Practical Essays eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 252 pages of information about Practical Essays.

[Footnote 11:  One possible consequence of a Natural Science Degree might have been, that the public would have turned to it with favour, while the old one sank into discredit.]

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V.

METAPHYSICS AND DEBATING SOCIETIES.[12]

By “Metaphysical Study,” or “Metaphysics,” I here mean—­what seems intended by the designation in its current employment at present—­the circle of the mental or subjective sciences.  The central department of the field is PSYCHOLOGY, and the adjunct to psychology is LOGIC, which has its foundations partly in psychology, but still more in the sciences altogether, whose procedure it gathers up and formulates.  The outlying and dependent branches are:  the narrower metaphysics or Ontology, Ethics, Sociology, together with Art or Aesthetics.  There are other applied sciences of the department, as Education and Philology.

The branches most usually looked upon as the cognate or allied studies of the subjective department of human knowledge are, Psychology, Logic, Ontology, Ethics.  The debates in a society like the present will generally be found to revolve in the orbit thus chalked out.  It is the sphere of the most animated controversies, and the widest discordance of view.  The additional branch most nearly connected with the group is Sociology, which under that name, and under the older title, the Philosophy of History, has opened up a new series of problems, of the kind to divide opinions and provoke debate.  A quieter interest attaches to Aesthetics, although the subject is a not unfruitful application and test of psychological laws.

My remarks will embrace, first, the aims, real and factitious, in the study of this group of sciences; and next, the polemic conduct of such study, or the utility and management of debating societies, instituted in connection therewith.

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[PSYCHOLOGY AND LOGIC FUNDAMENTAL.]

The two sciences—­PSYCHOLOGY and LOGIC—­I consider the fundamental and knowledge-giving departments.  The others are the applications of these to the more stirring questions of human life.  Now, the successful cultivation of the field requires you to give at least as much attention to the root sciences as you give to the branch sciences.  That is to say, psychology, in its pure and proper character, and logic, in its systematic array, should be kept before the view, concurrently with ontology, ethics, and sociology.  Essays and debates tending to clear up and expound systematic psychology and systematic logic should make a full half of the society’s work.

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