London: Hunt and Clarke, 1827. 8vo. xii, 287 pp. FIRST EDITION. Publisher’s cloth, author and title in gilt on spine; a very good copy. Item #16135
First edition of Bentham’s critical examination of Richard Whately’s Elements of logic, which was printed in the same year. It is here that the principle of the quantification of the predicate, “an augmented syllogistic scheme of an almost symbolic form,” was first explicitly stated. Bentham closely analyzes every aspect of Whately’s work, defining logic and treating the classification of entities, propositions, deductions and forms of syllogisms. Of particular importance is Bentham’s discussion of Whately’s support of Aristotelian rules of division.
This work “has been heralded by some as the opening salvo in the overthrow of the Aristotelian syllogism’s grip on logical inference. The move was a defiant political gesture. The young Bentham composed Outline in close concert with his famous uncle, the great utilitarian Jeremy Bentham, expanding and evolving Jeremy’s attempts at a new logical system. Bentham meant Outline to be a contribution to the development of the whole utilitarian project. Yet, after 1827, Bentham was never again to write explicitly on logic and philosophy.” Notwithstanding, Stanley Jevons deemed this work “the most fruitful discovery in abstract logical science since the time of Aristotle” (DSB).
Bentham (1800-1884) an English botanist, was the nephew of Jeremy Bentham, and initially a philosopher and logician. Whately (1787-1863) was an English rhetorician, logician, economist, academic and theologian who also served as a reforming Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin. Bentham’s Outline of a new system of logic was published in between Whately’s two standard texts, Elements of rhetoric (1828) and Elements of logic (1826), which are considered largely responsible for the revival of the study of logic in England in the early part of the nineteenth century. His logic was largely Aristotelian, but explicitly followed Locke in many respects. Before sixty copies had been sold the publisher became bankrupt and the stock went for wastepaper.