At the end of 1841, the book being ready for the press, I offered it to
Murray, who kept it until too late for publication that season, and then
refused it, for reasons which could just as well have been given at
first. But I have had no cause to regret a rejection which led to my
offering it to Mr. Parker, by whom it was published in the spring of
1843. My original expectations of success were extremely limited.
Archbishop Whately had, indeed, rehabilitated the name of Logic, and the
study of the forms, rules, and fallacies of Ratiocination; and Dr.
Whewell’s writings had begun to excite an interest in the other part of
my subject, the theory of Induction. A treatise, however, on a matter so
abstract, could not be expected to be popular; it could only be a book
for students, and students on such subjects were not only (at least in
England) few, but addicted chiefly to the opposite school of
metaphysics, the ontological and “innate principles” school. I therefore
did not expect that the book would have many readers, or approvers; and
looked for little practical effect from it, save that of keeping the
tradition unbroken of what I thought a better philosophy. What hopes I
had of exciting any immediate attention, were mainly grounded on the
polemical propensities of Dr. Whewell; who, I thought, from observation
of his conduct in other cases, would probably do something to bring the
book into notice, by replying, and that promptly, to the attack on his
opinions. He did reply, but not till 1850, just in time for me to answer
him in the third edition. How the book came to have, for a work of the
kind, so much success, and what sort of persons compose the bulk of
those who have bought, I will not venture to say read, it, I have never
thoroughly understood. But taken in conjunction with the many proofs
which have since been given of a revival of speculation, speculation too
of a free kind, in many quarters, and above all (where at one time I
should have least expected it) in the Universities, the fact becomes
partially intelligible. I have never indulged the illusion that the book
had made any considerable impression on philosophical opinion. The
German, or à priori view of human knowledge, and of the knowing
faculties, is likely for some time longer (though it may be hoped in a
diminishing degree) to predominate among those who occupy themselves
with such inquiries, both here and on the Continent. But the “System of
Logic” supplies what was much wanted, a text-book of the opposite
doctrine—that which derives all knowledge from experience, and all moral
and intellectual qualities principally from the direction given to the
associations. I make as humble an estimate as anybody of what either an
analysis of logical processes, or any possible canons of evidence, can
do by themselves, towards guiding or rectifying the operations of the
understanding. Combined with other requisites, I certainly do think them
of great use; but whatever may be the practical value of a true
philosophy of these matters, it is hardly possible to exaggerate the
mischiefs of a false one. The notion that truths external to the mind
may be known by intuition or consciousness, independently of observation
and experience, is, I am persuaded, in these times, the great
intellectual support of false doctrines and bad institutions. By the aid
of this theory, every inveterate belief and every intense feeling, of
which the origin is not remembered, is enabled to dispense with the
obligation of justifying itself by reason, and is erected into its own
all-sufficient voucher and justification. There never was such an
instrument devised for consecrating all deep-seated prejudices. And the
chief strength of this false philosophy in morals, politics, and
religion, lies in the appeal which it is accustomed to make to the
evidence of mathematics and of the cognate branches of physical science.
To expel it from these, is to drive it from its stronghold: and because
this had never been effectually done, the intuitive school, even after
what my father had written in his Analysis of the Mind, had in
appearance, and as far as published writings were concerned, on the
whole the best of the argument. In attempting to clear up the real
nature of the evidence of mathematical and physical truths, the “System
of Logic” met the intuitive philosophers on ground on which they had
previously been deemed unassailable; and gave its own explanation, from
experience and association, of that peculiar character of what are
called necessary truths, which is adduced as proof that their evidence
must come from a deeper source than experience. Whether this has been
done effectually, is still sub judice; and even then, to deprive a
mode of thought so strongly rooted in human prejudices and
partialities, of its mere speculative support, goes but a very little
way towards overcoming it; but though only a step, it is a quite
indispensable one; for since, after all, prejudice can only be
successfully combated by philosophy, no way can really be made against
it permanently until it has been shown not to have philosophy on its
Note from KBJ: Like all progressives, including Jeremy Bentham, Mill was quick to label as "prejudice" any view with which he (strongly) disagreed. Mill, of course, had his own prejudices, both philosophical and political. One person's common sense is another person's prejudice. Perhaps we should drop the word "prejudice" from our vocabulary and engage views directly, on their own merits.
You ask, referring to President Obama, “Why can’t he get his message out?”
If anything, the messaging problem is that President Obama and Democrats are not receiving
the message. What will it take for them to realize that Americans want
the brakes put on the expansion of government and spending?
By all means, address the messaging problem. A good place to start is
with an acknowledgment that Americans are sending them a message.
Andrea Economos Scarsdale, N.Y., Sept. 26, 2010
Note from KBJ: Democrats don't care what Americans think. They don't even care about the welfare of Americans. All they want (besides aggrandizing themselves) is to punish the prosperous.
Here is Rich Lowry's latest column. Some of the people who voted for Barack Obama are chastened to the point of remorsefulness. They know they did wrong (to the rest of us) and vow never to do it again. Others are in denial. I'm not surprised that young people went for Obama in droves. They lack political experience. Having no framework in which to place Obama and no healthy cynicism, they fell for the hopey-changey rhetoric (apologies to my friend Gerry), thinking it portended a new politics. Some day, these people will realize that they traded their most priceless heritage, liberty, for a false security. Once you lose liberty, you never get it back.
Dualistic religions form a spectrum from the extreme and absolute of Zoroastrianism, becoming more and more attenuated through the Zoroastrian heresy Zervanism, Gnosticism, and Manicheism to Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, where dualism almost ceases to exist. All these religions, however different from one another, stand together in their distance from monism. All posit a God who is independent, powerful, and good, but whose power is to a degree limited by another principle, force, or void. The dualism of Zoroastrianism or of Manicheism is overt; that of Judaism and Christianity is much more covert, but it exists, and it exists at least in large part owing to Iranian influence. The dualism of Christianity and that of Iran differ in one essential respect. The latter is a division between two spiritual principles, one good and the other evil; Christianity borrowed from the Greeks the idea that spirit itself is considered good, as opposed to matter, which is considered evil. But the dualism introduced by Zarathushtra was a revolutionary step in the development of the Devil, for it posited, for the first time, an absolute principle of evil, whose personification, Angra Mainyu or Ahriman, is the first clearly defined Devil.
Regarding your editorial "A Very Grim Reaper"
(Sept. 21): Your critique of my Responsible Estate Tax Act sides
predictably with millionaires and billionaires over the interests of
middle-class and working Americans.
The truth is that under
my bill 99.7% of all Americans would never pay a dime in federal estate
taxes. At a time when we have a $13 trillion national debt and the most
unequal distribution of wealth and income of any major country, I do not
believe it is appropriate to lower taxes on the very richest people in
this country who have become much richer in recent years.
Apparently, despite the
horrendous record of President George W. Bush, the Journal and your
wealthy supporters continue to adhere to the flawed theory of
trickle-down economics. Been there. Done that. It failed dismally.
During the years Mr. Bush was in the White House, more than 600,000
private-sector jobs were lost; median income shrank by over $2,000; more
than eight million Americans slipped out of the middle class into
poverty; and four million manufacturing jobs disappeared. Meanwhile, the
wealthiest Americans made out like bandits. The 400 highest-paid
Americans saw their income double while their effective tax rates were
slashed to the lowest level on record.
We need to end policies
that make the rich richer and everyone else poorer, and promote policies
that strengthen the middle class and tackle in a fair way the
record-breaking deficits. The Responsible Estate Tax Act is a step in
9-27-90 . . . David Souter, President [George Herbert Walker] Bush’s Supreme Court nominee, sailed through the Senate Judiciary Committee on a thirteen-to-one vote, which means he’ll receive a favorable recommendation from the committee. The lone dissenting vote belonged to Edward Kennedy [1932-2009] of Massachusetts, who claimed that Souter did not demonstrate a sufficient commitment to civil rights and the right to privacy. I’m not surprised by the ease with which Souter was approved; in fact, I expect the Senate to confirm him overwhelmingly next week. He said little to antagonize either liberals or conservatives. Perhaps that was his game plan: to speak in such generalities that his true views would not be known and could not be used against him. For my part, I’m optimistic that he’ll defend individual liberties from the ravages of majorities. Only time will tell whether this suspicion—hope, really—is confirmed.
Some might argue that while eating meat is in general acceptable, we are under an obligation to abstain from meat produced in particularly harsh ways: from veal perhaps, or from lobster or from pâté de foie gras. Others might argue that what is important is the level of the animal's evolutionary development, so that while it is acceptable to eat poultry one should abstain from the flesh of animals, or while it is acceptable to eat fish one should abstain from the flesh of warm-blooded animals. Or one might distinguish according to the kinds of value which may justify the eating of meat: turkey dinners on holidays with the family might be thought legitimate, while a bachelor cooking for himself would be under an obligation to abstain from meat. And there are many who see nothing wrong with buying meat at a supermarket, while disapproving of hunting even when the resulting meat is eaten by the hunter's family. Finally, one might, without accepting vegetarian ideas oneself, still feel that vegetarians are entitled to the kind of respect frequently accorded to pacifists by those who do not share their convictions.
(Philip E. Devine, "The Moral Basis of Vegetarianism," Philosophy 53 [October 1978]: 481-505, at 502 [footnote omitted])