In this article, the second produced from Ong's Ph.D. work, Ong divides his thoughts on the topic into four sections.  In the first section of the article, he explains that the term "method," as it was used to identify members of the Methodist denomination of the Protestant Church founded by John Wesley, has always been something of a mystery, even to Wesley himself.  While Wesley did know that the name had been applied to an earlier group of physicians, he believed that the term had always been used to refer to people whose daily lives were very routine, regardless of what discipline they worked in.  In face, as Ong reveals in his article, the term experienced a shift in meaning; it originally referred to the approach of Peter Ramus, in which method is attached to the realm of pure logic and applied to all the different disciplines.

Before Ong discusses the work of Ramus, however, he explains (in the second section of his article) that despite Wesley's confusion about the origin of the term "method," Wesley actually discusses the term in his own work, particularly in A Compendium of Logic.  While this work by Wesley is not thoroughly Ramist, Ramus' influence can be seen in several ways:  Wesley's use of dichotomies (he defines method in two parts, splits those parts into other parts, and so on), his insistence on "homogeneity" in method (Ramus' approach encouraged using only logic to analyze rather than mixing logic with other elements, such as rhetoric), and his emphasis on a general-to-specific pattern of reasoning.  The influence of Ramus on Wesley can be seen especially clearly in an appendix in A Compendium, in which logic is not only applied to the writing of sermons but is the only way to write a sermon.

In section three of the article, Ong focuses on what Ramus himself wrote about method, beginning with Ramus' decision to define method as "disposition by which the first in the order of knowledge among several things is placed in the first place, the second in the second place, the third in the third, and so on."  Ong explains that Ramus gleaned this definition from the medieval period, in which method was used to order any particular school subject so that it could easily be memorized; in keeping with this approach, Ramus quickly applied method to all different kinds of disciplines, with little concern for the specifics of the discipline itself but with plenty of emphasis on abstract knowledge.  Ramus even methodized mathematics, though he found the task much more difficult than methodizing other disciplines.  Ultimately, Ramus developed what Ong refers to as a "cult of method," and this approach to reasoning was taught at the most elementary level; by the time school boys were 12, they knew method so well that they could apply it to everything without ever speaking directly of it in their classes.  This phenomenon, Ong explains, makes it much easier for contemporary readers to understand why people living in the eighteenth century placed so much emphasis on reason.

In the fourth section of the article, Ong returns to the question of why Wesley was not clear on the definition of the term "method."  Ong reveals that in the period right before Wesley's life and during the first part of his life, Methodism would have meant the kind of preacher who might have had the enthusiasm of an Anabaptist but always used Ramist method when writing his sermons.  However, as Wesley's life passed, more and more often there were preachers who gave "lip service" to Ramist method but actually did not use this approach when writing their own sermons, so by the end of Wesley's life the term indicated attention to a daily routine rather than the more specific meaning of Ramus' approach to reasoning.  In fact, there were people in the late eighteenth century who could not understand references to Methodism written only 140 years earlier.  Yet, Ong concludes his article, Wesley really was closer to the earlier definition of Methodism than he realized, for his own work revealed Ramus' lasting influence. 
 

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