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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

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Mind and Matter


WE cannot define either motion or matter, but we have
certain rough and ready ideas concerning them which, right
or wrong, we must make the best of without more words,
for the chances are ten to one that attempted definition will
fuzz more than it will clear.

Roughly, matter and motion are functions one of another,
as are mind and matter; they are essentially concomitant
with one another, and neither can vary but the other varies
also. You cannot have a thing " matter " by itself which
shall have no motion in it, nor yet a thing " motion " by
itself which shall exist apart from matter; you must have
both or neither. You can have matter moving much, or
little, and in all conceivable ways ; but you cannot have
matter without any motion more than you can have motion
without any matter that is moving.

Its states, its behaviour under varying circumstances,
that is to say the characteristics of its motions, are all that
we can cognise in respect of matter. We recognise certain
varying states or conditions of matter and give one state
one name, and another another, as though it were a man or
a dog; but it is the state not the matter that we cognise,
just as it is the man's moods and outward semblance that
we alone note, while knowing nothing of the man. Of matter
in its ultimate essence and apart from motion we know
nothing whatever. As far as we are concerned there is no
such thing : it has no existence : for de non apparentibus et
non existentibus eadem est ratio.

It is a mistake, therefore, to speak about an " eternal