By Sir John Frederick William Herschel
Astronomer and thinker J. F. W. Herschel's A initial Discourse at the research of ordinary Philosophy, initially released in 1830, should be considered as the 1st smooth paintings at the philosophy of technological know-how. during this publication, Herschel conscientiously units out what he regards because the ideas and strategies of clinical research, either at a theoretical point and on the point of test or statement. He describes nature as being ruled by way of legislation that are tricky to figure through mere remark and so deduces that theoretical technological know-how calls for analogical reasoning. within the Discourses, written because the first in a sequence referred to as cupboard Cyclopaedia, he covers a variety of methodological, clinical and philosophical matters that come with discussions of up to date astronomy, atomism and chemistry. His writing on mild is seriously stimulated through Newton. Herschel additionally ponders the variations among people and animals and the connection among spiritual religion and clinical enquiry.
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Extra info for A Preliminary Discourse on the Study of Natural Philosophy
Cases like this are the triumph of theories. They show at once how large a part pure reason has to perform in our examination of nature, and how implicit our reliance ought to be on that powerful and methodical system of rules and processes which constitute the modern mathematical analysis, in all the more difficult applications of exact calculation to her phenomena. ) To take an instance more within ordinary apprehension. An eminent living geometer had proved by calculations, founded on strict optical principles, that in the centre of the shadoiu of a small circular plate of metal, exposed in a dark room to a beam of light emanating from a very small brilliant pointy D 34 DISCOURSE ON THE STUDY there ought to be no darkness, — in fact, no shadow at that place ; but, on the contrary, a degree of illumination precisely as bright as if the metal plate were away.
This is the perfection of a law, that it includes all possible contingencies, and ensures OP NATURAL PHILOSOPHY. 3? implicit obedience, —and of this kind are the laws of nature. ) This use of the word law, however, our readers will of course perceive has relation to us as understanding, rather than to the materials of which the universe consists as obeying, certain rules. To obey a law, to act in compliance with a rule, supposes an understanding and a will, a power of complying or not, in the being who obeys and complies, which we do not admit as belonging to mere matter.
Now, in this research there would seem one great question to be disposed of before our enquiries can even be commenced with any thing like a prospect of success, which is, whether the laws of nature themselves have that degree of permanence and fixity which can render them subjects of systematic discussion ; or whether, on the other hand, the qualities of natural agents are subject to mutation from the lapse of time. To the ancients, who lived in the infancy of the world, or rather, in the infancy of man's experience', this was a very rational subject of question, and hence their distinctions between corruptible and incorruptible matter.
A Preliminary Discourse on the Study of Natural Philosophy by Sir John Frederick William Herschel