SYSTEM

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SYSTEM (Greek, ouor^a, a putting to gether); an assemblage of facts, or of principles and conclusions scientifically arranged, or disposed according to certain mutual relations, so as to form a complete whole. The object of science is to collect the fragmentary knowledge which we possess, on any subject, into a system, classifying natural objects into orders, genera and species, according to their peculiar properties, or distributing them according to their powers and reciprocal relations, and arranging maxims, rules, facts and theories into an organic, living body. (See Method.) System is, therefore, sometimes nearly synonymous with classification, and sometimes with hypothesis, or theory. Thus we speak of a mythological system, or a chronological system, in the historical sciences, of a botanical system, or a mineralogical system, in natural science, &c. So in astronomy the solar or planetary system signifies that collection of heavenly bodies which revolve around the sun as a common centre, and the Copernican, Ptolemaic or Tychonic system, the hypothesis motions. The purpose of a system is to classify the individual subjects of our knowledge in such a way as to enable us readily to retain and employ them, and at the same time to illustrate each by showing its connexion with all; and although it may appear that a mere arrangement of facts already possessed, implies no addition to our former knowledge, yet it is, nevertheless, true that a simple and judicious classification may suggest new views and point out new relations of things. The constituent parts of a system are a fundamental principle, which serves as a basis for the whole, and a large collection of facts, from which the various laws are to be deduced, which themselves all flow together into the common principle.