Fallacies. A view of logic from the practical side (1884) by Alfred Sidgwick PDF book

Fallacies. A view of logic from the practical side (1884)  by Alfred Sidgwick

Fallacies. A view of logic from the practical side

Excerpt from the introduction:

Logic holds what may well be called an uncomfortable position among the sciences. According to some authorities, it cannot be properly said that a body of accepted logical doctrines exists: according to others, the facts and laws that form such doctrine are so completely undeniable that to state them is hard to convey new or important information.

Hence, if a writer on the science tries to avoid truism, and so to give practical importance to his statements, there is a danger both of real but crude innovation, and also of over-simple belief in the value of merely verbal alterations. Moreover, at its best, Logic has many persistent enemies, and by no means, all of them are in the wrong: so that those who view the science as the thief or burglar views the law, find themselves apparently supported and kept in countenance by others who really have the right to view it as perhaps the artist views the rules that hamper genius. Through its deep connexion with Common Sense,

 Logic is often a source of exasperation to Philosophy proper: while Common Sense on the other hand is apt to dread or dislike it as unpractical or over-fond of casuistical refinements. Failing thus to win a steady footing, it turns, sometimes, to Physical Science for a field of operations: but Physical Science has its proper share of boldness, and often leaves the cautious reasoner behind. As for Art, — which finds even Common Sense too rigid, — here Logic is liable to meet with opposition at every grade; from the righteous impatience of poetic souls that are genuinely under grace, down to the incoherent anger of mere boastful vagueness, or to the outcry of the sentimental idler. In the midst of these perplexities, it is difficult to choose a quite satisfactory course. Some excuses may, however, be offered for the line that has here been taken; and, first, I would plead as against the charge of irregularity or presumption the fact that I have wished to keep a single purpose in view, avoiding all questions that fail to bear directly upon it.


Usually, it works on Logic, the object has been to say something valuable upon all the questions traditionally treated as within the field of the science, and, in attempting this, the single practical purpose is apt to become obscured. It is only in consequence of my avoidance of side-issues that any appearance of novelty in the treatment has followed. Moreover, it is not teaching, but a suggestion that is chiefly Intkod] here intended. It is always allowable to write rather in the co-operative spirit than the didactic, and this has certainly been my aim throughout. And the same apology may apply to the charge of forcing verbal changes upon the reader: the novelties of statements are here put forward merely as possible aids in keeping our single purpose clear, and, in fact, I found them almost unavoidable.


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