A Preliminary Discourse on the Study of Natural Philosophy by Sir John Frederick William Herschel

By Sir John Frederick William Herschel

Astronomer and thinker J. F. W. Herschel's A initial Discourse at the learn of average Philosophy, initially released in 1830, may be considered as the 1st sleek paintings at the philosophy of technological know-how. during this booklet, Herschel rigorously units out what he regards because the ideas and techniques of medical research, either at a theoretical point and on the point of scan or statement. He describes nature as being ruled by means of legislation that are tough to figure via mere remark and so deduces that theoretical technological know-how calls for analogical reasoning. within the Discourses, written because the first in a chain known as cupboard Cyclopaedia, he covers a variety of methodological, clinical and philosophical matters that come with discussions of latest astronomy, atomism and chemistry. His writing on gentle is seriously stimulated via Newton. Herschel additionally ponders the diversities among people and animals and the connection among non secular religion and clinical enquiry.

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One who has never heard of magnetism has a widely different notion of iron from one in the contrary predicament. The vulgar, who regard this metal as incombustible, and the chemist, who sees it burn with the utmost fury, and who has other reasons for regarding it as one of the most combustible bodies in nature ; — the poet, who uses it as ^n emblem of rigidity; and the smith and engineer, in whose hands it is plastic, and moulded like wax into every form; — the jailer, who prizes it as an obstruction, and the electrician, who sees in it only a channel of open communication by which that most impassable of obstacles, the air, may be traversed by his imprisoned fluid, have all different, and all imperfect, notions of the same word.

What an amount of ingenuity, thrown away on the pursuit of the perpetual motion, might have been turned to better use, if the simplest laws of mechanics had been known and attended to by the inventors of innumerable contrivances destined to that end ! What tortures, inflicted on patients by imaginary cures of incurable diseases, might have been dispensed with, had a few simple principles of physiology been earlier recognised ! ) But if the laws of nature, on the one hand, are invincible opponents, on the other, they are irresistible auxiliaries ; and it will not be amiss if we regard them in each of those characters, and consider the great importance of a knowledge of them to mankind,— I.

These are then wetted, or exposed to the night dew, and next morning the different pieces are found separated from each other by the expansion of the wood, consequent on its absorption of moisture ; an irresistible natural power thus accomplishing, almost without any trouble, and at no expense, an operation which, from the peculiar hardness and texture of the stone, would otherwise be impracticable but by the most powerful machinery or the most persevering labour. ) Ex. 6. ) III. To accomplish our ends quickly is often of, at least, as much importance as to accomplish them with little labour and expense.

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