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Francis Garden - 1878 - Table of contents

Diccionario filosófico
Complete edition

Diccionario de Filosofía
Brief definition of the most important concepts of philosophy.


A Dictionary of English Philosophical Terms Francis Garden

Vocabulary of Philosophy, Psychological, Ethical, Metaphysical
William Fleming

Biografías y semblanzas Biographical references and lives of philosophers

Brief introduction to the thought of Ortega y Gasset

History of Philosophy Summaries

Historia de la Filosofía
Explanation of the thought of the great philosophers; summaries, exercises...

Historia de la Filosofía
Digital edition of the History of Philosophy by Jaime Balmes

Historia de la Filosofía
Digital edition of the History of Philosophy by Zeferino González

Vidas, opiniones y sentencias de los filósofos más ilustres
Complete digital edition of the work of Diogenes Laertius

Compendio de las vidas de los filósofos antiguos

A brief history of Greek Philosophy
B. C. Burt


A Short History of Philosophy





Method. (Μέθοδος a transit, a following after, from μετά and ὁδός.) The word is used by Plato both for a scientific inquiry, and for the mode of prosecuting such, in which latter sense it has continued to this day. In a kindred one it is applied to practical action. One man is said to be methodical in the management of business, another not. It is, however, with the question of acquiring knowledge or prosecuting science that we are at present concerned, and for success in either it will not be disputed that method is requisite. It becomes therefore important to know what it is.


Method is to be distinguished from order. Any arrangement, any assignment to each thing of a particular place, no matter how irrespective of the relations of the things to each other, comes under the head of order. Method on the other hand demands that the arrangement should be in accordance with those relations. "Methodus differt ab ordine; quia ordo facit ut unam rem diseamus post aliam; methodus ut unam per aliam."(1)

There are two great constituents of method which move counter to each other, but whose combination is essential to the attainment of science. These are analysis and synthesis. By the former process we resolve a whole into its constituent elements; by the latter we combine those elements into the whole. The movements no doubt are counter to each other, but the operation of both is essential to the attainment of real knowledge. In the choice of these processes, we must be greatly influenced by our aim. Method is requisite both for the acquisition and for the communication of knowledge. It will sometimes happen that the methods for each are counter to each other. I have constructed by synthesis the result into which varying elements combine. That result stands before my disciple, and the aim is to exhibit to him the different elements which in their combination produce it. Or I analyze the object before me into its elements, this done, I teach best by putting those elements together, and displaying to the learner the result into which they combine.

An anticipatory idea, a point of departure is also requisite, as Coleridge has shown to method. This he illustrates in a comparison between educated, and uneducated, utterance.

The name methodist has been applied to two very different sets of persons. The physicians in ancient times who grounded their practice entirely by rule and system were called μεθοδικοί, which pretty much answers to our word methodists. (See Dogma.) And the modern sect of Methodists received the title from the strict and exact methods of piety practised by Wesley and his friends at Oxford, their rigid observance of fasts and festivals, and the like.

The great treatises on method are that of Descartes, that in the Port Royal Logic, Coleridge Intr. to Encycl. Metropol., reprinted separately, and also to be found in the Friend, vol. III., and Sir W. Hamilton's Lectures on Logic, vol. II.


(1) Facciolati Rudimenta Logicœ, quoted by HAMILTON, Metaph. vol. I. p. 96.



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