« ForrigeFortsæt »
dirable, so as to obviate objections. Those things only, says he, are to be accounted predicables, which may be affirmed of many individuals, truly, properly, and immediately. The consequence of putting such limitations upon the word predicable is, that in many propositions, perhaps in most, the predicate is not a predicable. But admitting all his limitations, the enumeration will still be very incomplete: for of many things we may affirm truly, properly, and immediately, their existence, their end, their cause, their effect, and various relations which they bear to other things. These, and perhaps many more, are predicables in the strict sense of the word, no less than the five which have been so long famous.
Although Porphyry and all subsequent writers, make the predicables to be, in number, five; yet Aristotle himself, in the beginning of the Topics, reduces them to four; and demonstrates, that there can be no more. We shall give his demonstration when we come to the Topics ; and shall only here observe, that as Burgersdick justifies the fivefold division, by restraining the meaning of the word predicable ; so Aristotle justifies the fourfold division, by enlarging the meaning of the words property and accident.
After all, I apprehend, that this ancient division of predicables with all its imperfections will bear a comparison with those which have been substi
tuted in its stead by the most celebrated modern philosophers.
Locke, in his Essay on the Human Understanding, having laid it down as a principle, That all our knowledge consists in perceiving certain agreements and disagreements between our ideas, reduces these agreements and disagreements to four heads : to wit, 1. Identity and diversity ; 2. Relation ; 8. Coexistence; 4. Real existence *. Here are four predicables given as a complete enumeration, and yet not one of the ancient predicables is included in the number.
The author of the Treatise of Human Nature, proceeding upon the same principle that all our knowledge is only a perception of the relations of our ideas, observes; “ That it may perhaps be esteemed “ an endless task, to enumerate all those qualities “ which admit of comparison, and by which the “ ideas of philosophical relation are produced : “ but if we diligently consider them, we shall find, “ that without difficulty they may be comprised “ under seven general heads : 1. Resemblance ; “ 2. Identity ; 3. Relations of Space and Time; “ 4. Relations of Quantity and Number; 5. De
grees of Quality ; 6. Contrariety; 7. Causa
tiont”. Here again are seven predicables given as a complete enumeration, wherein all the predicables of the ancients, as well as two of Locke's, are left
• Book 4. chap. 1.
+ Vol. 1. p. 33. and 125.
The ancients in their division attended only to categorical propositions which have one subject and one predicate; and of these to such only as have a general term for their subject. The moderns, by their definition of knowledge, have been led to attend only to relative propositions, which express a relation between two subjects, and these subjects they suppose to be always ideas,
SECT. 2, On the Ten Categories, and on Divisions in
The intention of the categories or predicaments is, to muster every object of human apprehension under ten heads : for the catégories are given as a complete enumeration of every thing which can be expressed without composition and structure; that is, of every thing that can be either the subject or the predicate of a proposition. So that as every soldier belongs to some company, and every company to some regiment; in like manner every thing that can be the object of human thought, has its place in one or other of the ten categories ; and by dividing and subdividing properly the several categories, all the notions that enter into the human mind may be mustered in rank and file, like an army in the day of battle.
The perfection of the division of categories into ten heads, has been strenuously defended by the B3
followers of Aristotle, as well as that of the five predicables. They are indeed of kin to each other: they breathe the same spirit, and probably had the same origin. By the one we are taught to marshal every term that can enter into a proposition, either as subject or predicate ; and by the other, we are taught all the possible relations which the subject can have to the predicate. Thus the whole furniture of the human mind is presented to us at one view, and contracted, as it were, into a nut-shell. To attempt, in so early a period, a methodical delineation of the vast region of human knowledge, actual and possible, and to point out the limits of every district, was indeed magnanimous in a high degree, and deserves our admiration, while we lament that the human powers are unequal to so bold a flight.
A regular distribution of things under proper classes or heads, is, without doubt, a great help both to memory and judgment. As the philosopher's province includes all things human and divine that can be objects of inquiry, he is naturally led to attempt some general division, like that of the categories. And the invention of a division of this kind, which the speculative part of mankind acquiesced in for two thousand years, marks a superiority of genius in the inventor, whoever he was. Nor does it appear, that the general divi. sions, which, since the decline of the Peripatetic
philosophy, philosophy, have been substituted in place of the ten categories, are more perfect.
Locke has reduced all things to three categories; to wit, substances, modes, and relations. In this division, time, space, and number, three great objects of human thought, are omitted.
The author of the Treatise of Human Nature has reduced all things to two categories; to wit, ideas and impressions : a division which is very well adapted to his system ; and which puts me in mind of another made by an excellent mathematician in a printed thesis I have seen. In it the au- ; thor, after a severe censure of the ten categories of the Peripatetics, maintains, that there neither are nor can be more than two categories of things ; to wit, data and quæsita.
There are two ends that may be proposed by such divisions. The first is, to methodize or digest in order what a man actually knows. This is neitheir unimportant nor impracticable; and in proportion to the solidity and accuracy of a man's judgment, his divisions of the things he knows, will be elegant and useful. The same subject may admit, and even require, various divisions, according to the different points of view from which we contemplate it : nor does it follow, that because one division is good, therefore another is naught. To be acquainted with the divisions of the logicians and metaphysicians, without a superstitious attachment to them, may be of use in dividing the same