: NOT ES ON THE FIRST BOOK OF THE ELEMENTS, I DEFINITIONS. I. N the definitions a few changes have been made, of which it is necessary to give some account. One of these changes respects the first definition, that of a point, which Euclid has faid to be, ' That which has no parts, or which ' has no magnitude.' Now, it has been objected to this definition, that it contains only a negative, and that it is not convertible, as every good definition ought certainly to be. That it is not convertible is evident, for though every point is unextended, or without magnitude, yet every thing unextended, or without magnitude, is not a point. To this it is impossible to reply, and therefore it becomes necessary to change the definition altogether, which is accordingly done here, a point being defined to be, that which has position but not magnitude. Here the affirmative part includes all that is effential Book I. ( to Book I. to a point, and the negative part excludes every thing that is not effential to it. I am indebted for this definition to a friend, by whose judicious and learned remarks I have often profited. II. After the second definition, Euclid has introduced the fol lowing, "the extremities of a line are points." Now this is certainly not a definition, but an inference from the definitions of a point and of a line. That which terminates a line can have no breadth, as the line in which it is has none, and it can have no length, as it would not then be a termination, but a part of that which it is supposed to ter. minate. The termination of a line can therefore have no magnitude, and having neceffarily position, it is a point. But as it is plain, that in all this we are drawing a consequence from two definitions already laid down, and not giving a new definition, I have taken the liberty of putting it down as a corollary to the second definition, and have added, that the interSections of one line with another are points, as this affords a good illustration of the nature of a point, and is an inference exactly of the fame kind with the preceding. The same thing nearly has been done with the fourth definition, where that which Euclid gave as a separate definition, is made a corollary to the fourth, because it is in fact an inference deduced from comparing the definitions of a superficies and a line. As it is impossible to explain the relation of a fuperficies, a line and a point to one another, and to the solid in which they all originate, better than Dr Simson has done, I shall here add, with very little change, the illustration given by that excellent Geometer. "It is necessary to confider a solid, that is, a magnitude which has length, breadth and thickness, in order to underftand aright the definitions of a point, line and superficies; for thefe all arife from a solid, and exist in it: The boundary, or boundaries which contain a solid are called superficies, or the boundary which is common to two solids which are contiguous, or which divides one folid into two contiguous parts, is called a superficies: Thus, if BCGF be one of the boundaries which contain contain the folid ABCDEFGH, or which is the common Book I. boundary of this solid, and the folid BKLCFNMG, and is therefore in the one as well as the other folid, it is called a fuperficies, and has no thickness: For if it have any, this thickness must either be a part of the thickness of the folid AG, or the folid BM, or a part of the thickness of each of them. It cannot be a part of the thickness of the solid BM; because, if this solid be removed from the solid AG, the superficies BCGF, the boundary of the solid AG, remains still the same as it was. Nor can it be a part of the thickness of the folid AG; because, if this be removed from the folid BM, the fu- perficies BCGF, the boundary of the solid BM, does nevertheless remain; therefore the superficies BCGF has no thickness, but only length and breadth. "The boundary of a superficies is called a line; or a line is the common boundary of two fuperficies that are contiguous, or it is that which divides one superficies into two contiguous parts: Thus, if BC be one of the boundaries which contain the superficies ABCD, or which is the common boundary of this superficies, and of the superficies KBCL, which is contiguous to it, this boundary BC is called a line, and has no breadth: For, if it have any, this must be part either of the breadth of the superficies ABCD, or of the fuperficies KBCL, or part of each of them. It is not part of the breadth of the superficies KBCL; for, if this fuperficies be removed from the superficies ABCD, the line BC which is the boundary of the fuperficies ABCD remains the fame as it was. Nor can the breadth that FE F N D A B K BC is supposed to have, be a part of the breadth of the superficies ABCD; because, if this be removed from the fuperficies KBCL, the line BC, which is the boundary of the superficies KBCL, does nevertheless remain: Therefore the line BC has no breadth. And because the line BC is in a superficies, and that a superficies has no thickness, as was Cc shewn; Look I. shewn; therefore a line has neither breadth nor thickness, but only length. "The boundary of a line is called a point, or a point is the common boundary or extremity of two lines that are conti. guous: Thus, if B be the extremity of the line AB, or the common extremity of the two lines AB, KB, this extremity is called a point, and has no length: For, if it have any, this length must either be part 7 of the length of the line does nevertheless remain: Therefore the point B has no length: And because a point is in a line, and a line has neither breadth nor thickness, therefore a point has no length, breadth, nor thickness. And in this manner the definitions of a point, line, and fuperficies are to be understood." III. Euclid has defined a straight line to be a line which (as we tranflate it), "lies evenly between its extreme points." This definition is obviously faulty, the word evenly standing as much in need of an explanation as the word straight, which it is intended to define. In the original, however, it must be confeffed, that this inaccuracy is at least less striking than in our tranflation; for the word which we render evenly is εξισε, equally, and is accordingly translated ex æquo, and equaliter by Commandine and Gregory. The definition, therefore, is, that a straight line is one which lies equally between its extreme points, and if by this we understand a line that lies between : |