University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
History of Science and Technology

Page View

Chambers, Ephraim, 1680 (ca.)-1740 / Cyclopædia, or, An universal dictionary of arts and sciences : containing the definitions of the terms, and accounts of the things signify'd thereby, in the several arts, both liberal and mechanical, and the several sciences, human and divine : the figures, kinds, properties, productions, preparations, and uses, of things natural and artificial : the rise, progress, and state of things ecclesiastical, civil, military, and commercial : with the several systems, sects, opinions, &c : among philosophers, divines, mathematicians, physicians, antiquaries, criticks, &c : the whole intended as a course of antient and modern learning

The preface,   pp. I [i]-xxx PDF (27.2 MB)

Page xxiv

The At           R A      F 1A C R
LESS might have fufficed, to fhew why in the Courfe of this Work we have
ufually omitted the Appa-
ratus of Demnonftrations, and Experiments; and given the Doarines pure and
uncumbred by any thing not ef-
fential t6 'em. The Experiments, for inftance, which led to the Theory of
Light, and Colours, what would
they be, but like the Scaffolding before a fine Building, which break and
interrupt the Sight, and hide moflt of the
Beauties of the Work? Such Scaffolding, 'tis true, would be of ufe to the
Connoiffeurs; who might have a mind to
examine the Work, to meafure the Proportions of the feveral Parts, and inquire
whether every Stone were jufltly
laid. But to the generality it would rather be an Incumbrance, much to the
difadvantage of the Work.-
Yet, in the Cafe of Experiments, as of Demonrtrations, we have receded a
little from ftrial Method, in favour
of fuch as have any thing very remarkable or beautiful in 'em. For the reflt,
the Reader, if his Curiofity ferve
him, is told where to have 'em at firlt hand.
I N the Cafe of Definitions, too, we do not keep inviolably to what has been
above laid down; but referve to
our felves the difcretionary Right above fpecified..-We make ufe occasionally
of all forts of Definitions, as
they beft fuit our Defign, the conveying of Knowledge. In effle&, we
have ufually a Regard to the degree of
notoriety, importance, &c. of the Term, tho a Point arbitrary, and indefinite
enough; and endeavour to ac-
commodate the Explication thereto. 'Tis a Rule with us, to fay, Communia
proprie, propria communiter; to expres
common Things fo as that even the Learned may be the better for 'em; and
the more abftraft and diffi-
cult, fo as even the Ignorant may enter into 'em. Accordingly, in popular
Terms we endeavour to give
a technical Definition, i. e. to wave the general and obvious Meaning, which
is fuppofed to be known;
and enter farther into the nature of the Thing, not known: As in defining
of Milk,' &c. But in the more
remote Terms, the popular and nominal Definition is alfo given, as being
fuppofed to be here wanted.
T HE literal And technical Definitions of a Term, are lame and imperfect
without each other; the firft gives
its Ufe and Effe6t, as part of general or abftrafted Science ; the fecond,
as applied to fome particular Subjed.
--The literal Notion, e. g. of Relation, is that of " conformity, dependence,
or comparifon of one thing to
" another :" Thus much is common to Relation, both in Grammar,
Logick, Geometry, &c. i. e. it expreffes
this, both when applied to Words, to Propofitions, to Quantities, &c.-The
technical Notion of Relation in
Grammar, is " the dependence of Words in Conltruction :" This makes
the grammatical Notion of Relation,
i. e. it limits or ties down the general abfltraft Idea of Relation, to the
particular Subjeat of Grammar, Words.
Again, the technical Notion of Relation, with regard to Arithmetick, Geometry,
&c. is " the conformity, or
dependence between two or more Lines or Numbers ;" i. e. the Mathematicians
adopting the Word into
their Art, reftrain its literal or general Meaning, to fome particular Purpofes
of their own, i. e. to Quantities.
F R 0 M  the whole, it follows, that the two Kinds of Definitions differ
as an Art and a Science; as general
and particular Reafon; and again, as abftra&t, and concrete. And hence,
from the feveral technical or particular
Meanings, one might of themfelves run back to the general, or literal Meaning,
by abftra6ting; but not con-
trariwife, from the general or abftrad to the particular ones; in regard
thofe other are arbitrary, and depend on
the good pleafure of the Artiflt who firft introduc'd them.
ACCORDING        to ftridnefs, every Term ihould be firlt given in its literal,
or grammatical Meaning; efpe-
cially when the fame is a Term in feveral Arts; as this helps to fill up
the Series, and {hew the orderly Deriva-
tion of the Word, d primis naturalibus, from the firft fimple Ideas that
gave rife to it, to its laft, and utmoft
Compofition. This is like giving the Root of the Family; which is certainly
neceffary to its Genealogy.-Yet
we have not always kept to this Method. In fome Words, there is a deal of
the literal import of the Word
preferv'd in the Term or the technical one; as in the word Free, or Freedom:
A Man who has a Notion of
Freedom in its common or literal Senfe, will eafily pafs on to all the particular
ones, as Free City, Free Port,
Freedom of Speech, of Behaviour, &c. So that in this Cafe, a literal
Definition might almoft alone fuffice; the
Word having fuffer'd very little at the hands of Artilts.-In other Words,
the literal or primary import of the'
Word, is almoft loft in the Term: for inftance, in the Term Power, .in Arithmetick;
which will fcarce bear
any tolerable Definition at all. Literally, the Word implies a Relation of
Superiority or Afcendency over fome-
thing, which in refpeft hereof is conceiv'd as weak, &c.  According to
the analogy of Language, therefore,
the Arithmetical Power Ihould have fomewhat of this relation of fuuperiority
over the Root: But the Root it
felf is alfo a Power: So that the Definition of Power mutf take in two oppofite
Relations, viz. Power and
PER. H A PS, to go in the molt regular manner, and take up things from their
Source; one Ihould begin
with fettling their Etymologies: but the great alterations Words undergo,
and the great length they are run
from their original Meanings, in being borrowed from one Language or Age
to another, would frequently make
this not only a tedious, but an ufelefs Labour: fo that here, too, we have
ufed a difcretionary Power, and only
meddled with Etymologies where they appear'd of any fignificance.
TO explain a Term as a Term, we ufually exprefs the Circumltances wherewith
it is attended in the Art
to which it belongs, in their artful Names. This is agreeable to the manner
of Artifts, who writing of their
refpective Arts, ufe Terms as common Words, and fuppofe 'em to be known:
and 'tis this that conftitutes a
technical Explanation ; not the giving the general Effe& or Force, in
fuch Words as may equally agree to all
other Arts.-And yet in fome Cafes we recede from this Rule, particularly
in divers of the lower Clafs of
Manual Arts, and the Structure of fome Machines: Thus, e. g. in Turnery,
we make no difficulty, for inrifance,
inltead of Chuck, to fay a round piece of Wood, &c. The reafon is, that
where the feveral Subordinate Terms
of a Definition are themfelves explain'd in their places, we may fuppofe
'em underltood; but where the Term
defined is it felf fo low, that we do not go lower to define the Parts couched
under it; there we chufe, as more
fcientifical, to fubltitute fome more obvious Name, or the general Meaning
of the Word for the Term it felf;
and thus prefer the general or popular, to the technical Definition.
FOR it is to be obferved, that the Dictionary has its Limits ; it only carries
Matters fo low; to a certain
pitch of Simplicity, where we fuppofe People may take 'em up, and carry 'em
farther as they pleafe. - We bring
em into their Sphere, and fo leave 'em. So much Knowledge, i. e. fuch a number
of complex Ideas, -as we
may prefume 'em ufually to have got in the common Occurrences of Life, we
are willing to fuppofe, as a Foot-
ing: where thefe end, our Di~tionary is to begin, which is to take in the
IF at any time we explain a complex Idea, which it may be fuppofed molt People
have form'd; 'tis becaufe
we think they don t take in all the fimple Ideas that go to conltitute it:
as in the Cafe of Milk, Blood, or
the like; where People are contented with two or three of the more obvious
Properties and Phaenoma.
na, and flur over the reft.-Thus in Milk, Whitenefs and Fluidity are almolt
alone considered; and thefe,
in the common Opinion, conflitute Milk; fo that whatever has thefe two Attributes,
comes in for the de-
nomination Mily. The Texture and component Parts of this Milk, the manner
of that Fluid's being
fecreted, colledted, &c. with the peculiar Properties, and Virtues refulting
from all thefe are left behind.
So in Blood, 'tis enough it be a reddij#, pretty compaR, animal 7uice, when
warm fluid and homogeneous, &c.
This is going a great way, and even the Didionaries feldom go farther: But,
for the component Parts, the
cruor and Serum; with the component Principles of thefe, viz. the Oil, Phlegm,
&c. their Form, Properties, &c.
4                                                                 whence

Go up to Top of Page