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arbitrary and unaccountable,) with a studied indifference as to that which is foreign from his business, the convenience or inconvenience of those Rules — may be expected to operate unfavorably on his judgment in questions of Legislation: and are likely to counterbalance the advantages of his superior knowledge, even in such points as do bear on the question. Again, a person who is more properly to
be regarded as an Antiquarian than anything Authority at
..... tributed to Anti
elsc, will sometimes be regarded as high au
thority in some subject respecting which he has perhaps little or no real knowledge or capacity, if he have collected a multitude of facts relative to it. Suppose for instance a man of much reading, and of retentive memory, but of unphilosophical mind, to have amassed a great collection of particulars respecting the writers on some science, the times when they flourished, the numbers of their followers, the editions of their works, &c. it is not unlikely he may lead both others and himself into the belief that he is a great authority in that Science ; when perhaps he may in reality know — though a great deal about it — nothing of h (see Logic, Introd. § 1. p. 3). Such a man's mind, compared with that of one really versed in the subject, is like an antiquarian armory, full of curious old weapons, — many of them the more precious from having been long since superseded, — as compared with a well-stocked arsenal, containing all the most approved warlike implements fit for actual service. In matters connected with Political-Econ
Altstake as ta
omy, the experience of practical men is often what C0llstituies appealed to in opposition to those who are experience in
called Theorists; even though the latter per- matters of Fu
litical-Economy. haps arc deducing conclusions from a wide
induction of facts, while the experience of the others will often be found only to amount to their having been long conversant with the details of office, and having all that time gone on in a certain beaten track, from which they never tried, or witnessed, or even imagined a deviation.
So also the authority derived from experience of a practical Miner, — i. e. one who has wrought all his life in one mine, — will sometimes delude a speculator into a vain search for metal or coal, against the opinion perhaps of Theorists, i. e. persons of extensive geological observation.
"It may be added, that there is a proverbial maxim which bears witness to the advantage sometimes possessed by an observant bystander over those actually engaged in any transaction : —' The looker-on often sees more of the game than the players.' Now the looker-on is precisely [in Greek ©i-wi'oj] the Theorist.
"When then you find any one contrasting, in this and in other subjects, what he calls 'experience,' with 'theory,' you will usually perceive on attentive examination, that he is in reality comparing the results of a confined, with that of a wider, experience;—a more imperfect and crude theory, with one more cautiously framed, and based on a more copious induction." *
The consideration then of the character of the speaker, and of his opponent, being of so much importance, both as a legitimate source of Persuasion, in many instances, and also as a topic of Fallacies, it is evidently incumbent on the orator to be well-versed in this branch of the art, with a view both to the justifiable advancement of his own cause, and to the detection and exposure of unfair artifice in an opponent. It is neither possible, nor can it in justice be expected, that this
* See Political-Economy, Lect. III. p. 68.
mode of persuasion should be totally renounced and exploded, great as are the abuses to which it is liable; but the speaker is bound, in conscience, to abstain from those abuses himself; and, in prudence, to be on his guard against them in others.
To enumerate the various kinds of impres
Charge of insions favorable and unfavorable, that hearers
or readers may entertain concerning any one, would be tedious and superfluous. But it may be worth observing, that a charge of inconsistency, as it is one of the most disparaging, is also one that is perhaps the most frequently urged with eflect, on insufficient grounds. Strictly speaking, inconsistency (such at least as a wise and good man is exempt from) is the maintaining at the same time of two contradictory propositions; whether expressed in language, or implied in sentiments or conduct. As e. g. if an author,* in an argumentative work, while he represents every syllogism as futile and fallacious reasoning, admits that all reasoning may be exhibited in the form of syllogisms; or, if the same person who censures and abhors oppression, yet practises it towards others; or if a man prescribes two medicines which neutralize each other's eflects, &c.
But a man is often censured as inconsistent,
. /. , , i • i i • • . Different no
li he changes his plans or his opinions on any
ttons of tnconpoint. And certainly if he does this often, sisiency.
and lightly, that is good ground for withholding confidence from him. But it would be more precise to characterize him as Jickle and unsteady, than as inconsistent; because this use of the term tends to confound one fault with another; viz. with the holding of two incompatible opinions at once.
* D. Stewart.
But moreover a man is often charged with inconsistency for approving some parts of a book, — system, — character, &c., and disapproving others; — for being now an advocate for peace, and now, for war ; — in short, for accommodating his judgment or his conduct to the circumstances before him, as the mariner sets his sails to the wind. In this case there is not even any change of mind implied; yet for this a man is often taxed with inconsistency; though in many instances there would even be an inconsistency in the opposite procedure; e. g. in not shifting the sails, when the wind changes.
In the other case indeed, — when a man does change his mind, — he implies some error, either first or last. But some errors every man is liable to, who is not infallible. He therefore who prides himself on his consistency, on the ground of resolving never to change his plans or opinions, does virtually (unless he means to proclaim himself either too dull to detect his mistakes, or too obstinate to own them) lay claim to infallibility. And if at the same time he ridicules (as is often done) the absurdity of a claim to infallibility, he is guilty of a gross inconsistency in the proper and primary sense of the word.
But it is much easier to boast of consistency than to preserve it. For, as, in the dark, or in a fog, adverse troops may take post near each other, without mutual recognition, and consequently without contest, but as soon as daylight comes, the weaker give place to the stronger; so, in a misty and darkened mind, the most incompatible opinions may exist together, without any perception of their discrepancy; till the understanding becomes sufficiently enlightened to enable the man to reject the less reasonable opinions, and retain the opposites.
It may be added, that it is a very fair ground for disparaging