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Of the more immediate Causes of Common Errors, both in
the wiser and common sort ; and first, of Misapprehension and Fallacy, or false Deduction.
The first is a mistake, or a misconception of things, either in their first apprehension, or secondary relations. So Eve mistook the commandment, either from the immediate injunction of God, or from the secondary narration of her husband. So might the disciples mistake our Saviour, in his answer unto Peter concerning the death of John, as is delivered John xxi.“ Peter seeing John, saith unto Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? Jesus saith, If I will, that he tarry till I come, what is that unto thee? Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die.' Thus began the conceit and opinion of the Centaurs; that is, in the mistake of the first beholders, as is declared by Servius. When some young Thessalians on horseback were beheld afar off, while their horses watered, that is, while their heads were depressed, they were conceived by the first spectators to be but one animal; and answerable hereunto have their pictures been drawn ever since.
And, as simple mistakes commonly beget fallacies, so men rest not in false apprehensions, without absurd and inconsequent deductions; from fallacious foundations, and misapprehended mediums, erecting conclusions no way inferrible from their premises. Now the fallacies whereby men deceive others, and are deceived themselves, the ancients have divided into verbal and real. Of the verbal, and such as conclude from mistakes of the word, although there be no less than six, yet are there but two thereof worthy our notation, and unto which the rest may be referred; that is, the fallacy of equivocation and amphibology, which conclude from the ambiguity of some one word, or the ambiguous syntaxis of many put together. From this fallacy arose that calamitous error of the Jews, misapprehending the prophecies of their Messias, and expounding them always unto literal and temporal expectations. By this way many errors crept in, and perverted the doctrine of Pythagoras, whilst men received his precepts in a different sense from his intention; converting metaphors into proprieties, and receiving as literal expressions obscure and involved truths. Thus when he enjoined his disciples an abstinence from beans, many conceived they were with severity debarred the use of that pulse, which, notwithstanding, could not be his meaning; for as Aristoxenus, who wrote his life, averreth, he delighted much in that kind of food himself. But herein, as Plutarch observeth, he had no other intention than to dissuade men from magistracy, or undertaking the publick offices of state: for by beans was the magistrate elected in some parts of Greece; and after his days, we read, in Thucydides, of the Council of the Bean in Athens. The same word also in Greek doth signify a testicle, and hath been thought by some, an injunction only of continency, as Aulus Gellius hath expounded, and as Empedocles may also be interpreted, * that is, testiculis miseri dextras subducite. And [this] might be the original intention of Pythagoras, as having a notable hint hereof in beans, 8 from the natural signature of the venereal organs of both sexes. Again, his injunction is, not to harbour swallows in our houses; whose advice notwithstanding we do not contemn, who daily admit and cherish them. For herein a caution is only implied, not to entertain ungrateful and thankless persons, which like the swallow, are
6 In the mistake, &c.] A mistake si. horsemen occurs, which might indicate milar to that which is recorded by Her- that the artist regarded the horse and his rera, the Spanish historian of America, rider as one animal, among the various to have been committed by the people of specimens of Mexican picture-writing, New Spain, when they first beheld the which have been published by Purchas, Spanish cavalry. They imagined the Thevenot, Robertson, Humboldt, and horse and his rider to be some inonstrous others.--Br. animal of a terrible form, and supposing Ross says, “ there is no doubt then that their food was the same as that of but Centaurs, as well as other monsters, men, brought flesh and bread to nourish are produced, partly by the influence of them. No representation, however, of the stars, and partly by other causes, &c.”
και πάν δεϊλοι κυαμών από χείρας έχεσθε. converting metaphors into proprieties.] implies literalities. "Taking an expression or representa- as having, &c.] See a curious paper tion which only by simile applies to a on the ancient superstitions concerning subject, as if it had properly (or of pro- beans and peas, in the Working Bee, iii, priety) belonged to it.” Proprietics here p. 11.-J.
no way commodious unto us, but having made use of our habitations, and served their own turns, forsake us. So he commands to deface the print of a cauldron in the ashes, after it hath boiled; which strictly to observe, were condemnable superstition. But hereby he covertly adviseth us not to persevere in anger, but after our choler hath boiled, to retain no impression thereof. In the like sense are to be received, when he adviseth his disciples to give the right hand but to few, to put no viands in a chamber-pot, not to pass over a balance, not to take up fire with a sword, or piss against the sun. Which ænigmatical deliveries comprehend useful verities, but being mistaken by literal expositors at the first, they have been misunderstood by most since, and may be occasion of error to verbal capacities for ever.
This fallacy is the first delusion Satan put upon Eve, and his whole tentation might be the same continued.9 So when he said, “Ye shall not die,” that was, in his equivocation, "ye shall not incur a present death,” or a destruction immediately ensuing your transgression; “Your eyes shall be opened,” that is, not to the enlargement of your knowledge, but discovery of your shame and proper confusion; “Ye shall know good and evil,” that is, ye shall have knowledge of good by its privation, but cognizance of evil by sense and visible experience. And the same fallacy or way of deceit, so well succeeding in Paradise, he continued in his oracles through all the world. Which had not men more warily understood, they might have performed many acts inconsistent with his intention. Brutus might have made haste with Tarquine to have kissed his own mother. The Athenians might have built them wooden walls,” or doubled the altar at Delphos.
9 the same continued.] The early reign power at Rome." Brutus, who editions read, “the same elench contin- was present, fell to the ground, as if acued.” Dean Wren remarks that elench cidentally, and touched with his lips his is wrongly used here; meaning rather mother, earth. the detection of a sophistry than the so. 2 The Athenians, &c.] When the phistry itself. The author seems him- oracle advised them, on the approach of self to have seen the error, and omitted Xerxes, to take refuge within their woodthe word.
en walls, which, by the advice of The| Brutus might have made haste, fc.] mistocles, they understood to mean their Alluding to his interpretation of the Del- fect. phian reply to the Tarquinii; “ Young or doubled the altar at Delphos. ] men, whichever of you shall first kiss This refers to the demand of the Delian your mother, he shall possess the sove- oracle, "to double his cubical altar,"
The circle of this fallacy is very large; and herein may be comprised all ironical mistakes, for intended expressions receiving inverted significations; all deductions from metaphors, parables, allegories, unto real and rigid interpretations. Whereby have risen, not only popular errors in philosophy, but vulgar and senseless heresies in divinity; as will be evident unto any that shall examine their foundations, as they stand related by Epiphanius, * Austin, or Prateolus."
Other ways there are of deceit; which consist not in false apprehension of words, that is, verbal expressions, or sentential significations, but fraudulent deductions, or inconsequent illations, from a false conception of things. Of these extradictionary and real fallacies, Aristotle and logicians make in number six, but we observe that men are most commonly deceived by four thereof: those are, petitio principii ; a dicto secundum quid ad dictum simpliciter; a non causa pro causa; and, fallacia consequentis.
The first is, petitio principii. Which fallacy is committed, when a question is made a medium, or we assume a medium as granted, whereof we remain as unsatisfied as of the question. Briefly, where that is assumed as a principle to prove another thing, which is not conceded as true itself. By this fallacy was Eve deceived, when she took for granted, the false assertion of the Devil: “Ye shall not surely die; for God doth know, that in the day ye shall eat thereof, your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be as Gods." Which was but a bare affirmation of Satan, without any proof or probable inducement, contrary unto the command of God, and
which gave occasion to a long serles of his works, but that to which Browne regeometrical inventions. See Gillies Anc. fers is doubtless the following:“ De vitis, Greece, part 2, vol. ii, p. 130, and the lectis, et dogmatibus, omnium hæreticoauthorities he refers to.
rum, qui ab orbe condito, ad nostra usque * Epiphanius, &c.] Epiphanius, con- tempora, et veterum et recentium monutra octoginta Hæreses Panarium ; Augus- mentis proditi sunt, elenchus alphabetitinus, De Haresibus.
cus,” &c.-Br. 5 Gabriel Prateolus.] Vernacularly extradictionary.] Johnson, citing the du Preau, was a voluminous French ec- present passage, explains the word, “not clesiastical writer of the 16th century. relating to words, but realities." He was distinguished by the ardour of 7 where that is assumed as a principle, his zeal for the Roman catholic church, fc.] More clearly, “where that which in opposition to those whom she has been is not conceded as true itself, is aspleased to stigmatize by the name of sumed as a principle to prove another heretics. This spirit is manisested in all thing."
former belief of herself. And this was the logick of the Jews when they accused our Saviour unto Pilate; who demanding a reasonable impeachment, or the allegation of some crime worthy of condemnation, they only replied, “If he had not been worthy of death, we would not have brought him before thee.” Wherein there was neither accusation of the person nor satisfaction of the judge, who well understood a bare accusation was no presumption of guilt, and the clamours of the people no accusation at all. The same fallacy is sometimes used in the dispute between Job and his friends, they often taking that for granted which afterwards he disproveth.
The second is, A dicto secundum quid ad dictum simpliciter, when from that which is but true in a qualified sense, an inconditional and absolute verity is inferred ; transferring the special consideration of things unto their general acceptions, or concluding from their strict acception unto that without all limitation. This fallacy men commit when they argue from a particular to a general; as when we conclude the vices or qualities of a few, upon a whole nation, or from a part unto the whole. Thus the Devil argued with our Saviour; and by this he would persuade him he might be secure if he cast himself from the pinnacle: “ For,” said he, “it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee, and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.” But this illation was fallacious, leaving out part of the text, (Psalm 91,) “He shall keep thee in all thy ways;” that is, in the ways of righteousness, and not of rash attempts: so he urged a part for the whole, and inferred more in the conclusion than was contained in the premises. By the same fallacy we proceed, when we conclude from the sign unto the thing signified. By this encroachment idolatry first crept in, men converting the symbolical use of idols into their proper worship, and receiving the representation of things as the substance and thing itself. So the statue of Belus, at first erected in his memory, was in aftertimes adored
By this incroachment, fc] The proper worship," is beautifully though conversion of the “symbolical use" of consisely explained in Kirby and Spence's such “idols" as consisted of natural ob- Introduction to Entomology, vol. iv, p. jects or their representations “into their 401-403.--Br.