Logic, Inductive and Deductive by William Minto

By William Minto

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This first principle of Dialectic is the original of the Law of Identity. While any question as to the truth or falsehood of a question is pending, from the beginning to the end of any logical process, the words must continue to be accepted in the same sense. Words must have an identical reference to things. Incidentally in discussing the Axiom of Contradiction (ἀξίωμα τἢς ἀντιφάσεως),4 Aristotle lays down what is now known as the Law of Excluded Middle. Of two contradictories one or other must be true: we must either affirm or deny any one thing of any other: no mean or middle is possible.

Thus in Logic difficulties have been glossed over and simplified for the dull understanding, while acute minds have revelled in variations and new and ingenious manipulations of the old formulæ, and in multiplication and more exact and symmetrical definition of the old distinctions. To trace the evolution of the forms and theories of Logic under these various influences during its periods of active development is a task more easily conceived than executed, and one far above the ambition of an introductory treatise.

The foregoing exposition would be egregiously wrong if the majority of mankind did not resent the intrusion of Reason and its organising lieutenant Logic. But really there is no danger that this intrusion succeeds to the extent of paralysing action and destroying feeling, and uprooting custom. The utmost that Logic can do is to modify the excess of these good qualities by setting forth the conditions of rational belief. The student who masters those conditions will soon see the practical wisdom of applying his knowledge only in cases where the grounds of rational belief are within his reach.

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