Page:A Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism - Volume 1.djvu/18

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whether potential or force, from the one particle to the other. The great success which these eminent men have attained in the application of mathematics to electrical phenomena gives, as is natural, additional weight to their theoretical speculations, so that those who, as students of electricity, turn to them as the greatest authorities in mathematical electricity, would probably imbibe, along with their mathematical methods, their physical hypotheses.

These physical hypotheses, however, are entirely alien from the way of looking at things which I adopt, and one object which I have in view is that some of those who wish to study electricity may, by reading this treatise, come to see that there is another way of treating the subject, which is no less fitted to explain the phenomena, and which, though in some parts it may appear less definite, corresponds, as I think, more faithfully with our actual knowledge, both in what it affirms and in what it leaves undecided.

In a philosophical point of view, moreover, it is exceedingly important that two methods should be compared, both of which have succeeded in explaining the principal electromagnetic phenomena, and both of which have attempted to explain the propagation of light is an electromagnetic phenomenon, and have actually calculated its velocity, while at the same time the fundamental conceptions of what actually takes place, as well as most of the secondary conceptions of the quantities concerned, are radically different.

I have therefore taken the part of an advocate rather than that of a judge, and have rather exemplified one