chapter  III
8 Pages

THE POSITIVE NOTION OF ANALOGY

The scheme of intelligibility proper to the comparative method consists neither in identity nor in distinction. In the former case it would infer like laws from a multi­ plicity of facts : in the latter it would specify the irreducible originality of empirical data. It would lead up either to a science or a history. Comparative philosophy, though positive, will be neither the one nor the other. Its guiding principle will be analogy, reasoning in accordance with what in mathematics is called a proportion, that is to say, the equality between two ratios :—A is to B as Y is to Z . Such an equivalence is compatible with no matter how great an heterogeneity between A and Y, B and Z. To render evident such an equivalence it is by no means necessary to state explicitly the integral content of the four terms : an even superficial knowledge of them may be sufficient. To make use of an instance already hinted, and which will be justified in a later chapter, Confucius was in China that which Socrates was in Greece : he who frees the specula­ tion of his own time from a generalized sophistry ; he who, by application of a new organon, prepares new dogmatisms. But it stands to reason that, apart from the analogy in role, the one personage differs almost completely from the other, as does the Middle Kingdom from Hellas.