The Right Use of Reason in the Inquiry After Truth
As a child of Puritan parents, it is not surprising that Isaac Watts was greatly concerned about people’s ability to think clearly. Whether a man was studying for the ministry or any other of the sciences, the ability to reason rightly was of utmost importance. Watts’s work on logic and reason became a standard textbook for nearly 200 years, being used in such schools as Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, and Yale.
In Logic, Watts address proper thinking under the four basic functions of the human mind: perception, judgment, reasoning, and disposition.
In Part One, Watts addresses human perception, the cultivation of ideas, and how we associate them with words.
In Part Two, Watts treats human judgment and its ability to construct various kinds of propositions, while giving guidance for avoiding the formation of bad judgments.
Part Three covers our ability to reason, giving instruction on the use of syllogisms for constructing a good argument.
Part Four discusses the mind’s disposition as a method of arranging our thoughts for better understanding and memory.
This book will help discipline the mind and train the reader to discern proper thinking and argumentation in seeking truth.
Table of Contents:
First Part: Of Perception and Ideas
1. Of the Nature of Ideas
2. Of the Objects of Perception
3. Of the Several Sorts of Perceptions or Ideas
4. Of Words, and their Several Divisions, Together with the Advantage and Danger of Them
5. General Directions Relating to our Ideas
6. Special Rules to Direct our Conception of Things
Second Part: Of Judgment and Proposition
1. Of the Nature of a Proposition, and its Several parts
2. Of the various Kinds of Propositions
3. The Springs of False Judgment, or the Doctrine of Prejudices
4. General Directions to Assist us in Judging Aright
5. Special Rules to Direct us in Judging of Particular
Third Part: Of Reason and Syllogism
1. Of the Nature of a Syllogism, and the parts of Which it is Composed
2. Of the Various Kinds of Syllogisms, with Particular Rules Relating to Them
3. The Doctrine of Syllogisms
4. Some General Rules to Direct our Reasoning
Fourth Part: Of Disposition and Method
1. The Nature and Kinds of Method, viz. Natural and Arbitrary, Synthetic and Analytic
2. General and Special Rules of Method
About the Author
Isaac Watts was born in Southampton England, on July 17, 1674. His father had served several prison terms because of his non-conformity.
In 1702 Watts became pastor of Mark Lane Chapel, a large Congregational church in London. Although ill health forced his virtual retirement within a few years, the congregation insisted that he remain pastor as long as he lived.
Watts was a highly gifted man, admired by Anglicans and non-conformists alike. He served as a private tutor, and many of his books reflect his educational concerns. His knowledge and writings cover a broad spectrum of topics, such as philosophy, singing, piety, and even popular children’s poetry.
Watts wrote prodigiously, and is most known as the author of over 750 hymns. On the day of Watts’s death, Matthew Arnold declared Watts’s “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” to be the finest hymn in the English Language. Others include “O God, Our Help in Ages Past” and “Jesus Shall Reign Where’er the Sun.”
Isaac Watts died on November 25, 1748 and was buried in the non-conformist burial ground at Bunhill Fields.