« PreviousContinue »
When any of the parts of any idea are yet farther divided, in order to a clear explication of the whole, this is called a subdivision; as when a year is divided into months, each month into days, and each day into hours, which may also be farther subdivided into minutes and seconds.
It is necessary, in order to the full explication of any being, to consider each part, and the properties of it, distinct by itself, as well as in its relation to the whole; for there are many properties that belong to the several parts of a being, which cannot properly be ascribed to the whole, though these properties may fit each part for its proper station, and as it stands in that relation to the whole complex being: as in a house, the doors are moveable, the rooms square, the ceilings, white, the windows transparent, yet the house is neither moveable, nor square, nor white, nor transparent.
The special rules of a good division are these :
Rule 1. Each part singly taken must contain less than the whole, but all the parts taken collectively (or together) must coutain neither more nor less than the whole. Therefore, in discoursing of a tree if you divide it into the trunk and leaves, it is an imperfect division, because the root and the branches are needful to make up the whole. So logic would be ill di. vided into apprehension, judgment, and reasoning : for method is a considerable part of the art which teaches us to use our reason right, and should by no means be pmitted.
Upon this account, in every. division wherein we design a perfect exactness, it is necessary to examine the whole idea with diligence, lest we omit any part of it through want of care; though in some cases it is not possible, and in others it is not necessary, that we should descend to the minutest parts.
Rule II. In all divisions we should first consider the larger and more immediate parts of the subject, and not divide it at once into the more minute and re. mote parts. It would by no means be proper to di. vide a kingdom first into streets, and lanes, and fields;
hut it must be divided into provinces or counties, then those counties may be divided into towns, villages, fields, &c. and towns into streets and lanes.
Rule III. The several parts of a division ought to be opposite, i, e. one part ought not to contain another. It would be a ridiculous division of an animal into head, limbs, hody, and brain, for the brains are contained in the head.
Yet bere it must be noted, that sometimes the subjects of any treatise, or the objects of any particular science, may be properly and necessarily so divided, that the second may include the first, and the third may include the first and second, without offending against this rule; because in the second or following parts of the science or discourse, these objects are not considered in the same manner as in the first; as for instance, geometry divides its objects into lines, surfaces, and solids; now though a line be contained in a surface, or a solid, yet it is not considered in a surface, separate and alone, or as a mere line, as it is in the first part of geometry, which treats of lines. So logic is rightly divided into conception, judgment, reasoning, and method. For though ideas or conceptions are contained in the following parts of logic, yet they are not there treated of as separate ideas, which are the proper subject of the first part.
Rule 1v. Let not subdivisions be too numerous without necessity; for it is better many times to distinguish more parts at once, if the subject will bear it, than to mince the discourse by excessive dividing and subdividing. It is preferable, therefore, in a treatise of geography, to say, that in a city we will consider its walls, its gates, its buildings, its streets, and lanes, than to divide it formally first into the encompassing and the encompassed parts; the encompassing parts are the walls and gates; the encompassed part includes the ways and the buildings; the ways are the streets and lanes; buildings consist of the foundations and the superstructure, &c.
Too great a number of subdivisions lias been affected by some persons in sermous, treatises instruc.
tions, &c. under pretence of greater accuracy; but this sort of subtleties hath often given great confu. sion to the understanding, and sometimes more difficulty to the momory. In these cases it is only a good judgment can determine what subdivisions are needful.
Rule V. Divide every subject according to the special design you have in view. One and the same idca or subject may be divided in very different manners, according to the different purposes we have in discoursing of it. So if a printer were to consider the several parts of a book, he must divide it into sheets, the sheets into pages, the pages into lines, and the lines into letters; but a grammarian divides a book into periods, sentences, and words, or parts of speech, as noun, pronoun, verb, &c. A logician considers a book as divided into chapters, sections, arguments, propositions, ideas; and with the help of ontology, he divides the propositions into subject, object, property, relation, action, passion, cause, effect, &c. But it would be very ridiculous for a logician to divide a book into sheets, pages and lines; or for a printer to divide it into nouns and pronouns, or into propositions, ideas, properties, or causes.
Rule VI. In all your divisions observe with greatest exactness the nature of things. And here I am constrained to make a subdivision of this rule iuto. two very necessary particulars.
(1.) Let the parts of your division be such as are properly distinguished in nature. Do not divide asunder those parts of the idea which are intimately united in nature, nor unite those things into one part which nature has evidently disjoined: this would be very improper in treating of an animal body, to divide it into superior and inferior halves; for it would be hard to say how much belongs by nature to the inferior half, and how much to the superior. Much more improper would it be still to divide the animal into the right-hand parts, and left-hand parts, which would bring greater confusion. This would be as un. Natural as a man who should cleave a hazel-nut in
halves through the husk, the shell, and the kernel, at once, and say, a nut is divided into these two parts; whereas uature leads plainly to the threefold distinction of husk, shell, and kernel.
(2) Do not affect duplicities nor triplicities, nor any certain number of parts, in your division of things; for we know of no such certain number of parts which God the creator has observed in forming all the varieties of his creatures, nor is there any uniform determined number of parts in the various subjects of human art or science; yet some persons have disturbed the order of nature, and abused their readers, by an affectation of dichotomies, trichotomies, sevens, twelves, &c. Let the nature of the subject, considered together with the design which you have iu view, always determine the number of parts in which you divide it.
After all, it must be confessed that an intimate knowledge of things, and a judicious observation, will assist in the business of division, as well as of de. finition, better than too nice and curious an attention to the mere formalities of logical writers, without a real acquaintance with things.
SECT. IX.Of u comprehensive Conception of Things,
and of Abstraction. The third rule to direct our conception requires us to conceive of things comprehensively. And as we must survey an object in all its parts to obtain a complete idea of it, so we must consider it in all its modes, attributes, properties, and relations, in order to obtain a comprehensive conception of it.
The comprehension of an idea, as it was explained under the doctrine of universals, includes only the ese sential modes or attributes of that idea; but in this place the word is taken in a larger sense, and implies also the various occasional properties, accidental modes, and relations.
The necessity of this rule is founded upon the same reason as the former, viz. that our minds are narrow
and scanty in their capacities, and as they are not able to consider all the parts of a complex idea at once, so neither can they at once contemplate all the different attributes and circumstances of it. We must therefore consider things successively and gradually in their various appearances and circumstances, as our natural eye cannot at once behold the six sides of a dye or cube, nor take cognizance of all the points that are marked on them, and therefore we turn up the sides successively, and thus survey and number the points that are marked on each side, that we may know the whole.
In order to a comprehensive view of any idea we must first consider whether the object of it has an existence as well as an essence; whether it be a simple or complex idea; whether it be a substance or a mode: if it be a substance, then we must enquire what are the essential modes of it, which are necessary to its nature, and what are those properties or accidents of it, which belong to it occasionally, or as it is placed in some particular circumstances: we must view it in its internal and absolute modes, and . observe it in those various external relations in which it stands to other beings; we must consider it in its powers and capacities either to do or suffer : we must trace it up to its various causes, whether supreme or subordinate. We must descend to the variety of its effects, and take notice of its several ends and designs which are to be attained by it. We must conceive of it as it is either an object or a subject; what are the things that are akin to it, and what are the opposites or contraries of it; for many things are to be known both by their contrary and their kindred ideas.
If the thing we discourse of be a mere mode, we must inquire wbether it belongs to spirits or bodies; whether it be a physical or moral mode. If moral, then we must consider its relation to God, to ourselves, to our neighbours; its reference to this life, or the life to come. If it be a virtue, we must seek what are the principles of it, what are the rules of it, what are the tendencies of it, and what are the false