, in Geometry, or Mathematics, means much the same thing with supposition, being a supposition or an assumption of something as a condition, upon which to raise a demonstration, or from which to draw an inference.

Dr. Barrow says, Hypotheses, or postulatums, are propositions assuming or affirming some evidently pos<*> sible mode, action, or motion of a thing, and that there is the same affinity between hypotheses and problems, as between axioms and theorems: a problem shewing the manner, and demonstrating the possibility of some structure, and an Hypothesis assuming some construction which is manifestly possible.


, in Philosophy, denotes a kind of system laid down from our own imagination, by which to account for some phenomenon or appearance of nature. Thus there are Hypotheses to account for the tides, for gravity, for magnetism, for the deluge, &c.

The real and scientific causes of natural things generally lie very deep: observation and experiment, the proper means of arriving at them, are in most cases extremely slow; and the human mind is very impatient: hence we are often induced to feign or invent something that may seem like the cause, and which is calculated to answer the several phenomena, so that it may possibly be the true cause.

Philosophers are divided as to the use of such fictions or Hypotheses, which are much less current now than they were formerly. The latest and best writers are for excluding Hypotheses, and standing intirely on observation and experiment. Whatever is not deduced from phenomena, says Newton, is an Hypothesis; and Hypotheses, whether metaphysical, or physical, or mechanical, or of occult qualities, have no place in experimental philosophy. Phil. Nat. Prin. Math. in Calce.

Hypothfsis is more particularly applied, in Astronomy, to the several systems of the heavens; or the divers manners in which different astronomers have supposed the heavenly bodies to be ranged, or moved. The principal Hypotheses are the Ptolomaic, the Tychonic, and the Copernican. This last is now so generally received, and so well established and warranted by observation, that it is thought derogatory to it to call it an Hypothesis.

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Entry taken from A Mathematical and Philosophical Dictionary, by Charles Hutton, 1796.

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