Henry Craik, ed. English Prose. 1916. Vol. I. Fourteenth to Sixteenth Century
The Uses of Logic
By Reginald Pecock (c. 13951460)
From Repressour, Part I.
THAT I be the better and the clearer understood of the lay people in some words to be after spoken in this present book, I set now before to them this doctrine taken shortly out of the faculty of logic. An argument, if he be full and formal, which is cleped a syllogism, is made of two propositions, driving out of them, and by strength of them, the third proposition. Of the which three propositions the two first be cleped premisses, and the third following out of them is cleped the conclusion of them. And the first of those two premisses is cleped the first premiss, and the second of them is cleped the second premiss. And each such argument is of this kind, that if the both premisses be true the conclusion concluded out, and by them, is also true; and but if evereither of those premisses be true, the conclusion is not true. Ensample thereof is this: Each man is at Rome, the Pope is a man, eke the Pope is at Rome. So here be set forth two propositions, which be these: Each man is at Rome, and The Pope is a man; and these be the two premisses in this argument, and they drive out the third proposition, which is this: The Pope is at Rome, and it is the conclusion of the two premisses. Wherefore, certes, if any man can be sicker for any time that these two premisses be true, he may be sicker that the conclusion is true, though all the angels in heaven would say, and hold that, thilk conclusion were not true. And this is a general rule in every good and formal and full argument, that if his premisses be known for true the conclusion ought be avowed for true, whatever creature will say the contrary.
What properties and conditions be required to an argument, that he be full and formal and good, is taught in logic by full, fair, and sure rules, and may not be taught of me here in this present book. But would God it were learned of all the common people in their mothers language, for then they should thereby be put from much rudeness and boisterousness which they have now in reasoning; and then they should soon know and perceive when a skile1 and an argument bindeth and when he not bindeth, that is to say, when he concludeth and proveth his conclusion, and when he not so doeth; and then they should keep themselves the better from falling into errors, and they might the sooner come out of errors by hearing of arguments made to them, if they into any errors were fallen; and then they should not be so blunt and so rude and informal and boisterous in reasoning, and that both in their arguing and in their answering, as they now be; and then should they not be so obstinate against clerks and against their prelates, as some of them now be, for default of perceiving when an argument proceedeth into his conclusion of needs, and when he not so doeth, but seemeth only so do.2 And much good would come forth if a short compendious logic were devised for all the common people in their mothers language; and, certes, to men of court, learning the kings law of England in these days, thilk now said short compendious logic were full precious. Into whose making, if God will grant leave and leisure, I purpose sometime after mine other business for to essay.