1902 Encyclopedia > Analytic Judgements

Analytic Judgments




ANALYTIC JUDGMENTS have been distinguished under that name, in opposition to Synthetic, since the time of Kant. It was necessary, for the purposes of his critical inquiry into the principles of human knowledge, that he should carefully determine the character of those assertions which metaphysicians had so freely made respecting the supernatural, and he found them to be such that, while the predicate was added on to the subject, not involved in it, the connection was affirmed as necessary and universal. He therefore called them, as well as other assertions of like character in mathematics and pure physics, synthetic judgments a priori, and the aim of his critical inquiry came to be the determining of the conditions under which such judgments were possible. Now, as differing from these, he noted two classes of judgments : (1), such as in the predicate added indeed to the content of the subject, but only empirically, as, for example, Bodies have weight, and these he called synthetic a posteriori; (2), such as were indeed necessary and universal, but added nothing to the content of the subject, as, for example, Bodies are extended, and these he called analytic.

The general distinction of analytic and synthetic judg-ments has a value apart from the specific character of those (synthetic) judgments in which Kant was most interested, and for the sake of which mainly it was fixed by him. Trained in the metaphysics of the Leibnitzo-Wolffian school, which marked off necessary judgments from those of simple fact without considering the kinds of necessity, Kant, when he came, by the route that can be traced in his earlier works, to apprehend the difference between merely logical analysis and real synthesis in thought, applied it almost exclusively to those judgments for which a character of necessity was claimed. He therefore noticed traces of the distinction in other thinkers, as Locke, only in so far as there was a suggestion also of this special reference. In truth, the general distinction, under a variety of expres-sions, was familiar to both Hume and Locke, and it had already been drawn by the ancients. The old doctrine of the Predicables, in distinguishing the essential predication of genus, species, and difference from the non-essential predication of property and accident, plainly involves it; making besides, as between the last two predicables, a distinction which is very closely related to that drawn by Kant between the a priori and a posteriori synthetic. From the nominalistic point of view it is expressed by the difference of Verbal and Real propositions, as in Mill's Logic, and also often in Locke.





While the synthetic judgment, as the name inxplies, brings together in thought two distinct concepts, each of which may be thought apart, the analytic judgment is merely the explication of a single concept in the form of a proposition. It is disputed what may be the ground of synthesis in different cases, but on all hands it is agreed that the logical Law of Contradiction is the controlling prin-ciple for the explication of concepts already in the mind, however they may have come there. Now the explication may be made either completely or partially, according as the whole or part only of the intension of the concept is set forth : in other words, the aim may be to give the definition (where, in the full sense, that is possible), or simply to express any one or more of the contained attributes. Pro-positions giving such partial explication are spoken of by Locke as " trifling;" and it is true that, if the concept is supposed already in the mind, no increase of knowledge is thereby obtained. This word, however, is unfortunate. Not to say that it is equally applicable to definitions, where the explication is only more complete, it tends to keep out of view the fact that analytic judgments, when not arbi-trarily formed, are themselves—or rather the concepts, of which they are the explications, are—the permanent result or deposit of foregone real synthesis. So much, indeed, is this the case with concepts of things in nature—what Mill calls natural kinds—that in them a constant process of accretion is going on; new attributes, as they are discovered, being taken up into the essence, if they are at the same time characteristic and undcrived. Much also that is mere explication to one mind is real information to another.

The terms Analytic and Synthetic, thus applied to judg-ments, are so expressive in themselves that they have now come into general use. It is, however, a serious drawback to such an association of the terms, that it traverses what is otherwise the consistent use of the words analysis and synthesis in relation to each other. As the article ANALYSIS has shown, there is a synthesis which, as much as any analysis, is purely logical, and there is an analysis which, as much as any synthesis, is a means of real advance in knowledge.

The terms Explicative (Erlauterungsurtheile) and Ampliative (Erweiterungsurtheile), also employed by Kant, while not less expressive, are open to no such objection, (G. C. E.)







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