Religiously-Oriented, Dogmatically-Inclined Humanistic Logics from the Renaissance to the Seventeenth Century
A. Melanchthon and Aristotelianism
Aristotle and subsequent Western logicians through the Middle Ages generally divided logic into two types: scientific and probabilistic. Scientific logic was primarily concerned with securing knowledge in absolute structures such as a syllogism. Probabilistic logic was concerned with judging how strongly one should assent to information and with strategies of communication and persuasion. In the Renaissance many humanists emphasized probabilistic logic over and above scientific logic, especially the complex system of syllogisms emphasized in the High Middle Ages.16
Renaissance humanists were generally scholars reacting against the arcane and seemingly monolithic certainties that had been promoted and ascribed to through the Middle Ages. They favored more limited claims in their desire to attain moral reform and they emphasized a strong split between the human and divine, the natural and supernatural. Humans, many insisted, were bound to their mundane humanity, an idea which was very appealing to people who wished to avoid the pedantic wranglings of scholastic theologians and focus on human thought and deed. Humanists generally were mildly skeptical instead of dogmatic. Lorenzo Valla (c.1406–1457) was a major proponent of mild skepticism and his work exemplifies the humanist position on dogmatism and his work influenced Rudolphus Agricola (1444–1485), who wrote the first major humanistic logic textbook.17
As with almost all clear-cut distinctions between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, the newness of humanistic logic has been overstated. John of Salisbury’s twelfth-century Metalogicon has the vitality of pre-Renaissance humanism, rooted as it is in Augustine, Boethius, and others. However, fifteenth and sixteenth-century humanists extensively transformed logic as it was taught across Europe.
Rudolphus Agricola’s De Inventione Dialectica was the most influential of the first humanistic logic textbooks. Circulating in manuscript after the 1470s and first published in Louvain in 1515, it gained enormous influence in the 1520s and 30s. By 1569 Petrus Ramus, a populizer of many Agricolan reforms, wrote that “thanks to Agricola the true study of genuine logic had first been established in Germany, and thence, by way of its disciples and emulators, had spread throughout the whole world.”18 The most influential of Agricola’s emulators was Philipp Melanchthon (1496–1560), Professor of Greek at the University of Wittenberg and Martin Luther’s principal lieutenant.19 Melanchthon wrote a short biography of Agricola and praised him as “the very first to establish needed reform in the discipline of probabilistic logic.”20 But Melanchthon made his own needed reforms on Agricola’s reforms. As Wilhelm Maurer has pointed out, Agricola did not shape Melanchthon: rather, he “spurred him on constantly to intellectual reform.”21 Melanchthon’s own logic textbooks, Compendiaria Dialectices Ratio (1520), Dialectices (1528) and culminating with Erotemata Dialectices (1547), though rooted in Agricola’s new humanist ideals, were fundamentally different in their concern for religious dogmatism and Aristotelian certainty.22
Melanchthon was more concerned about protecting the certainty of essential Christian teachings than Agricola. Agricola was “offended” by “the dogmatic strain in high medieval logic” and wanted to avoid the religious controversies of his era; therefore, he greatly diminished the space devoted to Aristotelian syllogisms and categories. By doing so, he diminished emphasis on scientific logic, choosing instead to devote the textbook to probabilistic logic.23 Melanchthon, being deeply committed to many humanist ideals, supported the new emphasis on probabilistic logic; however, being also committed to Christian reform, he chose to reemphasize those aspects of scientific logic that could best serve Christian reform: Aristotelian syllogistic demonstration and the ten categories. Agricola, a conscientious Roman Catholic, did not attack Christianity; he simply avoided it. Melanchthon, a Protestant reformer, went out of his way to make sure his readers understood the Christian implications of his logic.
The best example of this split between Agricola and Melanchthon is in their discussions of divine testimony—one of the issues that the new humanistic logics revived from Classical probabilistic logic. Generally, the two logics agree: testimony yields faith rather than science and the degree of certainty of any received testimony depends on the degree of trustworthiness accorded to the testifier. Divine testimony is discussed in both, but in completely different ways. Agricola’s De lnventione discusses forms of divine testimony in the context of Cicero, so priests and fortune-tellers who interpret signs and read the heavens are discussed.24 There is no discussion of any particularly Christian form of divine testimony nor of any Christian application. Melanchthon’s Erotemata Dialectices, on the other hand, emphasizes the Christian certainty in divine testimony as received from the Judeo-Christian God. The infallible authority of God backed the certainty of faith derived from divine testimony handed down through the Bible and church.25
The differences between the texts are obvious. Agricola’s attitude is not anti-Church, but overall lacks concern for ecclesiastical issues. Melanchthon’s attitude is stridently in support of the rational and dogmatic claims of Lutheran reforms, particularly the emphasis on faith and the Bible. Melanchthon’s text teaches the certainty of the Bible and ecclesiastical traditions, the faculties of the soul, proper understanding of baptism and justification by faith, the importance of grace, and the Holy Spirit’s help in being rational. The book closes with an attack on skeptics for not assenting to the knowledge offered them, thus denying a gift of God. Although later logic textbooks did not follow Melanchthon slavishly, many subsequent textbooks incorporated these religious subjects into logic. Melanchthon can be considered the founder of a tradition of religiously-oriented and dogmatically-inclined humanistic logic textbooks.
Like many of the intellectual developments of the Reformation, Melanchthon’s new logic relied heavily on Augustinianism. As the new tradition in logic developed, Augustinianism, not Aristotelianism, would be the dominant characteristic.
In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Augustine was erroneously believed to have written two logic textbooks: Categoriae Decem ex Aristotele Decerpta and Principia Dialectica. Bartolomaeus Keckermann (c. 1571–1609), an important textbook author who will be more fully discussed later, wrote a history and justification of Christian logic, emphasizing the example Augustine set as a Christian logician and he cited the above mentioned logics attributed to Augustine.
However, Keckermann, like most of the Augustinian logicians discussed here, placed greater weight on Augustine’s polemical and theological writings as examples of good logic put to use for true religion.26 Keckermann quoted On Christian Doctrine on the importance of dialectics (probabilistic logic) for Christians, and it was through that work that Augustine had his greatest influence on the future development of Christian education in the liberal arts. When Augustine dealt with the “use of dialectics” in On Christian Doctrine, he explained that the “science of reasoning” was crucial for understanding and that young men should devote themselves to it even though it was developed by pagan philosophers. Augustine advised readers to “take and turn to a Christian use” all that was good in pagan philosophy and institutions.27
One of Augustine’s most important legacies in logic was his study of the human will, especially the will of those affected by God’s grace. His polemical and theological works consistently asserted the role of human will in knowing and reasoning. A long tradition developed in the Middle Ages along Augustinian lines, and, in the Renaissance, Melanchthon developed a specific place in Aristotelian logic for this relationship between will and knowledge. The core of the tradition insisted that only the person blessed by a divine grace is able to reason most rightly and fully on the hardest questions. This aspect of Augustinianism appears clearly in Morton’s and Brattle’s logics.
Augustine’s influence on dogmatically-inclined and religiously-oriented humanistic logics cannot be overestimated. Augustine wrote several books on Christian rationalism such as Against Academics and On the Profit of Believing that deal with those named specific subjects. However, as Keckermann exemplifies, his work on polemics and theology were more influential. For Melanchthon’s logic and other Christian logics that developed after him, Augustine’s On the Trinity was probably the most influential model of logic at work. On the Trinity begins by describing types of misused reason and throughout continually returns to discussions of sources of knowledge, reasoning methods, and his essential theory that the only good reasoner is the good Christian. Being created in the image of God means that men and women have the capability to reason rightly in the finite context of their mortality, but fallen humans can turn aside from the image of God and their reasoning becomes faulty.28 A selfish soul loving its own power slips “from the whole which is common, to a part.”29 It is by divine grace that humans maintain their likeness in the image of God and thus their reasoning ability. In this manner Augustine weaves his discussion of good and bad logic throughout On the Trinity, creating a logic textbook within a theological apology.
Both Agricola’s and Melanchthon’s logics were published in many editions and greatly influenced English education. Henry VIII in 1535 considered Agricola and Melanchthon among the “purest authors” who were to be studied at Oxford and Cambridge and both had long histories of influence there, especially at Oxford.30 One of Melanchthon’s logics (but not Agricola’s) was part of Cambridge graduate John Harvard’s private library which formed the basis of the first Harvard College library.31 For three centuries textbook authors were influenced by these two pedagogical reformers, many authors following particularly the religious innovations of Melanchthon. Morton and Brattle followed Malanchthon. Even before these two, the logicians promoted at Harvard were followers of Melanchthon, especially Alexander Richardson.
The beginnings of Puritanism were rooted in a type of Ramist logic which insisted on Melanchthon-style religious dogmatism while revolting against Melanchthon’s Aristotelianism.
B. Ramus and Richardson
Petrus Ramus (1515–1572) is a fascinating figure who stole centerstage of the logic textbook trade among most Protestants in the late sixteenth century and again stole the majority of scholarly interest in the mid-twentieth century.32 His Dialecticae Libri Duo (1556) was well within the humanistic tradition. It is most notable for its brevity. Ramus was interested in pedagogical reform and understood the attention span and intellectual capacity of the average teenage student better than most textbook writers. Ramus also wrote polemically, inciting reaction in his young readers, and specifically with the importance of logic.
Ramus was primarily concerned with pedagogically simplifying the organization of knowledge. Like many humanists he attacked scholastic logic, declaring that he would “abolish all tautologies and vain repetitions.”33 Also like others he emphasized Classical topics or place logic, which fits bits of knowledge into places in a systematic movement from the general to the particular. Ramus gave a simplistic twist to place logic by dichotomizing, which eventually led, in part, to the downfall of his logic’s influence. Later humanists considered the dichotomies as unnatural.
More exciting than his textbooks was the romance of Ramus’s life and death told to Protestant students for two centuries. Ramus was a convert to Protestantism who was intermittently in trouble most of his life. Nevertheless, he attained high rank in a Roman Catholic university because of his brilliance. The story culminated with Ramus’s murder by a disgruntled colleague in the midst of the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre of Protestants in 1572. The story of Ramus was perfect for those who wished to make university life and rationalism heroic. School teachers and college tutors throughout England and Protestant Europe quickly anointed Ramus a martyr for Protestant religion and Protestant rationalism. Two years after his death, the first English translation of the Dialecticae Libri Duo appeared with the title The Logicke of the Moste Excellent Philosopher P. Ramus, Martyr.34
When Roland MacIlmaine translated Ramus’s logic into English to encourage the use of the logic developed by a Protestant martyr, he had to face the problem that Ramus did not concern himself with religion in his logic. The religious orientation of Ramus’s logic was closer to Agricola’s than Melanchthon’s. MacIlmaine added a preface that insisted on the text’s use to plant the “rule of verity in the hearts of all men, but most chiefly in the breasts of the pastors of the church who have the charge and dispensation of [God’s] holy word”; however, the text itself had very little to offer future pastors in their defense of true religion.35 In the logic’s section on testimony Ramus followed Agricola by making no mention of the Bible and referring to divine testimony as “oracles of the gods.”36 Pure Ramists would follow their mentor’s avoidance of Christian subject-matter in logic on through the seventeenth century. Christian textbook writers who rewrote Ramist logic, fitting it into a Christianized context, were not, therefore, pure Ramists.
The Puritans were the most prominent less-than-pure Ramists in England and America. During the decade of Ramus’s death and MacIlmaine’s translation, the Puritans (or more precisely at that time: men with puritan tendencies) were gaining influence in some of the colleges at Cambridge. The connection with Cambridge subsequently became the root of their influence on education throughout England and America in the seventeenth century.37 Those Puritan educators who appreciated Ramus’s pedagogical simplification of logic could also present the life, conversion, and their version of the death of the philosopher-martyr as an inspiring story of integration of piety and intellect. However, they rewrote Ramist logic, just as Melanchthon rewrote humanistic logic. Puritans needed to Christianize Ramus’s text. The most useful and famous Christianized Ramist textbooks were written by Cambridge tutors: William Ames and Alexander Richardson. William Ames (1576–1623) was a fellow at Christ’s College, Cambridge, from 1601 to 1610, before moving to Holland where he filled several teaching posts. Ten years after his death, four treatises dealing with logic were published under his name in a volume titled Philosophmata (Leyden, 1643), the most influential being Technometria, which had been written with the help of students after 1631. Technometria was very influential among Dutch, English, and American Puritans; however, Ames’s primary influence was through his Ramistically organized book of theology: Medulla Theologicae (1627).38 Alexander Richardson’s logic textbook has equally vague beginnings in relationships between teacher and students, but even greater influence than Ames’s Technometria. Perry Miller judged Richardson’s Logicians School-Master “undoubtedly the most important Ramist work in the background of New England thought.”39 It was the primary logic used at Harvard until replaced by Brattle’s Compendium of Logick.
Richardson was a tutor and sometime lecturer for a few years after 1587 at the Puritan and Ramist stronghold of Queen’s College, Cambridge.40 The published version of Richardson’s logic lectures, The Logicians School-Master: or, A Comment upon Ramist Logicke (1629, enlarged 1651), was a collection of manuscript lecture notes that were passed among students for more than a decade before being posthumously published. The subtitle of the book—“a comment on Ramus’ Logicke”—indicates that it was not just a text but also a tutor’s gloss on Ramist logic. The comments gathered together by students in The Logicians School-Master provide a window into a Puritan classroom. Notes later published as textbooks were not a rare phenomena. Books of this type are the product of a number of minds and thus become a type of communal document. The Logicians School-Master is most likely based only on what began as Richardson’s lectures. When the Puritans dominated the politics of England, The Logicians School-Master was republished in a much larger version in a text probably less tied to its original source than even the first.
Richardson’s orientation bore similarities to Melanchthon’s. What Melanchthon did to humanistic Aristotelian logic, Richardson did for Ramist logic by integrating into it an Augustinian perception of the relationship between God and humanity. Other Puritan Ramists such as John Milton did not integrate Ramism and Christianity and, maybe because of this, their textbooks were never as popular.
Richardson, in the manner of humanistic logic in general and the religiously-oriented logics in particular, provided an epistemological perspective in logic. For Richardson the rules of art breathed (spirare) “a sweet science” into “our glass of understanding.” The rules of art were created and governed by God, and it was God who ultimately “breathed” the science into our understanding.41 Richardson made a point of equating this breathing with the “irradiation” which was taught in divinity classes. In the beginning there was the wisdom of God “which is brought by an irradiation to our understanding.” With this irradiation we “see the simples in the things” with our intellects. These simples are received as self-evident axioms and the result is called scientia.42 God is directly involved in this “internal” process of understanding “the simples in the thing” at every level because God not only creates the understanding in us but also created those “simples in the thing” and continues to cause everything that goes on in the world. “Look into the world and every part thereof,” Richardson wrote, “and you shall see God’s finger in everything.”43 Absolutely certain knowledge is available because God initially and continually radiates knowledge received by the intellect.
There is nothing particularly innovative about Richardson’s short discussion of epistemology. It is not fully worked out and relies on vague imagery. Richardson’s statements were essentially standard Pauline and Augustinian views taught in churches and—as he stated—in divinity course textbooks such as Ames’s Medulla.
Divine testimony, on the other hand, is not radiated knowledge. When discussing this subject, Richardson stayed within the Pauline, Augustinian, and Melanchthonian tradition, but went further than any previous textbook author in explaining its role in logic.44 Divine testimony is an “inartificial argument.” The terms artificial and inartificial distinguish between sources of knowledge. Artificial arguments are completely within the “art” or technical manipulations of logic. Artificial arguments come from within the mind and are judged by their self-evidence or demonstrability. Inartificial arguments do not begin within the art. Inartifical arguments are “external” rather than “internal.” They are accepted from outside of the mind, then brought into the art or process of logic as the equivalent of axioms or at some level of probable knowledge. The distinction between artificial and inartificial arguments is a distinction between axioms that are radiated from God directly into an individual’s mind and thus “internal” and “external” testimonies, which are passed among communities of individuals. The most important doctrines of Christianity are testimonies in the Bible or passed through time in the community of the church; therefore, dogmatically-inclined logics had to define and find ways to incorporate thse inartificial, external arguments into logic.
The level of certainty or the level of probability that an external argument is accorded is based upon the credibility and authority of the source of the testimony, not the inherent quality of the testimony itself. To achieve the certainty of an axiom, an inartificial argument must be, in Richardson’s words, “backed” by someone else’s internal and artificial knowledge.45 Dogmatically-inclined logics we might say were logics of trust—trust not only in face-to-face relationships but trust in the historical chain of face-to-face relationships.
Richardson did not deal explicitly with cases where inartificial arguments were merely probable, although this would become one of the most important subjects in religion, law, and the study of history during the century.46 Richardson was concerned with giving the Bible a strong position in logic, so his logic would be useful to Puritans. Historians and lawyers had other logics available. For example, a contemporary of Richardson, Abraham Fraunce, published The Lawiers Logicke, exemplifying the Præcepts of Logicke by the Practise of the Common Lawe (London: 1588), which dealt with inartificial arguments (what Fraunce called “borrowed arguments”) with an emphasis on types of human testimony rather than the certainties of divine testimony.
Richardson emphasized the importance of the truths that passed through communities. Communal knowledge, Richardson believed, is necessary because Adam, before the Fall, was the only individual ever capable of the fullness of human knowledge. For Adam’s descendants, Richardson insisted: “All things cannot come under one man’s eye of reason.” A single individual is too small, too weak. God, therefore, provides an individual and a communal way of knowing—in one a person “sees by himself”; in the other “he may see by another man’s eye.”47
The Lord hath in wisdom ordained that we should receive some things by reports from others, for as the world was to increase both in men and other creatures, it was impossible that one man should see all things.48
Richardson, of course, did not desire humans to be gullible. Scholars must not “take any thing that their authors deliver them without any examination of the things they read.”49 Richardson only tentatively agreed with Keckermann’s more optimistic view of testimony:
Keckermann saith, an inartificial argument may be received before an artificial. I do not deny it, but yet you must examine it afterward. God’s testimonies only are undenyable, because he cannot lie; but no man’s.50
Richardson took special care to insist on the importance of making the distinction between inartifical and artificial arguments. Some critics of Ramus had taken the position that there was no such thing as an inartificial argument. For example Thomas Spencer in his The Art of Logic (1628) insisted that inartificial arguments were not arguments at all and were “unfitly spoken” by Ramus. Spencer insisted divine testimony had to be viewed as a “moral cause” and not as an argument.51 Richardson, on the other hand, insisted on Ramus’s special place for inartificial argument because relegating testimony merely to moral influence could destroy the foundation in logic for the certainty of Christian orthodoxy.52
Without a special category for divine testimony, the Bible’s place in logic would be weakened and the traditional tenets of Christian orthodoxy would have to be judged like any other proposition. Richardson’s logic clearly offered the Bible and Christianity a stronger position. Although he does not give a precise example, Richardson was insisting that the axiom “the whole is greater than its part” and the testimony “Jesus rose from the dead” have equal certainty. They simply are handled differently. The former is artificial and internal while the latter is inartifical and external. If externally-known testimony was to be judged by the same standards of self-evidence as axioms, then obviously the credibility and authority of the testifier would no longer be of concern. Richardson seems to have realized that such a move in logic would mean the ultimate destruction of the certainty of much of Christian orthodoxy.
The obvious question to follow is: Doesn’t the necessity of the communal transfer of knowledge from human to human mean that the certainty of divine testimony is tainted by human testimony? Richardson answered: No. He insisted there was no element of human testimony in the writings of the Old Testament prophets, New Testament apostles, or other scripture writers, since God circumvents the defect of human testimony by having the Holy Spirit continually guarantee directly to an individual that the scriptures and “that which the Church delivereth” are divine testimony.53 Richardson reiterated this in an attack on the Roman Catholic Church by insisting that the Holy Spirit, not the church itself, must guarantee the divinity of Christian tradition handed down through the church.
With this continuing role for the Holy Spirit in mind, Richardson implicitly described three roles for God in logic: 1) God internally communicates directly with an individual by breathing the knowledge of axioms into a person. 2) God also internally communicated special knowledge directly into the minds of people such as the Apostles, which then was passed through communities through time as external divine testimony. 3) Lastly, God guarantees to each individual internally the divinity of the divine testimony that is communicated through the community. The epistemology is ultimately based on an individual relationship between God and a human, but retains a crucial role for the Christian community through time.
From the perspective of English Puritans who desired the rules of reason to support Christian orthodoxy, The Logicians School-Master was a definite advance over previous humanistic logic textbooks since it explicitly put communal and individual knowledge of orthodoxy under the guardianship of the Holy Spirit.
A textbook, however, is seldom the source of a new idea. Textbooks, rather, support prevailing notions. The epistemology of divine testimony as Richardson explained it was often assumed in the literature of Bible-oriented ministers in the seventeenth century. Richardson, himself, acknowledged that his epistemology was similar to what was taught in divinity classes. Gerhard Reedy in The Bible and Reason: Anglicans and Scripture in Late Seventeenth-Century England devotes a chapter to testimony and “external” arguments for scriptural authority. Many of the arguments of non-Puritan divines attempting to prove the authority of scripture used the logical terms and three-fold epistemological role for God that Richardson described. Reedy notes that one minister accorded the Holy Spirit a “special convincing” role in which the “Holy Spirit fills the gap” necessary to confirm divine testimony’s divinity.54
It was precisely the comprehensiveness of including what so many people only assumed or passed on orally in classes that made The Logicians School-Master a favorite logic textbook for Puritans who wanted a logic that explicitly supported Bible-oriented Christianity.
C. Aristotelianism, Ramism, and Schematic Thinking
Ramism may have been favored by most Puritans, but it was not the only kind of logic that dogmatic-minded Christians supported. Many authors wanted to find a middle position between Ramism and Aristotelianism. Charles Morton was directly influenced by one of the Continent’s compromise logics: Bartholomaeus Keckermann’s Systema Logicae.
Keckermann’s logic was published in Germany in 1600, and in London in 1606 as the Gymnasium Logicum. It attempted a systematic synthesis of Aristotelian and Ramist logic that is sometimes categorized as Philippo-Ramist since it was primarily derived from both Philipp Melanchthon and Petrus Ramus. Sometimes the Philippo-Ramists are called “systematics” because Keckermann popularized a new level of the old systemization and elaborate schematic drawings. Charles Morton’s A Logick System is a late addition to the Philippo-Ramist or systematic school of logic. Nomenclature can overburden, however, so I will mostly refer to logics such as Keckermann’s and Morton’s as Aristotelian since that is the dominant format they use.
Bartholomaeus Keckermann (1571–1609) taught philosophy at the University of Danzig and wrote many textbooks.55 Like many humanistic textbook authors, Keckermann was an educational reformer, and he appreciated the pedagogical usefulness of Ramus’s logic, especially in that it organized all human knowledge under topical headings that moved from the most general to the most specific. But Keckermann was repelled by Ramus’s rebellion against Aristotle.
Like Melanchthon before him, Keckermann wanted to keep what was good in scholastic logic. Keckermann especially appreciated the pedagogical use of diagrams that the schoolmen developed. It was Keckermann who popularized the practice of using elaborate schematic drawings to describe logic, such as those that fill Morton’s logic. These diagrams helped students visually outline the relationships between types of knowledge. Examples of Medieval and Renaissance pedagogical helps can be seen throughout Morton’s and Brattle’s texts, such as Porphyry’s genus/species tree, “Barbara Celerant” (a memory device for types of syllogisms), and the AEIO (a memory device for the four kinds of propositions).56 Richardson, who relied heavily on Keckermann’s Gymnasium Logicum in The Logicians School-Master did not, however, follow Keckermann by including elaborate schematics. Richardson desired to remain more true to Ramus’s pedagogy.
Like Melanchthon before him and Richardson after him, Keckermann’s logic was oriented toward establishing a rational basis for the certainty of Christianity. Keckermann’s chapters are seldom without references to the Bible and faith. On the subject of divine testimony, Keckermann wrote, citing Melanchthon, that faith is divided into plain communal faith and true holy faith which is based on the testimony and authority of God.57 True holy faith, for Keckermann, was caused by the Holy Spirit as an act of grace given to those elected by God.58 Whole chapters were devoted to invoking God’s name and authority, the Christian faith, the sacraments, and theology. The chapter on theology included a large, three-part, fold-out diagram for a whole system of theology.59
Although Keckermann attempted to synthesize Ramus with Melanchthon for better use by Protestants, he was criticized by those who believed he had not restored Aristotelian logic to the importance that Melanchthon had accorded it. A reaction against Ramism was spreading throughout the Continent and England led by many humanists who wanted to purify and reinvigorate Aristotelianism.60 As with other such movements in logic, Christian-oriented texts were written alongside purist logic textbooks. The purists stuck to Classical examples and avoided references to Christianity or contemporary theological debate. Jacobi Zabarella (1533–1589) was one of the purists in the new Aristotelian movement. His various textbooks, especially Opera Logica, were justly famous for their adherence to an Aristotelian tradition and avoiding what they considered to be a taint of scholastic Aristotelianism.61 Zabarella did not even mention the possibility of divine testimony when discussing the role of testimony in logic.62
Two Aristotelians in The Netherlands who reacted against Keckermann and had some influence among Puritans were Franco Burgersdijck (1590–1636), Professor of Logic at the University of Leiden, and J.H. Alsted (1588–1638), who is most famous for his early attempt at unifying knowledge into an encyclopedia. Alsted followed primarily Burgersdijck. Burgersdijck’s logic, Institutionum Logicarum Libri Duo (1626 in Leiden and 1637 in Cambridge, England) became a semi-official logic when in 1635 the Estates ordered its use in Dutch schools. Burgersdijck’s preface to his logic respectfully criticized Keckermann for bringing too many confusions from Ramism into logic and, significantly, for mixing too much of the certainty of scientific logic into what should be merely probabilistic. Burgersdijck tried to purify some of Keckermann’s eclecticisms, and to do so, he followed Zabarella’s example by avoiding references to Christian issues.
On the other hand, there were other Aristotelian texts that worked to purify Keckermann of too much Ramism, but still kept an emphasis on Christianity. In The Netherlands, Adrian Heereboord (1614–1659) revised Burgersdijck by reintroducing Christian material into Ermencia Logica; Seu Synopseos Logicæ Bergersdiciana Explicatio.63 In England, several Aristotelians wrote logic textbooks with a moderate religious emphasis, the most influential of these being Robert Sanderson’s Logicae Artis Compendium (1615).64
Sanderson was an Oxford tutor who eventually became Bishop of Lincoln, and his version of Aristotelian logic was especially popular among Oxford tutors with tendencies in keeping with the established Anglican church.65 Sanderson praised Keckermann’s merging of Ramist and Aristotelian logic; however, like Burgersdijck, he believed Keckermann had gone too far toward the Ramists. “I would wish,” Sanderson wrote, “that Keckermann be not rubbed often into the hands of youth. Youth ought to be accustomed more to the peripatetic [Aristotelian] boundaries.”66 Sanderson had religious concerns, but less than Keckermann though more so than Burgersdijck.
There is an interesting question at this point. Given the religious orientation of the Puritans, why did they tend to avoid Sanderson’s Christianized text and favor Burgersdijck’s unchristianized Aristotelianism?
Burgersdijck’s logic was long a textbook at Cambridge and at Harvard during times of Puritan control; however, it is very important to note that the text does not appear in writings of the period. I have not found any Puritans quoting from or recommending Burgersdijck’s logic or Aristotelianism in general in the way so many referred to Richardson’s, Ames’s, or Ramism in general. Burgersdijck’s logic, it seems, was of special importance in the midcentury Puritan logic curriculum only as a foil to emphasize the virtues of Ramist logic. Later at Harvard, Burgersdijck’s logic seems to have become the foil also for Cartesian and Lockean logics. Long into the eighteenth century, Burgersdijck’s logic was presented to the students at Harvard as an example of Aristotelian logic—but it seems that it was never seriously taught. By the time Brattle’s Cartesian logic overtook Ramist logic as the dominant logic at Harvard, another popular Christianized Aristotelian logic was readily available, Henry Aldrich’s Artis Logicae (1692)—but it too was avoided in favor of the unchristianized logic of Burgersdijck.
Before we can turn to the question of why Burgersdijck was favored over Sanderson or Aldrich, we need to go even further into available Christianized versions of Aristotelian logic. By at least the 1670s in America, a very good Puritan version of Aristotelianism was available that would have been even better than Sanderson or Aldrich for dissenting academies or Harvard. This Puritan logic textbook was written in English, carefully organized and presented, and filled with explicit support for Calvinistic theology. But it had a strange history and an author that was too religiously radical for even the Puritans.
The title of the text was innocuous, The Art of Logick; however, the text was introduced by an extravagant and long “Epistle Dedicatory” to “The Illustrious, His Excellency Oliver Cromwell, Generalissimo of England, Ireland, and Scotland.” In the dedication the author proclaimed the book:
[a] system of logico-theology, as it will medicine the disease, so it will purge out the humor, and serve (with Heaven’s concurrence) as the clue of Ariadne, to guide the intricate and perplexed thoughts of the unfixed people...to help them in taking the dimensions and full heights of things, by an infallible rule of certitude.67
The “unfixed” skeptics would be fixed by this book. Logic—with grace—“recovers us to our promogenial condition, unclouds the masked mind.”68 Using construction imagery, the author declared to Cromwell that religion is the palisade of a republic and that knowledge was the “cement of religion.”69 Finally the benefits of logic would help “render England the world’s Utopia, the most felicitous of nations.”70
The author of these declarations and the person named as the author of the whole work was Zachary Coke, a person unknown to the twentieth century, who was probably searching for a preferment from Cromwell. In the second edition of the text, published in 1657 just before Cromwell’s death, a note appeared in the advertisement:
Though this book go under the name of Mr. Coke, yet most certain it is, that it was made by old Mr. Henry Ainsworth.... When Mr. Coke was in the Low Countries he borrowed the manuscript of one nearly related to the said Mr. Ainsworth and (changing a few words, but not the sense) printed it as his own. This is affirmed by the Rev. Allen Gear who was then in Holland and a witness of what is affirmed.71
The publisher, John Streater of London, apparently believed there was money to be made from the text but wanted to let readers know that Coke had been found out.
Henry Ainsworth (1571–1622 or 1623), the true author, was a famous and prolific Puritan author and controversialist. Graduating from Caius College, Cambridge, in 1587, Ainsworth continued his residence at the college and gained a reputation as one of Puritanism’s up-and-coming thinkers. Roger Williams, founder of the British colony of Rhode Island, heaped extravagant praise on Ainsworth. Williams and Ainsworth were both extremely contentious and uncompromising individuals. Both were thinkers in the most extreme Puritan vein who followed uncompromisingly the ideal of doctrinal purity to such lengths that they eventually had to be shunned as dangerous for the cause even by Puritans. Ainsworth moved to Amsterdam and was the author “wholly or in part” of the Brownists’s Confession of Faith. Ainsworth published extensively, especially Biblical commentaries, and “left behind him a large quantity of manuscripts which appear to have been dispersed.”72 Coke got hold of a logic textbook manuscript, added his extravagant preface to Cromwell, and had it published as his own. After Cromwell’s death and the Restoration in 1660, the book, dedicated as it was to Cromwell and written by a radical exile separatist, would have been avoided by the more moderate Puritans who hoped to avoid offending the new regime.
Due to the book’s separatism and radicalism, Puritans at Harvard did not use Ainworth/Coke’s Art of Logick as their Aristotelian textbook. But still, why did they use Burgersdijck’s logic when Sanderson’s or later Aldrich’s would have been much better for dogmatically-inclined Puritans? Maybe it was because Sanderson’s and Aldrich’s were so much more appealing to Christians than Burgersdijck’s. Puritan schools seem to have consciously or unconsciously avoided the best competition to Ramist logic and propped up Burgersdijck’s as a straw-text which could easily be knocked down. The majority of Puritans in England and America favored first Ramism, then Cartesianism. Aristotelianism was never a dominant logic among Puritans, even though they were obliged to teach it.
D. Puritan Favoritism from Ramus to Descartes
Humanistic educational theory demanded that options be presented to students, and Puritan teachers took pride in the breadth of options offered in their academies in England and on the Continent and at Harvard. Increase Mather in one presidential address at Harvard proclaimed the humanist motto: “Find a friend in Plato, a friend in Socrates, (and I say a friend in Aristotle), but above all find a friend in Truth.”73 Such broad-minded humanism was a goal; but, there was never encouragement of promiscuous intellectual wanderings. Aristotlelianism in the form of Burgersdijck’s logic may have been in the curriculum, but there is no evidence it was ever encouraged as a viable option. Another presidential address in 1711 by John Leverett shows more accurately the way students were directed when offered options. He declared that “Harvardians philosophize in a sane and liberal manner, according to the manner of the century.” He explained further that students read Ramus “not too scrupulously,” and Aristotle, but neither author to the extent that they “cannot grasp the neoterics’ rule of truth.”74 This is a fascinating statement! It is a window into the real world of favoritism in Puritan education.
Leverett clearly indicated the favored logic. The neoterics for Leverett in 1711 meant Cartesian and Lockean logicians. Leverett himself had written a Cartesian logic similar to Brattle’s. The other two types of logic from the seventeenth century—Ramist and Aristotelian—were presented to the students to provide the breadth required by humanistic education, but they were not taught as viable options to the favored logic.
Leverett’s statement also shows how blithely a president could say his students studied Ramus and Aristotle when in fact they studied textbook reductions. Students were not assigned Ramus, Aristotle, Descartes, and Locke, although a few diligent students may have looked into their works proper. If they read whole logics at all, they read Richardson instead of Ramus, Burgersdijck instead of Aristotle, LeGrand or Arnauld instead of Descartes, and LeClerc or magazine versions of Locke instead of Locke’s complete Essay. More often than not, students did not read whole books. Students at Harvard learned logic primarily from synopses or epitomes first culled from books but afterwards passed around in student notebooks. The diligent tutor helped make sure the students copied the right things, or, in the case of Morton and Brattle, made the short synopsis themselves and passed it among students to copy into their notebooks. There is very little evidence to support the stuffed commencement speeches about reading Aristotle and Plato, let alone a multitude of other great thinkers. The humanistic desire to create brief compendia and epitomes led to a flood of textbooks, many never published in the normal sense of the word. Many were “scribally published” and disseminated through local networks.75
One chopped-up Ramist logic published by a tutor for his pupils reveals the extent to which Puritans emphasized logic and favored its Ramist form before the mid 1680s: John Eliot’s A Logick Primer (1672). Eliot (1604–1690) is famous as “The Apostle to the Indians,” one of the few who took seriously the Puritan ideal of bringing Christian/English civilization to those who they perceived to be humans in a state of nature, or uncivilized.76 American Indians, in their view, had natural reason, but to be civilized needed to have their natural reason augmented by the art of logic. Eliot’s A Logick Primer was written in English and Natick (in the language of that Indian tribe “syllogistical” was translated as “oggusanukoowae” and “proposition” as “pakodtittumooonk”). The text was a standard short religiously-oriented version of Ramism. In such an educational situation, Eliot desired to give only the briefest epitome of logic—so he taught the essentials of logic that Puritans favored: Ramism. “The use of this iron key,” Eliot wrote, would “initiate the Indians in the knowledge of the Rules of Reason” and “open the rich treasury of the holy scriptures.”77 Nothing can exemplify more the intensity of Puritan emphasis on logic than the existence of such a chopped-up text translated for the mission field.
Eliot’s logic textbook appeared when Ramism was beginning to lose favor among a younger generation of English Puritans. Even though Ramism remained the favored logic of older authors such as John Milton and Increase Mather, criticism of Ramus was widespread at the colleges. Ramus’s dichotomizing was considered unnatural and seldom rigorously applied. His use of topics was said to “go ridiculous lengths to delimit the jurisdiction of the different sciences.”78 And though his criticism of the stagnant quality of syllogisms was accepted, he lacked a subtle understanding of pure Aristotelianism as opposed to its Medieval accretions. Ramus remained an honored martyr, but his place among the great thinkers was declining. A century later, Dugald Stewart, quoting from Thomas Reid, both Scottish logicians, summed up the career of Ramus in the history of “the progress of knowledge”:
It has been justly said of Ramus, that, “although he had genius sufficient to shake the Aristotelian fabrick, he was unable to substitute any thing more solid in its place:” but it ought not be forgotten, that even this praise, scanty as it may now appear, involves a large tribute to his merits as a philosophical reformer.79
With Ramism in decline, the last third of the seventeenth century was an exciting era of debate about what should replace the shaken Aristotelian fabric. There were two basic options: a new, invigorated, purer Aristotelian logic, or Cartesian logic. The trouble with Aristotelianism, however, was that it still seemed mired in a bog of technicalities. The humanistic pursuit had always emphasized the “natural” and pedagogically simple. The practice of adding more difficulties to logic than needed had seemed foolish to teachers such as Erasmus, and humanistic educational reforms had been rooted in reaction against the overly-formalized Medieval scholastics.80 John Milton, thinking of Aristotelians, had condemned logicians as merely “thorn-finches stuffing themselves with thistles and briars.”81 Similar criticism appears in John Locke’s attack on logic education.82 Cotton Mather, following many writers before him, declared to young candidates to the ministry that he could not encourage them “to spend very much time, in that which goes under the name of logic” since he had “contempt” for “the vulgar logic, learned in our colleges.” By vulgar logic, Mather meant what he generically called “any Burgesdicius” which furnishes a “parcel of terms.” Instead of leading to Truth, Aristotelian logics only enabled “one to carry on altercations, and logomachies, by which the force of truth may be a pleasure, and by some little trick, evaded.”83
Good logic, for most humanistic educators in the late seventeenth century, had to be natural. Cartesianism seemed more natural than Aristotelianism. For Cotton Mather the good logics were “treatises, that clear up the maxims of reason, and may strengthen you and sharpen you in the use of it.” This was not the job of “any Burgesdicius” and Milton and Locke would have agreed. Cotton Mather recommended instead the most natural and useful logic textbook of the era: Ars Cogitandi, also called The Port-Royal Logic.84
The Port-Royal Logic (1662) was a Cartesian-based textbook that was amazingly popular after the 1660s and on through the eighteenth century. Its popularity was due to its deemphasis of terms and mechanisms in logic and to its forthright support of the “universal church” against the wiles of skepticism and lazy thinking.85 The textbook was designed to teach Cartesian logic and was written specifically for use in the Little Schools of the Jansenists. It was rooted in the Augustinian epistemology and psychology which had become the hallmark of logic textbooks following Melanchthon’s Erotemata Dialectices. The Port-Royal Logic was the high-point of the tradition of dogmatically-inclined and religiously-oriented humanistic logics. The decline of Ramus’s influence and the rise of The Port-Royal Logic’s influence seem directly related.
By 1711 when President Leverett assured his listeners that Harvard students were not studying so much Ramist and Aristotelian logic that it hindered their learning of Cartesian logic, the old favorite in logic had been overthrown for a new one, The Port-Royal Logic. As was typical, however, students worked with synopses prepared by their tutors and learned from The Port-Royal Logic by reading Brattle’s Compendium of Logick.
E. Cartesian Logic and Christian Skepticism
Historians of Puritanism and Christianity tend to misunderstand the role of Cartesianism among dogmatically-inclined Christians. They tend to see Cartesianism only as a predecessor to modern secularism when in many ways it was the opposite. Cartesianism was born in the midst of a war waged between skeptics and dogmatists. It was not a war of Christians versus atheists, rather, between Christian groups as to the relationship between human minds and God’s mind. The most extreme skeptics insisted that human minds acted alone. Here again the role of testimony and faith in logics exemplifies the antagonism between skeptics and dogmatists. Dogmatists demanded that divine testimony was available to humans and based on the absolute authority of the testifier; “divine faith” was the result. Divine faith is a logical term, not theological, for it was absolute knowledge learned from the absolute knower. Skeptics demanded that divine testimony, if it existed, was always filtered through humans and was, therefore, merely human testimony resulting in “human faith.” For dogmatists, “divine faith” ranked as high or higher than “science” on the scale of certainty. For skeptics “divine faith” was really “human faith” which always ranked lower than “science” on the scale of certainty. This skepticism was fomented largely by despair over the terrible heretic-chasing of the church in the late Middle Ages and Reformation. Richard Popkin in The History of Scepticism: From Erasmus to Spinoza treats Erasmus as one of the most influential popularizers of the new Renaissance skepticism because he pled ignorance in debates about Christian dogma. For Erasmus and later Christian skeptics, the opinion was that the church must be peaceful and tolerant of intellectual diversity since human minds did not have access to the truth in God’s mind.86
Christian dogmatists, whether Protestant or Roman Catholic, disdained the perspective of such peacemakers. Dogmatists might disagree with each other about the route of God’s communication to humanity—direct revelation, scriptures, creeds, Church Fathers, pre or post-Constantinian church traditions, apostolic succession, and others—however, the dogmatists all agreed that the skeptics committed the sin of denying what God offered. God gives knowledge and leads people—at least some—to secure truths. To be a skeptic like Erasmus was a subtle way of turning one’s back on God.
Of course, in a general sense this was an old battle in Christianity. Many in the history of Christianity have to some extent maintained pietistic or fideist principles which insist that rationalism hinders Christian faith. The majority of church leaders, however, have insisted that the fullness of Christianity requires rationalism. The church supported the birth of universities and the revival of Classical logic. “To appeal to dialectic [logic],” wrote an eleventh-century theologian, “is to appeal to reason; and not to do so is to deny the image of God in man.”87 This has been the dominant tradition in Christianity, and dogmatic theology has been based on the integration of divine revelation and human reason.
Yet, in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, skeptics within the church increasingly attacked the integration of divine revelation and human reason and thereby attacked the foundations of dogmatic theology. The greatest minds of the age were involved in these debates, and the direction of science, religion, philosophy, and politics were thereby transformed. Blaise Pascal described the situation:
There is open war among men, in which each must take a part, and side either with dogmatism or skepticism. For he who thinks to remain neutral is above all a skeptic.88
Logic textbooks were written to support both sides in the war. Those following the tradition of Agricola and Ramus tended to avoid giving any emphasis to information given by God and tended to emphasize human reason working alone. They implied what Montaigne baldly stated in An Apology for Raymond Sebond: that their intellectual foundation was “man in isolation—man with no outside help.”89 “Man in his highest state,” Montaigne believed, can find “nothing solid, nothing firm, only vanity.”90
For dogmatists, there was no reason to consider humanity as alone. For dogmatically-inclined and religiously-oriented rationalists, intellectual certainty was a joint venture between God and humanity. To fervent dogmatists who persevered after the knowledge God offered, Montaigne was an egocentric and lazy thinker who masked his mental indolence as humility. His ideas were seductive but represented the easy and wide road to Hell. Pascal condemned Montaigne for a lack of the rigorous thinking necessary for the pursuit of Godly knowledge. He condemned him for seeking only to be fashionable, for talking nonsense deliberately, and inspiring “indifference regarding salvation.”91 Pascal’s Cartesian associate, Antoine Arnauld, in The Port-Royal Logic’s section on “faulty reasoning,” described Montaigne as a shallow pedant, contradicting everything, contemptibly motivated by egotism.92
René Descartes (1596–1650) first responded to the skeptics using the autobiographical approach of Montaigne. In his Discourse on Method (1637), Descartes told the story of his early education and personal struggle with skepticism, how he found himself “beset by so many doubts and errors that I came to think I had gained nothing from my attempts to become educated but increasing recognition of my ignorance.”93 His search for sure foundations of knowledge eventually led inward. In 1619, on a day of solitary reflection in a German inn, Descartes recalled to his readers: “I found myself as it were forced to become my own guide.” He was fearful at first, and “like a man who walks alone in the dark, I resolved to proceed slowly.” The goal was a “true method of attaining the knowledge of everything within my mental capabilities.”94 His method began with doubt. In order to clear his mind, he wrote, “I kept uprooting from my mind any errors that might previously have slipped into it.” Though he indulged in skepticism at this point, he assured his readers that “in doing this I was not copying the sceptics, who doubt only for the sake of doubting and pretend to be always undecided; on the contrary, my whole aim was to reach certainty—to cast aside the loose earth and sand so as to come upon rock or clay.”95
Descartes began his great counter-attack on the skeptics by beating the skeptics at their own game, by taking up the strategy of individualism and doubt. Descartes, however, took individualism and doubt further and deeper into a realm where it yielded certainty. Descartes believed “that all whom God has given the use of...reason are obligated to use it principally to try to know him and to know themselves.”96 He believed that skeptics had given up the obligation.
Descartes was a man of great faith, not doubt. His famous “I think, therefore, I am” has become a symbolic assertion of modern philosophy’s reliance on the individual self; however, Descartes’s philosophical system relied on his belief in God, not the autonomous self. Knowledge of God was innate in humanity, Descartes wrote in his Meditations on First Philosophy (1641). “And indeed it is no surprise,” he asserted, “that God, in creating me should have placed this idea in me to be, as it were, the mark of the craftsman stamped on his work.”97 In order to prove the existence of anything outside himself, Descartes proceeded after his proof of his own existence to prove the existence of God who communicated and verified true knowledge to human beings. In this, Richard Popkin has noted, Descartes followed the same path as John Calvin and other Reformers in their “attempt to objectify subjective certitude by attaching it to God.”98
Descartes adopted the autobiographical style of Montaigne in the Discourse; but, whereas the urbanity of Montaigne still makes pleasant reading, Descartes’s story is embarrassing to the modern reader. Even in the seventeenth century, the story of Descartes’s discovery of a metaphysical foundation to knowledge was lampooned and attacked as a drunken episode in the life of a religious fanatic. The story deals with three dreams he had in that lonely German inn in which the Spirit of Truth convinced the young Descartes that he had a divine destiny “to create a scientia mirabilis,” to build a fortress of knowledge. Descartes’s epiphany was then sealed by a vow to make a pilgrimage to the shrine of Our Lady of Loreto, which he subsequently accomplished.99
The circularity of Cartesian epistemology’s reliance on God’s validating authority did not go unnoticed and was criticized by contemporaries. Later in the century, Leibniz criticized the method as “Take what you need, and do what you should, and you will get what you want.”100 One of the first to note this circularity was Antoine Arnauld (1612–1694), a young theologian who later became the most influential popularizer of Cartesian logic. Just after finishing his doctorate, Arnauld wrote the “Fourth Set of Objections,” which were published along with Descartes’s Meditations, in which he respectfully raised the question of “how the author avoids reasoning in a circle” when the veracity of clear and distinct ideas was made contingent upon a God whose own existence depended on the assumption that clear and distinct ideas were true.101 Descartes’s response was a bit slippery and many were not convinced, but Arnauld wanted to be convinced and never raised the objection again. Descartes recognized in the young theologian a kindred mind and noted Arnauld’s “goodwill towards myself and the cause I defend.”102 This goodwill was evident at the very beginning of Arnauld’s “Objections” where he compared Descartes favorably to St. Augustine and wrote that the new philosophy was based in Augustinianism.103 Though many were not convinced by Descartes’s defence of himself, Arnauld was won over and became a staunch defender of the new philosophy.104
In spite of his critics, Descartes was extraordinarily successful and quickly moved to the forefront of the intellectual world of Western Europe. He must have believed he was accomplishing his divine mission. From the 1630s to the early eighteenth century there was a small school of “brilliant Cartesians” who “flashed like meteors upon the intellectual world.”105 Although the complete structure of Cartesianism broke down in the eighteenth century, brilliant Cartesians such as Arnauld and Malebranche had lasting influence upon the thinking of dogmatically-inclined Christians, who in turn influenced the logic curricula of their schools and colleges.
F. The Religious and Dogmatic Orientation of The Port-Royal Logic
Descartes vainly hoped that his Principles of Philosophy (1644) would be used in “Christian teaching” and become a popular textbook; however, it was Arnauld’s logic textbook, commonly called The Port-Royal Logic, that spread Cartesian logic throughout Europe, England, and America.106 Of Arnauld’s logic text, William and Martha Kneale wrote that it “was widely accepted and continued to dominate the treatment of logic by most philosophers for the next 200 years.”107 Wilbur Howell in his Eighteenth-Century British Logic and Rhetoric notes the direct influence of this text on all of the popular logic texts of that century in Britain.108
The Port-Royal Logic was written in the context of Cartesianism and Jansenism, an Augustinian movement within the French Roman Catholic Church. Of these two, Jansenism invigorated the text and encouraged its popularity. Whereas Descartes’s writings avoided direct discussion of Christianity, Arnauld’s textbook was full of Jansenist piety and declared in its preface “that reason and faith are in perfect harmony, as two streams originating in a common source, and that we cannot go far from the one without departing from the other.”109
Cornelius Otto Jansen (1585–1638), a Dutch Roman Catholic theologian, had watched Dutch Calvinists and English Puritans debate predestination and free will at the Synod of Dort (1618–1619). Even though a Roman Catholic, Jansen agreed with the synod’s affirmation of the Augustinian/Calvinist doctrines of unconditional election, limited atonement, total depravity of humans, irresistibility of grace, and final perseverance of the saints.110 Eventually, Jansen became the Bishop of Ypres. Hating the influence of the Jesuits, he wrote an enormous work that was published posthumously in 1640 as Augustinius. In it he advocated a thorough return to Augustinian doctrines as the necessary antidote to both Protestant schism and Jesuit emphasis on humanity’s role in divine grace. Due primarily to the power of the Jesuits, Augustinius was condemned by the Inquisition a year after publication and again in a Papal Bull of 1643. The “Augustinian strain of piety,” however, has never been without adherents.111 Jansenism spread among many of the pious in France and the Low Countries without official sanction.
Although one rooted in Roman Catholicism and the other in Protestantism, Jansenism and Puritanism have obvious similarities that did not escape the notice of Jansenism’s opponents. They both tended toward rigorous thinking and modest living, while spurning the dominant culture around them.112 The standard characterization of Jansenism in the polemic literature of the era was that it was Calvinist. However, Jansenism was not Calvinist. It appeared so because Jansenism and Calvinism were rooted in Augustine’s severe understanding of predestination and grace.
Although the Augustinius was their tangible beginning, most Jansenists were not adherents to a book of theology. Jansenists ranged from controversialists such as Pascal and Arnauld, to quiet nuns, monkish solitaires, and pious women of the nobility. What drew them together was primarily their hatred of the religious laxity that seemed to be prevailing in the church. They were intense believers, wary of concessions to human weakness, and adamant against any perceived dilution of God’s sovereignty. “What is essential,” wrote one Jansenist, “is to relate everything to God and to salvation and to mistrust oneself in every way, not by wiser vanity or more enlightened pride, but by an awareness of one’s own injustice and misery.”113 Jansenism, therefore, was a rigorous mentality rather than an intricate system of point-by-point theology. A visiting archbishop among the Port-Royalists described the nuns: “As pure as angels and as proud as demons.”114 Most Jansenists did not want to debate fine points of theology, but they were dogmatic about the essentials of piety—the depravity of humanity, the awesomeness of God’s sovereignly, and humanity’s dependence upon grace alone for salvation.
Intense, rigorous, and dogmatic, the Jansenists posed a threat to the Jesuits and the royalist forces who were unsure of Jansenists’ political and ecclesiastical loyally. To the chagrin of these antagonists, Jansenism had no formal organization or leadership that could be disbanded. However, there was one very visible bastion of Jansenists upon which they could focus their attack: the Cistercian abbey near Versailles named Port-Royal des Champs and, later, the daughter house of Port-Royal in Paris.
Jansenists were persecuted for half a century with varying intensity. Antoine Arnauld, the most prominent theologian of the group, was removed from the faculty of the Sorbonne in 1656; he subsequently engaged in more Jansenist and Cartesian polemics, and was exiled to The Netherlands in 1679.115 With him in exile was Pierre Nicole who is often considered a co-author of The Port-Royal Logic.
The Port-Royal Logic was first written for the education of the son of the Duc de Chevreuse, one of the important patrons of the Port-Royalists. Arnauld was undoubtedly the principal author, but the work began, at least, as a collaboration with Pierre Nicole.116 As explained in the “Forward,” the book was initially written in four or five days after a dinner conversation with the duke. Subsequently the work assumed larger proportions as the authors began to conceive its possible importance as a general textbook to be circulated in manuscript among the students of the loosely organized Little Schools of Port-Royal.
The term Little School actually meant a school that did not teach children past the age of nine; for the Jansenists, it was a conscious misnomer for the Port-Royal schools which taught a complete curriculum that could include the equivalent of college courses. H. C. Barnard in his The Port-Royalists on Education explained that the Jansenists used the diminutive term in order not to appear as competition for Jesuit academies and colleges and the central university.117 The schools were not institutionalized. Many of the Port-Royal solitaires—men who were loosely gathered into a semimonastic life at the Port Royals—tutored small circles of students. These tutorial groups developed a reputation for quality and innovative methods.118 Publicly, the Little Schools existed for only fourteen years; however, they quietly continued for years providing tutorials. Three times they were suppressed, the last time in 1656, and were officially disbanded in 1660, two years before the publication of The Port-Royal Logic.
Arnauld never taught in a Little School, but he was concerned with education. He wrote several textbooks including one on grammar, which offered spelling reforms and “A new method of teaching how to read easily in all kinds of languages.”119 The fact that The Port-Royal Logic was written while the Little Schools were suppressed and published after they were officially disbanded indicates that the education program of Port-Royal was continuing unofficially among the dispersed solitaires. Initially, Arnauld explained, his logic text circulated in manuscript before publication was “forced” upon its authors.120 The Port-Royal Logic uses the plural when it discusses its authors, indicating that the logic grew to its published form with material added by solitaires. The precise authorship of textbooks was not of concern in the seventeenth century as we have seen with Richardson and will see with Brattle. Originally The Port-Royal Logic was published anonymously, but it was well known to be a Jansenist text and tied to Arnauld.
The Port-Royal Logic is not a polemic against other logic systems; rather, it is an essay in common-sense logic. When describing the sources for his logic, Arnauld first cited Descartes “who is distinguished as much for clarity of mind as others are for confusion.”121 He then noted that some remarks and one small section were derived from Pascal’s The Geometrical Mind. As for other popular textbooks of the era, Arnauld wrote that he incorporated “all that was really useful” from them, “including, for example, the rules for the figures of the syllogism, the classification of expressions and ideas, and certain reflections on propositions.” Traditional aspects of logic such as categories and topics emphasized by Aristotelians and Ramists he deemed “quite useless,” but included them anyway since they were “short, easy, and common.”122
Even though Arnauld included the topics, he used the opportunity to comment against cluttered discourse and thinking. “Nothing smothers good seed,” he wrote, “as much as an abundance of noxious weeds.” The extent to which Arnauld avoided polemics is exemplified by his response to the possibility that he was anti-Aristotelian: “Our whole treatment of the rules of logic,” Arnauld wrote, “is taken from [Aristotle’s] Analytics.” He further declared The Port-Royal Logic “contains more from Aristode than from any other author, for all the precepts of logic belong to Aristode.”123 Although Arnauld was not being completely honest with this statement, it shows his earnest desire not to alienate readers. “Whatever contributes to the book’s being read,” he pragmatically noted, “contributes to its usefulness.”124
Logic textbooks in the Age of Logic were always amalgamations; there is no such thing as a pure Aristotelian or Ramist or Cartesian logic text. Walter Ong characterizes for example the Ramean “recipe” as including
[the] Platonic doctrine of ideas, considerably attenuated, Aristotle’s logic in snippets, some Ciceronian dialectic and rhetoric, scraps of medieval syllogistic, the medieval drive toward greater quantification of models for thought—all this put together with humanist impatience over elaborated scientific formalism and a real concern for the realities of the human life world.125
What The Port-Royal Logic had beyond these elements in its recipe was an all-encompassing dynamism. Descartes is considered the father of modern philosophy largely because he broke down artificial categories, raised the universal importance of mathematics, and optimistically emphasized discovering new knowledge. Aristotelian and Ramist logical strategies tended to confirm and systematize static knowledge, while Cartesianism emphasized the method of geometry which was open-ended and expansive. Knowledge in Aristotelian and Ramist logics tended to be categorized or boxed in ways that kept one type of knowledge from infiltrating another. Keith Sprunger has described Puritan-Ramists as encouraging a “six-sided view of life” in which logic, grammar, rhetoric, mathematics, physics, and theology were categorized separately.126 Cartesian logic was more comprehensive and unifying, purporting that knowledge was an upside-down pyramid rising from a storehouse of a few axioms expanding to who-knew-where.
Within the context of the dynamic characteristics of Cartesian logic, The Port-Royal Logic was especially good at incorporating the role of external knowledge (testimony) into its discussion of axioms, thus enhancing Cartesian logic’s ability to satisfy the requirements of those who wished to support the rationality of dogmatic Christianity. Like Richardson, Arnauld knew that for logic to support dogmatic Christianity, it was necessary to fashion a special role for external knowledge that was equivalent to the role of self-evident internal knowledge.
The Port-Royal Logic gives a role for external knowledge in Cartesian logic most clearly in a practical chapter on “Some important axioms which can serve as the basis for great truths.”127 In that short chapter, Arnauld lists eleven “axioms” which he considered the most useful as the starting points for expanding knowledge. The first seven affirm normal Cartesian types of internal knowledge, such as “clear and distinct” ideas of existence, cause, perfection, and motion. Axioms eight and nine state that mysteries will always exist because of the insurmountable mathematical proportion of a finite mind’s relation to the infinite mind of God. Axiom ten touches on a external knowledge, that which has been revealed to the finite mind by divine testimony. Divine testimony is absolutely certain.
The testimony of one who is infinitely powerful, infinitely wise, infinitely good, and infinitely truthful must persuade our minds more powerfully than the most convincing reasons. We can be more certain that the infinitely intelligent is not deceived and that the infinitely good does not deceive us than we are that we are not deceived in the most clear things.128
Axioms eight through ten deal with “the ground of faith” and the eleventh with human testimony. The first seven axioms deal with “internal” and the last four with “external” testimony. In Ramist terms: the former are “artificial” and the latter “inartificial.”
Following the idiosyncratic tradition as it had already developed in logic textbooks, Arnauld made it clear that the product of testimony is faith not science; however, he goes so far as to insist that faith based on divine testimony is actually more certain than science. This does not make sense and can be dismissed as a rhetorical flourish—if science is absolute knowledge, how can there be more-than-absolute knowledge? Brattle would use the same rhetoric. Arnauld had been more careful in an earlier section that pointed out that the distinction between science and faith is a distinction in method, not in the level of certainty attained. The first method is demonstrative from internal axioms known within each human. The second method is external, using knowledge gained through the complex means of testimony, tradition, and divine confirmation.
The essential epistemology undergirding The Port-Royal Logic is Christian. God is actively communicating with individual minds and has communicated collectively throughout history. Why was it important to have God communicate both internally and externally? It would have been less complicated epistemologically to have God implant Christian doctrine internally. Arnauld offers an answer that is similar to Richardson’s but Arnauld’s is from a Roman Catholic perspective. Arnauld’s answer places more emphasis on God’s desire to keep each individual humble and submissive to the church. Arnauld further explained that the internal and external means of knowing shows God’s love for the simple-minded in that “God, willing that a knowledge of the mysteries of faith be accessible to the simplest of the faithful, had the goodness to accommodate himself to this weakness of the human mind.” God “did not make this knowledge depend upon the individual examination of each point proposed for belief, but instead he gave as a certain sign of the truth the authority of the universal Church.”129 Like God, “The universal Church cannot err.”130
As with Richardson, God has three epistemological roles, but the role of the Holy Spirit is tied more closely to an authoritative church. God’s first role is implanting axioms in the mind. The second is giving specific testimony to certain individuals who pass it on through various means such as Scripture and ecclesiastical tradition. The third is guaranteeing the divinity of the divine testimony being passed through human communities. The “universal Church” that cannot err in its role as guarantor of a testimony’s divinity was, in the mind of seventeenth-century thinkers such as Arnauld and Bishop Bossuet, an earthly extension of the Holy Spirit. God in the person of the Holy Spirit directs the “universal Church”—not necessarily any one geographic or historical bureaucracy—which validates divine testimony.
G. Cartesian Logic in British Textbooks
The Port-Royal Logic was amazingly popular and influential considering its roots in a dissident and suppressed group of Roman Catholics, and its author forced to live in exile.131 Forty-four French editions of The Port-Royal Logic were published on the Continent in the two hundred years after it was first published in 1662. Eighteen of those were in the eighteenth century and ten in the nineteenth. There were twelve translations into Latin and, in the eighteenth century, translations into Spanish and Italian. Twelve editions were published in England: eight in English and four in Latin.132
Important for Morton’s logic and especially Brattle’s was another popular Cartesian logic that drew from The Port-Royal Logic by another suppressed Roman Catholic: the Institutio Philosophiae secundum Principia D. Renati DesCartes, Nova Methodo adornata et explicata, In usum juventatis Academicae by Anthony LeGrand. First published in 1672, the logic portion of the text was only the first sixty-eight pages of a four-hundred and sixty-page octavo volume. In 1680, LeGrand gready expanded the text by publishing a more sumptuous quarto edition. In the latter form this large textbook went through four editions in England between 1680 and 1694, and another four on the Continent. The final 1694 edition was an English translation titled An Entire Body of Philosophy.133 In the 1680 edition, LeGrand rewrote the logic section to more closely follow The Port-Royal Logic. As stated in the Latin title, the Institutio was written for young scholars. The book was a missionary venture written by a Roman Catholic in England who hoped to stem the tide of skepticism in that country.
Very little is known about Anthony (Antoine) LeGrand (1629–99).134 He was born and educated in Douai, France, where he joined the Recollects, a strict branch of the Franciscan Order. He was apparently motivated by a spiritual zeal common in seventeenth-century France. Francis de Sales, Vincent de Paul, and Blaise Pascal were only three of the more famous individuals caught up in the fervor. The Trappists, Carmelites, and Sulpicians flourished as more rigorous and more spiritually-minded branches of old orders. The Jansenists flourished even though officially suppressed. The Recollect branch of the Franciscans along with the Jesuits devoted themselves to missionary work abroad.
In accord with the missionary zeal of his order, LeGrand accepted a post in the heart of enemy territory: Oxfordshire, England. From 1656 until his death forty-three years later, LeGrand worked among the Roman Catholics around Oxfordshire and London where he probably served as a tutor to many young Roman Catholics. Christian missionary activity often emphasizes education; however, LeGrand could not establish a formal school like missionaries in other countries because the Roman Catholics were politically suppressed in England. He could, though, publish the textbook In usum juventatis Academicae for the use of students in the Protestant schools of England.
There is a missionary quality to LeGrand’s logic textbook. It was written without reference to specifically Roman Catholic doctrines such as eucharistic transubstantiation; yet it demanded that those seeking knowledge must follow the example of the Roman Catholic “Renatus Descartes...who by a method, before his time but imperfectly known, restored philosophy from the very foundations, opening a sure and solid way to mankind into the inmost recesses of nature.”135 While advocating Descartes, the Institutio also lifted whole sections from The Port-Royal Logic, leaving out those examples that would offend a Protestant reader. LeGrand probably desired to accomplish two goals: first, to diminish the influence of skepticism in England and, second, to surrepticiously build a Roman Catholic foundation under the intellects of English students. The latter goal rested on a premise similar to one held by Arnauld—set people on the course of right thinking and it will lead them eventually to the “universal Church,” which was Roman Catholic, not Protestant.
Cartesianism does not seem to have converted many English Protestants to Catholicism; however, it did make its way into the English universities and later dissenting academies. Cartesianism reached England soon after Descartes published the Discourse, and translations and editions of the Discourse were soon “adopted as texts in the English Universities.”136 Cambridge University was especially open to the new philosophy. A former student of St. Johns College published a poem in 1649 attacking the “harsh abstract logical notions” of scholastic philosophy and praised the Cartesian for its “use in the affairs of life.”137 In 1659, Cambridge’s Henry More wrote in his book-length proof for The Immortality of the Soul that he wished “to encourage the reading of Descartes in all public schools or universities.”138 Sterling Lamprecht believes that the popularity of Cartesianism grew in stages, with an eager, youthful embrace of the “new philosophy” in the 1640s and 50s, then criticism of Cartesianism rising in the 1660s and 70s. Even during the period of criticism, however, Cartesianism was still popular at Cambridge.139 The truth of this is evident from the letters of Roger North who, when he entered Jesus College in 1667, reported:
I found such a stir, about Descartes, some railing at him, and forbidding the reading of him, as if he had impugned the very Gospel, and yet there was a general inclination, especially in the brisk part of the university, to use him, which made me conclude, there was somewhat extraordinary in him, which I resolved to find out, and at length did so....Nothing gained on my judgment, as to his Piece de Methode, but the rule of not building upon doubts, but first to find out what is most clear, and then as from a foundation, proceed to other matters, as far as you can walk, with like clearness.140
It was just a few years after North wrote this that LeGrand’s Institutio became available, and by 1692, it was reported by Anthony Wood that LeGrand was “a Cartesian philosopher of great note” and that his text was “much read in Cambridge.”141
Cartesian logic in the form of the Insitutio and The Port-Royal Logic seems to have also been much studied in the dissenting academies, semi-secret schools for dissenters from the Anglican church. Because of their precarious existence, we have very little record of their textbooks; however, Charles Morton’s leading dissenting academy had both of these logic texts available and Morton, himself, knew them well. J. W. Ashley Smith transcribes available lists of known textbooks used at different academies in his The Birth of Modern Education: The Contribution of the Dissenting Academies 1660–1800.142 The earliest list Smith found was one used sometime before 1698 and shows the typical humanist layering of Ramist, Aristotelian, and Cartesian logic in a curriculum much like that at Harvard. The textbooks were by Heereboord, Burgersdicius, Milton, and Ramus along with what Smith transcribed as Ars Cogitanda. Smith cited Jean LeClerc as the author of the Ars Cogitanda; however, the text was most likely Arnauld’s Ars Cogitandi. Jean LeClerc wrote Logica, sive Ars Ratiocinandi, which was published in London in 1692. (Another list from around 1700 includes what Smith again calls the Ars Cogitanda.143) Available evidence points to extensive dissemination and use of The Port-Royal Logic in dissenting academies, with at least Morton’s using the Institutio.
The “stir” about Descartes and the “railing at him” that North saw at Cambridge in 1667 came primarily from neo-Aristotelians whose rantings continued throughout the rest of the century. There were two famous critics of Cartesian logic in the 1690s, both of whom illustrate the sort of Aristotelian criticism in vogue at the end of the century. Their point of attack was on the dogmatic and religious character of The Port-Royal Logic, the Institutio, and Cartesianism in general. John Sergeant (1622–1707) in his The Method of Science (1696) and Solid Philosophy Asserted, Against the Fancies of the Ideists (1697), and Henry Aldrich (1648–1710) in his Artis Logicae Compendium (1692) both named The Port-Royal Logic as a principal source of the popularity of wrong-headed Cartesian logic; Sergeant went after LeGrand’s logic too.144 Both men feared that Cartesianism would encourage fanatical religion in England.
Sergeant’s texts were meant to reform the curricula at the two English universities by attacking The Port-Royal Logic and the Institutio. Sergeant allowed that Arnauld’s text had retained much from scholastic logic, but “it has many unproved suppositions, and bare sayings without offering any proof.” Sergeant wrote of the Institutio: “Mr. LeGrand’s method says much, but proves little; and I believe both [Descartes] and himself, did first consider and survey the whole scheme of their doctrine, and then fitted their logic to it, which is preposterous and praeternatural.” Sergeant also criticized The Tort-Royal Logic for having a pre-set agenda: that Arnauld and whoever else contributed to the text “calculated it for that particular sort of philosophy they had espoused which could bear no evidence.”145
Sergeant declared that Aristotelian logic was more rigorous, careful, and productive because it emphasized syllogisms and did not get caught up in dreamy subjectivity. Descartes’s logic was especially dreamy he thought. In the preface to both The Method of Science and Solid Philosophy Asserted, Sergeant called Descartes and his followers fanatics and enthusiasts and wrote that their Cartesianism would cause and support other fanatics and enthusiasts. With histrionic language, Sergeant warned that Cartesianism had “dilated itself into diverse nations; and his scholars and followers are of such eminent rank and name” that the philosophy must be stopped. Although correctly noting that Cartesianism relied on “inward means” to knowledge, he found this the “method of fanatics.” Like Leibniz’s characterization of Cartesianism as “Take what you need, and do as you should, and you will get what you want,” Sergeant characterized Cartesianism as “spiritual alchemy” based on “whimsical fancies” ultimately bringing “a kind of enthusiasm to philosophy.” And for the most cutting critique: “Was ever such Quakerism heard among philosophers?”146 Sergeant reminded his readers in several works that Descartes discovered “I think, therefore, I am” in a manner not befitting an English gentleman. Descartes “fell for some few days, into a spice of enthusiasm; nay, was brimfull of it; and fancied he had visions and revelations so much that he seemed crack-brained, or to have drunk a cup too much.”147
Like Sergeant, Aldrich warned against The Port-Royal Logic. Aldrich reported its Jansenist roots and described the dogmatic mind of its author. The Port-Royal Logic abounds in declamations, Aldrich wrote, “a great many of them superfluous, and all of them arrogant.” He continued: “Everything which [Arnauld] puts forth on his own behalf, he pronounces haughtily, as if ex cathedra;” and “he perspires in explaining them as if he were giving assistance to a collapsing world.”148
Sergeant and Aldrich were right—by the standards of moderate skepticism in England. Aldrich’s characterization of Arnauld’s logic begins to offer an description of the people who appreciated The Port-Royal Logic and an explanation for that appreciation. Sergeant and Aldrich feared that Cartesianism could too easily be put to use by those they considered fanatics—Quakers, Puritans, and Jansenists. But Sergeant and Aldrich are unfair to condemn only Cartesian logic. Ramist logic, as we have seen, could be designed to serve the cause of Puritan “fanatics.” And so too could Aristotelian logic.
Sergeant was himself sometimes considered a fanatic, and he was a member of a group of Roman Catholic thinkers, the Blackloists, who promoted Aristotelian logic for the cause of their true religion. Sergeant had converted to Roman Catholicism after college and become a priest. As a Blackloist, he was allied with Kenhelm Digby (1603–1665), who is cited and quoted by both Morton and Brattle. The name Blackloists came from their leader, Thomas White, who sometimes used the alias Blacklo.149 White’s own logic, Controversy-Logicke, or the Method to Come to Truth in Debates of Religion (Paris, 1659, enlarged second edition Roan: 1674), was more a Roman Catholic polemic than a logic textbook.
Digby introduced Thomas White to Descartes around 1644, and both men initially had high hopes for Cartesianism as a foundation for rational Christianity against the mitigated skepticism of the Anglicans. Digby and White, however, eventualy withdrew their support from Cartesianism and devoted themselves to Aristotelianism.150 The essential reasons that such thinkers first embraced Descartes and then pulled back into Aristotelianism involved the implications of Cartesianism on the corporeality of angels, resurrected bodies, and Roman Catholic understanding of the Eucharist. Cartesianism’s separation of spirit and matter seemed to destroy the concept of spiritual substance necessary for an orthodox Christian understanding of bodily resurrection and the Eucharist. Also, the role of the senses in gaining knowledge seemed lacking in Cartesianism. Aristotelianism, on the other hand, did not threaten these Christian doctrines and offered a solid foundation against skepticism in the ten Aristotelian categories. The categories delineated characteristics which separated subjects: a number cannot be a substance, an apple cannot be the opposite of a stone, a color cannot be an action.151 Categories were sources of absolute certainty useful, among other things, in counteracting assertions of skeptics who doubted the capability of attaining knowledge. Thomas White and the Blackloists relied on the categories as the basis of human certainty to oppose rising skepticism in England.152 Sergeant and Morton followed.
The neo-Aristotelianism of the late seventeenth century could be turned to “fanatical” use just as could Ramism and Cartesianism. Puritans and Blackloists were dissenters in England and shared the same desire to undermine the rising skepticism of the era with dogmatically-inclined logic.
To sum up, a special branch of humanistic logics was created by Melanchthon which was religiously-oriented, and the logics that followed after him can be divided according to the extent that they emphasize the foundations of dogmatic certainty in both internal and external knowledge, knowledge implanted in the mind by God, and knowledge from testimony which has its certainty confirmed by the Holy Spirit. This idiosyncratic tradition comprises logics from each of the era’s dominant types: Aristotelian, Ramist, and Cartesian. The more dogmatic of these logics were for the most part founded by those of strict Augustinian tendencies such as Melanchthon, Richardson, and Arnauld, who emphasized predestination and the necessity of grace in order to use logic rightly and to its fullest potential.
The Puritans were a community of rational Christians using logic. They chose the logics to be taught in their schools with an eye towards supporting their community. In the late seventeenth century, they moved away from Ramist logic and experimented with Aristotelian and Cartesian logics in an effort to find a logic better able to support them in troubled times. Morton and Brattle offered the two most viable options which drew from different parts of the Melanchthon-Richardson-Keckermann-Arnauld tradition of logic.