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I DAT? . APR ? 1QR7 


No apology is needful for the Port-Royal Logic. The 
Translation of a work of such high repute and sterling ex 
cellence, if at all faithful, must needs be useful. It is 
especially likely to be so, now that a revival of interest in 
logical studies has commenced, since, from its freshness ot 
thought, and variety of illustration, it is better adapted to 
meet the wants of inquirers, and foster the awakened 
interest, than most other works on the subject. 

It will be right, however, to say a few words in relation 
to the circumstances under which the present translation 
is published. It was begun somewhat more than a year 
ago, but wholly laid aside soon after its commencement, 
and only hastily resumed within the last few weeks, in 
order that it might be carried through the press in time 
for college use during the present winter, so that the whole 
has been printed, and more than a third part translated, 
since the commencement of the session. In consequence 
of this haste, it appears in a much more imperfect form 
than I could have wished. I have been unable, for in 
stance, to add illustrative notes, which the work in 


many places requires, and, throughout, well deserves. The 
materials for these had been in great part collected, but 
it was impossible to prepare them in time for the present 
edition. It has suffered, too, I cannot but fear, in 
other ways, from the haste with which it has been pre 
pared. After all, however, the book must be judged of 
by what it is, not by what it was intended to be ; and, even 
in its present form, I hope it may be found useful to the 
students of Logic. 

In reference to the translation itself, I may say, that the 
only virtues which have been aimed at are those of clear 
ness and correctness. I dare not say that even these have 
always been attained ; but anything like elegance has 
certainly never been attempted. The translation is not 
designed for accomplished logicians. All who have paid 
much attention to Logic will be already quite familiar with 
it in the original. It was undertaken mainly for the 
benefit of students, and is designed for academical use ; 
and, with this end in view, the virtues of plainness and 
faithfulness are of the first account. There will be found 
here and there some expressions which are quaint, and 
almost antiquated. These, I have neither, on the one 
hand, affected, nor, on the other, superstitiously avoided, 
when they seemed to offer a plainer and more pointed 
rendering of the original. The literalities, too, are some 
times awkward such as "justness of mind," (justesse de 
Fesprit) but they will generally, it is hoped, be found 
significant; and if a little strangeness in the expression 
should tend to fix attention on the thought, they will do 
good rather than harm. 

It is necessary, also, to say something about the use of 


italics throughout the book. This has not always been 
consistent. It was intended that the definitions and more 
important illustrations should be thus distinguished, in 
order that the attention of students might be called at once 
to the more important parts, and that these being thus 
printed in a different character might form a kind of ab 
stract of the book. This, though carried out to a con 
siderable extent, has not, however, been always attended 
to. At first, too, the old-fashioned plan of printing the 
quotations in italics was adopted, but these were found too 
numerous, and too unimportant, to merit this distinction, 
and the practice was accordingly subsequently abandoned. 
In conclusion, I have only to return my best thanks to 
Sir William Hamilton, to whose kind encouragement this 
translation is mainly due, and to whom I am indebted in 
so many ways. No expression, indeed, of my obligations 
to Sir William Hamilton can be too full ; and the only 
regret I feel in making this acknowledgment is, that his 
name should be associated with a work so exceedingly 



January, 1850. 




Author s Advertisement to First Edition, xli 

Author s Advertisement to Fifth Edition, - xliii 
DISCOURSE I. In which the Design of this New Logic is set 

forth, I 

DISCOURSE II. Containing a Reply to the Principal Objec 
tions which have been made against this Logic, 1 ~2 




CHAP. I. Of Ideas in relation to their Nature and Origin. 28 

CHAP. II. Of Ideas in relation to their Objects, - - 35 

CHAP. III. Of the Ten Categories of Aristotle, 38 

CHAP. IV. Of Ideas of Things and Signs, - 42 

CHAP. V. Of Ideas in relation to their Simplicity or Com 
position, in which the method of Knowing by Abstraction 
or Precision is considered, 44 

CHAP. VI. Of Ideas, considered in relation to their Gene 
rality, Particularity, and Singularity, - 47 
CHAP. VII. Of the five kinds of Universal Ideas Genus, 

Species, Difference, Property, Accident, - 50 

CHAP. VIII. Of Complex Terms, and their Universality or 

Particularity, .">5 

CHAP. IX. Of the Clearness and Distinctness of Ideas, and 
their Obscurity and Confusion, - til 



CHAP. X. Some examples of Obscure and Confused Ideas 

taken from Morals, - 68 

CHAP. XI. Of another cause which introduces Confusion 
into our Thoughts and Discourses, which is, that we attach 
them to Words, - - 75 

CHAP. XII. On the Remedy of the Confusion which arises 
in our Thoughts and in our Language, from the Confusion 
of Words, in which the necessity and the advantage of de 
fining the terms we employ, and the difference between the 
definition of Things and the definition of Names, is ex 
plained, - - - 78 

CHAP. XIII. Important Observations in relation to the De 
finition of Names, - - 83 

CHAP. XIV. Of another sort of Definition of Names, through 
which their Ordinary Signification is denoted, - - 86 

CHAP. XV. Of Ideas which the Mind adds to those which 
are expressly signified by Words, - 9 J 



CHAP. I. Of Words in their relation to Propositions, - 97 

CHAP. II Of the Verb, - - 10.3 

CHAP. III. Of what is meant by a Proposition, and of Four 

Kinds of Propositions, - - 108 

CHAP. IV. Of the opposition between Propositions having 
the same Subject and Attribute, - 112 

CHAP. V. Of Simple and Compound Propositions that 
there are some Simple Propositions which appear Com- 
pound, and which are not so, but may be called Complex. 
Of those which are Complex in the Subject, or in the At 
tribute, - 114 

CHAP. VI. Of the Nature of Incidental Propositions which 
form part of Complex Propositions, - 117 

CHAP. VII. Of the Falsity that may be met with in Com 
plex Terms and Incidental Propositions, - - - 120 



CHAP. VIII. Of Complex Propositions in relation to Affir 
mation and Negation, and of a species of these kinds of 
Propositions which Philosophers call Modals, - - 1 24 

CHAP. IX. Of different kinds of Compound Propositions, - 1-27 

CHAP. X. Of Propositions which are Compound in Meaning, 1 34 

CHAP. XI. Observations for the purpose of discovering the 
Subject and the Attribute in certain Propositions expressed 
in an unusual manner, - 14 i 

CHAP. XII Of Confused Subjects which are equivalent to 

Two Subjects, - 143 

CHAP. XIII. Other Observations for the purpose of finding 

out whether Propositions are Universal or Particular, - 147 

CHAP. XIV. Of Propositions in which the Name of Things 

is given to Signs, - - 154 

CHAP. XV. Of Two Kinds of Propositions which are of 
great use in the Sciences Division and Definition. And 
firstly, of Division, - 101 

CHAP. XVI. Of the Definition which is termed the Defini 
tion of Things, - - lfJ3 

CHAP. XVII. Of the Conversion of Propositions, in which 
the nature of Affirmation and Negation, on which this Con 
version depends, is more thoroughly explained. And first, 
touching the nature of Affirmation, 167 

CHAP. XVIII. Of the Conversion of Affirmative Proposi 
tions, iG * 

CHAP. XIX. Of the nature of Negative Propositions, 172 

CHAP. XX. Of the Conversion of Negative Propositions, 1 73 



CHAP. I. Of the nature of Reasoning, and of the different 

kinds of it which may be distinguished, - - 17t> 

CHAP. II. Division of Syllogisms into Simple and Conjunc 
tive, and of Simple into Complex and Incomplex, 

CHAP. III. General Rules of Simple Incomplex Syllogism:-, lto 

CHAP. IV. Of the Figures and Modes of Syllogisms in gene 
ral. That there cannot be more than Four Figures, - 186 



CHAP. V. Rules, Moods, and Principles of the First Figure, 1 89 

CHAP. VI. Rules, Moods, and Principles of the Second 

Figure, - - 192 

CHAP. VII. Rules, Moods, and Principles of the Third 
Figure, - 195 

CHAP. VIII, Of the Moods of the Fourth Figure, - - 198 

CHAP. IX. Of Complex Syllogisms, and the way in which 
they may be reduced to Common Syllogisms, and judged 
of by the same rules, - 201 

CHAP. X. A General Principle, by which, without any re 
duction to Figures and Modes, we may judge of the Ex 
cellence or Defect of any Syllogism, - 208 

CHAP. XI. Application of this General Principle to many 
Syllogisms which appeared to be involved, - 211 

CHAP. XII. Of Conjunctive Syllogisms, - - 215 

CHAP. XIII Of Syllogisms whose conclusion is conditional, 220 

CHAP. XIV. Of Enthymemes and of Enthymematic Sen 
tences, - - 224 

CHAP. XV. Of Syllogisms composed of more than Three 

Propositions, - 226 

CHAP. XVI. Of Dilemmas, 228 

CHAP. XVII. Places, or the Method of Finding Arguments. 
That this method is of little use, - 231 

CHAP. XVIII. Division of Places into those of Grammar, 

of Logic, and of Metaphysics, - - 236 

CHAP. XIX, Of the different ways of Reasoning 111, which 

are called Sophisms, - - 242 

CHAP. XX. Of the Bad Reasonings which are common in 
Civil Life and in Ordinary Discourse, - - 261 


OF METHOD, - 293 

CHAP. I. Of Knowledge that there is such a thing. That 
the things which we know by the Mind are more certain 
than those which we know by the Senses. That there are 
things which the Human Mind is incapable of knowing. 
The useful account to which we may turn this necessary 
ignorance, - - 293 

CONTENTS. x iii 


CHAP. II. Of the two kinds of Method Analysis and Syn 
thesis. Example of Analysis, - - . 302 
CHAP. IH._Of the Method of Composition, and particularly 

of that which the Geometers observe, - - - 310 

CHAP. IV. More particular exposition of these Rules ; and, 

in the first place, of those which relate to definitions, - 312 
CHAP. V That the Geometers do not appear always to have 
rightly understood the difference which exists between the 
definition of Words and the definition of Things, - - 317 

CHAP. VI. Of the Rules which relate to Axioms, that is, 

to Propositions clear and evident of themselves, - - 320 

CHAP. VIL Of some Axioms which are important, and 

which may be employed as the Principles of Great Truths, 325 
CHAP. VIII. Of the Rules which relate to Demonstration, - 328 
CHAP. IX. Of some Defects which are commonly to be met 

with in the Method of the Geometers, - . 330 

CHAP. X. Reply to what is said by the Geometers on this 
subject, - - ... 33- 

CHAP. XL The Method of the Sciences reduced to Eight 
principal Rules, . ;53y 

CHAP. XII. Of what we know through Faith, whether 

Human or Divine, - . . - 341 

CHAP. XIIL Some Rules for the right direction of Reason 
in the belief of things which depend on Human Testimony, 344 

CHAP. XIV. Application of the preceding Rule to the 
belief of Miracles, - - ;348 

CHAP. XV. Another remark on the subject of the Belief of 
Events, - . ;J54 

CHAP. XVI. Of the Judgment which we should make touch 
ing Future Events, .... 35 . 


AN introduction to the Port-Royal Logic, if full and com* 
plcte, ought to contain a life of Antony Arnauld, its 
author. There are perhaps few men, equally celebrated, 
of whom so little is generally known, as there are certainly 
very few indeed whose lives are so well worthy of being 
written. A biography of Arnauld would, however, occupy 
more space than can be devoted to the present introduction. 
Instead, therefore, of giving a life of its author, we shall 
attempt a brief sketch of the character and history of the 
work itself. 

Before doing so, however, it may be well to glance for a 
moment at the state of philosophy in general, and of Logic 
in particular, at the time of its first appearance. This was 
pre-eminently the period of inquiry and discovery the age 
of Galileo and Torricelli of Leibnitz and Descartes. 
The experiments of the two former had opened a new world 
of discovery in science ; while the new direction given to 
mental inquiry by the two latter, by fixing its point of de 
parture in consciousness, had opened a world scarcely less 
new, or less promising, for philosophy. The influence of 
the writings of Descartes, in particular, had been very 
great an influence arising, however, more from the spirit 
than from the letter of his teaching. The value, indeed, of 
his contribution to philosophy, must be estimated in this re 
lation, not so much by what he did himself, as by what he 


caused others to do not so much by the doctrines which 
he taught, as by the spirit which he inspired. And in 
this respect it would be perhaps difficult to estimate, or 
rather to over-estimate, the amount of good which he ef 
fected. The secret of his influence lay in the living 
character of his writings. His pages were not enriched by 
learned reference, and rarely, indeed, contained allusions 
to current doctrines ; but they were instinct with active 
thought they were the faithful reflex of his own mind. 
He accepted no heritage of philosophic faith for himself 
*he delivered no traditions to others : and if he has left 
behind him some romances, they are not legends gathered 
from elder philosophies, but the creations of his own mind. 
It was this intensely personal character of his writings 
the evidence they bore of his own severe self-questionings, 
and of his faithful replies, that gave them their power. 
For the life which they thus breathed, though not glowing 
or enthusiastic, was yet strong and real, and the very 
touch of vitality is life-giving. Life, too, was what philo 
sophy then especially needed, for it had well-nigh lost it 
self amidst empty forms and barren abstractions. 

It would seem, indeed, as though it required to be perio 
dically brought down from the clouds, or from abstractions 
equally distant and inaccessible. Such a period had cer 
tainly then arrived, and Descartes appeared to recall 
philosophy from the pursuit of what it could never attain, 
to the humbler, yet wiser, task of investigating what lay 
within its reach. This he did both overtly and implicitly. 
Overtly, by rejecting the vain search after absolute prin 
ciples, and the vain delusion of having found them ; by 
founding philosophy on the sure basis of facts, the facts of 
inward experience, and restricting its sphere to the domain 
of consciousness ; implicitly, by revealing the processes of 
his own mind in its search after truth. You saw him ever 
actively at work ; and it was a fine introduction to the 


true " Art of Thinking," to be admitted to contemplate the 
workings of such a mind to see it wrestling with doubt, 
and overthrowing it gradually passing on, step by step, 
through scepticism, and difficulty, and indecision, until at 
length it arrived at certainty and truth. 

The example of such thorough independence in philo 
sophy was as new and strange as it was inspiring. Reason 
had long been subject to the yoke of authority; and 
though some noble efforts had been made against it be 
fore Descartes, these had not been thorough-going or sus 
tained enough, to shake it off. Patricius had revolted 
from Aristotle in the interest of Plato ; Ramus had 
done the same. Bruno and Campanella, it is true, had 
thrown off all authority, but they were at once too rash 
and too eccentric to destroy the influence of the church, 
or overthrow the power of the schools. It remained for 
Descartes successfully to vindicate the claims of reason. 
He fully emancipated it from the yoke of authority, and 
recalled (as we have said) philosophy to its true office 
the investigation of the relative and knowable. The 
spirit of inquiry which had been already partially aroused 
was thus thoroughly awakened. Passive acquiescence 
gave way to active examination ; reverence for tradition 
was overcome by the instinct of freedom ; the power of 
authority was broken by the power of truth. Men awoke 
to the consciousness, that in matters belonging to reason 
they had a right to inquire, and could only thus be truly said 
to know. The value of opinions was estimated, not by 
the names they bore, but by the truth which they con 
tained. Those who studied philosophy now passed from 
the stillness of the cloister to the bustle of the world ; from 
exclusive converse with books to varied intercourse with 
men ; from under the shadow of great names, and old 
opinions, to the light of reason, and the individual respon 
sibility of thought. The vices of extreme speculation were 


corrected by a constant and wholesome reference to the 
facts of experiment and observation. The severity of a 
self-consuming dialectic was tempered by a more varied 
range of study and a wider sphere of sympathy. Meta 
physics and physics, philosophy and science, were pursued 
harmoniously together ; and, as the natural result, there 
appeared a spirit of freedom, a love of truth, and a tone 
of health, in philosophical writings to which they had pre 
viously been strangers. 

In none was this influence better seen than in the writings 
of the Port-Royalists. The spirit of an age which happily 
blended the life of inward reflection with the life of outward 
activity, and well balanced the hitherto conflicting claims 
of different sciences, was admirably represented in that 
small brotherhood of religious and learned men. Pascal, 
occupied with thoughts whose very presence was spiritual 
companionship, and whose high significance and power 
even he, divine as was his gift of speech, was unable to ren 
der into words, could yet leave the solemn sanctuary of his 
own meditations to mingle with the " Provincial Letters " 
in the active warfare of his day, and to contribute with 
steady hand, and watchful eye, his body of experiments 
to the physical science of his time. Nicole, fond of scholas 
tic retirement, and occupied with moral delineations of 
exquisite subtilty and discrimination, could yet leave the 
quiet which he loved so well, to do earnest battle for his 
friends and for the truth. While Arnauld, great alike in 
word and deed, and almost equally at home upon all sub 
jects, divided the marvellous energy of his mind between 
science and philosophy, religion and politics. 

In Arnauld, indeed, are found singularly united many 
of the best virtues of his time. Love of truth and freedom, 
fearless intrepidity, stainless honour, and inflexible justice, 
are ever found in his writings. And if with these virtues 
there is sometimes blended a confidence which seems to 


border on arrogance, and a vehemence and determination 
apparently allied to intolerance, this is not to be wondered 
at ; it was the natural manifestation of his force of cha 
racter and dialectic power, and the intolerance will be 
found, after all, more apparent than real. His life was 
throughout one of incessant warfare ; yet few, it may be 
safely affirmed, have resisted so well the corrupting influ 
ence of continual controversy, and maintained to the last 
a spirit so catholic and just. Bowing to the authority of 
the church, yet confronting the thunders of the Vatican 
rejecting theold philosophy, yet reproducing the truth which 
it contained accepting the new, yet fearlessly discussing 
its dogmas with its founder, Descartes, he vindicated 
incessantly the claims of reason and of faith, with an 
earnestness and impartiality which the love of truth alone 
could inspire. There is, indeed, scarcely any sight, even 
in that age of great men and great controversies, more 
inspiring, than that of Arnauld doing battle, single-handed, 
with all that was mightiest both in church and state, 
banished by Louis the Fourteenth* condemned by the 
Sorbonne and the Vatican assailed incessantly with every 
kind of weapon, from a folio to a pamphlet, by the most 
numerous and influential parties both amongst Catholics 
and Protestants, yet maintaining his ground against them 
all replying to every attack with an energy which was 
never wearied, a fertility of resource which was never 
exhausted, and a freshness of thought, and power of argu 
ment rarely equalled, and, perhaps, never excelled. It was 
the spirit of the old Breton chivalry revived under the 
garb of the modern ecclesiastic of France ; and it glowed 
brightly to the close, for it is reported of him, that when 
grown old and grey in the warfare, and urged by the 

* In effect, that is Louis, instigated by Arnauld s enemies, issued an 
order for his arrest, which compelled him to leave France. 


gentler Nicole to give it up, and rest in peace, he promptly 
and energetically replied, " Rest ! we shall rest through 

Thus incessantly occupied, and writing upon almost all 
subjects, it might reasonably be imagined that he would 
not excel in any. The contrary, however, is the fact ; 
and the marvel is, that amidst a life so harassed, and while 
engaged in theological controversies, the record of his 
share in which fills upwards of forty quarto volumes, he 
could yet find time for profound discussion with Descartes 
and Malebranche on the most abstract points of philosophy, 
and for the production of works which have become text 
books in Grammar, Logic, and Mathematics. His merit 
as a philosopher must, indeed, ever rank high. Inferior 
to Descartes in originality and power, he excelled him in 
precision ; and, while never rising to the elevation and 
spiritual beauty of Malebranche, he yet penetrated more 
profoundly into the foundations of philosophy, and inves 
tigated more thoroughly the relations of knowledge. His 
finer hypothesis of ideas, though not new to philosophy, 
was new to his day, and is probably due to his own 
acuteness ; his " New Elements of Geometry" were the first 
attempt at a strictly philosophical arrangement of that 
branch of science; his " General Grammar" laid the foun 
dation of all that has since been done in the philosophical 
exposition of language ; his " Logic " * (of which we are 
immediately to speak) has never been superseded, and is 
at present in general use in the schools of France. 

What, however, was the state of logic when the Port- 
Royal " Art of Thinking " first appeared ? It was certainly 
not in a flourishing condition, and had, indeed, fallen into 
considerable neglect, if not into contempt. Descartes directed 

* We attribute these works to him, because (with the exception of 
the " General Grammar") he certainly wrote by far the greater part 
of each of them. 


"" ant to detepniL 

his attention exclusively to method, and held logic, in gene 
ral, to be of little use. It had presumptive evidence against 
it, since it was identified with a system now overthrown as 
useless ; in other words, it had descended from the schools, 
and was held responsible for much of their subtile trifling 
and sterile disquisition. Few were found disposed intelli 
gently to examine its claims, and vindicate its worth. It 
has, indeed, been the misfortune of logic, from the first, to 
have less of original power and critical insight brought to 
bear upon it than any other branch of mental science. 
Looking at its later history, we may say, that with the 
exception of a few men of really independent thought, 
such as Laurentius Valla and Ludovicus Vives, little in 
telligent criticism had been shown in the science since the 
time of Boethius. Every writer followed in the track of 
his predecessor, and all in the track of Aristotle. Assum 
ing the books of the Organ on to be the canonical books of 
logic, and the doctors of the schools their authoritative 
expositors, very few logical heresies have ever arisen ; and 
the few sects who have in form revolted, have generally 
remained in essence faithful to the old traditions. The 
history of logic has thus been chequered with fewer revo 
lutions than have marked the progress of any other branch 
of mental science. Better for it, probably, had these been 
more numerous, since, in relation to philosophy, they have 
generally been the signs of its vitality and the omens of its 

The last considerable era in the history of logic, before 
the appearance of the Port-Royal, was that which had 
been produced a hundred years before by the revolt of 
Ramus from Aristotle, and the publication of his " Dialec 
tical It was, however, an epoch of excitement and dis 
putation, rather than of progress. Ramus, though an 
independent and noble-minded man, carried, nevertheless, 
into his philosophical discussions a spirit of personality so 


intense, that he seemed, even when combating opinions 
which had been universally held for more than a thousand 
years, to be attacking men rather than doctrines. Thus 
his polemic against Aristotle took the form of a personal 
attack upon that philosopher, rather than of a serious 
attempt to overthrow the system of which he was the 
author. He endeavoured to show that the logical works 
usually attributed to him were not really his ; he revived 
the old and obsolete slanders against his private character; 
and, in order to deprive him of the glory of having in 
vented logic, he went back to the earliest records of his 
tory, and professed to have found the science long before 
his time, attributing its discovery even to Prometheus 
among the Greeks, and to Noah among the Hebrews. 

What we have just said of sects in general is thus 
eminently true of the revolt of Ramus. It was more 
apparent than real more in words than things a change 
of outward arrangement rather than of inward essence. 
He disparaged the character of Aristotle, but effected no 
change in the fundamental principles of logic. The intro 
duction or recal of a few verbal novelties, such as the term 
axiom for proposition axiomatical for the part of logic 
which treats of judgments dianoetical, for that which treats 
of reasoning the rejection of the common introduction of 
Porphyry, and of the book of the categories, a rejection 
which had before been made by Vives the adoption of 
the old division of logic into invention and judgment the 
thorough-going application of the logical principle of divi 
sion by dicothomy, derived from Plato and a fresh 
arrangement of the different kinds of syllogisms, comprise 
the majority of the changes effected by Ramus. Many of 
these, it will be seen (unimportant as they are), are not 
new, while none of them at all change the existing form 
of the science, either by the rejection of old elements or 
the introduction of new. The boldness of his attack upon 


Aristotle was, however, of itself sufficient to 
controversy ; while the energy of his personal character, 
his eventful life, and tragical death, conspired to fix at 
tention on his writings, and to give them a wider popu 
larity than they would otherwise have had. The excite 
ment, however, thus produced (as was natural, since it 
was of personal rather than of scientific concernment), soon 
passed away ; and as it had evolved no principle which 
could form the basis of a new development, logic speedily 
relapsed into its old state. It may be said, indeed, to have 
soon fallen into a worse state than that in which it had 
previously been ; and the contrast thus presented between 
it and the other branches of philosophy, in which so much 
new life was manifest, could scarcely fail to bring it into 
discredit, if not into contempt. Everywhere else a spirit 
of inquiry and examination was displayed, which was 
full of promise. Philosophy was evidently casting aside 
the conditions of its scholastic existence in the interest of 
a higher and nobler development. Logic alone seemed 
incapable of advancement. It underwent no change, but 
still retained its old form, after its old life was dead. So long 
as scholasticism remained that form was entitled to respect ; 
for there was a certain kind of quaint vitality about the old 
logic of the schools, which was not without its charm. In 
defect of the life with which we were familiar, it Avas pleas 
ing to meet with " beings of reason," " logical quadrupeds," 
and disembodied universals, to see the veritable tree of 
knowledge whereon genera and species grew, and from 
which they were gathered to meet the exigencies of man 
kind, and to be introduced to those " extra-mundane 
and hyperphysical spaces, where chimeras feed and thrive 
to giants upon the dew of second intentions." But when 
the system with which all this was connected had passed 
aw ay, when it was no longer possible to discuss with 
grave simplicity whether twenty thousand angels could 



intance together on the point of a needle, without mutually 
v incommoding each other, with other questions, equally 
important, touching the penetration of bodies and the 
traduction of souls, when all this, we say, could no 
longer be, it was necessary that the science with which it 
was identified should assume a new form, should reflect 
the rising intelligence of the age, and share in the onward 
progress of philosophy. Instead of this, however, as we 
have said, it retrograded ; it became but a feeble echo of 
the schools. The best works at most only said well, what 
had been better said times innumerable before ; while with 
scarcely a single exception, all followed servilely in the 
track of the elder writers, stumbled where they stumbled, 
deviated where they deviated, only with less power of 
recovery and return. A hopeless rigidity seemed to have 
fallen on the science. The same divisions invariably 
appeared ; the predicables and predicaments were ever at 
the threshold. The same illustrations always recur ; resi- 
bility was still postulated as the unique and catholic cha 
racteristic of man ; Sortes (Socrates) was the only individual 
in the world ; the horse (excepting, perhaps, the differential 
varieties of centaur and hippogriff) the only animal in 
creation ; and the tree of Porphyry the only vegetable 
product in nature. 

It was not that the mere repetition of the same examples, 
until they had become stereotyped in the science, was in 
itself an evil. In many respects it was a good ; for, in a 
formal science like logic, the more formal the examples 
the less (that is), the attention is diverted from the form to 
the matter the better. It was not, therefore, the mere 
repetition of the old forms that was so bad ; they might 
have sufficed, but that the life of intelligence and active 
thought had died out of them, and they had thus become 
in some sort the symbols of that decay. The infusion of 
new life into the science would thus naturally, and almost 


necessarily, sweep away many of its existing accidty^ 
forms, in the interest of a newer and better manifesta are 
of its essential principles. We have seen that these prL.,, 
ciples had been obscured by the blind statement and inane 
illustration which had been given of them. A fresh exa 
mination would exhibit them in a new form, and show, in 
their better statement and illustration, the beneficial results 
of an enlightened criticism. 

This is exactly what the Port-Royal Logic accomplished. 
Its authors, while depreciating the science, as was the 
custom of their day, had nevertheless a clear knowledge of 
its true nature, and an appreciation of its true value. 
They brought to its examination the same spirit of inquiry, 
and power of analysis, Avhich had been already employed 
with so much success in other branches of philosophy, 
and the science emerged from their hands in a new and 
better form. Much that had previously encumbered it 
was cast aside, while much that was at once scientifically 
valuable and new was added. Their treatise was character 
ised throughout, too, by a vigour of thought, a vivacity of 
criticism, a freshness and variety of illustration, an honesty 
and love of truth, and withal a human sympathy, which 
rendered it a work not only of specific scientific value, but 
of general interest and instruction. Logic was thus re 
deemed from the contempt into which it had fallen, and 
placed on a level with the advancing philosophy of the time. 

So much in relation to the historical position and general 
character of the Port-Royal Logic. It will be right now 
to mention, more in detail, some of its special excellencies. 
We do not intend to give an analysis of the book, but 
only to mention one or two of the points in which it is 
favourably distinguished from other logics, and through 
which it may be said to have formed an epoch in the 
history of the science. 

In the first place, looking at its general division, we may 




" me 
j m hat the doctrine of method received, for the first time, 

|. r attention which its importance demands. It might, 
-rhaps, be naturally expected that method would occupy 
an important place in a work which is, par excellence, the 
logic of the Cartesian philosophy ; and which was not only 
written under the inspiration of the new exposition of 
method, but contains also direct contributions from the 
writings of Descartes himself. 

We do not mean to say that no attention had been 
previously given to method in logical works ; on the con 
trary, it had been gradually rising into value and im 
portance. The " Logica Vetus et Nova,"" of Claubergius, 
published in 1654, eight years before the first edition of 
the Port-Royal, contains many passages of great excellence 
on method, in general and in special ; but these are scat 
tered throughout the Avork in different and widely separated 
places, so that we have nowhere a clear and connected 
view of the doctrine. The Logic of Gassendi (a posthu 
mous work), published in 1658, contains a fourth part on 
method, which, though brief, is, like all the writings of 
that truly great and learned philosopher, admirably clear 
and good. I find, however, in an English work,* much 
earlier than either of these, a fourth part devoted to 
method, which contains a very good exposition of the 
doctrine in general, under its two divisions of analysis and 
synthesis (termed in it the context! ve and retextive methods), 
as well as a correct appreciation of its more important 
relations in detail. 

Still, however, notwithstanding these examples, and 
others which might be given, of partial appreciation, it 
may, I think, be said, that the true relation of the doctrine 
of method to logic, as the exposition of the means through 
which the elementary processes of thinking are conducted 

* Syntagma Logicum, or the Divine Logic. By Thomas Granger, 
preacher of God s Word. London, 1620. 


to the end they seek of thinking well, and through which, 
therefore, the elementary constituents of a science are 
built up into scientific completeness and perfection, was, 
for the first * time, rightly apprehended and expounded in 
the Port-Royal. The exposition which it gives of the 
true nature of analysis and synthesis, as being not two 
different methods, but the two parts of the same method, 
differing only in the point from which they depart, not in 
the path they traverse, as the road from a valley to a 
mountain differs from the road from the mountain to the 
valley ; the discrimination of the different relations which 
they bear to knowledge, the former being adapted for 
seeking out truth, the latter for teaching it when found ; the 
doctrine of definition, its nature and importance, the dis 
crimination between the definition of -words and things, the 
former as the exposition of the idea\ we attach to a word 
being arbitrary, since we may call an idea by any name we 
like, provided we say so beforehand the latter as the 
exposition of the nature of a thing, embodied in an idea, 
being immutable, since we cannot have any ideas we like of 
the nature of things ; the doctrine of division, or the neces 
sity of descending in a regular order from wholes to parts, 
from genera to species, with the body of rules in relation 
to demonstration, constitute together a most valuable 
contribution towards the exposition of the true science of 

* I am almost tempted to recall this statement in favour of a small 
work (for the knowledge and the sight of which I am indebted to the 
kindness of Sir W. Hamilton) entitled " De Duplici Mcthodo libri 
duo, unicam P. Rami Meihodum Refutantes, by Edward Digby, Esq. 
(grandfather of Sir Kenelm Digby), a protestant gentleman of the 16th 
century, who wrote several philosophical tracts, which are highly spoken 
of. This tract on Method is remarkably clear and good. It was pub 
lished in the year 1589. 

f I adopt for the time the Cartesian language, and use the term 
idea. Its generic latitude, however, is restricted here, and generally in 
logic, to one of its species, viz. conceptions or notions. 


method. Nor has its value been overlooked. Baron de 
Gerando specially praises the account of analysis and syn 
thesis, and states that the whole doctrine of method, while 
Cartesian in substance, is yet more concisely, clearly, and 
completely expounded, than by Descartes himself;* while 
the Italian philosopher of the last century, Genovesi, says, 
after high praise of the logic in general, of this in parti 
cular, " Sed ego sic censeo, quartam ejus artis partem 
optima? esse frugis plenam omnique pretio superiorem." | 

In the second place, the discrimination of ideas, in rela 
tion to their quality and quantity, is well worthy of remark. 
Under the former relation, the authors discriminate, in 
ideas, the qualities of clearness and obscurity, and come so 
near to the distinction afterwards taken by Leibnitz, which 
completes the analysis of ideas in this relation the dis 
tinction, to wit, of distinctness and indistinctness, or confusion 
that we can but marvel how they missed it. They 
even take it in terms, for the chapter which relates to this 
subject (Part I., Chap. IX.) is headed " on the clearness 
and distinctness of ideas, and their obscurity and confu 
sion ;" and after explaining what is meant by the clearness 
and confusion of an idea, and going on to the further dis 
crimination of distinctness from indistinctness, to wit, that 
an idea is clear when we are able to distinguish it, as a 
whole, from others, but distinct when we are able also to 
distinguish the parts of which it is the sum : after, we say, 
approaching this discrimination, but before reaching it, they 
abandon the whole inquiry, and miss the glory of the dis 
covery, by confounding together the qualities of clearness 
and distinctness, and the opposite qualities of obscurity and 
confusion. These discriminations, though of psychological 
rather than of logical concernment, are, however, of great 

* Historic Comparee des Syst. de Phil. Paris, 1847, t. ii. p. 255. 

f Ant. Genuensis Elementa Artis Logico-Criticce. 1748. Proleg. 39. 


importance, and, indeed, essentially necessary, to the com 
plete history of ideas. 

A far more important discrimination, however, is that 
made under the second relation the distinction, to wit, 
in ideas of the two quantities of comprehension and extension 
(Part I., Chap. VI. ; Part II., Chap. XVII.). This dis 
tinction, though taken in general terms by Aristotle, and 
explicitly enounced with scientific precision by one, at least, 
of his Greek commentators, had escaped the marvellous 
acuteness of the schoolmen, and remained totally overlooked 
and forgotten till the publication of the Port-Royal Logic.* 
It was there, for the first time in modern philosophy, 
taken by Arnauld, and is, it cannot reasonably be doubted, 
due to his own acuteness, since there is no evidence or 
likelihood of his having been at all acquainted with the 
Greek commentators on Aristotle, from whom alone it 
could have been derived. From the Port-Royal it has 
passed into most of the subsequent works on logic, and, 
indeed, into some on grammar.f It was familiar to the 

* For my knowledge of this I am indebted to Sir W. Hamilton. I do 
not go at all into any detail which might be given touching 1 the history 
of this distinction, because I am unwilling, in any way, to anticipate the 
history and exposition of it, which we may hope to receive from the 
hands of that distinguished philosopher. 

It is right, also, to state here generally, that this distinction, though 
thus taken by the Port-Iloyalists, and repeated in almost every logic 
since their time, has remained wholly barren in the science till quite 
a recent period ; that its scientific significance has been, for the first 
time, fully investigated, appreciated, and applied throughout the whole 
science, by Sir William Hamilton ; and that this thorough-going appli 
cation of it gives a new development to logic, as practically valuable as 
it is scientifically complete. The exposition and application of this 
distinction, indeed, combined with the new doctrine of the predicate, 
will, I need scarcely say, to any conversant with logic, constitute a new, 
as ii; will be the last, revolution in its history the era of its completion 
second only in importance to the era of its discovery. 

) See Sicard s " Eltmens de Gramminaire Generals, appliques . a la 
languce Francaise" Paris, 1801, t. 1, p. 99. 


philosophical writers of this country at the beginning 
of the last century,* and expressly taken by most of the 
logical writers of the same period,! except the Oxford ones4 
It seems, however, to have been almost forgotten till quite a 
recent period, when we see it is beginning to be again 
revived. It is a distinction of the widest application, and 
of the utmost importance in logic ; and when the history 
of the science comes to be fully written, to have been the 
re-discoverer of it will constitute no slight claim to honour 
able mention therein. 

In the third place, the demonstration given of the special 
rules of syllogisms, and the reduction of their general laivs 
to a single principle, may be mentioned as worthy of note. 
These demonstrations evolve explicitly the principles 
(which are rarely formally given by logicians) on which 
the rules implicitly proceed, and thus well expound the 
doctrine touching the quantification of terms universally 
held by logicians. The reduction of the general laws of 
syllogism to the single principle (Part III., Chap. X.), that 

* See, among others, Norris " Theory of the Ideal World." 1704, 
vol. ii., p. 178. Oldfield s " Essay towards the Improvement of Reason." 
1707, p. 70. 

f See the " Logica Elenctica " of Tho. Govea, published at Dublin 
in the year 1683, p. 198. " Logica Compendium" (by Hutcheson), 1754, 
pp. 24, 25. "Elements of Logick," by William Duncan (of Aberdeen), 
B. I. chap, iv., 2, ^[ x. " Logich ; or an Essay on the Elements of 
Reasoning, &c., by Richard Kirwan, Esq., 1807, vol. i., p. 41. 

J Aldrich is the only older Oxford writer, that I remember, who 
alludes to the Port-Royal at all, and he, most ungratefully (since he 
was much indebted to it), reviles it. For this, however, he has been 
properly censured, and justice done the Port-Royal Logic, by the last 
editor of the " Rudimenta," the Rev. H. L. Mansel, in the very able 
and learned notes with which he has enriched that work. See the 
notes to pages 85 and 86 of Mr Hansel s edition of Aldrich. 

See "An Outline of the necessary Laws of Thought," by the Rev. W. 
Thompson, M.A., London, 1849, p. 128 ; and the work just referred to. 
" Artis Logics rudimenta, from the text of Aldrich, with Notes," by 
the Rev. H. L. Mansel, M.A., Oxford, 1849, p. 23. 


one of the premises must contain the conclusion, and the other 
show that it does so, was an important simplification of syllo 
gistic law, and evidently led the way for the further reduc 
tion effected by Buffier, who subsequently reduced all the 
rules of syllogism to the principle, " that what is in the con 
tained is in the containing" 

There are several other parts of special excellence which 
might be signalised ; but we shall only mention one more : 
The catalogue given in the Twentieth Chapter of the 
Third Part of the various sources whence the vices of 
ordinary reasoning spring. This, it is true, belongs rather 
to modified than to pure logic to the accidental condi 
tions under which thought is realised by us, rather than 
to its essential necessities. As a contribution to this part 
of logic, however, it is of high value, since it is, if not an 
absolutely complete, at all events a full, enumeration of the 
sources, both external and internal, of those distracting 
influences which ordinarily interfere with the exercise of 
our thinking powers and pervert our judgments. It con 
tains a fine analysis of the inward sophisms of interest, 
passion, prejudice, and self-love, through which we are 
continually deceived, and is characterised throughout by a 
tone of high moral thoughtfulness, and a truly humane, just, 
and noble spirit. Nor has its merit been overlooked. It 
is, indeed, a part which has excited general attention, and 
called forth universal praise. To select only two from the 
eulogiums which have been bestowed upon it Baron de 
Gerando, speaking of the parts which especially merit 
praise, says, " Above all, that beautiful dissertation on the 
origin and effects of prejudices on the vices of reasoning 
in civil life. This dissertation, indeed, constitutes, of itself, 
a logic entirely new, almost sufficient, and far more im 
portant than all the apparatus of the peripatetic logic ; 
and it must be recorded to the praise of the Port-Royal 
writers, that this is a part of their work which is peculiarly 


their own." * While Mr Stewart, speaking of the original 
reflections scattered throughout the work, and regretting 
that these have not been more frequent, says : " Among 
these discussions, the most valuable, in my opinion, is the 
Twentieth Chapter of the Third Part, which deserves the 
attention of every logical student as an important and in 
structive supplement to the enumerations of sophisms given 
by Aristotle." f 

It may be well to say a word or two, in passing, about 
the phraseology employed in the Port-Eoyal. Almost 
every modern logic is written in the interest, or under 
the influence, of some particular philosophical system, the 
precise significance of whose technical language it is, 
therefore, necessary to know, in order to interpret it aright. 
The Port-Royal is, as we have said, Cartesian, and its 
terms, accordingly, are employed in their Cartesian signi 
fication. Thus the word idea is used in its Cartesian 
generality, or rather universality, to comprehend not only 
the products of our faculties of knowledge in particular, 
but also every modification of the mind in general. Thus, 
not only notions, images, and perceptions, but also feelings, 
volitions, and desires, are ideas. The particular kind of 
idea meant is generally indicated by the context, or by 
some significant epithet. Thus, as we have seen, clear 
ideas and confused ideas are spoken of. A confused idea, 
we may say, was almost always, in the earlier Cartesian 
writings, synonymous with sensation; it was an impression 
subjectively distinct or definite, but objectively obscure, a 
feeling rather than a knowledge a sensation, in short, 
rather than a perception or notion. What we have said 

* Historic comp. de Syst. Philos., Tom. ii., pp. 50, 55. (Ed. 1806.) 
In the later edition published at Paris in 1847, this statement is some 
what modified, and much extended. Vol. ii., p. 253, 254. The passage 
is a beautiful one, but too long to be extracted. 

f Preliminary Dissertation to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, p. 81. 


of the word idea, and the latitude in which it is taken, is 
equally true of the terms thought and thinking ; and the 
antithesis of thought and extension common throughout 
the volume, is, it need scarcely be said, from Descartes, as 
the great criterion of certainty found in the clearness of an 
idea, which is given in the. Fourth Part, is the Cartesian 
version of intuitive evidence. 

Before leaving the consideration of the general charac 
ter of the work, it may be right to make some allusion to 
the theological discussions which occur in two or three parts. 
It is somewhat unfortunate that these were introduced, as 
they add to the size of the work without being of any 
special logical relevancy or value. The introduction of 
such discussions was, however, a very common practice 
amongst logical writers. Milton reprehends it in the pre 
face to his logic ; and a later British writer frankly con 
fesses that he had composed his logic in the interest of 
orthodoxy, deeming it a scandal to Protestants that they 
should with scarcely any exception (he excepts Derodon, 
of Geneva, by name), be dependent for their logic, as they 
were, on Catholics in general, and Jesuits in particular. 

Logic, indeed, as a formal science, identified with no 
particular matter, equally applicable to all, yet dependent 
upon some for its illustration, is specially open to this kind of 
use, or abuse. The favourite study or profession of the writer 
would generally determine from what branch of science 
the examples should be taken ; and the source from which 
they were thus selected often gave a distinctive epithet to 
the logic. Law and divinity have been specially favoured 
in this way. Thus, not to go beyond English works on 
logic, I have, in my own collection, one called " The 
Lawyers Logicke" by Abraham Fraunce the poet, written 
while he was at Lincoln s Inn, and copiously illustrated by 
examples taken from legal authorities.* Another entitled 

* This is a very able, curious, and learned book, and was published 


" The Divine Logike ; serving especially for the use of di 
vines in the practice of preaching, and for the further help of 
judicious hearers, and generally for all, by Thomas Granger, 
preacher of God s Word,"" which is a tolerably full Ramist 
logic, with theological examples : and a third, dedicated 
" To the illustrious his Excellency Oliver Cromwell, Generalissimo 
of England, Ireland, and Scotland, Chancellor of Oxford, fyc., 
and to the most renowned his General Council of Officers," * 
which contains about as much Scripture doctrine and 
history as is to be found in most catechisms. 

This is, however, far from being the case with the Port- 
Royal. It is in general singularly free from this error, 
and stands, indeed, as we have said, favourably distin 
guished from other logical works, by the novelty and 
variety of its illustrations. The theological discussions 
which it contains are not wrought into the body of the 
work. They occur, for the most part, at the end of chap 
ters ; and many of them were added subsequently to the 
First Edition. The reason of their introduction is explained 
in general terms in the Preface to the Fifth Edition. Some 
parts in the previous editions had been laid hold of by the 

in London, in the year 1588. Fraunce was a protegee of Sir Philip 
Sydney s, and was distinguished for the excellence of his English hexa 
meters, which are among the earliest and most beautiful attempts in that 
kind of verse. 

* " The Art of Logich ; or, the entire body of Logich in English, 
by Zachary Coke, of Gray s Inn, gent., London, 1654. This, too, like 
most of the older works, is of considerable scientific value. The 
dedication is very curious, as the following extract, which comprises the 
first two sentences, may serve to show : " Sirs, the eommodement of 
the publike in the appendages of an holy place, as it is the a*/^ and 
just carac of Heroick Enterprizings, so hterentes capiti multa cum laude 
corona, the crown and apex of their glories, whom God shall honour to 
contribute thereunto, though but a grain or atome. Whereof (my 
Lords), by the conduct of providence and advantage of your incompar 
able magnanimities, after long exagitations and repugnance of affairs, 
we have gotten more than a (glad) glimpse, and by your unwearied zeals 
may shortly obtain the full prospect and fruition." 


Calvinist ministers, and turned against the Catholics, and, 
as it should seem, against the Jansenists in particular. 
The Jansenists and the Calvinists, it should be explained, 
were, in obedience to the great law of all religious dif 
ferences that the nearer the doctrinal union, the wider the 
practical separation, too often the fiercer the practical 
hostility were, we say, in conformity with this law, bit 
terly opposed, and waged incessant warfare on each other. 
Happily, without sympathising in the acrimony which 
their controversies often displayed, we may admire the 
piety of both parties, and that of Arnauld and Nicole was 
certainly as sincere and deep as that of Claude and Jurieu. 
As they were, however, nearly agreed in doctrine, it behoved 
them to signalise their separation by a more earnest con 
test about the points in which they differed. These were 
mainly touching the authority of the church, and the value 
of religious rites and observances. Thus, most of the dis 
cussions introduced into the present volume relate to the 
eucharist and the Catholic mystery of tran substantiation. 
Though evidently there introduced for a temporary pur 
pose, and, as we have said, of no great logical value, they 
are, however, not without interest, and (as we need scarcely 
say), quite harmless. Happily the time for morbid dread 
at the statement of opinions opposed to our own, and un 
manly effort at their perversion or concealment, is gone 
by. Protestantism, it may be presumed, is not the sickly 
thing that cannot bear the light, and is withered by the 
first breath of adverse doctrine. It built itself on strong 
reasons of old, and rests upon them still. We may say, 
therefore, fearlessly to all students : " Your bane and anti 
dote are both before you;" the instrument of all reasoning 
is in your hands through it overthrow the false, confirm 
the true. 

We proceed to give a brief sketch of the History of the 
Port-Royal Logic. 


Its origin is briefly detailed in the Advertisement to the 
First Edition. It arose out of the conversations in which 
Arnauld, Nicole, Sacy, Lancelot, and their friends were 
accustomed to engage, in the retirement of Port-Royal, on 
matters pertaining to philosophy, and was at first undertaken 
rather in jest than in earnest. We may be sure, however, 
that those who displayed a knowledge of the science, so 
minute, ready, and exact, had been diligent students of 
logic, or they could never have produced such a work 
within so short a time.* 

The question of its authorship was, for a long time, a 
vexed one. It was attributed sometimes to Nicole alone, 
sometimes to Arnauld alone, and sometimes to both. The 
latter may be regarded as the true opinion, since it is now 
established that the volume is mainly the work of Arnauld, 
assisted by Nicole. Arnauld himself refers to it as his 
own f in his defence of his work, against Malebranche, on 
True and False Ideas ; and also in a letter to Leibnitz, 
written in June in the year 1690. The most minutely 
authentic information, however, on the subject is contained 
in the manuscript of the younger Racine (who was himself a 
pupil at Port-Royal), quoted by Barbier in his Diction- 
ary.| According to this manuscript the dissertations and 
the additions are by Nicole ; the first parts are by Arnauld 
and Nicole together ; the fourth by Arnauld alone. 

The first edition was published at Paris in the year 
1662, 12mo, under the title " La Logique on VArt de 
Penser ; contenant outre les Regies communes, plusieurs observa 
tions nouvelles, propres a former le juyement." 

* See Logique cTAristote, traduite par J. B. Saint- Hilaire. Paris. 
1844, Tom. i. (Preface, p. 137). 

f I give this reference on the faith of the French editor of Ar- 
uauld s works, as 1 have been unable to verify it. 

I Dictionnaire des Ouvrages Anonymes et Pseudonymes. Paris, 1806, 
Tom. i., p. 496. 


The second edition, revised and augmented, was pub 
lished in 1664, also at Paris. 

The third appeared in 1668, and was, as the others, 
published at Paris, in 12mo. 

The fourth was published at Paris in 1674. To this 
edition were added the 10th Chapter of the First Part ; 
the 13th, 14th, and 15th of the Third; and the 1st of the 
Fourth ; while considerable changes were made in Chap 
ters 10 and 11 of the Second Part, and 19 and 20 of the 
Third, together with some additions. 

The fifth edition was published at Paris in 1683. The 
additions made to this were, in the First Part, Chapters 4 
and 15 ; and, in the Second, Chapters 1, 2, 12, and 14. Of 
these, the two first and the two last are taken in great 
part from Arnauld s Book on the " Perpetuity of the Faith ; " 
while the others, to wit, the 1st and 2d of the Second Part, 
are taken almost verbatim from the " General Grammar," 
as is indicated at the beginning of the latter chapter. From 
the fifth, the subsequent editions, which have been num 
berless, are reprinted. 

The fourth edition was reprinted in the year 1678, at 
Amsterdam, and included, amongst the Elzevir collection 
of works. A number of other editions from the same, and 
other presses, were also published at Amsterdam before 
the close of the century. 

It was also very soon translated into Latin. How many 
different Latin translations there were I cannot positively 
say. Two there appear to have been, at least ; one by 
Ackersdyk, published in 1666, and another, published at 
Halle, with a Preface by Buddeus, in 1704. I think there 
must have been another, as the only one which I have 
seen is an anonymous one published at Leyden, which, as 
early as the year 1702, had gone through ten editions. 
This was reprinted at London in 1667, and again in 1674. 


All the Latin translations, indeed, appear to have gone 
through a great number of editions. 

It was also translated into Spanish under the title 
" Arte de pensar Lngica admirable," Madrid, 1759;* and 
into Italian, as we are informed by Genovesi.j 

The logical treatises published in the Cartesian systems 
of Regis and Le Grand, are also, in substance, taken from 
the Port-Royal. That of Regis is confessedly only an 
abstract of it ; while Le Grand reproduces verbally its 
more important parts. I am informed by Sir W. Hamil 
ton that an abridgment of the Port-Royal was also pub 
lished in Holland, under the title of " Logica Contracta" 
which went through many editions. These facts all tend 
to prove how widely its popularity extended. It very soon 
after its publication, indeed, acquired a European reputa 
tion, and became a classical work on the science. 

There have been two previous translations into English, 
of which it is right to say something. The first was pub 
lished in London as early, I think, as 1680, if not earlier. 
The only edition of this translation which I have seen is 
the fourth, which was published in 1702. The title-page 
states that it is " for public good translated into English 
by several hands ; " and also that this edition is " corrected 
and amended." "What it was before it received this im 
provement it would be difficult to say, since, with the 
benefit of these corrections and amendments, it is as bad 
as it well can be. The translators, indeed, seem not to 
have had any of the qualifications for their work which it 
behoved them to possess, not certainly a knowledge of 
English, for they introduce connecting particles where 
there is nothing to connect, and conditional particles where 

* Allgemeine Encyclepadie der Wissenschafter und Kiinste, vou Ersch 
und Gruber. Leipsic, 1820 (art. Arnauld). 
f Elementa Artis Loyico Critics. 1748, proleg. 38. 


there is no condition, not a knowledge of French, for they 
are led into error, and indeed into making nonsense of the 
original, by the accidental resemblances of words, not a 
knowledge of the most elementary divisions of philoso 
phy, for they say (in the preface), " let the reader disperse 
the application of this Art of Thinking into all the actions 
of his life if knowledge and understanding be his aim," not 
good taste, for they constantly use words which have the 
vice of offensiveness without the virtue of strength, and, 
finally, not good faith, for they alter and reverse, at will, 
the meaning of the original without the slightest intima 
tion of having done so. Thus, to take the shortest, but not 
the most flagrant, example, they translate " le Pape qui est 
vicaire de Jesus -Christ," by " the Pope, who is Antichrist ;" 
and are, indeed, almost systematically perfidious when they 
are not unintelligible. 

The other translation, first published in London in the 
year 171G, and again in 1723, is by Mr John Ozell, a 
gentleman of French extraction, who translated a number 
of works from the French, Italian, and Spanish languages, 
at the beginning of the last century. This is a much better 
one, in every respect, than the preceding, and is, on the 
whole, well done. The edition I have seen (1723) is, 
however, disfigured by an immense number of typogra 
phical errors. The translation, too, is incorrect in many 
parts, evidently, in some of the instances, through copying 
the previous one. It is also imperfect, since it has several 
omissions, often of sentences, sometimes of paragraphs, while, 
in more than one instance, the passages left out extend to 

While speaking of omissions, I may mention that one 
long passage (the account of the miracle at Hippo, from 
St Augustine, page 352), is left out in all the translations 
I have seen, both English and Latin. Of this, I need 
scarcely say, I cannot approve, and have, therefore, in- 


serted it. My notions of the duties of a translator, in this 
respect, are stringent, and would not permit me to take 
from, add to, or alter the original in any way. If any 
thing, therefore, has been left out of the present transla 
tion, it has been done so by accident, not by design, if 
anything has been mis-rendered, it has been so through 
ignorance, not through bad faith. Whatever may be its 
defects, therefore (and to these I am keenly alive), it is more 
complete I trust, also, that it will be found more correct 
than the previous translations. 


THIS small work had quite an accidental origin, and is due 
rather to a kind of sport than to any serious intention. A 
person of quality, entertaining a young nobleman, who, at 
an early age, displayed much depth and penetration of 
mind, happened to mention to him that he had, when him 
self young, met with a person who in fifteen days made 
him acquainted with the greater part of logic. The 
mention of this led another person who was present, and 
who held that science in no great esteem, to reply, spor 
tively, that if Mr would take the trouble he could 

confidently engage to make him acquainted, in four or five 
days, with all that was of any use in logic. This proposal, 
made at random, having afforded entertainment for a 
while, it was resolved to make the attempt ; but as it was 
thought that the common logics were not sufficiently con 
cise, or exact, it was determined that a brief abstract 
should be made from them for this purpose. 

This is all that was contemplated in undertaking the 
work, and it was thought that it would not occupy more 
than a day. On engaging in it, however, so many new 
reflections presented themselves to the mind that it became 
necessary to write them down, in order to proceed. Thus, 
instead of a single day, four or five days were occupied in 
forming the body of this Logic, to which several additions 
have since been made. But although it thus embraced 
many more topics than it was at first designed to include, 


the attempt, nevertheless, succeeded as had been promised, 
for the young nobleman having reduced the work to four 
tables, easily learnt them one a-day, without even having 
need of any one as instructor. It is certainly true, however, 
that we ought not to expect that others will learn it with 
the same ease, his mind being quite extraordinary in every 
thing that depends on intelligence. Such is the accident 
that gave rise to this work. But whatever opinion may 
be held respecting it, the printing of it cannot, at least 
with justice, be condemned, since it was compulsory rather 
than voluntary. For since many persons had obtained 
manuscript copies, which, it is well known, cannot be made 
without many mistakes creeping in, and since it was under 
stood that the printers were about to publish it, it was 
judged better to give it forth to the public in a correct and 
perfect form than to allow it to be printed from imperfect 
copies. In consequence of this, it became necessary to 
make various additions, which have increased its size 
about a third, it being thought that the views it contained 
ought to be extended further than they had been in the 
first essay. It is the design of the following Discourse to 
explain the end which the work proposes, and the reason 
of those subjects which are treated of in it. 



VARIOUS important additions have been made to this New 
Edition of the Logic. These were occasioned by the 
objections made by the Ministers to certain observations 
which it contained ; it thus became necessary to explain 
and defend the parts which they had endeavoured to attack. 
It will be seen, by these explanations, that reason and faith 
perfectly harmonise, as being streams from the same 
source, and that we cannot go far from the one without 
departing also from the other. But although theological 
disputes have thus given rise to these additions, they are 
not less appropriate or less natural to logic; and they 
might have been made, even though there had never been 
any ministers in the world, who had attempted to obscure 
the truths of our faith with false subtileties. 



THERE is nothing more desirable than good sense and just 
ness of mind, in discriminating between truth and false 
hood. All other qualities of mind are of limited use ; but 
exactness of judgment, is of general utility in every part, 
and in all the employments of life. It is not alone in the 
sciences, that it is difficult to distinguish truth from error, 
but also in the greater part of those subjects which men 
discuss in their every-day affairs. There are, in relation 
to almost everything, different routes the one true, the 
other false and it is reason which must choose between 
them. Those who choose well, are those who have minds 
well-regulated ; those who choose ill, are those who have 
minds^ ill-regulated; and this is the first and most import 
ant difference Avhich we find between the qualities of 
men s minds. 

Thus, the main object of our attention should be, to 
form our judgment, and render it as exact as possible ; 
and to this end, the greater part of our studies ought to 
tend. ^ "\\ e employ reason as an instrument for acquiring 
the sciences ; whereas, on the contrary, we ought to avail 
ourselves of the sciences, as an instrument for perfecting 
our reason justness of mind being infinitely more import 
ant than all the speculative knowledges which we can 
obtain, by means of sciences the most solid and well-estab 
lished. This ought to lead wise men to engage in these 
only so far as they may contribute to that end, and to 


make them the exercise only, and not the occupation, of 
their mental powers. 

If we have not this end in view, the study of the specu 
lative sciences, such as geometry, astronomy, and physics, 
will be little else than a vain amusement, and scarcely 
better than the ignorance of these things, which has at 
least this advantage that it is less laborious, and affords 
no room for that empty vanity which is often found con 
nected with these barren and unprofitable knowledges. 
These sciences not only have nooks and hidden places of 
very little use, they are even totally useless, considered in 
themselves, and for themselves alone. Men are not born 
to employ their time in measuring lines, in examining the 
relations of angles, and considering the different move 
ments of matter, their minds are too great, their life 
too short, their time too precious, to be engrossed with 
such petty objects ; but they ought to be just, equitable, 
prudent, in all their converse, in all their actions, and in 
all the business they transact ; and to these things thev 
ought specially to discipline and train themselves. This 
care and study are so very necessary, that it is strange that 
this exactness of judgment should be so rare a quality. 
We find, on every side, ill-regulated minds which have 
scarcely any discernment of the truth ; men who receive all 
things with a wrong bias ; who allow themselves to be 
carried away by the slightest appearances ; who are always 
in excess and extremes ; who have no bond to hold them 
firm to the truths which they know, since they are attached 
to them rather by chance than by any clear insight ; or 
who, on the other hand, entrench themselves in their 
opinions with such obstinacy, that they will tiot listen to 
anything that might undeceive them ; who determine 
rashly about that of which they are ignorant, which they do 
not understand, and which, perhaps, no one ever could 
understand ; who make no difference between one speech 
and another, or judge of the truth of things by the tone of 
voice alone, he who speaks fluently and impressively 
being in the right he who has some difficulty in explain 
ing himself, or displays some warmth, in the wrong : they 
know nothing beyond this. 

Hence it is, that there arc no absurdities too groundless 


to find supporters. Whoever determines to deceive the 
world, may be sure of finding people who are willing 
enough to be deceived ; and the most absurd follies always 
find minds to which they are adapted. After seeing what 
a number are infatuated with the follies of judicial astro 
logy, and that even grave persons treat this subject se 
riously, we need not be surprised at anything more. There 
is a constellation in the heavens which it has pleased 
certain persons to call the Balance, and which is as much 
like a balance as a windmill. The Balance is the symbol 
of justice ; those, therefore, that are born under that constel 
lation, will be just and equitable. There are three other 
signs in the zodiac, which are called, one the Ram, another 
the Bull, another the Goat, and which might as well have 
been called the Elephant, the Crocodile, and the Rhinoceros. 
The Ram, the Bull, and the Goat, arc ruminant animals ; 
those, therefore, who take medicines Avhen the moon is under 
these constellations, are in danger of vomitins them aerain. 

O O O 

Such extravagant reasonings as these, have found persons 
to propagate them, and others who allow themselves to be 
persuaded by them,, 

This falseness of mind is the cause, not only of the errors 
we meet with in the sciences, but also of the majority of 
the offences which are committed in civil life, of unjust 
quarrels, unfounded law-suits, rash counsel, and ill- 
arranged undertakings. There are few of these which 
have not their origin in some error, and in some fault of 
judgment, so that there is no defect which it more concerns 
us to correct. But this correction is as difficult of accom 
plishment as it is desirable, since it depends very much on 
the measure of intelligence with which we are endowed. 
Common-sense is not so common a quality as we imagine. 
There are a multitude of minds heavy and dull, which we 
cannot reform by giving them the understanding of the 
truth, but only by restricting them to those things which 
are suited to them, by withholding them from judging 
about those things which they are not capable of knowing. 
It is true, nevertheless, that a great part of the false judg 
ment of men does not spring from this principle, but is 
caused solely by precipitation of mind and want of atten 
tion, which leads us to judge rashly about that which we 


know only obscurely and confusedly. The little love men 
have for truth, leads them to take no pains, for the most 
part, in distinguishing what is true from what is false. 
They allow all sorts of reasonings and maxims to enter 
their minds ; they like better to suppose things true, than 
to examine them ; if they do not comprehend them, they 
are willing to believe that others understand them well ; 
and thus they fill the memory with a mass of things false, 
obscure, and unintelligible, and then reason on these prin 
ciples, scarcely considering at all, either what they speak 
or what they think. Vanity and presumption contribute 
still more to this effect. We think it a disgrace to doubt, 
and to be ignorant ; and we prefer rather to speak and 
determine at random, than to confess we are not sufficiently 
informed on the subject to give an opinion. We are all 
full of ignorance and errors ; and yet it is the most diffi 
cult thing in the world to obtain from the lips of man this 
confession, so just, and so suited to his natural state, I 
am in error, and I know nothing about the matter. 

We find others, on the contrary, who, having light 
enough to know that there are a number of things obscure 
and uncertain, and wishing, from another kind of vanity, to 
show that they are not led away by the popular credulity, 
take a pride in maintaining that there is nothing certain. 
They thus free themselves from the labour of examination, 
and on this evil principle they bring into doubt the most 
firmly established truths, and even religion itself. This is the 
source of Pyrrhonism, another extravagance of the human 
mind, which, though apparently opposed to the rashness of 
those who believe and decide everything, springs neverthe 
less from the same source, which is, want of attention. 
For as the one will not give themselves the trouble of 
discerning errors, the others will not look upon truth 
with that care which is necessary for perceiving its evi 
dence. The faintest glimmer suffices to persuade the one 
of things very false, and to make the other doubt of things 
the most certain ; and in both cases it is the same want of 
application which produces effects so different. 

True reason places all things in the rank which belongs 
to them ; it questions those which are doubtful, rejects 
those which are false, and acknowledges, in good faith, 


those which are evident, without being embarrassed by 
the vain reasons of the Pyrrhonists, which never could, even 
in the minds of those who proposed them, destroy the 
reasonable assurance we have of many things. None ever 
seriously doubted the existence of the sun, the earth, the 
moon, or that the whole was greater than its parts. AVe 
may indeed easily say outwardly with the lips that we 
doubt of all these things, because it is possible for us to lie ; 
but we cannot say this in our hearts. Thus Pyrrhonism is 
not a sect composed of men who are persuaded of what 
they say, but a sect of liars. Hence they often contradict 
themselves in uttering their opinion, since it is impossible 
for their hearts to agree with their language. We see this 
in Montaigne, who attempted to revive this sect in the last 
century ; for, after having said that the Academics were 
different from the Pyrrhonists, inasmuch as the Academics 
maintained that some things were more probable than 
others, which the Pyrrhonists would not allow, he declares 
himself on the side of the Pyrrhonists in the following 
terms : " The opinion," says he, li of the Pyrrhonists is 
bolder, and much more probable." There are, therefore, 
some things which are more probable than others. Nor 
was it for the sake of effect that he spoke thus, these are 
words which escaped him without thinking of them, 
springing from the depths of nature, which no illusion of 
opinions can destroy. But the evil is, that in relation to those 
things which are more removed from sense, these persons, who 
take a pleasure in doubting everything, withhold their mind 
from any application, or apply it only imperfectly to that which 
might persuade them, and thus fall into a voluntary uncer 
tainty in relation to the affairs of religion ; for the state of dark 
ness into which they have brought themselves is agreeable 
to them, and very favourable for allaying the remorse of 
their conscience, and for the unrestrained indulgence of 
their passions. Thus, these disorders of the mind, though 
apparently opposed (the one leading to the inconsider 
ate belief of what is obscure and uncertain, the other 
to the doubting of what is clear and certain), have never 
theless a common origin, which is, the neglect of that at 
tention which is necessary in order to discover the truth. 
It is clear, therefore, that they must also have a common 


remedy, and that the only wayin which wecan preserveour- 
selves from them, is by fixing minute attention on our 
judgments and thoughts. This is the only thing that is 
absolutely necessary to preserve us from deceptions. For 
that which the Academics were wont to say, that it was im 
possible to discover the truth unless we had its characters, as it 
wouldbe impossible toidentify a runaway slave we mightbein 
search of, unless we had some signs by which, supposing we 
were to meet him, we could distinguish him from others, is 
only a vain subtlety. As no marks are necessary in order to 
distinguish light from darkness but the light which reveals it 
self, so nothing else is necessary in order to recognise the truth 
butthe very brightness which environsit, and which subdues 
and persuades the mind, notwithstanding all that may be said 
against it ; so that all the reasonings of these philosophers 
are no more able to withhold the mind from yielding to 
the truth, when it is strongly imbued with it, than they are 
capable of preventing the eyes from seeing, when, being 
open, they are assailed by the light of the sun. 

But since the mind often allows itself to be deceived by 
false appearances, in consequence of not giving due atten 
tion to them, and since there are many things which can 
not be known, save by long and difficult examination, it 
would certainly be useful to have some rules for its guid 
ance, so that the search after truth might be more easy 
and certain. Nor is it impossible to secure such rules ; 
for since men are sometimes deceived in their judgments, 
and at other times are not deceived, as they reason some 
times well and sometimes ill, and as, after they have 
reasoned ill, they are able to perceive their error, they may 
thus notice, by reflecting on their thoughts, what method 
they have followed when they have reasoned well, and 
what was the cause of their error when they were deceived; 
and thus on these reflections form rules by which they may 
avoid being deceived for the future. 

This is what philosophers have specially undertaken to 
accomplish, and in relation to which they make such mag 
nificent promises. If we may believe them, they will 
furnish us, in that part which is devoted to this purpose, 
and which they call logic, with a light capable of dispell 
ing all the darkness of the mind ; they correct all the 


errors of our thoughts ; and they give us rules so sure that 
they conduct us infallibly to the truth, so necessary, that 
without them it is impossible to know anything with com 
plete certainty. These are the praises which they have 
themselves bestowed on their precepts. But if we consider 
what experience shows us of the use which these philoso 
phers make of them, both in logic and in other parts of 
philosophy, we shall have good grounds to suspect the 
truth of their promises. 

Since it is not, however, just to reject absolutely the. 
good there is in logic because of the abuse which has been 
made of it, and as it is not possible that all the great minds 
which have applied themselves with so much care to the 
rules of reasoning, have discovered nothing at all solid ; 
and finally, since custom has rendered it necessary to know 
(at least generally) what logic is, we believed that it would 
contribute something to public utility to select from the 
common logics whatever might best help towards forming 
the judgment. This is the end we specially propose to 
ourselves in this work, with the view of accomplishing 
which, there arc many new reflections Avhich have sug 
gested themselves to our mind while writing it, and which 
form the greatest and perhaps the most important part of 
it, for it appears the common philosophers have attempted 
to do little more than to give the rules of good and bad 
reasoning. Now, although we cannot say these rules are 
useless, since they often help to discover the vice of certain 
intricate arguments, and to arrange our thoughts in a more 
convincing manner, still this utility must not be supposed 
to extend very far. The greater part of the errors of men 
arise, not from their allowing themselves to be deceived 
by wrong conclusions, but in their proceeding from false 
judgments, whence wrong conclusions are deduced. Those 
who have previously written on logic have little sought to 
rectify this, which is the main design of the new reflec 
tions which are to be found scattered through this book. 

It must, however, be acknowledged, that these reflec 
tions, which we call new because they have not appeared 
in any of the common logics, do not all belong to the 
author of this work, and that some of them he has bor 
rowed from the books of a celebrated philosopher of this 



age, who is distinguished as much for perspicuity as others 
are for confusion of mind. Some othershave been ob 
tained from a small unpublished work of the late M. Pascal, 
called by him " The Spirit of Geometry" What is said in 
the Ninth Chapter, touching the definition of names and 
things, is derived from this source, and also the five rules 
which are explained in the Fourth Part, which are, how 
ever, extended much farther than they were in that writ 

With respect to what has been taken from the common 
books of logic, the following is to be observed : In the first 
place, it is intended to comprise in this work all that was 
really useful in the others ; such as the rules of figure, the 
divisions of terms and ideas, certain reflections on proposi 
tions. There are other things which we deem sufficiently 
profitless ; such as the categories and the laws, but which, 
as they were short, easy, and common, we did not think 
it right to omit, forewarning the reader, however, what 
judgment to form of them, in order that he might not sup 
pose them to be more useful than they are. 

More of doubt arose in relation to certain matters diffi 
cult enough and but of little use ; such as the conversion 
of propositions, and the demonstration of the rules of 
figure ; but we have determined not to omit them, since 
their very difficulty is not altogether without its use, for 
although it is true that where a difficulty leads to the 
knowledge of no truth, we have reason to say, " stultum est 
difficiles habere nugas" yet we ought not to avoid it in the 
same way when it contains some truth, since it is bene 
ficial to exercise oneself in the comprehension of difficult 

There are some stomachs which can only digest light 
and delicate food, and so there are some minds which can 
only apply themselves to understand truths which are easy, 
and garnished with the ornaments of eloquence. This is, 
in either case, a blameworthy fastidiousness, or, rather, 
a real weakness. We ought to train our minds to discover 
the truth, however concealed or disguised it may be, and 
to respect it under whatever form it may appear. If we 
do not overcome this distaste and aversion, which is the 
easiest thing in the world, to contract at anything which ap- 


pears a little subtle or scholastic, we shall insensibly contract 
our minds, and render them incapable of understanding 
those things which are only to be known through the con 
nection of many propositions ; and thus, when a truth 
depends on three or four principles, which it is necessary 
to look at all at once, we are perplexed and discouraged, 
and are deprived in this way of the knowledge of many 
useful things, which is a great defect. 

The capacity of the mind is enlarged and extended bv 
exercise ; and to this the mathematics, and generally all 
difficult things, such as those we are speaking of, mainly 
contribute ; for they give a certain expansion to the mind, 
and practise it to consider more attentively, and hold more 
iirmly, that which it knows. These are the reasons which 
have induced us to retain these difficult matters, and eve^i 
to treat them as suhtilely as any other logic. Those who 
object to this may pass over these parts without reading 
them. To this end, we have taken care duly to forewarn 
them at the head of the chapters, that they may have no 
ground of complaint, and that, if they read them, they 
may do it voluntarily. Neither have we thought it needful 
to be perplexed by the distaste of some who have quite a 
horror of certain artificial terms, which have been invented 
for the purpose of retaining more easily the different ways 
of reasoning, as though they were words of magic; and 
who often make jests, insipid enough, on baroco and bara- 
lipton, as savouring strongly of pedantry, for we judged 
these jests to be more contemptible than the words them 
selves. True reason and good sense do not allow us to 
treat as ridiculous that which is not so. Now, there is 
nothing ridiculous in these terms, provided they be not 
made too mysterious ; and that, as they were only made 
to assist the memory, we do not introduce them in common 
discourse, and say, for instance, that we are going to 
reason in bocardo, or in felapton, which would indeed be 
very ridiculous. 

The reproach of pedantry is sometimes much abused, 
and often, in attributing it to others, we fall into it our 
selves. Pedantry is a vice of the mind, and not of a 
profession ; and there are pedants in all robes, and in 
everv state and condition of life. To extol thin GTS trivial 


and mean, to make a vain show of science, to heap 
together Greek and Latin quotations without judgment, 
to get in a passion about the order of the Attic months, 
the garments of the Macedonians, and such other useless dis 
putes, to pillage an author while abusing him, to decry 
outrageously those who are not of our opinion as to the 
meaning of a passage in Suetonius, or as to the etymology 
of a word, as if religion and the state were endangered 
thereby, to wish to excite all the world against a man 
who does not sufficiently appreciate Cicero, as against a 
disturber of the public peace, as Julius Scaliger attempted 
to do against Erasmus, to interest oneself in the reputa 
tion of an ancient philosopher, as though he were one s 
own parent, this is what may be truly called pedantry. 
But there is none at all in understanding and explaining 
artificial terms, ingeniously enough devised for the sole 
purpose of assisting the memory, provided they be em 
ployed with the precautions which we have already in 

It only remains for us to explain why we have omitted 
a great number of questions which are found in the com 
mon logics ; such as those which are treated of in the 
prolegomonas, the universal d parte rei, the relations, and 
many others of a similar kind, of which it is almost enough 
to say that they belong rather to metaphysics than to logic. 
It is true, however, notwithstanding that this is not the main 
thing which we considered ; for, if we judged that a subject 
would be useful in forming the judgment, we cared but 
little to what science it belonged. The arrangement of 
our different knowledges is free as that of the letters in a 
printing office, each has the right of arranging them in 
different classes according to his need, so that, in doing 
this, the most natural manner be observed. If a matter 
be useful, we may avail ourselves of it, and regard it, not 
as foreign, but as pertinent to the subject. This explains 
how it is that a number of things will be found here from 
physics and from morals, and almost as much of meta 
physics as it is necessary to know, though in this we do 
not profess to have borrowed anything from any one. All 
that is of service in logic belongs to it ; and it is quite 
ridiculous to see the trouble that some authors have given 


themselves as Ramus and the Ramists, though other 
wise very able men, who have taken as much pains to 
limit the jurisdiction of each science, and to prevent them 
from trespassing on each other, as might be taken in 
marking out the boundaries of kingdoms, and determining 
the prerogatives of parliament. 

What led us to omit altogether those questions of the 
schools was, not simply that they are difficult, and of little 
use, since we have considered some of this nature, but 
that, having these bad qualities, we believed we could 
more easily omit all mention of them, without offending 
any one, inasmuch as they are held in but little esteem. 
For there is a great difference to be observed among the 
useless questions, of which books of philosophy are full. 
There are some which arc despised even by those who 
discuss them ; and there are others, on the contrary, which 
are celebrated and accredited, and have obtained a place 
in the writings of men of great repute. 

It seems to be a duty which we owe to these well-known 
and celebrated opinions, however false we may believe 
them to be, not to be ignorant of what is said concerning 
them. We owe this civility, or rather justice, not to their 
falseness, which merits none, but to the men who have 
favoured them, not to reject what they have valued, 
without examination. It is reasonable thus to purchase, 
by means of the trouble taken in understanding them, the 
right to despise them. 

But we have more liberty in relation to the former ; and 
the logical ones which we have thought right to omit are 
of that kind. They have this advantage, that they are 
held in no esteem, not only in the world, where they art- 
unknown, but by those even who teach them. No one, 
thank God, now takes any interest in the universal d parte 
ret, in beings of reason, or in second intentions. Thus there is 
no ground to apprehend that any one will be offended at 
our having said nothing about them ; besides which, these 
matters are so ill adapted to the French language, that 
they would have tended rather to degrade the philosophy of 
the schools than to make it esteemed. 

It is right, also, to mention that we have not always 
followed "the rules of a method perfectly exact, having 



placed many things in the Fourth Part which ought to have 
been referred to the Second and Third ; but we did this 
advisedly, because we judged that it would be useful to 
consider in the same place all that was necessary in order 
to render a science perfect; and this is the main business 
of method which is treated of in the Fourth Part. For this 
reason, also, we reserved what was to be said of axioms 
and demonstrations for the same place. 

These, in brief, are the views we have had in writing 
this logic. Perhaps, after all, there are few persons who 
will profit by it, or who will be conscious of the good they 
have obtained from it, because but little attention is com 
monly given to putting precepts in practice by express 
reflections on them. But we hope, nevertheless, that those 
who have read it with some care may receive an impression 
from it which will render them more exact and solid in 
their judgments, even without their being conscious of it, 
as there are some remedies which cure diseases by in 
creasing the strength and fortifying the parts. Be this as 
it may, it cannot trouble any one long, those who are a 
little advanced being able to read and understand it in seven 
or eight days ; and it will be strange if, containing so great 
adversity of things, each does not find something to repay 
him for the trouble of reading it. 



THOSE who have determined to make their works public, 
ought, at the same time, to calculate on having as many 
judges as readers ; and this condition they should not con 
sider either unjust or onerous. For if they are reallv dis- 


interested, they ought, in making their works public, to 
have abandoned all property in them, and to consider them 
henceforth with the same indifference as they would those 
of strangers. The only right which they can legitimately 
reserve to themselves, is that of correcting what may be 
defective, for which purpose these different criticisms 
which are made on books, are extremely serviceable ; for 
they are always useful when they are just, and do no harm 
when they are unjust, since we are not obliged to follow 

Prudence would nevertheless dictate that we should often 
yield to those judgments which do not appear to us just; 
since, though we may not see any fault in that which is 
objected to, we may see, at least, that it is not adapted to 
the minds of those who complain of it. It is doubtless 
better, when we are able to do so without falling into ti 
greater inconvenience, to choose a medium so just, that, in 
pleasing judicious persons, we do not displease those who 
have a judgment less exact, since AVC ought not to suppose 
that we shall have none but intelligent and able readers. 

Thus, it were to be desired that the first editions of 
books be considered only as unfinished essays, which are 
submitted by their authors to men of letters, in order to 
obtain their opinions respecting them ; and that then, with 
the different views which these different opinions have 
given them, they should go through the whole again, in 
order to exhibit their works in the most perfect form to 
which they can bring them. This is the course which we 
should have liked much to have followed in the Second 
Edition of this Logic, if we had heard more of what was 
said in the world about the First. We have, nevertheless, 
done what we could, and have added, suppressed, and cor 
rected many things, in obedience to the thoughts of those 
who have had the goodness to let us know what they dis 
cerned faulty in it. 

And, in the first place, As to the language, we have 
followed almost entirely the advice of two persons, who 
have taken the trouble to point out some defects which had 
slipped into the work through negligence ; and certain ex 
pressions, which they considered were not sanctioned by 
good usage. And we have failed to comply with their 


views, only when, on consulting others, we found that 
opinions were divided, in which case we thought we might 
be allowed to take a free course. 

In relation to things, there will be found more additions, 
than either alterations or retrenchments, since we were less 
acquainted with what was objected to in this respect. It 
is true, nevertheless, that we knew of some general objec 
tions, which were made against this book, but we did not 
think it right to dwell upon these, since we were persuaded 
that those even who made them, would be easily satisfied, 
when we had pointed out to them the design which we 
had in view in those things of which they complain. 
Hence, it will be useful, here, to reply to the chief of these 

We have found some persons who are dissatisfied with 
the title, The art of thinking, instead of which they would 
have us put, The art of reasoning well. But we request 
these objectors to consider, that, since the end of logic is to 
give rules for all the operations of the mind, and thus as 
well for simple ideas as for judgment and reasonings, there 
was scarcely any other word which included all these 
-operations ; and the word thought certainly comprehends 
them all ; for simple ideas are thoughts, judgments are 
thoughts, and reasonings are thoughts. It is true that we 
might have said, The art of thinking well, but this addition 
was not necessary, since it was already sufficiently indi 
cated by the word art, which signifies, of itself, a method 
of doing something well, as Aristotle himself remarks. 
Hence it is, that it is enough to say, the art of painting, the 
art of reckoning, because it is supposed that there is no 
need of art in order to paint ill, or reckon wrongly. 

Another objection, much more weighty, has been made 
against the multitude of things, taken from different 
sciences, which is to be found in this Logic. This objec 
tion it is necessary to examine with more care, since it 
attacks the design of the whole work ; and thus gives us 
an opportunity of explaining that design. " To what end," 
it is asked, " is all this medley of Rhetoric, Ethics, Physics, 
Metaphysics, and Geometry? When we expect to find 
logical precepts, we are suddenly transported to the highest 
sciences, while the author knows not whether we under- 


stand them or no. Ought he not to suppose, on the con 
trary, that if we had already all these knowledges, we 
should have no need of this Logic ? And, would it not 
have been better for him, to have given us one quite 
simple and plain, in which the rules should have been ex 
plained by examples taken from common things, than to 
have embarrassed it with so many matters, that it is quite 
stilled ? " 

But those who reason thus, do not sufficiently consider 
that a book can scarcely have a greater defect, than that, 
of not being read, since it can only benefit those who read 
it ; and that thus everything which helps to make a book 
read, contributes also to its usefulness. Now, it is certain, 
that if we had followed their advice, and had made a logic 
altogether barren (with the ordinary examples, of an 
animal and a horse), we should only have added to the 
number of those of which the world is already full, and 
which are not read. Whereas, it is just that collection of 
different things which has given this work such a run, and 
caused it to be read with less distaste than is felt in read 
ing others. 

This was not, however, the principal design we had in 
this collection, to induce all the world to read it, by ren 
dering it more diverting than the common logics. We 
maintain, rather, that we have followed a course the most 
natural, and the most advantageous for illustrating this art, 
in remedying, as far as possible, an inconvenience which 
had rendered the study of it almost useless. 

For experience shows that, of a thousand young men 
who learn logic, there are not ten who remember anything 
of it six months after they have finished their course. 
Now the true cause of this oblivion, this ignorance, which 
is so common, appears to be, that all the subjects which 
are treated of in logic, being in themselves very abstract, 
and very far removed from common use, are still connected 
with examples of no interest, and of which we never speak 
elsewhere. Thus the mind, Avhich had attended to the 
subject Avith difficulty, having nothing to keep up its atten 
tion, easily loses all the ideas, which it had received re 
specting it, since they are never renewed by practice. 
Again, since the common examples do not sufficiently make 


it understood, that this science is applicable to everything 
useful, the learners are accustomed to restrict logic to logic, 
without extending it further ; whereas, it exists for the 
very purpose of being an instrument to other sciences. 
And thus, as they have never seen its true use, they never 
use it at all, and are willing enough even to lay it aside as 
an unworthy and useless knowledge. We believed, there 
fore, that the best remedy of this evil was, not to separate 
logic, so much as is commonly done, from other sciences, 
for whose service it is intended ; but, by means of examples, 
to join it in such a manner to solid knowledges, that the 
rules and the practice might be seen at the same time ; to 
the end that we might learn to judge of these sciences by 
logic, and to retain logic by means of these sciences. 
Thus this diversity is so far from stifling the precepts, that 
nothing can contribute more towards making them well 
understood, and easily retained ; since they are in them 
selves too subtle to make an impression on the mind, unless 
they are attached to something more interesting and more 

In order to render this collection the more useful, we 
have not borrowed the examples from these sciences at 
random ; but have chosen from them, the most important 
points, and such as might best serve as rules and principles 
for the discovery of truth in other matters which we were 
not able to discuss. 

For example, in relation to rhetoric, we considered that 
the help which we were able to obtain from it, in finding 
thoughts, expressions, and embellishments, was not very 
considerable. The mind furnishes thoughts enough, cus 
tom gives forms of expression, and as for figures and orna 
ment, we have always more than enough of these. Thus 
its whole use almost consists in preserving us from certain 
bad ways of writing and speaking, and especially from an 
artificial and rhetorical style, which is the greatest of all 
vices. Now there will be found, perhaps, in this Logic, as 
much that is useful for knowing and avoiding these de 
fects as in the books which treat expressly of that subject. 
The last Chapter of the First Part, in showing the nature of 
a figurative style, teaches, at the same time, the use which 
ought to be made of it, and discovers the true rules by 


which we ought to distinguish good and bad figures. That 
in which we treat of places in general, will much help to 
restrain the superfluous abundance of common thoughts. 
The article where we speak of the bad reasonings which 
eloquence insensibly begets, in teaching that we should 
never consider that which is false as beautiful, propounds, 
in passing, one of the most important rules of true rhetoric, 
and one which will, more than all others, form the mind 
to a manner of writing, simple, natural, and judicious. 
Finally, what we have said in the same chapter of the care 
which ought to be taken not to excite the malignity of 
those whom we address, teaches us to avoid a very great 
number of defects, which are so much the more dangerous, 
as they are difficult to detect. 

In relation to morals, the main subject treated of did not 
permit us to insert much. I believe, however, that it will 
be allowed, that what is found in the chapter on false ideas 
of good and evil, in the First Part, and that which treats of 
the wrong reasonings which are common in civil life, is of 
very wide application, and may help to make us acquainted 
with a great part of the errors of mankind. 

In metaphysics, there is nothing more important than the 
origin of our ideas, the separation of spiritual ideas from 
corporeal images, the distinction between mind and body, 
and the evidences of the soul s immortality, founded on this 
distinction ; and these points, it will be seen, are treated of 
very fully in the First and Fourth parts. 

There will be found, also, in different places, the greater 
part of the general principles of physics, which are very 
easily apprehended ; and sufficient light may be obtained 
from what is said of ponderosity, of sensible qualities, of 
the operations of sense, of magnetic powers, of occult 
virtues, and of substantial forms, to correct a multitude of 
false ideas, which the prejudices of youth have left in our 
minds ; not that we shall thus be enabled to dispense with 
the more careful study of all these things in the books 
which treat expressly of them, but we considered that there 
were many persons not devoted to the study of theology 
(for which it is necessary to know minutely the philoso 
phy of the schools, which is, as it were, its language), 
for whom a more sreneral knowledge of these sciences 



might suffice. Now, although there will not be found in 
this book all that it is necessary for us to know in relation 
to these subjects, we may nevertheless say, with truth, 
that there will be found almost all that it is needful for us 
to remember. 

The objection, that there are some of the examples 
which are not sufficiently adapted to the intelligence of be 
ginners, is true only in relation to the geometrical examples ; 
for, as to the others, they may be understood by all who 
have any expansion of mind, though they had never learnt 
anything of philosophy ; and perhaps, indeed, they will be 
more readily understood by those who have as yet no pre 
judices, than by those who have their minds filled with the 
maxims of the common philosophy. In relation to the ex 
amples from geometry, it is true that they will not be under 
stood by every one ; for we believe that they will scarcely 
ever be found, except in express and separate discussions, 
which may easily be passed over, or in matters clear 
enough of themselves, or sufficiently illustrated by other 
examples, to render those taken from geometry unneces 
sary. Again, if the places in which these are employed 
be examined, it will be seen that it would have been very 
difficult to find others equally suitable, since scarcely any 
where but in this science can we obtain ideas which are 
quite pure, and propositions which are incontestible. For 
example, we have said, in speaking of reciprocal properties, 
that it was one of rectangled triangles, that the square of 
the hypothenuse is equal to the square of the sides. This 
is clear and certain to those who understand it, and those 
who do not understand it may suppose it, and comprehend 
none the less the theory to which this example is applied. 
But if we had determined to employ the example which 
is commonly used risibility which is said to be a pro 
perty of man, we should have advanced a thing obscure 
enough, and very doubtful ; for, if we understand by the 
word risibility the power of making such a grimace as is 
made in laughing, we do not see why brutes may iot be 
trained to make such a grimace, and perhaps, indeed, there 
are some who do so. But if we include in this word, not 
only the change which laughing makes in the countenance, 
but also the intelligence which accompanies and produces 


it, and thus understand, by risibility, the power of laugh 
ing with intelligence, all the actions of man ought, in the 
same way, to be considered reciprocal properties, there 
being none of them which are not peculiar to man alone, 
when connected with intelligence. Thus we may say that 
it is the property of man to walk, to drink, to eat, since 
it is man only who walks, drinks, and eats with intelligence. 
Provided we extend it thus, we shall be in no want of ex 
amples of properties ; but still these will not be certain to 
the minds of those who attribute intelligence to truth, and 
who may, therefore, equally well attribute to them laugh 
ing with intelligence, whereas the example which we have 
employed is certain to the minds of all men. 

In the same way, we wished to show, in another place, 
that there are some corporeal things which we conceive 
after a spiritual manner, and without imagining them ; and 
for this purpose, we referred, as an example, to a figure of 
a thousand angles, which we conceive clearly by the mind, 
although we are not able to form any distinct image which 
represents its properties ; and we said, in passing, that one 
of the properties of that figure was, that all its angles were 
equal to 1990 right angles. It is clear that this example 
proves very well what AVC wished to show in that place. 

It only remains for us to answer a more odious objec 
tion, which some persons have founded on the examples of 
imperfect definitions and bad reasonings, which we have 
taken from Aristotle, and which appear to them to be the 
offspring of a secret desire to degrade that philosopher. 
But they would never have formed a judgment so inequit 
able, had they sufficiently considered the true rules which 
ought to be regarded in citing examples of faults, and which 
we have had in view in quoting Aristotle. 

In the first place, experience shows that the greater part 
of the examples commonly given are of little use, and re 
main but for a short time in the mind, as they are formed 
at pleasure, and are so plain and palpable, that it is scarcely 
possible to fall into them. 

It is, therefore, more serviceable, in order to make us 
remember what is said of these defects, and to avoid them, 
to choose real examples, taken from sonic author of cele 
brity, whose reputation may arouse us to be more on our 



guard against such mistakes, seeing that the greatest men 
may commit them. 

Again, as our aim ought to be to render all that we have 
written as useful as possible, we ought to endeavour to 
select examples of faults which it is important not to be 
ignorant of; for it would be very useless to burden the 
memory with all the reveries of Fludd, of Vanhelmont, 
and of Paracelsus. It is better, therefore, to seek for ex 
amples in the works of authors so celebrated that we are 
in some sort obliged to know them, even to their defects. 

Now all this is found in perfection in Aristotle; for 
nothing can tend more powerfully to avoid a fault than 
showing that so great a mind has fallen into it ; and his 
philosophy has become so celebrated by the great number 
of persons of repute who have embraced it, that we are 
under the necessity of knowing even the defects which it 
may have. Thus, as we judged it very useful for those 
who might read this book to learn, in passing, various 
points of that philosophy, and that, nevertheless,^ was not 
at all useful to be deceived, we have referred to these in 
order to explain them ; and we have indicated, by the way, 
any defects which might be found in them, in order to pre 
vent any from being deceived. 

It was not, therefore, to degrade Aristotle, but, on the 
contrary, to do him as much honour as possible, in those 
things wherein we differed from his opinion, that we took 
these examples from his works ; and it is plain that the 
points Avhich we have criticised are of very little import 
ance, and do not affect the foundation of his philosophy, 
which we had no intention whatever of assailing. And if 
we have not referred to those many excellent things which 
are to be found everywhere in the" books of Aristotle, it is 
because no occasion offered for these, in the course of our 
work ; but if we had found occasion, we should have 
introduced them with pleasure, and should not have failed 
to give him the just praises which he merits. For it is 
certain that Aristotle had, in truth, a very vast and com 
prehensive mind, which discovers in the subjects of which 
he treats a great number of connections and consequences ; 
and hence he has been very successful in what he has said 
of the passions in the Second Book of his Rhetoric. There 


are also many beautiful things in his books of Politics and 
of Ethics, in the Problems, and in the History of Animals. 
And whatever confusion may be found in his Analytics, it 
must be confessed, nevertheless, that almost all that we 
know of the rules of logic is taken thence ; so that there 
is, in fact, no author from whom we have borrowed more 
in this Logic than from Aristotle. 

It is true that his Physics appears to be the least perfect 
of his works, as it was that which was for the longest time 
condemned and prohibited by the church, as a learned 
author has shown, in a book written expressly for this pur 
pose ;* but still the principal defect to be found in this part 
of his work is, not that it is false, but, on the contrary, that 
it is too true, and that it teaches us only things of which 
it is impossible to be ignorant. But who can doubt that 
all things are composed of matter, and a certain form of 
that matter? Who can doubt that matter, in order to 
acquire a new manner and a new form, needs something 
which it had not before, that is to say, that it had the 
privation of it ? And, in fine, who can doubt, those 
other metaphysical principles, which all depend on form 
that matter alone does nothing that there are place, 
movements, faculties ? But after we have learned all these 
things, we do not seem to have learned anything new, or 
to be at all better able to give an account of any of the 
effects in nature. 

If any are to be found who maintain that it is not 
lawful for us to declare that we are not of Aristotle s 
opinion, it will be easy to show them that this scrupulous 
ness is very unreasonable ; for, if we ought to yield defer 
ence to any philosophers, this can only be for two reasons, 
either on account of the truth Avhich they maintained, or 
on account of the opinion of the men who have supported 
them. In regard to the truth, they ought always to be 
respected when they have reason on their side ; but the 
truth can never oblige us to respect falsehood in any man, 
be he who he may. With regard to the agreement of 
men, and the approval of a philosopher, it is certain that 
it also merits some respect, and that it would be imprudent 

* M. de Launoi, in his book, De Varia Aristotelis Fortuna. 


to oppose it, without using great precautions; and the 
reason of this is, that in attacking what is received by all 
the world, we expose ourselves to the charge of presump 
tion by supposing that we have more light than others ; 
but when the world is divided with regard to the opinions 
of an author, and many men of reputation on both sides, 
we are not bound to this reserve, and we may freely de 
clare what we approve, and what we do not approve, in 
those books in relation to which men of letters are divided, 
because, in this case, we do not so much prefer our own 
opinion to that of this author, and those who support him, 
as arrange ourselves on the side of those who are opposed 
to him on this point. 

This is properly the state in which we now find the 
philosophy of Aristotle. For, having had divers fortunes, 
being at one time generally rejected, and at another 
generally approved, it is now reduced to a state which is 
a medium between these extremes, being maintained by 
many learned men, while it is attacked by others of equal 
reputation. Works are continually and freely written in 
France, in England, in Holland, and in Germany, for and 
against the philosophy of Aristotle. The conferences at 
Paris are divided, as well as the books, and no one offends 
now by declaring himself against him. The most cele 
brated philosophers are bound no longer to the slavery of 
receiving blindly whatever they find in his books; and 
there are even opinions of his which are generally aban 
doned, for where is the physician now who would under 
take to maintain that the nerves come from the heart, as 
Aristotle believed, since anatomy has clearly proved that 
they have their origin from the brain? whence Saint 
Augustine says, " Qui ex puncto cerebri et quasi centra sensus 
omnes quinaria distributione diffudit" And where is the 
philosopher who is hardy enough to affirm that the swift 
ness of heavy things increases in the same ratio as their 
weight, since there is no one now who may not disprove 
this doctrine of Aristotle s by letting fall from a high place 
very unequal weights, in the swiftness of which, never 
theless, there will be remarked very little difference ? 

No violent states are commonly of long duration, anc 
all extremes are violent. It is very hard to condemn 


Aristotle generally, as was formerly done, and it is a very 
great constraint to lie obliged to believe and approve 
everything he has written, and to take him as the test of 
truth in all philosophical opinions, which was afterwards 
done. Men cannot long endure such constraint, and re 
turn insensibly to the possession of their natural and 
rational freedom, which consists in receiving that which 
is judged to be true, and rejecting that which is judged to 
be false. For there is nothing contrary to reason in yield 
ing to authority in those sciences which, treating of things 
which are above reason, ought to follow another light. 
and this can only be that of Divine authority ; but there 
is no ground whatever in human sciences, which profess 
to be founded only on reason, for being enslaved by autho 
rity contrary to reason. The rule which we have followed 
in speaking of the opinions of philosophers, both ancient 
and modern, is this, we have considered truth alone in 
both, without espousing, generally, the opinions of any 
one in particular, and also without declaring ourselves 
generally against any one. So that all that ought to be 
inferred, when we reject the opinion either of Aristotle or 
of another, is, that we do not agree with this author in that 
particular ; it cannot be at all inferred that we do not do 
so in other points, much less that we have any aversion to 
him, or any desire to degrade him. We believe that this 
disposition will be approved of by all impartial persons, 
and that there will be found, through the whole of this 
work, only a sincere desire of contributing to public utility, 
as far as we may be able to do so in a work of this nature, 
without any prejudice or partiality. 






reflections which have been made on the four principal 
operations of the mind : conceiving (concevoir), judging, 
reasoning, and disposing (ordonner). 

By conception is meant the simple view we have of the 
objects which are presented to our mind; as when, for 
instance, we think of THE SUN, THE EARTH, A TREE, A 
CIRCLE, A SQUARE, THOUGHT, BEING, without forming any 
determinate judgment concerning them ; and the form 
through which we consider these tl ings is called AN IDEA. 

Judgment is that operation of the mind through which, 
joining different ideas together, it affirms or denies the one 
of the other ; as when, for instance, having the ideas of 
the EARTH and ROUNDNESS, it affirms or denies of the earth 
that it is round. 

Reasoning is that operation of the mind through which 
it forms one judgment from many others ; as when, for 
instance, having judged that true virtue ought to be re 
ferred to God, and that the virtue of the heathens was not 
referred to him, we thence conclude that the virtue of the 
heathens was not true virtue. 

By disposition is here meant that operation of the mind, 
by which, having on the same subject (the human body, 
for instance), different ideas, judgments, and reasonings, it 
disposes them in the manner best fitted for obtaining u 
knowledge of the subject. This is also called Method. 



All these operations are performed naturally, and often 
times better by those who are unacquainted with the rules 
of logic than by those who know them. 

Thus logic consists, not in discovering the means of 
performing these operations, since nature alone furnishes 
these in giving us reason, but in reflecting on that which 
nature does within us, which is of service to us in the 
following respects : 

First, In assuring us that we employ reason aright ; for 
the consideration of the rule which guides it, awakens 
within us fresh attention to its operations. 

Second, In enabling us to discover and explain more 
easily any error or defect which may be found in the 
operations of our mind ; for it often happens that we dis 
cover, by the light of nature alone, that a reasoning is 
false, without being able to determine how it is so, as those 
who are not skilled in painting may be sensible of defect 
in a picture, without being able, nevertheless, to explain 
what is the blemish which offends them. 

Third, In making us better acquainted with the nature 
of our mind, by the reflections which we thus make on its 
operations. And this is, in itself, more excellent, con 
sidered merely in a speculative point of view, than the 
knowledge of all corporeal things, which are infinitely 
beneath those which are spiritual. 

And if the reflections which we make on our thoughts 
referred to ourselves alone, it would suffice to consider 
them in themselves, without having recourse to words or 
any other signs. But since we are not able to express 
our thoughts to each other, unless they are accompanied 
with outward signs ; and that this custom is so strong, 
that even when we think alone, things present themselves 
to our minds only in connection with the words to which 
we have been accustomed to have recourse in speaking to 
others ; it is necessary, in logic, to consider IDEAS in 
their connection with WORDS, and WORDS in their connec 
tion with IDEAS. 

From what has been said, it follows that logic may be 
divided into four parts, according to the different reflections 
which are made on the four operations of the mind. 





SINCE we cannot have any knowledge of that winch u 
without us, save through the medium of ideas which are 
within us, the reflections which may he made on our 
ideas form perhaps the most important part of logic, since 
it is that which is the foundation of all the rest. 

These reflections may be reduced to FIVE HEADS, ac 
cording to the five ways in which ideas may be considered. 









though sometimes that idea may be more clear and distinct, 
and sometimes more obscure and confused, as will be here 
after explained. For it would be a contradiction to main 
tain that I know what I say in pronouncing a word, and 
that, nevertheless, I conceive nothing in pronouncing it, 
but the sound of the word itself. Hence, too, may be 
seen, the falseness of two very dangerous opinions which 
have been advanced by some philosophers of our time. 

The first is, that we have no idea of God. For if we 
had no idea connected with it in uttering the name of 
God (Dieu), we could conceive only these four letters 
D i e u, and a Frenchman, in hearing the name of God, 
would have nothing more in his mind than if, entering a 
synagogue, and being altogether ignorant of the Hebrew 
language, he heard pronounced in that tongue Adonai or 
Elohim. And when men have taken the name of God, as 
Caligula and Domitian, they would not have been guilty 
of any impiety, since if no idea be attached to them, there 
is nothing in these letters or syllables which may not be 
attributed to a man. Whence also was not the Hollander 
accused of impiety who called himself Ludovicvs Dieu ? 
In what then consisted the impiety of those princes but in 
this, that, connecting with the word God a part, at least, 
of its idea, as that of an exalted and adorable nature, they 
appropriated to themselves the name with this idea ? 

But if we have no idea of God, what possible foundation is 
there for all that we say respecting Him, as that he is 
one alone, that he is eternal, all-powerful, all-good, all- 
wise, since there is nothing of all this contained in this 
sound, Dieu ; but in the idea alone which we have of God, 
which we have connected with that sound. And it is only 
on this account that we refuse the name of God to all 
false divinities ; not because the word may not be attri 
buted to them if it be taken materially, since it has been 
attributed to them by the heathens ; but because the idea 
which we have of a Sovereign Being, and which custom has 
connected with the word God, belongs to the true God alone. 

The second of these false opinions is that of an English 
man, who says, that reasoning is nothing but an assem 
blage of names connected together by the word est. Whence 
it follows, that by reason we conclude nothing at all con- 


cerning the nature of things, but only concerning their 
appellations ; that is to say, we consider simply whether ice 
have connected together these names of things well or ill. in 
relation to the agreements we have established in oar imagi 
nation touching their signification. 

To which lie adds ; if this l/e so, as it very possibly is, 
reasoning will depend on words, words on imagination, and 
imagination will depend, perhaps, as I believe it does, on the 
movements of the bodily organs : and thus our mind ^c ill be 
nothing more than a movement among certain parts of an 
organised body. 

We are willing to believe that these words contain an 
objection far removed from the mind of their author; but 
since, taken dogmatically, they tend to the destruction of 
the immortality of the soul, it is important to show their 
falsehood, which it will not be difficult to do. For the 
convention of which that philosopher speaks, could never 
have been anything more than the determination to which 
men have come to take certain sounds as the signs of ideas 
which we have in our minds. So that, if, besides the names, 
we have not within the ideas of the things, that convention 
would have impossible, as it is impossible by any conven 
tion to make a blind man understand what is meant by 
the words, red, green, or blue ; because, not having these 
ideas, he is unable to connect them with any sound. Further, 
different nations having given different names to things, 
and even to those which are most clear and simple as, for 
instance, to those which are the objects of geometry they 
could not have the same reasonings touching the same 
truths, if reasoning were only an assemblage of names con 
nected together by the word est. And thus, too, it appears, 
in consequence of these different words, that the Arabians, 
for example, who do not agree with the French in giving 
the same significations to sounds, would not be able at all 
to agree in their judgments and reasonings, if their reason 
ings depended on that convention. 

In fine, when we speak of the signification of words as 
arbitrary, there is much that is equivocal in the term arbi 
trary. It is indeed a thing quite arbitrary that we join a 
given idea to a certain sound, rather than to another ; but 
the ideas are not arbitrary thintrs, and do not depend upon 


our fancy ; at all events those which fire clear and distinct. 
And this may be clearly shown, since it would be ridicu 
lous to suppose that effects which are very real could depend 
on things purely arbitrary. When, for instance, a man has 
by reasoning come to the conclusion that an iron axle which 
passes through the two stones of a mill, might be turned with 
out turning the one below, if being round it pass through a 
round hole ; but that it could not be turned without turn 
ing the one above, if being square it were fixed in a square 
hole in this upper stone ; the effect which he has supposed 
follows infallibly. And therefore, his reasoning in this case 
was not an assemblage of names according to a convention 
which depends entirely on the fancy of men ; but a solid 
and effective judgment on the nature of things through the 
consideration of certain ideas which he had in his mind, 
and which it has pleased men to represent by certain names. 

We see therefore sufficiently what is understood by the 
term idea, it remains to say a word or two of their origin. 

The whole question resolves itself into this, whether 
all our ideas come to us through sense, and whether we 
may accept, as true, that common maxim nihil est in in- 
tellectu quod non prius fuerit in sensu. This is the opinion of 
a philosopher of repute, who commences his logic with this 
proposition, Omnis idea orsum ducit a sensibus. Every 
idea takes its origin from sense. He confesses, however, 
that all our ideas have not been in our sense in the same 
form which they are in our mind ; but he maintains that 
they have at least been formed from those which had come 
through our sense, either by composition, as when, for in 
stance, from the separate images of gold, and a mountain, 
we form a mountain of gold ; or, by amplification and dimi 
nution, as when, from the image of a man of ordinary sta 
ture, we form a giant or a pigmy ; or, by accommodation 
and analogy, as when, from the idea of a house which we 
have seen, we form the image of a house which we have 
not seen. " And thus," says he, " we conceive God, who 
is not an object of sense, under the image of a venerable 
old man." According to that opinion, though some of our 
ideas might not resemble any particular body which we 
had seen, or which had struck our sense, they would, 
nevertheless, be all corporeal, and we could represent 


nothing which had not entered through sense, at least in 
part. And thus we could conceive nothing but by means 
of sensible images of those, to wit, which are formed in our 
brain, when we see or imagine to ourselves some corporeal 

But, although this opinion is common to him with many 
philosophers of the schools, I do not hesitate to say that 
it is very absurd, and as contrary to religion as it is to true 
philosophy ; for, to say nothing of its clearness, is there 
anything which we perceive more distinctly than our 
thought itself; or can any proposition be more clear than 
this,/ think, therefore, I am ? Now we cannot have any 
certainty of this proposition, unless we conceive distinctly 
what it is to be and what it is to think ; and it cannot be 
demanded that we explain these terms, because they are 
among the number of those which are so well understood 
by all the world, that they would only be obscured by any 
attempt at explanation. If, therefore, it cannot be denied 
that we have within, ideas of being and of thought, I ask, 
through what sense have they entered ? arc they luminous, 
or coloured, that they have entered through sight ? of a 
grave, or acute sound, that they have entered through 
hearing ? of a good, or bad odour, that they have entered 
through smell ? a good, or bad flavour, that they have 
entered through taste ? cold or hot, hard or soft, that they 
liave entered by touch ? and if it be said that they have 
been formed from other sensible images, it may be asked, 
what are those other sensible images, from which it is pre 
tended that these ideas of being, and of thought, have been 
formed, and how have they been formed, by composition, 
or by amplification, or by diminution, or by analogy ? 
And if no reply can be given to these inquiries, which are 
so reasonable, it must be confessed that the ideas of leim/ 
and thought do not, in the least, derive their origin from 
sense, but that the mind has the faculty of forming for it 
self these ideas, though it often happens that it is aroused 
to do this by something which strikes the sense, as a 
painter may be induced to make a picture, in consequence 
of the sum which has been promised him, without being 
able, on that account, to say that the painting had its ori 
gin in money. 


But that which these same authors add, that the idea 
which we have of God takes its rise from sense, because 
we conceive him under the idea of a venerable old man, is 
a notion worthy only of the anthropomorphites, or which 
confounds the true ideas which we have of spiritual things 
with the false imaginations which we form through the bad 
habit of striving to imagine everything, whilst it is as ab 
surd to try to imagine that which is not corporeal as it is 
to endeavour to hear colour, or to see sounds. 

To refute this opinion, it is only necessary to consider 
that, if we had no other idea of God than that of a vener 
able old man, all the judgments which we form of God 
would be false, since they would be contrary to that idea ; 
for we are naturally led to believe that our judgments are 
false, when we see clearly that they are contrary to the 
ideas which we have of things. And thus we could not 
judge, with truth, that God has no parts, that he is not cor 
poreal, that he is everywhere, that he is invisible, since 
none of all this is in harmony with the idea of a venerable 
old man. And if God is sometimes represented under this 
form, it does not follow that we must have this idea of 
him, since in this case we could have no idea of the Holy 
Spirit but that of a dove, since he is represented to us in the 
form of a dove ; or, we must conceive of God as a sound, 
since the sound of the name helps to awaken within us the 
idea of God. 

It is false, therefore, that all our ideas come through 
sense. On the contrary, it may be affirmed, that no idea 
which we have in our minds has taken its rise from sense, 
except on occasion of those movements which are made in 
the brain through sense, the impulse from sense giving oc 
casion to the mind to form different ideas which it would 
not have formed without it, though these ideas have very 
rarely any resemblance to what takes place in the sense 
and in the brain ; and there are at least a very great num 
ber of ideas which, having no connection with any bodily 
image, cannot, without manifest absurdity, be referred to 

And if any one objects, that at the same moment in 
which we have an idea in the mind, of things spiritual, as 
of thought, for instance, we form some bodily image at 


least of the sound which expresses it, this will not be at all 
opposed to what we have already proved ; for that image 
of the sound of the thought Avhieh we imagine is not the 
representation of the thought itself, but only of the sound ; 
and it helps us to conceive of it only inasmuch as the mind 
being accustomed, Avhen it conceives the sound, to conceive 
also the thought, forms at once an idea of the thought al 
together spiritual, which has no natural relation to the 
sound, and is connected with it by custom only. This is 
seen in the case of the deaf, who, having no images of 
sounds, have, nevertheless, ideas of their thoughts, at least 
when they reflect on what they think about. 



ALL that we conceive is represented to our mind, either 
as a thing, or as a manner of a thing, or as a thin"- modi 

I call a tiling that which we conceive as subsisting by 
itself, and as the subject of all which we conceive of it. 
This is otherwise termed substance. 

I call manner of a tiling, or mode, or attribute, or (/i/alit//. 
that which, being conceived in the thing, and as not able 
to subsist without it, determines it to be of a certain fashion, 
and to be so denominated. 

I call a tiling modified when I consider the substance, as> 
determined in a certain manner or mode. 

This will be better comprehended by a few examples. 
When I consider a lody, the idea which I have of it re 
presents to me a thing, or a substance, because I consider 
it as a thing which subsists by itself, and which needs no 
other subject in order to exist. But when I consider that 
this body is round, the idea which I have of roundness re- 


rally exist ; not that Ave cannot conceive the mode without 
giving a distinct and express attention to its subject, but 
what shows that the notion of relation to a substance 
is involved, at least confusedly, in that of mode, is, that 
we are not able to deny that relation of mode without de 
stroying the idea which we had of it, whereas, when we 
conceive two things as two substances, we may deny the 
one of the other, without destroying the ideas which we 
had of each. For example, I am able clearly to conceive 
prudence without paying distinct attention to a man who 
may be prudent ; but I cannot conceive prudence in deny 
ing the relation which it has to a man, or to some other 
intelligent nature which may have that virtue ; arid, on 
the contrary, when I have considered all that belongs to 
an extended substance, which is called body, as extension, 
figure, mobility, divisibility ; and when, on the other hand, 
I consider all that belongs to the mind, and to substance 
Avhich thinks, as thinking, doubting, remembering, willing, 
reasoning, I can deny of the substance extended all that I 
conceived of the substance which thinks, without ceasing, 
on that account, to conceive very distinctly the substance 
extended, and all the other attributes which are joined to 
it ; and I can reciprocally deny of the substance which 
thinks, all that I have conceived of the substance extended, 
and, nevertheless, conceive very distinctly all which I had 
conceived of the substance which thinks. This proves, 
likewise, that thought is not a mode of substance extended, 
since extension, and all the purposes which belong to it, 
may be denied of thought, while we are still able to con 
ceive thought very clearly. 

It maybe remarked, on the subject of modes, that there 
are some which may be called internal, because they arc 
conceived to be in the substance, as round, square ; and 
others which maybe called external, because they are taken 
from something which is not in the substance, as loved, 
seen, desired, which are names taken from the actions of 
another, and this is what is called in the schools fkn(/ini- 
nation c.ctt-rne ; and if these modes are taken from some 
manner in which we conceive things, they are called second 
intentions. Thus, being subject, being attribute, are second 
intentions, because thev are modes under which we con- 


ceive things, which are obtained from the operation of the 
mind, which has connected together two ideas in affirming 
the one of the other. It may be remarked, further, that 
there are some modes which may be called substantial, 
because they represent to us true substances, applied to 
other substances as their modes and manners ; clothed, 
armed, are modes of this sort. There are others which 
may be called simply, real; and these are the true modes, 
which are not substances, but manners of substance. There 
are, finally, some which may be called negative, because 
they represent to us substance, with a negation of some 
mode, real or substantial. 

And if the objects represented by these ideas, whether 
substances or modes, be really such as they are represented 
to us, they are called true ; and if they are not such, they 
are false, in the way which they may be, and these are 
what are called in the schools beings of reason (entia rati- 
onis), which consist commonly in the union which the 
mind makes of two ideas real in themselves, but which are 
not truly connected together so as to form a single idea ; 
and as when we may form to ourselves a mountain of gold, 
it is a being of reason, because it is composed of two ideas 
of a mountain, and of gold, which it represents as united, 
though they are not really so. 



WE may bring under this consideration of ideas in relation 
to their objects, the ten categories of Aristotle, since they 
are only different classes to which that philosopher chose 
to reduce all the objects of our thought, comprising all 
substances under the first, and all accidents under the nine 
others. They are the following : 


I. Substance, which is either spiritual or corporeal, &c. 

II. Quantity, which is called discrete when the parts are 
not connected, as number ; continuous, when they are con 
nected, and then it is either successive, as time, motion ; 
or permanent, which is what is otherwise called space or 
extension, in length, breadth, and depth; length alone 
constitutes lines; length and breadth, surfaces; and the 
three together, solids. 

III. Quality, of which Aristotle makes four kinds : 
The first comprehends habits: that is to say, the dis 
positions of mind or body which are acquired by repeated 
acts, as the sciences, virtues, vices, skill in painting, writing, 

The second, natural powers : such are the faculties of the 
mind or body understanding, will, memory, the live senses, 
the power of walking. 

The third, sensible qualities: as hardness, softness, heavi 
ness, cold, heat, colour, sound, smell, the different tastes. 

The fourth, form or fly/ire: which is the external deter 
mination of quantity, as to be round, square, spherical, 

IV. Relation, of one thing to another, as of father, of 
son, of master, of servant, of king, of subject; of power to 
its object ; of sight to that which is visible ; and all which 
indicates comparison, as like, equal, larger, smaller. 

V. Action, either in oneself, as walking, dancing, know 
ing, loving ; or without oneself, as beating, falling, break 
ing, lighting, warming. 

VI. Passion, to be beaten, to be broken, to be lighted, 
to be warmed. 

VII. Where, that is to say, that which answers to the 
questions respecting place, as to be at Home, at Paris, in 
his cabinet, in his bed, in his chair. 

VIII. When, that is to say, that which answers to the 


questions which relate to time ; as, When did he live ? A 
hundred years ago. When was that done ? Yesterday. 

IX. Situation, as sitting, standing, lying, before, behind, 
to the right, to the left. 

X, Habit, that is to say, what we have about one for 
clothing, for ornament, for defence ; as, to be clothed, to 
be crowned, to be sandalled, to be armed. 

These are the ten categories of Aristotle, about which 
there has been so much mystery, although, in truth, they 
are in themselves of very little use, and not only do not 
contribute much to form the judgment, which is the end 
of true logic, but often are very injurious, for two reasons, 
which it is important to remark. 

The first is : That we regard the categories as some 
thing founded on reason and truth, whereas, they are alto 
gether arbitrary, and are founded only in the imagination 
of a man who had no authority to prescribe a law to others 
who have as much right as lie to arrange, after another 
manner, the objects of their thoughts, each according to 
his method of philosophising. And, indeed, there are 
some who have comprised, in the following distich, every 
thing in the world which, according to the new philosophy, 
wo are capable of considering : 

" Mons, im-risura, quips, iiiotus, positura, fijrurn, 
Sunt cum nuvteriu euticturum oxordin rontni." 

That is to 8ny, that those philosophers maintain that we 
may explain everything in nature by considering these 
noven things, or modes, alone. 

1. MCII^ MI ml, or the substance which thinks. 
11. 3/oteria, foxA/, or substance extended. 

III. il/<w/mr, groutness or smallness of each part of 


IV. Poitfura, thoir situation in relation to each other. 
V. /Yt/Hw, thoir tiguro. 

VI. Afotas, thoir motion. 
VII. (Jttics, thoir rest, or lessor motion. 




WHEN we consider an object in itself, and in its own 
nature, without extending the view of the mind to that 
which it may represent, the idea we have of it is the idea 
of a thing, as of the earth, of the sun ; but when we regard 
a certain object only as representing another, the idea 
which we have of it is the idea of a sign. It is in this 
way that we commonly regard maps and pictures. Thus 
the sign contains two ideas, one of the thing which repre 
sents, another of the thing represented, and its nature con 
sists in exciting the second by means of the first. 

Various divisions of signs may be made, but we shall 
content ourselves here with three, which are of the greatest 

I. There are some signs which are sure, which are 
called in Greek re/c^pta, such as respiration of the life of 
animals ; and there are others which are only probable, 
and which are called in Greek, cr^/zeta, as paleness is only 
a probable sign of the pregnancy of women. 

The majority of rash judgments arise from our confound 
ing these two kinds of signs, and from our attributing an 
effect to a given cause, when it may spring equally well from 
other causes, and is thus only a probable sign of that cause. 

II. There are signs which are connected with things, as 
the expression of the countenance, which is a sign of the 
emotions of the mind, is connected with those emotions 
which it expresses ; symptoms which are the sign of disease 
are connected with those diseases ; and, to have recourse 
to higher examples, as the ark, a sign of the church, was 
connected with Noah and his children, who were the true 
church of that time. Thus our material temples, which 
are signs of the faithful, or often connected with the faith- 


ful. Thus the dove, the image of the Holy Spirit, was 
connected with the Holy Spirit. Thus, too, the water of 
baptism, which is the figure of spiritual regeneration, is 
connected with that regeneration. 

There are also signs which are separated from things, 
as the sacrifices of the ancient law, which are signs of the 
offering of Christ Jesus, were separated from that which 
they represented. 

This division of signs enables us to establish the follow 
ing maxims : 

1. That we are never able to reason certainly either 
from the presence of the sign to the presence of the tiling 
signified, since they are signs of things which are absent; 
or^ from the presence of the sign to the absence of the 
thing signified, since they are signs of things which are 
present. ^ It is, therefore, by its own nature that the sign 
must be judged. 

2. That though a thing in one state cannot be a sign of 
itself in the same state, since every sign requires a dis 
tinction between the thing representing, and that which is 
represented, it is nevertheless very possible that a thino- in 
a certain state may represent itself in another state ; as it 
is very possible that a man in his chamber may represent 
himself preaching; and that thus the only distinction 
necessary between the thing signifying, and the thing si-- 
nified, is that of state : that is to say, that a thing may be 
in one state a thing signifying, and in another a thing 

3. That it is very possible that one thing may hide and 
reveal another thing at the same time, and that thus those 
who have said that nothing is -made manifest l>j that u-hich 
hides it, have advanced a maxim far from true ; for since 
the same thing may be at the same time both a thing and 
a sign, it may obscure, as a thing, that which it reveals as 
a sign ; thus the warm ashes hkle the fire as a thing, and 
reveal it as a sign ; thus the forms assumed by angels hide 
them as things, and reveal them as signs ; thus the eucha- 
ristic emblems hide the body of Jesus Christ as a thing, 
while they reveal it as a symbol. 

4.^ We may conclude that since the nature of the sign 
consists in exciting in the sense by means of the idea of 


the thing signifying, that of the thing signified, that so long 
as that effect remains that is to say, so long as that double 
idea is excited the sign remains, even though the thing in 
its proper nature be destroyed. Thus it matters not 
whether the colours of the rainbow which God has taken 
as a sign that he would no more destroy the human race 
by a flood, be true and real, provided that our senses 
always receive the same impression, and that we are 
enabled by this impression to realise God s promise ; in 
the same way it matters not whether the bread of the 
Eucharist remains in its proper nature, provided that it 
always excites in our sense the image of that bread which 
enables us to conceive in what way the body of Jesus 
Christ is the nourishment of our souls, and how the faithful 
are united to each other. 

III. The third division of signs is that of natural ones, 
which do not depend on the fancies of men, as an image 
which appears in a mirror is a natural sign of that which 
it represents ; and of others which exist only from institu 
tion and establishment, and which have only a distant 
relation to the thing signified, or it may be, none at all. 
Thus words are by institution the signs of thought, and 
characters of words. We shall explain, in treating of 
propositions, an important truth in relation to these kinds 
of signs, to wit, that we are able on some occasions to 
affirm the thing signified. 



The remark made by the way, in Chap. II., that we 
are able to consider a mode without making any distinct 


reflection on the substance of which it is the mode, fur 
nishes us with an opportunity of explaining what is called 
Mental Abstraction. 

The limited extent of our mind renders us incapable of 
comprehending perfectly things which are a little com 
plex, in any other way than by considering them in their 
parts, and, as it were, through the phases which they are 
capable of receiving. This is what may be termed, gener 
ally, knowing by means of abstraction. 

But since things are differently compounded, and there 
are some which are composed of parts really distinct, 
as, for instance, the human body, the different parts of a 
number ; it is in such cases very easy to conceive that our 
mind can apply itself to consider one part without consider 
ing another, since these parts arc really distinct ; and this 
is not even called abstraction. Jt is, however, even in these 
things so useful to consider the parts separately rather than 
the whole, that without this, it is scarcely possible to have any 
distinct knowledge. For example, what means have we of 
obtaining a knowledge of the human body except by 
dividing it into all its parts, similar and dissimilar, and 
giving to each of these different names? All arith 
metic is founded on this, for there is no need of art in 
order to reckon small numbers, since the mind is able to 
comprehend them all at once ; thus the whole art consists 
in counting by parts that which we are unable to count as 
a whole, since it would be impossible, however comprehen 
sive our mind might be, to multiply two numbers of eight 
or nine figures each, taking them all together at once. 

The second knowledge by parts, is when ire consider a 
mode without paying attention to the substance, or two 
modes which are united together in the same substance, 
considering them each apart. This is what is done by the 
geometers, who have taken as the object of their science, 
body extended in length, breadth, and thickness. For in 
order to obtain a better knowledge of it, they have first 
applied themselves to the consideration of it, in relation to 
one dimension alone, which is length ; and they have then 
given to it the name of line. They have afterwards con 
sidered it in respect to the two dimensions of length and 
breadth, and have called it surface. And, finally, consider- 


ing all three dimensions, length, breadth, and thickness 
together, they have called it solid or body. 

Hence it may be seen how ridiculous is the argument of 
certain sceptics, who would call in question the certitude 
of geometry, because it supposes lines and surfaces which 
are not in nature ; for the geometers do not suppose that 
there are lines without breadth, or surfaces without depth, 
they suppose only that we are able to consider length, 
without paying attention to breadth ; and this is indubit 
able, as when we measure the distance from one town to 
another, we measure only the length of the road, without 
troubling ourselves with its breadth. 

Now, the more we are able to distribute things into 
different modes, the more capable does the mind become 
of obtaining a thorough knowledge of them ; and thus we 
see, in relation to motion, that as long as the determination 
towards a certain spot was not distinguished from the 
motion itself, and from different parts even in the same 
determination, so long no satisfactory account could be 
given of reflection and refraction, which is now easily 
accomplished by that distinction, as may be seen in the 
second chapter of the Optics of Descartes. 

The third way of conceiving things by abstraction is, 
when a single thing, having different attributes, we think 
of one without thinking of another, although there may 
exist between them only a discrimination of reason ; and 
this is brought about as follows : I consider, for example, 
that I think, and that, consequently, it is myself that is 
thinking, in the idea which I have of myself thinking, I 
am able to confine my attention to a thing which thinks, 
without paying any regard to the fact that it is myself, 
although within me, myself and he who thinks may be 
only one and the same thing. And thus the idea which I 
have conceived of a person who thinks, will be able to 
represent, not myself alone, but all other persons who 
think. In the same way, having drawn on paper an equi 
lateral triangle, if I confine myself to the consideration of 
it in the place where it is, with all the accidents which 
determine it, I shall have the idea of that triangle alone ; 
but if I detach my mind from the consideration of all these 
particular circumstances, and consider only that it is a 


figure bounded by three equal lines, the idea which I form 
of it will, on the one hand, represent to me more accurately 
that equality of lines ; and, on the other, will be able to 
represent to me all equilateral triangles. And if, not re 
stricting my^lf to that equality of lines, but proceeding 
further, I consider only that it is a figure bounded by three 
right lines, I shall form an idea which will represent all 
kinds of triangles. If, again, not confining myself to the 
number of lines, I simply consider that it is a plane surface, 
bounded by right lines, the idea which I form will repre 
sent all rectilineal figures ; and thus, step by step, I am 
able to ascend to extension itself. Now, in these abstrac 
tions, we see 1 at the inferior degree always comprehends 
the superior, to- ihcr with some particular determination. ; 
as myself compr lends that which thinks, and equilateral 
triangle comprt ends triangle, and triangle, rectilineal 
figure ; but that the superior degree, being less determinate, 
is able to represent a greater number of things. 

Finally, it is clear that, by these abstractions, the ideas 
of singular things become common, and the common, more 
common ; and thus this gives us the opportunity of passing 
to what we have to say concerning ideas, considered in 
relation to their universality or particularity. 



ALTHOUGH all things that exist be singular, we are never 
theless, by means of these abstractions which we have just 
explained, enabled to have many sorts of ideas, some of 
which only represent to us a single thing ; as the idea 
which any one has of himself; others being able equally 
well to represent many ; as when any one has conceived a 
triangle, without considering anything else respecting it. 


ing all three dimensions, length, breadth, and thickness 
together, they have called it solid or body. 

Hence it may be seen how ridiculous is the argument of 
certain sceptics, who would call in question the certitude 
of geometry, because it supposes lines and surfaces which 
are not in nature ; for the geometers do not suppose that 
there are lines without breadth, or surfaces without depth, 
they suppose only that we are able to consider length, 
without paying attention to breadth ; and this is indubit 
able, as when we measure the distance from one town to 
another, we measure only the length of the road, without 
troubling ourselves with its breadth. 

Now, the more we are able to distribute things into 
different modes, the more capable does the mind become 
of obtaining a thorough knowledge of them ; and thus we 
see, in relation to motion, that as long as the determination 
towards a certain spot was not distinguished from the 
motion itself, and from different parts even in the same 
determination, so long no satisfactory account could be 
given of reflection and refraction, which is now easily 
accomplished by that distinction, as may be seen in the 
second chapter of the Optics of Descartes. 

The third way of conceiving things by abstraction is, 
when a single thing, having different attributes, ice think 
of one without thinking of another, although there may 
exist between them only a discrimination of reason ; and 
this is brought about as follows : I consider, for example, 
that I think, and that, consequently, it is myself that is 
thinking, in the idea which I have of myself thinking, I 
am able to confine my attention to a thing which thinks, 
without paying any regard to the fact that it is myself, 
although within me, myself and he who thinks may be 
only one and the same thing. And thus the idea which I 
have conceived of a person who thinks, will be able to 
represent, not myself alone, but all other persons who 
think. In the same way, having drawn on paper an equi 
lateral triangle, if I confine myself to the consideration of 
it in the place where it is, with all the accidents which 
determine it, I shall have the idea of that triangle alone ; 
but if I detach my mind from the consideration of all these 
particular circumstances, and consider only that it is a 


figure bounded by three equal lines, tlie idea which I form 
of it will, on the one hand, represent to me more accurately 
that equality of lines ; and, on the other, will be able to 
represent to me all equilateral triangles. And if, not re 
stricting myself to that equality of lines, but proceeding 
further, I consider only that it is a figure bounded by three 
right lines, I shall form an idea which will represent all 
kinds of triangles. If, again, not confining myself to the 
number of lines, I simply consider that it is a plane surface, 
bounded by right lines, the idea which I form will repre 
sent all rectilineal figures ; and thus, step by step, I am 
able to ascend to extension itself. Now, in these abstrac 
tions, we see that the inferior degree always comprehends 
the superior, together with some particular determination; 
as myself comprehends that which thinks, and equilateral 
triangle comprehends triangle, and triangle, rectilineal 
figure; but that the superior degree, being less determinate, 
is able to represent a greater number of things. 

Finally, it is clear that, by these abstractions, the ideas 
of singular things become common, and the common, more 
common ; and thus this gives us the opportunity of passing 
to what we have to say concerning ideas, considered in 
relation to their universality or particularity. 



ALTHOUGH all things that exist be singular, we are never 
theless, by means of these abstractions which we have just 
explained, enabled to have many sorts of ideas, some of 
which only represent to us a single thing ; as the idea 
which any one has of himself ; others being able equally 
well to represent many ; as when any one has conceived a 
triangle, without considering anything else respecting it. 


except that it is a figure containing three sides and three 
angles, the idea which he has formed of it will enable him 
to conceive all other triangles. 

Those ideas which only represent a single thing are 
called singular or individual, and the things they represent 
individuals; and those which represent many individuals 
are called universal, common, or general. 

The names which we employ to mark the first are called 
proper, as Socrates, Rome, Bucephalus ; and those which 
are employed to mark the last, common, and appellative, as 
man, town, horse ; and the universal idea, as well as the 
common names, may be called general terms. 

But it must be remarked that words are general in two 
ways : One which is called univocal, which is, when they 
are connected with general ideas, so that the same word 
answers to many, both according to its sound, and accord 
ing to the idea itself, with which it is connected ; such are 
the words to which we have referred man, town, horse. 
The other, which is called equivocal, is when the same 
sound has been joined by men to different ideas, so that 
the same sound applies to many, not according to the same 
idea, but according to different ideas with which it has 
become connected through custom. Thus the word canon 
signifies an engine of war, a decree of council, and an 
article of dress ; but it also signifies these in relation to 
ideas altogether different. 

This equivocal universality is, nevertheless, of two kinds. 
For the different ideas which are united to the same sound 
have either no natural relation between themselves, as in 
the word canon ; or they have some connection, as when a 
word being principally united to an idea, we only join it 
to some other idea, because it has some relation of cause, 
or effect, or sign, or resemblance, to the first ; and these 
kinds of equivocal words are then termed analogous, as 
when the word healthy (sain) is attributed to an animal, to 
the air, and to food ; for the idea united to this word is 
principally health (sante), which applies only to an animal ; 
but there is united to it another idea related to that, which 
is being the cause of health, which leads us to say that 
the air is healthy (sain), that food is healthy, because they 
contribute to the preservation of health. 


When, however, we here speak of general terms, we 
understand the v^ivocal, which arc united to universal and 
general ideas. 

Now, in these universal ideas there are two things, which 
it is very important accurately to distinguish COMPREHEN 
SION and EXTENSION. I call the COMPREHENSION of an idea, 
those attributes ivhich it involves in itself, and which cannot be 
taken away from it without destroying it; as the comprehension 
of the idea triangle includes extension, figure, three lines, three 
angle?, and the equality of these three angles to two rigid 
angles, <Jr. 

/ call the EXTENSION <>f an idea those subjects to which that 
idea applies, which are also called the inferiors of a general 
term, which, in relation to them, is called superior, as the idea 
of triangle in general extends to all the different sorts of tri 

But although the general idea extends indistinctly to 
all the subjects to which it belongs, that is to say, to all 
its inferiors, and the common name expresses them all, 
there is, nevertheless, this difference between the attributes 
which it comprehends and the subjects to which it extends, that 
none of its attributes can he taken a/way without destroying it, 
as we have already said, whereas ice may restrict it, as to its 
extension, by applying it only to some of those subjects to ichich 
it agrees, ivithout effecting its destruction by so doing. 

Now this restriction or contraction of the general idea, 
as to its extension, may be effected in two ways. 

The first is, by joining to it another idea, distinct and 
determined ; as when, to the general idea of triangle, I 
add that of having a right angle, this restricts that idea to 
a single species of triangle, which is the rectangled tri 

The other is, by joining to it only an indistinct and 
indeterminate idea of a part, as when I say some triangle. ; 
the common term is then said to become particular, since 
it extends only to a part of these subjects to which it 
before extended, while it is, nevertheless, not determined 
what that part is, to which it is thus restricted. 





WHAT we have said in the preceding chapters enables us 
to render intelligible, in a few words, the five Universals, 
which are commonly expounded in the schools. For, 
when general ideas represent to us their objects, as things, 
and are marked by terms called substantive or absolute, 
they are called genera or species. 

G-ENUS. Those are called GENERA, which are so com 
mon that they extend to other ideas, which are yet themsekts 
universal* ; as, quadrilateral is a genus in relation to paral 
lelogram and trapezium ; substance is a genus in relation to 
substance extended, which is called body, and to sub 
stance that thinks, which is called mind. 

SPECIES. And those common ideas which are under 
one more common or general are called SPECIES ; as paral 
lelogram and trapezium are species of quadrilateral ; body 
and S mind, of substance. And thus the same idea may be 
a cenus, when compared with other ideas to which it 
extends, and a species, when compared to another which 
is more general. Thus body, which is a genus in relation 
to body animate and inanimate, is a species in relation to 
substance ; and quadrilateral, which is a genus in relation 
to parallelogram and trapezium, is a species in relation to 

But there is another notion of the word species, which 
is applicable only to ideas which cannot become genera : 
this is the case when an idea contains under it only the 
individual and the singular; as circle has under it only 
individual circles, which are all of the same species. This 
is Avhat is termed the lowest species (species infima). ^ And 
there is a genus which is not a species, to wit, the highest 
of all genera ; whether this genus be being, or whether it 


be substance, is a point of little consequence, and belongs 
more to metaphysics than to logic. 

I have said that the general ideas which represent their 
objects to us as hings, are called genera or species; for it 
is not necessary that the objects of these ideas be really 
things and substances, it is enough that we consider them 
as things, inasmuch as, even where they are modes, we do 
not refer them to their substances, but to other ideas of 
mode, more or less general ; as figure, which is only a 
mode in relation to figured body, is a genus in relation to 
figures curvilineal and rectilineal, &c. And, on the con 
trary, those ideas which represent their objects to us as 
things modified, and which are expressed by terms adjec 
tive or connotative, if we compare them with the substances 
which these connotative terms signify confusedly, though 
directly (whether, in truth, these connotative terms signify 
essential attributes, which are, in reality, only the thing 
itself, or whether they signify true modes), they are not 
then called either genera or species, but differences, properties, 
or accidents. 

They are called differences, when the object of these 
ideas is an essential attribute, which distinguishes one 
species from another : as extended, heavy, reasonable. 

They arc called. properties, when their object is an attri 
bute, which belongs, indeed, to the essence of the thing, 
but which is not the first we consider in that essence, but 
only dependent on the first : as divisible, immortal, teach 

And they are called common accidents when their object 
is a true mode, which may be separated, at least, by the 
mind, from the thing of which it is termed the accident, 
without destroying in our mind the idea of that thing : as 
round, hard, just, prudent. This it is necessary to explain 
more particularly. 

DIFFERENCE. When a genus has two species, the -idea 
of each species must necessarily comprehend something icldch 
z x not comprised in the idea of the genus, otherwise, if each 
contained only u-hat is comprised in the genus, there would 
be only the genus; and, as the genus agree* with every 
species, every species ivould agree icitJt each other. Thus 



the first essential attribute, that each species comprehends 
more than the genus, is called its DIFFERENCE, and the idea 
which we have of it is a universal idea, because one and 
the same idea may represent to us that difference wherever 
we find it, that is to say, in all the inferiors of the specie* 

Example. pody and mind are two species of substance, 
it is, therefore, necessary that there be something more 
in the idea of body than in that of substance, and abo in 
that of mind. Now the first thing we see more in the bod v 
extension, and the first thing we see more in spirit 
is thought Thus the difference of body will be exten 
sion, and that of mind, thought, that is to say, bodv will 
be a substance extended, and mind a substance which 

Hence we may see, in the first place, that the difference 
has two aspects one io the genus, which it divides and 
shares, another to the species, which it creates and consti 
tute* making the chief part of that which is included in 
the idea of species according to its comprehension ; whence 

t happens that all species may be expressed by a single 
name, as mind, body, or, by two words, viz., by that of 

ie genus and that of its species united together. This is 
what is termed definition: as substance extended, substance 
which thinks. 

We may see, in the second place, that since the differ 
ence constitutes the species, and distinouishes it from other 
species, it must have the same extension as the species 
and thus, that we must needs be able to affirm them re- 
dprocally of each other, as everything that thinks is mind 
and all that is mind, thinks. 

It often, however, happens, that in certain things we 
do not see any attribute such that it agrees to the whole 
4 a species, and to nothing but that species. In this case 
we join several attributes together, the union of which 
being only found in that species, constitutes its difference 
Ihus the Platonists, holding the demons to be rational 
animals as well as man, found that the difference, rational 
was not convertible with man, hence they added to it 
another, mortal, which is not convertible with man 
either, since it agrees also with beasts ; but the two to 
gether agree with man alone. And we proceed in the 


same way, in the idea which we form to ourselves of the 
majority of animals. 

Finally, it may be remarked, that it is not always ne 
cessary that the two differences which divide a genus be loth 
positive ; it is sufficient if one be so, as two men are dis 
tinguished from one another, if one has a commission which 
the other has not, though he who has not the commission 
may have nothing which the other has not. It is thus that 
man is distinguished from the beasts in general, inasmuch 
as man is an animal endowed with a mind, animal 
mente pra ditum, and that a beast is simply an animal 
animal memni ; for the idea of beast, in general, involves 
nothing positive which may not be in man ; there is only 
joined to it the negation of that which is in man, to wit, 
mind, so that ail the difference which exists between the 
idea of animal and that of brute, is, that the idea of animal 
does not involve thouglit in it* comprehension, but does not. 
exclude it either, since it includes it in its extension ; where 
as, the idea of brute excludes it in its con/prehension, and 
thus cannot agree with an animal that thinks. 

PROPERTY. When ice have found the difference which 
constitutes a species, that is to say, it* main essential attri 
bute, which distinguishes it from all other species, if, con 
sidering its nature more particularly, we, discover in it some 
other attribute which is necessarily connected, with the first, 
and which, consequently, agrees to the whole of that specie, 
and, to that species alone omni et soli we denominate -it 
PROPERTY, and expressing it by a connotative term, ice attri 
bute it to t/ie species as its property. And since it agrees 
with all the inferiors of the species, and that the single 
idea which we have once formed of it will represent 
that property wherever we may meet with it, we make 
it the fourth of the terms common and universal. 

Example. To have a right angle is the essential differ 
ence of a rectangular triangle ; and since it follows neces 
sarily, in relation to a right angle, that the square of the 
side which subtends it be equal to the squares of the tvvo 
sides which contain it, the equality of these squares is re 
garded as the property of a rectangular triangle, which is 
common to all rectangular triangles, and to them alone. 


The word property has, however, been sometimes ex 
tended beyond this, and four species of it have been dis 

The first is that which we have explained "quod con- 
venit omni, et soli, et semper" as it is the property of every 
circle, of the circle alone, and always that the lines drawn 
from the centre to the circumference be equal. 

The second " quod convenit omni, sed non soli" as we 
say that divisibility is the property of extension, since any 
thing extended may be divided, although time, number, 
and force, may be so also. 

The third is " quod convenit soli, sed non omni" as it 
belongs to man alone to be a physician or a philosopher, 
though all men may not be so. 

The fourth " quod convenit omni et soli, sed non semper" 
an example of which is given in the changing of colour 
of the hair to grey canes cere which is common to all 
men, and to men alone, but only in old age. 

ACCIDENT. "We have already said, in the second chap 
ter, that what is called a mode is that which can ^ only 
exist naturally, by means of a substance, and which is not 
necessarily connected with the idea of a thing, so that we 
can easily conceive the thing without conceiving the mode, 
as we can easily conceive a man without conceiving that 
he is prudent ; but we cannot conceive prudence without 
conceiving either a man or some other intelligent nature, 
which may be prudent. 

Now, when we connect a confused and indeterminate 
idea of substance with a distinct idea of some mode, that 
idea is capable of representing anything in which the mode 
can exist : as the idea of prudent, all prudent men, the 
idea of round, all round bodies ; and then this idea, ex 
pressed by a connotative term prudent, round makes the 
fifth universal, which we call accident, since it is not 
essential to the thing to which it is attributed ; for, if it 
were, it would be difference or property. 

But it must be noticed here, as we before said, that 
when we consider two substances together, we may regard 
one as a mode of the other. Thus a man dressed may be 
considered as a whole made up of the man and his dress ; 


but to be dressed is, in relation to the man, only a mode or 
phase of existence under which we regard him, although 
the parts of the dress may be themselves substances. And 
thus to be clothed is simply a fifth universal. 

This is more than sufficient touching the five universal*, 
which are treated at such length in the schools. For it is 
of very little consequence to knoAv that there are genera, 
species, differences, properties, and accidents ; the main 
thing is to recognise the true genera of things, the triK- 
species of each genus, their true differences, their true 
properties, and the accidents which may be attributed to 
them. On this matter we shall throw some light in the 
following chapter, after having, first of all, said something 
of complex terms. 



WE sometimes join to a term various other terms, which, 
together, constitute in our minds a total idea ; and it often 
happens that we can affirm or deny of the whole, what we 
could not affirm or deny of the terms taken separately : 
Examples of complex terms are a prudent man, a trans 
parent body, Alexander the son of Philip. 

This addition is often made by the relative pronoun, as 
if I say: A body WHICH is transparent; Alexander, WHO it 
the son of Philip ; the Pope, "WTIO is the vicar of Jesus Christ. 
We may, indeed, say, that though the relative be not 
always expressed, it is always in some sort understood, 
since it may be expressed, if we will, without changing 
the proposition ; for it is the same thing to say, a body 
transparent, or a body which is transparent. 

What is most worthy of remark in these complex terms 


individual conditions: as, when I siv TfopL - 


The last arc those, one of whose terms is not expressed, 
but understood simply : as when we say, in France, Tin, 
king, it i.s a complex term in meaning, because we have in 
our minds, in pronouncing the word king, not only the 
general idea which answers to that term, but we men 
tally add thereto the idea of Louis XIV., who is now king 
of France. There are a multitude of terms in the ordi 
nary discourse of men which are complex in this way, as 
the name of master in each family, &c. 

There are words, even, which are complex in expression 
on one account, and also in meaning on another : as when 
we say, The prince of philosophers, there is a complex term 
in the expression, since the word prince is determined by 
that of philosopher; but in relation to Aristotle, who is 
denoted in the schools by this word, it is complex in 
meaning only, since the idea of Aristotle is in the mind 
alone, without being expressed by any sound which dis 
tinguishes him in particular. 

All connotative or adjective terms are either /.-arts of a 
cntuplex term, when their substantive is exiire^et/, or are 
complex in meaning, when it is understood; for, as was 
said in Chapter II., these connotative terms denote, directly, 
though mure confusedly, a suhject, and indirectly, though 
more distinctly, the form or made ; and thus the subject is 
only an idea very general and confused, sometimes of a 
being, sometimes of a body, which is more commonly 
determined by a distinct idea of the form which is joined 
to it : as, (Mum signifies a thing which has whiteness, 
which determines the confused idea of a thing to represent 
those only which have that quality. 

But what is more remarkable in these complex terms 
is, that there arc some which are determined, in /v/zV//. 
to a single individual, and which still preserve a cer 
tain equivocal universality, which may be called an equi 
vocation through mistake, because men, still agreeing 
that the term signifies only a single thing, for want of 
clearly discriminating what that single thing really is, 
apply it, some to one thing, some to another, which makes 
it necessary for it to be still determined, either by various 
circumstances or by what follows, in order that we may 
know exactly what it means. Thus the word true religion. 


signifies a single and unique religion, which is in reality 
the Catholic, it being the only one which is true. But 
since each body and each sect believes that its own reli 
gion is the true one, this word is very equivocal, though 
by mistake, in the mouths of men. And when we read in 
a history that a prince was zealous for the true religion, 
we cannot say what was intended thereby, unless we know 
what was the religion of the historian ; for, if he was a 
Protestant, it would mean the Protestant religion ; if it 
was a Mohammedan Arab, who spoke thus of his prince, 
it would refer to the Mohammedan religion ; and we could 
not determine that it was the Catholic religion unless we 
knew that the historian was a Catholic. 

The complex terms which are thus equivocal through mis 
take, are principally those which involve qualities of 
which the senses do not judge, but the mind only, on 
which men may easily have different opinions. If I say, for 
example, that only men of six feet high were enrolled in 
the army of Marius, the complex term, men of six feet, is 
not liable to the equivocation through mistake, since it is 
very easy to measure men, in order to determine if they 
are six feet ; but if it had been said that only valiant men 
should be enrolled, the term valiant men would have been 
more subject to the equivocation through mistake, that is 
to say, to be attributed to those men who were thought to 
be valiant, and were really not so. 

The terms of comparison are also very subject to be 
come equivocations through mistake : the greatest geome 
ter of Paris the most learned man the most dexterous 
the richest; for though these terms may be determined by 
individual conditions, there being only one man who is the 
greatest geometer in Paris, that word may, nevertheless, be 
easily attributed to many, though it belongs only in reality 
to one, because it is very easy for men to be divided 
in opinion on this subject, and that thus each will give 
that name to the man whom he believes to be superior to 
the others. 

The words, meaning of an author doctrine of an author 
on suck a subject are also of this number, especially when 
an author has been so wanting in clearness, as to render 
it a matter of dispute what his opinion was, as we see the 


philosophers continually dispute about the opinions of 
Aristotle, each dragging him to his own side ; for though 
Aristotle had only a single and unique sense on a given 
subject, nevertheless, as he is differently understood, these 
words, opinion of Aristotle, are equivocations through mis 
take, because each calls the opinion of Aristotle that which 
he understands to be his true opinion; and thus, one under 
standing one thing, and another another, the terms. 
opinion of Aristotle on such a subject, however individual 
they may be in themselves, will belong to many things, 
viz., to all the different opinions which "may be attributed 
to him, and they will express in the mouth of each person 
that which each may conceive to be the opinion of that 

But in order to understand better in what consists the 
equivocations in these terms, which we have called equi 
vocations through mistake, it must be remarked that //>.; 
words are connotatives, either expressly or in signification. 
Now, as we have already said, we ought to consider, in 
connotative words, the subject which is direct!;/, but con 
fusedly expressed, and the form or mode which is distinctly, 
though indirectly, expressed. Thus white signifies a, body 
confusedly ; and whiteness, distinctly. Opinion of Aris 
totle signifies, confusedly, some opinion, some thought, 
some doctrine ; and distinctly, the relation of that thought 
to Aristotle, to whom it is attributed. Now when there 
happens any equivocation in these words, it is not pro 
perly because of this form or mode, which, being distinct, 
is invariable; nor is it because of the subject confused, 
when it remains in that confusion. For example, the ex 
pression prince of philosophers can never be equivocal, so 
long as this idea -prince of philosophers is not applied to 
any individual distinctly known; but the equivocation 
happens solely because the mind, in the place of that sub 
ject confused, often substitutes a subject distinct and deter 
minate, to which it attributes the form and mode ; for, 
since men have different opinions on this subject, they may 
give that quality to different persons, and denote them 
afterwards by this word, which they believe belongs to 
them, as formerly Plato was known by the name of prince 
of philosophers, and noAV Aristotle. 



The expression, true religion, not being connected with 
the distinct idea of any particular religion, and remaining 
in its confused idea, is not equivocal, since it signifies only 
that which is in fact the true religion. But when the mind 
has joined that idea of true religion to a distinct idea of a 
given particular form of worship distinctly known, that 
expression becomes very equivocal, and signifies, in the 
mouth of each body, the form of worship which it considers 
as the true. 

It is the same, also, with these words opinion of such a 
philosopher on such a subject for, remaining in their general 
idea, they signify, simply and generally, the doctrine which 
this philosopher had taught on that subject, as that which 
Aristotle taught on the nature of the soul id quod sensit 
talis scriptor and this id, that is to say, this doctrine, re 
maining in its confused idea, without being applied to a 
distinct idea, these words are not at all equivocal ; but 
when, in place of that id confused, of that doctrine con 
fusedly conceived, the mind substitutes a distinct doctrine 
and a distinct subject, then that term will become equivo 
cal, according to the various distinct ideas which may be 
substituted for it. Thus the opinion of Aristotle, touching 
the nature of the soul, is an equivocal expression in the 
mouth of Pomponacius, who maintained that he believed 
it mortal ; and in the mouths of many other interpreters of 
that philosopher, who maintained, on the contrary, that he 
believed it immortal, as well as his masters, Plato and 
Socrates. And hence it happens that these kind of words 
may often express a thing to which the form, indirectly 
expressed, does not belong. Supposing, for example, that 
Philip had not been really the father of Alexander, as 
Alexanderhimself wished to have itbelieved, the expression, 
son of Philip, which signifies, generally, one who was be 
gotten by Philip, being applied through mistake to Alex 
ander, would signify a person who was not truly the son 
of Philip. 

The expression, sense of Scripture, being applied by a 
heretic to an error contrary to Scripture, would signify, 
in his mouth, that error which he believes to be the sense 
of Scripture, and which he will, in that opinion, call sense 
of Scripture. Hence the Calvinists are not more Catholic 


for protesting that they follow only the Word of God, 
for these words Word of God signify, in their mouth, 
all the errors which they falsely take to be the Word 
of God. 



WE may distinguish, in any idea, the clearness from the 
distinctness, and the obscurity from the confusion ; for we 
may say that an idea is dear u-Iicn it strikes us sensibly, 
though it may not be distinct, as iiie idea of pain, strikes 
us very sensibly, and on that account may be called clear, 
and yet it is very confuted, since it represent* pain to in-; 
as in the hand which is wounded, although it is nlij in 
the mind, We may, nevertheless, say, that every idea is 
distinct, in so far as it is clear, and that the obscurity 
arises only from the confusion : as, in the case of pain, the 
single sensation which strikes us is clear, arid is also dis 
tinct ; but what is confused, i. e., that the sensation i& in 
our hand, is not clear to us. 

Taking, therefore, as the same thing, the clearness and 
distinctness of ideas, it is of great importance to examine 
how the one are clear and the other obscure. But this will 
be known better by examples than by any other way ; and 
we may develop the principles of tiiose ideas which are 
clear and distinct, and the principles of those which are 
confused and obscure. The idea which each has of him 
self, as something that thinks, is very clear; and, in this 
way, also, the idea of everything which depends on our 
thought, as judging, reasoning, doubting, ivishing, desiring, 
feeling, imagining. We have also very clear ideas of sub 
stance extended, and that which belongs to it, as tigure, 
motion, rest ; for though it is possible for us to pretend 
that we have no idea either of body or figure, which we 


cannot pretend of the substance which thinks, so long 
as we are thinking yet we are not able to hide from our 
selves, that we conceive clearly of extension and figure. 

We conceive, also, clearly being, existence, time, order, 
number provided we consider only that the duration of 
each thing is a mode, or phase, under which we consider 
that thing, so long as it continues to be ; so that thus order 
and number are not different in fact from the things which 
are ordered and numbered. All these ideas are so clear, 
that, often wishing to make them more clear, and not being 
satisfied with those which we form naturally, we obscure 
them. We may say, also, that the idea which we have of 
God, in this life, is clear in one sense, though it may be 
obscure and very imperfect in another. It is clear, since 
it suffices to reveal to us in God a very great number of 
attributes which, we are assured, can be found in God 
alone ; but it is obscure, if we compare it with that which 
the blessed in heaven have of Him ; and it is imperfect, in 
that our mind, being finite, is able to conceive an infinite 
object only very imperfectly. But the conditions of an 
idea s perfection are different from those of its clearness, for 
it is perfect when it represents to us all that is in its ob 
ject, and it is clear when it represents to us enough for 
forming a clear and distinct conception of it. 

Confused and obscure ideas are those which we have of 
sensible qualities, as of colour, of sound, of smell, of taste, 
of cold, of heat, of weight, &c. ; as also of our appetites, 
of hunger, of thirst, of bodily pain, &c. ; and we may ex 
plain the cause of confused ideas as follows : As we have 
been children before we were men, and as external things 
have acted on us, causing different sensations in our mind, 
by the impressions which they made on our body, the 
mind, which sees that it was not through its own will that 
these sentiments were excited in it, but that it had them onlv 
in connection with certain bodies, as when it was conscious 
of heat in approaching the fire, was not satisfied with judg 
ing therefrom that there was something without it which 
had been the cause of these sensations, in which it would 
not have been deceived ; but it has gone further in believ 
ing, that what was in these objects was perfectly like the 
sensations, or ideas, which were excited on occasion of 


them, and from these judgments it has formed ideas of 
them, by transferring the sensations of heat, of colour, &c 
to the things themselves, which are without it, And these 
are those confused and obscure ideas which we have of 
sensible qualities, the mind having added its false jud-- 
ments to that which nature reveals to it. 

And as these ideas are not natural but arbitrary, there 
is great inconsistency amongst them ; for though heat and 
burning are only two sensations, one feebler, and the 
other stronger, we have placed heat m the fire, and we 
have said that the fire has heat, but we have not placed 
there burning, or the pain which is felt on approachin- 
too near it ; neither have we said that the fire has pain. 
But though men have seen clearly that pain is not in the 
fire which burns the hand, they have still been deceived 
in believing that it is in the hand that the fire burns, 
whereas, when considered aright, it is only in the mind, 
although on occasion of what takes place in the hand, since 
pain of body is nothing else but a feeling of aversion which 
the mind conceives at some movement contrary to the 
natural constitution of its body. 

This has been confessed, not only by some ancient 
philosophers, as the Cyrenaics, but also by St Augustine 
in several places. " Those pains," says he (in the xiv. book 
of the " City of God," cap. 15), " do not arise from the body, 
but from the mind, which is in the body and on account 
of the body. Dolores qni dicuntnr carnis, animcn suat in 
came, et e.c came; for pain of body," he adds, "is nothing 
else but a grief of mind on account of its body, and the op"- 
position to that which has been done in the body, as the 
pain of mind, which we call sorrow, is the opposition 
which the mind feels to those things which happen con 
trary to its pleasure. Dolor carnis tantum modo o/ensio est 
annnce ex came, et qucedam ab ej/ts passione dlssensio ; sicuti 
animoi dolor, qua tristiticK nuncupating dissensio est ab his 
rebus, qua; nobis noletitibus decider ant" And in the vii. book 
of Genesis, in the note, cap. 19, the repugnance which the 
mind feels at seeing that the action through which it 
governs the body is impeded by some disturbance which 
is made in its temperament, is what is called pain. " Cum 
afflictioms corporis moleste sensit (anima) actionem suam, qua. 


illi regendo adest, turbato ejus temperamento impedire offenditur 
et hcec offensio dolor vocatur" 

In fact, that which shows us that the pain which we call 
corporeal is in the mind, not in the body, is, that the same 
things which occasion us pain when we think of them, 
cause none when our mind is strongly occupied elsewhere, 
as that priest of Calamis, in Africa, of whom St Augustine 
speaks in the xiv. book of the " City of God," cap. 24, who, 
as often as he wished, could so alienate himself from sense 
that he would remain as though dead, and not only was 
not conscious when they pinched or pierced him, but even 
when they burnt him. " Qui quando ei placebat, ad imi- 
tatas quasi lamentcmtis hominis voces, ita se auferebat a seiisi- 
bus, etjacebat simillimus mortuo, ut non solum vellicantes atque 
pungentes minime sentiret, sed aliquando etiam igne ureretur 
adtnoto, sine allo doloris sensu, nisi post modum ex vulnere" 

It must be remarked, further, that it is not properly the 
injured state of the hand, and the change which the burn 
ing causes in it, which makes the mind conscious of pain, 
but that that movement must be communicated to the brain 
by means of the small fibres contained in the nerves, as in 
tubes, which are extended as small threads from the brain 
to the hand and the other parts of the body, so that when 
these small fibres are stirred, that part of the brain also, 
whence they derive their origin, is agitated ; and this is 
why, if any obstruction prevents these threads of nerves 
from communicating their movement to the brain, as is the 
case in paralysis, a man may see his hand cut and burnt 
without being conscious of any pain ; and, on the con 
trary, what appears strange enough, he may have what is 
called pain in the hand without possessing a hand at all, 
as it happens very often to those who have their hand cut 
off, because the fibres of the nerves which extended from 
the hand to the brain, being excited by some movement 
about the elbow, where they terminated when the arm was 
cut off, are still able to affect that part of the brain to which 
they are attached in the same manner as before, when they 
extended clown to the hand, as the extremity of a cord can 
be agitated in the same way by pulling it at the middle as 
at either end. And this it is which causes the mind to feel 
the same pain then, as it felt when the limb was perfect, 


because it excites its attention, at the place in the brain 
e the movement was accustomed to conic, as what 
we see in a mirror appears to us in the place where it would 
have been, if it had been seen by direct rays, because that 
the most common manner of viewing objects. 
And this will enable us to show how very possible it is 
that a mind separated from the body may be tormented by 
e either ot hell or of purgatory, and that it may feel the 
ie pain as we feel when we are burnt, since, even when 
it was in the body, the pain of the burning was in it, and 
not in the body, and was, indeed, nothing else but a thought 
>f sadness which it felt on occasion of what happened* in 
body to which God had united it. Why, therefore, 
may we not conceive that the justice of God may so dis 
pose a certain portion of matter in regard to a mind, as 
that the movement of that matter may be an occasion to 
that mind of afflictive thoughts, which is all that can hap 
pen to our minds in corporeal pain ? 

But to return to confused ideas. That of wei /ht, which 
seems so clear, is no less confused than the others of which 
we have to speak, for children, seeing that stones and such 
like things fall to the ground as soon as they ceased to hold 
them, have formed from this the idea of a thins that falls, 
which idea is natural and true, and further, of some cause 
of that fall, which is also true. But because they see 
nothing but the stone, and not that which impels it,* by a 
hasty judgment they have concluded that what they saw 
not, was not, and that thus the stone fell of itself by an in 
ward principle, without there being anything else to impel 
it downward, and it is to this confused idea, which arose 
only from their error, that they have attached the name of 
gravity, or iceiyht. 

For, as they have seen stones which fall down towards 
the earth of themselves, they have seen also straws which 
move towards amber, and small pieces of iron or steel, 
which move towards the magnet. They have, therefore, 
as much^ reason to place a quality in the straws and in the 
iron, which moves them towards the amber or the matrnet, 
as in the stones to move them towards the earth. Never 
theless^ they have not cho-scn to do so ; but they have 
placed in amber a quality for attracting straws, and one 



woignc, nom a false reasoning which Ins 11 a u 

tor these ideas arise 

arise simply from our 


even true, m one sense, that when filled with air "t, 


^s d t 

the Socinians; for none of these 


ics, that our mind is a subtile flame, rejects/aT 


untenable absurdity, the idea that it could be of earth, or a 
gross air : Quid enim, obsecro te ; terrane tibi aut hoc ncbu- 
loso, aut caliyinoso ccelo, Sato, aut concreta esse videtur tanta vis 
memorial! But they believed that, in subtilising this 
material, they rendered it less gross, less material ; and 
that at length it might become capable of thinking, which 
is a ridiculous fancy. For one matter is not more subtile 
than another, except that, in being divided into parts 
smaller and more agitated, it makes, on the one hand, less 
resistance to other bodies, and, on the other, more easily 
insinuates itself into their pores ; but, divided or not 
divided, agitated or not agitated, it is not on that account 
less material, or less corporeal, or more capable of think 
ing ; since it is impossible to imagine that there is any 
relation between the motion, or figure of matter, subtile or 
gross, with thought ; or that a matter which did not 
think when it was in repose, as the earth, or in moderate 
motion, as the water, could come to know itself when 
agitated somewhat more, and had received three or four 
additional boilings. 

We might extend this subject much further, but this is 
sufficient to enable us to understand all other confused 
ideas, which almost all of them arise from some causes 
similar to those which we have mentioned. The only way 
of remedying this inconvenience is, to throw aside the 
prejudices of our youth, and to believe nothing which is 
within the province of that reason through which we have 
judged of it before, but only through that which we judge 
of it now. Thus we shall arrive at natural ideas; and in 
relation to those which are confused, we shall retain some 
thing clear : as, that in the fire there is something which 
is the cause of our feeling warmth, and that all things 
which are called heavy arc impelled downwards by some 
cause, determining nothing as to what the cause may be, 
Avhich, in the fire, occasions this feeling in us or in the 
stone, which makes it fall to the earth, unless we have 
clear reasons, affording us the knoAvledge of these things. 





d and evil bei -= * 

n d 

or ob- 




In order to unfold these, it would be necessary to eo 
through a complete course of morals ; but we intend here 
mly to ;ive some examples of the manner in which they 
are formed, in joining together a great number of different 
ideas which are not connected in reality, of which we make 
.ose vain phantoms after which men run, and by which 
they are rendered miserable all their lives 

Man finds in himself the idea of happiness and misery; 
and this idea is neither false nor confused so Ion- as it 
remains general. He has also ideas of smallness and 
greatness, of baseness and excellence ; he desires happi 
ness, he slums misery ; he admires excellence, he despises 

^ But the corruption of sin, which separates him from 
trod, in whom alone he can find his true happiness, and 
o whom alone, therefore, he ought to attach the idea of 
j him to connect it with a multitude of things 
into the love of which he is precipitated, in order to seek 
there that happiness which he had lost; and hence it is 
t he forms a multitude of obscure and false ideas in 
representing to himself all the objects of his love as able 
render him happy, and those which deprive him of 
them, as rendering him miserable. In the same way he 
has lost, through sin, true greatness and true excellence- 
thus he is constrained, in order to love himself to 
represent to himself another, which is not so in reality 
3 from himself his misery and his poverty, and to in- 
ude in his idea of happiness a great number of things 
entire y separated from it, to the end that he may elorify 
f and become great; and the ordinary course of 
these false ideas is as follows : 

The first and principal tendency of concupiscence is 
s the pleasures of sense which arise from certain 
:ernal objects; and when the mind perceives that the 
isure which it loves comes to it from these tiling it 
immediately connects with them the idea of good, aiufthat 
of evil to what deprives it of them ;-then, seeing that 
riches and human power are the common means of en- 
it to possess the objects of its desire, it be-ins to 
consider them as great goods; and, consequently; con 
fers the rich and the great, who possess these things, 


happy, and the poor, who are deprived of them, miser- 

Now, since there is a certain excellence in happiness 
the soul never separates these two ideas, and it considers 
always as great those whom it reckons to be happy, and 
as small those whom it considers poor and miserable; and 
this is the reason of the contempt which is shown to the 
poor, and the honour which is done to the rich These 
judgments are so unjust and false, that St Thomas believes 
that it is this respect and esteem for admiration that is 
condemned so severely by the apostle St James, when he 
forbids the giving of a seat more elevated to the rich than 
<o the poor in religious assemblies; for that passa-e can 
not be understood to the letter as a reproof for rendering 
a certain external respect to the rich rather than to the 
poor, since the order of the world, which religion does not 
disturb, allows these preferences, and even saints them 
selves have practised it; it appears that we ou^ht to 
understand it as that inward preference which causes us 
to regard the poor as under the feet of the rich, and the 
rich as infinitely superior to the poor. 
> But though these ideas and these judgments, which arise 
in the soul, are false and unreasonable, they are, neverthe 
less, common to all men who have not corrected them 
since they are produced through the concupiscence by 
which they are all infected. And hence it happens that 
we not only form these ideas of rich men, but we know 
also that others have for them the same feelings of respect 
and admiration; so that we consider their state not only 
surrounded with all pomp, with all the advantages which 
are connected therewith, but also with all those favourable 
judgments which we have formed of riches, and which we 
know by the common discourse of men, and by our own 

It is properly this phantom, composed of all the admirers 
of the rich and of the great, which we conceive surrounds 
their throne, and regards them with sentiments of inward 
tear, of respect, and of abasement, which makes the idol 
of the ambitious, for which they labour all their life Ion" 
and expose themselves to so many dangers. 

And to show what it is they seek after and worship, it 


needs only to be considered, that if there were 
world only one man who thought, and that ill tl 
of those who had the human fi-ure were Lf t 
tons, and that, moreover, this single reasoi^n n" 
knowing perfectly that all the statues which rctmS 
him outwardly were entirely deprived of reason and 
thought, knew, nevertheless, the secret of moving them bv 
certain springs, and of obtaining from them all the services 
which we obtain from men, we could believe that he 
wou d sometimes divert himself with the various move 

hTpkalu^idS 88 ^ 11 - C01tail% ^ W Uld Dever ^ 

s not, therefore, the simple outward effects of the 
respect of men separated from the consideration of the r 
thoug htS3 which constitute the objects of love to the am 
bitious ; they wish to command men, not automaton" and 
their pleasure consists in seeing those movements of fear 
of awe, and of admiration, which they excite in others 

Hence we see that the idea which fills them is as vain 
and as groundless as that of those who are properly calk 

] "? thoSe .7 hich d <%t tlUelvL wi 
,. acclamations, titles, and other things of tint 

ll thi " 

f the feelings and judgments which They ddi^hTin 
exciting; for, whereas vain men make it their aim 

tTet elo^u ^ ^^ aiKl rCSpeCt f r their knowledge! 

-the ambitious wish to excite emotions of terror, of re- 
and of awe, for their greatness, and of ideas con 

>nned to these opinions, by which men regard them as 
terrible, o.xn tori ,^i,+, -a... b - 

,,].. +1-1 . J J1IC illlu me otner 

Heir happiness on the thoughts of others but the 
one chose certain thoughts-the other, others 

I -e is nothing more common than to see these vain 
phantoms, composed of the false judgments of men, 




greatest dangers is often 
made by vain and empty 
Few persons seriously 
peai to face death at the 

ow and **ve as the principal 

object through the whole course of men s lives 

W rld > which 
brave rush without fear into the 

only the effect of the impression 
ideas which fill their minds 
despise life, and those who ap- 
breach or in the battle, tremble 

ifc Ettacks them 

But that which produces the bravery which they mani- 
t on such occasions, is, that they regard, on the one hand, 
rai enes which come to the coward, and, on the other 
the flatteries winch are given to valiant men; and that 
double phantom occupies their attention, and diverts them 
from the consideration of dangers and death. 

And this is the reason why those who have reason to 

believe that men look at them, being more filled with the 

thought of these opinions, are more valiant and more 

Thus captains have commonly more courage than 

soldiers, and gentlemen than those who are not so, because, 

.IT-wf m( 2 e iTT".* lose than t get, they are also more 
sensibly affected by it. The same labours, said a rn-eat 
captain, are not equally painful to a general of an army 
1 to a soldier, because a general is sustained by the 
judgments of a whole army, who have their eyes upon 
him, whereas a soldier has nothing to sustain him but the 
hope of a small reward, and the insignificant reputation of a 
good soldier, which often does not extend beyond his own 

mat is it which those propose to themselves who build 

magnificent houses far beyond their condition or their 

It is not simply convenience which they seek 

n this, their excessive magnificence is a hindrance rather 

than any nelp to this, and it is clear that if they were 

alone in the world they would never take that trouble, or 

f they believed that those who saw their houses would 

view them only with feelings of contempt. It is, therefore 

for men that they labour, and for the men who shall praise, 

they imagine that all those who look upon their palace will 

leive emotions of respect and admiration for him who 


is the master of it ; and thus they represent themselves as 
in the midst of their palace, environed by a crowd of people 
who, from below, regard them as high above them, and 
who judge them great, powerful, happy, magnificent ; and 
it is for this idea, which fills them, that they put them 
selves to so much expense, and take so much trouble. And 
why is it, we may ask, that men load their carriages with 
such a number of servants ? It is not for the services 
which they render, for they inconvenience rather than 
help them ; but it is to excite as they go, in those who be 
hold them, the idea that a person of great state is passing ; 
and the consideration of this idea, which they imagine may 
be formed in viewing their carriages, satisfies the vanity of 
those to whom they belong. 

In the same way, if we examine all the states, all the 
employments, arid all the professions which are esteemed 
in the world, we shall find that that which renders them 
agreeable, and that which recompenses the troubles and 
the fatigues which accompany them, is, that they present 
frequently to the mind the idea of emotions of respect, 
of esteem, of fear, of admiration, which others have for 

On the contrary, that which renders solitude wearisome 
to the majority of men is, that being separated from the 
company of men, they are also separated from their judg 
ments and thoughts. Thus their heart remains empty and 
famished, being deprived of this usual nourishment, and 
not finding ought in themselves to supply the void. And 
it is on this account that pagan philosophers have con 
sidered a solitary life insupportable ; so that they have 
not hesitated to say that their wise men would not possess 
every possible good of mind and body, on the tenure of 
living alone, and never speaking with any one of his hap 
piness. It is only the Christian religion which has been 
able to render solitude agreeable, since, leading men to 
despise these vain ideas, it gives them, at the same time, 
other objects more fitted to occupy their minds, and more 
worthy to fill their hearts, for which they have no need of 
the society of, or intercourse with men. 

But it is necessary to remark that the love of men does 
not properly terminate in the knowledge of the thoughts 



and the feelings of others, but that they employ these only 

to aggrandise and heighten the idea which they have of 

themselves, in joining to it, and incorporating with it, all 

iese extraneous ideas; and they imagine, by a gross 

illusion, that they are really greatest, because they dwell 

the greatest house, and because they have there more 

people who admire them ; although all these things which 

are without them, and all these opinions of other men, add 

thing to them-leaving them as poor and miserable as 

tney were before. 

We may hence discover what it is that renders many 
things pleasant to men, which appear to have nothing in 
themselves which would be capable of diverting or of 
pleasing them; for the reason of the pleasure they take in 
such things is, that the idea of themselves which is repre 
sented to them is greater than is common, by some vain 
circumstance which they have added to it We take 
pleasure in speaking of the dangers through which we 
have passed because we represent to ourselves, by means 
of these accidents, an idea which makes us appear, either 
is prudent, or as particular favourites of God. We love 
) speak of diseases of which we are cured, because we 
represent ourselves as having strength enough to resist the 
greatest evils. 

We desire to obtain advantage in every thing, and even 
in games of chance, in which there is no skill, even when 
we do not play for gain, since we join to the idea of sue- 
that of happiness ; it seems as though fortune had 
made choice of us, and that we had become her favourites 
in consequence of our merit. We even conceive this pre 
tended good fortune as a permanent quality, which may 
give us the right to hope for the same success in future- 

1 hence it is, there are some whom players choose, and 
with whom they love rather to connect themselves than 
with others, which is perfectly ridiculous ; for we may say 
well enough, that a man has been successful up to a certain 
moment, but for the moment after there is no greater pro 
bability, on that account, that he will be so, than those 
who have been less fortunate. 

Thus the mind of those who love only the world has for 

object only vain phantoms, which miserably amuse and 


occupy it; and those who have the reputation of bei 
wiser only fill themselves, even as others, with IS 
and dreams Those alone who join their life and ac ons 
to eternal tilings can be said to have a substantial object 
ea and material; it being true with regard to all other 

Vf7-/ Ve r mtyand " othin S ^s> ad that they run 
alter falsity and error. 



WE have already said that the necessity which we have 
>r employing outward signs in order to make ourselves 

understood, causes us so to attach our ideas to word* that 

we often consider the words more than the things, kow 

this is one of the most common causes of the confusion of 

our thoughts and discourse. 

For it must be remarked, that though men have often 

different ideas of the same things, they employ, neverthe 
less, the same words to express them ; as the idea which a 
pagan philosopher has of virtue is not the same as that 
which a theologian has of it, while, nevertheless, each 
expresses his idea by the same word, virtue 

Further, the same men, in different ages, have consi- 

leied the same things in very different ways, and have 
nevertheless, always collected these various ideas under -[ 
single name; so that, on pronouncing that word, or in 
learing it pronounced, we are easily perplexed, sometimes 
taking it for one idea, sometimes for another. For ex 
ample, man having perceived that he had in him some- 
tang, whatever it might be, which effected his nourishment 
and growth, called this soul, and extended that idea to 


what resembled it, not only in animals, but even in plants. 
And having further seen that he thought, he further called 
by the name of soul that which was the principle of thought 
within ; whence it has happened, that through that re 
semblance of name, he has taken for the same thing that 
which thought, and that which caused the body to be 
nourished and" to increase. In the same way, the word 
life has been applied equally to that which is the cause of 
animal activity, and to the thinking principle, which are 
two things utterly different in their nature. 

In the same way. there is much of equivocation in the 
words sense, and sensations, even when these words are 
taken only in relation to the five bodily senses ; for three 
things commonly take place in us when we use our senses, 
as when, for instance, we see anything. The first is 
that certain movements are made in the bodily organs, as 
the eye and the brain ; the second that these movements 
give occasion to our mind of conceiving something, as 
when following from the movement which is made in our 
eye, by the reflection of light in the drops of rain opposite 
the sun, it has the ideas of red, of blue, and of orange ; 
the third is the judgment we form of that which we see, 
as of the rainbow, to which we attribute these colours, 
and which we conceive of a certain size, of a certain 
figure, and at a certain distance. The first of these three 
things is in our body alone ; the two others only in our 
soul, although on occasion of what passes in the body ; 
and we nevertheless comprehend all three, although so 
different, under the same name of sense, and sensations, of 
sight, hearing, &c. For when we say that the eye sees, 
that the ear hears, that cannot be understood simply in 
relation to the movement of the bodily organ, since it is 
very clear that the eye has no perception of the objects 
which strike it, and that it cannot judge of them. We 
say, on the contrary, that we have not seen a person who 
is present before us, and who strikes our eyes, when we 
have not noticed him. And then we take the word sight 
for the thought which is formed in our soul, in conse 
quence of what passes in our eye and in our brain ; and, 
according to that signification of the word see, it is the 
mind which sees, and not the body, as Plato maintains, 


and Cicero after him, in these words : " Nos enirn ne 
nunc quidem oculis ccrnimus ea quiv vidcmus. Neque enini 
est ullus scnsus in corpore. Vice quasi qurr>dam stint ad 
oculos, ad aures, ad nares, a scde animce perforate. Itaque 
scppe aut cogitations ant aliqufi vi morli impediti, apertis 
atque integris, ct oculis, ct auribus, nee ridemus, nee audi- 
mus : ut facile intelliffi possit, animum ct vidcre et audire, 
non eas partes quce quasi fenestrce sunt aniini." Finally, 
the words sense, sight, hearing, &c., are taken for the last 
of these three things ; that is to say, for the judgment 
which the mind forms from the perceptions which it has, 
on occasion of that which takes place in the bodily organs, 
when we say the senses are deceived : as, when we see in 
the water a crooked stick, and when the sun appears to 
us to be only two feet in diameter. For it is certain there 
cannot be anything at all of error or of falsehood, either 
in what passes in the bodily organ, or in the single per 
ception of the soul, which is only a simple apprehension ; 
but that all the error arises solely from our having judged 
wrongfully, in concluding, for example, that the sun was 
only two feet in diameter, because its great distance makes 
that image which is formed of it in the centre of our eye, 
about the same size as that which would be formed there 
of an object of two feet in diameter, placed at a certain 
distance more proportionate to our common manner of 
seeing. But since we have made this judgment from our 
infancy, and arc so accustomed to it, that we make it at 
the same instant in which we see the sun, with scarcely 
any reflection, we attribute it to the sight, and say, that 
we see objects greater, or smaller, according as they are 
nearer or further away from us, although it is our mind, 
and not our eye, which judges of their greatness or small- 

All languages are full of a multitude of similar words, 
which, having only a single sound, are nevertheless signs 
of ideas altogether different. But it must be remarked, 
that when an equivocal name signifies two things which have 
no relation to each other, and which men have never con 
founded in their thoughts, it is then almost impossible that 
we can be deceived, and that it can become the cause of 
any error, as no one, with any common sense, would be 


deceived by the ambiguity of the word ram, which signifies 
an animal, and a sign of the zodiac. Whereas, when the 
equivocation arises from the error of men themselves, who 
have, by mistake, confounded diiferent ideas, as in the 
word soul, it is difficult to be undeceived, since we sup 
posed that those who first used these words thoroughly 
understood them; and thus we often content ourselves 
with pronouncing these, without ever examining if the 
idea which we have of them is clear and distinct ; and we 
attribute even to that which we call by the same word, 
that which agrees only with ideas of things incompatible, 
without perceiving that this arises only from our having 
confounded two different things under the same name. 



THE best way of avoiding the confusion of words which 
is found in common language, is to make a new language 
and new words, which may be attached only to those ideas 
which we wish them to represent. But for this purpose 
it is not necessary to make new sounds, since we may em 
ploy those which are already in use by regarding them as 
if they had no signification, in order that we may give 
them that which we may wish them to have, by designat 
ing, through other simple words, about whose meaning 
there is no ambiguity, the idea to which we wish to apply 
them ; as, for instance, I wish to show that the soul is im 
mortal, the word soul being equivocal, as we have shown 


it, may easily produce confusion from what I am about to 
say; so, in order to avoid this, I would regard the word soul 
as it it were a sound which had no meaning, and I would 
apply it solely to that within us which is the principle of 
thought, saying,/ call soul that which is the principle of 
thought within us. 

This is what is called the definition of a name definitio 
nommu which geometers have turned to such o-ood ac 
count, and which it is necessary to distinguish from the 
definition of a thing definitio reifor in the definition of 
a thing, as, for instance, these Man is a rational animal- 
Time u the measure of motion, we leave to the terms 
which we define, as man, or time, their ordinary idea in 
which we maintain that other ideas are contained, a 
rational animal, or measure of motion; whereas, in the 
definition of a name, as we have already said, we regard 
only the sound, and afterwards, we determine that sound 
3 the sign of an idea, which we designate by other 

It is necessary, also, to take care not to confound the 
definition of the name of which we here speak, with that 
1 which some philosophers speak, who understand bv it 
the explanation of that which a word signifies, according 
to the common custom of a language, or according to i 

Of this we shall speak in another place. But here we 
regard, on the other hand, only the particular sense in 
which he who defines a word wishes it to be taken, in 
order that his thought may be clearly conceived, without 
considering at all whether others take it in the same sense 
And from this it follows : 1st, That the definitions of 
names arc arbitrary, and those of things are not so for 
every sound being indifferent in itself, and, by nature, 
fatted equally well to express all sorts of ideas, 1 may be 
allowed, for my own use, and provided I forewarn others 
ot it, to determine a sound to signify precisely a certain 
tiling, without any mixture of anything else ; but it is 
quite otherwise with the definitions of things, for it does 
not depend on the will of men that ideas should compre 
hend all that they would wish them to comprise ; so that, 
if, in wishing to define, we attribute to these ideas some- 


thing which they do not contain, we fall necessarily into 

Thus, to give an example of the one and of the other, 
if, stripping the word parallelogram of all signification, I 
apply it to signify a triangle. This is allowable, and I do 
not commit any error, provided I take it exclusively in 
this sense, and I shall then say that a parallelogram has 
three angles, equal to two right angles. But if, leaving 
to this word its ordinary signification and idea, which is 
that of signifying a figure whose sides are parallel, I were 
to say that a parallelogram is a figure with three lines 
as this would then be a definition of a thing it would be 
very false, it being impossible for a figure of three lines to 
have its sides parallel. 

It follows, in the second place, that the definitions of 
names cannot be contested, because they are arbitrary ; for 
we cannot deny that a man has given to a sound the sig 
nification which he says he has given to it, neither that it 
has that signification only in the use which he makes of it, 
after we have been forewarned of it ; but, as to the defini 
tions of things, it is often necessary to contest them, since 
they may be false, as we have before shown. 

It follows, in the third place, that every definition of a name, 
since it cannot be contested, may be taken as a principle, 
whereas the definitions of things cannot at all be taken as 
principles, and are truly propositions which maybe denied 
by those who find any obscurity in them, and which, con 
sequently, must be proved, as other propositions, and not 
taken for granted, at least when they are not evident of 
themselves as axioms. 

Nevertheless, what we have just said that the defini 
tion of a name may be taken for a principle needs some 
explanation. For this is only true, because we ought not 
to dispute that the idea which has been designated may 
not be called by that name which has been given to it. 
But we ought not to infer anything further than this idea, 
or believe, because we have given it a name, that it signi 
fies anything real. For example, I may define a chimera, 
by saying, I call a chimera that which implies a contra 
diction ; and yet it will not follow from this that a chimera 
is anything, in the same way as if a philosopher says to me, 


-I call heaviness the inward principle which makes a 
stone fal without being impelled by anything. I wi u not 
contest tins definition; on the contrary, I will receive i 
cheerfully, because it enables me to understand what he 
wishes to say ; but I will deny that what he means by the 
word heaviness is anything real, since there is no such 
principle in stones. 

I wished to explain this, since there are two C re-U 
abuses which are current on this subject in philosophy 
1 -he first is, of confounding the definition of the thmgwith 
the definition of the name, and of attributing to the. former 
that which belong on!;, to the latter; for, bavin- niade -i 
hundred definitions, not of names, but of things, to suit 
their fancy, which are very false, and which do not explain 
t all the true nature of things, nor the ideas which we 
aturally have of them, they wish us then to consider these 
efimtions as principles which none may contradict, and 
winch if any one denies, as he may very easily, they pre 
tend that he is not worth disputing with. 

The second abuse is, that, scarcely ever employing the 
definition of names, in order to remove that obscurity 
which is in them, and fixing to them certain ideas clearly 
described, they leave them m their confusion, whence it 
happens that the greater part of their disputes are onlv 
disputes about words ; and further, that they employ that 
which is clear and true in confused ideas, in order to estab 
lish that which is obscure and false, and which thev 
would easily have perceived to be so, if they had defined 
the names. 

Thus philosophers commonly believe that there is nothing 
in the world clearer than that fire is hot, and a stone 
heavy and that it would be folly to deny this. and, in 
fact, they may persuade all men of this, so lono- as the 

unes are undefined; but, on defining them, it will be 
easily found _out, whether that which mav be denied on 
this matter is clear, or obscure ; for it will then be de 
manded of them, what they understand by the word hot, 
by the word heavy. If they answer, that by heat thev 
understand only that which really produces the sensation 

heat in us, and by heavy, that which falls to the ground 
when nothing upholds it, they have good ground for say- 


ing, that it would be unreasonable to deny that fire is hot, 
and a stone is heavy ; but, if they understand by heat, that 
which has in itself a quality resembling what we imagine 
when we feel heat, and by weight, that which has in itself 
a principle which makes it fall towards the centre, without 
being impelled by anything, it will be easy then to prove 
to them, that to deny that in this sense fire is hot, and a 
stone heavy, is not to deny a clear thing, but one that is 
very obscure, not to say very false, since it is very clear 
that the fire gives us a sensation of heat by the impression 
which it makes on our body, but it is not at all clear that 
the fire has anything in it which resembles what we feel 
when we approach the fire ; and it is also very clear that 
a stone descends when we let it fall, but it is not at all 
clear that it descends of itself, without there being any 
thing to impel it downward. 

We may see, thus, the great utility of the definition of 
names to enable us to understand exactly what is the point 
at issue, to the end that we may not uselessly dispute 
about words which one understands in one sense, and an 
other in another, as is so often the case in ordinary con 

But, besides this utility, there is still another, which is, 
that we often are not able to give a distinct idea of a thing, 
except by employing many words to describe it. Now, it 
would be wearisome, especially in books of science, to be al 
ways repeating this long series of words. Hence it is, that, 
having explained the thing by all these words, we attach 
to a single word the idea which we have conceived, which, 
in this way, takes the place of all the others. Thus, having 
comprehended that there are some numbers which may be 
divided into two equal parts, in order to avoid the constant 
repetition of these terms, we give a name to that property, 
saying, every number which is divisible into two equal 
parts we call an even number. This proves that, whenever 
we use the word which we have defined, we must mentally 
substitute the definition for the word defined, and have 
that definition so present, that, as soon as we mention it 
e. g. an even number we understand exactly that which 
is divisible into two equal parts, and that these two things 
are so inseparably joined in thought, that as soon as Ian- 



guage expresses the one, the mind immediately attaches to it 
the other; for those who define terms with so much care 
as the geometers, do it only to abridge the language, which 
uch frequent repetitions would render wearisome. Ne 
assidiKc circumloquendo moms faciamusas St Augustine 
says ; but they have no intention of abridging the ideas 
whereof they speak, since they suppose that the mind will 
supply a complete definition to the abbreviated terms which 
they may employ, to avoid the embarrassment which a. 
multitude of words would create. 



AFTER having explained what is meant by the definition* 
ies, and how useful and necessary they are, it is im 
portant to make some observations relative to the manner 
of using them, to the end that they be not abused. 

The first isthat we must not nmleriake to define all 
words, because tlu* would often, be useless, and it /,- ,>ft m 
impossible to be done. I sav that it would often be un 
less to define certain names, for when the idea which men 
nave oi anything is distinct, and when ail those who under 
stand the language form the same idea in hearing a word 
pronounced, it would be useless to define it, since it al 
ready answers the end of definition, which is, that the 
word be attached to a clear and distinct idea, This is the 
case in very simple things, of which all men have naturally 
same idea, so that the words by which they are ex- 
ed, are understood in the manner by all those who 
mpioy them; or, if at any time there be any obscurity in 
ieir principal attention, nevertheless, falls always 

that which is clear in them ; and thus those who employ 
hem only to denote a clear idea, need not fear that they 


will not be understood. Such are the words, being, 
thought, extension, equality, duration, or time, and others 
of a similar description. For, though some have obscured 
the idea of time by different propositions which they have 
formed, and which they have called definitions, as that 
time is the measure of motion, according to anteriority 
or posteriority, nevertheless, they do not themselves rest 
in these definitions when they hear time spoken of, and 
conceive only that which others naturally conceive of 
it ; and thus the wise and the ignorant understand the 
same thing, with the same facility, when it is said that 
a horse takes less time to go a league than a tortoise. 
I say, further, that it would be impossible to define all 
words ; for, in order to define a word, we must of neces 
sity have others which may designate the idea to which 
we may wish to attach that word ; and if we still wish 
to define the words which we have employed for the 
explication of it, we should still have need of others, and 
so on to infinity. It, therefore, is necessary that we stop 
at some primitive terms which cannot be defined ; and 
it would be as great a fault to wish to define too much as 
not to define enough, because by one or the other we 
should fall into that confusion which we pretend to avoid. 

The second observation is, that ive must not change de 
finitions already received when we have nothing to com 
plain of in them, for it is always more easy to make a 
word understood, when recognised custom, at least among 
the learned, has attached it to an idea, than when it is 
necessary to affix it to a new one, and to detach it from 
some other idea to which custom had joined it. Hence, 
it would be umvise to change the received definitions of 
mathematicians, unless there were any that were perplexed, 
and whose idea had not been designated with sufficient 
clearness, as, perhaps, those of the angle and of proportion 
may be in Euclid. 

The third observation is, that when we are to define a 
word, we ought, as far as possible, to accommodate our 
selves to custom, in not giving to words a sense altogether 
removed from that which they have, and which might be 
even contrary to their etymology : as when I say I call a 
parallelogram a figure bounded by three lines, but con- 


tent ourselves, for the most part, in stripping words which 
have two senses of one of these, in order to attach it exclu- 
sivel} r to the other: as heat expresses, in its common accepta 
tion, both sensation which we have, and a quality which we 
imagine to be in the fire, resembling altogether that which we 
feel. In order to avoid this ambiguity, I may employ the 
name heat in applying it to one of these ideas, and detach 
ing it from another: as I say I call heat the sensation which 
I have when I approach the fire, and giving to the name of 
that sensation, either a name altogether different, such 
as that of burning (ardeur) or the same name, with some 
addition which determines it, or which distinguishes it from 
heat taken from the sensation, as we might say virtual heat. 

The reason of this observation is, that men having at 
one time attached an idea to a word, do not easily separate 
the two ; and thus, the former idea always returning, causes 
them easily to forget the new, which you would give them 
in defining that word, so that it would be more easy to ac 
custom them to a word which signified nothing at all : as 
when I say I call bara a figure bounded by three lines 
than to accustom them to strip from the word parallelo 
gram the idea of a figure whose opposite sides are parallel, 
to make it signify a figure whose sides could never be 

It is a mistake into which all chemists have fallen who 
have delighted to change the names of almost everything 
whereof they speak, without any advantage, and of giving 
them those which already signify other things which have 
no real relation to the new ideas Avith which they connect 
them. This has given rise to some ridiculous arguments : 
as that of the man who, imagining that the plague was 
a Saturnian evil, pretended that people would be cured of 
the pestilence by hanging round the neck a bit of lead 
(which the chemists call Saturn), upon which was engraved, 
on a Saturday (which also derives its name from Saturn), 
the figure which astronomers use to denote that planet, as 
if these connections, arbitrary and without reason, between 
the lead and the planet Saturn, and between the same 
planet and Saturday, and the small mark which denotes it, 
could have any real effects, and could cure, effectually, 


But what is more intolerable, is the profanation which 
they make of the most sacred mysteries of religion as a 
veil for their pretended secrets ; so far, indeed, that there 
are some who have been impious enough to apply what 
the Scripture says of true Christians, that they are the 
chosen race, the royal priesthood, the holy nation, 
the people whom God has chosen, and whom he has called 
out of darkness into his wonderful light, to the chimerical 
brotherhood of the Rosicrucians, who are, according to 
them, sages who have attained to a glorious immortality, 
having found the means, through the philosophers stones, 
of fixing their soul in their body ; inasmuch as (say they), 
there is no body more fixed and incorruptible than gold. 
We may see these reveries, and many others like them, in 
the examination of Fludd s philosophy, by G-assendi, who 
showed that there was scarcely any character of mind 
worse than that of these enigmatical writers, who imagine 
that thoughts the most groundless, not to say false and im 
pious, would pass for grand mysteries when clothed in 
forms of speech unintelligible to common men. 



ALL that we have said about the definition of names is to 
be understood only of those in which an author defines the 
words which he especially employs ; and it is this which 
renders them free and arbitrary, since it is allowed to 
every one to employ whatever sound he pleases to express 
his ideas, provided he explains beforehand the use of them. 
But as men are only masters of their own language, and 
not of that of others, each has, indeed, the right to make a 
dictionary for himself; but he has no right either to make 


one for others, or to explain their language bv the peculiar 

sigmficanon which he has attached to words/ Thus when 

Ave undertake to explain, not simply in what sense we take 

a word, but also that in which it is commonly taken, the 

definitions which we give of it are by no moans arbitrary 

they are bound and restricted to represent, not the truth 

of he things but the truth of the custom; and they are 

J be reckoned false if they do not faithfully express this 

custom -that is to say, if they do not join to sounds the 

same ideas which are connected with them, in the ordinary 

meaning of those who employ them. And this shows, 

lso, that these definitions are by no means free from beino- 

cpntested, since disputes continually arise touchin" the 

signification which custom gives to terms. 

Now, although this species of verbal definitions seems 
to belong to grammarians, since it is their office to compile 
tioiianes which are nothing but an explanation of the 
ideas which men have agreed to connect with certain 
sounds; we may, nevertheless, several reflections in 
reference to this subject, which are very important to the 
exactness of our judgments. 

The first, which may serve as a foundation for others 
is, that men very often do not consider the entire signification 
of words, that is to say, that words often express more 
than they seem to do; and when we would explain the 
signification of them, we do not represent the whole, im 
pression which they make on the mind. 
_ For to signify, in relation to a sound uttered or written 
is only to excite an idea connected with that sound in our 
mind, by striking our cars or our eyes. Now it often 
happens that a word, besides the principal idea. wh?ch we 
;ard as the proper signification of that word, excites 
many other ideas, which may be termed accessory, to which 
we pay but little attention, though the mind receives the 
impression of them. 

For example, if one says to another, You lied there, and 
we regard only the principal signification of that expression, 
is the same thing as if he had said to him, Yon Lwu< the 
contrary of what you say. But, besides this principal si-nii- 
ncation, these words convey an idea of contempt and out 
rage ; and they inspire the belief; that he who uttered 


them would not hesitate to do us harm, which renders 
them offensive and injurious. 

Sometimes these accessory ideas are not attached to words 
by common custom, but are joined to them only by him 
who uses them. And these are properly those which are 
excited by the tone of the voice, by the expression of the coun 
tenance, by gestures, and other natural signs, which attach to 
our words a multitude of ideas, which diversify, change, 
diminish, and augment their signification, by joining to 
them the image of the emotions, the judgments, and the 
opinions of him who speaks. 

Wherefore, if he who said that it was necessary to 
modulate the tone of our voice to the ears of him who 
listens, meant to say that it was enough, if we only spoke 
loud enough to be heard, he knew not a great part of the 
use of the voice, since the tone signifies often as much as 
the words themselves. There is a voice for instruction, 
flattery, and for reproof; and often it is, indeed, not only 
to reach the ears of him to whom it is spoken, but to strike 
them, and pierce them. No one would take it well, for 
instance, if a servant, whom he was reproving somewhat 
sharply, should answer, Speak loiver, sir, I hear you well 
enough; since the tone constitutes part of the reproof, and 
it is necessary to convey to the mind the idea you wish to 
impress on it. 

But sometimes these accessory ideas are attached to the 
words themselves, since they are excited commonly by all 
those who pronounce them. And this constitutes the dif 
ference between expressions which appear to signify the 
same thing : some being offensive, others kind ; some 
modest, others impudent ; some virtuous, others vicious ; 
since, besides the principal idea to which they belong, men 
attach to them other ideas, which is the cause of this 

This remark will enable us to point out an injustice, 
very common among those who complain of the reproaches 
which they have received, which is that of changing sub 
stantives into adjectives; so that, if they have been accused 
of ignorance or imposture, they say that they have been 
called ignorant men, or impostors, which is unreasonable, 
since these words do not signify the same thing ; for the 


adjective words, ignorant, or impostor, besides the signifi 
cation of blame Avhich they denote, involve also the idea 
of contempt; whereas those of ignorance, or imposture, 
denote the thing just as it is, without aggravation or pallia 
tion. We may find others which signify the same thing, 
in a way that would involve a softening idea, and which 
would evince a desire to spare the feelings of him against 
whom the reproaches were made. And these are the 
ways which the wise and moral will choose, at least when 
they have no special reason to act with greater severity. 
Hence, we may perceive the difference between a simple 
style and a figurative style, and how the same thoughts 
appear to us much more lively when they are expressed 
by a figure, than when they are contained in expressions 
quite simple. For this happens, because the figurative 
expressions signify, besides the principal thing, the emotion 
and passion of him who speaks, and thus impress both 
ideas upon the mind ; whereas a simple expression denotes 
the naked truth alone. For example, if this half verse of 
Virgil, Usque adeone tnori iniscnun est? were expressed 
simply, and without a figure, thus Non est usque adeo mori 
miserum, it cannot be doubted that it would have much 
less force. And the reason is, that the first expression 
signifies much more than the second ; for it expresses not 
only the thought that death is not so great an evil as it is 
supposed to be, but it represents, further, the idea of a 
man who challenges death, and who looks it fearlessly in 
the face, an image much more lively than the thought 
itself with which it is connected. Thus it is not wonderful 
that it strikes us more, since the mind is instructed by the 
images of truths, while it is rarely excited, except by the 
image of emotions. 

" Si vis me flerc, dolendum est 
Primum ipsi tibi." 

But since the figurative style commonly expresses, with 
the things, the emotions which we experience, in conceiv 
ing or speaking of them, we may judge the use which 
ought to be made of it, and what are the subjects to which 
it is adapted. It is clear that it is ridiculous to employ it 
in matters purely speculative, which are regarded with a 
tranquil eye, and which produce no emotion in the rnind. 


For, since figures express the emotions of our soul, those 
which are introduced into subjects, where the mind is not 
moved, are emotions contrary to nature, and a species of 
convulsions. This is why there are few things so disagree 
able, as to hear certain preachers who declaim indifferently 
on everything, and who are as much excited in philosophic 
arguments as in truths the most awakening, and the most 
necessary to salvation. 

While, on the contrary, when the matter of which we 
treat is such, that we ought properly to be affected, it is a 
defect to speak of it in a dry and cold manner, and without 
emotion, since it is a defect not to be touched by that 
which ought to affect us. 

Thus divine truths, being propounded, not simply for 
the purpose of being known, but also much more, in order 
that they may be loved, revered, and adored by men, the 
noble, exalted, and figurative style in which the holy 
fathers have treated of them, is, without doubt, much 
better adapted to them than the bare, unfigurative style of 
the scholastics ; since it not only teaches us these truths, 
but represents to us also the feelings of love and of reve 
rence with which the fathers spoke of them ; and which, 
conveying thus to our minds the image of that holy dis 
position, may contribute much towards impressing the like 
on us ; whereas the scholastic style being simple, and 
recognising only ideas of the naked truth, is less capable 
of producing in the soul the emotions of love and respect 
which we ought to have for Christian truths, and renders 
them in this respect, not only less useful, but also less 
agreeable, the pleasure of the soul consisting more in 
feeling emotions than acquiring knowledges. 

Finally, the same remark will enable us to answer that 
celebrated question of the ancient philosophers, Whether 
there be unchaste ivords ? and to refute the reasons of the 
Stoics, who maintained that we might employ, indifferently, 
expressions which are commonly reckoned obscene and 

They maintain, says Cicero, in a letter which he wrote 
on this subject, that there are no words either lewd or 
shameful. For the infamy, say they, either comes from 
the things, or is in the words. It does not arise exclu- 


sively from the things, since we may express them in other 
words, winch are not considered unchaste. Neither is 
in the words, considered as sounds ; since it often happens 
as Cicero shows, that the same sound signifies different 
things, and is considered unchaste in one signification and 
not so in another. 

But all this is but a vain subtilety, which arises solely 
om these philosophers not having considered sufficiently 
those accessory uleas which the mind joins to the princi 
pal ideas of things, for hence it comes to pass, that the 
same thing may be expressed chastely by one sound, and 
unchastely by another, if one of these sounds joins to it 
some other idea, which hides the infamy of it, and if 
another, on the contrary, presents it to the mind in a 
shameless manner. Thus the words adultery, incest, abom 
inable sin, are not infamous, though they represent actions 
which are very infamous, since they represent them only 
as covered with a veil of horror, which causes them to be 
regarded exclusively as crimes ; so that these words signify 
rather the crime of these actions than these actions them 
selves ; whereas there are certain other words which ex 
press them, without exciting horror, and rather as pleasant 
than as criminal, which even connect with them an idea of 
impudence and effrontery. And these are those which are 
called unchaste and infamous. 

It is the same also with certain circumstances by which 
we express, chastely, certain actions, which, though law 
ful, partake somewhat of the corruption of nature For 
these circumlocutions are, in reality, chaste, since they 
express not only the tilings, but also the disposition of him 
who speaks of them in this way, and who shows by his 
reserve, that he hides them as much as possible, both from 
himself and others ; whereas those who should speak of 
Miern in another manner, would show that they delimited 
in considering these kind of objects: and that delight 
being infamous, it is not wonderful that the words which 
express that idea should be considered unchaste 

Hence it sometimes happens also, that the same word is 
reckoned chaste at one time, and immodest at another. 
This obliged the Hebrew doctors to substitute, in certain 
parts of the Bible, Hebrew words in the mar-in, to IK- 


used by those who read it in place of those which the 
Scriptures use. For this arose from the fact that these 
words, when the prophets employed them, were not un 
chaste, as they were connected with some idea which 
caused these objects to be regarded with modesty and re 
serve ; but afterwards, that idea having been separated 
from them, and custom having joined to them another of 
impudence and effrontery, they became immodest ; and it 
is with reason, in order that that bad idea might not strike 
the mind, that the Rabbins wished others to be pronounced 
instead of them, in reading the Bible, although they did 
not, on that account, change the text. 

Thus it Avas a bad defence made by an author, who was 
bound to a strict modesty by his religious profession, and 
who was reproached, with reason, for having employed an 
unchaste word to express an infamous place, to allege that 
the fathers had not scrupled to employ the term lupanar, 
and that we often find in their writings meretrix, leno, and 
others, which would hardly be endured in our language ; 
for the freedom with which the fathers employed these 
words, ought to have taught him that they were not reck 
oned shameful in their time, that is to say, there was not 
then connected with them that idea of effrontery which 
renders them infamous now ; and he did wrong to con 
clude thence, that he might be allowed to employ those 
which are reckoned immodest in our language, because 
these words do not signify, in fact, the same thing as those 
which the fathers used, since, beside the principal idea 
which belongs to them, they involve also the image of a 
bad inclination of the mind, and one which partakes, to 
some extent, of libertinism and impudence. 

These accessory ideas being therefore so important, and 
diversifying so widely the principal significations, it would 
be useful for the authors of dictionaries to indicate them, 
and to make known, for example, the words which are 
offensive, polite, abusive, chaste, unchaste ; or rather, that 
they should throw aside these last altogether, since it is 
always better to be ignorant of them, than to know them. 





WE may also comprehend, under the name of accessory 
ideas, another kind of ideas, which the mind adds to the 
exact signification of the terms for a special reason, which 
is, that ft often happens when, having conceived that exact 
signification which answers to the word, it does not rest 
there when this is too general and confused, but extends 
its view further, taking occasion to consider, beyond the 
object which is presented to it, other attributes and phases, 
and thus of conceiving it by ideas which are more distinct. 
This happens specially in the case of the demonstrative 
pronouns, when, instead of the proper name, we employ 
the neuter, hoc, this ; for it is clear that this signifies iAis 
thing, and that hoc signifies hcec res, hoc negotium. Now, 
the word thing, res, denotes an attribute very general and 
confused, of every object, there being only nothing to 
which it may not be applied. But as the demonstrative 
pronoun hoc does not simply denote the thing in itself, 
but also causes it to be conceived as present, the mind 
does not confine itself to that single attribute thing, 
but commonly gives that to certain other distinct Attri 
butes. Thus when we employ the word that, pointing 
to a diamond, the mind is not satisfied with conceiving it 
as a thing present, but adds thereto the ideas of a hard and 
shining body of such a form. 

All these ideas, those which the mind adds, as well as 
the first and principal one, are excited by the word ^oc, 
applied to a diamond ; but they are not excited by it in 
the same manner, for the idea of the attribute, thing pre 
sent, is excited, as the proper signification of the word, and 
the others are excited as ideas which the mind conceives 
as connected with that first and principal idea, but which 
are not expressly denoted by the pronoun hoc. Hence the 


additions are different, according as we apply the 
hoc, in relation to different things! 

If I say hoc in pointing outa diamond, the term xvill 
always signify this thing; but the mind will supply and Sd 
thereto, which is a ^>/,/ ...7,^7, , PP 7 ? n .4* dd 

Inese added ideas must, therefore, be clearlv di 
tinguished from the ideas expressed, for tLS they are" 
both found m the same mind, they are not found there h 
the same manner; and the mind which addsThese other 

whioh n th WG - ar ! en l bled t08ilence an intrusiv e wranglin. 
ich the ministers have rendered celebrated, and in whTch 
hey found their main argument for provin^ their Aira 


bably added to the on-nf^^A IA c ^- W J P ro 



has occasioned all the perplexity of the ministers. They 
make a thousand useless efforts to prove that the apostles 
when Jesus Christ showed them the bread, and Erected 
their attention to it by the term hoc, could not have con 
ceived anything but bread. We grant that they 

fllM PAn^Oi \rr* Kv,-n- A ^ ,-. .1 j_l j , i * 

T co- 

_ It does not require much to show this IV 
question is not whether they conceived bread, but how they 
conceived it, and on this point we may say that i " ey 
conceived, that is to say, if they had in their minds a d 
tinct idea of bread, they did not have it as signified by the 
word hoc, for this is impossible, since this term never sig 
nifies anything but a confused idea, but they had it as an 
idea added to that confused idea, and excited by the tir 

SnTl S? ?li Tlle i ra l )0rtance of *** -mark will be 
n what follows But it is well to add here, that this dis 
tinction is so indubitable, that even when they undertake 
to prove that the term tins signifies bread, the/do notht 
else but establish it. This word, says a minister who 
poke last on the subject, nor, only signifies t/ns thfnglre- 
sent, but this thing present which you know to be bread Who 

,, tllat the terms you 

know to be bread are clearly added to the words, thing pre- 
sent, by an incidental proposition, but are not signified ex 
pressly by the words thing present. The subject of a pr^ 
position does not signify an entire proposition, consequently, 
m this proposition, winch has the same sense, this which 
you know to be bread, the word bread is clearly added to he 
woid tins, and not expressed by it. 

But what matter is it, say the ministers, that the word 
^signifies expressly bread, provided it be true thaHhe 
apostles conceived that what Jesus Christ called ill ^ 

, s that the term ^ Big- 

f T f s on J thc precise idea of MW P** a!- 

winch tlfp ? Ud ^ S > nify breUd ^ the di&tinct Meas 
1 ; P added t0 lf rcmains alw ^ s a Pble of 

srr*^^ f bcins c nnected wi * oth - 

hout the mind s perceiving this cliange of object. 

^ SU f Chrf8t affinSed f ^^ that * 
, the apostles had only to cut off the ideas which 


they had made by the distinct idea of bread, and detaining 
the same idea of thing present, they would conceive after 
the proposition of Jesus Christ was finished, that this thing 
present was now the body of Jesus Christ. Thus they 
would connect the word hoc, this, which they had joined to 
bread, by an incidental proposition, with the attribute 
body of Jesus Christ. The attribute body of Jesus Christ 
would oblige them indeed to remove the added ideas, but 
it would not make any change in the idea precisely de 
noted by the word hoc, and they would conceive simply 
that it was the body of Jesus Christ. Here is seen all the 
mystery of this proposition, which arose not from the ob 
scurity of the terms, but from the change effected by Jesus 
Christ, who caused this subject, hoc, to have two different 
terminations, at the commencement, and at the end of the 
proposition, as we shall explain in the Second Book, when 
treating of unity of confusion in subjects. 





As it is our design to explain here the various reflections 
which men have made on their judgments, and as these 
judgments are propositions which are composed of various 
parts, it is necessary to begin with the explanation of these 
parts, which are principally nouns, pronouns, and verbs. 

It is of little importance to examine whether it belongs 
to grammar or to logic to treat of these things ; it is enough 
to say, that everything which is of use to the end of any 
art, belongs to it, whether that knowledge be special to it, 
or whether it be common also to other arts and sciences 
which contribute to it. 

Now, it is certainly of some use to the end which logic 
contemplates that of thinking well to understand the dif 
ferent uses of the sounds which are devoted to the expres- 



sion of ourideas, and which the mind is accustomed to connect 
so thoroughly, that it scarcely conceives the one without 
the other ; so that the idea of the thine/ excites the idea of the 
sound, and the idea of sound, that of the thing. 

We may say, in general, on this subject, that WORDS 
are sounds distinct and articulate, when men have taken as 
signs to express what passes in their mind ; and since that 
which passes there may be reduced to conceiving, judging, 
reasoning, and disposing, as we have already said ; words 
serve to indicate all these operations, and those which have 
been invented for this purpose, are principally of three kinds, 
which are essential, and of which it will be sufficient to 
speak. These are nouns, pronouns, and verbs, which take 
the place of nouns, but in a different way. It will be here 
necessary to explain this more in detail. 


The objects of our thoughts being, as we have already 
said, either things, or modes of things, the words set apart 
to signify both things and modes are called nouns. 

Those which signify things are called NOUNS SUBSTAN 
TIVE, as earth, sun. Those which signify modes marking, 
however, at the same time, the subject, of which they are 
the modes are called NOUNS ADJECTIVE, as good, just, 

This is why when, by mental abstraction, we conceive 
these modes without connecting them with any subject, 
since they then subsist in some sort by themselves, in the 
mind they are expressed by a substantive word, as wis 
dom, whiteness, colour. 

And, on the contrary, when that which is of itself the 
substance of a thing, comes to be conceived in relation to 
another subject, the words which express it in this relation 
become adjectives, as human, carnal; and, taking away 
from these adjectives formed from nouns of substance, 
their relation to these, they are made substantives anew. 
Thus, after having formed from the substantive word 
homo (homme), the adjective human, we form from the 
adjective human, the substantive humanity. 


they denote the n r 
But the reason why they 
the y bclon S onlytoa 7 
single subject, 


a Sllb J cct - 



at were vel ,, milul! P^no-ns present them, 

tint thev iro " tllou 8 ."! ">i"<l pa-ceives, 

by henou^ Tl" me "", nS3 8S " Se " 

the no un ",;, ,f h S isw Vnoincon 7 emence a 

be!ns joined 

lvere si 


Men perceiving that it was often useless and ungraceful to 


name themselves, introduced the pronoun of the first per 
son to supply the place of him who speaks, ego (moi, je). 
And in order that they may not be obliged to name the 
person to whom they spoke, they have thought good to 
denote him by a word, which they have called the pronoun 
of the second person, thou, or you ; while, in order that they 
might not be obliged to repeat the names of other persons 
and things of which they speak, they have invented pro 
nouns of the third person ille, ilia, illud. Among these, 
there are some which point out, as with a finger, the thing 
spoken of, and are hence called demonstratives hie, iste 
this, that ; there are also some which are called reciprocal, 
because they denote the relation of a thing to itself, as the 
pronoun sui, sibi, se Cato slew himself. 

All the pronouns have, as we already said, this in com 
mon : they mark confusedly the noun whose place they 
occupy ; but there is this specially in the neuter of these 
pronouns, illud, hoc, when it is taken absolutely, that is to 
say, without a noun expressed : that whereas the other 
kinds are often, indeed almost always, related to distinct 
ideas, which they, nevertheless, denote only confusedly 
ilium ^irantem fiammas, that is to say ilium Ajacem : 
His ego . ^vtas rerum nee tempora ponam, that is to say, 
Romanis : i^ *ter, on the contrary, is always related to 
a word generally, and confused ; hoc erat in votis, that is to 
say, h(KC res, hoc negotium erat in votis : hoc erat alma parens, 
&c. Thus, there is a double confusion in the neuter to 
wit, that of the pronoun, the signification of which is al 
ways confused, and that of the word negotium, thing, which 
is also general, and confused. 


There is yet another pronoun which is called relative gut, 
guce, quod who, which, that. This relative pronoun has 
something in common with the other pronouns, and some 
thing peculiar to itself. It has this in common, that it 
takes the place of a noun, and excites a confused idea. It 
lias this peculiar, that the proposition into which it enters 
may be made part of the subject, or predicate of a propo- 


sition, and thus form one of those added or i 
positions, of which we shall speak more at L 
God woo iS good, -the world WHICH is visible 

(We presume here that these terms, subject and predicate 

place W h cre theil . meaning is explained.) 

We are, hence, able to resolve this question : What is 
the precise meaning of the word that when it folly 
verb and appears to be related to nothing ^.-Johnan^l 

z^**%r* s Pilatesaid ^^f^t 

in Jesus Christ. Tnere are some who would make ft an 

til Y S \ a V he r rd qmd which the Latins some- 
nnes though rarely, take in the same sense as our that (que] 
A/on ttbi objicio quod hominem spoliasti, says Cicero 

But the truth is, that the word that (quod) is nothin. 
more than the relative pronoun, and it preserve, 
leaning; thus, in that proposition, John answered that he 
teas not the Christ, the that retains the office of connecting 
another proposition, to wit, was not the Christ, with the 
attribute contained in the word answered, which signifies 
futi respondent. The other use, which is, to snp^ the 
place of the noun, appears here with much less truth, which 
has led some able men to say, that this that was entirely 
without it in this case. We may, however, say, that it 
retains it here also; for, in saying that Jolm answered, we 
understand that he made an answer; and it is to this con 
tused idea of answer that this that refers. In the same- 
way, when Cicero says, Non tibi objicio quod hominem spoli- 
wsti, the quod refers to the confused idea of a thing objected 
termed by the word oljido; and that thing objected , con- 
seived before obscurely, is then particularised by the inci- 
lental proposition, connected by the quod quod hominem 

r The same thing may be remarked in these questions 

1 suppose that you will be wise I say that you are icronn. 

Ihe term I my causes us at once to conceive confusedly a 

tiling said; and it is to this thing said that the that refer* 

say that, that is to say, / say a thing which is. And, in 


the same way, he who says, / suppose, gives a confused 
idea of a thing supposed ; for / suppose means, / make a 
supposition ; and it is to this idea of thing supposed that 
the that refers. / suppose that, that is to say, / make a 
supposition which is. 

We may place in the rank of pronouns the Greek 
article, 6, fj, TO, when it is placed after, instead of before, 

the noun ; TOVTO eo-Ti TO cro>/za fiov TO vrrea vfitav 8(o/iez/oi>, 

says St Luke, for the r6, the, represents to the mind the 
body, uayia, in a confused manner. Thus it has the office 
of a pronoun ; and the only difference there is between the 
article, employed in this manner, and the relative, is, that 
though the article occupies the place of the noun, it joins, 
notwithstanding, the attribute which follows it to the noun 
which precedes ; but the relative makes, with the attribute 
following, a separate proposition, though joined to the first 
o SiSorat, quod datur, that is to say, quod datum est. 

From this use of the article, we may judge that there is 
little solidity in the remark which has been lately made by 
a minister on the manner in which these words of the 
evangelist, St Luke, to which we have referred above, 
ought to be translated, because, in the Greek text, there is 
not a relative pronoun, but an article this is my body, given 
for you, and not which is given for you ; TO vnep vp.cov 
di86p,ei>ov, and not 6 Imep v^mv 8c8oTai. He maintains that 
it is absolutely necessary, in order to express the force of 
this article, to translate the text thus : This is my body ; 
my body given for you or, the body given for you; and that 
the passage is not properly translated when we express it 
in these terms : This is my body, WHICH is given for you. 

This pretension is founded solely on the imperfect man 
ner in which that author has penetrated into the true 
nature of the relative pronoun, and of the article ; for it is 
certain, that as the relative pronoun, qui, quce, quod, in 
taking the place of the noun, only represents it in a con 
fused manner, so also the article, 6, 17, TO, only represents 
confusedly the noun to which it refers ; so that this con 
fused representation, being specially designed to avoid the 
distinct repetition of the same word, which is offensive, 
we in some sort destroy the end of the article, in trans 
lating it, by an express repetition of the same word this 


is my body my body given for you, the article beino- intro 
duced for the express purpose of avoiding this repetition - 
whereas, when we translate it by the relative pronoun, we 
preserve that essential condition of the article, which is of 
representing the noun only in a confused manner, and 
thus of not presenting the same image to the mind twice- 
and fail only to preserve another, which would seem less 
essential, that the article so takes the place of the noun 
that the adjective which is connected with it does not 
make a new preposition TO trip l^ v 8t86^ vov : whereas 
the relative pronoun, qm, quo>, quod, divides it somewhat 
more, and becomes the subject of a new proposition o 
virep inSa, SCOTCH. Thus, in truth, neither of these trans 
lations, This is my bod//, which is given for you, This w mi/ 
body, my body yiveu far yon, is quite perfect ; the one 
changing the confused signification of the article to a si - 
mfication distinct, contrary to the nature of the article; 
and the other, which preserves that confused signification, 
separating the sentence into two propositions by means of 
the relative pronoun, which Avoulcl have been avoided by 
the article. But if we arc necessarily obliged to use the 
one or the other, we have no right to condemn the first in 
choosing the second, as that author professed to do by his 



WE have borrowed thus far what we have said of nouns 
and pronouns, from a little book printed some time ago, 
under the title of a General Grammar, with the exception of 
some points, which we have explained in a different way ; 
but in regard to the verb, of which that author treats in 
his 13th chapter, we shall merely transcribe what he has 


said, since it appears to us that nothing can be added 
to it. 

" Men," says he, " have not less need to invent words 
which may denote affirmation, which is the principal man 
ner of our thoughts, than to invent those which may denote 
the objects of our thoughts" And herein properly consists 
that which we call verb, which is nothing else than a word, 
the principal use of which is to express affirmation, that is 
to say, to denote that the discourse in which the word is 
employed is the discourse of a man who not only con 
ceives things, but who judges and affirms of them, in 
which the verb is distinguished from other nouns, which 
also signify affirmation, as affirmans, affirmatio, because 
these signify it only so far as through a reflection of the 
mind it becomes an object of our thoughts, and thus they 
do not denote that he who employs these words affirms, 
but only that he conceives an affirmation. I said that the 
principal use of the verb was to signify affirmation, be 
cause, as we shall come to see further on, it is employed 
also to express other movements of the mind, as those of 
desiring, entreating, commanding, &c. But this is done 
only by the inflection of the mood, and thus we shall con 
sider the verb, through the whole of this chapter, in its prin 
cipal signification alone, which is that which it has in the 
indicative mood. According to this, we may say that the 
verb of itself ought to have no other use than that of 
marking the connection which we make in our mind be 
tween the two terms of the proposition ; but there is only 
the verb to be, which we call substantive, which has re 
mained in this simplicity, and even it, properly speaking, 
has only remained so in the third person present, is, and 
at certain times ; for, as men naturally come to abbreviate 
their expressions, there are joined almost always to the 
affirmation other significations in a single word. 

I. They have joined that of some attribute, so that 
when two words constitute a proposition, as when I say 
Petrus vivit, Peter lives, because the Avord vivit contains 
in itself the affirmation, and besides this, the attribute of 
being alive, thus it is the same thing to say, Peter lives, as 
it is to say, Peter is alive. Hence has arisen the great 
diversity of verbs in every language, whereas, if men had 


been satisfied with giving to the verb the general signifi 
cation of affirmation, without joining to it any particular 
attribute, each language would have needed only a single 
verb, that, to wit, which is called substantive. 

II. They have further joined to it, in certain cases, 
the subject of the proposition, so that then two words, and, 
indeed, a single word even, may make a complete proposi 
tion, two words, as when I say sum homo, since sum ex 
presses not only affirmation, but includes the signification 
of the pronoun ego, which is the subject of this proposi 
tion, and which we always express in our language (je suis 
komme), I am a man. A single word, as when I say vico, 
sedes, these verbs contain in themselves both the affirma 
tion and the attribute, as we have already said, and bein^; 
in the first person they contain also the subject, I am living, 
I am sitting, hence arises the difference of persons, which 
is commonly found in all verbs. 

III. They have also added a relation to the time in re 
gard to which we affirm, so that a single word, as cainasti, 
signifies that I affirm of him to whom I speak, the action 
of supping, not in relation to the present time, but to the 
past, and hence arises the diversity of times, which also is, 
ibr the most part, common to all verbs. 

The diversity of these significations has prevented many 
persons, otherwise very able, from clearly understanding 
the nature of the verb, because they have not considered it 
in relation to that which is essential to it, which is affirma 
tion, but according to other relations, which are accidental 
t it, qua verb. Thus Aristotle, dwelling on the third of 
the significations, added to that which is essential to the 
verb, defined it vox signijicans, cum tempora, a word which 
is significant with time. 

Others, as Buxtorf, having added the second, have de 
fined it, vox flezilis cum tempora, et -persona, a word having 
various inflections with times and persons. 

Others stopping at the first of these, added significations, 
and considering that the attributes which men have joined 
to the affirmation in a single word, are commonly actions 
and passions, have believed that the essence of the verb 
consists in expressing actions or passions. And finally, 
Julius Caesar Scaliger thought that he had found out a 


mystery, in his book on the Principles of the Latin lan 
guage, in saying that the distinction of things, in perma- 
nentes et fluentes, into those which remain, and those which 
pass away, was the true origin of the distinction between 
nouns and verbs the office of nouns being to express what 
remains and verbs, what passes away. 

But it may be easily seen, that all these definitions are 
false, and do not express the true nature of the verb. The 
manner in which the two first are conceived, sufficiently 
proves this, since it is not said what the verb signifies, but 
only what its signification is connected with, cum tempo-re, 
cum persona. 

The two last are still worse ; they have the two great 
vices of a definition, which is, that they belong neither to 
the whole thing defined, nor to it alone, neque omni, neque 
soli, for there are verbs which signify neither actions nor 
passions, nor that which passes away, as existit, quiescit, 
frigit, alget, tepet, calet, albet, viret, claret, &c. And there 
are words which are not verbs, which signify actions and 
passions, and even things which pass away, according to 
the definition of Scaliger, for it is certain that participles 
are true nouns, and that, nevertheless, those of active 
verbs do not signify actions less, and those of passives, 
passions less, than the verbs whence they are derived ; and 
there is no reason at all for maintaining that flucns does 
not signify a thing which passes away, as well as fluit. 

To which we may add, against the two first definitions 
of the verb, that the participles also signify time, since 
they are of the present, of the past, and of the future, 
especially in Greek ; and those who believe, and not with 
out reason, that the vocative is a true second person, 
especially when it has a different termination from the 
nominative, will hold that there is on that, in this point of 
view, only a difference, more or less, between the vocative 
and the verb. 

And thus the essential reason why a participle is not a 
verb is this, that it does not express affirmation ; whence it 
happens that it cannot make a proposition which it is the 
property of the verb to do, except by being joined to a 
verb ; that is to say, by that being restored to it which had 
been taken away, in changing the verb into a participle ; 


for how is it that Petrus vivit Peter lives is a 
tion, and that Petrus vwens Peter livino- i s r 
unless you add est to itPetnis est vivensP Q te r is livin- 
except because the affirmation which is contained in vicl 
had been taken away in order to make the participle vivens; 
whence it appears, that the presence or absence of affirmation, 
m a word is that which constitutes it a verb, or not a verb 

On which you may further remark, by the way, that 
the infinitive, which is very often a noun, as when we say 
(le boire, le man ff er)-to drink, to eat-is then different 
n the participles in this, that the participles are nouns 
adjective, while the infinitive is a noun substantive, made 
by abstraction of that adjective, in the same way as 
troni candidus is made candor, and from white comes white- 
ihus the verb rubet expresses is red, includiu- at 
once both the affirmation and the attribute rubensthe 
participle signifies simply red, without any affirmation, and 
rubere is taken for a noun, signifying redness. 

It ought, therefore, to be laid down as established, that 
onsidermg simply what is essential in the verb, its onlv 
true definition is vox synificans ajfirmationema word widen 
signifies affirmation. 

For we can find no word denoting affirmation which is 
not a verb, and no verb which does not denote it, at least 
the indicative ; and it is unquestionable, that if one had 
een invented, as est, always marking affirmation, without 
any difference of persons or of times, so that the diversity 
of persons be denoted only by nouns and pronouns, and 
diversity of times by adverbs, it would still, nevertheless 
have been a true verb. As, in fact, is the case in the 
propositions which philosophers term those of eterir.l 
truth: as, God ts infinite; all bodu is divisible; the whole is 
greater than its part ; the word est signifies, simply, affirma 
tion alone without any relation to time, because these are 
in relation to all times, and without fixing the atten 
tion of the mind on any diversity of persons. 

inus the verb, in relation to what is essential to it, is a 

word which signifies affirmation. But if we wish to include 

in the definition of the verb its principal accidents, we may 

3 it thus : vox significant affirmationem cum designation 

persona nuinen, et temporis,a word which signifies affirma- 


tion, with the designation of person, number, and time ; which 
belongs specially to the substantive verb. 

For in relation to the other verbs, in so far as they differ 
from the substantive verb, by the union which men have 
made of the affirmation with certain attributes, we may 
define them as follows : vox significans affirmationem ali- 
cujus attributi cum desionatione persona?, numeri, et temporis, 
a word which denotes the affirmation of some attribute, together 
with the determination of person, number, and time. 

We may remark, in passing, that since affirmation, as 
conceived, may also be the attribute of the verb, as in the 
verb affirmo, this verb signifies two affirmations, of which 
one regards the person who speaks, and the other the 
person who is spoken of, whether this be oneself or another. 
For when I say, Petrus affirmat, affirmat is the same thing 
as est affirmans ;. and it then makes my affirmation, or the 
judgment I make touching Peter, and affirmans, the af 
firmation which I conceive and attribute to Peter. The 
verb nego, on the contrary, contains an affirmation, and a 
negation, for the same reason. 

It is, however, still necessary to remark, that though all 
our judgments are not affirmations, but some of them 
negations, yet, nevertheless, that verbs only signify of 
themselves affirmations, the negations being expressed 
by the particles non, not, or by words involving mdlus, 
nemo none, no one, which, being united to verbs, change 
them from affirmative to negative : no man is immortal ; no 
body is indivisible. 



AFTER having conceived things through ideas, we compare 
these ideas together ; and, finding that some agree together, 


and that others do not 
which is called affirm!ay 

It is not sufficient to coceze these two tm, 


the verb u, d,h alon ^ we^ 

But though every proposition contains necessarily these 
tree things, vet. .-is \ i,,,,^ ..,,%i . Y mese 

) that is to s 

p r j 



1S " IC " J oinci1 t 

8 being; for/ 

the most 


the subject 

^,,_ L JAi CIJ oiu iu word, as in 

and second persons of the verb, especially in Latin, 
1 say, bum C/imtianus; for the subject of this pro- 
tion is cyo, which is contained in num. Whence it ap- 


pears, that in that language a single word makes a pro 
position in the first and second persons of verbs, which, by 
their nature, already contain the affirmation with the 
attribute, thus, veni, vidi, vici, are three propositions. 

We see, from this, that every proposition is affirmative or 
negative, and that this is denoted by the verb which is 
affirmed or denied. 

But there is another difference of propositions which arises 
from their subject, which is according as this is universal, 
particular, or singular. For terms, as we have already 
said in the First Part, are either singular, or common, or 
universal. And universal terms may be taken according to 
their whole extension, by joining them to universal signs, 
expressed or understood : as, omnis, all, for affirmation ; 
nullus, none, for negation ; all men, no man. 

Or according to an indeterminate part of their extension, 
which is, when there is joined to them aliquis, some, as 
some man, some men ; or others, according to the custom 
of languages. Whence arises a remarkable difference of 
propositions ; for when the subject of a proposition is a com 
mon term, which is taken in all its extension, propositions are 
called universal, whether affirmative, as, Every impious man 
is a fool, or negative, as, No vicious man is happy. 

And when the common term is taken according to an 
indeterminate part only of its extension, since it is then re 
stricted by the indeterminate word some, the proposition is 
called particular, whether it affirms, as, some cruel men are 
cowards, or whether it denies, as, some poor men are not 

And if the subject of a proposition is singular, as when 
I say, Louis XIII. took Rochette, it is called singular. But 
though this singular proposition may be different from the 
universal, in that its subject is not common, it ought, 
nevertheless, to be referred to it, rather than to the parti 
cular ; for this very reason, that it is singular, since it is 
necessarily taken in all its extension, which constitutes the 
essence of a universal proposition, and which distinguishes it 
from the particular. For it matters little, so far as the 
universality of a proposition is concerned, whether its 
subject be great or small, provided that, whatever it may 
be, the whole is taken entire. And hence it is that 


aflirmative: man is a 

E. Universal negative : as, No vicious man is ho m . 

P ! Ul r affim ? tive : ^, Some men {"rich. 

articular negative : as, Some vicious men are not rich. 

The following two verses have been made for the better 
remembering of those : 

Assent A, ne-at E, vcrum ^cncralitor ambo, 
Asserit 1, negat O, sod particulariter ambo. 

It is customary to call the universality or particularity 
of propositions their quantity. By ^alit,/ is mea thl 
aJV-mtaon or negation, which depends on the veib ,nd 
this is regarded as tlio>- w of a proposition 

1 hus A and E agree in quantity, and differ according to 
quality; and so also with I and O. 

But A and I (( yrce according to quality, and differ ic 
conhng to quantity; and in the same way, E and 

Propositions are divided, again, according to their matter 
mto true and false. And it is clear that there are e 
which are notdther true or false, since every proposHion 
denoting the judgment which we form of things true 

iTis 6 not t JUd 1 ment J S Cmif rmCd t0 " Uth and Sse wS 
s not so conformed ; since we are often in want of IMit 

o recognise true and false. Besides those propositions 

rer aLT fZ ^tr CCrtahll V rUe and those * -PP-r 
Jrtamly false, there are others which appear to us true 

but whose truth is not so evident as tofree us from nil 

Se en lt ^ I 1 " 7 fT ^ &1Se r Whidl * to 
u* i. ise, but of whose falsity we are not certainly * ure 

These are the propositions which we caa probable, and the 




WE have said there are four sorts of propositions A, E, 
I, O. We inquire now what agreement or disagreement 
they have together, when we make from the same subject, 
and the same attribute, different kinds of propositions. This 
is what is called opposition. 

And it is easy to see that this opposition can be only of 
three kinds, though one of the three is divided into two 
others. For if propositions are opposed, both in quantity 
and quality, they are called contradictories, as A 0, and E 1, 
every man is an animal, some man is not an animal, no man is 
free from sin, some man is sinless. If they differ in quantity 
alone, and agree in quality, they are called subalterns, as 
A I, and E 0, every man is an animal, some man is an ani 
mal, no man is sinless, some man is not sinless. 

And if they differ in quality, and agree in quantity, they 
are then called contraries, or sub-contraries. Contraries, 
when they are universal, as every man is an animal, no man 
is an animal. Sub-contraries, when they are particular, as 
some man is an animal, some man is not an animal. In con 
sidering these opposed propositions, according to their 
truth or falsehood, we may easily determine 

1st, That contradictories are never either true or false to 
gether, but if one is true the other is false ; and if one is 
false the other is true. For if it is true that every man is 
an animal, it cannot be true that some man is not an ani 
mal ; and if, on the contrary, it is true that some man is 
not an animal, it is, consequently, not true that every man 
is an animal. This is so clear that it would only be ob 
scured by further explanation. 

2d, Contraries can never be both true, but they may be 
often both false. They can not be true because the con- 
ti adictories would be true. For if it is true that every 


I^T* * is f ?. isc that s me m(m ** * 

; f o tl , ? Contoadlctol 7 and > by consequence, still 
there may be just men, though all are not just. J 

fP sed * 0M of 

may be lolk true, as these, some man is just 
some man ls not just, because justice may belong toCe 
part of men, and not to another ; and thus the affirmation 


tions nmi 1 n n ne O te P~P08i- 

tions , and for another in the other. But they cannot l<> 

both false, since otherwise the contradictories wouW be both 
false ; for if lt were false tlmt some men were S it wou d 

- at ^^ ^ >^ Which is the con. 

just, which is the sub-contrary. 

4th, With m?rrf #o ^e subalterns, there is not any true 

SraT? T C 7/ ^ Part ^ larS "" equentsTf Z 
ff ^0 1 " C?iai e animal8 "^ ? ^ wis " animal; 

tlth of V ^ ^ T WaW " ^ a;? ^ IIe " ce the 
but hf tl l^/ir" 8 18 mV ? 1VCS that of thc Particulars, 
the truth of the particulars does not involve that of 
the umversals, for it does not follow, because L Itruethat 


man is just ; and on the contrary, the falsehood of parti 

culars mvolves the falsehood of universal*, for if it is false 
that some man is sinless, it is still more false that 

ov , f 

false t/f 7 the P? rticulara . for although it may 
to ti e T T man 1S JUSt - U does not foll() - ^t it is 
hei-e are *>. just. Hence it follows that 
e many cases m which these subalteniate proposi- 
|ons are both true, and others in which they are both 






WE have said that every proposition ought to have a sub 
ject and an attribute ; but it does not hence follow that it 
may not have more than one attribute. Those, therefore, 
which have, only one subject and one attribute, are called simple, 
and those which have more than one subject, or more than one 
attribute, are called compound, as when I say " Good and 
evil, life and death, poverty and riches, come from the Lord" 
that attribute, come from the Lord, is affirmed, not of one 
subject alone, but of many, to wit, of good and evil, &c. 

But before explaining these compound propositions, it 
must be remarked there are some which appear to be so, 
which are, nevertheless, simple ; for the simplicity of a 
proposition is derived from the unity of subject and attri 
bute. Now, there are many propositions which have, pro 
perly, only one subject and one attribute, but whose sub 
ject, or attribute, is a complex term, containing other pro 
positions, which may be called incidental, which constitute 
only a part of the subject, or attribute, being joined by the 
relative pronoun u-ho, ivhich, whose property it is to join 
together many propositions so that they compose only one. 

Thus when Jesus Christ says, " He that doth the will 
of my Father which is in heaven, shall enter into the king 
dom of heaven," the subject of this proposition contains 
two propositions, since it comprehends two verbs ; but as 
they are joined together by whd, they constitute only a 
part of the subject ; whereas, when I say good and evil 
come from the Lord there is, properly, two subjects, since 
I affirm equally of the one and of the other that they come 
from God. 


,Ct P tti: hiCh - UlVe be - en ? ade bef rc > -d "hth we 
ju b t then only conceive as simple ideas. Whence it hin 

" idifferCnt WhethCT WG 

on " r erCnt WhethCT WG "tse pr 
positions by adjective nouns or b 

on r pr 

positions by adjective nouns, or by participles with 
verbs, and without the relative prongs ( vl which ) or 
with verbs and the relative pronoun; for it 
hmg to T^MM* God create, the 

most generous of all kings, conquered Darius 
. who "as the most generous of all kings, con 
quered Darius. And, in either case, rny principal aim is 
not to aflirm that God is invisible, or that Alexander w-, 
temost generous of kings; but, supposing each as de 
clared before, I affirm of God, conceived asinvisiblt that 
created the visMe world; and of Alexander, conceived as 
generous, that he conquered Darius. 

But if I were to say Alexander was the most qenerous of 
hJ!Xfi ^^nqmror of Darius, it is clear that I 
should affirm equal y of Alexander, both that he was the 
most generous of all kings, and that he was the conqueror 
of Darius. _ And thus it is with reason, that these last kind 
ot propositions are called compound propositions, while the 
others may be termed complex propositions 

Again, it must be remarked that these complex proposi 
tions may be of two kinds, for the complexity may fall 
either on the matter of the proposition, that is to say, on the 

done r ^ att>ib>(te r >l Mh r also on ^ ie f rm 

1st, The complex*,, tails on the subject when the subject 

> a complex term, as in this proposition^^ man who fears 

thing is a king : the king is he who fears nothing. 

Beatus ille qui procul negotiis, 
Ut prisca gens mortaliuin 
Paterna rura bobus cxercet suis, 
Solutus omni fcenore. 

For the verb is is understood in this last proposition beatu* 
is the attribute, and all the rest the subject. 


2d, The complexity falls on the attribute when the attri 
bute is a complex term : as, Piety is a good which renders man 
happy in the greatest adversity. 

Sum pius ^Eneas fama super sethera notus. 

But it must be particularly noticed here, that all propo 
sitions compounded of active verbs and their objects, may 
be called complex, and contain, in some sort, two propositions. 
If I say, for example, Brutus kitted a tyrant, this means 
Brutus killed some one, and he whom he killed was a 
tyrant ; whence it happens that this proposition may be 
contradicted in two ways, either by saying Brutus killed 
no one, or by saying that he wlwm lie killed was not a tyrant. 
It is very important to notice this, because, when these 
kinds of propositions enter into argument, we sometimes 
prove only one part of them, and suppose the other, which 
often makes it necessary to reduce these arguments to a 
more natural form, by changing the active into the passive, 
in order that the part which is proved may be expressed 
directly, as we shall notice more at length in treating of 
the compound arguments, which arise from these complex 

3d, Sometimes the complexity falls upon both the subject 
and the attribute : each being a complex term, as in this pro 
position the great who oppress the poor will be punished by 
God, who is the protector of the oppressed. 

Ille ego, qui quondam, gracili modulatus avena 
Carmen, et egressus silvis, viciria coegi 
Tit quamvis avido, parerent arva colono ; 
Gratum opus agricolis : et nunc horrentia Martis 
Arma virumque cano, Trojse qui primus ab oris 
Italiam, fato profugus, Lavinia venit 

The three first verses and a part of the fourth compose 
the subject of this proposition, the rest of it composes the 
attribute, and the affirmation is contained in the verb cano. 

These are the three ways according to which proposi 
tions may be complex, in relation to their matter, that is, 
in relation to their subject and attribute. 




BUT before speaking of propositions whose complexity falls 
on the form, that is to say, on the affirmation or negation 
there are several important remarks to be made on the 
nature of incidental propositions, which constitute part of the 
subject, or the attribute, of those which are complex ac- 
cording to the matter. 

1st, We have already seen that incidental propositions 
are those whose subject is the relative who ; as , To 
ted to know and to love God; or, men who aTpi^ : 
taking away the term men, the rest is an incidental propo- 

T 10 "; ?4 T T W V nU8 J remember llc ^ what was said in 
Chapter MIL, Part First,-that the addition of complex 
terms was of two kinds, one which may be called that of 
simple apKeatb*, which is, when the addition effects no 
change in the idea of the term, because that which is added 
agrees with it generally, and in all its extension : as in the 
first example- mm who are created to know and to love God 
Ine other which may be called determinatives, because 
what is added to a term does not belong to a term in all 
its extension, but restricts and determines the signification of 
it, as in the second example, men u-ho are pious. Accord 
ingly we may say there is a who explicative, and a who 
determinative Aow, when the who is explicative, the 
attribute of the incidental proposition is affirmed of the 
subject to which the who refers, although this may be only 
incidentally of the whole proposition, so that we may sub 
stitute the subject even for who, as maybe seen in the first 
example, men who are created to know and love God. for we 
may say, men were created to know and love God. 

But when the who is determinative, the attribute of the 
incidental proposition is not properly affirmed of the sub 
ject to which the who refers ; for if, after having said, men 


who are pious are charitable, we were to substitute the word 
men for who, in saying men are pious, the proposition would 
be false, for this would be to affirm the word pious of men 
as men ; but in saying, men who are pious are charitable, 
we do not affirm of men in general, or of any men in par 
ticular, that they are pious ; but the mind, connecting the 
idea of pious with that of men, and making them a total 
idea, judges that the attribute charitable agrees to that 
total idea ; and thus all the judgment which is expressed 
in the incidental proposition is solely that by which our 
mind judges that the idea of pious is not incompatible 
with that of men, and that thus it may be considered as 
united with it, and that afterwards it may be examined 
with what agrees with them in relation to this union. 

2d, There are often terms which are doubly or trebly 
complex, being composed of many parts, each of which is 
in itself complex ; and thus there may be found in it 
divers incidental propositions, and of various kinds ; the 
who or which of one may be determinative, and the iclio or 
which of another, explicative. This will be seen better by 
an example. The doctrine which places the sovereign good 
in bodily pleasure, which ivas taught by Epicurus, is unworthy 
of a philosopher. This proposition has for attributes un 
worthy of a philosopher, and all the rest for subject. Thus 
the subject is a complex term, which contains two inci 
dental propositions, the first is, ivhich places the sovereign 
good in bodily pleasure. The ivhich, in this incidental pro 
position is determinative, for it determines the word doctrine, 
which is general, to that which affirms that the sovereign 
good of men is found in bodily pleasure; whence it happens, 
that we cannot, without absurdity, substitute the word 
which for the word doctrine, saying, doctrine places the sove 
reign good in bodily pleasure. The second incidental propo 
sition is, which ivas taught by Epicurus, and the subject to 
which this which refers, is the whole complex term, the 
doctrine which places the sovereign good in bodily pleasure, 
which indicates the doctrine singular and individual, 
capable of various accidents, as of being maintained by dif 
ferent men, although it is determined in itself to be always 
taken in the same sense, at least in this particular point, 
according to which it is understood, and this is why the 


of the second incidental proposition, ^ *, taught 

* - ^ "< &2s ~ 


pronoun (^ ^) is determinative O1 . creave we 
must often pay more attention to the meaning a 

eanng a 

ons of the speaker than to the simple expression for 

here are often complex terms which appear i Icon pL or 

less complex, than they really are, for a part of tl Twhich 

winch is joined to the word, an individual and distinct 
Uea, which determines it to signify only a single thing 

\V e have said that this commonly appeared from cir 
cumstances, as in the mouth of a Frenchman the word 
ang signifies Louis XIV. But the following is a rule that 
may enable us to judge when a common tern remains Tn 
its general idea, and when it is determined by an idea di" 
tinc and particular, though not expressed : l-kcn there ^ a 
manifest absurdity in connecting the attribute vM the subject 
rwmmng in its gew-al idea, u~e mustMieve thathe who utd 
this propo^on did not leave that subject in its general idea 
Thus, ii I hear it said by a man, Sex hoc Jhi impe^Mt 
t^kinff commanded me to do such a thing, I am assured 1 e 
did not leave the word king in its general idea, for kin, in 
general, can give no particular command 

If a man said to me, the "Brussels Gazette" fur the Uth of 
January 1662, relating to what passed in Paris, is false I 
should be sure that he had something in his mind beyond 
what these terms express, since all this will not enable him 
to judge whether the Gazette were true or false, and that 
hence it must be that he had in his mind some distinct and 
particular news, wluch he judged contrary to truth, as for 


instance, if that " Gazette" had said that the Icing had made 
a hundred knights of the order of the Holy Ghost. 

So also, in the judgments which are made of the 
opinions of philosophers, when any one says that the 
doctrine of such a philosopher is false, without distinctly 
expressing what that doctrine is, as that the doctrine of Lu 
cretius touching the nature of the soul is false. It must necessa 
rily be that those who form these kinds of judgments have in 
their minds a distinct and particular opinion under the general 
term, doctrine of such a philosopher, since the quality of 
falseness cannot belong to a doctrine, as being of such an 
author, but only as being such an opinion in particular 
contrary to truth. And thus these kinds of propositions 
necessarily resolve themselves into the following : such an 
opinion which was taught l>y such an author, is false; the 
opinion that our soul is composed of atoms, which was taught 
ly Lucretius, is false. 

So that these judgments involve always two affirmations, 
even when they are not distinctly expressed ; one, prin 
ciple, which regards truth in itself, which is, that it is a 
great error to maintain that the soul is composed of atoms ; 
the other, incidental, which regards only a point of history, 
which is that error was taught by Lucretius. 



WHAT we have said may enable us to resolve a celebrated 
question, which is, Whether falsehood is to le found only in 
propositions, or whether it does not also enter into ideas 
and simple terms ? 

I speak of falsehood rather than of truth, because there 
is a truth which is in things in relation to the mind of 


God, whether men think it, or whether they do not ; but 
falsehood can only be in relation to the mind of man, or to 
some mind subject to error, which judges falsely that a 
thing is that which it is not. 

It is asked, then, whether this falseness is only found in 
propositions and in judgments ? We reply commonly no, 
which is true in a sense ; but this does not secure that 
there shall not be sometimes falsehood, not in simple ideas 
but in complex terms, since it is enough for this that there 
be some judgment and affirmation, either expressed or 

We shall understand this better by considering in detail 
two sorts of complex terms, in one of which the who is ex 
plicative in the other, determinative. 

We need not wonder that falsehood is to be found in 
the first kind of complex terms, since here the attribute of 
the incidental proposition is affirmed of the subject to 
which the relative refers. Alexander, who was the son nf 
Philip : I affirm of Alexander, although incidentally, that 
he was the son of Philip ; and, consequently, if it be not 
so, there is falsehood in this. 

But two or three things, which are important, must be 
remarked here : 

1st, That the falsehood of the incidental proposition does 
not commonly affect the truth of the principal proposition ; for 
example, Alexander, who was the son of Philip, conquered 
the Persians. This proposition ought to be considered 
true, though Alexander be not the son of Philip ; since the 
affirmation of the principal proposition falls only on Alex 
ander, and that which is incidentally connected with it, 
though false, does not prevent it being true, that Alexander 
conquered the Persians. If, however, the attribute of the 
principal proposition be related to the incidental proposi 
tion, as if I were to say, Alexander, the son of Philip, was 
the grandson ofAmyntas, in this case only would the false 
hood of the incidental proposition make the principal 
proposition false. 

2d, The titles which are commonly given to certain 
dignitaries may be given to all those who possess these 
dignities, though that which is signified by the title may 
not belong to them at all. Thus, because formerly the 


title of holy, and of very holy, was given to all bishops, we 
see that the Catholic bishops, in the Council of Carthage, 
did not hesitate to bestow that name on Donatist bishops : 
Sanctissimus Petillianus dixit, although they knew well that 
holiness could not belong to a schismatic bishop. We see 
also that Paul, in the Acts, gives the title of very excellent 
to Festus, governor of Judea, because that was the title 
commonly given to these governors. 

3d, The case is different when a man is the author of 
the title which he gives to another, and which he gives to 
him, not according to the opinion of others, or according 
to popular error, but for himself alone ; for we may then, 
with justice, impute to him the falsehood of these proposi 
tions. Thus, when a man says, Aristotle, who is the prime* 
of philosophers, or simply, the prince of philosophers, believed 
that the origin of the nerves was in the heart, we ought 
not to tell him that this is false, because Aristotle is not 
the best of philosophers ; for it is enough that he followed, 
in this, the common opinion, though false. But if any 
one said, Gassendi, ivho was the most able of philosophers, 
believes that there was a void in nature, we might dispute with 
such a man the quality which he wished to bestow on 
Gassendi, and make him responsible for the falsehood 
which we might maintain was to be found in that inci 
dental proposition. He may, therefore, be accused of 
falsehood in giving to the same person a title which does 
not belong to him, and we cannot be accused of it in giving 
to him another which belongs to him still less in truth. 
For example, the pope, John XII., was neither holy, chaste, 
nor pious, as Baronius allows ; and yet those who should 
call him very holy could not be accused of falsehood, and 
those who called him very chaste, or very pious, were great 
liars, although they may only have done this by incidental 
propositions, as if they were to say, John XII., a very 
chaste pontiff, ordained such a thing. 

So much touching the first kind of incidental proposi 
tions, in which the relative (ii ho, u hich), is explicative. 

In relation to the others, where the relative is determina 
tive, as a man who is pioiis, kings who love their people, it 
is certain that, in general, they are not susceptible of false 
hood, since the attribute of the incidental proposition is 


not affirmed of the subject to which the relative refers. 
For if we say, for example, that jucljes who never do any 
thing by request or favour are worthy of praise, we do not 
say, on that account, that there is any judge in the world 
who has attained to that perfection ; nevertheless I believe 
that there is always in these propositions a tacit or virtual 
affirmation, not of the actual agreement of the attribute with 
the subject to which the who refers, but of its possible 
agreement. And if an error be committed here, I believe 
we shall have reason to hold that there may be falsehood 
in these incidental propositions, as if, for example, it were 
said, Minds which, are square are more solid titan those which 
are round; the idea of square and round being incompatible 
with the idea of mind, taken for the principle of thought, I 
hold that such incidental propositions ought to be reckoned 


We may even say that a greater number of errors spring 
from this ; for, having the idea of a thing, we often join to 
it another idea which is incompatible with it, although, 
through error, we believed it compatible, which leads us 
to attribute to this idea that which never belonged to it. 

Thus, finding in ourselves two ideas, that of a substance 
which thinks, and that of a substance extended, it often hap 
pens, that when we consider our soul, which is a substance 
which thinks, we mingle insensibly with it something of 
the idea of a substance extended, as when we imagine that 
our soul must fill a space as the body does, and that it 
could not exist if it had no parts, things which belong 
exclusively to the body ; and hence has arisen the impious 
error of those who believe the soul to be mortal. We 
may see an excellent discourse on this subject by St 
Augustine, in the Tenth Book of the Trinity, where he 
shows that there is nothing which may be known more 
easily than the nature of the soul. But that which per 
plexes men is this, that, wishing to know it, they are not 
satisfied with that which they may know without diiu 
that it is a substance which thinks, wills, doubts, knows, 
but they join to what it is, that which it is not, striving 
imagine it under some of those forms through which they 
are accustomed to conceive of corporeal things. 
When, on the other hand, we consider body, we 


very great difficulty in consequence of mingling Avith it some 
thing of the idea of that which thinks, Avhich leads us to say 
of heavy bodies, they incline towards a centre ; of plants, 
that they seek the nourishment which is proper for them ; of 
the crisis of a malady, that it is nature which is striving to get 
rid of that which offends it ; and of a thousand other things 
especially in our body, that nature wishes to do this or that, 
though we are well assured that we have not willed it, 
nor thought anything about it ; and it is ridiculous to 
imagine that there is in us anything else beside ourselves 
which knows what is suitable or hurtful, which seeks the 
one and avoids the other. 

I believe that it is to this mixture we may attribute all 
the complaints which men make against God ; for it would 
be impossible to murmur against God if we conceived of 
him truly as he is all-powerful, all-wise, and all-good. 
But wicked men, conceiving of him as all-powerful, and 
as the sovereign ruler of all the world, attribute to him all 
the evils which happen to them, wherein they are right. 
And since, at the same time, they conceive him cruel and 
unjust, which is incompatible with his goodness, they rail 
against him, as though he had done them wrong in laying 
upon them the evils which they suffer. 



BESIDE the propositions of which the subject, or the attri 
bute, is a complex term, there are others which are com 
plex, because they have incidental terms, or propositions, 
which regard only the form of the proposition, that is to 


say, the affirmation, or negation, which is expressed by 
the verb : as, if I say, / maintain that the earth is round 
I maintain is only an incidental proposition, which must 
be a part of something in the principal proposition. Yet, 
it is clear that it makes no part either of the subject or the 
attribute, for it makes no change in them at all ; and they 
would be conceived in precisely the same way, if I said, 
simply, the earth is round. And thus it can belong only to 
the affirmation, which is expressed in two ways, the one, 
which is the usual, by the verb is, the earth is round, and 
the other more expressly by the verb I maintain. 

In the same way, when it is said, / dent/ that it is true, it 
is -not true ; or when we add in a proposition that which 
supports its truth : as when I say the reasons of astronomy 
convince -us that the sun, is much larger than the earth ; for 
that first part is only a support of the affirmation. 

It is, nevertheless, important to notice that there are 
some of these kinds of propositions which are ambiguous, 
and which may be differently taken, according to the de 
sign of him who utters them : as if I say, all philosophers 
assure us that heavy things fall doicnwards of themselves. 
If my design is to show that heavy things fall downwards 
of themselves, the first part of this proposition would be 
incidental, and would serve only to support the affirmation 
of the last part ; but if, on the contrary, my design is merely 
to express this as the opinion of philosophers, without affirm 
ing it myself, then the first part will be the principal propo 
sition, and the last would be only a part of the attribute. For 
what I should affirm would not be that heavy things fall >>f 
themselves, but simply, that all philosophers maintain this : and 
it is clear that these two different ways of taking this same 
proposition, so change it, that it constitutes two different 
propositions which have altogether different meanings. 
But it is generally easy to determine by the context which 
of these two senses we are to take. For example, if, after 
having uttered that proposition, I were to add now stones 
are heavy it would be clear that I had taken it in the first 
sense, and the first part was only incidental ; but if, on 
the contrary, I were to conclude thus noic this is an error, 
and, consequently, it is possible that an error may be taught ly 
all -philosophers it would be manifest that I had taken 


it in the second sense, that is to say, that the first part 
was the principal proposition, and that the second was 
only part of the attribute. 

Of these complex propositions, where the complexity 
falls on the verb, and not on the subject or the attribute, 
philosophers have specially noticed those which have been 
called modals, because the affirmation or negation has been 
qualified in them by one of these four modes, possible, con 
tingent, impossible, necessary. And, since each mode may be 
affirmed or denied, as it is impossible, it is not impossible, 
and, in both respects, may be joined by a proposition, 
affirmative, or negative, as, the earth is round, the earth is not 
round each mode may have four propositions, and, the four 
together, sixteen, which have been denoted by these four 
words: Purpurea, Iliace, Amabimus, Edentnli, the whole 
mystery of which is, that each syllable denotes one of the 
four modes. 

First possible. 

Second contingent. 

Third impossible. 

Fourth necessary. 

And the vowel which is found in each syllable, which is 
either A, or E, or I, or U, points out whether the mode 
ought to be affirmed or denied, and whether the proposi 
tion which is termed dictum ought to be affirmed or denied 
in that way. 

A. The affirmation of the mode, and the affirmation of 
the proposition. 

E. The affirmation of the mode, and the negation of 
the proposition. 

I. The negation of the mode, and the affirmation of 
the proposition. 

U. The negation of the mode, and the negation of the 

It would only be loss of time to bring examples which 
may easily be found ; it is only necessary to observe, that 
Purpurea answers to A of complex propositions, Iliace to 
E, Amabimus to I, Edentuli to U; and that thus if we 


wish our examples to be true, we must, having found a 
subject, take iov purpurea an attribute which may be urn 
versally affirmed of it; for illace one winch may be univer 
sally denied of it ; for amabwus one that may be particu 
larly affirmed of it; and for edcntuli one that may 1 
particularly denied of it. 

But whatever attribute may be taken, it is always true 
that all the four propositions for the same word have only 
the same sense, so that one being true, all the rest are 



WE have already said that compound propositions are 
those which have either a double subject, or a double atti 
butc Now. of these there are two kinds, the one where 
?he composition is denoted expressly and the other where 
it is more concealed, which logicians have, for this re* 
called expombles, since they need to be expounde. 

emay reduce those of the first kind to six species.- 
Copulativ* [and disjunctives, conditionals and causals, rel 
and diseretives. 


We call copulatives those which contain either several 
subjects, or several attributes, united by an affirmative 
negative conjunction, that is to say, by and, or neither, 1< 
31 produces the same effect as and, since -f^ 
fies and, and a negation, which falls on the verb, and 
on the union of the two words which it joins : as, i 1 say, 
knowledye and rides do not render a man happy- 


much unite knowledge to riches, in affirming of both that 
they do not render a man happy, as if I said know 
ledge and riches render a man vain. 

We may distinguish three kinds of these propositions. 

1st, When they have several subjects. 
Mors et vita in manibus linguae. 
Death and life are in the power of the tongue. 

2d, When they have several attributes. 

Auream quisquis mediocritatem 
Diligit, tutus, caret dbsoleti 
Sordibus tecti, caret invidenda 

Sobrius aula. 

He who loves moderation, which is desirable in all 
things, lives neither sordidly nor superbly. 
Sperat infaustis^ metuit secundis 
Alter am sortem, bene prosper at urn 


A well regulated mind hopes for prosperity in adver 
sity, and fears adversity in prosperity. 

3d, When they have several subjects and several attri 

Non domus etfundus, non ceris acervus et auri, 
Aegroto Domini deduxit corpore felres, 

Non animo curas. 

Neither houses, nor lands, nor the greatest heaps of 
gold and silver, can chase away fevers from the 
body, or cares from the mind of their possessors. 

The truth of these propositions depends on the truth of 
both parts : thus, if I say faith and a good life are neces 
sary to salvation. This is true, because both are necessary ; 
but if I said, good life and riches are necessary to salvation, 
this proposition would be false, since, although good life 
is thus necessary, riches are not. 

Propositions which are considered as negative and con 
tradictory, in relation to the copulatives, and to all the 
other compound ones, are not all those in which negations 
are found, but only those in which the negation falls on 


the conjunction ; and this happens in different ways, as by 
placing the not at the top of the proposition Non enirn 
amas et deserts, says St Augustine, that is to say, you 
must not believe you love any one when you desert him. 

For it is in the same way we render a proposition con 
tradictory, the contradictory, or copulative, by expressly 
denying the conjunction: as when we say it cannot be 
that a thing should be, at the same time, this and that. 

That we cannot be in love, and be wise. 

A mare ct sapere vix Deo conceditur. 
That love and majesty do not agree together. 

Non be tie conocniunt, ncc in una sede moruntur, /ttitjtstos 
ct amor. 


Disjunctives are of great service, and are those into 
which the disjunctive conjunction, (7, or, enters: 

Friendship either finds friends equal, or renders them so. 
Amicitia pares aut accipit, autfacit. 

A woman loves or hates ; there is no medium. 
Aut amat aut odlt mulier; niliil cst tertium. 

He who lives in utter solitude is either a beast or an 
angel (says Aristotle). 

Men act only through interest, or through fear. 

The earth moves round the sun, or the sun round the 

Every deliberate action is either good or evil. 

The truth of these propositions depends on the necessary 
opposition of the parts, which ought to admit of no medium. 
But as, in order to be necessarily true, they must admit of 
none at all, it suffices that they do not ordinarily admit of 
any, in order to be considered as morally true. Hence it 
is absolutely true that an action done deliberately is good 
or bad, since theologians prove that there are none which 
are indifferent ; but when it is said that men act only 
through interest, or through fear, it is not absolutely true, 
since there are some who act from neither of these passions, 


but from consideration of their duty: and thus all the 
truth which it contains is, that these are the two motives 
which influence the majority of men. 

The propositions which are contradictory to the dis 
junctives are those in which we deny the truth of the 
disjunction ; which is done in Latin by putting the nega 
tion at the beginning, as in all the other compound pro 
positions : Non omnis actio est bona vel mala ; and in our 
language, It is not true that every action is either good or lad. 


Conditionals are those which have two parts united by 
the condition if, whereof the first that contains the con 
dition is called the antecedent, and the other the consequent. 
If the soul is spiritual, is the antecedent, it is immortal, is 
the consequent. 

This consequence is sometimes mediate, and sometimes 
immediate. It is mediate only when there is nothing in the 
terms of either part which binds them together, as when I 
say : 

If the earth is immoveable, the sun turns round. 
If God is just, sinners will be punished. 
These consequences are very good, since the two parts, 
having no common term, are connected together only 
by that which is in the mind, and which is not expressed ; 
that the earth and the sun, being found continually in 
different situations with regard to each other, it necessarily 
follows, that if one is immoveable, the other moves. 

When the consequence is immediate, it must generally 

1st, Either when the two parts have the same subject : 
If death is a passage to a happier life, it is desirable. 
If you have failed to nourish the poor, you have destroyed 

Si non pavisti, occidisti. 

2d, Or when they have the same attribute : 


If all trials from God should be dear to us, 
Afflictions ought to be so. 

3d, Or when the attribute of the first part is the subject 
of the second : 

I/ patience be a virtue, 
There are painful virtues. 

4th, Or, lastly, when the subject of the first part is the 
attribute of the second, which can only be when the second 
part is negative : 

If all true Christians live according to the Gospel, 
There are few true Christians. 

We consider, in relation to these propositions, only the 
truth of the consequence; for although both parts were 
false, nevertheless, if the consequence of one or the other 
is good, the proposition, so far as it is conditional, is true. 

as : 

If the will of the creature is capable of preventing tht 

absolute will of God from being accomplished, 
God is not almighty. 

Propositions considered as negative or contradictory to 
the conditionals, are those only in which the condition is 
denied, which is accomplished in Latin by placing tl it- 
negation at the beginning : 

Non, si miserum fortuna Sinonem 
Finxit, van urn etiam mendacemque improba finget. 
But in our language we express these contradictions by 
although, and a negation : 

If you eat of the forbidden fruit, you shall die. 

Although you should eat of the forbidden fruit, you Khali 

not die. 

Or equally well by It is not true, that if ye eat of the for 
bidden fruit ye shall die. 


Causals are those which contain two propositions eon- 


nected by a causal particle, quia, because, or ut, to tJie end 
that : 

Wo to the rich, because they have their comfort in this 


The wicked are exalted, in order that, falling from a greater 
height, their downfal may be greater. 
Tolluntur in altum, 
Ut lapsu graviore ruant. 
They are able, because they believe they are able. 

Possunt quia posse videntur. 
Such a prince was unhappy, because he was born 

under a certain constellation. 

We may also reduce to these kinds of propositions those 
which are called reduplicatives : 
Man, as man, is reasonable. 
Kings, as kings, depend on God only. 

For the truth of these propositions, it is necessary that 
one of the parts be the cause of the other, which makes it 
also necessary that both be true ; for that which is false 
is not a cause, and has not a cause ; but both parts may 
be true, and yet the causal connection false, because it is 
enough for this, that one of the parts be not the cause of 
the other. Thus a prince may have been unfortunate, and 
may have been born under such a constellation, while it 
may still be false that he was unhappy because he was born 
under that constellation. 

Hence the contradictories of these propositions consist 
properly in this, that we deny the one to be the cause of 
the other : 

Non ideo infelix, quia sub hoc natus sidere. 


Relatives are those which involve comparison and some 

relation : 

Where the treasure is, there the heart is also. 
As a man lives, so he dies. 


Tantl es, quantum habeas. 

You are valued in the world in proportion to your 

The truth depends on the justness of the relation, and 
we contradict them by denying the relation : 

It is not true, that as a man lives, so he dies. 
It is not true that we are valued in the world in pro 
portion to our fortune. 


Are those in which we make different judgments, denoting 
that difference by the particles xed, but, tauten, nevertheless, 
or others like these, expressed or understood : 

Fortuna opes auferre, non potest animum. 

Fortune may take away wealth, but it cannot take 

away virtue. 
Et mild res, non me rebus submittere conor. 

I try to place myself above circumstances, not to be 

the slave of them. 

Ca luin non animum mutant qui trans mare currunt. 
They who cross the seas change only the country, not 
the disposition. 

The truth of this sort of proposition depends on the 
two parts, and the separation that is made between them ; 
for, though both the parts were true, a proposition of this 
kind would be ridiculous if there was no opposition between 
them: as, if I said 

Judas was a thief, and yet lie would not suffer Mag 
dalene to pour perfumes on Jesus Christ. 
A proposition of this sort may have many contradic 
tories, as if it were said 

Happiness does not depend on riches but upon, know 

We may contradict this proposition in all these ways : 
Happiness depends on riches, and not upon knowledge. 
Happiness depends neither upon riches nor knowledge. 
Happiness depends upon riches and knowledge. 


Thus we see that copulatives are the contradictories to 
the discretives, for these two last propositions are copu 



THERE are other compound propositions whose composi 
tion is more concealed, these we may reduce to the four 
following kinds : 1. Exclusives. 2. Exceptives. 3. Com 
paratives. 4. Inceptives, or Desitives. 


We call exclusives those which indicate that the attribute 
agrees with the subject, and that it agrees with that subject 
only, which denotes that it agrees with no others ; whence, 
it follows that they contain two different judgments, and 
that they are, consequently, compound in meaning. This 
is expressed by the word alone, or some other like it (or, 
in French, il n y a) God alone is worthy of being loved 
for his own sake. 

Deus solus fruendus, reliqua utcnda. 

That is to say, we ought to love God for his own sake, 
and to love other things for God s sake. 
Quas dederis solas semper habelis opes. 

The only riches which will remain with you are those 

which you have freely given away. 
Nobilitas sola est atque unica virtus. 

Virtue alone is true nobility. 

Hoc unum scio quod ni/til scio, said the Academics. 
It is certain that there is nothing certain, and there is 
only obscurity and uncertainty in everything else. 


Lucian, speaking of the Druids, gives these disjunctive 
propositions composed of two exclusives : 

Solis nosse dcos, et cceli numina vobis, 
Ant soils neseire datum est. 

Either you know the gods, while all besides are ignor 
ant of them ; 
Or, you are ignorant of them, while all others know 


These propositions are contradicted in three ways ; for, 
1st, It may be denied that what is said to agree with a 
single subject does not agree with it at all. 

Id, It may be maintained that it agrees with something 


3d, Both may be maintained. 

Thus, against this sentence, that virtue alone is true nobility, 

we may say 

1. That virtue alone does not confer nobility. 

2. That birth confers nobility as well as ^virtue. 

3. That birth confers nobility, and not virtue. 

Thus, that maxim of the Academics, that it is certain that 
there is nothing certain, was contradicted differently by the 
Dogmatists and the Pyrrhonists ; for the Dogmatists op 
posed it, by maintaining that it was doubly false, since 
there are many things which we know with the utmost 
certainty, and that thus it was not true that we were cer 
tain of knowing nothing ; and the Pyrrhonists also said 
that it was false, for a contrary reason, viz., that it was 
even uncertain whether there were nothing certain. 

Hence, there is a defect of judgment in what Lucian 
said of the Druids, since it was not necessary that the 
Druids held the truth in relation to the gods, or that they 
only were in error ; for, since different errors may be held 
touching the nature of God, it might easily happen, al 
though the Druids had opinions touching the nature of a 
God different from other nations, they were not less in 
error than other nations. 

What is more remarkable, is, that there are propositions 
of this kind which are exclusives in sense, although the 
exclusion may not be expressed : thus that verse of \ irgi 
in which the exclusion is denoted 


Una solus metis nullam sperare salutem, 
Has been happily translated by this French verse, by 
which the exclusion is understood. 

Le salut des vaincus est de n en point attendre. 
The safety of the vanquished is to look for none. 
It is, however, much more common, in Latin, to under 
stand exclusions, so that there are often passages which 
cannot be translated in all their force, although, in Latin, 
the exclusion may not be expressed. 

Thus 2 Corinthians, x. 17. Qui gloriatur in domine 
glorietur ought to be translated : He who glories, let him 
glory in the Lord alone. 

Galat. vi. 7. Quce seminaverit homo, licec et metet. 

A man shall reap only that which he has sown. 
Ephes. iv. 5. Unus Dominus, una fides, unum baptisma. 
There is only one Lord, one faith, and one baptism. 
Matt. v. 46. Si diligitis eos qui vos diligunt, quam merce- 
dem habebitis ? 

If you love those only who love you, what reward do 

you deserve ? 

Seneca in his Troad. Nullas habet spes Troja, si tales 

If Troy has only this hope, it has none : as if he had 
said Si tantum tales habet. 


Exceptives are those in which we affirm a thing of a 
whole subject, with the exception of certain inferiors of 
that subject, to which we show, by some exceptive par 
ticles, that this does not belong. This clearly involves two 
judgments, and thus renders these propositions compound 
in sense : as when I say 

None of the ancient philosophers, except the Platonists, 
recognised the spirituality of God. This means two 
things. First, that the ancient philosophers believed God 
corporeal; second, that the Platonists believed the con 

Avarus nisi cum moritur, m hil recte facit. 

The avaricious man does no good, except by dying. 


Et miser nemo, riisi comparatus. 

No one thinks himself miserable, except by compar 
ing himself with those who are more happy. 
Nemo Iceditur nisi a seipso. 

We have no evil, except what we do to ourselves 
Except the wise man, said the Stoics, all men are 

truly fools. 

These propositions may be contradicted in the same way 
as the exclusives. 

1. By maintaining that the wise man of the Stoics 
was a fool as well as other men. 

2. By maintaining that there were others, besides 
their wise man, who were not fools. 

3. By affirming that the wise man of the Stoics was 
a fool, and that other men were not. 

It must be remarked that the exclusive and the inceptive 
propositions are, if we may so speak, only the same thing 
expressed somewhat differently, so that it is always very easy 
to change them reciprocally from the one to the other ; and 
thus we see that exceptive proposition of Terence 
Imperitus, nisi quod ipsefacit, nihil rectum putat. 
has been changed by Cornelius Gallus into that exclusive 
Hoc tantum rectum quodfacit ipse putat. 


Propositions in which we compare contain two judg 
ments, since it is one tiling to say that a thing is such, and 
another thing to say that it is more or less such, than 
another ; and thus these kinds of propositions are compound 
in sense. 

A niicum perdere, est damnorum maximum. 

The greatest of all losses is the loss of a friend. 

Ridiculum acri 

Fortius ac melius maynas plerumque secat res. 
We often produce more impression, even in most im 
portant matters, by a little agreeable raillery, than 
by argument. 


Meliora sunt vulnera amid quoin fraudulenta oscula 

Better are the blows of a friend than the treacherous 
kisses of an enemy. 

These propositions may be contradicted in many ways : 
as, that maxim of Epicurus, that pain is the greatest of 
all evils, was contradicted in one way by the Stoics, and 
in another way by the Peripatetics ; for the Peripatetics 
allowed that pain was an evil, but maintained that vices, 
and other irregularities of the mind, were much greater 
evils, whereas, the Stoics would not even acknowledge 
pain to be an evil, so far were they from admitting that it 
was the greatest of all evils. 

There is a question which may be here discussed, viz. : 
Whether it is always necessary, in these propositions, that 
the positive or the comparative belong to both members of 
the comparison ; and if, for instance, it is necessary to 
suppose that two things are good, before we can say that 
one is better than the other. It appears at first that this 
must be so ; but custom is opposed to it, since we see that 
the Scriptures employ the word better, not only in compar 
ing together two things which are good : melior est sapien- 
tia quam vires, et vir prudens qvam fortis. Wisdom is better 
than strength, and the prudent man than the strong man. 
But also in comparing a good with an evil, melior est pa- 
tiens arrogante. A. patient man is better than a proud one. 

And even in comparing two evils together, melius est 
habitare cum dracone, quam cum muliere litigiosa. It is bet 
ter to live with a dragon than with a quarrelsome woman. 
And in the Gospel, It is better that a man be cast into the 
sea, with a stone about his neck, than to scandalize the 
least of the faithful. 

The reason of this usage is that a larger good is better 
than a smaller one, because there is more of goodness in 
it than a smaller good. Now, for the same reason, though 
with less propriety, we may say that a good is better than 
an evil, because it has more of goodness in it than that 
which has none. And we may also say that a smaller 
evil is better than a larger evil, since the diminution of 
evil, holding the place of good among evils, that which is 


less bad has more of his kind of goodness than that which 
is worse. 

We should therefore avoid the unnecessary embarrassment 
which arises in the heat of debate, from wrangling on these 
forms of speech, as was done by a Donatist grammarian 
named Cresconius, in writing against St Augustine, that 
saint having said that the Catholics had more reason to 
reproach the Donatists with having abandoned the sacred 
books, than the Donatists had to reproach the Catholics, 
traditionem nos vobis pmbabiUus objicimus, Cresconius ima 
gined that he might conclude from these Avords that St 
Augustine allowed that the Donatists had ground to re 
proach the Catholics, Si enim vos probabilius, says he, nos 
ergo probabiliter; nam yradus iste quod ante positiun ^ eat 
auget non quod ante dictum est, improbat. But St Augustine, 
first refuted that vain subtilety by examples from _ the 
Scriptures, and among others, that passage in the epistle 
to the Hebrews, in which St Paul, having said that that 
ground which bore only thorns, was accursed, and fit only 
for the fire, adds, conjidimus autem de vobis fratres carissimi 
meliora, non qida, says that Father, bona ilia erant qua 
supra du-erat, profcrre spmas et tribute*, et ultionem mereri, 
sed macjis qula mala erant ut illis devitatis meliora cligerent et 
optarent, hoc cst, mala tantis bonis contraria. And then 
he showed him, from the most celebrated authors of his art, 
how false this consequence was, since he might, in the 
same way, reproach Virgil with having reckoned as a good 
thing the violence of a disease which leads men to tear 
themselves with their own teeth, because he wishes a bet 
ter fortune to good people : 

Dii meliora piis, erroremque hostilms ilium ; 
Discissos nudis laiiiabant dentibus artus ; 

Quomodo ergo meliora piis, says that Father, quasi bona 
essent istis, ac non potius magna mala qui discissos nudis lama- 
bant dentibus artus. 


When we say that a thing has commenced or ceased to 


be such, we form two judgments, one, what the thing 
was before the time of which we speak, the other, what it 
is after; and thus these propositions of which the one 
class is called inceptives, the other desitives, are compound in 
sense, and they are so like that it is more to the purpose 
to consider them as only one species, and treat of them 

The Jews commenced, after the return from the captivity of 
Babylon, to disuse their ancient characters, which are those 
tvhich are now called the Samaritan. 

1, The Latin language has, for Jive hundred years, ceased 
to be common in Italy. 

2, The Jews did not begin to use points for marking the 
vowels until Jive hundred years after Christ, 

These propositions may be contradicted, according to 
either of their relations to the two different times. Thus 
some are contradicted last, by maintaining, though falsely, 
that the Jews always used points, at least for their books, 
and that these were kept in the temple ; and others con 
tradicted it by maintaining the contrary, i.e., by saying 
that the use of points is still later than the fifth century. 


Although we have showed that the propositions ex 
clusive, exceptives, &c. may be contradicted in several 
ways, it is nevertheless true, that when we deny them 
simply, without any further explanation, the negation falls 
naturally on the exclusion, on the exception, on the com 
parison, on the change denoted by the words of beginning 
and of ending. Hence, if a man believes that Epicurus 
did not place the chief good in bodily pleasure, and it were 
told him that Epicurus alone placed in it the chief good ; if 
he denied this simply, without adding anything else, it 
would not fully express his opinion, because it might be 
believed, from that simple negation, that he still allowed 
that Epicurus had indeed placed the sovereign good in 
bodily pleasure, but that he believes that he was not alone 
in that opinion. 

In the same way, if, knowing the probity of a judge, 


any one should ask me if lie sold justice still, I could not 
simply reply by saying no, since the no would signify that 
he did not sell it now, but would leave it to be inferred, at 
the same time, that I allowed that he had formerly sold it. 
Hence it may be seen that there are some propositions 
which it would be unjust to demand that any one should 
answer simply by yes or no, since, as they involve two 
senses, no one could not justly reply to them without ex 
plaining himself in relation to both. 



IT is doubtless a defect in common logic, that those who 
study it are accustomed to find out the nature of proposi 
tions or reasonings, only as they follow the order and 
arrangement according to which they are fashioned in the 
schools, which is often very different from that according 
to which they are fashioned in the world, and in books 
whether of eloquence, or of morals, or of other sciences. 
Thus we have scarcely any other idea of subject and attri 
bute, except that the one is the first term of a proposition, 
and the other the last ; and of universality and particu 
larity, except that there is in the one omnis or nulltia, (til or 
none, and in the other, aliquis, some. 

Nevertheless all this leads astray very often, and it is 
necessary to exercise judgment in order to discriminate 
these things in many propositions. We will commence 
with the subject and attribute. 

The sole and the true rule is, to consider l>y the sense 
that of which ice affirm, and that which we affirm; for the 
first is always the subject, and the last the attribute, in 
whatever order they may be found. 


Thus there is nothing more common in Latin than such 
propositions as these : Turpe est obsequi libidini, It is dis 
graceful to be a slave of one s passions ; in which it is 
plain from the sense, that turpe, disgraceful, is that which 
we affirm, and, consequently, the attribute ; and obsequi 
libidini that of which we affirm, i. e. what we declare to be 
disgraceful, and, consequently, the subject. So again, in 
St Paul, Est qucestus magnus pietas, cum svfficientia ; the true 
order will be, Pietas cum sufficientia est qucestus magnus. 

So also in these verses, 

Felix qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas ; 
Atque metus omnes, et inexorabile fatum 
Subjecit pedibus strepitumque Acherontis avari ; 
Felix is the attribute, and the rest the subject. 

The subject and the attribute are often still more diffi 
cult to discover in complex propositions ; and we have 
already seen that we can sometimes only judge by the 
sequel of the discourse, and the intention of the author, 
which is the principal proposition, and which the inci 
dental, in such propositions. 

But, in addition to what we have already said, we may 
further remark, that in those complex propositions, in 
which the first part and the last are the principal, as in 
the major and the conclusion of the following reasoning : 
God commands us to honour kings; 
Louis XIV. is king; 

Therefore God commands us to honour Louis XIV. 
It is often necessary to change the active verb into the 
passive, in order to obtain the true subject of that principal 
proposition, as in this very example. For it is clear that, 
reasoning thus, my principal intention in the major is to 
affirm something, from which I may conclude that we 
ought to honour Louis XIV. ; and thus what I say of the 
Divine command is, properly, only an incidental proposi 
tion, confirming this affirmation, Kings ought to be honoured 
Eeges sunt honorandi ; whence it follows that kings is the 
subject of the major, and Louis XIV. the subject of the 
conclusion, although, at first sight, each appears to be only 
a part of the attribute. 

The following, also, are propositions very common in 
our language : ft is foolish to listen to flatterers It is hail 



which falls It is a God who has redeemed iis. Now the 
sense proves to us, that in order to arrange them in their 
natural order, placing the subject before the attribute, we 
must express them thus : To listen to flatterers is folly 
That u-hich falls is hail He v:ho has redeemed us is God. 
And this is almost universal in all propositions which 
commence with it is, where there is afterwards found a 
which or that, that they have their attribute at the com 
mencement, and their subject at the end. It is sufficient 
to have adverted to this now ; and all these examples are 
but to show that we ought to judge by the sense, and not 
by the order of the words. This advice is very necessary, 
that we be not deceived by considering syllogisms as 
vicious which are in reality very good ones ; since, for 
want of discriminating the subject and the attribute, we 
think they arc contrary to the rules when they are exactly 
conformed to them. 



IT is important, in order to understand better the nature 
of what is called subject in propositions, to add here a 
remark which has been made in more important works 
than this, but which, since it belongs to logic, may find a 
place here. 

It is, that when two or more things which have some 
resemblance succeed each other in the same place, and, 
principally, when there does not appear any sensible dif 
ference between them, although men may distinguish them 
in speaking metaphysically, they nevertheless do not dis 
tinguish them in their ordinary speech; but, embracing 
them under a common idea, which does not exhibit the 


difference, and denotes only what they have in common, 
they speak of them as if they were the same thing. 

Thus, though we change the air every moment, never 
theless we consider the air which surrounds us as being 
always the same ; and we say that, from being cold, it has 
become warm, as if it were the same, whereas often that 
air which we feel cold is not the same as that which we 
find warm. 

This water, we also say, in speaking of a river, was 
turbid two days ago, and, behold, now it is clear as crystal; 
while it is impossible it could be the same water. In idem 
flumen bis non descendirmis, says Seneca, manet idem fluminis 
nomen, aqua transmissa est. 

We consider the bodies of animals, and speak of them, 
as being always the same, though we are assured, that at 
the end of a few years there remains no part of the matter 
which at first composed them ; and not only do we speak 
of them as the same body, without reflecting what we say, 
but we do so also when we reflect expressly on the subject. 
For common language allows us to say, The body of this 
animal was composed ten years ago of certain parts of 
matter, and now it is composed of parts altogether different. 
There appears to be some contradiction in speaking thus ; 
for if the parts were altogether different, then is it not the 
same body. It is true ; but we speak of it, nevertheless, 
as of the same body. And what renders these propositions 
true is, that the same term is taken for different subjects 
in this different application. 

Augustus said that he had found the city of Rome of 
brick, and had left it of marble, in the same way we say 
of a town, of a mansion, of a church, that it was destroyed 
at such a time, and rebuilt at such another time. What, 
then, is this Some, which was at one time of brick, and at 
another time of marble? What are these towns, these 
mansions, and churches, which are destroyed at one time, 
and rebuilt at another ? Is the Some of brick the same as 
the Some of marble ? No ; but the mind, nevertheless, 
forms to itself a certain confused idea of Some, to which it 
attributes these two qualities being of brick at one time, 
and of marble at another. And when it afterwards forms 
propositions about it, and when it says, for example, that 


Rome, which was brick before the time of Augustus, was 
marble when he died, the word Rome, which appears to 
be only one subject, denotes, nevertheless, two, which are 
really distinct, but united under the confused idea of Rome, 
which prevents the mind from perceiving the distinction 
of these subjects. 

It is by this means that the author of the book from 
which we borrowed this remark has cleared up the affected 
perplexity which the ministers delight to find in that pro 
position this is mil body which no one would ever find, 
following the light of common sense. For, as we should 
never think of saying it was a proposition very perplexed, 
and very difficult to be understood, if we said of a church 
which had been burned and rebuilt this church was 
burned ten years ago, and has been rebuilt in a twelve 
month in the same way, we could not reasonably say 
there was any difficulty in understanding this proposition, 
that irhich is bread at this moment is my bod// at this other 
moment. It is true that it is not the same this in these dif 
ferent moments, as the burned church and the rebuilt 
church arc not really the same church ; but the mind con 
ceiving the bread and the body of Jesus Christ under the 
common idea of a present object, which it expresses by 
this, attributes to that object, which is really twofold, and 
only unity of confusion, the being bread at one moment, 
and the body of Jesus Christ at another, just as, having 
formed of that church burned and rebuilt, the common idea 
of a chm ch, it gives to that confused idea two attributes, 
which cannot belong to the same subject. 

Hence it follows that, taken in the sense of the Catholics, 
there is no difficulty in the proposition, this is mi/ bod//, since 
it is only an abridgment of this other proposition, which 
is perfectly clear, that which is bread at this moment is m// 
body at this other moment and since the mind supplies all 
that is not expressed. As we have remarked at the end 
of the First Part, when we used the demonstrative pronoun 
hoc to denote something which is presented to our senses, 
the precise idea formed by the pronoun remaining con 
fused, the mind adds thereto the clear and distinct ideas 
obtained from the senses, in the form of an incidental pro 
position. Thus, when Jesus Christ pronounced the word 


this, the minds of the apostles added to it, which is bread, 
and as they conceived that it was bread at that moment, 
they made, also, the addition of time, and thus the word 
tlm formed also this idea, this ivhich is bread at this moment. 
In the same way, when Christ said that it was his body, they 
conceived that this was his body at that moment. Thus the 
expression, this is my body, formed in them that total pro 
position, this ivhich is bread at this moment is my body 
at this other moment ; and this expression being clear, the 
abridgment of the proposition, which diminishes nothing 
of the idea, is so also. 

And as to the difficulty proposed by the ministers, that 
the same thing cannot be bread and the body of Jesus 
Christ, since it belongs equally to the extended proposi 
tion this which is bread at this moment is my body at this 
other moment and the abridged proposition this is my body 
it is clear that it is no better than a frivolous wrangling, 
which might be alleged equally against these propositions: 
this church was burned at such a time, and rebuilt at such 
another time ; and that they must all be disintricated through 
this way of conceiving many separate subjects under a 
single idea, which occasions the same term to be sometimes 
taken for one term and sometimes for another, without any 
notice being taken by the mind of this transition from one 
subject to another. 

After all, we do not here profess to decide the import 
ant question touching the way in which we ought to 
understand these words, whether in a figurative or in a 
literal sense ; for it is not enough to show that a proposi 
tion may be taken in a certain sense, but it ought to be 
proved that it must be so taken. But as there are some 
ministers who, on the principles of a false logic, obstinately 
maintain that the words of Jesus Christ cannot bear a 
catholic sense, it is not out of place to show here, briefly, 
that the catholic sense has in it nothing but what is clear, 
reasonable, and conformed to the common language of all 




WE may make some observations of the like kind, and 
equally important, touching the universality and particu 
larity of propositions. 

1st OBSERVATION. We must distinguish between two 
lands of universality, the one, which may be called meta 
physical, the other moral. 

We call universality, metaphysical, when it is perfect 
without exception, as, ever// man is living, which admits of 
no exception. 

And universality, moral, when it admits of some excep 
tion, since in moral things it is sufficient that things are 
generally such, ut plurimum, as, that which St Paul quotes 
and approves of: 

Cretenses semper mendaccs, mala? bestice, venires pigri. 
Or, what the same apostle says : Omnes quce sua sunt 
qucerunt, non quce Jesu-Christi ; 
Or, as Horace says : 

Omnibus hoc vitium est cantoribus, inter amicos 
Ut nunquam inducant animum cantare rogati; 
Injussi nunquam desistant; 
Or, the common aphorisms : 

That all women love to talk. 
That all young people are inconstant. 
That all old people praise past times. 
It is enough, in all such propositions, that the thing 
be commonly so, and we ought not to conclude anything 
strictly from them. 

For, as these propositions are not so general as to ad 
mit of no exceptions, the conclusion may be false, as it 
could not be inferred of each Cretan in particular, that he 
was a liar and an evil beast, although the apostle approves 


generally of this verse of one of their poets The Cretans 
are always liars, evil beasts, great gluttons because there 
might be some persons who had not the vices which were 
common to the others. 

Thus the moderation which ought to be observed in 
these propositions, which are only morally universal, is, 
on the one hand, to draw particular conclusions only with 
great judgment, and, on the other, not to contradict them, 
or reject them as false, although instances may be adduced 
in which they do not hold, but, to satisfy ourselves, if we 
hear them carried too far, with showing that they ought 
not to be taken so strictly. 

2d OBSERVATION. There are some propositions which 
ought to be considered as metaphysical universals, though 
they may admit of exceptions, when in common custom it 
is not necessary for these extraordinary exceptions to be 
comprised in universal terms : as, if I say all men have 
two arms this proposition ought to be considered as true, 
in ordinary use. And it would be only wrangling to 
maintain that there had been monsters, who, although they 
had four arms, were nevertheless considered men ; be 
cause it is sufficiently clear, in these general propositions, 
we do not speak of monsters, but we mean to say that, in 
the order of nature, men have but tAvo arms. 

We may say, also, in the same way, that all men em 
ploy sounds for the purpose of expressing their thoughts, 
but that all men do not employ writing ; and it would not 
be a reasonable objection to this, that mutes may be found 
to falsify this proposition, since it is clear enough, without 
being expressed, that this ought to be understood only of 
those who have no natural impediment to the use of 
sounds, either because they cannot learn them, as is the 
case with those who are born deaf, or because they cannot 
form them, as is the case with the dumb. 

3d OBSERVATION. There are some propositions which 
are universal, only because they ought to be understood de 
generibus singulorum, and not de singulis generum, as the 
philosophers say ; i. e., of all the species of each genus, 
and not of all the particulars of these species. Thus we 
say that all animals were saved in Noah s ark, because 


some of every species were saved in it. Jesus Christ 
also said of the Pharisees, that they paid the tenth of all 
herbs, decimatis omne olus, not that they paid a tenth of 
all the herbs in the Avorld, but because there were no 
kinds of herbs whereof they did not pay a tenth. Thus, 
too, St Paul says, Sicut et ego omnibus per omnia placeo, 
that is to say, that he accommodated himself to all sorts 
of persons Jews, Gentiles, Christians, although he did 
not seek to please his persecutors, who were so numerous. 
Thus we say, also, that a man has passed through all offices, 
that is, through every kind of office. 

4th OBSERVATION. There are some propositions which 
are universal only because the subject is to be taken as re 
stricted by a part of the attribute. I say, by a part ; for it 
would be ridiculous for it to be restrained by the whole 
attribute, as if it were maintained, for instance, that this 
proposition were true, All men are just, because it was to 
be understood in this sense that all just men are just, 
which would be frivolous. But when the attribute is com 
plex, and has two parts, as in this proposition, All men 
are just, through the grace of Jesus Christ; and it may be 
maintained, with reason, that the term just is understood 
in the subject, though it be not expressed, since it is suffi 
ciently clear that it is intended to say only, that all men 
who are just, are so through the grace of Jesus Christ 
alone. And thus, this proposition is rigorously true, 
though it might appear false, if we consider only what is 
expressed in the subject, there being so many men who 
are wicked, or evil-doers, and who, consequently, have not 
been justified through the grace of Jesus Christ. There 
are a very great number of propositions in Scripture which 
ought to be taken in this sense, and, among others, that 
one in which St Paul says, As in Adam all die, so also 
in Christ all are made aline. For it is certain that a 
multitude of heathens, who have died in their infidelity, 
have not been made alive in Jesus Christ, that they have 
no part in that glorious life of which St Paul here speaks. 
Thus the meaning of the apostle is, that as all those who 
die, die through Adam, so all those who are made alive, 
are made alive through Jesus Christ. 


There are also many propositions which are morally 
universal in this way only, as when we say, The French 
are good soldiers, The Dutch are good sailors, The Flem 
ish are good painters, The Italians are good comedians ; 
we mean to say that the French who are soldiers, are 
commonly good soldiers, and so of the rest. 

5th OBSERVATION. We are not to suppose that there 
is no other mark of particularity than the words quidam, 
aliquis some, and the like. For, on the contrary, it very 
seldom happens that we use them, especially in our lan 
guage (French). 

When the particle des or de is the plural of the article 
un, according to the new remark of the General Grammar, 
it causes the nouns to be taken particularly, whereas they 
are commonly taken generally, with the article les. Hence 
there is a great deal of difference between these two pro 
positions, Les medecins croient maintenant qu il est bon de 
boire pendant le chaud de la fievre, Physicians believe now 
that it is well to drink during the heat of the fever ; and, Des 
medecins croient maintenant que le sang ne se fait point dans le 
foie, Some physicians believe now that the blood is not made 
in the liver. For les medecins, in the first, denotes the mass 
of physicians at the present day ; and des medecins, in the 
second, denotes only some particular physicians. 

But after or before de, or des, or un, in the singular, we 
place il y a (there is, or are), as, il y a des medecins ; and 
this in two ways : 

The first is, by simply placing after des or un the sub 
stantive to be the subject to the proposition, whether it be 
the first or the last : as, II y a des douleurs salutaires ; il y a 
des plaisirs funestes ; il y a de faux amis ; il y a une 
humilite genereuse ; il y a des vices converts de Vapparence 
de la vertu. In this way we express in our (French) 
language, that which is expressed by quelques in the style 
of the school : Quelques douleurs sont salutaires ; quelque 
humilite est genereuse ; and thus in the others. 

The second way is that of joining the adjective to the 
substantive by a qui (who, or which) : II y a des craintes 
qui sont raisonnables (There are some fears which are 
reasonable). But this qui does not prevent these proposi- 


tions from being simple in sense, though complex in ex 
pression ; for it is as if we said simply, Quelques cmintes 
sont raisonnables. These following forms of speech are 
still more common than the preceding : 11 y a des hommes 
qui n aiment q eiix memes ; il y a des Chretiens qui sont tn- 
dignes de wow (There are men who love themselves alone ; 
there are Christians who are unworthy of the name). 
We have the same expression sometimes used in Latin : 
Sunt quibus in satyr u videor nimis acer, et ultra 
Leqern tendere opus; 
Which is the same thing as if it were said, 

Quid-am existimant me nimis acrem esse in satyra,- 
There are some who think me too pointed in satire. 
So also in the Scripture, Eat qui nequiter^ se humilmt, 
There are some who humble themselves wickedly. 

Omnis, all, with a negation, makes a particular proposi 
tion, with this difference, that in Latin the negation pre 
cedes omnis, and in French it follows all (tout): Non 
omnis qui dlcit mi hi Dominc, Doming intrabit in reg- 
num ccelorum,Sot all who say unto me, Lord, Lord, 
shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; Non omne pcc- 
catum est crtww>, Every sin is not a crime. 

Nevertheless, in Hebrew, non omnis is often put tor 
nullus, as in the psalm, Non justificabHur in conspectu tuo 
omnis mvens,Ko man living shall be justified before 
God. This happens, because, in this case, the negatic 
falls on the verb, and not on omnis. 

6th OBSERVATION. The foregoing observations are very 
useful when there is a term of universality, as all, none. 
&c but when there is no such term, and none of particu 
larity either, as when I say, Man is rational, man is just, it 
is a celebrated question among philosophers, whether these 
propositions, which they call indefinite, ought to be called 
universal or particular. This question must be understood 
of those which have no context, and which are not dete 
mined by what follows, to either of these senses ; fi 
cannot be doubted that we ought to determine the sense 
a proposition, where it has any ambiguity, by what accom 
panies it in the discourse of which it forms a part. 

Considering it in itself, then, philosophers say that 


ought to be considered universal in necessary matter, and 
particular in contingent matter, 

I find this maxim approved of by very able men. It is, 
nevertheless, very false ; and it may be said, on the con 
trary, that when we attribute any quality to a common term, 
the indefinite proposition ought to be considered universal, what 
ever its matter may be. And thus, in contingent matters, it 
ought not to be considered as a particular proposition, but 
as a universal, which is false. And this is the natural 
judgment which all men form of such propositions, reject 
ing them as false when they are not true generally, at 
least when they have not moral generality, with which men 
rest satisfied in their common discourses about things in 
the world. 

For who would allow it to be said, that bears are white; 
that men are black; that the Parisians are gentlemen ; that 
Poles are Socinians ; that Englishmen are Quakers ? and 
yet, according to the distinction of these philosophers, 
these propositions ought to be considered quite true, since, 
being indefinite in contingent matter, they ought to be 
reckoned particular. Now it is very true that there are 
some bears white, as those of Nova Zembla ; some men 
black, as the Ethiopians ; some Parisians gentlemen ; some 
Poles Socinians ; some Englishmen Quakers. It is, there 
fore, clear, that in any matter whatever, indefinite pro 
positions of this kind are taken universally ; but in a con 
tingent matter we are satisfied with moral universality. 
Whence we may very well say, The French are brace ; the 
Italians suspicious ; the Germans heavy ; the Orientals volup 
tuous; although this may not be true of every individual, 
because we are satisfied that it is true of the majority. 

There is, then, another distinction on this subject, which 
is much more reasonable, which is, that these indefinite pro 
positions are universal in matters of doctrine : as, angels 
have no body and they are only particular in matters of 
fact and of history, as when it is said in the Gospel 
Milites plectentes coronam de spinis, imposuerunt capiti ejus. 
It is very clear that this ought to be understood only of some 
soldiers, and not of all soldiers ; the reason of which is, 
that in the case of particular actions, especially when they 
are determined to a given time, they generally agree to 


belong to a common term, only because of some particulars, 
a distinct idea of which is in the mind of those who make 
these propositions, so that, considering them aright, these 
propositions are rather singular than particular, as we 
may judge from what has been said of terms complex in 
sense. (1st Part, Cap. 8 ; 2d Part, Cap. 6.) 

7th OBSERVATION. The names of body, of community, 
people, when taken collectively, as they commonly are, tor 
the whole body, the whole community, the whole people, 
do not, properly, make the propositions into which they 
enter universal, still less particular, but rather singular, as 
when I say the Romans conquered the Carthaginians 
the Venetians carry on war against the Turks the judges 
of such a place have condemned a criminal. These pro 
positions are not universal, otherwise AVC might conclude 
of every Roman that he had conquered the Carthaginians, 
which would be false ; neither are they particular, for this 
means more than if I were to say some Romans con 
quered the Carthaginians ; but they are singular, inas 
much as we consider every nation as a moral person, 
whose existence is for several centuries, who remains as 
long as he composes a state, and who acts through all 
these ages by those who compose it, as a man acts by his 
members. Whence it happens that we may say that the 
Romans, who were conquered by the Gauls who took 
Rome, conquered the Gauls in the time of Cuesar, attribut 
ing thus to the same term, Romans, being conquered at 
one time, and victorious at another, though, at one of these 
times, there was not a single man who was also at the 
other. And this shows the foundation of the vanity which 
each individual has on account of the noble actions of his 
nation, in which he had no part, and which is as senseless 
as it would be for an ear which was deaf, to glory in the 
quickness of the eye, or in the skill of the hand. 




WE have said, in the First Part, that of ideas some have 
things for their objects, others signs. Now, since these 
ideas of signs attached to words enter into the composition 
of propositions, a circumstance happens which it is import 
ant to examine in this place, and which properly belongs 
to logic it is, that we sometimes affirm of them the thing 
signified. And it is important to know when it is right 
to do this, principally in relation to the signs of institution ; 
for, in relation to natural signs, there is no difficulty, since 
the visible connection there is between such signs and 
things, indicates clearly that when we affirm of the sign 
the thing signified, we mean not that sign is really this 
thing, but that it is so in intent, and figuratively. And 
thus we might say, without any introduction, and without 
ceremony, of a portrait of Caesar, this is Caesar, and of a 
map of Italy, this is Italy. 

It is only necessary, therefore, that we examine the rule 
which allows us to affirm of things signified their signs, in 
relation to instituted signs, which do not make known, by 
any visible relation, the sense in which these propositions 
are to be understood ; and this has given rise to many dis 

For it appears to some that this may be done indiffer 
ently, and that it is sufficient, in order to prove that a pro 
position is reasonable, when taken in a figurative sense, 
and in the sense of sign, to say that it is common to give 
to the sign the name of the thing signified. And yet this 
is not true, for there are a multitude of propositions which 
would be extravagant, if we were to give to signs the name 
of the thing signified, which is never done, because they 
are extravagant. Thus a man who has settled it in his 
mind that certain things should signify others, would be 


ridiculous, if, without having previously explained it to 
any one, he should take the liberty of giving to these fan 
ciful signs the names of things, and should say, for instance, 
that a stone was a horse, and an ass -was the king of Persia, 
because he had established these signs in his mind. Thus 
the first rule that ought to be followed on this subject, is, 
that we are not allowed to give indifferently the names of 
things to signs. 

The second, which is a consequence of the first, is, that 
the simple manifest incompatibility of the terms is not a 
sufficient reason to lead the mind to the figurative sense, 
and to conclude that, since the proposition cannot be taken 
literally, it must, therefore, be explained in a figurative 
sense ; otherwise there would be none of these extravagant 
propositions ; and the more impossible they were in their 
literal sense, the more easily should we fall into their 
figurative sense, which, nevertheless, must not be ; ^ for 
wlio would allow, and without any previous explanation, 
but solely and virtually of a secret determination, that one 
should say that the sea is heaven, that the earth is the moon, 
that a tree is a king. Who does not see that it would be the 
shortest way to acquire the reputation of folly to pretend 
to introduce this language into the world ? It is necessary, 
therefore, that he to whom we speak be prepared, in a cer 
tain way, before we have a right to employ such proposi 
tions ; and it must be remarked, that of these explanations 
there are some which are certainly insufficient, and others 
which are certainly sufficient. 

1st, Distant relations, which do not present themselves 
to the senses, nor, at first sight, to the mind, and which 
are only discovered by meditation, are by no means suffi 
cient to give at once to signs the names of things signified, 
for there are scarcely any things between which we may not 
find such relations ; and it is clear, that relations which 
are not seen at once, are not sufficient to lead us to the 
figurative sense. 

2d, It is not sufficient to give to a sign the name oi 1 
thing signified, in the first establishment which is made of 
it, to know that those to whom we speak have hitherto 
considered it as a sign of another thing altogether different. 
We know, for example, that the laurel was the sign ot 


victory, and the olive of peace ; but this knowledge by no 
means prepares the mind to find what is meant, if we, who 
chose to make the laurel the sign of the king of China, and 
the olive that of the Grand Seigneur, should say without cere 
mony, in walking in a garden, do you see that laurel ? it is 
the king of China ; and that olive? it is the Grand Turk. 

3d, Any previous explanation, which only prepares the 
mind to expect some great thing, without preparing it to 
consider, in particular, the thing as a sign, does not at all 
afford sufficient ground for attributing to this sign the name 
of the thing signified at its first institution. The reason 
of this is clear, since there is no direct and natural connec 
tion between the idea of greatness and the idea of a sign, 
and thus the one does not at all lead to the other. 

But it is certainly a sufficient ground for giving to signs 
the names of things, when we see in the minds of those to 
whom we speak, that, considering certain things as signs, 
they are in difficulty only as to what they signify. 

Thus Joseph might reply to Pharaoh, that the seven fat 
kine and the seven full sheaves which he had seen in his 
dream were seven years of plenty, and the seven lean kine 
and the seven thin sheaves were seven years of famine, 
since he saw that Pharaoh was in trouble only on this 
point, and that he inwardly asked himself this question 
What do these seven fat and lean kine, these seven full 
and empty sheaves, represent? 

Thus Daniel answered very appropriately to Nebuchad 
nezzar that he was the head of gold, because he had pro 
posed to him a dream which he had of a statue with a 
golden head, and required from him its interpretation. 

Thus, when we utter a parable, and proceed to explain 
it (those to whom it was spoken, considering already all 
that composed it as signs), we have a right, in the explana 
tion of every part, to give to the sign the name of the 
thing signified. 

Thus God having shown to the prophet Ezekiel in a 
vision, in spiritu, a field full of dead men ; and the prophet 
distinguishing visions from realities, and being accustomed 
to consider them as signs, God spoke very intelligibly when 
he told him that these bones were the house of Israel, that is 
to say, they represented the house of Israel. 


These are certain and sufficient preparations ; and as 
we see no other examples in which it is agreed that there 
should be given to the sign the name of the thing signified, 
we derive this maxim from common sense, that u-e may 
give to signs the name of things only, ichen we have grounds for 
supposing that they are already considered as signs, and when 
we see that the minds of others are in doubt, not about what 
they are, but about what the// represent. But as the greater 
part of moral rules have exceptions, it may be doubted 
whether we ought not to make one here in favour of u 
single case, viz., when the thing signified is such, that it 
requires in some sort to be denoted by a sign, so that, as 
soon as the name of that thing is pronounced, the mind 
conceives immediately that the subject to which it is united 
is intended to designate it. 

Thus, as covenants are commonly denoted by outward 
signs, if we affirm the word covenant, or any outward thing, 
the mind will be immediately led to conceive that it is 
affirmed of it as of its sign; so that, when AVC iind in 
Scripture that circumcision is the covenant, it may be that 
there is nothing to surprise where covenant fixes the idea 
of sign on that to which it is united. And thus, as he who 
hears a proposition conceives the attribute, and qualities of 
the attribute, before he unites it Avith the subject, we may 
suppose that he who hears this proposition, that circum 
cision is the covenant, is sufficiently prepared to conceive 
that circumcision is only figuratively the covenant, the 
word covenant having led him to form this idea, not before 
it was pronounced, but before it was joined in his mind 
with the word circumcision. 

I have said, that it might be thought that the things 
which require, by a fitness of reasoning, to be denoted by 
signs, should form an exception to the established rule, 
which demands a preliminary preparation, through which 
we might be led to regard the sign as a sign, in order that we 
might affirm of it the thing signified, because the contrary 
might also be believed. For, 1st, this proposition, circumci 
sion is the covenant, is not in the Scripture, Avhich runs simply 
thus, Behold the covenant ivhich you, shall observe between you, 
your posterity, and me, Every male among you shall be cir- 
cumdsed. Now it is not said in these Avords that circum- 


cision is the covenant, but circumcision is in them com 
manded as a condition of the covenant. It is true that 
God required that condition in order that circumcision 
might be a sign of the covenant, as it is said in the follow 
ing verse, ut sit in signum foederis ; but, in order that it 
might be a sign, it was necessary that its observance be 
commanded, and made a condition of the covenant, which 
is contained in the preceding verse. 

2d, These words in St Luke, This cup is the new covenant 
of my blood, which, it is alleged, have still less evidence 
for confirming this exception, for, when translated literally, 
these are St Luke s words, This cup is the new testament in 
my blood. Now, as the word testament signifies not only 
the last will of the testator, but still more appropriately 
the instrument which represents it, there is nothing figura 
tive in calling the cup the blood of Jesus Christ the 
testament, since it is peculiarly the mark, the pledge and 
sign, of the last will of Jesus Christ, the instrument of the 
new covenant. 

But, be that as it may, this exception being, on the one 
hand, doubtful, and on the other, very rare, and there 
being few things which require of themselves to be denoted 
by signs, these do not hinder the use and application of 
the rule in relation to all other things which have not this 
quality, and which men are accustomed to represent by 
instituted signs. For this principle of equity must be re 
membered, that the majority of rules having exceptions, 
remain, nevertheless, in all their force in the things which 
are not comprised in these exceptions. 

It is by these principles that we must decide this im 
portant question, whether we are to give to these words, 
This is my body, a figurative sense ; or, rather, it is by 
these principles that all the world has decided, all the 
nations of the earth having been naturally led to take them 
in a literal sense, and to exclude the figurative. For the 
apostles, not regarding the bread as a sign, and being in 
no difficulty about what it signified, Jesus Christ could not 
have given to the signs the names of things without speak 
ing contrary to the custom of all men, and without de 
ceiving them. They might, perhaps, regard what was 
done as something great, but that is not sufficient. 


"VVe have nothing more to remark on the subject of those 
signs to which the names of things are given, except that 
it is extremely necessary to distinguish between the ex 
pressions in Avhich AVG use the name of a thing to denote 
the sign, as when AVC call a picture of Alexander by the 
name of Alexander ; and those in which the sign being 
denoted by its own name, or by a pronoun, we affirm of it 
the thing signified. For this rule that it is necessary 
that the minds of those to whom we speak already consider 
the sign as a sign, and are in doubt as to what it signifies 
applies by no means to the first kind of expressions, but 
solely to the second, in which we affirm expressly of the 
sign the thing signified. For we employ these expressions 
only to teach those to whom we speak what the sign signi 
fies ; and we do this only when they are sufficiently pre 
pared to conceive that the sign is the thing signified, only 
figuratively, and by representation. 





IT is necessary to say something in detail of two proposi 
tions which are of great use in the sciences division and 

Division is the separation of a whole into its parts. 

But as there are two kinds of wholes, there are also two 
kinds of division. There is a whole composed of parts really 
distinct, called, in Latin, Mum, and whose parts are called 
integral parts. The division of this whole is called properly 
partition : as when we divide a house into its apartments, a 
town into its wards, a kingdom or state, into its province*. 


man into body and soul, the body into its members. The 
sole rule of this division is, to make the enumeration of 
particulars very exact, and that there be nothing wanting 
to them. 

The other whole is called, in Latin, omne, and its parts, 
subjected or inferior parts, inasmuch as the whole is a com 
mon term, and its parts are the terms comprising its exten 
sion. The word animal is a whole of this nature, of which 
the inferiors as man and beast which are comprehended 
under its extension, are subjected parts. This division ob 
tains properly the name of division, and there are four kinds 
of division which may be noticed. 

The first is, when we divide the, genus by its species: every 
substance is body or mind; every animal is man or beast. The 
second is, when we divide the genus by its differences : every 
animal is rational or irrational; every number is even or un 
even; every proposition is true or false; every line is straight or 

The third is, when we divide a common subject into the 
opposite accidents of which it is susceptible, these being ac 
cording to its different inferiors, or in relation to different 
times : as, every star is luminous by itself, or by reflection only ; 
every body is in motion or at rest ; all the French are nobles 
or commoners ; every man is well or ill ; all nations employ, 
for the purpose of expressing themselves, either speech alone, or 
writing together with speech. 

The fourth is that of an accident into its different subjects, 
as division of goods into those of mind and body. 

The rules of division are 1st, That it be complete, that is 
to say, that the members of the division comprehend the 
whole extent of the terms into which it is divided : as, even 
and uneven comprehend the whole extent of the term num 
ber, there being no number which is not either even or 
uneven. There is scarcely anything which leads us to 
make so many false reasonings as want of attention to this 
rule. What deceives us here is, that there are often terms 
which appear so opposed that they seem to allow no medium, 
but which, nevertheless, have one. Thus, between ignor 
ant and learned, there is a certain medium of knowledge 
which removes a man from the rank of the ignorant, but 
which, still, does not place him in the rank of the learned ; 


between vicious and virtuous there is a certain state of which 
we may say, what Tacitus said of Galba, magis extra vitia 
quam cum virtutibus for there are some people who, having 
no gross vices, are not called vicious, and who, doing no 
good, cannot be called virtuous, although, before God, not 
being virtuous, may be a great vice ; between sick and 
well there is the state of the man indisposed, or convales 
cent ; between day and night there is twilight ; between 
opposite vices there is a mean of virtue, as piety between im 
piety and superstition ; and sometimes this mean is twofold, 
as between avarice and prodigality there is liberality and a 
laudable frugality ; between the timidity which fears every 
thing, and the rashness which fears nothing, there is the 
bravery which is not frightened at dangers, and the reason 
able prudence which leads us to avoid those which it is not 
fitting we should be exposed to. 

The second rule, which is a consequence of the first, is 
that the members of the division be opposed: as, even, uneven, 
rational, irrational. But what we have already said in 
the First Part, must be here noticed, viz., that it is not 
necessary for the diiFerences, which constitute its opposed 
members, to be positive, but it is sufficient for one to 
be so, and for the other to be the genus alone with the 
negation of another difference. It is, indeed, in this very 
way that we make the members more certainly opposed. 
Thus, the difference between a beast and a man, is only 
the absence of reason, which is nothing positive ; the un- 
evenness of a number is only the negation of its divisibi 
lity into two equal parts. The first number has nothing 
which the compound number has not, unity being the 
measure of each, and that number which is called first, 
differs from the compound one only in this, that it has no 
other measure save unity. 

Nevertheless, it must be confessed that it is better to 
express the opposed differences by positive terms, when 
this can be done, inasmuch as this explains better the 
nature of the members of the division. This is why the 
division of substance into that which thinks, and that which 
is extended, is much better than the common one, into that 
which is material, and that which is immaterial, or equally 
into that which is corporeal, and that which is not corpo- 


reed, inasmuch as the words immaterial, or incorporeal, 
furnish us with an idea, only very imperfect and confused, 
of that which is understood much better by the expression. 
substance that thinks. 

The third rule, which is a consequent of the second, is 
that one of the members be not so contained in the other, that the 
other may be affirmed of it, although it may sometimes be 
contained in it after another manner, for line is included in 
superficies, as a term of superficies, and superficies in solid, 
as a term of solid. But this does not prevent extension 
from being divided into line, superficies, and solid, because 
we cannot say that line is superficies, or that superficies 
is solid. We cannot, on the other hand, divide number 
into equal, unequal, and square, since every square num 
ber being even or uneven, it is already contained in the 
first two numbers. Neither ought we to divide opinions 
into true, false, and probable, since every probable opinion 
is true or false ; but we may first divide them into true 
and false, and then divide each into certain and impro 

Ramus and his followers have laboured very hard to 
show that no divisions ought to have more than two mem 
bers. When this may be done conveniently, it is better ; 
but clearness and ease being that which ought first to be 
considered in the sciences, we ought not to reject divisions 
into three members, and especially when they are more 
natural, and when it would require forced subdivisions in 
order to reduce them to two members ; for thus, instead of 
relieving the mind, which is the principal effect of division, 
we should load it with a great number of subdivisions, 
which it is much more difficult to retain than if we had 
made at once more members in that which we divide. 
For example, is it not more short, simple, and natural, to 
say, All extension is either line, or superficies, or solid, than 
to say with Ramus, Magnitudo est linea, vel lineatum, linea- 
tum et superficies, vel solidum ? 

Finally, we may remark that it is an equal defect not to 
make enough, and to make too many divisions ; the one 
does not sufficiently enlighten the mind, the other dissi 
pates it too much. Crassotus, who is a philosopher of 
worth among the interpreters of Aristotle, has injured his 


book by too great a number of divisions. We fall thus 

into the confusion which we seek to avoid. Confusum est 
quidquid in pulvercm sectum cst. 



WE have spoken at considerable length, in the First Part, 
of the definition of names, and we have shown that we 
must not confound it with the definition of thinys, since the 
definitions of names are arbitrary, whereas the definitions 
of things do not depend on us, but on what is involved in 
the true idea of the thing, and are not to be taken as princi 
ples, but considered as propositions, which need after to be 
established by reason, and which may be disputed. It is, 
then, of this last kind of definition alone, that we speak 

Of this there are two kinds, the one more exact, which 
retains the name of definition ; the other less so, which is 
termed description. 

The more exact, is that which explains the nature of a thing 
by its essential attributes, of which those which are common 
are called genus, and those which are special, difference. 
Thus we define man, a rational animal; mind, a substance 
which thinks; body, a substance extended; God, a perfect 
being. It is necessary, too, as far as possible, that that 
which is placed as genus in the definition, be the proximate 
genus of the thing defined, and not simply the remote. 

Sometimes, also, we define by integral parts, as when we 
say, that man is a thing compounded of mind and bod//. But 
even then there is something which holds the place of 
g enus the term thing compounded, and the rest takes the 
place of difference. 


The definition less exact, which is termed description, is 
that which gives some knowledge of a tiling by the accidents 
which are peculiar to it, and which determine it sufficiently 
to enable us to discriminate it from others. It is in this 
way that we describe herbs, fmits, animals, by their figure, 
size, colour, and other such accidents. The descriptions of 
poets and orators are of this nature. There are also some 
definitions or descriptions of things by their causes, matter, 
form, end, &c. ; as if we define a clock, an iron machine, 
composed of different wheels, whose regular movement is 
intended to mark the hours. 

There are three things necessary to a good definition, 
that it be universal, that it be appropriate, and that it be 

1st, It is necessary that a definition be universal, that is 
to say, that it comprehend the whole thing defined. Hence 
the common definition of time, that it is the measure of 
motion, is probably bad, since it is very likely that time 
measures rest as well as motion. For we say that a 
thing has been so long at rest, as well as that it has been 
moving for so long a time ; so that it is clear that time is 
nothing more than the continuance of a creature in some 
state, whatever that state may be. 

2d, It is necessary that a definition be special, that is to 
say, that it belong exclusively to the thing defined. Hence 
the common definition of the elements, as simple corruptible 
bodies, seems bad ; for the celestial bodies, being not less 
simple than the elements, by the confession of these philo 
sophers themselves, we have no reason to suppose that 
the heavens are subject to alterations like those which take 
place on earth, without speaking of comets, which we now 
know are not formed from the exhalations of the earth, as 
Aristotle imagined. There have been discovered spots on 
the sun, which have formed and dispersed there in the 
same way as our clouds, although they are of much greater 

3d, A definition must be clear, that is to say, it must 
serve to give us a clearer and more distinct idea of the 
thing which we define, and that it enable us, as far as pos 
sible, to comprehend its nature, so that it may help us to 
give an account of its principal properties, which is what 


ought principally to be considered in definitions, and what 
is neglected in a great number of Aristotle s definitions. 
For who is there that ever comprehended the nature of 
motion better through this definition : Actus entis inpotentia 
quatenus inpotentia, the act of a being in power as far as 
it is in power ? Is not the idea which nature gives us of 
it a hundred times more clear than this? and who is there 
that has ever learned from it any of the properties of 
motion ? 

The four celebrated definitions of these first four qualities, 
the dry, the moist, the hot, and cold, are no better. The 
dry, says he, is that which is easily retained within its 
own limits, and with difficulty in those of another body, 
Quod suo termino facile continetur, diflicidter alicno. 

And tlie moist, on the contrary, is that which is easily 
retained in the boundaries of another body, and with dif 
ficulty in its own, Quod suo termino dijjicidter continetur, 
facile cdieno. 

But. in the first place, these two definitions belong more 
to hard and liquid bodies, than to dry and humid bodies ; 
for we say that one air is dry, and that another air is 
humid, though it may be always retained within the 
bounds of another body, because it is always fluid. And 
further, we do not see how Aristotle could say that fire, 
that is, flame, is dry, according to this definition, since 
it easily accommodates itself to the limits of another body; 
whence, also, Virgil calls fire liquid, et liquidi simul ignis ; 
and it is vain subtilety to say, with Campanella, that fire, 
when confined, aut rumpit aut rumpitur ; for this is not 
because of its pretended dryness, but because its own 
smoke stifles it if it has no air. Hence it is easily confined 
within the limits of another body, provided there be any 
opening through which it may discharge that which it 
constantly exhales. 

Hot, he defines, that which collects like bodies, and separates 
unlike, Quod congregat homogenea, et disgregat heterogenea, 
And cold, that which collects unlike bodies, and separates 
like, Quod congregat heterogenea, et disgregat homogenea. 
This sometimes belongs to cold and hot, but not always ; 
but it does not at all enable us any better to understand 
the true cause which leads us to call one body hot, and 


another cold. So that the chancellor Bacon had reason to 
say that these definitions were like to that which one 
might make of a man, in defining him to be an animal that 
made shoes, or cultivated vines. The same philosopher de 
fines nature, Principium motus et quietis in eo in quo est, 
The principle of motion and of rest in that in which it is ; 
which is founded on a fancy that he had, that natural 
bodies differed from artificial bodies in this, that natural 
bodies had within them the principle of their movement, 
and that artificial bodies had it only from without ; where 
as it is clear and certain that no body can impart motion 
to itself, because matter, being of itself indifferent to motion 
or rest, cannot be determined to one or the other except 
by a foreign cause. And since we cannot go on to infinity, 
it must necessarily be God who has impressed motion on 
matter, and who preserves it in it still. 

The celebrated definition of the soul appears still more 
defective : Actus primus corporis naturalis organici, potentia 
vitam habentis, The first act of a natural organised body 
having life in potentia. We do not know what he intends 
to define. For, 1st, if it is the soul, so far as it is common 
to men and beasts, he is defining a chimera, there being 
nothing common to these two things. 2d, He is explain 
ing an obscure term by four or five more obscure. And 
to refer only to the word life, the idea which we have of 
life is not less obscure than that which we have of the 
soul, these two terms being equally ambiguous and equi 

These are some of the rules of division and definition. 
But although there is nothing more important in the 
sciences than to divide and define well, it is unnecessary 
to say more about it here, as it depends much more on a 
knowledge of the matter treated of than on the rules of 




[ The following Chapters are somewhat difficult to comprehend, and 
are not necessary in practice. Hence those who do not wish to tire the 
mind with things of little practical use, may pass them over. ] 

WE have refrained till now from speaking of the conver 
sion of propositions, because the foundation of all argu 
mentation, of which we are to speak in the following part, 
depends on it ; and thus it is better that this matter should 
not be far removed from what we have to say of reason 
ing, although, to treat well of it, we must reproduce some 
part of what we have already said of affirmation and 
negation, and explain thoroughly the nature of both. 

It is certain that we cannot express a proposition to 
others, except by employing two ideas, one for the subject, 
the other for the attribute, and another word which denotes 
the union which our mind conceives between them. That 
union cannot be better expressed than by the Avords them 
selves which we employ for affirming, when we say that 
one thing is another thing. 

Hence it is clear that the nature of affirmation is to unite 
and identify, if ive may so speak, the subject irith the attri 
bute, and this is what is signified by the word is. 

And it follows, also, that it is the nature of the affirma 
tion to place the attribute in all that is expressed in the 
subject, according to the extension which it has in the pro 
position : as, when I say, all man is an animal I mean to 
say, and I express, that everything that is man is also ani 
mal ; but if I say, simply, some man is just, I do not place 
just on all men, but only on some men. 


But we must also, in like manner, remember here what 
we have already said, that in ideas it is necessary to dis 
tinguish the COMPREHENSION from the EXTENSION, and that 
the comprehension denotes the attributes contained IN an idea 
and the extension the subjects (or classes) which contain that 
idea. Hence it follows that an idea is always affirmed ac 
cording to its comprehension, because, in taking away any one 
of its essential attributes, we utterly destroy and annihilate it, so 
that it is no longer the same idea ; and consequently, when 
it is affirmed, it is always affirmed in relation to everything 
which it comprehends within itself. Thus when I say that a 
rectangle is a parallelogram, I affirm of rectangle evert/thing 
that is comprised in the idea of parallelogram. For if there 
were any part of this idea that did not belong to a rect 
angle, it would follow that the whole idea did not belong 
to it, but only a part of that idea ; and thus the word 
parallelogram, which signifies the whole idea, ought to be 
denied and not affirmed of the rectangle. We shall see 
that this is the principle of all affirmative arguments. 

And it follows, on the contrary, that the idea of the attri 
bute is not taken according to the whole extension, at least 
when its extension is not greater than that of the subject, 
for if I say that all dissolute men will be damned, I do not 
say that they alone will be damned, but that they will be 
among the number of the accursed. 

Thus the affirmation, placing the idea of the attribute 
in the subject, is properly that which determines the 
extension of the attribute in the affirmative proposition, 
and the identity which it denotes, considers the attribute 
as restricted to an extension equal to that of the subject, 
and does not take in all its generality, if that be greater than 
the subject, for it is true that all lions are animals, that is 
to say, that every lion contains the idea of animal, but it is 
not true that they alone are animals. 

I said that the attribute is not taken in all its gene 
rality, if it is greater than the subject, for being restrained 
only by the subject, if the subject is as general as the at 
tribute, it is clear that the attribute remains in all its gene 
rality, since it will have as much as the subject, and we 
suppose that by its nature it can have no more. 

Whence we may collect these four indubitable axioms : 



The attribute is placed in the subject by the affirmative propo 
sition, according to the whole extension which the subject has in 
the proposition ; that is to say, if the subject is universal, the 
attribute is conceived in the whole extension of the sub 
ject, and if the subject is particular, the attribute is con 
ceived only in a part of the extension of the subject. 
There are examples of this above. 


The attribute of an affirmative proposition is affirmed ac 
cording to the whole proposition ; that is to say, according to all 
its attributes. The proof of this is above. 


The attribute of an affirmative proposition is not affirmed 
according to its whole extension, if it is in itself greater than 
that of the subject. The proof of this lias been already 

AXIOM. 4. 

The extension of the attribute is restricted by that of the sub 
ject, so that it denotes no more than that part of its extension 
which agrees with its subject : as, when we say that men are 
animals, the word animal signifies no longer all animals, 
but simply those animals which are men. 



WE call the conversion of a proposition the changing of 
the subject into the attribute, and of the attribute into the 



subject, without affecting the truth of the proposition, or 
rather, so that it necessarily follows from the conversion 
that it is true, supposing that it was so before. 

Now, by what we have just said, it will be easily under 
stood how this conversion must be effected, for as it is 
impossible that one thing can be joined to another, with 
out that other thing being also joined to the first, and that 
it follows very clearly that if A is joined to B, B is joined 
to A, it is clearly impossible that two things can be conceived 
as identified, which is the most perfect of all unions, un 
less that union be reciprocal, that is to say, that we be able 
mutually to affirm the two united terms, in the manner in 
which they are united, w r hich is called conversion. 

Thus, as in particular affirmative propositions, e. g., 
when we say some man is just, the subject and the attri 
bute are both particular the subject, man, being particular 
by the mark of particularity which is added to it and the 
attribute, just, being so also, inasmuch as its extension being 
restricted by that of the subject, signifies only the justice 
which is in some man, it is evident that if some man is 
identified with some just, some just is also identified with 
some man, and that thus we need only change the attribute 
into the subject, preserving the same particularity, in order 
to convert such propositions. 

The same thing cannot be said of universal affirmative 
propositions, because in these propositions the subject alone 
is universal, that is to say, taken according to its whole 
extension. The attribute, on the contrary, being limited 
and restrained, and consequently, when we make it the 
subject by conversion, it must preserve the same restric 
tion, and have added to it a mark which determines it, 
that it may not be taken generally. Thus, when I say 
that man is an animal, I unite the idea of man with that 
of animal, restraining and confining it to men alone. 
Therefore, when I wish to look at that union under another 
aspect, beginning with animal, and then affirming man, it 
is necessary to preserve to this term the same restriction, 
and in order that no mistake may be made, add to it some 
mark of determination. 

So that, since universal affirmative propositions can only 
be converted into particular affirmatives, we ought not to 


conclude that tliey are converted less properly than the 
others, whereas they are made up of a general subject and 
a restricted attribute, it is clear that when they are con 
verted by changing the attribute into the subject, they 
ought to have a subject restricted and confined, that is to 
say, particular : whence we obtain these two rules. 

RULE 1. 

The universal affirmative propositions may be converted by 
adding a mark of particularity to the attribute when changed 
into the subject. 

RULE 2. 

Particular affirmative propositions are to be converted with 
out any additional change, that is to say, by retaining for 
the attribute, when changed into the subject, the mark of 
particularity which belonged to the first subject. But it is 
easily perceived that these two rules may be reduced to 
one, which includes them both. 

The attribute being restrained by the subject in all affirmative 
propositions, if -we wish to change it to the subject, we must pre 
serve that restriction and give it a mark of particularity, whether 
the first subject were universal or particular. 

Nevertheless, it often happens that universal affirmative 
propositions may be converted into other universals. But 
this happens exclusively, when the attribute is not in itself 
of wider extension than the subject, as when we affirm the 
difference, or the property of the species, or the definition 
of the thing defined ; for, then, the attribute not being re 
stricted, may be taken as generally in conversion as the 
subject was all man is rational ; all rational is man. 

But these conversions, being true only under particular 
circumstances, are not reckoned true conversions, which 
ought to be certain and infallible, by the simple transposi 
tion of the terms. 




THE nature of negative propositions cannot be expressed 
more clearly than by saying, that it is the conceiving that 
one thing is not another ; but, in order that one thing be not 
another, it is not necessary that it should have nothing in 
common with it ; it is enough that it has not all which the 
other has, as it is enough, in order that a beast be not a 
man, that it should not have all that a man has, and it is 
not necessary that it should have nothing of what is in 
man. Whence we may obtain this axiom : 


The negative proposition does not separate from the subject 
all the parts contained in the comprehension of the attribute, but 
it separates only the total and complete idea composed of all 
these attributes united. 

If I say that matter is not a substance that thinks, I should 
not, therefore, say that it is not a substance, but I say that 
it is not a thinking substance, which is the total and com 
plete idea that I deny of matter. 

It is quite the reverse with the extension of idea, for the 
negative proposition separates from the subject the idea of 
the attribute, according to the whole of its extension ; and 
the reason of this is clear, for. to be the subject of an idea, 
and to be contained in its extension, is nothing else but to 
include that idea ; and, consequently, when we say that 
one idea does not include another, which is termed deny 
ing, we say that it is not one of the subjects of that idea. 

Thus, if I say that man is not an insensible being, I mean 
to say that he is not among the number of the insensible 
beings ; and I, therefore, separate them all from him. 
Whence we may obtain this other axiom. 



The attribute of a negative proposition is alwa>/s taken 
generally; which may also be expressed more distinctly 
thus: All the subjects of the one, idea, which is denied of the 
other, are also denied of that other idea ; that is to say, that 
an idea is always denied according to its whole extension. 
If triangle is denied of square, all that is contained in 
triangle will be denied of square. This rule is commonly 
expressed in the schools in these terms, which mean the 
same thing: If the r/enus is denied, the species also is denied; 
for the species is subject to the genus. Man is a subject 
of animal, because he is contained in its extension. 

Not only do negative propositions separate the attribute 
from the subject, according to the whole extension of the 
attribute, but they separate also this attribute from the 
subject according to the whole extension which the subject 
has in the proposition ; that is to say, they separate it uni 
versally, if the subject is universal, and particularly, if 
the subject is particular. If I say that no vicious man is 
happy, I separate all the happy persons from all the vicious 
persons ; and if I say that some doctor is not learned, I 
separate learned from some doctor. And hence we may 
obtain this axiom : 


Every attribute denied of a subject, is denied of even/thing 
that is contained in the extension which that subject has in the 



SINCE it is impossible totally to separate two things, except 
the separation be mutual and reciprocal, it is clear that if 


I say, No man is a stone, I can say also that no stone is a 
man : for if any stone were a man, that man would be a 
stone; and, consequently, it would not be true that no 
man was a stone. And thus, 

EULE 3. 

Negative universal propositions may be converted, by simply 
changing the attribute into the subject, and preserving to the 
attribute, when it has become the subject, the same universality 
ivhich the first subject had; for the attribute, in negative 
universal propositions, is always taken universally, since 
it is denied according to the whole of its extension, as we 
have already shown above. 

But for this very reason we cannot convert particular 
negative propositions ; we cannot say, for example, that 
some physician is not a man, because we said that some man 
is not a physician. This arises, as I said, from the very 
nature of the negation which we have just explained, 
which is, that in negative propositions the attribute is 
always taken universally, and according to the whole of 
its extension ; so that, when a particular subject becomes 
the attribute, by conversion, in a particular negative pro 
position, it becomes universal, and changes its nature 
contrary to the rules of true conversion, which ought not 
to change the extension or limitation of the terms. Thus, 
in this proposition, Some man is not a physician, the term, 
man, is taken particularly ; but in this false conversion, 
Some physician is not a man, the word man is taken uni 
versally. Now, because the quality of physician is sepa 
rated from some man in this proposition, Some man is 
not a physician, and because the idea of triangle is sepa 
rated from that of some figure in the other proposition, 
Some figure is not a triangle, it by no means follows that 
there are physicians which are not men, and triangles 
which are not figures. 



THAT part of which we now have to treat, and which 
comprehends the rules of reasoning, is regarded as the 
most important in logic, and is almost the only one which 
has been treated of with any care. But it may be doubted 
whether it is really as useful as it has been supposed to be. 
The greater part of the errors of men, as we have already 
said elsewhere, arises much more from their reasoning on 
false principles, than from their reasoning wrongly on their 
principles. It rarely happens that men allow themselves 
to be deceived by reasonings which are false, only because 
the consequences are ill deduced ; and those who are not 
capable of discovering such errors by the light of reason 
alone, would not commonly understand the rules which 
are given for this purpose, much less the application of 
them. Nevertheless, considering these rules simply as 
speculative truths, they may always be useful as mental 
discipline ; and, further than this, it cannot be denied that 
they are of service on some occasions, and in relation to 
those persons who, being of a lively and inquiring turn of 
mind, allow themselves, at times, for want of attention, to 
be deceived by false consequences, which attention to these 
rules would probably rectify. Be this as it may, the 
following chapters contain what is commonly said on this 
subject, and, indeed, somewhat more. 




THE necessity of reasoning is founded exclusively on the 
narrow limits of the human mind, which, having to judge 
of the truth or falsehood of a proposition which is, in this 
connection, termed the question is not always able to do 
this by the consideration of the two ideas which compose 
it, of which that which is the subject is also called the minor 
term, because the subject is generally less extended than 
the attribute ; and that which is the attribute is also called 
the major term, for a contrary reason. When, therefore, 
the consideration of these two ideas is not sufficient to 
enable us to determine whether we should affirm or deny 
the one of the other, it is necessary to have recourse 
to a third idea, either complex or incomplex (according to 
what we have said of complex terms), and this third idea 
is called the mean (or middle term). 

Now, it would be of no service, for the purpose of effect 
ing this comparison of the two ideas through the medium 
of this third idea, to compare it with only one of the two 
terms. If I wish to know, for example, whether the soul 
is spiritual, and not seeing clearly into the question at first, 
should choose the idea of thought in order to make it clear 
to me, it is manifest that it would be useless to compare 
thought with the soul, unless I conceive that it had some 
relation to the attribute spiritual, by means of which I 
might be able to judge whether it belonged, or did not 
belong, to the soul. I may say, indeed, for example, the 
soul thinks ; but I shall not be able to conclude that it is 
therefore spiritual, unless I conceive some relation to exist 
between the terms thinking and spiritual. 

It is necessary, therefore, that the middle term be com 
pared both with the subject or minor term, and with the 
attribute or major term, whether this be done separately 


with each of these terms, as in the syllogisms which are 
for this reason called simple; or with both the terms at 
once, as in the arguments which are called conjunctive. 

But in either way this comparison demands two pro 
positions. We shall speak of the conjunctive arguments 
in detail ; but in relation to the simple ones this is clear, 
since the middle term, being once compared with tin- 
attribute of the conclusion (which can only be done bv 
affirming or denying), makes the proposition which is 
called the major, because this attribute of the conclusion is 
called the major term. 

And being again compared with the subject of the con 
clusion, makes what is called the minor (proposition), 
because the subject of the conclusion is called the minor 

And then the conclusion, which is the proposition itself 
which had to be proved, and which, before it was proved, 
was called THE QUESTION. 

It is well to know that the two first propositions are 
also called premises (premissce), because they are placed (in 
the mind at least) before the conclusion, which ought to 
be a necessary consequence from them, if the syllogism be 
good : that is to say, that, supposing the truth of the pre 
mises, the truth of the conclusion necessarily follows. 

It is true that the two premises are not always expressed, 
because often one alone is sufficient to enable the mind to 
conceive them both ; and when we thus express only two 
propositions, this sort of reasoning is called enthi/niem^ 
which is a real syllogism in the mind, since it applies the 
proposition which is not expressed, but which is imperfect 
in expression, and affords its conclusion only in virtue of 
that suppressed proposition. 

I said that there were at least three propositions in a 
reasoning ; but there may be many more without rendering 
it defective on that account, provided always that the rules 
be observed. For if, after having consulted a third idea, 
in order to know whether an attribute belongs, or does not 
belong, to a subject, and after having compared it with one 
of the terms, not knowing as yet whether it belongs, or 
does not belong, to the second term, I might choose a 
fourth in order to make this clear to me, and ujifth, if that 


is not sufficient, until I arrive at an idea which connects 
the attribute of the conclusion with the subject. 

If I question, for example, whether avaricious men are 
miserable, I may consider, first, that the avaricious are full 
of desires and passions ; if this does not aiford ground for 
the conclusion, that therefore they are miserable, I may 
examine what it is to be full of desires, and I shall find in 
this idea that of being without many things which are desired, 
and misery in this privation of things which are desired ; 
which will enable me to form this reasoning: Avaricious 
men are full of desires ; those who are full of desires leant 
many things, since it is impossible for them to satisfy all their 
desires ; those who are without that which they desire are miser 
able ; therefore avaricious men are miserable. 

Such reasonings as these, composed of many proposi 
tions, of which the second depends on the first, and so of 
the rest, are called sorites, and are those which are most 
common in mathematics. But because, when they are 
long, the mind has more difficulty in following them, and 
the three propositions are better adapted to the capacity of 
the mind, we have taken more pains in examining the 
rules of good and bad syllogisms, that is to say, of argu 
ments of three propositions. This it is well to follow, 
since the rules which are given for these may be easily 
applied to all the reasonings which are composed of many 
propositions, inasmuch as they may all be reduced to 
syllogisms, if they are good. 



SYLLOGISMS are simple or conjunctive. The simple, are 
those in which the middle term is joined to only one of the, 


terms of the conclu-sion at the same time; the conjunctive, are 
those in which it is joined to loth. Thus this argument is 
simple : 

Every good prince is loved by his subjects ; 
Every pious king is a good prince ; 
Therefore every pious king is loved by his subjects ; 
because the middle term is joined separately to pious kitty, 
which is the subject of the conclusion ; and to be loced by 
his subjects, which is its attribute. But the following is 
conjunctive, for the opposite reason : 

If an elective state is subject to divisions, it is not of 

long duration ; 

Now an elective state is subject to divisions ; 
Therefore an elective state is not of long duration ; 
since elective state, which is the subject, and of long dura 
tion, which is the attribute, enter into the major proposi 

As these kinds of syllogisms have separate rules, we 
shall treat of them separately. 

Simple syllogisms, which are those in which the middle 
term is joined separately with each term of the conclusion, 
are also of two sorts. 

The one, in which each term is joined completely with 
the middle, to wit, with the whole attribute in the major, 
and with the whole subject in the minor. 

The other, in which, the conclusion being complex, that 
is to say, composed of complex terms, we take only a part 
of the attribute, or a part of the subject, to join with the 
middle in one of the propositions, and all the rest, which 
forms only a single term, to join with the middle in the- 
other proposition. 

The divine laic binds us to honour kings; 

Louis XIV. is king ; 

Therefore the divine law binds us to honour Louis XIV. 

We call the first kinds of arguments plain and incom- 
plex, and the others involved or complex ; not that all 
those in which there are complex propositions are of this 
last kind, but because there are none of this last kind in 
which there are not complex propositions. 

Now, although the rules which are commonly given for 
simple syllogisms may hold in all complex syllogisms, by 


reversing them, nevertheless, as the strength of the conclu 
sion does not depend on that inversion, we shall here ap 
ply the rules of simple syllogisms only to the incomplex, 
reserving complex syllogisms to be treated of separately. 



[ This Chapter, and the following ones until the twelfth, are among 
the number of those spoken of in the Discourses, containing things 
which are subtile, and necessary to the speculative part of logic, but 
which are of little practical utility. ] 

WE have seen already, in the preceding chapters, that a 
simple syllogism ought to have only three terms, two terms 
for the conclusion, and a single middle term, each of which 
being repeated twice, constitutes three proposi ions: the 
major, into which the middle term and the attribute of the 
conclusion (which is called the greater term) enter ; the 
minor, into which, also, the middle term and the subject 
of the conclusion (which is called the smaller term) enter ; 
and the conclusion, of which the lesser term is the subject, 
and the greater term the attribute. 

But because all sorts of conclusions cannot be obtained 
from all sorts of premises, there are general rules which 
show that a conclusion cannot be properly obtained in a 
syllogism in which they are not observed, and these rules 
are founded on the axioms which were established in the 
Second Part, touching the nature of propositions affirma 
tive and negative, universal and particular. These, such 
as they are, we shall only state, having proved them else 

1. Particular propositions are contained in general ones 


of the same nature, not the general in the particular, I in 
A, and O in E, and not A in I, or E in 0. 

2. The subject of a proposition, taken universally or par 
ticularly, is that which renders it universal or particular. 

3. The attribute of an affirmative proposition having 
never more extension than the subject, is always considered 
as taken particularly, since it is only by accident that it is 
sometimes taken generally. 

4. The attribute of a negative proposition is always taken 

It is mainly on those axioms that the general rules of 
syllogisms are founded, which rules we cannot violate 
without falling into false reasonings. 

RULE 1. 

The middle term cannot be taken twice particularly, but it 
ought to be taken, once at, least, universally. 

For, before uniting or disuniting the two terms of the 
conclusion, it is clear that this cannot be done if it is taken 
for two difFerents parts of the same whole, since it may, 
perhaps, not be the same part which is united or separated 
from these terms. Now, if taken twice particularly, it 
may be taken for two different parts of the same whole, 
and, consequently, nothing could be concluded, at least 
necessarily, which is enough to render an argument vicious, 
since we can only call that a good syllogism, as we have 
already said, of which the conclusion cannot be false, i\\Q pre 
mises being true. Thus, in this argument some man is holy, 
some man is a thief, therefore some thief is holy, the word man 
being taken for different parts of mankind, cannot unite 
?/m/with holy, since it is not the same man who is holy, 
and who is a thief. 

We cannot say the same of the subject and attribute of 
the conclusion ; for, though they be taken twice particu 
larly, they may, nevertheless, unite them together, by 
uniting one of these terms to the middle, in the whole ex 
tension of the middle term ; for it follows hence, very 
clearly, that if this middle is united in some one of its 
parts to some part of the other term, that first term, which 
we have already stated to le united to all the middle, will 


be united also with the term to which some part of the 
middle is joined. If there are some Frenchmen in every 
house in Paris, and if there are Germans in some houses 
in Paris, then there are some houses in which Frenchmen 
and Germans are together. 

If some rich men are fools, 

And all rich men are honoured, 

Then are some fools honoured ; 

for the rich men who are fools are also honoured, since all 
are honoured ; and, consequently, in these rich fools which 
are honoured, the qualities of fool and honour are joined 

RULE 2. 

The terms of the conclusion cannot be taken more universally 
in the conclusion than they are in the premises. 

Hence, when either term is taken universally in the 
conclusion, the reasoning will be false if it is taken parti 
cularly in the two first propositions. 

The reason is, that we cannot conclude anything from 
the particular to the general (according to the first axiom), 
for, from the fact that some man is black, we cannot say 
that all men are black. 


There must always be in the premises one universal term 
more than in the conclusion, for every term which is general 
in the conclusion ought to be so also in the premises, and 
besides, the middle term must be taken at least once gene 


When the conclusion is negative, the greater term must 
necessarily be taken generally in the major, for it is taken 
generally in the negative conclusion (by the fourth axiom), 
and, consequently, it must be taken generally in the major 
(by the second rule). 



The major (proposition) of an argument -whose conclusion is 
negative, can never be a particular affirmative, for the subject 
and attribute of an affirmative proposition are both taken 
particularly (by the second and third axioms), and thus 
the greater term would be taken only particularly, con 
trary to the second corollary. 


The lesser term is always in the conclusion as in the pre 
mises, that is to say, that as it can be only particular in 
the conclusion, as it is particular in the premises, it may, 
on the contrary, be always general in the conclusion when 
it is so in the premises ; for the lesser term could not be 
general in the minor when it is the subject of it, unless it 
be generally united to the middle ; and it cannot be the 
attribute, and be taken generally in it, unless the proposi 
tion be negative, because the attribute of an affirmative 
proposition is always taken particularly. Now, negative 
propositions denote that the attribute, taken in its full ex 
tension, is separated from the subject. 

And, consequently, a proposition in which the lesser 
term -iii general denotes er a union of the middle term 
with the whole of the i .ser term, or a separation of the 
middle from the whole lesser term. 

Now if, through this union of the middle with the lesser 
term, we conclude that another idea is joined to this lesser 
term, we ought to conclude that it is joined to all the lesser 
term, and not to a part alone, for, the middle being joined 
to all the lesser term, nothing can be proved by this union 
of one -part, which cannot also be proved of the others, 
since it is joined to them all. 

In the same way, if the separation of the middle term 
from the lesser term, prove anything of any part of that 
lesser term, it proves the same of all the parts, since it is 
equally separated from them all. 

When the minor is a universal negative, if we wish to 


obtain a legitimate conclusion, it must always le general. 
This is a consequent of the preceding corollary, for the 
smaller term must be taken generally in the minor, when 
it is a universal negative, whether it be its subject (by the 
second axiom), or whether it be the attribute of it (by the 
fourth axiom). 

RULE 3. 

No conclusion can be drawn from two negative propositions. 

For two negative propositions separate the subject 
from the mean, and the attribute from the same mean. 
Now, because two things are separated from the same 
thing, it does not follow either that they are, or that they 
are not, the same ; for because the Spaniards are not 
Turks, and the Turks are not Christians, it does not follow 
that the Spaniards are not Christians ; neither does it fol 
low that the Chinese are so, though they are not Turks 
any more than the Spaniards. 

RULE 4. 

A negative conclusion cannot le proved by two affirmative 

For from the fact that the two terms of the conclusion 
are united with the third, it cannot be proved that they 
are separated from each other. 

RULE 5. 

The conclusion always follows the weaker part, that is to 
say, if two propositions be negative, it ought to be negative, 
and if one of them be particular, it ought to be particular. 

The proof of this is, that if there be a negative propo 
sition the middle term is separated from one of the parts 
of the conclusion, and thus it is incapable of uniting them, 
which must be done in order to conclude affirmatively. 

And if there be one particular proposition, the conclu 
sion cannot be general, for if the conclusion is general 
affirmative, the subject being universal, it must also be 
universal in the minor, and consequently its subject, the 


attribute being never taken universally in affirmative pro 
positions. Therefore the middle term joined to this sub 
ject, will be particular in the minor, and hence it will be 
general in the major, because otherwise it would be taken 
twice particularly. It will be, therefore, its subject, and 
consequently that major term will be also universal, and 
thus there cannot be a particular proposition in an affirma 
tive argument whose conclusion is general. 

This is still more clear in the case of universal negative 
conclusions, for then it would follow that there ought to be 
three universal terms in the two premises, according to 
the first corollary. Now, as there must be an affirmative 
proposition by the third rule, whose attribute is taken par 
ticularly, it follows that the other three terms are taken 
universally, and, consequently, the two subjects of the two 
propositions, which makes them universal, Q, E, D. 


The particular is inferred from the general. What infers 
A infers I, what infers E infers O, but what infers the 
particular does not infer the general. This is a consequent 
of the preceding rule, and of the first axiom ; but it must 
be remarked that men have thought right to consider 
the species of syllogism only according to its worthier con 
clusion, which is the general, so that we do not reckon as 
a particular species of syllogism that which infers only 
particularly, when it might have a general conclusion. 

Hence there is no syllogism in which the major being 
A, and the minor E, the conclusion is O, for (by the 5th 
corollary) the conclusion of a negative universal minor 
must be always general, so that if we cannot obtain a 
general conclusion, it will be because we cannot obtain any 
at all. Thus A, E, O, is never a syllogism separately, but 
only so far as it may be contained in A, E, E. 


From two particular propositions nothing follows. 
For if there are two affirmatives, the middle will be 
taken twice particularly, whether it be the subject (by the 


2d axiom) or whether it be the attribute (by the 3d axiom). 
Now, by the 1st rule, nothing can be concluded from a 
syllogism whose middle term is taken twice particularly. 

And if there be a negative, the conclusion being nega 
tive also, by the rule preceding, there must be at least two 
universal terms in the premises (according to the 2d co 
rollary). Therefore there ought to be a universal proposi 
tion in these two premises, since it is impossible to arrange 
three terms in two terms, where two terms must be taken 
universally, without having either two negative attributes, 
which would be contrary to the 3d rule, or one of the 
subjects universal, which makes the proposition universal. 



AFTER establishing the general rules which must necessarily 
be observed in all simple syllogisms, it remains to show 
how many sorts there are of such syllogisms. 

We may say in general that there are as many sorts as 
there may be different ways of arranging the three propo 
sitions of a syllogism, and the three terms of which they 
are made up, without violating the rules which we have 
laid down. 

The arrangement of the three propositions according to 
the four differences, A, E, I, O, is called mood, and the 
arrangement of the three terms, that is to say, of the 
middle term with the two terms of the conclusion, is called 

Now we may reckon how many moods there are which 
afford a conclusion, without taking into account the differ 
ent figures in which the same mood may constitute differ 
ent syllogisms, for, by the doctrine of combinations, four 


terms (as A. E, I. 0), being taken three by three, can be 
differently arranged only in sixty-four ways. But of these 
sixty-four ways, those who will take the trouble to con 
sider each apart, will find that there are of them, 

Twenty-eight excluded by the third and sixth rules, 
nothing can be concluded from two negatives, or from two 

Eighteen by the fifth, that the conclusion follows the 
weaker part. 

Six by the fourth, that we cannot have a negative con 
clusion from two affirmatives. 

One. I. E, 0, to wit, by the third corollary of the gene 
ral rules. 

One. A, E. 0. to wit. by the sixth corollary of general 

These make in all fifty-four, and, consequently, only ten 
valid moods remain : 

fE, A. E. 
/ A. A, A. I A, E, E. 

1 \ I. I. j E, A. 0. 

Four affirmative <* \ ^ j Six negative < ^ Q, 

(i. A, L |O!A O 

I E, gr, o. 

But it does not follow from this that there are only ten 
sorts of syllogisms, since any one of these moods may be 
made into different syllogisms, according to the other way 
in which they are diversified, by the different arrangement 
of the three terms, which we have already said is called 

Now. in order to this disposition of the three terms, the 
two first propositions alone are to be considered, since the 
conclusion is supposed before we make the syllogism to 
prove it : and as the middle can be arranged only, with the 
two terms of the conclusion, in four different ways, there 
are thus also only four possible figures. 

For the middle term is either the subject in the major, a/id 
the attribute in the minor, which makes the first figure. 

Or it is the attribute in both, which makes the second figure. 

Or the subject in both, which makes the third fi jure. 

Or finally, it is the attribute in the major, and subject m the 


minor, which makes a fourth figure, since it is certain that 
we may sometimes have a necessary conclusion in this 
form, which is sufficient to constitute a valid syllogism. 
Examples of these will be given hereafter. 

Nevertheless, since, in this fourth figure, the conclusion is 
obtained in a way that is by no means natural, and which 
the mind never takes, Aristotle, and those who have fol 
lowed him, have not given to this mode of reasoning the 
name of figure. Galen maintained the contrary ; but it is 
clear that it is only a dispute about words, which ought to 
be decided by making each party say what they under 
stand by the word figure. 

But, without doubt, those are mistaken who apply to the 
fourth figure (which they blame Aristotle for not recog 
nising) the arguments of the first, of which the major and 
minor are transposed, as when we say, All body is divisible ; 
all that is divisible is imperfect ; therefore all body is imperfect. 
I am surprised that Gassendi has fallen into this error, for 
it is ridiculous to take, as a major of a syllogism, the pro 
position which stands first, and for the minor that which 
stands second. If this were so, it would be often neces 
sary to take the conclusion itself as the major, or minor of 
a reasoning, since it is often enough placed first or second 
of the three propositions which compose it, as in this verse 
of Horace, the conclusion is the first, the minor second, 
and the major third. 

Qui melior servo, qui Kberior sit avarus; 

In triviis fixum, cum se diraittit ad assem 

Non video : nam qui cupiet, metuet quoque : porro 

Qui metuens vivit, liber mihi non erit unquam. 

For it is all reducible to this argument : 
He who is in continual fear is not free, 
Every miser is in continual fear ; 
Therefore no miser is free. 

We are not, therefore, to consider the simple local ar 
rangement of the propositions, which effects no change on 
the mind ; but we are to take, as syllogisms of the first 
figure, all those in which the middle term is subject, in 
the proposition where the greater term (that is to say, the 
attribute of the conclusion) is found, and the attribute in 
that where the lesser term (that is to say, the subject of 


the conclusion) is found. And thus it follows, that those 
syllogisms only are of the fourth figure, where the middle 
term is attribute in the major, and subject in the minor. 
And it is in this way that we shall speak of the figures, 
without any being able to complain of our so doing, since 
we have stated beforehand that we understand, by this 
word jiyure, only a different arrangement of the middle 



THE first figure is, then, that in which the middle term is 
subject in the major proposition, and attribute in the 

This figure has only two rules. 

RULE 1. 

The minor must be affirmative ; 

For, if it were negative, the major would be affirmative 
by the third general rule, and the conclusion negative by 
the fifth ; therefore the greater term would be taken uni 
versally in the conclusion, since it would be negative, and 
particularly in the major ; for it is its attribute in 
this figure, and would be affirmative, thus violating the 
second rule, which forbids us to conclude from the parti 
cular to the general. This reason holds also in the third 
figure, where the greater term is also attribute in the 

RULE 2. 

The major must be universal ; 

For, the minor being affirmative, by the preceding rule, 


the middle term, which is its attribute, is taken particu 
larly ; therefore it must be universal in the major, where 
it is subject, which renders this proposition universal ; 
otherwise it will be taken twice particularly, contrary to 
the first general rule. 


That the first figure can have only four moods. 

We have shown, in the preceding chapter, that there 
can be only ten valid moods ; but of these ten moods, 
A, E, E, and A, 0, 0, are excluded by the first rule of 
this figure, viz., that the minor must be affirmative ; I, A, 
I, and O, A, 0, are excluded by the second, which is, the 
major must be universal; A, A, I, and E, A, 0, are ex 
cluded by the fourth corollary from the general rules, for 
the lesser term being the subject in the minor, if it be 
universal, the conclusion may be universal also. 

And, consequently, there remain only these four moods: 

rr, ,. (A, A, A. rp ,. (E, A, E. 

Two affirmative < A T T 1 wo negative < T n 

(A, 1, 1. (^Ui, 1, U. 

Which was to be demonstrated. 

These four moods, in order that they may be more 
easily retained, have been reduced to artificial words, of 
which the three syllables denote the three propositions, 
and the vowel of each syllable points out of what kind the 
proposition ought to be ; so that these words have been of 
this great service in the schools, that they denote clearly, 
by a single word, a species of syllogism, which otherwise 
could not have been explained without much circumlocu 

BAR- Whoever suffers those whom he ought to support to 

die of hunger, is a murderer. 

BA- All the rich who do not give alms in times of public 
necessity, suffer those to die of hunger whom they 
ought to support; 
RA. Therefore they are homicides. 


CE- No impenitent thief can expect to be saved; 
LA- All those who die without making restitution, after 
haviny enriched themselves w-ith the wealth of the 
church, are impenitent thieves; 
REXT. Therefore none such can expect to lie saved. 
DA- Everything ivhich is a help to salvation is beneficial. 
HI- There are some afflictions which are helps to salva 
tion ; 

i. Therefore there are some afflictions which are bene 
FE- Whatever is followed by a just repentance is not to 

be wished for ; 
RI- There are some pleasures ivhich are followed by a 

just repentance ; 

o. Therefore there are some pleasures ivhich are not to 
be wished for. 


Since in this figure the greater term is affirmed or 
denied of the middle, taken universally, and this same 
middle is then affirmed in the minor of the lesser term, or 
subject of the conclusion, it is clear that it is founded on 
two principles, one for the affirmative moods, the other for 
the negative moods. 


That which belongs to an idea, taken universally, belongs 
also to e eery thing of which that idea is affirmed, or which is 
subject of that idea, or which is comprehended under the ex 
tension of this idea; for these expressions are synonymous. 

Thus the idea of animal belonging to all men, belongs 
also to all Ethiopians. This principle has been so clearly 
explained in the chapter where we treated of the nature 
of affirmative propositions, that it is not necessary to say 
more of it here. It is sufficient to state, that it is com 
monly expressed in the schools in the following manner : 
Quod, convenit consequenti, convenit antecedents; and that, 
by the term consequent, is understood the general idea 
which is affirmed of another, and, by antecedent, the sub- 


ject by which it is affirmed, since, in reality, the attribute 
is obtained, as a consequent from the subject, if it be man, 
it is also animal. 


Whatever is denied of an idea, taken universally, is denied 
also of everything ofivhich that idea is affirmed. 

Tree is denied of all animals ; it is, therefore, denied of 
all men, since they are animals. It is commonly expressed 
in the schools, thus : Quod negatur de consequent!, negatur 
de antecedentL What we have said, in treating of negative 
propositions, renders it unnecessary to say more here. 

It must be remarked, that it is only in the first figure 
that we obtain a conclusion in all the four A, E, I, O. 

And that it is in the first alone that we obtain a con 
clusion in the form of A ; the reason of which is, that in 
order to make the conclusion a universal affirmative, the 
lesser term must be taken generally in the minor, and, 
consequently, be its subject, and the middle term its attri 
bute ; whence it happens that the middle is there taken 
particularly. It must, therefore, be taken generally in the 
major by the first general rule, and, consequently, be its 
subject. Now the characteristic of the first figure is, that 
the middle term be subject in the major proposition, and 
attribute in the minor. 



THE second figure is that in which the middle term is 
taken twice as attribute ; whence it follows, that, in order 
to its concluding necessarily, it must observe these two 


RULE 1 . 

One of the two propositions must be negative, and, conse 
quently, the conclusion also, by the sixth general rule ; 

For, if both propositions were affirmative, the middle, 
which is here always attribute, would be taken twice parti 
cularly, contrary to the first general rule. 

RULE 2. 

The major proposition must be universal ; 

For, the conclusion being negative, the greater term, or 
attribute, is taken universally. Now, this same term is 
subject in the major; therefore it must be universal, and, 
consequently, render the major universal. 


That there can be only four moods in the second figure. 

Of the ten valid moods the four affirmative are excluded 
by the first rule of this figure, which is, that one of the 
premises must be negative. 

0, A, O, is excluded by the second rule, which is, that 
the major must be universal. 

E, A, O, is excluded for the same reason as in the first 
figure ; for the lesser term is also subject in the minor. 

There remain, therefore, of these ten moods, only these 
four : 

Two general, {^ ^ Two particular, ffi *> 

(.-"} ^i -L<- (J\., U, U. 

Which was to be demonstrated. 

These four moods have been comprehended under the 
following artificial words : 

CE- No liar is to be believed; 
SA- Every good man is to be believed ; 
RE. Therefore no good man is a liar. 
CA- All those who are followers of Jesus Christ crucify 

the flesh; 
MES- All those who lead an effeminate and voluptuous life 

do not crucify the flesh ; 
TRES. Therefore none such are followers of Jesus Christ. 


FES- No virtue is contrary to the love of truth; 

TI- There is a love of peace which is opposed to a love of 

truth ; 

NO. Therefore there is a love of peace which is not a virtue. 

BA- Every virtue is accompanied with discretion. 

RO- There is a zeal without discretion ; 

CO. Therefore there is a zeal which is not a virtue. 


It would be easy to reduce all these different sorts of 
reasonings to a single principle, by a little explanation ; 
but it is more beneficial to reduce two of them to one 
principle, and two to another, since their dependence on 
these two principles, and the connection they have with 
them, is more clear and immediate. 


The first of these principles is that which serves also as 
a basis for the negative arguments of the first figure, to 
wit, that which is denied of a universal idea is denied also 
of everything of which that idea is affirmed, that is to say, 
of all the subjects of that idea ; for it is clear that the 
arguments in Cesare and Festino are established on this 
principle. In order to show, for example, that no good 
man is a liar, I affirmed, to be believed of every good man, 
and I denied liar of every man who was to be believed, by 
saying that no liar is to be believed. It is true that this 
aspect of denying is indirect, since, in place of denying 
liar to be believed, I denied to be believed of liar. But, as 
universal negative propositions are converted simply by 
denying the attribute of a universal subject, we deny that 
universal subject of the attribute. 

This shows, notwithstanding, that the reasonings in 
Cesare are, in some sort, indirect, since that which is 
denied of them is only denied indirectly ; but as this does 
not prevent the mind from comprehending, easily and 
clearly, the force of the argument, they may be considered 
as direct, understanding by this term reasonings, clear and 


_ This also shows that the two moods, Cesare and Festino, 
differ from Celarent and Ferio of the first, only in having their 
major reversed. But though we may say that the negative 
moods of the first figure are more direct, it often happens, 
nevertheless, that these two of the second figure, which 
answer to them, are more natural, and that the mind more 
readily employs them. For example, in that which we 
have given, although the direct order of negation require 
us to say, No man is to be believed who is a liar, which 
would have made an argument in Celarent, the mind is, 
nevertheless, naturally led to say, No liar is to be believed. 


In these two moods the middle term is affirmed of the 
attribute of the conclusion, and denied of the subject, 
which shows that they are established directly on this 
principle : Nothing that is comprehended under the extension 
of a universal idea belongs to any of the subjects of which that 
idea is denied, the attribute of a negative proposition being 
taken in the whole of its extension, as we have proved in the 
Second Part. 

True Christians are comprehended under the extension 
of charitable, since every true Christian is charitable; 
charitable is denied of those who are pitiless towards the 
poor ; therefore true Christian of those who are without 
mercy towards the poor ; which makes this argument 

Every true Christian is charitable; 

None who are without pity for the poor are charitable; 

Therefore none who are without pity to the poor are 
true Christians. 



IN the third figure the middle term is twice taken as sub 
ject, whence it follows : 


EULE 1. 

That the minor proposition must be affirmative; 

This we have already proved by the first rule of the 
first figure, since in both the attribute of the conclusion is 
also the attribute of the major. 

EULE 2. 

The conclusion must be particular. 

For the minor being always affirmative, the lesser term, 
which is its attribute, is particular. Therefore, it cannot 
be universal in the conclusion, where it is subject, since 
this would be to infer the general from the particular, 
contrary to the second general rule. 


That there can be no more than six moods in the third 

Of the ten valid moods, A, E, E, and A, 0, 0, are ex 
cluded by the first rule of this figure, which is, that the 
minor be not negative. 

A, A, A, and E, A, E, are excluded by the second rule, 
which is, that the conclusion cannot be general. There 
remain, therefore, these six moods : 

(A, A, I. (E, A, O. 

3 affirmative \ A, 1,1. 3 negative -<E, 1,0. 

(I, A, I. (0,A, O. 

Which was to be demonstrated. 

These six moods have been reduced to the following 
artificial words, though in a different order : 

DA- The infinite divisibility of matter is incomprehensible; 
RA- The infinite divisibility of matter is most certain; 
PTI. There are, therefore, some things most certain which 

are incomprehensible. 

FE- No man is able to abandon himself; 
LA- Every man is an enemy to himself; 
PTON. There are, therefore, some enemies which he cannot 


Di- There are some wicked men in the highest state; 

SA- All wicked men are miserable ; 

MIS. Therefore, there are some miserable who are in the 

highest state. 

DA- Every servant of God is a king; 

TI- Some servants of God are poor ; 

si. Therefore some poor are kings. 

Bo- There is some anger which is not blameworthy; 

CAR- Every kind of anger is a passion ; 

DO. Therefore some passions are not blameworthy. 

FE- No folly is eloquent; 

RI- There is some folly put into figures ; 

SON. Therefore there arejigures which are not eloquent. 


The two terms of the conclusion being attributed, in the 
premises, to a single term, which serves as the middle, we 
may reduce the affirmative moods to this figure to the fol 
lowing principle : 


When two terms may be affirmed of the same thing, the;/ 
may also be affirmed taken particularly. 

For, being united together in that thing, since they 
belong to it, it follows that they are sometimes united to 
gether, so that they may be affirmed the one of the other 
particularly. But in order that we may be sure that these 
terms have been affirmed of the same thing, which is the 
middle term, it is necessary that this middle term be taken 
once universally at least ; for if it were taken twice par 
ticularly, they might be two different parts of a common 
term, which would not be the same thing. 


Wli-en of two terms one ???. // be denied, and the other af 
firmed, of the same thing, tiny may be denied particularly of 
each other. 


For it is certain they are not always joined together, 
since they are not joined in this thing ; therefore we may 
sometimes deny them of each other, that is to say, we may 
deny them of each other, taken particularly. But it is 
necessary, for the same reason, in order to its being the 
same thing, that the middle term be taken universally once 
at least. 



THE fourth figure is that in which the middle term is 
attribute in the major, and subject in the minor. But it is so 
far from natural, that it is almost useless to give the rules 
for it ; they are, however, given below, in order that 
nothing may be wanting to the demonstration of all the 
simple forms of reasoning. 

ElILE 1. 

When the major proposition is affirmative, the minor is 
always universal. 

For the middle term is taken particularly in the affirma 
tive major, since it is its attribute. It must, therefore, by 
the first general rule, be taken generally in the minor, and 
consequently render it universal, since it is its subject. 

RULE 2. 

When the minor is affirmative, the conclusion is always par 

For the lesser term is attribute in the minor, and, con 
sequently, is there taken particularly when it is affirmative. 
Whence it follows (by the second general rule) that it 


must be also particular in the conclusion, which renders it 
particular, since it is its subject. 

RULE 3. 

In the negative moods the major proposition must be general. 

For the conclusion being negative, the greater term is 
there taken generally. It must, therefore (by the second 
general rule), be also taken generally in the premises. 
Now it is here, as in the second figure, the subject of the 
major, and consequently it must, as in the second figure, 
being taken generally, render the major general. 


That there can be no more thanfice moods in the fourth jifjure. 

Of the ten valid moods, A, I, I, and A, O, 0, are ex 
cluded by the first rule ; A, A, A, and K, A, E, are ex 
cluded by the second ; O, A, O, by the third. 

There remain, therefore, only these five : 

2 affirmative { ^ , T 3 negative JK, A, O. 

I J A L (E, I, O. 

These five moods may be embodied in the following arti 
ficial words : 

BAR- All the miracles of nature are common; 
DA- Whatever is common does not arrest our attention; 
RI. Some things, therefore, which do not arrest our at 
tention, are miracles of nature. 
CA- All the evils of life are transitory evils; 
LEN- No transitory evils are to be feared; 
TES. Therefore none of the evils that are to be feared are 

evils of this life. 

Di- Some fools speak the truth; 
BA- Whoever speaks the truth deserves to be imitated; 
TIS. Therefore there are some u ho deserve to be imitated. 

ivho are nevertheless fools. 
FES- No virtue is a natural quality; 
PA- Every natural quality has God for its author; 
MO. Therefore there are qualities which hace God jor 
their author, which are not virtues. 


FRE- No miserable man is content; 

si- Some are content who are poor; 
SOM. Therefore there are poor people ivho are not unhappy . 

It is well to state that these five moods are commonly 
expressed in this way, BaraKpton, Celantes, Dabitis, Fa- 
pesmo, Frisesomorum. This arose from the fact that Aris 
totle never having made a separate figure for these moods, 
they were regarded as only indirect moods of the first 
figure, since it was maintained that their conclusion was 
reversed, and that the attribute was the real subject. 
Hence, those who have followed this opinion, have placed 
as the first proposition, that which contains the subject of 
the conclusion, and as the minor, that which contains the 
attribute. Thus they have given nine moods to the first 
figure, four direct, and five indirect, which they have in 
cluded in these two verses : 

Barbara, Celarent, Darii, Ferio, Baralip-fow. 
Celantes, Dabitis, Fapesmo, Frisesom-orMwi. 

And for the two other figures 

Ccsare, Camestres, Festino, Baroco, Darapti, 
Felapton, Disamis, Datisi, Bocardo, Ferison. 

But as the conclusion is always supposed, since it is that 
which we design to prove, we cannot say properly that it 
is ever reversed ; we, therefore, thought it better to take 
always, as the major, the proposition into which the attri 
bute of the conclusion enters, which obliged us, in order 
to put the major first, to reverse these artificial terms, so 
that, for the better retaining of them, we may include them 
in this verse : 

Barbari, Calentes, Dibatis, Fespamo, Frisesom. 


Of the different Sorts of Syllogisms. 

From all that we have just said, it may be concluded 
that there are nineteen kinds of syllogisms, which may be 
divided in different ways. 


( General 5. TT T , ( Affirmative 7. 
I. Into < T-, , . , -, /. II. Into < AT , 

( Particular 14. ( Negative 12. 


III. Into those which ive conclusions in ^ ^ 

1 b. 


4. According to the different figures, in subdividing 
them by moods, which has already been sufficiently done, 
in the explanation of each figure. 

5. Or, on the contrary, according to the moods, in sub 
dividing them by the figures, where we shall still find nine 
teen species of syllogisms, since there are three moods, each 
of which only concludes in a single figure ; six, each of 
which is valid in two figures, and one which is valid in all 
the four. 



IT must be confessed, that if there are some to whom logic 
is a help, there are many to whom it is a hindrance ; and 
it must be acknowledged, at the same time, that there are 
none to whom it is a greater hindrance than to those who 
pride themselves most upon it, and who affect, with the 
greatest display, that they are good logicians ; for this 
very affectation, being the mark of a low and shallow mind, 
it comes to pass that they, attaching themselves more to 
the exterior of the rules than to good sense, which is 
the soul of them, are easily led to reject as bad reason 
ing, some which are very good, since they have not suf- 


ficient penetration to adjust them to the rules, which 
serve no other purpose than to deceive them, because they 
comprehend them only imperfectly. 

In order to avoid this defect, which partakes strongly 
of that pedantry which is so unworthy in a noble minded 
man, we ought rather to examine the solidity of a reason 
ing by the light of nature than by mere forms ; and one of 
the means of satisfying ourselves, when we meet with any 
difficulty, is to make other reasonings similar to it in dif 
ferent matters, and when it appears clearly to us to afford 
a good conclusion, by considering only the good sense of 
it ; if we find, at the same time, that it contains something 
not conformed to the rules, we ought rather to believe that 
this is owing to some defect in our explication than to its 
being so in reality. 

But the reasonings of which it is more difficult to judge 
aright, and in which it is more easy to be deceived, are 
those which, as we have already said, may be called com 
plex, not simply because there were found in them complex 
propositions, but because the terms of the conclusion being 
complex, were not taken in all their entirety, in each of 
the premises, in order to be joined with the middle, but 
only a part of one of the terms, as in this example 
The sun is a thing insensible; 
The Persians worship the sun; 
Therefore the Persians ivorship a thing insensible. 

In which we see that the conclusion having its attribute, 
worship a thing insensible, only a part of this is placed in the 
major, to wit, a thing insensible, and worshipped in the minor. 

Now we shall do two things in relation to these syllo 
gisms. We shall show, in the first place, how they may 
be reduced to the incomplex syllogisms of which we have 
hitherto spoken, in order to their being judged by the 
same rules. 

And we shall show, in the second place, that more gene 
ral rules may be given, for judging at once of the validity 
or viciousness of these syllogisms, without having recourse 
to any reduction. 

It is a thing strange enough, that although logic has 
occupied a higher position thrxi it deserved, so that it has 
been maintained that it was absolutely necessary for 


acquiring the sciences, it has, nevertheless, been treated of 
with so little attention, that hardly anything has been said 
touching aught that is of real use ; for logicians commonly 
content themselves with giving the rules for simple syllo 
gisms, and almost all the examples given of them arc com 
posed of incomplex propositions, which are so clear that 
no one would ever have thought of seriously composing 
them in any discourse ; for who has ever heard of any one 
making such a syllogism as this : Every man is an animal; 
Peter is a man ; therefore Peter is an animal. 

But little pains are taken in applying the rules of syllo 
gism to arguments of which the propositions are complex, 
though this is often very difficult, and there are many 
arguments of this nature which appear bad, which are 
nevertheless very good ; and besides, the use of such rea 
sonings is much more frequent than that of syllogisms 
which are quite simple. This will be shown more easily by 
examples than by rules. 


We have said, for example, that all propositions com 
posed of active verbs are complex in some manner ; and 
of these propositions reasonings are often made, whose 
form and force are difficult to recognise ; as this, which we 
have already given as an example 

The divine law commands us to honour kinys ; 

Louis XIV. is a king ; 

Therefore the divine law commands us to honour J^n/ts 


Some persons of small intelligence have accused such 
reasonings of being defective, because, say they, they are 
composed of pure affirmatives in the second iigure, which 
is an essential defect. But these persons have shown 
clearly that they have consulted more the letter and sur 
face of the rules, than the light of reason, by which these 
rules were discovered ; for this reasoning is so true and 
valid, that if it were opposed to the rule, it would prove 
that the rule was false, not that the reasoning was bad. 
I say that, in the first place, this argument is good ; for in 
this proposition, the dicine law commands us to honour kittya, 


this word, kings, is taken generally for all kings in parti 
cular, and consequently Louis XIV. is among those whom 
the divine law commands us to honour. 

I say, in the second place, that king, which is the middle 
term, is not the attribute in this proposition the divine law 
commands us to honour kings though it may be joined with 
the attribute command, which is a very different thing, 
for what, which is really the attribute, is affirmed, and 
agrees. Now, first, king is not affirmed, and does not 
agree with the law of God ; second, the attribute is re 
stricted by the subject, Now the word king is not re 
stricted in this proposition the divine law commands us to 
honour kings, since it is taken generally. 

But if it is demanded, then, what it really is, it is easy 
to reply that it is the subject of another proposition in 
volved in this ; for when I say that the divine law com 
mands us to honour kings, as I attribute command to the 
law, I attribute also honour to kings, for it is as if I said, 
the divine law commands that kings be honoured. 

So also in this conclusion the divine law commands us 
to honour Louis XIV. Louis XIV. is not the attribute, 
although joined to it, and he is, on the contrary, the sub 
ject of an involved proposition ; for it is the same as if . 
said, the divine law commands that Louis XIV. be honoured. 
Thus these propositions are unfolded in the following 

way : 

The divine latv commands that kings be honoured; 

Louis XIV. is king ; 

Therefore the divine law commands that Louis XIV. be 


It is clear that the whole argument consists in these 
propositions : 

Kings ought to be honoured; 
Louis XIV. is king ; 

Therefore Louis XIV. ought to be honoured. 
And that this proposition the divine law commands 
which appears the principal, is only an incidental proposi 
tion, in this argument, joined to the affirmation, which the 
divine law helps to prove. 

It is clear also that this reasoning is, in Barbara ot the 
first figure, the individual terms, as Louis XIV., standing 


for universals, as they are taken in all their extension, as 
we have already remarked. 


For the same reason, this argument, which appears to 
be of the second figure, and conformed to the rules of that 
figure, is worth nothing : 

We ought to believe the Scripture; 

Tradition is not Scripture; 

Therefore ice ought not to believe tradition. 
For it ought to be reduced to the first figure in this way 

The Scripture ought to be believed; 

Tradition is not Scripture; 

Therefore tradition ought not to be believed. 
Now we are not able to conclude anything from the first 
figure, from a negative minor. 


There are other reasonings, the propositions of which 
appear to be pure affirmatives in the second figure, which 
are nevertheless very good, as : 

Every good pastor is ready to give his life for his sheep; 
Now there are few pastors in the present day t/:Jn> are 

ready to give their lives for their sheep; 
Therefore there are in the present day few good pastors. 
But what makes this reasoning good is, that we conclude 
affirmatively only in appearance. For the minor is an 
exclusive proposition, which contains in sense this pro 
position, Most of the present pastors are not ready to give 
their lives for their sheep. And the conclusion, also, may be 
reduced to this negative, Many of the present pastors are 
not good pastors. 


Here is another argument, which, being of the first 
figure, appears to have a negative minor : 

Those who cannot be robbed of what they love are out of 
the reach of their enemies; 


Now, when a man loves God alone, he cannot be robbed 

of what he loves; 
Therefore all those who love God alone, are out of the 

reach of their enemies. 

What makes this argument quite valid is, that the minor 
is negative only in appearance, and is in reality affirmative, 
for the subject of the major, which ought to be the attribute 
in the minor, is not those who may be robbed of what they 
love, but, on the contrary, those who cannot be robbed. Now 
this is what we affirm of those who love God alone, so 
that the sense of the minor is, Now all those who love God 
alone are among the, number of those who cannot be robbed of 
what they love, which is clearly an affirmative proposition. 


This is what happens again, where the major is an ex 
clusive proposition, as, 

Those only who love God are happy; 

Now there are rich men who do not love God ; 

Therefore there are rich men who are not happy. 
For the particle only makes the first proposition in this 
syllogism equal in meaning to these two the friends of God 
are happy, and, all others, who are not the friends of God, are 
not happy. 

Now, since it is on this second proposition that the 
force of the reasoning depends, the minor, which appears 
to be negative, becomes affirmative, since the subject of 
the major, which ought to be the attribute in the minor, 
is not friends of God, but those who are not the friends of 
God, so that the whole argument ought to stand thus : 

All those who are not the friends of God are not happy; 

Now, there are rich men among the number of those who 
are no friends of God; 

Therefore there are rich men who are not happy. 
But what makes it necessary to express the minor in 
this way, and to take away from it the appearance of a 
negative proposition, is, that it is the same thing to say 
negatively, that a man is not the friend of God, and to 
say, affirmatively, that he is no friend of God, that is to say, 
that he is among the number of -those who are not the friends 
of God. 



There are many reasonings such as these, of which all 
the propositions appear negative, and which are, neverthe 
less, very good, because there is in them one which is 
negative only in appearance, and in reality, affirmative, as 
we have already shown, and as we may still further see by 
this example : 

That which has no parts cannot perish by the dissolution of 
its parts; 

The soul has no parts ; 

Therefore the soul cannotperishby the dissolution of its parts. 

There are several who advance such syllogisms to show 
that we have no right to maintain that this, not/tiny cart be, 
proved by pure neyatives,is true generally, without distinction; 
but they have not observed that in sense, the minor of this 
and such other syllogisms, is affirmative, since the middle, 
which is the subject of the major, is in it the attribute. 
Now the subject of the major is not that which has parts, 
but that which has not parts, and thus the sense of the 
minor is, the sonl is a thing without parts, which is a propo 
sition affirmative of a negative attribute. 

The same persons sometimes prove, again, that negative 
reasonings are sometimes conclusive, by these conclusives : 
John is not rational, therefore he is not a man. No animal 
sees, therefore no man sees. But they ought to consider that 
these examples are only enthymemes, and that no enthy- 
meme is conclusive, save in virtue of a proposition under 
stood, which, consequently, ought to be in the mind, 
though it be not expressed. Now, in both these examples, 
the proposition understood is necessarily affirmative. In 
the first, this all man is rational, John is not rational, 
therefore John is not a man ; and on the other every man is 
an animal, no animal sees, therefore no man sees. Now, \ve 
cannot say that these syllogisms are purely negative, and, 
consequently, the enthymemes, which are conclusive only 
because they contain these syllogisms complete in the mind 
of him who uses them, cannot be brought as examples to 
show that there are some purely negative reasonings which 
afford valid conclusions. 




WE Lave seen how we may judge whether complex argu 
ments are conclusive or vicious, by reducing them to the 
form of more common reasonings, in order, then, to judge 
of them by the common rules. But as it does not appear 
that our minds need this reduction in order to make this 
judgment, we were led to think that there must be rules 
more general on which these common ones themselves 
were founded, by which we might recognise more easily 
the excellencies or defects of all kinds of syllogisms, and the 
following is what has occurred to us in relation to this 
matter. When we wish to prove a proposition, the truth 
of which is not evident, it appears that all we have to do 
is to find a proposition, better known, which confirms the 
other, which, for this reason, may be called the proposition 
containing. But since it cannot contain it expressly in the 
same terms, because, if it did, it would not differ from the 
other, and thus be of no service in making it clearer, it is 
necessary there should be yet another proposition which 
may show that that which we called containing, does, in 
reality, contain what we wish to prove, and this one may 
be called applicative. 

In affirmative syllogisms, it is often indifferent which of 
the two is called containing, since they both in some sort, 
contain the conclusion, and each serves to show that the 
other contains it. 

For example, if I doubt whether a vicious man is un 
happy, and reason thus 

Every one who is the slave of his passions is unhappy; 

Every vicious man is the slave of his passions ; 

Therefore every vicious man is unhappy. 


"Whichever proposition you take, you may say that it 
contains the conclusion, and that the other shows it ; for 
the major contains it, since slave of Ms passions contains 
under it vicious, that is to say, that vicious is contained 
under its extension, and is one of its subjects, as the minor 
shows ; and the minor contains it also, since slave of his 
passions, comprehends in its idea that of unhappy, as the 
major shows. 

Nevertheless, as the major is almost always the more 
general, it is commonly regarded as the proposition con 
taining, and the minor as the proposition applicative. 

In relation to negative syllogisms, as there is only one 
negative proposition, and as the negation is properly con 
tained in the negation alone, it appears that we ought al 
ways to take the negative proposition as the containing, 
and the affirmative as the applicative exclusively, whether 
the negative be the major, as in Celarent, Ferio, Cesare, 
Festino, or whether it be the minor, as in Camestres and 

For if I prove by this argument that no miser is happy : 
Every happy man is content; 
No miser is content ; 
Therefore no miser is happy ; 

it is more natural to say, that the minor, which is nega 
tive, contains the conclusion, which is also negative, and 
that the major serves the purpose of showing that it con 
tains it. For this minor, no miser is content, separating, 
totally miser from content, separates from it also happy, 
since, according to the major, happy is contained in the 
whole extension of content. 

It is not difficult to prove that all the rules which we 
have given serve only to show that the conclusion is con 
tained in one of the first propositions, and that the other 
shows this ; and that arguments are vicious only when we 
fail to observe this ; that they are always good when it is 
observed, for all these rules may be reduced to two princi 
ples, which are the foundations of the others : one, that no 
term can be more general in the conclusion titan in the premises. 
Now this clearly depends on the general principle that the 
premises ought to obtain the conclusion, which could not 
be, if the same term, being in the premises and in the con- 


elusion, had less extension in the premises than in the con 
clusion, for the less general does not contain the more 
general, some man does not contain all men. 

The other general rule is, that the middle term ought to be 
taken at least once universally, which depends again on this 
principle, that the conclusion ought to be contained in the 
premises. For, supposing we wished to prove that some 
friend of God is poor, and were to employ, for this purpose, 
this proposition, some saint is poor, I say that we shall never 
be able clearly to see that this proposition contains the 
conclusion, except by another proposition in which the 
middle proposition, which is saint, is taken universally, for 
it is clear that in order that this proposition, some saints 
are poor, may contain the conclusion, some friend of God is 
poor, it is both necessary and sufficient that the term some 
saint, contain the term, some friend of God, since, in relation 
to the other, they have it in common. Now, a particular 
term is of no determinate extent, and it contains certainly 
only that which is involved in its comprehension and idea. 

And consequently, in order that the term, some saint, 
may contain the term, some friend of God, it is necessary 
that friend of God be contained in the comprehension of 
the idea of saint. 

Now, all that is contained in the comprehension of an 
idea, may be universally affirmed of it : all that is con 
tained in the comprehension of the idea of triangle may be 
affirmed of every triangle; all that is contained in the idea 
man, may be affirmed of every man ; and consequently, in 
order that friend of God, may be contained in the idea of 
saint, it is necessary that every saint be the friend of God, 
whence it follows that this conclusion, some friend of God 
is poor, can be contained in this proposition, some saint is 
poor (where the middle term, saint, is taken particularly), 
only in virtue of a proposition in which it is taken uni 
versally, since it must be shown that friend of God is con 
tained in the comprehension of the idea saint, which can 
only be shown by affirming saint of God. Taken univer 
sally, every saint is a friend of God, and consequently none 
of the premises will contain the conclusion, when the 
middle term is taken particularly in one of the proposi 
tions, unless it be taken universally in the other. Q. E. D. 




KNOWING, therefore, by what has been already said in the 
Second Part, what is meant by the comprehension and 
extension of terms, by which we may determine when one 
proposition contains, or does not contain another, we may 
judge of the excellency or defect of every syllogism with 
out considering whether it is simple or compound, complex 
or incomplex, without paying any attention to figures or 
moods, exclusively by this general principle, That one of 
the tico propositions must contain the conclusion, and the 
other s/iow that it contains it. This will be better compre 
hended by some examples. 


I am in doubt whether this reasoning be good, 

The duty of a Christian is not to praise those who commit, 

criminal actions; 

Nowthosewhoengagein a duel commit a criminal action; 
Therefore it is the duty of a Christian not to praise those 

who engage in duels. 

Now, I need not trouble myself as to the figure or mood 
to which this may be reduced. It is sufficient for me to 
consider whether the conclusion is contained in one of the 
two first propositions, and if the other shows it, and I find 
at once that the first having nothing different from the 
conclusion, except that in the one, those who commit cri 
minal actions, and in the other, those who engage in duels, 
that in which there is commit criminal actions, will contain 
that in which there is engage in a dud, provided that com 
mitting criminal actions contains engaging in duels. 

Now it is clear by the sense that the term those who 
commit criminal actions, is taken universally, and that it 


extends to all those who commit any such actions what 
ever ; and thus the minor, those who engage in a duel com 
mit a criminal action, showing that to engage in a dud is 
contained under this term, commit criminal actions, shows 
also that the first proposition contains the conclusion. 


I doubt whether this reasoning be good, 
The gospel promises salvation to Christians; 
Some wicked men are Christians; 
Therefore the gospel promises salvation to wicked men. 
In order to determine this, I need only consider that the 
major cannot contain the conclusion unless the word 
Christians be taken generally for all Christians, and not for 
some Christians only. For if the gospel promises salva 
tion only to some Christians, it does not follow that it 
promises it to wicked men, who may be Christians, since 
these wicked men may not be among the number of those 
Christians to whom the gospel promises salvation. Hence 
this reasoning is sufficiently conclusive (but the major is 
false), if the word Christians be taken in the major for all 
Christians, and it is not conclusive if it be taken for some 
Christians only, for then the first proposition will not 
contain the conclusion. 

But in order to determine whether it was taken univer 
sally, we must judge it by another rule, which is given in 
the Second Part, viz., Except in relation to facts, that of which 
we affirm is taken universally when it is expressed indefinitely. 
Now, although those who commit criminal actions, in the 
first example, and Christians, in the second, form part of 
an attribute, they nevertheless take the place of subject in 
relation to another part of the same attribute. For it is 
of them that we affirm, in the one case, that we ought not 
to praise them, and in the other, that salvation is promised 
to them. And, consequently, not being restricted, they 
ought to be taken universally, and thus both arguments 
are 3 good in form ; but the major of the second is false, 
unless we understand by the word Christian, those who 
live conformably to the gospel, in which case the minor 
will be false, since there are no wicked men who live 
conformably to the gospel. 



It is easy to see, by the same principle, that this reason 
ing is worth nothing, 

The divine law commands us to obey secular magistrates ; 

Bishops are not secular magistrates; 

Therefore the divine law does not command us to obey 


For neither of the first propositions is contained in the 
conclusion, since it does not follow that because the divine 
law does not command one thing it has not commanded 
another ; and thus the minor shows well enough that 
bishops are not comprised under the term secular magistrates, 
and that the commandment to honour secular magistrates 
does not include bishops. But the major does not say 
that God has made no other commandments besides this, 
as it ought to do in order to guarantee the conclusion in 
virtue of this minor. This is the case in the following 
argument, and renders it valid : 



Christianity obliges servants to obey their masters in those 
things only ivhich are not contrary to the law of God; 

Nou; unlawful traffic is contrary to the law of God; 

Therefore Christianity does not oblige servants to obey 

their masters in an unlawful business. 

For the major contains the conclusion, since the minor, 
unlawful traffic, is comprised in the number of things which 
are contrary to the law of God, and the major being ex 
clusive, it is as though we said, The divine law does not 
oblige servants to obey their masters in anything that is con 
trary to the law of God. 


We may, by this same principle, easily refute the fol 
lowing common sophism : 

He who says that you are an animal speaks truly; 

He who says that you are a goose, says that you are an 

Therefore he who says that you are a goose speaks truly. 


For it is enough to say that neither of the two first pro 
positions contain the conclusion ; for if the major contained 
it (differing from the conclusion only in this, that there is 
animal in the major, and goose in the conclusion), animal 
must contain goose; but animal is taken particularly in this 
major, since it is the attribute of this affirmative incidental 
proposition, you are an animal, and consequently, it could 
contain goose only in its comprehension : to show which, 
the word animal must be taken universally in the minor 
by affirming goose of every animal, which cannot be done, 
and is not either, since animal is again taken particularly 
in the minor, being there, as well as in the major, the 
attribute of this incidental proposition, you are an animal. 


By this, too, we may refute that ancient sophism re 
ferred to by St Augustine : 

You are not what I am; 

I am a man; 

Therefore you are not a man. 

This argument is unsound by the rules of the figures 
since it is of the first, and the first proposition, which is 
its minor, is negative. But is enough to say that the con 
clusion is not contained in the first of these propositions, 
and the other proposition, / am a man, does not show that 
it is contained in it. For the conclusion being negative, 
the term man is there taken universally, and thus is not 
contained in the term what I am, since he who speaks is 
not every man, but only some man, as appears from his 
saying, in the applicative proposition, / am a man, in 
which the term man is restricted to a partial signification, 
since it is the attribute of an affirmative proposition ; now 
the general is not contained in the particular. 




ALL syllogisms arc not conjunctive whose propositions are 
conjunctive or compound, but those only whose major is 
so compounded that it contains the whole of the conclu 
sion. These may be reduced to three kinds conditional, 
disjunctive^ and copulative. 


Conditional syllogisms are those in which the major is 
a conditional proposition which contains all the conclu 
sion : as, 

If there is a God, he ought to be loved; 
Now there is a God ; 
Therefore he ought to be loved. 

The major has two parts : first, the antecedent, if there be 
a God; second, the consequent, he ought to be loved. 

This syllogism may be of two kinds, since from the 
same major we may form two conclusions. 

The first is, when, having affirmed the consequent in 
the major, we affirm the antecedent in the minor, according 
to this rule In positing the antecedent, tee posit the conse 
quent : 

If matter cannot move of itself , its first motion must have 

been gicen to it by God; 
Now matter cannot move of itself ; 
Its first movement must therefore have been given to if 

by God. 

The second kind is, when we take away the consequent, 
in order to take away the antecedent, according to this 
rule In taking away the consequent, we take away the ante 
cedent : 

If any of the elect perish, God is deceived; 
But God is not deceived; 
Therefore none of the elect perish. 


This is the reasoning of St Augustine : Horum si quisquam 
perit, fallitur Deus ; sed nemo eorum perit, quia nonfallitur 

Conditional arguments are vicious in two ways. 

The one is, when the major is an irrational condition, 
of which the consequent is contrary to the rules : as if I 
conclude the general from the particular in saying, If we 
deceive ourselves in anything, we deceive ourselves in all 

But this falsehood in the major of these syllogisms re 
gards rather the matter than the form ; thus we consider 
them as vicious in relation to the form, when the conclu 
sion is wrongly deduced from the major, whether it be 
true or false, reasonable or unreasonable ; which is done 
in two ways : 

First, when we infer the antecedent from the consequent: 
as if we say 

If the Chinese are Mohammedans, they are infidels; 

Now they are infidels; 

Therefore they are Mohammedans. 

The second kind of conditional arguments which are 
false, is when, from the negation of the antecedent, we 
infer the negation of the consequent : as in the same 

If the Chinese are Mohammedans, they are infidels; 
They are not Mohammedans; 
Therefore they are not infidels. 

There are, however, some of these conditional argu 
ments which appear to have this defect, which are, never 
theless very good, because there is an exclusion under 
stood in the major, though not expressed. Example : 
Cicero having published a law against those who bought 
suffrages, and Murimus being accused of buying them, 
Cicero pleaded for him, justifying himself from the reproach 
which Cato brought against him, of acting in this defence 
contrary to his own law, by this argument : Etenim si lar- 
gitionem factam esse confiterer, idque recte factum esse de- 
fenderem, facerem improbe, etiam si alius legem tulisset ; 
cum vero nihil commissum contra legem esse defendam, quid 
est quod meam defensionam latio legis impediat ? This 
argument would seem to resemble that of a blasphemer, 


who should say in self-defence, If I denied there was a God, 
I should be a wicked man; lut although I blaspheme, I do 
not deny there is a God; therefore I am not a wicked sinner. 
This argument proves nothing, because there are other 
crimes besides atheism, which render a man wicked ; but 
that which makes Cicero s good, although Ilamus has given 
it as an example of a bad reasoning, is, that it contains in 
sense a particle exclusive, and may be reduced to these 
terms : 

I could only be reasonably reproached with acting contrary 
to my law, if I maintained that Murinus bought the 
voles, and nevertheless justified his action ; but I main 
tain that he did not buy the votes consequently I do 
nothing opposed to my laic. 

The same may be said of this reasoning of Venus, in 
speaking to Jupiter in Virgil : 

Si sine pace tua, atque invito numine Troes 

Italian) petiere. luatit peccata, rieque illos 

Juveris auxilio : sin tot responsa secuti, 

Qua; super! manesque dabant : cur uunc tua quisquam 

Flectere jussa, aut cur nova coudere fata. 

For this reasoning may be reduced to these terms : 
If the Trojans have come into Italy contrary to the will 

of the gods, they are punishable ; 

But they have not come contrary to the will of the gods ; 
Therefore they are not punishable. 

It is therefore necessary to supply something, otherwise 
it will resemble the following, which certainly is not con 
clusive : 

If Judas entered into the apostlcship without being called, 

he ought to have been rejected by God ; 
But he did not enter without being called ; 
Therefore he ought not to be rejected by God. 
But that which preserves the reasoning of Venus, in 
Virgil, from being vicious, is that we must consider the 
major as exclusive in meaning, as though it had been 
The Trojans then alone would have been punishable, and 
unworthy the help of the gods, if they had come into 
Italy contrary to their will; 
Therefore, &c. 
Or we may say, which is the same thing, that the 



affirmative, si sine pace tua, &c., involved in it this nega 
tive : 

If the Trojans came into Italy only by the will of the 
gods, it is not just to reject them ; 

Now they did come by order of the gods alone ; 

Therefore, &c. 


Those syllogisms are called disjunctive of which the first 
proposition is disjunctive, that is to say, whose parts are 
joined together by rel, or, as the following of Cicero : 
Those who have slain Ccesar are paricides, or defenders 

of liberty ; 

Now they are not paricides ; 
Therefore they are defenders of liberty. 
There are two kinds of these, the first when we take 
away one part in order to preserve the other, as in that 
which we have given, or the following : 

All wicked men must be punished, either in this world or 

in another ; 
Now there are some wicked men who are not punished in 

this world ; 

Therefore they will be in another. 

There are sometimes three members in this sort of syl 
logism, and then we take away two in order to keep one, 
as in this argument of St Augustine, in his Book on Lying 
(chap. 8) : Autnonest credendum bonis, aut credendum est eis 
quos credimus debere aliquando mentiri, aut non est credendum 
bonis aliquando mentiri. Horum primum pernicioswm est; se- 
cundum stultum ; restat ergo, ut nnnquam mentianiur boui. 

The second, but less natural kind, is when we take 
one of the parts, in order to take away the other, as if we 
say : 

Saint Bernard, affirming that God had confirmed, by 
miracles, his preaching the crusade, was either a saint 
or an impostor; 
Now, he was a saint; 
Therefore he was not an impostor. 

These disjunctive syllogisms are rarely false, except 
through the falsity of a major, through which the division 


is not exact, leaving a mean between the opposed mem 
bers : as if I were to say 

We must either obey princes when they command those 
things icldch are contrary to the law of God, or rise 
against them ; 
Now, we must not obey them it-hen they command things 

contrary to t/ie law of God ; 
Therefore we must rise against them. 
Or, Noiv we must not rise up against them ; 
Therefore we must obey them in that which is contrary 

to the law of God. 

Both reasonings are false, because there is a mean in 
this disjunction, which was observed by the first Christians, 
who patiently suffered all things rather than do anything 
contrary to the law of God, without, however, rising in 
revolt against princes. 

These false disjunctions are one of the most common 
sources of false reasonings among men. 


These syllogisms are of one sort only, which is, when 
we take a copulative proposition, which denies, and then 
establish one part, in order to take away the other. 

A man cannot be, at the same time, a servant of God 

and a worshipper of money ; 
Now a miser is a worshipper of money ; 
Therefore lie is not a servant of God. 

But such a syllogism does not conclude necessarily when 
we take away one part in order to posit the other, as may 
be seen by the following reasoning derived from the same 
propositions : 

A man cannot be, at the same time, a servant of God 

and a worshipper of money ; 
Now, prodigals are not worshippers of money ; 
Therefore they are servants of God. 




WE have seen that a proper syllogism cannot have less 
than three propositions. But this is true only when we 
obtain a conclusion absolutely, and not when we obtain it 
conditionally, because then the conditional proposition 
alone may contain one of the premises, besides the conclu 
sion, and even both. 

EXAMPLE. If I wish to prove that the moon is an un 
even body, and not polished like a mirror, as Aristotle 
believed, I cannot conclude this absolutely, except in three 
propositions : 

Every body which reflects the light from all its parts is 

uneven ; 

Now the moon reflects the light from all its parts ; 
Therefore the moon is an uneven body. 
But I need only two propositions, in order to conclude 
conditionally in this way : 

Every body which reflects light from all its parts is uneven; 
Therefore, if the moon reflects the light from all its parts, 

it is an uneven body. 

And I may even include this reasoning in a single pro 
position, thus : 

If every body which reflects light from all its parts 
is uneven, and the moon reflects light from all its 
parts, it must be confessed that it is not a polished 
body, but uneven. 

Or, equally in connecting one of the propositions by the 
causal particle because, or since If every true friend ought 
to be ready to give his life for his friend there are few true 
friends, since there are few who are friends to this extent. 

This way of reasoning is very common and very good, 
and hence we are not to imagine there is no reasoning, 
except when we see three propositions separated and ar- 


ranged as in the schools, for it is certain that single pro 
position comprehends this entire syllogism 

Every true friend ought to be ready to give his life for his 

friend ; 
Note there are few people who are ready to gice their 

lives for their friends ; 
Therefore there are few true friends. 

All the difference between these absolute syllogisms, 
and those in which the conclusion is contained with one of 
the premises in a conditional proposition, is that the first 
cannot be conceded entirely, except we agree to that of 
which it endeavours to persuade us, whereas, in the last, 
we may concede everything, without the proposer having 
gained anything thereby, since it remains with him to 
prove that the condition on which the consequence which 
was conceded to him rests, is true. 

And thus these reasonings are, properly, only prepara 
tory to an absolute conclusion, but they are, nevertheless, 
very suitable for this purpose ; and are, it must also be con 
fessed, very common and natural, while they have this 
advantage, that being further removed from the manner ot 
the schools, they are, on this account, better received in 
the world. 

We may obtain a conclusion, in this way, in all the 
figures, and through all the moods ; and thus there are no 
other rules to be observed but the rules of the figures 
themselves. It is only necessary to remark, that the con 
ditional conclusion always comprehends one of the premises 
besides the conclusion. This is sometimes the major and 
sometimes the minor. This will appear from the examples 
of many conditional propositions, which may be obtained 
from two general maxims, the one affirmative, and the 
other negative, whether the affirmation be already proved, 
or conceded without proof. 

Every feeling of pain is a thought. From this we may 


1. Therefore, if all brutes feel pain, 
All brutes think. Barbara. 


2. Therefore, if some plant feels pain, 

Some plant thinks. Darii. 

3. Therefore, if all thought is an action of the mind, 

All feeling of pain is an action of the mind. 

4. Therefore, if all feeling of pain is an evil, 

Some thought is an evil. Darapti. 

5. Therefore, if the feeling of pain is in the hand which is 

There is some thought in the hand which is burnt Disarms. 


6. Therefore, if there is no thought in the body, 

No feeling of pain is in the body. Celarent. 

7. Therefore, if no beast thinks, 

No beast feels pain. Camestres. 

8. Therefore, if some part of man does not think, 

Some part of man does not feel pain. Baroco. 

9. Therefore, if no movement of matter is a thought, 

No feeling of pain is a movement of matter. Cesare, 

10. Therefore, if the feeling of pain is not agreeable, 

Some thought is not agreeable. Felapton. 

11. Therefore, if some feeling of pain is not voluntary, 

Some thought is not voluntary. Bocardo. 

We may still obtain some other conditional conclusions 
from this general maxim, Every feeling of pain is a thought; 
but as these are not very natural, they are not worth enu 

Of those which we have given, there are some which 
comprise the minor in addition to the conclusion, to wit, 
1st, 2d, 7th, 8th ; and others, the major, to wit, the 3d, 
4th, 5th, 6th, 9th, 10th, and llth. 

We may, in the same way, notice the different condi 
tional conclusions which may be derived from a general 
negative proposition, such, for example, as No matter thinks. 

1. Therefore, if all the souls of the brutes are matter, 

No soul of a brute thinks. Celarent. 

2. Therefore, if some part of man is matter, 

Some part of man does not think. Ferio. 


3. Therefore, if our soul thinks, 

Our soul is not matter. Cesare. 

4. Therefore, if some part of man thinks, 

Some part of man is not matter. Festino. 

5. Therefore, if ever >j thing that feels pain thinks, 

No matter feels pain. Camestres. 

6. Therefore, if all matter is a substance, 

Some substance does not think. Felapton. 

7. Therefore, if some matter is the cause of many e/ects 

which appear very marvellous, 
Everything which is the cause of marvellous effects 
does not think. Ferison. 

Of these conditionals there are only five which contain 
the major in addition to the conclusion ; all the others 
contain the minor. 

The greatest use of these kinds of reasoning is to com 
pel him with whom we are discussing to recognise, in the 
first place, the validity of a consequence which he may 
allow, .without pledging himself to anything further, be 
cause it is proposed to him only conditionally, and sepa 
rated from the true matter, so to speak, which it contains. 
And hence, he is disposed to receive more easily the abso 
lute conclusion which is derived from it, either by positing 
the antecedent, in order to posit the consequent, or by 
taking away the consequent, in order to take away the 

Thus, a man having granted me that No matter 1hmks, 
I may conclude from it, Therefore, if the soul of brutes thinks, 
it must be distinct from matter. And as he cannot_deny 
me this conditional conclusion, I may obtain from it one 
or other of these two absolute consequences : 
Now the soul thinks ; 
Therefore it is distinct from matter. 
Or equally well on the contrary 

Now the soul of brutes is not distinct from matter; 
Therefore it does not think. 

Hence we see that four propositions are necessary, in 
order to make these kinds of reasonings complete, and 
to make them establish anything absolutely. We must 
not, however, place them in the rank of syllogisms which 


are called compound, because these four propositions con 
tain nothing more in sense than these three propositions of 
a common syllogism : 

No matter thinks; 

Every soul of a brute is matter; 

Therefore no soul of a brute thinks. 



WE have already said that an enthymeme is a syllogism 
perfect in the mind, but imperfect in the expression, since 
some one of the propositions is suppressed as too clear and 
too well known, and as being easily supplied by the mind 
of those to whom we speak. This way of reasoning is so 
common in conversation and in writing, that it is rare, on 
the contrary, to express all the propositions, since there is, 
commonly, one of them clear enough to be understood, and 
since the nature of the human mind is rather to prefer that 
something be left it to supply, than to have it thought that 
it needs to be taught everything. 

Thus this suppression flatters the vanity of those to whom 
we speak, in leaving something to their intelligence, and, 
by abbreviating conversation, renders it more lively and 
effective. It is certain, for example, that if, of this verse 
from the Medea of Ovid, which contains a very elegant 
enthymeme : 

Servare potui perdere an possim rogas. 

I am able to save, therefore, I am able to destroy thee, we 
were to make a formal argument in this way : 

He who is able to save is able to destroy ; 

Now, I am able to save thee ; 

Therefore, I am able to destroy thee. 


All the grace would be taken away from it ; the reason of 
this is, that as one of the principal beauties of discourse is 
to be full of meaning, and to furnish occasion to the mind 
of forming a thought more extensive than what is expressed, 
so it is, on the contrary, one of its greatest defects, to be 
void of sense, and to contain few thoughts, which is almost 
inevitable in philosophic syllogisms ; for, the mind going 
faster than the words, and one of the propositions being 
sufficient to enable it to conceive two, the expression of 
the second becomes useless, containing, as it does, no new 
sense. This is what renders these kind of arguments so 
rare in ordinary life, since, without reflection even, we lay 
aside that which wearies us, and confine ourselves to that 
which is actually necessary to make our meaning under 

Enthymemes are, therefore, the ordinary way in which 
men express their reasonings, by suppressing the proposi 
tion which they judge will be readily supplied ; and this 
proposition is sometimes the major, sometimes the minor, 
and often the conclusion, although, in this last case, it is 
not properly called enthymenie, the whole argument being, 
in some sort, contained in the two first propositions. 

It happens, also, sometimes, that we include the two 
propositions of an enthymenie in a single proposition, 
which Aristotle calls, for this reason, an enthymematic 
sentence, and of which he furnishes the following ex 
ample : 

\\.6dvarov, op-yrjv pr) (piiXarre 6i>r)Tos (av, 

Mortal, cherish not immortal hatred. 

The entire argument would be 

7/e who is mortal ought not to cherish an immortal hatred ; 
Noiv, you are mortal; 
Therefore, &c. 
And the perfect enthymenie would be 

You are mortal, let not your hatred, therefore, be immor 




WE have already said that syllogisms composed of more 
than three propositions are generally called Sorites. Of 
these we may distinguish three kinds : 

1. Gradation, of which it is not necessary to say more 
than what has been said in the First Chapter of this Third 

2. Dilemma, of which we shall treat in the following 

3. That which the Greeks have called Epichirema (CTTI- 
Xeiprjfj,a), which comprises the proof, either of one of the 
two first propositions, or both ; and of this we shall speak 
in this Chapter. 

As we are often obliged to suppress certain propositions 
as too evident, it is often, also, necessary when we advance 
doubtful ones, to connect, at the same time, the proofs with 
them, in order to restrain the impatience of those to whom 
we speak, who are often indignant when we attempt to 
persuade them by reasons which appear to them false or 
doubtful ; for, although there be a remedy in the end, it is, 
nevertheless, dangerous to produce, even for a short time, 
that disgust in their minds ; and, then, it is much better 
that these proofs should follow the doubtful propositions im 
mediately, than that they should be separated from them. 
That separation produces another inconvenience very 
troublesome, which is, that we are obliged to repeat the 
proposition which we wish to prove. Hence, instead of 
the method of the schools which is, to propose the whole 
argument, and then to prove the proposition which may 
present a difficulty that which is followed in ordinary dis 
course is, to join to the doubtful proposition the proofs 
which establish them, which makes a kind of argument com 
posed of many propositions ; for to the major are joined the 


proofs of the major, to the minor the proofs of the minor, 
and then the conclusion is drawn. 

We may thus reduce the whole oration for Milo to a 
compound argument, of which the major is that it is 
lawful to slay one who lies in wait for us. The proofs of 
this major are derived from the law of nature, the laws of 
nations, and from examples. The minor is that Clodius 
had lain in wait for Milo ; and the proofs of the minor are, 
the equipage of Clodius, his train, &c. The conclusion 
i Sj that therefore, it was lawful for Milo to slay him. 

Original sin might be proved by the miseries of children, 
according to the dialectic method, in this way : 

Children can only be miserable as the penalty of some 
sin which they derive from their birth; now they are 
miserable ; therefore, the cause of this is original sin. Then 
it would be necessary to prove the major and the minor ; 
the major by this disjunctive argument the misery of 
children can only spring from one of the four following 
causes : 1st, Sins committed previously in another life ; 
2d, The weakness of God, who has not the power to pre 
serve them from it ; 3d, The injustice of God, who inflicts 
it upon them without cause ; 4th, Original sin. Now, it 
is impious to say that it springs from the three first causes ; 
the fourth, therefore, alone remains, which is original sin. 
The minor, that children are miserable, is proved by enu 
merating their miseries. 

But it is easy to see with how much more of beauty and 
of power St Augustine has set forth this proof, by compre 
hending it in a compound argument, in the following man 
ner : " Consider the number and the greatness of the 
evils under which children labour, and how the first years 
of their life are full of vanity, of afflictions, of illusions, 
of fears ; then, when they grow up, and when they 
begin even to serve God, error tempts, in order to seduce 
them ; labour and pain to weaken them ; lust to inilame 
them ; sorrow to cast them down ; pride to lift them up ; 
and who can represent, in a few words, all the various 
afflictions which weigh down the yoke of the children o) 
Adam ? The evidence of these miseries compelled pagar 
philosophers, who knew and believed nothing about tlu 
sin of our first father, to say that we were born only tc 

228 DILEMMAS. [PART in. 

suffer the chastisement which we had merited, by crimes 
committed in another life, and that thus our minds had 
been attached to corruptible bodies, as a punishment of 
the same nature with that which the Tuscan tyrants in 
flicted on those whom they bound, while alive, to dead 
bodies. But this opinion, that our minds are joined to 
bodies as a punishment for sins previously committed in 
another life, is rejected by the apostle. What, therefore, 
remains but that the cause of these appalling evils be either 
the injustice or impotency of God, or the penalty of the 
first sin of man ? But, since God is neither unjust nor 
impotent, there only remains that which you are unwilling 
to acknowledge, but which you must acknowledge in spite 
of yourselves that the yoke, so heavy, which the children 
of Adam are obliged to bear, from the time in which their 
bodies are taken from their mother s womb till the day 
when they return to the womb of their common mother, 
the earth, would never have been, had they not deserved 
it through the guilt which they derive from their ori 



WE may define a dilemma to be a compound reasoning, in 
which, after having divided a whole into its parts, we conclude 
affirmatively or negatively of the whole, what we had concluded 
of each part. 

I say, what we had concluded of each part, and not 
simply what we had affirmed of it ; for that alone is truly 
a dilemma, where what we say of each part is supported 
by its special reason. 

For example, having to prove that we cannot be happy in 
this world, we may do it by this dilemma : 


We can only be happy in this world by abandoning our 
selves to our passions, or by combating them; 
If tee abandon ourselves to them, this is an unhappy 
state, since it is disgraceful, and we could never be 
content with it; 

If ice combat them, this is also an unhappy state, since 
there is nothing more painful than that inward war 
which ice are continually obliged to carry on with 

We cannot, therefore, have in this life true happiness. 
If we wish to prove, that bishops who do not labour for 
the salvation of the souls committed to their care, are with 
out excuse before God, we may do so by a dilemma : 
Either they are capable of that office, or they are i?i- 

capable ; 

If they are capable, they are without excuse for not ful 
filling it ; 

If they are incapable, they are without excuse for having 
undertaken an office so important, when they icere 
unable to perform its duties ; 

And consequently , however this maybe, they are without 
excuse before God, if they do not labour for the salva 
tion of the souls committed to their care. 
But other observations may be made on these kinds of 
reasonings : 

The first is, that we do not always express all the pro 
positions which enter into them. For example, the di 
lemma we are about to give is contained in these few 
words of a speech of St Charles on entering one of the 
provincial councils, Si tanto muneri impares, cur tarn ambi- 
tiosi; si pares, cur tain negligentes. 

Thus, also, there are many things understood in that 
celebrated dilemma, by which an ancient philosopher 
proved that we ought not to meddle with the affairs of the 
republic : 

If we manage them well, ice shall offend men ; 
If we manage them ill, we shall offend the gods; 
Therefore ice ought not to engage in them. 

Of the same kind is that by which another proved that 
it was best not to marry : 

230 DILEMMAS. [PART in. 

If the wife you espouse be beautiful, she excites jealousy ; 
If she be ugly, she disgusts; 
Therefore it is best not to marry. 

For in both these dilemmas the proposition which should 
contain the separation is understood ; and this is very 
common, since it is easily understood, being sufficiently 
indicated by the particular propositions in which each 
part is treated of. 

And, moreover, in order that the conclusion be con 
tained in the premises, it is always necessary to understand 
something general, which may belong to the whole, as in 
the first example : 

If we manage them well, we offend men, which is injurious; 
If we manage them ill, we offend the gods, which is also 

injurious ; 
Therefore, it is injurious in every way to engage in the 

affairs of the republic. 

This caution is very important in order to judge well of 
the force of a dilemma. For that, for example, which 
renders the one above inconclusive is, that it is not in 
jurious to offend men, since we must only avoid offending 

The second observation is, that a dilemma may be vicious, 
principally through two defects. 

One, when the disjunctive on which it is founded is 
defective, as not comprehending all the members of the 
whole which we divide. 

Thus the dilemma against marrying is not conclusive, 
since there may be wives which are not so beautiful as to 
awaken jealousy, or so ugly as to disgust. 

For the same reason, that dilemma is very false which 
the ancient philosophers employed against the fear of 
death. Either our soul, said they, perishes with the, body, 
and thus, having no feeling, we shall be incapable of any evil; 
or, if the soul survives the body, it will be more happy than it was 
in the body; therefore death is not to be feared. For, as 
Montaigne has very wisely remarked, it was great blind 
ness not to see that there might be conceived between 
these a third state, which is, that the soul, surviving the 
body, will find itself in a state of torment and misery, 


Avhich would give us just ground of apprehension in re 
lation to death, from the fear of falling into that state. 

Another defect which renders dilemmas inconclusive, 
emerges when the particular conclusions of each part are 
not necessary. Thus, it is not necessary that a beautiful 
wife should occasion jealousy, because she may be so wise 
and virtuous that there is no room to doubt of her fidelity. 
It is not necessary, either, that, being ugly, she should 
displease her husband, since she may have other qualities 
of mind and of character, so valuable that she cannot but 
please him. 

The third observation is, that he who employs a dilemma 
must take care that it may not be turned against himself. 
Thus Aristotle testifies, that the dilemma by which the 
philosopher endeavoured to prove that one ought not to 
engage in state affairs, was turned upon himself, thus : 

If ice govern according to the corrupt ndes of men. we 
si tall please them; 

Jf ice maintain true justice, ice shall please the gods ; 

Therefore ice ought to engage in them. 

This retort, however, was not wise ; for it is not advan 
tageous to please men by offending God. 




WHAT the rhetoricians and logicians call places, loci anjii- 
mentorum, are certain general heads, to which may be 
reduced all the proofs which we employ in the various 
matters of which we treat ; and the part of logic which is 
termed invention, is nothing else than that which teaches of 
these places 


Ramus quarrelled on this subject with Aristotle, and 
with the philosophers of the schools, because they treated 
of places after having given the rules of arguments, and he 
maintained against them that it was necessary to explain 
the places, and what pertains to invention, before treating 
of these rules. 

The reason Ramus assigns for this is, that we must have 
the matter found, before we can think of arranging it. 

Now the exposition of places teaches us to find this 
matter, whereas the rules of argument can only teach us 
to arrange it. 

But this reason is very feeble, for although it be neces 
sary for the matter to be found, in order to its arrange 
ment, it is, nevertheless, not necessary that we should learn 
how to find the matter before having learnt how to dispose 
of it. For, in order to learn how to dispose of the mat 
ter, it is enough to have some general matter, as examples ; 
but the mind and common sense always furnish enough 
of these, without its being needful to borrow them from 
any art or method. It is, therefore, true that it is neces 
sary to have some matter, in order to apply the rules of 
argument : but it is not true that it is necessary to find 
that matter by the method of places. 

We might say, on the contrary, that since we undertake 
to teach, in the places, the art of finding arguments and 
syllogisms, it is necessary to know beforehand, what is an 
argument, and what a syllogism. But it might, perhaps, 
be replied, in like manner, that nature alone furnishes us 
with a general knowledge of what reasoning is, which is 
sufficient to enable us to understand what is said of it in 
the places. 

It is, therefore, of no service to trouble ourselves about 
the order in which places should be treated of, since it is 
a matter of very little consequence. But it may, perhaps, 
be more useful to inquire, whether it will not be more to 
the purpose not to treat of them at all. 

We know that the ancients made a great mystery of this 
method, and that Cicero preferred it to all dialectic, as it 
was taught by the Stoics, since they did not speak of places 
at all. Let us leave, says he, all that science which tells us 
nothing about the art of finding arguments, and which is 


only too prolix in teaching us to j udge of them. Istam artem 
totam relinquamus qucc in excogitandis argumentis muta 
nimium est, in judicandis nimium loquax. Quintilian, and 
all the other rhetoricians, Aristotle, and all the philoso 
phers speak of it in the same way, so that we could hardly 
differ from their opinion, if general experience did not ap 
pear entirely opposed to it. 

We may adduce, as evidence of this, almost as many 
persons as have passed through the ordinary course of 
study, and who. have learned, by this artificial method, to 
find out the proofs which are taught in the colleges. For 
is there any one of them who could say truly, that when 
he has been obliged to discuss any subject, he has reflected 
on these places, and has sought there the reasons which 
were necessary for his purpose ? Consult all the advocates 
and preachers which are in the world, all who speak and 
write, and who always have matter enough, and I question 
if one could be found who had ever thought of making an 
argument a causa, ab eff ectu, ah adjtmctis, in order to 
prove that which he wished to establish. 

And although Quintilian seems to have held this art in 
much esteem, he is, nevertheless, obliged to confess that 
we need not, when we treat of any matter, go knocking 
at the door of all these places, in order to obtain arguments 
and proofs. " Illud quoque" says he, " studiosi eloquenticc 
cogitent non esse cum proposita fiterit materla dicendi scru- 
tanda sinyula et velut ostiatim pulsanda, ut sciant an ad id 
probandum quod intendimus, forte respondeant." 

It is true that all the arguments which we make on any 
subject may be reduced to those heads, and to those general 
terms, which we call places ; but it is not by this method 
that we prove them. Nature, the attentive considera 
tion of the subject, the knowledge of different truths, 
enable us to furnish these, and then art connects these in 
certain ways, so that we may say truly of places what St 
Augustine said in general of the precepts of rhetoric. 
" We find," says he, " that the rules of eloquence are ob 
served in the speeches of eloquent persons, although they 
never think of these in making them, whether they know 
them, or are ignorant of them. They practise these rules 
because they are eloquent, but they do not adhere to them 


in order to be eloquent. Implent quippe ilia quia sunt elo- 
quentes, non adhibent ut sint eloquentes. 

We walk naturally, as the same father observes in 
another place, and in walking we make certain regular 
movements of the body ; but it would avail nothing for the 
purpose of teaching us to walk, to say, for instance, that 
we must send the spirits to certain nerves, move certain 
muscles, make certain movements in the joints, put one 
foot before the other, and lean on one while the other ad 
vances. We may form these rules very well by observing 
what nature causes us to do, but we could never make 
those actions by the help of these rules. Thus, we treat 
of all these places in the most ordinary discourse, and we 
can say nothing that is not connected with them ; but it is 
not by making a formal reflection on them that we produce 
these thoughts, such reflection will only help to damp the 
ardour of the mind and to prevent our finding natural and 
striking reasons, which are the true ornaments of every 
kind of discourse. 

Virgil, in the Ninth Book of the .ZEneid, after having 
represented Euryalus surprised and surrounded by his 
enemies, who were about to revenge on him the death of 
their companions, which Nisus, the friend of Euryalus, had 
slain, puts these words, full of passionate emotion, in the 
mouth of Nisus : 

Me, me adsum, qui feci ; in me convertite ferrum, 
O Rutuli ! mea fraus omnis : nihil iste nee ausus, 
Nee potuit. Coelum hoc, et sidera conscia testor. 
Tanturn infelicem nimium dilexit amicum. 

" This is an argument," says Ramus, " a causa efficiente, 
but we may judge with certainty, that Virgil, when he 
wrote these verses, never dreamt of the place of efficient 
cause. He would never have made them had he stopped 
to search out that place ; and it was necessary for him, in 
order to produce such noble and spirited verses, not only 
to forget these rules, if he knew them, but, in some sort, 
also to forget himself, in order to realise the passion which 
he portrayed." 

The little use which has been made of this method of 
places during the whole time that it has been discovered 
and taught in the schools, is a manifest proof that it is of 


no great service ; but when we apply ourselves to obtain 
all the good which may be derived from it, we see that we 
cannot gain anything which is truly useful and valuable, 
for all that can be accomplished by this method, is to dis 
cover, on every subject, different thoughts, general, ordi 
nary, remote, such as the Lullists find by means of their 
tables. Now, so far is it from being useful to obtain this 
sort of abundance, that there is nothing which more depraves 
the judgment, nothing which more chokes up good seed, 
than a crowd of noxious weeds ; nothing renders a mind 
more barren of just and weighty thoughts than this noxious 
fertility of common thoughts. The mind is accustomed to 
this facility, and no longer makes any effort to find appro 
priate, special, and natural reasons, which can only be dis 
covered by an attentive consideration of the subject. 

We ought to consider, then, that the abundance which 
is sought after by means of these places is an exceedingly 
small advantage ; it is not wanted by a greater part of the 
world. We sin much more by excess than by defect, and 
our discourses are only too full of matter. Thus, in order 
to produce in men a wise and solid eloquence, it would be 
much more useful to teach them to be silent than to speak, 
that is to say, to repress arid to cut off the low, common, 
and false thoughts, than to give them forth as they arise 
a confused mass of reasonings, good and bad, with which 
books and discourses are filled. 

And since the use of places hardly avails for anything, 
save for the finding of these kinds of thoughts, we may say, 
that if it is right to know what is said of them, since so 
many celebrated men have spoken of them that there has 
arisen a kind of necessity to know in general so common 
a thing, it is far more important to be thoroughly per 
suaded that there is nothing more ridiculous than to em 
ploy them, in talking about everything, to no purpose^ as 
the Lullists do by means of their general attributes, which 
are kinds of places ; and that that fatal facility of talking 
about everything, and of finding a reason for everything, 
of which some are vain, is so wretched a characteristic of 
mind, that it is far below stupidity. 

Hence the whole advantage which can be derived from 
these places is reduced rather to the general effect which 


they produce ; which may, perhaps, be of some service 
without our knowing it, in enabling us to recognise at 
once, in the subject of which we treat, more of its phases 
and parts. 



THOSE who have treated of places have divided them in a 
different way. That which is followed by Cicero, in his 
Books of Invention, and in the second book of the Orator, 
and by Quintilian, in the fifth book of his Institutes, is 
less methodical, but it is also better adapted for speeches 
at the bar, to which these books specially relate ; that of 
Ramus is too embarrassed with subdivisions. 

The following division, which appears a very convenient 
one, is that of a very solid and judicious German philoso 
pher, named Claubergius, whose Logic fell into our hands 
after the printing of this had been begun. The places are 
taken either from grammar, or from logic, or from meta 


The places of grammar are, etymology, and words de 
rived from the same root, which are called in Latin conju- 
gata, and in Greek 7rapdi/v/m. 

We argue from etymology when we say, for example, 
that many people in the world never divert themselves, 
properly speaking ; because to divert oneself is to desist 
from serious occupation, and they are never occupied 


Words derived from the same root also help in finding 
out thoughts : 

Homo sum; humani nil a me alienum puto. 

Mortali urgemur ab hoste, mortales. 

Quid tarn dignum misericordia quam miser ? 

Quid tarn indignum misericordia quam superlvs miser ? 
What is more worthy of our compassion than a miserable 
man ? and what is less worthy of our compassion than a 
miserable man who is proud ? 


The places of logic are the universal terms genus, 
species, difference, property, accident, definition, division ; 
but as all these points have been explained before, it is not 
necessary to treat of them further here. 

It is only necessary to remark that there are commonly 
joined to these places certain general maxims, which it is 
well to know, not because they are of any great use, but 
because they are common. We have already noticed some 
of these under other terms, but it is well to know them 
under the ordinary terms : 

1. What is affirmed or denied, of the genus, is affirmed or 
denied of the species: What belongs to all men, belongs to 
the great ; but they cannot pretend to advantages which 
are above humanity. 

2. In destroying the genus, the species is also destroyed: 
He who does not judge at all, cannot judge wrongly; he 
who does not speak at all, can never speak indiscreetly. 

3. In destroying all the species, the genus is destroyed: 
The forms which are called substantial (excepting the 
reasonable soul) are neither body nor spirit ; therefore 
they are not substances. 

4. If we can affirm or deny of anything the whole difference, 
we may affirm or deny the species : Extension does not be 
long to thought ; therefore it is not matter. 

5. If we can affirm or deny of anything the property, we 
may affirm or deny the species: Since we cannot figure to 
ourselves the half of a thought, or a round or square 
thought, it cannot be body. 

6. We may affirm or deny the thing defined, of that in re- 


lation to which we may affirm or deny the definition : There 
are few just persons, since there are few who have the 
firm and abiding purpose of rendering to each what be 
longs to him. 


The places of metaphysics are certain general terms 
belonging to all beings, to which many arguments are 
referred, as causes, effects, wholes, parts, opposed terms. 

The definitions which are given in the schools of causes 
in general, in saying that a cause is that ivhich produces an 
effect, or that through which a thing is, are so vague, and it 
is so difficult to see how they agree to all kinds of causes, 
that it would be much better to leave this word amongst 
those which are not defined, since our idea of it is as clear 
as the definitions. 

But the division of causes into four kinds, that is, into 
final, efficient, material, and formal, is so celebrated, that 
it must be known. 

The FINAL CAUSE is the end for which a thing is. 

There are principal ends those, to wit, which are 
mainly regarded, and accessory ends, which are only in 
directly considered. 

That which we undertake to do or obtain is called finis 
cujus gratia. Thus health is the end of medicine, since it 
undertakes to procure it. 

He for whom we labour is called finis cut. Man is the 
end of medicine in this sense, since it is for him that it 
seeks to obtain a cure. 

There is nothing more common than to derive arguments 
from the consideration of the end, either for the purpose of 
showing that a thing is imperfect, as, that a speech is a 
bad one, since it is not adapted to persuade ; or in order 
to show that a man has done, or will do, some action, 
because it is conformed to the end which he is accustomed 
to propose to himself: whence came that celebrated maxim 
of a Roman judge, that we ought to inquire before all 
things else, Cut bono 1 that is to say, what interest a man 
would have in doing such a thing, since men commonly 


act according to their interest ; or to show, on the con 
trary, that we ought not to suspect a man of such an 
action, since it would have been contrary to his purpose. 

There are still many other ways of reasoning from the 
end, which good sense will discover better than all pre 
cepts, which is also true of the other places. 

The EFFICIENT CAUSE is that which produces another 
thing, we may derive arguments from it, by showing that 
an effect is not, since there has not been a sufficient cause, 
or that it is, or will be, by allowing that all the causes are 
present. If these causes are necessary, the argument is ne 
cessary; if they are contingent and free, it is only probable. 

There are different kinds of efficient causes, of which it is 
useful to know the names. 

God, in creating Adam, was the total cause, since nothing 
had co-operated with Him ; but the father and mother are 
each only partial causes, in relation to their child, since 
both are needed. 

The sun is a proper cause of light, but it is only an ac 
cidental cause of the death of a man killed by its heat, 
since he was weak before. 

The father is the proximate cause of his son. 

The grandfather is only the remote cause. 

The mother is a producing cause. 

The nurse is only a preserving cause. 

The father is a universal cause, in relation to his child 
ren, because they are of the same nature with him. 

God is only an equivocal cause, in relation to creatures, 
because they are not of the divine nature. 

A Avorkman is the principal cause of his work ; his in 
struments are only the instrumental causes. 

The air which fills an organ is the universal cause of the 
harmony of the organ. 

The particular disposition of each pipe, and he who 
plays, are the particular causes which determine the uni 

The sun is a natural cause. 

Man is an intellectual cause, in relation to that which he 
does with judgment. 

The fire which burns the wood is a necessary cause. 


A man who walks is a, free cause. 

The sun shining into a room is the proper cause of its 
light ; the unbarring of the window is only a cause or con 
dition, without which the effect would not be conditio sine 
qua non. 

The fire which burns a house is the physical cause of 
the conflagration ; the man who set it on fire is the moral 

We may also bring under efficient cause the exemplary 
cause, which is the model according to which a work is 
made, as the plan by which an architect erects a building ; 
or, in general, that which is the cause of the objective ex 
istence of an idea, or of any other image whatever : as the 
king, Louis XIV., is the exemplary cause of his portrait. 

The MATERIAL CAUSE is that of which things are formed, 
as gold is the matter of which a golden vase is made ; 
what belongs, or does not belong, to the matter, belongs, 
or does not belong, to the things which are composed of it. 

The FORM is that which renders a thing what it is, and 
distinguishes it from others, whether it be a thing really 
distinguished from matter, according to the opinion of the 
schools, or simply the arrangement of its parts. It is by 
the knowledge of this form that we are able to explain its 

There are as many different effects as there are causes, 
these words being reciprocal. The common way of argu 
ing from them is to show that if the effect is, the cause is, 
since there can be nothing without a cause. We prove, 
also, that a cause is good or bad, when its effects are good 
or bad. This, however, is not always true in accidental 

We have said enough of the whole and its parts in the 
chapter on Division, and it is not necessary, therefore, to 
add anything further here. 

There are four kinds of opposed terms : 

Relatives : as, father, son, master, servant. 

Contraries : as, cold and heat, health and sickness. 

Privatives : as, life, death ; sight, blindness ; hearing, 
deafness ; knowledge, ignorance. 


Contradictories, which consist in a term of the simple 
negation of that term seeing, not seeing. The difference 
which there is between the two last kind of opposites, is, 
that the privative terms express the negation of a form in 
a subject which is capable of it, whereas the negatives do 
not indicate that capacity. Hence, we do not say that a 
stone is blind or dead, because it is not capable of either 
seeing or living. 

As these terms are opposed, we employ the one in order 
to deny the other. Contradictory terms have this property, 
that in taking away one we establish the other. 

There are many kinds of comparisons ; for we compare 
things either equal or unequal, similar or dissimilar. "VVe 
prove that what belongs, or does not belong, to an equal 
or similar thing, belongs, or does not belong, to another 
thing to which it is equal or similar. 

In unequal things, we prove, negatively, that if that 
which is more probable is not, that which is less probable 
is not, for a stronger reason ; or, affirmatively, that if that 
which is less probable is, that which is more probable, is 
also. We commonly employ differences, or dissimilitudes, 
in order to destroy that which others have wished to estab 
lish by these similitudes, as we destroy the argument which 
is derived from a judgment, by showing that it was given 
in another case. 

This is, roughly, a part of what is said on the places. 
There are some things which it is more useful to know 
only in this way. Those who wish to know more may 
find it in the authors who have treated this subject more 
at large. We cannot, however, advise any one to look 
into the topics of Aristotle, since there is strange confusion 
in those books ; but there are some things very pertinent 
to this subject in the First Book of his Rhetoric, in which 
he sets forth various ways of finding out that a thing is 
useful, pleasing, greater, or smaller. It is nevertheless 
true, that we cannot attain, in that way, any very valu 
able knowledge. 




ALTHOUGH, if we know the rules of good reasoning, it may 
not be difficult to recognise those which are bad, never 
theless, as examples to be avoided often strike us more 
than examples to be imitated, it will not be without its 
use to set forth the principal classes of bad reasoning, 
which are called sophisms or paralogisms, since this will 
enable us yet more readily to avoid them. We have re 
duced all these to seven or eight, some being so gross that 
they are not worthy of being noticed. 


Proving something other than that which is in dispute. 

This sophism is called by Aristotle ignoratio elenchi, that 
is to say, the ignorance of that which ought to be proved 
against an adversary. It is a very common vice in the 
controversies of men. We dispute with warmth, and 
often without understanding one another. Passion, or bad 
faith, leads us to attribute to our adversary that which is 
very far from his meaning, in order to carry on the con 
test with greater advantage ; or to impute to him conse 
quences which we imagine may be derived from his doc 
trine, although he disavows and denies them. All this 
may be reduced to this first kind of sophism, which an 
honest and good man ought to avoid above all things. 

It could have been wished that Aristotle, who has taken 
pains to point out to us this defect, had been more careful 
to avoid it ; for it must be confessed that he has not com 
bated honestly many of the ancient philosophers in re 
porting their opinions. He refutes Parmenides and Me- 
lissus for having admitted only a single principle of all 
things, as if they had understood by this principle that of 


which they are composed, whereas, they meant the single 
and unique principle from which all things have derived 
their origin which is God. 

He blames all the ancients for not havin<r recognised 
privation as one of the principles of natural tilings, and he 
treats them, on this account, as clowns and fools. But 
who docs not see, that what he represents as a great 
mystery which had been unknown till he revealed it, could 
never have been unknown to any one, since it is impos 
sible not to see that the matter of which we make a table 
must have had the privation of the form of a table, that is 
to say, that it was not a table before it was made into a 
table? It is true that these ancients had not availed 
themselves of this knowledge to explain the principles of 
natural things, since, in reality, there is nothing which 
could less contribute to this purpose, it being sufficiently 
evident that we do not at all know better how to make a 
clock in consequence of knowing that the matter of which 
it is made could not have been a clock before it was made 
into a clock. 

It is, therefore, unjust in Aristotle to reproach the 
ancient philosophers with having been ignorant of a thing 
which it is impossible to be ignorant of, and to accuse 
them of not having employed, for the explanation of nature, 
a principle which could explain nothing ; and it is an illu 
sion and a sophism to have produced to the world this 
principle of privation as a rare secret, since it is not this 
that we look for, when we attempt to discover the prin 
ciples of nature. We suppose it to be well known that a 
thing is not, before it is made, but we wish to know of 
what elements it is composed by what cause it has been 

There never was, for example, a sculptor, Avho, in in 
structing any one how to make a statue, would have given, 
as the first instruction, that lesson by which Aristotle 
would begin the explanation of all the works of nature : 
My friend, the first thing that it behoves you to know is, 
that in order to make a statue, it is necessary to choose a 
piece of marble which is not already that statue which you 
wish to make. 



Assuming as true the thing in dispute. 

This is what Aristotle calls a begging of the question, 
which is clearly altogether opposed to true reasoning, since, 
in all reasoning, that which is employed as proof ought to 
be clearer and better known than that which we seek to 

Galileo, however, has accused him, and with justice, of 
having himself fallen into this error, when he tried to prove 
that the earth was at the centre of the world, by this ar 
gument : 

The nature of heavy things is to tend to the centre of the 

world, and of light things to go off from it; 
Now, experience proves that heavy things tend towards 
the centre of the earth, and that light things go off 
from it ; 

Therefore, the centre of the earth is the same as the centre 
of the world. 

It is clear that there is in the major of this argument 
a manifest begging of the question ; for we see well enough 
that heavy things tend towards the centre of the earth ; 
but where did Aristotle learn that they tend towards the 
centre of the world, unless he assumed that the centre of 
the earth is the same as the centre of the world ? which 
is the very conclusion that he wishes to prove by that 

Among the pure beggings of the question, too, are the 
greater part of those arguments which are employed to 
prove certain anomalous kinds of substances, which are 
called, in the schools, substantial forms ; these, it is main 
tained, are corporeal, though they have no body, Avhich it 
is difficult enough to comprehend. If there are not sub 
stantial forms, say they, there could be no generation ; now, 
there is generation in the world, therefore, there are 
substantial forms. 

We have only to distinguish the equivocation in the 
word generation, in order to see that this argument is but 
a pure begging of the question ; for if we understand by 
the word generation the natural production of a new whole 
in nature, as the production of the chicken which is formed 


in an egg, we may say, with reason, that there are genera 
tions in this sense ; but we cannot conclude that there are 
substantial forms, since the simple arrangement of parts, 
by nature, may produce these new wholes, and these new 
natural beings. But if by the word generation is under 
stood what they commonly understand by it, the produc 
tion of a new substance which did not exist before, to wit, 
that substantial form, the very thing which is in dispute, 
is assumed ; since it is plain that he who denies substantial 
forms will not allow that nature produces substantial 
forms ; and so far is it from being necessary that he 
should be led, by this argument, to avow such produc 
tion, that he ought rather to derive from it a directly con 
trary conclusion in this way : If there are substantial 
forms, nature must produce something which did not 
exist before. Now, nature did not produce new substances, 
since this would be a kind of creation ; and, consequently, 
there are no substantial forms. 

The following is another of the same kind : If there 
are not substantial forms, say they again, natural beings 
would not be wholes, which they term per se, totum per se, 
but beings per accident now, they are wholes per se ; there 
fore there are substantial forms. 

It is still necessary to ask those who employ this argu 
ment to have the goodness to explain what they understand 
by a whole per se, totum per se; for if they understand, as they 
do, a being composed of matter and of form, it is clear that 
this is a begging of the question, since it is as though they 
should say If there are not substantial forms, natural beings 
could not be composed of matter, and substantial forms ; 
now, they are composed of matter, and substantial forms ; 
therefore, there are substantial forms. But if they under 
stand anything else, let them say so, and we shall see that 
they prove nothing. 

We have thus stopped a little by the way, to show the 
feebleness of the arguments on which are established, in 
the schools, these sorts of substances, which are discovered 
neither by the sense nor by the mind, and of which we 
know nothing further than that they are called substantial 
forms ; because, although those who defend them do so with 
a very good intention, the principles, nevertheless, which 


they employ, and the ideas which they give of these forms, 
obscure and disturb the very solid and convincing proofs 
of the immortality of the soul which are derived from the 
distinction of minds and bodies, and from the impossibility 
of any substance, which is not matter, perishing through 
the changes which happen to matter ; for, by means of 
these substantial forms, we unwittingly furnish free thinkers 
with examples of substances which perish, which are not 
properly matter, and to which we attribute in animals a 
multitude of thoughts, that is to say, of actions purely 
spiritual. Hence, it is useful, for the sake of religion, and 
for the conviction of the scoffers and irrreligious, to take 
away from them this reply, by showing that nothing can 
rest on a worse foundation than these perishable sub 
stances, which are called substantial forms. 

We may reduce, also, to this kind of sophism, the proof 
which is derived from a principle different from that which 
is in dispute, but which we know is equally contested by 
him with whom AVC dispute. There are, for example, two 
dogmas equally established amongst catholics ; the one, 
that all the points of faith cannot be proved by Scripture 
alone ; the other, that it is a point of faith that infants are 
capable of baptism. It would, therefore, be bad reasoning 
in an anabaptist to prove against the catholics that they 
are wrong in believing that infants are capable of baptism, 
since nothing is said of it in the Scripture, because this 
proof would assume that we ought to believe only what 
is in the Scripture, which is denied by the catholics. 

Finally, we may bring under this sophism all reasonings 
in which we prove a thing unknown, by another equally 
or more unknown ; or an uncertain thing, by another which 
is equally or more uncertain. 


Taking for a cause that which is not a cause. 

This sophism is called non causa pro causa. It is very 
common amongst men, and we fall into it in many ways. 
One is, through simple ignorance of the true causes of 
things. It is in this way that philosophers have attributed 
a thousand effects to the abhorrence of a vacuum, which, 


in our time, have been proved to demonstration and by 
very ingenious experiments to be caused by the weight of 
the air alone, as we may see in the excellent treatise of 
M. Pascal. The same philosophers commonly teach that 
vessels full of water break when they freeze, because the 
water contracts, and thus leaves a vacuum which nature 
cannot endure. It has, however, been discovered, that they 
break, on the contrary, because water, when frozen, oc 
cupies more room than it did before, which also occa 
sions ice to float in water. 

We may refer to the same sophism all attempts to prove 
by causes which are remote, and prove nothing, things 
either sufficiently clear of themselves, or false, or at least 
doubtful, as when Aristotle endeavours to prove that the 
world is perfect by this reason : The world is perfect be 
cause it contains bodies ; body is perfect because it has three 
dimensions ; three dimensions are perfect, because three arc 
all (quia tria sunt omnia) ; and three are all because ice 
cannot employ the word all, when there are but one or two 
things, but only when there are three. We might prove by 
this reasoning that the smallest atom is as perfect as the world ; 
since it has three dimensions as well as the world. But 
so far is this from proving that the world is perfect, that, 
on the contrary, all body as body, is essentially imperfect, 
and the perfection of the world consists, principally, in its 
containing creatures which are not bodies. 

The same philosopher proves that there are three simple 
movements, because there are three dimensions. It is diffi 
cult to sec liow the one follows from the other. 

He proves also that the heavens are unalterable and 
incorruptible, because they have a circular motion, and 
there is nothing contrary to circular motion. But, 1, "We 
do not see what the contrariety of motion has to do with the 
corruption or alteration of body. 2, We see still less how 
the circular motion from east to west is not contrary to 
another circular motion from west to east. 

Another cause which makes men fall into this sophism, 
is the empty vanity which makes us ashamed to acknow 
ledge our ignorance, for thus it happens that we prefer 
rather to feign imaginary causes of the things for which 
we are asked to account, than to confess that we do not 


know the cause, and the way in which we escape this con 
fession of our ignorance is amusing enough. When we 
see an effect, the cause of which is unknown, we imagine 
that we have discovered it, when we have joined to that 
effect a general word of virtiie or faculty, which forms, in 
our mind, no other idea except that that effect had some 
cause, which we knew well before we found that word. 
There is no one, for example, who does not know that his 
pulse beats, that iron, being near a loadstone, unites Avith 
it, that senna purges, and that the poppy lulls to sleep. 
Those who make no profession of knowledge, and to whom 
ignorance is no disgrace, frankly avow that they know 
these effects, but that they are ignorant of the cause ; 
whereas the learned, who would blush to confess so much, 
go about the matter in a different way, and pretend that 
they have discovered the true cause of these effects, which 
is, that there is in the pulse a pulsific virtue, in the mag 
net a magnetic virtue, in the senna a purgative virtue, 
and in the poppy a soporific virtue. Thus is the diffi 
culty very conveniently resolved ; and there is not a 
Chinese who might not, with as much ease, have checked 
the admiration which clocks excited in that country, when 
they were introduced from Europe ; for he need only have 
said that he knew perfectly the reason of that which others 
thought so marvellous, which was nothing else than that 
that machine had an indicating virtue which marked the 
hours on the dial, and a sonorific virtue, which sounded 
them forth. He would thus have become as learned in the 
knowledge of clocks as these philosophers are in the know 
ledge of the stroke of the pulse, the properties of the mag 
net, of senna, and of the poppy. 

There are, in addition to these, other words which serve 
to render men learned at little expense, such as sympathy, 
antipathy, occult qualities. But still, all these terms would 
not convey any false meaning, if those who used them 
would content themselves with giving to these words, vir 
tue and faculty, a general notion of cause, whatever it may 
be, interior or exterior, disposing or active, for it is cer 
tain that there is in the loadstone a disposition which leads 
iron to unite with it, rather than with any other stone, 
and men may be allowed to call the disposition, be it 


whatever it may, magnetic virtue. So that they are de 
ceived only when they imagine themselves to be more 
learned for having discovered that word, or inasmuch as 
they would persuade us that through that word we com 
prehend a certain imaginary quality, by which the magnet 
attracts iron, which neither they nor any one else ever did 

But there are others who allege as true causes in na 
ture pure chimeras. This is done by the astrologers, who 
refer everything to the influence of the stars, and who ac 
tually, in this way, have discovered that there must be 
an immoveable heaven beyond that to which they assign 
motion, because the earth produces different things in dif 
ferent countries (Non omnis fert omnia tellus ; India mitt it 
c.but ; molles stia t/uira /Sabcei), the cause of which must be 
referred to the influences of a heaven, which, being im 
moveable, has always the same aspect towards different 
parts of the earth. 

One of them, however, having undertaken to prove, by 
physical reasons, the immobility of the earth, took, as one 
of his principal demonstrations, this mysterious reason, 
that if the earth turned round the sun, the influences of 
the stars would be disordered, which would cause great 
confusion in the world. 

It is by these influences that the people are frightened 
when a comet* appears, or when an eclipse happens, as 
that one in the year 1654, which was to have upset the 
world, and especially the city of Rome, as it was expressly 
said in the Chronology of Helvicus, Roma fa1 alls, although 
there is no reason why either comets or eclipses should 
have any considerable effect on the earth, or why causes 
so general as these should act rather at one place than 
another, and threaten a king or a prince rather than an 
artizan. There are, moreover, a hundred of them which 
have not been followed by any remarkable effect ; and it, 
sometimes, wars, mortalities, plagues, or the death of some 
prince, happen after comets and eclipses, they happen nl.-o 
without comets and without eclipses. Moreover, these 
effects are so general and so common, that it would be 

* See the " Thoughts on Comets of Bavlc. 


strange if they did not happen every year in some part of 
the world ; so that those who say vaguely that such a comet 
threatens some great man with death, do not risk very 

It is still worse when they assign chimerical influences 
as the cause of the vicious or virtuous inclinations of men, 
and even of their particular actions, and of the events of 
their life, without having any other ground for doing so, 
except that of a thousand predictions, it happens by 
chance that some are true. But if we would judge of 
things by good sense, we must allow that a torch lighted 
in the chamber at the hour of birth, ought to have more 
influence on the body of the child than the planet Saturn, 
in any aspect, or in any conjunction whatever. 

Finally, there are some who assign chimerical causes for 
chimerical effects, as those who maintain that nature ab 
hors a vacuum, and that she exerts herself to avoid it 
(which is an imaginary effect, for nature abhors nothing, 
but all the effects which are attributed to that horror de 
pend on the weight of the air alone), are continually ad 
vancing reasons for that imaginary horror, which are still 
more imaginary. Nature abhors a vacuum, says one of 
them, because she needs the continuity of bodies for the 
transmission of influences, and for the propagation of qua 
lities. It is a strange kind of science this, which proves 
that which is not, by means of that which is not. 

Hence, when we engage in seeking after the causes of 
alleged extraordinary effects, it is necessary to examine 
with care if the effects are true, for often men weary them 
selves uselessly, in seeking after the reasons of things 
which do not exist, and there are an infinite number which 
ought to be resolved in the same way as Plutarch resolved 
that question which he proposed to himself, Why those 
colts which had been chased by the wolves are swifter than 
others ; for after having said that, perhaps it was because 
those that were slower had been seized by the wolves, and 
that thus those which escaped were the swiftest ; or again, 
that fear having given them an extraordinary swiftness, 
they still retained the habit ; he finally suggests another 
solution, which is apparently the real one, perhaps, says 
he, after all, it is not true. In this way must be explained 


the great number of effects which are attributed to the 
moon, as that bones are full of marrow when it is at the 
full, and empty when it is on the wane ; that the same is 
true of crawfish, for there are some who say that all this 
is false, as some careful observers have assured us they 
have proved, that bones and crawfish are found indiffer 
ently, sometimes full and sometimes empty, during all the 
changes of the moon. The same is true, to all appearance, 
in relation to a number of observations which are made 
for the cutting of wood, for reaping and sowing corn, for 
grafting trees, for taking medicines. The world will be 
delivered, by degrees, from all this bondage, which has 
no other foundation than suppositions of which no one has 
ever seriously proved the truth. Hence the injustice of 
those who pretend that, if they allege an experiment as 
a fact derived from some ancient author, we ought to receive 
it without examination. 

We may bring under this kind of sophism too, that 
common fallacy of the human mind, post hoc, ergo propter 
hoc. This happens after such a thing, therefore it must be 
caused by that thing. In this way it has been concluded 
that the star which is called the dog-star, is the cause of 
the extraordinary heat we feel during the days which 
are termed the dog-days, which led Virgil to say, when 
speaking of that star, which is called, in Latin, Sirius 

Aut Sirius ardor : 

Ille sitim morbosque t erons mortalibus aegris 
Naseitur, ct kuvo contristat lumhie ccelum. 

Although, as Gassendi has very well remarked, there is 
nothing more unreasonable than this imagination, for that 
star being on the other side of the line, its influence ought 
to be much more powerful in these parts, to which it is 
more perpendicular ; notwithstanding which, the days 
which we call dog-days here are the winter season there ; 
so that, in that country, the inhabitants have much more 
ground for believing that the dog-star brings them cold, 
than we have for believing that it is the cause of our heat. 


Incomplete En numeration. 
There is scarcely any vice of reasoning into which able 


men fall more easily than that of making imperfect enu 
merations, and of not sufficiently considering all the ways 
in which a thing may exist, or take place, which leads 
them to conclude rashly, either that it does not exist, be 
cause it does not exist in a certain way, though it may 
exist in another, or that it exists in such and such a way, 
although it may still be in another way, which they have 
not considered. 

We may find examples of these defective reasonings in 
the proofs by which M. Gassendi establishes the principle 
of his philosophy, which is that of a vacuum diffused 
among the parts of matter, called by him vacuum dissemina- 
tum. And we refer to these the more willingly, because 
M. Gassendi having been a celebrated man, stored with a 
great fund of curious knowledge, the faults even which 
may be met with in the great number of works which have 
been published since his death, are not to be despised, but 
deserve being known ; whereas it is very useless to load 
the memory with those which are found in authors of no 

The first argument which Gassendi employs in order to 
prove this diffused vacuum, and which he maintains, in one 
place, should be considered as a demonstration as clear as 
those of mathematics, is this : 

If there were no vacuum, and the whole were filled with 
bodies, motion would be impossible, and the universe would 
be only one vast mass of rigid, inflexible, and immoveable 
matter, for the universe being completely filled, no body 
could move without taking the place of some other. Thus 
if a body, A, move, it must displace another body at least 
equal to itself, to wit, B ; and B, in order to move, must 
also displace another. Now this can happen only in two 
ways, the one, that this displacing of bodies goes on to 
infinity, which is ridiculous and impossible ; the other, that 
it proceeds in a circle, and thus the last displaced body 
occupies the place of A. 

There is not here, however, so far, any imperfect enu 
meration ; and it is further true, that it is ridiculous to 
suppose that, in moving a body, the bodies which displace 
one another would be moved to infinity. All that is 
maintained is, that the motion goes on in a circle, and that 


the last body moved occupies the place of the first, which 
is A, and that thus all will be filled. This M. Gassendi 
undertakes to refute by the following argument : The 
first moved, which is A, cannot move unless the last, 
which is X, move. Now X cannot move, because, in 
order to move, it must take the place of A, which is not 
yet empty ; and therefore, X not being able to move, A 
cannot cither ; therefore everything remains immoveable. 
The whole of this reasoning is founded only on this sup 
position, that the body X, which is immediately before A, 
can move on only one condition, which is, that the place 
of A be already empty when it begins to move ; so that, 
before the moment in which it occupies that place, there 
be another in which it may be said to be empty. But this 
supposition is false and imperfect, since there is still another 
way in which it is possible for X to move, which is, that 
at the same instant in which it occupies the place of A, 
A quits that place : and in this case there is no incon 
venience. A pushing B, and B pushing C, and so on 
to X, and X at the same moment occupying the place 
of A : in this way there will be motion, but no va 

Now that this is possible, that is to say, that a body 
may occupy the place of another body at the same moment 
in which that body quits it, is a thing which we are obliged 
to acknowledge in any hypothesis whatever, if we admit 
any continuous matter; if, for example, we distinguish in 
a rod two parts which immediately follow each other, it is 
clear that when we move it, at the same instant in which 
the first quits a space, that space is occupied by the second, 
and that there is no interval in which we can say that 
space is void of the first, and not filled by the second. 
This is still more clear in a circle of iron which turns 
round its centre ; for in this case each part occupies at the 
same instant the space which has been left by that which 
preceded it, without there being any necessity for imagin 
ing a vacuum. Now, if this is possible in a circle of iron, 
why may it not be so in a circle partly of wood and partly of 
aii- ? And why may not the body A, which we will suppose 
to be wood, push and displace the body B, which we will 
suppose to be air, the body B displace another, and that 


other another, until X, which will take the place of A at 
the same instant in which A leaves it ? 

It is clear, therefore, that the defect of M. Gassendi s 
reasoning springs from his belief, that it is necessary in 
order that a body may take the place of another, for that 
place to be empty previously, and for at least a moment 
before, and from his not considering that it is sufficient if 
it be empty at the same moment. 

The other proofs which he adduces are derived from 
different experiments, by which he showed very clearly 
that air may be compressed, and that we may force fresh 
air into a space which seemed already full, as we see in 
air-balls and air-guns. 

On these experiments he founds this reasoning : If the 
space A, being already full of air, is able to receive a fresh 
quantity by compression, it must be either that this fresh 
air which passes into it, does so by penetrating into the 
space already occupied by the other air, which is impos 
sible, or that the air contained in A did not fill it en 
tirely, but that there were between the particles of air 
void spaces, into which the fresh air is received ; and this 
second hypothesis proves, says he, what I maintain, which 
is, that there are void spaces between the parts of matter, 
capable of being filled with new bodies. But it is very 
strange that M. Gassendi could not perceive that he was 
reasoning in an imperfect enumeration, and that, besides 
the hypothesis of penetration, which he judges, with rea 
son, to be naturally impossible, and that of diffused voids 
between the particles of matter which he wishes to estab 
lish, there is a third, of which he says nothing, but which, 
being possible, renders his argument invalid ; for we may 
suppose that between the greater particles of air there may 
be a matter finer and more subtile, and which, being able 
to pass through the pores of all bodies, makes the space 
which appears full of air able still to receive new air ; 
because this subtile matter, being driven by the particles 
of air which are forced in, gives place to them by escaping 
through the pores. 

And M. Gassendi was the more called upon to reject 
that hypothesis, since he himself admits this subtile matter 
which penetrates bodies, and passes through all pores, 


since he considers heat and cold to be corpuscules which 
enter into our pores, since he says the same thing of light, 
and since he confesses even in that celebrated experiment 
which he made with the quicksilver, which remained sus 
pended at the height of two feet three inches and a half, in 
a tube much longer than this, thus leaving a space above 
which appeared to be empty, and which certainly was not 
tilled with any sensible matter, since he confesses, we 
say, that it could not with reason be maintained, that that 
space was absolutely void, since light passed into it, which 
he held to be a body. 

Thus, in filling with subtile matter those spaces, which 
he maintained to be empty, there would have been as 
much room left for the entrance of new bodies, as though 
they had actually been empty. 

Judging uf a thing by that which only belongs to it accidentally. 

This sophism is called in the schools fallo.cia accidentis, 
which is, when we draw a simple, unrestricted, and abso 
lute conclusion, from what is true only by accident. This 
is done by the number of people who decry antimony, 
because, being misapplied, it produces bad effects ; and by 
others, who attribute to eloquence all the bad effects which 
it produces when abused, or to medicine the faults of cer 
tain ignorant doctors. 

It is in this way that the heretics of the present day 
have led so many deluded people to believe that we ought 
to reject, as the inventions of Satan, the invocation of saints, 
the veneration of relics, the prayer for the dead, because 
somewhat of abuse and superstition had crept in amongst 
these holy practices, authorised by all antiquity ; as though 
the bad use which men may make of the best things ren 
dered them bad. 

We often fall into this vicious reasoning when we take 
simple occasions for true causes. As if any should accuse 
the Christian religion of having been the cause of the 
murder of an infinite number of persons, who have chosen 
rather to suffer death than to renounce Jesus Christ; 
whereas it is to neither the Christian religion, nor the con- 


stancy of the martyrs, that these murders ought to be 
attributed, but simply to the injustice and cruelty of the 
pagans. It is through this sophism, also, that good people 
are often said to be the cause of all the evils which they 
might have avoided by doing things which would have 
offended their conscience ; because, if they had chosen to 
relax in that strict observance of the law of God, these 
evils would not have happened. 

We see also a famous example of this sophism in the 
ridiculous reasoning of the Epicureans, who concluded 
that the gods must have a human form, because among all 
creatures in the world men alone had the use of reason. 
The gods, said they, are very happy ; none can be happy 
without virtue ; there is no virtue without reason ; and reason 
is found noickere except in the human form ; it must be 
avowed, therefore, that the gods have the human form. But 
they were very blind, not to see that although in men the 
substance which thinks and reasons be united to a human 
body, it is, nevertheless, not the human figure which en 
ables men to think and reason, it being absurd to imagine 
that reason and thought depend on anything which is in a 
nose, a mouth, cheeks, two arms, two hands, two feet ; and 
it was thus a puerile sophism in these philosophers to con 
clude that reason could only dwell in the human form, 
because in man it is accidentally united with that form. 


Passing from a divided sense to a connected sense, or from a 
connected sense to a divided sense. 

The former of these sophisms is called fallacia composi- 
tionis ; the latter, fallacia divisionis. They will be under 
stood better by examples. 

Jesus Christ says, in the gospel, in speaking of his 
miracles, The blind see, the lame walk, the deaf hear. This 
cannot be true if we take these things separately, and not 
together, that is to say, in a divided, and not in a con 
nected sense. For the blind could not see, remaining 
blind ; and the deaf could not hear, remaining deaf; but 
those who had been blind before were so no longer, but 
now saw ; and so of the deaf. 


It is in the same sense, also, that God is said, in the 
Scripture, to justify the ungodly. For this does not mean, 
that he considers as just those who are still ungodly, but 
that he renders just, by his grace, those who before were 

There are, on the contrary, propositions which are true 
only in an opposite sense to the divided sense : as when St 
Paul says, that liars, fornicators, and covetous men shall 
not enter into the kingdom of heaven. For this does not 
mean that none of those who have had these vices shall be 
saved, but only that those who have continued addicted to 
them, and have never left them by turning to God. shall 
have no place in the kingdom of heaven. 

It is easy to see that we cannot, without a sophism, pass 
from one of these senses to the other ; and that those, for 
example, would reason ill, who should promise themselves 
heaven while remaining in their sins, because Jesus came 
to save sinners, and because it is said in the gospel that 
women of evil life shall enter into the kingdom of God before 
the Pharisees ; or who, on the other hand, having forsaken 
evil, should despair of their salvation, as having nothing 
to expect but the punishment of their sins, because it is 
said that the anger of God is reserved against all those 
Avho live ungodly lives, and that none who are vicious 
shall have any part in the inheritance of Jesus Christ. 
The first would pass from the divided sense to the com 
pounded, in promising themselves, though still continuing 
sinners, that which is only promised to those who cease to 
be so, by true conversion ; and the last would pass from 
the compounded sense to the divided, in applying to those 
who have been sinners, but who cease to be so by turning 
to God, that which refers only to sinners remaining in 
their sins and wicked life. 


Passing from what is true in some respect, to what is true 

This is what is called in the schools a dido secundum 
quid ad dictum simplicitcr. The following are examples : 
The Epicureans proved, again, that the gods must have the 


human form because it is the most beautiful, and every 
thing which is beautiful must be in God. This was bad 
reasoning; for the human form is not beautiful absolutely, 
but only in relation to bodies. And thus, the perfection 
being only in some respect, and not absolutely, it did not 
follow that it must be in God because all perfections are 
in God, it being only those which are perfections abso 
lutely, that is to say, which contain no imperfection, which 
were necessary in God. 

We find also in Cicero, in the Third Book, of the nature 
of the gods, an absurd argument of Cotta against the 
existence of God, which may be referred to the same vice. 
How, says he, can we conceive God. since ive can attribute no 
virtue to him ? For shall we say that he has prudence 1 But 
since prudence consists in the choice between good and evil, 
what need can God have for this choice, not being capable of 
any evil"? Shall we say that he has intelligence and reason? 
But reason and intelligence serve to discover to us that winch 
is unknown from that which is knoivn; now, there can be 
nothing unknown to God. Neither can justice be in God, be 
cause this relates only to the intercourse of men ; nor temperance, 
since he has no desires to moderate; nor strength, since he is 
susceptible of neither pain nor labour, and is not exposed to any 
danger. How, therefore, can that be a god which has neither 
intelligence nor virtue ? 

It is difficult to conceive anything more impertinent 
than this method of reasoning. It resembles the notion of 
a rustic who, having never seen houses covered with any 
thing but thatch, and having heard that there were in 
towns no roofs of thatch, should conclude therefrom that 
there were no houses in towns, and that those who dwell 
there are very miserable, being exposed to all the incle 
mencies of the weather. This is how Cotta, or rather, 
Cicero, reasons. There can be no virtues in God like 
those in men ; therefore, there is no virtue in God. And 
what is so marvellous is, that he concludes that there is no 
virtue in God, only because the imperfection which is 
found in human virtue cannot be in God ; so that what 
proves to him that God has no intelligence, is the fact that 
nothing is hid from him, that is to say, that he sees nothing 
because he sees everything ; that he can do nothing, be- 


cause he can do everything ; that he enjoys no happiness, 
because he possesses all happiness. 


Abusing the ambiguity ofivonls, which may be done indifferent 

We may reduce to this kind of sophism all those syllo 
gisms which are vicious, though having four terms, 
whether this be because the middle is taken twice parti 
cularly, or because it is taken in one sense in the first pro 
position, and in another in the second, or, finally, because 
the terms of the conclusion are not taken in the same sense 
in the premises as in the conclusion : For we do not restrict 
the word ambiguity to those words alone that are mani 
festly equivocal, which scarcely ever mislead any one, but 
we comprise under it anything which may change the 
meaning of a word, especially when men do not easily 
perceive that change, because different things being signi 
fied by the same word, they take them for the same thing. 
On this subject, we may refer to what has been said to 
wards the end of the First Part, where we have also 
spoken of the remedy which should be employed against 
the confusion of ambiguous words by denning them so pre 
cisely that none can be deceived. 

We shall content ourselves, therefore, with referring ^ to 
some examples of this ambiguity, which sometimes deceive 
men of ability, such as those which we often find in words 
which signify some whole, which may be taken either 
collectively, for all their parts together, or distributive!/, 
for each of these parts. 

In this way is to be resolved that sophism of the stoics, 
who concluded that the world was an animal endowed 
with reason, because that which //as the use of rat son is better 
than that which has not. " Now there is nothing," say they. 
which is better than the world, therefore, the world has 
the use of reason." The minor of this argument is false, 
since it attributes to the world that which belongs only 
to God, which is, that of being such that it is impossible to 
conceive anything better, or more perfect. But in limit- 
in"- ourselves to creatures, although we may say that there 


is nothing better than the world, taking it, collectively, for 
the totality of all the beings that God has created, all 
that we can conclude from this at most is, th^,t the world 
has the use of reason in relation to some of its parts, such 
as are angels and men, and not that the whole together was 
an animal endowed with the use of reason. This would 
be the same kind of bad reasoning as to say man thinks ; 
now, man is composed of mind and body ; therefore, mind 
and body think. For it is enough, in order that we may 
attribute thought to the whole man, that he thinks in re 
lation to one of the parts ; and from this it does not at all 
follow that he thinks in the other. 


Deriving a general conclusion from a defective induction. 

When, from the examination of many particular things, 
we rise to the knowledge of a general truth this is called 
induction. Thus, when we find, by the examination of many 
seas, that the water in them is salt, and of many rivers, 
that the water in them is fresh, we infer, generally, that 
the water of the sea is salt, and that of rivers fresh. The 
different experiments by which we have found that gold 
does not diminish in the fire, leads us to judge that this is 
true of all gold. And since no people have ever been 
found who do not speak, we believe confidently that all 
men speak, that is to say, employ sounds to express their 
thoughts. It is in this way that all our knowledge begins, 
since individual things present themselves to us before uni- 
versals, although, afterwards, the universals help us to 
know the individual. 

It is, however, nevertheless true, that induction alone is 
never a certain means of acquiring perfect knowledge, as 
we shall show in another place. The consideration of in 
dividual things furnishes to our mind only the occasion of 
turning its attention to its natural ideas, according to which 
it judges of the truth of things in general. For it is true, 
for example, that I might never perhaps have been led to 
consider the nature of a triangle if I had not seen a triangle, 
which furnished me with the occasion of thinking of it. 
But it, nevertheless, is not the particular examination of 


all the triangles which makes me conclude generally and 
certainly of all, that the space which they contain is equal 
to that of the rectangle of their whole base and a part of 
their side (for this examination would be impossible), but 
simply the consideration of what is contained in the idea 
of a triangle which I find in iny mind. 

Be this as it may, reserving the consideration of this 
subject for another place, it is enough to say here, that 
defective inductions, those, that is to say, which are not 
complete, often lead us to fall into error ; and I shall con 
tent myself with referring to one remarkable example of 

All philosophers had believed, up to the present time, 
as an undoubted truth, that a syringe being well stopped, 
it would be impossible to draw out the piston without 
bursting it, and that we might make water rise as high as 
we chose in pumps by suction. What made this to be so 
firmly believed was, that it was supposed to have been 
verified by a most certain induction derived from a multi 
tude of experiments ; but, both are found to be false, since 
new experiments have been made which have proved that 
the piston of a syringe, however well it may be stopped, 
may be drawn out. provided we employ a force equal to 
the weight of a column of water of more than 23 feet in 
height, of the diameter of the syringe ; and that we cannot 
raise water, by suction in a pump, higher than 22 or 23 feet 



WE have seen some examples of the faults which are most 
common in reasoning on scientific subjects ; but, since the 
principal use of reason is not in relation to those kind of 


subjects which enter but little into the conduct of life, and 
in which there is much less danger of being deceived, it 
would, without doubt, be much more useful to consider 
generally what betrays men into the false judgments which 
they make on every kind of subject, and principally on 
that of morals, and of other things which are important in 
civil life, and which constitute the ordinary subject of their 
conversation. But, inasmuch as this design would require 
a separate work, which would comprehend almost the whole 
of morals, we shall content ourselves with indicating here, 
in general, some of the causes of those false judgments 
which are so common amongst men. 

We do not stay to distinguish false judgments from bad 
reasonings, and shall inquire indifferently into the causes 
of each, both because false judgments are the sources of 
bad reasonings, and produce them as a necessary conse 
quence, and because in reality there is almost always a 
concealed and enveloped reasoning in what appears to be 
a simple judgment, there being always something which 
operates on the motive and principle of that judgment. 
For example, when we judge that a stick which appears 
bent in the water is really so, this judgment is founded on 
that general and false proposition, that what appears bent 
to our senses, is so really ; and this involves a reason 
ing, though not developed. In considering them generally, 
the causes of our errors appear to be reducible to two 
principles : the one interior the irregularity of the will, 
which troubles and disorders the judgment; the other ex 
ternal^ which lies in the objects of which we judge, and 
which deceive our minds by false appearances. Now 
although these causes almost always appear united to 
gether, there are, nevertheless, certain errors, in which one 
prevails more than the other ; and hence we shall treat of 
them separately. 



If we examine with care what commonly attaches men 
rather to one opinion than to another, we shall find that it 


is not a conviction of the truth, and the force of the 
reasons, but some bond of self-love, of interest, or of 
passion. This is the weight which bears down the scale, 
and which decides us in the greater part of our doubts. 
It is this which gives the greatest impetus to our judg 
ments, and which holds us to them most forcibly. We 
judge of things, not by what they are in themselves, but 
by what they are in relation to us, and truth and utility 
are to us but one and the same thing. 

No other proofs are needed than those which we see 
every day, to show that the things which are held every 
where else as doubtful, or even as false, are considered 
most certain by all of some one nation, or profession, or 
institution. For, since it cannot be that what is true in 
Spain should be false in France, nor that the minds of all 
Spaniards are so differently constituted from those of 
Frenchmen, as that, judging by the same rules of rea 
soning, that which appears generally true to the one 
should appear generally false to the others, it is plain that 
this diversity of judgment can arise from no other cause 
except that the one choose to hold as true that which is to 
their advantage, and that the others, having no interest at 
stake, judge of it in a different way. 

Nevertheless, what can be more unreasonable than to 
take our interest as the motive for believing a thing ? All 
that it can do, at most, is to lead us to consider with more 
attention the reasons which may enable us to discover the 
truth of that which we wish to be true ; but it is only the 
truth which must be found in the thing itself, independently 
of our desires, which ought to convince us. I am of such 
a country ; therefore, I must believe that such a saint 
preached the gospel there. I am of such an order ; there 
fore, I must believe that such a privilege is right. These 
are no reasons. Of Avhatever order, and of whatever 
country you may be, you ought to believe only Avhat is 
true ; and what you would have been disposed to believe, 
though you had been of another country, of another order, 
and of another profession. 


But this illusion is much more evident when any change 


takes place in the passions ; for, though all things remain 
in their place, it appears, nevertheless, to those who are 
moved by some new passion, that the change which has 
taken place in their own heart alone, has changed all ex 
ternal things which have any relation to them. How 
often do we see persons who are able to recognise no good 
quality, either natural or acquired, in those against whom 
they have conceived an aversion, or who have been op 
posed in something to their feelings, desires, and interests? 
This is enough to render them at once, in their estimation, 
rash, proud, ignorant, without faith, without honour, and 
without conscience. Their affections and desires are not 
any more just or moderate than their hatred. If they 
love any one, he is free from every kind of defect. Every 
thing which they desire is just and easy, everything which 
they do not desire is unjust and impossible, without their 
being able to assign any other reason for all these judg 
ments than the passion itself which possesses them ; so 
that, though they do not expressly realise to their mind 
this reasoning I love him ; therefore, he is the cleverest 
man in the world : I hate him ; therefore, he is nobody ; 
they realise it to a great extent, in their hearts ; and 
therefore, we may call sophisms and delusions of the heart 
those kinds of errors which consist in transferring our 
passion to the objects of our passions, and in judging that 
they are what we will or desire that they may be ; which 
is without doubt very unreasonable, since our desires can 
effect no change in the existence of that which is without 
us, and since it is God alone whose will is efficacious 
enough to render all things what he would have them to be. 


We may reduce to the same illusion of self-love, that of 
those who decide everything by a very general and con 
venient principle, which is, that they are right, that they 
know the truth ; from which it is not difficult to infer that 
those who are not of their opinion are deceived, in fact, 
the conclusion is necessary. 

The error of these persons springs solely from this, that 
the good opinion which they have of their own insight 


leads them to consider all their thoughts as so clear and 
evident, that they imagine the whole world must accept 
them as soon as they ai-e known. Hence it is that they 
so rarely trouble themselves to furnish proofs, they sel 
dom listen to the opinions of others, they wish all to yield 
to their authority, since they never distinguish their autho 
rity from reason. They treat with contempt all those who 
are not of their opinion, without considering that if others 
are not of their opinion, so neither are they of the opinion 
of others, and that it is unjust to assume, without proof, 
that we are in the right when we attempt to convince 
others, who are not of our opinion, simply because they 
are persuaded that we are not in the right. 


There are some, again, who have no other ground for 
rejecting certain opinions than this amusing reasoning : 
if this were so, I should not be a clever man ; now, I am a 
clever man ; therefore, it is not so. This is the main 
reason which, for a long time, led to the rejection of some 
most useful remedies, and most certain discoveries ; for 
those who had not known them previously, fancied that 
by admitting them, they would have confessed themselves 
to have , been hitherto deceived. "What," said they, 
" if the blood circulate, if the food is not carried to the 
liver by the messaric veins, if the venous artery carry the 
blood to the heart, if the blood rise by the descending hol 
low vein, if nature does not abhor a vacuum, if the air be 
heavy and have a movement below, I have been ignorant 
of many important things in anatomy and in physics. 
These things, therefore, cannot be." But, to remedy this 
folly, it is also necessary to represent fully to such that 
there is very little discredit in being mistaken, and that 
they may be accomplished in other things, though they 
be not in those which have been recently discovered. 


There is, again, nothing more common than to see 
people mutually reproaching each other, and accusing one 



another for example, of obstinacy, passion, and chicanery 
when they are of different opinions. There are scarcely 
any advocates who do not accuse each other of delaying 
the process, and concealing the truth by artifices of speech ; 
and thus those who are in the right, and those who are in 
the wrong, with almost the same language, make the same 
complaints, and attribute to each other the same vices. 
This is one of the most injurious things possible in the life 
of men, for it throws truth and error, justice and injustice, 
into an obscurity so profound, that the Avorld, in general, 
cannot distinguish between them ; and hence it happens, 
that many attach themselves, by chance and without 
knowledge, to one of these parties, and that others con 
demn both as being equally wrong. 

All this confusion springs, again, from the same malady 
which leads each one to take, as a principle, that he is in 
the right ; for, from this, it is not difficult to infer, that all 
who oppose us are obstinate, since, to be obstinate is not 
to submit to the right. 

But still, although it be true that these reproaches of 
passion, of blindness, and of quibbling, which are very un 
just on the part of those who are mistaken, are just and 
right on the part of those who are not so ; nevertheless, 
since they assume that truth is on the side of him who 
makes them, wise and thoughtful persons, who treat of any 
contested matter, should avoid using them, before they have 
thoroughly established the truth and justice of the cause 
which they maintain. They will never then accuse their 
adversaries of obstinacy, of rashness, of wanting common 
sense, before they have clearly proved this. They will 
not say, before they have shown it, that they fall into in 
tolerable absurdities and extravagances ; for the others, 
on their side, will say the same of them, and thus accom 
plish nothing. And thus they will prefer rather to observe 
that most equitable rule of St Augustine : Omittamm ista 
communia, quce did ex utraque parte possunt^ licet vere did ex 
it tr ague parte non possint. 

They will thus be content to defend truth by the wea 
pons which are her own, and which falsehood cannot 
borrow. These are clear and weighty reasons. 



The mind of man is not only in love with itself, but it 
is also naturally jealous, envious of, and ill-disposed to 
wards, others. It can scarcely bear that they should have 
any advantage, but desires it all for itself ; and as it is an 
advantage to know the truth, and furnish men with new 
views, a secret desire arises to rob those who do this of 
the glory, which often leads men to combat, without reason, 
the opinions and inventions of others. 

Thus, as self-love often leads us to make these ridiculous 
reasonings : It is an opinion which I discovered, it is that 
of my order, it is an opinion which is convenient, it is, 
therefore, true ; natural ill-will leads us often to make 
these others, which are equally absurd : Some one else 
said such a thing ; it is, therefore, false : I did not write 
that book ; it is, therefore, a bad one. 

This is the source of the spirit of contradiction so com 
mon amongst men, and which leads them, when they hear 
or read anything of another, to pay but little attention to 
the reasons which might have persuaded them, and to 
think only of those which they think may be offered 
against it ; they are always on their guard against truth, 
and think only of the means by which it may be repressed 
and obscured in which they are almost invariably success 
ful, the fertility of the human mind in false reasons being 

When this vice is in excess, it constitutes one of the 
leading characteristics of the spirit of pedantry, which 
rinds its greatest pleasure in quibbling with others on the 
pettiest things, and in contradicting everything with a pure 
malignity. But it is often more imperceptible and more 
concealed ; and AVC may say, indeed, that no one is alto 
gether free from it, since it has its root in self-love, which 
always lives in men. 

The knowledge of this malignant and envious disposi 
tion, which dwells deep in the heart of men, shows us that 
one of the most important rules which we can observe, 
in order to win those to whom we speak from error, and 
bring them over to the truth of which we would persuade 
them, is to excite their envy and jealousy as little as pos- 


sible by speaking of ourselves, and by presenting to them 
objects which may engage their attention. 

For, since men love scarcely any but themselves, they 
cannot bear that another should intrude himself upon them, 
and thus throw into shade the main object of their regard. 
All that does not refer to themselves is odious and imper 
tinent, and they commonly pass from the hatred of the man 
to the hatred of his opinions and reasons. Hence, wise 
persons avoid as much as possible revealing to others 
the advantages which they have, they avoid attracting at 
tention to themselves in particular, and seek rather, by 
hiding themselves in the crowd, to escape observation, in 
order that only the truth which they propose may be seen 
in their discourse. 

The late M. Pascal, who knew as much of true rhetoric 
as any one ever did, carried this rule so far as to maintain 
that a well-bred man ought to avoid mentioning himself, 
and even to avoid using the words I and me ; and he was 
accustomed to say, on this subject, that Christian piety 
annihilated the human me, and that human civility con 
cealed and suppressed it. This rule, however, is not to be 
observed too rigidly, for there are many occasions in which 
it would uselessly embarrass us to avoid these words; 
but it is always good to keep it in view, to preserve us 
from the wretched custom of some individuals, who speak 
only of themselves, and who quote themselves continually, 
when their opinion is not asked for. This leads those who 
hear them to suspect that this constant recurrence to them 
selves arises only from a secret pleasure, which leads them 
continually to that object of their love, and thus excites in 
them, by a natural consequence, a secret aversion to these 
people, and towards all that they say. This shows us 
that one of the characteristics most unworthy of a sensible 
man is that which Montaigne has affected in entertaining 
his readers with all his humours, his inclinations, his 
fancies, his maladies, his virtues, and his vices, which 
could arise only from a weakness of judgment, as well as 
a violent love for himself. It is true that he attempted 
as far as possible to remove from himself the suspicion of 
a low and vulgar vanity, by speaking freely of his defects, 
as well as of his good qualities, which has something 


amiable in it, from the appearance of sincerity ; but it is 
easy to see that all that is only a trick and artifice, which 
should onlyrender it still more odious. He speaks of his vices 
in order that they may be known, not that they may be 
detested ; he does not think for a moment that he ought to 
be held in less esteem ; he regards them as things very in 
different, and rather as creditable than disgraceful ; if he 
reveals them it gives him no concern, and he believes that 
he will not be, on that account, at all more vile or con 
temptible. But when he apprehends that anything will 
degrade him at all, he is as careful as any one to conceal it ; 
hence, a celebrated author of the present day pleasantly 
remarks, that though he takes great pains, without any 
occasion, to inform us, in two places of his book, that he 
had a page, Avho was an oiFicer of very little use in the 
house of a gentleman of six thousand livres a year, he has 
not taken the same pains to inform us that he had also a 
clerk, having been himself counsellor of the parliament of 
Bordeaux. This employment, though very honourable in 
itself, did not satisfy the vanity he had of appearing always 
with the air of a gentleman and of a cavalier, and as one 
unconnected with the brief and gown. 

It is, nevertheless, probable, however, that he would not 
have concealed this circumstance of his life if he could 
have found some marshal of France who had been coun 
sellor of Bordeaux, as he has chosen to inform us that he 
had been mayor of that town, but only, after having in 
formed us that he had succeeded Marshal de Brion in that 
office, and had been succeeded by Marshal de Matignon. 

But the greatest vice of this author is not that of vanity, 
for he is filled with such a multitude of shameful scandals, 
and of epicurean and impious maxims, that it is wonderful 
that he has been endured so long by every body, and that 
there are even men of mind who have not discovered the 

No other proofs are necessary, in order to judge of his 
libertinism, than the manner in which he speaks even of 
his vices ; for allowing, in many places, that he had been 
guilty of a great number of criminal excesses, he declares, 
nevertheless, that he did not repent of them at all, and 
that if he had to live over again he would live as he had 


done. " As for me," says he, " I cannot desire in general 
to be other than I am. I cannot condemn my universal 
form, though I may be displeased with it, and pray God 
for my entire reformation, and for the pardon of my natural 
weakness ; but this I ought not to call repentance any 
more than the dissatisfaction I may feel at not being an 
angel, or Cato ; my actions are regulated and conformed to 
my state and condition ; I cannot be better, and repent 
ance does not properly refer to things which are not in 
our power. I never expected incongruously to affix the 
tail of a philosopher to the head and body of an abandoned 
man, or that the meagre end of my life was to disavow 
and deny the most beautiful, complete, and largest portion 
of the whole. If I had to live over again I would live as 
I have done ; I do not lament over the past ; I do not fear 
for the future." Awful words, which denote the entire 
extinction of all religious feeling, but which are worthy of 
him who said, also, in another place : " I plunge myself 
headlong blindly into death, as into a dark and silent 
abyss, full of a mighty sleep, full of unconsciousness and 
lethargy, which engulphs me at once, and overwhelms me 
in a moment." And in another place : " Death, which is 
only a quarter of an hour s passion, without consequence, 
and without injury, does not deserve any special precepts." 
Although this digression appears widely removed from 
this subject, it belongs to it nevertheless, for this reason 
that there is no book which more fosters that bad cus 
tom of speaking of one s self, being occupied with one s 
self, and wishing all others to be so too. This wonder 
fully corrupts reason, both in ourselves, through the vanity 
which always accompanies these discourses, and in others, 
by the contempt and aversion which they conceive for us. 
Those only may be allowed to speak of themselves who 
are men of eminent virtue, and who bear witness by what 
means they have become so, so that if they make known 
their good actions, it is only to excite others to praise God 
for these, or to instruct them ; and if they publish their 
faults, it is only to humble themselves before men, and to 
deter them from committing these. But, for ordinary per 
sons, it is a ridiculous vanity to wish to inform others of 
their petty advantages ; and it is insufferable effrontery to 


reveal their excesses to the world without expressing their 
sorrow for them, since the last degree of abandonment in 
vice is, not to blush for it, and to have no concern or re 
pentance on account of it, but to speak of it indifferently 
as of anything else ; in which mainly lies the wit of Mon 


We may distinguish to some extent, from malignant and 
envious contradiction, another kind of disposition not so 
bad, but which produces the same faults of reasoning ; this 
is the spirit of debate, which is, however, a vice very inju 
rious to the mind. 

It is not that discussions, generally, can be censured. 
We may say, on the contrary, that provided they be rightly 
used, there is nothing which contributes more towards 
giving us different hints, both for finding the truth, or for 
recommending it to others. The movement of the mind, 
when it works alone, in the examination of any subject, is 
commonly too cold and languid. It needs a certain 
warmth to inspire it, and awaken its ideas, and it is com 
monly through the various obstacles which we meet with 
that we discover wherein the obscurity and the difficulties 
of conviction consist, which leads us to endeavour to over 
come them. 

It is true, however, that just in proportion as this exer 
cise is useful, when we employ it aright, and without any 
mixture of passion, so, in that proportion, is it dangerous 
when we abuse it, and pride ourselves on maintaining our 
opinion at whatever cost, and in contradicting that of 
others. Nothing can separate us more widely from the 
truth, and plunge us into error, than this kind of disposi 
tion. We become accustomed, unconsciously, to find reasons 
for everything, and to place ourselves above reason by never 
yielding to it, which leads us by degrees to hold nothing as 
certain, and to confound truth with error, in regarding both 
as equally probable. This is why it is so rare a thing for 
a question to be determined by discussion ; and why it 
scarcely ever happens that two philosophers agree. They 
always find replies and rejoinders, since their aim is not to 


avoid error but silence, and since they think it less dis 
graceful to remain always in error than to avow that they 
were mistaken. 

Thus, unless at least we have been accustomed by long 
discipline to retain the perfect mastery over ourselves, it is 
very difficult not to lose sight of truth in debates, since 
there are scarcely any exercises which so much arouse our 
passions. What vices have they not excited, says a cele 
brated author, being almost always governed by anger ? 
We pass first to a hatred of the reasons, and then of the 
persons. We learn to dispute only to contradict ; and 
each contradicting and being contradicted, it comes to pass 
that the result of the debate is the annihilation of truth. 
One goes to the east and another to the west one loses 
the principle in dispute, and another wanders amidst a 
crowd of details and after an hour s storm, they know 
not what they were discussing. One is above, another 
below, and another at the side one seizes on a word or 
similitude another neither listens to, nor still less under 
stands, what his opponent says, and is so engaged with his 
own course that he only thinks of following himself, not 

There are some, again, who, conscious of their weakness, 
fear everything, refuse everything, confuse the discussion 
at the onset, or, in the midst of it, become obstinate and 
are silent, affecting a proud contempt, or a stupid modesty 
of avoiding contention. One, provided only that he is 
effective, cares not how he exposes himself another counts 
his words and weighs his reasons a third relies on his 
voice and lungs alone. We see some who conclude against 
themselves, and others who weary and bewilder every one 
with prefaces and useless digressions. Finally, there are 
some who arm themselves with abuse, and make a german 
quarrel in order to finish the dispute, when they have been 
worsted in argument. These are the common vices of our 
debates, which are ingeniously enough represented by this 
writer, who, without ever having known the true grandeur 
of man, has sufficiently canvassed his defects. 

We may hence judge how liable these kinds of confer 
ences are to disorder the mind, at least unless we take 
great care not only not to fall ourselves first into these 


errors, but also not to follow those who do, and so to go 
vern ourselves that we may see them wander without wan 
dering ourselves, and without losing the end which we 
ought to seek, which is the elucidation of the truth which 
is under discussion. 


We find some persons, again, principally amongst those 
who attend at court, who, knowing very well how incon 
venient and disagreeable these controversial dispositions 
are, adopt an immediately opposite course, which is that 
of contradicting nothing, but of praising and approving 
everything indifferently. This is what is called complais 
ance, which is a disposition more convenient indeed for our 
fortune, but very injurious to our judgment, for as the 
controversial hold as true the contrary of what is said to 
them, the complaisant appear to take as true everything 
which is said to them, and this habit corrupts, in the first 
place their discourse, and then their minds. 

Hence it is that praises are become so common, and are 
given so indifferently to every one, that we know not what 
to conclude from them. There is not a single preacher in 
the Gazette, who is not most eloquent, and who does not 
ravish his hearers by the profundity of his knowledge. 
All who die are illustrious for piety ; and the pettiest 
authors might make books of praises which they re 
ceive from their friends ; so that, amidst this profusion 
of praises, which are made with such little discernment, 
it is matter of wonder that some are found so eager for 
them, and who treasure so carefully those which are given 
to them. 

It is quite impossible that this confusion in the language 
should not produce some confusion in the mind, for those 
who adopt the habit of praising everything, become accus 
tomed also to approve of everything. But though the false 
hood were only in the words, and not in the mind, this 
would be sufficient to lead those who sincerely love the 
truth, to avoid it. It is not necessary to reprove everything 
which may be bad, but it is necessary to praise only what 
is truly praiseworthy, otherwise we lead those whom we 


praise in this way into error. We help to deceive those 
who judge of these persons by these praises ; and we com 
mit a wrong against those who truly deserve praises, by giv 
ing them equally to those who do not deserve them. Finally, 
we destroy all the trustworthiness of language, and con 
fuse all ideas and words, by causing them to be no longer 
signs of our judgments and thoughts, but simply an out 
ward civility which we give to those whom we praise as 
we might do a bow, for this is all that we ought to infer 
from ordinary praises and compliments. 


Amongst the various ways by which self-love plunges 
men into error, or rather strengthens them in it, and pre 
vents their escape from it, we must not forget one which 
is, without doubt, one of the principal and most common. 
This is the engaging to maintain any opinion, to which we 
may attach ourselves from other considerations than those 
of its truth. For this determination to defend our opinion 
leads us no longer to consider whether the reasons we em 
ploy are true or false, but whether they will avail to de 
fend that which we maintain. We employ all sorts of 
reasons, good and bad, in order that there may be some to 
suit every one ; and we sometimes proceed even to say 
things which we well know to be absolutely false, if they 
will contribute to the end which we seek. The following 
are some examples : 

An intelligent man would hardly ever suspect Montaigne 
of having believed all the dreams of judicial astrology. 
Nevertheless, when he needs them for the purpose of 
foolishly degrading mankind, he employs them as good 
reasons. " When we consider," says he, " the dominion 
and power which these bodies have, not only on our lives, 
and on the state of our fortune, but also on our inclina 
tions, which are governed, driven, and disturbed, according 
to their influences, how can we deprive them of a soul, of 
life, and of discourse?" 

Does he wish to destroy the advantage which men have 
over beasts 1 He relates to us absurd stories, whose ex 
travagance he knew better than any one, and derives from 


them these still more absurd conclusions : " There have 
been," says he, " some who boasted that they understood 
the language of brutes, as Apollonius Thyaneus, Melampus, 
Tiresias, Thales, and others ; and since Avhat the cosmo- 
graphers say is true, that there are some nations which 
receive a dog as their king, they must give a certain inter 
pretation to his voice and movements." 

We might conclude, for the same reason, that when 
Caligula made his horse consul, the orders which he gave 
in the discharge of that office must have been clearly 
understood. But AVC should do wrong in accusing Mon 
taigne of this bad consequence ; his design was not to 
speak reasonably, but to gather together a confused mass 
of everything which might be said against men, which is, 
however, a vice utterly opposed to the justness of mind 
and sincerity of a good man. 

Who, again, would tolerate this other reasoning of the 
same author, on the subject of the auguries which the 
pagans made from the flight of birds, and which the wisest 
amongst them derided ? " Amongst all the predictions of 
time past," says he, " the most ancient, and the most cer 
tain, were those which were derived from the flight of 
birds. We have nothing of the like kind nothing so 
admirable ; that rule, that order of the moving of the 
wing, through which the consequences of things to come 
were obtained, must certainly have been directed by some 
excellent means to so noble an operation ; for it is insuffi 
cient to attribute so great an effect to some natural ordi 
nance, without the intelligence, agreement, or discourse of 
the agent which produces it; and such an opinion is evi 
dently false." 

Is it not a delightful thing to see a man who holds that 
nothing is either evidently true or evidently false, in a 
treatise expressly designed to establish Pyrrhonism, and 
to destroy evidence and certainty, deliver to us seriously 
these dreams as certain truths, and speak of the contrary 
opinion as evidently false ? But he is amusing himself at 
our expense when he speaks in this way, and he is without 
excuse in thus sporting with his readers, by telling them 
things which he does not, and could not without absurdity, 


He was, without doubt, as good a philosopher as Virgil, 
who does not ascribe to any intelligence in the birds even 
those periodical changes which we observe in their move 
ment according to the difference of the air, from which we 
may derive some conjecture as to rain and fine weather. 
This may be seen in these admirable verses from the 
Georgics : 

" Non equidem credo quia sit divinitus illis 
Ingenium, aut rerum fato prudentia major; 
Verum ubi tempestas et coeli mobilis humor. 
Mutavere vias, et Jupiter humidus austris 
Deusat erant qu?e rara modo, et quse densa relaxat ; 
Vertuntur species animorum, ut corpora motus 
Nunc hos, nuiic alios : dum nubila ventus agebat; 
Concipiant, hinc ille avium concentus in agris, 
Et Isetae pecudes, et ovantes gutture corvi." 

But these mistakes being voluntary, all that is necessary 
to avoid them is a little good faith. The most common, 
and the most dangerous, are those of which we are not 
conscious, because the engagement into which we have 
entered to defend an opinion disturbs the view of the mind, 
and leads it to take as true that which contributes to its 
end. The only remedy which can be applied to these is 
to have no end but truth, and to examine reasonings with 
so much care, that even prejudice shall not be able to mis 
lead us. 


We have already noticed that we ought not to separate 
the inward causes of our errors from those which are de 
rived from objects, which may be called the outward, be 
cause the false appearance of these objects would not be 
capable of leading us into error, if the will did not hurry 
the mind into forming a precipitate judgment, when it is 
not as yet sufficiently enlightened. 

Since, however, it cannot exert this power over the 
understanding in things perfectly evident, it is plain that 
the obscurity of the objects contributes somewhat to our 
mistakes ; and, indeed, there are often cases in which the 


passion which leads us to reason ill is almost imperceptible. 
Hence it is useful to consider separately those illusions 
which arise principally from the things themselves : 


It is a false and impious opinion, that truth is so like to 
falsehood, and virtue to vice, that it is impossible to dis 
tinguish between them ; but it is true that, in the majority 
of cases, there is a mixture of truth and error, of virtue 
and vice, of perfection and imperfection, and that this 
mixture is one of the most ordinary sources of the false 
judgments of men. 

For it is through this deceptive mixture that the good 
qualities of those whom we respect lead us to approve of 
their errors, and that the defects of those whom we do not 
esteem lead us to condemn what is good in them, since we 
do not consider that the most imperfect are not so in 
everything, and that God leaves in the best imperfections, 
which, being the remains of human infirmity, ought not to 
be the objects of our respect or imitation. 

The reason of this is, that men rarely consider things in 
detail; they judge only according to their strongest im 
pression, and perceive only what strikes them most : thus, 
when they perceive a good deal of truth in a discourse, 
they do not notice the errors which are mixed with it ; 
and, on the contrary, when the truths are mingled with 
many errors, they pay attention only to the errors, the 
strong bears away the weak, and the most vivid impression 
effaces that which is more obscure. 

It is, however, a manifest injustice to judge in this way. 
There can be no possible reason for rejecting reason, and 
truth is not less truth for being mixed with error. It does 
not belong to men, although men may propound it. Thus, 
though men, by reason of their errors, may deserve to be 
condemned, the truth which they advance ought not to be 

Thus justice and truth require, that in all things which 
are thus made up of good and evil, we distinguish between 
them ; and in this wise separation it is that mental pre 
cision mainly appears. Hence the fathers of the church 


have taken from pagan books very excellent things for 
their morals, and thus St Augustine has not scrupled to 
borrow from an heretical Donatist seven rules for inter 
preting Scripture. 

Reason obliges us, when we can, to make this distinc 
tion ; but since we have not always time to examine in 
detail the good and evil that may be in everything, it is 
right, in such circumstances, to give to them the name 
which they deserve from their preponderating element. 
Thus we ought to say that a man is a good philosopher 
who commonly reasons well, and that a book is a good 
book which has notoriously more of good than evil in it. 

Men, however, are very much deceived in these general 
judgments ; for they often praise and blame things from 
the consideration only of what is least important in them, 
want of penetration leading them not to discover what 
is most important, when it is not the most striking : thus, 
although those who are wise judges in painting value in 
finitely more design than colour, or delicacy of touch, the 
ignorant are, nevertheless, more impressed by a painting 
whose colours are bright and vivid, than by another more 
sober in colour, however admirable in design. 

It must, however, be confessed, that false judgments 
are not so common in the arts, since those who know 
nothing about them defer more readily to the opinion 
of those who are well informed ; but they are most fre 
quent in those things which lie within the jurisdiction of 
the people, and of which the world claims the liberty of 
judging, such as eloquence. 

We call, for example, a preacher eloquent, when his 
periods are well turned, and when he uses no inelegant 
words ; and from this M. Vaugelas says, in one place, that 
a bad Avord does a preacher or an advocate more harm 
than a bad reasoning. We must believe that this is simply 
a truth of fact which he relates, and not an opinion which 
he supports. It is true that we find people who judge in 
this way, but it is true also that there is nothing more 
unreasonable than these judgments ; for the purity of 
language, and the multitude of figures, are but to eloquence 
what the colouring is to a painting that is to say, only its 
lower and more sensuous part ; but the most important 


part consists in conceiving things forcibly, and in express 
ing them so that we may convey to the minds of the 
hearers a bright and vivid image, which shall not only 
convey these things in an abstract form, but with the 
emotions, also, with which we conceive them ; and this we 
may find in men of inelegant speech and unbalanced 
periods, while we meet with it rarely in those who pay so 
much attention to words and embellishments, since this 
care distracts their attention from things, and weakens the 
vigour of their thoughts, as painters remark, that those 
who excel in colours do not commonly excel in design 
the mind not being capable of this double application, and 
attention to the one injuring the other. 

"We may say, in general, that the world values most 
things by the exterior alone, since we find scarcely any 
who penetrate to the interior and to the bottom of them ; 
everything is judged according to the fashion, and un 
happy are those who are not in favour. Such a one is 
clever, intelligent, solid, as much as you will, but he does 
not speak fluently, and cannot turn a compliment well ; he 
may reckon on being little esteemed through the whole of 
his life by the generality of the world, and on seeing a 
multitude of insignificant minds preferred before him. It 
is no great evil not to have the reputation Avhich we merit, 
but it is a vast one to follow these false judgments, and to 
judge of things only superficially; and this we are bound, 
as far as possible, to avoid. 


Amongst the causes which lead us into error, by a false 
lustre, which prevents our recognising it, we may justly 
reckon a certain grand and pompous eloquence, which 
Cicero calls abundantem sonantibus verbis uberibusque senten- 
tiis ; for it is wonderful how sweetly a false reasoning 
flows in at the close of a period which well fits the ear, or 
of a figure which surprises us by its novelty, and in the 
contemplation of which Ave are delighted. 

These ornaments not only veil from our view the false 
hoods which mingle with discourse, but they insensibly 
engender them, since it often happens that they are neces- 


sary to the completion of the period or the figure. Thus, 
when we hear an orator commencing a long gradation, or 
an antithesis of many members, we have reason to be on 
our guard, since it rarely happens that he finishes it with 
out exaggerating the truth, in order to accommodate it to 
the figure. He commonly disposes of it as we do the 
stones of a building, or the metal of a statue : he cuts it, 
lengthens it, narrows it, disguises it, as he thinks fit, in 
order to adapt it to that vain work of words which he 
wishes to make. 

How many false thoughts has the desire of making a 
good point produced? How many have been led into 
falsehood for the sake of a rhyme ? How many foolish 
things have certain Italian authors been led to write, 
through the affectation of using only Ciceronian words, 
and of what is called pure Latinity? Who could help 
smiling to hear Benibo say that a pope had been elected 
by the favour of the immortal gods Deorum immortatium 
beneficiis? There are poets, even, who imagine that the 
essence of poetry consists in the introduction of pagan 
divinities ; and a German poet, a good versifier enough, 
though not a very judicious writer, having been justly 
reproached by Francis Picus Mirandola with having in 
troduced into a poem, where he describes the wars of 
Christians against Christians, all the divinities of paganism, 
and having mixed up Apollo, Diana, and Mercury, with 
the pope, the electors, and the emperor, distinctly main 
tained that, without this, it would not have been a poem, 
in proof of which he alleged this strange reason, that 
the poems of Hesiod, of Homer, and of Virgil, are full of 
the names and the fables of these gods ; whence he con 
cluded that he might be allowed to do the same. 

These bad reasonings are often imperceptible to those 
who make them, and deceive them first. They are deaf 
ened by the sound of their own words, dazzled with the 
lustre of their figures ; and the grandeur of certain words 
attaches them unconsciously to thoughts of little solidity, 
which they would doubtless have rejected had they exer 
cised a little reflection. 

It is probable, for instance, that it was the word vestal 
which pleased an author of our time, and which led him 


to say to a young lady, to prevent her from being ashamed 
of knowing Latin, that she need not blush to speak a 
language which had been spoken by the vestals. For, if 
he had considered this thought, he would have seen that 
he might as justly have said to that lady that she ought to 
blush to speak a language which had been formerly spoken 
by the courtezans of Rome, who were far more numerous than 
the vestals ; or that she ought to blush to speak any other 
language than that of her own country, since the ancient 
vestals spoke only their natural language. All these rea 
sonings, which are worth nothing, are as good as that of 
this author ; and the truth is, that the vestals have nothing 
to do with justifying or condemning maidens who learn 

The false reasonings of this kind, which are met with 
continually in the writings of those who most affect elo 
quence, show us how necessary it is for the majority of 
those who write or speak to be thoroughly convinced of 
this excellent rule, that there is not/ti/ty beautiful except that 
which is true ; which would take away from discourse a 
multitude of vain ornaments and false thoughts. It is 
true that this precision renders the style more dry, and less 
pompous ; but it also renders it clearer, more vigorous, 
more serious, and more worthy of an honourable man. 
The impression which it makes is less strong, but much 
more lasting ; whereas that produced by these rounded 
periods is so transient, that it passes away almost as soon 
as we have heard them. 


It is a very common defect amongst men to judge rashly 
of the actions and intentions of others, and they almost al 
ways fall into it by a bad reasoning, through which, in not 
recognising with sufficient clearness all the causes which 
might produce any effect, they attribute that effect definitely 
to one cause, when it may have been produced by many 
others ; or, again, suppose that a cause, which has accident 
ally, when united with many circumstances, produced an 
effect on one occasion, must do so on all occasions. 

A man of learning is found to be of the same opinion with 


a heretic, in a matter of criticism, independent of religious 
controversies : A malicious adversary concludes from this 
that he is favourable to heretics ; but he concludes this 
rashly and maliciously, since it is perhaps reason and truth 
which have led him to adopt that opinion. 

A writer may speak with some strength against an 
opinion which he believes to be dangerous : he will, from 
this, be accused of hatred and animosity against the 
authors who have advanced it ; but he will be so unjustly 
and rashly, since this earnestness may arise from zeal for 
the truth, just as well as from hatred of the men who op 
pose it. 

A man is the friend of a vicious man : it is, therefore, 
concluded that he approves of his conduct, and is a par 
taker in his crimes. This does not follow, perhaps he 
knows nothing about them, perhaps he has no part in 

We fail to render true civility to those to whom it is 
due : we are said to be proud and insolent, but this was 
perhaps only an inadvertence or simple forgetfulness. All 
exterior things are but equivocal signs, that is to say, signs 
which may signify many things, and we judge rashly when 
we determine this sign to mean a particular thing, without 
having any special reason for doing so. Silence is some 
times a sign of modesty and wisdom, and sometimes of 
stupidity. Slowness sometimes indicates prudence, and 
sometimes heaviness of mind. Change is sometimes a sign 
of inconstancy, and sometimes of sincerity. Thus it is bad 
reasoning to conclude that a man is inconstant, simply 
from the fact that he has changed his opinion ; for he may 
have had good reason for changing it. 


The false inductions by which general propositions are 
derived from some particular experiences, constitute one 
of the most common sources of the false reasonings of men. 
Three or four examples are enough to make a maxim and 
a common place, which they then employ as a principle for 
deciding all things. 

There are many maladies hidden from the most skilful 


physicians, and remedies often do not succeed : rash minds, 
hence, conclude, that medicine is absolutely useless, and 
only a craft of charlatans. 

There are light and loose women : this is sufficient for 
the jealous to conceive unjust suspicions against the most 
virtuous, and for licentious writers to condemn all univer 

There are some persons who hide great vices under an 
appearance of piety ; libertines conclude from this that all 
devotion is no better than hypocrisy. 

There are some things obscure and hidden, and we are 
often grossly deceived : all things are obscure and uncer 
tain, say the ancient and modern Pyrrhonists, and we can 
not know the truth of anything with certainty. 

There is a want of equality in some of the actions of 
men, and this is enough to constitute a common place, 
from which none are exempt. " Reason/ say they, " is 
so weak and blind, that there is nothing so evidently clear 
as to be clear enough for it ; the easy and the hard are both 
;ilike to it ; all subjects are equal, and nature, in general, 
disclaims its jurisdiction. We only think what we will in 
the very moment in which we will it ; we will nothing 
freely, nothing absolutely, nothing constantly." 

Most people set forth the defects or good qualities of 
others, only by general and extreme propositions. From 
some partial actions we infer a habit : from three or four 
faults we conclude a custom ; and what happens once a 
month or once a year, happens every day, at every hour, 
and every moment, in the discourses of men, so little pains 
do they take to observe in them the limits of truth and 


It is a weakness and injustice which we often condemn, 
but which we rarely avoid, to judge of purposes by the 
event, and to reckon those who had taken a prudent re 
solution according to the circumstances, so far as they 
could see them, guilty of all the evil consequences which 
may have happened therefrom, either simply through acci 
dent, or through the malice of others who had thwarted it, 


or through some other circumstances which it was impos 
sible for them to foresee. 

Men not only love to be fortunate as much as to be wise, 
but they make no distinction between the fortunate and 
the wise, nor between the unfortunate and the guilty. 
This distinction is too subtile for them. We are ingenious 
in finding out the faults which we imagine have produced 
the want of success ; and as astrologers, when they know 
a given event, fail not to discover the aspect of the stars 
which produced it, so also we never fail to find, after dis 
graces and misfortune, that those who have met with them 
have deserved them by some imprudence. He is unsuc 
cessful, therefore he is in fault. In this way the world 
reasons, and in this way it has always reasoned, because 
there has always been little equity in the judgments of 
men, and because, not knowing the true causes of things, 
they substitute others according to the event, by praising 
those who are successful, and blaming those who are not. 


But there are no false reasonings more common amongst 
men than those into which they fall, either by judging 
rashly of the truth of things from some authority insuffi 
cient to assure them of it, or by deciding the inward essence 
by the outward manner. We call the former the sophism 
of authority, the latter the sophism of the manner. 

To understand how common these are, it is only neces 
sary to consider that the majority of men are determined 
to believe one opinion rather than another, not by any solid 
and essential reasons which might lead them to know the 
truth, but by certain exterior and foreign marks which are 
more consonant to, or which they judge to be consonant 
to, truth, than to falsehood. 

The reason of this is, that the interior truth of things 
is often deeply hidden ; that the minds of men are com 
monly feeble arid dark, full of clouds and false light, while 
their outward marks of truth are clear and sensible ; so 
that, as men naturally incline to that which is easiest, they 
almost always range themselves on the side where they see 
those exterior marks of truth which are readily discovered. 


These may be reduced to two principles, the authority 
of him who propounds the thing, and the manner in which 
it is propounded. And these two ways of persuading are 
so powerful that they carry away almost all minds. 

Wherefore God, who willed that the sure knowledge 
of the mysteries of faith might be attained by the sim 
plest of the faithful, has had the condescension to accom 
modate himself to this weakness of the spirit of man, in 
not making this to depend on the particular examination 
of all the points which are proposed to faith ; but in giving 
us, as the certain rule of truth, the authority of the church 
universal, which proposes them, \vhich, being clear and 
evident, relieves the mind of the perplexities which neces 
sarily arise from the particular discussion of these mysteries. 

Thus, in matters of faith, the authority of the church 
universal is entirely decisive ; and so far is it from being 
possible that it should be liable to error, that we fall into 
it only when wandering from its authority, and refusing to 
submit ourselves to it. 

We may derive, moreover, convincingarguments in matters 
of religion from the manner in which they are advanced. 
When we see, for example, in different ages of the church, 
and principally in the last, men who endeavour to propa 
gate their opinions by bloodshed and the sword ; when we 
see them arm themselves against the church by schism, 
against temporal powers by revolt ; when we see people 
without the common commission, without miracles, without 
any external marks of piety, and with the plain marks rather 
of licentiousness, undertake to change the faith and disci 
pline of the church in so criminal a manner, it is more 
than sufficient to make reasonable men reject them, and to 
prevent the most ignorant from listening to them. 

But in those things, the knowledge of which is not ab 
solutely necessary, and which God has left more to the 
discernment of the reason of each one in particular, the 
authority and the manner are not so important, and they 
often lead many to form judgments contrary to the truth. 

We do not undertake to give here the rules and the 
precise limits of the respect which is due to authority in 
human things, we simply indicate some gross faults which 
are committed in this matter. 


We often regard only the number of the witnesses, 
without at all considering whether the number increases 
the probability of their having discovered the truth, which 
is, however, unreasonable ; for, as an author of our time 
has wisely remarked, in difficult things, which each must 
discover for himself, it is more likely that a single per 
son will discover the truth than that many will. Thus 
the following is not a valid inference : this opinion is 
held by the majority of philosophers ; it is, therefore, the 

We are often persuaded, by certain qualities which have 
no connection with the truth, of the things which we 
examine. Thus there are a number of people who trust 
implicitly to those who are older, and who have had more 
experience, even in those things which do not depend on 
age or experience, but on the clearness of the mind. 

Piety, wisdom, moderation, are, without doubt, the most 
estimable qualities in the world, and they ought to give 
great authority to those who possess them in those things 
which depend on piety or sincerity, and even on the know 
ledge of God, for it is most probable that God commu 
nicates more to those who serve him more purely ; but 
there are a multitude of things which depend only on 
human intelligence, experience, and penetration, and, in 
these things, those who have the superiority in intel 
lect and in study, deserve to be relied on more than 
others. The contrary, however, often happens, and many 
reckon it best to follow, even in these things, the most 
devout men. 

This arises, in part, from the fact that these advantages 
of mind are not so obvious as the external decorum which 
appears in pious persons, and in part, also, from the fact 
that men do not like to make these distinctions. Discri 
mination perplexes them ; they will have all or nothing. 
If th.?y trust to a man in one thing, they will trust to him 
in everything ; if they do not in one, they will not in any ; 
they love short, plain, and easy ways. But this disposi 
tion, though common, is, nevertheless, contrary to reason, 
which shows us that the same persons are not to be 
trusted to in anything, because they are not distinguished 
in anything ; and that it is bad reasoning to conclude he 


is a serious man, therefore he is intelligent and clever in 


It is true, indeed, that if any errors are pardonable, those 
into which we fall through our excessive deference to the 
opinion of good men, are among the number. But there is 
a delusion much more absurd in itself, but which is, never 
theless, very common, that, namely, of believing that a man 
speaks the truth because he is a man of birth, of fortune, 
or high in office. 

Not that any formally make these kinds of reasonings 
he has a hundred thousand livres a year ; therefore, he 
possesses judgment : he is of high birth ; therefore, what he 
advances must be true : he is a poor man ; therefore, he is 
wrong. Nevertheless, something of this kind passes through 
the minds of the majority, and, unconsciously, bears away 
their judgment. 

Let the same thing be proposed by a man of quality, 
and by one of no distinction, and it will often be found 
that we approve of it in the mouth of the former, when we 
scarcely condescend to listen to it in that of the latter. 
Scripture designed to teach us this disposition of men, in 
that perfect representation which is given of it in the book 
of Ecclesiasticus.* " AVhen the rich man speaks, all are 
silent, and his words are raised to the skies ; if the poor 
man speaks, the inquiry is, Who is this ? " Dives locutus 
est, et omncs tacuerunt, et verbum illius usque ad nubes perdu- 
cent ; pauper locutus est, et dicunt, Quis cst hie ? 

It is certain that complaisance and flattery have much 
to do with the approbation which is bestowed on the ac 
tions and words of people of quality ; as also that they 
often gain this by a certain outward grace, and by a noble, 
free, and natural bearing, which is sometimes so distinctive 
that it is almost impossible for it to be imitated by those 
who are of low birth. It is certain, also, that there are many 
who approve of everything which is done and said by the 
great, through an inward abasement of soul, who bend 

* Eccles. xiii. 23. 


under the weight of grandeur, and whose sight is not 
strong enough to bear its lustre ; as, indeed, that the out 
ward pomp which environs them always imposes a Hi >, 
and makes some impression on the strongest minds. 

This illusion springs from the corruption of the hei 
of man, who, having a strong passion for honours ai. 
pleasures, necessarily conceives a great affection for the 
means by which these honours and pleasures are obtained. 
The love which we have for all those things which are 
valued by the world, makes us judge those happy who pos 
sess them, and, in thus judging them happy, we place them 
above ourselves, and regard them as eminent and exalted 
persons. This habit of regarding them with respect passes 
insensibly from their fortune to their mind. Men do not 
commonly do things by halves ; we, therefore, give them 
minds as exalted as their rank we submit to their opinions; 
and this is the reason of the credit which they commonly 
obtain in the affairs which they manage. 

But this illusion is still stronger in the great themselves, 
when they have not laboured to correct the impression 
which their fortune naturally makes on their minds, than it 
is in their inferiors. Some derive from their estate and 
riches a reason for maintaining that these opinions ought 
to prevail over those who are beneath them. They cannot 
bear that those people whom they regard with contempt 
should pretend to have as much judgment and reason 
as themselves, and this makes them so impatient of the 
least contradiction. All this springs from the same source, 
that is, from the false ideas which they have of their 
grandeur, nobility, and wealth. Instead of considering 
them as things altogether foreign from their character, 
which do not prevent them at all from being perfectly 
equal to all the rest of men, both in mind and body, and 
which do not prevent their judgment even from being as 
weak and as liable to be deceived as that of all others, 
they, in some sort, incorporate with their very essence, all 
these qualities of grand, noble, rich, master, lord, prince, 
they exaggerate their idea with these, and never repre 
sent themselves to themselves without all their titles, their 
equipage, and their train. 

They are accustomed from their infancy to consider 


themselves as of a different species from other men they 
never mingle in imagination with the mass of human 
kind ; they are, in their own eyes, always counts or dukes, 
and never simply men. Thus they shape themselves a 
soul and judgment according to the measure of their for 
tune, and believe themselves as much above others in 
mind as they are above them in birth and fortune. 

The folly of the human mind is such, that there is 
nothing which may not serve to aggrandize the idea which 
it has of itself. A beautiful horse, grand clothes, a long 
beard, make men consider themselves more clever; and 
there are few who do not think more of themselves on 
horseback or in a coach than on foot. It is easy to con 
vince everybody that there is nothing more ridiculous than 
these judgments, but it is very difficult to guard entirely 
against the secret impression which these outward things 
make upon the mind. All that we can do is to accustom 
ourselves as much as possible to give no influence at all to 
those qualities which cannot contribute towards finding the 
truth, and to give it even to those which do thus contri 
bute only so far as they really contribute to it. Age, 
knowledge, study, experience, mind, energy, memory, ac 
curacy, labour, avail to find the truth of hidden things, 
and these qualities, therefore, deserve to be respected ; but 
it is always necessary to weigh with care, and then to make 
a comparison with the opposite reasons ; for, from separate 
individual things we can conclude nothing with certainty, 
since there are very false opinions which have been 
sanctioned by men of great mental power, who possessed 
these qualities to a great extent. 


There is something still more deceptive in the mistakes 
which arise from the manner, for we are naturally led to 
believe that a man possesses judgment when he speaks 
with grace, with ease, with gravity, with moderation, and 
with gentleness ; and, on the contrary, that a man is in the 
wrong when he speaks harshly, or manifests anything of 
passion, acrimony, or presumption, in his actions and words. 

Nevertheless, if we judge of the essence of things by 


these outward and sensible appearances, we must be often 
deceived ; for there are many people who utter follies 
gravely and modestly; and others, on the contrary, who, 
being naturally of a quick temper, or under the in 
fluence even of some passion, which appears in their 
countenance or their words, have, nevertheless, the truth on 
their side. There are some men of very moderate capacity, 
and very superficial, who, from having been nourished at 
court, where the art of pleasing is studied and practised 
better than anywhere else, have very agreeable manners, by 
means of which they render many false judgments accep 
table ; and there are others, on the contrary, who, having 
nothing outward to recommend them, have, nevertheless, 
a great and solid mind within. There are some who 
speak better than they think, and others who think better 
than they speak. Thus reason regards those who possess 
it, judging not by these outward things, and does not hesitate 
to yield to the truth, not only when it is proposed in ways 
that are offensive and disagreeable, but even when it is 
mingled with much of falsehood, for the same person may 
speak truly in one thing, and falsely in another ; may be 
right in one thing, and wrong in another. 

It is necessary, therefore, to consider each thing sepa 
rately, that is to say, we must judge of the manner by the 
manner, and the matter by the matter, and not the matter 
by the manner, nor the manner by the matter. A man 
does wrong to speak with anger, and he does right to speak 
the truth ; and, on the contrary, another is right in speak 
ing calmly and civilly, and he is wrong in advancing 

But as it is reasonable to be on our guard against con 
cluding that a thing is true or false, because it is proposed 
in such a way, it is right, also, that those who wish to 
persuade others of any truth which they have discovered, 
should study to clothe it in the garb most suitable for 
making it acceptable, and to avoid those revolting ways of 
stating it, which only lead to its rejection. 

They ought to remember that when we seek to move the 
minds of people, it is a small thing that we have right on 
our side ; and it is a great evil to have only right, and not 
to have also that which is necessary for making it relished. 


If they seriously honour the truth, they ought not to dis 
honour it by covering it with the marks of falsehood and 
deceit ; and if they love it sincerely, they ought not to at 
tach to it the hatred and aversion of men, by the offensive 
way in which they propound it. It is the most important, 
as well as the most useful, precept of rhetoric, that it be 
hoves us to govern the spirit as well as the words ; for al 
though it is a different thing to be wrong in the manner 
from being wrong in the matter, the faults, nevertheless, 
of the manner are often greater and more important than 
those of the matter. 

In reality, all these fiery, presumptuous, bitter, obstinate, 
passionate manners, always spring from some disorder of 
the mind, which is often more serious than the defect of 
intelligence and of knowledge, which we reprehend in 
others ; and it is, indeed, always unjust to seek to persuade 
men in this way ; for it is very right that we should lead 
them to the truth when we know it ; but it is wrong to 
compel others to take, as true, everything that we believe, 
and to defer to our authority alone. We do this, however, 
when we propose the truth in this offensive manner. For 
the way of speaking generally enters into the mind before 
the reasons, since the mind is more prompt to notice the 
manner of the speaker than it is to comprehend the solidity 
of his proofs, which are often, indeed, not comprehended at 
all. Now the manner of the discourse being thus separat 
ed from the proofs, marks only the authority which he 
who speaks arrogates to himself; so that if he is bitter and 
imperious, he necessarily revolts the minds of others, since 
he appears to wish to gain, by authority, and by a kind of 
tyranny, that which ought only to be obtained by persua 
sion and reason. 

This injustice is still greater when we employ these 
offensive ways in combating common and received opinions; 
for the judgment of an individual may indeed be preferred 
to that of many when it is more correct, but an individual 
ought never to maintain that his authority should prevail 
against that of all others. 

Thus, not only modesty and prudence, but justice itself, 
obliges us to assume a modest air when we combat com 
mon opinions or established authority, otherwise we cannot 


escape the injustice of opposing the authority of an indi 
vidual to an authority either public, or greater, and more 
widely established than our own. We cannot exercise 
too much moderation when we seek to disturb the position 
of a received opinion or of an ancient faith. This is so 
true, that St Augustine extended it even to religious truths, 
having given this excellent rule to all those who have to 
instruct others : 

" Observe," says he, " in what way the wise and reli 
gious catholics taught that which they had to communicate 
to others. If they were things common and authorised, they 
propounded them in a manner full of assurance, and free 
from every trace of doubt by being accompanied with the 
greatest possible gentleness ; but if they were extraordinary 
things, although they themselves very clearly recognised 
their truth, they still proposed them rather as doubts and 
as questions to be examined, than as dogmas and fixed de 
cisions, in order to accommodate themselves in this to 
the weakness of those who heard them." That if a truth 
is so high that it is above the strength of those to whom 
it is spoken, they prefer rather to keep it back for a while, 
in order to give time for growth, and for becoming capable 
of receiving it, than to make it known to them in that state 
of weakness in which it would have overwhelmed them. 



IT remains that we explain the last part of logic that re 
lating to method which is, without doubt, one of the most 
useful and most important. We have thought it right to 
unite with it what belongs to demonstration, because this 
does not commonly consist of a single argument, but of a 
series of several reasonings, by which we incontrovertibly 
prove some truth ; and, moreover, because, in order to de 
monstrate well, it is indeed of little avail to know the 
rules of syllogism, which we rarely transgress, while it is 
of the first importance to arrange our thoughts clearly, and 
to avail ourselves of those which are clear and evident, 
to penetrate into what may appear more obscure. 

And since demonstration has knowledge for its end, it 
is necessary first to say something of it. 






IF, when we consider any maxim, we recognise the truth 
of it in itself, and by an evidence which we perceive with- 


out the aid of any other reason, this kind of knowledge is 
called intelligence ; and it is thus that we know first prin 

But if it is not convincing of itself, some other motive is 
necessary to render it so, and this motive is either authority 
or reason. If it is authority which leads the mind to embrace 
what is proposed to it, this is what is called faith. If it is 
reason, then either this reason does not produce complete 
conviction, but leaves still some doubt, and this acqui 
escence of the mind, accompanied with doubt, is what is 
called opinion. 

Or this reason produces complete conviction ; and then, 
either it is clear only in appearance, and requires attention, 
and the persuasion which it produces is an error, if it be 
really false ; or, at least, a rash judgment, if, being true in 
itself, we, nevertheless, had not sufficient reason for be 
lieving it to be true. 

But if this reason is not only apparent, but weighty and 
true, which we recognise by a longer and more minute 
attention, by a stronger persuasion, and by a quality of 
clearness, which is more vivid and penetrating, than the 
conviction which this reason produces,- is called knowledge, 
in relation to which many questions arise. 

The first is Whether there be such a thing ? that is 
to say, whether we have cognitions founded on clear and 
certain reasons, or, in general, whether we have clear and 
certain cognitions, for this question relates as much to 
intelligence as to knowledge. 

There are some philosophers who have made denying 
their profession, and who have even established on that 
foundation the whole of their philosophy ; and amongst 
these philosophers some are satisfied with denying cer 
tainty, admitting, at the same time, probability, and these 
are the new Academics ; the others, who are the Pyr- 
rhonists, have denied even this probability, and have main 
tained that all things are equally obscure and uncertain. 

But the truth is, that all these opinions, which have 
made so much noise in the world, have never existed any 
where, save in discourses, disputes, or writings, and no 
one has ever been seriously convinced of them. They 
were only the sport and amusement of unoccupied and in- 


genious persons ; but never the feelings of which they 
were inwardly and deeply conscious, and by which they 
endeavoured to conduct their life. Hence the best means 
of convincing these philosophers would be to refer them 
to their conscience and good faith, and to require from 
them, whether, after all these discourses, in which they had 
laboured to prove that it is impossible to distinguish sleep 
from waking, or madness from sound mindedness, they were 
not persuaded, despite their argument, that they did not 
sleep, and were of a sound mind. And if they had had 
any sincerity, they would have denied all their vain sub- 
tilties, by avowing freely that they had never been able 
to believe these things when they had tried to do so. 

And if any one were found who could entertain a doubt 
as to whether he were awake or sane, or able even to 
believe that the existence of all external things was un 
certain, being in doubt as to the existence of a sun, a 
moon, or of matter, no one could, however, be found 
to doubt, as St Augustine says, that he is, that he thinks, 
that he lives. For whether he were asleep or awake, 
whether he were of a diseased or sound mind, whether he 
were deceived or not deceived, he is at all events certain, 
inasmuch as he thinks, that he exists, and that he lives ; 
since it is impossible to separate being and life from 
thought, and to believe that what thinks neither exists nor 
lives? And from this clear, certain, and indubitable 
knowledge, he may form a rule for accepting as true all 
thoughts which he may find as clear as this one appears 
to be. 

It is equally impossible to doubt our perceptions when 
we separate 1 them from their objects. Thus, whether there 
be such things as the sun and the earth or not, I am cer 
tain that I imagine 1 see them. I am certain that I doubt 
when I doubt, that I believe I see, when I believe I see, 
that I believe I hear, when I believe I hear, and so of 
the rest. So that, restricting ourselves to the mind alone, 
and considering its modifications, we find a vast number of 
clear cognitions, whose truth it is impossible to doubt. 

This consideration may enable us to decide another 
question which has arisen in relation to this subject, to 
wit, whether the things which we know only through 


the mind ai*e more or less certain than those which we 
know through the senses? For it is clear from what we 
have said above, that we are more assured of those per 
ceptions and ideas which we discover only by a mental re 
flection, than we are of any of the objects of sense. We 
may say further, that while the senses do not always 
deceive us in the report which they give, our assurance, 
nevei theless, that they do not deceive, arises, not from the 
senses themselves, but from a reflection of the mind, through 
which we discern when we ought to believe, and when we 
ought not to believe, the senses. 

And hence it must be confessed that St Augustine had 
good ground to maintain, after Plato, that the determina 
tion of truth, and the rule for its discernment, belong not 
to the senses, but to the mind : Non est judiciwn veritatis 
in sensibus ; and also, that the certainty which may be de 
rived from the senses is of no great extent, there being 
many things which we imagine ourselves to know through 
sense, of which we cannot affirm that we have a complete 

For example, we may know through sense that one 
body is larger than another body, but we cannot know 
with certainty what is the true and natural size of each 
body. To understand this, it is only necessary to consider 
that if we had never see"n external objects in any other 
way than through the medium of magnifying glasses, it is 
certain that we should have figured to ourselves bodies, 
and all the measurements of bodies, according to that size 
only in which they had appeared to us through these 
glasses. Now our eyes themselves are glasses, and we do 
not know exactly whether they may not diminish or aug 
ment the objects which we behold, or whether these artifi 
cial glasses, which we imagine diminish or augment them, 
may not, on the contrary, represent their true size. And, 
therefore, we do not know the natural and absolute size of 
any body. 

We do not know, either, whether our perception of the 
size of objects is the same as that of others ; for although 
two persons may agree together in their measurement, that 
a given body, for example, is only five feet, yet, neverthe 
less, that which the one conceives to be a foot may not be 


the same as that which the other does ; for they each con 
ceive what their eyes severally represent to them. Now 
it may be that the eyes of one do not represent the same 
thing to him which the eyes of others do to them, because 
they are glasses differently cut. 

This diversity, however, is probably not great, because 
we do not perceive any difference in the conformation of 
the eye sufficient to produce any remarkable change ; be 
sides which, though our eyes are glasses, they are, however, 
glasses cut by the hand of God : so that we have good 
ground for believing that they represent, for the most part, 
the truth of objects, except when their natural figure is 
injured or disturbed by some defect. 

However this may be, though the judgment of the size 
of objects be to some extent uncertain, this is not very 
important, and we are not from it to conclude that there is 
no certainty in any of the other representations of sense ; 
for, though I may not know exactly, as I have said, what 
is the natural and absolute size of an elephant, I do know, 
however, that he is greater than a horse, and less than a 
whale ; which is sufficient for all the purposes of life. 

There is, therefore, certainty and uncertainty both in 
the mind and in the senses ; and it would be an equal 
mistake to maintain that all things should be considered 
either as certain or uncertain. 

Reason, on the other hand, compels us to acknowledge, 
in relation to this, three degrees. 

For there are some things which we may know clearly 
and certainly. There are others which we cannot know 
with the clearness of truth, but to the knowledge of which 
we may hope to arrive. And, finally, there are some 
which it is impossible to know with certainty, either be 
cause we have not the principles which would lead us to 
them, or because they are too disproportionate to our 

The first kind comprehends all that we know through 
demonstration, or through intelligence. 

The second is the matter of the study of philosophers. 
But they may spend their time uselessly, if they do not 
know how to distinguish these from the third, that is to 
say, if they cannot discern the things at the knowledge of 


which the mind may arrive, from those which it is incap 
able of reaching. 

The shortest method which can be found in the study of 
the sciences, is that of never engaging in the search after 
any of those things which are above us, and which we 
cannot reasonably hope to be able to comprehend. Of 
this kind are all the questions which relate to the power 
of God, and generally all that belongs to the infinite, which 
it is absurd to attempt to reduce within the limits of our 
mind ; for our mind, being finite, is lost and confounded 
in the infinite, and remains overwhelmed with the multi 
tude of conflicting thoughts which it furnishes. 

This is the shortest and most convenient solution which can 
be given of a great number of questions, on which we may 
dispute for ever, because we can never attain to any 
knowledge of them sufficiently clear to fix and hold our 
minds. Is it possible for a creature to have been created 
from eternity ? Can God make a body infinite in size ? 
a movement infinite in swiftness ? a multitude infinite in 
number? Is an infinite number even, or uneven ? Is one 
infinite greater than another ? He who should say at once, 
I know nothing about these things, will have advanced as 
far in a moment, as he who should have spent twenty 
years in reasoning on them ; and the only difference there 
would be between them is, that he who had laboured to 
solve these questions is in danger of falling into a lower 
state than that of simple ignorance, which is that of be 
lieving himself to know what he does not. 

There are also a great number of metaphysical questions, 
which are too vague, too abstract, and too far removed 
from clear and well-known principles, to be ever resolved ; 
and the best way is for us to have as little to do with them 
as we can ; and, after having learned, in general, what they 
are, to resolve boldly to be ignorant of them. 

Nescire qusedam, magna pars sapientise. 

In this way, by freeing ourselves from inquiries in which 
it is impossible to succeed, we shall be able to make more 
progress in those which are adapted to the capacity of 
our mind. 

But it must be remarked that there are some things 


which are incomprehensible in their manner, but which 
are certain in their existence. We are unable to conceive 
how they can be, while it is certain, nevertheless, that they are. 

What is more incomprehensible than eternity, and what, 
at the same time, is more certain ? So that those even, 
who, through an awful blindness, have destroyed in their 
mind the knowledge of God, are obliged to attribute it to 
the most vile and contemptible of all things, which is matter. 

How can we comprehend that the smallest grain of 
matter is infinitely divisible, and that we can never reach 
a part so small, but that it not only contains many others, 
but also an infinity ; that the smallest grain of wheat con 
tains in itself as many parts, though proportionally smaller, 
as the whole world, that all imaginable forms are actually 
found in it, and that it contains in itself a small world, 
with all its parts a sun, a heaven, stars, planets a world 
with admirable exactness of proportions, and that there 
are none of the parts of that grain which do not still 
themselves contain a proportional world ? What must be 
the part in so small a world which answers to the size of 
a grain of wheat ? and what a tremendous difference must 
there be, in order that we may be able to say truly, that 
what a grain of wheat is in relation to the whole world, 
that part is in relation to a grain of wheat ? Nevertheless 
that part, whose littleness is already incomprehensible to 
us, contains still another world proportional ; and so on to 
infinity, without our being able to find any which has not 
as many relative parts as the whole world, however nu 
merous these may be. 

All these things are inconceivable ; and they must, 
nevertheless, necessarily be so, since we can demonstrate 
the divisibility of matter to infinity, and since geometry 
has furnished us with proofs of it, as plain as those of any 
of the truths which it reveals to us. 

For this science shows us that there are certain lines 
which have no common measure, and which are called, for 
this reason, incommensurable, as the diagonal of a square, 
and the sides. Now, if this diagonal and the sides were 
composed of a certain number of indivisible parts, one 
of these indivisible parts would be the common measure 
of these two lines, and, consequently, these two lines 


cannot be composed of a certain number of indivisible 

It is demonstrated, again, by this science, that it is 
impossible for a square number to be double of another 
square number, while, however, it is very possible that an 
extended square may be double of another extended square. 
Now, if these two extended squares were composed of a 
certain number of ultimate parts, the large square would 
contain double the parts of the small one, and both being 
squares, there would be a square number double another 
square number, which is impossible. 

Finally, there is nothing more clear than this principle, 
that two non-extensions cannot form an extension, and that 
an extended whole has parts. Now, taking two of these 
parts, which we assume to be indivisible, I ask, whether 
these have extension, or whether they have not ? If they 
have, they are therefore divisible, and have many parts; 
if they have not, they are two negations of extension, and 
thus it is impossible for them to constitute an extension. 

We must renounce human certainty before we can doubt 
the truth of these demonstrations ; but to help us to con 
ceive, as far as is possible, this infinite divisibility of matter, 
I have added yet another proof, which shows us at the 
same time a division to infinity, and a motion which 
slackens to infinity, without ever arriving at rest. 

It is certain that, though we may doubt whether exten 
sion be divisible to infinity, we cannot, at all events, doubt 
that it may be augmented to infinity, and that to a plain 
of a hundred thousand leagues we may join another of a 
hundred thousand leagues, and so on to infinity. Now 
this infinite augmentation of extension proves its infinite 
divisibility ; and in order to comprehend this, we have 
only to imagine a level sea which extends infinitely in 
length, and a vessel on the shore of that sea, which sets 
out from port in a straight line. It is certain that to any 
one looking from the port at the hull of the vessel re 
flected through a glass, or any other diaphanous body, 
the ray which terminates at the base of that vessel will 
pass through a certain point of the glass, and that the 
horizontal ray will pass through another point of the glass 
higher than the first. Now, in proportion as the vessel 


moves away, the point of the ray which terminated at the 
base of the vessel will always ascend, and will infinitely 
divide the space which is between the two points ; and the 
farther the vessel goes, the slower it will ascend, without 
ever ceasing to rise, and without ever arriving at the point 
of the horizontal ray, because the two lines, intersecting 
each other in the eye, could never be either parallel or in 
the same line. Thus this example furnishes at once the 
proof of a division to infinity of extension, and of a diminu 
tion to infinity of motion. 

It is through this infinite diminution of extension, which 
arises from its divisibility, that we are able to prove these 
problems, which appear impossible from the terms : To 
find an infinite space equal to a finite space, or which may be 
only the half or the third, &c., of a finite space. We may 
resolve them in different ways ; and the following is one, 
clumsy enough, but very easy : If we take the half of a 
square, and the half of that half, and so on to infinity, arid 
then join all these halves together by their longest line, we 
shall form from them an area of an irregular figure, which 
will always diminish to infinity at one of the ends, and 
which will be equal to the whole square; for the half, and 
the half of that half plus the half of that second half, and 
so on to infinity ; the third, and the third of the third, and 
so on to infinity, constitute a half. The fourths, taken in 
the same way, make the third, and the fifths the fourth. 
By joining the ends of these thirds or these fourths, we 
shall make from them a figure which will contain the half 
or the third of the whole area, which will be infinite in 
length on one side, while diminishing continually in 

The advantage which may be derived from these specu 
lations is not simply the acquisition of these knowledges, 
which are in themselves barren enough, but in teaching us 
to know the true limits of our mind, and in making us 
confess, whether we will or no, that there are some things 
which exist although we are not able to comprehend them; 
and hence it is well for a man to weary himself with these 
subtilties, in order to check his presumption, and to take 
away from him the boldness which would lead him to 
oppose his feeble intelligence to the truths which the 


church proposes to him, under the pretext that he cannot 
understand them ; for, since the strength of the human 
mind is compelled to bow before the smallest atom of 
matter, and to confess that it clearly sees that it is infinitely 
divisible, without being able to comprehend how this can 
be, it is manifest that we sin against reason in refusing to 
believe the marvellous effects of the omnipotence of God 
(which is in itself incomprehensible), because our mind is 
unable to comprehend them. 

But as it is profitable for the mind sometimes to be led 
to feel its own feebleness, through the consideration of 
those objects which are above it, and which, being above 
it, abase and humble it, it is certain, also, that we must 
endeavour to choose, for our ordinary occupation, subjects 
and matters which may be more adapted to our capacity, 
and whose truth we may be able to discover and compre 
hend. This is done, either by proving effects through 
their causes, which is called proving a priori, or by de 
monstrating, on the contrary, causes through their effects, 
which is called proving a posteriori. It is necessary to 
extend these terms a little, in order to bring under them 
all kinds of demonstrations ; but it was well to notice them 
in passing, that we may understand them, and that we 
may not be surprised when we meet with them in the 
books or in the discourses of philosophy ; and since these 
reasons are commonly composed of many parts, it is 
necessary, in order to render them clear and conclusive, to 
dispose them in a certain order and method. Of this 
method we shall treat in the greater part of the present 




METHOD may be called, in general, the art of disposing well 
a series of many thoughts, either for the discovering truth when 


we are ignorant of It, or for proving it to others when it is 
already known. 

Thus there are two kinds of method, one for discovering 
truth, which is called analysis, or the method of resolution, 
and which may also be called the method of invention ; and 
the other for explaining it to others when we have found 
it, which is called synthesis, or the method of composition, and 
which may be also called the method of doctrine. We do not 
commonly treat of the entire body of a science by analysis, 
but employ it only to resolve some question.* 
All questions are either of words or things. 
By questions of words we here mean, not those in which 
we inquire into words, but those in which, through the 
words, we inquire into things, as those in which we engage 
to find the sense of an enigma, or to explain, from obscure 
or ambiguous words, what is the true meaning of an author. 
Questions of things may be reduced to four principal 
kinds : the first is, when ive seek causes through effects. We 
know, for example, the different effects of the loadstone 
we inquire into the cause of these ; we know the different 
effects which are commonly attributed to the abhorrence of 
a vacuum we inquire whether that is the true cause, and 
we have found that it is not ; we know the ebb and flow of 
the sea we ask what can be the cause of a motion so great 
and so regular. 

The second is, when we seek effects through causes. It was 
always, for example, known that wind and water possessed 
treat power over the movements of bodies; but the ancients, 
not having sufficiently examined what effects might flow 
from these causes, did not apply them as they have since 
been applied, by means of mills, to a great number of pur 
poses very useful to society, which wonderfully lessen the 
labour of men, which ought to be the result of true physics : 
so that we may say that the first kind of questions in 
which we seek causes through effects, constitute the specu 
lative part of physics ; and the second kind, in which we 
seek effects by causes, the practical. 

The third kind of questions is, when through the parts we 

* The greater part of what is here said of questions is taken from a 
MS. of the late M. Descartes, which M. Clercelier had the goodness to 
lend me. 


seek the whole : as when, having many numbers, we seek 
their sum by adding them together ; or when, having two, 
we seek their product by multiplying them together. 

The fourth is, when, having the whole and some part, we 
seek another part ; as when, having one number and another 
which is to be subtracted from it, we seek what remains ; 
or when, having a number, we seek what such a part of it 
will be. 

But it must be remarked that, in order to extend further 
the two last kinds of questions, and in order that we may 
comprehend what cannot be properly brought under the 
two first, it is necessary to take the word part in its most 
general signification for all which a thing comprises its 
modes, its extremities, its accidents, its properties, and, in 
general, all its attributes, so that, for example, we shall 
seek the whole by its parts when we seek to find the area 
of a triangle from its height and base, and we shall, on the 
contrary, seek a part by the whole, and another part when 
we seek to find the side of a rectangle from knowing its 
area and one of its sides. 

Now, whatever may be the nature of the question which 
we propose to resolve, the first thing which we must do is 
to conceive, accurately and distinctly, precisely what it is we 
are seeking, that is, what is the precise point of the question. 
For we must avoid what happens to some, who, by a 
precipitation of mind, engage in the resolution of what is 
proposed to them before having sufficiently considered by 
what signs or marks they might recognise what they seek 
for if they met with it, as a valet, who, when commanded 
by his master to fetch one of his friends, should hurry 
away before having learnt more particularly from his 
master who that friend was. 

Now, although in every question there is something 
unknown, otherwise there would be nothing to seek, it is, 
nevertheless, necessary that even that which is unknown 
should be marked out and designated by certain conditions 
which may determine us to seek one thing rather than 
another, and which may enable us to judge, when we 
have found it, that it is the thing of which we were in search. 
And these conditions ought to be well considered before 
hand, that we may not add anything which is not contained 


in that which is proposed, and that we may not omit any- 
thingwhichit does contain, forwe may sin in both these ways. 

We should sin in the first way, if when, for example, 
we were asked what animal that is which goes in the morn 
ing on four feet, at mid-day on two, and in the evening on 
three, we believed ourselves obliged to take all these words, 
feet, morning, middle-day, evening, in their strict and literal 
meaning ; for he who proposes this enigma has not laid it 
down as a condition that we must take them in this way, 
but it is sufficient that these words may, by metaphor, be 
referred to other things, and thus that question is properly 
resolved when we say that that animal is man. 

Suppose, again, that we were asked by what artifice the 
figure of a Tantalus could have been made, which, lying 
on a column in the midst of a vase in the posture of a man 
who bent down to drink, was never able to do so, because 
the water, though able to rise very well in the vase up 
to his mouth, as soon as it reached his lips all flowed 
away, until none was left in the vase. We should sin 
by adding conditions which would not at all contribute 
towards the solution of this question, if we were to busy 
ourselves in seeking after some secret wonder in the figure 
of this Tantalus, which caused the water to flow away as 
soon as it had touched his lips for this is not involved in 
the question and if we would conceive it aright, we ought 
to reduce it to these terms : To make a vase which would 
hold water so long as it was filled to a certain height, and 
which would let it all flow away again if it were filled 
beyond. And this is very easy, for we need only hide in 
the column a syphon which has one small opening below, 
through which the water enters, and the longer leg of which 
has an opening below the foot of the vase ; so long as the 
water which we put in the vase does not reach the height 
of the syphon it will remain there, but when it reaches it, 
it will all flow away through the longer leg of the syphon, 
which is hidden below the foot of the vase. 

It is asked, again, What could be the secret of that water 
drinker who exhibited himself at Paris twenty years ago, 
and how it could be that in throwing out water from his 
mouth he filled, at the same time, five or six diS erent 
glasses with water of different colours ? If we imagine that 


these waters of different colours were in his stomach, and 
he separated them in throwing them up, one into one glass 
and another into another, we should inquire after a secret 
which we could never find, since it is not possible ; whereas 
we ought to inquire only how water coming at the same 
time from the same mouth appeared of different colours 
in each of these glasses, and it is very likely that this 
would be from some tincture that he had placed at the 
bottom of each of these glasses. 

It is also an artifice of those who propose questions 
which they do not wish should be easily resolved, to sur 
round that which is to be found with so many conditions 
which are useless, and which do not contribute anything 
to its discovery, that we cannot easily detect the true point 
of the question, and that we thus lose time, and uselessly 
weary the mind in keeping its attention fixed on things 
which do not at all contribute to resolve it. 

The other way in which we sin in the examination of 
the conditions of what we seek, is, when we omit some 
things which are essential to the question proposed. It is 
proposed, for example, to find, by art, perpetual motion ; 
for we know well that there are some which are perpetual 
in nature, such as the movements of fountains, of rivers, of 
seas. There are some who, having imagined that the 
earth turns on its centre, and that it is only a great mag 
net, of which the loadstone has all the properties, have also 
believed that we might dispose a magnet so that it would 
always turn circularly ; but even if this were so, we should 
not then solve the problem of finding, by art, perpetual 
motion, since that motion would be as natural as that of a 
wheel exposed to the current of a river. 

When, therefore, we have well examined the conditions 
which designate and mark out what is unknown in the 
question, we must then examine what is known, since it is 
through this that we must arrive at the knowledge of what 
is unknown ; for we need not imagine that we shall find a 
new kind of being, inasmuch as our intelligence can go 
no further than the recognition that what we seek partici 
pates in such and such a way in the nature of things al 
ready known. If, for example, a man were blind from 
birth, it would be in vain to seek after arguments and 


proofs to convey to him the true idea of colours such as 
we possess through sense ; and so, if the magnet about 
which we interrogate nature, were a new kind of being, 
the like of which our mind had never conceived, we could 
never attain to the knowledge of it by reasoning, for we 
should need for this a different mind from our own. And 
so we ought to believe that we have found all that can be 
found by the human mind, if we can distinctly conceive 
such a mixture of the beings and natures which are 
known to us as may produce all the effects which we see 
in the magnet. 

Now it is in the attention we give to that which is known 
in the question we wish to resolve, that analysis mainly 
consists, the whole art being to derive, from this examina 
tion, many truths which may conduct us to the knowledge 
of what we seek. 

As, suppose it be asked whether the soul of man is immortal, 
and that, in order to discover this, we apply ourselves to 
consider the nature of the soul, we remark, in the first place, 
respecting it, that it is the property of the soul to think, 
and that it may doubt of everything else without being 
able to doubt whether it thinks, since doubt itself is a 
.thought. We then inquire what it is to think, and finding 
that nothing is contained in the idea of thought which be 
longs to the idea of substance extended, which we call 
body, and that we may even deny of thought everything 
which belongs to body (such as being long, short, deep, 
having diversity of parts, and being of such or such a 
figure, being divisible, &c.), without destroying, on that 
account, the idea which we have of thought, we conclude 
fi-om this that thought is not a mode of substance ex 
tended, since, according to the nature of a mode, it cannot 
be conceived to exist when that of which it was the mode 
is denied. Whence, we infer again, that thought not being 
a mode of substance extended, must be the attribute of 
another substance, and that thus the substance which 
thinks and the substance extended are two substances really 
distinct ; from which it follows that the destruction of the 
one does not involve the destruction of the other, since 
even the substance extended is not properly destroyed, but 
that all which happens in what we call destruction is 


nothing more than the change or dissolution of some parts 
of matter which always remain in nature, as we know well 
enough that in breaking all the wheels of a clock none of 
its substance is destroyed, although we say that the clock 
is destroyed ; which proves that the soul, not being divisible, 
and not being composed of any parts, cannot perish, and 
is, therefore, immortal. 

This is what is called analysis or resolution, on which it 
may be remarked : 

1st, That we ought to observe in it, as well as in the 
method, which is called that of composition, always to pass 
from that which is more known to that which is less ; for 
there is not any true method which can dispense with this 

2d, But it differs from that of composition in this that 
we take those truths known in the particular examination 
from the thing which we are supposed to know, and not 
from things more general, as we do in the method of doc 
trine. Thus, in the example which we have given, we did 
not begin by the establishment of these general maxims : 
That no substance perishes, properly speaking ; that what 
is called destruction is only a dissolution of parts ; that 
thus that which has no parts cannot be destroyed, &c. 
But we ascended by degrees to these general knowledges. 

3d, We propose clear and evident maxims only in pro 
portion as we need them, whereas, in the other, we estab 
lish them at first, as will be shown hereafter. 

4th, Finally, these two methods differ only as the road 
by which we ascend from a valley to a mountain from that 
by which we descend from the mountain into the valley, 
which is no difference of road, but only a difference in the 
going ; or, as the two ways differ, which we may employ 
to prove that a person is descended from St Louis, of which 
the one is to show that this person had such a one for his 
father, who was the son of such a one, and he of another, 
and so on to St Louis ; and the other, that of commencing 
with St Louis, and showing that he had such children, 
and that from these children others descended down to the 
person in question. And this example is the more suitable 
on this occasion, since it is certain, that, in order to 
find an unknown genealogy, we must remount from the 


son to the father, whereas, in explaining it after it has been 
found, the most common method is to commence with the 
stock, in order to show the descendants from it, which is 
also what is commonly done in the sciences, where, after 
having used analysis to find some truth, we employ the 
other method for explaining what is found. 

We may hence understand that this is the analysis of 
the geometers ; for it proceeds as follows : A question 
having been proposed to them, in relation to which they 
are ignorant if it be a theorem, of its truth or falsehood; 
if a problem, of its possibility or impossibility they assume 
that it is as it is pi-oposed ; and examining what follows 
from this, if they arrive, in that examination, at some clear 
truth from which what is proposed to them is a necessary 
consequence, they conclude from this that what is proposed 
to them is true ; and, returning then through the way they 
had come, they demonstrate it by another method which 
is called composition. But if they fall, as a necessary conse 
quence from what is proposed to them, into some absurdity 
or impossibility, they conclude from this, that what is pro 
posed to them is false and impossible. 

This is what may be said generally touching analysis, 
which consists more in judgment and sagacity of mind 
than in particular rules. The four following, nevertheless, 
which M. Descartes proposes in his method, may be useful 
for preserving us from error, when seeking after the truth 
in human sciences, although, indeed, they apply generally 
to all kinds of method, and not specially to analysis alone. 

The first is, Never to accept anything as true ivhich ive do 
not clearli/ know to be so, that is to say, to avoid carefully 
precipitation and prejudice, and to comprise nothing more 
in our judgments than what is presented so clearly to the 
mind that we have no room to doubt it. 

The second, To divide each of the difficulties ive examine 
into as many parts as possible, and as may be necessary for re 
solving it. 

A third, To conduct our thoughts in order, by commencing 
with objects the most simple and the most easily known, in order 
to ascend by degrees to the knowledge of the most complex, sup 
posing even, from the order between them, that they do not 
naturally precede each other. 


The fourth, to make, in relation to everything, enumerations 
so complete that we may be assured of having omitted nothing. 

It is true that there is much difficulty in observing these 
rules, but it is always advantageous to have them in the 
mind, and to observe them as much as possible when we 
try to discover the truth by means of reason, and as far as 
our mind is capable of knowing it. 



WHAT we have said in the preceding chapter has already 
given us some idea of the method of composition, which is 
the most important, inasmuch as it is that which is em 
ployed for the explanation of all the sciences. 

This method consists principally in commencing with 
the most general and simple things, in order to pass to 
those which are less general and more complex. In this 
way we avoid repetitions, since, were we to treat of the 
species before the genus, as it is impossible to know well a 
species without knowing its genus, it would be necessary 
to explain the nature of the genus many times in the ex 
planation of each species. 

There are still many things to be observed in order to 
render this method perfect, and fully fitted to the end 
which it ought to propose, which is, that of giving us a 
clear and distinct knowledge of truth. But as general 
precepts are more difficult to comprehend when they are 
separated from all matter, we will consider the method 
which the geometers follow, that being always considered 
best adapted for proving the truth, and for fully convincing 
the mind of it. We shall first consider what is its excel 
lence ; and, in the second place, wherein it appears to be 


The geometers having for their aim the advancing only 
of that which is convincing, have believed that they could 
secure this by observing three things in general : 

The first is, to leave no ambiguity in the terms, which they 
have provided for by the definition of Avords, of which we 
have spoken in the First Part. 

The second is, to establish their reasonings only on principles 
clear and evident, and which cannot be contested by any 
one ; which leads them, first of all, to lay down axioms 
which they require to be granted to them, as being so 
clear that they would only be obscured by any attempt to 
prove them. 

The third is, to prove demonstratively all the conclusions 
which they advance, by availing themselves only of the de 
finitions which they have laid down of principles which 
have been accorded to them as being very evident, or of 
propositions which they have derived from these by the 
force of reasoning, which afterwards become to them the 
same as principles. 

Thus we may reduce to these three heads all that the 
geometers have observed for convincing the mind, and 
include the whole in these five most important rules : 


For Definitions. 

1. To admit no terms in the least obscure or equivocal with 
out defining them. 

2. To employ in the definitions only terms already known or 
perfectly explained. 

For Axioms. 

3. To demand as axioms only things perfectly evident. 

For Demonstrations. 

4. To prove all propositions winch are at all. obscure, by em 
ploying in their proof only the definitions which have preceded, or 
the axioms which have been accorded, or the propositions which 
have been already demonstrated, or the construction of the thing 


itself which is in dispute, ivhen there may be any operation to 

5. Never to abuse the equivocation of terms by failing to 
substitute for them, mentally, the definitions which restrict and 
explain them. 

This is what the geometers have judged necessary in order 
to render their proofs convincing and invincible. It must 
be confessed that attention to the observation of these rules 
is sufficient to enable us to avoid false reasoning in the 
treating of the sciences, which is, without doubt, the main 
thing, since all the rest may be called useful rather than 



ALTHOUGH we have already spoken in the First Part 
touching the utility of the definition of terms, it is never 
theless so important, that we cannot have it too much 
impressed on our minds, since we may by it clear up a 
number of disputes, which have as their subject often only 
the ambiguity of terms, which one takes in one sense, and 
another in another. So that some of the greatest contro 
versies would cease in a moment, if one or other of the 
disputants took care to mark out precisely, and in a few 
words, what he understands by the terms which are the 
subject of dispute. 

Cicero has remarked that the greater part of the dis 
putes between the ancient philosophers, and especially 
between the Stoics and the Academics, were founded only 
on this ambiguity of words, the Stoics being delighted, 


in order to elevate themselves, to take several terms in a 
different sense from others. This created the belief that 
their morality was much more severe and perfect, although 
in reality this pretended perfection was only in words, and 
not in things. The wise man of the Stoics did not less 
enjoy all the pleasures of life than the philosophers of 
other sects, apparently not so strict, and did not avoid 
with less care its evils and inconveniences, with this 
single difference, that while other philosophers employed 
the common terms of good and evil, the Stoics, in en 
joying pleasures, did not call them good things, but pre 
ferable things (Trpo^eW) ; and in avoiding evils, they did 
not call them evils, but simply things to be rejected (dno 

It is a caution very useful to cast away from all disputes 
everything which is founded only on the equivocation of 
words, by defining them in other terms so clear, that it is 
impossible for them to be any longer mistaken. 

For this, the first of the rules which we have laid down 
avails: never to leave any term at all obscure or equivocal 
without defining it. 

But in order to derive all the profit which we ought to 
do from these definitions, it is necessary still to add the 
second rule, to employ in the definitions only terms perfectly 
well knoivn, or already explained. 

For when we have not marked out with sufficient pre 
cision and distinctness the idea to which we wish to attach 
a word, it is almost impossible for us, in the course of the 
argument, to avoid passing to another idea than that 
which we had marked out, that is to say, instead of 
mentally substituting, every time we use the word, the 
same idea which we had designated, we substitute for it 
another word with which nature furnishes us ; and it is 
easy to discover this by formally substituting the definition 
for the thing defined. For this ought not to change the 
proposition at all if we have always kept to the same 
idea, whereas it will change it if we have not done so. 

All this will be better comprehended by some examples. 
Euclid defines a plane rectilinear angle the meeting of two 
right lines which incline towards each other in the same plane. 
If we consider this definition as the simple definition of a 


word, so that the word angle be considered as having 
been deprived of all signification in order to receive that 
of the meeting of two right lines, there is nothing to cen 
sure in it ; for Euclid may be permitted to call the word 
angle the meeting of two lines. But he is bound to re 
member this, and never to take the word angle in any 
other sense. Now, in order to do this, it is only necessary 
to substitute for the word angle, wherever he uses it, the 
definition of it which he has given ; and if, in substituting 
this definition, there be found any absurdity in what is 
said of an angle, it will follow that he has not kept to the 
same idea as he had designated, but that he has uncon 
sciously passed to another, which is that of nature. He 
tells us, for example, how to divide an angle in two. 
Substitute his definition : Who does not see that it is not 
the meeting of two lines which we divide into two, but 
it is not the meeting of two lines which has sides and a 
base or subtendant, but that all this belongs to the space 
between the lines, and not to the meeting of the lines? 

It is plain that what perplexed Euclid, and withheld 
him from designating an angle by the words space com 
prised within two lines which meet together was, that he saw 
that this space might be larger or smaller when the sides 
of the angle were longer or shorter, without the angle 
within being greater or less. But he ought not to have 
concluded from this that the rectilinear angle was not a 
space, but simply that it was a space contained between 
two right lines which meet together, indeterminate in 
relation to the one of the two dimensions, which answers 
to the length of these lines, and determinate in relation 
to the other by the proportional part of a circumference, 
which has for its centre the point in which these lines 

This definition designates so exactly the idea which all 
men have of an angle, that it is at once the definition of a 
word and of a thing, except that the word angle com 
prises also, in common discourse, a solid angle, whereas, 
by this definition, it is restricted to signify a plane recti 
linear angle. And when we have thus defined an angle, 
it is indubitable that everything which we may afterwards 
say of a plane rectilinear angle (such as we find in all 


rectilinear figures) will be true of this angle thus defined, 
without our ever being obliged to change the idea, and 
without our meeting with any absurdity in substituting 
the definition for the thing defined. For it is that space* 
thus explained, which we may divide into two, into three, 
into four ; it is that space which has two sides, between 
which it is contained; it is that space which we may 
terminate on the side which is itself indeterminate, by a 
line which is called the base or subtendant ; it is that space 
which is not considered as greater or less for being con 
tained between lines longer or shorter, because, bein"- 
indeterminate in relation to this dimension, it is not from 
this that we ought to measure its greatness or smallness. 
By this definition, too, we obtain the means of judln^ 
whether one angle is equal to another angle, or greater or 
less ; for since the size of that space is only determined by 
the proportional part of a circumference, which has for its 
centre the point in which the lines which contain the angle 
meet, when two angles have for their measure equal 
aliquot parts of its circumference, they are equal, as, for 
instance, the tenth part ; and if one has the tenth, and the 
other the twelfth, that which has the tenth is greater than 
that which has the twelfth. Whereas, according to the 
definition of Euclid, we cannot understand in what the 
equality of two angles consists, which produces a terrible 
confusion in his Elements, as Ramus has remarked, though 
he himself makes scarcely any improvement. 

The following are other definitions of Euclid, in which 
he commits the same fault as in that of the angle. " Ratio" 
says he, " is the habitude of two magnitudes of the same land 
compared together, according to quantity. Proportion is a 
likeness of ratios" 

According to these definitions, the term ratio ought to 
comprehend the habitude which is between two magnitudes, 
when we consider how far one exceeds the other ; for it 
cannot be denied that this is a habitude of two magnitudes 
compared in relation to their quantity ; and, consequently, 
four magnitudes will have a proportion together when the 
difference of the first to the second is equal to the difference 
of the third to the fourth. Nothing, therefore, can be said 
against these definitions of Euclid, provided that he always 


keeps to the notions which he has designated by these 
words, and to which he has given the names of ratio and 
proportion. But he does not always keep to them, since, 
according to what follows in his book, these four numbers, 
3, 5, 8, 10, are not proportional, although the definition 
which he has given to the word proportion agrees with 
them, since there is between the first number and the 
second, compared according to quantity, a like habitude 
to that which exists between the third and the fourth. 

It is necessary, therefore, in order not to be deceived by 
this disagreement, to remark that we may compare two 
magnitudes in two ways, one by considering how much one 
exceeds the other, and the other, in what way one is con 
tained in another ; and since these two habitudes are dif 
ferent, it is necessary to give them different names, giving 
to the first the name of difference, and to the second the 
name of ratio. It is necessary, accordingly, to define pro 
portion as the equality of one or other of these kind of 
habitudes, that is to say, of the difference or of the ratio; 
and since this makes two species, to distinguish them also 
by two different names, by calling the equality of the dif 
ferences arithmetical proportion, and the equality of the 
ratios geometrical proportion. And since this last is of much 
greater use than the first, we might still further premise, 
that when we simply speak of proportion, or proportional 
magnitudes, we mean geometrical proportion, and that we 
mean arithmetical only when it is so expressed. This 
would have cleared up all obscurity, and have removed the 

All this shows us that we ought not to abuse that maxim, 
that the definition of words is arbitrary, but that great care 
ought to be taken to designate so accurately and clearly 
the idea to which we wish to connect the word which we 
define that we cannot be deceived by it in the subsequent 
discourse, by changing that idea, that is, by taking the 
word in another sense from that which we had given to it 
in the definition, so that we cannot substitute the definition 
for the thing defined without falling into some absurdity. 




ALTHOUGH there are no authors who have turned the de 
finition of words to better account than the geometers, I 
feel myself, nevertheless, obliged to remark here, that they 
have not always regarded the difference which ought to be 
observed between the definitions of things and the defini 
tions of words, to wit, that the first are open to dispute, 
and that the others cannot be disputed ; for there are some 
who dispute about the definition of words as earnestly as 
though they were the things themselves. 

Thus we may see, in the Commentaries of Clavius on 
Euclid, a long and very angry dispute between Pelletier 
and himself, touching the space between the tangent and 
the circumference, which Pelletier affirmed was not an 
angle, when Clavius maintained that it was. Who does 
not see that all this might have been settled in a word 
by demanding from each what he understood by the term 
angle ? 

We see, again, that Simon Stevin, a very celebrated 
mathematician of the Prince of Orange, having defined 
number thus : Number is that by which the quantity of every 
thing is explained, gets immediately into a great rage 
against those who do not allow unity to be a number, 
breaking into rhetorical exclamations as though it were a 
most important discussion. It is true that he mingles with 
that discourse a question of some importance, which is, 
Whether the unit is to number what a point is to a line ? 
But it is necessary to distinguish this, in order that we may 
not confuse two things very different. And thus, to treat 
separately these two questions the one, whether the unit is 
a number ; the other, whether the unit is to number what a 


point is to a line it must be said about the first that it is 
only a dispute touching words, and that the unit may be a 
number, or may not be, according to the definition which 
we choose to give of number ; for, defining it as Euclid 
does, number is a multitude of units together it is plain that 
the unit is not a number ; but that, as this definition of 
Euclid was arbitrary, and we may thus give another to the 
word number, we may give to it one such as that which 
Stevin proposes, according to which unity is a number. 
Hence the first question is void ; and we cannot say any 
thing against those who choose to call unity a number 
without a manifest begging of the question, as we may see 
by examining the pretended demonstrations of Stevin. The 
first is : 

The part is of the same nature as the whole ; 

Unity is part of a multitude of units ; 

Therefore unity is of the same nature as a multitude of 

units, and, consequently, a number. 

This argument is worth nothing at all ; for though the 
part be always of the same nature as the whole, it will not 
follow that it must always have the same name as the 
whole ; and, on the contrary, it very often happens that it 
has not the same name. A soldier is one part of an army, 
and not an army ; a room is one part of a house, and not 
a house ; a semicircle is not a circle ; a part of a square is 
not a square. This argument proves, therefore, rather 
that unity, being part of a multitude of unities, has some 
thing in common with the whole multitude of unities, in 
relation to which we may say that it is of the same nature ; 
but this does not prove that we are obliged to give the 
same name, number, to a unit and a multitude of units, 
since we may, if we choose, keep the term, number, for a 
multitude of units, and give to the unit only the name of 
unity, or of a part of a number. 

The second reason of Stevin is no better : 

If, from a given number we take away no number, the 
number remains the same ; 

Therefore, if unity were no number, in taking one from 
three, the given number would remain the same, which 
is absurd. 
But the major here is ridiculous, and supposes the very 


thing in dispute ; for Euclid will deny that the given 
number remains when we have taken away no number 
from it, since it is enough for its not continuing what it 
was, that we take away from it either a number, or a part of 
a number, such as the unit is. And if this argument were 
good, we might prove, in the same way, that in taking 
away a semicircle from a given circle, the given circle 
must remain, since we have taken away from it no circle. 

Thus all the arguments of Stevin prove rather that we 
may define the word number in such a way that it may 
apply to unity, inasmuch as unity, and the multitude of 
unities, have sufficient in common to enable them to be 
signified by the same name ; but they do not prove at all 
that we may not also define number by restricting this 
word to a multitude of units, in order that we may not be 
obliged to except unity whenever we explain the properties 
which belong to all numbers but unity. 

But the second question that, to wit, whether the unit is 
to other numbers as the point is to the line is not of the 
same nature as the first, and is not a dispute of a word, 
but of a thing. For it is absolutely false that the unit may 
be to number as the point is to the line, since unity added 
to a number makes it greater, whereas, when a point is 
added to a line, it does not. Unity is part of number, and 
the point is no pai t of a line. When unity is taken away 
from a number, the given number does not remain ; and 
when the point is taken away from the line, the given line 
does remain. 

The same Stevin is full of such disputes on the de 
finition of words, as when he labours zealously to prove 
that number is not a discrete quantity that the propor 
tion of numbers is always arithmetical, and not geo 
metrical, that every root, of any number whatever it 
may be, is a number ; which proves that he did properly 
understand what the definition of a word was, and that he 
has taken the definitions of words which cannot be con 
tested, for the definitions of things which may be very 
often justly contested. 





EVERT one agrees that there are propositions so clear and 
so evident in themselves, that they do not need any de 
monstration ; and that all those which are not demonstrated 
ought to be such, in order to become the principles of a 
true demonstration. For if they be at all uncertain, it is 
clear that they cannot be the foundation of a conclusion 
altogether certain. 

But many do not sufficiently comprehend in what this 
clearness and evidence of a proposition consists. For, in 
the first place, we must not imagine that a proposition is 
clear and certain when no one contradicts it; and that we 
ought to consider it doubtful, or, at least, must be obliged 
to prove it, when any one denies it. If this were so, there 
would be nothing certain or clear, since philosophers have 
been found who have professed to doubt, generally, of 
everything, and some even who have maintained that there 
is no proposition at all more probable than its contrary. 
We ought not, therefore, to judge of certainty and clear 
ness by the disputes of men, for there is nothing that may 
not be contested, in word, at least ; but we must hold as 
clear that which appears so to all those who will take the 
trouble to consider things with attention, and who are 
sincere in the utterance of what their inward conviction is. 
Hence, what Aristotle says is of most important meaning, 
that demonstration properly relates to the interior dis 
course, and not to the exterior ; since there is nothing so 
well demonstrated that it may not be denied by an obsti 
nate man, who undertakes to dispute in words the things 
even of which he is inwardly persuaded. This is a very 
ill disposition, and altogether unworthy of a well consti 
tuted mind, though it is true that this humour often 


obtains in the schools of philosophy, through the custom 
which is introduced among them of disputing about every 
thing, and making it a point of honour never to yield, he 
being accounted the man of most mind who is most prompt 
at discovering evasions for avoiding it ; whereas the cha 
racter of an honourable man is to lay down his arms 
before the truth as soon as he perceives it, and to love it 
even in the mouth of his adversary. 

Secondly, even those philosophers who hold that all our 
ideas come from sense, maintain also, that all the certainty 
and evidence of propositions comes either immediately or 
mediately from sense. " For," say they, " even that 
axiom which is considered as clear and evident as we 
can possibly desire the whole is greater than its part is 
firmly established in our minds only because that from 
our infancy AVC have observed in detail that a man is 
greater than his head, and a whole house than a chamber, 
and a whole forest than a tree, and the Avhole heaven than 
a star." 

This fancy is as false as that which AVC have refuted in 
the First Part, that all our ideas come from sense. For if we 
Avere assured of this truth the whole is greater than its part 
only through the different instances in which AVC had 
observed it from our infancy, AVC should have only a pro 
bable assurance of it, since induction is only a certain 
means of knowing a thing Avhen we are assured that the 
induction is complete ; there being nothing more common 
than to discover the falsity of Avhat AVC had believed to be 
true, on inductions which appeared to us so general, that 
we could not imagine any exception could be found. 

Thus, not long since, it Avas believed as indubitable that 
the water contained in a curved vessel, of which one end 
was much larger than the other, remained always level 
being no higher in the small end than in the large be 
cause it had been proved by a multitude of observations. 
It has been, hoAvever, lately found that this is false Avhen 
one of the ends is extremely narrow, since then the Avater 
rises higher in it than in the other. This shows that 
inductions alone could never giA^e us complete certainty of 
any truth, at all eA-ents, not before AVC Avere assured that 
they were universal, Avhich is impossible. And, conse- 


quently, we could only have a probable assurance of the 
truth of this axiom, that the whole is greater than its part, if 
we were only assured of it in consequence of having seen 
that a man is greater than his head, a forest than a tree, 
the heaven than a star, since we should be always open 
to doubt whether there might not be some other whole, 
which we had not observed, which was not greater than 
its part. 

It is not, therefore, on these observations which we have 
made from our infancy that the certainty of this axiom de 
pends. There is, on the contrary, nothing more capable 
of keeping us in error than the holding fast to these preju 
dices of our childhood. But this certainty depends solely 
on this, that the clear and distinct ideas which we have of 
a whole and of a part manifestly involve that the whole is 
greater than the part, and that the part is smaller than the 
whole. And all that could be effected by the different ob 
servations which we have made, of a man being greater 
than his head, a house than a room, has been to furnish us 
with occasions of paying attention to the ideas of whole 
and part. But it is positively false that they were the 
cause of the absolute and immoveable certainty that we 
have of the truth of this axiom. This, I think, I have de 

What we have said of this axiom may be said of all 
others, and thus we believe that the certainty and evidence 
of human knowledge in natural things depends on this 

All that is contained in the clear and distinct idea of a thing 
may be affirmed with truth of that thing. 

Thus, since the being animal is contained in the idea of 
man, I may affirm of man that he is animal ; since, having 
all its diameters, equal is contained in the idea of a circle, I 
may affirm of every circle that all its diameters are equal ; 
since, having all its angles, equal to two right angles is 
contained in the idea of a triangle, I may affirm this of 
every triangle. 

We cannot dispute this principle without destroying the 
whole evidence of human knowledge and establishing an 
absurd Pyrrhonism. For we can judge of things only by 
the ideas which we have of them, since the only means we 


have of conceiving them is what we have in our mind, and 
they are there only through our ideas. Now, if the judg 
ments which we form by considering these ideas do not 
regard things in themselves, but simply our thoughts that 
is to say, if, when I see clearly that the having three 
angles equal to two right angles is contained in the idea 
of a triangle, I have no right to conclude, in truth, that 
every triangle has three angles equal to two right angles, 
but simply that I think so it is plain that we could have 
no knowledge of things, but simply of our thoughts, and, 
consequently, we should know nothing of the things we are 
persuaded that we know most certainly ; but we should 
only know that we think them to be so and so, which 
would manifestly destroy all the sciences. 

And it need not be thought that there are any men who 
seriously acquiesce in these consequences, that we do not 
know in relation to anything, whether it be true or false 
in itself. For there are some things so simple and so evi 
dent as, / think, therefore I am ; the ivhole is greater than its 
part that it is impossible seriously to doubt whether they 
are in themselves such as we conceive them. The reason 
is, that we cannot doubt of them without thinking of them, 
and that we cannot think of them without believing them 
true, and, consequently, we cannot doubt them. 

Nevertheless, this principle alone is not sufficient to 
judge of what ought to be believed as an axiom ; for there 
are attributes which are really contained in the idea of things, 
which, nevertheless, may, and ought, to be demonstrated 
as, the equality of all angles of a triangle to two right angles, 
or of all those of a hexagon to eight right angles. But we must 
carefully observe whether we need only consider the idea 
of a thing with a slight attention, in order to see clearly 
that such an attribute is contained in it, or whether, be 
sides, it is necessary to join to it some other idea, in order 
to perceive that connection. When it is necessary to con 
sider only the idea, the proposition may be taken as an 
axiom, especially if that consideration requires only a mo 
derate attention, of which all common minds are capable. 
But if some other idea be necessary besides the idea of the 
thing, it is a proposition which needs to be demonstrated. 
Thus we may give the two following rules for axioms : 


1st RULE. 

When, in order to see clearly that an attribute belongs to a subject 
(as that it belongs to a whole to be greater than its part), we need only 
consider the two ideas of subject and attribute with moderate attention, 
so that we cannot give this attention without perceiving that the idea of 
that attribute is truly contained in the idea of the subject. We ought, 
then, to take this proposition as an axiom which needs no demonstra 
tion, because it has, of itself, all the evidence which demonstration 
could have given to it, since demonstration could do nothing more than 
show that this attribute belongs to the subject, by employing a third 
idea to show this connection, which we see already without the aid of 
any third idea. 

But we must not confound a simple exposition (though 
this should even take the form of an argument) with a true 
demonstration ; for there are axioms which need to be ex 
plained, in order that they may be better understood, 
although they do not need to be demonstrated, the exposi 
tion being nothing more than saying in other words, and 
more at length, what is contained in the axiom, whereas, 
demonstration requires some new mean which the axiom 
did not clearly contain. 

2d RULE. 

When the simple consideration of the idea of the subject and the at 
tribute is not sufficient to enable us to see clearly that the attribute 
belongs to the subject, the proposition which affirms that it does ought 
not to be taken as an axiom ; but it ought to be demonstrated by em 
ploying some other ideas to show that connection, as we employ the idea 
of parallel lines in order to show that the three angles of a triangle 
are equal to two right angles. 

These two rules are more important than we may think, 
for it is one of the most common defects among men, that 
of not consulting themselves in relation to what they affirm 
or deny, of referring to what they have heard said, or 
what they have previously thought, without carefully ob 
serving what they would think of them themselves if they 
were to consider with more attention what passes in their 
own mind of confining themselves rather to the sound of 
the words than to their true ideas of affirming, as clear 
and evident, that which it is impossible for them to con 
ceive, and denying, as false, what it would be impossible 
for them not to believe true, if they would take the trouble 
to consider it seriously. 


For example, those who say that in a piece of wood, 
besides its parts and their situation, their figure, their 
motion, or rest, and the pores which enter into their parts 
there is still a substantial form distinguished from all this, 
think they say nothing but what is certain, while, how 
ever, they utter a thing which neither themselves nor any 
one else comprehends, or ever will comprehend. 

While, if, on the contrary, we would explain to them 
the effects of nature, by the insensible parts of which bodies 
are composed, and by their different situation, size, figure, 
motion, or rest, and by the pores which traverse these 
parts, and which allow or arrest the passage of other mat 
ters, they believe that we speak to them only of chimeras, 
although we tell them nothing but what may be conceived 
very easily; and, by a strange perversion of mind, the facility 
even with which these things are comprehended induces 
them to believe that they are not the true causes of natural 
effects, but that these are more hidden and mysterious ; so 
that they are more disposed to believe those who explain 
them by principles which they cannot conceive than those 
who employ only principles which they can understand. 

And it is, again, humorous enough, that when we speak 
to them of insensible parts, they think themselves entitled 
to reject them, because they can neither see nor touch 
them ; while, however, they rest satisfied with substantial 
forms, ponderosity, attractive virtue, &c., which they not 
only never saw or touched, but which they cannot even 



EVERY one allows that it is important to have in the 
mind many axioms and principles, which, being clear and 


indubitable, may be employed as a foundation for obtain 
ing a knowledge of things more obscure. But those which 
are commonly given are of such little use that it is scarcely 
worth while to know them ; for that which is called the 
first principle of knowledge it is impossible for the same 
thing to be, and not to be is very clear and certain ; but I 
do not see how it can avail to furnish us with any know 
ledge. I believe, therefore, that those which follow will 
be of more use. I commence with that which we have 
already explained. 

1st AXIOM. 

Everything which is contained in the clear and distinct idea 
of a thing may be affirmed of it with truth. 

2d AXIOM. 

Existence (possible at least) is contained in the idea of every 
thing ivhich we conceive clearly and distinctly. 

For as soon as a thing is conceived clearly we cannot 
but regard it able to be so, since it is only the contradic 
tion which we find between our ideas, which leads us to 
believe that a thing cannot be. Now there can be no con 
tradiction in an idea when it is clear and distinct. 

3d AXIOM. 

Nothing cannot be the cause of anything. 
Other axioms spring from this, which may be called its 
corollaries ; such as the following : 

4th AXIOM, or 1st COROLLARY of the 3d. 

No thing, nor any perfection of that thing actually existing, 
can have nothing, or a thing non-existent, as the cause of its 

5th AXIOM, or 2d COROLLARY of the 3d. 

All the reality or perfection which is in a thing, is found, 
formally or eminently, in its first and total cause. 


6th AXIOM, or 3d COROLLARY of the 3d. 

Wo body is able to move itself, that is to say, to give 
itself motion when it has none. 

This principle is so evident, naturally, that it caused the 
introduction of substantial forms, and the real qualities of 
heaviness and lightness ; for philosophers, seeing, on the 
one hand, that it was impossible for that which was moved 
to move itself, and being falsely persuaded, on the other, 
that there was nothing without the stone which pushed 
it downwards when it fell, felt themselves obliged to 
distinguish two things in a stone the matter which re 
ceived the motion, and the substantial form, aided by the 
accident of heaviness, which gave it. They did not, how 
ever, observe, that thus they either fell into the difficulty 
which they wished to avoid, if that form was at once 
material, that is to say, a true matter, or that, if it was 
not matter, it must be a substance which is really distinct 
from it ; which it was impossible for them to conceive 
clearly, at least, to conceive as a mind, that is, a substance 
which thinks, which is truly the form of man, and not 
that of any other body. 

7th AXIOM, or 4th COROLLARY of the 3d. 

No body can move another, unless it is itself moved. For if 
a body, being at rest, is unable to give itself motion, it is 
still less able to give it to another body. 

8th AXIOM. 

We ought not to deny what is clear and evident because we 
cannot comprehend ichat is obscure. 

9th AXIOM. 

It belongs to the nature of a finite mind, that it cannot com 
prehend the infinite. 

10th AXIOM. 

The testimony of one infinitely powerful, infinitely wise, in- 


finitely good, and infinitely truthful, ought to persuade our 
minds more powerfully than the most convincing reasons. 

For we ought to be more assured that he who is in 
finitely intelligent cannot be deceived, and that he who is 
infinitely good cannot deceive us, than we are that we are 
not deceived in things the most clear. 

These three last axioms are the ground of faith, of which 
we shall say something hereafter. 

llth AXIOM. 

When those facts of which sense may easily judge are at 
tested by a very great number of persons, of different times, 
different nations, different interests, who affirm that they have 
personally known them, and who cannot be suspected of having 
conspired together to support a deception, we ought to consider 
them as as well established and indubitable as though u-e had 
seen them with our own eyes. 

This is the ground of the greater part of our knowledge, 
since the things which we know in this way are more 
numerous by far than those which we know by our own 



A TRUE demonstration requires two things : the one, that 
there be nothing in the matter but what is certain and 
indubitable ; the other, that there be nothing vicious in 
the form of the argument. Now we shall certainly secure 
both if we observe the two rules which have been laid down. 
For there would be only what is true and certain in the 
matter, if all the propositions which we employ as proofs 


Either definitions of words which have been already 
explained, which, being arbitrary, cannot be disputed : 

Or axioms which have been granted, and which ought 
not to have been assumed unless they were clear and 
evident in themselves, according to the third rule : 

Or propositions already demonstrated, and which have 
become clear and evident by the demonstration which has 
been given of them : 

Or a construction of the thing itself which is in question, 
when there may be any operation to perform, which ought 
to be as indubitable as the rest, since this construction 
ought to have been beforehand shown to be possible, if 
there was any doubt as to whether it was so. 

It is, therefore, clear, that by observing the first rule, 
we shall never advance as a proof any proposition which 
is not certain and evident. 

It is also easy to show that we shall not sin against the 
form of reasoning if we observe the second rule, which is, 
always to avoid choosing the equivocation of terms by 
mentally substituting the definitions which restrict and 
explain their meaning. 

For if we ever sin against the rules of syllogism, it is 
by deceiving ourselves with the equivocation of some term, 
and by taking it in one sense in one of the propositions, 
and in another sense in the other ; which principally 
happens in the middle term of a syllogism, the taking of 
which in two different senses, in the two first propositions, 
is the most common defect of vicious arguments. Now it 
is clear that we shall avoid this defect by observing that 
second rule. 

Not but that there are still other vices of reasoning 
besides that which springs from the equivocal meaning of 
terms, but these it is almost impossible for a man of aver 
age mind, and possessed of some knowledge, ever to fall 
into, especially in speculative matters, and thus it would 
be useless to give rules against these vices, and urge their 
observance ; and it would indeed be frivolous, since the 
application which would be given to these superfluous rules 
might divert the attention which we ought to pay to things 
more necessary. Thus we see that the geometers never 
take any trouble about the form of their arguments, nor 


think of conforming to the rules of logic, without, however, 
being at all defective in this particular, since it is done 
naturally, without the need of study. 

There is still an observation to be made about the pro 
positions which need to be demonstrated : it is, that we 
ought not to place amongst this number those which may 
be so by the application of the rule of evidence to every 
evident proposition ; for, if this were so, there would be 
scarcely any axiom that would not need to be demon 
strated, as they might almost all be by that proposition 
which we have said may be taken as the foundation of all 
evidence Everything which we see to be contained in a clear 
and distinct idea may be affirmed ivith truth. We may say, 
for example : 

Everything which we see to be contained in a clear and distinct idea 
may be affirmed with truth ; 

Now we see clearly that the clear and distinct idea which we have of 
a whole contains the being 1 greater than its part ; 

Therefore, we may affirm with truth that the whole is greater than 
its part. 

But though this proof may be very good, it is neverthe 
less not necessary, because our mind supplies that major 
without having any need to pay special attention to it, 
and thus sees clearly and evidently that the whole is 
greater than its part, without the need of any reflection as 
to whence this evidence arises ; for it is one thing to know 
a thing evidently, and another to know whence that evi 
dence springs. 



WE have seen what of excellence the method of the 
geometers possesses. We have reduced this method to 
five rules, which we cannot too thoroughly fix in our 


minds: and it must be confessed that there is nothing 
more admirable than the discovery of so many hidden 
things, and their demonstration, by reasons so strong and 
so invincible, through the employment of so few rules : so 
that, among all philosophers, to them alone belongs the 
advantage of having banished from their schools and books 
controversy and dispute. 

Nevertheless, if we would judge of things without pre 
judice, as we cannot take away from them the glory of 
having followed a much more certain course for the dis 
covery of truth than any others, so neither can we deny 
that they have not fallen into some defects, which, though 
they have not turned them aside from their end, have 
nevertheless prevented them from reaching it by the short 
est and most convenient route. I will endeavour to show 
this by selecting from Euclid some examples of these 

1st DEFECT. 

Paying more attention to certainty than to evidence, and to the 
conviction of the mind than to its enlightenment. 

The geometers are worthy of all praise in seeking to 
advance only what is convincing ; but it would appear 
that they have not sufficiently observed, that it does not 
suffice for the establishment of a perfect knowledge of any 
thing, to be convinced that it is true, unless, beyond this, 
we penetrate into the reasons, derived from the nature of 
the thing itself, why it is true. For until we arrive at 
this point, our mind is not fully satisfied, and still seeks 
greater knowledge than this, which marks that it has not 
yet a true knowledge. We may say that this defect is the 
source of all the others which we shall notice ; and thus 
it is not necessary to explain it further here, since we 
shall speak of it sufficiently in what follows. 

Proving things ivhich have no need of proof. 

The geometers maintain that it is not necessary to under 
take the proof of what is clear of itself. They nevertheless 


often do it, because, being more bent on convincing the 
mind than enlightening it, as we have said, they believe 
that they shall convince it better by finding some proof of 
those things even which are most evident, than by simply 
proposing them, and leaving the mind to recognise their 

It is this which led Euclid to prove that the two sides 
of a triangle are greater than a single one, although this 
was evident from the very notion of a right line, which is 
the shortest possible distance between two points, and the 
natural measure of the distance from one point to another, 
which it would not be if it were not also the shortest of 
all lines which could be drawn from one point to another. 

This is what led him, again, to make the following : 
To draw a line equal to a given line not a postulate, but a 
problem which must be demonstrated, although it is easy, 
and indeed more so than to draw a circle having a given 

This defect has arisen, no doubt, from its not having 
been sufficiently considered that all the certainty and evi 
dence of our knowledge in the natural sciences spring from 
this principle : That we may affirm of a thing all that is 
contained in its clear and distinct idea. Whence it follows, 
that when we need only, in order to recognise that an at 
tribute is contained in an idea, to consider the idea simply, 
without connecting it with others, it ought to be considered 
as clear and evident, as we have already said above. 

I know, indeed, that there are some attributes which 
may be seen more easily in ideas than others, but I believe 
that it is enough that they are able to be seen clearly with 
a moderate attention, and that no man, with a rightly con 
stituted mind, is able seriously to doubt them ; for those 
propositions, which are derived thus from the simple con 
sideration of ideas, to be regarded as principles which have 
no need of proof, but, at most, of a little explanation. Thus 
I maintain that we cannot pay much attention to the idea of 
a right line without perceiving not only that its position 
depends on two points alone (which Euclid has taken as 
one of his postulates), but that we can also comprehend, 
without trouble, and very clearly, that if a right line cut 
another, and there are two points in the cutting line, each 


of which is equally distant from two points in the line 
which is cut, there will be no other point of the cutting 
line which is not equally distant from these two points of 
the line which is cut. Hence, it will be easy to determine 
when a line is perpendicular to another without employing 
either angle or triangle, which ought not to be treated of, 
before the things which are demonstrated by perpendicu 
lars alone, are well established. 

It is also to be remarked that there are some excellent 
geometers who employ, as principles, propositions less clear 
than these : as Archimedes, who established his beautiful 
demonstration on this axiom That if two lines in the same 
plane have their extremities common, and are bent or hollow 
towards the same part, what is contained will be less than that 
which contains. 

It must be confessed that this defect of proving what 
needs no proof does appear a very great one, and is not so 
in itself; but it is important in its consequences, since it is 
from this that the inversion of the natural order, of which 
we shall speak below, springs ; this desire of proving 
what ought to be assumed as clear and evident of itself, 
having often obliged the geometers to treat of things (in 
order to employ them, as proofs, in what ought not to have 
been proved) which, according to the order of nature, 
should have been treated of afterwards. 


Demonstrating by Impossibility. 

Those kind of demonstrations which show that a thing 
is such, not by its principles, but by some absurdity which 
would follow, if it were not so, are very common in 
Euclid. It is clear, however, that while they may con 
vince the mind, they do not enlighten it, which ought to be 
the chief result of knowledge ; for our mind is not satisfied 
unless it knows not only that a thing is, but why it is, 
which cannot be learnt from a demonstration which re 
duces it to the impossible. 

Not that these demonstrations are to be altogether 
rejected, for we may oftentimes employ them to prove 


negatives, which are properly only corollaries from other 
propositions, either clear of themselves or demonstrated 
before in another way ; and then that kind of demonstra 
tion, by reducing them to the impossible, occupies the 
place rather of an explanation than a new demonstration. 

We may say, in fine, that these demonstrations are 
allowable only when we are unable to furnish others, and 
that it is a fault to employ them in proving what may be 
positively proved. Now there are many propositions in 
Euclid which he has only proved in this way which may 
be otherwise proved without any great difficulty. 

4th DEFECT. 

Far-fetched Demonstrations. 

This defect is very common among the geometers they 
take no trouble as to the quarter whence the proofs which 
they furnish are obtained, provided they are convincing 
to prove things by foreign methods is, however, to prove 
them but very imperfectly. 

This will be better understood by some examples : 
Euclid I., prop. 5, proves that an isosceles triangle has 
the two angles at its base equal, by prolonging equally the 
sides of the triangle and making new triangles, which he 
compares with the others. 

But is it credible that a thing so easy of proof as the 
equality of these angles required so much artifice to prove 
it, as though anything would be more ridiculous than to 
imagine that this equality depended on these foreign tri 
angles, whereas, had the true order been observed, many 
other ways existed of proving this same equality, much 
shorter, easier, and more natural? 

The 47th of the First Book, where it is proved that the 
square of the base which contains a right angle, is equal 
to the two squares of the sides, is one of the most admired 
propositions of Euclid : it is, however, sufficiently clear 
that the manner in which it is proved is not natural, since 
the equality of the squares does not depend on the equality 
of the triangles, which is taken as the mean in that de 
monstration, but on the proportion of the lines, which may 


be easily demonstrated without employing any other line 
than that let fall from the point of the right angle on the 

All Euclid is full of these far-fetched demonstrations. 

5th DEFECT. 

Paying no attention to the true order of nature. 

This is the greatest defect of the geometers. 

They have fancied that there is scarcely any order for 
them to observe, except that the first propositions may be 
employed to demonstrate the succeeding ones. And thus, 
disregarding the true rule of method, which is, always to 
begin with things the most simple and general, in order to 
pass from them to those which are more complex and par 
ticular, they confuse everything, and treat pell-mell of lines 
and surfaces, and triangles and squares, proving by figures 
the properties of simple lines, and introducing a mass of 
other distortions which disfigure that beautiful science. 

The elements of Euclid are quite full of this defect. 
After having treated of extension in the first four Books, 
he treats generally of the proportions of all kinds of mag 
nitudes in the Fifth. lie returns to extension in the Sixth, 
and treats of numbers in the Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth, 
and begins in the Tenth to speak again of extension. So 
much for the general disorder ; but it is full of a mass of 
confusion in detail. He commences the First Book by the 
construction of an equilateral triangle, and, subsequently 
(twenty-two propositions after), he gives the general means 
for making any triangle of three given straight lines, pro 
vided that two are greater than a single one, which involves 
the particular construction of an equilateral triangle on a 
given line. 

He proves nothing of perpendicular and parallel lines, 
except by triangles. He measures the dimension of surfaces 
with that of lines. 

He proves Book I., proposition 16 that, the side of 
a triangle being prolonged, the exterior angle is greater 
than either of the interior and opposite angles ; and, six 
propositions further on, he proves that that exterior angle 
is equal to the two opposite angles. 


It would be necessary to transcribe the whole of Euclid, 
in order to give all the examples which might be found of 
this confusion. 

6th DEFECT. 
Employing no divisions and partitions. 

There is still another defect in the method of the geometers, 
that of not employing divisions and partitions. It is not 
that they do not mark all the species of the genera which 
they treat of, but that they do this simply by defining the 
term, and placing all the definitions one after another, with 
out indicating that one genus has so many species, and 
can have no more, because the general idea of the genus 
can receive only so many differences, which would tend 
to throw considerable light upon the nature of genus and 

For example, we find in the First Book of Euclid de 
finitions of all the species of triangles. But who can 
doubt that it would be much clearer to speak of them as 
follows ? 

A triangle may be divided in relation to its sides, or in 
relation to its angles. 

( all equal, and it is called Equilateral. 

For the sides are either < two only equal, and it is called Isosceles. 
( all three unequal, and it is called Scalene. 

either I a ^ * nree acu te, and it is called Oxigon. 
\ \ two only acute, and then the third is 
The angles are 1. 

(either I ri & nt > and ** is calle( l Rectangle. 

I obtuse, and it is called Amblygon. 

It is, indeed, much better not to give the division of 
triangles before having explained and demonstrated the 
properties of triangle in general, from which we shall have 
learnt that at least two angles of a triangle must be acute, 
because the three together are only equal to two right 

The defect comes under that rule which enjoins that we 
do not treat of, or even define, the species before the genus 


ia well known, especially when there are many things 
which may be said of the genus without speaking of the 



THERE are some geometers who think they have justified 
these defects by saying that they have paid no attention to 
them, that it is enough for them that they say nothing 
which they do not prove in a convincing manner, and that 
they are, in this way, assured of having found the truth, 
which is their sole aim. 

It must be allowed, moreover, that these defects are not 
so considerable, but that we are compelled to acknow 
ledge that of all human sciences there are none which have 
been better handled than those which are comprised under 
the general name of mathematics. All that we maintain 
is that something may be added to them, in order to render 
them more perfect, and that, though the principal thing that 
ought to be considered is to advance nothing but what is 
true, it is, nevertheless, to be desired that more attention 
had been paid to the more natural manner by which truth 
is conveyed to the mind. 

For the geometers may say, if they please, that they do 
not care about the true order, or whether they prove by 
near or distant ways, provided that they accomplish what 
they seek, which is to convince ; but they cannot change, 
in this way, the nature of our mind, nor prevent us from 
having a knowledge much more accurate, more entire and 
complete, of things which we know through their true 
causes and principles, than of those which are proved to 
us only through foreign and indirect ways. 



It is indubitable, indeed, that we learn with incompar 
ably greater facility, and retain much better, what has been 
taught us in the true order ; because the ideas which have 
a. natural connection arrange themselves much better in 
our memory, and suggest each other much more readily. 

We may say, indeed, that Avhat we have once known, 
by having penetrated into its true reason, is not retained by 
the memory but by the judgment, and that it becomes so 
thoroughly our oAvn that we are unable to forget it ; where 
as what we know only by demonstrations which are 
not founded on natural reasons, escapes us easily, and is 
with difficulty recovered when it has once passed from 
memory, because our mind furnishes us with no means of 
recovering it. 

It must be conceded, therefore, that it is in itself much 
better to observe this order than not to observe it. But all 
that can be said with justice is, that a small inconvenience 
must be neglected when we cannot avoid it without falling 
into a greater ; that thus it is an inconvenience that the true 
order is not observed, but that it is better, nevertheless, to 
disregard it than to fail of proving invincibly that which we 
advance, and to expose ourselves to the danger of falling into 
error and paralogism, by seeking after proofs which are 
more natural, but which are not so convincing nor so free 
from all suspicion of deception. 

This reply is very reasonable ; and I confess that we 
must prefer, in all things, the certainty of not being de 
ceived, and that the true order must be neglected if we 
cannot follow it without losing much of the force of the 
demonstrations, and exposing ourselves to error. But I 
do not concede that it is impossible to observe both ; and 
I believe that a work on the elements of geometry can be 
made in which all things should be treated in their natural 
order, all propositions proved in very simple and natural 
ways, and in which, nevertheless, everything should be 
most clearly demonstrated. (This has since been accom 
plished in the NEW ELEMENTS OF GEOMETRY, and particu 
larly in the new edition which has lately appeared.) 




WE may conclude from what has been said, that in order 
to have a method which should be still more perfect than 
that which is in use amongst the geometers, we ought to 
add two or three to the rules which were given in the 
second chapter, so that all these rules may be reduced to 
eight : 

Of which the two first relate to ideas, and may be re 
ferred to the First Part of this Logic ; 

The third and fourth relate to axioms, and may be re 
ferred to the Second Part; 

The fifth and sixth to reasonings, and may be referred 
to the Third Part ; 

And the two last relate to order, and may be referred 
to the Fourth Part. 

Two Rules touching Definitions. 

1. Not to leave any terms at all obscure or equivocal, 
without defining them. 

2. To employ in definitions only terms perfectly well 
known, or already explained. 

Two Rules for Axioms. 

3. To demand as axioms only things perfectly evident. 

4. To receive as evident that which requires only a 
slight attention to the recognition of its truth. 

Tico Rules for Demonstrations. 

5. To prove all propositions which are at all obscure by 
employing in their proof only the definitions which have 


preceded, or the axioms which have been granted, or the 
propositions which have been already demonstrated. 

6. Always to avoid the equivocation of terms, by sub 
stituting mentally the definitions which restrict and explain 
their meaning. 

Two Rules for Method. 

7. To treat of things, as far as possible, in their natural 
order, by commencing with the most general and simple, 
and explaining everything which belongs to the nature of 
the genus before passing to its particular species. 

8. To divide, as far as possible, every genus into all its 
species, every whole into all its parts, and every difficulty 
into all its cases. 

I have added to these two rules as far as possible, 
because there are, indeed, many occasions on which we 
cannot rigorously observe them, either because of the 
limits of the human mind, or of those which we are obliged 
to set to every science. 

This occasions us to treat often of a species when we 
cannot treat of everything which belongs to the genus : as 
we treat of a circle in common geometry without saying 
anything in detail of the curved line w r hich is its genus, 
which we are satisfied with simply defining. 

Neither can we explain, in relation to a genus, every 
thing which might be said of it, since this would often be 
too long ; but it is enough that we say of it all that we 
intend to say before passing to its species. 

But I believe that a science cannot be treated perfectly, 
except great attention be paid to these two last rules, as 
well as to the others, and that we should consent to dis 
pense with them only on necessity, or to secure some great 




ALL that we have said hitherto relates to sciences purely 
human, and to knowledges which are founded on the 
evidence of reason. But before finishing, it is right to 
speak of another kind of knowledge, which is often not 
less certain or less evident in its manner, that, to wit, 
which we derive from authority. 

For there are two general ways which lead us to believe 
that a thing is true : The first is, the knowledge which 
we have of it ourselves, from having known and sought 
out its truth, whether by our senses or by our reason. 
This may be called, generally, reason, since the senses 
themselves depend on the judgment of reason, or science, 
taking that term more generally than it is taken in the 
schools, for all the knowledge of an object derived from 
the object itself. 

The other way is, the authority of persons worthy of 
credence, who assure us that such a thing is, although we 
ourselves know nothing about it. This is called faith or 
credence, according to the expression of St Augustine 
Quod scimus debemus rationi; quod credimus auctoritate. 

But as this authority may be of two kinds of God, or 
of men, there are also two kinds of faith divine and 

Divine faith cannot be exposed to error, since God can 
neither deceive nor be deceived. 

Human faith is of itself subject to error, since every 
man is a liar according to the Scripture, and it is possible 
that he who assures us that a thing is true may be himself 
deceived. Nevertheless, as we have indicated already, 
there are things which we know only through human 
faith, of which we are as certainly and indubitably assured 
as though we had received mathematical demonstrations of 


them : as what we know through the continued relation of 
so many persons, that it is morally impossible that they 
could have conspired together to maintain the same thing, 
if it had not been true. For example, men have consider 
able difficulty, naturally, in conceiving that the antipodes 
exist : nevertheless, though we have never been there, and 
know nothing of them save through human faith, he would 
be a fool who did not believe in them. In the same way, 
he must have lost his senses who could doubt whether 
Caesar, Pompey, Cicero, Yirgil, ever existed, and whether 
they were not fictitious personages, like those of Amadis. 

It is true that it is often very difficult to mark precisely 
when human faith has reached this certainty, and when it 
has not. And this leads men to fall into two opposite 
errors : the one, that of those who believe too readily, on 
the slightest rumour ; and the other, of those who foolishly 
oppose the whole force of their mind against the belief of 
the best attested things, when these offend their prejudices. 
We may, however, mark certain limits which must be 
passed in order to secure this human certainty, and others 
beyond which it is certainly possessed, leaving a mean 
between these two kinds of limits which approaches more 
to certainty or uncertainty, according as it comes nearer 
to the one or to the other. 

And if we compare together the two general ways which 
lead us to believe a thing reason and faith it is certain 
that faith always supposes some reason. For, as St 
Augustine says, in his 122d letter, and in many other 
places, we could never have been led to believe that which 
is above our reason, if reason itself had not persuaded us 
that there are things which we do well to believe, though 
we are unable as yet to comprehend them. This is prin 
cipally true in relation to divine faith, because true reason 
teaches us that God, being truth itself, cannot deceive in 
that which he reveals to us of his nature and his mysteries : 
from which it appears, that though we are obliged to bring 
our understanding into captivity to the obedience of Jesus 
Christ, as St Paul says, we nevertheless do not do this 
blindly and unreasonably, which is the origin of all false 
religions, but with the knowledge of the cause, and be 
cause it is a reasonable action to bring ourselves thus into 


captivity to the authority of God, when he has given us 
sufficient proofs such as the miracles, and other extraor 
dinary events which oblige us to believe that it is himself 
who has discovered to men the truths which we ought to 

In the second place, it is certain that divine faith ought 
to have more weight with us than our own reason, because 
reason itself shows us that we ought always to prefer that 
which is more certain to that which is less, and because 
that is more certain which God says is true, than that of 
which our reason persuades us, and because it is more 
possible for our reason to be deceived than for God to 
deceive us. 

Nevertheless, if we consider things with minute atten 
tion, we shall find, that what we evidently see, either by 
reason, or by the faithful report of the senses, is never 
opposed to what divine faith teaches us ; but that what 
leads us to imagine this is, that we do not observe the point 
where the evidence of our reason and senses must terminate. 
For example, our senses show us clearly, in the Eucharist, 
the roundness and the whiteness [of the wai er] ; but our 
senses do not inform us whether it is the substance of 
bread which causes our eyes to perceive the roundness 
and the whiteness : and thus faith is not contrary to the 
evidence of our senses, when it tells us that it is not the 
substance of bread any longer, having been changed to the 
body of Jesus Christ by the mystery of transubstantiation, 
and that we only now see the images and appearances of 
bread which remain, although the substance is no longer 

Reason, indeed, shows us that the same body cannot be 
at the same time in different places, nor two bodies in the 
same place ; but this ought to be understood of the natural 
condition of bodies, because it would be a Avant of reason 
to imagine that our mind, being finite, is able to coni- 
prehend the extent of the power of God, which is in 
finite : and thus, when the heretics, in order to destroy 
the mysteries of faith, as the Trinity, the Incarnation, and 
the Eucharist, oppose to them these pretended impossi 
bilities derived from reason, they manifestly, in this very 
act, separate themselves from reason, by pretending that 


they are able to comprehend, by their mind, the infinite 
extent of the power of God. It is sufficient, however, to 
say, in reply to all these objections, what St Augustine 
said, on the same subject, of the penetration of bodies : 

Sed nova sunt, sed insolita sunt, sed contra naturce cursum 
notissimum sunt, quia magna, quia mira, quia divina, et eo 
magis vera, certa,Jirma. 



THE most common use of good sense, and of that power of 
the soul which enables us to discriminate truth from false 
hood, is not in the speculative sciences, to which so few 
are obliged to devote themselves ; but there is scarcely 
any occasion on which we more frequently employ it, and 
on which it is more necessary, than in the judgments 
which we form about every- day affairs. 

I do not speak of the judgment which we form as to 
whether an action is good or bad, worthy of praise or of 
blame, since it belongs to morality to regulate this, but 
simply that which we make touching the truth or false 
hood of human events, which alone is regarded by logic : 
whether we consider them as past, as when we seek to 
know whether we ought to believe them or not ; or 
whether we consider them as future, as when we dread or 
desire that they will happen, which regulates our hopes 
and fears. 

Some reflections may be made on this subject, which, 
perhaps, may not be without their use, and which may at 
least help us to avoid the faults into which many fall, 
from not having sufficiently regarded the rules of rea 


The first reflection is, that a wide difference must be 
made between two kinds of truths : one, which relates 
simply to the nature of things, and their unchangeable 
essence, independently of their existence ; the others, which 
relate to things existing, and especially to human accidents 
and events, which may or may not be, when we inquire 
about the future, but which cannot be otherwise, when we 
inquire about the past. All this is to be understood in 
relation to their proximate causes, apart from their order 
immutable in the providence of God, since, on the one 
hand, this does not prevent contingency, and, on the 
other, being unknown, it cannot at all contribute to our 
belief of things. 

In the first kind of truths, since everything is necessary, 
nothing is true which is not true universally ; and thus we 
may conclude that a thing is false, if it is false in a single 

But if \ve think of following the same rules in the belief 
of human events, we shall always, except by accident, judge 
ialsely, and make a thousand false reasonings about them. 

For these events being contingent in their nature, it 
would be ridiculous to seek in them necessary truth : thus 
a man would be altogether unreasonable who should believe 
nothing, except we were to prove to him that it was 
absolutely necessary that the thing should have happened 
in that way. 

And he would be no less unreasonable who should 
endeavour to make us believe anything as, for instance, 
that the king of China was converted to the Christian 
religion for this reason alone, that it was not impossible ; 
for another who should assert the contrary might employ 
the very same reason, and it is clear, therefore, that this 
could not determine us to believe one rather than the other. 

It must, therefore, be laid down as a certain and indu 
bitable maxim on this subject, that the simple possibility 
of an event is no sufficient reason for our belief of it, and 
that we may also have reason to believe it, although we 
do not judge it to be impossible for the contrary to have 
happened ; so that, of two events, I may have ground for 
believing the one, and disbelieving the other, although I 
believe both possible. 


But what, tlien, shall determine me to believe the one 
rather than the other, if I judge both possible ? It will be 
according to the following maxim : 

In order for me to judge of the truth of an event, and 
for me to believe it or not to believe it, it is not necessary 
to consider it abstractly, and in itself, as we should con 
sider a proposition in geometry, but it is necessary to pay 
attention to all the circumstances which accompany it, 
internal as well as external. I call internal circumstances 
those which belong to the fact itself, and external, those 
which belong to the persons by whose testimony we are 
led to believe it. This being done, if all the circumstances 
are such, that it never or rarely happens that the like cir 
cumstances are the concomitants of falsehood, our mind is 
led, naturally, to believe that it is true ; and it is right to 
do so, especially in the conduct of life, which does not 
demand greater certainty, and which must often rest 
satisfied in many circumstances with the greatest pro 

And if, on the contrary, these circumstances are such as 
we very often find in connection wilh falsehood, reason 
determines, either that we remain in suspense, or that we 
consider as false what has been told us, when there is 
no appearance of its being true, although it may not be 
an utter impossibility. 

It is asked, for example, whether the history of the 
baptism of Constantine by St Sylvester is true or false. 
Baronius believes it to be true ; Cardinal Perron, Bishop 
Spondanus, Father Petavius, Father Morinus, and the most 
able portion of the church, believe it to be false. If we 
confine ourselves to its simple impossibility, we have no 
right to reject it, for it contains nothing absolutely impos 
sible ; and it is possible, indeed, speaking absolutely, that 
Eusebius, who testifies to the contrary, lied in order to 
favour the Arians, and that the fathers who followed were 
deceived by his testimony; but if the rule be employed which 
we have established, which is, to consider what are the 
circumstances of the one or the other, and which of these 
have the most marks of truth, we shall find that they are 
those of the last ; for, on the one hand, we cannot rely on 
the testimony of such a fabulous writer as the author of 


the acts of St Sylvester, who is the only ancient authority 
we have for the baptism of Constantino at Rome ; and, on 
the other, it is not at all probable that a man so able as 
Eusebius would have ventured to utter a falsehood in 
relating a thing so celebrated as the baptism of the first 
emperor who had given liberty to the church, and which 
would have been known to all the world when he wrote, 
since this was only four or five years after the death of that 

There is, nevertheless, an exception to this rule, in which 
we ought to be contented with possibility and probability. 
This is, when a fact, which is otherwise sufficiently at 
tested, is opposed by the disagreements and apparently 
conflicting statements of other histories ; for in this case it 
is sufficient that the explanations which we give of these 
contrarieties be possible and probable ; and we should act 
against reason were we to demand positive proofs of it, 
because the fact itself being sufficiently proved, it is not 
just to require that all its circumstances be proved in the 
same Avay, otherwise we might doubt a thousand well- 
established histories, which we cannot reconcile with others 
which are not less so, except by conjectures which it is 
impossible to prove positively. 

We cannot, for example, reconcile what is related in the 
books of the Kings, and in those of the Chronicles, of the 
years of the reigns of the different kings of Judah arid 
Israel, except by giving to some of these kings two com 
mencements of their reign the one during the life, and 
the other after the death, of their fathers ; and if it is 
asked what proof AVC have that such a king reigned some 
time with his father, it must be confessed that we have no 
positive proof of this, but it is enough that it is a very 
possible thing, and that it often happened on other occa 
sions, to justify us in supposing it as a circumstance to 
reconcile histories otherwise very true. 

Hence, there is nothing more absurd than the efforts 
which have been made by some heretics, in this last age, 
to prove that St Peter was never at Rome. They cannot 
deny that this truth is attested by all ecclesiastical authors, 
and even the most ancient as Papias, St Dennis of Co 
rinth, Caius, St Irenaius, Tertullian without being able to 


find any who have denied it ; and they imagine, neverthe 
less, that they can destroy it by conjectures as, for ex 
ample, that St Paul has not mentioned St Peter in his 
epistles written from Rome. We may reply to them that 
St Peter might have been then away from Rome, because 
it is not maintained that he was so settled there but that 
he might often leave it to go and preach the gospel in other 
places. They reply that this is utterly without proof. This 
is irrelevant, because the fact which they dispute being one 
of the most assured truths of ecclesiastical history, it is for 
those who dispute it to show that it is contrary to the 
Scripture, and it is for those who maintain it to resolve 
these pretended contrarieties as we do those of Scripture 
itself, in which we have shown that the possibility suffices. 



THE rule which has been explained is, without doubt, very 
important for the right direction of reason in the belief of 
particular facts ; and it must be observed that, in relation 
to these, we are in danger of falling into the dangerous 
extremes of credulity and scepticism. 

There are some, for example, who make it a point of 
conscience to question no miracle, because they think they 
would be obliged to question all if they question any, and 
they persuade themselves that it is enough for them to 
know that everything is possible with God, to believe 
everything which is told them as the effects of his omni 

Others, on the contrary, foolishly imagine that strength 
of mind is displayed in doubting of all miracles, without 
having any other reason for doing so, except that some are 


often reported which are not found true, and that they 
have no more reason to believe the one than the other. 

The disposition of the former is much better than that 
of the latter ; but it is true, nevertheless, that the reasoning 
of both is equally bad. 

Both parties fall back on common places. The first rest 
on the power and goodness of God, on certain miracles 
Avhich they bring to prove those which are doubtful, and 
on the blindness of the libertines, who will believe nothing 
but what is proportionate to their reason. All this is very 
good in itself, but very feeble when adduced to persuade 
us of any miracle in particular, since God does not do all 
that he is able to do ; it is no argument that a miracle 
happened from what had happened like it on other occa 
sions, and we may be very well disposed to believe what 
is above reason, without being obliged to believe all that 
men choose to relate to us as being above reason. 

The last rest on common places of another kind. " Truth," 
says one of them, " and error are alike in countenances, 
carriage, style, and demeanour we regard them with the 
same eye. I have seen the birth of many miracles in my 
time. Though they were strangled in their birth, we may 
yet foresee the train which they would have had if they 
had lived to manhood ; for it is only to find the end of the 
thread, and, wander as far as we may, it is much farther 
from nothing to the smallest thing in the world than from 
it to the greatest. Now the first who were deluded at the 
commencement of the extravagance, when they came to 
spread their story, discovered, by the opposition which 
they met with, where the difficulty of persuasion lay, and 
supplied, without scruple, what was wanting to produce 
conviction. Thus particular error first produces public 
error ; and in its course afterwards, public error produces 
particular error. And thus, also, this fabric of falsehood 
is built up in such a way, that the most distant witness 
understands the matter better than he who is near, and 
the last informed is more thoroughly convinced than the 

This discourse is ingenious, and may be useful to re 
strain us from being carried away with all kinds of rumours. 
But it would be extravagant to conclude generally from it 


that we ought to suspect all that is said of miracles. For 
it is plain that it relates rather to what we know only 
through vulgar rumours, without inquiring into their ori 
gin ; and, it must he confessed that we have no good 
ground to be assured of what we know only in this way. 

But who does not see that we may make also a common 
place opposed to this which would be, at least, as well 
founded ? For as there are some miracles which may be 
found to have little truth, if we remount to their source, there 
are also others which are destroyed in the memory of men, 
or which find little credit in their mind, because they will not 
take the trouble to inform themselves of them. Our mind 
is not subject to one kind of malady alone, it is exposed to 
different and conflicting kinds ; there is a foolish simplicity 
which believes tilings the least credible ; but there is also 
a foolish presumption which condemns, as false, everything 
which passes beyond the narrow limits of the mind. We 
have often curiosity about trifles and none about important 
things. False histories flourish everywhere, and the most 
faithful have no circulation. 

Few people know the miracle which happened in our 
time at Faremoutier, in the person of a nun so blind that 
the form of her eye scarcely remained, who recovered her 
sight in a moment by touching the relics of St Fara, as I 
know from the person who saw her both before and 

St Augustine says that there were in his time many 
miracles most certain, which were known to few people, 
and which, although very remarkable and astonishing, did 
not pass from one end of the city to the other. This led 
him to describe and relate before the people those which 
he had found true ; and he remarks in the Twenty-second 
Book of the City of God, that there happened, in the single 
city of Hippo, near seventy, within two years after the 
building of a chapel in honour of St Stephen, besides many 
others which he had not described, which he testifies, 
nevertheless, to have bi-en certainly known. 

We see, therefore, clearly, that there is nothing less 
reasonable than to guide ourselves by common places in 
relation to these occurrences, whether in accepting all 
miracles, or rejecting all, but that it is necessary to examine 


their particular circumstances, and the faithfulness and 
knowledge of the witnesses who relate them. 

Piety does not oblige a man of good sense to believe all 
the miracles related in the Golden Legend, or in [Simeon] 
Metaphrastes, since these authors are full of so many fables 
that we have no ground to be assured of anything on their 
testimony alone, as Cardinal Bellarmin lias readily con 
fessed of the latter. 

But I maintain that every man of good sense, though he 
has no piety, ought to receive, as true, the miracles which 
St Augustine relates in his Confessions, and in the City of 
God, as having happened before his eyes, or of which he 
testifies himself to have had most minute information from 
the persons themselves to whom these things had hap 
pened as, for example, of a blind person cured at Milan, 
in the presence of all the people, by touching the relics of 
St Gervais and St Protais, and of which he says, in the 
Twenty-second Book of the City of God, chap. 8, " Mira- 
cnluin fjuod j\Iediolard facttnn est cum illic essemtts, quando 
illuminatm est ctvci/s, ad m/dtorum notitiam polait pervenire ; 
qitia et grandis est civifas, et ibi ei-al tune iinperator t el immenso 
popalo testc, res gcsta est, concnrrente ad corpora martyrum 
Gervasii et Protasii." 

Of a woman cured in Africa by flowers which had 
touched the relics of St Stephen, as lie testifies in the same 

Of a lady of quality cured of a cancer (which had been 
pronounced incurable) by the sign of the cross, which had 
been made on it by one newly baptised, according to the 
revelation which she had had. 

Of an infant, who had died without baptism, being restored 
to life by the prayers which his mother had presented to St 
Stephen, saying to him with a strong faith, Holy martyr, 
restore to me my son. Thou knowest that I only ask his life, in 
order that lie may not be for ever separated from God. That 
saint relates this as a thing of which he was quite assured, 
in a sermon which he preached to his people on the sub 
ject of another very remarkable miracle which had hap 
pened in the church at the very time in which he was 
preaching, which he describes at length in that part of the 
City of God. 


He says that seven brothers and three sisters, of an 
honourable family of Cesarea in Cappadocia, having been 
cursed by their mother for an injury which they had done 
her, God punished them with a disease through which 
they were continually, even in sleep, agitated by fearful 
trembling all over the body, which was so deformed, that, 
not being able to endure the sight of those who knew 
them, they had all left their own country to go in different 
directions, and that thus one of the brothers, called Paul, 
and one of the sisters, called Palladia, had come to Hippo, 
and, being noticed by all the city, the cause of their mis 
fortune had been learnt from them ; that, the day before 
Easter, the brother, praying to God before the gates of the 
chapel of St Stephen, fell all at once into a stupor, during 
which it was observed that he trembled no longer, and 
being, when he awoke, perfectly well, there arose in the 
church a great shout from the people, who praised God 
for that miracle, and who ran to St Augustine (who was 
preparing to say mass), to tell him what had happened. 

"After," says he, "the cries of rejoicing were over, and 
the holy scripture had been read, I said little to them on 
the festival and on this great subject of rejoicing, because 
I wished rather to leave them, not to hear, but to contem 
plate the eloquence of God in that divine work. I then 
led away with me the brother who had been cured ; I 
made him recount all his history ; I compelled him to 
write it ; and on the morrow I promised the people that I 
would cause him to relate it the day after. Thus, the 
third day after Easter, having placed the brother and the 
sister on the step of the rood loft, in order that the people 
might see in the sister, who still had that fearful trembling, 
the malady from which the brother had been delivered by 
the goodness of God, I made him read the story of their 
history before the people, and let them go. I then began 
to preach on this subject (the sermon which is the 323d), 
and all at once, while I was still speaking, a great cry of 
joy arose from the side of the chapel, and the sister was 
brought to me, who (having gone from me into an aisle), 
had been perfectly cured in the same way as her brother, 
which caused such joy amongst the people that it was 
scarcely possible to bear the shout which they made." 


I wished to relate all the particulars of this miracle, in 
order to convince the most incredulous that they would be 
guilty of folly in questioning its truth, as well as that of 
the many others which this saint relates in the same place. 
For, supposing the things to have happened which he re 
lates, all reasonable persons must acknowledge the finger 
of God in them ; and thus all that would be left to the in 
credulous would be to question the testimony of St Augus 
tine himself by imagining that he altered the truth, in 
order to give authority to the Christian religion in the 
minds of the pagans. Now this cannot be said with the 
slightest colour of truth. 

Firstly, because it is not probable that a wise man 
would have attempted to lie about things so public, in 
which he would have been convicted of falsehood by a 
multitude of witnesses, which would have brought disgrace 
on the Christian religion. Secondly, because there never 
was any one a greater enemy to falsehood than this saint, 
especially in matters of religion, having established through 
whole books, not only that it is never permissible to lie, 
but that it is an awful crime to do so, under the pretext of 
converting men more easily to the faith thereby. 

Hence, it must produce excessive astonishment to see 
that the heretics of the pi esent time, regarding St Augus 
tine as a very intelligent and sincere man, have not con 
sidered the manner in which they speak of the invocation 
of saints and the veneration of relics as a superstitious 
worship derived from idolatry, and tending to the ruin of 
all religion ; for it is plain that we take away from him 
one of his most solid foundations when we take away from 
true miracles the authority which they ought to have in 
the confirmation of the truth ; and it is clear that the 
authority of these miracles is utterly destroyed when we 
say that God works them in return for superstitious and 
idolatrous worship. Now this is truly what the heretics 
do, in treating, on the one hand, the reverence which the 
catholics render to saints and to their relics, as a criminal 
superstition ; and not being able to deny, on the other, that 
the greatest friends of God, such as was (by their own con 
fession) St Augustine, have assured us that God has cured 
incurable diseases, opened the eyes of the blind, and re- 


stored the dead to life, as a reward for the devotion of those 
who have invoked the saints and reverenced their relics. 

Indeed, this consideration alone ought to lead every man 
of good sense to acknowledge the falsity of the pretended 
reformed religion. 

I have enlarged somewhat on this celebrated example, 
of the judgment which we ought to make on the truth of 
facts, in order that the rule may be employed in similar 
occurrences, because we fall into the same error in relation 
to them. Each one thinks that it is enough, in order to 
decide on them, to make a common place which is often 
wholly composed of maxims which, so far from being uni 
versally true, are often not even probable, when they 
are joined with the particular circumstances of the facts 
which \ve examine. It is necessary to unite these circum 
stances, and not to separate them, since it often happens 
that a fact which is scarcely probable in connection with 
a single circumstance, which is commonly a mark of false 
hood, must be reckoned certain in connection Avith other 
circumstances, and that, on the contrary, a fact which may 
appear to us true in connection with a given circumstance 
which is commonly a mark of truth, ought to be judged 
false in connection with others, which destroy this, as we 
shall explain in the following chapter. 



THERE is still another very important remark to be made 
on the belief of events. It is, that amongst the circum 
stances which we must consider, in order to determine 
whether we ought to believe them or not, there are some 
which may be called common circumstances, because they 


are such as in the greater number of facts are found far 
more often connected with truth than with falsehood ; 
and then, if these are not counterbalanced by other parti 
cular circumstances, which weaken or destroy in our 
minds the motives of belief derived from these common 
circumstances, we have reason to believe that these events 
are, if not certainly true, at least very probably so, which 
is sufficient when we are obliged to judge of them ; for, as 
we ought to be contented with moral certainty in things 
which are not susceptible of metaphysical certainty, so, also, 
when we are not able to obtain complete moral certainty, 
the best thing we can do, when we are obliged to take 
some side, is to embrace the most probable, since it would 
be an outrage on reason to do otherwise. 

And if, on the contrary, these common circumstances 
are found connected with other particular circumstances, 
Avhich destroy in our mind, as we have said, the motives 
of belief derived from these common circumstances, either 
because they are themselves such that the like are very 
rarely accompanied with falsehood, we have then no longer 
the same reason to believe that event, but cither our mind 
remains in suspense if the particular circumstances only 
lessen the weight of the common circumstances, or we are 
led to believe that the fact is false, if they are such as are 
commonly the marks of falsehood. The following example 
may explain this remark. 

It is a common circumstance for most deeds to be signed 
by two notaries, that is to say, by two public persons who 
have generally great interest in not being guilty of false 
hood, inasmuch as they have not only their conscience and 
their honour, but their fortune and their livelihood, at 
stake. This consideration alone is sufficient, if AVC know 
no other particulars about a contract, to believe that it is 
not ante-dated, not that it may not have been ante-dated, 
but because it is certain, that of a thousand contracts 
there are nine hundred and ninety-nine which are not 
so ; so that it is incomparably more probable that the 
contract which we suspect, is one of the nine hundred and 
ninety-nine, than that it is the solitary one among the 
thousand which may be found ante-dated. That if the 
probity of the notaries who have signed it is perfectly well 


known to me, I may conclude, then, most certainly, that 
they have not committed a forgery. 

But if to this common circumstance of being signed by 
two notaries, which is a sufficient reason, when it is not 
opposed by others, for trusting in the date of the contract, 
other particular circumstances are added, as that these 
notaries were notorious for being without honour and 
conscience, and that they might have had considerable 
interest in that falsification ; this, though it may not lead 
me to conclude that the contract is ante-dated, will, never 
theless, diminish the weight which, without this, the sig 
nature of the two notaries would have had on my mind 
to induce me to believe that it is not so. And if, beyond 
this, I am able to discover other positive proofs of this 
ante-dating, either by witnesses, or very strong arguments, 
such as would be the inability of a man to lend twenty 
thousand crowns, from the fact of his not having a 
hundred when he engaged to do so, I should then 
be determined to believe that there was falsity in the 
contract, and it would then be most unreasonable to at 
tempt to compel me either to believe that the contract was 
not ante-dated, or to confess that I had been wrong in sup 
posing that others in which I had not seen the same marks 
of falsity were not so, since they might have been like that one. 

We may apply all this to subjects which often give rise 
to disputes among the doctors. A question arises as to 
whether a book has been really written by the author 
whose name it has always borne, or whether the acts of a 
council are true or suppositious. 

It is plain that the presumption is in favour of an author 
who has for a long time held possession of a work, and of 
the truth of the acts of a council, which we have always 
read of, and that the reasons must be considerable which 
should induce us to believe the contrary, notwithstanding 
that presumption. 

Hence, a very able man of our time, having endeavoured 
to show that the letter of St Cyprian to Pope Stephen on 
the subject of Martin, bishop of Aries, was not written by 
that holy martyr, has not been able to convince the learned, 
his conjectures not having appeared strong enough to take 
away from St Cyprian the piece which has always borne 


his name, which perfectly resembles in style his other 

It is in vain, also, that Blondel and Saumaisius, not being 
able to reply to the argument derived from the letters of 
St Ignatius for the superiority of the bishop over the priests 
from the commencement of the church, have endeavoured 
to maintain that all these letters are suppositions, as they 
have even been printed by Isaac Vossius and Usserius from 
an ancient Greek manuscript in the library of Florence, 
and they have been refuted by those even of their own 
party, since, avowing as they do, that we have the very 
letters which were cited by Eusebius, by St Jerome, by 
Theodoret and Origen, there is no likelihood of the letters 
of St Ignatius having been received by St Polycarp, that 
these true letters should have disappeared, and false ones 
have supplied their places in the time which elapsed be 
tween St Polycarp and Origen, or Eusebius ; besides which, 
these letters of St Ignatius which we now have, have a 
certain character of holiness and simplicity so in harmony 
with those apostolic times, that they vindicate themselves 
against all these vain accusations of fabrication and false 

Again, all the difficulties which Cardinal Perron has 
proposed against the letter of the council of Africa, touch 
ing the appellations of the holy see, have not prevented 
any from believing now, as formerly, that it was truly 
written by that council. 

But there are, nevertheless, other occasions on which 
the particular reasons avail against that general reason of 
long possession. 

Thus, although the letter of St Clement to St James, 
bishop of Jerusalem, was translated by Ruffinus, nearly 
thirteen centuries ago, and was alleged to have been writ 
ten by St Clement by a council of France, more than 
twelve centuries ago, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion 
that it is suppositions, since that holy bishop of Jerusalem 
having suffered martyrdom before St Peter, it is impossible 
that St Clement could have written to him after the death 
of St Peter, as that letter supposes. 

So, again, though the Commentaries on St Paul, attri 
buted to St Ambrose, were quoted under his name by a 


vast number of authors, and the imperfect work on St 
Matthew under that of St Chrysostom ; every one, never 
theless, is convinced now that they were not by these 
saints, but by other ancient authors, involved in many errors. 

Finally, the acts which we have of the council of Sin- 
nessa, under Marcellinus, of the two or three of Rome, 
under St Sylvester, and of another at Rome, under Sextus 
the Thii d, would be sufficient to convince us of the reality 
of these councils if they contained nothing but what was 
probable and in harmony with the time at which they 
were said to have been held ; but they contain so much that 
is unreasonable, that does not agree with those times, that 
the probability of their being false and suppositions is great. 

Such are some of the remarks which may be made in 
relation to these kinds of judgments ; but it must not be 
imagined that they will avail to preserve us always from 
being deceived. All that they can do, at most, is to enable 
us to avoid the more obvious errors, and to accustom the 
mind not to allow itself to be carried away by common 
places, which, while embodying some general truth, are, 
nevertheless, false on many particular occasions, which is 
one of the most considerable sources of the errors of men. 



THE rules which are employed in judging of past events 
may easily be applied to those which are future ; for, as 
we ought to believe that an event has probably happened 
when the circumstances are certain, which we know are 
commonly connected with that event, we ought also to be 
lieve that it probably will happen when the present cir 
cumstances are such as are commonly followed by such an 
effect. It is thus that doctors may judge of the good or 


bad termination of diseases captains of the distant events 
of a war and that we j udge, in the world, of the greater 
part of contingent affairs. 

But in relation to events in which we are engaged, and 
which we may bring about or prevent to some extent by 
our diligence in seeking or avoiding them, the majority 
of people fall into an illusion which is the more de 
ceptive in proportion as it appears to them more reason 
able ; it is, that they regard only the greatness of the re 
sult of the advantage which they hope for, or the disad 
vantage which they fear, without considering at all the 
probability which there is of that advantageous or disad 
vantageous event befalling. 

Thus, when they apprehend any great evil, as the loss 
of their livelihood or their fortune, they think it the part 
of prudence to neglect no precaution for preserving these ; 
and if it is some great good, as the gain of a hundred 
thousand crowns, they think they act wisely in seeking to 
obtain it, if the hazard is a small amount, however little 
likelihood there may be of success. 

It was by a reasoning of this kind that a princess, having 
heard that some persons had been crushed by the fall of a 
ceiling, would never afterwards enter into a house without 
having it previously examined ; and she was so persuaded 
that she acted reasonably in this, that she considered all 
who acted otherwise imprudent. 

It is this reason also, probably, which induces many 
persons to take such troublesome and unnecessary pre 
cautions for the preservation of their health. It is this 
which renders others distrustful to excess, even in the 
smallest things, because, having been sometimes deceived, 
they imagine that they will be so in all other things. It 
is this which attracts so many to lotteries. Is it not a 
most advantageous thing, say they, to gain twenty thou 
sand crowns for a single crown ? Each believes that he 
is the happy one to whom the prize will fall ; and no one 
reflects, that if there be, for example, twenty thousand 
crowns, it will be, perhaps, thirty thousand times more 
probable that each individual will lose them, than that he 
will gain them. 

The defect of this reasoning is, that in order to judge of 


what we ought to do in order to obtain a good and to 
avoid an evil, it is necessary to consider, not only the 
good and evil in itself, but also the probability of its hap 
pening and not happening, and to regard geometrically 
the proportion which all these things have, taken together, 
which may be illustrated by the following example : 

There are certain games in which ten persons lay down 
a crown each, and where one only gains the whole, and 
all the others lose : thus each of the players has only the 
chance of losing a crown, and of gaining nine by it. If 
we consider only the gain and loss in themselves, it might 
appear that all have the advantage of it ; but it is necessary 
to consider, further, that if each may gain nine crowns, 
and there is only the hazard of losing one, it is also nine 
times more probable, in relation to each, that he will lose 
his crown, and not gain the nine. Thus each has for 
himself nine crowns to hope for, one to lose, nine degrees 
of probability of losing a crown, and only one of gaining 
the nine, which puts the matter on a perfect equality. 

All games of this kind are equitable, as far as games 
can be, and those which are beyond this proportion are 
manifestly unjust ; and hence we may see that there is a 
manifest injustice in those kinds of games which are called 
lotteries, because the master of the lottery, taking generally 
a tenth part of the whole as his perquisite, the whole 
body of the players is duped, in the same way as if a man 
should play in an equal game, that is to say, one in which 
there is as much probability of gain as of loss ten pistoles 
against nine. Now, if this is disadvantageous to all the 
players, it is also so to each in particular, since it happens 
hence that the probability of loss is greater than the pro 
bability of gain that the advantage which we hope for 
does not surpass the disadvantage to which we are exposed, 
which is that of losing what we laid down. 

There is sometimes so little appearance of success in a 
thing, that, however advantageous it may be, and however 
small the stake for obtaining it, it is well not to hazard it. 
Thus it would be folly to play twenty sous against twenty 
livres, or against a kingdom, on the condition that we 
could gain the stake only if an infant arranging at hazard 
the letters from a printing-office, should compose all at 


once the first twenty lines of Virgil s ^Eneid, yet, 
without thinking of it, there is no moment of our life in 
which we do not hazard more than a prince would do, who 
^hould risk his kingdom by playing on that condition. 

These reflections may appear trifling, and they are so, 
indeed, if they stop here, but we may turn them to very 
important account ; and the principal use which should be 
derived from them is that of making us more reasonable 
in our hopes and fears. There are, for example, many 
who have an excessive terror when they hear thunder. If 
the ihunder leads us to think of Grod and of death, happily 
we cannot think too much of it ; but if it is simply the 
danger of being killed by the thunder which causes this 
excessive apprehension, it is easy to show that this is un 
reasonable. For of two thousand persons there is at most 
but one killed in this way ; and we may say, indeed, there 
is scarcely any violent death which is less common. If, 
therefore, the fear of an evil ought to be proportionate, not 
only to its magnitude, but also to its probability, as there 
is scarcely any kind of death more rare than death from 
thunder, there is scarcely anything which ought to occa 
sion less fear, seeing, especially, that fear does not at all 
help us to avoid it. 

Hence it is not only necessary to undeceive those persons 
who take extreme and vexatious precautions for the pre 
servation of their life and health, by showing them that 
these precautions are a much greater evil, than a danger 
so remote as that of the accidents which they fear can be ; 
but it is necessary, also, to disabuse all who, in their 
undertakings, reason in the following way : There is 
danger in that business ; therefore, it is bad : there is ad 
vantage in this ; therefore, it is good : since it is neither 
the danger nor the advantage, but the proportion between 
them, of which we are to judge. 

It is of the nature of finite things, however great they 
may be, to be exceeded by the smallest, if often multi 
plied ; or if these smallest things exceed the great in pro 
bability, more than the great exceed them in magnitude. 
Thus the very smallest gain may exceed the greatest which 
can be imagined, if the small is often repeated, or if that 
great good is so difficult to secure, that it less exceeds the 


small in magnitude than the small exceeds it in facility of 
attainment ; and the same is true of the evils which we 
fear, that is to say, that the smallest evil may be more 
considerable than the greatest which is not infinite, if it 
exceed it in this proportion. 

It belongs to infinite things alone, as eternity and salva 
tion, that they cannot be equalled by any temporal ad 
vantage ; and thus we ought never to place them in the 
balance with any of the things of the world. This is why 
the smallest degree of facility for the attainment of salva 
tion is of higher value than all the blessings of the world 
put together ; and why the slightest peril of being lost is 
more serious than all temporal evils, considered simply as 

This is enough to lead all reasonable persons to come to 
this conclusion, with which we will finish this Logic : that 
the greatest of all follies is to employ our time and our life 
in anything else but that which will enable us to acquire 
one which will never end, since all the blessings and evils 
of this life are nothing in comparison with those of another ; 
and since the danger of falling into these evils, as well as 
the difficulty of acquiring these blessings, is very great. 

Those who come to this conclusion, and who follow it 
out in the conduct of their life, are wise and prudent, 
though they reason ill in all the matters of science ; and 
those who do not come to it, however accurate they may 
be in everything beside, are treated of in the Scripture as 
foolish and infatuated, and make a bad use of logic, of 
reason, and of life. 



In Demy 8vo, Cloth, Price 12s., 



THIS Volume treats of the World as under the Government of God. 
It is divided into Four Books. 

In the First Book, the author takes a general view of the govern 
ment of the world as fitted to throw light on the character of God. 
He points out the sources of our idea of God ; shows how mankind 
take a partial view of God, by looking to one or a few of these 
sources ; and demonstrates that, by taking into view the providence 
of God and the moral qualities of man, we may rise to an enlarged 
comprehension of God, as the Governor of the world, as well as its 
Maker and Preserver, as a holy and just as well as a benevolent God. 
In this book he takes a survey of the actual world as displaying the 
character of its Governor. 

In the Second Book, he enters upon a particular consideration of 
the Material World. He gives what he conceives to be the true ex 
planation of the Laws of Nature, and shows how, instead of being 
self-acting and independent of God, they require arrangements to be 
made in order to their action. He shows how the method of 
government by general law is admirably suited to the character of 
man, and points out many examples of the prevalence and benefi 
cence of order in the world. He then enters on the subject of Pro 
vidence, and shows how God has so arranged matter and its proper 
ties, that he can accomplish each of his purposes. He discusses the 
philosophy of Combe, and shows that there is a particular as 
well as a general Providence, and points out the method by which 
Prayer can be answered in perfect consistency with the laws of nature. 

Book Third, contains an examination of the Moral World. The 
author speaks first of the original and indestructible principles of 
man s moral nature, shows how he is endowed with free agency and 
a conscience, and is responsible to God. He then enters fully into 
the examination of the actual moral state of man shows how the 
depraved will sways the moral judgments, and gives an exhibition 
of the workings of conscience in the heart of sinful man. He also 
treats of the other motive principles of the human mind, such as the 
instinctive attachments and affections. 

In Book Fourth, he gives the results shows how every want of 
natural religion is supplied in revealed relii/ion and in doing so, he 
treats of the Works and Word of God, of Reason and Faith in their 








NITY, 8vo., 10 6 


On University Reform, 

By JOHN S. BLACKIE, Professor of Humanity in Marischal College. 

Octavo, price One Shilling and Sixpence. 

In the Press, 

An English Translation of Descartes on Method.