Table of Contents:
IT being our determination to discourse of Natural Philosophy, we judge it necessary, in the first place and chiefly, to divide the body of philosophy into its proper members, that we may know what is that which is called philosophy, and what part of it is physical, or the explanation of natural things. The Stoics affirm that wisdom is the knowledge of things human and divine; that philosophy is the exercise of that art which is expedient to this knowledge; that virtue is the sole and sovereign art which is thus expedient; and this distributes itself into three general parts, —natural, moral, and logical. By which just reason (they say) philosophy is tripartite; of which one is natural, the other moral, the third logical. The natural is when our enquiries are concerning the world and all things contained in it; the ethical is the employment of our minds in those things which concern the manners of man's life; the logical (which they also call dialectical) regulates our conversation with others in speaking. Aristotle, Theophrastus, and after them almost all the Peripatetics give the following division of philosophy. It is absolutely requisite that the complete person be contemplator of things which have a being, and the practiser of those things which are decent; and this easily appears by the following instances. If the question be proposed, whether the sun, which is so conspicuous to us, be informed with a soul or inanimate, [p. 105] he that makes this disquisition is the thinking man; for he proceeds no farther than to consider the nature of that thing which is proposed. Likewise, if the question be proposed, whether the world be infinite, or whether beyond the system of this world there is any real being, all these things are the objects about which the understanding of man is conversant. But if these be the questions, —what measures must be taken to compose the well ordered life of man, what are the best methods to govern and educate children, or what are the exact rules whereby sovereigns may command and establish laws,—all these queries are proposed for the sole end of action, and the man conversant therein is the moral and practical man.
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