MS 447-454 (1903) - Lowell Lecture I

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Ladies and Gentlemen: For eight abbreviated hours I am to endeavor to occupy your attention with the subject of reasoning. But can one person [strikethrough]tell[/strikethrough] inform another what is good reasoning and what is bad? [strikethrough]Sixty-seven[/strikethrough] About seventy generations have passed since Aristotle gave to logic a scientific form. There has not been one of those generations [scratched out] in Europe which has [??] been [??] [scratched out] with this study's and it is natural and proper to ask what the harvest has been. At the end of sixty of these seventy generations, Europeans reasoned no better than the personages of Plato's Dialogues are represented as reasoning. They were considerable more adroit and They reached their conclusion with greater facility; but the conclusions

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CHARLES S. PIERCE PAPERS

No. 448

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No. 1 this number given for purposes of classification merely

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A malady, ladies and gentlemen, has broken out in science. Science is today in splendid vigor, having thrown off its earlier infirmity of dogmatism, and being in most respects in superlative trim. This new disease is in its very first stage and is confined almost wholly entirely exclusively to certain members that always have been weakly. The symptoms are local. The disorder, however, in its nature, not local, but constitutional; and there is distinct danger of its appearing in parts that are now untouched. There is a certain craze in the universities; by which I mean that certain ideas have become rife in the universities by the force of vogue, and not by, the force of reasoning, whether good or bad. Such a phenomenon may be likened to fever. Science has, at different times, passed through several such ailments, some of them pretty serious. They ran their

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course and health came back. The present visitation is more serious, for the reason that it is no mere feverish attach, not a mere fashion, but is in great measure the outcome of a principle. Now every principle, once entertained, possesses vitality, until it is notoriously refuted; and even after they have received their death blows we have all had occasion to remark how long life may linger in principles whose formulation has been sonorous.

The principle in this case is a false notion about reasoning arising from a confusion of thought; an unfortunately science, at this moment is ill-fortified against such an invasion, since scientific men of today are, at this time, on the average, less armed than their forerunners were in with that logical acumen which is necessary to detect a somewhat subtle sophistry. I have been kept watch

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