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THE ELEMENTS OF MECHANICS.
CHAP. r.
treme action of that principle which is designed to affect
the other.
Thus the organs of sense are instruments by which
the mind is enabled to determine the existence and the
qualities of external things. The effects which these
objects produce upon the mind through the organs, are
called sensations, and these sensations are the immediate
elements of all human knowledge. MATTER is the
general name which has been given to that substance,
which, under forms infinitely various, affects the senses.
Metaphysicians have differed in defining this principle.
Some have even doubted of its existence. But these
discussions are beyond the sphere of mechanical philo-
sophy, the conclusions of which are in nowise affected
by them. Our investigations here relate? not to matter
as an abstract existence, but to those qualities which we
discover in it by the senses, and of the existence of
which we are sure, however the question as to matter
itself may be decided, When we speak of " bodies,"
we mean those things, whatever they be, which excite
in our minds certain sensations ; and the powers to
excite those sensations are called 'c properties," or
qualities."
(2.) To ascertain by observation the properties of
bodies, is the first step towards obtaining a knowledge
Gf nature. Hence man becomes a natural philosopher
the moment he begins to feel and to perceive. The
first stage of life is a state of constant and curious ex-
citement. Observation and attention, ever awake, are
engaged upon a succession of objects new and wonderful.
The large repository of the memory is opened, and
every hour pours into it unbounded stores cf natural
facts and appearances, the rich materials of future know-
ledge, The keen appetite for discovery implanted in
the mind for the highest ends, continually stimulated
by the presence of what is novel, renders torpid every
other faculty, and the powers of reflection and compa-
rison are lost in the incessant activity and unexhausted
vigour of observation. After a season, however, the

PROPERTIES OF MATTER — MAGNITUDE — IMPENETRABILITY
In the Public Domain - from an edition of a book published in 1839
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