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almost every one,-pleasures requiring not wealth, and joined with no splendour,-pleasures continuous and uncloying,—would make our youth, our manhood, and our age, alike happy, and undisturbed. Phi. losophy can have no higher object than to create this happy frame of mind. Such was the object of the much calumniated and unhappy JEAN JACQUES ROUSSEAU.
BENTHAM AND HIS WORKS.-No. I.
THE BOOK OF FALLACIES.
It is curious to observe the progress of opinion. The bulk of mankind will live on for centuries, either vegetating in the relations in which they are born, without thinking at all, or if attempting to think, going no further than the appropriation of certain set forms of thought, or rather expression, which they find in vogue. Accidentally, however, as it were, one stumbles upon an awkward truth, which he can by no ways reconcile with any existing system; and another, who has no connexion or intercourse with him, upon another. Gradually, these opinions, these exceptions from the received creeds of society, swell to a great number, floating vaguely, unconnectedly, harassingly, through the minds of men. At last a mind of an original stamp arises, which attracting to itself, as the magnet does iron filings, all those novelties, remains inaccessible to the worn-out dry husks of old opinion, and compresses by its innate power the hitherto disjecta membra into a luminous and convincing system. Such minds are the heralds of a new era. They are in the moral world, what those fragments of a superincumbent stratum, which geologists uniformly find imbedded in the lower rock where one formation ceases and another is super-imposed, are in the physical. But inanimate nature feebly shadows out the powers of the soul. A more correct figure would be to call these men the creative minds destined to mould the habits of thought of succeeding generations.
Of this class was Jeremy Bentham. He was one of those men, of whom Hazlitt says, that they advance so far before their contemporaries as to be dwarfed in the distance. The multitude could not comprehend, and either laughed scornfully at him, or passed him unnoticed. Like every thing that is great, however, he was working in silence. The time in which he lived was a state of transition. Men had cast themselves loose from fixed opinions. Old principles and old establishments were worn loosely for want of a better covering ; but they were like the snake's last year's skin, retained loosely hanging about it, till the new shall be tough enough for the wear and tear of ordinary life. It was an age of scepticism: there was no positive belief. Amid this clamorous and empty crowd, jostling and quarrelling without any definite purpose, Bentham, in his quiet habitation in Westminster, was calmly extending and systematizing his own views, gathering around him a cohort of half or whole converts, destined to diffuse his principles and opinions throughout the world ; forming as it were a link between the state of society, from which vitality was fast ebbing, and that which was to succeed. His mind is no longer manifested to us through a corporeal medium, but his thoughts holding many subject to his power, and about to hold more, he may truly be said still to live among us.
In the number of our Magazine which appeared immediately subsequent to the death of Bentham, we announced our intention of paying, on a future occasion, a tribute to his memory. We did not understand by this, collecting a number of little personal anecdotes concerning him, stringing them together, and calling the thing a memoir ; although such a task would have been neither ungrateful, nor its accomplishment useless. Still less did we dream of a superficial, formal éloge, dealing in cold generalities, and saying of our teacher what has been said of so many, that he was a great man, a very great man. We felt that his noblest monument was the works he left behind him ; that the best tribute of homage we could bring to his memory would be to diffuse more widely the knowledge of them; an undertaking which, if successfully accomplished, would not be more honourable to the dead than useful to the living. The world is but emerging from a state of infancy. The structure and government of society have hitherto been rather vaguely felt than rightly understood. Laws, it is true, were acknowledged to be necessary,—rules sanctioned by the application of physical force, which, if they could not render men virtuous, might at least restrain their outward actions within a line approximating to that which the spontaneous prompting of virtuous emotion would have suggested. But the basis upon which these laws was to rest, and the real nature of the force which was to carry them into execution, were ill-understood. The priest sought to juggle mankind into obedience, the warrior to force them, the moralist to persuade them. One and all expressed in their different idioms a faint foreboding of the truth, that good laws can only exist in that society where the majority will what is right, and lend their arms to enforce its observance. Enlightened conviction on the part of the citizens, is the only guarantee for good laws and their observance. Many nations are already, and more are daily coming of age. We, among others, have vindicated our right to act for ourselves. Whether our liberty shall work for our good or our evil, depends upon the extent of our knowledge. Deeply convinced of this truth, we adventure not without trembling on our self-imposed task, of conveying to our readers, in a series of articles, some general notion of the writings of the first man who reduced legislation to a science.
The work which we have selected, as the subject of our first prelection, “ The Book of Fallacies,” is, perhaps, the one of all our author's published writings, of the merits and character of which it is the most difficult to convey an adequate impression, by means of a summary. It has been selected, because it affords an opportunity of dwelling upon some of the features of Bentham's intellect which seem to have determined the bent and tenor of his labours, without entering into the detail of any of his positive opinions.
One fact regarding his mental characteristics is immediately recalled to the mind by the perusal of this volume :—that Bentham, comprehending within the grasp of his almost boundless mind, the whole range of his science, yet perceiving, at the same time, with microscopic accuracy, its minutest details, was too much engrossed with his fervid progress of thought to be able to submit to the drudgery of committing his labours to words. Those who are familiar with his writings will find, that every subject is treated of in a manner that shows the author had referred it to its place in the comprehensive system he had formed in his own mind. Traces of the outline of that system are to be found in his larger works. Enough of matter to fill up the outline has been left
by him, in remarks on the details, full and exhaustive in themselves, but not so hewn as to dovetail, in their present state, into each other. His almost boundless view embraced, at once, every point of the immense field of his labours, and as one or other struck him, he pounced upon it ; but even his lengthened life was insufficient for fitting together and polishing the rich ore he had quarried. To this circumstance are we to ascribe the fact, that much of the results of his investigations, which have been published, has been worked up for the public eye, by the hands of friends and disciples. The writings of Ben. tham, like those of his great prototype Socrates, are known to us chiefly through the medium of his pupils. The matter is Bentham's, but the form and polish have been given by feebler hands.
This is the case with “ The Book of Fallacies." One redaction of the fragments which have been published under that name, was given to the world by Dumont, in French. The English version was published in 1824. Bentham had no share in preparing either of these works for the press. The work which he contemplated seems to have been one, in some measure, of transitory interest :-a collection of the favourite fallacies used by parliamentary debaters. He had classed them under three heads :-fallacies of the ins; fallacies of the outs; either-side fallacies. His purpose was a work of immediate and local interest; and, probably, a feeling of how inferior in importance the unmasking of the child's play of the British senate was, to the completion of his more important duties, prevented the idea ever being com. mitted to paper, except in very hasty and imperfect jottings. The MS. coming into Dumont's hands, that writer, stripping Bentham's hints of their local colouring, and arranging them according to a principle of classification suggested by his friend Sismondi, appended his work to a treatise, entitled “ Tactique des Assemblées Legislatives,” compiled, in like manner, from Bentham's papers. The English editor has preserved, with a slight variation, the arrangement and distribution of Dumont. Instead, however, of re-translating the work, he has employed, as far as it went, the original MS. of Bentham, and has retained most of the allusions to our parliamentary practice. The value of the English redaction is greatly enhanced on this account. We can trace, in many passages, the pure ore of Bentham ; and his remarks, bearing immediately upon the actual circumstances of the society in which we exist, have a greater practical utility.
The deficiencies of the work are plainly referable to the two editors. What was meant by Bentham, for a treatise on fallacies employed in political debate, and within the sphere of a definite locality, has been manufactured into an elementary treatise on fallacies in general. The work is announced as intended to fill up the blank existing in logical literature from the time of Aristotle, who was the first and almost the last who attempted to classify fallacies. But the very nature of Bentham's object rendered it impossible that his MS. could furnish materials for an exhaustive treatise on this subject. A collection of parliamentary fallacies could stand to such a work only in the same relation as a treatise on any branch of applied mathematics does to “ Euclid's Elements.” Another blemish may be traced to this source. Some of the fallacies have been beautifully elucidated and exposed in the original MS.; but others seem to have been loosely enumerated with a word or two of general reflection append. ed. Many passages have been retained, which, had the work been prepared for the press by the author, would undoubtedly have been rejected as inconclusive. The weak points of “ the Book of Fallacies ” may therefore be considered as these : a certain degree of unsatisfactoriness arising from the work not containing all that we are led to expect ; a dimi. nution of the raciness of the original by tormenting it out of its original form ; occasional passages of weakness and common place, the joinings of the editor, or paragraphs retained which Bentham would mercilessly have lopped away,
Taking the work, however, as an exposure of the political fallacies most prevalent in English society, by tracing them to their source, and throwing a broad glare of light upon their futility and irrelevancy, the work is invaluable as a manual of political knowledge, and as affording us a picture of the pure, benevolent, playful, firm, clear-sighted, comprehensive, powerful mind of the author. The materials of Bentham are distributed among an introduction and five parts. The introduction contains an exposition of the nature of fallacies in general, and political fallacies in particular; of the nature and rationale of the classification of them adopted in the book; and hints respecting the importance of a good system of nomenclature. The object of the work is further illustrated by contrasting it with Hamilton's parliamentary logic. The fifth and concluding part resumes the consideration of this subject, points out the character common to all fallacies, the causes of their utterance, the particular demand for them created by the peculiarities of English government and society, and the utility of their exposure. The four intermediate parts are devoted to the exposition of particular fallacies. The editor regards all fallacies as calculated either to repress inquiry altogether, and that either by an appeal to authority or by intimidation; or to postpone in. quiry; or to confuse the minds of hearers when inquiry can no longer be avoided. The chapter on the Fallacies of Authority opens with a beautiful and satisfactory dissertation on the nature of authority, and the cases in which any appeal to it is fallacious. Sophistical appeals to authority are included under four heads : appeals to the wisdom of our ancestors ; appeals to irrevocable laws and promissory oaths; appeals to precedents; assumption of authority on the part of the speaker, and praises of the authors of the measure defended. All attempts to repress investigation by fallacious inuendoes of dangerous results are included under five heads :—the device of repressing inquiry by attri. buting bad motives to those who demand it; the old-wifish clamour of no innovation ; the timid question, “ what is at the bottom ?" even of the least dubious plan of amelioration; the confusion of the personality of bad officers with the benefits of the duties they have to discharge ; and brow-beating threats. The fallacies employed to obtain delay, the object of which always is final frustration, are, that there has been no complaint made ; that people still more unfortunate than the complainants may easily be found ; that it is not yet time; that it is dan. gerous to undertake too many things at once; that some other measure, (neither matured nor preferred,) would be more advantageous than that suggested. The fourth part contains by far the most numerous assortment of fallacies ; almost all that may be employed to confuse and distract debaters, when discussion can no longer be delayed ; “ questionbegging appellatives,” “impostor terms,” “ vague generalities,” “
sweep. ing classifications,” and the like. The arrangement, which we do not mean to describe as bad, but simply not such as Bentham might have made it, serves to aid the memory; and most of the topics are treated in the great author's happiest manner. The collection exhausts and ex
poses the predominant fallacies with which men have hitherto been so fond to deceive themselves, and is at once the best guide to political thinking that has been published, and the best key to the author's more techni. cal works. It ought to be mastered by every one who is anxious to discharge the duties of a citizen.
It is, however, chiefly as illustrating some of the most prominent features of Bentham's intellectual character that we have selected this work for the theme of our introductory essay. Of these the first in importance is that unwinking steadiness with which he always gazes on the sun of truth; that quiet prompitude with which, in the most ravelled question, he comes always to the right conclusion. This was the characteristic of his mind from boyhood until death. Its first fruit was his searching investigation of the English Church establishment ; its next, his resignation of the practice of the law for the nobler task of teaching what law ought to be. He had but one object in life, to discover truth and to declare it. He could not blink a conviction for the attainment of any object. This characteristic disqualified him from influencing the immediate workings of a society, over which passion, with its motley array of half-truths and intrigues, exercised an unlimited sway. But it enabled him to shew how much better and nobler a being man might be; and his example spread with an insensible contagion. Already his modes of thought are catching hold of those who are not aware of it, and ere long they will be at least professed by all.
His wide comprehension and yet microscopic power of attention to details which have already been in some measure alluded to, will appear more clearly when we come to consider his more important writings. But there is one feature of his mind which must not here be passed over in silence, and that is its essentially practical character. His views on the sphere of theory’s utility may be best expressed by himself:
The fear of theory has, to a certain extent, its foundation in reason. There is a general propensity in those who adopt this or that theory to push it too far : i. e, to set up a general proposition which is not true until certain exceptions have been taken out of it,—to set it up without any of those exceptions—to pursue it without regard to the exceptions, and thence, pro tanto, in cases in which it is false, fallacious, repugnant to reason aud utility.
The propensity thus to push theory too far is acknowledged to be almost universal.
But what is the just inference ? Not that theoretical propositions, i. e. propositions of considerable extent, should from such their extent be concluded to be false in toto: but only that in the particular case, inquiry should be made, whether, supposing the proposition to be in the character of a general rule generally true, there may not be a case in which, to reduce it within the limits of truth, reason and utility, an exception ought to be taken out of it.
Every man's knowledge is, in its extent, proportioned to the extent as well as number of those general propositions, of the truth of which, they being true, he has the persuasion in his own mind : in other words, the extent of these his theories comprises the extent of his knowledge.
If, indeed, his theories are false, then, in proportion as they are extensive, he is the more deeply steeped in ignorance and error.
But from the mere circumstance of its being theoretical, by these enemies to knowledge, its falsehood is inferred as if it were a necessary consequence ; with as much reason as if from a man's speaking it were inferred, as a necessary consequence, that what he speaks must be false.
One would think, that in thinking there were something wicked or else unwise ; every body feels or fancies a necessity of disclaiming it. “I am not given to speculation."-" I am no friend to theories.” Speculation, theory, what is it but thinking? Can a man disclaim speculation, can he disclaim theory, without disclaiming thought ? If they do not inean thought, they mean nothing; for unless it be a little more thought than ordinary, theory, speculation, mean nothing.