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WILLIAM FLEMING - 1890 - Table of contents

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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





ANALOGY (ἀναλογία, proportion).—An argument from Analogy is a defensive argument, in support of any suggested hypothesis, drawn from similarity of phenomena recognised in different relations. The argument from analogy is not constructive in nature, being competent only for defence, or suggestion.

 It has been "defined 'the similarity of ratios or relations.' It is the inference that, because two phenomena resemble in some points, therefore they resemble in all. Its value depends on the importance of the points of resemblance observed, and on their proportion to the points of difference and to the whole points. In popular language we extend the word to resemblances of things as well as relations. Analogy in this sense has exercised an immense influence on the formation of language. In innumerable cases visible or tangible things lend their names to invisible and spiritual, from a resemblance more or less striking between them" (Thomson, Laws of Thought, 3rd ed., p. 327).


"Analogy does not mean the similarity of two things, but the similarity or sameness of two relations... If A has the same relation to B which C has to D, then there is an analogy. If the first relation be well known, it may serve to explain the second, which is less known; and the transfer of name from one of the terms in the relation best known to its corresponding term in the other, causes no confusion, but on the contrary tends to remind us of the similarity that exists in these relations, and so assists the mind, instead of misleading it" (Coplestone, Four Discourses, p. 122).

"As analogy is the resemblance of ratios (or relations), two things may be connected by analogy, though they have in themselves no resemblance; thus as a sweet taste gratifies the palate, so does a sweet sound gratify the ear, and hence the same word, 'sweet,' is applied to both, though no flavour can resemble a sound in itself. To bear this in mind would serve to guard us against two very common errors in the interpretation of the analogical language of Scripture:—(1) The error of supposing the things themselves to be similar, from their bearing similar relation to other things; (2) the still more common error of supposing the analogy to extend further than it does, or to be more complete than it really is, from not considering in what the analogy in each case consists" (Whately, Logic, bk. III. sec. 10).

"The meaning of analogy is resemblance, and hence all reasoning from one case to others resembling it might be termed analogical; but the word is usually confined to cases where the resemblance is of a slight or indirect kind. We do not say that a man reasons from analogy when he infers that a stone projected into the air will fall to the ground. The circumstances are so essentially similar to those which have been experienced a thousand times, that we call the cases identical, not analogical. But when Sir Isaac Newton, reflecting on the tendency of bodies at the surface of the earth to the centre, inferred that the moon had the same tendency, his reasoning, in the first instance, was analogical.

"By some writers the term has been restricted to the resemblance of relations: thus knowledge is said to bear the same relation to the mind as light to the eye—to enlighten it. But although the term is very properly applied to this class of resemblances, I think it is not generally confined to them" (Sam. Bailey, Discourses, p. 181, 8vο, London, 1852).

Berkeley distinguishes between Metaphorical and proper anology. "Analogy is a Greek word used by mathematicians to signify a similitude of proportions. For instance, when we observe that two is to six as three is to nine, this similitude or equality of proportion is termed analogy. And, although proportion strictly signifies the habitude or relation of one quantity to another, yet, in a looser and translated sense, it hath been applied to signify every other habitude, and consequently the term analogy, all similitude of relations or habitudes whatsoever. Hence the schoolmen tell us there is analogy between intellect and sight; forasmuch as intellect is to the mind what sight is to the body: and that he who governs the state is analogous to him who steers a ship. Hence a prince is analogically styled a pilot, being to the state as a pilot is to his vessel. For the further clearing of this point, it is to be observed, that a twofold analogy is distinguished by the schoolmen metaphorical and proper. Of the first kind there are frequent instances in Holy Scripture, attributing human parts and passions to God. When He is represented as having a finger, an eye, or an ear; when He is said to repent, to be angry, or grieved, every one sees the analogy is merely metaphorical; because these parts and passions, taken in the proper signification, must in every degree necessarily, and from the formal nature of the thing, include imperfection. When, therefore, it is said the finger of God appears in this or that event, men of common sense mean no more, but that it is as truly ascribed to God as the works wrought by human fingers are to man; and so of the rest. But the case is different when wisdom and knowledge are attributed to God. Passions and senses, as such, imply defect; but in knowledge simply, or as such, there is no defect. Knowledge, therefore, in the proper formal meaning of the word, may be attributed to God proportionally, that is, preserving a proportion to the infinite nature of God. We may say, therefore, that as God is infinitely above man, so is the knowledge of God infinitely above the knowledge of man, and this is what Cajetan calls analogia proprie facta. And after the same analogy we must understand all those attributes to belong to the Deity, which in themselves simply, and as such, denote perfection" (Berkeley, Min. Phil., Dialog. 4; Fraser, Selections from Berkeley, 2nd ed., pi 258).

Kant, in his Transcendental Analytic, bk. II. ch. II. sec. 3, treats of "Analogies of Experience," saying that "experience is possible only through the representation of a necessary connection of perceptions." The analogies of experience referred to are these three—the permanence of substances through all changes in phenomena,—all changes take place according to the law of the connection of cause and effect,— all substances perceived in space, coexist in a state of complete reciprocity of action (Critique of Pure Reason, Meiklejohn, p. 132; Max Müller, II. 155).

Analogy and Induction.—In Induction we argue from some cases observed to all cases of the same phenomena. In Analogy we argue from partial to complete resemblance between two cases, from some points observed to resemble to all points (Locke, On Human Understanding, bk. IV. ch. XVI. sec. 12; Butler, Analogy of Religion; Beattie's Essay on Truth, pt. I. ch. II. sec. 7; Stewart's Elements, vol. II. ch. IV. sec. 4; Stewart's Essays, V. ch. III.; Mill, Logic, bk. III. ch. XX.; Ueberweg, Logic, p. 491, transl.).



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