Saturday, January 19, 2013

Theological Intimation as Logical Heuristic

It consists with all that we know of the uniformity of Nature, and all that we believe of the immutable constancy of the Author of Nature, to suppose, that in the mind, which has been endowed with such high capabilities, not only for converse with surrounding scenes, but for the knowledge of itself, and for reflection upon the laws of its own constitution, there should exist a harmony and uniformity not less real than that which the study of the physical sciences makes known to us. Anticipations such as this are never to be made the primary rule of our inquiries, nor are they in any degree to divert us from those labours of patient research by which we ascertain what is the actual constitution of things within the particular province submitted to investigation. But when the grounds of resemblance have been properly and independently determined, it is not inconsistent, even with purely scientific ends, to make that resemblance a subject of meditation, to trace its extent, and to receive the intimations of truth, yet undiscovered, which it may seem to us to convey. The necessity of a final appeal to fact is not thus set aside, nor is the use of analogy extended beyond its proper sphere,—the suggestion of relations which independent inquiry must either verify or cause to be rejected.

Boole, An Investigation of the Laws of Thought, Chapter XI, section 1. Of course, this is tied to Boole's conception of logic as being an investigation of the theory of intellectual powers in the same sense that the physics of his day was seen as the theory of physical causes.

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