Analysis And Synthesis Both Necessary, In Their Proportion, To True Reasoning -- By: Leonard Withington
BSac 23:92 (Oct 1866) p. 603
Analysis And Synthesis Both Necessary, In Their Proportion,
To True Reasoning
We may say a word of what is meant by the terms. In logic they are applied to the two modes of reasoning, — one by which you assume the conclusion and go back to the elements to prove it, as in algebra; and the other, by which you put the elements together and come to the conclusion last, as often in geometry. In both these ways wholes and parts are considered, and it is supposed that the contemplation of both is necessary to the integrity of our knowledge. In this Article, it is not so much the method we consider, as the importance of the two facts. What we have especially in view is:
First, When to understand a subject we dissect it into parts, and are so intent on the parts that we forget the primitive union, or when we exaggerate the separation.
Secondly, When the union is so complete as to generate a new simple idea, as the two gases in water, and we lose sight of the importance of the new unity.
Thirdly, When we affirm a thing which implies the denial of some opposite, as when it is said the soul is a chain of exercises, and it is implied we deny a continuity, and we neglect to ask what is the exact difference of the thing affirmed and denied.
And lastly, When our assertion or proposition floats between the objective and subjective, as when Locke said there was no heat in fire, or no color in the rainbow. To these four we might add, when we see a strange apparent deviation in the laws of nature which after observation harmonises, or when an all-inclusive principle takes in some
BSac 23:92 (Oct 1866) p. 604
items which we at first suppose do not belong to it. In all such cases the synthesis of parts to a consequent whole gives great light, both in morals and material things.
We shall find, if we examine, that the natural course of all investigation in moral or material science leads us to exaggerate the power of analysis and to overlook the units from which we started. Thus, in dissecting a dead carcass, the first presentation is the body itself, and its constitution is to be found by dissecting it into parts. But there is always one difficulty,—life is gone, with all its active operations, before the work is begun. Hence the anatomist loses one of the essential principles whose nature he seeks. Exactly so it is with the human mind: we begin by surveying it as a totality; and the only way of advancing in our knowledge seems to be to take it apart; to arrange and inspect the elements; the laws of thought and the passions; but in all this we are departing from an instructive unity. A chemist surveys the imponderable, substances. H...
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