John Adams on Natural Philosophy & Reasoning


John Adams, March 3, 1756

Natural philosophy is the art of deducing the general laws and properties of material substances from a series of analogous observations. The manner of reasoning in this art is not strictly demonstrative, and, by consequence, the knowledge hence acquired is not absolutely scientific, because the facts that we reason upon are perceived by sense, and not by the internal action of the mind contemplating its ideas. But these facts being presumed true in the form of axioms, subsequent reasonings about them may be in the strictest sense scientific. This art informs us in what manner bodies will influence us and each other in given circumstances, and so teaches us to avoid the noxious, and embrace the beneficial qualities of matter. By this art, too, many curious engines have been constructed to facilitate business, to avert impending calamities, and to procure desired advantages.

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Source: John Adams. John Adams Diary, March 3, 1756

Founders Corner Library is researched, compiled, and edited (with occasional notes and commentary) by Steve Farrell, Founder and Editor In Chief of The Moral Liberal. Formatting, editing, notes, and commentary Copyright © 2014 Steve Farrell.

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