Billeder på siden

sometimes, it includes no more than merely each species or kind; as when the Evangelist says, Christ healed every disease, or every disease was bealed by Christ, that is, every kind of disease. The first of these, Logicians call the distribution of an universal in singula generum : the last is a distribution in genera singulorum. But either of them joined to the subjeot render proposition universal,

Note 4. The universality of a subject is often restrained by a part of the predicate ; as when we say, all men learn wisdom by experience : the universal subject, all men, is limited to sig. nify only, all those men who learn wisdom. The seripture also uses this sort of language, when it speaks of all men being justi. fied by the righteousness of one : Rom. x. 18. that is, all men who are justified obtained it in this way.

Observe here, That not only a metaphysical or natural, but a moral universality also is oftentimes to be restrained by a part of the predicate ; as when we say, all the Dutch are good seamen: all the Italians are subtile politicians; that is, those among the Dutcla that are seamen are good seamen, and those among the Italians who are politicans, are subtile politicians, that is, they are generally so.

Note 5. The upiversality of a term is many times restrained by the particular time, place, circumstance, &c. or the design of the speaker ; as if we were in the city of London, and say, all the weavers went to present their petition ; we mean only all the weavers who dwell in the city. So when it is said in the gospel, all men did murvel ; Mark v. 20. it reaches only to all those inien who heard of the miracles of our Saviour.

Ilere also it should be observed, that a moral universality is restrained by time, place, and other circumstances, as well as a naturali

; so that by these means the word all sometimes does not extend to a tenth part of those who at first nigut seem to be included in that word.

One occasion of these difficulties and ambiguities that belong to universul propositions, is the common humour and temper of mankind, who generally have an inclination to magnify their ideas, and to talk 'roundly and universally concerning any thing they speak of; which has introduced universal terms of speech into custom and habit, in all nations, and alllanguages, more than nature or reason could dictate ; yet when this custom is introduced, it is not at all improper to use this sort of language in solemn and sacred writings, as well as in familiar, discourse....

II. Remarks concerning indefinite propasilions.

Note 1. Propositions carrying in them universal forms of ex. gwession, may sometimes drop the note of universality, and be come indefinite, and yet retain the same universal sense, whether metaphysical, patural, or moral; whether collective or disteibutive.

We may give instances of each of these.

Metaphysical ; as, a circle has a centre and circumference. Natural; as, beasts have four feet. Moral; as, negroes are stupid creatures. Collective; as, the apples will fill a bushel. Distributive; as, men are mortal.

Note 2. There are many cases wherein a collective idea is expressed in a proposition by an indefinite term, and that where it describes the nature or quality of the subject, as well as when it declares some past matters of fact ; as, fir-trees set in good order will give a charming prospect : this must signify a collection of fir-trees, for one makes no prospect. Ia matters of fact this is more evident and frequent; as the Romans overcame the Gauls : the robbers surrounded the coach : the wild geese flew over the Thames in the form of a wedge. All these are collective subjects.

Note 3. In indefinite propositions the subject is often restrained by the predicate, or by the special time, place, or circumstances, as well as in propositions which are expressly universal; as, the Chineses are ingenious silk-weavers ; that is, those Chineses who are silk-weavers are ingenious at their work. The stars appear to us when the twilight is gone ; this can signify no more than the stars which are above our horizon.

Note 4. All these restrictions tend to reduce some indefinite propositions alonost into particular, as will appear under the next remarks.

III. Remarks concerning particular propositions,

Note 1. A particular proposition may sometimes be expressed indefinitely, without any note of particularity prefixed to the subject; as in times of confusion laws are not executed : meu of virtue are disgraced, and murderers escape ; that is, some laws, some men of virtue, some murderers : unless we should call this language a moral universulity, though I think it can hardly extend so far.

Note 2. The words some, a few, &c. though they generally denote a proper particularity, yet sometimes they express a col. lective idea į as some of the enemies beset the general around : a few Greeks would beat a thousand Indians.

I conclude this section with a few general remarks on this subject, namely,

1. Since universal, indefinite and purticular terms in the plural number may either be taken in a collective or distributive sense, there is one short and easy way to find when they are colJective and when distributive, namely, if the plural number may be changed into the singular, that is, if the predicate will agree to one single subject, it is a distributive idea, if not, it is collective.

II. Universal and particular terms in the plural number ; such as, all, some, few, many, &c. when they are taken in their distributive sense, represent several single ideas; and when they VOL. YIL


are thus affixed to the subject of a proposition, render that proposition universal or particular, according to the universality or particularity of the terms affixed,

III. Universal and particular terms in the plural number, taken in their collective sense, represent generally one collective idea.

If this one collective idea be thus represented (whether by universal or particular terms) as the subject of a proposition, which describes the nature of a thing, it properly makes either a singular or an indefinite proposition ; for the words all, some, a fex, &c. do not then depote the quantity of the proposition, but are esteemed merely as terms which connect the individuals toges ther in order to compose one colleetive idea. Observe these instances; all the sycamores in the garden would make a large grove; that is, this one collection of sycamores, which is a singular idea. Some of the sycamores in the gården would make a fine grove: sycamores would make a noble grove ; in these last the subject is rather indefinite than singular. But it is very evident, that in each of these propositions the predicate can only belong to a col. lective idea, and therefore the subject must be esteemed a colJective.

If this collective idea (whether represented by universal or particular terms) be used in describing past matters, of fact, then it is generally to be esteemed a singular idea, and renders the proposition singular ; as all the soldiers of Alexaoder made but a little army; a few Macedonians vanquished the large army of Darius ; some grenadiers in the camp plundered all the neigh; bouring towns.

Now we have shewn before, that if a proposition describing the nature of things has an indefinite subject, it is generally to be esteemed universal in its propositional sense ; and if it has a singulur subject, in its propositional sense it is always ranked with universals.

After all, we must be forced to confess, that the language of mankind, and the idioms of speech, are so exceeding various, that it is hard to reduce them to a few rules ; and if we would gain a just and precise idea of every universal, particular and indefinite expression, we must vot only consider the peculiar idiom of the language, but the tine, the place, the occasion, the circumstances of the matter spoken of, and thus penetrate as far as possible into the design of the speaker or writer.

Sect. II.-Of affirmative and negative Propositions.

WHEN a proposition is considered with regard to its copula, it may be divided into affirmative and negative ; for it is the copula joins or disjoins the two ideas. Others call this a division of propositions according to their quality. ...

An affirmative proposition is when the idea of the predicate

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

is supposed to agree to the idea of the subject and is joined to it by the word is, or are, which is the copula : as all' men are sind ners. But when the predicate is not supposed to agree with the subject, and is disjoined from it by the particles is not, are not, &c. the propositivo is negative ; as man is not innocent :'or, no man is innocent. In an affirmative proposition, we assert one thing to belong to another, and, as it were, unite them in thought and word : in negative propositions, we separate one thing from another, and deny their agreement.

It may seem soinething odd, that two ideas or terms are said to be disjoined, as well as joined by a copula : but if we can but suppose the negative particles do really belong to the copula of negative propositions, it takes away the harshness of the expression : and to make it yet softer, we may consider that the predicate and subject may be properly said to be joined in a form of words as a proposition, by connective particles in grammar or Logic, though they are disjoined in their sense and signification. Every youth who has learned his grammar, knows there are such words as disjunctive propositions.

Several things are worthy our notice on this subject.

Note 1st, As there are some terms, or words, and ideas, as I have sbewn before) concerning which it is hard to determine whether they are negative or positive, so there are some propositions concerning which it may be difficult to say, whether they affirm or deny : as, when we say, Plato was no fool : Cicero was no unskilful orator : Cæsar made no expedition to Muscovy: an oyster has no part like an eеl : it is not necessary for a physician to speak French : and for a physician to speak French is needless. The sense of these propositions is very plain and easy, though Logicians might squabble perhaps a whole day, whether they should rank them under the names of negative or affirmative.

2d, Io Latin and English two negatives joined in one sentence make an affirmative ; as when we declare no man is not morlal; it is the same as though we said, man is mortal. But in Greek, and oftentimes in French, two negatives make but a stronger denial.

3d, If the mere negative term, not, be added to the copula of an universal affirmative proposition, it reduces it to a particular negative ; as all men are not wise, signifies the same as, some men are not wise.

4th, In all affirmative propositions, the predicate is taken in its whole compreliension ; that is, every essential part and attribute of it is ailirmed concerning the subject ; as when I say, a true christian is an honest mun, every thing that belongs to houesty is affirmed concerning a true christian.

5th, In all negative propositions the predicate is taken in its whole extension ; that is every species and individual that is contained in the general idea of the predicate, is utterly denied con

[ocr errors]


cerning the subject; so in tbis proposition, a spirit is not an animal, we exclude all sorts and kinds and particular animals whatsoever from the idea of a spirit.

From these two last remarks we may derive this inference, that we ought to attend to the entire comprehension of our ideas, and to the universal extension of them, as far as we have proper capacity for it, before we grow too confident in our affirming or denying any thing which may have the least darkness, doubt or difficulty attending it: it is the want of this attention that betrays us into many mistakes. Sect. III.-Of the Opposition and Conversion of Propositions.

ANY two ideas being joined or disjoined in various forms will afford us several propositions : all these may be distinguished according to their quantity and their quality* into four, which are marked or denuted by the letters, A, E, I, O, thus : A

Universal Affirmative.

Universal Negative.
denotes a

Particular Affirmative.

Particular Negative. according to these old Latin rhymes

Asserit A, Negat E, verum generaliter. Amba.

Asserit I, Negat 0, sed particulariter Ambo. • This inay be exemplified by these two ideas, a Vine and a Tree.

A Every Vine is a Tree.
E No Vine is a Tree.
I Some Vine is a Tree.

O Some Vine is not a Tree. The logicians of the schools bave written many large trifles concerning the opposition and conversion of propositions. It will be sufficient here to give a few brief hints of these things, that the learner may not be utterly ignorant of them.

Propositions which are made of the same subject and pre. dicate are said to be opposite, when that which is denied in one is affirmed in the other, either in whole or in part, without any consideration whether the propositions be true or no.

If they differ both in quantity and quality they are called contradictory; as, A Every Vine is a Tree. O Some Vine is not a Tree,

S'These can never be both true, or .

both false at the same time. If two universals differ in quality they are contraries; as : A Every Vine is a Tree. These can never be both true toge

a * The reader should remember bere, that a proposition according to its quantity is called universal or particular ; ind according to its quality is eiiber afirmative or negation

« ForrigeFortsæt »