This little book is in Basic English. It is a first attempt to put some chief parts of the science which has rightly been named ' the key to knowledge ' into the new language which is becoming month by month the international language of the Earth. For those who have no knowledge of Basic, a list of books about it has been printed on the last page. The rules for working the 850 words, here used (all of which are printed at the front, on one side of a bit of business notepaper) are given in Basic English and in the ABC ; and the different forms and uses of the words themselves are made clear in The Basic Words.

I. A. R. Magdalene College, Cambridge


An idea in the mind is to a Natural Law as the power of seeing is to light. S. T. Coleridge, on Shakespeare's use of language.

The purpose of this book is to give a clear account of how we may best put our thought in order, of if we are not able quite to do this, how we may best make a serious attempt in this direction. To put our thoughts in order is to make them come into agreement with things, to make them give us a truer picture, a representative map or instrument for guiding our acts, so that men may give effect to as great a number of their desires as possible. The name of the general theory of how to do this is ' Logic '. As Bentham said, ' Logic is the art which has for its end (or purpose) the giving, in the best way, direction to the mind '.

A-- Charles Saunders Pierce --"Logic is the ethics of thinking, in the sense in which ethics is the bringing to bear of self control for the purpose of realizing our desires."). The senses of these chief words -- and their ways of working with or against one another -- are the rules of reason There are not (1) the sense and (2) rules for putting them together ; but the senses themselves give us, in their ways of acting, the rules of reason.


Let us take the most important word, in the theory of the comparison of senses and in the work of taking statements to bits for the purpose of comparison, and make lists of their chief senses. We will give numbers to these senses, so that we may put a finger on them, without trouble, when in the process of discussion it becomes necessary to give them separate attention. We will be able to see -- together and on one page -- the chief senses which may be coming into use at this point in the discussion. We will then see not only which tricks and twists we will have to keep in mind, but -- and this is more important -- the other possible theories.

The first reaction of most readers to number (12-112, 3-24 and so on) in pages put before them is normally fear mixed with disgust. It is hoped, however, that here the great help which such numbering gives in keeping different things separate will make you more kind to them. Without them I would be forced to make the discussion at least three times longer, and to say the same thing even more frequently than I do. A numbered list at the end of the book in which lists of all the senses of the key-words are printed together in their numbered order will make the necessary looking forward and back as little trouble as possible. These numbers are only names for the sense, names which make their positions in relation to one another clear to the eye. A number like 5-12 makes us see that the sense it is a name of is a division of sense 5-1 ; 9-211 and 9-212 are different divisions or special forms of 9-21 and so on.

I give in my account only some of the reasons for making the divisions where I do. The apparatus is a machine for separating the senses of other words when it is necessary to do so. The test of the value of our divisions is the amount of help they give us. It is important to keep in view this fact that we are not here putting on paper something which is given to us, so much as making a machine -- a machine for controlling thought which will let us do some things and keep us from doing other things. It is a good machine if it is of use to us ; any changes which will make it of more use to us will make it better. They are not able to be tested in any other way than this. If the reader is troubled by this word use here, a look at necessary, sense 17-12, in the list at the end of the book, may make the point clearer.

On the other hand, if it is to be of use, it is necessary to keep some of the divisions in the places in which our minds normally put them. The attempt to make a machine like this is, in fact, a way (and the best way) to the discovery of how our minds do their work. But, as we will see, our minds do their work in a number of different ways. They put the chief divisions, upon which all the other are dependent, in a number of different places for different purposes. So a number of different machines are possible and necessary. Very little of the theory of the connections between these possible machines has been worked out. The history of thought is still waiting for such a theory. The experts have had enough to do putting their machines together or attacking the machines of other experts. They have not made the right sort of comparisons, and their machines have not been put together for this purpose. This sad condition of our theories will seem very strange in the future, because the work is important. The histories of different nations make their ways of thought different ; and the fact that they are different will, in the end, be of value to us all. But there is no need for them to be out of all relation to one another ; as they are now. The machine which is put together in these pages is for the connection of different systems of thought -- of different men, nations, governments, sciences, religions, societies -- with one another. To get things into clear relations to one another we have first to take them to bits. But the purpose is new knowledge and new buildings, not destruction. This machine is only one of a number of possible machines ; it will be tested by the work which it lets us do.

The most important words in this machine are :

Theory of Knowledge. Theory of Connections. Theory of Instruments.
Though 1. Cause 9. Property 12.
Thing 2 . Effect. Is 13.
Fiction 3. Force. General 14 .
Fact 4 . Event. Special.
Knowledge 5. Law 10. Quality 15.
Belief 6. Part 11. Relation 16.
True 7. System. Necessary 17 .
Sense 8 . Change. Possible 18 .
. Same. Probable 18.
. . Sort.
. . Dregree.
. . Agreement.

The senses of the words int he last group, for example, have not quite the wide and free ways of being different from one another which those in the first group have. A group is a unit, but senses from all three of them have at times to be kept in view together. With accounts of the chief senses of these key-words before us on paper in clear lists, the worst troubles of all discussion will in a short time be seen to give the best chances for new discoveries. They will no longer be, as they are now causes of unfertile doubt and complex errors.


1-1 . In the widest sense, any event in the mind.
In this sense all the history of a mind is made up of thoughts; but for most purposes we have to make divisions between thoughts and feelings for example, or between thoughts and desires. Feelings and desires are equally events in the mind. So take as a narrower sense for thought :
1-2. An event in the mind which puts something before the mind.
Some writers say, or take as said, that the thing which is put, by thought, before the mind is a picture, or that, if it is not a picture, it is something which is like a picture in being a copy of something which is not before the mind (or in the mind) in this sense. These things which, on this theory, are before (in) the mind are frequently named images. For example, when we have a thought of a tree, we will be said to have an image (or picture) of a tree before the mind: and when we have a thought of a noise, we have an image (a copy) of the noise before us, and so on. This theory of images may be wrong.

A great number of persons say that they do not ever have images, and persons who sometimes have images say that they are able to have thoughts without having any images. Even those who make use of images in their thought say that their images are sometimes not at all like the things they are having thoughts of. So it is wise not to make our account of thoughts dependent on any theory of images but to say that what is before the mind in thought is in some way the thing which the thought is about and not only some picture or other copy of it in the mind. It will be clear that, if we say this.
A thought is of or about some thing and so it may be true (7-l) or false. A feeling or desire is not about something in the same way (when we are not, as we frequently are, giving to the words feeling or desire a sense which makes.


8-1 . A sense is a property of a thought. Two thoughts are different when they have different properties which make them thoughts of different sorts of things.
8-2 . Other quite different senses of sense are common. Seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, tasting are named senses, the five senses ; so is any way of getting knowledge which does not come under these heads but is of the same general sort. A use of sense which is nearer to the one we are making is that in which persons who are wise are said to have sense, that is, to have good sense.
8-3 . Good sense is, at least in part, a power to keep our thoughts, the senses of our words, in the right places. So there is a connection between the control of the senses of words and good sense. One who is not able to keep the senses of his words in order is said to be ' out of his senses '. In this sense, who among us is in them ?


We not only have thoughts of things, we have thoughts of them as being together or in connection one with the another, in a number of ways. Language here gives us an idea that the number of these ways in which we take things together is without any limit (unlimited). From very early days in the thought of the West (from Aristotle on) experts in the comparison of thoughts have been able to make short lists of headings, under one or other of winch any thought we have may be put. Let us see which are the most important forms of connection which we give to things in our thought. Four chief heads seem to be enough.

We have thoughts of :
A as being the cause of B or as caused by B.
A as being part of B or as having B as a part.
A as being in space or time relations to B.
A as being more or less like B.

A very great number of the connections used in thought, if taken to bits, may be seen to be made up of parts which have these forms. Or, if this is not the right account to give, we may at least say that by taking connections of these forms only and putting them together, we are able to get complex connections which will take the place of most relations.
An example is :—- to say that a man is the owner of a house may be to say that he has, in the past, done certain things (has been the cause of certain events, given money, put his name on bits of paper) which in turn have been the cause of other men doing or not doing other things (let him have the free use of the house, send him tax papers . . . ) and so on.
Let us take these forms of connection in turn the first, cause-effect, is the one which gives most trouble. It has a number of senses, some of them complex, and to get clear thoughts about these and so control of them we have to take the complex senses to bits.


9-l . C is a cause of E when F does not take place without C. In other words C is a condition of E. Condition, we may make a note here, has two chief senses, 8-l and another which is very like it. To say that something is in a condition —- a man in good condition, healthy ; or in bad condition, unhealthy —- is to say that at or through a time it has certain properties. (See l2-2). Now when in 8-1 we say that something is a cause (or a condition) of a certain effect, it is only as having certain properties, being as it is, being in the condition it is in, that it is the cause. A thing in a condition (in this sense) is an event. Some events are quick and small —- the death of an ant for example. Some are long in time and great —- the Himalayas. Any thing (or group of things) in a condition, may be said to be an event.


11-4 . When something has a number of qualities, these qualities (with the thing which has them) are parts of the system they together make up. (The question ' Is there a thing in addition to its qualities ?' is again one about different sorts of language-machines equally of use for different purposes. See in comparison thing 2-2).
11-5 . Some writers take, as being very important, a sense in which a system is a group of things such that if any one of them is changed all the others are changed in some degree by that change. Everything there is, for some purposes, taken to be a system in this sense -- the changes in parts of it which are at a great distance from one another being small without limit. And in a more special use of this sense it has been said that living things (or some of them) are unlike all other things in having a special organization of their parts in this way, and that minds have it in the highest degree. To go back to our picture, If AB is changed then BC is changed. but this is not the sort of system which those who make use of the sense, have in view.

Most of these writers, in fact, make a very sharp division between groups formed by addition and groups said to be different from, or more than, the addition ('sum') of their parts. What they have in mind is the fact that a very small change made to one part of an animal, say to the cat's eye when it sees a mouse, may be the cause (9-1) of a very great number of complex changes in its other parts. But with a change in one leaf of a tree no such great number of other changes come. Even less with a change in one bit of dust, and so on. The important thing with this sense of system is to keep in mind that we are not able to put limits to groups of things and say that they are systems (' Minds are systems ', ' animals are systems ' and so on) without first getting a very great amount of detailed knowledge about the conditions under which changes in all parts come after changes in any parts. Some changes go with others under some conditions -- that is all we may say. In other words, some systems (11-3 or 11-4) have more connections between their parts than others. The form of the laws of cause for them is more complex. But to make one wide division between systems and say that, in some, changes in all parts take place with changes in any part is to go forward a long way in front of our knowledge.


The space and time connections of things are special examples of the connections of parts in systems, and the questions which come up with them, for the detail of winch we have to go to mathematics, are outside the range of these pages. But the senses of name and of the other words which may take its place are part of Logic. With the discussion of them we come to the third division of this book, the Theory of Instruments.
The reader will have taken note of a number of words which have been used at important points without any special account of their sense being given. Among them have been agreement, same, different, property, quality, relation, general, special, degree, sort and is. What comes now is an attempt to put our uses of these words in a clear light. All words are instruments with winch we keep control of their senses : but these words are instruments with whose senses in addition to this we keep control of the senses of other words. It will be best to make a start with Property.


12-1. In the simple everyday sense, a property is that of which some man is the owner, that which some man has. 12-2. In a sense taken from 12-1, anything which anything (see thing, 2-2) may be said to be or to have (see is 13-1). For example : mountains are high —- have the property of being high; 6 is greater than 5 -- has the property of being greater than 5 ; men are not plants -— have the property of not being plants. No limit is necessary to the things we may, truly or falsely, say are properties of things.

Is a danger overcome by keeping in mind that all properties are like this property of the moon -— that it is not made of green cheese.
In other words a property is an instrument for making comparisons between statements, between thoughts, between the senses of words. But we commonly make use of properties as if they were something more, part of the structure of what we are having thoughts about or making statements about. ' X is green ' and X has the property of being green do not say different things -— the second is not a fuller account than the first. But they say the same thing in ways which are of use for different purposes, and these purposes for which the word property is of use have now to be taken into view.

Here comparison may be made with our use of the words being and existence. To say. ' There are cats and dogs ' and to say ' There are beings which are cats and dogs ' or to say ' Cats and dogs have existence ' or to say ' Cats and dogs are things (2-1) ', or to say ' Cats and dogs have the property of having existence ’ are only different ways of saying the same thing. Things, beings, existences, are words of use when we have a need to put into words thoughts which are not only about cats or only about dogs, or only about any limited sort of thing, but are about anything. In the same way property is a word of use when we have to do with thoughts not about green things only, or about coloured things only or about limited sorts of things, but about the ways in which things are in sorts. The danger is that we make use of property when there is no need for it, and so get the idea that ' X is green ' and ' X has the property of being green ' say different things.
This will be the best place in which to take the word is. It has three chief senses.

13-1 . Existence . To say ' A is ' or ' There is an A ' is the same as saying ' A has existence ' or ' A has being ' or ' Something is A '.
13-2 . Part and Sort . The is of connection. To say ' A is B ' puts A into the greater sort B. This connection between A and B may be taken in two ways.
13-21 . A is a part of the sort B. For example, ' Gold is a metal ' -- gold is part of the sort, metals : or 13-22 . The properties common to B are part of the properties of A. Gold has the properties common to all metals and some more —- those which make it different from all other metals. These two ways of taking ' A is B ' are of use for different purposes. 13-3 . Completely the same (in Logic ' identity '). To say ' A is B ' is the same as saying ' A has all the properties which B has and no others '. When this is so completely, and A and B are not different in any way, then they are not two things, but one thing. ' A ' and ' B ' are two names for one thing, and the statement ' A is B ' then becomes a bad way of saying this, because it is hard to keep in mind that A and B are not names for different things. We will see (pp. 101,119) some of the dangers which come from this.

It is clear from this that same has two important and different senses ; one in which to say that two things (or groups of things) are the same is to say that in certain ways they are not different, another in which we are only saying that one thing, or group of things, has two names, or is being taken in two sorts. The three words property, sort and same, it will be noted, do almost the same work. So does the word general, to which we may now go on—coming back later to the discussion of the forms of properties.


This word has one very important sense —- and some others which in different ways have come from it but are now almost opposites to one another. This makes it a very interesting example of the ways in which senses become changed. First take a look at these marks on the paper.

14-1. They are all marks. What they all are is what is general about them -— a general property of them. In addition to being marks they are all marks-used-in-printing. This is another general property of them, equally general in this sense. It comes from the sense of all -— which is all of a sort. But in another sense it is less general because marks-used-in-printing axe only a part of all marks. In the same way marks which are not marks used in printing may be on paper. To be a mark- on-paper is a more general property than to be a mark-used-in-printing and to be a mark-on-something is more general than to be a mark-on-paper. So, to be coloured is more general than to be green. This is a more general (14-11) sense of general, but one which comes from 141, for marks on paper are a part only of all marks.
14-11. A thought (or a statement) which is about a greater group of things (having a group G as part of it) is more general than a thought about the things in group G or the things in a part of G.

14-12. A thought of anything as being of a sort is a general thought : it is more or less general as the sort is greater or less. 14-2. Most of these marks here are full stops. We frequently say that something is generally so, when the sense of general is a last word. "It is not very important that you get my sense and no others, and not important if what I say is true or not". What is important is to see that the sense of words may be taken in groups, and that if the form of one group of senses becomes clear to us, the form of other groups of senses, which we may not ever have put in connection with them, may become clear at the same time. This gives us new chances for the control of our thought and for taking over the knowledge we have of one field into other fields.

As Colegidge said, ' that only is learning which comes again as power '. And to see how any sense is in relation to any other is to get a sort of learning which comes again as power.