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Book I Chapter 1 - 9

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« on: January 06, 2023, 04:44:17 am »

9. We have compared Metaphysics more than once with Logic in respect of the universality of its scope and the analytical character of its methods. It remains briefly to indicate the difference between the two sciences. There is, indeed, a theory, famous in the history of Philosophy, and not even yet quite obsolete, according to which no distinction can be drawn. Hegel held that the successive steps by which the human mind gradually passes from less adequate to more adequate, and ultimately to a fully adequate, conception of the nature of reality necessarily correspond, step for  step, with the stages of a process by which the reality itself is manifested with ever-increasing adequacy in an ascending order of phenomena. Hence in his system the discussion of the general characteristics of reality and the general forms of inference constitutes a single department of Philosophy under the name of Logic. Our motive in dissenting from this view cannot be made fully intelligible at the present stage of our inquiry, but we may at least follow Lotze in giving a preliminary reason for the separation of the two sciences. Logic is clearly in a sense a more general inquiry than Metaphysics. For in Logic we are concerned with the universal conditions under which thinking, or, to speak more accurately, inference, is possible. Now these conditions may be fulfilled by a combination of propositions which are materially false. The same relations which give rise to an inference materially true from true premisses may yield a false inference where the premisses are materially false. Valid reasoning thus does not always lead to true conclusions. Hence we may say that, whereas Metaphysics deals exclusively with the characteristics of reality. Logic deals with the characteristics of the validly inferrible, whether real or unreal. The distinction thus established, however, though real as far as it goes, is not necessarily absolute. For it may very well be that in the end the conditions upon which the possibility of inference depends are identical with or consequent upon the structure of reality. Even the fact that, under certain conditions, we can imagine an unreal state of things and then proceed to reason validly as to the results which would follow if this imaginary state were actual, may itself be a consequence of the actual nature of things. And, as a matter of fact, logicians have always found it impossible to inquire very deeply into the foundations and first principles of their own science without being led to face fundamental issues of Metaphysics. The distinction between the two studies must thus, according to the well-known simile of Bacon, be compared rather with a vein in a continuous block of marble than with an actual line of cleavage. Still it is at least so far effectual, that while many metaphysical questions have no direct bearing on Logic, the details of the theory of evidence are likewise best studied as an independent branch of knowledge.

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