We have seen that a Concept expresses our general idea of a class of things. And, as we shall presently see, our idea of a particular object is frequently derived by Deductive Reasoning from our class concepts, it follows that our knowledge concerning any particular thing is largely obtained through our concept of the class to which the thing belongs—or rather, from the classes to which it belongs, for every concrete thing belongs to a number of classes. This being seen, it is perceived that it is of the highest importance that we form accurate and full concepts regarding the classes of things which are concerned with our chosen field of knowledge.
We have seen that the concept of a class of concrete objects must of necessity include all the qualities common to that class. But it does not, and can not, also include any of the qualities which pertain only to certain individuals or groups within the general class. For example: the concept "dog" must include all the qualities or characteristics common to all dogs. But it cannot include any of the qualities or characteristics which are possessed only by some dogs, and not by others. Thus, the concept "dog" cannot include the qualities of color, particular shape, curl of tail, shape of head, etc., for such would not be true of all dogs. But, likewise, no one of the general qualities which distinguish all dogs, and which in combination constitute the "dogness" of the animal, can be absent from the concept, if the latter is accurate, complete, and full.
As a consequence of the above, it is seen that (1) the larger the number of individual things in a class represented by a concept, the smaller must be the general qualities included in that concept; and (2) the larger the number of general qualities included in a concept, the smaller must be the number of the individuals in the class represented by the concept. For instance, the large number of individual dogs included in the general concept "dog" is in marked contrast to the small number of individual dogs included in the sub-class concept "bull-dog," or "toy-terrier," or "beagle-hound," respectively. It will be seen, of course, that the general concept really includes all the individuals of any of the sub-classes, and of all other sub-classes of dogs as well—yet each of the sub-classes has a large list of essential qualities, while the general class has only comparatively few qualities.
Here is the whole thing in a nutshell: "The greater the number of individuals, the smaller the number of class qualities; the smaller the number of individuals, the greater the number of class qualities." The single individual, of course, has a greater number of qualities that can any sub-class or general class of which he is a unit; and any general class, of course, has a smaller number of general qualities than can any sub-class or individuals included in it. The individual is "in a class by himself," and all of his qualities are general qualities. As a writer has said: "The secret is this: No two individuals can have as many qualities in common as each has individually, unless they are both precisely alike in every respect, which is impossible in nature.''
Our concept of a thing expresses our knowledge of that thing. Think over this statement for a moment, for it is important. It being accepted as correct, it follows that our knowledge of a thing is wrapped up in one concept of it, and that if our concept is deficient or imperfect, or erroneous, then our knowledge of the thing must be likewise. You may think that the concept of every person concerning the same thing must be identical, but the contrary is found to be the fact. You may test this by asking a number of persons to state their "notion" (i.e., concept) of the following things, viz., Love, Faith, God, Duty, Phosphorus, Carbon. You will find that nearly every person will express a different notion concerning these general ideas.
A writer says: "My idea or image is mine alone—the reward of careless observation if imperfect; of attentive, careful, and varied observation if correct. Between mine and yours a great gulf is fixed. No man can pass from mine to yours, or from yours to mine. Neither in any proper sense of the term can mine be conveyed to you. Words do not convey thoughts; they are not vehicles of thoughts in any true sense of that term. A word is merely a common symbol which each person associates with his own idea or image."
We frequently find that when a person disagrees with our notion concerning a thing, he may be "thinking of something else"—something entirely different. Men frequently quarrel and engage in disputes because they fail to observe the old adage: "Define your terms before you dispute regarding them." The writer says: "It must be borne in mind that most of our concepts are subject to change during our entire life; that at first they are made only in a tentative way; that experience may show us, at any time, that they have been erroneously formed, that we have abstracted too little or too much, made a class too wide or too narrow, or that here a quality must be added or there one taken away."
The student will find a great help in forming correct, adequate, and full concepts in the form of a good dictionary, and, if possible, also in the form of a good encyclopedia. Reference to the dictionary, or the encyclopedia, will dispel many erroneous concepts, and improve, correct, and fill out many imperfect or incomplete ones. Your concept of a thing is your answer to the question: "What do I understand this thing to be."
The absolutely complete and full concept would necessarily include all the essential qualities thereof, with no non-essential quality. But inasmuch as no person can be held to possess absolute knowledge about anything, it follows that no absolute concepts are possessed by anyone—the best that anyone can do is to have a full, complete, perfect, and correct concept as is possible. And education, investigation, research, and experience are constantly adding to the fullness and correctness of our concepts. A well-known authority has given us a number of excellent examples of this fact, of which the following illustrations are drawn: When to our concept of a certain kind of three-leaved ivy we add the quality of "poisonous," we make a most important addition. When we add to our concept of a certain kind of fruit the quality of "good food," we have gained an important bit of practical knowledge. When we add to our concept of mustard the quality of "an antidote for opium poisoning," we have acquired valuable knowledge which may save our life at some time in the future. When men added to their concept of a certain hard, black, stony substance the attribute or quality of "burning and producing heat," they made a great discovery— and it took men many centuries to discover this. When men added to their concept of "electricity" the quality of "usable energy," and a like quality to their concept of "steam," the world's progress was added to.
The writer in question says regarding this: "Judgment is the power revolutionizing the world. The revolution is slow because nature's forces are so complex, so hard to be reduced to their simplest forms and so disguised and neutralized by the presence of other forces. The progress of the next hundred years will join many concepts, which now seem to have no common qualities. Fortunately, judgment is ever silently working and comparing things that, to past ages, have seemed dissimilar; and it is continually abstracting and leaving out of the field those qualities which have simply served to obscure the point at issue."
Reasoning. By Reasoning, man is enabled to take a short cut to knowledge of particular things. If we had to examine each particular object in order to find out its general qualities, we would make but little progress in knowledge. Life would be far too short for us to gain much knowledge about the world in which we live, and about ourselves. Here Reasoning presents itself as a short cut to such knowledge—a formula by means of which we may acquire knowledge from general principles, and apart from special investigation in each and every instance.
Reasoning is the process whereby we ascertain new knowledge from old knowledge. An authority defines it as: "The act of going from the unknown to the known through other beliefs; of basing judgment upon judgment; of basing new beliefs upon old beliefs." Reasoning is generally classified as follows: (1) Reasoning by Analogy; (2) Reasoning by Induction; and (3) Reasoning by Deduction. We shall now present to you the general characteristics of each of these classes.
Reasoning by Analogy.This is the simplest form of reasoning. It is based upon the general principle that: "If two things resemble each other in many points, they will probably resemble each other in more points." This form of reasoning differs only in degree from the process (previously considered by us) known as Classification or Generalization. The latter process proceeds upon the principle that "when many things resemble each other in a few basic qualities, we associate them in a class, and use the class-concept in further reasoning." In Reasoning by Analogy, however, the principle may be said to be that "when a few things resemble each other in many qualities, it is a case of analogy, and is used in further reasoning on that basis."
Reasoning by Analogy is the most popular form of reasoning, and perhaps the most liable to error. While very useful for ordinary purposes, one must always be on guard against error in judgment in such reasoning, for this form of reasoning has a large percentage of error. As a writer says: "Persons have been poisoned by toadstools by reason of false analogous reasoning that because mushrooms are edible, then toadstools, which resemble them, must also be fit for food; or in the same way, because certain berries resemble other edible berries they must likewise be good food. A complete analysis and classification, in these cases, would have prevented the erroneous analogy." Another writer says: "To infer that because John Smith has a red nose and is also a drunkard, then Henry Jones, who also has a red nose, is also a drunkard, would be dangerous inference. Conclusions of this kind drawn from Analogy are frequently dangerous." Another writer says: "Many false analogies are manufactured, and it is excellent thought training to expose them. The majority of people think so little that they swallow these false analogies just as newly-fledged robins swallow small stones dropped into their mouths."
If we pursue our Reasoning by Analogy far enough, however, and along the lines of logical thought, we really begin to employ Inductive Reasoning and Deductive Reasoning, and thus no longer can be said to be employing simple Reasoning by Analogy. This statement will be more clearly perceived as we consider the higher forms of reasoning above referred to. These two forms of higher reasoning are as follows: (1) Reasoning by Induction, or "inference from particular facts to general laws"; and (2) Reasoning by Deduction, or "inference from general truths to particular truths.'' We shall now consider each of these two classes in further detail.
Reasoning by Induction
This form of reasoning is based upon the logical axiom: "What is true of the many is true of the whole." This axiom is based upon man's perception of nature's universal and uniform laws. The process of reasoning in this way may be said to consist of several steps, as follows:
1. Observation. This step consists of the observation, investigation, and examination of a number of particular facts, events, or objects, for the purpose of discovering some general qualities common to many of them. Thus, we might examine a large number of four-footed carnivorous animals and among them we would find a large number possessing a certain set of qualities common to all of that number. The animals possessing these common qualities we would classify under the form of a concept to which we would apply the term "dog." Or, in the same manner we might observe and examine numerous material objects, and thus discover that all of them were attracted to the center of the earth, and a further investigation would discover that all material objects were attracted to each other in a certain way.
2. Hypothesis. The next step in reasoning by induction would be the making of an hypothesis, or general principle assumed as a "possible explanation" of a set or class of facts. Thus, using the previous examples, we would make an hypothesis that all dogs would act in a certain way under certain circumstances, and that all dogs possessed certain physical and mental characteristics. Of course all dogs were not examined, and could not be examined, but a sufficient number had been examined to justify the making of an hypothesis that all dogs were so and so, and would act so and so. The reasoning was based upon the axiom: "What is true of the many is true of the whole." In the same way, this form of reasoning resulted in the hypothesis known as the Law of Gravitation.
An hypothesis which has been verified by continued observation, experiment, and investigation is advanced in rank and is known as a Theory. Further verification sometimes advances a Theory to the rank of a Law. A writer says of the making of hypothesis: "The forming of an hypothesis requires a suggestive mind, a lively fancy, a philosophic imagination that catches a glimpse of the idea through the form or sees the Law standing behind the fact." Another writer says: "Accepted theories, in most cases, arise only by testing out and rejecting many promising hypothesis and finally settling upon the one which best answers all the requirements and best explains the facts."
3. Testing. The next step in reasoning by induction is that of testing the hypothesis by deductive reasoning. This is done on the principle of: "If so-and-so is correct, then it follows that thus-and-so is true. If the conclusion agrees with reason and experience, the hypothesis is considered to be reasonable so far as the investigation has proceeded, at least; and, likewise, if the conclusion is found to be inconsistent with reason, or to be a logical absurdity, then the hypothesis is placed under suspicion or may even be utterly rejected. Applying the test to the dog family, the result would be favorable to the hypothesis that "all dogs are so-and-so, and act thus-and-so," if the additional number of dogs examined proved really to possess the assumed general qualities, and to act in the manner assumed in the hypothesis. Likewise, the hypothesis concerning gravitation would be regarded with more favor when it was discovered that the theory met the test of additional observed phenomena.
4. Verification. The final step in reasoning by induction is that of verification resulting from extended and continued observation and testing. A writer says of this: "The greater the number of facts agreeing with the hypothesis, the greater the degree of the 'probability' of the latter. The authorities generally assume an hypothesis to be 'verified' when it accounts for all the facts which properly are related to it.
Some extremists contend, however, that before an hypothesis may be considered as absolutely verified it must not only account for all the associated facts but that there must also be no other possible hypothesis to account for the same facts. The verification of an hypothesis must be an 'all around one,' and there must be an agreement between the observed facts and the logical conclusions in the case—the hypothesis must fit the facts, and the facts must fit the hypothesis. The facts are like the glass slipper of the Cinderella legend. The several sisters of Cinderella were like imperfect hypotheses, for the slipper did not fit them, nor did they fit the slipper. When Cinderella's foot was found to be the one foot upon which the glass slipper fitted, then the Cinderella hypothesis was considered to be verified—the glass slipper was hers, and the prince claimed his bride." Of two "possible" hypothesis, that one is preferred which best accounts for the greatest number of facts concerning the thing under consideration.
The following quotations from eminent authorities will serve to impress you with the important part played by Reasoning by Induction in our general processes of Thought. A writer says: "The basic principle of inductive reasoning is 'What is true of the many is true of the whole.' This principle is founded upon our faith in the uniformity of Nature. Take away this belief, and all inductive reasoning falls. The basis of induction is thus often stated to be Man's faith in the uniformity of Nature.
"Induction has been compared to a ladder upon which we ascend from facts to laws. This ladder cannot stand unless it has something to rest upon; and this something is our faith in the constancy of Nature's laws."
Another says: "The judgment that 'All men are mortal' was reached by induction. It was observed that all past generations of men had died, and this fact warranted the conclusion that all men living will die. We make the assertion as boldly as if we had seen them all die. The premise that 'All cows chew the cud' was laid down after a certain number of cows had been examined. If we were to see a cow twenty years hence, we should expect to find that she chewed the cud. It was noticed by astronomers that after a certain number of days the earth regularly returned to the same position in its orbit, the sun rose in the same place, and the day was of the same length. Hence, the length of the year and of each succeeding day was determined; and the almanac maker now infers that the same will be true of future years. He tells us that the sun on the first of next December will rise at a given time, though he cannot throw himself into the future to verify the conclusion.
"Every time a man buys a piece of beef, a bushel of potatoes, or a loaf of bread, he is basing his action on inference from induction. He believes that beef, potatoes, or a loaf of bread will prove nutritious food, though he has not actually tested those special edibles before purchasing them. They have hitherto been found to be nutritious on trial, and he argues that the same will prove true of those special instances.
"We instinctively believe in the uniformity of Nature; if we did not, we should not consult our almanacs. If sufficient heat will cause phosphorus to burn today, we conclude that the same result will follow tomorrow, if the circumstances are the same."
Finally, it should be noted that the Major Premise of Reasoning by Deduction (which we shall consider presently)—the main fact assumed to be true in order to reason further by deduction—is nothing more nor less than the Hypothesis, Theory, Law, or Principle discovered in the process of Reasoning by Induction just described and considered by us. Deductive Reasoning accepts this Major Premise as a fact, making no further inquiry concerning the truth of the same, and then proceeds to draw conclusions from it by certain methods of its own, as we shall presently see.
Reasoning by Deduction
Reasoning by Induction is based upon the axiom: "What is true of the whole, is true of its parts," In the phase of reasoning which we have just considered, i.e. Reasoning by Induction, we discovered a General Law through and by an examination of particular facts. In the present phase of reasoning, i.e. Reasoning by Deduction, we seek to discover particular facts by an application of the aforesaid Law.
An example of this form of reasoning is as follows: Assuming as a general law or principle that "All fish are cold-blooded"; and then making the following statement regarding a living creature placed before us: "This creature is a fish;" we then reach by deductive reasoning the conclusion that: "This creature is cold-blooded." We make this judgment purely by reason, for we have not actually examined that particular fish. If the creature was afterward found not to be cold-blooded, we would be justified in reasoning thusly: "All fish are cold-blooded; this creature is not cold-blooded; therefore, this creature is not a fish."
In the above simple example we have an illustration of the general principles of all Reasoning by Deduction. All of our reasoning of this kind follows the same general rule. We may object that we do not consciously follow such rule, but consciously, or unconsciously, the rule is followed by all persons arriving at conclusions by this form of reasoning. We are not conscious of the several steps of the process, for we have become so accustomed to them from early childhood that they have become almost automatic, or "reflex" with us. As a writer says: "Most persons are surprised when they find out that they have been using logical forms, more or less correctly, without having realized it. A large number even of educated persons have no clear idea of what logic is. Yet, in a certain way, every one must have been a logician since he began to speak.''
We shall try to avoid the use of technical logical terms as explanations here. Let us, however, stop a moment to consider just one technical term, namely, "The Syllogism." The Syllogism has been defined as: "An argument expressed in strict logical form, so that its conclusiveness is manifest from the structure of the form alone, without any regard to the meaning of the terms.'' You may see the truth of the above definition by stating the argument about the fish (previously given) as follows: "All A is Z; Aa is A; therefore, Aa is Z." You will see that the argument is just as sound in this form as in the "fish form." The second "fish" argument may be stated in this form, with equal force and validity: "All A is Z; Aa is not Z; therefore, Aa is not A."
But do not consider that because an argument may proceed to a logical conclusion, that that conclusion must necessarily be true. Remember this always: "If the Major Premise is false, the Conclusion based on it will be false, even though the process of reasoning may be logically correct." For instance, "The Moon is made of green cheese; that object is the Moon; therefore, that object must be a fine dwelling-place for rats and mice."
A Syllogism must have three, and only three, propositions; these propositions are as follows: (1) Major Premise; (2) Minor Premise; and (3) Conclusion. Here is an example of the above: "1. (Major Premise) All fish are cold-blooded; 2. (Minor Promise) This creature is a fish; 3. (Conclusion) Therefore, this creature is cold- blooded."
We shall not enter into a technical exposition of the many rules and principles of correct Reasoning by Deduction—those interested in the subject are referred to some good elementary text-book on logic for a more detailed discussion of the same. Instead, we shall call your attention to a number of the most common Fallacies, or forms of False-Reasoning, so that by observing the false forms you may (by contrast) arrive at an idea of the correct forms. These false forms may thus most usefully be employed as a "terrible example," serving to warn the student away from the course which has led to such results. As an authority has said: "In learning how to do right, it is always desirable to be informed as to the ways in which we are likely to go wrong. In describing to a man the road which he should follow, we ought to tell him not only the turnings which he is to take but also the turnings which he is to avoid. Similarly, it is a useful part of logic which teaches us the ways and turnings by which people most commonly go astray in reasoning."
Fallacies, Sophistry, and Casuistry
A Fallacy is: "An unsound argument, or mode of arguing which, while appearing to be decisive of a question, is in reality not so; or a fallacious statement or proposition in which the error is not readily apparent." Sophistry is a Fallacy used to deceive others. Sophistry employed to deceive others regarding their moral obligations of rules of conduct is frequently called Casuistry.
Here follows a collection of the more common forms of Fallacy, with a brief description of the particular character of each, and an indication of the particular point of each in which the false-reasoning is hidden.
The Fallacy of "Begging the Question." This particular form of Fallacy consists of one assuming as a proven and accepted fact something which has not been proved, or which, at least, would not be accepted by the other person were it put squarely before him in the form of a plain question. The gist of this form of Fallacy may be said to be in "the unwarranted assumption of a premise, usually the major premise."
A writer gives as an example of this Fallacy through the following argument expressed as a syllogism: "Good institutions should be united; Church and State are good institutions; therefore, Church and State should be united." The above argument may seem quite reasonable and logical at first thought, but a more careful examination will disclose the fact that the Major Premise, viz., "Good institutions should be united," is a mere impudent assumption lacking proof, and not likely to be accepted if presented plainly and considered carefully. It "sounds good" when stated blandly and with conviction (principally because we accept the Minor Premise), but there is no logical warrant for the assumption that because institutions are "good'' they should be "united." Question the Major Premise, and the whole chain of reasoning is broken.
Many public men habitually violate the laws of sound reasoning in this way: they boldly assert a fallacious premise, and then proceed to reason or argue logically from it, the result being that their hearers are confused by the apparently logical nature of the whole argument and the soundness of the conclusion, overlooking the important fact that the basic premise itself is unwarranted and unsound.
Such argument and reasoning is rotten at the core. These men proceed on the principle attributed to Aaron Burr, that "Truth is that which is boldly asserted and plausibly maintained." They carry into practice the policy of one of Bulwer's characters, who said: "Whenever you are about to utter something astonishingly false, always begin with: 'It is an acknowledged fact, etc.,' or 'It is admitted by all,' or 'No thinking person denies.' " Bulwer also makes this character say: "Sir Robert Fulmer was a master of this manner of writing. Thus with a solemn face that great man attempted to cheat. He would say: 'It is a truth undeniable that there cannot be any multitude of men whatsoever, either great or small, but that in the same multitude there is one man among them that in nature hath a right to be King of all the rest—as being the next heir of Adam!' "
In all reasoning and argument, therefore, be sure to first be sure to establish the "reasonableness" of the premises, or basic facts. It is true that no reasoning or argument is possible unless we agree to assume as reasonable, or proved, a certain general or particular proposition; but we are always entitled to take the benefit of the doubt in such a case by challenging the reasonableness of the principle or premise seemingly fallaciously advanced to support the subsequent argument of chain of reasoning. Once admit, or allow to pass unchallenged, a fallacious premise, and you may be led by the nose into an intellectual quagmire or morass, where you will sink up to your neck, or perhaps over your head. A fallacious premise is like a rotten foundation of a building—that which is erected thereon may have been carefully built, and be of sound material, but nevertheless, the whole building is unsafe, dangerous, and not fit for habitation.
A writer has given us the following basic rules of sound reasoning and argument: "(1) Clearly define your terms, and insist upon your opponent doing likewise; (2) Establish the correctness, or reasonableness, of your premises, and insist upon the other side doing the same; (3) Then observe the laws of sound reasoning from premise to conclusion."
The reader will be surprised to discover how many popular ideas, beliefs, and general convictions are based upon arguments and reasoning which "beg the question" grossly in stating their Major Premise. The Master Mind refuses to be so misled, and insists upon the premises being at least "reasonable" and not mere bald and impudent assertions and assumptions.
The Fallacy of Reasoning in a Circle. This form of Fallacy consists in assuming as proof of a proposition the very same proposition itself, stated however in another form ("same in substance, different in form"): For example, the following proposition: "This man is a rascal because he is a rogue; he is a rogue because he is a rascal." (There is here, of course, no proof here that the man is either a rascal or a rogue.) This may sound foolish, but many arguments are no sounder, and are based on the same general principles. Here is an "explanation" given under this fallacious principle: "We are able to see through glass, because it is transparent; we know that it is transparent, because we can see through it."
Here are more complex forms: "The Republocratic Party is the right party, because it advocates the right principles; the Republocratic principles are the right principles, because they are advocated by the right party." Or again: "The Church of England is the true Church, because it was established by God; it must have been established by God, because it is the true Church." Or, again "The prophet was inspired; we know that he was inspired because he, himself, so stated, and being inspired he must have spoken only the truth."
As a writer has said: "This particular form of Fallacy is most effective and dangerous when it is employed in long arguments, it being often quite difficult to detect its presence in long discourses in which the two statements of the same thing (in different form) are separated by other words and thoughts.''
Irrelevant Conclusion. This Fallacy consists in injecting into the Conclusion something not contained in the Premises. For example: "All men are sinners; John Smith is a man; therefore, John Smith is a horse thief." Many solemn statements made by public men, and others, are really quite as absurd as that just stated, though the absurdity is often lost sight of in the extended statement, and complicated presentation, aided by the solemn, positive air of authority assumed by the speaker. A more plausible form is as follows: "All thieves are liars; John Brown is a liar; therefore, John Brown is a thief." In this last, the statement ignores the fact that while "all thieves are liars," all liars are not necessarily thieves. Remember the old saying: "All biscuits are bread; but all bread is not biscuit."
False Cause. This fallacy consists in assuming a false relation of Cause and Effect between things merely occurring at the same time at the same place; a Coincidence is not necessarily a Cause. There follow typical examples: "The cock crows just before sunrise; therefore, the cock-crow causes the sun to rise." Or, "The Demo-publican administration was accompanied by bad crops; therefore, the Demo-publican Party in power is the cause of bad crops, and therefore should be kept out of power." Or, "Where civilization is highest, there we find the greatest number of high silk hats; therefore, high silk hats are the cause of high civilization." In the same way, a symptom or a consequence of a condition is often mistaken for the cause of the condition.
Burden of Proof. It is a favorite device of sophistical reasoners to attempt without due warrant to throw the Burden of Proof upon the opponent; particularly when this is employed to establish the truth of the sophist's contention, because the opponent is unable to "prove that it isn't true." The absurdity and fallacious nature of this is more clearly perceived when the proposition is illustrated by a ridiculous example, as for instance: "The moon is made of green cheese; this must be admitted by you to be true, because you cannot prove the contrary." The answer to such a fallacious argument is, of course, the statement that the Burden of Proof rests upon the person making the statement, not on his opponent; and that Proof does not consist in the mere absence of disproof, but rather in the positive evidence advanced to support the proposition advanced. In this connection one recalls the old story about the lawyer in court who produced three men who swore that he saw John Doe strike Richard Roe; whereupon the other side offered to produce a hundred men to swear that they didn't see him do it—this sounded well until it was shown that none of the hundred men were present on the scene of the fight at all.
Abuse of Opponent. It is no argument, or true reasoning, to abuse the opponent, or the general character of those holding contrary opinions. This is a direct evolution of the ancient argument of beating the opponent over the head with a club, and then claiming a logical victory. Likewise it is not a sound argument, nor logical reasoning, to appeal from the principle under consideration to the personal practices of the person advocating the practice. For instance, a man arguing the advantages of Temperance may be very intemperate himself; but to point to his intemperate habits is no proof or argument that the principle of Temperance is incorrect. Many a man fails to live up to the principles he teaches to be correct. It may be logically argued, in the above case, that belief in Temperance does not always cause a man to be temperate; but there is no proof here that the practice of Temperance is not advisable—in fact, the man's habits may even be urged as an argument in favor of Temperance, rather than against it. The Fallacy is readily detected when one considers that the man may change his habits so as to square with his belief; and in such case it cannot be held that a change in the man's habits changes the principle from untruth into truth. A proposition is either true or untrue, regardless of the personal character of the persons advocating or presenting it.
Prejudice. Prejudice is "an unreasonable predilection for, or objection to, anything; especially, an opinion or leaning adverse to anything, without just grounds, or before sufficient knowledge." Prejudice arises from Feeling, not from Reason. Take away from Prejudice the Feeling element therein, and there is little left to it. When we form judgments from Feeling, we frequently perpetrate Fallacy. And, yet, the average person performs the greater part of his decisions, and makes the greatest number of his judgments, in this way—he is ruled by Prejudice rather than by Reason.
A writer says: "Many persons reason from their feelings rather than from their intellect. They seek and advance not true reasons, but excuses. They seek to prove a thing to be true, simply because they want it to be true. The tendency is to see only those facts which agree with our likes, or are in line with our prejudices; and to ignore the other set of facts. Such persons unconsciously assume the mental attitude which may be expressed as follows: 'If the facts do not agree with my pet theories or prejudices, so much the worse for the facts.' "
Another writer says: "Nine times out of ten, to argue with any man on a subject that engages his emotions is to waste breath. His mind is not open to logical persuasion. His emotions first determines his opinion and then prompt his logical faculties to devise plausible excuses for it. There is a thing that psychologists call a 'complex.' It consists of an idea charged with emotion, and it operates as a sort of colored screen in front of the mind. A man whose emotions are deeply engaged on one side of a question may think that he is reasoning about it. But, in fact, he may be incapable of reasoning about it, because whatever impressions his mind receives in that connection come through his complex and take no color. His logical faculties operate only by way of inventing plausible defenses for the judgment his emotions have already formed. It is impossible to change his position in any respect by reasoning, because reason cannot touch his mind until his emotions have dealt with it and made it conform to their color. Whenever you talk to a person with a strong bias on any particular subject, which bias does not coincide with your own bias, talk to him about something else."
Illogical Deduction. There are a number of phases of Fallacy arising from the violation of the technical rules of the Syllogism, which violation results in deduction opposed to the principles of logic. These points are too technical to be considered in detail here, and the reader who wishes to pursue the subject further is referred to some elementary text-book on the subject of Logic.
The following general suggestions, culled from different writers, will perhaps prove of interest and use to you in your consideration of the general principles of Reasoning.
A writer says: "Most of the work of effective Thinking consists in the observance of a few elementary maxims, as follows: (1) All proof begins with something which cannot be proved, but can only be perceived or accepted, and is called an axiom or first principle; (2) There can be no argument save between those who accept the same first principle; (3) An act can only be judged by defining its object; and (4) Anything can be defended which is not a contradiction in terms. A very slender equipment of such tests would save many people from wasting their time and conscience upon discussions and argument of which they realize neither the origin or the end."
Another writer says: "There is no royal road to the cultivation of the reasoning faculties." There is by the old familiar rule: "Practice, practice, practice." Nevertheless there are certain studies which tend to develop the faculties in question. The study of arithmetic, especially mental arithmetic, tends to develop correct habits of reasoning from one truth to another—from cause to effect. Better still is the study of geometry; and best of all, of course, is the study of logic and the practice of working out its problems and examples. The study of philosophy and psychology also is useful in this way. Many lawyers and teachers have drilled themselves in geometry solely for the purpose of developing their logical reasoning powers."
Another writer says: "So valuable is geometry as a discipline that many lawyers and others review their geometry every year in order to keep the mind drilled to logical habits of thinking. The study of logic will aid in the development of the power of deductive reasoning. It does this, first, by showing the method by which we reason; to see the laws which govern the reasoning process, to analyze the syllogism and see its conformity to the laws of thought, is not only an exercise of reasoning but also gives that knowledge of the process that will be both a stimulus and a guide to thought. No one can trace the principles and processes of thought without receiving thereby an impetus to thought. In the second place, the study of logic is probably even more valuable because it gives practice in deductive thinking. This, perhaps, is its principal value, since the mind reasons instinctively without knowing how it reasons. One can think without the knowledge of the science of thinking, just as one can use language correctly without a knowledge of grammar; yet as the study of grammar improves one's speech, so the study of logic can but improve one's thought."
Another writer says: "We cannot infer anything we please from any premises we please. We must conform to certain definite rules or principles. Any violation of them will be a fallacy. There are two simple rules which should not be violated, viz., (1) The subject-matter in the Conclusion should be of the same general kind as in the Premises; (2) the facts constituting the Premises must be accepted and must not be fictitious."
Another writer says: "When you find yourself fluctuating back and forth between two opinions you might find it helpful to hold an internal debate. State to yourself as strongly as possible the case for the affirmative, and then put as convincingly as possible the case for the negative, holding a refutation if necessary. You may even elaborate this by writing the arguments for both sides in parallel columns. Of course, you should never use an argument which you can see on its face to be fallacious, nor a statement which represents merely a prejudice and nothing more. You should use only such arguments as you think a sincere debater would conscientiously employ. By thus making your reasons articulate you will find that there is really no tenable case at all for one side, and you will seldom fail to reach a definite conclusion."
Again: "The pragmatic method can be applied with profit to nearly all our positive problems. Before starting to solve a question—while deciding, for instance, on the validity of some nice distinction in logic—we should ask ourselves, 'What practical difference will it make if I hold one opinion or another? How will my belief influence my action?' (using the word 'action' in its broadest sense). This may often lead our line of inquiry into more fruitful channels, keep us from making fine but needless distinctions, help us to word our question more relevantly, and lead us to make distinctions where we really need them."
The Master Mind detaches itself from its mental machinery and tools, occasionally and as a matter of exercise, and enters into the full realization of its real existence and real supremacy. Over its mental field it exclaims to itself: "I am the master of all this!" And, in this spirit it imposes its authority upon its tools and machinery, and bids them to perform its work efficiently and intelligently. When Feeling is necessary to stimulate thought and intellectual endeavor, the Master Mind pulls the lever of Feeling and Emotion, and throws its power into the machinery. Likewise, when it perceives that Feeling and Emotion are clogging and "gumming up" the free movement of the intellectual machinery, then the Master Mind reverses the Emotional Lever and decreases its power.
In short, the Ego—the Master Mind, and the Mind Master—takes the central place of power and authority, and manages, controls, and directs the entire mental machinery. The methods which we have indicated and pointed out in this chapter are but suggestions to the Master Mind as to how it may obtain the best, most profitable, and most confident work out of its mental machinery concerned with Thought and Reasoning. But the real direction must come from the Master Mind itself in the form of WILL. The Intellect is like a good servant, and will listen carefully to, and faithfully obey, the commands issued to it by the Master Mind through the medium of the Will.
In this chapter we have pointed out to the Master Mind just how its intellectual machinery works and operates, and how it may be directed efficiently. But the Master Mind must actually exercise its directing and controlling power itself. The Intellect may be compared to a high-powered automobile. The Master Mind is the driver thereof. These chapters are the "Book of Directions" which the driver studies, and whose principles he applies. But, at the last, the driver must do the real driving, steering, and directing; his hand touches the buttons, and pulls the levers and shuts on and off the Power of the Will to or from certain parts of the machinery. The efficient chauffeur always drives the machine—he never allows the machine to run away with him. The Master Mind should follow the example of the good chauffeur.