Written by Ephraim Chambers
Thursday, 01 January 1728 09:00
is understood of something that is free, or independent of another. Hence, as there are various ways wherein one thing may be consider'd is free in respect of another, there arise divers sorts of Absolutes.
Absolute, e. g. sometimes imports a Thing which does not include the Idea of Relation to another ; in which Sense it Hands oppos'd to Relative.
Thus, Man is an absolute Term ; and, on the contrary, Creature and Father are Relatives, the one referring to Creator, the other to Children. See RELATIVE.
In the like Sense, the Schoolmen hold Absolute to imply a Thing's not being in ordine ad, in order to any other Thing. Thus, Man, Tree, &c. are Absolutes ; and every other Thing which has any real Existence which it does not owe to another.
In this Sense too, the Terms of a Proposition are said to be taken absolutely ; that is, without Relation to each other.
Thus, Man, consider'd absolutely, and in himself, is an Absolute Reasonable Creature.
Sometimes, Absolute denotes a being free from Restriction, Limitation, or Modifications ; in which Sense, say the Schoolmen, it stands oppos'd to a secundum quid. Thus, a Prince is said to be Absolute, when his Will is his Law ; or when he is no way restrain'd or tied down by any Laws of his Country. And thus a Thing is said to be absolutely and simply good.
Sometimes, again, Absolute denotes a Thing's being free from Conditions : In which Sense it stands oppos'd to Conditional. See CONDITIONAL.
Thus, the Decrees of God are said to be Absolute with respect to Men. The rigid Calvinists maintain absolute unconditional Predestination and Reprobation. A Priest does not forgive Men's Sins absolutely, but on Condition of Repentance and Amendment. In this Sense also, we say, an Absolute Promise, an Absolute Proposition, &c.
The Divines frequently use Absolute in a still further Sense, viz. in opposition to Declaratory : Thus, the Church of Rome holds that the Priest can forgive Sins absolutely ; the Protestants say, only dedaratively and ministerially. See DECREE, ABSOLUTION, &c.
Again, Absolute is sometimes used in respect of Cause ; and denotes a Thing's being without any Cause. In which Sense, God alone is absolute.
Absolute Number, in Algebra, is the known Quantity which possesses one entire Side or Part of an Equation ; being the Rectangle, or Solid whose Root or Value is to be sound. See EQUATION, and ROOT.
Thus, in the Equations aa + 16a = 36, the Absolute Number is 36 ; which is equal to 'a' multiplied by it self, added te 16 times 'a'.
This is what Vieta calls Homogeneum Comparationis.
Absolute Equation, in Astronomy, is the Sum of the Optic and Eccentric Equations, See EQUATION.
Ablative Absolute, is a Diction detach'd, and independent of the rest of the Discourse ; neither governing, nor being governed of any other Thing. See ABLATIVE.
This is frequent among the Latins ; in Imitation of whom, the modern Languages have likewise adopted it : Deleto exercitu : The Army being cut to pieces. All things consider'd, Reason will appear the bell Guide in Matters of Religion.
Absolute Place. See PLACE.
Absolute Space. See SPACE.
Absolute Motion. See MOTION.