Discourse. Discursus. Mediate or syllogistic, as distinct both from
immediate inference, and from intuition. It means a running about, a
passing from one thing to another, which of course describes the mental
process in syllogising. The term is applied both to the act of
reasoning, and to the faculty by which it is performed. Thus in the
latter use, we have Shakespeare's
" A beast that wants
Discourse of reason,"
" Sure He that made us with such large discourse ;"
and we have the well-known passage of Milton,
" Whence the soul
Reason receives, and Reason is her being
intuitive ; discourse
Is oftest your's, the latter most is our's."
These citations taken from well-known literature show sufficiently the
received sense of the word, as it will be found employed in Hooker and
our standard philosophical writers. By an easy transition it comes to
denote the expression of connected thought, and we call grave
conversation discourse, and a sermon or essay a discourse.