« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
about this harmony should be the praiseworthy object of all debate.
Debaters must be particularly on their guard here against a danger which has already been pointed out (Exercise XLVII.) — that of beginning with a misunderstanding of terms. In questions of fact or of the relations between facts this danger hardly exists ; but in questions of the relations that do, or should exist between concepts we have to deal with terms of a much more indefinite character and therefore much less likely to be clearly understood. It is of the utmost importance that any obscurities on this point be first removed.
Besides this danger there is a difficulty often met with on the very threshold of these discussions - due to what may be styled the personal equation. It consists, not in a misunderstanding of the terms involved, but in a difference of understanding or even a radical disagreement in regard to their meaning. The same word may mean one thing to you and another to me, or what you may call by one name I may prefer to call by a very different name. This is due to many things, different training, different standards, different beliefs. If such a disagreement exists at the very starting-point and is not recognized, the discussion is bound to be unfruitful. It would manifestly be useless for two persons to debate upon the question of Cæsar's patriotism unless they had practically the same idea as to what patriotism consists in. In short, one question of opinion may depend upon another; that other then must be settled first. Suppose we consider the question as to the morality of Queen Elizabeth's principles. Now we are told that to Queen Elizabeth a falsehood
was “simply an intellectual means of meeting a difficulty.” Our question cannot be settled until we settle the question whether lying is justifiable or consistent with morality. And that may depend on our answer to the still more fundamental question, Is there any absolute standard of morality? Beware of discussing any question of opinion until you are sure there is a unity of sentiment on all questions underlying it.
We have said that the real object of discussions of this class should be to bring about a final harmony of opinion. This being the purpose it almost goes without saying that debates should be conducted with the utmost candor, courtesy, and liberality. Nothing is to be gained by any other course, while everything is to be lost.
We append here the opening of an argument by Prof. Andrew F. West in the North American Review for February, 1884 :
MUST THE CLASSICS GO?
Is classical training necessary in liberal education ? To appreciate this question we must first know what education means. Every man is born into this world ignorant both of himself and his surroundings, but to act his part so as to reach success and happiness needs to understand them both. Therefore, he must learn ; and, having to learn, must be educated. This will involve two processes :
1. The development of man's power to master himself and circumstances by training every capacity to its highest energy discipline.
2. Communication of the most valuable knowledge information.
Both are necessary. Discipline precedes information, because power precedes acquisition. Information completes discipline by yielding actual results in the world. In a word, discipline gives power to acquire information, and the total result is culture.
The two great instruments of educational discipline and information have hitherto been mathematics and language, leading to physical, intellectual, and social sciences, and these again culminating in a philosophy or study of first principles of all things. On this basis our college education has been built. None propose excluding mathematics. Few question the need of studying language in some form.
But when the classical languages are proposed as essential to liberal education, objections arise and pronounced attacks are made. I propose merely three things :
I. To enumerate the objectors and answer their objections. II. To state the positive argument for classical training. III. To state the reasons for retaining Greek as well as Latin.
Questions of Probability : Resolved, That a Great European War is Inevitable.
That Canada will be Annexed to the United States
within Twenty-five Years.
Probability is the very guide of life,” said Bishop Butler. You linger a little longer over your book because you think it probable that by walking fast
you will still have time to catch the train. You plant a tree because you think it probable that it will grow up to bear fruit and that you will live to reap the benefit. You refuse to invest your money in certain stocks because you think it improbable that they will ever pay dividends. You part from your dearest friend with a smile because you think it extremely improbable that anything will prevent your meeting again on the day appointed. Questions of probability are something more than a mathematician's pastime.
Many questions of fact, past and present, far and near, have not yet been settled, and may never be settled beyond a certain degree of probability. But there is another class of questions which we do not hope to settle beyond a degree of probability. Not because they do not involve facts, but because we recognize that the facts are beyond our reach, or because we know that the future alone will determine them, while our interest in them is purely a present one. For instance, we are content for the present to speculate upon the probable internal structure of the earth. Perhaps some day a serious attempt will be made to arrive at the facts. Again, we are confronted with the question of what the weather will be to-morrow. Now, it will either rain or not rain, but we cannot wait to learn the fact; and we may not be half so much interested in knowing the fact when it comes as we are now in knowing the probability, for now only can we decide the question whether we shall go on our journey provided with an umbrella or not. Governing our present action by the probability we make up our minds to accept the future fact with as little concern as possible.
How do we determine the probability, or, as we often say, the chances, that a thing is thus and thus or that an event will happen in a certain manner? By observation and experience, by induction and deduction. Every imperfect induction is merely the expression of a probability. Every deduction carried beyond the range of actual experience is likewise only a probability. There is another phase of this matter.
There is a principle of reasoning, how obtained we cannot discuss here, which declares that " we must treat equals equally, and what we know of one case may be affirmed of every case resembling it in the necessary circumstances.” Of course experiment may be necessary to determine whether things are equal or not, but starting with this principle we calculate probabilities without experimentation. Indeed in many cases the experiment proves nothing whatever in regard to future results, - it only proves the principle. I toss a penny into the air. It has two sides and so far as I know they are equal. I know it will fall upon one side or the other. The other conditions I do not know and can not control, and so I say that there is only an even chance that the head will fall uppermost. Suppose it falls so. I conclude nothing whatever from that in regard to the manner in which it will fall a second time. Suppose I toss it up ten times and the head comes up five times, the tail five times, can I reason that it will be so the next ten times ? Not at all. I know, each time I toss it, that there is an even chance of the head coming uppermost. Therefore it is entirely possible that it will come uppermost ten times in succession. But because the chances are even I say that such a result, though possible, is improbable ; that it is most probable that head and tail will each come uppermost five times ; that the next greatest probability is that one will come uppermost six times and the other four; that it is most