Collier's New Encyclopedia (1921)/Absolute

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ABSOLUTE, opposed to relative; means that the thing is considered in itself and without reference to other things.

1. Absolute or non-connotative, according to Whately, is opposed to attributive or connotative. The former does not take note of an attribute connected with the object, which the latter does.

2. According to J. S. Mill, it is incorrect to regard non-connotative and absolute as synonymous terms. He considers absolute to mean non-relative, and to be opposed to relative.

In metaphysics, absolute means existing independently of any other cause.

A case absolute, in grammar, is one consisting essentially of a substantive and a participle, which form a clause not agreeing with or governed by any word in the remainder of the sentence. In Greek, the absolute case is the genitive; in Latin, the ablative; in English, it is considered to be the nominative.

In law, personal rights are divided into absolute and relative — absolute, which pertain to men as individuals; and relative, which are incident to them as members of society, standing in various relations to each other. The three chief rights of an absolute kind are the right of personal security, the right of personal liberty, and the right of private property.

Absolute, in natural philosophy, is generally opposed to relative. As this relativity may be of many kinds, various shades of meaning arise, thus:

1. Absolute or real expansion of a liquid, as opposed to its apparent expansion, the expansion which would arise when the liquid is heated, if the vessel containing it did not itself expand. (See Atkinson's “Ganot's Physics,” bk. vi, ch. iii.)

2. Absolute gravity is the gravity of a body viewed apart from all modifying influences, as, for instance, of the atmosphere. To ascertain its amount, therefore, the body must be weighed in vacuo.

3. Absolute motion is the change of place on a body produced by the motion so designated viewed apart from the modifying influence arising from disturbing elements of another kind.

4. Absolute space is space considered apart from the material bodies in it.

5. Absolute time is time viewed apart from events or any other subjects of mental conception with which it may be associated.

6. Absolute force of a center: Strength of a center.

Absolute zero, an imaginary temperature so low that there would be no heat left.

Source: Collier's New Encyclopedia 1. (1921) New York: P.F. Collier & Son Company. 11-12.