Friday, September 6, 2013

Ainsworth: The Art of Logick (1653)

In this textbook on logic, Henry Ainsworth presents the topic as a kind of mental training, preparing the mind for other serious matters:
No discipline more helpeth the wit, or contemplative sharpness, i.e. the inclination of the temperature to contemplate distinctly and accurately. (p. 7)

This notion of mental training should be taken quite seriously:
The exercise then of Logick consisteth in this, that we frequently think on, & diligently meditate things conformably to the prescriptions and rules of Logick, that is, orderly and distinctly: This indeed is the chief, most principal, and the nearest Efficient Cause of this habit in us of this Art of Logick, and immediately ingenerates and expresseth Logick in us, whereas Wit and Precepts are Causes but remote. (pp. 12–13)
The book consequently closes with two chapters of suggested exercises.

Games and Meditations

These recommended exercises include both "solitary" and "social" exercises or games (p. 205).

For instance, Ainsworth suggests one problem type in which a teacher gives the pupil a theme (e.g., animal), and the pupil then responds by explaining the etymology, genus, parts, antonyms, etc. of the concept (p. 195).

A discussion-game for two is also discussed, after a due amount of prudent warnings (e.g., "Let not the matter propounded to be disputed of, violate Piety or Religion," p. 205).
Specifically for "social disputation," another bundle of ground rules are added:
  1. Let there be brought unto disputation a good intention of the mind, which seeks not glory, but truth.
  2. Let the mind be pure from all prejudices.
  3. Let the disputers agree whither of them shall oppose or answer.
  4. Let both parties bind themselves to the Laws and Rules of Logick.
  5. Let them agree between themselves of certain foreknown principles.
  6. Let brevity and plainness be kept in opposing, and answering all Ambiguities; and Ambages of Oratorious Declamations avoided. (p. 206)
After having drawn up these general rules, Ainsworth goes on to discuss the more specific "duties" of the person playing Opponent, and the person playing Answerer (p. 207–8; there is occasionally also a President, p. 208).

Other suggested exercises include solitary meditation on things learned (p. 212), and methodological analysis of written arguments, putting them into syllogistic form and the like (p. 217ff).

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