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learnt to advocate the use of hypotheses. I take the extreme view of holding that Francis Bacon, although he correctly insisted upon constant reference to experience, had no correct notions as to the logical method by which froin particular facts we educe laws of nature. I endeavour to show that hypothetical anticipation of nature is an essential part of inductive inquiry, and that it is the Newtonian method of deductive reasoning combined with elaborate experimental verification, which has led to all the great triumphs of scientific research.
In attempting to give an explanation of this view of Scientific Method, I have first to show that the sciences of number and quantity repose upon and spring from the simpler and more general science of Logic. The Theory of Probability, which enables us to estimate and calculate quantities of knowledge, is then described, and especial attention is drawn to the Inverse Method of Probabilities, which involves, as I conceive, the true principle of inductive procedure. No inductive conclusions are more than probable, and I adopt the opinion that the theory of probability is an essential part of logical method, so that the logical value of every inductive result must be determined consciously or unconsciously, according to the principles of the inverse method of probability,
The phenomena of nature are commonly manifested in quantities of time, space, force, energy, &c., and the observation, measurement, and analysis of the various quantitative conditions or results involved, even in a simple experiment, demand much employment of systematic procedure. I devote a book, therefore, to a simple and general description of the devices by which exact measurement is effected, errors eliminated, a probable mean result attained, and the probable error of that mean ascertained. I then proceed to the principal, and probably the most interesting, subject of the book, illustrating successively the conditions and precautions requisite for
accurate observation, for successful experiment, and for the sure detection of the quantitative laws of nature. As it is impossible to comprehend aright the value of quantitative laws without constantly bearing in inind the degree of quantitative approximation to the truth probably attained, I have devoted a special chapter to the Theory of Approximation, and however imperfectly I may have treated this subject, I must look upon it as a very essential part of a work on Scientific Method.
I't then remains to illustrate the sound use of hypothesis, to distinguish between the portions of knowledge which we owe to empirical observation, to accidental discovery, or to scientific prediction. Interesting questions arise concerning the accordance of quantitative theories and experiments, and I point out how the successive verification of an hypothesis by distinct methods of experiment yields conclusions approximating to but never attaining certainty. Additional illustrations of the general procedure of inductive investigations are given in a chapter on the Character of the Experimentalist, in which I endeavour to show, moreover, that the inverse use of deduction was really the logical method of such great masters of experimental inquiry as Newton, Huyghens, and Faraday.
In treating Generalisation and Analogy, I consider the precautions requisite in inferring from one case to another, or from one part of the universe to another part; the validity of all such inferences resting ultimately upon the inverse method of probabilities. The treatment of Exceptional Phenomena appeared to afford an interesting subject for a further chapter illustrating the various modes in which an outstanding fact may eventually be explained. The formal part of the book closes with the subject of Classification, which is, however, very inadequately treated. I have, in fact, almost restricted myself to showing that all classification is fundamentally carried out upon the
principles of Formal Logic and the Logical Alphabet described at the outset.
In certain concluding remarks I have expressed the conviction which the study of Logic has by degrees forced upon my mind, that serious misconceptions are entertained by some scientific men as to the logical value of our knowledge of nature. We have haard much of what has been aptly called the Reign of Law, and the necessity and uniformity of natural forces has been not uncommonly interpreted as involving the non-existence of an intelligent and benevolent Power, capable of interfering with the course of natural events. Fears have been expressed that the progress of Scientific Method must therefore result in dissipating the fondest beliefs of the human heart. Even the Utility of Religion' is seriously proposed as a subject of discussion. It seemed to be not out of place in a work on Scientific Method to allude to the ultimate results and limits of that method. I fear that I have very imperfectly succeeded in expressing my strong conviction that before a rigorous logical scrutiny the Reign of Law will prove to be an unverified hypothesis, the Uniformity of Nature an ambiguous expression, the certainty of our scientific inferences to a great extent a delusion. The value of science is of course very high, while the conclusions are kept well within the limits of the data on which they are founded, but it is pointed out that our experience is of the most limited character compared with what there is to learn, while our mental powers seem to fall infinitely short of the task of comprehending and explaining fully the nature of any one object. I draw the conclusion that we must interpret the results of Scientific Method in an affirmative sense only. Ours must be a truly positive philosophy, not that false negative philosophy which, building on a few material facts, presumes to assert that it has compassed the bounds of existence, while it nevertheless ignores the most
unquestionable phenomena of the human mind and feelings.
It is approximately certain that in freely employing illustrations drawn from many different sciences, I have frequently fallen into errors of detail. In this respect I must throw myself upon the indulgence of the reader, who will bear in mind, as I hope, that the scientific facts are generally mentioned purely for the purpose of illustration, so that inaccuracies of detail will not in the majority of cases atfect the truth of the general principles illustrated
December 15, 1873.
TO THE SECOND EDITION.
Few alterations of importance have been made in preparing this second edition. Nevertheless, advantage has been taken of the opportunity to revise very carefully both the language and the matter of the book. Correspondents and critics having pointed cut inaccuracies of more or less importance in the first edition, suitable corrections and emendations have been made. I am under obligations to Mr. C. J. Monro, M.A., of Barnet, and to Mr. W. H. Brewer, M.A., one of Her Majesty's Inspectors of Schools, for numerous corrections.
Among several additions which have been made to the text, I may mention the abstract (p. 143) of Professor Clifford's remarkable investigation into the number of types of compound statement involving four classes of objects. This inquiry carries forward the inverse logical problem described in the preceding sections. Again, the need of some better logical method than the old Barbara Celarent, &c., is strikingly shown by Mr. Venn's logical problem, described at p. 90. A great number of candidates in logic and philosophy were tested by Mr. Venn with this problem, which, though simple in reality, was solved by very few of those who were ignorant of Loole's Logia Other evidence could be adduced by Mr. Venn of the need for some better means of logical training. To enable the