PHYSICS

, called also Physiology, and Natural Philosophy, is the doctrine of natural bodies, their phenomena, causes, and effects, with their various affections, motions, operations, &c. So that the immediate and proper objects of Physics, are body, space, and motion.

The origin of Physics is referred, by the Greeks, to the Barbarians, viz, the brachmans, the magi, and the Hebrew and Egyptian priests. From these it passed to the Greek sages or sophi, particularly to Thales, who it is said first professed the study of nature in Greece. Hence it descended into the schools of the Pythagoreans, the Platonists, and the Peripatetics; from whence it passed into Italy, and thence through the rest of Europe. Though the druids, bards, &c, had a kind of system of Physics of their own.

Physics may be divided, with regard to the manner in which it has been handled, and the persons by whom, into

Symbolical Physics, or such as was couched under symbols: such was that of the old Egyptians, Pythagoreans, and Platonists; who delivered the properties of natural bodies under arithmetical and geometrical characters, and hieroglyphics.

Peripatetical Physics, or that of the Aristotelians, who explained the nature of things by matter, form, and privation, elementary and occult qualities, sympathies, antipathies, attractions, &c.

Experimental Physics, which enquires into the reasons and natures of things from experiments: such as those in chemistry, hydrostatics, pneumatics, optics, &c. And

M<*>chanical or Corpuscular Physics, which explain<*> the appearances of nature from the matter, motion, structure, and figure of bodies and their parts: all according to the settled laws of nature and mechanics. See each of these articles under its own head.

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

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