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Pure Logic and Other Minor Works [Including: On the Mechanical Performance of Logical Inference].


London, Macmillian and Co., 1890. 8vo. In the original publisher's full red embossed cloth with gilt lettering to spine. Ex-libris label [Danish philosopher Carl Henrik Koch] pasted on to pasted down front free end-paper and previous owner's name [Danish philosopher Harald Høffding] name written front free end-paper. Uncut. Minor soiling to extremities and capitals with wear. Internally fine and clean. XXIII, (3), 299, (1) + 4 plates. ¶ First printing of this work containing a series of reprint of Jevons most important papers on logic and economics, including his famous "Logic Piano". The book has been owned and signed by the famous Danish philosopher Harald Høffding which was greatly influenced by Jevons.

"On the Mechanical Performance of Logical Inference" was "Jevons first published description of his logic machine, often called a "logical piano" because of its resemplance to that instrument. [...] The "piano" was the first logic machine with enough power to solve complicated problems with superhuman speed". (Origins of Cyberspace 330). Today Jevons piano is regarded as one of the precursors of the computer.

"Jevons’’ "logical piano"(as he eventually called it in preference to his earlier terms "abacus", "abecedarium" and "alphabet") was built for him by a Salfford clockmaker. It resembled a small upright piano, with twenty-one;-keys for classes and operations in an equational logic. Four terms, A, B, C, and D, with their negations, in binary combinations, were displayed in slots in front and in back of the piano; and the mechanism allowed for classification, retention, or rejection, depending upon what the player fed in via the keyboard. The keyboard was arranged in an equational form, with all eight terms on both left and right and a "copula"key between them. The remaining four keys were, on the extreme left, "finis" (clearance) and the inclusive "or", and, on the extreme right, "full stop"(output) and the inclusive "or again", In all 216 (65, 536) logical selections were possible". (DSB).

Jevons' logic exercised great influence on Harald Høffding, especially "Pure Logic, or the science of quality apart from quantity" and "Substitution of similar, the true principles of reasoning", both paper's present and are most likely the exact ones that Høffding read.

William Stanley Jevons (1835-1882) was an economist and philosopher who foreshadowed several developments of the 20th century. He is one of the main contributors to the 'marginal revolution', which revolutionised economic theory and shifted classical to neoclassical economics. He was the first economist to construct index numbers, and he had a tremendous influence on the development of empirical methods and the use of statistics and econometrics in the social sciences.

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