In this little treatise two things are attempted that at first might appear incompatible. One of them is to put the study of logical formulæ on a historical basis. Strangely enough, the scientific evolution of logical forms, is a bit of history that still awaits the zeal and genius of some great scholar. I have neither ambition nor qualification for such a magnum opus, and my life is already more than half spent; but the gap in evolutionary research is so obvious that doubtless some younger man is now at work in the field unknown to me. All that I can hope to do is to act as a humble pioneer according to my imperfect lights. Even the little I have done represents work begun more than twenty years ago, and continuously pursued for the last twelve years during a considerable portion of my time.
The other aim, which might at first appear inconsistent with this, is to increase the power of Logic as a practical discipline. The main purpose of this practical science, or scientific art, is conceived to be the organisation of reason against error, and error in its various kinds is made the basis of the division of the subject. To carry out this practical aim along with the historical one is not hopeless, because throughout its long history Logic has been a practical science; and, as I have tried to show at some length in introductory chapters, has concerned itself at different periods with the risks of error peculiar to each.
To enumerate the various books, ancient and modern, to which I have been indebted, would be a vain parade. Where I have consciously adopted any distinctive recent contribution to the long line of tradition, I have made particular acknowledgment. My greatest obligation is to my old professor, Alexander Bain, to whom I owe my first interest in the subject, and more details than I can possibly separate from the general body of my knowledge.
Aberdeen, January, 1893.
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