Chapter 6

The tables of review Icon

18 We must now offer an example of the exclusion or rejection of natures found by the tables of review, not to be of the form of heat;

First we premise that each table, each single instance contained in them, is sufficient for the rejection of any nature.

Every contradictory instance destroys a hypothesis as to the form.

Still, we redouble or repeat the exclusive in order to show the use of the tables.

An Example of the Exclusive Table, or of the Rejection of Natures from the Form of Heat

  1. On account of the sun’s rays, reject elementary (or terrestrial) nature.
  2. On account of common fire, and particularly subterranean fires (which are the most remote and secluded from the rays of the heavenly bodies), reject celestial nature.
  3. On account of the heat acquired by every description of substances (as minerals, vegetables, the external parts of animals, water, oil, air, etc.) by mere approximation to the fire or any warm body, reject all variety and delicate texture of bodies.[150]
  4. On account of iron and ignited metals, which warm other bodies, and yet neither lose their weight nor substance, reject the imparting or mixing of the substance of the heating body.
  5. On account of boiling water and air, and also those metals and other solid bodies which are heated, but not to ignition, or red heat, reject flame or light.
  6. On account of the rays of the moon and other heavenly bodies (except the sun), again reject flame or light.
  7. On account of the comparison between red-hot iron and the flame of spirits of wine (for the iron is more hot and less bright, while the flame of spirits of wine is more bright and less hot), again reject flame and light.
  8. On account of gold and other ignited metals, which are of the greatest specific density, reject rarity.
  9. On account of air, which is generally found to be cold and yet continues rare, reject rarity.
  10. On account of ignited iron,[103] which does not swell in bulk, but retains the same apparent dimension, reject the absolute expansive motion of the whole.
  11. On account of the expansion of the air in thermometers and the like, which is absolutely moved and expanded to the eye, and yet acquires no manifest increase of heat, again reject absolute or expansive motion of the whole.
  12. On account of the ready application of heat to all substances without any destruction or remarkable alteration of them, reject destructive nature or the violent communication of any new nature.
  13. On account of the agreement and conformity of the effects produced by cold and heat, reject both expansive and contracting motion as regards the whole.[151]
  14. On account of the heat excited by friction, reject principal nature, by which we mean that which exists positively, and is not caused by a preceding nature. There are other natures to be rejected; but we are merely offering examples, and not perfect tables.

None of the above natures are of the form of heat; and man is freed from them all in his operation upon heat.

19 The foundations of true induction are in the exclusive table.

This table is not completed until the affirmative is attained.

The exclusive table is not perfect, nor can it be so at first.

It is clearly a rejection of simple natures. But if we have not as yet good and just notions of simple natures, how can the exclusive table be made correct?

Some of the above, as the notion of elementary and celestial nature, and rarity, are vague and ill defined.

We, therefore, who are neither ignorant nor forgetful of the great work which we attempt, in rendering the human understanding adequate to things and nature, by no means rest satisfied with what we have hitherto enforced, but push the matter further, and contrive and prepare more powerful aid for the use of the understanding, which we will next subjoin. And, indeed, in the interpretation of nature the mind is to be so prepared and formed, as to rest itself on proper degrees of certainty, and yet to remember (especially at first) that what is present depends much upon what remains behind.

20 Truth emerges more readily from error than confusion.

This is why we consider it useful to leave the understanding free to exert itself and attempt the interpretation of nature in the affirmative, after having constructed and weighed the three tables of preparation, such as we have laid them down, both from the instances there collected, and others occurring elsewhere. Which attempt[152] we are wont to call the liberty of the understanding, or the commencement of interpretation, or the first vintage.

The First Vintage of the Form of Heat

The form of anything is inherent (as appears clearly from our premises) in each individual instance in which the thing itself is inherent, or it would not be a form. No contradictory instance, therefore, can be alleged. The form, however, is found to be much more conspicuous and evident in some instances than in others; in those (for example) where its nature is less restrained and embarrassed, and reduced to rule by other natures. Such instances we are wont to term coruscations, or conspicuous instances. We must proceed, then, to the first vintage of the form of heat.

From the instances taken collectively, as well as singly, the nature whose limit is heat appears to be motion. This is chiefly exhibited in flame, which is in constant motion, and in warm or boiling liquids, which are likewise in constant motion. It is also shown in the excitement or increase of heat by motion, as by bellows and draughts: for which see Inst. 29, Tab. 3, and by other species of motion, as in Inst. 28 and 31, Tab. 3. It is also shown by the extinction of fire and heat upon any strong pressure, which restrains and puts a stop to motion; for which see Inst. 30 and 32, Tab. 3. It is further shown by this circumstance, namely, that every substance is destroyed, or at least materially changed, by strong and powerful fire and heat: whence it is clear that tumult and confusion are occasioned by heat, together with a violent motion in the internal parts of bodies; and this gradually tends to their dissolution.

What we have said with regard to motion must be thus[153] understood, when taken as the genus of heat: it must not be thought that heat generates motion, or motion heat (though in some respects this be true), but that the very essence of heat, or the substantial self[104] of heat, is motion and nothing else, limited, however, by certain differences which we will presently add, after giving some cautions for avoiding ambiguity.

Sensible heat is relative, and regards man, not universe; and is rightly held to be merely the effect of heat on animal spirit. It is even variable in itself, since the same body (in different states of sensation) excites the feeling of heat and of cold; this is shown by Inst. 41, Tab. 3.

Nor should we confound the communication of heat or its transitive nature, by which a body grows warm at the approach of a heated body, with the form of heat; for heat is one thing and heating another. Heat can be excited by friction without any previous heating body, and, therefore, heating is excluded from the form of heat. Even when heat is excited by the approach of a hot body, this depends not on the form of heat, but on another more profound and common nature; namely, that of assimilation and multiplication, about which a separate inquiry must be made.

The notion of fire is vulgar, and of no assistance; it is merely compounded of the conjunction of heat and light in any body, as in ordinary flame and red-hot substances.

What are the true differences which limit motion and render it as heat?

  1. Heat is an expansive motion, by which the body strives to:
  • dilate itself, and to[154]
  • occupy more space than before.

This difference is seen in:

  • flame, where the smoke or thick vapor is clearly dilated and bursts into flame.
  • all boiling liquids, which swell, rise, and boil up to the sight. The process of expansion is urged forward till they are converted into a much more extended and dilated body than the liquid itself, such as steam, smoke, or air.
  • wood and combustibles where exudation sometimes takes place, and evaporation always.
  • the melting of metals, which, being very compact, do not easily swell and dilate, but yet their spirit, when dilated and desirous of further expansion, forces and urges its thicker parts into dissolution, and if the heat be pushed still further, reduces a considerable part of them into a volatile state.
  • iron or stones, which though not melted or dissolved, are however softened. The same circumstance takes place in sticks of wood, which become flexible when a little heated in warm ashes.
  • readily observed in air, which instantly and manifestly expands with a small degree of heat, as in Inst. 38, Tab. 3.
  • the contrary nature of cold; for cold contracts and narrows every substance;[105] so that in intense frosts nails fall out of the wall and brass cracks, and heated glass exposed suddenly to the cold cracks and breaks. So[155] the air, by a slight degree of cold, contracts itself, as in Inst. 38, Tab. 3. More will be said of this in the inquiry into cold.

Nor is it to be wondered at if cold and heat exhibit many common effects (for which see Inst. 32, Tab. 2), since two differences, of which we shall presently speak, belong to each nature: although in the present difference the effects be diametrically opposed to each other. For heat occasions an expansive and dilating motion, but cold a contracting and condensing motion.

  1. Heat is an expansive motion, tending toward the exterior, but at the same time bearing the body upward.

There be many compound motions. An arrow has both a rotatory and progressive motion. In the same way the motion of heat is both expansive and tending upward.

This difference is shown by putting the tongs or poker into the fire. If placed perpendicularly with the hand above, they soon burn it, but much less speedily if the hand hold them sloping or from below.

It is also conspicuous in distillations per descensum, which men are wont to employ with delicate flowers, whose scent easily evaporates. Their industry has devised placing the fire above instead of below, that it may scorch less; for not only flame but all heat has an upward tendency.

Let an experiment be made on the contrary nature of cold, whether its contraction be downward, as the expansion of heat is upward. Take, therefore, two iron rods or two glass tubes, alike in other respects, and warm them a little, and place a sponge, dipped in cold water, or some snow, below the one and above the other. We are of opinion that[156] the extremities will grow cold in that rod first where it is placed beneath, as the contrary takes place with regard to heat.

  1. Heat is not a uniform expansive motion of the whole, but of the small particles of the body; and this motion being at the same time restrained, repulsed, and reflected, becomes alternating, perpetually hurrying, striving, struggling, and irritated by the repercussion, which is the source of the violence of flame and heat.

But this difference is chiefly shown in flame and boiling liquids, which always hurry, swell, and subside again in detached parts.

It is also shown in bodies of such hard texture as not to swell or dilate in bulk, such as red-hot iron, in which the heat is most violent.

It is also shown by the fires burning most briskly in the coldest weather.

It is also shown by this, that when the air is dilated in the thermometer uniformly and equably, without any impediment or repulsion, the heat is not perceptible. In confined draughts also, although they break out very violently, no remarkable heat is perceived, because the motion affects the whole, without any alternating motion in the particles; for which reason try whether flame do not burn more at the sides than in its centre.

It is also shown in this, that all burning proceeds by the minute pores of bodies—undermining, penetrating, piercing, and pricking them as if with an infinite number of needle-points. Hence all strong acids (if adapted to the body on which they act) exhibit the effects of fire, from their corroding and pungent nature.


The difference of which we now speak is common also to the nature of cold, in which the contracting motion is restrained by the resistance of expansion, as in heat the expansive motion is restrained by the resistance of contraction.

Whether, therefore, the particles of matter penetrate inward or outward, the reasoning is the same, though the power be very different, because we have nothing on earth which is intensely cold.

  1. This stimulating or penetrating motion should:
  • be rapid and never sluggish
  • take place not in the very minutest particles, but rather in those of some tolerable dimensions.

It is shown by comparing the effects of fire with those of time.

Time dries, consumes, undermines, and reduces to ashes as well as fire, and perhaps to a much finer degree.

  • But the motion of time is very slow. It attacks very minute particles wihtout heat.

It is also shown in a comparison of the dissolution of iron and gold.

Gold is dissolved without the excitement of any heat. But iron with a vehement excitement of it, although most in the same time, because in the former the penetration of the separating acid is mild, and gently insinuates itself, and the particles of gold yield easily, but the penetration of iron is violent, and attended with some struggle, and its particles are more obstinate.

It is partially shown, also, in some gangrenes and mortifications of flesh, which do not excite great heat or pain, from the gentle nature of the putrefaction.

Let this suffice for a first vintage, or the commencement of the interpretation of the form of heat by the liberty of the understanding.

From this first vintage the form or true definition of heat (considered relatively to the universe and not to the sense) is briefly thus—Heat is an expansive motion restrained, and striving to exert itself in the smaller particles.

The expansion is modified by its tendency to rise, though expanding toward the exterior; and the effort is modified by its not being sluggish, but active and somewhat violent.

With regard to the operative definition, the matter is the same.

If you are able to excite a dilating or expansive motion in any natural body, and so to repress that motion and force it on itself as not to allow the expansion to proceed equally, but only to be partially exerted and partially repressed, you will beyond all doubt produce heat, without any consideration as to whether the body be of earth (or elementary, as they term it), or imbued with celestial influence, luminous or opaque, rare or dense, locally expanded[159] or contained within the bounds of its first dimensions, verging to dissolution or remaining fixed, animal, vegetable, or mineral, water, or oil, or air, or any other substance whatever susceptible of such motion. Sensible heat is the same, but considered relatively to the senses.


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