Ancient Worlds, Modern Reflections: Philosophical Perspectives on Greek and Chinese Science and Culture

By Geoffrey Lloyd | Go to book overview

9 For Example and Against

The example of example provides us with a further opportunity to examine contrasting styles of reasoning and to probe the issues we raised in Chapter 4 concerning the cross-cultural applicability of the notion of a common logic. The modes of use of exemplification are as many and varied as those of classification. There is the example as an instance of a general rule, as an illustration of, or as support for, one; there is example as a model or pattern, as an ideal to follow or a counter-ideal to avoid—where we may compare the Kuhnian notion of a paradigm, as an exemplar that serves to guide a whole research programme; there are examples used in comparisons, where they may have the role of, or be incorporated in, analogies. We have examples used for the purposes of instruction, of edification, of heuristics, of proof, in grammar, logic, mathematics, the law, medicine, technology, architecture, military strategy, politics, morality, literary style—to name just some of the fields in which they may figure.

The aim of this study is to assess the strong and weak points of those varied uses and thereby throw light on the corresponding styles of enquiry that they help to constitute. One of the key questions, in that regard, relates to the degree of explicitness expected or demanded in sequences of argument. We can, through the study of example, trace the effects of the formulation of certain rules governing inference. This will turn out to be not a matter of a contrast between two supposedly alternative formal logics (the issue I discussed in Chapter 4) so much as one between more formal and more informal modes of reasoning. Once certain canons of validity have been set up, they can be appealed to in order to privilege certain modes of argument and downgrade others that do not meet their standards. But deductive rigour and explicitness have, as we shall see, their drawbacks as well as their strengths, in the varying contexts of argument that we have to consider.

In our analysis of informal techniques of persuasion, we shall need to

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Ancient Worlds, Modern Reflections: Philosophical Perspectives on Greek and Chinese Science and Culture
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Ancient Worlds, Modern Reflections iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • 1: Understanding Ancient Societies 1
  • 2: Science in Ancient Civilizations? 12
  • 3: Carving Out Territories 24
  • 4: A Common Logic? 39
  • 5: Searching for Truth 52
  • 6: The Questionability of Belief 64
  • 7: Styles of Enquiry and the Question of a Common Ontology 76
  • 8: The Use and Abuse of Classification 93
  • 9: For Example and Against 118
  • 10: Universities 142
  • 11: Human Nature and Human Rights 155
  • 12: A Critique of Democracy 169
  • Conclusion 188
  • Glossary of Chinese and Greek Terms Chinese 196
  • Notes on Editions 197
  • References 200
  • Index 213
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