Cyclopædia or an universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences
ABSTRACT PDF Print E-mail
Unclassified - Philosophy
Written by Ephraim Chambers   
Thursday, 01 January 1728 09:00
ABSTRACTUM, in Philosophy, that which Mind called Abstractum. See ABSTRACTION.

An ABSTRACT Idea, is some simple Idea, detach'd and separated from any particular Subject, or Complex Idea ; for the sake of viewing and considering it more distinctly, as it is in itself, its own Nature, &c. See IDEA, SIMPLE, COMPLEX, &c.

Thus, Magnitude and Humanity are Abstracts when consider'd in themselves, and without being attached to any particular Body, or Person ; tho they cannot have any real Subsistence without such Subjects, nor the Subjects without them.

Thus, also, Whiteness is an Abstract, or abstract Term ; inasmuch as it does not denote any one white Object, but that Colour or Idea in the general, wherever sound. See GENERAL.

From the Knowledge of Abstracts we arrive at that of Concretes, which is the opposite Term ; Concrete denoting a General or Abstract Idea's being attach'd to same particular Subject, or consider'd as combin'd with some other Ideas ; as, great House, white Wall. See CONCRETE.
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ABSTRACTION PDF Print E-mail
Unclassified - Philosophy
Written by Ephraim Chambers   
Thursday, 01 January 1728 09:00
an Operation of the Mind, whereby we separate Things naturally conjunct, or existing together ; and form and consider Ideas of Things thus separated. See ABSTRACT.

The Faculty of Abstracting, stands directly opposite to that of Compounding — By Composition we consider those Things together, which in reality are not join'd together in one Existence. And by Abstraction, we consider those Things separately and apart, which in reality do not exist apart. See COMPOSITION.

Abstraction is chiefly employ'd these three ways— First, when the Mind considers any one Part of a Thing, in some respects distinct from the Whole ; as a Man's Arm, without the Consideration of the rest of his Body.

Secondly, when we consider the Mode of any Substance, omitting the Substance it self; or when we separately consider several Modes which subsist together in one Subject. See MODE.

This Abstraction the Geometricians make use of, when they consider the Length of a Body separately, which they call a Line ; omitting the Consideration of its Breadth and Depth.

Thirdly, it is by Abstraction that the Mind frames general or universal Ideas ; omitting the Modes and Relations of the particular Objects whence they are form'd. — Thus, when we would understand a thinking Being in general, we gather from our Self-consciousness what it is to Think ; and omitting the Consideration of those Things which have a peculiar Relation to our own Mind, or to the human Mind, we think of a thinking Being in general.

Ideas fram'd thus, which are what we properly call Abstract Ideas, become general Representatives of all Objects of the same Kind ; and their Names applicable to whatever exists conformable to such Ideas. — Thus, the Colour that we receive from Chalk, Snow, Milk, &c. is a Representative of all of that Kind ; and has a Name given it, Whiteness, which signifies the same Quality, wherever sound or imagin'd. See GENERAL.

'Tis this last Faculty, or Power of Abstracting, according to Mr. Locke, that makes the great Difference between Man and Brutes ; even those latter must be allowed to have some share of Reason : That they really reason in some Cases, seems almost as evident as that they have Sense ; but 'tis only in particular Ideas. They are tyed up to those narrow Bounds ; and do not seem to have any Faculty of enlarging them by Abstraction. Essay on Human Understanding, L. III. c. 3.
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CHESS PDF Print E-mail
Mix'd mathematics - Game
Written by Ephraim Chambers   
Thursday, 01 January 1728 09:00
a fashionable Game, perform'd with little round Pieces of Wood, on a Board divided into 64 Squares; where Art and Address are so indispensibly requisite, that Chance seems to have no place; and a Person never loses but by his own Fault.

On each side are eight Men, and as many Pawns, which are to be mov'd and shifted, according to certain Rules and Laws of the Game.

Donatus, on Terence's Eunuch, observes, that Pyrrhus, the most knowing and expert Prince of his Age, ranging a Battle, made use of the Men at Chess to form his Designs; and to shew the Secrets thereof to others. Vopiscus, in his Life of Proculus, informs us, that one of the Roman Emperors had the Title Augustus given him, because of his gaining ten Games at Chess successively. Tamerlane is recorded as a very expert Gamester at Chess.

Chess is doubtless a most antient and universal Game: The common Opinion is, that it was invented by Palamedes at the Siege of Troy. Others attribute the Invention to Diomedes, who liv'd in the Time of Alexander: The Romance of the Rose ascribes it to one Attalus; but the Truth is, the Game is so very antient, there is no traceing its Author.

In China it makes a considerable Part of the Education of their Maids, and seems to take the Place of the Dancing among us. In Spain, whole Cities challenge each other at Chess.

John of Salisbury relates, that in a Battel between the French and English, in 1117, an English Knight seizing the Bridle of Louis le Gros, and crying to his Comrades The King is taken, that Prince struck him to the Ground with his Sword, saying,
Ne scais tu pas qu' aux echecs on ne prend pas le Roy?
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ABECEDARY PDF Print E-mail
Unclassified - Unclassified
Written by Ephraim Chambers   
Thursday, 01 January 1728 09:00
ABCEDARY, or ABECEDARIAN, some thing Alphabetical, or belonging to the Alphabet. See ALPHABET.

Among the Antients, the Term Abecedarius was peculiarly applied to those Compositions wherein the initial Letters of each Strophe, or some times even of each Verse, follow'd the Order of the Alphabet.
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ABLUTION PDF Print E-mail
Mix'd mathematics - Chronology
Written by Ephraim Chambers   
Thursday, 01 January 1728 09:00
in Antiquity, a Religious Ceremony, in use among the Romans; being a sort of purifying, perform'd by washing the Body, ere they enter'd on Sacrifice. See SACRIFICE.
Sometimes they wash'd their Hands and Feet, sometimes the Head, and oftentimes the whole Body : For which purpose, at the Entrance into their Temples were plac'd Vessels made of Marble Triumphant (as Du Choul calls it) fill'd with Water.

This Custom, without doubt, they learnt from the Jews, since we read in Scripture, that Solomon plac'd at the Entry into the Temple which he erected to the true God, a great Laver, which the Holy Text calls a Sea of Brass, where the Priests wash'd themselves before they offer'd Sacrifice ; having beforehand sanctify'd rhe Water, by throwing into it the Ashes of the Victim that was slain in Sacrifice.
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