Autobiography and Selected Essays HTML version

General View Of The Remainder Of My Life
From this time, what is worth relating of my life will come into a very small compass; for
I have no further mental changes to tell of, but only, as I hope, a continued mental
progress; which does not admit of a consecutive history, and the results of which, if real,
will be best found in my writings. I shall, therefore, greatly abridge the chronicle of my
subsequent years.
The first use I made of the leisure which I gained by disconnecting myself from the
Review, was to finish the Logic. In July and August, 1838, I had found an interval in
which to execute what was still undone of the original draft of the Third Book. In
working out the logical theory of those laws of nature which are not laws of Causation,
nor corollaries from such laws, I was led to recognize kinds as realities in nature, and not
mere distinctions for convenience; a light which I had not obtained when the First Book
was written, and which made it necessary for me to modify and enlarge several chapters
of that Book. The Book on Language and Classification, and the chapter on the
Classification of Fallacies, were drafted in the autumn of the same year; the remainder of
the work, in the summer and autumn of 1840. From April following to the end of 1841,
my spare time was devoted to a complete rewriting of the book from its commencement.
It is in this way that all my books have been composed. They were always written at least
twice over; a first draft of the entire work was completed to the very end of the subject,
then the whole begun again de novo; but incorporating, in the second writing, all
sentences and parts of sentences of the old draft, which appeared as suitable to my
purpose as anything which I could write in lieu of them. I have found great advantages in
this system of double redaction. It combines, better than any other mode of composition,
the freshness and vigour of the first conception, with the superior precision and
completeness resulting from prolonged thought. In my own case, moreover, I have found
that the patience necessary for a careful elaboration of the details of composition and
expression, costs much less effort after the entire subject has been once gone through, and
the substance of all that I find to say has in some manner, however imperfect, been got
upon paper. The only thing which I am careful, in the first draft, to make as perfect as I
am able, is the arrangement. If that is bad, the whole thread on which the ideas string
themselves becomes twisted; thoughts placed in a wrong connection are not expounded in
a manner that suits the right, and a first draft with this original vice is next to useless as a
foundation for the final treatment.
During the re-writing of the Logic, Dr. Whewell's Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences
made its appearance; a circumstance fortunate for me, as it gave me what I greatly
desired, a full treatment of the subject by an antagonist, and enabled me to present my
ideas with greater clearness and emphasis as well as fuller and more varied development,
in defending them against definite objections, or confronting them distinctly with an
opposite theory. The controversies with Dr. Whewell, as well as much matter derived
from Comte, were first introduced into the book in the course of the re-writing.