PHILOSOPHY

, the knowledge or study of nature or morality, founded on reason and experience. Literally and originally, the word signified a love of wisdom. But by Philosophy is now meant the knowledge of the nature and reasons of things; as distinguished from history, which is the bare knowledge of facts; and from mathematics, which is the knowledge of the quantity and measures of things.

These three kinds of knowledge ought to be joined as much as possible. History furnishes matter, principles, and practical examinations; and mathematics completes the evidence.

Philosophy being the knowledge of the reasons of things, all arts must have their peculiar Philosophy which constitutes their theory: not only law and physic, but the lowest and most abject arts are not without their reasons. It is to be observed that the bare intelligence and memory of philosophical propositions, without any ability to demonstrate them, is not Philosophy, but history only. However, where such propositions are determinate and true, they may be usefully applied in practice, even by those who are ignorant of their demonstrations. Of this we see daily instances in the rules of arithmetic, practical geometry, and navigation; the reasons of which are often not understood by those who practise them with success. And this success in the application produces a conviction of mind, which is a kind of medium between Philosophical or scientific knowledge, and that which is historical only.

If we consider the difference there is between natural philosophers, and other men, with regard to their knowledge of phenomena, we shall find it consists not in an exacter knowledge of the efficient cause that produces them, for that can be no other than the will of the Deity; but only in a greater and more enlarged comprehension, by which analogies, harmonies, and agreements are described in the works of nature, and the particular effects explained; that is, reduced to general rules, which rules grounded on the analogy and uniformness observed in the production of natural effects, are more agreeable, and sought after by the mind; for that they extend our prospect beyond what is present, and near to us, and enable us to make very probable conjectures, touching things that may have happened at very great distances of time and place, as well as to predict things to come; which sort of endeavour towards omniscience is much affected by the mind. Berkley, Princip. of Hum. Knowledge, sect. 104, 105.

From the first broachers of new opinions, and the first founders of schools, Philosophy is become divided into several sects, some ancient, others modern; such are the Platonists, Peripatetics, Epicureans, Stoics, Pyrrhonians, and Academics; also the Cartesians, Newtonians, &c. See the particular articles for each.

Philosophy may be divided into two branches, or it may be considered under two circumstances, theoretical and practical.

Theoretical or Speculative Philosophy, is employed in mere contemplation. Such is physics, which is a bare contemplation of nature, and natural things.

Theoretical Philosophy again is usually subdivided into three kinds, viz, pneumatics, physics or somatics, and metaphysics or ontology.

The first considers being, abstractedly from all matter: its objects are spirits, their natures, properties, and effects. The second considers matter, and material things: its objects are bodies, their properties, laws, &c.

The third extends to each indifferently: its objects are body or spirit.

In the order of our discovery, or arrival at the knowledge of them, physics is first, then metaphysics; the last arises from the two first considered together.

But in teaching, or laying down these several branches to others, we observe a contrary order; beginning with the most universal, and descending to the more particular. And hence we see why the Peripatetics call metaphysics, and the Cartesians pneumatics, the prima philosophia.

Others prefer the distribution of Philosophy into four parts, viz, 1. Pneumatics, which considers and treats of spirits. 2. Somatics, of bodies. 3. The third compounded of both, anthropology, which considers man, in whom both body and spirit are found. 4. Ontosophy, which treats of what is common to all the other three.

Again, Philosophy may be divided into three parts; intellectual, moral, and physical: the intellectual part comprises logic and metaphysics; the moral part contains the laws of nature and nations, ethics and politics; and lastly the physical part comprehends the doctrine of bodies, animate or inanimate: these, with their various subdivisions, will comprize the whole of Philosophy.

Practical Philosophy, is that which lays down the rules of a virtuous and happy life; and excites us to the practice of them. Most authors divide it into two kinds, answerable to the two sorts of human actions to be directed by it; viz, Logic, which governs the operations of the understanding; and Ethics, properly so called, which direct those of the will.

For the several particular sorts of Philosophy, see the articles, Arabian, Aristotelian, Atomical, Cartesian, Corpuscular, Epicurean, Experimental, Hermetical, Leibnitzian, Mechanical, Moral, Natural, Newtonian, Oriental, Platonic, Scholastic, Socratic, &c. &c.|

previous entry · index · next entry

ABCDEFGHKLMNOPQRSTU and VWXYZABCEGLMN

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

This text has been generated using commercial OCR software, and there are still many problems; it is slowly getting better over time. Please don't reuse the content (e.g. do not post to wikipedia) without asking liam at holoweb dot net first (mention the colour of your socks in the mail), because I am still working on fixing errors. Thanks!

previous entry · index · next entry

PHENOMENON
PHILOLAUS
PHILOSOPHER
PHILOSOPHICAL Transactions
PHILOSOPHIZING
* PHILOSOPHY
PHOENIX
PHONICS
PHOSPHORUS
PHYSICAL
PHYSICS