic pays a Visit.

Scenej a man's mouth. Thought peeping from
the throat. ' Language telling Logic (who has come
to visit Thought) that his orders are that no one can
see Thought, and that all communications inust be
made through him (Language) .J 'So you'd better
by 'alf tell me what you w^ant 'owever.'

And Logic mutters, ' What a coarse medium 1


But there is no help for it. Alas ! what mistakes
and confusions will arise ! '

And this was mine.

A friend of mine, named Jones, who lived in
lodgings, nsed to work with a tutor for Latin
prose. Jones was in the habit of leaving his pro-
ductions daily at his tutor's, and calling next morning
to see the mistakes ; but, as Jones was not an early
riser, his tutor would often step over to his lodgings,
and leave the corrected prose with the people of the
house, pointing out the faults, and begging them to
point them out to Jones as soon as he appeared, for
he was not yet to be seen. It so happened that the
landlady's daughter was very attractive, and by some
accident she always chanced to be at hand when
Jones's tutor called. Scandal might have arisen from
the protracted interviews in the course of which
Jones's tutor pointed out to Jones's landlady's daugh-
ter the defects in Jones's Latin composition, had it
not been well known that the primary object for which
the tutor came was not to converse with the damsel,
but to instruct the pupil, and being unable to see the
pupil, he was compelled to employ the aid of a third
person as a medium. His relation to the pupil was,
so to speak, primary, his relation to the landlady's
daughter secondary. After a time, however, Jones
left, but the tutor still continued his visits, and
ended by marrying the landlady's daughter. So
Logic, led away by theallurements of language, has


sometimes neglected Thought, the object with which
it is primarily concerned, and has thereby become
involved in troubles and mistakes, and has fallen
^ into bad repute.

J Mr. Practical was highly pleased with both our

^ illustrations, and added something to mine which T
J had not thought of. ' Had your unfortunate tutor,'
J he said, ' moved more in society, and known several
■^t^ of the fair sex, and become more inured to their
^ ' attractions, he would not, in all probability, have
been led into a. mesalliance, and in the same way
had Logic been conversant with several languages,
}f and become acquainted with their powers of mis-
pleading and beguiling, instead of only knowing one,
Logic would not, in all probability, have been led
into entering upon a relationship with Language,
which was likely to bring difficulties, error, and evil
I repute.




' We have seen,' resumed Mr. Practical, ' that Logic
has for its subject-matter thought. What is thought?
To give a rough answer to this difficult question, we
must say that " all thought is comparison." We
have already spoken of thought as consisting of
remarks and inferences, for we may consider thought
as unexpressed in the mind, or expressed in lan-
guage. But these remarks are compounded of two
things, something about wliich vve are speaking, and
something that we affirm or deny of it. If I say
" dogs are animals " I am speaking about " dogs,"
and I say something about them — " that they are
animals." Thought may therefore be divided into
three parts— The t erm o r concept; the proposition
or judgment ; and the inference or syllogism.'

' Do 3^ou mean by thought here the process of
thinking or the results attained to ? ' asked Dy ver.

' I should say the results attained to ; of the
'faculties w e shall speak hereafter, so that if we can
show that; the teri», the proposition, and the infer-
ence or syllogism are the results of comparisonTjwe


shaJLliave jiroved that all thinking is comparison;
nor need you be alarmed, Destrawney, at any nice
distinctions of the sort, for to pass your examination
it is not necessary to notice them at all. Eemember
this ; —
I ^ '1. The term or concept is anything we can see
or imagine. Our minds are stocked with concepts
or terms formed in our earliest years. How came
they there ? Take an infant, hold a dog up to it,
and the infant will recoil with a start of horror ; it
has experienced a mere undefined sensation of the
presence of something strange, and therefore terrible.
Repeat the operation daily, always taking care to
accompany it with the word '' bow-wow," and the
child, from a comparison of the sensations, forms a
concept, and associates these familiar sensations
grouped into one idea with the name of " bow-wow,"
and if, after a time, you merely say " bow-wow,"
without introducing the dog, the child will manifest
joy or terror according as it likes or dislikes the dog,
proving that it has formed in its mind the concept or
term dog, and can shut its eyes, so to speak, and
see a dog though no dog is near. [ Thus, concepts
7 are the results of the comparison of simple sensa-
tions and concepts expressed are terms., We gradually
accumulate our concepts and distinguish one from
another. As infants we had only a few under which
to arrange all the objects that met our view. Papa,
^ uioo-cow, gee-Qee, and bow-bow formed our stock,


then, and under one or other of these heads came,
every man and every animal we saw. Nor can we
boast much now, for in botany, for instance, many of
us have one vague concej)t, " plant," under which t
to arrange all the phenomena of that science, and in
geology it is generally considered a sufficient reply to
the question, " What is this ? " if we say " A kind of 1

' (2.) [As the term or concept is a result of the 2^
comparison of simple sensations, so the proposition
or judgment is a result of the comparison of terms or
concepts, and henceforth we shall speak only of
terms and propositions, having shown that they are
identical with concepis and judgments J With pro-
positions thought proper begins. It is true that
terms are necessary to form propositions, but they
do not by themselves constitute a thought. '/We
cannot have a brace of birds without single birds ;
but single birds do not by themselves constitute a
brace. ^ Suppose our infant to have formed several
terms — horse, book, house, sun, large, dry, tall,
bright, &c., — and never to attempt to couple them
together, but simply to repeat them singly, we
should at once question its sanity, as being unable
to attain to a thought, for, as we have said,
man has an annate tendency to group together the 3
like, and this is the origin of thoughtTj We should
exclaim impatiently, " Horse, horse, horse ! What
about it ? What is the use of going on repeating


house, house, house — sun, sun, sun? If you repeat
them from your birth to your death you will not
have expressed a thought ! " Thought begins when
the child, having formed in one part, so to speak, of
I his mind a term — for instance, book, derived from
observations in his father's library, &c., and in
another part another__term, for instance, " nasty,"
derived from sensations of medicine, chastisement,
&c., couples the two together, and exclaims '' Books
are nasty." Thus propositions are the results of a
comparison of terms.

r * (3.) Lastly, the syllogism is a result of the

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Online LibraryAlfred James SwinburnePicture logic, an attempt to popularise the science of reasoning by the combination of humorous pictures with examples of reasoning taken from daily life → online text (page 3 of 11)