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tion of fome fact, which both parties taking it for granted that they perfectly understand, are at no pains to ascertain: and, when once begun, are, by the vanity or obftinacy of the fpeakers, or perhaps by their mere love of fpeaking, continued, till accident put an end to them, by filencing the parties, rather than reconciling their opinions. I once faw a number of perfons, neither unlearned nor ill-bred, meet together to pass a focial evening. As ill-luck would have it, a difpute arofe about the propriety of a certain manoeuvre at quadrille, in which fome of the company had been interested the night before. Two parties of difputants were immediately formed; and the matter was warmly argued from fix o'clock till midnight, when the company broke up. Being no adept in cards, I could not enter into the merits of the cause, nor take any part in the controverfy; but I obferved, that each of the fpeakers perfifted to the last in the opinion he took up at the beginning, in which he feemed to be rather confirmed than ftaggered by the arguments that had been urged in oppofition. With fuch enormous wafte of time, with fuch vile prostitution of reafon and fpeech, with fuch wanton indifference to the pleafures of friendship, all difputes are not attended; but most of them, if I mistake not, will be found to be equally unprofitable.

I grant, that much of our knowledge is

gathered

gathered from our intercourfe with one another; but I cannot think, that we are greatly indebted to the argumentative part of converfation; and nobody will fay, that the moft difputatious companions are the most agreeable. For my own part, I have always found thofe to be the most delightful and moft improving converfations, in which there was the leaft contradiction; every person entertaining the utmoft poffible respect both for the judgement and for the veracity of his affociate; and none affuming any of thofe dictatorial airs, which are fo offenfive to the lovers of liberty, modefty, and friendship.-If a catalogue were to be made of all the truths that have been difcovered by wrangling in company, or by folemn difputation in the fchools, I believe it would appear, that the contending parties might have been employed as advantageously to mankind, and much more fo to themselves, in whipping a top, or brandishing a rattle.

The extravagant fondness of the Stoics for logical quibbles is one of the most disagreeable peculiarities in the writings of that fect. Every body must have been difgufted with it in reading fome paffages of the converfations of Epictetus preferved by Arrian; and must be fatisfied, that it tended rather to weaken and bewilder, than to improve the understanding. One could hardJy believe to what ridiculous excess they car

f

ried it. There was a famous problem among them called the Pfeudomenos, which was to this purpose. "When a man fays, I lie, "does he lie, or does he not? If he lies, he "fpeaks truth: if he speaks truth, he lies." Many were the books that their philofcphers wrote, in order to folve this wonderful problem. Chryfippus favoured the world with no fewer than fix: and Philetas ftudied himself to death in his attempts to folve it. Epictetus, whofe good fenfe often triumphs over the extravagance of Stoicifm, juftly ridicules this logical phrenzy *.

Socrates made little account of the fubtleties of logic; being more folicitous to inftruct others, than to diftinguish himself t. He inferred his doctrine from the conceffions of those with whom he converfed; fo that he left no room for difpute, as the adverfary could not contradict him, without contradicting himself. And yet, to Socrates philofophy is perhaps more indebted, than to any other perfon whatever ‡.

We

* Arrian, lib. 2. cap. 17.; Cicero Lucull. cap. 30.

† Supra, part 2. chap. 2. fect. 1.

Cicero in one place (de Finib. lib. 2.) calls him Parens Philofophia, and in another (de Orat. lib. 3.) affirms, that, in the judgement of all Greece, and according to the teftimony of all the learned, Socrates, on every fubject to which he applied himfelf, excelled all men, in wifdom, politenefs, and penetration, as well as in co

pioufnels

We have therefore no reafon to think, that truth is difcoverable by thofe means only which the technical logic prefcribes. Aristotle knew the theory both of fophifms and fyllogifms, better than any other man; yet Aristotle himself is fometimes impofed on by fophifms of his own invention *. And

pioufnefs and variety of eloquence; and that fucceeding philofophers, though they differed widely in their principles, were however ambitious to be thought to belong to the Socratic fchool, and willing to believe that they derived their doctrines from that great feminary of knowledge.-Socrates was the firft Grecian philofo pher who made experience the ground-work of all his reafonings, who applied philofophy to the regulation of human conduct, and who taught, that those theories only were valuable, which could be applied to practical and useful purposes. The more we confider the state of learning at the time of his appearance, and the pride and infignificancy of thofe fophifts, whom Greece then regarded as the oracles of wifdom, and to whofe character and profeffion his conduct as a public teacher formed fo ftriking a contraft, the more we shall be fenfible of our obligations to this great and excellent man, who was faid to have brought philofophy down from heaven; and who may truly be faid to have

turn'd the reasoning art

From words to things, from fancy to the heart.

*Thus he is faid to have proved the earth to be the centre of the univerfe by the following fophifm. — "Heavy bodies naturally tend to the centre of the uni

verfe; we know by experience, that heavy bodies "tend to the centre of the earth; therefore the centre "of the earth is the fame with that of the univerfe." Which is what the logicians call petitio principii, or begging the question.

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it is remarkable, that his moral, rhetorical, and political writings, in which his own excellent judgement is little warped by logical fubtleties, are far the most useful, and, in point of found reasoning, the most unexceptionable, part of his philofophy.

The apparent tendency of the school-logic is, to render men difputatious and fceptical, adepts in the knowledge of words, but inattentive to fact and experience. It makes them fonder of speaking than thinking, and therefore strangers to themselves; folicitous chiefly about rules, names, and distinctions, and therefore leaves them neither leifure nor inclination for the study of life and manners, In a word, it makes them more ambitious to diftinguish themselves as the partifans of a dogmatift, than as inquirers after truth. It is easy to fee how far a man of this temper is qualified to make discoveries in knowledge. To fuch a man, indeed, the name of truth is only a pretence: he neither is, nor can be, much interested in the folidity or importance of his tenets; it is enough if he can render them plaufible; nay, it is enough if he can filence his adverfary by any means. The captious turn of an habitual wrangler deadens the understanding, fours the temper, and hardens the heart: by rendering the mind fufpicious, and attentive to trifles, it weakens the fagacity of inftinct, and extinguishes the fire of imagination; it transforms converfation into a ftate of warfare;

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