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TSransiatefc from t&e Oerman 







THIS translation of the Milwolwsmus was begun by Miss 
Hamilton, daughter of the late Sir William Hamilton 
of Edinburgh, the distinguished metaphysician. Unhappily 
Miss Hamilton did not live to finish the work she had under 
taken, and her translation ends at p 659 of this volume. 

The rest of the book, including the Introduction, has been 
translated by me ; and I have also revised Miss Hamilton's 

The Mikrokosmus was originally published in three volumes : 
vol. I. containing Books I -III., vol. II. Books IV.-VL, and 
vol. Ill* Books VII.- IX. In the original the sections are 
not numbered, and the Table of Contents consists merely of 
the headings of chapters collected together, without any refer 
ence of headings to pages. In the translation I have numbered 
the sections, and in the Table of Contents referred the head 
ings to sections, and the sections to pages, and supplied a 
few headings where they seemed to be required. The small 
number of footnotes which occur in the translation have been 
added by me. 

I wish to express my thanks to Dr. Henry Sidgwick, 
Knightbridge Professor of Moral Philosophy at Cambridge, for 
advice which he has given me in reference to my part in this 
work. I am also indebted to the kindness of Mr. James 
Ward, Fellow of Trinity College, for suggestions, and help in 
some cases of difficulty. The proofs have been corrected by 
Mr. Jacobs of St. John's College, to whom many improvements 
and emendations are due. Tor the substantial correctness of 
the translation throughout I alone am responsible. 

E. E. C. JONES, 

July 1885. 


T)ETWEEN" spiritual needs and the results of human 
-*-* science there is an unsettled dispute of long standing. 
In every age the first necessary step towards truth has heen 
the renunciation of those soaring dreams of the human heart 
which strive to picture the cosmic frame as other and fairer 
than it appears to the eye of the impartial observer. And 
no doubt that which men are so ready to set in opposition 
to common knowledge as being a higher view of things, is but 
a land of prophetic yearning, which, though well aware of the 
limits that it seeks to transcend, knows but little of the goal 
that it would reach. Such views, indeed, though they have 
their source in the best part of our nature, receive their dis 
tinctive character and colouring from very various influences. 
Fed by many doubts and. reflections concerning the destinies 
of life and drawn from a range of experience that at the best 
is limited, they neither escape the influences of transmitted 
culture and temporary tendencies, nor are they even inde 
pendent of those natural changes of mental mood which take 
place in men, and are different in youth from what they are 
after the accumulation of manifold experiences. It cannot 
be seriously hoped that such an obscure and unquiet move 
ment of men's spirits should furnish a juster delineation of 
the connection of things than the careful investigations of 
science, in which that power of thought which all share in is 
brought into action. Though we cannot command the heart 
to suppress its questionings and longings, we yet hold that it 
can expect a response to them only as an incidental result of 
knowledge which starts from a less emotional and therefore 
a clearer point of view 


Bat tlie growing sense of its own Importance possessed by 
science, which after centuries of doubt sees different depart 
ments of phenomena brought into subjection to unquestionable 
laws, threatens to distort this jnster relation between cognition 
and spiritual needs in a new way. For not content with avoid 
ing, at the beginning of scientific inquiries, the importunate 
questions with which our wishes, dreams, and hopes are but 
too ready to confuse the work in its initial stage, men go 
farther, and deny that there is any obligation to return to 
these questions at all in the course of investigation. Science 
being, it is said, a pure service of truth for truth's sate, is 
not called upon to consider whether the selfish wishes of 
men's souls are satisfied or not. Thus here, too, men pass 
from timidity to presumptuous boldness. Having once tasted 
the delight of impartial and wholly unfettered investigation, 
they rush into a sham and puerile kind of heroism that 
glories in haviug renounced that which no one has even 
any right to renounce ; and reposing boundless confidence in 
assumptions which are by no means incontestable, estimate 
the truth of their new philosophic views in direct proportion 
to the degree of offensive hostility which these exhibit towards 
everything except science that is held sacred by the living 
soul of man. 

This deification of truth is, it seems to me, neither just, 
regarded as an independent estimation of its value, nor 
calculated to create conviction, at which science must always 

If the object of all human investigation were but to pro 
duce in cognition a reflection of the world as it exists, of 
what value would be all its labour and pains, which could 
result only in vain repetition, in an imitation within the soul 
of that which exists without it? What significance could 
there be in this barren rehearsal what should oblige think 
ing minds to be mere mirrors of that which does not think, 
unless the discovery of truth were in all cases likewise 
the production of some good, valuable enough to justify the 
pains expended in attaining it ? The individual, ensnared 


by that division of intellectual ku^hat inevitably results 
from the widening compass of knowle\>^qy at times forget 
the connection of his narrow sphere of wdk^th the <*reat 
ends of human life ; it may at times seem to hinr^ though 
the furtherance of knowledge for the sake of knowledgb^ e 
an intelligible and worthy aim of human effort. But all hk 
endeavours have in the last resort hut this one meaning, 
that they, in connection with those of countless others, should 
combine to trace an image of the world from which we may 
learn what we have to reverence as the true significance of 
existence, what we have to do and what to hope. That strictly 
disinterested investigation which, without any reference to 
these questions, co-operates in the building up of knowledge, 
exhibits wise self-restraint in awaiting a late but full answer 
from the combined results of many lines of inquiry, preferring 
this to those premature and one-sided elucidations from jsub- 
ordinate and accidental standpoints which do indeed set our 
questionings at rest but only very imperfectly. Hence to the 
disconnected impatient questions to which the stress of human 
existence gives rise, science may withhold an immediate answer, 
and may refer men to the progress of investigation, which will 
dissipate many difficulties, without introducing those new 
perplexities in which isolated answers to pressing doubts are 
always apt to entangle us. But taking truth as a whole, we 
are not justified in regarding it as a mere self-centred splen 
dour, having no necessary connection with those stirrings of 
the soul from which, indeed, the impulse to seek it first pro 
ceeded. On the contrary, whenever any scientific revolution 
has driven out old modes of thought, the new views that take 
their place must justify themselves by the permanent or 
increasing satisfaction which they are capable of affording to 
those spiritual demands, which cannot be put off or ignored. 

The very aims of science itself must equally determine it 
to seek this ground of acceptance. For where does science 
itself exist but in the convictions of those who are wholly 
persuaded of its truth? And it will never produce such 
convictions if it forget that every region which it investi- 


gates, all the departi^ O f the mental and the physical 
world, had been^piored and taken possession of by our 
hopes ^andjpffeg and anticipations long before any systematic 
inyestig^n wag Bought of. Science comes everywhere too 
?$w meet with a thoroughly impartial reception ; it finds 
^already established in aU quarters that Philosophy of the 
Feelings which will hinder the course of scientific proof with 
all the force due to the intense mental longing from which it 
arose. And where reluctant conviction can be forced upon 
men in detail, it can be as easily made useless on the whole 
by the remembrance that in the last resort the authority even 
of those first principles by deductions from which science would 
compel our assent, rests upon nothing better than immediate 
belief in their truth. Men think, too, that they are even 
more justified in clinging with a like immediate belief to that 
view of the world which seems to have its truth corroborated 
by its consonance with our wishes. Thus it comes to pass 
that science as a whole is put on one side, and regarded as a 
maze in which cognition, detached from its connection with 
the whole living mind, has become entangled in a way 
impossible to follow in detail. 

Though a man may revel in this faith in the world of 
feeling, he cannot avoid making use of the advantages of 
science at every step in practical life, and thus tacitly 
acknowledging its truth; just as little can a man live for 
science without experiencing the joy and the burden of 
existence, and feeling himself everywhere surrounded by a 
cosmic order of another kind, on which science sheds at best 
but scanty enlightenment. Can the difficulty be evaded 
more easily than by trying to take part in both worlds, to 

belong to both, yet without uniting the two ? To follow 

in science the principles of cognition to their most extreme 
results, and to allow oneself in practical lifeto be impelled 
in quite other directions by traditional habits of belief and 
action ? 

That this twofold and inconsistent conviction is often the 
only solution that men arrive at need not surprise us ; but it 


would be a pity to commend it as the right view of our 
relation to the world. It is true that the imperfection of 
human knowledge may compel us, when we have used our 
utmost endeavours, to confess that we cannot build up the 
results of cognition and of faith so as to form a complete 
and perfect structure ; but we can never look on indifferently 
when we see cognition undermining the foundations of faith, 
or faith calmly putting aside as a whole that which scientific 
zeal has built up in detail. On the contrary, we must be 
ever consciously endeavouring to maintain the rights of each, 
and to show how far from insoluble is the contradiction in 
which they appear to be inextricably involved. 

The pride of philosophic inquiry, and the ceaseless advance 
of physical science, have attacked from different sides that 
cosmic view in which the human soul found its longings 
satisfied. But the disturbances caused by the assaults of 
philosophy have in our time been avoided in a most effi 
cacious manner, namely by the complete indifference with 
which the age turns away from and disregards the labours of 
speculation. It has not been so easy to escape the far more 
importunate persuasiveness of the natural sciences, the 
assertions of which are confirmed at every step by the 
experiences of daily life. The excessive influence which the 
really magnificent development of these sciences exerts upon 
all the tendencies of our age infallibly calls forth a pro 
portionally increasing resistance to the injuries which it is 
supposed will be inflicted by it upon that which is of supreme 
importance in human culture. Thus it comes to pass that the 
old contradictions rise again to battle; on the one hand 
knowledge of the world of sense with its ever-growing wealth 
of exact science and the persuasive force of intuitable facts ; 
on the other hand those vague convictions regarding the 
supersensuous world, which not having an absolutely fixed 
and certain content are hardly susceptible of proof, but 
being sustained by an ever-renewed consciousness of their 
necessary truth are still less susceptible of refutation. That 
this contest between the two is an unnecessary torment which 


we inflict upon ourselves by terminating investigation pre 
maturely, is the conclusion that I desire to establish. 

Physical science is certainly wrong in turning away altogethei 
from the aesthetic and religious regions of thought which are 
customarily regarded as affording a higher view of things. It 
fears needlessly that its sharply -defined notions and its 
solid fabric of method would be disturbed by the admission 
of elements which being themselves incalculable -would 
necessarily communicate their own indefiniteness and mistiness 
to all that comes into contact with them ; and it forgets that 
its own fundamental elements, the ideas of forces and natural 
laws, are not the ultimate components of the threads that 
weave the texture of reality. On the contrary, when we 
exercise keener insight, they too lead us back to that same 
supersensuous region of which we cannot compass the 

But not less baseless is that which, on the other hand, 
opposes and hinders the recognition of the mechanical view of 
Mature the anxious fear lest its results should cause all life 
and freedom and poetry to disappear from the world. How 
often has this fear been expressed, and how often has the 
irresistible progress of discoveries opened new sources of 
poetry in the place of those which had to be filled up ! The 
strong sense of home, with its nearness and sacredness, which 
could enable an isolated people, ignorant of the boundless 
human life beyond, to regard itself as making up the whole 
of humanity, and every hill and fountain of the land as being 
under the guardian care of some special divinity this unifying 
of the divine and human has everywhere disappeared with 
the advance of geographical knowledge consequent on growing 
intercourse between different nations. But the enlarged 
prospect thus gained has not spoiled, but only changed and 
enhanced the poetical charm of the world. Astronomy by its 
discoveries upset men's notions both of the heavens and of 
the earth ; it resolved the former, which had been regarded 
as the visible dwelling-place of the gods, into the immensity 
of an airy firmament in which imagination could no longer 


fix the home of supersensuous beings; it transformed the earth, 

the sole stage of life and history, into one of the smallest parts 

of the boundless universe. And step by step this disturbance 

of traditional views pursued its further course. The earth 

f became, instead of a motionless centre, a wandering planet, 

'S circling round a sun which formerly seemed to exist only to 

\P beautify and serve it; even the music of the spheres was 

iP hushed, and men generally have come to agree that the all- 

O embracing world in which we, with our hopes and wishes and 

endeavours, dwell, is a voiceless system of countless heavenly 

bodies, obeying universal laws. 

That this transformation of cosmographic views has in the 
course of history changed popular imagination in the most 
important manner, no one can deny. "When the earth was 
regarded as a disc, and the familiar boundaries of a man's 
native land were held to comprise all the highest and deepest 
secrets of the cosmic order the visible summit of Olympus 
and the gates of the underworld, at a distance that was 
within men's reach human life was certainly different from 
what it is now now that the earth is held to be a revolving 
sphere that seems to have neither within it nor around it in 
the empty immensity of the atmosphere, place for that mystery 
through a sense of which alone human life is so fertilized as 
to produce its fairest fruit, Past ages, guided by a thread of 
{ sacred tradition, could trace back the crowd of nations that fill 
t the motley mart of life to the quiet groves of Paradise, in th 
&> shades of which the manifold variety of human races found 
tf> the unifying consciousness of a common origin. The discovery 
f of new regions of the earth disturbed this belief; other 
nations came into sight, ignorant of the old traditions, and 
the common cradle of mankind came to be placed far beyond 
the extremes!; limits of historical remembrance. And finally, 
p even the inflexible rind of the planet of which men believed 
^ that they had held possession from the time of its creation 
^ opened its closed mouth and told of countless ages of exist 
ence in which this human life, with all its presumption and 
,its doubt, did not yet exist, and creative Nature, self-sufficing 


gave "birth to numerous species of living creatures, which arose 
and passed away one after the other. 

Thus all the familiar boundaries which used to fence in our 
life with grateful certainty are done away ; the outlook aroiind 
us has become immeasurable, unlimited, and cold. But all 
these enlargements of knowledge have neither driven poetry 
out of the world, nor affected our religious convictions otherwise 
than beneficially ; they have driven us to seek for and to find 
with greater intellectual effort, in a supersensuous world, that, 
which we can no longer regard as near and directly intuitable. 
The satisfaction which our souls used to find in cherished 
views, has always become possible under different forms when 
these views had to be sacrificed to the progress of science. 
As in the life of the individual, so in the history of the human 
race, unavoidable changes take place in the definite outlines 
of the picture in which man's inalienable and highest aspira 
tions are represented. Vain is every endeavour to resist the 
clear light of science, and to hold fast any view of which we 
have a haunting secret conviction that it is but an evanescent 
dream ; but equally ill-advised is the despair that gives up 
that which must ever remain the immoveable centre of human 
civilization, whatever change of form it may undergo. Rather 
let us admit that in the obscure impulse to that higher aspect 
of things which we sometimes glory in, and sometimes feel 
incapable of rising to, there is yet a dim consciousness of the 
right path, and that every objection of science to which we 
attend does but disperse some deceptive light cast upon the 
one immutable goal of our longings by the changing stand 
points of growing experience. 

That undeifying of the whole cosmic frame which the 
discoveries of past times have irrevocably accomplished in 
overthrowing mythology, is an event which cannot, we may 
hope, be any longer a source of pain; and the last lament 
over it, poured forth in Schiller's Goiter Griechenlands, will 
never be followed by any attempt to re-establish this lost faith, 
in opposition to the teachings of science. Great revolutions 
of religious views have made men forget the loss, and furnished 


far more tlian adequate compensation for it. But as the 
growing farsightedness of astronomy dissipated the idea that 
the great theatre of human life was in direct connection with 
divinity, so the further advance of mechanical science begins 
to threaten with similar disintegration the smaller world, 
the Microcosm of mm. In saying this, I do not intend to 
allude more than incidentally to the increasing diffusion of 
materialistic views which strive to trace back all mental 
life to the Mind working of material mechanism. Broad and 
confident as the current of these views flows on, yet it Ly no 
means has its source in inevitable assumptions, bound up 
inseparably with the spirit of a mechanical investigation of 
Mature. But even within the limits in which this has a bettei 
right to move, the disintegrating and destructive activity of 
such investigation is plain enough and begins to dispute that 
pervading unity of body and soul upon which seemed to 
depend all the beauty and living activity of animate creatures, 
and all the significance and worth of their intercourse with 
the external world. The assaults of physiological science have 
been directed against the truth of sensuous cognition, against 
the iinfettered exercise of will in movement, against the 
creative spontaneous development of material life generally, 
and have thus called in question all those characteristics 
which for unsophisticated feeling contain, the very core of 
life's poetry. We cannot therefore he surprised at the stead 
fastness with which the Philosophy of the Peelings here seeks 
to oppose itself as a higher view of things, to the convincing 
representations of the Mechanical view of Nature. On the 
other hand, there seems all the more necessity for an attempt 
to show the innocuousness of this view, which where it forces us 
to sacrifice opinions that seem to be a part of our very selves, 
yet by what it gives back, makes it possible for us to regain 
the satisfaction we had lost 

And the more I myself have laboured to prepare the way 
for acceptance of the mechanical view of Nature in the region 
of organic life in which region this view seemed to advance 

more timidly than the nature of the thing required the more 
VOL T. b 


do I now feel impelled to bring into prominence the other 
aspect which was equally near to my heart during all those 
endeavours. I can hardly hope that the result of this attempt 
will meet with a very favourable reception, for the amount 
of acquiescence that happened to fall to the lot of my earlier 
representations was probably due for the most part to the ease 
with which any mediating view may be interpreted so as to 
seem favourable to either of the one - sided extreme views 
which it was designed to avoid. But all the same it is in 
such mediation alone that the true source of the life of science 
is to be found ; not indeed in admitting now a fragment of 
the one view and now a fragment of the other, but in showing 
how absolutely universal is the extent and at the same time 
how completely subordinate the significance, of the mission which 
mechanism has to fulfil in the structure of the world. 

It is not the comprehensive cosmos of the whole great 
universe that we shall here attempt to describe in imitation 
of the example set before us as Germans even in that circum 
scribed sense of the task which we have above indicated. The 
more deeply the features of that great world-picture impress 
the general consciousness, the more vividly will they point 
us back to ourselves, and stir up anew the question What 
significance have man, and human life with its constant 
phenomena, and the changing course of history, in the great 
whole of Nature, to the steady influence of which the results 
of modern science have made us ftsdl more than ever in sub 
jection ? In seeking to bring together the reflections on these 
points which press themselves upon the thoughtful soul, not 
only within the limits of any philosophic school but every 
where in life, we with the changed points of view to which 
the present age has attained attempt here a repetition of tho 
undertaking of which we have so brilliant an example in 
Herder's Ideen zur Geschichtc der Menschheit 






1. Mythology and Common Reality Personal Spirits in Nature 

and the Realm of Things, . 1-7 

'2. The "World-Soul and Animating Impulses, . . 7-17 

3. Forces and their Universal Laws, .... 17-23 

4. Relation of Man to Nature, ..... 23-26 



1. Universality of Law, . ..... 27-29 

2. Determination of Effects ; Places of Efficient Activity in Nature 

Atoms and the Sense in which they are accepted, . , 29-35 

3. Physical Forces, ...... 36-41 

4. Laws of Eifects and of their Composition General Inferences 

with respect to the Explanation of Natural Phenomena, . 41-49 



1. Mechanical Conception of Life, and Tital Force, . . 50-51 

2. The Transitoriness of the Body chemically considered Change 

of its Constituents, ...... 51-56 

3. Propagation and Conservation of its Energy, . . . 56-60 
'4. Harmony of its Processes, ..... 61-63 




5. The Efficient Idea (Idee] ! Purposive Self-Conservation, , 63-68 

6. Capacity of Excitation Machines produced by Human Skill, 68-7 i 



1. Constant and Periodic Operations- Pi ogre ssive Development 

Anomalous Disturbances, ..... 75-80 

2. The Application of Chemical Forces and their Results as regai ils 

Life The Development of Forms from Formless Germs, . 80-86 

B. Change of Material and its Significance, . , 86-92 

4. Its Mode, . , 92-97 

5. Its Organs, ... ... 97-98 



1. The Bony Fiamework, . . . 99-102 

2. The Muscles and the Motor Nerves, . . . 102-106 

3. The Vascular System and Circulation of the Blood, . 106-110 

4. Respiration, .... . 110-112 

5. 6. Nutrition and Excretion, . . . .113-120 



1. Physical, Organic, and Psychical Compensation of Disturbances, 3 21 -1 24 

2. Examples of the Establishment of Equilibrium, . . 124-128 

3. The Sympathetic System Ceaseless Activity of all that is 

Organic, .... . 128-135 

4 k Geneial Sketch of Life, . . 136-139 




1. Reasons for believing that theie are Souls, . . . 143-14J 

2. Freedom of the "Will Ineomparability of Physical and Psychical 

Processes, and Necessity of two diverse Grounds of Explana- 

tlOL > ... . 144-150 

1 I have followed the Clarendon Press Translation of Lotze in writing this 
throughout with a capital to distinguish it from idea VcrstAng. 



ii. Hypothesis of their Union in the same Being, . 

4. The Unity of Consciousness What it is not, and what it leally 


5. Impossibility of explaining it j,b a Combination of a Plurality 

of Effects, . .... 

6. Relating Knowledge contrasted with the Composition of Physi 

cal Results, . .... 

7. Supersensuous Mature of the Sou!, .... 





1. Plurality of Faculties in the Soul Defects of this View, . 168-172 

2, Possibility of combining it with the Unity of the Soul 

Original and Acquired Faculties, .... 172-177 

3 Impossibility of a Single Primitive Faculty Ideation (or 

Cognition, Vorstetteri), Feeling, and Will Constant Activity 

of the whole Nature of the Soul, . . , 177-1 ?1 

4 Lower and Higher Reactions, . . . 181-1S4 
5. Mutability of the Soul and its Limits, 184-1S3 
6 The Known Nature and the Unknown Nature of the Soul, , 188-190 
7. Use of knowing the Unknown Nature of the Soul, and the 

Reason why we seek to know it, . . . 190-192 

or THE TEAIN OF IDEAS (Vorstellungen}. 

1. Comparison of Mental Life with Bodily Life and with 

Physical Nature, ...... 193-196 

2. How Ideas persist, and how they aie forgotten Of their 

Interaction, and of the Narrowness of Consciousness, . 196-202 

3. Differences in the Strength of Sensations Degrees of Clearness 

in Memory- Images Contrast of Ideas, . . . 202-211 

4. The Inner Sense 5. G-uidance of the Train of Ideas by the 

Laws of Association and Reproduction, . . . 211-219 



1. Relations between Individual Ideas (Vorstellungeri) as Objects 

of New Ideas Change of Knowledge, and Knowledge of 

Change, . . 220-226 

2. Innate Ideas (Idem), . . . . 226-228 
3 Apprehension of the "World in Space and Time by means of 

Sense, 229-232 


4 Apprehension of the "World in Thought by the Understanding 

Concept, Judgment, and Syllogism, . . s 232-236 

5. The Effort of Reason after Unifying Comprehension, . . 236-239 



1. Origin of the Peelings, ...... 240-242 

2. Their Forms and their Connection -with Knowledge Reason's 

Deteiminations of Worth, . . . . 242-248 

3. Self-Consciousness, . . - 248-251 

4. The Empiric Ego and the Pure Ego, . . 251-254 

5. Impulses and Efforts Will and Freedom of Will, - , 254-261 
5. Concluding Remark, ..... 261-263 




! Different Stages of Apprehension of the Woild True and 
Derivative Standpoints, ..... 

2. The Universal Bond "between Mind and Matter, 

3. Possibility and Inexplicahleness of Eeciprocal Action between 

the Homogeneous and the Heterogeneous, . 

4. How Sensations arise Guidance of Movements, 

5. Influence of the Soul on Bodily Form, , 






1. Meaning of the Question, ..... 290-295 

2. Limited Sphere of the Soul's Operation Structure of the 

Brain, ...... 295-301 

3. The Way in which Movements arise, . 301-306 

4. Conditions of Space-Perception, . 306-310 

5. Significance of the Unbranched Nerve -FiLies, , 310-313 

6. Omnipresence of the Soul in the Cody, . , 313-315 




'~ 1C ' PAGE 

1. Organ of the Soul, ... . 316-318 

U. Oigan of Space-Perception, . . 318-321 

3. Corporeal Babis of the Feelings, , . 321-323 

4 . Higher Intelligence, Moral and ^Esthetic Judgment, . . 323-324 

5. Organ of Memory Sleep and Unconsciousness Influence of 

Bodily States upon the Tiain of Ideas, . , . 324-332 

0. Central Oigin of Movement Reflex Movements Acquired 

Forms of Reaction Divisibility of the Soul, . . 332-338 

7. Phrenology Obsti action to the Mind caused by its Union with 

the Body, . , . 338-343 



1 The Constant Illusion of Sense Impossibility of Things being 

copied in our Peiception, ..... 3 4. 4-3 49 

2 The Special and Higher Woi th of Sense The Inner Activity of 

Things Matter the Manifestation of something Super- 
sensuous Concerning the Possibility of Extended Beings, . 349-360 
8 Animation of the whole "Woi Id, .... 360-363 

4. Coutra&t between Body and Soul not retracted Justification 

of Plurality as against Unity, .... 364-369 



1. Limitations of Knowledge Questions concerning Primeval 

History, . 370-375 

2. Dependent Nature of all Mechanism, . . . 375-378 
X Natural Necessity and the Infinite Substance, . . . 378-382 
' General Possibility of Action Source of Definite Laws of 

Action, . 382-387 

b Immortality Origin of Souls, . . . 387-392 

OONOI.TTSTON, r , 3^3 -401 



AND IDEAS (Ideen), 

1 Hechanical Explanation and Ideal Interpretation of Nature, , 405 40S 
2. Mutual Independence of these Conceptions, and Necessity of 

combining them, . . 409-412 



3. Purposive CreationThe Ideal in the Real, 

4. Nature as Pact, .... 





1. Doubt as to the Supremacy of EndsCreated Beings as Ends 

in themselves, . .... 419-423 

2. Ends and Results, . . 423-425 

3. Development of Things from Chaos Spontaneous Growth of 

Order from. Unorder, ...... 425-431 

4. The Elements of Chaos Inherent Purposiveness in Things and 

in their Operations, ...... 431-439 

5. The Unity of Nature considered as a Product of Manifold 

Actions and Reactions, ..... 439-442 



1. Unity of the Basis of Things, . ... 443 -U5 

2. And its Results The System of Material Elements and their 

Distribution Preservation of Unity in the Course of Events 
Notion of Miracles Plan of Development in the Woild 
and in Man Cosmic Periods, .... 445-455 

3. Limitation of our Knowledge and Being, . . 455-456 
^, Universal and Terrestrial Nature, .... 456-458 
5 Grades of Natural Products The Animal Kingdom and its 

Typical Forms, ...... 459-464 



1. The Grades of Animals and their Significance, . . . 465-467 

2. Structure and Life Bodily Size Bodily Strength Length of 

Life Requirements as to Food Capacities of Acclimatization, 
Erect Form Its Causes and Results Symbolism and 
Beauty of Form, ... . 467-494 



1. Conditions of Individual Development Inheritance of Race- 

Characteristics and of Individual TraitsResemblances to 

Brutes, ..... . 495-505 

2. Varieties (Verschiedenheit) o Race Hypotheses as to the 

Origin of these Varieties, ..... 505-516 

3. Negroes, American-Indians, Malays, Mongols, Caucasians, . 516-520 

4. Notions of Kind (Art) and Variety (Spielarf), , . . 520-525 

5. Transition to Book V. Darwinian Theory, . . , 525-527 






src. PAGZ 

3 . The Animal Soul and the R itional Mmd Reciprocal Relation 

between the two, ... . 531-535 

2 Abolition of this Duality The General Concept of Soul and the 
Individual Soul Soul a Phs&nomenologic Designation of 
Heterogeneous Subjects Transference of this Designation to 
Homogeneous Subjects Original Nature and Development 
of the Soul, ....... 535-543 

3. What is meant by Nature of the 80111* Can we regard as the 

Original Content of any Mature the Idea of its Development ? 
The Reality of the Idea and the Unreality of Simple 
Quality, .... . 543-551 

4. Unity of the Idea, ...... 551-556 

5. Geneial Attributes of Souls The Realm of Souls and its 

Members, . - - - .550-562 



1. Different Explanations of the Senses The Indiffeiect Content 

of Sense 3 and the Feeling of Pain or Pleasure that accom 
panies it Intunsic "Woith. of Sense-Impressions, . . 563-573 

2. Consonance of their Nature with the Stimuli to winch they 

correspond Examples : Light and Sound, , . . 573-578 

3 ^Esthetic Judgment Symmetry in Space and Time Mathema 

tical Aspect of Sense-Imagination Understanding and 

Sympathetic Enjoyment of Alien Forms of Existence, . 578-586 

4 Of the Use of Implements Of Dress and Ornament, . 586-595 
5 Of Ceremonies, . . . 590-600 



1 Carrying off of Excitation Tyy Movement generally, , 601-604 

:>. By Change of the Respiratory Movements The Voice Articu 
late Sound, and the Oigamzation of Sounds Corporeal Basis 
of the Capacity of Speech, . 604-614 

3. The Meaning of Words, ... . 614-617 

4 Thought The Parts of Speech Syntactical Forms of Language 

The National Logic of Language, . - 613-626 



5. Dependence of Thought on Speech. Importance of Fames 
Substantive Forms to which no Things correspond, . 

6 S Order of Thought and Order of Construction in a Sentence- - 
Silent Speech Intuition and Discursive Thought Con 
yersation, ....... 




KNOWLEDGE (die Erfceuntniss] AND TRUTH. 

1. Progressiveness of Human Nature, . . . 640-645 

2. The Ideal Nature of Mind and its Mechanical Equivalent, . 645-651 

3. The Nature of Human Intelligence The Stages of Reflection - 

The Universal Impulse to Yolition and Action, . . 652-661 

4. The Genesis of Special and of General Notions Place of Geneiic 

Notions in Men's Conception of the Cosmos, . . 661-668 

5. Innate Notions of the Understanding and their Impossibility 

The Origin of Universal and of Necessarily Yalid Notions 
The Notion of Truth, ..... 668-675 

6 Laws of Identity and Causation The Natural Metaphysics nt 

Life and its Development, . . . 675-681 



]. The Philosophy of the Feelings, . , 682-684 

2 The Meaning of Conscience, . 684-687 

3. Pleasure and Pain as Actual Motives to Action Pleasure and 

the Good The Notion of Worth and its Connection \vith the 

Notion of Pleasure, . . 687-694 

4. Pleasure as an Ethical Principle, . . 694-696 

5. Emotions of Sense Emotions of Self Egoism and Uinver- 

salism, ... . . 696-706 

6. Development of Moiality, 706-710 

7. Basis and Content of Moiahty, . 710-713 
8 Capacity of Becoming Conscious or the Infinite the Distin 
guishing Characteristic of the Human Mini'', , 713-7H 





Mythology and Common Reality Personal Spirits in Nature, and the Realm 
of Things The World-Soul and Animating Impulses Forces and their 
Universal Laws Relation of Man to Nature 

1. nnHEEE are times when our thoughts turn regret- 
-*- fully back to the primitive age of our race. 
Then, in mankind's fair youth, so our musings run, 
mutual understanding brought Mature nigh to Mind., so that 
of her own accord she unveiled her ipner kindred life, which 
now she guards from the intrusion of our scrutiny. Our 
weary glance, as ifc strays over the outside of phsenomena, 
meets nothing else than the "whirl of impersonal substances, 
the blind conflict of unconscious forces, the drear necessity 
of inevitable predetermination. Whereas we figure the 
youthful human race, with clearer eye piercing directly to 
the depths and knowing nothing of this painful experience. 
Then with a sense of kinship the mind apprehended the 
eternal self-conscious Ideas that are the living essence of 
things, it understood because it felt as its own the stirrings 
of desire that form the motives of their working. The 
orderly connection of things must have stood before die 
world's youth at least so runs our thought as something 
more than a fact of inexplicable origin, for it found reflected* 
within the creative purpose from whose blissful unity Nature, 
unshackled by restraints from without, evolves the multitude 
of its phenomena. 



I will not stop to inquire into the justice of this charge 
against the present, hut go on to show that the human 
conception of the universe has at no time been exclusively 
governed by the idea of such a universal vitality of 
Nature as is extolled in these passionate expressions. It 
is true that all that activity which fills our own soul, the 
diversified train of thought, the secret play of feeling, the 
living force of effort, whose spontaneous freedom seems our 
nohlest endowment, that each individual in childhood, and 
Thought when it was young, believed it could recognise 
all this under apparently the most unlike forms of the outer 
world. Tet it is only the child whom the narrow sphere and 
imperfect cohesion of his experience permits for a while to 
enjoy this illusion. The youth of the human race, on the 
other hand, embraced the old age of many individuals; it 
must therefore at an early period have been in possession of 
the rich variety of experience that fills a whole human life, 
and along with it of a degree of intelligent insight sufficient 
to make the thought of a boundlessly animated Mature but as 
it were a holiday-dream, which on the working morrow will 
be dispelled 

!For only in idle contemplation could men undisturbed 
cling to the idea of a vitality pervading the whole realm of 
Nature with a free voluntary activity. Active life, on the 
other hand, must, for the satisfaction of its needs and for 
all the ends of its working, be able to build on a certain 
constancy and trustworthiness in events, and on a necessity 
in their connection that admits of being calculated on before 
hand. The ordinary occurrences of everyday life are enough 
to convince us of the reality of this trustworthiness in 
things, independent of arbitrary will, and it cannot have 
been long ere through them the human mind became 
accustomed to look on this earthly scene of human activity 
as a realm of things to be used, in which the play of 
forces depends entirely on the lifeless regularity of universal 
laws. Through the commonest occurrences of life men. 
could not fail to become acquainted with the effects of 


gravity ; the rudest attempt to build a shelter called forth 
ideas of the equilibrium of bodies, of the distribution of 
pressure, of the advantages of the lever, experiences these 
which, as a matter of fact, we find the least civilised 
peoples turning to manifold account. Primitive hunters, 
when using bow and arrows, had to calculate on the 
propelling force of the tightened string ; nay, they must 
tacitly have relied on the regularity with which, under 
varying conditions, that property increases and diminishes. 
Even the yet simpler dexterity of bringing down game bv 
means of a hurled stone would never have been attained, 
had there not dwelt, as It were in the flesh and blood of 
the arm, the intuitive conviction that the direction and 
velocity of the flight of the thrown body would be wholly 
determined by sensible differences in the kind and degree 
of our exertion. 

By no mythology have these phenomena, and the connec 
tion in virtue of universal laws which they reveal, been 
deliberately made part of its representation of the cosmos. 
And yet all these things weight, equilibrium of bodies, 
impact and communication of movement lay daily before the 
eyes of all ; and it is through nothing else than the deliberate 
employment of these that man establishes around him that 
artificial course of things, that second world of art and comfort, 
to which, as civilisation advances, his life comes to be far 
more closely related than to the original untutored force and 
beauty of creation. But, though these facts lie too close at 
hand to allow of their having been overlooked, it yet is not 
surprising that the mythological imagination should have 
wholly set aside the thoughts which they could not fail to 
awaken. For it is not the negro alone whom we see alter 
nately "belabour and worship his fetish : our own civilisation 
sometimes repeats this absurdity, though perhaps with better 
grace. Only too readily do the most diverse conceptions dwell 
peaceably side by side in the same human soul, without their 
antagonism being so distinctly realized that the need of recon 
ciliation is felt Hence it was quite possible for the poetie 


imagination with far-reaching glance to overlook what lay at 
its feet, and to sketch the dazzling image of a vitally animated 
Nature, while practical life for its own ends continued simply 
to take for granted and make use of the lifelessness of common 
things. With the blindness of him who will not see, th& 
mythological conception of Nature early turned away from all 
those phenomena which are either artificially produced by 
ourselves, or obviously regulated in their manifestation by 
external determining causes. It confined its poetic interpre 
tation to such processes as either by their unchanging regu 
larity as the motion of the heavenly bodies, the succession 
of the seasons, and the cycle of vegetable lifeor by an absence 
of order that defies calculation, like the capricious variations- 
of the atmosphere, are wholly beyond the modifying influ 
ences of our volition. The imagination of those generations, 
plunging into these extracts from selected parts of Nature, 
was disturbed in its idealizing activity by no remembrance 
of the everyday reality, that nevertheless lay before its eyes- 
as palpable evidence for blind necessity in the connection of 
things. We cannot help here noticing in particular, what we 
might have expected in general, that even this distinction 
between a superior and a common Nature could not be 
thoroughly carried out; that even on the narrower field 
chosen by it, mythology by no means succeeded in wholly 
idealizing the external world of sense ; that even here it 
could at most push back and hide the obscure and stubborn 
core of reality and of blind connection which it tried to avoid, 
without being able to explain or even to do without it. 

For, first of all, in any other form than that of human 
life, and the animal existence to which it is akin, mental 
activity does not so obviously appeal to our powers of per 
ception as to beget full unquestioning belief. The Teutonic 
tribes might indeed pay homage, as to a living being, to tho 
sprouting corn-blade coming up out of the ground ; yet the 
mythic expression of this pretty fancy was hardly other 
than an image tacitly distinguished from that which it 
represented. The Greek cannot have really looked ou 


Demeter as herself the budding green, the soul of the corn ; 
she remained the goddess in human form, exerting her shield 
ing and quickening influence on behalf of a germ, which 
after all held its power of development hidden within the 
recesses of its own being. Every step by which agriculture 
advanced must have thrown fresh light on the conditions 
favourable to that development, till the reverence of the 
faithful came to have nothing left for which to thank the 
goddess other than the first inexplicable creation of the germ, 
which, once in existence, was brought to perfection by the 
revolving course of Nature. Though in poetic phraseology 
It was the river-god himself who flowed, yet evidently the 
imagination falls back on the conception of him in human 
shape, as a ruling personality, to whom the watery element 
does indeed inseparably belong, yet who always remains some 
thing foreign and different. The thunderbolt is but a weapon 
in the hand of Jupiter; the winds are held in check, and 
sent forth by their celestial rulers : everywhere the elemental 
world falls back into its old relation of contrast to the realm 
of spirits, and, never awaking to mental life of its own, 
remains a substance capable of being moulded at their bidding. 
There may have been a poetic conception of Nature, that, 
as the poet smgs, heard from among the reeds the plaintive 
notes of Syrinx, or detected in the stone the silence of 
Tantalus' daughter ; but these and countless similar myths 
convince us after all only that mythology failed to get to the 
heart of Nature and to endow her with a soul of her own. 
For the only way in which it could animate stones and reeds 
was to conceive of both as transformed Jiuman life, and to 
leave it to fancy to connect the remembrance of that former 
intelligible existence with the .stubborn unintelligibility of 
the form into which it had passed. 

In a charming poem by Euckert, the illusory glory of 
autumn colours, in which each leaf seems to be turned into 
a blossom, is contrasted with the genuine vivifying energy of 
spring, that amid all its blossoming never conceals the full 
dark green growth beneath. It was on this autumnal show 


that mythology, for the second time, made shipwreck ; as it 
had "been unable to spiritualize matter, so also it failed to 
lend to events the higher bloom of freedom: the dark,, 
irrepressible growth of an original inevitable necessity again 
came to the front. It was of no avail that mythology 
shunned the sight of it, and attended exclusively to the 
splendour of the world of gods, and to its dominion over 
the realm of matter. Tor even here, in order that this- 
dominion should be possible, it had to acknowledge a circle 
of eternal and universal laws, in harmony with which alone 
any will can obtain power over the states of things. The 
adoration of an inscrutable fate, holding even the gods in 
its bonds, was the expression of this thought in its relation 
to the course of the moral world; less explicitly, but yet 
intelligibly enough, it is repeated in every representation of 
the mutual intercourse between divine beings and the 
elements of Nature. Helios might in tranquil majesty guide 
the golden car, where now the inanimate globe of fire 
revolves ; but the wheel of that divine car turned, and its 
axle exerted and received pressure, according to no other laws 
than those by which on earth at all times the wheels of every 
vehicle will turn round their loaded axle. Poetry could, at 
most, relieve the gods of the laborious setting of their 
hands to work, it could never wholly dispense with the 
idea of a universal order, according to whose laws alone the 
living will imparts motion to the world of matter. While 
Zeus hurls the thunderbolt only by the force of his hands, 
the knitting of his eyebrows, does; without effort, stir 
Olympus to its depths ; yet this second impressive image of 
godlike might only repeats more obscurely the same process 
of mediate efficiency expressed with lucid explicitness by 
the first. Even in the Mosaic history of the creation, sub- 
limer than any other, because it represents as forthwith 
existing what the Deity willed to be, without weakening the 
impression of omnipotence by any mention of intervening 
physical agencies, even here the silent thought is still not 
deemed to be sufficient for the beginning of creation. God 


is made at least to utter the word, a very slight yet all the 
same a distinct condition, which, it seemed, had to be fulfilled 
in order that, through its operation, the eternal necessity of 
things might bring to pass the rise of existence at the word 
of command. 

Thus then mythology really comes far short of what it 
seemed to promise; and the discord in the beginnings of 
things which it sought to reconcile, it scarcely succeeded in 
concealing. It could not animate the -world of things, it 
could only conjure up beside it a second world, those godlike 
forms that, hovering around or above the dark core of things, 
within themselves exalt every accident of the blind course of 
Nature into consciousness and enjoyment ; but they are not 
the Real of which they partake. As little could it banish the 
fundamental rights of reality, the regulated necessity in the 
connection of things; it did nothing more than dream of 
the blissful freedom of a celestial life, that stands out in 
bright relief against that dark background ; yet only in that 
background does this life at every step find firm soil beneath 
its tread. 

| 2* The renewal of the unsuccessful attempt was left for 
another line of thought. "Were it our purpose to state 
historically the course of these shiftings of view,, we should 
not of course speak thus. For the fact is, that the thought 
of a universal life of JSTature seems to have arisen much 
earlier and to have been followed out into the most hetero 
geneous forms of existence; not till later did the fancy 
retreat from these upon a narrower range of individual 
forms, whose ideal beauty remained intelligible, long after 
all remembrance of their original significance had passed 
away* But while, like a dream that is past, the mytho 
logical view of things is retreating before us to a greater 
distance, on the contrary that other conception, of which 
we are now about in the second place to speak, as it was 
perhaps the earliest blossom of the spirit of inquiry, so has 
remained alive through all time, and prevails hardly less in 
the present than it did in the past. 


That increasing experience had destroyed belief in the 
visible forms of gods seemed to be no loss, since it had never 
made them visible. For to the new mode of thought it was 
no longer necessary to behold the animating intelligences of 
Nature as distinct beings beside the forms of dead matter ; it 
rather sought to unite what mythology was always seeing fall 
within its hands into two separate worlds ; as directly 
endowed with life, the body of natural forms was now to 
carry within itself the animating principle of its development. 
But when with this view the attempt was made to track 
living activity beyond the confines of organized existence into 
the most formless constituents of the external world, the 
archetype of human psychic life could not, any more than the 
outline of the human figure, prove sufficient for the delinea 
tion of the animation sought. For but few of the products 
of Nature present themselves to such a degree as isolated 
wholes, that it is easy to assign them as abodes to personal 
spirits. And even though we may ascribe to other things 
the capacity of receiving impressions and being affected by 
them, yet the absence of that system of organs on which, 
in our experience the possibility of sense-perceptions, the 
combination of these into an orderly view of things, and 'the 
reaction of will depends, prevents us from discerning in 
them any form of mental life such as shall allow them to 
develop self -consciousness in the same way as we do. 
Finally, the further we advance in the process of resolving 
composite forms into simple elements, the more do we lose 
sight of seemingly incalculable freedom of action ; the more 
distinctly is each type of Nature seen to be limited to a 
uniform mode of operation that under like conditions is 
always alike, to present no signs of internal development, 
and to be destitute of that power of collecting and elabo 
rating impressions which gives to every soul in the course 
of its life an idiosyncrasy that defies comparison. Guided 
by such observations, the new conception which we are con 
trasting with the mythological view of things, speaks no 
longer of animating principles which impel things, but of 


impulses that animate them. 1 And yet with the new direc 
tion of thought, which I have tried briefly to indicate by 
this contrast, we seeni to lose more than we are at first in a 
position to gain. 

For above all, the full, conscious, mental life, of which 
we have experience in ourselves, is alone to us thoroughly 
intelligible. If we have to give up its universal presence in 
Nature, the opposite thought of a wholly blind necessity of 
working may also be intelligible to us, in so far at least 
as we no longer profess to throw ourselves into this complete 
antithesis of our own nature. But just on this account 
this idea can only suffice for us so long as we are content 
with calculating natural events and with controlling them 
for the satisfaction of our wants ; to the perpetual craving 
for insight into the heart of things it yields no satisfaction. 
Hence, in order to escape from this threatened absence 
of personality in all things, we create the notion of 
Impulse ; for by that term we seek to express not only that 
no external force with arbitrary necessity compels things to 
produce their effects, but that this compelling power cannot 
merely be in their own nature, it must be known by them as 
their own, be by them known, possessed, willed, and per 
petually produced anew within, or however else we may 
describe the desire to take impulse as the peculiar living 
nature of things, as their selfhood. The clear sun of Personal 
Consciousness, that shone in the forms of the mythic world, 
has been therefore replaced at least by the moonlight of an 
Unconscious Eeason in things, in order that what they do 
should not merely seem to spring from them, but in some 
manner should further exist for themselves and be recognised 
by them as their own life and action. 

The many circumlocutions and figurative expressions which 
have been required, and which will always "be required, in 
order to bring home what we are here in search of, show 
clearly how between the two extremes of the belief in Personal 

1 ["Spricht nicht inehr von. Seelen. welche die Binge treibea sondeni voa 
Tnebcn welclie sie beseelen."] 


Spirits in Nature and the notion of a blind necessity of work 
ing, this idea of an Unconscious Eeason stands as an exceed 
ingly indistinct ma media. Yet, as the human mind is 
wont under the guidance of a decided preference to return 
once and again and that in the most diverse ways to 
this idea, it must meet a deep-seated mental need. And in 
fact, when v;e seek to account for this, we find even in our 
ordinary moods many traces of a tendency to prefer a some 
what dim murky twilight to the broad light of intelligent 
life, and to efface the boundary between conscious action and 
unconscious operation. 

Not that we do not prize, as the two essential attributes 
by which mind is distinguished from things, the deliberate 
thought by which our mental states are bound together, and 
the volition which ascribes to itself their determination. But 
the noblest part of mental life does not always seem to 
us to lie in these, not every spoken word is to be regarded 
as the result of a train of thought which we can retrace; 
we rather rejoice in the spontaneousness with which from 
unconscious depths the expression of the soul's life wells up 
inexplicable and yet intelligible. We admire the lucid 
cogency with which an unbroken chain of inferences leads 
from the starting-point of an investigation to its conclusion ; 
yet often we prize more highly that other kind of consistent 
sequence in virtue of which in works of art thought grows 
out of thought, without our being able to make a demonstra 
tion of the connecting links, whose connecting efficacy we yet 
feel Similarly we can only look on ourselves as creatures 
with a will of our own when, sitting in judgment on ourselves, 
we lay to our own account the moral excellence or -worthless- 
ness of a particular action. Yet at the same time we regard 
it as the problem which education has to solve, that not 
merely the trifling movements to which the incidents of every 
day life give rise, but further our whole moral conduct should 
appear as the involuntary expression of a noble nature, free 
from the melancholy seriousness of deliberate purpose, and 
therefore free from any thought of being able to be different. 


Even mythology, when it explained the phenomena of 
Nature from intelligent motives, did not think differently as to 
this. Not every sunrise is preceded by a renewed resolve of the 
god ; the original volition having as it were become faint at the 
distance to which it has retreated, continues to work with the 
unconscious power of a graceful habit. Nature manifests 
herself as Nature just because she seems to act under the 
inlluence of motives, of which she has ceased to be conscious, 
and of whose power she is now but dreamily aware, as some 
thing persisting involuntarily. And in this twilight condition 
we love to merge even our own existence, however highly 
we may prize distinctness of thought and freedom of will, far 
from denying the presence even in ourselves of a Nature that 
works unconsciously and involuntarily, we rather dwell with 
partiality on its constant quiet activity. 

As yet we have hardly made clear the reasons that confirm 
us in this tendency, and I cannot hope to treat them exhaus 
tively here. But first of all it appears to nie as if we were 
sometimes overpowered by the feeling how much all investiga 
tion and demonstration, all pondering and resolution, belong 
to the laborious processes of that life which is still engaged m 
the toilsome search after a distant summum bonum. Then we 
faintly feel the fascination that in so many enthusiastic souls 
has begotten longing after the absorption of their personal 
life in the all-embracing ocean of a universal spirit. That 
self-absorbed contemplation before which the loosened ties of 
a methodical train of thought are dissolved, and ego and 
uon-ego their limits effaced blend in dreamy identity, 
that vegetative existence which has given up all volition 
and all effort after the distant, these seem to us, in the 
undiscriminated vague emotion with which they fill us, to 
possess as something actually present that veritable highest 
good towards whose far-off reflection tends the unresting- 
labour of our thoughts and our will. We prefer the tran 
quillity of this finite fulfilment to the infinite restlessness of 
longing. But perhaps we are no less fascinated by the 
vista into something in Unite which opens up before us as 


soon as we come to perceive a Nature working within, us 
unconsciously. In fact, a pleasure from mingled self-corn- 
placency and humility seems to lie for us in the conviction 
that within ourselves lurks a world, whose form we but 
imperfectly apprehend, and whose working when in par 
ticular phases it comes under our observation surprises 
us with foreshadowings of unknown depths in our own 
being. Any one who could see quite through himself 
would seem to us to have come to an end of himself; he 
alone who is gradually discovering himself is entitled to 
take an interest in his own existence. Hence we would 
not be without this dark core of our being, so assuredly 
do we count it as part of our own personality, thus 
expanded for us to the dimensions of a world in which we 
ourselves have still discoveries to make, and so clearly do we 
recognise it as something in us, yet not we ourselves. Then 
we retreat in confusion before this mysterious recess of our 
being, thinking we behold in it that Infinite which is the 
eternal foundation of all finite phenomena. 

I add but cursorily one last consideration. As in ourselves 
we love to obscure the boundary between consciousness and 
unconsciousness, so also we are not wont to set our inner 
nature itself in sharp contrast to its bodily external form. 
Hardly ever, save when the idea of death awakens thoughts 
of a remote future, do we think of regarding the body as but 
a covering to be rent asunder, which the spirit occupies with 
out blending with it. This view is little familiar to simple 
minds, and, even when we grasp it by reflection, we yet fail 
to raise it from the condition of a derived conviction into the 
clearness of an immediate vital feeling. We never can think 
of our hands and feet, of the surface of our bodies that feels 
pressure, except as a part of our very self in no wise as an 
adjacent tract of the outer world which has been brought 
under the dominion of the soul only more completely than 
further outlying parts of the same. The mind invariably 
resists the giving up of that close union of soul and body, the 
feeling of which comes to us aJI, as a pleasing illusion, from 


the knitting together of our organization. The spirit seems 
to fulfil its destiny only when, instead of moving a foreign 
body from without, it takes its place within it as the spring 
of action ; only then does the existence even of matter seem 
iully justified, when it not only confronts spirit as something 
to be used, but is inwardly penetrated by its glow. Here it 
is the artistic impulse, the esthetic craving, that grows strong 
within us. As in all beauty we seek a mysterious blending 
of the ideal essence with the real form, so of science also we 
above all require recognition of the animated form in that 
charm of wholeness with which it floats before us in life a& 
the visible fulfilment of our longing after unity, and we will 
rather admire it as an uncomprehended reality than suffer the 
understanding to dissolve it. 

From these and other similar causes springs indeed the 
power of attraction ever exerted over us by the idea of an 
unconscious reason pervading all Nature ; I have purposely 
spoken of those alone which give the conception in question 
its fascination for every human mind, passing over the argu 
ments by which philosophical speculators seek to commend 
them within the sphere of the schools, though they cannot bring 
them home to living feeling. At the same time, I suspect 
that even such recommendations would not remove the 
reproach of indistinctness to be brought against the funda 
mental thought of this conception. For, in appealing to 
actual experience of unconscious mental operations in our 
selves, not only do we appeal to that within us which 
most stands in need of explanation, but investigation would 
after a few steps show that all those states on which we were 
laying stress in so far at least as they were connected with 
enjoyment were cases belonging to a margin, and to bo 
approached only by a personal and individual life of intelli 
gence with the organs of its nature ; with this condition left 
out, they become inexplicable instead of more easy to explain. 

But this view is at a disadvantage as compared with the 
belief in personal spirits in Nature not only from the indis 
tinctness of its principle, for it is further open to the charge 


that even under the application of this principle we do not 
leadily regain an advantage winch, the mythological view of 
things certainly afforded. Tor the lively ever - recurring 
satisfaction with which we follow the latter in its inter 
pretations of Nature, arises in great part from the fact; 
that it traces hack phenomena to motives whose cogency 
is directly intelligible to feeling. If day by day Helios 
drives the sun-car across the heavens, it is not because he 
is urged "by the blind natural necessity of an inexplicable 
Instinct, but "that he may give light to the immortals" 
and contribute his share to the blissful order of the celestial 
world, that he daily repeats the monotonous task. And how 
frequently elsewhere in the legends of widely differing 
peoples are the movements of the heavenly bodies, their 
mutual attractions and N repulsions, represented as the con 
sequences of deeds and destinies whence spring everywhere 
poetic motives of love, duty, longing, and remembrance 
to keep the monotonous round going on I Thus Nature in 
fact becomes the reflection of a world of thought; the 
external displays of force have no greater siguifieance thau 
belongs to the gestures of living beings ; they exist not for 
fcheir own sake, but in order to point back to an essence 
which is expressed without being exhausted in them. It we 
give up the belief in personal spirits of Nature, this support, 
offered by a spirit-world to Nature, is in the first place only 
weakened. Even should the outward deportment of things 
now spring from a dream-like internal impulse, yet no analogy 
leads us to form any notion of a wider background of their 
psychic life, whence that dreamy impulse and tlie individual 
activity excited by it could proceed, as one among a plurality 
of manifestations. A single impulse, immediately directed 
towards a single kind of operation, has become the whole 
essence of things, their one and all, and they appear forced 
to make the outward signs of activity, without any inner 
experience of a higher kind by expressing which these would 
be alone justifiable. In like manner as it explains the 
turning of flowers towards the sun, mythology would have ' 


traced back the mutual attraction of bodies to a conscious 
longing, and explained that longing itself from the past 
course of destiny. Movement in space would thus hare 
been to it the momentary expression of a manifold mental 
life, into which in its manifoldness we could still enter, 
which in the fulness of its import reaches far beyond this 
single expression, and on that very account can truly explain 
it from itself. To us, on the other hand, an impulse of 
attraction that we suppose to lie in the nature of matter 
repeats properly but the uncomprehended fact of movement, 
adding thereto, instead of the explanatory motive, merely the 
thought of an equally incomprehensible necessity by which 
tilings are compelled to execute it. In fact, in this light the 
processes of Nature appear to us only as the silent gesticula 
tions of forms whose images we discern on the horizon, while 
their voices are lost in the distance. 

I>ut this was not the whole meaning of this view of things 
at all times therefore we find it striving, by a wider develop 
ment of its thoughts, to counteract this lowering of the 
conception of Nature. Above all, it earned back the divided 
multiplicity of phenomena to an all-embracing Cause, to an 
Infinite Eeason. In the centre of this dreaming and creating 
World-soul it placed an original Impelling Cause of deep 
import which, assuming an inexhaustible variety of shapes, 
gives rise to this actual frame of things. Attaining in 
individuals to full self - consciousness, the action of this 
perpetual force is guided throughout "by the same motives, 
even in forms where it but dreamily and unconsciously 
stirs, and each single product of Nature expresses in visible 
corporeality one of those thoughts by which the living 
essence of the Highest is interpreted. These thoughts, 
springing from the came original source, and therein com 
bining to form the whole of an inexhaustible Idea, 
establish between the things whose moving-springs they 
are, an intimate connection of meaning and of community 
of nature. And in this community of their ground and 
aim, of which they perhaps retain some obscure renxem- 


brance, tilings get back again that deeper support of 
their being which we missed. The utterances in which 
the individual, yielding to the necessity of its impulse, 
indulges, are no longer made for their own sake ; they are the 
contribution which each in its place is bound to make to the 
realization of the universal cosmic meaning. And if the 
creatures pass in changeful development through a series of 
states, or in various fashions react on external forces, they are 
not even here under the compulsion of an unconnected multi 
tude of separate impulses from without. On the contrary, 
from the unity of the Idea which is their animating principle, 
arise as with poetic necessity all the manifold varieties of 
existence and of deportment to be observed in them. Thus 
each individual is a living self-contained unity, and yet at 
the same time each has, in the mighty entirety of things, 
the explaining background of the particular dream by which 
it is moved. 

On account of the truth which it unquestionably contains, 
this conception will never cease to produce its impression on 
the human mind , yet manifold difficulties start up as soon 
as it seriously sets about the interpretation of phenomena. 
If o one has yet found an expression for that infinitely high 
essence of the world-soul whose individual emanations the 
productions of Nature are ; no one has yet found an expression 
to satisfy our raised expectations, or make up to us for the 
congenial life with which mythology had filled Nature. For 
all those efforts after growth and development, after plurality 
in unity and unity in plurality, after contrariety and the 
conciliation of opposites, by which men have tried to render 
intelligible the essence of the world-soul, must to the un 
biassed judgment appear but miserable tasks, scarce worthy 
even of the sportive activity of childhood, far less fitted to 
express the serious creative tendencies of the cause of the 
world. Did such efforts exhaust the fulness of its content, 
we could not deny that any single moment taken at random 
out of the life of a human spirit has infinitely more soul than 
the depths of the world-soul. 


Nevertheless the sliortcomings of our attempts to fathom 
these depths would not disprove the truth of the view itself; 
even should the Highest continue to float before us but as an 
unutterable idea, we might yet, by holding fast this idea, at 
least gain the advantage of securing a living conception of 
Nature. But the same reproach which we had to bring against 
mythology, lies at the Joor of this view and its results. For 
it too, expressly as it promises to embrace the whole of 
Nature, has yet hitherto in all its performances really had in 
view only those selected main outlines of the course of 
Nature to which the mythological imagination confined itself; 
like that, it overlooks the treasures of the trivial common 
place actual world that less poetic, but all the more 
inevitable spreads around us. In the mobility of the 
uniinal body, in the growth of plants, nay, iu the crystalline 
forms of solid matter and the revolution of the heavenly 
bodies, ia short, wherever the isolated effects of the elements 
have already coalesced into a permanent, self-maintaining 
form of existence and of motion, there we can easily find the 
reflection of Ideas which we assume in the essence of the 
world-soul as the type of its working. But the achievements 
of the lever and the screw, the laws of equilibrium and of 
impact, the effects of pressure and of tension, all these have 
ever seemed to lie far apart from the progressive manifesta 
tion of the world-soul, and have for the most part remained 
wholly outside the speculations of those who have philo 
sophized about it. The open-air landscape beauty of creation 
may foster the tendency to this lofty view of Nature ; the 
homely activity of the workshop, teaching us not to admire 
what lies before us finished, but to consider the possibility 
of its coming to pass, necessarily leads to other thoughts ; 
by it the doctrine of creative animating natural impulses is 
inevitably forced to give place to a third view, the last 
which forms a chapter in the history of human thought, 

3. We are now daily surrounded by a multitude of artificial 
contrivances, far more varied than those of earlier times, iu 
which, by means of a complicated series of movements, lifeless 

VOL. I. B 


materials successfully imitate tlie activity of living organisms 
Our eyes cannot rest repeatedly and continuously on this 
remarkable borderland of self-acting instruments, which derive 
Uieir material from Nature but the form of their operation 
from Iranian volition ; without our whole mode of conceiv 
ing Nature being affected by these observations. In tho 
materials of which it is constructed there was no internal 
predisposition to the formation Q the machine which moves 
before us ; no inherent vital end brought about its present 
mode of connection; no animating impulse inspired the rhythm 
of its movements. We know in fact that not from within, 
by a spontaneous effort at development, but under extraneous 
compulsion have the combined bodies acquired this admirable 
play of mutually adjusted states. Ifar simpler properties and 
effects belonged in themselves to the particular substances 
which we combined, varying according to universal laws with 
the alteration of definite conditions. These invisible forces 
our mechanical skill has compelled (by the cunning combina 
tions into which it has beguiled that which holds them) to 
work, under such conditions that their conformity to universal 
laws must, without any purpose of their own, realize the ends 
that are our purposes. If this be so, then tho elements of 
Nature suffer themselves to be applied and adjusted by our 
hands to the most remarkable performances, to which they 
were impelled by no innate tendency craving for expression, and 
why should it be otherwise with Nature herself ? Perhaps, too, 
the forms of her creatures full of significance as they arc 
spring up but from without, as part of tho world's course, 
which combines the elements sometimes iu one way, some 
times in another, and in each of these groups inexorably 
initiates the system of movements and operations that, accord 
ing to general laws, corresponds to the actual mode of their 
connection, Thus all organisms would be made what they 
are by the concurrence of many external conditions, and 
would just as little possess an inner vital spring of action as 
the products of our hands, of whose want of personality we 
arc convinced, 


The more widely and effectively the practical dominion of 
human skill extends over Nature, the more confidently do we 
land this infeience drawn. And results seem to confirm this 
confidence even where we are not constructing anything new 
out of serviceable materials, "but merely seeking to modify 
what Nature offers of her own accord. By combining sub 
stances presented to us by the earth, the hand of the chemist 
has produced countless others, which never existed until they 
had been created by art, and many of which by their per 
manence and strength, by the brilliancy of their sensible 
properties, by the variety of their modes of action, vie with 
the most remarkable of those offered to us by Nature as her 
own products. From having been subjected to artificial 
fertilization and lengthened careful nurture, plants have 
developed a heightened beauty of blossom and of fruit, and 
our gardens are filled with a flora such as, in the form in 
which it delights us, has no natural Jiabitat. Animals show 
even in their shape the modifying and improving effect of 
domestication ; hardly anywhere do we meet with the original 
features of Nature , in all its departments the deliberate in 
terference of man has succeeded in. making alterations full of 
importance. The impression' produced by these observations 
necessarily strengthens the conjecture that Nature brings forth 
hor products not through animating impulses from within, to 
which we 'have nothing parallel to show, but through the 
composition of the same separate forces, by whose application 
we succeed in transforming her creatures. 

A further consideration would seem to make this conjecture 
a certainty. If each single natural product depended entirely 
on itself, and were developed out of itself without needing an 
external world or being accessible to its encroachments, then 
we might conceive of each as resting on a single animating 
Idea peculiar to itself, by which should be determined, with 
provident sagacious consistency, every detail of its future 
development. It was thus that the view which believed in the 
animating impulses of things, loved to conceive of Nature ; it. 
thought of the actual world as a great picture of still life, 


and sought to giye to each, figure in this picture its own 
peculiar meaning. What had been overlooked by this mode 
of thought, came home the more forcibly to the new, which 
had become accustomed, in practical intercourse with things, to 
inquire as to the ways in which each product can come into 
existence. It was to it clear that the actual world is a 
picture of life in movement, whose separate parts, in constant 
action and reaction, bring forth, preserve, alter, and destroy 
one another. But whatever grows and lives, not isolated in a 
world of its own, but as part of a connected actual whole by 
which it is influenced, whatever thus has needs and conditions 
of development, must, in acting and being acted upon, obey 
the universal laws of a cosmic economy which, extending 
impartially over all that actually is, can alone afford to 
the individual the satisfaction of his needs. Every form 
of mutual action necessarily involves this capacity of being 
reciprocally affected in the things that mutually act, and 
presupposes some universally binding system of law, whereby 
the amount and the form of their reciprocal operations are 
determined. Now it is no longer possible for the most 
important single phenomenon to behave as an independent 
and indivisible unity intelligible only in itself; how it is 
developed, what it actively performs, and what it passively 
receives, depends no longer on its own arbitrary fancy, but 
has from eternity been decided for it from outside ; and all 
its operations, all its states, are assigned to it by the general 
laws of the world's order and the particular circumstances 
under which it enters into that order. 

Hardly ever has any serious attempt been made to with 
draw inorganic Nature from this mechanical mode of concep 
tion; a longer resistance was made to bringing organized 
beiDgs also under it. But the same reasons compel us to 
admit it here too. Animals and plants produce neither from 
themselves nor from nothing the substances through whose 
aggregation their outward form grows; they borrow them 
from the common storehouse of Nature. In a continuous 
cycle the soil and the atmosphere supply to the vegetable, and 


tins again to the animal, kingdom, those indestructible elements 
which serve now one, and now another form of life, then for a 
time return to the formless condition of unorganized bodies, 
applicable to everything, but of themselves inclined neither to 
one nor to another mode of their application. This necessity 
to draw from the general store and to detach the required 
elements from already existing combinations, in order to 
bring them into its own service, sets narrow bounds to the 
free play of vital force in each several organism. That force, 
for its part disposed to transgress those laws which hold good 
for the rest of the world, would perhaps willingly, with pre 
vision of the whole course of its future evolution, direct the 
development of life from a single impetus and with the unity 
of a single purpose. But this disposition will not be shared 
by the materials that are to it indispensable; they will 
imperatively demand to be directed here by the same laws to 
which, in all other cases they are subject. The plant can 
never decompose the carbonic acid of the atmosphere unless it 
counteracts the chemical affinity which holds its constituents 
together, by another affinity in a definite degree stronger, and 
carbonic acid only recognises the separating power of such an 
attraction as is attached to a definite quantum of material 
mass. And where the acquired material has, within the 
living body, to be brought into the forms required by the 
plan of the organization, it will just as little spontaneously 
accommodate itself to this conformation. On the contrary, 
like every weight to be moved, it will expect to see its par 
ticles pushed into the required position by means of definite 
amounts of propelling force exerted by definite masses, accord 
ing to the same universal mechanical laws that likewise 
regulate the movements of inorganic substances. 

Whatever living impulse therefore may animate organisms 
from within, this does not cause their persistence in spite of 
assaults from without, and the execution of their predestined 
functions. Both are at all times due to the forces inherent in 
their elementary particles, which, coming into contact with 
the outside world, are capable of receiving stimuli and 


responding to them efficiently. And whatever ingenious 
sequence may "bind the life-phcenomena of an organism into a 
systematically developed whole, that too is bestowed on it both 
oy the original arrangement of its parts, from which the total 
result of the single operations receives a definite form, as well 
as b} r the progressive alteration which these parts make for 
themselves in the course of their activity. 

So long as the investigation of Nature started from the 
unity of the living impulse, and sought in it a suflicient 
source of explanation for the changeful development of an 
organism, it had little success in the interpretation of 
phenomena. It took the most decided step in advance when 
it began to take note of the activity of the smallest parts, 
and, at various points combining the single operations, to 
trace back the whole to the united efforts of countless con 
stituents. It still for a time allowed something internal, the 
one vital force of every organism, to remain an object of 
traditional belief and veneration, and theoretically granted 
that the Idea of the whole precedes the efficiency of the parfa 
long after it had practically decided to seek really fruitful 
explanation only in the common working of the parts. This 
last aversion the present has overcome ; and, tired of rever 
encing an essence that never expressed itself in action, it has 
extended the clear and definite mode of conception of 
mechanical physical science over the whole domain of Nature, 
as much to the advantage of inquiry as undeniably to the 
disquieting of the mind. 

In place of the vital impulse, animating as with a breath 
the composite and variously formed whole, it put the simple 
and indestructible forces which perpetually inhere in the 
elements. The impulse had been regarded as developing witli 
changeful energy now one, now another mode of operation, here 
holding its power in reserve, there hurrying and striving to 
express itself ; equalizing and supplying what was deficient, 
it was bound not by an immutable rule of action, but solely 
by regard to the end towards which all the details of the 
development were to converge Force, on the other hand, 


inheres in the elements of the body with, an unvarying, ever- 
identical mode of operation, at each moment of necessity 
performing all that, according to general laws, present circum- 
ytanccs dictate, and capable neither of deducting anything 
fiom their possible effect, nor of supplying what the tuT- 
favourable character of circumstances denies. Not guided 
by any aim in view, but driven forward by the pressure of 
the course of Nature behind, it does not of itself work towards 
the realization of a plan, but each, connected chain of diverse 
effects depends on the peculiar conditions under which a 
number of elements are compelled by the actual form of their 
connection to work together. 

While physical science thus divides the unity of the 
animating power into an indefinite multitude of elemental 
forces, and believes the final form of the organism to be 
determined by the manner in which these are combined, it 
leaves open the question as to the origin o these combina 
tions, winch are so happily chosen that what is fairest and 
most significant in Nature is necessarily evolved as their 
result. Addressing itself exclusively to the explanation of 
the conservation of the already existing universe, it may in 
fact shut out tins question from the narrower range of its 
inquiries. If sometimes inclined to ascribe the origin of this 
order to a chance for which no special reasons can be found, 
it is yet just as likely to refer it to the wisdom of a divine 
spirit. But in any case it is wont to maintain. and in so 
doing perhaps to go beyond its province that of the creative 
freedom of this spirit no breath has passed into the creation, 
and that Nature once in existence continues to exist, like 
every product of art, according to those inexorable laws whose 
immutability testifies alike to the wisdom of the maker and 
to the complete impersonality of that which, has been made. 

4. And in this wonderful machine of Nature, by whose 
ceaseless movement we are everywhere surrounded, what place 
do \ve ourselves occupy ? We, who once believed we could 
discern kindred godlike forms behind the veil of phenomena ? 
we, in whom the Universal Reason of the World- soul became 


at least dreamily conscious of great ends, and of an eternal 
Impulse binding us along with Nature into one great universal 
fabric ? With the yearnings of our spirit, with the demands 
of our moral nature, with the general fervour of our inner 
life, we feel out of place in this realm of Things to which 
consciousness is unknown. Yet perhaps this feeling of 
discord also is but the survival of an error which we must 
lay aside. 

For not alone have our views of Nature in process of lime 
undergone the alterations described, along with them our 
self-knowledge has at the same time assumed new forms. 
Youthful humanity could innocently rejoice in its vivid 
consciousness, which, like the plant evolved wholly from its 
own germ and oppressed by no feeling o extraneous com 
pulsion, did not even feel needful the recognition of its own 
freedom. Growing experience and gradually widening surveys 
of human existence showed that the development even of 
mental life was governed by general laws valid for all, and 
less and less to be attributed to any special desert of the 
Individual. The mind resigned itself with equanimity to this 
iiarfof necessity, so long as it saw in it the gently constraining 
power of the one eternal Idea in which we live and are * a 
seijise of oppression arose when that too had to give place to 
tlid divided plurality of determining and moulding forces. 
How much of that which we had looked on as an essential 
part of our personality did we find to be the result of 
influences that cross, confirm, or resist one another within us ! 
Within narrower and narrower proportions shrank that in us 
which we could call really our own; the bodily organs 
claimed one part as their contribution, another came under the 
general forces of psychic life, which by no merit of their own 
work according to identical laws in all individuals; one small 
sphere alone, that which is ruled and shaped by the freedom 
of our moral action, seemed to afford an asylum to our real 
self. To this last vestige of genuinely inner life science has 
left but an ambiguous existence, as a possible object of brfipf 
and even this she seems on the point of giving up altogether. 


As soon as we know that the general economy of the universe 
apparently requires yearly a certain average of crime just as 
much as a certain average of temperature, we can hardly 
help seeing even in mental life the unbroken sequence of a 
blind mechanism. Like the outer world in its perpetual 
revolution, our mental life too must be but a vortex of move 
ments kept going by the incessant action and reaction of the 
countless atoms of our nervous system. We have advanced 
far beyond the childlike ingenuousness of mythological con 
ceptions ; we have not only given up personal nature-spirits, 
but made the possibility of any sort of personal existence one 
of the darkest of problems. Enclosed within the great 
machine of Nature stands the smaller machine of the human 
mind, more cunningly framed than any other, inasmuch as it 
is aware of its own movements, and watches with admiration 
those of the other toy ; yet some day its parts, too, will fall 
asunder, and it will be all over with the jest and the earnest., 
the love and the hatred, by which this strange world was moved ! 
Even these final conclusions men have not shrunk from 
drawing, now in an exulting, now in a despairing spirit. At 
the same time, they have not been universally drawn ; at 
various points on the way thither multitudes have stopped, 
trying in different directions to escape from the uninvitin^ 
goal. And all along, through all shiftings of view, one 
simple faith has yet preserved itself unshaken, the faith in 
an eternal First Cause, who bestowed on the world of spirits 
living freedom for the combat on behalf of a sacred aim, 
and denied it to the world of things, that under a blind 
necessity was to be a stage and a weapon for the efforts of 
the combatants. With this clear line of demarcation the 
mind gained power to establish itself in the circle of things, 
building on their unvarying conformity to law and on its 
own freedom. But that left still another platform to be 
reached from which to answer the many questions as to the 
respective boundaries of the two contiguous spheres of 
freedom and necessity, ever and anon raised by attentive 
observation of the details of the course of Nature. 


By sucli problems we feel ourselves beset, not as if they 
had not existed and been felt at all times ; but more than 
ever they have now been brought into the foreground of 
thought by the growing diffusion of physical science. Too 
long, no doubt, did the human mind, when forming its view 
of the universe, overlook that obscure uncompromising element 
of necessity, the world of things ; as experience advanced, 
this has advanced with increasing power, and vainly should 
we now strive to conceal the fact that its dominion is f rrnly 
established over the world of sense. If, however, we would 
anew attempt to withdraw from ifc what we believe we cannot 
yield without the sacrifice of our own being, wo must not 
begin by disputing what all experience unites in ever afresh 
confirming. On the contrary we must admit, even for our 
own bodily life, the complete validity of the principles on 
which the world of sense is interpreted by the mechanical 
system of inquiry into Nature. Meanwhile we may, perhaps, 
clearly distinguish that which in the passion of conflict is, in 
many quarters, laid down as an unquestionable principle of 
physical science, from that \\hich science itself here more 
tolerant than certain of its votaries claims to know cer 
tainly, and is entitled everywhere and inexorably to require. 
Perhaps also it will at last appear that mechanism as a whole, 
far from being antagonistic to the true tasks of mental life, 
has itself been taken as a necessary working element in 
the great totality of things of which only partial glimpses 
of separate sides are afforded to the human mind by the 
fluctuations of the spirit of the age. 



Universality of Law Determination of Effects Places of Efficient Activity in, 
Nature Atoms, and the Sense in which they are accepted Physical 
Forces Laws of Effects and of their Composition General Inferences 
with respect to the Explanation of Natural Phenomena. 

1. OOME necessary connection in things has, in some 
^^ sense, been sought in every age^ and under every 
mode of thought ; it is not this which is distinctive of the 
mechanical attitude of contemporary science, but the further 
speculations as to the meaning and origin of this necessity. 
Even the darkest superstition, thinking by futile magic to 
determine the destiny of the distant in space, appealed to 
an incomprehensible connection, according to which the 
desired effect was to follow its incantations. In a twofold 
sense tlio thought of science is different. The several states 
of things, instead of being supposed to be assigned to them 
merely in succession, by this incomprehensible necessity, are 
held to proceed intelligibly one out of another, so that each 
prior state contains in itself the reason why, by a universal 
and comprehensible law, the posterior is necessarily required ELF 
its consequence. And similarly each actual form of existence 
is not supposed to evolve state out of state according to 
a law peculiar to itself, on the contrary, the necessity that 
is dominant in one organism, owes its compelling power to the 
same universal laws which in every other also assign like to 
like and diverse to diverse. Thus the various spheres of 
contrasted phenomena that make up the universe, do not 
separately rest on special predispositions, having nothing in 
common ; they are only examples of what the power of uni 
versal law establishes, under the different circumstances, which 


bring phenomena under its rule in ways varying according 
to conditions of time and place. It is on this conception 
of a system of law controlling all nature, whence alone tilings 
derive their obligations and their capabilities of working, 
that the mechanical view of nature has based the extensive 
superstructure of its doctrines. 

But from the phenomena by which alone we arc sur 
rounded, we can reach this universal system of law only 
through inferences that transcend the region of perception. 
And here the steps that have been taken are not all alike 
unquestionable. The principles of our knowledge, certain 
in themselves, are not everywhere sufficient for tho attain 
ment of useful results ; frequently a happy intuition has had 
to divine fruitful points of view. The progress of science 
has not, of course, invariably confirmed the correctness of 
sucli conjectures, which when made, excited surprise by tho 
opening up of great prospects; further, it has not always 
been found practicable to trace back to their special inner 
necessity even such conjectures as have been abundantly 
verified by experience. The sceptical inquirer may therefore 
be beset by many doubts, and the hope of escaping from par 
ticular corollaries of the mechanical view of Nature will be 
secretly derived from the fact of its foundation not being in 
all points completed. But it would be of small avail to think 
one coald shake the great fabric of this view by liastily collect 
ing together objections suggested by a cursory consideration of 
many of its particular propositions. Eesting, as it does, on a 
boundless store of consentient facts, it deserves, like a natural 
phsenomenon, to be regarded in the belief that future insight 
into the connection of its parts will dispel present doubts 
as to particular points. In fact, like a product of Nature, 
this view of Nature is itself capable of a full, transforming 
development. None but one very imperfectly acquainted 
witli its spirit, could look on the principles which it has 
hitherto applied as a fixed number of possible points of view 
which cannot be increased. On the contrary, physical science 
knows very well that the fields, which have as yet been com- 


pletely covered by its investigations, are but few compared with 
the infinite variety of phenomena which Nature daily sets 
before us. It is aware that the general principles of which 
it makes use, are partly derived from the particular forms in 
which operating Nature manifests itself in the few best-known 
departments, and that as, one after another, new spheres of 
experience enter the circle of objects of investigation and 
become more fully known, a more general and comprehensive 
statement of the prior basis of its reasonings becomes indis 
pensable. In this process of self-development it will rarely 
have to pull down what it had previously built up; more 
frequently it will find that laws, whose validity this progress 
leaves unimpaired, are but special cases of more comprehensive 
formulce. Thus true physical science will not show that 
narrow-minded haste with which men so often try to explain 
all phenomena on the same pattern as those which chance, or 
the point temporarily reached by observation, has brought 
most conspicuously before them. In view of this pliability 
of science we have to bring into relief the few points which 
it does hold as necessary and universal, while of the others we 
must ascertain the degree of probability which alone it claims 
for them. 

2. Now there is one feature, in addition to the conviction 
of a universal bond of law, that is essentially characteristic 
of the spirit of the mechanical view of Nature, namely, the 
-unremitting care with which, in regard to every effect with 
which it deals, it seeks accurately to determine the elements 
by which this effect is produced. This caution has not 
always been practised. In earlier times men spoke of effects 
in general without saying by what they were produced ; of 
operations, without stating whence they proceeded and where 
they ended. Compound products, in which a multitude of 
parts might be distinguished, were connected by them in a 
general way with forces, evolutions, and operations, that seemed 
to take place within these structures in as indefinite a way 
as electric discharges in clouds, which one sees flash, without 
discerning the outline of that from which they proceed. To 


its strict avoidance of this fault modern science owes all that 
it has accomplished. Seeking carefully to define each element 
from which an effect proceeds, in reference to other elements, 
and to all the conditions surrounding it when active, it has 
not only made itself familiar with effects in their general 
appearances and deportment, but has connected their magni 
tude, direction, and duration, as well as the influence exerted 
by them in any given direction, with definite quantitative 

In this way science has made its way to a point beyond 
which, for the most part, the investigation of mental de 
velopments has not as yet advanced. Following on weak 
attempts to Interpret the course of history, and all that is 
important in its events, from the mere volition of individuals, 
we are glad once more to find nowadays an inclination to 
derive human social conditions, religious aspirations, and 
the variable tendencies of art from the unconsciously organic 
operation of a universal spirit. Nothing is taken away 
from the brilliant results due to these efforts by the con 
fession that, after all, history is not made without personal 
intelligences, and that more exact observation will discover 
in that universal spirit only the uniform tendency impressed 
on individuals under the influence of universal conditions and 
by their mutual action and reaction. We need not there 
fore grant that all fair and significant phenomena in Nature 
and history were but after-results of the circumstances that 
as a matter of fact went before ; on the contrary, what we 
meet with as the ideal element in the world of reality, 
may well have given the first impulse to that definite order 
of things from which we are continually seeing it arise as a 
necessary result. But, wherever the subject of our inquiry is, 
not the worth of that which has come into being, but the 
possibility of its coming into being and the process of its 
realization, our search will be necessarily directed towards the 
single real elements, whose normal action and reaction on one 
another is the sole instrumentality whereby everything comes 
into existence. And thus history and physical science will 


derive tlio origin of all new conditions, the persistence of all 
prior ones, from tho mutually exercised influence of many 
separate individual points, in which exclusively the Idea, has 
become materialized into energetic existence. 

Having perforce entered on this line of investigation, 
science could not but try to discover those first starting-pouita 
of all effects, which, absolutely simple and immutable, con 
tribute to form the heterogeneous course of Nature in pro 
portions which are unchanging, and therefore calculable. 
That which presents itself at first to direct observation as an 
isolated unity, c.g. the moving animal body or the clearly 
outlined form of the plant, ultimately shows during the course 
of its life that its existence in time and place and capability 
of action are dependent on a certain combination of parts, 
and cease along with that. Unorganized bodies, by their 
divisibility into homogeneous constituents, or by the manifest 
occurrence iu them of heterogeneous ingredients, still more 
forcibly suggested that they were composite substances with 
properties dependent on the nature, the number, and the forces 
of thoir component elements. But tho attempt to discover 
these elements soon brought the conviction that the simple 
and unvarying constituents of things are wholly beyond the 
reach of sense-perception. For what appears to the senses, in 
a very small space, as a homogeneous and persistent element, 
is found to be after all variable during the progress of inquiry, 
or becomes split up, before the assisted eye, into a world of 
variety, and once more we see indefinite congeries of particles 
engaged in building up, by their action and reaction, those 
minute forms that cheat us with the appearance of a uniform 
and inwardly motionless existence. Hence it was necessary 
to take for granted that which perception did not reveal, 
because going on in a region to it inaccessible, and to seek the 
linal constituents of the physical world in countless atoms, 
invisible from their minuteness, persistent in their duration, 
and unchangeable in their properties. These atoms, now 
coalescing in mosb manifold fashion, now,withdrawing unaltered 
from these fluctuating combinations, produce by the variety 


of their positions and motions the different kinds of natural 
products and their changeful development. 

Microscopic investigation, which so often converts the appa 
rently homogeneous into a cunningly-framed fabric of manifold 
parts, seems most naturally to foster the tendency to think of 
the efficient elements of physical nature as distributed among 
particular points of space, and of the properties of the larger 
perceptible bodies as dependent on the mode in which these 
parts are combined. But this thought was elaborated by 
the ancients long ago under the guidance of considerations 
that partly still retain un diminished force. Yet by the want 
of connected observations expressly directed towards this end, 
they were prevented from giving mathematical precision to 
this conception, and in their hands it remained rather a 
general thought about a possible explanation of Nature than 
a means of elucidating to any considerable degree a definite 
group of phenomena. While, however, the ancients did not 
turn to much account the fruitfulness of their principle, 
in another direction they went much further than the 
atomists among modern men of science. They believed they 
had found in atoms the ultimate and inscrutable elements of 
all reality, and what we now hold to be only the constant 
element in the course of the created world, they held to be 
the unconditioned and truly existing, before which nothing 
was, while, itself preceding all, it is the essentially necessary 
and independent foundation of every possible creation. Now 
that a countless multitude of separate and unconnected points 
should form the commencement of the universe, and that from 
their aimless movements the complicated whole of phenomena 
should arise: this theory will always have against it the 
mind's earnest longing to see Nature developed as a unity 
from one source and on one plan. But this objection, which 
has force against the view of the ancients, would be wrongly 
urged against the atomistic foundations of our physical science, 
with whose spirit and requirements the resuscitation of that 
view is not necessarily connected. When we speak of inde 
structible atoms, varying in form and size, we believe we have, 


by a happy conjecture, added to the series of facts which we 
actually observe a new and pre-eminently suggestive fact, 
which, however, does not directly fall under our observation. 
This fact is, that all changes in the course of Nature stop at 
these smallest particles, and under all alterations of their 
external relations leave these as unmodified starting-points 
of unceasing activity. In this fact we believe we have, under 
the guidance of innumerable indications of experience, happily 
divined a characteristic trait of Nature. Like other facts, 
this too may well suggest prior questions as to its meaning 
and origin. But physical science itself, intent solely on the 
explanation of what is going on within the world as it exists, 
has a right to stop at some ultimate fact, such as indicates 
a universal and irreversible trait of that world in such a 
manner as to shed light on the meaning of phsenomena. Thus 
atoms, unaltered and undivided, not on account of any absolute 
indestructibility on their part, but because the actual course 
of Nature yields no opportunities for their dissolution, form 
immoveably fixed points for the construction of phenomena, 
On whatever higher conditions their own existence may 
depend, these conditions we may leave undetermined when 
seeking to interpret Nature as actually existing, because they 
are invariably fulfilled,, are never lost, and therefore never 
need to be re-established. 

What further conceptions we have to form in regard to the 
nature of atoms, can be decided only by means of those indica 
tions of experience which compel us to admit them, and here much , 
remains in store for the future. It is natural to naive reflec 
tion to account for the various properties of the visible world 
by the various natures of the smallest elements ; science, on 
the other hand, is naturally desirous of reducing the divergent 
variety of phenomena to the smallest possible number of 
originally differing principles. In fact, 'experience very soon 
teaches that inany distinctions ia things that at first seem 
essential, are the result only of varieties in the size and 
combination of constituents in themselves homogeneous. Yet 
the persistence with which many natural products retain their 
VOL. i. o 


characteristically distinctive 'attributes under much variation 
in their conditions, would seem to increase the difficulty of 
explaining all the different forms of bodies and their varieties 
in deportment exclusively from the different modes in which 
absolutely similar and homogeneous atoms are connected. 
Besides, no higher point of view requires this similarity of 
atoms ; for what constitutes the unity of the cosmic whole is 
not that all its original elements are similar, but that, while 
differing, they conform to the requirements of a comprehensive 

The atomic theory of the ancients was governed by this idea 
of the identity of nature of the minutest constituent parts , 
and, at the same time, differences in them which had to be 
recognised in order to explain Nature were sought for ex 
clusively in the diversities of form and size proper to the 
atoms. But perfect identity of substance seemed rather to 
imply everywhere identity of form and size ; thus the belief 
came to prevail that the atoms themselves are composed of 
still more minute particles homogeneous and of equal size, 
and that their forms are determined by the space-relations of 
these. The atoms were thus not properly simple elements, 
but indivisible systems of many particles. Nevertheless the 
atoms, and not their particles, were the elements of the course 
of Nature. For the combinations of these smallest primitive 
particles into the larger and more diversely-shaped atoms 
were looked on as eternal and irreversible facts, having their 
foundation before the creation of the existing world, and 
consequently outside the sphere of scientific inquiry. Now 
that the created world is in existence, all that the action and 
reaction of the process of Nature that still goes on. in it can 
accomplish, is to break up composite palpable bodies into 
their atoms; it cannot further analyse these into their 
primitive constituents. 

The acceptance of an inexplicable primary construction, is, 
however, forced on this remarkable mode of thought solely by 
its hypothesis of perfect homogeneity in the minutest particles. 
Certainly no other reason could be found why it should not 


be possible for some one of the forces arising in the course of 
Nature to alter the combination of those particles in one atom 
into the different combination which they hold in a second, for 
this new combination, seeing it is there realized, cannot in itself 
be antagonistic to the nature of those particles. It would be 
different if we were to revive the theory of the ancients so as 
to hold that the atomic particles are formed not of homo 
geneous, but on the contrary of essentially heterogeneous 
primary constituents. Each of these might then be in 
divisible, because the constituents of each would be held 
together by an elective affinity such as could be surpassed 
by no other, and at the same time each would have a definite 
size and form, because only on condition of a limited number 
and fixed situation of the parts would their mutual cohesion 
be strong enough to resist the severance of any one. Such 
molecules, while by tlicir indestructibility deserving the name 
of atoms, would consequently not be indeed the ultimate and 
simplest elements of the material world, but they would bo 
the last to which the changes in Nature carry xis, those which 
in all syntheses and analyses remain the invariable constituent 

But it is easy to see that at the same time this theory 
allows us wholly to diveit our attention from any extension 
in space of these primitive parts, and to regard them as 
immaterial existences that from fixed points of space control 
by their forces a definite extent without in the strict sense 
occupying it. The mutual action and reaction of these un- 
extended points would mark out their distances from one 
another and their relative position, and thus they would 
describe the outline of an extended figure just as definitely 
and certainly as if by permanent extension they occupied the 
space contained within it. If we further conceive of forces 
of external attraction and repulsion as attached to these 
individual real points, considerable aggregates of them would 
by resistance to penetrative force present the appearance of 
palpable materiality or by reflection of tie light waves the 
aspect of a coloured surface, just as much as if the operating 


beings themselves filled the space with permanent extension 
of their own. There is nothing contrary to physical science 
(in whose eyes particles are of importance only as centres of 
radiating force) in attributing this semblance of extended 
matter to simple immaterial forms of being ; the philosophic 
study of Nature finds itself forced to make an attempt in this 
direction, seeing that here alone the idea of the simplicity 
of the really ultimate elements is combined with the 
equally indispensable diversity in form of the atoms which 
we must assume as the immediate component parts of 

3. Whatever idea, however, we may form to ourselves of the 
nature of atoms, it will always be the most essential require 
ment for the explanation of Nature to find general points of 
view from which the results of their activity may be connected 
with definite laws. By its distinct comprehension of these 
foundations of its judgments modern science is widely separated 
from the atomism of the ancients, which in its efforts to explain 
phenomena from varying combinations of elements, always 
silently took for granted the laws of action to which the daily 
spectacle of physical events has accustomed us, yet without 
deliberately and expressly stating these principles, and 
investigating the limits of their validity. And it will bo well 
for us to admit that in this respect even our science also is 
incomplete, and that, as it derives many of its principles only 
from dicta of experience, and may consequently with fresh 
experience receive different lessons, it cannot beforehand hold 
itself exempt from all modification. 

First of all, we are in the dark as to the inner nature of 
atoms. Still, whatever internal states and efforts we might 
ascribe to them, these will never suffice to set any single 
thing in motion apart from its being compelled thereto by its 
relations to other things. For pure space surrounds each 
atom uniformly on all sides, and no one point of this homo 
geneous extension possesses advantages over any other, on 
account of which the atom at rest should be drawn to leave 
its place, or the atom in motion to change its direction ; no 


point suits the nature of the atom tetter than any other, so 
that it should hasten to approach or delay to leave it. Hence 
each atom at rest will remain at rest, so long as external 
influences clo not intervene, and each one in motion will 
continue its motion with the same direction and velocity, 
until newly operating causes effect a stoppage or a diversion. 

This Law of Persistence the foundation of our whole theory 
of motion nevertheless states a case which as stated never 
occurs. Tor motion in reality is never found apart from pre 
cisely those external causes that alter its direction and velocity. 
The individual atom is surrounded not by empty space, but 
by space occupied at innumerable points by other atoms the 
same or different in nature. We may assume that among 
them all, as constituents of the same world, there is a connec 
tion of mutual correspondence whence arises a direct action 
on one another of their internal slates. But this internal 
experience of the atoms is wholly beyond our observation ; it 
does not therefore form tho subject of physical science, which 
deals only with the movements in space which are its external 
expression and effect. In the caso of two unchangeable atoms 
in empty space this expression of their internal action on one 
another can only consist in tho lessening or increasing of the 
distance between them. Which of these two results shall in 
a given case follow, it. whether the phenomenon of attraction 
or of repulsion shall arise, depends on the unknown internal 
relations of the related atoms, and can therefore be ascertained 
only by experience. Further, it is solely on the concurrent 
results of experience that wo ca/n as yet at least base the 
rule that the operating elements affect one another less 
powerfully as the interval between them becomes greater, more 
powerfully as it decreases. At what particular rate, too, 
the variation follows tho changing amount of interval, can be 
decided in each case simply by the dictate of experience , 
lastly, it is this alone which informs us with what amount of 
force two atoms of a given nature will repel or attract one 

It appears from the foregoing that the capacity or the 


necessity to produce a given effect never potentially exists in 
the nature of a single atom or a single body. As, on tlie 
contrary, the necessity of any operation arises simply from the 
mutual relation of two elements, the decision whether one 
shall exert attraction or repulsion on another has its source 
equally in the nature of that other. Further, the amount of 
the influence exerted by each will be assigned to it partly by 
this relation to the peculiar nature of its antagonist, and 
partly by the distance between them, ie. by the circumstances 
prevailing at the moment. But though in this way the definite 
operative force does not properly accrue to each atom till the 
very moment of its action, yet physical science is wont to 
describe the power as perpetually inherent in the atom. It 
thereby no doubt occasions misunderstanding on the part of 
those who clo not follow the meaning of this language in its 
applications. For there is a strong temptation to conceive of 
the power perpetually inhering in the substance as a new and 
unsubstantial substance, as a property, yet a hidden property, 
as a potential activity., or as an effort devoid alike of a conscious 
aim, of spontaneous action and of actual exertion. "So one 
would feel the same difficulty, were we to speak of our soul's 
power to love or to hate. "We know that love and hatred do 
not as such lie & priori developed within us, waiting for 
objects to which they may be directed ; but are awakened to 
a definite degree at the moment when our personality comes 
into contact with another, Nevertheless, we let -pass the 
expression, that the power of love and hatred is inherent in 
our soul ; we know we mean by it nothing more tlian that 
our permanent mental nature, as it now is, will necessarily 
develop the one or the other of these manifestations under the 
influence of certain conditions. With the same licence of 
speech physical science regards any capacity of operation 
acquired by a material element in virtue of certain conditions 
as a power of attraction or repulsion existing & priori and 
complete in the nature of the element. It need not fear to 
be led into practical errors by this abbreviation ; for the notion 
of force can never be applied without reference in every case 


to a different form of the actual condition of things upon 
which the use of the notion is based. We speak of the atoms 
so far as they are in operation, not so far as they are inactive ; 
but we can speak of no operation of one atom without 
mentioning a second by which it is undergone; and we can 
suppose no attraction or repulsion between these two without 
ut the same time conceiving them as at the initial moment of 
the operation at a fixed distance the one from the other, and 
without from this inferring the amount of the force developed 
according to a law established by experience. It is therefore 
practically indifferent whether we affirm that the necessity of 
a given kind and amount of operation arises for each element 
from the internal relations of the elements to one another 
at the moment when the influence of the actual circumstances 
comes into play, or whether we say that of a number of 
powers slumbering prepared but latent in the atom, that power 
comes into exercise at each moment which finds in the present 
circumstances the conditions of its excitation and expression. 
Science, however, has certainly had reason to prefer the latter 
form of expression as practically the more convenient. 

If the internal states, of which perhaps each atom has 
experience at the moment of its action., left its nature so 
filtered that it reacted differently to a later stimulus from 
what it had done to an absolutely identical earlier one, we 
could not ' speak of its powers as perpetually inherent. 
Experience has on the whole showed us no such mutability. 
A chemical element, after having entered into, and again 
passed out of, various combinations, now with one, now with 
another, appears at the end of these vicissitudes with pro 
perties nowise differing from tlose with which it entered 
into the first of these combinations. "Where there is some 
oppearancfe of the opposite, the explanation of the temporarily 
altered properties is to be found in the still-continued opera 
tion of the events accompanying its last disengagement. 
Thus, however many and various may have been the states 
of the atom, it always comes out of these shifting colloca 
tions wholly unaltered, it acquires no new habits, such as 


are developed in organized beings, nor does it betray a trace 
of memory, through which the past states might come to 
determine those of the future. Its mode of operation can 
therefore be determined beforehand, when we know its 
original nature, and the sum of all the still operant condi 
tions, without its being necessary to take account of the 
course of the history through which, between two points 
of time, it has passed. This continual return to the same 
character, under the same conditions, is strictly that wherein 
what we call the immutability of material atoms consists. 
For it would be too much to affirm that their nature 
never undergoes alterations in its internal states ; but these 
alterations vanish at least as regards outward relations 
with the cessation of their external conditions ; and, wherever 
the latter return into a prior combination, the atom also 
returns with perfect elasticity to its correspondent state, and 
once more takes part in the farther .play of action as the 
same force or as the same mass as formerly. 

Our knowledge of phsenomena is not sufficiently com 
prehensive to allow of our setting down this unchangeableness 
as an absolutely universal property of all the elements of 
Nature. It is just possible that in departments in which 
investigation is as yet in its infancy, indications may appear 
of a progressive inner development of atoms. But, as experi 
ence has not hitherto made such a supposition necessary, so 
it is easy in general to be assured, that, at least to a limited 
extent, the immutability of elements must always hold good* 
For it is not possible to conceive a structure of Nature, in 
which the living species shall always retain the same shapes 
and the same arrangement of their mutual relations, and the 
course of events present always the same main outlines, if 
the elements themselves, whence this varied fabric is always 
produced anew, on their side also undergo constant change. 
Perhaps all Nature is now actually going through a progressive 
course of development; yet, on the evidence of all experi 
ence, so great is at the same time its constancy that we can 
only understand all the periods of its existence whose history 


we can trace, on the assumption of unchanging elements, 
that after each revolution of external conditions return to 
their primitive state of being, and thus afford the original 
starting-point for the renewal of the same cycle. 

4. Now, if this hypothesis supplies the broadest basis for 
the predetermination of occurring effects, experience has equally 
confirmed the extensive validity of another, which enables us 
to estimate the results arising from the joint influence of 
several conditions on the same simple element. That an 
atom is already engaged in one movement does not prevent 
us from supposing it to take on a second ; the atom in motion 
obeys the second impetus, not reluctantly or merely partially, 
but as fully as if it had no prior movement, and its total 
velocity is the sum of the separate velocities in one direction 
communicated to it by these different forces. Now, if we 
suppose these forces to be exactly like one another, combining 
them in such amounts as wo please, we can arrive at the 
notion of resultant forces, whose magnitude we then estimate 
according to the number of simple and like units of force 
contained in each. Prom this we can easily draw the 
inference, that the velocities communicated by different forces 
to the same element are directly proportional to the magni 
tudes of these forces. Further, if a force continuously 
acting repeats at each moment the same shock which it 
gave in the preceding, the velocity produced will increase in 
course of time by the constant addition of the later impulses 
to the prior ones which, by the Law of Persistence, are still 
operating, and the motion will receive an acceleration such as 
we see exemplified in the fall of bodies through the constant 
attraction, of the earth. Lastly, if different forces having 
different velocities and directions, try to move the same ele 
ment simultaneously, this too will, instead of obeying one 
and disobeying others, yield to the impulses of all at once. 
Hence, at the end of a given space of time, the element is 
by the joint operation of two forces at the same point which 
it would have reached if, obeying both successively, it had 
moved first in the direction of the one, and then, during a 


second equal time, and from the point attained, had moved in 
the direction of the other force. If, on tho same hypothesis, 
we seek to find the places of the moving atom at the end 
of the first, the second, and every succeeding infinitesimal 
section of that space of time, the line that connects these 
points will describe the straight or curved course followed by 
the element under the resultant influence of both forces 
It ends in a point, and the atom is at rest, when the sums 
of the forces propelling it in opposite directions are equal. 

Finally, if the necessity of mutual action and reaction be 
granted in the case of two elements, it must equally be 
granted when one is confronted no longer by one, but by a 
plurality of elements of the same kind, whether separate 
or oombined into a mass. Here, too, the capability of 
being acted on is not so easily Exhausted that the one 
element must extend its influence over only a limited 
number of others, or distribute the amount among these. 
On the contrary, whatever be the number of its antagonists, 
the action and reaction between it and each of them takes 
place precisely as it would do if all the others were absent. 
From each, therefore, the one element receives, and to each it 
imparts the velocity corresponding to the mutual action 
between atoms of such a kind. It thus concentrates in 
itself this velocity multiplied by the number of like elements 
contained in the antagonistic mass, to each of which it com 
municates a single unit of this velocity. If, therefore, wo 
call quantity of motion the product of the velocity into the 
number of homogeneous moving parts, or into their mass, each 
one of a mutually acting couple will receive a quantity of 
motion, therefore a velocity, that increases" in proportion as its 
antagonist is greater and its own mass smaller. This law of 
the equality of action and reaction, along with the foregoing, 
gives a determination of the course impressed by unequal 
masses on one another, in consequence of their common forces, 
whether they may have been originally at rest or in motion. 

All these rules of calculation imply the general assump 
tion that the action and reaction between one element and a 


second exerts no influence on the law by which one can 
simultaneously enter into a similar relation \vith a third. It 
is not the mode of operation of the iorce, but only its result 
which is altered by its meeting with others acting at the same 
time ; for the result must be of course that the impulses in 
opposite directions, of different forces, which the same element 
cannot simultaneously obey, neutralize each other, and that the 
others give rise to a mean resultant. This assumption is the 
simplest and best for the determination of effects produced by 
the joint operation of several conditions; for it permits of the 
action of each single force being in the first place estimated 
separately, and without regard to the others, and of the single 
results obtained being afterwards combined into a final 
resultant And it would be natural to be guided by such a 
fundamental thought, even , on the hypothesis that forces 
differing not merely in amount, but also in nature, met simul 
taneously in the same atom. Here, too, we should suppose 
that their crossing did not alter the particular laws by which 
the element reacts on each one separately, or is acted on by 
it ; only here, too, the result would be the neutralization of 
the opposite actions which are required at the same time by 
the different forces from their common object. And yet we 
cannot actually determine how far this conception holds 
good. For there is nothing necessary in the supposition of 
the indifference with which different forces act side by side 
in the same element without occasioning any mutual dis 
turbance ; on the contrary, it may be regarded as the most 
unlikely of several possible suppositions. 

If two persons are bound together by mutual affection, 
and if each separately enters into equally friendly relations 
with a third person, the advent of this last will not in all 
cases leave unchanged the feelings of the two first towards 
one another; it is just as likely to convert their former 
friendship into strife ; or it may be that persons previously 
estranged become united in common aversion of the third 
This example, taken from a totally different sphere, has per 
haps no profound analogy with the simple case with which 


we are now concerned,, but it is a concrete illustration of 
what we can now express without any simile in abstract 
terms. If we conceive, as we must, of the mutual action 
and reaction of things not as attached to them externally, 
but as either dependent on, or accompanied by, alterations 
of their internal states, then each element is at the moment 
of its action radically different from what it was before or 
will afterwards be. "Now it may well be that the law 
according to which e& hypotliesi it has passed out of its 
inactive state into one of mutual action and reaction with a 
second element, holds good also for it when active ; for the 
alteration of the internal state connected with its action 
may not necessarily affect those of its attributes on which 
its subordination under this law depended. And then, on 
the before-mentioned assumption, each new stage of action 
will take place just as if no other had preceded it. But 
certainly it is, on the whole, quite ac conceivable that a prioi 
activity alters the internal state of the operant element too 
essentially to allow of its still reacting upon another clement, 
according to the former law of its efficiency. For, as we 
have seen, forces are not indestructible peculiarities that 
without respect to relations inhere perpetually in the nature 
of an element ; they and their laws are but expressions of 
those necessities of action and reaction which always proceed 
primarily from the mutual relations of things. If the internal 
states of things are altered, these relations may change along 
with them, and thus impulses to new effects of a different 
character, v e. new forces or new laws thereof, be developed. 
We may therefore without hesitation hold it to be possible 
that the very law of work of a simple force may and that 
in regular wise alter with altered states in its subject. 

Experience has of course, in the spheres where it has 
hitherto "been possible to form a precise theory, hardly as yet 
given any indication of the practical importance of this general 
view- nevertheless we must consider the unchangeableness- 
of laws of action so far as we find it simply as one of those 
facts of experience which are instructive in regard to funda- 


mental features of the actual constitution of the universe ; we 
must not look on it as in itself a necessary arrangement, that 
must occur in every possible system of Nature, or even unre 
strictedly in Nature as we find it. Still less axe we entitled 
to transfer it tacitly to the sphere of mental life, as if it 
could claim, without the special confirmation of experience, 
to hold good as a universal rule in all cases. Lastly, it is 
scarcely needful to add that it can come into question only 
with reference to those simple forces which we invariably 
attribute to the nature of a single element in its relation to 
a second. The joint operations of larger groups of elements, 
on the other hand, are of course dependent en the mode 
in which these constituents are combined, and no universal 
rule could be laid clown in regard to the changes which 
such forces may undergo in consequence of the many possible 
rearrangements of the combined elements. In so complicated 
a system much may be irrecoverably displaced by impres 
sions from without, and the return of the same external 
conditions would not restore the same capacity for reaction 
which was formerly developed under similar conditions. 
Such degradation of the siniple elements, on the other 
hand, we cannot suppose possible, and even should there be 
the above-mentioned mutability in their mode of action, we 
would yet always take for granted that along with each 
repetition of the same combination of external conditions the 
same laws of action must also come into play. 

Starting from such premises, science has elaborated the 
explanation of natural processes, by assigning to these pro 
cesses general principles, by supposing, for situations actually 
occurring in experience, combinations of circumstances which 
seem to correspond to them, and calculating the results which 
existing forces must produce tinder such circumstances. In 
this way it has succeeded partly in throwing full light on 
particular spheres of phenomena, partly (where the great 
number of concurrent conditions makes the calculation of 
them difficult) in at least reaching general points of view by 
which the re'sults to be expected ,are circumscribed within 


fixed limits. Thus from the equality of agtion and reaction 
the corollary may easily be drawn that the Internal actions of 
a connected mass may alter its form but not its situation in 
space, or that under all internal alterations of a system 
its centre of gravity remains at rest, if it was at rest, or 
continues a motion in which it was formerly engaged without 
change of direction and velocity. Every change of place 
initiated by the forces inherent in a body therefore presupposes 
action and reaction between it and something external, that 
supplies a point of support, or of resistance to determine 
direction. For -the study of life, to which we arc hastening 
on, it is unnecessary to enter into the details of physical 
dynamics ; on the other hand, it is desirable to add soim 
further remarks on modes of conceiving them. 

In our mental life we find the amount of many activities 
dependent on time ; the strength of our feeling about 
objects, the clearness of our ideas, the force of our will, all 
seem, in the absence of fresh stimuli, to diminish in course 
of time. In the ordinary opinion, therefore, it must be most 
probable' that all effects whatever, consequently also the ex 
pression of every force of Nature, are subject to such a gradual 
relaxation and exhaustion. Hence it was long commonly 
assumed that communicated motion at last ceases of itself, 
and the Law of Persistence on the other hand was regarded 
as a strange discovery of science. Even in mental life it is 
of course not time itself that wastes the force of the activity, 
but the many processes constantly crossing each other hinder 
by their mutual influences the unslackencd continuance of any 
one. In the simple elements of Nature either this multiplicity 
of internal conditions does not obtain, or it docs not exert an 
influence of the same kind ; for, so far as we can survey the 
history of phenomena, the forces of equal masses have at all 
times been the same. They do not increase or diminish 
because they have been in operation for a time, and as they 
undergo no exhaustion, so neither do they by repeated exercise 
acquire any "habit of more perfect action. We have hence to 
seek the ground of every new capacity for operation that we 


see arising anywhere, in a new conformation of the variable 
circumstances "by winch obstacles in the way of the unchang 
ing forces have been removed or lacking conditions of their 
operation have been supplied. Similarly we have to explain 
every apparent dissipation of a force by changes in the 
mutual relations of the masses concerned, such as either 
put a stop to further action by resistance, or carry it beyond 
reach of our observation by distributing it over an increas 
ing circle of objects. Every posterior state must therefore 
be explained, firstly, by the continuance of a prior state at 
the value which it retains for the moment ; and secondly, by 
the sum of all the newly-occurring circumstances, as joint 
conditions of the new result 

It will be seen how by these considerations we are neces 
sarily led to refer all changes in the mode of work, all variety 
of development, and all variations in expression which we 
meet with in any natural organism, partly to internal move 
ments by which the relations of its -own parts are incessantly 
being modified, partly to changes in the circumstances by 
which it is connected with the outside world, But almost 
everything in Nature that engages our most eager interest 
belongs to this region of variable phenomena, our attention 
being above all attracted by organic life and by the com 
plicated scheme of events looked at in wholesale. Science 
must perforce apply the principles of its investigation to these 
phenomena also, and as inevitably will it have temporarily 
at least to submit to appear in the invidious character of 
conceding to the search of imagination neither an inner 
nature nor true vitality. For if the unprejudiced mind 
reverences the image of life just because it beholds in all its 
inanifoldness the harmonious fulness of one being, in all the 
changeful variety of its development the gradual unfolding of 
one and the same imperishable type, we cannot deny that 
science certainly does destroy the value of this fair image, 
inasmuch as it shows its individual features to consist of 
onany separate conditions knowing nothing of one another. 
Things no longer live from themselves, but through changing 


circumstances a changing succession of action is produced in 
them which we indeed call their life, yet without being able 
to explain by what unity this vortex of events going on side 
by side is internally fused into a whole. This reproach of 
putting together externally as in a mosaic pattern that which 
seems to have value for us only as proceeding from a single 
cast has been constantly brought against the attempts at 
explanation of physical science, and we are far from asking 
that it should not be made. For it has ever been these 
voices that reminded investigation, when it was laboriously 
toiling through the perplexities of individual phenomena, 
of the great ends on account of which alone its efforts have 
a human interest \ they have everywhere opened up anew 
a vista into a boundless field of vision, where the satis 
faction which we experience from the partial removal of 
the nearest difficulties would have led us to a premature 
contraction of our views. But while acknowledging most 
expressly the perfect justice of these charges, we must yet 
add that none of the modes of conception by which they 
are usually most vehemently urged has hitherto succeeded 
in obtaining, without the principles of physical science, 
results equally indisputable and fruitful with those that 
have been already won by these axioms in every depart 
ment of physical explanation. We have therefore reason 
to hope, that not by deviating from the path which wo 
have hitherto taken, but by following it to the end, we 
shall meet that mental craving, to baffle which is in nowise 
intended by the mechanical conception of Nature. 

For it is unjust to add to the one reproach of obscuring 
the unity of life, the other reproach of necessarily regarding 
the simple elements, from whose combination it deduces 
all things, as lifeless points devoid of any internal nature, 
to which forces of various kinds are but externally attached. 
On the contrary, physical science merely rids itself of such 
assertions as are unnecessary for its immediate ends ; and for 
its ends the hypothesis is certainly sufficient according to 
which the atoms are merely centres aud points of junction foi 


effluent and influent operations. For, after experience has 
taught us that the internal states of atoms if such they have 
exert no modifying influence on the regularity of their 
working, we can leave them out of account as regards pheno 
mena, without Laving at the same time to banish them 
altogether from our view of the universe. On the contrary, 
further consideration would soon bring us back to the idea 
on which we have directly based the foregoing view, ie. that 
forces do not attach themselves to a lifeless inner nature 
of things, but must arise out of them, and that nothing 
can take place between the individual elements until sonic- 
thing has taken place within them. All external incidents of 
union and separation must hence rest on or find their 
reflection in an inner life of things ; and, even if physical 
science breaks up the unity of compound substances, each 
single part of the mosaic which she puts instead is a living 
point inwardly in a state of movement. 3STo doubt this com 
pensation the only one which we seem at present in a 
position to offer will be deemed by many not only as trifling, 
but also as impossible. Let us leave for the future the task 
alike of proving its possibility and of showing that its import 
ance is far greater than it seems. Perhaps we shall then find 
that in a different sense we too can admit the comprehensive 
unity of divergent forces, without being compelled to deny tho 
validity of physical science, to the recognition of which the 
total result of our observations will always force us, -whether 
we will or no, to return, 

VOL, 1. 



Mechanical Conception of Life, and Vital Force The Tiansitoiinoss of tho 
Body chemically considered Change of its Constituents Propagation and 
Conservation of its Energy Harmony of its Processes The Efficient Idea 
Purposive Self- Conservation Capacity of Excitation Machines pro 
duced by Human Skill. 

1. TT has been but slowly that the principles now set 
-*- forth have found recognition in the study of life. 
The systematically growing figure of the plant and the incal 
culable activity of the animal were separated by too wide a 
chasm from the rigidity and absence of system of their 
unorganized dwelling-place, to allow of direct observation sug 
gesting even a conjecture of an essential community between 
the two departments of real existence. The manifestation of 
life took the imagination captive with the complexity of its 
internal arrangements, from which a series of the most 
various states unrolled themselves in fixed order ; no ground 
remained it seemed to doubt that a cycle of processes, in 
meaning and importance so incomparably surpassing all else 
produced by Nature or by art, must in its origin also be un 
paralleled. Thus was formed that idea of a peculiar vital 
force of which we have already stated the essential import, 
and the special details of which, set up, as it appears to us, 
in unjustifiable opposition to the advancing claims of the 
mechanical conception of Nature, we are now about to discuss. 
However great be the difference between the spheres of life and 
of inanimate existence in regard to the ideas which the two 
may be called on to embody in the world of phenomena, it is 
yet but little in the power of science to refer the causal con 
nection of the embodiment and conservation of life to laws and 
forces differing from those prevailing in the rest of Nature, out 


of winch life also is evolved and into which, it again passes. 
As long as that connection holds on which we formerly dwelt 
as the determining point for our view, as long as life must 
draw all its sustenance from the common store of Nature, and 
can be developed only from the substances therein contained, 
so long will the peculiarities of its evolution be due wholly to 
the complete obedience with which it submits to the laws of 
the universal course of Nature. The realm of life is divided 
from that of inorganic Nature not by a higher force peculiar to 
itself, setting itself as something alien above other modes of 
action, not by wholly dissimilar laws of working, but simply 
by the peculiar kind of connection, into which its manifold 
constituents are woven in such wise that their native forces, 
under the influence of external conditions, must give rise to a 
connected series of phenomena, under the same general laws 
that elsewhere also are wont to determine the sequence of 
state on state. Little as we are at present in a position 
fully to explain the whole complexity of vital processes 
in the spirit of this conception, we can yet easily see that its 
main outline and the peculiar habits of working, by which 
living beings at first seemed to be absolutely distinguished 
i rozn other forms of existence, are not inexplicable from this 
point of view, and that the theories still opposed to it lack 
many of the advantages which we already actually possess 
iu the more precise estimation of the individual rendered 
'possible by the principles of a mechanical conception of life. 

2. Hardly any other phenomenon makes to the eye so 
significant a distinction between life and its absence, as the 
corruption that consumes the dead body. Here we seem 
most palpably to be taught that nothing but the predominance 
of a higher force during life, keeps the constituent elements 
duly mixed, and prevents the action of the mutual affinities 
by which after 4?ath they pass into far other and simpler 
kinds of composition. And yet it needs but slight considera 
tion to see the groundlessness of such an inference. For 
why should \ve not from this phenomenon rather draw the 
other conclusion, that the activity of life can last only so long 


as the chemical composition of the body yields the necessary 
conditions, and that the corruption of death is nothing else 
than a disturbance of that- composition which has now become 
visible, but by which perhaps long since, though less obviously, 
the conditions of life have been affected? This reasoning 
will seem forcible in cases where a distinct disease, originating 
within the body, has consumed its vitality ; but corruption 
invades, though more slowly, even the body that has been 
struck down in the fulness of health by a violent death ; and 
so we return to the idea that the blending of the elements, main 
tained during life by a special force, comes under the general 
laws of chemical processes only when this force ceases to exist. 
But closer observation discloses in the living body a 
scarcely less remarkable shifting of elements. We find 
that constantly, by manifold kinds of separation, particles 
are removed from it, which in their chemical composition 
do not indeed resemble the products of corruption, yet 
come much nearer to them than does the mode in which the 
elements of the healthy body are combined. Again, oft- 
repeated observations teach us that a great part of the 
textures of which the living body consists, are going through 
an uninterrupted process of decomposition and redintegration, 
and that the substances leaving the body in the most various 
forms, are in part the fragments into which this decom 
position has converted what was formerly capable of life. 
There is no necessary ground to suppose that the process of 
this decomposition obeys different laws during life from those 
which even after death control the decay of the body. For 
the accessory circumstances conditioning both processes are 
too diverse not to make it easy to refer to them the great 
diversity observable in the character of their results. The 
continual circulation of fluids occasions the decomposed 
elements to flow in the living body in small and imper 
ceptible quantities towards the excretory organs, by means 
of which they are restored to the surrounding world, and the 
mischievous effects are prevented which their longer retention 
in the body would have on the mingling of the other elements, 


Moreover, many regulated functions of the living body bring 
together those elements which, by their action and reaction 
tend to strengthen its fabric and accelerate the repair of its 
waste ; while they separate those whose meeting might set up 
chemical processes of far-reaching destruction. Thus from 
decomposition and redintegration arises that slow change oi 
elements which, imperceptibly distributed over long intervals 
of time, makes the living body appear to us a persistent 
unity. All these favourable circumstances are absent in the 
dead body. With the ceasing of all functions the paths become 
closed by which wasted tissue might be removed and fresh 
obtained ; the already decaying substances, collected together 
without motion, work longer on each other and wear away 
the partition-walls that formerly kept them apart ; spreading 
around and no longer under the check of any order, the 
chemical processes together bring about the repulsive spec 
tacle of putrefaction. We in ay further convince ourselves of 
the great importance (for the processes of organic chemistry) 
of ' this abnormal grouping of the accessory determining 
circumstances, from observations made on various diseases, 
where symptoms of partial corruption follow the cessation or 
weakening of certain of these motive and regrjative arrange 
ments. These facts in no wise compel us to seek in the living 
body a peculiar and special force, which, in direct opposition 
to universal chemical laws, should keep its constituents 
ia a combination antagonistic to their natural tendencies. 
On the contrary, it attains this result when in complete 
accordance with these laws it allows the decomposition of 
that which -under actual conditions cannot retain its com 
position, and by means of a well-arranged series of complex 
movements, prevents the injurious effects of processes which 
it has no power to hinder, and supplies the losses due 
to the destructive influence of those processes, fcoubtless, 
tlierefoie, the same laws of chemical affinity govern $he 
decay of the dead and the vigour of the living body; but 
in contrast to the painful putrefaction of the former, life is 
an organized decomposition, dependent upon the order in 


which incessantly continued operations allow the substances 
to act upon one another, 

I would remark in conclusion, that we ought perhaps to 
J^ave begun by pointing out the exaggeration with which the 
perishableness of organic bodies is described. Is it true, for 
instance, that the wood which we use m our buildings, 
furniture, and ships, the quills taken from the wings of birds 
and with which the strange assertions we refer to are penned, 
and the skins of animals that protect our bodies against 
inclemencies of weather, do really perish so very rapidly ? The 
contrary is true, for they are among the most durable of all 
structures, and succumb but slowly to the hostile influence of 
external circumstances, whilst many products of inorganic 
chemistry are abruptly resolved into their constituents by 
slight changes of temperature, or by contact with air or water. 
Hence it appears that among organic materials it is only those 
in which the plan of life requires facility of change that are 
very easily decomposable ; and even of these it remains 
doubtful to what extent they are perishable, and whether the 
force which dissolves the connection between their constituents 
is not primarily constituted by the action of other living 
organisms which strive to develop themselves at the expense 
of the former. 

This peculiar play of changes in substance, which we have 
here made use of simply as a fact for the explanation of u 
remarkable phsenomenon, we shall afterwards study in ittt 
bearing on the establishment of life ; in the first place, we find 
it used by the advocates of the opposite view as a fresh proof 
of the peculiar nature of the vital force. For, say they, while 
in the inorganic world each force is inherent in a particular 
mass, and changes according as this increases or diminishes, 
the vital force lasts beyond the flux of the constituents of the 
body, and' in contrast to their perishableness manifests itself as 
a power, not chained to matter, but higher and more permanent. 
This opinion, however, would hardly deserve an articulate 
refutation, if it did not present an opportunity of throwing 
additional light on the real peculiarity of life. For it is 


evidently too much to assert in general that the vital force 
endures longer than the perishable constituents of the body. 
On the contrary, there are "but few parts of the body that 
at any moment can be given up to decomposition without a 
disturbance of the course of life, which finds a sufficiently 
secure foundation for its preservation in the disproportionately 
larger quantity of constituents continuing during this time 
in undisturbed cohesion and combination. The most ordinary 
experiments show that these conditions are too simple to form 
a mark of essential distinction between vital organic and 
inorganic processes. The coherence of parts in any structure 
is usually firm enough to allow of a loose stone being now 
and then, without danger to the form of the structure, 
taken away to be replaced by another. But such 
observations show at the same time that, while repair is 
going on, the parts of the building cannot bear the same strain 
as they could previously when it was perfect. Therefore, 
while the removal of one element does not alter the external 
figure of an adjusted system of molecules, or perhaps even 
visibly affect the course of its internal movements, it may yet 
most essentially diminish the power of the system to resist 
extraneous disturbance and the amount of work which it can 
accomplish. We have no reason to believe that in this 
respect it is otherwise with life. For what we directly 
observe "is no more than this, that the velocity with which 
the change of material usually goes on in a healthy body 
does not strikingly modify the character of its vital operations 
and their natural sequence ; and the phenomena yield no 
basis for the affirmation, that the amount of power of resist 
ance to external influences and the capacity of vital action 
are also unaffected by fluctuations in the molecular constitu 
tion of the body. Of course, so long as parallel currents of 
decomposition and repair neutralize one another, the bodily 
force will remain at the same level; on the other hand, 
where within given periods there is increase or diminution in 
the change of material, there we shall find periods of greater 
or less capacity of resistance to disturbance, Finally, the 


universal mortality of living beings proves that the vital force 
does not always go on beyond the constant change of the 
constituents, bub that the latter, even without the occurrence 
of outside accidents, leads to new relations between the 
constituent parts, incompatible with the continuance of the 
earlier play of movements. It is not, therefore, as a spirit 
brooding over the waters that the vital force persists in the 
transformation of masses, but the fixed mode of combination 
of the parts (which do not all disappear at the same rate of 
velocity, a more slowly altering trunk being always there 
to form a pattern nucleus for the aggregation of the new 
matter) makes it possible for the vital phenomena to go on 
for a long time, without, however, being able to ward off 
their final termination. 

3. But the new life developing itself with exhaustless 
energy out of that which is passing away, suggests new doubts; 
in propagation the vital force is without any impairment of its 
strength distributed over the newly-produced organisms, while 
inorganic forces, diffused over an increasing quantity of matter, 
display everywhere only that fraction of their power which 
answers to the quantity of matter. As a matter of fact, we 
perceive in children, along with whose life that of the parents 
goes on, not only no weakening, but an evident increase of vital 
force. But it is merely first impressions, not closer examination, 
that make us see here anything more perplexing than in lifeless 
Nature. Does not the magnet also impart its energy to many 
iron rods, without thereby losing any itself ? And does not 
the burning body set an indefinite number of others on fire 
without thereby cooling ? Forces are never and nowhere 
transferred by one substance to another like divisible fluids 
that can change their place ; on the contrary, in every case 
of mutual action, the one agent brings the other into altered 
outer and inner states, in which new capacities of action are 
acquired, or former ones are set free /torn obstacles to their 
manifestation. A blow struck upon a rigid mass, whose 
internal connection it cannot alter, will merely communicate 
to it a motion, the velocity of which varies inversely as the 


mass over which the effect of the blow has to be dis 
tributed. The effect will be different if the same blow is 
given to a small quantity of fulminating silver, whose violent 
explosion, will occasion a far greater disturbance among 
contiguous objects than could have been occasioned by the 
blow itself, if it had fallen directly upon those objects. 
Unquestionably a great increase of force has here taken place 
by the intervention of the explosive substance. The original 
shock indeed communicated directly to the parts of that 
substance only the trifling velocity which it would have 
communicated to any body of equal mass; but here this 
insignificant primary impetus encountered particles that had 
only to be quickly moved nearer one another in order that 
the chemical affinities long existing between, them should 
receive the final requisite to their bursting into noisy activity. 
Thus in this case a slight impetus is sufficient to bring about 
a great effect instantaneously ; it will even suffice to produce 
a long and enduring series of processes evolved one out of 
another and increasing to great results, when the force which 
it has released from their equilibrium are, by the natural 
relations of the particles to which they belong, made capable 
of only gradually unrolling their results. 

Therefore, however much the propagation of life, by means 
of the careful arrangement of harmonious activities which it 
presupposes, may always excite our admiration, it does not 
give rise to the same difficulties that we have already found 
to favour the assumption of a peculiar vital force. Tor its 
real process consists simply in this that a very insignificant 
portion is detached from the maternal organism, with whose 
vital processes it stood in no important connection, and becomes 
the germ of a new being. Even were we to assume that to it 
was transferred part of the vital force of its parents, this part 
could only be an infinitesimal quantity ; for the vital energy 
of the germ we find to be at first very slight, and it attains 
the capacity of a considerable amount of work only after a 
long course of growth^ during which it adds to its strength by 
the assimilation of material from the outer world. Thus even 


in that case the organism producing' it would lose hut little, and 
certainly ohservation will not justify the assertion that this 
trifling loss is not accompanied by a correspondingly trifling 
diminution of the parental vital energy. But it is of little 
use to pursue a train of thought, the general impracticability of 
which we have already recognised; forces are not communicated 
by one thing to another, only movements can he communicated ; 
or substances may be set free from a larger group to carry on an 
independent existence. All propagation must therefore depend 
on its being possible for the parent to set up a germ, which, 
trifling in mass, is distinguished only by the carefully arranged 
combination and mixture of its constituents, and only by this 
means is made capable of developing into a living being, with 
increasing strength, under external favouring conditions. The 
original production of a new being is therefore not an effort, 
from which it were natural to expect a diminution of the 
parents' energy; though it may well be that the many 
exertions which in many instances the "maternal organism has 
to mate for the early invigoration and development of the 
germ, seriously imperil its vital powers. 

But do we not forthwith again meet the same problem 
from which we have been trying to free the mystery of 
propagation, in the mystery of growth, of tlio continual 
increase of energy and mass in the newly produced organism ? 
As the frame increases which it has to control, we see the 
vital energy increase, whereas in general every capacity 
dwindles as its tasks become heavier. But this difficulty, 
too, is cleared up by closer examination of the real process, 
and it deserves mention only on account of a common pre 
judice associated with it. When the growing body absorbs 
the substances of the outer world and presses them into its 
service, we too often imagine this acquired material as so 
indifferent and so devoid of activity that it would seem to 
need a special cohesive force to retain it in the same 
combination when it has once been brought together. 
Our ideas of the connection of organic parts are too much 
modelled on that of a bundle of objects, which being indifferent 


to one another and totally destitute of cohesive power, need 
to be tied together by a band external to them all. That is 
the moaning of the common craving to know the bond that 
holds together the body and the soul, or the constituents of 
the body, or lastly the mental elements. Tor the connecting 
principle of these last, though probably conceived as higher 
in its nature than a material bond, is yet not thought of 
as essentially different from a cord; for it seems to be 
regarded as something which, while itself one and indivisible, 
fastens together a plurality of hitherto unrelated parts by 
very much the same folds and knots as a cord. The reality 
is different. To obtain the materials by which the organic 
body grows, may require peculiar exertions, of which we shall 
elsewhere speak ; but their retention in the particular positions 
which they have once taken, up relatively to one another, is 
no act of violence which they resist, so that a special vital 
force, stronger than the forces of all the parts, would be 
necessary to carry it out ; the elements are not even indifferent 
to this task, but carry it out themselves. For, in entering 
the region of the living body, they do not divest themselves 
of the forces that were before peculiar to their nature ; but 
by means of these forces they cohere with one another, and thus 
conform in -common and in accordance with the needs of the 
organism to the same laws which formerly they obeyed when 
separated, outside the organism. Hence, instead of one band 
enclosing with surface coils the innumerable parts, we find 
innumerable ligaments each uniting two single elements of the 
body, and these are nothing else than the peculiar forces of the 
elements themselves, which do not need to be impelled by any 
superior mandate to the discharge of a function congenial to 
their nature, and which would not submit to be impelled to one 
alien to it Every individual atom by which the mass of the 
body is increased, enters the system by virtue of the attractive 
force exerted on it by some one part ; kept in its place by the 
same force, whose exercise involves no effort to the body, 
ifc now sets at the body's disposal its own mass with all 
the forces mechanical and chemical belonging to it, and thus 


the body acquires a greater power of acting on the external 
world, and consequently increased energy. The work of 
vitality consists only in this that the already existing stock 
of corporeal constituents be at all times so arranged and in 
such wise come into contact with the material of the outer 
world, that the action originated and consequently the fresh 
supply of particles may be adapted to the needs of life. 

This task also can be so regarded as to revive the old diffi 
culties. As before a bond was sought for the inert elements, 
so now perhaps a bridle is desired, by which their activities 
might be now permitted, now checked, at one time hastened, at 
another retarded. This would indeed be a nearly impracticable 
task if it had to be committed to a single force, by which the 
plan of the organization should be carried on at each moment 
by special help. But this work also is performed of itself, so 
long as external disturbances do not derange the relations 
beyond calculation. A group of particles forming the germ 
of an organic being, can easily be so arranged that in the 
course of its development only particular spots are left for 
future action and reaction ; others become so rigid that the 
substances of the outer world pass by them without producing 
any effect, in order to diffuse themselves by paths which are 
organized exclusively for the progress of the organism, and 
which render possible a steady course of growth according 
to a permanent model. Even in the crystal the new accretion 
of the same substance does not settle anywhere, but the forces 
of the existing form prescribe to the later additions the place 
and manner of their aggregation, and during their accretion 
preserve the original figure or at least the original law of its 
formation. What inorganic Nature here executes, is performed 
with incalculably greater delicacy and complexity by the living 
body, but not on different principles of working, and a closer 
examination of its structure and its operations will show how 
much that seems difficult is easily and automatically performed, 
because gradually in the long course of development each prior 
state limits the number of indefinite possibilities of further 
work, and confines later events to lines more strictly marked out, 


4. Tims also the maintenance of order in the changeful 
multiplicity of vital processes would be caused not by the 
ever renewed assaults of a special regulative power, but by the 
arrangement of a system of particles once for all established, 
and then realized through the usual operations of these indi 
vidual elements. We have already added that this result 
presupposes the warding off of external disturbances. But 
here we meet with a new peculiarity of life, viz. that with 
appropriately reacting remedial energy it survives and removes 
even these disturbing causes All its other phcenoniena may 
be looked on as the gradually and regularly succeeding 
movements of a machine, whose structure once there and set 
in motion gives rise to a variety of effects which follow one 
another; but the adjusting activity that accommodates Itself 
to circumstances, and always seeks with the choice of the 
best instruments to keep to the original plan, seems to be 
possible only for a vital force, guided not like the other 
physical forces by a monotonous law of working, but by a 
modifiable regard to the end of the work. But then how 
much alike observation and reflection concurs to render 
questionable this illusory conclusion ! For illusory it is, first 
in that it presents the facts in a far too favourable light, and 
keeps back the deep shadows. Death, that brings so much 
life to an end before the natural close of its evolution, 
proceeding from disturbances so slight as to elude our obser 
vation, first of all convinces us that the body's recuperative 
power is not absolute, and the multitude of diseases that, 
but partially overcome, embitter future years, show further 
that it is exceedingly limited. Even healthy life, seeing it is 
not a play of self-caused movements, but flows on in constant 
action and reaction with the outer world, includes a great 
multitude of bodily changes which are primarily to be 
regarded as disturbances of its system, for whose counter 
action a variety of ever- continued operations are provided 
in the original plan of the body. Now a system of parts 
having relations so suitably arranged that within certain limits 
its activity can subdue the lawless influences of the outer 


world, does not lose this capacity at the very moment when 
these limits are transgressed under unusual circumstances. 
With the various ingenious contrivances which it before 
possessed, it often succeeds in overcoming even amounts and 
kinds of disturbance for which it was not adapted, cither 
wholly or at least so far that the injury received does not 
conspicuously affect the character of its movements. But, of 
course, it is irrecoverably damaged so soon as there is in its 
structure and its organs no favourable circumstance to bring 
the disturbance to an end by means of the reaction produced 
in the system by its stimulation. We see from a host of 
examples how far this problem can be solved even by human 
skill, with the imperfect means at its command. Machines 
can be constructed so that the unequal expansion of different 
metals at the same degree of temperature does away with the 
injurious effects which variations in temperature might have 
on the precision of their operations ; the steam-engine can 
be compelled, while in motion, itself to set going a con 
trivance by which the lubricating oil is supplied to the 
wheels in just such measure as is required by the actual 
velocity of the train. If we look on these achievements with 
a certain pride, it shows the narrow tether of human powor 
that we can be proud of such results; they certainly are 
exceedingly trifling in comparison with the infinite delicacy 
and versatility with which the living body resists innumerable 
minute disturbances all at once ; but this difference in value* 
does not entitle us to infer an equally wide difforence m the 
method of working. 

In the organism also the curative reaction is connected 
with the purposive character of its internal arrangement, and 
extends only so far as external assaults leave this arrange 
ment unaltered in its essential character. We shall vainly 
expect it to act, when the violence of the disturbance hag 
deranged these favouring circumstances, though even then 
the after-effects of the original adaptability are so great that 
health, now become impossible, is not at once succeeded by 
complete dissolution, but by a state which is endurable, 


capable of some duration, and conservative of at least the 
main outlines of the vital plan. On the other hand, we never 
see a curative reaction of such a new and quite unusual 
character occur, that healthy life has not already made con 
stant use of it. Only sometimes with heightened impetuosity 
and in a different combination external disturbances excite 
these always already existing activities, and this very agitation, 
while sometimes causing unusual results, in quite as many 
cases entails complete dissolution. Did a peculiar curative 
energy animate the body, dealing with the physical and 
chemical forces of masses with any freedom of choice what 
ever, and at all independently, it would be difficult to explain 
why it could ever fail in the execution of its designs, when once 
raised above natural necessity. ATo understand the necessity 
of its limitation, whon we take it as the sum of that which the 
living body with activities adjusted to the usual circumstances 
of life, can accomplish even under such as are unusual 

5, So great, however, is the admiration extorted by the 
complicated structure of life even from those who hold the 
mechanical conception of it, that wo do not become impatient 
with our adversaries even when they are always pressing on 
us their idea of a peculiar vital force in fresh forms. " We do 
not as"k " say they " a new force, a healing activity that should 
nil at once*begin to work, and, without any foundation in the 
constant arrangements of life, should only intervene in case of 
disturbance ; but we only can understand the whole course of 
the ph&nomena of life if the vital Idea of the whole is ever 
binding the parts together as the ruling principle ; it is the 
activity of this which, while less obtrusive in health, to whose 
perpetual wonders we are accustomed, becomes more evident in 
its heightened reaction against the violence of any disturbances 
of it. Only in unorganized structures does the whole arise out 
of the composition of the parts in living beings it precedes 
the parts." It is clear that this last assertion can have no 
other meaning than that the form of the whole is already 
present in the developing body as an animating and regulating 
power, even before the whole sum of parts, by which its out- 


line is one day to be filled, are yet in existence or in their 
right places. In fact, several processes in the first develop 
ment of the germ show that in the places afterwards to be 
occupied by definite organs shapeless-looking masses are at 
first deposited, in which the division into parts pertaining to the 
perfect organ is afterwards developed. Circumstances of this 
sort may temporarily favour the view under discussion ; but 
these regular developments adapted to a common plan of the 
whole,and going on simultaneously at different spots in the germ, 
lose their harmony when the mechanical connection of the parts 
of the germ is disturbed by derangement or lesion. This fact 
shows that the disconnected formative processes are maintained 
not solely by an Idea hovering above them, but by the definite 
arrangement of the reciprocal actions taking place between all 
the single parts in virtue of their fixed position relatively to 
one another. By these reactions the material capable of being 
formed is deposited at prescribed places, and through their 
further operations, which subsequently acquire new conditions 
in consequence of this first result, the gradual articulation of 
infinitesimal constituent parts takes place. Would it be less 
marvellous if the organism, starting from a single centre, 
produced the immediately adjacent parts at once in their final 
form, would we not consider this still more mysterious ? 
The formation of every organic part thus depends OR its being 
developed in constant association with all the others belonging 
to the same whole ; but this consists not in their all being em 
braced by an active Idea, but in all being woven into a system 
of physical actions and reactions, from which each receives tire 
form and velocity of its development and movement. 1 

The facts at least permit this view ; a more general con 
sideration shows it to be necessary. For the expression 
Idea of the whole has a twofold meaning. We may denote 
by it, in the first place, the pattern and the plan which we 
perceive to be embodied in the complete organic structure, or 
persistently followed out in its gradual development. But no 
pattern, no plan, regarded as the end of a natural process, is 
1 EntwicklungsZ)e"\vegung. 


realized of its own accord ; it will be realized only when the 
substances in whose grouping it is to be manifested are compelled 
by an original arrangement of their relations to produce by 
their forces what it prescribes according to the universal laws 
of the course of Nature. Thus it constantly exerts but an 
apparent power, and as little as we look upon the Idea of 
disorder as an active and moving principle in a random series 
of changes, so little can we consider the Idea of any order as 
the efficient and sustaining cause of a regular cycle. la both 
cases what takes place is that which must occur in the given 
state of things, and the superiority of the latter consists not 
in a constantly maintained purposive activity, but in the 
persistent after-effects due to the purposiveness of the first 
arrangement. "But" it will be objected " whence proceeds 
this original arrangement?" We know not, and this is 
not the place to set forth the conjectures which we may 
form in regard to it. It is not our intention to deny in 
the organic world the traces of a wisdom that point us beyond 
the mechanical concatenation of mere events to an uncompre- 
hended, creative Power ; but neither is it our task to seek tlie 
first origin of life , we are simply investigating the laws by 
which within the limits of our observation the mysterious 
creation is maintained. And we find that within these limits 
no new life arises, that the maintenance of life is on the con 
trary dependent on the uninterrupted transmission of certain 
substances with their particles in a certain conformation, as in 
propagation they are unceasingly transferred from one organism 
to another. Here we find a proof that Ideas are no longer 
capable of being embodied in substances unless their internal 
distribution is already most carefully so arranged that from 
this alone, without any further assistance from Ideas, nay, even 
in opposition to them, the form prescribed by them must of 
itself arise. Ideas may indeed at the beginning of the world 
have been the determinants of the first connections of things ; 
in their maintenance, on the oilier hgjad, it is the activities 
of the parts that realize the content of -the Ideas. 

We are indeed aware that the advocates of the view against 
VOL. i. E 


which we are contending do not conceive the Idea of the 
whole as an unreal pattern, powerlessly confronting the 
reality of substances. Yet, holding the Idea to be itself a 
living and efficacious power, they are cons brained to go over 
to the other definite signification that may be given to tins 
much misused term. Should the efficacy of the individual 
parts not suffice for the harmonious evolution of the whole, 
the higher bond that is to be the complement must 
everywhere receive an impression from the situation of 
things with which it is to interfere, in order at the right 
moment to bring about that which is adapted to the actual 
situation. Such impressions may be viewed as alterations of 
the state of the bond, which excite a definite reaction from it 
with regular necessity. It is obvious that on this hypothesis the 
bond plays no higher part than each of the material substances, 
which, receiving impressions from one another, on, our view 
also produce the formation of the organism by the mutual 
influence of their reactions. The only peculiarity of this 
view would be that, instead of making all the parts contribute 
equally to the establishment of life, it puts par excellence as 
the focus in the middle of the others a single one, in which 
the concurrent effects of all produce a plurality of harmonious 
activities. Now, no doubt it is the case that the various 
parts are of very various importance for the establishment 
and maintenance of a definite form of life ; yet we shall look 
in vain within, experience for any fact entitling us to consider 
one of these as exclusively representing the Idea of the whole. 
Eut then that view does not wish to see in the higher bond 
which it seeks the same lifeless necessity of working that it 
desired to banish from the organism altogether. It will require 
that this bond react on the impressions which it receives in such 
a manner as to be in accordance with, but not necessarily depen 
dent on physical laws. And such reaction being required by the 
scheme of the organization, the bond itself is supposed to give 
rise to it, and in this way complete the circle of natural causey 
otherwise not absolutely closed. 

Now, if we will not stray into vagueness, and choose for 


our basis of explanation something of whose nature and 
essence we cannot fomi the remotest; idea, we must be 
fain to confess that this kind of purposive working belongs 
exclusively to a soul and not to an Idea, and we must convert 
the shifting conception of the Idea into this more distinct 
notion. The soul alone, endowed with the capacity of 
recalling past impressions, can fill up this chasm in natural 
causation. Acted on by a variety of stimuli, in which never 
theless the complete conditions of the desired result are not to 
be found, it evolves in addition a representation of that which 
is temporarily lacking in the reality. From this, which is 
substituted for the actual impression, it arrives at the pur 
posive resolution, which in turn begins to exert an active 
influence on external reality. Thus the connection, after 
having been severed in the physical sphere, is restored by a 
aeries of effects in the mental sphere that join together 
two events,, of which the first did not contain the whole 
ground of the second* 

Accordingly, the further hypothesis has not been absent . 
from the history of science, that it is the soul whose activity 
controls the order and fitness of organic development. But 
if this view contains a part of truth on which we shall 
subsequently have occasion to enlarge, yet experience is not 
in favour of the attempt to set it up as a more satisfactory 
explanation, in opposition to the mechanical conception of life, 
It may be otherwise in the souls of the lower animals, into 
which we cannot transport ourselves : in our soul at all events 
we find no consciousness of this formative activity. And yet 
this capacity of the soul to perform more than the mere course 
Of: Nature depends on consciousness and the peculiar laws of the 
train of ideas. It is only where, in consequence of former 
exercise, a habit of purposive working has become confirmed as 
a second nature in the soul, that the train of ideas that underlies 
it may no longer come into consciousness in each particular case. 
On the other hand, the supposition that the soul from the first 
organizes the body with unconscious activity, would only lead 
us to regard it as well as all the material parts of the latter 


as an element without freedom, which, stimulated by circum- 
stances, develops necessary effects according to universal laws. 
Perhaps on account of this suggestion the view in question 
has value ; among the many constituents that make up the 
fabric of life, there is perhap'fc one separated from the rest by 
a special difference in its nature ; nevertheless, its presence 
would not alter the fact that all purposive operations 
in the vital organism necessarily depend on the mode of 
combination of the parts among which it exists. On the 
other hand, to require that the soul should effect what has not 
an adequate foundation in this, and that it should uncon 
sciously bring about such an effect, would be to require it to 
perform a task, and at the same time to deny the one condi 
tion on which it could be performed. 

6. We have pursued the doctrine of a special vital force 
into the various forms in which it has successively sought 
acceptance ; directly or indirectly all arose either from observ 
ing that the reactions of living beings on the impressions to 
which they are liable, seemed not to have their entire 
foundation in these stimulations, or from noticing that the 
successive forms into which they are developed without 
any apparent impetus from without are not completely 
explained by their antecedents. This excitability through 
which the external influence is followed by unexpected re 
actions, corresponding to it neither in strength nor in 
duration nor yet in form, seemed to divide the region of 
life from that of lifelessness ; for the actions of the latter, 
it was ^ believed, could be completely developed from the 
sum of all the given conditions as obviously necessary 
consequents. There is some self-delusion as regards both 
clauses of this proposition. "Where any external shock falls 
on a compact whole of many parts, the magnitude, duration, 
and form of the final effect produced never depend on it 
alone, but conjointly, and generally in a far higher degree, on. 
the internal connection of the parts struck. Through their 
mutual relations the amount of the impression received can 
be diminished, increased, or distributed in the most diverse 


manner over a given number of points, or directed in its 
diffusion so as to "be enabled to set free fettered energies, or 
convert kinetic into potential energy. These manifold inter 
mediating circumstances finally lead to a result by no means 
resembling the original shock by which, they are produced. 
Every machine has this capacity of excitation. While the 
workman is turning an outer wheel with a constant rate of 
velocity, the internal machinery on which the blow falls is 
worked by the alternate upward and downward movement of 
a piston, which Itself, according to the mode in which it is 
combined with external objects, can in very various ways 
transmit further the force of its movement. Precisely in the 
same manner the infinite variety of the parts of the body, with 
their perpetual internal movements, stand midway between 
the impressions which we see made from without on the living 
body, and the final reaction. If we are entitled in general to 
refer to this intermediate link the phenomena of vital excit 
ability, without, however, being able to trace the chain of 
intermediate links completely in the great complexity of vital 
processes, we can see in it not a peculiar operative vital force, 
but merely a kind of operation common to the living body 
along with every mechanism. 

But we would be wrong to limit this excitability to 
composite systems, to which the name is chiefly applied. 
It is no less characteristic of the simplest substratum. Or 
can we prove how in the heightened temperature and the 
mutual approximation of two elements the necessity of their 
chemical union is already fully established ? On the con 
trary, we must suppose that a qualitative peculiarity of then- 
nature is only stimulated by these external circumstances to 
an effect such as the circumstances themselves would not 
produce if they worked on other substances. The result taking 
place, Everywhere depends not only on the external conditions 
with which it is associated, but also on the nature of that 
on which these work. The reaction of inorganic substances 
is only simpler, owing to the fact that it usually follows on 
similar stimulations in identical kind and amount, because it 


starts from a persistent excitability unalterable in Its con 
stitution. Organisms, on the other hand, internally in 
constant motion, present to the same stimuli at different 
times a different excitability, and their reactions thereby 
assume the appearance of arbitrariness in a higher degree 
than the more uniform ones of lifeless matter, from which, 
however, they in no wise differ as regards the ultimate laws of 
their origin. 

Thus from these considerations also we return to that 
mechanical conception which in life, as everywhere, makes 
the possibility, the kind, and the concatenation of compound 
results dependent on the harmonious efficacy of the parts, 
and the idea is given up of a single force with fluctuating 
energy, guided solely by regard to the attainment of an end. 
But we will endeavour by some further remarks to obviate 
the unfavourable light in which, as contrasted with the 
opposite views, ours must appear. We cannot indeed promise 
to offer the same advantage as is contained in the fundamental 
idea of the view which w r e reject. We cannot ascribe the 
origin of the fair unity and subjectivity of life that is wont 
to chain our admiration, to the mutual action of parts which 
in even their closest relations to one another yet remain and 
must remain different, if they are to form that plurality of 
active and passive points on whose manifold connection the 
very advantages of our own view depend. Nevertheless, it 
would hardly be fair to reproach xis with regarding the living 
body simply as a machine. For ready as we are to acknow 
ledge that we really do assume the same universal laws of 
action for both, yet in the manner in which these laws are 
applied in the products of our skill there is a certain 
pettiness that we should be reluctant to see ascribed to the 
voluntary automata of Nature. 

Our machines work w r ith second-hand forces ; they are 
founded on the solidity, the cohesivoness, the elasticity of 
certain substances ; but, instead of producing any of those 
properties afresh, they presuppose that they are already formed 
by the elemental forces in the material supplied l>y external 


Nature. A fixed invariable degree of these properties is what 
is required to make the machine work; every alteration of 
this degree acts as a disturbance or a waste of the proper rela 
tions. Further, the rhythm according to which the trans 
mitted impelling movement is propagated is "based on an 
ingenious interlacing of single parts ; but this mode of cora- 
1)i nation is not produced by the active living attraction of the 
constituents themselves ; here we see firm cohesion produced 
by nails, bolts, rings, and screws, moveability of parts related 
to one another secured by revolution round fixed axes ; every 
where we find the Immediate attractions and repulsions of 
the elements not applied at first hand, but their static 
products, rigidity and impenetrability, made use of to attain 
by external composition the end of the machine. Just so the 
active element in it is hardly ever a newly-evolved force or 
movement, but all its operations depend on the communica 
tion or propagation of an impetus received from without 
P>ut then in our time this impetus itself is most frequently 
produced by the use of elemental forces, the vivid elasticity 
of steam being developed by heightened temperature. Tet 
even, that vivid force serves only in general to excite a motion 
in itself formless ; and the impetus given receives its definite 
conformation and consequently its adaptability for the purpose 
of the machine solely from the position of the rigid wheels 
or springs on which it strikes. 

It is different with the voluntary agencies of Nature. No 
material band connects the planet with the sun, but the direct 
efficacy of an. elemental force, universal attraction, invisibly 
holds the two together with an elasticity in their interaction 
that no artificial construction can imitate. No fixed axis, no 
screw-worm, no winding and unwinding rope, compels the 
planet to leave its motion in a straight line for a curved path, 
"but the perpetually continued and perpetually varying conflict 
between its original velocity and the attraction that impels it 
towards the sun, leads it invisibly but surely to and fro on & 
fixed path, and no wear of the means of locomotion mars the 
continuance of this admirable adjustment. Yet this rests on 


no other universal laws of action than those which hold good 
as well for our machines. The same kind of activity is again 
exemplified, and with infinitely greater variety, in the living 
organism. This, too, works with no merely external combina 
tions of means indifferent to one another; in it too the 
springs of action everywhere disappear below the current of 
immediate effects ; each of its elements, while developing, retro 
grading, and changing, displays towards its neighbours the whole 
store of those primary forces which belong peculiarly to it, 
and here these effects are not interruptions of the progress of the 
whole, but form the conditions which are always afresh giving 
rise to its reality as well as to all the marvellous delicacy of 
its form. And even where, for the fulfilment of certain of 
its tasks, the living body does make use of the machine's 
mode of working, as in the movement of tho limbs, whose 
rigid bones it draws according to the laws of the lever by the 
ropes of the muscles, even there it forms and maintains lever 
and ropes by an unremitting activity consisting in a compli 
cated chain of direct working of atom upon atom. 

It is the limitation to rigid instruments already prepared, 
and to an external connection between them, that gives me 
chanical work that uncanny appearance which causes us to feel 
most repugnance to a comparison of it with life. We often see 
two parts of some mechanism out of relation with one another, 
perhaps the one motionless, the other in a state of motion to 
which all around is indifferent ; suddenly, when a particular 
position has at last been reached, a shock takes place, and 
the single parts are at once drawn into mutual action, without 
having shown any signs of a gradually advancing prepara 
tion, and they next moment relapse into their indifferent 
repose. In consequence of the uninterrupted stream of action 
that is ever flowing from one atom to another through their 
immediate forces, and thus at each moment bringing about a 
complete connection of the whole, living beings escape from 
this inequality of development. Each infinitesimal part 
seems to have a knowledge of what is going on in another, 
and the reciprocal action of all, kept up unremittingly and 


not distributed in shocks over distinct moments, gives the 
development that admirable appearance of softness and mild 
grace which sets anything living in such triumphant contrast 
to the spectral disjointedness of the movements of artificial 

Thus in our opinion also there is in organized beings a real 
life, in sufficiently sharp contrast with the apparent activity 
of machinery to distinguish its divine origin from the poor 
productions of human art. Yet we wotxld once more revert to 
the grounds of the obstinacy with which we hold fast this 
view in apparent opposition to many mental cravings, whose 
rights we yet fully acknowledge. It is not from an inclination 
to look on life as the result of an accidental assemblage 
of parts ; on the contrary, we provisionally forbear to discuss 
its origin, as a mystery ; it is only its maintenance which we 
believe to be committed to the connection of the course of 
Nature without the intervention of new forces. And, just as 
the laws according to which our planetary system revolves 
were laid clown in a hitherto uncontroverted science, before a 
credible conjecture had yet been made as to the origin of its 
present arrangement, so an independent theory of the main 
tenance of life may precede any views as to its origination ; 
nay, it will be from the complete elaboration of the former 
that we shall learn in what direction we may hope for 
the elucidation of the latter. We are actuated solely by the 
conviction that Nature, not only in its import, but also in the 
laws of its economy, necessarily forms a whole, whose various 
products are distinguished from one another, not by different 
laws, but by a different mode of applying the same system of 
laws. On this assumption rest all the hopes which we cherish 
for the progress of science, and all the habits of our practical 
life. The feeling of those who recoil from the stupendous task 
of actually tracing back to these beginnings the 'infinite variety 
of life, is one which we fully share. But the magnitude of 
the required problem must not induce us to choose for its 
easier, but only apparent, solution principles of which we 
do not clearly discern even the possibility. Of such prin- 


ciples the idea of a single operative vital force is one. It 
is not obvious where such a force could be inherent, unless iii 
the sum of living parts and their systematic combinations , 
it is not obvious how it should come to alter its mode of 
operation and at each moment to effect what is necessary, so long 
as we do not suppose that, by regular necessity, it becomes 
different, and works differently, under altered circumstances, 
like every force which is the result of a variety of changeable 
parts. That it is associated with these parts and dependent 
on the manner in which they are combined, that it only 
effects anything by constant action and reaction with the 
inorganic world, is the universal testimony of experience. 
We have no right to neglect this testimony and to conceive 
that which we see only as dependent on fixed conditions, as a 
power rising superior to these conditions in an independence 
and freedom which it is impossible accurately to define. 
How little the characteristics that have been dwelt on as 
distinctive attributes of the vital force necessitate any such 
assumption, we have shown at more length. We should be 
as much at a loss to give any further reason for making thy 
assumption, as tr point to any use which science has hifcheito 
' derived from it. 



Constant and Periodic Operations, and Progiossive Development Anomalous 
Dibtui "bailees The Application ot Chemical Forces and their [Results aw 
regards Life The Development of Forms from formless Germs Change of 
Material ; its Significance, Mode, and Organs. 

1.TN" our survey of the transformations which the general 
-*- conception of Nature has undergone in the course of 
"human history, we remarked how vain it would be to seek to 
apply the attractive idea of animating impulses to the explana 
tion of the embodiment and conservation of individual pheno 
mena in the economy of Nature. We saw, further, how from 
the nature of its problems, physical investigation has necessarily 
"been driven to regard every composite being that developes 
itself in a course of changing evolution as the result of 
many forces, whose total effect receives its definite form from 
the mode in which the subjects of those forces are combined. 
Finally, the consideration of the phenomena familiar to all as 
the leading traits of life, served to confirm our conviction 
that even life, however immeasurably it may surpass all other 
existence in value and in significance, yet does not require 
us to go back, for an explanation of its connection and its 
performances, to the hypothesis of a vital force of a special 
nature. The more imperatively are we now required to 
render an account of those peculiar arrangements by which 
the constituent parts of the living body are ^enabled without 
the continual intervention of a higher force to carry out this 
complex process of development. The more accurately, 
however, we compare the variety of the phenomena presented 
to us with the knowledge we have as yet acquired of their 
conditions, the less shall we cherish the presumptuous hope of 



ever reaching a full solution of this problem. Over-confident 
attempts to answer decisively every question with the exceed 
ingly insufficient means now at our command, can but confirm 
the opposite opinion when it infers from the difficulties, 
which it more justly estimates, that the end is impracticable, 
which in spite of being unattainable must yet determine the 
line of our inquiries. At the same time our ignorance is not 
so great but that in the description of particular vital 
processes we can trace the mechanical concatenation of effects 
for a long way, and our survey of the whole is not so limited 
but that we can distinguish some of the fundamental features 
by which the application of Nature's general rncans to the 
ends of life is distinguished from the other ways in which 
we find these made use of. 

"We see various modes of occurrence of processes cross one 
another in the living organism. Some operations last through 
long intervals unaltered and with a uniform force; others 
traverse in unequal periods complete cycles, and return 
almost to the same state from which they for a time deviated 
But these constant or recurring motions are everywhere 
attended by another progressive evolution, owing to which the 
living body, by an inherent law of gradual development, has 
its outward figure and the internal connection of its processes 
transformed, in order to end with the dissolution that forms 
not only the inevitable, but the naturally predestined close of 
its phenomenal existence. But even this progressive evolu 
tion and the regular sequence of its stages are interrupted at 
every moment of life by the variety of external impressions 
and an equal variety of reactions, in which the living 
organism sometimes with transient excitement, sometimes 
with persistent effort, moves both itself and the objects of 
the outside world. Neither impressions nor movements are 
governed by a fixed law as to their times of recurrence or 
their rotation; set at work or in motion with arbitrary 
casualness, they may at first be looked on merely as disturb 
ances of the body and of those arrangements which form the 
basis of the invariably connected course of its definitely 


shaped development. Nevertheless, the essential characteristic 
of animal life lies not in quiet steady development, but just 
in the capacity of action which at every moment is able 
to direct an excess of vital energy against chance impressions. 
Hence at least the general possibility of these reactions, which 
could not be singly foreseen and calculated, must be regarded 
as an essential feature of animal economy. 

We may easily ascertain in the inorganic world examples 
both of the persistent continuance of one and the same event 
and of the complete cycle of a recurring development. In 
fact, for the persistence of every simple motion of a body no 
further agency would be required than the keeping away of 
disturbing causes ; again the occurrence of a single disturb 
ance say, of that attraction which draws one moving body 
to another would be sufficient to make its path a curve, 
and but a few more special conditions would be needful to 
convert that into the elliptical orbit in which the planet 
revolves round its central body. This regular interchange of 
movements between two bodies would be endlessly continued 
and repeated, so long as they remained withdrawn from all 
internal alterations in their mass and forces, as well as from 
all impressions from the surrounding world. But it would 
be a delusion were we to adduce these examples of constantly 
uniform or recurrent evolution as evidence of the ease with 
which life also must succeed in producing actions of a 
similar character. For, though its activity also ultimately 
rests on the application of the simple laws of the conservation 
and composition of forces, yet on closer inspection we find 
that the operations carried on unremittingly within the living 
body, as well as the constant assimilation aud conservation in 
the particles, are effected by far more complicated processes 
than could be divined from the apparent simplicity of the 

They resemble the quiet light of a wax-candle, whose 
uniform radiance tells nothing of the series of complicated 
operations by which it is sustained. When the first-lighted 
part of the wick entered into combination with the oxygen of 


the atmosphere, it produced while burning more heat than 
was needful sufficiently to warm the contiguous part to enable 
it to enter into the same combination with the oxygen. Thus 
the flame spread from this second part to the third and over the 
whole, each point, by a part of its released heat, setting free 
the confined forces of another so as to bring it into a similar 
blaze. But the flame would too quickly have consumed the 
delicate texture of the threads, if another part of the dis 
engaged heat had not liquefied the wax whose office is to 
feed the fire. In consequence of the capillary attraction of 
the wick the fluid mass mounts upward, and, after having by 
saturation prevented the texture of the wick from being 
too quickly destroyed, it reaches a point through whose high 
temperature it is itself kindled , while the mounting current oi' 
heated air, rising from the flame, is at this point followed by 
a fresh draught from below, that keeps up the blaze. Thus 
the molten fluid, now itself volatilized by the fire, is agam 
emptied from the filled threads of the wick, affording to the 
new material, to whose melting it has contributed, free space 
to continue the same series of processes as it moves upward. 

The apparently simple and uniform operations of the living 
organism depend on similar arrangements. Only, while the 
flame goes out so soon as its fuel is consumed, in the organism 
the connection of the whole makes it possible for the vital 
activities to be resumed afresh. They thus manifest themselves 
not so much as elemental processes which by their uniform 
persistence form an abiding basis for the variations of the others, 
but rather as operations which the unity of a wider and more 
complicated plan brings about, simple indeed in their course, 
but refined and highly intricate in ibheir antecedents. Equally 
inadequate w r ould be an explanation from the analogies of the 
planetary revolution, of the periodical cycles which we see 
completed by other movements of the living organism. The 
pulsations of the heart, the rhythmical contractions of the 
intestines, \ the teycle of respiration, are all processes having 
no resembk'nce \ the simple motions of detached bodies. Wo 
see here a grfeat f ^u^iber of firmly connected parts co-operating 


iu joint movements that necessarily imply for their execution a 
change in the combination, of the parts, and a sacrifice of some 
of the conditions on which their individual efficacy depends. 
Hence these actions are subordinated to a more general and 
comprehensive scheme, which secures the repair of exhausted 
powers and the regular recurrence of the needful stimulations. 
We should look 111 vain in the inorganic world for the 
third of the above - mentioned modes in which complex 
processes run their course, progressive development through 
a giadation of predetermined states. It belongs exclusively 
to life, and appears in the full beauty and purity of its 
significance in the development of plants. Nevertheless 
it is not wholly useless to trace the comparatively im 
perfect anticipations of it which we may find in unorganized 
existence. Only between two bodies, as we have already 
indicated, could the reciprocal action of a circular planetary 
motion go on with unceasing regularity ; the addition of a 
third would alter the mutual relations of the two, and compel 
them to move in orbits that revealed the influence of external 
disturbance. Only in periods of considerable length, if at 
all, would this system of bodies succeed in returning once 
more to exactly the original relative positions, and in 
thence repeating its completed motion without any modifica 
tion. With the number of the active members the difficulty 
of a rhythmically recurrent course of changes will increase, 
and it will require particularly favourable conditions to limit 
the mutual disturbances to such a minimum amount that 
they shall not on the whole materially affect the character of 
the system and of its motions. Such conditions actually obtain 
in our solar system, and chief among them is the fact, that, with 
all its variety of internal motions, it forms an independent and 
isolated whole, not reached in any perceptible degree by the 
influences of those parts of the universe that lie beyond it, 
the more distant fixed stars. The results would be different 
if this system, like the body of the plant, were exposed to 
influences from without, and like it had all the move 
ments which it naturally executes influenced and changed 


by a regular or irregular recurrence of external impres 
sions. Let us suppose that a system of heavenly bodies 
moved through a space in "which it met with masses (dis 
tributed according to any law) on which its power of attrac 
tion could act; now not only would it grow, from drawing 
these into the sphere of its own movements and henceforth 
attaching them to itself, but further, by the accession of these 
new constituents the mutual relations of the prior ones 
would be altered, and the motion of the whole would 
constantly assume new forms, each one necessarily evolved 
from that immediately preceding, and from the effect of the 
new conditions of the moment. Thus a regular gradation of 
states would arise, comparable to the single successive phases 
of vital evolution. For the living body is just such a system 
of parts, not secluded from external influences, but open to 
them and needing them for its development. The ground of 
that into which it develops is not wholly contained in itself ; 
it requires not only the afflux of the materials which are to 
make up its increasing figure, but also stimulating impressions, 
which shall determine for its own forces the direction and 
order of their manifestations. Though apparently isolated, 
the body is yet but one half of the basis of life, while its 
complement lies still without form in the universal current 
of the course of Nature that is surging up around it. 

2. The development of life is not, however, exclusively thus 
determined ; we must add a further peculiarity, which would 
serve broadly to distinguish it from such aa evolutionary 
planetary system as we have pictured. The extensive application 
of chemical affinities and of attractions at imperceptible distances 
takes the place of gravitation, which pervades the universe 
and binds together its most distant parts. The ordinary view, 
in regarding only the body of the plant and the animal as a 
living connected whole, while it considers the planetary system 
as a congeries of separate units, is not without grounds for this 
distinction ; it coincides with that difference of powers, which 
in both cases has the most important part in the production 
of the varying development. Even the planetary bodies aro 


formed and held together by attractions which are efficacious 
only in close contiguity, and disappear at finite distances, 
and incessant chemical changes are always transforming at 
least their surfaces , but these internal fluctuations are of 
no consequence as regards the attraction in virtue of which 
each holds its place as a whole in the circle of the heavenly 
bodies. In the living body, on the other hand, weight tells 
everywhere, so far as is compatible with universal laws ; but 
however important and significant these effects may be in 
individual cases, they have no pervading influence on the 
character of the vital phenomena. In consequence of that 
attraction at a distance, whose efficacy extends through un 
measured regions of space, the planetary system possesses that 
apparently so slight, and yet really so firm union of parts, 
the amount of which decreases in proportion to the distance 
between them ; the living body, on the other hand, through 
forces that no longer act at a short distance from their starting- 
point, but overcome great resistance when tho parts acting 
on each other are in immediate contact, acquires that firm, 
compact structure by which it invariably stands out, as a 
separate whole, from its surroundings. And this distinction 
is not merely apparent. The connection of a planetary 
system, left to itself, may be firm ; but as it is the result 
of forces acting at a distance, so also it can be shaken hy 
such as come from a distance, and will show by corresponding 
fluctuations the influence of the slightest alterations in the 
adjustment of the world external to it. On the other liana, 
the peculiar nature of its forces serves to protect the living 
organism, which is destined to be continually in action and 
reaction with the outer world ; from the shortness of the 
distance at which chemical affinity and cohesion cease to 
be efficacious, it is surrounded by a neutral zone, while these 
same forces hold together its own contiguous parts so strongly 
as to resist even actual violence. "While^ therefore, the loosely 
compacted structure of a planetary system would with admir 
able susceptibility reflect in its own variations the variations 
of the rest of the universe, the living organism herein of 
VOL. i. ' p 


tougher nature returns to the former disposition of its parts, 
even after great fluctuations, and thereby presents the spec 
tacle of an unchanging and yet not rigid, but inoveable figure. 
We would fain mention here yet another advantage that 
accrues to the living organism from the same circumstance, 
though it may at first sight appear a disadvantage. We have 
become so accustomed to see in the exceedingly intimate 
mutual connection of the parts one of the most essential and 
wonderful prerogatives of life, that it may seem strange when 
we lay stress on the absence of such in a certain sense as its 
real attribute. Nevertheless this absence is real, and we may 
easily convince ourselves that there lies in this fact, which for 
particular ends is again neutralized by special provisions, a 
better warrant for the continuance of life than would lie in 
the excess of pervading connection, which we do not find. 
Were all the parts of the living body directly connected by 
reciprocal actions, so that every slight change of the one must 
be reflected on all the rest, there would be here an abundant 
source of endless disturbances of the whole, which would 
require equally complex arrangements for their counteraction. 
For it would not always be possible to discharge the disturbance 
by means of its own results, and, even where this was done, 
the very instability thereby introduced into the whole would 
be an evil, if it could not be incidentally applied to the 
attainment of other ends. In the planetary system we see 
the result of this pervading reciprocal action, seeing that no 
single planet can describe its orbit as it would describe it Lut 
for the disturbances produced by the attraction of the others. 
The living body, by the peculiar structure of its nervous 
system, establishes a closer connection of the greatest fineness 
where and as it is best adapted to the operations of life ; but 
each single part, from the narrow working sphere of the forces 
which are chiefly active in it, coheres with but few of its 
next neighbours so closely that every state of the one must 
be communicated to the other with perceptible effect. Hence 
single groups of parts are left free to develop their form, 
their texture, and their composition with a certain tenacious 


independence, and, undisturbed by passing fluctuations of the 
rest, to execute operations on whose regular course the coher 
ence of the whole depends. 

It is now hardly needful to enlarge on the peculiar results 
that are brought about for life by the application of chemical 
processes. The celestial motions are those of uniformly 
existing masses ; mechanical skill does indeed make use of 
chemical forces to bring about the moving impetus, but it at 
the same time allows the kind of action to be determined by 
a rigid framework of unvarying parts ; life alone presents a 
development, the subjects of which not only increase in bulk, 
but during their activity undergo a previously determined 
alteration of nature. In this case therefore, far more properly 
than in the other, every subsequent result is conditioned by 
the immediately preceding state In the machine too the 
subsequent operation is successful only in virtue of the prior 
one, that moved the parts of the fabric into the required posi 
tion ; but there remain alike in the one case and in the other 
the same efficient masses and the same forces ; the action of 
the whole is hence limited to a perhaps highly complex, but a 
recurring and not increasing series of results. In the living 
body every chemical change that takes place sets to work forces 
not before in existence and brings others to a pause ; thus at 
each moment there is laid for subsequent development a new 
foundation, such as gives occasion sometimes for a continuance 
of prior states, sometimes for an evolution into new ones, 
sometimes by a combination of both, for expansion into a far 
fuller manifestation of character and activity. 

"We must keep in view this gradual laying again of founda 
tions, if we will understand the way in which the organism 
originates from its germ, without requiring the continual inter 
vention of a fashioning power. Experience indeed makes it so 
highly probable as to be almost certain that in the present course 
of Nature no organism is the direct product of a combination of 
elementary substances ; only in propagation by means of what 
is similar is the chain of life carried on, holding together con 
tinuously in the seed and the egg the definitely adjusted sum 


of parts from whose excitation by external stimuli the series 
of vital phenomena may be again evolved. Even this tradi 
tion, however, often seems to us too faint, this point of view 
too simple, to let us suppose that in it alone are contained the 
conditions of the subsequently renewed development. Then 
we forget that it is really a long process that leads through 
countless agencies from the invisible germ to the perfect 
flower and fruit, and that at each stage of this course 
possibilities arise, which were absent in the preceding one, 
We are very far from being in a position to write a history of 
these transformations and of the laws according to which 
they actually succeed one another in a definite series in the 
development of life ; but we are able in some measure to 
take account of the resources of which Nature can here avail 
herself, and through whose agency the great chasm between 
the commencement and the termination of the development 
is lessened by division into a number of intermediate stages. 

Even if nothing at first lay before us but a fluid with its 
ingredients mixed in accurately fixed proportions, without 
any solid germ being yet distinguishable as the basis of the 
infant organism, the first chemical influences of the environ 
ment might yet be sufficient to produce this germ. One 
constituent would become detached by coagulation, and not 
only is there a definite form corresponding to the nature of 
each substance, which it assumes when left to itself, but, 
under certain circumstances, the maximum size of the figure 
may be determined which its forces will allow of its holding 
together. Accordingly this solidifying substance could fall 
into a fixed number of parts, occupying the relative position 
which sets them in equilibrium with all the actual conditions. 
Whether, however, the first solid germ of the subsequent 
development be given thus or through the existing structure 
of the seed, we need nothing more than a slight difference 
of its arrangement in different directions to enable us to see 
how the development of the next stage, bringing to ber 
identical external stimuli on these variously constructed parts, 
increases their dissimilarity, and thus prepares for the rise of 


various and widely differing forms from an apparently similar 
beginning- Each chemical transmutation tliat takes place 
will, first of all, involve the arrangement In space correspond 
ing to the alteration, in the substance ; but every change of 
conformation thus brought about will likewise help to con 
dition the subsequent effects of the stimuli, "by preventing 
them from reaching parts now rendered inaccessible, con 
centrating them upon others left open, and so prescribing 
tolerably well marked lines to the subsequent development. 

As, however, every chemical composition entails a fixed 
shape, so also the acquired shape brings about new habits of 
chemical action. In our workshops we seek to prevent the 
vessel from sharing in the chemical vicissitudes of its contents ; 
in the living body the tissues do not form merely an uncon 
cerned stage on wMch other substances coine into reciprocal 
action, but, by their degree of density, their form,, and the forces 
of attraction or repulsion which they bring to bear on their 
content, they exert their share of influence on the course of 
the transmutation of substances. By means of this gradually 
advancing development of the vessel in which they are 
contained, the nutritive fluids are elaborated for the pro 
duction of more delicate compounds, and a more and 
more definitely marked field is opened up for the action of 
external vital stimuli. We must not despise any of these 
co-operating elements, and, fully as we are convinced that 
none of all these processes of vital evolution can escape from 
the universal laws of physical and chemical action, we can 
have but little expectation of explaining witli these laws as 
hitherto ascertained the immense complexity with which the 
constant changes in the form, the blending, and the mode of 
access of the external stimuli here act on one another. Least 
of all can we venture to hope that human art will ever 
succeed in producing by imitation any essential constituent 
of a living body. For, while it is certain that no living 
product could have come into being by means of any other 
forces than those of the general course of Nature, no less 
necessary to its origin was the fixed adjustment of these 


forces and their subjects,, which could alone determine the 
character of the subsequent product. This adjustment we 
never see spontaneously reproduced ; Nature has entrusted 
its maintenance to continual transmission by propagation. 
Any hope of artificially creating life anew, would imply the 
presumptuous "belief that with fewer and more insufficient 
means and in shorter time we could produce that which 
Nature herself can execute only by means of a long course of 
development and the introduction of forces already organically 

Now the growing capacities of the different parts of a 
system thus developed come to an end at different times ; 
some have gone through the series of transformations of which, 
under existing circumstances, they were capable, while others 
are still in the middle of their course of development. Thus 
the stem of the plant, as it turns to wood, gradually with 
draws from participation in its further development, but it 
continues to serve the whole with its physical properties of 
solidity and rigidity, assigning to the parts that have remained 
mobile the stage of their activity. Thus in endlessly various 
ways the development, as it goes on, makes for itself new 
supports, from which it extends further ; but at the same 
time it thereby creates for itself limits which confine the 
possibility of action to definite forms, and thus bring about 
either the persistence of a prevailing type of growth, or the 
final expiry of life and the complete extinction of all oppor 
tunities of further work. Wo find all these characteristics, 
that compose for us the image of a self-contained development, 
connected with the employment of chemical affinities, and the 
application of molecular forces that act only under condition 
of contact. 

3. The life of the plant, the most distinct example of 
this development, has as its sole task the perfecting of its 
own form. Did the outer world yield it substances all 
ready to be made use of for that structure, it would have 
nothing to do but to absorb them, and there would be no 
necessity that in return it should before its total destruction 


render Lack substances to the outer world ; those once 
absorbed would form its abiding constituents. But it does 
not find this ready material, and is compelled to produce it 
from its elements, During this process one part of the used 
up material may drop out as an unprofitable incidental product 
and be restored to the outer world. Other substances, such 
as the great bulk of the water absorbed, circulate through 
the vegetable structure, not to become part of it as con 
stituents, but, as means of detachment,, to secure the 
mobility of the more active parts ; they too return to the 
outer world after they have done their work; lastly, much 
that was valuable at certain periods of growth, by becom 
ing dried up or withered, is detached from the whole after 
the fulfilment of its office. But we have no reason to 
suppose that substances which have once entered the solid 
structure of the plant, are subjected to a repeated renewal. 
The animal body, as is well known, is different in this respect, 
and, though all doubts as to the extent of its transmutation 
of substance are not removed, it is yet certain that a great 
part of its bulk is constantly engaged iu decomposition and 
renovation by fresh accretions. This fact, into the extent 
1 of which we shall hereafter inquire, we have meanwhile 
to consider in its significance with regard to that feature of 
animal life with which it unquestionably stands in the closest 
connection, namely, with the operations executed by the 
animal body without any fixed law of recurrence and suc 
cession, in addition to the development and preservation of its 
own form. 

MTone of the countless impressions with which the outer 
world is continually besieging the senses at random, and the 
conversion of which into sensation is the task of the , animal 
soul, can be received by the body without the receptive 
organs undergoing a change of the state in which their 
active parts are at the moment of rest. None of the 
equally numerous movements by which the internal life of 
the animal reacts on these stimulations, can be performed 
without the great change in the position of the limbs being 


prepared for by a countless multitude of changes in tlio 
relative situation of their minutest particles. All these 
processes, seeing that they take place not like predetermined 
states of development in a systematic sequence, but outside of 
all mathematical laws, can be regarded as nothing else than 
disturbances of the relations imposed on the constituents of 
the body by the type of its species. Did we choose to 
indulge in speculations that have no demonstrable connection 
with reality, we might perhaps imagine the bodily structure 
so designed that its organs, after each of these disturbances, 
returned with perfect elasticity to its former state. But we 
find this supposition but slightly justified by experience. 
The cohesive forces of the parts of solid tissues are indeed 
strong enough to overcome temporary displacements. The 
exhaustion of the senses, on the other hand, the fatigue of the 
muscles, which after a certain duration of uninterrupted labour 
inevitably supervenes, are enough to convince us that this, 
though perhaps conceivable, does not at any rate actually 
occur, and that, with such means as are supplied by the ordi 
nary course of Nature, life could not form any organs that 
would not be gradually worn out by the reciprocal action 
involved in the stimulations designed for it. But it is one of 
the ends of life to obliterate almost everywhere the traces 
of prior impressions, and to bring back the organs to a state 
in which they shall undertake newly -imposed tasks quite 
unshackled and uriweakened by the kind and amount of the 
operations which they have already performed. The question 
. is, how this need of a constant repair of capacities can be 
most simply satisfied. 

Instead, however, of imagining remote possibilities, such as 
some overlooked circumstance would too easily convert into 
impossibilities, wo proceed to point out in the unremitting 
change of material the simplest means of satisfying this 
need, and of its actual employment we are, moreover, informed 
by experience. "For life to take perishable materials into its 
service, and embody its phsenomena in ever-changing masses, 
was the means by which it was most easy to maintain a 


normal condition in the struggle with, incalculable disturbances. 
Should slight and delicate impressions of the outer world 
possess a power of stimulating the organs of the body, in 
particular should minute distinctions of external stimuli be 
separated for our apprehension by perceptible differences in 
their effects, or movements in every possible gradation of 
strength, duration, and velocity be capable of being executed, 
the internal states of the instruments adapted for all these 
operations would be strongly susceptible of injury. This 
necessary property was bound up with the transient nature of 
the chemical composition, and living Nature escaped from this 
consequence not by withholding through higher forces the 
disturbed substances from the decomposition to which, by the 
universal laws of chemical processes, they would naturally fall 
a prey ; it allowed the disordered to perish, while holding fast 
the necessary foundations for the restoration of that which had 
been used up. 

But not only that which has been destroyed by its activity, 
also that which has remained inert beyond the period during 
which its composition could subsist, is left to its fate, and 
advances towards decomposition only less swiftly than the 
former. Through this proceeding Nature avoids the necessity 
of meeting each single disturbance with a remedial reaction 
suited to its nature and degree, and thereby it escapes nume 
rous disadvantages, that seem hardly separable from any other 
procedure. Besides, it could display reactions of such a kind 
only if the disturbance itself brought them on with mechanical 
necessity, and were thus counteracted by a part of its own 
consequences. But such a reaction, bursting forth only at the 
moment of need, would recur as irregularly as the disturbance 
by which it was excited ; it would therefore itself be a ne^ 
disturbance, such as would not occur, except under especially 
favourable conditions, without injury to the connection of the 
whole. The case would be similar, if the constituents of the 
body were in themselves unchangeable, and only became 
decomposed when shattered by the impressions of external 
stimuli and their after effects, requiring restoration immediately 



after such stimuli, but needing none during the intervals 
between them. If, on the other hand, the sum of the effective 
parts is engaged in a perpetual motion of flux and reflux, this 
current is always carrying off the debris of decomposition, and 
constantly laying new foundations for further action, and thus 
guards the vital whole against the sudden and violent con 
vulsions that any defence improvised at the moment of need 
would entail. It oven ceases to be needful to produce for 
every disturbance the remedy corresponding to its kind and 
degree ; instead of the open conflict against the very various 
effects of impressions, life practises the stratagem of perpetual 
retreat, for by working froiri the first with varying instru 
mentality it gives up everything which, shaken by external 
assaults, only rushes more quickly towards the decomposition 
for which it was at. any rate destined Of course we now find 
in the living body express provisions for causing reactions to 
succeed impressions at particular moments, which apparently 
are adjusted to the duration, the kind, and the degree of these 
stimulations ; but even the efficacy of these means, of which 
we shall have occasion later to speak, is after all only rendered 
possible by this continual and general flux of the change of 

On closer consideration, however, we have no demonstrable 
right to call this flux quite general, and it is to exaggerate 
the perishableness of the animal body to suppose that we can 
assign periods within which its whole bulk has undergone 
transformation by change of material. The substances produced 
by organic chemical processes are not all so easily disturbed 
in their composition as (misled by the striking sight of the 
decay of some) we are apt to imagine. "We are familiar with 
the durability of wood, bones, sinews, and skin, and make 
ifiapifold use of it ; we are familiar, on the other hand, with 
the often speedy effect of weather on stone, which, it seemed, 
would have been much more durable. It is not quite decided 
whether the constituents whose coherence is strong undergo 
and require during life any considerable amount of repair: 
it is even doubtful whether many others, which we see 


rapidly decomposed after death, would not be preserved for 
a long time during life in virtue of the more favourable cir 
cumstances under which they then exist. Lastly, in regard to 
many substances we know not the kind of renewal which they 
undergo, and are ignorant whether individual and complete 
elements of form, such as the fibres of the nerves and muscles, 
are preserved as wholes and undergo perpetual renovation 
only in their infinitesimal particles, or whether they too under 
certain circumstances fall to pieces and are replaced by 
perfect ones. Least of all, finally, can we determine the 
amount and velocity of the waste and renewal undergone by 
particular structures under the ordinary circumstances of 
healthy life. In spite of this defectiveness of our knowledge 
we can, however, fill up the picture of the change of substance 
by the certainly correct supposition that the decay and inter 
change of the constituents, should it be universal, at any rate 
proceeds with very various degrees of velocity, and that at 
every moment a considerable stock of constituents maintains 
itself with a fixed or but slowly changing mass in permanent 
modes of combination, and uninterruptedly presents a regula 
tive nucleus for the new formation of the other constituents 
which circulate around it with greater capacity of decomposi 
tion and more rapid changes. 

It remains for the future to decide whether this current 
has a perfectly motionless ground, and to what extent. OUT 
ordinary idea is, of course, that the parts of the body are like 
the stones of a building, which, by their unceasing forces and 
their adjustment given once for all, perform their function in 
a state of rest, and need motion only in order to overcome the 
disturbances which threaten the whole, by an elastic return 
to their former positions. But it may very well be that the 
change of material serves life not only by continually restoring 
the old fabric, so that it might be dropped if there were any 
means of preserving the organic form without it; that, on the 
contrary, the processes of constant forming and reforming, 
themselves yield those motive shocks which life requires for 
the fulfilment of its development just as the burning coal 


not through what it was or through what it is to be, but through 
the motion of the transition itself, the burning generates the 
heat that affords the first impelling agency for the action of 
the machine. But we are very far from being able to carry 
out this thought further. So accustomed are we in processes 
of nutrition and excretion to think only of the acquisition or 
getting rid of useful or pernicious material, that the question 
has as yet been little raised whether here the process itself 
and the excitation of forces effected by it is not sometimes of 
greater value than the shifting of the substances themselves, 
which here and there perhaps form only the indifferent material, 
in whose elaborations those excitations arise, and can be main 
tained. Only in one case has even science as yet adopted 
this mode of thinking ; it has indicated the temporary appro 
priation of a great multitude of substances by the organism 
as means to the production of heat, which originates in their 
chemical alteration, and through the communication of which 
to the tissues of the body the essential task of the absorbed 
masses is discharged. 

4. After we have thus undertaken to indicate the signifi 
cance for the general ends of life of this perpetual trans 
formation of the body, we would fain complete the picture by 
a description of the definite chemical processes from whose 
systematic interaction the regular change of material proceeds. 
The spirit of inquiry has, with the utmost ingenuity and 
industry, in recent times applied itself to these questions ; 
but the complexity of the phenomena and the difficulty of 
investigating them is so great, that from the multitude of 
valuable individual discoveries that must be overlooked in 
our general survey, hardly more than a few more compre 
hensive results have been gained, which can deiy any fear 
of repeated alteration from the farther advance of investi 

So far as we are acquainted with organic life, we find 
figured masses everywhere composed of various chemical 
combinations of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen. 
None of these peculiar combinations can be proved to be pro- 


duced spontaneously, without an organic germ or some remnant 
of decomposing matter forming the first nucleus through 
whose assimilative power the substances everywhere present 
in the atmosphere might be condensed into a new growing 
structure The plant is able, with the means afforded by its 
organization, to combine oxygen and hydrogen in the pro 
portions in which they form water, with various quantities of 
carbon, and thereby to produce a series of substances, the 
carbo-hydrates, from one of which, cellulose, are composed the 
delicate walls of its cells and the whole framework of its 
structure, while others, as sugar and starch, are contained in 
it in solution or deposit, as means of further growth. The 
conversions of these substances and the increase to which 
they minister, seem, however, to be possible only with the 
co-operation of another group of chemical combinations, which 
add nitrogen to the former ingredients, and, on account of the 
resemblance of their character to animal albumen, are. com 
prehended under the name of albuminous bodies or protein. 
These occur, like the fatty ingredients of oils, widely diffused 
in the vegetable kingdom, and by means of the vegetable 
nutrition to which, directly or indirectly, all animal organiza 
tion is limited, they pass over into the animal body, whose 
vital processes are incapable of condensing the simple elements 
which external Nature affords into organically available com 
binations. Thus the vegetable kingdom, in this too a pre 
paratory stage for the animal world, offers to the latter its 
constituents in all essential particulars already formed, leaving 
to the peculiar activities of each species to elaborate them 
according to its needs. 

The bird about to be hatched must have produced out of 
the albumen, and the albuminous and oily ingredients of the 
yolk, all the tissues as yet contained in its body ; from milk, 
which, along with albuminous and fatty substances, contains 
further a considerable quantity of sugar, the young mammal, 
long limited solely to this form of nourishment, must he 
able to produce the Carious structures required by the plan 
of its species; finally, the blood, in which all those sub- 


stances recur, must lie the source of supply of the continual 
reparation of all the parts of the tissues that are consumed 
by use. Hence the albuminous substances are undoubtedly 
to be regarded as the foundation of all those nitrogenous 
compounds which we find approaching one another in the 
quantitative proportions of their composition in flesh, 
cellular tissue, cartilage, hair, feathers, horns, while in 
appearance, hardness, solidity, and ductility they differ widely 
from one another. But it would be vain, in the present 
state of the investigation, to attempt to trace the chemical 
processes by which the common material is worked up into 
each of these peculiar forms. Those parts retain with least 
alteration the original character of albumen, which most 
energetically serve the ends of the organism by their own 
activity, the axis cylinder of the nerves, the substance of 
the brain. In respect of composition the fibrous substance 
of the muscles is also similar, but its destination for vital 
contractile power seems to have necessitated a different dis 
position of the infinitesimal particles, or an alteration of the 
btructure which is still inscrutable by us. A further trans 
formation is to be seen in the tissues which become glutinous 
by steady boiling, and which are used to form the cartilagi 
nous and dermic bases, partition-walls, and ligaments, which 
support, enclose, and unite the vitally active parts. The 
last and most distant links in this chain of substances 
are the tougher, drier, horny and feathery fabrics, which 
develop themselves with the utmost variety of form especi 
ally in outer coverings. None of the carbo-hydrates, which, 
by vegetable nutrition, are conveyed to the animal body, 
has any share in the formation of the tissues in the higher 
species of the animal kingdom; their office may consist in 
the generation of heat, which they effect by means of their 
slow combustion, with the inhaled oxygen, and in a number 
of subsidiary operations, with which they take part in the 
chemical transformations of the other substances. Of greater 
importance seem to be the fatty elements, which are not 
merely useful from their physical properties in keeping tip 


heat and diminishing friction, but necessary as essential 
elements of the chemical composition of some structures and 
the interaction of others Many other inorganic substances 
inetals and salts of the alkalis and earths are along with 
the albuminous bodies used by the organism to establish 
particular physical properties of its tissues , others seem only 
to traverse it, in order to exert favourable influences of various 
kinds on the course of the change of substance. If we arc 
little acquainted with the progressive formation of the con 
stituent parts of the body, we are equally iu the dark as to 
the retrogressive conversion by which they are gradually pre 
pared for death. A very large number early attain a stable 
equilibrium of internal composition, and these structures, drying 
up, are thrown off by the body in largish masses, and without 
decomposition of form, eg. the hair, the nails, and the covering 
of the epidermis, which is constantly scaling off Others, 
through the activity of peculiar organs, undergo a transfor 
mation still little understood, after which they leave the 
body as complex structures, such as mucus and gall, and the 
organic constituents of urine, partly as they are, partly dis 
solved in watery media ; another very considerable residuum 
of this decomposition, so little known in detail, is carbonic 
acid, which is ejected by expiration in the form of a gas, 
united with aqueous vapour. Among all the individual sub 
stances that circulate through the body, oxygen, perhaps, has 
most to do in gradually dissolving the union of the elements 
iu the organic constituents by its preponderant affinity, and 
bringing back their originally varied composition to simpler 
forms, more resembling those of inorganic matter, in which 
the substances, having become more soluble, as they fall to 
pieces, at last quit the limits of the body. If in former 
times oxygen was looked on as the special awakener and 
bringer of life, we may now, without denying that its 
powerful interference, even as a generative force, can set 
up conditions of vital activities, find another and an equally 
important part of its functions in the power of slow de 
struction with which it removes the obstacles to life, dis- 


missing,, by more complete decomposition, the masses that 
Lave become unfit for use from among those which are still 

Lastly, a peculiar importance for the sum of the vital 
operations is possessed by water, which we find circulating 
in extraordinary quantities through plants and the animal 
body. The great proportion of chemical interactions are 
determined by it as a solvent; on its fluidity depends the 
possibility of the circulation and of the uninterrupted distribu 
tion of nutritive material ; on its capacity to absorb, to conduct, 
and by evaporation to limit heat, depends the equilibrium 
of temperature requisite for the continuance of the opera 
tions of the living body. No less essentially does it enter 
into the compounding of the organic constituents; from its 
presence, and its peculiar affinity with them, the animal 
tissues acquire that moisture, and consequently that pliability, 
elasticity, and ductility, by which they are distinguished alike 
from inorganic matter, and from their own friability and 
rigidity after they have become dried. In no inorganic sub 
stance is the relation of water to the solid part of quite 
the same peculiar kind which we find here, and which allows 
us to speak of juices in the living, but never in the lifeless 
body. The crystallizing salt, after having made over the 
greater part of its solvent to evaporation, and absorbed a 
smaller quantity of the water into its chemical composition, 
appears dry, and its particles have taken up fixed relative 
positions. A part of the surrounding atmospheric moisture 
may, indeed, become hygroscopically condensed in it; but 
this absorption of water only disturbs its adjustment, without 
the separated parts having passed through that state of tough 
softness and elastic ductility acquired by all the substances 
used for the proper structure of the animal body through their 
peculiar affinity for water. In this way, doubtless, are deter 
mined the special shaping impulses of organic Nature, which 
are so widely different from the rigidity of crystallization, 
that on the whole but few organic substances are capable of 
this kind of form, and those which do actually exhibit it are 


by tlieir very receptivity rendered unfit for the constructive 
needs of tlie living body. 

5. We are acquainted with no organic juice capable of 
growth that presents an absolutely homogeneous fluidity, and is 
without microscopically small punctiform granules, the forma 
tion and composition of which cannot be traced further. They 
can have originated only from the coagulation of the fluid 
elements, and they increase either by the continued accretion 
of homogeneous coagulating masses, or from, the already 
detached granule collecting about itself through chemical 
elective affinity other substances different from, it The in 
crease of this nucleus, whether homogeneous or consisting 
of different chemical combinations, never exceeds very small 
microscopic dimensions, but even within these limits a second 
formative process takes place, that of the delicate, transparent 
structureless skin, that forms round the nucleus, and with it 
produces the closed figure of a cell, with its interior filled 
with fluid round the nucleus. In what manner this delicate 
membrane is formed by the forces of the nucleus itself is not 
clear ; but the cell itself, in plants frequently the scene of 
vigorous movements, in the course of which its granular con 
tents are carried about, though presenting in the animal no 
such striking phenomena, remains, a living centre of chemical 
reciprocal action with the surrounding fluid, by whose dis 
solved constituents its enclosing membrane is permeated. In 
consequence of this mutual action a gradual alteration takes 
place in the composition, the internal adjustment, and in 
the shape of the cell, and instead of its original round form it 
comes to have that of a number of longish, unequal, ramify 
ing bodies, the manner of whoso origination is still as obscure 
as their value for the vital operations. The plant retains the 
original cellular form to a greater extent than the animal 
organism ; in the organs, mostly glandular in structure, that 
serve for nutrition and transmutation of elements, the cellular 
form of the infinitesimal particles of the tissues is still dis 
tinctly perceptible, and their perpetual dissolution and renova 
tion are partly certain, partly probable; but the peculiar needs of 



animal life have brought about a new form with, its numerous 
applications, that of the fibre, which does not everywhere 
originate even secondarily from a series of cells. We find the 
fibres partly arranged in parallel lines without ramification, as 
in the nerve trunks and the muscles, the bundles being then 
united by commissures and sheaths, partly woven together 
into solid aud firm twists, among which appears as specially 
important the form of the hollow tube of circular section. 

Lastly, from combinations of these relatively simple forms 
of tissue proceed those composite formations which we are wont 
to comprehend under the name of organs, and which unite 
tho physical and organic operations of the single tissues into 
the whole of a definite function. In most organs we find, 
besides a number of membranous sheaths and ligaments, that 
secure the connection of the whole and the relative situation 
of the particular constituents, vessels and nerves traversing, 
in very various proportions of quantity, a mass fundamentally 
consisting of cells. The name of parenchyme (poured between) 
applied to this must not blind us to the fact that it is properly 
the efficacious element of the whole compound, while the 
vesicular channels and the nerves merely convey to it the 
material that is to be worked up and the stimuli to work, or 
carry off to the rest of the organism the material product of 
its operations and the serviceable excitations proceeding from 
its activity. 



The Bony Framework The Muscles and the Motor Nones The Vascular 
System and Circulation of the Blood Inspiration Nutation and 

1. TTTHILE laying down the general points of view which 
* * we desire to fix for the investigation of vital pheno 
mena, we were at liberty to assume that natural familiarity with 
these and with the structure of the living body would mean 
while supply the place of concrete descriptions. Even now, 
in attempting to give a description of the particular processes 
and operations with which the various instruments of life 
work on one another., it is not our intention to follow out 
all the trains of thought suggested by the consideration of 
the human body, the proper subject of our inquiries. We 
shall contemplate it neither in the beauty of its shape nor 
in the peculiar significance of its forms, which present in 
absolute perfection a type of structure carried through half of 
the animal series. Leaving all this to future occasions,, we 
shall content ourselves with bringing into exclusive promi 
nence, in the connection of our present reflections, the instru 
ments by which the body of man in this respect identical 
with the higher species of animals executes the rotation of 
its vital operations. 

Concealed everywhere beneath covering sheaths of greater 
or less strength, the bony framework forms the firm outline 
of the bodily shape. Nature has formed from a basis of trans 
parent elastic cartilage and of the phosphate of lime which 
is imbedded in a peculiar manner in its tissue, those durable 
supports which, in the moist state which is theirs during life, 
offer the advantages of rigidity without too great brittleness. 


On the outer surface smooth and hard, within iu some places 
of denser, in others of more delicate and spongier texture, 
according to the end to he attained, this bony structure 
presents the most various forms, here hollow tubes of consider 
able length, there flat plates, again variously curved and bent 
blades, all so arranged in couples that a vertical section of 
the body through its median plane would divide the bony 
framework into two quite symmetrical halves. With their 
indented edges fitting into one another, mussel-shaped curved 
bones combine to form the firm arch of the skull, the strong 
covering of the brain, immoveably fastened to one another or 
permitting only imperceptible deviations, which can at most 
somewhat break the violence of rude shocks. To these adjoin, 
firmly growing to them in front and below, the bonos of the 
middle of the face, the lower part of which is completed by 
the moveable under-jaw. Prom the interior of the arch of 
the skull to its outer surface lead both open cavities between 
the edges of several bones, and also closed channels of greater 
or less width, that traverse the substance of particular bones, 
and allow free passage to the vessels and nerves. Through a 
larger opening on its lower surface, the occipital foramen, 
the cavity of the skull is connected with the long, broadish 
channel of the spine, which is loosely filled almost to its 
lower extremity by the thick strand of the spinal cord, 
as an immediate continuation of the brain. A good many 
single bones, of somewhat the form of a shorL cylinder, are 
here superposed so as to form a long column, and bound 
together very firmly and durably by Hat elastic cushions 
inserted between the adjacent surfaces of each two. Hence 
only a very slight movement is possible between two adjoining 
links of this chain, but yet the considerable number of them 
allows to the whole of the column, by the summing up of 
these small movements, considerable curvatures in wide and 
large arcs By this construction of the whole from a multi 
tude of smaller parts, strength of connection is united with 
sufficient mobility, and at the same time the injurious effect 
is avoided which sharp angles in this bony framework would 


have on the delicate tissues, whose protecting receptacle it is 
intended to be. For from the bony cylinder just described, 
i.e. from each single vertebra of the spine, proceed towards the 
sides two bony arches, winch meet behind like a ring, 
leaving between them an open space of a roundish heart 
shape. With these openings superimposed on one another 
like the vertebrae from which they spring, these single 
rings consequently circumscribe a long hollow channel, 
without wholly enclosing it. For, as they are of less 
height than the vertebras, two adjacent rings do not every 
where touch one another, but leave free intervals, and only 
at three points are united together by connecting projections in 
a manner that admits indeed of movement, but of movement 
limited by firm ligatory flaps to a very narrow range. Thus 
the vertebral column presents the appearance of a long 
cavity, whose front and far thicker wall is undivided, while 
the thinner side and back walls are interrupted by many 
openings. In the interior of this space, which is lined by 
smooth membranes, the spinal marrow is attached in a float 
ing manner such as best wards off injury from the frequent 
curves and distortions of its bony walls. 

In front no bony structure joins on to the highest of the 
vertebrae, those of the neck ; the twelve following, those of 
the chest, support in front, corresponding to the vertebra 
at the back, the much wider bony arch of the ribs, that, 
with their posterior extremity attached (to some extent 
moveably) to the vertebrae, meet in front in the flat 
breast-bone. They thus form the side limits of the thorax, 
whose upper opening is contracted only by the less width 
of the first vaultings of the ribs, and whose lower and wider 
expanse is separated from the cavity of the abdomen only 
by the muscular diaphragm, and not by any osseous forma 
tion. The five next, the lumbar vertebrse, like those of the 
neck support no ribs, and only, from their especially strong 
and massive structure, fix, at the back only, the height of 
the abdominal cavity, whose side-walls are formed entirely 
of soft textures. The lower wall of the abdomen, on 


the other hand, designed to support the weight of the bowels, 
is formed of the great osseous round of the pslvis ; which, 
starting from the lowest spinal vertebras that grow together 
into the broad os sacrum, sends out broad wings on both 
sides, which, sloped off from above and without downwards 
and towards the inside, and united in front by lower bones, 
leave between them a pretty considerable space closed only 
by soft tissues. 

Finally, to this framework, which, from the slight mobility 
of its parts, is liable to but slight alterations of form, are 
attached the osseous tubes of the limbs, for which the mode 
of their ligature affords the greatest facilities for changes in 
situation and shape. The shoulder-blade, kept in its place at 
the back merely by soft tissues, in front moveably connected 
through the collar-bone with the breast-bone, supports at its 
upper and outer extremity, in a flat joint-cavity, the head of 
the upper arm, while the outer surface of the pelvis supports 
below, in a deep round joint-cavity, the head of the thigh. The 
nature of their joints permits to both bones movements in 
every direction, the extent of which is limited only by 
collision with the environment ; Loth, on the other hand, are 
so connected with the bones of the lower arm and lower leg 
that the latter, in respect of them, can move only iu a siugle 
plane. But both these relations and the further structure of 
the hands and feet, by the delicate organization of which the 
human frame is distinguished from that of all the lower 
species, we defer for later consideration. Lot us merely add 
that numerous sinewy ligaments unite all the bones, moveably 
fitted into one another, that at the joints special cuticular 
capsules surround their heads, which are turned towards one 
another and lubricate the surfaces of the joints with a slimy 
secretion, and we shall have before us a complete picture of 
the rigid framework, whose parts are then singly moved by 
the Vital activity of the muscles. 

2, The numerous gaps and intervals left between the par 
ticular bones, are filled up or covered over for the most part 
with the flesh of the muscles, and the skeleton, clothed in its 


muscular sheaths, thus almost completely fills the external 
outline of the bodily form. Extremely thin and delicate 
fibres, invisible to the naked eye, unite, running parallel to 
each other, into the finest threads, which, again in like manner 
massed into thicker bundles, are familiar to us as the con 
stituents of the flesh. United groups of these flesh-fibres, 
co-operating in one and the same operation, traversed by 
numerous capillary blood-vessels, and divided from homo 
geneous or dissimilar adjacent tracts by tolerably distinct 
envelopes of cellular structure, form the individual muscles, 
which, without closer mutual connection, and solely in. con 
sequence of their position adapted to common ends, become 
combined in larger groups and systems. 

Under the influence of various stimuli the muscles are 
capable of contracting longitudinally in tho direction of their 
fibres, "While each one of the latter contracts by a part of 
its length, frequently very considerable, in consequence of an 
approximation of the particles still little understood, the 
transverse section of the muscle is correspondingly enlarged 
and its density at the same time slightly increased. If 
we suppose a bundle of fibres fastened by its two extre 
mities to two moveable parts, it will seek by its vital 
contraction to bring both, nearer each other in a straight 
line, and the force with which it executes this operation 
will depend on the number of efficient fibres, i.e. on the 
thickness of the bundle or muscle, while the amount of the 
approximation or extent of the produced movement depends on 
the other hand on its length. Where, therefore, the limbs, 
without describing great arcs, have to execute tigorous 
movements, or retain positions in which they must resist 
a considerable weight, we usually find short, thick muscles, 
consisting of a number of fibres, applied; on the other 
hand, where a movement through a considerable space, but 
without the exhibition of any particular force, is intended, 
longer and often thinner muscles are stretched between the 
moveable points. Yet there are exceptions to this simple 
practical rule. For only a few muscles extend between 



points whose approximation in a straight line is possible; 
most adhere at both ends to bones that are united together 
by a joint, and can move towards each other only by 
turning round that joint. The muscle, running beyond this, 
and as is required by the laws of the lever for the greatest 
possible effect, applied as far as may be from the fulcrum, 
would, as it contracted, considerably diminish the angle 
formed by the two bones at the joint, but at the same time 
fill up the opening of the joint with its condensed mass. The 
form of the limbs would thus undergo an alteration such as 
even in the arm, in which the simplest example of it would be 
found, but much more in other cases would be anything 
but favourable to the end in view in the movement made. 
Great variety is introduced into the application of muscular 
activity alike by this regard to the avoidance of changes of 
contour contrary to the end in view, and by other circum 
stances ; but to trace these relations farther, even were it here 
possible, would yield no further advantage to our inquiry than 
is to be drawn from what has been already said. 

It is not only here and there, in the structure of the move- 
able framework of the body and in the provision for its move 
ments just described, that we find analogies with the modes 
of procedure made use of by mechanical skill. But the total 
of these operations is altogether and with the utmost variety 
and delicacy of execution founded on the instrumentality, 
means, and laws of which we avail ourselves in our daily 
attempts to invent instruments for moving masses, only with 
less complete success. The same rigid rods, the same junc 
tion and fastening by various ligaments, the same turning of 
the moveable parts by means of connecting flaps that exactly 
determine the possible directions of the turning, the same 
draw-lines together with rollers and braces, which alter the 
direction of their working according to necessity and con 
venience : all these expedients we find equally in machines 
and the living body ; and we find them nowhere else in Nature. 
Forces traversing space guide the stars in their courses 
by invisible threads ; mutual pressure of particles, tension of 


masses evaporating or increasing "by suction, lastly chemical 
attractions and the Immediate counteractions of the substances 
in contact in space, are the forces at work in meteoric 
phenomena and vegetable life. The orderly and harmonious 
system of mechanical arrangements under the law of the lever 
first appears in animal life, and just where its special dis 
tinctive task has to be accomplished, change of figure and 
place. Thus so little is life averse from the use of means 
that we are wont to term contemptuously artificial or mechani 
cal contrivances, that on the contrary its articulation may 
be held to be the prototype of the machine, given by NTature 
herself as the most perfect type, yet only given here in this 
her most perfect product. There is, however, one point in 
which life surpasses all that we can clo to copy it, viz. the fact 
that the spring of this whole array of means lies in the 
peculiar inherent contractility of the muscles, while our 
mechanical skill can only shorten the draw-lines by rolling 
them round cylinders and wheels, which again re quire othei 
instruments to move them. 

The muscles receive the Impetus to contract from the 
nerves extending between them and the brain and spinal 
marrow. The microscopically fine nerve-fibres, spun out to a 
great length and consisting of a delicate transparent sheath 
and viscous medullary content, are, on the way from the 
central organs to the moveable limbs, formed within a common 
case into largish bundles, without being divided or blending 
together on their passage. From these thicker trunks smaller 
bundles proceed, according as they are required for conve 
nience of distribution in the neighbourhood of the muscles> 
till the single threads are finally lost In the fibres of the 
muscles, and separate now for the first time into fine rami 
fications. In newly killed animals pressure and pulling, 
chemical agencies, and the Influence of electric currents 
applied at any point in the course of a nerve, excite contraction 
in the muscle to which it runs, a proof that the equilibrium 
of the minutest elements of the nerve-substance is so unstable 
as to be disturbed by many kinds of shocks, and easily to 



propagate its disturbances from point to point. Eecont minute 
investigations have made it credible that an alteration in its 
electric state running quickly, though not instantaneously 
through the nerve, is the process by whose effect on the muscles 
the contraction of the fibres is effected While important in 
regard to the special inquiries of physiology, the decision of 
this question would yet add nothing essential to the general 
sketch which we have here in view ; it is enough that some 
change in its physical condition, advancing from point to 
point in the nerve, occasions either a temporary twitching or 
a permanent tension of the muscles dependent on it. 

3 The irritability of the nerves and muscles is per 
manently maintained only so long as both are acted upon in 
their natural positions by the circulating blood. In order 
that this stimulating nourishment may extend everywhere, 
all the limbs are traversed by the vascular system, resembling 
a finely ramified network of radicles. Its strong main 
branches, distributed through the larger cavities of the body, 
are divided by an oft-repeated dismemberment into a closely 
intertwined network of the finest tubes, running more or 
less abundantly round the minutest elements of the tissues, 
and conveying to all in a ceaseless cxirrent the nutritive 
blood-fluid. This motion also has been ascribed by fanciful 
theorists, in open contradiction to facts easily observed, to 
a peculiar mysterious power of the fluid, which seeks and 
chooses its paths in the service of life; we shall, on the 
contrary, find that it, like the motion of the limbs, is based on 
the finest adaptation of the very means, which in such theories 
are regarded only as coarse and wretched aids to human craft. 

If in a circular channel, filled with fluid contents and 
enclosed by elastically dilatable walls, a single spot were 
surrounded by fibres that could be contracted, each contraction 
of this spot (which we shall forthwith designate as the heart) 
would drive the fluid to both sides, and two waves would 
spread on the right and left by means of the momentarily 
expanding and then elastically contracting arms of the circular 
vessel. If a valve were placed in the interior of the vessel on 


the one side of the heart, so that it would "be closed by a current 
from the one side and opened by one from the other, this would 
permit instead of the double wave only a flow of Wood in one 
direction through the whole circuit of the vessel, and this 
returning to the heart from the other side, would open the valve 
in order to be again propelled in the same direction as before 
by a second contraction. If we suppose that the circular 
simple vessel divides at some distance from the heart into 
several branches, which by fresh ramification part again into an 
indistinguishable multitude of the finest tubes, that farther, 
these very fine channels collect again into somewhat larger 
trunks, before finally discharging themselves into the heart in 
two main currents, we have set forth in this simple repre 
sentation the changes which we must bear in mind m order 
to have an, idea of the nutritive vascular system. The heart 
does really consist of a strong muscular bag, whose energetic 
contractions drive the contained blood into the mam artery of 
the body, the aorta, one of the arms of the large vascular 
ring, which is at first undivided. A cuticular valve in the 
heart, closed during its contraction by the pressure of the blood 
against it, prevents the escape of the blood on the other side 
of the way, and forces it to take its course in ono direction 
through the large trunk into the farther ramifications of the 
arterial system. The blood always finds the vessels into which 
it is driven already filled ; but on its way from the heart, 
while it is pouring in at the entrance to the aorta, it pushes 
back the wall of it breadthwise and lengthwise, and for a 
moment finds room in this greater extent of the dilated vessel. 
But the elastic wall of the vessel, formed of strong and tough 
circular and longitudinal fibres, struggles with great force to 
contract to its former dimensions, and thereby drives on along 
the same path the excess of blood by which it is expanded, 
the proximate part of the vessel undergoing a similar expan 
sion, from which it immediately rebounds. Thus, advancing 
quickly along the whole length of the vessel, a wave of 
expansion arises as can easily be made perceptible by 
filling the intestine of an animal with water so as to 


dilate its walls sufficiently, then closing both ends, arid 
exerting on the one a sudden pressure. We know this 
undulatory movement of the arteries under the name of the 
pulse ; it becomes less distinct in the smaller branches, and 
disappears entirely in the widely extended network of the 
capillary vessels. The blood flows through these in a quietly 
even current, in order to return without pulsation to the heart 
by the again collected larger trunks, the veins. Since in the 
aorta fluid meets fluid after each heart-beat, various inter 
mixtures will take place, and a part of the newly entering 
"blood may be driven to a greater or less distance by that already 
there, while another part of the new blood pushes before it 
a part of the old. The path described by a single particle of 
blood may therefore be very various ; only in the middle part 
of the vascular passage will it be uniformly progressive; at the 
entrance to the aorta the circumstances already stated may mako 
it very irregular, in the capillary vessels many little accidental 
shocks from without and other incidents may convert it for a 
long time into a fluctuating progression and retrogression 
through the variously communicating paths of this labyrinth. 
Hence the estimates according to which the blood is supposed 
to circulate through the whole system of the vessels in about 
a minute, while the heart makes from sixty to eighty beats, 
may indicate the average result of the whole circulation, but 
not the motion of each single particle. 

The larger vessels, arteries and veins, divided by thick 
impenetrable layers of skin from the substance of the parts 
through which they run, are merely channels in which the flux 
and reflux of the blood take place ; the capillary vessels alone, 
with their thin delicate walls, passing through and twining 
round the minute elements of the tissues in an exceedingly 
fine and multiplex ramification, form the scene of the trans 
formation of substance. From these, by a perpetual process 
of osmosis, the fluid constituents of the blood pass into the 
intervals of the texture, and in exchange the dissolved remains 
of the used-up and decomposed corporeal substance press into 
them, in order to be carried away to the various organs of 


excretion in the current of the blood. We are very slightly 
acquainted with the kind of chemical transformation undergone 
by the tissues in course of time from these operations, and 
just as slightly with the order of succession of the forms into 
which they are converted by advancing decomposition, till the 
final process when, having become perfectly soluble and more 
similar in their chemical composition to the simpler inorganic 
substances, they are ready to be dismissed from the body. 
We observe only one more deBnite result of this activity 
continually proceeding in all parts of the body, viz. the forma 
tion of carbonic acid, from whose entrance into the capillary 
vessels the blood receives on its return through the veins that 
dark-red colouring which now distinguishes it from the bright- 
red arterial blood flowing from the heart. The larger amount 
of absorbed oxygen, by which the latter is distinguished, 
disappears mostly in the capillary vessels, and is used for the 
constitution of the carbonic acid collecting in the venous 
blood. Now in whatever manner the necessary carbon may 
be extracted from the constituents of the body, and by 
whatever intermediate agencies the carbonic acid may finally 
be formed, we must at all events consider this slow process 
of combustion going on constantly in all parts as the source 
of animal heat. A certain height of temperature is an 
indispensable condition for the possibility of vital operations. 
But not every part that needs for its action a definite degree 
of heat, is permitted by the nature of its own action to 
satisfy that need by vigorous change of substance. The 
vessels form tie channels through which, the heat generated 
elsewhere, communicated to the blood, is equally diffused over 
the body; and from this second use of the blood, to be an 
apparatus for the distribution of heat, particular refinements 
of its organization are more easily understood than from the 
first to minister to the diffusion of the nutritive juices, 
Thus the superfluity of parts in which there is active change 
of substance is of advantage even to those which, on account 
of their smaller transformation or their less favourable situa 
tion, are not themselves capable of generating and maintaining 


the requisite height of temperature; thus in particular the 
external surface of the body receives compensation for the 
considerable radiation of heat, owing to which it is constantly 
growing cold from its contact with the atmosphere. 

4. We have hitherto regarded the vascular system filled 
with blood as the store-room from which alike nutritious com 
pensation and necessary heat are conveyed to the bodily tissues. 
This store would, however, soon be exhausted if oxygen was 
not continually supplied anew by means of respiration, if the 
existence of the parts capable of growth was not maintained 
by digestion, and if the remains of decomposition that have 
become unfit for use were not removed from the blood by 
excretion. Of these operations respiration first of all deter 
mines in the higher animals the development of a particular 
department of the vascular system, designed to free from its 
carbonic acid the venous blood, altered by the absorption of 
substances unfit for further use. This freeing is effected 
by means of a successful interaction with the outer air, which 
(ills it anew with oxygen. Instead of the one heart, from 
which, as we formerly supposed, the arterial current proceeds, 
and into which the venous blood immediately returns, let 
us now suppose two hearts similarly constructed, on its 
way back from the capillary tubes the venous current 
first enters into the one, is driven out from it into a 
less extended arc of the vascular ring, and only when it 
flows back from that reaches the second heart, iu order 
to be conveyed thence into the already familiar path of 
the main circulation of the body. The shorter arc between 
the two hearts forms the path of the lesser circulation, iu 
which the blood is subjected to the influence of the air ; the 
heart into which the venous current discharges itself is the 
right, the other, from which that which has become arterial 
issues, the left heart ; both lie in the body close beside one 
another, though always with cavities completely separated 
from each other, and the blood> flowing from the light to the 
left one through the vascular extension of the minor circula 
tion, returns at the end of this movement almost to the same 


point of space, divided from the place of its exit only by the 
muscular partition-wall that sunders the two hearts that have 
grown together. The vascular passages along which it goes 
between the two points resemble in their structure those of 
the main circulation. A large trunk, the pulmonary artery, 
comparable to the aorta, first receives the venous blood, driven 
out by the beat of the right heart, taking place simultaneously 
with that of the left ; it soon divides into two great branches, 
each of which fills one-half of the chest cavity by means of a 
tree - like ramification of finer and finer channels. These 
capillary vessels also join together into larger trunks, the pul 
monary veins, in which the blood (which in the meanwhile has 
become of a bright red in consequence of the respiration) flows 
back into the left heart, to begin once more the main circula 
tion. Through the intervals left in the fine network of the 
capillary tubes a second system of channels grows everywhere 
for the conveyance of air. The windpipe, at first simple, 
begins in the back part of the cavity of the mouth as a wide 
opening, protected against being crushed together by cartila 
ginous rings, and capable of being closed above by the 
epiglottis ; descending under the skin of the throat and a thin 
covering of muscles, it divides, below the beginning of the 
sternum, into two main trunks, that, separated on the right 
and the left into smaller and smaller branches covered with a 
thin membrane, form those two great trees whose twigs are 
lost in the fine network of tbe blood-vessels, which have like 
wise developed into two intricate systems ramifying in various 
directions. A general membranous envelope, carried into but 
a few of the larger sections of this intimately connected 
double organ, is spread over each of the two ramifications, the 
two lungs, of which the larger on the right occupies its half 
of the chest cavity, while on the left the smaller encloses 
the heart behind, above, and partly in front, with a flap extend 
ing downwards the heart lying in the middle to the left. 
The middle part of the cavity of the chest, the fissure sepa 
rating the two lungs, is the spa^ce into which the aorta 
extends, making a curve upwards and then descending 


behind, and it is from this cavity that the blood-vessels enter 
the texture of the lungs sideways and the two trunks of the 
windpipe from above. 

The finest ramifications of the air and blood vessels, which 
are intricately intertwined, are in this case also the special 
scene of activity. The extremities of the delicate air-tubes 
spread out into little bulbs along whose sides the capillary 
vessels run, and are divided only by an exceedingly thin 
covering from the air filling the interior of these little lung- 
cells. By means of equally delicate moist membranes au 
interchange of different gases takes place outside the living 
body, in obedience to laws not yet fully elucidated in their 
details. The carbonic acid of the venous blood, which in these 
partition -walls is carried past the air, passes by diffusion 
from the vessels into the cavity of the lung-cells ; the oxygen 
of the atmospheric air therein contained pushes its way, on 
the other hand, through the walls of the capillary vessels, and 
along with the blood become arterial from having absorbed it, 
is now conveyed to the left heart, and through that to the 
main course of circulation. The perpetual continuance of 
this process is finally secured by the movements of the chest, 
the alternations of inhalation and exhalation. In inspiration 
the muscles raise the moveable ribs upwards, and seek in this 
way to expand the cavity of the chest ; but closed on all 
sides as it is, it cannot conform to this effort unless the 
atmospheric air ; forcing its way through the larynx and wind 
pipe into the lung-cells, fill the vacuum thus caused. These 
vigorous movements of the chest-muscles cease when inspira 
tion has been completed, and the peculiar elasticity of the 
texture of the lungs expanded by the air introduced is 
sufficient by its efforts at contraction to effect exhalation of 
the air, and the letting down of the raised ribs then 
follows of itself. Hence only inspiration necessarily brings 
the vital activity of the muscles into play ; expiration takes 
place in the ordinary course of respiration without its co 
operation, though it may assist to empty the lungs as 
completely as possible. 


5. The interior of the cavity of the chest is filled by the 
heart, the lungs, and the great vascular trunks. Below it 
is divided by the diaphragm from the cavity of the abdomen, 
the seat of the alimentary canal and its dependencies. Flat 
muscular plates, whose fibres cross each other in various 
directions, spring from the spine, from the lowest rib, and from 
the lower extremity of the breast-bone, and, uniting, form the 
partition-wall that, extending downwards further behind than 
in front, and arching upwards, projects into the cavity of the 
chest. On it rest heart and lungs, and through a fissure left 
between them at the spine by their bundles of fibres, the 
aorta passes close beside the vertebral column into the 
abdominal cavity, in order soon to divide into the two great 
vascular trunks of the legs. The contraction of the muscles 
of the diaphragm flattens the vaulting of it which arches 
upwards, and thereby assists the expansion of the cavity of 
the chest for inspiration; the contraction of the muscular 
walls of the abdominal cavity, on the other hand, pressing 
upwards the contained intestines, increases that vaulting, and, 
by narrowing the chest, assists deep expiration. 

At the back of the cavity of the mouth begins the muscular 
tube of the oesophagus, passing first between the vertebral 
column and the windpipe, then within the chest to the front 
and left side of the aorta, to descend to the abdominal cavity, 
into which it makes its way through an opening in the 
diaphragm. Solid food ground down by mastication and also 
fluids are driven between the walls of this passage by the 
muscles of the mouth and throat ; while behind it the muscular 
wall contracts, the bolus opens its way step by step through 
this tube, whose walls, not kept asunder like those of the air- 
passages by elastic cartilages, are in their normal condition 
superimposed on one another without any interval. Helped 
in this manner as far as to the abdominal cavity, nutriment 
arrives at that section of the alimentary canal in which the 
chemical activity of assimilation begins. In , many windings, 
the situation of which is determined only for particular 
segments, the intestinal canal passes through the abdominal 

VOL, i. H 



cavity, everywhere composed of an external muscular sheath 
and an internal velvety shining mucous membrane, both 
pierced by many blood-vessels, and both generally similar 
in structure, yet in different sections of the whole differently 
organized in minute details to suit different ends. Immediately 
after its entrance into the abdominal cavity the oesophagus 
extends into a spacious sack-shaped organ, the extension of 
which in a rounded-off bag is prolonged, without any opening, 
to the left of the place of its entrance, while the other longer 
part is continued in the prolongation of the intestinal canal. 
The muscular membrane of this organ, the stomach, consisting 
of various flat bundles of fibres, can cany backwards and 
forwards the chyme brought thus far, by means of its unclula- 
tory slight contractions, and thus bring it into manifold 
contact with the internal mucous membrane, Rich in blood 
vessels, that receive an increased supply during digestion, 
this membrane secretes (from peculiar microscopic glandules, 
which, imbedded in it, run along the greater downward curve 
of the stomach) a product designated by the name of pepsino, 
the composition of which is little known, but which, in com 
bination with the watery gastric juice containing muriatic and 
lactic acid, exerts the first powerfully solvent and chemically 
transforming influence on the nutritive contents. Hero the 
starchy constituents of the latter are converted into sugar; 
the albuminous and fibrous parts of meat lose in disintegra 
tion some of their properties ; the fatty substances seem to 
pass through unmodified. Of liquids and the liquefied parts 
of the food much is here absorbed by the blood-vessels of the 
stomach; the substances that have not become completely 
soluble pass by degrees, for further elaboration, through the 
opposite aperture in the stomach into the next division of the 
alimentary canal, the duodenum. 

Here they are subjected to the influence of two organs, the 
liver and the pancreas, to be most briefly described for our 
purpose as appendages of the alimentary canal turned inside 
out Let us imagine a hollow fold outwards of the alimentary 
canal gradually growing into a long and thin canal, with its 


rery narrow cavity opening into the much wider one of the 
alimentary canal. This canal, which is called the gall-duct, 
then parts into two "branches, of which the one very soon ends 
in a bulbous-shaped swelling, the gall-bladder, while the other, 
like the windpipe, ramifies into a network of fine branches. 
Into this network another double one forces its way as In the 
lungs. Not only does the main circulation send arteries out 
from the aorta, which spread here into a network of capillary 
vessels, but the venous blood also, returning from the intestines 
of the abdomen, gathers into a great trunk, the vena, portce, and 
this, again dividing into a network of capillary veins, likewise 
accompanies with its fine ramification the branchings of the 
gall-ducts. Thus, in combination with the cellular mass, this 
threefold twist forms the liver ; formed by an enveloping 
membrane into a compact, bulky organ, and extending from 
the right side of the abdomen across its line of bisection, it 
hangs below the diaphragm, fastened in a fold of a closed 
membranous bag, the peritoneum, whose surface in front 
extends over the inside of the muscular-wall of the abdomen, 
and at the back, with several folds Inwards into the interior of 
the bag, receives and holds firm the most important segments 
of the alimentary canal. The yellow bitter gall is secreted into 
the minutest branches of the gall-ducts out of the cells of the 
parenchymo of the liver in which these end That this fluid 
exerts an important influence on digestion seems to be proved 
by the constancy with which in the higher classes of animals 
the liver is everywhere so constituted that from it and from 
the gall-bladder, in which is collected the always prepared 
product, the gall is conveyed to the alimentary canal, through 
the above-mentioned means of exit, in proportion to the food 
which enters it from the stomach. But I naturally avoid 
entering into the more special theories which physiologists 
have tried to establish in regard to the nature of this effect 
Enough that exceedingly laborious and meritorious investiga 
tions have hitherto done very little to make us thoroughly 
acquainted with the working into eaoh other of the vegetative 
operations, and that our views of the chemical processes of 


digestion and assimilation are still undergoing perpetual 
modification. Instead of dwelling on such details, I refer to 
a conception in which chemical investigators have given 
expression to their view of the general purport of the reci 
procal actions here observed. The animal body, of course, 
is nourished only by substances brought to it from outside, 
which on the whole have already the same composition as its 
own constituents ; the complete assimilation of the absorbed 
material seems, however, only possible through the effect 
of substances already belonging to the organism and supplied 
"by it as corrective ferments in order to guide the chemical 
reactions of the absorbed foreign material in a direction 
favourable for the ends of assimilation. A great number of 
such substances pepsine, gall, and the juices of the pancreas 
and of the many glands of the alimentary canal are in 
this way constantly introduced by the organism among the 
chemical reciprocal actions to which the elements of the 
nutritive matter would be liable by their own nature. We 
are ignorant what particular operations are incumbent on 
these single agents, and even the pathological phenomena 
due to the disturbance of the one or the other do not enable 
us inductively to distinguish their several functions ; we must 
thus content ourselves with this general conception, and leave 
to the future its verification in detail. 

6. The function of conveying the prepared chyrne to the 
blood, and from it to the constituents of the body, is divided 
between two systems of vessels. The Blood-vessels that in 
fine meshes traverse the whole extent of the alimentary 
canal seem to absorb only the dissolved inorganic con 
stituents, such as the salts, and of the organic compounds those 
which, after being completely diluted, are not needed in the 
formation of tissues, but are intended to perform other offices in 
the body. This absorption is so rapid that fluid poisons, a 
few minutes after they have been swallowed, make themselves 
perceptible in the blood and the secretions by their reactions, 
in the rest of the body by their effects. The reception of 
the tissue-forming nutritive substances of albuminous and 


along with them of fatty elements falls to the other 
system, the lymphatic. The velvety appearance by which 
from the stomach downwards the inner surface of the 
mucous membrane is more and more marked, when looked 
at under the microscope is found to be produced by fine 
villous formations projecting into the intestinal cavity. In 
the upper part of the alimentary canal conical elevations with 
a broad base, they become, in the lower part, tongue-shaped 
organs, pressed together to the number of 40 to 90 to a 
square line of the mucous membrane. The light-coloured 
indefinitely fibrous base of their texture is surrounded on the 
outside with a covering of cylindrical cells, under which on 
two sides its blood-vessels mount upwards connected by an 
intervening network ; the middle is occupied by the beginning 
of a lacteal with a knotty or blunt end. These lacteals, 
which gradually run together into larger trunks, are after 
wards united with the branches of the lymphatic vessels, 
that absorb from the other parts of the body the superfluous 
discharged blood-fluid, and the two canal systems which greatly 
resemble one another in structure and action finally convey 
their fluid contents through a common outlet into one of the 
main trunks of the venous system of vessels, the vena coma. 

Neither in the lacteals nor in the blood-vessels are open 
ings for the passage of the substances to be conducted by 
them perceptible; in them too, therefore, absorption must 
take place through the walls, and must be confined to fluids 
or to solid parts of such minuteness that they can penetrate 
the invisible intervals which we may suppose occur between 
even the smallest particles of these walls. Even oil this 
supposition, however, the mechanism of this absorption pre 
sents peculiar difficulties, hardly to be removed except by 
supposing a chemical attraction of the inside of the closed 
vessels, which determines the entrance of the fluid, and 
prevents its regress through the coat. On this hypothesis 
the considerable amount of elasticity possessed by the walls 
of the vessels would sufficiently explain the onward pressure 
of the contents by which they are distended, in the free 


direction towards the circulating channels of the blood ; 
moreover, the action of this propelling force is aided by a 
number of valves, which the current opens when running this 
way, but would shut were it to flow backwards. 

Up to the time when they enter the blood, chyle and 
lymph are subj^pted in numerous glands, with which their 
vessels become entwined, to the transforming influence of the 
blood itself, to whose composition theirs is always more and 
more approaching. Peculiar granular bodies, of microscopic 
minuteness, formed from albuminous matter, occur in both. 
They are apparently the first beginnings of a formation by 
which blood is distinguished from other juices i.e. the red 
blood corpuscles. As disc-shaped smooth cells these swim in 
immense numbers in the blood; they are formed from a 
viscous clear fluid without any solid nucleus, and enveloped 
in a very elastic transparent outer membrane, whose con 
stituents are an albuminous body, globuline, and a red 
pigment containing iron, hernatine, likewise albuminous. We 
are not as yet free from doubts in regard to the mode of 
their origination, or the way in which they perish as they 
grow old, or the services rendered by them to life, which we 
have much reason to look ou as highly important. Their 
function is supposed to consist partly in their being appli 
cable to nutrition and the formation of tissue, partly in their 
actively promoting the transmutation of substances by 
absorbing alternately oxygen and carbonic acid, under whose 
influence they bring about the difference in. colour of arterial 
and venous blood. In disease the fluctuations of their 
quantity in the blood are found to influence considerably the 
vividness of the operations of the nerves. 

Chyle and lymph are the only sources of fresh supply for 
the blood ; the modes in which it gives out its constituents 
are far more varied. Probably only a comparatively small part 
of what is given out is applied to the reparation of the textures 
worn out with their operations ; perhaps one more considerable 
contributes to the production of a variety of parts such as 
hair, nails, epidermis, which are perpetually growing, and 


detach themselves in solid form from the body by breaking 
or peeling off; still more considerable apparently is the 
amount of the secretions from the blood, which, like the 
numerous juices of the alimentary canal and its associated 
glandular organs, are again made use of as subsidiary means 
to the ends of assimilation, before being removed from the 
body. The bulkiest of all excretions, however, takes place 
through evaporation from the skin and lungs, and through the 
secretion of urine. Both processes are designed merely for the 
removal of masses become unfit for use, though the first 
perhaps serves to neutralize many disturbances of the bodily 
mechanism by means of the accessory effects that attend or 
follow the activity of the excretion. The nitrogenous con 
stituents of urine, sometimes dissolved in a large variable 
quantity of water, sometimes deposited from it in solid form, 
make it unquestionable that it is mostly in this way that 
the residuum of the albuminous substances is got rid of 
when chemically decomposed. One of them, urea, has been 
found already formed in the blood, and to it at least the 
kidneys are related not as a productive organ, but only as 
a peculiarly fashioned filter, whose texture lets its watery 
solution pass through into the cavity of the passages of 
exit, while it forces the other dissolved and still service 
able constituents of the blood to remain behind. 

The exhalation of carbonic acid from the lungs is attended 
by an abundant development of watery vapour, which makes 
the breath visible at a low temperature, and contains the car 
bonic acid as it passes into the outer world. Again, from the 
moist, thick mucous coat, abundantly pierced with vessels, 
and lying under the epidermis, water is constantly forcing 
its way to the outside, and escaping in the form of vapour 
through the horny, thin layer of the epidermis, which every 
where forms the outmost covering of the body. The greater 
part of the - whole perspiration from the skin seems to take 
place in this way, a smaller part being the product of peculiar, 
small glandules, that, imbedded in the mucous network of the 
derrnis, send outwards a spirally-winding fine outlet, from 


whose aperture the detached fluid evaporates, but does not 
appear as a liquid, in the form of sweat, except where the 
production is too abundant, or the external atmosphere does 
not sufficiently absorb it. Besides the ordinary salts of the 
blood and very small quantities of organic constituents, sweat 
contains only water, lactic acid, and ammonia; its com 
position therefore does not seem to justify the importance 
ascribed to the activity of the skin, or the many bad 
effects which result from its suppression. But it is quite 
possible that its more important function is not the removal 
of these unimportant substances, but the labour of the 
removal; or that, in other words, the constant carrying on of 
this process of evaporation occasions, for the extremities of 
the nerves lying on the surface of the body, in the skin 
itself, conditions that are indispensable to the due fulfilment 
of their functions. While we cannot pursue this branch of 
the advantage afforded by the secretion from the skin, we maiy 
further merely note that it serves as an efficacious meams 
of moderating the heat of the body (apt to be increase^ 
by many causes), and in particular of the blood. A larg$ 
quantity of heat is laid hold of and removed from the body 
in the abundant evaporation, whether sensible or insensible, 
constantly going on from its surface, and the same takes 
place without interruption through the exhalation of the 

Not all the constituents of the body have been mentioned 
in this sketch of its structure and operations. We have left 
many of the greatest importance to be dealt with later, as our 
present purpose is only to illustrate the great extent to which 
life employs, for the execution of its functions, the same 
means by which human mechanical skill produces its 



Physical, Organic, and Psychical Compensation of Disturbances Examples of 
the Establishment of Equilibrium The Sympathetic System. Ceaseless 
Activity of all that is Organic General Sketch of Life. 

1. TT is on the direct interaction of infinitesimal par- 
-- tides that the preservation of the bodily form and 
the capacity of vital operations everywhere depend. Of 
these nothing is disclosed either by the aspect of the living 
body, or by our internal observation ; quietly and unawares 
to ourselves there go on all the chemical transmutations of 
substances, all the stages of their formation, the regular addition 
of some, the gradual removal of others. What forces itself 
on our observation as evidence of life the constant alter 
nation of breathing, the unceasing pulsation of the heart, 
the heat that pervades all parts of the body, all this is but 
the manifestation of mediating activities, by means of which 
the organism seeks each moment to re-establish the conditions 
necessary for the continuance of the invisible play. But even 
from this point of view these preliminary operations are of 
great importance ; in fact it is the very peculiarity of life that, 
by means of the fixed modes of connection in -which it 
combines the elementary substances into mutual relations, it 
directs and compels their inherent forces to unwonted results. 
It is therefore well worth the pains, after having described 
the mutual effect of these activities, further to inquire 
what are the forces and the laws by which, according to 
varying requirements, the amount and the vivacity of each 
individually is at each moment determined, as well as the 
manner in which it usefully co-operates with all the others. 

While presenting a wide field still left open for future 



investigations, this inquiry concerning the general plan and 
order of animal economy furnishes for our purpose only the 
indication of a few points, that we may be able once more to 
make use of the general view by which we have been hitherto 
guided, and thus to complete our picture of life. 

As it appears from our former observations that the 
removal of disturbances can be successfully carried out only 
where these somehow set in motion compensatory activities 
of the body antagonistic to themselves, so also cravings of 
all kinds can only be satisfied by the state requiring modi 
fication itself exciting the reactions essential to its alteration. 
This general condition may be fulfilled in various ways. The 
structure of the single parts itself, when once established, 
may, as in every case of elasticity, develop an effort to return 
to its prior condition, and this effort (at least within certain 
limits) may increase in direct proportion to the amount of 
deviation from it. Here the disturbance is removed, in 
the most direct way, by the forces inherent in the particles 
whose relations it had altered, whether because the remedial 
reaction steadily grew along with the disturbance, or because 
the disturbance compels the internal relations of the parts 
in question to a suddenly exhibited reaction, after it has 
reached a certain height. Did the body consist of parts 
of which each had to care merely for its own preserva 
tion, we would find this simplest form of neutralization 
more frequently applied, or rather the parts so constructed 
that its application would invariably be possible. But it 
is one of the ends of life to use the needs and disturbances 
of one part in order to excite the operations of others, and 
to adjust commotion in one part, not in the shortest 
way, but in that which admits of necessary and useful 
incidental effects being gained for the advantage of the 
whole. We therefore find a second form of adjustment 
largely applied ; the disturbance of one part diffuses its 
consequences over a considerable section of the organism, 
and, not content with exciting the resisting forces of the 
spot directly affected, on the contrary, by its communicated 


impetus, rouses remote parts to a more extended and various 
reaction. Starting from constituents by which this impetus 
was received in regular mutual combination, and connected 
by a variety of relations, the reaction may also be far more 
intense and complex than would have been that of the simple 
resisting force of the separate parts originally subjected to dis 
turbance; it will not merely remove the single disturbance, 
but at the same time evolve from it, in different directions, 
impulses favourable to the further continuance of the vital 
operations. As the ingenious machine restores to the outer 
world the simple, almost formless, impetus which it received, 
transformed into a variety of movements, which are intricately 
adjusted to one another, so the not less ingeniously Adapted 
connections of living parts intervene between the single 
disturbance and the whole of the organism, and satisfy 
special needs with due regard to the wellbeing of the latter. 
In the nervous system we shall meet with provision for 
binding the states of locally separated particles into re 
ciprocal action, which their situation and structure would 
not of themselves allow, and by which at the same time 
the disconnected and fragmentary satisfaction of particular 
necessities is converted into the harmonious carrying on of 
a general economy. If we call this new kind of adjust 
ment organic, in contrast to the simpler physical one, we do 
not mean thereby to imply any difference in the efficient 
forces, except that difference in their application by which 
our conception everywhere distinguishes systematically ordered 
life from the substances of the inorganic world which are 
isolated or accidentally thrown together. Even this kind of 
adjustment and preservation is not the last and highest; 
beyond the limits of our present inquiry, but yet requiring 
mention here, lies the co-operation of the soul. The dis 
turbed part cannot always find the means of remedy in itself; 
often it does not find them even in the resources of the 
nervous system, to which it turns for aid ; but its disturbance 
becomes converted into feeling and sensation of the soul, and, 
quitting the too confined physical region, the excitement is 


carried on in that of the mind, in order to summon all the 
resources of insight, to finally react on the bodily organs, 
with the acquired help of a resolution, and to thus open 
up to them ways of satisfaction which they would not have 
discovered for themselves. 

We reserve for future occasions the consideration of this 
supplementing of the bodily by the mental life ; meanwhile let 
us try to present by a few examples a sufficient sketch of the 
simple physical, and of the organically prepared adjustment. 

2. In so far as it is possible, Nature has preferred the 
direct settlement of disturbances and the satisfaction of needs 
by forces proper to the parts, to the employment of peculiar 
organic means ; she frequently turns to account iu this way 
properties belonging to the tissues either permanently or, at 
least, without interruption for a long time, and keeps in 
reserve those other energies which it does not seem possible 
to exert, without using up the matter in which they inhere. 
Even muscular movement we see in many cases replaced by 
the physical elasticity of the tissues. The contraction of the 
heart is indeed carried out by means of the vital drawing 
up of its muscular fibres, but its expansion is effected by 
means not of an opposite vital energy, but partly of the 
slight elasticity of its texture, partly of its retreat before the 
advancing current of venous blood. Each muscle of itself 
regains its former length after the moment of contraction, 
without requiring a special expansive force. The distension 
of the lungs is effected by means of the vital energy of the 
muscles of respiration, expiration by the voluntary elastic 
drawing in of the stretched tissue. Much work is saved in 
the most ordinary operations of the limbs by favourable 
relations in their structure. An oscillatory movement, 
initiated, without the exertion of vital force, by mere gravity, 
carries the leg that is behind in walking, past the one in 
front to the point whence the new step forward can be 
taken; the body itself acquires in walking a tendency for 
ward that leaves nothing to be done by the vital exertion 
of the muscles but to support it and to stretch out firmly 


the advancing leg. At the same time the top of the thigh is 
kept firm yet moveable in its deep socket, not by special 
activities only, but also by the pressure of the atmosphere, and 
similar examples of the economizing of vital energy would 
be furnished in abundance by a more detailed consideration 
of bodily movements. Even the regularity of the circulation 
of the blood is, within wide limits, self-maintained, the 
amount of possible divergence from it being at the same 
time fixed. Should the arterial system be for the moment 
overfilled with blood, the tension of its walls thereby 
increased would tend with the greater force and rapidity to 
remove the excess, and the diminished current conveyed 
to the heart by the proportionally less filled venous tract 
would of itself prevent that organ from keeping the arteries 
in their flooded state. 

The comparative constancy with which, under the most 
various influences of food and mode of life, the blood main 
tains or restores its normal composition, gives probability to 
the conjecture that its separate constituents, like the elements 
of a stable chemical combination., cleave to one another 
more firmly in the proportions forming Its normal composi 
tion than in other reciprocal proportions, temporarily 
determined by chance. This, however, would not prevent 
the blood from continually absorbing new ingredients through 
attraction from the tissues, from dissolving them, and causing 
them to take part in its circulation ; only these superfluous 
additions would remain outside of its regular combination, 
and very soon fall a prey to the forces determining the 
separation and conversion of substances, while, after their 
special office had been performed, the blood would once more 
return to its normal constitution. This would be a process 
the same as that which takes place when an aqueous 
crystal is separated from a watery solution ; the water belong 
ing to its chemical composition resists the evaporation by 
which the rest is detached ; nevertheless the crystal remains 
soluble in water; thus, although its chemical formula con 
tains only a fixed quantity of it, this does not prevent it 


from further being able to attract greater quantities, only 
that it cannot retain the latter so firmly as the former in 
face of unfavourable circumstances. On such a hypothesis 
it would be intelligible how the blood can itself, by its 
actual condition, direct the amount of absorption and removal 
If it comes into contact with the thinly fluid gastric juice 
or the plastic lymph everywhere diffused, in a degree ol' 
concentration at which it contains only the necessary con 
stituents of its normal constitution, it will be able to absorb 
large quantities of both; but this absorption will diminish, 
the more material the blood has taken in beyond its neces 
sary supply. It is thus prevented from becoming overloaded 
by reaching a condition of satiety such as exhausts the powers 
of absorption or attraction, and of itself determines a certain 
proportion between the fresh supply and the demand winch 
it meets. 

Now the blood is being perpetually conveyed to the 
secretory organs, under a certain pressure of its walls, after 
the modifications which it may have undergone iu its course. 
This pressure will hardly alone suffice for the production of 
any, certainly not of every, secretion; the organs to which 
this operation is assigned cannot be regarded as mere filters, 
through whose pores fluids are forced by the pressure of the 
blood ; their office is often, as we have already seen, more 
varied and complicated. Nevertheless, at least the water 
and the salts which it holds in solution, will undergo no 
further elaboration in secretion ; we may apply our general 
considerations to their removal If the blood becomes so 
diluted that its aqueous content exceeds that of its normal 
formula, the secretory forces of the organ whatever these 
may be will, under the pressure of the blood, be more 
favourable to the passage of the surplus than to the further 
separation of any of that amount of water required by the 
composition of blood. For that is subjected to the action of 
the secretory forces not uncombmecl, but in association aliko 
with the albumen which it holds in solution and with the 
other ingredients of the blood ; and, in virtue of these detain- 


ing conditions, can resist those forces, as can likewise the 
salts which enter in fixed quantities into the composition of 
the blood. 

Again, we can farther apply the same reasoning to the 
organic ingredients that are discharged from the hloocl alike 
in nutritive and excretory secretion, sometimes not without 
Laving undergone some chemically transforming influence of 
the secretory organs. A part of the tissue whose formation is 
absolutely normal, and which therefore has no need of repair, 
will have no particular attraction for the nutritive material 
circulating around it ; one whose constitution has been altered, 
and which on this very account has become more dissimilar to 
that material, will attract it more powerfully, and thus bring 
to bear a new condition favourable to its exit from the vessels. 
Here too, then, the demand would directly determine the 
adequate amount of the supply. If blood richer in sub 
stances offers to the secretory organs larger quantities of 
that which they are always working up by their energy, 
the mere presence of the more abundant material may 
suffice to cause an increase of this energy, at least where 
the latter does not depend on internal changes in the organ, 
that have themselves a fixed maximum of intensity and 
velocity. It is more evident that the secretory activity 
will invariably meet with a growing resistance when, its 
material is conveyed to it only in such quantity as per 
tains to the stable constitution of the blood and is kept back 
by the latter. If, further, any obstacle checks the secretory 
activity of one organ, the molecules obstructed here will seek 
egress wherever else it is under these altered circumstances 
possible or easiest for them. The suppression of skin-evapo 
ration throws the body of water that should escape from the 
surface back into the interior, and, as no organ is imper 
vious to it, we find the inactivity of the skin followed by 
augmented watery secretions from all the separatory surfaces, 
first and chiefly from that one which, in the sum of the 
given circumstances, offers least resistance to the exit. It 
is equally well known that excessive skin evaporation reduces 



the quantity of the other secretions and increases their con 
centration, a result to "be explained, apart from any particular 
expenditure of compensatory activity, by the absence of 
proper solvents. Many means of egress are not, however, 
open to all excretions ; the suppression of a given secretion 
may either wholly prevent the formation of the substance to 
be removed, this having perhaps been possible only through 
the peculiar energy of the organ now in repose, or, where 
the substance is already as such present in the blood, its exit 
may be prevented in the form which it lias there, and in which 
it could have found a free passage only through the now 
blocked-up organ. In this case substitutory processes will 
develop themselves ; either the material from which the sub 
stance to be removed was to be formed, or that already formed, 
will have to undergo still further transformations and divisions, 
and finally to assume forms in which its removal is possible 
through the other still open organs. As the substances in 
process of being re-formed undergo in the blood an ever 
continued reaction with oxygen, such as seems favourable 
to their reduction to a simpler and looser combination, it is 
conceivable that this change also, in the direction of secretory 
energy, is self-determined, without the interference of a special 
regulating force. Nevertheless the evil consequences for the 
health of the whole which result from the stoppage of 
important secretions, show us that this substitution of ono 
activity for another involves difficulties, and is hardly 
calculated to serve as a means of adjusting disturbances to 
any large extent. 

3. Our purpose has only been to make clear, from 
the examples cited, the possibility of a purely physical com 
pensation of disturbances, but we cannot be by any means 
certain that in them a beginning of organic compensation is 
not involved by the application of a system of organs or 
energies expressly designed for this end. So much in the 
deeper connection of vital phenomena is still obscure, that an 
operation often seems to us simpler than it is in reality, 
and that we can often explain what we know of it with 


few means of explanation, whereas from the greater expedients 
actually used by Nature we must conclude there are difficulties 
unknown to us lying in the way. I have above stated the 
general grounds which include the inadequacy of merely physi 
cal compensations. They would all finally aim at the re- 
establishment of the former equilibrium ; but Nature does not 
always care about that equilibrium ; she even sometimes would 
have it altered for the sake of the ends of development. With 
this purpose she must bring into mutual vital action even such 
parts as could not directly transfer their states to one another. 

The nervous system is designed for the performance of this 
task We have already mentioned the motor nerve-fibres 
that, proceeding from the brain and the spine, convey to the 
muscles of the body the impulses to motion there arising 
from the mental life, and occasion in them contractions some 
times momentary, sometimes continuous. In like manner 
the sensory fibres, which in outward appearance are identical 
with the others, and differ only in the results of their opera 
tion, connect all the sensitive points of the "body from which 
they run with the central organs to which all impressions 
must be transmitted, in order that they may exist for con 
sciousness. *0n these two kinds of fibres and on the masses 
of the brain and spinal marrow, in which they end or from 
which they start, depend all the services that have to be 
^rendered by the corporeal life to the ends of the mental. 
A more precise description of them may be deferred to a 
future opportunity. Besides these organs, which we com 
prehend under the name of the cerebro-spinal system, there 
is the other system of the sympathetic nerves, which, from 
the many glomerate or twisted protuberances (the ganglia) 
into which its far finer fibres are knotted, has received the 
name of the ganglionic system : to it is for the most part 
committed the maintenance of the internal order of the bodily 

The less any part of the body is designed for volun 
tary movement, the less its capacity to convey to con 
sciousness impressions of its states and the more energetic its 

VOL. I. I 


change of substance or plastic activity the more frequently 
do we find in the nerve-bundles which it contains the delicate 
fibres of the sympathetic along with the thicker ones of the 
cerebro-spinal system. Observation and experiment unite 
in confirming the conclusion to be drawn from this cir 
cumstance in itself, that this second nervous system has 
to minister to the sum of the vegetative operations, the 
chemical transformation of substances, their sustenance and 
reproduction, the construction of particles, finally, the pur 
posive harmony between the amounts and lands of the 
separate actions. This mutual adaptation of the operations 
of various parts presupposes that the impressions received by 
the single fibres of the states of the place to which they run, 
are brought into reciprocal relation, and accord, and that there 
are centres in which their various excitations come into con 
tact, and thus, by their effect on one another, yield the 
impetus to a definite reaction, adapted to the actual situation 
There can be no doubt that the ganglia found in great num 
bers in the different vegetative organs, are the instrumental 
points of this mutual influence but we are not yet suffi 
ciently acquainted with the conditions under which a transfer 
ence of the states of one fibre to another takes place, which is 
not met with elsewhere. For not even here can we observe 
a direct confluence of several fibres to form a common trunk ; 
but scattered between the fibres there are peculiar elements, 
roundish vesicles containing a nucleus, the so-called ganglionic 
cells, from which not only do single fibres proceed, but of 
which several are sometimes uninterruptedly connected with 
each other by fibrous prolongations which they send out in 
different directions. It is reserved for the future to decide 
finally as to the functions of these parts, many like to which 
occur also in the brain and spine, and to determine their 
utility for the mutual action of the individual fibres. Sup 
posing such reciprocal action somehow originated, each 
ganglion will, in the first place, be an intermediate link 
through which the impression travelling from any part of 
the body is enabled to exert an influence 'on states of 


another part with which the former is not in direct con 
nection ; and at the same time it will also act as a central 
organ, inasmuch as it will not henceforth allow to this im 
pression the amount and kind of further work that correspond 
to its nature and strength by themselves, but will fix its 
effect in accordance with the simultaneous demands of the 
other parts with which it is also connected. There is no 
difficulty in supposing that the small ganglia (directly con 
trolling the internal relations of a limited symmetrical region 
of parts again united to each other by commissures or con 
nected with larger ganglia as central organs of a higher order) 
bring the operations of more extensive organs and systems of 
organs into mutual harmony, till finally, by their close inter 
lacement, all the vegetative processes of the body are brought 
into the unity of regular progress, encircling support, and 
adjusting reciprocal action. These connections of the central 
organs do in fact exist, and from the neck through the 
cavities of the chest and abdomen there runs down on both 
sides of the spine the chain of the chief ganglia, which, united 
by nerve-fibres, send out other fibres to join the numerous tissues 
that are associated with the separate divisions of the intestines. 
In former times, the sympathy by which the disturbances 
of one organ so frequently affect others, even, those locally at 
a distance, was supposed to be dependent on the efficiency of 
this system, and not inaptly it has received from these 
sympathies its name of the sympathetic system, though, 
according to the results of recent investigations, many of them 
spring, without its participation, from the reciprocal action of 
the cerebro-spinal nerves. Observation and experiment have 
in part informed us in what form of energy it carries out its 
functions, while, however, we are unable exhaustively to 
determine the extent of its effects. What has been certainly 
established is in the first place its influence on the move 
ments of the intestines, whose muscular coatings contract 
after the irritation of the ganglia that control them. Not at 
once, like the muscles of voluntary motion, but some time 
after the application of the stimulus, the intestinal canal 


contracts by the drawing up of the thin muscular sheath by 
which it is circularly surrounded, and this shrinking, lasting 
longer than the applied stimulus, gradually advances in 
undulations, after the re-expansion of one part the contiguous 
portion contracting without any fresh external impulsion. 
Similar signs of a slow contraction are observed in the larger 
vascular trunks, into whose coatings, consisting not merely of 
elastic but also of vitally contractile muscular fibres, sympa 
thetic filaments run. The periodical pulsations of the heart 
depend on a system of microscopically small ganglia, imbedded 
in its peculiar muscular substance. In cold-blooded animals 
the pulsations of the heart go on regularly for a good while, 
even after its removal from the body ; even the single parts of 
the mutilated organ still contract, only those, however, which 
contain, the ganglia. These facts prove that both excitation 
to movement in general, and the ground of the rhythmical 
alternation of tension and relaxation, lie in these nervous 
central organs ; but we know neither whence they themselves 
draw their excitative force, nor in what precise manner the 
periodicity of their activity is brought about. 

The sympathetic nerves do not seem to be capable of 
giving rise to sensations. .In the ordinary course of things 
we have no impression of the states of the parts that they 
mainly control, of the condition of digestion, assimilation, and 
secretion, of the distension of the vessels; we come to know 
them only when their influence is more widely extended to 
other parts, whose sensitive nerves convey to us these indirect 
stimulations, or when very important changes and anomalous 
states occur in them. It is uncertain whether in the latter 
case the sympathetic fibre takes on itself the conducting of 
impressions to consciousness, of which it is usually incapable, 
or whether the cerebro-spinal filaments, which, though few in 
number, are never wholly absent in its train, here as elsewhere 
perform this office. Perhaps also the sympathetic fibre is 
not generally quite destitute of the capacity for producing 
sensations, only those produced are lacking in the delicacy 
and sharpness necessary to their being distinctly separated 


from the general sense (or organic feelings, Qemdngefulify. 
Without doubt, on the other hand, these fibres fulfil for the 
ganglia partly the same office which the sensory fibres of the 
cerebro-spinal system fulfil for the brain; they serve as 
carriers and messengers, to make known to the ganglion the 
states of the parts from which they come, that as the central 
organ it may resolve on the necessary reaction. 

The important influence unquestionably exerted by the 
sympathetic system on the changes of composition of the 
corporeal juices, is very little known as regards the manner 
in which these are brought about, yet various possibilities 
may easily be conceived, among which the future perhaps 
will decide. The contractions caused by the energy of the 
sympathetic fibres in the muscles make it probable that also 
other tissues may under the same influence undergo altera 
tions in the situation of their infinitesimal particles. As 
the chemical composition of the juices unquestionably 
depends to a great degree on the nature of the coatings, 
through which they react, exude, or are absorbed, a change 
in the physical condition of the membranes would easily 
explain the manifold deviations of the secretions, which are 
found to occur under the influence of violent nervous irrita 
tion, and which certainly go on all through life, though less 
obtrusively and with less abrupt alternations. A membrane 
through which two fluids strive to act upon one another will, 
with, different degrees of tension and a different collocation of 
its infinitesimal particles, not always bring together in the 
same manner the substances seeking to act ; it will be able 
sometimes to prevent the passage of the one, and to facilitate 
that of the other. In thus hindering the occurrence of a 
single customary chemical process, it can easily impart new 
and widely diverse forms to the total result of its activity. 
But the other possibility also remains open, that the nerve- 
fibre, at the moment of its activity, directly causes a chemical 
reciprocal action, inasmuch as (like the electric current, that 
causes the already p-resent but still delaying constituents of a 
future combination to realize it at once, or as swiftly dissolves 


other combinations) it introduces into the play of the sub 
stances a condition, which gives new directions to the 
chemical affinity between them. We have least evidence of 
any direct formative action of the nerves, and we may suppose 
that their function is fulfilled in the establishment of the 
chemical nature of the substances, and that these then under 
the direction of their own forces and of the united impression 
>f tho already organized environment, assume the forms 
adapted to them. 

By means of contraction of the vessels the nervous force 
would increase the pressure of the "blood on its walls, 
and thereby alter the conditions of all the activities of 
absorption and secretion. By means of the shrinking of 
particular parts of the tissues it would determine in a 
peculiar manner the afflux and reflux of the blood for these 
parts, and be able to bring together accumulations of efficient 
matters flowing past with less velocity where they were 
rendered necessary by more vigorous growth and more rapid 
change. By acceleration of the muscular movements, which, 
on. the whole, introduce and carry out the locomotion of the 
matters, it would guide and complete the draining away of 
the excreted, the reception of the newly -acquired material 
Finally, through altered tension of the membranes, it would 
be able to determine the amount of the change of substances 
in the whole, and the fluctuations of its activity in particular 
parts. And the nervous system would be determined to all 
these manifestations of its energy, partly by means of the im 
pression of the disturbances to be neutralized, while at the same 
time the normal processes in the body would be continually 
conveying to it stimulations, which, accumulating at particular 
moments, exert a suitable effect when they have reached a 
definite strength. Thus would occur at one place varying 
fluctuations, at another regularly and rhythmically recurring 
periods of activity and rest. It is needless further to describe 
these events, whose forms of manifestation are known to all, 
while their definite conditions are grasped by none; let us 
rather supplement this mention of them by the remark that, 


though displaying this abundance of operations, the system of the 
sympathetic nerves does not nevertheless depend in total isola 
tion on its own resources, but that it is connected by numerous 
filaments with the cerebro-spinal system. These were long re 
garded as the real roots of the ganglionic nerves, which were held 
to be not an independent system, but the dependent extension 
and intertwining of many cerebral and spinal nerves Now many 
grounds have at present given preponderance to the idea of 
an independent ganglionic nervous system , yet its numerous 
connections with brain and spine cannot have exclusively 
the object of guiding in these organs also the reparation 
which, worn out by their operations, they may need ; on the 
contrary, they seem just as much at least to admit of these 
foci of proper animal life having a certain influence on the 
course of the forming and preserving processes. The plant 
alone preserves its life as long as it does preserve it 
exclusively through the harmonious action of its material 
constituents. The animal organism, though infinitely more 
complex in its arrangement, yet forms within itself no 
independent cycle of operations. Anywhere and in any form, 
however subordinate, we may see elements of mental life 
intervening between the operations of the corporeal organs, 
and filling gaps left between the single links of the chain of 
vital processes. The plant, immersed in its elements of life, 
air and water, finds itself by no effort of its own in perpetual 
action and reaction with the supplies which it needs; the 
animal has to seek its food, and cannot perform this part of 
its vital round without having recourse to various means of 
mental activity. If we rooted out all those instincts by 
which the animal seeks for its states of sensation remedies, 
with all of which the course of Nature does not of itself 
supply it, its organism would be capable of nothing more 
than restricted and quickly terminated self-preservation ; and 
far from being the spontaneously-acting taachine, which au 
inaccurate analysis of facts lias so often takea it to be, it is 
but one half of a whole, unable to live without the other, the 
outer world and the soul. 


4. How entirely in fact has the course of our inquiry over 
turned the prejudices suggested to us by the immediate sight 
of life, the dreams of unity, independence, and constancy in 
the living form ! "We can as yet hardly say what are even 
the local boundaries that divide the organism from, its 
environment When does the air in our lungs begin to 
belong to us, and when does it cease to be a constituent of 
the body ? Has it become ours when it is absorbed by the 
blood, and was it not ours when it was still in the cells of 
the lungs ? Is the chyle a part of our body after it has 
made its way into the chyle-vessels, or are not it and the 
blood but a piece of the outer world drawn into the circuit 
of the body, superficially altered by the vital forces, but still 
with only an approach to participation in life ? And do not 
many substances, such as the soluble salts of the terrestrial 
crust, circulate through our body, through blood and organs, 
and yet always remain foreign ingredients? At no one 
moment does the body contain only what properly belongs to 
rts constitution : we always find in it substances that are about 
to become, others that have ceased to be, its own ; materials 
for the future and ruins of the past are associated in it with 
the living stem of the present and with fragments accidentally 
detached from the outer world. 

Just as little in the course of its development in time as 
in space is the body rounded off into strict unity. Since its 
supplies, its growth, and its evolution are not effected from 
its own resources, it must, on the contrary, everywhere have 
recourse to the favourable assistance of the outer world. It& 
life is like an eddy produced in the bed of a stream by a 
peculiarly shaped obstacle. The general course of Nature is 
the stream, the organized body the obstacle against which 
this breaks, and its peculiar shape converts the uniform 
and straight current of the water into the strange windings! 
and crossings of the whirlpool. So long as the form of the 
river-bed remains the same, and as the waves flow on, this 
play of movement will be continually repeated, with always 
the same apparently unchanged f gure, though from moment 


fco moment the stream is different that produces it coming, 
and going leaves it. But the form of the river-bed will not 
remain the same; the force of the torrent will be always 
changing it, and what that cannot do will be accomplished by 
the native force of the eddy itself, still more destructive. 
As a sea current by the dash of its waves, which is caused 
by the special form of the shore, levels the shore, and thus 
itself removes the cause of its peculiar movement, so also do 
the exerted energies of life, all the manifestations and opera 
tions of its organization, turn back with slow but sure force 
to disturb the foundation on which they rest. The eddy of 
to-day is not that of yesterday ; the continual reconstitution is 
bringing back always similar, never identical, states. 

We shall not leave this comparison without borrowing from 
it a final comprehensive view of vital processes. According 
to a widespread delusion, the highest and noblest phaenomena 
of Nature as well as of the mental world are distinguished by 
unconstrainedness in the strict sense, and have secured to 
them, by the immovable stability of their nucleus, immunity 
against all assaults of the external world, and steadiness of 
development by the simplicity of their internal structure. 
But, in truth, the higher forms of being have more 
conditions than the lower, and the strength of their existence 
consists only in the ingenious calculation with which they 
mjet the increased variety of their wants. Living bodies are 
not animated by a simple moulding impulse, independent and 
powerful from its intensity; their constituents do not com 
bine with extraordinary unconquerable forces to a more solid 
unity, as might be possible for the unorganized ; depending on 
a constant flux of their mass, they are, as compared with 
these, frail and perishable structures. Yet the advancing 
current of countless physical events is broken by the favourable 
conditions under which the parts of these, united together, meet 
the course of Nature, and assumes the shape of a stable figure, 
that draws into itself the substances of the outer world, holds 
them fast for a time, and then restores them to the more 
chaotic vortex of inorganic Nature. This manifold play of 


events is not attached to a rigid substratum, but, like the many- 
coloured radiance of the rainbow, moves and flutters above 
a ceaselessly changing scene below. Nay, so little do we 
find in organic bodies any inherent self-sufficient vital force, 
that we can, on the contrary, regard them only as the places 
in space where the matter, the forces, and the motions of the 
general course of Nature meet each other in relations so 
favourable that variable masses can be solidified into a form 
that is nevertheless ere long to perish, and their reciprocal 
actions go through a course o flourishing and decaying 
development. However much we may be tempted to admire, 
as stable units and as self-contained wholes, tho form of the 
plant with its tranquil growth, and the figure of the animal with 
its power of locomotion finally, however urgently we may be 
impelled by ethical motives to look on ourselves in the same way 
in contrast to the rest of the universe, within which is contained 
the material that we can mould by our actions : nevertheless 
science, seeking the physical basis of our existence, cannot 
view the rest of Nature as a foreign, formless chaos extending 
around the individual living being, and waiting to receive 
connection, form, and development from its vital energy. 
The focus of a lens condenses the heating force of light or 
renders the graceful outline of a figure by no merit of its 
own, but derives from the convergence of the rays the privilege 
of being the scene of these remarkable phenomena : almost 
as little by its own exertions does the living body collect the 
substances and motions of the environment to compose the 
detached figure of its own form. It is indeed partly the 
refractive power of the lens that collects the rays, but even 
this element of efficacy it owes to a transmission in which the 
forces of the outer world actively co-oporate. Thus it is 
what it is by virtue of the circumstances from which it 
sprang; selected for harmonious evolution, if they concur 
favourably in its production, condemned to a sickly and 
wretched existence if discordant conditions cross each other 
in its beginning. The ceaseless universal motion of Nature is 
the all-embracing tide, in whose most agitated part not 


indeed like steady islands, but only like whirling eddies 
living beings emerge and disappear, as tlie masses in their 
onward course experience momentarily a common impetus 
into a new path, a concentration into a definite shape, before 
being ere long again cast headlong and in fragments into the 
formless, universal tide, by the same forces that brought them 
to this point of intersection. 





Kcasons for "believing that there are Souls Free Join of the Will Ineoinparabihty 
of Physical and Psychical Processes, and Necessity of two diveise Gioundb of 
Explanation Hypothesis of their "Union in the same Being The Unity 
of Consciousness "What it Is not, and what it really is Impossibility of 
explaining it as a Combination of a Plurality of Effects Relating Know 
ledge contrasted with the Composition of Physical Results Supersensuouq 
Nature of the Soul. 

1. TVTCW * n ^ S P er P etua l fl ux f elements, attracted to 
-*- * and repelled from one another, what is our own 
place ? To whom belongs our manifold inner life, with its 
play of knowledge, its pain and pleasure, its ever-varying 
energy of volition \ May all this be after all but a subtle 
form of illusion, but a reflection of the inner movements of tho 
eddy, like the play of colour that flickers in the light spray 
above the heavier surging of the waters ? Or is there within 
all this externality a genuine stable point, to which all cor 
poreal growth is but a home and an environment, and all the 
unrest of the change pervading the visible form but a varying 
incentive to the many-sided development of the unity oi its 
own life ? 

In opposition to what experience sets before our eyes," the 
natural reflection of the human race has always decided in 
iavour of this belief. We have no opportunity of observing 
mental life except in constant connection with the bodily 
form and its development ; we see the two unfold together, 
and as the bodily frame falls to pieces, the fulness and 
energy of the mind tliat animated it also disappear wholly 
from our ken, leaving no trace behind. Experience endeavours, 
with what would seem to be the most distinct intimations, to 
persuade us that all internal activity springs from the com- 



bination of materials, and vanishes with their separation, and 
yet the living intelligence of all nations has in the name 
Soul expressed the conviction that not merely a difference 
of outward appearance distinguishes internal phsenomena from 
corporeal life, but that an element of peculiar nature, differ 
ently constituted from the materials of the frame, lies at the 
base of the world of sensations, of emotions, of volitions, and 
by its own unity binds them into the whole of a rounded-off 
development. So universal a prejudice never can arise 
without strong grounds contained in the nature of the thing, 
and yet we must preliminarily regard it as but a prejudice, 
the examination and proof or disproof of which is reserved 
for an express inquiry. Tor, as surely as the universal 
instinct of human intelligence does not proceed to such 
conceptions without the deeper justification of irresistible 
cravings, so little can we take for granted that it is invariably 
fortunate in its results, and that it is not seeking satisfaction 
in a wrong path, the illusoriness of which must In the end be 
detected by the practised eye of science. And, in fact, when 
we come to test the reasons tacitly underlying the opinion of 
the multitude when it seeks to withdraw mental life from the 
domain of Nature, we shall find that its opinion does not rest 
on all with the same amount of justification, and that in but 
a small circle of phenomena are contained the determining 
grounds for explaining internal events by peculiarity of 

2. By three characteristics above all does psychic life seem 
to be differentiated most unquestionably from the whole course 
of Nature. On none of these is more stress laid in the 
ordinary view than on the most equivocal of all namely, the 
Freedom of internal Self-determination, of which we think we 
have in ourselves direct and indubitable experience, in contrast 
to the unbroken chain of necessity with which the states of 
unorganized matter are evolved out of one another. All that 
distinguishes our spiritual existence, all the dignity with 
which we think it necessary to surround it, all the worth of 
our personality and of our actions, seems to us to depend on 


this setting our being free from the constraint of the mechanical 
succession of whose dominion we are aware., not only over * 
what is lifeless, but also over the development of our bodily 
life. And yet a little reflection is sufficient to show that 
neither does that freedom form an observable fact of our 
inner life, nor is our own opinion of the value to be attached 
to it always the same. It is true that self-observation very 
frequently indicates no determining motives on which our 
resolutions and other internal motions may be recognised as 
depending ; but then our attention is reflected hack on ourselves 
in so unconnected and fragmentary a fashion, that to its 
imperfect survey an act may readily appear free self-determi 
nation, for which it would perhaps find constraining grounds, 
did it go back a step further in the analysis of our internal 
states. It is true that impressions made on us call forth 
reactions corresponding to them neither in amount nor in 
kind, and that at various moments the most various mani 
festations answer to the same impulse experienced from 
without. But yet, with all this incalculablencss of conduct, 
we have but repeated in our intellectual life the universal 
phenomenon of excitability, which, common alike to bodily 
and to inanimate existence, is no release from the thraldom 
of activity according to law, but is, on the contrary, the true 
idea of that activity itself. For nowhere docs even an active 
cause transfer the effect complete to the element which it 
affects, so as to receive back the mere echo of its own action ; 
everywhere the impression made moves to utterance the 
peculiar nature of that on which it was made, and the form 
of the event to come is determined equally by this and by 
the peculiar energies which its presence awakens in that which 
is affected by it, Sometimes we are acquainted with the 
internal structure of the objects on which the stimulation 
falls, and able to trace its path and the chain ui the reactions 
that it calls forth as it advances. But oftener the internal 
relations of what is stimulated are obscure to us, and only the 
first external shock and the final form of the last 'reaction fall 
under our observation ; the multitude of intermediate links 
VOL, I. K 


necessarily connect tlie end with tlie beginning lie 
unknown between. Thus in numerous gradations the series 
of phenomena presents to us here events the sum of 
whose conditions falls within our range of vision, and which 
therefore stand before us as fully determined consequents of 
their antecedents; there, results whose form, having been 
most essentially modified by the hidden nature of complex 
intermediate links, no longer stands in any conceivable relation 
to the simple stimulus that originally caused it. In such 
cases we are always inclined to think that the chain of neces 
sary connection has been broken; this we found to be the 
case in the explanation of corporeal life ; the same thing- 
meets us again here, where the far greater complexity of 
coefficient and yet for the most part hidden conditions 
makes the reaction still more unlike the excitation, and 
persuades us the more strongly of the freedom of uncaused 
self-determination. Now, if we become convinced of the 
erroneous nature of the reasoning that denies the thorough 
going determinedness of mental life, because it cannot invari 
ably be proved, we may perhaps try to retain freedom as a 
necessary consequence of ethical truths or an imperative 
condition of the fulfilment of moral obligations. In fact, wo 
would allow to such a proof, were it unquestionable, fully as 
much value as a basis for our opinions, as we attach to an 
observed fact. But, as we have already mentioned, the 
universal judgment is not agreed as to this ; wo often doubt 
whether at all, or in what definite form, this unconditioned 
freedom is helpful or needful to the satisfaction of moral 
cravings ; it has not appeared to all indispensable, and 
the attempt to make it more definite leads to questions the 
answer to which, whatever it may be, is at any rate far from 
having the clearness necessary to a thought fitted to form the 
basis of an important view. Finally, we must add, this 
opinion can speak and means to speak not of a freedom of the 
inner life generally, but of a Freedom of Will in particular ; 
in the train of our ideas, our feelings, and our desites the 
traces of a universal regularity of laws are so distinct and 


obtrusive that no philosophy has ever ventured to withdraw 
those phenomena from the domain of mechanical necessity. 
Further investigation would perhaps remove these scruples, 
and show us how little ground we have to dread this com 
bination of freedom and mechanism in the nature of the soul ; 
but certainly at the beginning of the inquiry the evident 
prevalence of universal law in the greater part of our inner 
life can only be adverse to belief in the freedom in a smaller 
part, which we cannot observe. 

But just as little, on the other hand, does experience con 
vince us of its non-existence, and those who, with confident 
urgency, call our attention to the unbroken connection 
between mental phenomena and corporeal changes, arbitrarily 
and erroneously interpret a familiar fact, when they think to 
find in it a proof that everything in mind is explicable from 
properties of the matter with which it is united It is indeed 
matter of universal and incessant experience that the changes 
of our mental states arc dependent on external impressions 
and the reciprocal action between them and the material 
constituents of our bodies. Our sensations vary as our sense- 
organs are variously affected, different feelings and volitions 
arise when external influences or the transformations of vital 
energies perpetually going on within have altered our bodily 
conditions ; to the fullest extent do we find the vividness and 
activity of our train of thought connected with fluctuations in 
our corporeal states, by which they are sometimes favoured, 
sometimes lessened and hindered. And after careful inquiry 
we shall have to confess that in even the highest phsenomena 
of mental life, as they have been produced by the historical 
sequence of human development, there are still traces of the 
iniluence exerted on mental progress by frames of body not 
tho same in all ages. But after all, these facts prove only 
that the changes of physical elements represent a set of con 
ditions on which the existence and character of our internal 
states necessarily depend ; they do not prove that such changes 
are the single and sufficient cause from which, in virtue of its 
own energy and without the co-operation of a quite different 


principle, the manifold variety of psychic life is exclusively 

A second glance at the nature of this connection will suffice 
to show the chasm between this apparently sufficient reason 
and its alleged consequent. All that happens to the material 
constituents of external Nature or to those of onr own body, 
whether singly or in combination, the sum-total of all deter 
minations of extension, composition, density, and motion, 
all this it is wholly impossible to compare with the peculiar- 
character of the mental states, with the sensations,, the feelings, 
the volitions, which as a matter of fact we find succeeding to 
them, and erroneously believe to arise from them. N"o com 
parative analysis would discover in the chemical composition 
of a nerve, in the tension, the collocation, and the mobility of 
its infinitesimal parts, the reason why a wave of sound, 
reaching and affecting it, should produce in it more than an 
alteration of physical states. However far we pursue the 
course of the sense-excitation through the nerve, in however 
many ways we suppose its form changed, and converted into 
ever finer and more delicate movements, we can never 
prove that it is in the nature of any movement so produced 
to cease as movement of its own accord, and to reappear 
as a bright colour, as a tone, as a sweet taste. The chasm 
is never bridged over between the last state of the material 
elements within our reach and the first rise of the sensation, 
and scarce any one will cherish the vain hope that at a 
higher stage of development science will find a mysterious 
bridge in a case where it is the impossibility of any sure 
crossing-over that forces itself on us with the most evident 
distinctness. On the recognition of this absolute incompar- 
ability with one another of physical events and. conscious 
states, has always rested the conviction of the necessity of 
finding a special ground of explanation for psychic life. 

It is doubtless the interest of science to group a multi 
tude of different phenomena under a single principle, but 
yet the greater and more essential interest of all knowledge 
is no other than to trace back that which happens to the 


conditions on which it is really dependent, and the craving 
for unity must give way to the recognition of a plurality of 
different sources where the facts of experience do not entitle 
us to derive different things from one and the same origin. 
No general scruple must therefore hinder us from accepting 
for the two great distinct groups of physical and of psychical 
phenomena grounds of explanation equally distinct and 
independent ; moreover, the search for unity would involve 
merely the demand that in the whole of the cosmos those 
elements should finally be combined which to our immediate 
observation appear separated ; we might require that the 
different branches should spring from one root, but not that the 
branches themselves should coalesce or the one sprout from the 
other instead of independently beside it from the root Let us 
therefore leave this question for subsequent consideration, and 
at present content ourselves with the right of insisting on 
requiring distinct grounds of explanation for phaenornena that 
cannot be compared. 

This right we claim not otherwise than as it has always 
been conceded for the phenomena of the domain of Nature 
itself. Wherever we see an element produce results such as 
neither its ordinary nature nor the motion in which it is for 
the moment engaged enables us to understand, we seek the 
complementary ground of this effect in the different constitu 
tion of a second element, which, acted on by that movement, 
evolves from itself the part or the form of the result which 
we would in vain try to derive from the former. It is not 
the spark of fire that imparts explosive energy to the gun 
powder, for when it falls on other objects it produces no 
similar effect ; neither in its temperature, nor in its kind of 
motion, nor in any other of its properties, could we find that 
which enabled it to evolve this destroying force from itself 
alone ; this it finds in the powder on which it falls, or more 
correctly it does not even here find it all ready, but it finds 
several substances in a combination that under the influence 
of the heightened temperature which it brings, must suddenly 
and with violence expand into the form of a gas. The cause 


of the form of the effect produced thus lies solely in the 
mixture of the powder, the glowing heat of the spark adds the 
final necessary completing condition. We are enabled to 
draw the same conclusions by the difference of category of 
material states and their mental results. However indissolubly 
the latter are associated with the former as their conditions, 
they must yet have the ground of their form in another prin 
ciple, and anything that we can conceive as au energy or 
efficacy of matter, instead of producing mental life from itself, 
only occasions its manifestation by stimulating to expression 
a differently constituted element. 

3. But we must still more narrowly define the inference 
which we venture to draw from these considerations. We were 
entitled to seek different grounds of explanation for the two 
diverse groups of phenomena, but we are not on that account 
yet entitled to distribute these grounds to different kinds of 
beings. If we cannot account for the appearance of a mental 
state by those properties in virtue of which we call matter 
matter, what hinders us from supposing that besides those 
properties there is a store of inner life which usually escapes 
our attention, and finds no other opportunity of manifestation 
than in what we call mental life ? Why, in opposition to 
matter as an ever dead substance, should all mental activity 
be condensed into the special nature of a soul, destitute oxi 
its side of the properties by means of which the physical 
elements make themselves of account in Nature ? Might not 
the visible substance have directly a double life, appearing 
outwardly as matter, and as such manifesting no property 
other than those mechanical ones with which we are familiar, 
internally on the other hand moved mentally, aware of the 
changes in its states, and accompanying with efforts the 
activity, whose general subjection to law it is certainly not in 
its power arbitrarily to alter ? 

Only by degrees, in the course of these inquiries, shall we 
be able to return a full answer to these questions ; at present 
it must \s sufficient to point out how little at this their 
initial stag an affirmative reply to them would alter the 


position of matters 1'or still tins feeling and willmo sub 
stance would remain a double being , however intimately it 
combined in the unity of its nature the properties of 
materiality and those of mental life, they would never 
theless always remain incompatible, and wo would never be 
able to infer from an alteration of its material states, as a 
consequent necessity, that on its mental side it must 
undergo a corresponding alteration. It would go through two 
courses of development, from neither of which can there be 
conceived a transition to the other; as externally adjusted, 
the stages of the one course would indeed as a matter of fact 
correspond to those of the other, but here too the material 
change would draw after it a mental one only because it 
found on the other side of this twofold being the mental 
nature that it could stir to action. Here it is that we iind at 
onco the justification and the source of the barrenness of this 
view. Its justification : for the evil materialism that is the 
real destroyer of all cosmic conceptions consists exclusively in 
the wealth of mind being held to spring spontaneously as a 
mere addition from the reciprocal action of material substances 
as substances, from impact and pressure, from tension and 
expansion, from composition and decomposition, in its being 
supposed as self-evident that the endless variety of the inner 
life arises from the mutual crossing of physical processes, 
as that the resultant of two equal forces tending in opposite 
directions is rest, or of two that are different, motion in a 
third and intermediate direction. This it is that must 
ever be repugnant to serious reflection, the inaccuracy 
of thought that takes the forms of mechanical procedure, 
which have everywhere the function of acting merely as 
means of communication between the inner natures of indivi 
dual beings, for the original stock whence, as an incidental 
and subsidiary result, is evolved all the energy and activity 
of these minds themselves. 

This error is of course avoided in that form of con 
ception which ascribes to matter a secret, mental life ; 
for according to it, the mental element springs not from 


its physical properties, but from that which makes matter 
really better than it seems. But we find here no advantage 
to be turned to account for the benefit of the first form of 
our views. If the properties of materiality and mentality are 
actually united in the same substance, yet so that the one 
cannot be derived from the other, any investigation of the 
particular phsenomena can apprehend the changes of the 
physical side of this twofold being only as occasions of the 
manifestation of the mental states. It could not explain 
how it happens that a physical change draws after it a dis 
similar mental one only because both have the same subject, 
and it could develop the universal laws by which the alterations 
of the one of these series of states depend on the alterations 
of the other, no better from the unity of the substance acting 
on itself than would be possible on the supposition of a 
reciprocal action between two different subjects. It may be 
that neverthless in this uniting of all internal and external 
phsenomena into the same reality there is a truth that in 
another place and a different application will become impor 
tant ; here it appears unfruitful. "Not merely unfruitful ; for, 
in fact, a third consideration is already claiming attention, 
which will prevent us from here making such use as was 
proposed to us of the view. 

4. We must single out as the decisive fact of experience, 
that compels us in the explanation of mental life to put in 
the place of matter an immaterial form of being as the subject' 
of the phsenomena, that Unity of Consciousness without which 
the sum-total of our internal states, could not even become 
the object of our self-observation. So many misconceptions 
have gathered round the simple name under which we have 
spoken of this fact, that we are forced to point out more 
explicitly what we mean by it. So long as particular causes 
do not drive us to other conjectures, we are in the habit of 
supposing for each separate living form only one soul, to 
whose inner life the former yields an enclosing envelope and 
an array of efficient organs. Everyday life does not suggest 
the idea that besides the soul that- forms our peculiar ego, 


other "beings exist within our bodies, which in like manner, as 
meeting-points of ineunt and exeunt actions, elaborate the 
excitations which reach them into a world of conscious states. 
Observations on all the higher animals confirm us in this 
habit, or at least only isolated phenomena more patent to 
the observation of science than to that of daily life, cast 
doubt on that unity of consciousness according to which 
there is one soul to each living form. It is not till we direct 
our attention to the lower classes of animals that we are first 
reminded that we are too much inclined to consider this 
actual relation as universally necessary. The severed parts 
of the mutilated polyp become wholes by growing into perfect 
animal forms, in each of which is fully evolved the sum of 
psychic capacities that belong to the original uninjured 
creature. But this effect would not follow on any mutila 
tion which we chose to make ; the possibility of completion 
seems to be dependent on the severed part retaining a per 
haps insignificant, yet definite amount of internal organization 
as a germ to be developed. We observe these noteworthy 
phenomena not merely after artificial section ; in many animal 
species propagation takes place by means of spontaneous 
severance of the body, the fragments of which, partly in 
connection with it, partly after their detachment, develop 
the perfect form and organization of the species. Finally, we 
see that in other species single individuals are evolved, like 
the buds of trees, from a common and continuous stem, 
isolated m the scanty exercise of vital activity within their 
power, and yet by their mutual connection subject in common 
to many external influences. These groups of animals show 
distinctly that the corporeal mass, in which the vitality of the 
individual soul can manifest itself is not everywhere finished 
off into a circumscribed whole ; at particular points of a con 
nected organic mass there are here several independent beings, 
whose operations may cross each other in the common stem 
and afford to each only a limited sphere for the exercise of its 
spontaneous energy. What here appears as a persistent vital 
form, may be exhibited in the animals whose species is pro- 


pagated by means of division, only in that process, while in 
those which can be severed into several individuals by 
artificial section, the majority of the single beings capable 
of vitality that are united within the limits of one and the 
same corporeal form, perhaps never find an opportunity of 
independent development, unless it is procured for them by 
chance or by arbitrary interference. Section would have cleft 
in two not the soul of the polyp, but the corporeal bond that 
held together a number of souls so as to hinder the individual 
development of each. Though we may be entitled to regard 
these processes thus, we cannot certainly determine before 
hand how far this allotment of a plurality of souls to one 
common corporeal mass may extend in higher species of 
animals also. "Without here settling a question, the answer 
to which, in so far as possible, is more fitly reserved for a 
later part of this work, we must mention that the unity 
of consciousness does not mean that the number of beings 
animating an organic form is limited, and that it is far from 
being invalidated by an appeal to the phenomena of which 
we have spoken. On the contrary, we would maintain, in 
regard to each of the severed parts of the polyp, that if & 
soul is in any sense its moving principle, the unity of con 
sciousness must hold good of that in the same sense in which 
we ascribe it to our own personality. 

This sense we now proceed more precisely to define. Wo 
come to understand the connection of our inner life only by 
referring all its events to the one ego, lying unchanged alike 
beneath its simultaneous variety and its temporal succession. 
Every retrospect of the past brings with it this image of the 
ego as the combining centre ; our ideas, our feelings, our 
efforts are comprehensible to us only as its states or energies, 
not as events floating unattached in a void. And yet we are 
not incessantly making this reference of the internal manifold 
to the unity of the ego. It becomes distinct only in the 
backward look which we cast over our life with a certain 
concentration of collective attention. On the other hand, the 
single sensation at the moment when it is produced by the 


external stimulus, the single feeling springing from the bene 
ficial or hurtful interference of the external world, even the 
desires and efforts often suddenly awakened \vithin us by u 
passing cause, are by no means universally accompanied to 
any perceptible degree by this reference to the unity of our 
nature, by which they are mutually related. Of many im 
pressions we remain unconscious when they como into being, 
and we sometimes detect them in ourselves as if accidentally, 
after their efficient causes have again disappeared; others 
remain forgotten during long intervals, and even the express 
attention which is set to seek them fails to get possession of 
them ; of the manifold contents of our consciousness at one 
time, many fragments remain disconnected side by side, 
neither fused into the whole of one identical round of 
thought, nor placed in a distinct relation to our indivisible 
personality. Hence the unity of consciousness spoken of 
can not mean that we have a persistent consciousness of the 
unity of our being, and the inferences which it has been 
attempted to draw from this assumption are for us inept. 

On the other hand, however, there lies in the body of 
facts which we have recognised, no such difficulty as to 
render it impossible to infer from the nature of our con 
sciousness the unity of a being conscious of itself. Tor 
it is not necessary and imperative that at every moment 
and in respect to all its states a being should exercise the 
unifying efficiency put within its power by the unity of its 
nature ; the work done by any power depends on conditions, 
and may be prevented by such as are unfavourable, without 
on that account the power being neutralized in virtue of 
which under more propitious circumstances it would have 
come to pass, Therefore, even if many of the soul's states 
remain unconnected, and never are realized in its conscious 
ness as mere states of its substance, no conclusion can be 
drawn from, these facts against the unity of its being. If, 
on the other hand, the soul, even if but rarely, but to a 
limited extent, nay but once, be capable of bringing together 
variety into the unity of consciousness, this slender fact in 


sufficient to render imperative an inference to the indivisi 
bility of the being by which, this operation can be performed. 
For the moment I leave this simple idea to its own persuasive 
power, and reserve the illustration of it till later ; but I here 
add further, that even our knowledge of the above acknow 
ledged fact of the unconnectedness of many internal states is 
comprehensible only on the supposition of the unity of the 
cognitive being. It may be that at the moment of sense- 
perception the relation of the rising sensation to the unity of 
the ego does not obtrude itself on us, that, on the contrary, we 
are merged without a sense of self in the matter of sensation ; 
but the very fact of this relation could never afterwards 
become to us an object of apprehension and astonishment, if, 
at the very moment of its rise, the sensation had not belonged 
to the unity of our being, and been retained by it, in order 
afterwards to be recognised as having always been in cohesion 
with our ego. Grant that many impressions remain isolated 
at the moment of their rise, and grant that it is only after- 
reflection which brings a judgment as to their relation with 
ourselves, there is yet in that primitive distraction no 
argument against the unity of our mental being, nay, in the 
possibility of subsequent concentration, there is constraining 
ground for holding it to be real. 

I would fain, lastly, remove once for all a remaining mis 
conception, from which the train of thought pursued in the 
preceding observations may perhaps not be secure. For I do 
not mean that our consciousness of the unity of our being is 
in itself, by what it directly reports, a guarantee of that unity. 
Certainly it might, at least plausibly, be objected to that 
conception, that in the course of our internal development 
many convictions present themselves with almost irresistible 
persuasive force, that, in spite of the triumphant clearness 
with which they take possession of the unsophisticated mind, 
yet appear fallacies to riper reflection, in contrast to the laws 
of thought, which alone must remain beyond doubt as to us 
the inevitable standard of all truth. So too this unity of the 
ego may be merely the form in which our own being appears 


to itself, and just as we do not obtain directly an insight 
into the true nature of other things from the manner in which 
they appear to us, so our own being is not necessarily an indi 
visible unity, because such we seem to ourselves. I will not 
inquire whether this thought is not one of those over-refine 
ments of accurate discrimination which secretly revolve round 
the fallacies they would fain avoid ; in the form in which it 
is usually expressed, it does not touch what we here wish to 
prove. Tor our belief in the soul's unity rests not on our 
appearing to ourselves such a unity, but on our being able 
to appear to ourselves at all. Did we appear to ourselves 
something quite different, nay, did we seem to ourselves to 
be an unconnected plurality, we would from this very fact, 
from the bare possibility of appearing anything to ourselves, 
deduce the necessary unity of our being, this time in open 
contradiction with what self-observation set before us as our 
own image. What a being appears to itself to be is not the 
important point ; if it can appear anyhow to itself, or other 
things to it, it must be capable of unifying manifold phe 
nomena in an absolute indivisibility of its nature, 

What is apt to perplex us in this question is the some 
what thoughtless way in which we so often allow ourselves 
to play fast and loose with the notion of appearance. We 
are content with setting in contrast to it the being that 
appears, and we forget that the appearance is impossible 
without another being that sees it. We fancy that appear 
ance comes forth from the hidden depths of being-in-itself, 
like a lustre existing before there is any eye fox it to arise in, 
extending into reality, present to and apprehensible by Mm 
who will grasp it, but none the less continuing to exist even 
if known by none, We here overlook that even in the 
region of sensation, from which this image is borrowed, the 
lustre emitted by objects only seems to be emitted by them, 
and that it can even seem to come from them, only because 
our eyes are there, the receptive organs of a cognitive soul, to 
which appearances are possible. The lustre of light does not 
spread itself around us, but like all ph&nomena dwells only 


in the consciousness of him for whom It exists. And of this 
consciousness, of this general capacity that makes the appear 
ance of anything possible, we maintain that it can be an 
attribute only of the indivisible unity of one being, and that 
every attempt to ascribe it to a plurality, however bound 
together, will, by its failure, but confirm our conviction of 
the supersensible unity of the soul. 

5. This simple thought would seem to me hardly to need 
further proof, were there not so many attempts to evade it. 
For still we hear sometimes repeated the confident assertion 
that the comprehensive unity of consciousness may bo under 
stood as the natural result of the reciprocal action of many 
elements and their states. Let us therefore try to discover how 
far such a production of the one out of the many is possible. 

The composition of several motions in space into a common 
resultant has always been the example on which has more or 
less directly rested any hope for the success of these attempts 
Just as, then, two motions of different directions and velocities 
unite to produce a third simple motion in which is preserved 
no trace of the diversity that gave it birth, so (it is said) tho 
unity of consciousness is derived as a resultant from tho 
variety of mental elemental motions going on in the dif 
ferent constituents of the living body. But the plausibility 
of this analogy rests on an inaccuracy in its expression, and 
wholly disappears when that is removed. For this unques 
tionable law of physical mechanics refers not to any two 
movements, but merely to two movements of one and the 
same indivisible molecule at one and the same moment, 
the execution of which is required by any forces. The 
simple validity of the law ceases, and gives place to a more 
complex calculation of the result to be reached, so soon as 
we put in the room of the indivisible point a system of 
several masses, however firmly compacted, and suppose tho 
different forces to act on different points of this -united 
plurality. And just as little is the simple resultant itself, 
which comes into being in the former, more favourable case, 
simply some movement having its direction and velocity 


subject to law, while the mass remains undetermined by 
which it is executed ; it is of course to be conceived only as 
a movement of the same indivisible point on which the 
different forces were simultaneously acting. If one supplies 
those few complementary ideas which are never forgotten in 
stating the elements of mechanics, but not usually repeated 
at length in short references to this fundamental law, one 
takes in at a glance the hopelessness of all attempts to 
commend the derivation of conscious unity from the mutual 
action of a number of parts by means of the trustworthiness 
of the indisputable mechanical theorem For in this deriva 
tion, it is just the essential point of the theorem that as 
commonly missed ; the cohesion of the different states of 
different elements is dwelt on at length, but nothing is said 
of the indivisible subject in which* they cohere, through 
whose unity it is alone that they aro compelled to produce a 
resultant, and, lastly, as whose state exclusively thai resultant 
can be conceived to become actual. Consciousness floats, 
like a now being evolved out of nothing, above the mutual 
actions of the many elements, in unsupported isolation, a 
consciousness without any being whose consciousness it can 

Now let us try to get rid of this defect, and to fix the 
results to which we may be brought on this path. Let us 
first suppose that each one of the numerous elements whose 
reciprocal action we take for granted, fuses within itself the 
impressions which it receives from others into the unity of a 
resultant final state, then the sum of these resultants might 
indeed in a certain sense be regarded as the total state of the 
united plurality of elements, but not in the sense of resem 
bling the unity of consciousness of which we are in search. 
For at bottom that holds good of all active or passive states 
which we maintain in regard to consciousness : they can with 
strict accuracy be predicated only of indivisible units. If we 
imagine a number of atoms immutably confined in whatever 
way, so that they can only in concert obey any impetus to 
motion : then, if this whole body moves forward in a straight 


line, its motion will still be merely the sum of the absolutely 
identical motions of its several parts. Nay, it is even going 
too far to speak of a sum of motions : in reality only the 
same process is repeated as often as there are atoms in which 
it can be exhibited, and these processes being in themselves 
apart from each other, form neither a sum nor a whole. 
They become such only under one of two conditions. In the 
first place, if we suppose all the particular movements of 
these atoms transferred to one and the same indivisible 
element, they will there gather into the unity of a state, 
whose subject is the element but simultaneously the character 
of the event will have altered, and in place of a total motion 
of many, there will be only one effect of that, the motion of 
a unit. Without that alteration the total movement of a 
combined plurality tafes place only under the second con 
dition, which occurs when the one indivisible consciousness 
of an observer sets in relation to one another the ideas of the 
several movements, without confounding them, but yet bring 
ing together their abiding plurality under the notion of unity. 
If we further conceive another system of atoms more loosely 
connected together and engaged in motions of varying velocities 
and directions, we should still have to speak of a total motion 
of the system only in this second sense. We might, of 
course, fix the amount of motion, which the whole system has 
at its disposal for transference to an element outside itself, 
after deduction of the contrary actions that would neutralize 
each other. But it is still more evident in this example than 
in the former that the unity of this producible result is not 
convertible with the total motion of the system itself, for into 
the latter undoubtedly entered the manifold movements in 
which its parts met one another, and which have disappeared 
in the simplicity of the result. There is indeed but one 
point where this manifold whole is an actual unit, and that 
is the concentrating thought of the observer. There alone 
does the past cohere with the present and the future, in 
reality the one is when the other is not; only in that thought 
does any beauty of form, any fulness, and any significance of 


development truly exist, for only in it properly consist those 
relations of the one to the other, on which all such merits 
depend ; in reality each part is working as if in the dark, and 
does not see its position in respect of the other parts, although 
it may perhaps fuse the influences which it receives from 
them into the feeling of a state into which it enters. Thus 
all the operations of a joint plurality either remain a plurality 
of separate operations, or become truly fused into one only 
when transferred to the unity of a being as its states. Of 
consciousness we can say that, as the energy of an indivisible 
being, it does render possible the composition of the many 
into the one, but that the unity of consciousness never can 
spring solely from the mutual action of the many. 

From these general discussions we return once more to our 
peculiar subject. We once again take for granted in the 
multitudinous connected atoms of the body that internal 
psychic life which, according to the view from which WG 
started, must be attributed to all matter. Now let a common 
sensory stimulus, as before a motor impulse, act on all at 
once, we can yet seek the rising sensation nowhere else than 
in the interior of each single atom. It will be present as 
many times as there are indivisible beings in this united 
multitude, but these many sensations will never coalesce into 
a joint sensation, unless we suppose in addition to them a 
favoured being to which all transfer their states ; and then 
that will be the soul of such a body. If again, we suppose, 
as before various movements, so now various sensations, to 
arise in the several elements of this total, and further, each 
element to have it in its power somehow to convert its own 
stimulation into the excitation of another, here too every 
unit, according to its peculiar position in regard to the rest, 
will undergo influences from these in its own fashion, and 
fuse or combine in itself the impressions streaming in all 
around. Yet the new sensation or cognition proceeding from 
these reciprocal actions will always have its existence only in 
the several elements, each of which brings the manifold 
impressions together to a focus in its unity. There was a 

VOL. I. L 


repetition of homogeneous cognition when each element 
underwent in identical fashion the influences of all the others ; 
here cognitions manifoldly different will have arisen, if the 
various relations in which the several elements stand to one 
another bring about in each a particular blending of the 
impressions that succeed in reaching it. But in the latter 
case none of them will survey the variety of all the states 
that have arisen ; the sum-total of sensation or of knowledge 
will as such exist only for a new observer outside, who again 
collects the scattered facts, in the unity of his indivisible 
being, into a total image present to himself alone. Just as the 
spirit of the age, public opinion, does not hover beside and 
among personal beings, but exists only in the consciousness 
of individuals, incomplete and fragmentary in those who, 
without taking any general view, are as it were interwoven 
with the reciprocal actions among which they find them 
selves placed, more complete in those who, with critical 
ye, compare the multitude of characters falling beneath 
their observation : so here the various mental elements com 
posing this vital system will evolve various views of the 
whole of which they form part, but the most complete will 
arise in that element which, in virtue of some original 
advantage of its nature, or of a favourable position towards 
the rest, like that of the ruling monad, most effectually 
collects all the mutual actions of the parts of the whole in 
itself, and is able most effectually to react upon the im 
pressions thus communicated to it 

To this conception we are in truth carried back by the. 
attempt to derive the unity of consciousness from the mutual 
action of a multitude. Even on the hypothesis of a psychic 
life in all matter, we come on this path to an alteration 
indeed, but not an abolition, of the contrast between body and 
soul. Of course on that hypothesis they are distinguished 
by no qualitative difference in their natures, but still loss do 
they blend into one ; the one individual ruling soul always 
remains facing, in an attitude of complete isolation, the 
homogeneous but mmistrant monads, the joint multitude of 


which forms the living body. It may for the present remain 
undecided whether this conception of life, as a reciprocal 
action of souls, does or does not offer greater advantages in 
the explanation of phenomena than the contrast of mind and 
corporeal matter, which we have made the basis of our 
considerations. If the ruling monad is that soul which 
forms our ego, and whose internal motions we are seeking to 
understand, the interior of the other monads at least to us 
inquirers remains absolutely closed ; we are acquainted only 
with the reciprocal actions in virtue of which they appear to 
us as matter, and only under that designation and with the 
claims founded upon it can we make use of them in the 
investigation of particular processes 

6. We did not conclude that the soul is one, because we 
appear to ourselves a unity; but we were convinced of the 
indivisibility of our being by the fact that anything can 
appear to us. My arguments will perhaps be found more 
cogent if I bring into prominence the distinctive character of 
consciousness, which I have hitherto tacitly assumed. The 
idea of the fusion of several states into one blended state 
of resultant forces or results springing from the meeting of 
particular activities, has had a far from beneficial effect on 
the explanation of internal phenomena ; it is worth while to 
point out how absolutely different is the nature of thought, 
and how utterly in this sphere are we deserted by the 
ordinary conceptions of physical science, which we have 
hitherto seemed to treat as directly applicable to the case in 

Consciousness nowhere shows anything resembling what we 
see in Nature, viz. the resultant of two forces producing at 
one time a state of rest, at another a third intermediate motion, 
in which they have become merged beyond recognition. Our 
ideas preserve through all the vicissitudes through which they 
pass the same content as formerly, and we never find that in. 
our recollection, the images of two ^colours blend into the 
compound image of a third, or the sensations of two tones 
mingle into that of a simple intermediate tone, or the 


impressions of pain and of pleasure neutralize each other so 
as to form the rest of an indifferent state. Only when 
different stimuli, proceeding from the outer world, produce 
according to physical laws a medium state within the 
corporeal nervous tract, through whose instrumentality they 
act upon the soul, does this state (conveyed to the mind as a 
simple impulse) develope one compound sensation instead 
of the two several sensations which we should have had, if 
the stimuli could have reached us separately. Thus to our 
sense colours are indeed blended at the edges at which 
they are in direct contact in space; but the images of 
colours, coexisting in our remembrance without extension 
and without lines of demarcation, do not rim together into 
the uniform grey, that would be the inevitable result did 
different impressions blend into one in our souls. On the 
contrary, consciousness keeps those which are different asunder 
at the very moment when it seeks to combine them ; it docs 
not indistinguishably merge the various impressions, but 
leaves to each its peculiar character, moves comparing among 
them, and at the same time is aware of the amount and kind 
of the transition by which it passes from the one to the other. 
It is in this act of relating and comparing, the rudiments of 
all judging, that we have what answers in the wholly different 
mental sphere to the composition of results in the material 
world ; here, at the same time, lies the true meaning of the 
unity of consciousness. 

When a louder and a softer tone, the same in pitch and 
timbre, strike on our ear, we hear only the same tone louder, 
not two tones separately ; their effects arc coincident in the 
auricular nerve, and the soul can find in the simple stimulus 
which reaches it, no reason for a separation into two percep 
tions. But if the two tones sounded successively, so that 
the organ of sense could convey their impressions separately, 
there would no longer arise from the ideas of them, preserved 
in memory and brought back to consciousness both at the 
same moment for the purpose of comparison, the idea of a 
third tone of greater strength, but both would remain distinct 


and in mutual contrast, though, present without division 
in the unextendedness of conception. If a third middle 
tone did arise, it would not be a comparison of both, but 
only an increase of the materials of comparison for a con 
sciousness that knew how to compare. The comparison 
really effected consists in our becoming conscious of the 
peculiar change that takes place in our state, as we pass in 
thought from the one tone to the other, and in it we gain, 
instead of a third similar tone, a far greater advantage the 
idea of an intensive more or less. Red and yellow mingle 
when, blending already in the eye, they are conveyed to our 
soul only as a simple blended stimulus; in our memory 
those which were separately received remain separate, and 
there does not arise from thorn the impression of orange ; if it 
did arise, the effect would be merely to increase the materials 
for comparison, not to complete the process of comparison. 
This is completed when we become conscious of the kind of 
change that passes over our state in the transition from red 
to yellow, and through that we acquire the new idea of 
qualitative resemblance and difference. Finally, if we com 
pare an impression with itself, the result is not that from 
having been doubly thought its strength becomes simply 
doubled, but that by perceiving the energy of the transi 
tion, without observing any difference in its results, we arrive 
at the notion of identity. There is no reason why these 
examples should be multiplied ; the inner life is sufficiently 
familiar to inspire all with the conviction that all the higher 
problems of our knowledge and of our whole intellectual 
training depend on the forbearance with which consciousness 
leaves to the multitude of impressions their variety and all the 
distinctions of their colouring, and that nothing can he so far 
removed from the necessary habitudes of the soul as that 
forming of resultant mixed states by means of which we so 
often and so heedlessly think we can explain the higher 
advance or even the primitive stages of our internal 

These acts of a relating and comparing knowledge hardly 


any one will' be inclined to regard as performed by an 
aggregate plurality. So long as the matter under discussion 
was only that all ideas are collected in the same consciousness,, 
that all exert a mutual influence, driving back or bringing 
forward one another, one might, at least to some extent, be 
under the delusion that these phenomena themselves render 
necessaiy the unity of their subject. Consciousness might be 
viewed as the space in which this motley play goes on, and it 
might be left undecided what is the precise origin of the 
illumination of dawning knowledge in which it moves. But 
that most peculiar bond of the multitudinous, the active 
element that, passing from one to another, leaves both in 
existence, while it is aware of the kind and direction of its 
transition, cannot itself be multitudinous ; as all actions are 
united only in the unity of an indivisible being in which they 
meet, so a fortiori does this special method of combining 
plurality require strict unity in the combining principle. 
Any attempt to substitute for it a plurality casually combined, 
could here again only bring us back to the consequences of 
which we have already spoken, and on which we need not 
again dwell. 

7. The necessity of first of all seeking two distinct 
principles of explanation for two wholly dissimilar cycles of 
phenomena, shuts us off from any attempt to derive the inner 
life, as a self-evident result, from operations of material sub 
stances, in so far as material. The other necessity recognition 
of the fact of the unity of consciousness, and our discernment 
of the impossibility of producing that ximty from the reciprocal 
action of any plurality whatever left us no ground for 
expecting any help in the explanation of particular phenomena, 
even from the assumption of a secret psychic life in all that 
we call matter. We may therefore most simply state the 
result reached as yet in the traditional form of a separation 
of the supersensuons soul from the material body, no matter 
on what the existence or the phenomenal appearance of the 
latter may itself depend. Our way will still bo ft long one, 
and many of its turns may perhaps open up to us new views 


in regard to what we can now see only in the outline just 
mentioned. But we should regard as mistaken any craving 
for unity that would at once hastily merge this sharp contrast 
in something higher, for in reality it would only confuse 
the distinct and necessary conception of it. We do not 
deny that there may be a point of view so elevated that to 
those occupying it the distinction between the mental and the 
corporeal fades away, or may even be held to be a delusion. 
But there is less advantage to be won for our speculations 
from the attainment of this point of view, than risk to 
be apprehended from a premature anticipation of it. Even 
the toils and struggles of life seem, on a final general survey, 
as exercises, the value of which does not properly lie in the 
attainment of an end ; earthly aims may shrink into infini 
tesimal proportions in comparison with the final destiny which 
we dimly discern ; jarring discords of our existence lose their 
harshness and importance measured by the eternal and 
infinite towards which our longing eyes are turned. And yet 
we must continue these exercises, devote to these contracted 
aims all the ardour of our souls, painfully feel these discords, 
and again and again renew the conflict concerning them ; 
our life would not be ennobled by depreciation of its condi 
tions, and of the stage which it offers to our struggling energy. 
Thus even the contrast between corporeal and mental existence 
may not be final and irreconcilable, only our present life is 
passed in a world where it has not yet been resolved, but yawning 
underlies all the relations of our thinking and acting. And, 
even as it will always be indispensable to life, it is, at present 
at least, indispensable to science. Things that appear to us 
incompatible, we must first establish, separately each on its own 
foundation. If we have made ourselves acquainted with the 
natural growth and the ramification of each one of the groups 
of phenomena which we have thus discriminated, we shall 
afterwards find it possible to speak of their common root. 
To try prematurely to unite them would only mean to obscure 
the survey of them, and to lower the value which every 
distinction possesses even when it may be done away with. 



Plurality of Faculties in the Soul Defects of this View Possibility of combin 
ing it with the Unity of the Soul Original and acquired Faculties 
Impossibility of a Single Primitive Faculty Ideation, Feeling, and "Will 
Constant Activity of the whole IsTature of the Soul Lowei and 'Higher 
Reactions Mutability of the Soul and its Limits The Known. Nature 
and the Unknown Mature of the Soul Use of knowing the Unknown 
Nature of the Soul, and the Reason why wo seek to know it. 

1. nHHE phenomena which we have hitherto been con- 
-*- sidering have only entitled us to see in the soul that 
unknown being whose undivided unity holds together the variety 
of the inner life : they have not yet thrown any light on the 
essential nature with which the soul fills up the bare outline of 
unity, and develops the motley multitude of its states. The 
only means of solving this question, however, will be to make 
a more complete survey of internal experience ; we have no 
other insight into the nature of the soul than that which is 
afforded by inferences from the observed facts of our con 
sciousness. We have thus to conceive its nature as it must 
be in order that it should pass through what we know in 
ourselves as its states, and perform what we find in ourselves 
as its actions. Hence we must start from a comparison 
between mental phenomena; putting together the like, and 
separating the unlike, we shall sort the heterogeneous multi 
tude into groups, each of which includes all that have one 
common sta-mp, and excludes whatever is of a divergent kind. 
Mental phenomena differ sufficiently among themselves to 
make it probable that this comparison, if made steadily from 
one point of view, will end in discovering several separate 
groups, for whose peculiar distinctions no common expression 
can be found. Such slighter distinctions as divide in 
each department the phoenomena that fall within it while 



leaving untouched their more general similarity of character, 
are indeed to be conceived as dependent on the variable 
external conditions by which the soul's energy is brought into 
play. But for the whole of each department of phenomena 
we must attribute to the soul a peculiar faculty to energize in 
that manner which predominates uniformly throughout all its 
component parts. Accordingly we must suppose the soul to 
possess as many separate faculties as there are groups of 
phenomena left unresolvable by observation ; but we shall 
at the same time be left with the conviction that they are not 
imprinted in its nature as an unconnected assemblage of 
faculties, but that there is between them an affinity by which, 
as various manifestations of one and the same being, they are 
harmonized into the whole of its rational development. 

Thus has grown up the familiar doctrine of the mental 
faculties, in its initial stage forming part of the ordinary view 
of everyday life. Long cherished as a favourite subject of 
speculation, and repeatedly expanded into elaborate systems, 
it has gradually fallen into disrepute, and is now hardly looked 
on as more than a first and preliminary review- of the facts pre 
paring the way for an investigation by which it is to be followed. 
And in fact we imist acknowledge that it does not suffice to 
explain the phenomena. It would be a delusion to suppose 
that we possess in the notion of mental faculties a means of 
investigation as efficacious as that won by physical science in 
the notion of energy. What makes the latter fruitful is 
lacking to the former, which nevertheless repeats all the faults 
owing to which the kindred notion of vital energy exhausts 
itself in vain efforts to explain the phenomena of life. Where 
physics applies its notion of energy, it is not content with 
defining it by the character and appearance of its result ; it 
does not speak generally of powers of attraction and repulsion, 
but adds a law according to which the amount of its efficacy 
alters, when precisely definable conditions to which it is 
attached undergo an equally measurable alteration of value. 
Only thus can it calculate the exact amount of work which 
under given circumstances each force will perform ; only thus 


dues it succeed in linking to the unvarying energy of the 
same force the most various effects, at first distinguished only 
by their difference of amount, but leading, as they meet with 
other effects determined in the same manner, to a countless 
multitude of the most dissimilar events These advantages 
are not yielded by the notion of mental faculties. While 
it is exclusively derived from the general form common to 
a number of heterogeneous processes, each of these again 
reciprocally determines of course only, in general, the form 
proper to its own manifestations. Thus unquestionably the 
ideational faculty will give rise to ideas, the faculty of 
feeling to feelings; but there is a lack of rules going beyond 
this idle certainty, and guiding to a conclusion as to what 
idea will arise under what circumstances, or what will take 
place when several manifestations of the same faculty meet. 

Even physical science has not everywhere "been able to 
define the laws of action of its forces ; but, where this is the 
case, men of science freely confess that they have not yet 
advanced so far as to be able really to explain the phenomena. 
Yet even here the notion of energy offers advantages not to 
be found in that of mental faculties. The actions of natural 
forces are always comparable with each other ; for, however 
marvellously different may be the internal states of elements, 
the external changes in which they become apparent may 
always be ultimately reduced to motions in space, differing 
only in velocity and direction. Hence it is possible to apply 
to them the universal rules of mathematical calculation, and 
definitely to formulate the result produced by the meeting of 
several forces in the same element ; from two simple motions 
in a straight line we see sometimes the equilibrium of rest, 
sometimes a uniform velocity in an intermediate direction, 
sometimes continued revolution in curved lines. And from this 
comparability of the forces it is always possible, even when 
their laws are not known in detail, to draw from the character 
of their action at least a probable conjecture as to the result 
of their conjoint working, and to fix its presumable value 
within definite limits The mental faculties, however, seem 


incapable of comparison with one another ; for each of them 
was based only on the peculiar character of its manifestations, 
which it seemed hopeless to bring under a common category 
with the distinctive stamp of the others. Thus how an act 
of the ideational faculty will act on the faculty of feeling, 
how, further, the latter will promote or hinder efforts, we 
can guess pretty well without science, by simply following the 
instinct oi! our inner experience ; but there is in the notion of 
these faculties nothing to enable us to raise the tact of sound 
judgment to a clear scientific insight into the mutual depend 
ence of these processes. 

One further remark we must add. Physical science states 
precisely the conditions under which exclusively the assumed 
forces can exhibit efficiency. It distinguishes those funda 
mental forces which are conceivable as perpetually inherent in 
bodies, because their conditions are perpetually realized, and 
which therefore, ever ready, seem to wait only for an object in 
which their influence can become visible ; it sets over against 
them those other capacities of action which an element does 
aiot originally possess, but under certain circumstances acquires, 
and which therefore, as they now appear and now again are 
lost sight of, have a history that can be scientifically traced. 
Even here the psychological doctrine finds itself at a dis 
advantage. It could not represent any of its faculties as an 
energy constantly exercised by the soul ; a perception that had 
not yet found its object, a feeling of no particular quality, a 
volition without a purpose, seemed too glaringly preposterous 
notions ; it was felt that they are all operations, the perform 
ance of which the soul requires to be incited to and qualified 
for by definite impressions ; on this very account they were, 
under the name of faculties, put in contrast to forces. But 
the history of their genesis from the reciprocal influence of 
such impressions and the nature of the soul, has been too little 
investigated, and the want of such information is not to be 
supplied by an arrangement of the different faculties as super- 
ordinate and subordinate, according to the comparative uni 
versality or particularity of their manifestations. For in this 


way much always presented itself as original, that is really 
acquired only by means of the progressive growth of life, much, 
as simultaneous, that in the actual development of intelligence 
occurs at various successive points. Finally, the vague notion 
of a slumber and subsequent awakening of particular faculties 
was not fitted to make up for the general absence of 
insight into the simultaneous action and mutual co-operation 
of their effects. 

Thus the proper end of scientific investigation was lost 
sight of that search for causal connection, by which each 
event of mental life is shown rising out of its antecedents 
and again modifying that which is its immediate consequent. 
But every science that values its future applications must bo 
careful to secure for itself the possibility of conjecturing the 
past and the future from the present state. Where, as in the 
case of mental life, the bewildering complexity of the con 
ditions concerned must make the complete solution of this 
problem impossible, we must at least strive to gain such a 
view of the causal connection as may teach us to discern the 
outlines of the future and the bases of the present in the past 
with more precision than belongs to the indefinite estimate of 
a natural instinct. Such knowledge alone would enable us 
in education to set in motion the counter-forces that are 
fitted to alter undesirable results for the better. But of this 
problem the doctrine of the mental faculties offers no solution ; 
it really does no more than repeat faintly and from afar that 
general image of phenomena which we observe directly 
within ourselves in all the variety of its vivid local colour 
ing, while having nothing to say about the agencies beyond 
our observation that produce this scene of manifold activity 
no less secretly than the imperceptible vibrations of the 
ether give rise to the world of light and its marvellous 

2. Now one might be inclined to ascribe this deficiency 
not to the fundamental idea, but to the imperfect elaboration 
of the doctrine. Perhaps, after careful observation has dis 
criminated from the original mental faculties those which 


seem to be merely capabilities acquired in the course of 
development, it will succeed in discovering the laws regu 
lating the activity and mutual influence of those fundamental 
powers. But, before allowing ourselves to cherish this hope 
any further, we must refer to an objection by which its exist 
ence is threatened. 

Any plurality of original faculties, it is urged, is opposed 
to the soul's unity ; to start with the assumption of such is 
as incompatible with accuracy of thought as unfruitful for 
the purpose of explanation, the satisfaction of which would be 
curtailed by assuming that a variety of operations (which it 
must be the task of science to show proceeding from a single 
source) are co-ordinate and require no light thrown on their 
origin. People have become so much accustomed to regard 
this as the most decisive objection to the doctrine of the 
mental faculties, that we almost hesitate to advocate an 
opposite opinion. Those faculties have no doubt been often 
spoken of as if they were ready-made dispositions, impressed 
one alongside of another on the soul, but without any further 
mutual connection ; and over against this incomplete descrip 
tion is set the rightful demand to regard the various properties 
of a being as so many different manifestations of its one and 
identical nature, wrung from it by the reciprocal action evolved 
between it and other elements. But perhaps, in opposition to 
this slovenly mode of speech, the novelty and value of the 
objection in question have been too highly rated. That 
bodies are coloured only in light, hard only when their 
resisting force has been called forth by the pressure of a 
weight, fluid at one degree of temperature, solid at another, 
all these are reflections suggested by the most ordinary 
experience. It was easy to pass from them to the conviction 
that at least the sensible properties of things are not fixed 
determinations stamped upon them, but changeful appear 
ances, coming into being and passing away, which we see 
their nature successively assume under altering conditions. 
But it was much more natural still to apply the same view 
to the faculties of the soul, whose very name suggested that 


they were to be regarded not as actualities, but merely as the 
different potentialities of expression standing at the disposal 
of the one nature of the soul, when it is roused into activity 
by various stimuli, the necessity of whose co-operation was 
not forgotten. Thus it will perhaps be well to leave out 
of view many awkwardnesses of expression that have been 
allowed to slip into the question, and to allow to this 
violently assailed doctrine that it arose naturally out of 
the very conviction which is opposed to it by the objection 
referred to. The first part of it at all events it does not 
deserve ; it too looked on all faculties as results of the soul's 
one nature, only it did not believe that their interdependence 
is so close that from one all the rest proceed. Now, whether 
it was right here, and whether it did not unduly curtail the 
claims of science, in being too easily satisfied with the assump 
tion of original capacities and neglecting to trace them actually 
back to one soured, is another question still to bo determined. 
But even as to the second part of the above-mentioned charge 
we cannot fully share the opinion now widely diffused. 

Assuredly our science can go no further than our means of 
knowledge, and it must accept as a series of given facts what 
it finds itself unable to deduce from a single principle. To 
seek completeness here at any price only leads to the 
temptation of unconsciously curtailing somewhat the matter 
of fact, in order more easily to explain the more manageable 
remainder. Even in this psychological problem there is such 
a temptation. We recognise the justice of the requirement 
that all the manifestations of a being shall be regarded but 
as various results of its single nature, but we are impotent 
actually to carry it out in science. Given a few points in the 
heavens occupied at different times by a comet, we hence infer 
the path on which it must farther travel ; the laws of the 
celestial motions do not permit of its occupying these points 
without of necessity subsequently also passing through the 
others that form along with them a regularly determined curve. 
The like consistency we take for granted in the nature of the soul. 
Tf its nature manifests itself in response to one stimulation in 


a given manner, the other manifestation by which it will 
respond to a second is no longer indefinite or arbitrary 3 the 
one step decides all the others, and by whatever impressions of 
various kinds it may be affected, its conduct in regard to each 
of these is determined by that which it followed in regard to 
the first. Thus in it too the manifold reaction drawn forth 
by stimulations of various kinds will not be mutually uncon 
nected, but form the harmomoxis whole of a nature expressing 
itself in consistent manysidedness. But this assumption, no 
less imperative here than iu the former case, is not as fruitful 
here as there. "We know that for the comet the laws of 
Attraction and Persistence are the bond by which all the parts 
of its course are brought into demonstrable connection ; for the 
soul we would need a far more deeply grounded law, that 
should enable us to conceive of different energies, unlike in 
their forms of manifestation, as nevertheless parts of one and 
the same course of development. We ought to be able to say 
why a being that in consequence of the undulations of the 
ether sees light and colours, cannot but hear tones when 
atmospheric vibrations act on its organs of sense, or why its 
nature, while evolving intuitive but indifferent perceptions 
under certain impressions, nmst under others experience feel 
ings of pleasure and pain. We hardly venture on the express 
assertion, that this extraordinary problem has never yet been, 
solved, and that we see no prospect of even the possibility of its 
solution ; every system of psychology acknowledges that there 
must be in the nature of the soul this unbroken consistency, 
but none can. formulate its law. The requirement of such 
unity in the soul will therefore always remain a guiding con 
sideration by which the general sequence and conduct of our 
inquiries is controlled, but in carrying out our explanations 
we must be content to accept as a matter of fact the variety 
of psychic manifestations. 

The theories set up in opposition to the doctrine of 
faculties have in fact ended in the recognition of this variety. 
But they have made a distinction between the plurality of the 
simple and as it were original energies, that proceed not one 


out of another, tut all alike from the nature of the soul, and 
those higher activities which, not belonging to it originally, 
proceed from concatenations of the simple states, and to. refer 
which directly to peculiar faculties is to curtail science of 
their explanation. The doctrine of the mental faculties can 
not in all cases vindicate itself against this charge. When, 
for instance, we find judgment and imagination placed among 
them alongside of one another, we must unhesitatingly grant 
that these two do not form part of the original mental stock, 
but are capabilities developed in the advance of life, the 
one slowly, the other quickly. We must at the same time 
acknowledge that to explain their growth nothing is needed 
beyond the laws of association, according to which every 
percept may remain in memory, and, after having been lost 
to consciousness, may be restored to remembrance by the 
resuscitation of others with which it was formerly associated. 
We do not seek in the soul, before it has had experience, the 
capacity of readily and accurately apprehending resemblances 
and differences in impressions, and at once ranging each in 
the general category answering to its character. But every 
percept retained in memory, when it is recalled by a new 
and similar one, brings back to consciousness the others with 
which it was connected, but which are strange to the new 
impression, and thus invites to discriminating and associating 
comparisons. The repetition of this simple process increases 
the number of points of view, the subsequent remembrance of 
which meets new observations and assists their collocation in 
the circle of kindred ideas. Thus soundness of judgment 
is gradually and progressively developed, all newly acquired 
knowledge being by degrees added to the stock of discernment, 
by means of whose advancing ramification the task, which was 
at first difficult, and often fruitless, comes at last to be performed 
with the ease of a seemingly innate faculty. Still more 
erroneous would it be to refer the operations of the imagina 
tion to an innate power, operations so endlessly varied in 
appearance that for their performance the consistency of a 
single energy regulated in its exercise by a constant law 


might be deemed far less favourable than a general arbitrari 
ness of action. The ground of this power really lies, not 
indeed in any such absence of law, but in the fact that 
its results are not brought about by any special faculty. A 
happy variety of experiences has put at the disposal of the 
train of ideas an abundant store of impressions; other 
favourable circumstances, connected with the bodily develop 
ment and the disposition of mind, concur to leave to its action 
all that mobility with which it spontaneously evolves the 
most diverse combinations of ideas, brings together those 
which are akin, sets in contrast those which are dissimilar, 
and carries on trains of ideas already begun. Thus both 
these faculties have their history ; we can trace their advance 
by means of increasing experience, their deterioration in con 
sequence of the poverty of the impressions received, their 
perversion from a one-sided conduct of life and from the 
influence of morbid obstacles, and in order to explain these 
results we need not assume special capacities appropriated to 
these operations. Both presuppose the energy of other powers 
for the performance of their functions ; but from these their 
peculiar tasks can be fully explained. 

3. Now, can we carry further this speculation, so that finally 
there should be left only a single primitive mode of mental 
manifestation, from which, as from a common root, the other 
apparent faculties should proceed t Can the latter resemble 
leaves, blossoms, and fruit, which, all alike products of the 
same power of growth, owe their diverse forms partly to the 
variety of external influences, partly to the propitious effect 
of circumstances, whence it comes that the higher product 
can start from the completion of the next lower ? To this 
question the older psychology returned a negative answer; it 
was confident that Feeling and Will contain peculiar elements, 
arising neither from the nature of Ideation nor from the 
general character of Consciousness, in which all three take 
part ; they were accordingly co-ordinated with the faculty of 
Cognition (or Ideation) as two equally, original capacities, and 
more recent conceptions do not seem to be successful in 

VOL. I. K 


refuting the grounds on which this triad of original faculties 
was based. We could not indeed wisli to maintain that 
ideation, feeling, and will share between them the realm of 
the soul, as three independent series of development springing 
from distinct roots, each growing on unconnected with the 
others, and coming in contact with the others in varied action 
and reaction only in the final ramifications of their branching 
growth. It is too obvious from observation that, in general, 
incidents in the train of ideas form the points of junction of 
the feelings, and that from, these, from pain and pleasure, arc 
evolved motions of desire and aversion. And yet this evident 
connection does not dispose of the question whether here the 
preceding event does indeed give rise by its own energy 
to that which immediately succeeds, as its full and complete 
efficient cause, or whether it only draws the latter after 
it, as an exciting occasion, from acting partly with the ex 
traneous force of a silently co-operative condition that eludes 
our notice. This doubt must be set at rest by a more 
accurate analysis of the actual data. Where we find actually 
given each several germ and constituent of that which is to 
be, and these germs further in a state of motion, from which, 
if prolonged, the new form of the subsequent result must of 
itself emerge, we may regard what preceded as the sufficient 
cause of the latter. Where, on the contrary, there is a 
residuum that cannot have been produced by the conditioning 
circumstances, but has been added to them as a foreign 
accretion, we shall conclude that those circumstances did not 
form the entire ground of the succeeding phenomenon, but 
that, unnoticed by us, a condition lying outside, which we 
have now to seek, came in to make them complete. 

A comparison of these mental phenomena forces us, if we 
are not mistaken, to adopt the latter hypothesis. If we look 
on the soul as a merely cognitive existence, we shall, in no 
situation however peculiar into which it may be brought 
by the exercise of that activity, discover any sufficient reason 
why it should depart from that mode of manifesting itself and 
develop feelings of pain and pleasure. Of coiirse it may 


seem, on the contrary, that there is nothing so self-evident as 
that unreconciled antagonism between different ideas, whose 
contrariety does violence to the soul, causes it pain, from 
which, must spring an effort after recovery and improve 
ment. But this seems so to us only because we are more 
than cognitive beings ; the necessity of this sequence is 
apparent not in itself, but from the invariable use and wont 
of our internal experience, where we have long been accustomed 
to it as an inevitable matter of fact. This alone makes it 
possible for us to overlook that in truth between each pre 
ceding and each subsequent link in the series there is a 
gap, which we can fill up only by bringing in some as yet 
unobserved condition. Apart from this experience, the 
merely cognitive soul would find in itself no reason for 
regarding an internal change even were it one fraught with 
risk to the continuance of its existence otherwise than with 
the indifferent keenness of scrutiny with which it would look 
upon any other conflict of forces \ further, should a feeling, 
arising from other sources, set itself alongside of the percep 
tion, the merely feeling soul would yet even in the intensest 
pain find in itself neither reason nor capacity for going on to 
an effort after alteration ; it would suffer, without being roused 
to will. Now this is not so, and in order that it should 
not be so, the capacity of feeling pleasure and pain must be 
originally inherent in the soul; also the separate events of the 
train of ideas, reacting on the nature of the soul, do not produce 
the capacity, but only rouse it to utterance ; moreover, whatever 
feelings may sway the soul, they do not beget effort, they only 
become motives for a power of volition which they find exist 
ing in the soul, but which, were it absent, they could never 
inspire. We should be by no means content to accept in place 
of this conviction the concession with which we might be met, 
' that to be sure any actual state of the train of ideas is not 
itself the feeling of pain or pleasure or the effort flowing from 
it, but yet that feeling and effort are nothing else than the 
forms under which that state is apprehended by conscious 
ness. We should have, on the other side, to add that 


forms of apprehension are themselves not unimportant 
accessories, to be referred to by the way, as merely occurring 
along with the facts of the train of ideas., in which alone 
the kernel of the matter lay ; on the contrary, the essential 
part of the phaenomenon is just this mode of manifestation. 
It is as feelings and efforts that feelings and efforts are of 
consequence in mental life, the significance of which lies not 
in the fact that all kinds of complications of ideas occur, of 
which men may incidentally become conscious under the form 
of feeling and effort, but in the fact that the nature of the 
soul renders it capable of bringing anything before itself as 
feeling and effort. 

These three primitive powers would thus stand as progressive 
grades of capacity, and the manifestation of the one set free the 
energy of the next. Yet in this representation we would 
acquiesce only while it is clearly kept in mind that what we 
know as three is nevertheless but one in the "being of the soul. 
The soul does not enter even into its own manifestations in so 
fragmentary a fashion that one of its parts can be awake while 
the others are dormant ; on the contrary, in every mode of its 
action the whole soul energizes ; nay, even in ideation not 
merely one side of it is active, the whole expresses itself in a 
one-sided way, because it cannot respond to a definite excita 
tion save by a definite power of expression. When we com 
pare four with five, it is at once apparent that the former is 
a unit less than the latter, but not that four is also the half 
of eight and twice two ; further comparisons are required in 
order that these relations may be recalled ; yet in each the 
whole nature of four is displayed, only one-sidedly, in that 
direction alone for which occasion was given to it. Or let us 
return once more to a comparison already made use of. If 
we look at a moving body at a single point of its course, we 
cannot tell with what direction and velocity it is passing 
through this point, and nevertheless at this very moment it 
exhibits in full force the motion which at the next will deter 
mine the continuance of its course. When we observe the sou) 
only in the act of cognition, its whole nature is not uttered for us 


in this one element of its life, from which at the next moment 
a transition to feeling and effort may take place ; nevertheless 
in this mere fragment of its course of development the whole 
nature is active. Divine intuition would nob need to see a 
body move through a considerable part of its course, in order 
to know its motion, it would immediately be cognizant of it 
at any indivisible point ; even so, in each several manifesta 
tion of the soul it would see its whole nature present, and 
discern the inherent necessity that under different conditions 
must lead to different modes of activity. Our human minds 
saust be content to exhaust this fulness gradually, and to 
remember that while we see a plurality of capabilities, unity 
of being is a fundamental attribute of the soul. At the same 
time, we have no ground for regarding this hypothesis of 
different faculties merely as an expedient suited to the weak 
ness of the human intellect; on the contrary, it does in a 
certain sense correspond to reality. It may be that even 
divine intuition would find in the notion of cognition alone 
no necessity why feeling must spring from it , it would only, 
with greater clearness than we ; see in the whole rationale of 
psychic life the principle in obedience to which the two 
phenomena coexist and succeed one another, even as in a 
poem the pervading Idea binds together firmly and with 
constraining power constituent parts, no one of which could 
have spontaneously evolved the other from itself. 

4. Perhaps we have lingered too long over these reflections, 
but they so directly concern our most fundamental concep 
tions of the life of the soul that we must still devote a 
moment's consideration to the general view of mental phse- 
nomena flowing from them as a direct . consequence. We 
have said that on any theory we must conclude by recognising 
a plurality of modes of psychic manifestation not reducible 
to one another. One system, however, to which psychology 
is indebted for great advances, limits this recognition to the 
reactions developed by the soul in direct correspondence with 
external stimuli, that is, to simple sensations, It, too, regards 
these primitive manifestations with, which psychic life com- 



mences, as not reducible to one another, and it does not 
profess to be able to say why a being susceptible to light and 
colours must apprehend other impressions as tones. All other 
higher energies, on the other hand, arising in the elaboration 
und mutual action and reaction of these internal states, it 
supposes to spring wholly out of them ; after the soul has 
once produced from its own nature the original material, the 
world of sensation, its creative activity ebbs ; it leaves these 
products of its working to themselves and to the universal 
laws of their reciprocal action, without further interfering 
with its whole nature, or giving to the relations brought 
into play new applications not naturally arising from, them m 
virtue of the logical sequence of their mechanical course. 
Thus the soul is but a stage for the mutual action of sen 
sations and ideas, of course one that accompanies with 
consciousness all that takes place on it, but that does not 
exert on it much influence beyond the enclosing and keeping 
together possessed by every frame with, regard to the 
picture within. This is the point where our view diverges. 
Not only once for all, not only in the development of the 
simple sensations is the soul active after this creative fashion , 
even if these first products are to be ascribed to an orderly 
mechanism, and if the train of ideas, with its associations 
and separations, its forgetting and recollecting, arises spontane 
ously, without any fresh impetus given by tho soul, yet that 
is not the whole of the mental life, and the higher energies, 
which constitute its true worth, do not proceed spontaneously 
from this mechanical working. The determined course of 
these internal events brings merely occasions which, solely 
from reacting on the whole and ever present nature of the soul, 
draw forth from it new forms of action, which by itself it 
could not have produced. The position, of the soul in respect 
of each one of its internal states is the same as it was iu 
respect of the external stimuli to sensation ; to each it can, 
respond with a form of energy which it is impossible to 
derive from those states, because in fact it does not reside in 
them alone, but which on the contrary can be connected with 


those states only after experience lias taught that this new 
form cf action is the very thing that has "been awakened in 
the soul's being by them as stimuli of a superior order. 

We will not shrink from repeating the same thought once 
more as suggested by a natural and yet hazardous comparison 
of mental life with the development of an organism. The 
soul does not grow as does a plant. The form of the latter 
comes forth from a number of essentially distinct and inde 
pendent parts, united externally in a definite form, which, 
according to universal laws of Nature, produce the gradually' 
advancing conformation ; nay further, the life of the perfected 
plant is a sum of actions going on between different parts 
that retain their independence, and, as in the life of a society, 
assume definite modes of procedure in virtue of the position 
and the activity of their co-operant members. A comparison 
of the several elements of psychic life with these parts must 
be made with cautious limitation ; for these elements are not 
independent atoms, but mere states of a single being from 
which they cannot detach themselves. Hence they have not 
an indifferent stage, on which to give themselves up undis 
turbed to their reciprocal actions, subject to nought save the 
might of a universal mechanism. On the contrary, the very 
field of their action is even itself capable of stimulation with 
reference to their subsequent relations. The nature of the 
soul does not, after having once for all produced them, thence 
forth serve merely as a passive stage for their free motions, 
as in fable the earth does in respect of the animals brought 
forth by it; on the contrary, it feels every movement of the 
train of ideas, and is roused by this now and then to act 
itself, and to introduce into its apparently arbitrary play new 
elements, which cannot be explained from itself alone. This 
is not absence of order, but that order of a more complicated 
kind, which we have already indicated as possible in general, 
and which only experience could assure us does not in this 
form occur in the material world. Hence in the development 
of an organism the effect to be produced by the reciprocal 
action of two elements is wholly determined by the universal 


laws of Nature and the actual circumstances of the moment ; 
in mental life, on the other hand, to every pair of states and 
to the laws governing their reciprocal action the nature of the 
soul has to he added as a constant fourth element, by which 
the coming effect is conditioned and modified, somewhat as the 
calculation of a motion made for a vacuum would be modified 
by taking account of a resisting medium. There may certainly 
be series of changes within us, the course of which is not affected 
by any interference of this fourth element, and these will 
seem to unroll themselves one out of another in a mechanical 
course ; but only accurate internal observation can inform us 
as to the extent of this mode of procedure, which we are not 
entitled to assume as universal. 

5. We quit these considerations, leaving for a future occa 
sion the drawing of certain inferences from them, and apply 
ourselves to a long-foreseen difficulty, which is associated with 
an assumption tacitly made by us. It is clear that we have 
placed the soul under the category of beings capable of excitation. 
Its nature does not struggle into activity spontaneously and 
without foreign excitation, nor can it thus determine the end and 
direction of its action, but impressions from without rouse it 
to reactions, from whose further operation springs the variety 
of the inner life Here the peculiar form of the manifestation 
flows from the peculiar nature of the soul, which is the abiding 
source of sensation, of feeling, of effort ; the stimuli are 
nothing more than the motive influences determining the 
definite sequence of its manifestations, and directing its capa 
bilities undecided in themselves. But we cannot hold this 
view, it would seem, without ascribing to the soul a muta 
bility surely antagonistic to that strict unity which appears 
to have no room for variation. This reasoning we cannot 
gainsay ; unquestionably an external stimulus compels a 
leaction to develop itself only when it produces a real 
impression on the soul so as to affect its nature. The 
mere threat of disturbance cannot rouse the soul to defensive 
activity ; for that which is threatened, so long as not 
experienced, is for the object of the threat nothing; so soon 


as he is aware of it, it has already effected a change in him. 
If it is contrary to the laws of our thinking to suppose that 
impulses to a variety of actions are spontaneously evolved 
from the unchanging unity of a being, we must acknowledge 
that the soul in action is different from what it was when at 
rest, for nothing but its alteration can be sufficient reason 
for an altered procedure. 

It is impossible to evade this charge, and to vindicate the 
soul from mutability by an expedient similar to that which 
enables physical science to look on material atoms as absolutely 
rigid and immutable subjects of the most diverse phenomena. 
As objects of vision at a distance, coalescing in spaae, unite 
to form a single impression, and as they come nearer fall 
asunder once more into a plurality of separate parts, so may 
the course of Nature consist for us, its observers, of a multitude 
of apparent changes, which, nevertheless, have really left 
external objects what they were. Inasmuch as the atoms, 
internally absolutely invariable, enter into changing and 
manifold relations to one another, and are continually altering 
in their situation, distances, and motions, they produce on us 
impressions of a like changeful nature, and, while in fact 
rigid and impenetrable, seem to our undiscriminating observa 
tion sometimes to be fused together, sometimes to be detached, 
sometimes to assume quite different properties. But if we 
thus refer the changes in the outer world to an illusion 
produced merely in ourselves, while in reality nothing more 
than unessential relations change in the immutable elements, 
we cannot further hold that the rise in us of this illusion is 
also merely an illusion, which, to a second observer, would 
apparently involve an alteration in our being, but does not 
really do so. On the contrary, the observer does really 
undergo alteration, not of his external position, but of his 
internal state, when he apprehends in cognition the changes 
of the external world, and passes from one idea to another. 
If, then, we could succeed in wholly eliminating variability 
from the external world, the more inevitably would it adhere 
to the nature of the soul Let us then grant this variability, 


and give up the vain attempt to discover some expedient by 
which the property of immovable invariability may become 
compatible with the character of a being destined to internal 
development. We do not think we shall by this conces 
sion lose anything that in the interest of investigation we 
ought to retain. "When we seek the subject of a cycle of 
phenomena, we must indeed conceive it as stable and strong 
enough to offer in itself a sufficient point of support to the 
various events of the cycle, but we have no ground to attribute 
to it the rigidity of absolute immobility ; on the contrary, to 
do so would be to render the conception of it useless. In one- 
sidedly guarding its stability, we would have disqualified it 
for performing the much more important function of acting as 
a centre for the exeunt and ineunt actions of which the cycle 
of phenomena to be explained consists. We need add but 
a few words, in order to dispel the apprehensions that may be 
awakened by this idea of a variable soul. 

First and foremost it does not involve any risk of a 
meaningless variation, of a perpetual succession of new states 
in whose flux the unity of the original being nmst wholly 
disappear. Nothing in the world is so indifferent and 
impotent as to receive its character merely from external 
impressions, and itself to serve simply as the means of fixing 
the stream of content in the actual world by its hard reality, 
like the hook that holds firmly yet indifferently the most 
various garments. Nothing allows itself to be forced from ono 
form to another by a series of external influences in such a way 
that at the end of a number of metamorphoses no trace of its 
former nature can be found. What a being seems to be sub 
jected to from without, is in reality always a manifestation of 
its own active nature, called forth indeed but not made by the 
foreign impetus. Hence at every moment of its series of 
changes the present state of a being is a concurrent perhaps 
the most influential condition determining the effect of the 
next impression. Now there is nothing to hinder us from 
conceiving the original nature of a being powerful enough to 
make its influence felt as the most effective through, all the linka 


of a prolonged chain of changes, and thereby to bring tliem all 
into a consistent sequence, as little destitute of internal unity 
as the melody that is expanded into a number of successive 
variations. I know not what could induce us to require of a 
substance forming the ground of fluctuating phenomena more 
than this kind of unity ; the soul, however, offers more It 
is not only the subject of its phtenomena, but also knows 
itself as such ; and, inasmuch as it retains a remembrance of 
its past experience along with the impressions of the present, 
it not only presents to an external observer the spectacle of 
a consistent series of changes, but itself gathers the different 
developments of its mutable nature into a unity of higher 
significance than could ever belong to the unyielding rigidity 
of an impassive substance. 

Here we have done nothing more than indicate the general 
form in which we would take up this question. An accurate 
review of the actual phenomena of psychic life would show 
that it is far from manifesting the large amount of varia 
bility that might be vindicated on this line of thought. In 
Nature, as we have already seen, no permanent alteration 
takes place in the atoms, at least none of such a nature as 
to manifest itself by new modes of external action; when 
the altering conditions cease to act, the old properties 
exhibit themselves afresh. This certainly is not always the 
case in psychic life, whose capacity of development, on the 
contrary, depends on perfecting the reactions by habitual 
exercise. But we are about to meet with an extensive 
sphere in which its uniformity of demeanour approaches 
to that of physical effects. Sense-impressions, however often 
they may have already been experienced, always excite the 
same sensations ; red remains always red, pressure and heat 
are always painful, and the same corporeal necessities call 
forth always the same efforts. All this is so self-evident that 
to mention it may seem strange. And yet, as a matter of 
fact, every single sensation is an alteration in the soul's 
being ; that its nature should be capable of so adjusting the 
disturbances perpetually caused in it by countless impressions 


that it can encounter each, subsequent one with undiminishecl 
composure, is a fact easy of comprehension as regards its 
adaptation to the ends of mental growth, but the mechanical 
effectuation of which if we may say so is not at once to be 
understood. We may remark the same steadiness in the laws 
according to which memory and recollection retain, associate, 
and recall ideas ; moreover, the modes of procedure of the 
understanding in associating and forming judgments on 
impressions received remain unaltered. Everywhere we see 
that the numberless influences exerted on the soul, while 
they cannot but produce some change in it, yet do not affect 
the steady and consistent exercise of the energies with 
which it reacts on and modifies these impressions; these 
energies seem only to gain greater dexterity with growing 
exercise by which they have become familiar with the com 
plexities of the objects on which they have to act. So little 
do we see the alteration of the soul passing into indefinite- 
ness and chaos, so conspicuously, on the contrary, do we 
see the continual moulding reaction of its fundamental 
nature manifested, that we need hardly have spoken of its 
alteration, except for the logical interest that would not 
allow us to associate its development with the contradictory 
notion of internal immobility. But, in truth, so great, in 
respect of its significance and its value, is the consistency 
of the internal development, that it ever presents the 
spectacle rather of unbroken identity than of progressive 

6. In what, then, does that consist which, remains 
identical in this development? In what that primitive 
being and TO rC of the soul the more precise delineation of 
which seemed to be promised at the beginning of this chapter ? 
We would answer, As every being becomes known only 
through the consequences by which our observation finds it 
attended, so ajso of the soul we can say no more than that 
it contains the capacity for this development. This 
answer will satisfy no one. All cognitions of ideas, 
all thoughts, feelings, and efforts, it would be urged 


against us, are but actions of the soul, by whatever agency 
drawn from it ; but we seek to know not how the soul acts, 
"bat what it is in itself in order to be able so to act, and what 
must be its fundamental nature since such capabilities lie latent 
in it. In reply to this pointed query it would be simplest 
to confess our conviction that what the soul is we never shall 
know ; but by such a confession we should create the impres 
sion that through this ignorance we must lose much that is of 
importance for our investigation, and that in regard to the 
soul a difficulty is to us insoluble, which is easily removed in 
regard to all other things. 

How little the latter is the case appears on a hasty review 
of the knowledge which we think we have as to the nature 
of material things. If we conaplain that we never come to 
discern the essence of the soul as it is in itself, and apart 
from all the special conditions that determine it to special 
manifestations, we must inchicle in the same complaint our 
ideas of all other things. We think we know what water 
is, what mercury is, and yet we can assign to neither 
constant properties belonging to it, apart from all external 
conditions. Both at an average temperature are fluid, both at 
an elevated temperature gaseous, both at a low temperature 
solid ; but, apart altogether from temperature, what are they ? 
We do not know, we do not even feel any need to know, 
since we perceive that nowhere in the universe can either of 
the two substances escape from the influence of these con 
ditions; we are therefore content to regard water as the 
body which at one particular degree of temperature becomes 
solid, at another boils, and which further proves its own 
identity by the unvarying character of its reactions under 
like conditions. The same holds true of all that we observe 
by means of our senses. We become acquainted with every 
thing first in one of its single possible states, and this we 
look on as its complete and permanent character, till experi 
ence shows us that different conditions determine different 
states. Then we group together tie various phenomena as 
the manifold varying forms of one and the same being, 


which we continue to call by the same name, although we 
no longer distinguish it by a single definite property, but 
conceive it as the unknown something which is capable of 
assuming successively various forms within this cycle, while 
never passing out of it, and becoming something different. 
There is nothing so stable and immutable that it can escape 
this destiny; all our definitions of real objects are hypo 
thetical, and they never denote the thing but as that which, 
under different conditions, will appear in different cha 
racters. In granting, then, that the essence of the soul 
is unknown, we do so only in a sense that includes the 
impossibility of saying what would be the essence of any 
thing in the entire absence of the conditions that are the 
exciting occasions of its manifestations. Just as impossible 
as to tell how things look in the dark, is it to know what 
the soul is before it enters on any of the situations in which 
alone its life unfolds. 

7. Here, however, we seem to have gained nothing beyond 
a qualification of the reproach of ignorance against psychology 
from its being shown to share it with all the rest of human 
knowledge. But if it be true that the essence of things 
in this sense is to us unknown, is it also true that we lose 
much by this ignorance, and is it in this essence which 
eludes our grasp that we must seek the essential that we 
would not willingly fail to find? I do not think this 
question need be answered affirmatively, indeed we treat 
it differently in life from what in science we sometimes think 
we must do. In the sum of another man's knowledge, 
the tone of his mind, the dispositions of his character, 
and the peculiar action and reaction of these elements on 
one another, we think we have presented to us his 
entire personality. If our acquaintance with him is such 
that we have mastered these items, we do not fancy that 
we should gain insight into the innermost core of his being, 
byjhis being set before us as he was originally, before in the 
process of growth he had acquired his present highly 
developed internal existence, or as he is now at bottom, and 


would even now show himself to be, if all the results of his 
past life, as well as all the conditions by which he might 
still be influenced, were removed. We acknowledge, indeed, 
that this mental life could not have developed itself, had 
there not been previously a primitive soul as yet unexpressed 
for the influence of the vital conditions to act upon as 
they came into being ; but this, which in other cases we look 
on as the peculiar and fundamental essence of the thing, we 
here regard as an indispensable, yet" in itscll worthless pre 
requisite, as a necessary means of that development which 
itself contains all value and all essential significance. It 
seems to us that the true essence lies in that which the 
subject of the development has become, and no more than 
we believe we possess in the^mfolded and blossoming plant 
something inferior to the simple and shapeless germ from 
which it sprang, do we here feel any inclination to look 
with regret on the ideas in which we share, on the feelings 
and efforts in which, with all the ardour of our sympathy, 
we take part, as a poor substitute for the vision of tlie 
undeveloped, primitive TO ri of the soul. 

If, however, we find it so hard utterly to relinquish the 
search after this object which we can never find, this arises 
from another demand that lurks in the inquiry concerning 
the essence of a thing. The essence is held to be not 
merely the germ out of which the being as it subsequently 
appears is evolved, and in which it is potentially contained ; 
it must likewise be that which makes the potentiality actual, 
which gives to it in itself a mere object of thought that 
unyielding and vigorous reality in virtue of which it takes 
its place in the world of things as capable of acting and 
being acted on. The essence is at the same time the bond 
which by its unchanging nature gathers into itself the several 
phenomena, and makes it possible for our ideas and all 
our internal states to be maintained, to endure, and to come 
together into fruitful mutual action. It thus appears that 
in the soul's essence we seek not only the basis of the form 
and content of internal evolution; but still more perhaps 


the cause that makes both actual. "What we desire to 
know is how it comes about that there can le this inner 
life, by what talisman the creative world-spirit succeeds in 
forming at the centre of these changeful phenomena some 
thing firm and stable, that nurtures them, bears them up and 
gives them support, like the skeleton to whose rigid frame 
work the outer form with its bloom and beauty is attached. 
This problem of course no cogitation can solve ; we shall 
never discover how existence and its modes originate, or 
what it is of which things consist. But then this question 
could be of moment to us only if our knowledge were 
to be applied to the creation of the xiniverse. Its allotted 
task, however/ is simply to apprehend what already exists, 
and it is ready to acknowledg%,that all existence is a mystery 
to be recognised by it as a fact, but never to be "unveiled in 
the manner of its coming to pass. In this sense the mode 
of existence of all things is for us unfathomable ; but what 
it is not given to us to know, forms not the core of things, 
but rather a husk, not the content of their being, but the 
nature of the ordering through -which they become what they 
are. What things are is thus not incomprehensible to us, 
for that which is in them they exhibit m their outer mani 
festation; how they can exist and can manifest themselves 
anyhow, is the universal enigma. 



Comparison, of Mental Life with Bodily Life and with Physical Nature How 
Ideas persist, and how they are forgotten Of their Interaction, and of the 
Narrowness of Consciousness Differences in the Strength of Sensations 
Degrees of Clearness in Memory-Images Contrast of Ideas The Inner 
Sense Guidance of the Train of Ideas by the Laws of Association and 

1. A S in the bodily life jj^re comes first a time of unob- 
-**- served activity filled with astonishing new forma 
tions and modifications, while after birth hardly anything more 
remains than to carry on quietly and uniformly the growth of 
already fixed forms, so also in our soul we find abiding habits 
of working presented to us as facts, so soon as we begin with 
deliberate attention to make its development the subject of 
our reflection. What goes on before us seems to be nothing 
but a continual exercise of powers long since formed, an ever 
enlarging accretion of knowledge cast in moulds made ready 
for it by previous mental labour that has remained unknown ; 
lastly, an expansion of our feelings and volitions* over the 
widening sphere of points of contact offered to them by our 
experience as it advances day by day. In all these processes 
he doubtless other very decisive reasons determining the 
peculiar form and the value of the higher human develop 
ment; but where we are dealing, not with the origin of 
humanity, but with the nature- and development of the 
general psychic capacities, from whose special application 
that proceeds, internal observation seems to promise us little 
information. Most of what we would fain know lies anterior 
to experience, like the first and chief great formative periods 
of our terrestrial globe, and only conjecturally can we infer 
from the comparatively uniform and limited processes still 
VOL. I. N 


going on within us those "by which in our soul's earliest 
stage a solid foundation was prepared for its subsequent 

JTay, far more than in geology are we oppressed by these 
difficulties for obscurity hangs over even the laws which 
regulate what still takes place within us, and by whose help 
alone we cun attempt to divine the prior state of things. 
Countless impressions have already poured in upon us, and 
their abiding force is at every moment exerting on the course 
of their successors an operative influence that we can hardly 
discriminate from the exclusive results of the unalterable 
universal laws of mental life. And here it is not possible as 
in physical science by experiment artificially to separate the 
various forces, in order to detMjaine the amount contributed 
by each to the compound result. For, unable as we are to 
do afaay with our past life, we can never free ourselves from 
the dark unanalyzable pressure by which it operates to 
determine the whole subsequent history of consciousness ; 
and ho opportunity ever occurs for us to observe those simple 
and elementary processes from which our present infinitely 
complex state must have been evolved. Thus we have 
scarcely any choice but to keep meanwhile to those main 
outlines of what our inner experience presents which cannot 
easily be mistaken. By experimentally making more distinct 
the general conjectures to be gathered from such a review, and 
testing the greater or less agreement of their results with 
observed facts, we may perhaps by a circuitous route attain 
to a more definite insight into the laws of psychic life. 

KSTow, endlessly varied as is the tenor of that life in 
different individuals, the concordant result of self-observation 
has long and generally been the conception of a mechanism 
by which the course of internal pheenomena is directed 
perhaps universally, certainly to a great extent, having 
other forms, indeed, and governed by laws of its own differ 
ing from those of external Nature, but exhibiting a like 
thoroughgoing dependence of each several event on its 
preceding conditions. Distinctly, however, as this psychic 


mechanism shows itself in the phenomena of memory and 
recollection, and in the dependence of our feelings and 
volitions on certain impressions by which they are regularly 
evoked, securely and with accurate instinct as we ourselves 
reckon in daily life on its unfailing efficiency, we are yet 
unable to state precisely as we can laws of Nature the 
rules which it obeys. For the difficxilties of internal observa 
tion, already alluded to, are increased by the fact that we 
have here the aid of no general intrinsically certain doctrine 
in regard to the relations of reciprocal action necessarily 
obtaining between the states of each individual being. Most 
of the principles which we observe prevailing in mental life 
may be regarded merely as actual arrangements, and, while 
we often perfectly discern theirjnportance for higher develop 
ment, we yet cannot prove thai; these precise forms of action 
are the necessary consequences of the nature of every im 
material being open to an indefinite multitude of impressions 
from without. It is easy to see how prejudicial such a state 
of matters is to the interests of explanation. When we are 
referred to a collection of facts of experience, we must not go 
beyond what experience itself teaches ; could we trace back 
the facts to their necessary origin in the nature of the soul, 
we might easily give them a more accurate and profound 
expression, that would give us access to a whole multitude of 
inferences from which we are now shut off. These difficulties 
we are very apt to underestimate ; spoiled by the successes of 
physical science, we too often regard maxims, unquestionably 
valid for the explanation of physical processes, as universal 
and necessary truths, and forget that the unprejudiced 
observation of mental life finds altogether peculiar forms of 
existence and action, hardly to "be compared with physical 
pheenomena. Concerning the motion of matter we possess a 
body of scientifically precise laws ; concerning psychic mani 
festations a number of empiric observations ; but we still lack 
a third and higher requisite, a universal science exhibiting 
the laws that govern the states of beings in general,, from 
which the science of physical Nature and that of mental life 


should flow as two different applications of a common under 
lying principle. 

2. One of the simplest facts in which we become aware of 
the psychic mechanism is the familiar experience that, of the 
numberless ideas which we owe to impressions from without, 
but a few are at any moment present to us; the greater 
number have disappeared from consciousness, without on that 
account being altogether lost to the soul; for without repe 
tition of the impression from without these forgotten ideas are 
recalled to memory. One interpretation of these facts that 
has been made, is that the perpetual duration of every 
thought once called forth is only what was naturally to be 
expected , of forgetfulness alone was an explanatiop sought, 
and this it seemed easy to f^l in the mutual pressure of a 
multitude of ideas meeting and striving to jostle one 
another out of consciousness. But it were vain to attempt 
to represent this imperishableness of ideas as the self- 
evident result of a universal Law of Persistence, according to 
which every state of a being, if left to itself, must continue 
until a new action comes in to alter or annul it. The analogy 
with physical science, which in the theory of the motions of 
bodies makes use of that law as one of its most serviceable 
instruments, is not sufficient to guarantee its applicability 
to the processes of mental life, on account of a palpable dis 
tinction between the two cases. For a body has no experience 
in connection with its motions, which are to it merely a 
change of place, and of which no one motion is of more con 
sequence to it than another ; its own nature therefore con 
tains neither ground nor capability to resist this change. 
Ideation, on the other hand, as an internal event nocessaay 
for the being in which it takes place, is a disturbance of its 
original condition ; now, it would seem that, if we are entitled 
to expect an idea, once presented, to go on for ever, we are 
equally entitled to apply the same law to the nature of the 
soul ; we might suppose in it an effort to retain its previous 
condition, which would lead it to seek the abrogation of 
every several impression imposed on it, after the constraint 


of external power had ceased. Without entering into the 
indecisive discussion to which the antagonism of these views 
would lead, we will content ourselves with the more simple 
acknowledgment that the facts of consciousness necessitate 
the assumption of this persistence of impressions, and defer 
for the present any attempt to comprehend this matter of 
fact as an inevitable result of the soul's nature. We need 
not regard it as a strange and peculiar anomaly, seeing it is 
on this retention of impressions that depends the fulfilment 
of the vocation of mental life, to unite what in space and 
time falls into unconnected fragments, and to secure to the 
past, through its surviving image, a co-operative influence on 
the present, long after it has itself ceased to form part of the 
actual course of things. 

No more than we deny the persistence of ideas can we 
hesitate to recognise in their mutual influence the ground of 
their expulsion from consciousness. But, while the evidence 
of experience is uniformly in favour of this influence, we can 
hardly give any reason for its presence, It is not sufficient 
to point to the soul's essential unity, as not permitting of its 
different states running on alongside of one another, uncon 
nected and ineffective. Tor, in the first place, that unity 
would lead us to expect nothing more than an effort, to fuse- 
all the dissimilarities of the mental states into one uniform 
total state. But we know that such a tendency is neither 
present in the conscious train of ideas, for all the variety 
of impressions is preserved in it, nor can occur in those 
unconscious states into which vanishing ideas are con 
verted, for they come back from forgetfulness with the 
contrasts which distinguished them in consciousness in un- 
dimmed distinctness. We should thus have found ourselves 
wholly deceived had we attempted to base such an expecta 
tion on the unity of the soul, and the perception of this calls 
our attention to the fact, that while the unity of a being may, 
as a rule, lead to reciprocal action between its various states, 
the particular form or sense in which such action takes place 
depends on the special nature of each individual. For the* 


iact that ideas do not blend into one modified resultant 
idea, but only affect eacli other's degree of illumination by 
consciousness, we must seek an explanation in what makes 
the soul such, or in what distinguishes consciousness from 
other manifestations of its energy. 

In everyday life we console ourselves with such imperfect 
ideas in regard to the difficulties presented by the nature of 
consciousness, that there had been hardly any reason for 
recurring to these vulgar conceptions, did not the obtrusive- 
ness of their shortcomings tend to set distinctly before us 
the problems which they leave unsolved We are wont to 
regard consciousness as a space of limited extent, within 
which the impressions struggle for their places ; we concern 
ourselves little as to the reason why this space is limited, and 
equally little as to the cause of tho impressions thronging 
into it ; finally, as we are swayed by the comparison with 
material forms from whose impenetrability it arises that each 
one withdraws from another the place which it fills itself, 
it appears to us self-evident that within the limited extent of 
consciousness only a finite number of thoughts can coexist. 
We thus smuggle in by the way, under shelter of a wholly 
unauthorized image, the idea of a mutual incompatibility of 
ideas,, and of a pressure which they of necessity exert on 
one another. Or we speak of consciousness as a light whoso 
brightness may indeed fluctuate, but only within finite limits, 
and then take it as a matter of course that its store of 
luminous energy is distributed over the actual number of 
impressions, weakened by dispersion among many, intensified 
by concentration upon a few. In this comparison we are in 
fact deserted by the image that we fain would follow. For 
every light, diffusing its radiance around, illuminates many 
things no less strongly than a few, and we do not find its 
rays turning round in a curve from the point at which they 
had found nothing more to illuminate, in order to fall with 
greater intensity on the smaller number of actual objects. 
The larger number are more feebly illuminated only when, 
by one covering another, the light is withdrawn from some ; 


and here is the very point requiring explanation how 
between ideas relations can come to hold, owing to which, 
the one makes it impossible for the other to become known. 
We should gain bnt little if, quitting these spatial com 
parisons, we designated consciousness generally as an ex 
haustible force, having but a limited stock of energy at 
its command. For we should still have no reason to give 
why only certain ideas are seized vividly by it, others 
allowed to drop out of existence ; wo would not know why, 
instead of a twilight diffused with constantly diminishing 
Clearness over a constantly increasing number of impressions, 
there should be this alternation of full light and utter dark 
ness, in which ideas emerge and again disappear. 

To this query too, however, ttrdinary opinion has an answer, 
which, as it goes somewhat deeper, constrains us also to go 
deeper. All the stimuli reaching the soul from without are 
supposed to create in it first of all impressions, which as such 
are not yet either sensations or ideas, but as an accumu 
lated store of internal states await a consciousness that will 
apprehend them, and by its apprehension first raise them 
to the rank of sensations. Of the special nature of these 
impressions we can of course form no conception, because by 
their nature they remain permanently out of consciousness, 
and cease to be themselves as soon as they are apprehended 
by it ; but in their infinite multitude they appear to us as a 
diminished and approximate repetition of the outer world, 
transported indeed into the interior of the soul, yet to con 
sciousness no less foreign than distant external objects with 
which we are connected by no bond of reciprocal action. Of 
these impressions the Law of Persistence, it is supposed, holds 
good ; when they have once come into being, they do not 
again pass away , but they stand in no constant relation to 
the mind's cognitive energy, which, like an unsteady light 
shining now on one, now on another, at one moment takes 
them up, at another lets them relap&Q into the unconscious 
existence of latent impressions. 

There is a certain interest in tracking out the tacit assump- 


tions on which this conception rests. Where we find some 
element, under the influence of an external stimulus, undergo 
a change, the particular form of which is derived solely from 
its own nature, not from that of the stimulus, we can in 
thought regard the whole process in the element as a sequence 
of two events, an impression and a vital reaction to it. 
Now in ordinary life the ohjects of our observation are 
usually composite forms of being, and here some time must 
elapse before the disturbance of the part first affected by the 
impression is propagated over the whole, and, by stimulating 
the other parts, calls forth a reaction to the original dis 
turbance. We thus become accustomed to the idea of a 
chasm between a passive state and the activity corresponding 
to it. Now, when we turn to consider the simple nature of 
the soul, this conception no longer appears equally imperative. 
No doubt, any external stimulus will determine action in it 
only by first making it feel, for otherwise were it not 
thus affected the stimulus would not exist for it ; no doubt- 
also its internal changes, its. passivity as well as its reaction, 
will "be developed only after an interval of time ; but it is at 
least not necessary that these two parts of the whole process, 
which to our intelligence are quite distinguishable, should 
succeed one another in different sections of time, or that in 
addition to the impression of the external stimulus another 
complementary condition should come into play in order to 
direct the attention of consciousness to it, while it is itself 
unconscious. On the contrary, we may regard both as at every 
indivisible moment simultaneous, as so blended together that 
the different names which we give them denote no longer two 
processes, but different phases of one process, in itself indi 
visible. Tor even what we call a passive state is no ready- 
made change wrought in its subject, by which the subject is 
merely affected, without feeling affected in definite form and 
manner. The same impression produces different states in 
different subjects ; thus, then, suffering in some one particular 
way is itself a reaction in which the essential nature of each 
subject vitally manifests itself. 


If we now consider the sensation directly produced in us by 
an external stimulus, we must acknowledge that the whole 
aspect of this simple process is far more in favour of the con 
ception of union than of that of division. We do not know why 
the wave of light that strikes our eye should have had first by 
its action on the soul to produce an indescribable unconscious 
impression, which was succeeded as a reaction by the sensation 
to which it appeared as blue or red. The sight of a particular 
colour, the hearing of a particular tone, may unquestionably 
be conceived as the single, undivided state into which the 
soul passes, and we call it impression when we think of its 
being caused by an external stimulus, but vital reaction when 
we call to mind that the same stimulus would have excited 
other states in other natures that consequently the form of 
the state here present depends on the nature of the soul. "We 
have, apparently, to conceive these processes in the samo 
manner in which we calculate the distribution of motion 
among inelastic material points. We do not suppose that 
a body when struck, at first merely receives the velocity and 
direction which the impact strives to impart to it, and that 
only afterwards reacting on that impression by means of 
the motion which it has acquired, does it strike the middle 
resultant line which is to be that of its actual course. On the 
contrary, from the first moment of impact we find nothing 
exhibited but the single and undivided motion in which are 
indistinguishably blended together the imparted" impression 
and the efficacy of the original condition. Guided by such 
considerations, we might decline to suppose conscious sensa 
tion preceded by unconscious psychic stimulations ; it might 
seem not merely idle but even preposterous to seek in' the 
mind, the seat of consciousness and of light, for a dark back 
ground of night, out of which the lucidity of thought is 
developed as a subsequent phenomenon. And in fact 
a psychological theory has been formed, on which, con 
scious sensations are viewed as primitive processes of psychic 
life, all other phenomena being derived from their reciprocal 

202 BOOK ir. CHAPTER in. 

This position of matters is in some measure altered by the 
regard necessarily had to forgotten Ideas. We certainly 
cannot find fault if in everyday speech that which was once 
an idea still continues to be so called long after it has lost 
the essential attribute on account of which it received that 
name. At the same time, the philosophical inquirer must 
bear in mind the inaccuracy of such a mode of statement ; he 
must recognise that the names of forgotten or unconscious 
Ideas denote something that is no longer in any sense 
an idea, and that these self-contradictory appellations are 
merely to be tolerated as reminders of the origin of the 
states to which they refer, not to be accepted as affirmations 
in regard to their present nature. However much it may 
remain customary to trace all unconscious processes within 
us exclusively to the mutual interference of ideas, that con 
ception must imply the acknowledgment that besides con 
sciousness there are other mental states into which conscious.- 
ness can be converted. But if we once have to allow this, ft 
will be hard to fix the 'limits of the conclusions to be drawn 
from it. WQ shall have recognised once for all a constant 
reciprocal action between the clear life of consciousness and 
the dark background of the unconscious, and thereby given an 
advantage to the already-mentioned theory according to which 
thought in general is a fluctuating activity, now operating 
upon and now turning away from the accumulated wealth of 
unconscious' impressions. 

3. The antagonism of these two doctrines is undeniably one 
of the chief reasons why the psychological theories even of 
the present day diverge so widely. The fundamental problem 
for both must be to account for the fixed sequence and order 
exhibited in the train of ideas. This problem will so pre 
sent itself to them respectively that the one will seek for the 
laws of the mechanism that makes one conscious state expel 
another ; while the other will have to inquire into the reasons 
why certain unconscious impressions draw the attention of 
presentative activity to themselves and divert it from others. 
The two will often coincide in their results, both being perforce 


guided by the consideration of one and the same "body of facts ; 
nevertheless the discrepancy in their mode of procedure remains 
sufficiently distinct to make it worth our while to dwell on 
it for a little. 

The first theory of course finds in the greater or less 
strength of ideas the standard of the amount of expul 
sive influence exerted by them on one another. Yet 
ideas are not originally endowed with repellent force; 
their action and reaction on one another become necessary 
only when the soul's unity operates to combine them, but 
their own mutual antagonism resists combination. Hence 
in general the amount of contrast between two ideas will 
determine the force of their action on one another, their 
strength, on the other hand, will determine the amount of the 
influence from one another which they will severally undergo. 
Now that this conflict, though occasioned by the contrasts 
between ideas, does not end with their adjustment, and that 
only the force of the contending ideas is diminished, while 
their opposite characters remain unaltered this is a fact 
which the theory in question will do best to treat as equally 
unexpected and inexplicable, which we are compelled by 
observation to recognise. Only after this point has been con 
ceded does it become possible to trace back to it the moro 
complex phenomena ; we are wholly unable to discern any 
inherent necessity in the relation itself, and gam nothing by 
the attempt to bridge over the chasm with delusive words. 

Nay, even those notions of force and of resistance to which, 
we are accustomed in the calculation of physical events, 
offer manifold difficulties when we seek to apply them to 
the explanation of the train of ideas. The sensations, i.e. 
those ideas awakened within us by the present action of 
an external stimulus, are doubtless distinguished by various 
gradations of intensity, for none of them is a pure and in 
different representation of its content ; on the contrary, each 
is felt by us as a greater or less disturbance, a more or 
less keen affection of our own being. Not only in itself is 
dazzling light stronger than soft radiance, but, moreover, our 


sight encounters more In the one than in the other ; not only 
in itself is the louder sound something greater for our appre 
hension, hut also the apprehension of it is in us a stronger 
impression than that of the softer tone. Nor is it only the 
sensations of the same sense that may be thus compared ; the 
excitations of one may also be set alongside those of another 
as disturbances which are greater or less for our souls. If, 
therefore, we conceive a soul, whose consciousness is not yet 
controlled by any remembrance of previous experiences, exposed 
for the first time to a variety of external stimulations, we 
shall find it probable that the sensation of stronger character 
will overpower that of weaker. In the matured soul that has 
been trained by experience the forms of phenomena are no 
longer so simple ; we know that a faint noise can distract OUT 
attention from loud din, and that in general the power exerted 
by presentations over the direction of our course of thought 
is no longer in proportion to the intensity of their sensible 
content. During the advance of life, on the contrary, the 
impressions have acquired a preponderant interest according 
to their value as premonitory, attendant, or following signs 
of other events. Thus experience in each individual case 
different determines differently also, for the future, the values 
of the several presentations, and does not always decide them 
in the same way even for the same individual. The constant 
nature of the mind and the no less constant principles of 
the bodily organization alone provide against this variability 
extending beyond certain bounds, while the preponderant force 
with which certain impressions of sense and intelligence lay 
hold of all men alike, is certain in the end to reduce the 
value of what is presented to some common measure of 
comparison and measurement. 

It thus appears as if we must make a threefold distinction, 
first of the greater or less amount of the presented content, 
then of the intensity of the stimulation which it produces 
in us, lastly, of the influence which its impression exerts 
on our train of ideas; nowhere but in she sensation of 
a soul still destitute of experience would these various 


characteristics quite coincide. But .in memory the second 
disappears. While it faithfully repeats the content of previous 
sensations as" regards their character and intensity, it does 
not repeat the disturbance which we underwent from them, 
or, where it seems to do this, it really adds to the repro 
duced perception of the previous content a mere image of 
the former disturbance as a second presentation. The rolling 
of thunder, in our remembrance, however distinctly its peculiar 
character and its intensity may be recalled, is yet accom 
panied by no more powerful excitement than the equally 
distinct idea of the softest tone; we may indeed at the 
same time remember the stronger disturbance occasioned in us 
by the louder sound, but even this idea of the more lively 

excitement is now no stronger agitation within us than that 

equally distinct of a feebler disturbance. We distinguish 
in memory the diverse weights of two objects, but the accurate 
representation of the greater exertion caused us by the one 
now no more sensibly affects us than the not less accurate 
remembrance of the lighter burden. The idea of pain is not 
pain, of pleasure not pleasure ; without pain and without 
pleasure consciousness, as from a secure elevation, reproduces 
the content "of past impressions with all the variety of its 
internal relations, even with images of the feelings that 
attached themselves to it, but it never confuses the fulfilment 
of its task by bringing back the impression itself instead of 
the images. That which it presents, it presents expressly as 
absent, and, without being affected by the greater more than 
by the less, repeats both with like ease, like two shadows of 
which neither is heavier than the other, however diverse be 
the weight of the bodies to which they correspond. 

In reminiscence, accordingly, the train of thought recalls to 
consciousness its former contents alike great and small, strong 
and feeble, but the presentative activity thus employed remains 
unvaryingly the same. And yet, as their respective contents 
do not blend together, the leciprocal action of presentations 
would be dependent solely on distinctions in the presentative 
activity, for only in the immediate direct sensation will the 


magnitude of the object presented, coinciding with the intensity 
of the excitement, decide the victory in favour of the one or 
the other. If, then, we speak of strength of presentations, on 
the supposition that the fate of presentations is thereby decided 
in their conflict with one another, this can be only in the 
third sense that of the influence exerted by each presenta 
tion on the direction of the train of thought. Tins influence, 
however, is not a property already clear, by which we may 
explain what further happens, but is itself the capacity of 
whose grounds we are in search. To account for the opera 
tions of ideas by strength in this sense, would have no 
more meaning than to say that in a coiit,est he usually 
wins who for unknown reasons gets the upper hand. But, 
before seeking these unknown reasons elsewhere, we must 
refer to certain other relationships that apparently give some 
support to the notion of a variable or various strength in 

We are quite familiar with the opinion, that the content of 
every perception, without itself undergoing any alteration, 
can be conceived in numberless degrees of clearness or 
strength, and that, as ideas run down the scale of these 
degrees, they become gradually and steadily more obscure, 
till they finally disappear from consciousness. But this is 
the description of an event that no one can have observed, 
seeing that observation of the process would make its occur 
rence impossible. Only afterwards, when we notice that an 
idea has been for a time absent from our consciousness, do wo 
answer our own question as to the mode of its disappear 
ance by this conjecture of a gradual extinction, of wliosc 
reality actual observation, so far as it can reach, the matter, 
affords no evidence whatever. If we recall our mental 
state when a strongly aroused idea was for a considerable 
time vividly present and seemed gradually to disappear, we 
always find that it did not steadily become obscure, but 
with many and abrupt pauses was sometimes in conscious 
ness, sometimes not. Any new impression whoso content 
was somehow connected with the idea in question, re- 


called it for a moment to memory, any one which was 
alien and made conspicuous by its novelty, overpowered it 
momentarily ; it thus resembled a floating body, that, as 
shifting wave?, now suddenly engulf it, now as suddenly 
cast it up, is at one moment quite visible, at another wholly 
invisible. "What has to us the semblance of gradual obscura 
tion is partly the lengthening pauses between the reappear 
ances of the idea, partly another characteristic of which we 
shall speak later. 

Now, were we to divide the motley multitude of ideas 
into the simple impressions of sensation, and the compound 
images formed from these by manifold combinations, we could 
not say in what the difference of strength in the former must 
consist, did we not unwittingly alter the content presented. 
We cannot have a more or less distinct idea of the same tone, 
with the same pitch and loudness, and the same harmonic 
character ; we either have an idea of it or we have none, or 
else we violate oux own hypothesis, and put the idea of a 
stronger or feebler, i.e. of another tone, in the place of a 
stronger or feebler idea of the same tone In liko manner 
we cannot have a more or less distinct idea of the same shade 
of the same colour in the same degree of light, but, when it is 
indicated by a name or description, we may very well, in. 
trying to recall it, hesitate "uncertain, between several allied 
images of colour that present themselves, not knowing which 
of them is the one we seek. Then we falsely interpret 
our mental state and think that we really have the idea, 
only not very clearly, whereas in fact we have it not, and 
are only seeking it among a crowd, with whose number our 
uncertainty, and so the apparent indistinctness of the idea, 

Still less do our compound perceptions perish by a gradual 
obscuration that makes their whole image grow dim under a 
gradually failing light; but they become indistinct by a 
dissolution as if of decay. Of an object once seen certain less 
noticed parts fall away in our remembrance, and the parti 
cular mode in which they were combined with others is wholly 


forgotten ; in the effort to paint the object in. memory we 
stray helplessly among the possible ways of filling up gaps 
or connecting the details still clearly present to us. Thus 
liere too arises an apparent indistinctness in the idea, 
which increases in direct proportion to the extent of the 
space within which our imagination is left free to make 
its additions. On the other hand, every idea is perfectly 
distinct whose parts are conceived completely and at the 
same time with unhesitating precision as to their mutual rela 
tions, and this distinctness is in itself capable neither of 
increase nor of diminution. Nevertheless it often seems to us 
as if even a presented content that has been long complete 
could still increase in its strength of presentation ; but in 
such cases it is increased by a fresh element. As it becomes 
indistinct through hiatuses that diminish its amount, so it 
seems to gain in distinctness when over and above its own 
sum the manifold links by which on all sides it is bound to 
other ideas enter into consciousness. It is impossible for d 
circle or a triangle to be more or loss presented ; one either 
lias or has not a correct image of them; nevertheless the 
conception of both seems to become more distinct when our 
geometrical training enables us to recall simultaneously the 
many important relations belonging to the two figures. This 
is clearness such as admits of gradations of difference, i.e. a 
power in the idea, springing not from its own strength, 
but from its connections. Hence a previously vivid idea 
seems to us to become more indistinct in consciousness when, 
from any cause it gradually ceases to bring to remembrance 
with itself all the others which were associated with it at 
the first moment, when it was most vivid, or whose pre 
sence it was that caused it to be vivid. Thus, as we said 
above, an idea awakened within us dies away, as, sometimes 
arising, sometimes disappearing, it brings back on ' each 
resuscitation a smaller fragment of the thoughts by which 
it was previously accompanied. And hence it appears to 
us, when we afterwards look back on a past train of 
ideas, that a single impression has passed through our 


consciousness, with less distinctness or elevation, when in 
fact it entered with the unvarying distinctness common to 
all alike, but called up too few accessory ideas to be able 
to maintain itself for any length of time and exert any 
influence on the direction of our thoughts. 

Thus we, after all, return to the affirmation that the power 
with which the various ideas contend against one another, 
does not depend on a particular degree of strength, at which 
each originally stood, or which, as it now increases, now 
diminishes, it reaches at any moment for any reason. What 
we have been accustomed to think of as the strength of 
ideas consists not in a gradationally determinate intensity 
of knowledge about them, but in an extensively measurable 
completeness of their necessary content, and in the fluctuating 
store of countless elements that associate themselves with 
the essential content of each , one. Perhaps, however, more 
accurate investigation may still discover some fact that we 
have hitherto overlooked; but before setting about such a 
search, we must briefly notice the other element usually 
referred to in discussions on the course of ideas the mutual 
contrast of the several impressions. 

So long as we thus take note of present external impres 
sions, we see our consciousness open to the greatest possible 
variety of sensations. Our eye distinguishes at a glance 
numberless points of colour, and when these different 
impressions seem to disturb one another, we have reason to 
account for this result, not by a reciprocal action of the 
already formed ideas of colour, but by disturbances caused 
to one another by the bodily stimulations in the elements 
of the sense-organ, before their final action gives rise to 
sensation in the soul. Least of all may we suppose that at 
some earlier stage of life points of colours yielded to the 
eye and tones to the ear only an undiscriminated mixture, 
from which growing attention selected the , several elements. 
For attention would have neither a motive nor a rule for its 
selection, did not the impression, with some distinctness, pre 
sent different constituents, between which it can deepen and 

VOL, i. o 


sharpen the boundary lines, though It cannot draw them where 
they are not first indicated. Unquestionably, therefore, con 
sciousness neither is too limited for a multitude of sensa 
tions, nor has it any tendency to blend heterogeneous ideas 
that have once been formed into anything Intermediate. 
Now this repeatedly-mentioned characteristic does indeed 
make us distrustful of the conjecture that the contrast in 
content of ideas determines the force with which they 
seek to expel one another from consciousness ; but yet it 
does not make this influence so impossible as to free us 
from the necessity of consulting experience. Now our self- 
observation is not in this point very distinct ; nevertheless, 
it seems by no means to favour the above conjecture. It 
is always very difficult to grasp together two unconnected 
ideas; so far, however, as it can be done, we do not find 
it more difficult to have simultaneous Ideas of white and 
black than of red and orange, or that the effort to think 
sweet and sour at once is greater than the effort to com 
bine two similar sweet tastes. On the contrary, it appears 
to us as if the extremist contrasts possible for the con 
tent of presentations were thought together with greater 
ease than differences separated from each other by a de 
finitely measurable interval. The ideas of light and 
darkness, of great and small, of positive arid negative, and 
numberless others we find so connected in consciousness 
that the one is not thought without the other, and if it is 
impossible for us to apprehend these oppositos simul 
taneously as marks of one and the same, there is, on the 
other hand, no difficulty in distributing them among dif 
ferent objects, and this is quite sufficient here, where the 
question concerns not the compatibility of properties in 
things, but the possibility of combining the ideas of them in 
our consciousness. If ideas actually displaced one another 
in proportion to the contrasts in their content, so that 
the dissimilar deprived each other of distinctness more than 
the similar, the strange result would follow, that our dis 
criminative observation must apprehend small differences 


more distinctly than great ones. But, on the contrary, all 
perfecting of our thoughts depends entirely on consciousness 
remaining quite unaffected by the content of ideas, and on its 
being neither resisted nor helped in its operations by the rela 
tions between the given manifold, so that it may impartially 
take in these relations. We may indeed allow that by the 
various connections between the content of ideas, feelings 
are awakened within us which determine the measure of the 
attention that we bestow on one of them rather than on 
another; but apart from these effects, which serve another 
purpose of mental life, we think we may hazard the asser 
tion that the mutual obscuration or displacement of ideas is 
wholly unaffected by the degree of contrast between, them in 
content This conclusion may be questioned as being con 
trary to the universally necessary proposition, that contra 
dictory states in one and the same being must annihilate one 
another. But, however it may stand with the validity of this 
proposition, the experiences already referred to teach that the 
energies by which we conceive opposite contents, are either 
not contradictory opposites, or at least are not so in such a 
sense as to make their contrast, though perhaps actual, the 
ground of a counter-action. Here, too, we learn how absolutely 
different are mental processes and physical events, and how 
misleading is the precipitate application of principles that 
in physical science are indisputably valid, because there the 
points of their application are exactly known, whereas their 
validity in the sphere of mental life while perhaps liere 
too universal is in the meantime useless to us, seeing that 
we have before us not the original processes to which alone 
they can refer, but results removed from these by many 
intermediate links. 

4. Not one of our questions is yet answered. We have 
found no cogent reason for accepting it as demonstrated, 
that consciousness cannot apprehend more than a limited 
number of ideas. And, when we assumed this as a fact, 
we saw neither in the notion of a difference of strength in 
ideas nor in that of opposition between them as to con- 


tent a means of accounting for the degree of power which 
they severally display, and with which they contribute to 
determine the course of the train of thought. Once more 
we must try, in the now diminished list of possible conjec 
tures, to find one more adequate. 

Now, that narrowness of consciousness which formed our 
first subject of inquiry, is not really a fact as regards the 
sensations produced by impressions from without. All our 
senses can he simultaneously in action, and receive a bound 
less variety of single stimulations, each of which, so long as 
intermediate bodily effects do not hinder its transmission 
to the soul, is apprehended by an act of consciousness. It 
may indeed be maintained that of so many impressions the 
greater number are taken up but obscurely and indistinctly ; 
yet the possibility of subsequently recalling their content, or 
even their indistinctness, proves that they really have been in 
consciousness, though from lack either of a preponderant sense- 
impression or of a specially significant character, they could 
not expel the others and assert themselves in the train of 
thought with determinative power. It seems quite different 
when, without being under the constraint of present sense- 
stimulations, we seek to repeat in memory an absent or past 
manifold. Here the parts of what was seen and heard simul 
taneously, in the actual sensation, reappear almost entirely in 
succession ; and the thoughts which less immediately repro 
duce sense-impressions, form within us a perpetually flowing 
narrow and shallow current, that, while it turns abruptly 
from one idea to another, and with rapid changes runs over 
many things, yet seems almost wholly to have lost the 
power of embracing at once a countless plurality, like the 
glance of the eye. It would thus appear that the constraint 
laid upon us by the stimuli pressing in from the outer world 
only enlarged consciousness, while, left to itself in remem 
brance, it can hardly grasp several ideas together, but only 
various ideas successively. Nevertheless, to maintain the 
latter in thoroughgoing strictness would be to go too far. 
For although it would be very difficult to decide by direct 


observation whether several ideas can be at once present in 
consciousness, and whether we are not rather deceived by 
the rapidity of their succession, we are yet forced by the 
fact that we can make comparisons, to suppose simultaneity 
possible. For in comparing we not only pass from the 
idea of one of the things compared to that of the other, 
but, to make the comparison complete, we must further 
apprehend both, and the mode of the transition between 
them, in one indivisible act of consciousness. In seeking to 
convey a comparison, we are compelled by the nature of 
language to make the names of its two terras, and the 
indication of their mutual relation, follow each other in time, 
and this almost cheats us into the belief that there is the 
same sequence in the thought which we wish to express; 
but, at the same time, we reckon upon our words causing in 
the consciousness of the person whom we address not three 
separate ideas, but the one idea of a relation between two 
others. Although, lastly, in our familiarity with the use 
of speech, we put even our silent train of thought into 
the form of a mental colloquy, yet evidently, even here, 
the sequence in time of the words that express our ideas, 
is but a rendering of the relations of their content that 
we previously apprehended as obtaining between them, and 
this habit of mental speech really retards the passage of 
thought, by breaking up into a sequence what was originally 

Now if these acts of Relating Knowledge guarantee the 
simultaneity of a plurality of ideas, they seem at the same 
time to inform us of the conditions under which it takes 
place. Only for an unconnected throng has consciousness no 
room ; it is not too narrow for a complex total, whose parts 
we think as divided, arranged, and connected by relations. 
"We fail to apprehend at once two impressions with no bond 
of mutual relationship; consciousness needs to discern the path 
by which it has to travel from the one to the other ; it com 
passes the greater number more easily with this discernment 
than the smaller without it. Its power of apprehension is 


therefore capable of progressive improvement. Memory iho 
more easily repeats compound images of sense the more we 
have already exercised ourselves in perception, not merely in 
passively giving ourselves up to the impression of them, but 
in making ourselves familiar with the relations of their parts. 
The simultaneous notes of a piece of music are as such 
heard by every one, but they will scarcely be remembered 
by him to whom they are but an unconnected multitude ; 
the musically trained ear tabes them in from the first as a 
complex whole, to whose internal structure the preceding 
course of the melody led up. Every image in space impresses 
itself more firmly on our memory, when we are able to 
analyze its impression on our senses by means of a descrip 
tion. If we say of one part of a building that it rests upon 
another., supports a third, is inclined to a fourth at a definite 
angle, we meanwhile increase the number of ideas to be 
kept in mind; but in this verbal expression by proposi 
tions the motionless co-existence of the parts is transformed 
into a series of reciprocal actions, apparently taking place 
between them, and binding them together more distinctly 
than our unanalyzed perception. The more highly the mind 
becomes cultivated, the more skilful ib becomes in detecting 
connecting links between remote thoughts, the more capacious 
does consciousness become even for ideas bound to ono 
another, not by forms of space and time, but by ties of 
inherent relationship. 

5. While in sensation consciousness appeared to tis 
accessible to an indefinite multitude of passive states through 
the power of the external stimuli that imperiously demand its 
attention, this memory-knowledge exhibits itself rather as a 
relating energy exerted by the mind. So long as we dealt 
with consciousness as a space within which ideas rise and 
fall by their own force, we were unable to account for its 
circumscribed extent, and the multitude of simultaneous states 
could not seem to us impossible ; we naturally feel bound to 
assume, on the other hand, that the soul's unity excludes a 
simultaneous throng of unconnected acts, and that it includes 


only what It can grasp in the unity of a single act. Thus 
the view, according to which presentation brings the impres 
sions into prominence as a moving Inner Sense, would seem 
more consonant with the limitation of consciousness, for which 
we are seeking to account. As yefc, however, it offers no 
demonstration of the laws according to which this fluctuating 
light of combining attention chooses its course. It cannot go 
groping its way indefinitely out into the void, but, when it 
seems actively to grasp its objects, its activity consists only 
in the selection displayed in taking some and leaving others 
of the many impressions that throng in upon it. 

We here allude to familiar facts. That a newly-produced 
impression revives the forgotten idea of a previous and similar 
one, or recalls it to consciousness, is the simplest of the 
universal laws that regulate the course of memory. But yet 1 
this resuscitation is of importance to our inner life only in so 
far as it not only recalls what had been forgotten, but at the 
same time brings about a consciousness of its identity with 
the new impression. Hence new and old must not wholly 
coincide, but must be recognised as two different recurrences 
of the same idea, and this is possible only if the two are dis 
tinguishable by accessory characteristics attached to them. 
The advantage of the immediate reproduction, depends, there 
fore, on the possibility that the resuscitated idea will also 
bring back into consciousness the others with which it was 
previously associated, even should these consist in nothing 
more than the obscure feeling of the general state of mind in 
which it was previously apprehended, and which differed from 
the mood accompanying the new impression. We usually 
denote by the name of Association that cohesion of ideas 
which we must regard as continued during their unconscious 
condition, in order to understand their reappearing together 
at the moment of resuscitation. Any attempt would be 
fruitless to gain by intuition an, idea of the character and 
fashion of this cohesion , observable only in its results, it is 
itself beyond the range of observation, atid there is nothing 
analogous to it in the sphere of physical phenomena. Re- 


framing, therefore, from inquiring what are the ties by which 
these associations of ideas are made lasting, we must confine 
our aim to that of laying down the conditions under which 
they occur in a manner otherwise incomprehensible. 

'Now, to all associations of ideas may be applied the general 
statement, that the soul does not chemically transform the sum 
of its contemporaneous states into a uniform compound state, 
but mechanically combines them as parts into a coherent whole, 
and that in like manner it forms the series of its changes, 
evolving in time into a melody in which those phrases cohere 
together most firmly which are in immediate juxtaposition. 
Accordingly all JReprodiwtwn rests on the impossibility of 
the resuscitated impression reappearing alono, without trying 
to bring with it the whole of which it previously formed 
a part, and of that whole specially the other single part 
to which it was most closely attached. Under this common 
formula may be placed the various cases usually treated as 
distinct. It comprehends not only as primary the associa 
tions of ideas which the order of our inquiries has first set 
before us, but also the numerous similar combinations of 
feelings, of volitions, of ideas and feelings, or feelings and 
volitions, whose co-determining influence must not be over 
looked in a complete representation even of the train of ideas 
taken by itself. We find further embraced by it the associa 
tion by which the images of particular parts of extended 
forms recall one another and the whole. For the parts of 
any form in space may be surveyed simultaneously, or may bo 
taken in in a series of ocular movements by which the eye 
runs over them. Further, any other more internal connection 
by which we had on any previous occasion bound up some 
manifold into the whole of a thought, is in like manner intel 
ligible to us only m a momentary act of ideation, or in an 
unbroken series of such acts following one another in time. 
Lastly, one impression often recalls to us another which is 
similar, but with which it was never previously presented 
simultaneously in perception ; but this very frequent process 
requires ng special explanation. It rests partly on the 


immediate resuscitation of like by like; the prior idea of what 
is common to the two impressions seeks to return, and by 
indirect reproduction brings with itself the particular traits in 
virtue of which the old only resembles the new, is not identical 
with it. Simple ideas whose similarity consists in an equally 
simple indefinable affinity of content, call forth one another 
with little force; a colour reminds us but little of other colours; 
a note hardly of the variety of the scale; each reproduces 
much more vividly the whole as a part of which it before 
appeared the colour, the shape of the flower that showed it 
the notes, the air that began with them. A word, as a series 
of tones, does indeed remind us of another like it in struc 
ture, so that we confuse the two ; but it reminds us still more 
forcibly of the image of the thing along with which it formed 
a compound whole. In complex ideas, the mode in which the 
manifold content is held together almost always preponderates 
in our remembrance over the impression directly produced by 
the peculiar character of the parts ; the child's eye recognises 
the same shape of letter, without hesitating at the difference 
of colouring. Those images, therefore, recall each other most 
vividly whose constituent parts perhaps exceedingly diverse 
are grouped in the same order or arranged according to 
the same plan. The direction taken by the advancing mental 
growth by degrees gives one of these modes of reproduction 
an advantage over the others ; the more frequently our atten 
tion has been directed to identical and similar forms of con 
nection of the manifold, the more readily does it overlook the 
differences appearing even in these, and seize the more general 
resemblances. The attention becomes accustomed to appre 
hend even internal and imperceptible connections, and to it in 
memory things related logically and by general principles have 
a stronger mutual affinity than things naturally strange to one 
another, which only the accident of their being simultaneously 
perceived ' brought together in consciousness. Thus the 
strength of memory for the order in which the incidents of 
life follow one another not unfrequently declines, while its 
fidelity for the general relations founded in the nature of 


tilings increases. But it must suffice to have touched on these 
relations, whose abundant variety it would he impossible here 
to exhaust 

Thus through the mechanism of association a number 
of possible paths are opened to the train of thought into 
which it can strike, and between which it must choose. 
Now, as each of the ideas present is trying to bring back 
all the others with which throughout life it has successively 
been bound up, the decision as to what, out of all this abund 
ance, is at any moment first to return to consciousness, will 
depend on a convergence of different conditions. The greater 
the number of resembling points common to a forgotten idea 
with the one now in the ascendant, the more easily will it be 
revived by the latter, for the more numerous are the single 
threads forming the bond that unites them. At the same 
time, however, their efficacious affinity will not consist solely 
in their resemblance as to content ; even without such agree 
ment, an idea may, in many indirect ways, be more or less 
closely connected with the purport of a train of thought now 
going en, with which previous reflection has associated it as an 
essential related point, as a constituent, as an example, or as 
a concomitant. Nay, an indefinite mood of feeling will make 
two groups of ideas to which its presence lent a common 
colouring, appear, in spite of difference of content, more akin 
to each other than to others more of the same stamp. In the 
place of an abiding contrast between ideas, decisive of the 
force with which they repel or revive one another, we have 
therefore to put a degree of affinity determined anew each 
moment, and altering, as does the contrast of two colours with 
a change in their background. No less fluctuating is the 
other condition determining the direction of the train of 
thought, the degree of interest pertaining to each idea, which 
constitutes the strength with which it seeks to make itself pro 
minent in consciousness. No subsequent moment brings 
back the same total sum of ideas, feelings, and efforts, and' 
the same state of body, in connection with which, the impres 
sion formerly reached its maximum of interest. It accordingly 


contributes to determine the further course of thought, not at 
its old rate, but at the newly-fixed value to which it was able 
to rise, after it had entered, with that which it had before, 
into this new conflict with new relations. 

Under these conditions a train of ideas developes into 
the fluctuating and changeful scene with which we are all 
familiar, and whose apparently wanton play often fills us with 
amazement, because we never can catch sight of its moving 
springs. For the complete reason for the character of each 
future moment lies exclusively in the total condition of our 
soul during the present one, but of this state self-scrutiny 
never shows us more than a few fragments ; we do indeed 
become aware of the order of sequence of our past ideas, but 
we are never in a position to analyze at once the peculiarities 
of our bodily state, of our frame of mind, of our volitions, 
and lastly, of the special mutual relations into which all these 
elements are woven together. And yet even the least and 
most trivial item of our train of ideas depends on nothing 
else than the sum of all these conditions taken together ; for 
it does not take place in an otherwise empty consciousness, 
but in the whole full living soul, that is always active at 
the same time in those different directions, and cannot be 
active again in this special way without thanks to the 
unity of its being having those also recalled in its process 
of thought. 



Delations between Individual Ideas as Objects of New Ideas Change of 
Knowledge, and Knowledge of Change Innate Ideas Apprehension of 
the World in Space and Time by Means of Sense Apprehension of tho 
World in Thought by the Understanding Concept, Judgment, and 
Syllogism The Effort of Reason after Unifying Comprehension. 

1. TT7"E only take in any discourse if our memory retains 
* * the earlier words while we are hearing those 
which follow. And not only this ; the order of the succession 
in which the several words are uttered must somehow be 
< fficiently retained in our consciousness till the close of the 
discourse ; for without this order in time the speaker could 
not fully indicate the internal connection of the conceived 
whole which he desires to communicate to us, and the listener 
must not forget the order in time till he has taken in. the 
meaning of that whole. 

Here we find two different operations. I shall speak first 
of that one which in somewhat fuller detail is one of the 
most familiar of phenomena : the capacity of recalling, even 
after a considerable interval, a series of impressions, a story, an 
air, or a speech, with its constituent parts in the same order 
of succession in which they were previously apprehended by 
us. Evidently this methodical repetition would be impossible, 
equally impossible also the original intelligent apprehension 
of the whole, did the images of earlier impressions surviving 
in memory blend with those of subsequent ones into one mass; 
some systematic arrangement must from the first have been 
established among them, must have sorted and combined them 
on a definite plan. Only on this condition is it possible for 

the listener to connect a meaning with the plurality of 



successively heard words, and for this plurality not to return 
in memory in a formless rush, but to unfold itself before con 
sciousness in successive moments in the order of its original 

Psychologists have attempted to explain more fully the 
nature of this arrangement, and have taught that, when a 
series of sense-stimuli act on us in successive moments, the 
first meets with an opposing reaction on the part of the ideas 
which it is sure to find already in consciousness ; thus the 
intensity of the impression created "by it must inevitably have 
undergone diminution by the time when the second stimulus 
comes to be apprehended. The impression of this second now 
combines not with the original impression of the first in the 
series, but only with, its faint residuum, for that residuum alone 
it finds still existing in consciousness. But this combination 
is subject to the same opposing influence, and both units will 
have undergone a fresh diminution by the time the third 
stimulus presents itself for apprehension. This third, there 
fore, unites neither with the first nor with the second singly, 
least of all with both equally closely ; it can attach itself 
only to what it finds still in consciousness, namely, to the 
combination of a second residuum of the first witli a first re 
siduum of the second impression. Continuing this speculation, 
we should therefore find that each later impression associates 
itself with a group which is the same to no other, and in 
which each preceding member of the series is represented by 
a residuum so much the fainter as the series Is longer, and it 
lies nearer the commencement. The same gradations reappear 
in the recollected series. The initial member, when the idea 
has by some means been renewed in consciousness; does not 
at once and with equal force call up all the other members ; 
only when it has itself been reduced to that first residuum 
with which, in the original apprehension, the second member 
combined, does it recall the second to consciousness; the third 
member emerges only when, in spite of the resistance made to 
this process by the other contents of consciousness, the resus 
citation of the second has been effected, and the combination 


of the first two has been reduced to the residuum to which 
alone the third member could attach itself. 

"Were the object in view merely to account for the order in 
which memory repeats the links of the apprehended series, 
simpler considerations would suffice. If once a number of 
impressions reach the soul in successive moments of time, 
those will most closely or exclusively cohere together which 
follow one another immediately, without any intervening link 
For in whatever may consist the rationale and nature of the 
connection of ideas to which we apply the name Association, 
and whatever may further constitute the gradations in the 
closeness of that connection . at all events an intermediate 
link has the best right to union with each of tlie two links 
between which it stands, by its position dividing them from 
each other. If, therefore, the soul repeats in order of time the 
perceptions that formerly reached it in the same, the course 
of recollection from the first to the third link can only lead 
through the second, and it is not the following of this course but 
any deviation from it that would require special explanation. 
But that memory does repeat in temporal succession inipreb- 
sions first perceived as a series in time is not equally clear. 
The successiveness of perception was the means and the ground 
of binding together the several impressions in relationships oi' 
graduated close'ness ; but, if between the moment of completed 
perception and that of remembrance the whole series remains 
forgotten, it retains in simultaneous co-existence the arrange 
ment of all its constituent parts which ijb thus acquired. 
Why does not memory now at once recall the whole, as a 
co-existent complexus, whose parts are connected together only 
with gradations of closeness ? To this inquiry the advocates 
of the theory to which we have referred sought to give an 
answer. In the mutual resistance of ideas and in the effort 
by which, in face of such resistance, a forgotten- idea is 
recalled to consciousness, they beheld processes that in them 
selves require lime in order to attain their end ; only succes 
sively, when at particular points of time particular degrees of 
clearness have been won back for the ideas, do the efficient 


causes begin to act that successively bring back the links of 
the original chain of perception united with the residual 
clearness pertaining to them. 

But of more importance for us is the second operation, 
which we undertook above to show present both in the 
original intelligent apprehension of a spoken discourse and in 
the recollection of its tenor. It was not enough for under 
standing that the words were heard one after another ; the 
earlier ones had to be retained along with those subsequent 3 
neither does the remembrance of a series mean the recalling 
of one link at each moment, so that before and after it there 
is nothing in consciousness ; before this link are sinking the 
vanishing images of the earlier, after it are already rising the 
advancing images of the later impressions. But understanding 
involves more ; it is not enough that these systematic and 
graduated relations exist between the several ideas, or that 
their images in memory pass in consciousness in regular 
succession. "Were there nothing else, the soul would be but 
a stage, on which a connection of ideas or a change of 
knowledge presented itself; but an idea of this connec 
tion or a knowledge of this change could arise only in an 
observer capable of more than merely having one state follow 
another within him, capable, in a second and higher con 
sciousness, of comprehending and judging of the facts 
presented, and of the relations obtaining between the simul 
taneous or successive ideas. 

Not that we really need this other spectator ; for the 
essence of soul is to be able to observe both other and 
self. But we think we have reason to dwell on this its 
peculiar faculty, in express contrast to the mechanism of 
the reciprocal actions between its immediate presentations. 
We certainly deceive ourselves, and the error is not with 
out mischievous consequences, when we think we can 
understand this knowledge of change as a self-evident 
corollary hardly requiring mention, from the notion of the 
soul as a thinking being and from the unity of its sub 
stance. For, in the first place, the empty notion of that 


unity may indeed suggest to us the indefinite requirement 
of some pervading connection between all the states into 
which this single being could pass; but what form this 
connection must have we could not guess; the soul would 
seem already to respond to so vague an obligation by those 
, chains of association and reproduction that actually bring its 
ideas into mutual relation, It would not, however, be sufficient 
to attempt to rest the necessity of the comprehensive know 
ledge of change of knowledge on the assertion that the 
soul's singular being is at the same time a thinking being. 
There is certainly probability, though not certainty in the 
thought, that the soul actually exerts the faculty of ideation, 
wherein its distinctive character consists, on every occasion 
fitted to call forth its exercise ; thus it is in itself probable 
that even the relationships into which its several ideas have 
entered, become to it new stimuli to which it responds by 
an act of ideation. And as experience teaches us that what 
we have found reason to expect does actually happen, it 
becomes of course a plausible conjecture, that all knowledge 
of the connections of ideas and their successive changes 
proceeds, as a self-evident consequence, from the fact itself 
of those connections and that change. 

If, in opposition to this plausible conjecture, we deem it 
necessary to separate and distinguish comprehensive and com 
parative consciousness as a now manifestation of psychic 
energy, we desire by this separation to avoid an inference that 
appears to us erroneous. From analyzing an external sense- 
stimulus, and without questioning experience, we cannot 
& priori decide whether the sensation will be one of tone 
or of colour. But, if we compare twot- similar stimuli, of 
which we know from experience that, on account of their 
form, both are heard as tones, and if we may assume that 
the process involved in hearing is identical whether there 
be one stimulus or two stimuli producing simultaneously an 
impression, we may suppose it possible to calculate the result 
of the co-operation of both tones as an effect of their xeciprocal 
action. This attempt would, on the other hand, be in, vain. 


if every variation in the number apcl proportion of tones that 
simultaneously besiege the activity of hearing determined 
it to an alteration of the laws according to which it reacts on 
each one severally. What it actually heard, then, in each of 
these cases could not be guessed from a mere calculation of 
the impressions severally made by the tones, and from the 
reciprocal actions arising between these impressions : we 
should still have to ask how this whole sum of facts affects 
the auditory energy, and what new and peculiar reactions it 
occasions in it. 

In a former passage (p. 182) I set forth the general 
considerations that lead us to distinguish from the simple 
ideas that we took to be the soul's primary reactions on stimu 
lations directly proceeding from the outer world, those mental 
energies of a higher order which are called forth, as secondary 
reactions, by the relationships arising between the simpler 
individual acts of the soul. These relationships seemed to us 
to act ever anew as stimuli of a higher order on the soul's 
whole nature, and to incite to expression capabilities within it, 
whose exercise the simpler stimuli of the first order did not 
call forth. These new reactions did not appear to us to be 
a priori deducible from the consideration of these occasioning 
causes ; they might take place in forms not to be explained 
by the nature of the conditions that called them forth but 
explicable only by the peculiar susceptibility of the soul, that 
expresses itself in tliese^ products which are in part its own. 
We proceed to 'apply these considerations to the case in point. 
Were we seeking merely to understand the knowledge of 
the change, of Jmowledye as a simple apprehension of the 
relations between ideas, without anything new being added 
to them in apprehension, so detailed a discussion would be 
superfluous. But this comprehensive knowledge assumes 
forms that do not seem to us to be implied in the facts to 
be comprehended, and these forms are not simple products 
of certain processes in the train of ideas, so that they must 
with intelligible necessity appear wherever these processes 
take place; we regard them as dependent on a new phase 

VOL, i. p 


in the soul's nature, that has not yet been dwelt on, and 
that requires particular attention, even though it be an invari 
ably present attribute of every soul, only one not as yet taken 
notice of in our description. 

2. Much used to be said in former times of Innate Ideas 
pertaining to the human mind prior to any experience, 
and forming an integral part of its being. Without always 
accurately examining the nature of the marks by which this 
pre-temporal origin was to be proved, a pretty wide extent was 
given to this originally-possessed knowledge ; and in order that 
all which is of most vital interest to civilised mankind the 
belief in God, in the Immortality of the Soul, in the Freedom 
of the Will might be made more secure, it was included in 
the treasury of truths yielded to us not by delusive and imper 
fect experience, but by the eternal and unchanging nature of 
our mental being. Our national philosophy in its first rise sot 
bounds to the arbitrariness of such views by the doctrine, that 
the human mind does indeed possess a number of innate 
Ideas, not, however, such as reveal any fact or special charac 
teristic of the system of the universe, but only such as 
express the universal principles of judgment according to 
which our thought must apprehend and elaborate every 
future possible datum of perception. All the matter of 
our thoughts comes to us directly or indirectly from ex 
perience ; but that is not the case with the rules by which, 
connecting, comparing, judging, and inferring, we unite and 
divide the matter, and pass from one thought to another. 
The source of these rules is not to be sought without us ; the 
feeling of necessary and inevitable validity, with which they 
impose themselves on our consciousness, is, on the contrary, a 
guarantee that they have their origin in that from which we 
can never separate ourselves, namely, in the peculiar nature of 
our mental being. Provided with these modes of apprehension, 
we face the manifold throng of impressions occasioned in us 
by the outer world ; not till we apply them does the actual 
sum of internal states become to us knowledge. Thus we 
supply as innate the intuitive forms of Spftce and Time to 


those impressions, whose mutual relations are henceforth 
transformed for us into the succession and contiguity of 
the phenomenal world of sense ; thus we pass on to the 
observation of our data with the inevitable assumption, 
that all reality must rest on the foundation of enduring 
substances to which the variable attributes are attached as 
dependent and accessory ; further, with the certainty that 
every event is bound by a causal connection as an effect 
to its antecedents. It is the application of these inborn 
beliefs that transforms our apprehension of objects into the 
knowledge of a universal whole made such by internal 

Much in these views, which still to a large extent guide 
the course of our scientific thought, will have to be otherwise 
conceived within our science itself. The inappropriate name 
of Innate Ideas must not mislead us to consider the principles 
of our knowledge or the concepts by which they are commonly 
for brevity's sake referred to the ideas of Space, of Time, of 
Thing, of Cause, and the others of perhaps equal moment 
associated with them as au original conscious possession 
of the rnind. No more than the spark as spark is already 
present in the flint, before the steel calls it forth, do these 
concepts hover complete before consciousness previously to 
all the impressions of experience, and afford it in its solitude 
the entertainment which we might find in contemplating an 
instrument before the time when it can be used. Even in 
our later life matured by experience they seldom claim our 
attention in this shape ; we have only the unconscious 
habit of acting and proceeding in our learning according to 
them ; deliberate reflection is required to make these ideas the 
subject of our thought, though they have long unnoticed been 
the guiding springs of our judgments. Consequently, they 
are innate in no other sense than this, that in the original 
nature of the mind there is a tendency constraining it at the 
suggestion of experience to develop these modes of concep 
tion, and that, on the other hand, they are not conveyed 
complete by the matter alone of experience, to be merely 


passively received, this special nature being required fop 
the mind to be impelled by the impressions of experience 
to form them of itself. 

Tnus understood, the general correctness of this view can 
scarcely" be held to be disproved by the manifold attempts 
to show that all these principles of thought are derived 
exclusively from the mechanism of immediate cognition. 
Language, with its terms Cause, Origin, Dependence, and 
Connection of Reason and Consequent, reminds us, to be 
sure, of the several facts and forms of experience on 
occasion of which we most readily became aware of the 
inherent relationships that the original nature of our reason 
presupposes in complex objects. But more accurate reflec 
tion will always bring us back to the belief, that all those 
observations did nothing more than afford the mind an 
opportunity of recalling an innate truth, and that of them 
selves they could not have imparted to us universal principles 
on which to judge all things. However nicely adjusted may 
be the relations between our ideas, their internal arrange 
ment would not of itself give rise to the thought of a necessary 
connection between them, did not the nature of the mind 
itself make the demand for such. The most exact acquaint 
ance with the mechanical actions and reactions between the 
several ideas will never bring us to understand the manner 
in which the most general assumptions in regard to the con 
nection of all things come into our mind, if we clo not 
recognise in the mind a tendency to form them which 
we must include in our conception of its original nature. 
What constitutes the real unity of the mind, by which it 
is distinguished as mind from the unity of every other 
"being, is that it not merely compresses its various states 
into a mechanism of reciprocal action, but further strives, 
by means of the relating activity which it puts forth in the 
modes of cognition, to interpret the complexus of impressions 
as an orderly whole, and to transform it into the image of a 
Avorld in whose internal connection it; beholds the reflex of its' 
own unity. 


3. In reviewing the several operations in which the 
task of this uniting and connecting knowledge is by degrees 
discharged, we have first of all to take note once more of that 
unity of the soul which means nothing more than the identity of 
the perceiving subject, in which are collected impressions from 
various parts of the external world and from various periods of 
time. It forms the prime requisite for every act of relating 
that is afterwards to become possible, but it does not suffice to 
give rise to such acts. Now our contemplation did not stop 
at the barren idea of the soul's substantial unity ; experience 
taught us laws of action distinctive of the internal states of 
this mental being and of their mental influences ; we saw how 
the mechanism of association and reproduction combined 
certain impressions more closely than others, and how a 
degree of system was introduced into the motley multitude 
of retained impressions, which gathered together the similar 
and separated the dissimilar. Yet even here, all these laws 
of the train of ideas by their operation created only relations 
between the several acts of the cognitive activity, created 
objects of an intuition that might afterwards come ; they did 
not show the scrutinizing glance that apprehends and inter 
prets that order. It is in a third performance that we 
first meet with this glance of the mental eye, in the intui 
tions of Time and Space, into which the mind's uniting and 
relating action translates, as into a .new language of its own, 
the mutual relations of impressions. 

It may indeed seem as if every series of impressions 
taking place in time by the mere fact of taking place must 
appear to us as a succession in time ; and in like manner that 
the arrangement of objects in space would require only to be 
perceived, without the given content being altered by, or the 
forms in which it is to appear being evolved from, any special 
energy of the mind. On the contrary, just in so far as a 
series of impressions goes on in time within us, it is never in 
our consciousness as a whole, not even present as a complerus 
arranged in time ; we become aware of its course and of the 
systematic character of its course only when we gather together 


in one undivided act of knowledge past and present members 
of the series, and survey all their mutual relationships at once. 
If, therefore, our internal states flow on actually in order of 
time against which natural supposition we will not here 
bring forward objections hard to be dealt with these actual 
time-relations of our impressions are yet only conditions that 
compel the soul by a new and peculiar reaction to educe from 
itself the Intuition of time, and that at the same time enable 
it to assign to each several impression its appropriate place 
in this intuited time. 

What seems to us here difficult becomes plainer in the 
other example space. For we are not likely to attribute 
extension m space, size, and situation to the impressions of 
things in ourselves; however great may be tlie presented 
content, the idea of it does not extend to equal spatial 
dimensions in our soul. Whether, therefore, the outside 
world does or does not possess that spatial reality in which 
we think we see it, at any rate the impressions conveyed 
from it to us co-exist in our mind out of space, like simul 
taneous musical notes, and the mutual relations between 
them are not those of position, direction, and extent, but may 
be compared to the graduated affinities that divide tones 
from one another by intervals not of space, and connect them 
together. Out of this world of spaceless impressions the 
soul fashions the perception of the world of space, not 
because the external is in space, but because space is a 
word of its ' peculiar phraseology, into which it translates 
the spaceless stimulations received from the external. And 
just as we, accustomed to the language of sense-perception, 
re-translate the harmonic relationships of tones into the space 
symbols of high and low, of ascending and descending through 
intervals, so the soul, under the guidance of the original 
supersensible relations of impressions, proceeds to assign to 
every impression its position in respect to every other in the 
space-world of thought created by it. Thus both space and 
time, the relations of impressions in both space and time, are 
not something found and picked up all ready on its path by 


OUT cognitive energy, but are evolved from itself. Whether 
we were right in saying that it translates the relationships of 
impressions and of external objects into a new language 
peculiar to itself, may for the present remain undecided. 
Perhaps the outer world is in itself one of space; perhaps 
events really take place in time , in that case our con 
sciousness, while speaking its own language, at the same 
time lighted on that which is the language of things ; 
but its energy was not on that account either different or 
less its own. For even those of us who use the same 
language and the same thought, do not inspire one another 
directly with the full import of our thoughts; we first of 
all hear only the intrinsically meaningless sound of the 
uttered words, and have by our own energy to reproduce from 
it the same idea at one time of a concrete object, at another 
of an abstract relation, and on a third occasion of an event. 

It is through an unconscious activity of our mind that 
the spatial picture of a surrounding world comes into being 
in this manner, as well as the perception of a flux in time of 
events without us and within ; never do those original rela 
tions of impressions, of whose gradations these forms are to us 
the embodiment, become in their own true form objects of our 
consciousness ; never do we watch our own energy at work in 
building up that world of space and time, whifch on the con 
trary always seems as if presented to us complete, and allows 
us without any trouble on our own part to look into its, 
multiplicity. But yet in other ways this conception of the 
world of sense everywhere shows traces of a relating know 
ledge that has dealt with, its several parts, Tor it is never 
actually limited to the presentation of a contiguity in space 
and a succession in time; even this sense-image of the world 
is throughout pervaded by thoughts of a graduated internal 
dependence, without which its perceived order would be to us 
unintelligible. Not merely like a mirror does consciousness 
render back the shape of the external ; bringing single parts 
together into smaller wholes, and shutting them off by bound 
ary lines from their environment, it introduces lines that axe 


not in the picture as given, but start from the assumption of 
an unequal internal coherence that sometimes binds together 
the comparatively remote more closely than the adjacent. 
The new arrangement of import and meaning into which we 
throw the objects perceived by sense, we make partly under 
the direction of the natural mechanism of our associations of 
ideas, but that alone does not enable us to complete the 
work. By retaining previous impressions and bringing them 
up again, when the new impression though altered recalls them 
by particular features still preserved, it by degrees collects 
materials for a connected experience, which can, however, be 
realized only by the aggressive activity of thinking. 

4 External perception brings to our consciousness in rela 
tions of space and time much that is held together by no 
common meaning, but owes the temporary coherence of its alien 
constituents merely to some special accident. Memory retains 
faithfully and impartially what it received from perception ; 
recalls the unconnected with no less accuracy than the essen 
tially related, and throws our train of ideas, attached to single 
impressions by inopportune associations, out of the constant 
direction that it might take through the sequence of thoughts 
springing out of one another. But the mind is not content 
to have connections of ideas imposed on it by the mechanism 
of perception and memory ; as an abiding critical energy, 
Thinking seeks to test all of these by the grounds of right 
that determine connection and show the consistency of 
the co-existent. Thus it separates from each other the im 
pressions that without any internal cohesion were together 
present in the soul, and renews while confirming the com 
bination of those which, from the kindred nature of their con 
tent, have a right to be permanently associated. In all this it 
is directed and aided by that vory mechanical course of ideas- 
which it is correcting ; for this til itself, contradicting or con 
firming earlier perceptions by fresh ones, introduces its own 
improvement by a gradual sifting process, in the course of 
which incongruous elements are divided and those which are 
allied are brought together. Nevertheless the train of ideas 


alone is not Thinking, and does not "by itself discharge the 
offices which we require of the latter. 

Oft-repeated similar ideas are not only retained in their 
whole peculiarity, hut along with them are formed at the 
same time more general and indefinite images, in which the 
points of resemblance between individuals are collected and 
their differences effaced. But the mere presence of these 
images products of the mechanical course of ideas is not 
equivalent to the possession of Concepts, in whose form 
Thinking refers the manifold content to its corresponding 
Universal For in the latter is always implied the subsidiary 
thought of a determining rule, by which the several charac 
teristics of the "universal appear not only as an actual com 
bination repeated in many singulars, but as a coherent whole ; 
secured in their connection by the indivisible meaning of that 
of which they are the image. It matters little how advanced 
is our knowledge of the basis and significance of this coher 
ence, our conception is sufficiently sundered from the mere image 
itself if the coherence is felt by us, and if we convert the 
simple aggregate of united marks which the course of ideas in 
itself presents into the thought of a whole. This conversion 
is performed perpetually by even the most unpractised 
thinker, when he uses a name ; still more, when he puts 
the article before the name and designates the perceived 
object as A something, he has vigorously and unmistakeably 
enough performed this combination of the associated traits 
of the image into the thought of an inherently indivisible 

In the course of perception we often find two impressions 
united, which are separated by a rapidly supervening new sen 
sation, but whose previous union is restored by a third sensation 
We had no reason to separate what were joined together in 
the first perception, we accepted them simply as bound to one 
another ; the last-repeated perception of the combination, on 
the other hand, is opposed by a remembrance of its since 
observed dissolution ; the two impressions no longer cleave 
together in the innocent fashion of our first perception of 


them, but are kept asunder by the thought of their possible 
separation. Of the tree first seen with blossoms or leaves we 
preserve a single image all whose parts cohere in harmonious 
closeness ; this image is disturbed by a subsequent perception 
of the tree as leafless, and, even when given to us afresh by 
actual perception, it is converted for us into an idea of 
the abiding form of the trunk, to which the leaves are 
attached as changeable, perishable parts. Such separations 
and combinations of ideas are what we in thinking express in 
the form of the Judgment ; only in the judgment we say more 
than is contained in these. When we say of the tree, It is 
green, we apprehend it under the form of a substantial thing 
to which colour is variably and dependency attached in that 
manner in which all properties belong to their subjects. This 
implied relationship between thing and property is the source 
whence we derive the peculiar grouping of our ideas that 
divides no less than it" binds together those which are mutu 
ally associated ; in the nature of the inherent relationship 
between the substance and its attributes lies the necessity 
that here too exerts its constraining power in this particular 
way on the content of ideas. So in like manner when our 
' perception of the motion with which a body approaches us is 
followed by the pain of the blow. In our memory the two 
impressions will be associated, but the judgment that the body 
struck us, is more than a mere repetition of the fact that the 
two impressions were wont to come one after another within 
us. When we indicate the body as the efficient cause, the 
blow as the effect, we justify the grouping together of the 
ideas by referring it to an inherent ground of connection, to 
the causal nexus whose universal sway over events is one 
of the primitive assumptions of the mind in regard to the 
relations of things in general. 

From the frequent repetition of experience of one event 
following another it becomes at last a habit of memory to 
expect the one when the other presents itself. Such expec 
tations, hopes, or fears as to the future, simple products of 
the mechanical course of ideas, sway us all in daily life, 


and unquestionably a large proportion of our actions is 
governed by these immediate combinations of ideas, without 
further consideration of their origin, just as we are in the 
habit of supposing in the soul of animals, to which we 
rightly or wrongly attribute the mechanism alone, without 
the higher energy of thinking. In fact, those expecta 
tions are pretty much as serviceable to the animal for the 
practical ends of its life as could be a rational repetition 
of the same content in the form of a Syllogism. Never 
theless the syllogism involves a wholly different intellectual 
exertion from the instinctive expectation. Making use of 
the renewed perception as the starting-point of an antici 
pation, we in the syllogism justify the combination of the 
expected with the perceived by the thought of a universal 
law in virtue of which the two cohere. Thus here too either 
we derive the fact of association from a source that, as in 
volved in the very nature of the thing, makes it necessary, or 
we convince ourselves that no essential inherent relation binds 
the two terms together, and that the expectation is one of the 
many illusions created by the mechanism of the course of 
ideas, inasmuch as it groups the various impressions not 
according to the affinities of their content, but according to 
the accidental circumstance of their simultaneous entrance 
into our consciousness. 

Now, our sense-apprehension of things is already every 
where permeated with the results of this sifting, critical 
energy of mind ; throughout it is not merely sentient, but 
also intelligent. Nowhere do phenomena hover before us as 
simple images, we think we see in them the things by whose 
unity and substantiality they, as properties, are combined 
into a connected whole ; never in our observation of an event 
does the consequent state merely take for us the place of 
the antecedent, at most accompanied in our consciou$ne&s by 
the remembrance of the latter, but we seem to ourselves to 
observe the causal connection that unites the two with the 
firmness of an inherent bond ; finally, where larger groups of 
events succeed one another, the constraint of a pervading 


order assigning to each reason its consequent, to each cause 
the kind and amount of its effect, seems to us conspicuous 
in their evolution. At the same time, this unceasing effort of 
the understanding to comprehend the world of sense-perception 
as an inherently connected whole, itself attains its satisfaction 
only with the aid of experience. We ascribe phenomena to 
beings that appear, events to causes, and laws to the connection 
of things; but we often make mistakes when we further attempt 
to assign to a particular phenomenon its special being, to a de 
finite event its peculiar cause, to a given series its pertinent law. 
Only inasmuch as we are set free from the accidental associa- 
tions^of ideas formed through singlo perceptions "by a happy 
variety of observations and a steady attention to their distinc 
tions and resemblances, do we gradually become cognizant of 
the more general and essential connections, and our conception 
of things ever more and more adequately complies with the 
demand of the understanding to have the presuppositions, 
which it of necessity makes in regard to the general connec 
tion of things, shown to hold good in the heterogeneous 
materials of the actual world. But the history of this gradual 
development does not belong to the circle of subjects which 
this first survey of our mental life is meant to embrace. As 
it is merely an investigation of the means by the use of which 
a beginning may be made in the process of human culture, we 
must "be content with having showed how far that culture is 
from being contained ready-made within us, and how oven 
our innate capabilities can discharge their office only because 
their vigour increases by use, every acquisition in knowledge 
enhancing the mind's power to extend it. 

5. A widely prevalent theory finds in the human mind, 
beyond Sentience that perceives and Understanding that 
relates, a still higher cognitive energy the activity of Reason, 
that, aiming at unity in our conception of things, seeks to 
complete experience. Questionable as it may seem to place 
the reason as a new and higher faculty above the under 
standing, with whose habitudes its peculiar requirements seem 
in fact to be in conflict, this new name really denotes a new 


and peculiar form of relating thought, too important in the 
actual life of mind not to be touched on here, before we 
proceed further to investigate its origin. 

In each single case of experience the understanding sets 
to work, in conformity with the laws of connection that it 
presupposes as universally valid necessities, to search for the 
nearest complementary part, which perception implies and 
requires. For it seeks to refer each several display of pro 
perties to a being making it, to connect each several event 
with a cause that produced it, and with effects to which it 
will itself give rise, and to find for each group of facts the law 
by which it is governed. Thus advancing from point to point, 
so far as driven by the occasions of experience, it merely 
binds together particular point with point; it does not set 
to itself the question, What general scheme of the universe 
and its relations would finally be reached, if these rules of 
judgment were applied to all actual and conceivable cases 
of perception as often in succession as the nature of each 
would seem to require ? The understanding does not concern 
itself as to how the ascending series of causes required 
anew by each cause of a single event will terminate ; in what 
sort of combination the countless threads of orderly connec 
tion, which its keen vision traces as they run along side by 
side, may at last be interwoven together; finally, on what kind 
of unconditioned existence depend the multitudinous con 
ditioned actual forms of existence, whose mutual relations, 
as soon as they exist, go on in obedience to its laws. 

Wo may seem to make a mock division of labour when, 
having asserted that the understanding does not put these 
questions to itself, we now add that in the answering of 
them reason finds its office. Unquestionably both are akin 
in their efforts after comprehension of the manifold, ,but the 
idea by which reason is therein guided that the sum of 
reality can exist only as a perfect unity and totality is not 
the same principle as that by which the understanding 
investigates the kind of connection between every two several 
parts, without making any affirmation as to the form that 


all combined will assume. As the stylo of architecture 
which we select for a building determines the way in which 
every part of it is to be combined with every other, but 
leaves wholly undefined the final form of the structure, the 
plan of which, on the contrary, is prescribed by the end it 
has to serve : so the principles of the understanding ex 
hibit to us the style of the world's construction, but not the 
form of the outlines of its completed whole. We are far 
from maintaining that reason solves this problem, and do not 
even feel that we can congratulate the understanding on 
the full accomplishment of its humbler task. The latter is 
often deceived, by the habits of a limited experience, as to tho 
meaning of the universal laws that, it believes, regulate the 
connection of things; chained to the examples of pheno 
mena presented within a sphere of experience that for any 
finite mind is but limited, we too often take the particular 
form assumed in special cases by the orderly connection of 
things, for the pure and universal necessity that we thought 
to find reigning throughout. Thus we fall into many per 
plexities concerning the true import and the limits of 
validity of the principles that for long we applied to a 
customary sphere of experience with the fullest assurance of 
their necessity and immediate clearness. 

The more these difficulties weigh upon us, the less must 
reason limit the conception of the universal whole, of winch 
the details have been but imperfectly communicated to it ; it 
can only lay down quite general requirements, compliance 
with which it demands of all who hazard this undertaking, 
and, under the pressure of the conflicting interests with 
which our desires and cravings complicate the actual state 
of tho facts, it will itself not seldom fail to understand what 
it has to demand. These efforts of reason, as they appear in 
the immediate life of mind, will need the aid of science to 
make their own ends clear even more than the surveys of 
things made by the understanding, and still less than the 
latter are they capable of attaining their end simply as 
a natural tendency of mind, without the discipline of a 


definitely directed training. But in the course which they 
take, there are nevertheless signs of a peculiar action of 
mind deserving of attention, the source of which we believe 
is to be found not in the soul-nature as solely ideafrmo or 
relating, but in another feature of its being, to which we 
DOW turn. 



Oiigin of the Feelings Their Forms and then Connection with Knowledge 
Reason's Dotcinimations of Worth Self-Consciousness ; the Empiric Ego 
and the Pure Ego Impulbes and Efforts Will and Freedom of Will 
Concluding Remaik. 

1. AS the colour of a picture heightens and increases 
. -*- the effect of its drawing, so do Feelings of the 
most various kinds pervade all the manifold events of idea- 
tional life which we have till now been describing. "We have 
already convinced ourselves that we . cannot trace the origin 
of feelings immediately to the complexities of ideas which 
give occasion for their appearance. If it was an original 
peculiarity of mind not only to undergo changes, but to 
apprehend them as presented in thought, it no less originally 
belongs to it, not merely to present them to itself, but also 
to become aware of their value for itself in terms of pain and 
pleasure, as they sometimes stimulate it in harmony with its 
own nature, sometimes claim from it modes and combinations 
of states contrary to the natural course of its activity. For 
pleasure finally reduces itself to this, that to the mind destined 
not for repose but for development, stimulations are conveyed 
which, harmonizing with the direction, the conditions, or the 
form of its vital evolution, not merely protect it from attack, 
but promote its own striving. And just as the soul, as a 
changeable and active being, in pleasure becomes conscious of 
this exercise of its power as of an enhanced value in its 
existence, so is it endowed with the capacity, not of either 
merely submitting to, or perishing from, the disturbances that 
would divert it from its own path, but, in pain, of feeling 
them as what they are, as disturbances of its permanent 



course, and of dividing them from the natural development 
of Its being. 

It is we investigators assuredly who in the first place give 
to ourselves this explanation of the origin of the feelings ; 
we carry out the comparison of the impression with the con 
ditions imposed on the life of the soul by its own nature ; 
we believe that we have in the painful a conflict between the 
excitement produced and the requirements of these conditions ; 
in the pleasurable, their harmony. The soul that feels does 
not always make this comparison, and never makes it at the 
very moment of feeling. No more than it is conscious of 
the bodily processes by means of which sensation is produced, 
does it anticipate before the rise of feeling the conflict or 
harmony of the impressions with the conditions of its life, 
and, according to the result of this comparison, associate with 
it pain or pleasure. Unacquainted with those conditions, as 
unacquainted with the processes in the organs of sense, it 
could not itself carry out this comparison ; and as only the 
final result of the processes giving rise to the sensation, viz. 
the sensation itself, appears in consciousness, so do the feelings 
rise within us without revealing the internal motion of the soul 
whence they spring. But once there they must be accounted 
for as we have done, and unsophisticated consciousness never 
doubts that pleasure has its roots in some unknown favour 
ing influence that has been shed on our life, pain in some 
disturbance of it. Lastly, as growing experience corrects 
our associations of ideas, so does it also more exactly define 
this inference. The momentary help which we gain from an 
impression is no guarantee of the salutary character of the 
after-effects which it brings to bear on our whole life, and 
the single advantage gained for us by one property of a 
stimulus does not prevent the influences proceeding from the 
others from being hurtful. Feeling is in the light, even 
if it is pleased with the sweet taste of a poison, and finds 
the antidote bitter; for in the former there is a momentary 
harmony between the impression and the energy of the nerve, 
and in the pain of the latter an antagonistic disturbance of 

VOL. I. Q 


OUT prevailing state Experience does nob retract these 
judgments, it merely gives a warning not to rely on them 
exclusively, and teaches us to judge of the total value of an 
impression only when we have struck the balance of the 
total sum of its consequences, and of the helps or hindrances 
attached to them 

2. Various are the forms under which feelings present 
themselves alike in the sentient and in tho intellectual part 
of our nature. Sometimes they appear associated with a 
particular impression whose matter and form are hesidCiS 
apprehended by means of a distinct idea, sometimes they 
diffuse themselves, without any clear intimation as to their 
origin, as moods over the mind, like illuminations proceeding 
from a hidden source of light by countless reflections of the 
rays. Associated with many sorts of bodily states, by "which 
they are caused, or which they themselves cause, attended 
now by a numerous, now by a scanty train of remembrances, 
each several part of which is seeking to revive the interest 
peculiarly annexed to its content, crossed finally by many 
efforts either clearly conscious of their aim or vaguely 
groping after it, the mind's moods assume a multitude of 
finely shaded forms, far removed from the dull comparability 
of a mere variation in degree of general pain or pleasure. 
The advance of culture, too, by enlarging the capacity of 
consciousness to embrace manifold ideas, increases also the 
intricacy of these cross-currents of feeling, and produces that 
boundless variety of emotional stirrings which even art not 
always, and the more imperfect means of scientific analysis 
never, can succeed in representing. 

Without at present entering on this labyrinth, through 
which the consideration of human culture will afterwards 
compel us to thread our way, we may mention three directions 
in which feeling acts on the connection of our intellectual 
life as a most momentous force. We must abovo all wean 
ourselves from the habit of looking on the feelings as 
subsidiary events that sometimes occur in the succession 
of our internal states, while the latter for the most part 


consist of an indifferent series of painless and pleasureless 
changes. Save one of complete repose, we can conceive no 
state not either in harmony with the conditions of psychic 
development or somehow contrary to them Whatever stimu 
lations, then, the soul may undergo, from each one we must 
expect an impression of pain or pleasure, and more accurate 
self-scrutiny, so far as it can recognise the washed-out colours 
of these impressions, confirms our conjecture, unable as it is 
to find any manifestation of our mental activity not accom 
panied by some feeling. The colours are indeed washed- 
out in the matured mind, in contrast to the preponderant 
interest which we bestow on particular ends of our personal 
endeavours, and deliberate attention is needed to detect them, 
just as microscopic examination is necessary to trace the regular 
formation of invisible objects, which the unassisted eye is wont 
carelessly to overlook. To each simple sensation, each colour, 
each tone, corresponds originally a special degree of pain or 
pleasure ; but, accustomed as we are to note these impressions- 
only in their significance as marks of objects, whose import 
and notion are of consequence to us, we observe the worth 
of these simple objects only when we throw ourselves with 
concentrated attention into their content. Every form of 
composition of the manifold produces in us, along with a 
perception, a slight impression of its agreement with the 
usages of our own development, and it is these often obscure 
feelings that give to each several object its special com 
plexion for each several temperament, so that, with the 
same complement of properties for all, it yet seems to 
each of us different. Even the simplest and apparently 
driest notions are never quite destitute of this attendant 
feeling ; we cannot grasp the conception of unity without 
experiencing a pleasant satisfaction, that is part of its con 
tent, or that of antagonism without participating in the pain 
of conflictive opposition; we cannot observe in things or 
evolve within ourselves such conceptions as rest, motion, 
eqidlHtriim, without throwing ourselves into them with all 
our living strength, and having a feeling of the kind and 


degree of resistance or assistance which they might bring 
to bear on us. A considerable part of our higher human 
culture is the result of this pervading presence of feelings- ; 
it is the basis of imagination, whence spring works of art, 
and which makes us capable of entering into natural beauty ; 
for productive and reproductive power consists in nothing 
else than the delicacy of apprehension by which the mind 
is able to clothe the world of values in the world of forms, 
or to become instinctively aware of the happiness concealed 
under the enveloping form. 

But feeling further contains the principle of that peculiar 
and highest activity which we encountered in the sphere of 
intelligence, namely, of that reason which requires of the actual 
sum of things conformity with forms of existence in which 
alone it finds a guarantee of the value of the actual If we 
are equally unwilling to attribute to the universe either the 
finitude of a fixed quantity or absolute infinity, if we require 
-that its conception be that of a whole and an essentially 
complete unit, and at the same time that it should compre 
hend all individuals, we follow in this and other require 
ments no longer the mere inclination of an uninterested 
understanding to which an object would be unthinkable 
without these conditions, but the inspirations of a reason 
appreciative of worth, that rejects even the thinkable so 
long as it is only thinkable and does not besides by the 
inherent excellence of its content win recognition of its 
worth in the world. Hence to the understanding by itself 
much would seem possible and correspondent to the laws 
of its procedure, which reason will deride on account of its 
inherent incredibility; it may claim much else that the 
understanding fails to apprehend in its peculiar forms of 
thought. If we examine our theory of the universe, as it 
has been matured in the course of the culture which we have 
acquired, not only through the reasonings of science, but also 
through the experience of life, we shall find it to a large 
extent determined no less by these often secretly co-operating 
requirements of our reason, than by the obvious principles of 


our understanding. The scientific energy of understanding 

wearies itself with working at the problems set before us 

the difficulties raised by the alteration of things, the variety of 
their properties, the vitality and freedom of all development ; 
and, even though its labour is not in vain, it yet is unable to 
vindicate the notions of living freedom and activity so clearly 
as to give binding authority to men's unquenchable trust in 
the future. The human spirit is endowed with the happy 
inconsistency of being able unsuspectingly to follow two lines 
of thought at once, without being aware of the contradiction 
in which they will sooner or later clash together. Thus in 
the path of ordinary experience we unhesitatingly adopt the 
modes of procedure of the understanding, by which we are 
always sure to be able systematically to connect particular 
with particular, and by means of which we might be equally 
assured did we but take note of it that we should never 
attain to that conception of the universal whole, which during 
all these efforts our reason is holding fast or seeking to gain. 

Not always, of course, do the events of life leave us in 
this state of obliviscence ; in the life of the individual as in 
that of the race we see how at certain critical moments there 
inevitably springs up a consciousness of the great cftasrn that 
yawns between our scientific experience in the finite sphere 
and our belief as to the matter and form of the eternal. But 
neither of this conflict in the individual mind nor of the more 
impressive forms which it has assumed in the history of 
culture and speculation, must we in this preliminary survey 
forestall our future description. Whatever has been the 
final decision, in actual life in which the evidence of our 
thoughts is different and differently distributed from what 
it is within the boundaries of science these varying judg 
ments have never been able to shake the belief that, in its 
feeling for the value of things and their relations, our reason 
possesses as genuine a revelation as, in the principles of logical 
investigation, it has an indispensable instrument of experience. 
But,, at the same time, a review of those judgments would 
teach us that no source of revelation is less clear than this, 



none so much needs a firmer basis as tins, which has no oilier 
foundation for its affirmations as to the necessary form of the 
world than the feeling of the value which it finds in it, and 
which it thinks it would fail to find in others that are con 
ceivable. Numberless circumstances may here deceive us 
numberless habits of thinking and perceiving, formed imper 
ceptibly and proceeding from individual peculiarities, from the 
level of culture of the age, or from the limitation of our 
personal experience, may mislead us to seek obstinately m a 
single fixed form, or blindly and incorrectly in a wholly wrong 
direction, that which we would be justified in requiring in a 
general way. "While, therefore, these higher views of things, as 
men choose to call them, will continue to be the animating and 
quickening breath of all human efforts, they will "yet always 
confirm the affinity between the worth-determining reason anc( 
the artistic imagination; in what they have produced, the feel 
ing of poetic justice invariably fills the place of insight into 
the grounds of certainty. These views form an intellectual 
treasure which is invaluable, but for which it is not easy to 
find a common standard of value, and science must perhaps 
be content if it succeed in demonstrating that the clear and 
irrefragable principles of the understanding are nothing else 
than the explicable parts of that treasure elaborated so as to 
"be ready for use not attached to it as something extraneous, 
but proceeding from itself, as the only methods by which 
we can, from our human point of view, succeed in realizing 
the special tendency and aim of reason to bring the actual 
world into the unity of a harmonious whole, 

Now, if these attempts of our mind to explain the world of 
values by the world of forms correspond to the conceptive 
energy of imagination seeking to create the actual anew from 
its own beauty as from a working power, then Practical Reason 
stands on a line with artistic production of beauty. Different 
ages have striven after different ideals of art , but however 
fantastic might be the form in which an unrefined imagination 
thought to have attained the expression of the highest, all recog 
nised as their ideal that which they reverenced. Scarcely less 


diverse have been, at different periods and stages of culture the 
Moral Ideals of the Practical Reason; but, whatever might be 
their content, it was felt as a duty to realize it in action, and 
the moral principles of each age were always sanctioned by 
the soul otherwise than were the truths of cognition ; they too 
were dictates of an appreciative feeling. A culture that from 
many various quarters has taken in enlightenment as to man's 
position in the universe, the measure and conditions of his 
powers, and the abundance of realizable good, may .fancy it has 
risen above this point of view, according to which the con 
sciousness of our moral obligations flows from a Moral Sense. 
To us, of course, the matter of the fundamental moral precepts 
appears so clear that we suppose their inherent necessity must 
be self-evident, just as the simplest cognitive principles have, 
at least as regards their unconscious practice, been self-evident 
to all peoples. Nevertheless, the experience of life teaches 
us how much variety, even though within narrower limits, 
there is in the substance of what individuals, with equal con 
viction and fervour, accept as the binding rule of their action. 
And a more extended survey would, on a comparison of 
different nations and civilisations, reach hardly any other 
result than this, that everywhere dispositions and actions are 
among the objects of worth-determining reason, but that this 
reason, in the recognition of its ideal in definite modes of 
action, is liable to illusions similar to those in which attempts 
at a higher knowledge of things often end. Even the world 
of ethical convictions is a result of culture ; we have to put 
together, in the great picture of humanity to which these con 
siderations serve as an introduction, the significant indications 
that, but for the numerous influences of culture, morality could 
not have come into being ; but here we have occasion only to 
mention that neither did it come into being through culture 
alone, but that it has its roots in the essential constitution of 
mind. Far from simply rising, as an attendant accessory, out 
of the exercise of ideational activity, morality, on the contrary, 
rests on this basis of feeling, which much more than cognition 
is peculiarly significant of the true nature of mind, while its 



influence, as we have seen, extends most unmistakeably to the 
exertions of our cognitive intelligence. 

3. But we promised to trace the workings of feeling in 
three directions, and the assertion just made reminds us of the 
second of these series of mental pha3iiomena, which we cannot 
understand without giving them a basis of feeling, though 
they are most commonly treated as facts purely of the cogni 
tive life. I mean Self -consciousness, in which we distinguish 
ourselves as Ego from the Non-ego of the rest of the world, 
and refer our manifold inner states to this Ego, as the cohesive 
centre of afferent and efferent actions. 

To earlier thinkers it often appeared as if self-conscious 
ness formed the essential and inborn characteristic, without 
which mind itself would be unthinkable, or by whose presence 
it is at least distinguished from the selfless soul of tho lower 
animals. This opinion has been gradually given up, and we 
have become accustomed to look on self-consciousness as the 
result of a long course of training, whether we consider effort 
for its attainment to be the motive power in all mental de 
velopment, or whether we hope to see the consciousness of the 
Ego spring from the mechanism of the train of ideas as one 
among several secondary products. The nature of tho thing 
seems to require us to take another path; midway between 
these conceptions. Certainly no one can seriously hold self- 
consciousness to be an inborn endowment of the mind in such 
a sense that from the first we see distinctly mirrored before 
us what we ourselves are. Even with all the aid of the training 
of life and of the attention of deliberate reflection, we never 
attain to this perfect knowledge, whose exhaustive detail would 
render superfluous all further questions as to the peculiar 
nature of our being. Our consciousness never presents to us 
this image as found ; we are merely directed to a more or less 
obscure point, in which lies our Ego, of which we are in search. 
But that we can seek it, that what we know so imperfectly 
we yet always discriminate with the utmost decision from the 
outer world, this impulse we cannot understand without con 
ceiving it as independent of the circumstances that condition 


the advancing perfection of our knowledge about ourselves. 
How then do we come to divide the multiplex objects of thought 
into these two parts the one Mgo, and, facing it, the inex 
haustible fulness of all else t Our distinction of ourself from, 
things does not resemble that which we make between two 
other objects; on the contrary, the contrast between ourselves 
and what is not ourselves manifests itself as unconditioned in 
meaning and extent, and not to be compared with any other 

Very naturally so, it -will be said : have we not here a 
special, nay, absolutely the only case in which that which 
thinks this relation of contrast is itself one of its terms ? This 
coincidence of thinker and thought, the essential characteristic 
of what we call the Ego, must justify the special prominence 
which we give to this distinction. But, examined more 
closely, this circumstance is found to throw very little light 
on the enigma of the peculiar interest which we take in this 
distinction, and which has very little in common with that 
awakened by the peculiarity of a rare phenomenon. The 
significance of self-consciousness lies not in the coincidence of 
thinker and thought ; for this is characteristic, not of OUT Ego 
alone, but of the universal nature of every Ego, from which we 
properly distinguish our own how ? To be sure by its being 
the thinker of our own thoughts. But what do we mean when 
we call any thoughts our own \ There must evidently be an 
immediate certainty as to what is ours, and it cannot flow 
for us out of the general idea of the nature of the Ego, from 
which to distinguish our own case is the essential office of 
our self-consciousness. And now it will be easily under 
stood how little an ever-growing fulness of insight into the 
nature of our soul would fill up the chasm we find here. 
For, even if we could correctly and accurately enumerate the 
peculiar characteristics that distinguish our soul from others, 
we should still have no reason to take the idea so acquired 
for more than the indifferent representation of a being some 
where existent, and as completely distinct from, aay second as 
any third is from any fourth. If, further, it did not escape our 
notice that the being so clearly seen through in the light of 


perfect knowledge was tlic very same as that winch at tliis 
moment completed its intuition of itself, we would indeed 
have given, in this actually accomplished self-reflection, the 
last characteristic crowning touch to the picture of that being, 
but we would still be far from having reached anything so 
significant as what in actual life we know and possess as self- 
consciousness. This perfect knowledge would indeed imply 

that our own being had become to us clearly objective, 

objective in such a sense, however, that our own self would 
appear to us but one among many objects; the intimacy with 
which in our actual self-consciousness we feel the infinite 
worth of this return upon ourselves would still remain 
unknown and unintelligible. Like all values given to objects 
of thought, this too is apprehended only by moans of feelings 
of pain and pleasure. Wot as thought, but as felt in its 
Immediate value for us does the identity of the thinker and 
the thought form the foundation of our self-consciousness, and 
once for all lift the distinction between us and the world 
beyond all comparison with the differences by which it dis 
criminates between one object and another. 

To this end simple feelings of sense arc adequate no less 
than those more elaborate intellectual ones by which highly 
developed minds bring home to themselves the worth and 
peculiar merit of their personality. Whether the soul's idea 
of itself be full or scanty, the image which it delineates 
a likeness or a caricature : that makes no difference to the 
vividness and force with which the matter of this image is 
felt as different from all else. The crushed worm writhing in 
pain undoubtedly distinguishes its own suffering from the rest 
of the world, though it can understand neither its own Ego nor 
the nature of the external world. But the consummate intel 
ligence of an angel, did it lack that feeling, would indeed be 
capable of keen insight into the hidden essence of the spul and 
of things, and in full light would observe the phenomena of its 
own self-reflection, but it would never learn why it should attach 
any greater value to the distinction between itself and the rest 
of the world than to the numerous differences between things in 


general that presented themselves to its notice. Thus self-con 
sciousness is to us but as the interpretation of a sense of self, 
\vhose prior and original force is not directly increased by the 
advance of our knowledge; only the fulness and clearness of the 
representation that we make of our own being keeps pace with 
our progress in culture. There is, of course, an equal increase 
also in the sum of the thoughts that bring external objects 
into relation with our efforts and volitions; the content of our 
Ego not only becomes clearer, but it extends over an enlarging 
circumference; thus, too, the vividness of the sense of self 
indirectly increases, inasmuch as the matured soul becomes 
capable of innumerable relationships, that to it are helps or 
hindrances to its own being, while to the undeveloped mind 
they seem merely indifferent relations between external things. 
4. The delineation of the course of this growth we must 
also defer till we come to discuss the relations of human life 
by which it is conditioned, only in a few words alluding to 
some points of it which will bring us to the last subject of 
our survey. It is easy to understand how at first the image 
of our own body must hold a prominent place in our thoughts. 
As the instrument of all perceptions and all movements, it is 
entwined with every manifestation of our life, and every 
remembrance of an impression, an action, a pain, or an enjoy 
ment recalls its image also, and accustoms us to discern directly 
the activity of our being in the moving and moveable bodily 
form. But just as simple are the experiences from which we 
soon gain the conviction that the vitality in it is not itself, 
that we have to seek in it indeed, but not extending into its 
visible form, a moving force, the common cause at once of its 
own liability to change and of the living transformations of 
the inner world within which our ideas, feelings, and voli 
tions jostle one another. This imperfect conception doubtless 
contents most men, more apt to look beyond the idea of 
the body than intent on any other definite point. Science 
seeks indeed to fill up this gap by efforts to grasp the 
obscure being of which it is in search in. the form of a 
thing, a supersensible force, or an immaterial substance; but 



these attempts lie beyond the sphere of natural and un 
constrained thought, and, as directed towards establishing 
the universal nature of the soul, they do not tend to en 
lighten the individual as to the distinctive nature of his 
own Ego. Hence ordinary consciousness is little disposed to 
indulge in such brooding reflection; it prefers to enjoy its 
individuality, knowing full well how to distinguish itself from 
every other Ego by recollection of its bodily appearance, of 
the story of its life, of its joys and sorrows, achievements and 
hopes, in general of its peculiar position in the world. 

But it also learns by experience how the world offers it 
resistance, how little it can next moment become what last 
moment it meant to become ; it finds its knowledge and its 
power dependent on the accidents of its course of culture ; its 
whole individuality, so far as under its own observation, seems 
at the mercy of circumstances alien from itself. Thus we 
come to set in contrast to the sharply delineated image of the 
empiric Ego another, in which we think we collect the per 
manent characteristics that form the true content of our bein^, 
and are independent of the particular modifications which 
have been caused by external influences. As, in considering 
anything, we separate the accidental form which it owes to 
extraneous action from the unchanging properties that qualify 
it to assume its present form (as under other circumstances 
they would cause it to appear under quite different forms), so 
we now seek our true Ego in the permanent habits and 
peculiarities of our mental action, which would always have 
remained the same, even had the external conditions of their 
development been wholly diverse. Accordingly, we do not 
believe that what we know, what we have done and suffered, 
exhausts our Ego ; but taking the manifold results of this 
development only as one of the many ways in which it was 
possible to unfold our nature, we find ourselves, on the con 
trary, in the general mood of our feelings, in the temperament 
which in us is not quite the same as in any one else, in our 
whole mode and habit of being, whether lively or dull, in our 
peculiar manner of dealing with the body of our knowledge. 


All tliis, we fancy, would have been quite the samo, what 
ever course of development had been allotted to us by 
destiny ; and if we readily set down to the peculiar merit 
of our nature all fair and admirable culture which our 
actual situation has enabled us to acquire, we yet do not 
doubt that everything perverse and blameable is to be 
ascribed to the hindrance of circumstances alone. The 
empiric Ego appears to us like the foliage of a tree, whose 
degree of fulness and beauty depends on the influences of 
the year ; even if it be stripped off, the vegetative force 
remains in the trunk unaltered, and justifies the hope of 
better results under more favourable conditions. Thus, by 
this aesthetic picture of our abiding disposition, we are chiefly 
used to make our personality distinct to ourselves, and 
certainly we thereby attain to a truer and more speaking 
likeness of our nature than is supplied by the heterogeneous 
multitude of our actual remembrances, which include too 
much of the past and accidental and too little of the 
future. But after all, we soon come to perceive that even 
this idea does not afford what, in the highest meaning of 
the word, we are seeking as our true Ego. 

Tor in only too great a degree do we find our temperament, 
our prevailing frame of mind, the peculiar direction and the 
liveliness of our imagination, lastly, the conspicuous capacities 
that seemed at first to form the endowment of our purely 
individual personality, dependent on our bodily constitution 
and its changes ; nay, as inherited predisposition, much of it 
is but the result of a course of Nature that long prior to our 
own existence had already irrevocably fixed certain tendencies 
of our corning life. And even if we were not thus indebted 
to the chain of physical effects, if, on the contrary, our soul 
had been in its essence moulded apart from it, still even then 
its original capabilities would appear as something given, as 
an endowment from the creative power from which our 
temporal existence sprang, and where we expected to grasp 
a self of our own, we would find something established by 
an outside power, not our own, in the sense in which we 


possess what we have won "by our own exertions and spon 
taneous energy. Thus is formed the longing to transcend the 
content of our Ego, and in a pure, as yet undetermined., and 
self-moulding impulse to seek the true and fundamental 
essence of our personality ; in this we seem to ourselves 
to be really only what we have made ourselves. We will 
not track the strange contradictions into which, in scientific 
inquiry, this course of thought must necessarily lead ; the 
more natural instinct of the unprejudiced mind is open to 
conviction here, and does not require that all not done hy our 
selves should "be excluded from our "being Confessing, what 
it cannot deny, that without any choice of ours the extent of 
our possible development is unalterably fixed by external 
circumstances by the peculiarities of the race to which we 
belong, by the bodily constitution with which we enter life, 
by the age in which we are born, lastly, by the general laws 
of mental life, which are alike for all, it is content with 
requiring that amidst all this necessary order there be at least 
one point of freedom, whence our energy may mould this 
material of existence offered to us into a possession for our 
selves alone. Conditioned in all else, in the forms of our 
knowledge, in the course of our ideas and feelings, we will 
be free at least in willing and acting. 

5. We have already expressed the conviction that, besides 
Ideation and Feeling, Volition contains a peculiar element of 
mental activity, not derived from these two, though dependent 
on them as the occasions of its appearance. ISTow, however, 
when we come more closely to consider this new mode of 
psychic activity, we must premise the acknowledgment that, 
among the various phenomena which under various names are 
either directly ranked with it or attached to it as of kin, there 
are many in which we can recognise only special forms of 
ideation and feeling. We are unquestionably too lavish of the 
names volition and effort, and denote by them many processes 
to which the soul is related not as an acting being but only 
as an observing consciousness ; movements of ideas and feel 
ings that merely take place in us on various occasions supplied 


by the general psychic mechanism, and are noted ly us as 
taking place, we erroneously take for energies put forth 
by our decided Will or by some less definite effort of 
our Ego. 

If we examine the manifold Impulses of sense, we shall 
always find as their peculiar nucleus a feeling that in pain or 
pleasure discloses to us the value of a bodily state perhaps 
not rising to conscious clearness. Only because we have had 
experience, which the mechanism of remembrance brings again 
before us, so that the ideas of the motions or of the objects 
that have previously prolonged pleasure or shortened pain are 
now again in consciousness, does the feeling pass into a 
movement directed towards the restoration of these favourable 
circumstances. Our will, however, does not immediately 
manifest itself, but wholly without volition and with mechani 
cal sequence, feeling itself and the ideas associated with it at 
once start the bodily movements serving to that end, and 
what we call impulse is not a volition by which we guide the 
body, but a perception of its passive state and of the move 
ments arising involuntarily within it, by which the other 
energies of our consciousness are .brought into corresponding 
exercise. Impulse, accordingly, is nothing but the apprehen 
sion of being impelled ; and if any volition mingles with it, 
it is simply the volition not to resist but to give way to the 
natural current of these inner changes. 

But we cannot confine this consideration to sense-impulses , 
the greater part of what in daily life we call our actions are 
performed quite in the same way. Ideas start tip in us 
according to universal laws, and to these become attached in 
part directly, in part through the intervention of various 
feelings, all sorts of images of bodily movements, which, hover 
before our consciousness sometimes as means of reaching an 
external object, sometimes as alleviations of a present pain. 
Very rarely is a real volition produced by this pressure of 
internal stimuli ; the train of ideas in general passes spon 
taneously into external movement, and a great number even 
of complex actions take place in this involuntary fashion, 


and that even though the series of intermediate links, through 
which they are connected with the original moving force, 
"be not fully unrolled in consciousness. There is no reason 
why these processes should be distinguished by a different 
name from the actions which we find occurring in every 
composite organism with like variety of form and like 
mechanical necessity of sequence and in fact we are usually 
disposed to deny volition proper to the lower animals, whose 
manifestations we suppose to have no other source than this. 
We are convinced that we meet with an act of will only 
where the impulses urging to action are apprehended in 
distinct consciousness, where, moreover, the decision whether 
they shall be followed or not is deliberated upon and is left 
to be determined by free choice of the mind, which is unswayed 
by these pressing motives, and not by the force of these 
motives themselves. So intimate is the connection between 
the notion of Freedom and that of Volition ; for in this 
decision concerning a given matter of fact consists the true 
efficacy of Will. On the other hand, Will can have no 
content other than that supplied by the involuntary flow 
of ideas and feelings, and, not being itself an outwardly 
directed effort, moulding and creative, must be content with 
unrestricted freedom of choice between the objects thus put 
within its reach. 

Now, were it impossible to conceive this freedom or to 
justify its acceptance as a fact, would we have any further 
occasion to retain the name of Will ? However much mental 
life may surpass Nature in the peculiar complexity of its pro 
cesses, its connection would then seem in no wise essentially 
to differ from the complete and blind necessity of an un 
broken chain of mechanism. Neverthless, we do not think 
that even on this supposition volition could be dismissed 
as a peculiar element from the series of manifestations of 
psychic energy, though its position would be a startling one. 
When men coin a special name for simple processes, not com 
posed of a plurality of ideas, but, on the contrary, binding 
pluralities for the first time into a whole, they may often 


make mistaken applications of it, and fail rightly to define 
the phenomena in which they believe the process occurs ; 
but they will scarcely invent something having nowhere any 
actual existence. For, after all, our thought can only have for 
its matter what we have somehow experienced ; and as we do 
not devise anything wholly new, we can hardly err other 
wise than in the combination and application of the simple 
elements afforded by our inner experience; Accordingly, 
nothing else than pedantic prejudice, it would seem, can 
attempt to derive the nature of volition from mere cognition, 
and to vindicate the assertion that the proposition I will 
is tantamount to the clear and confident consciousness of 
/ sliall Perhaps the mere assurance that I shall act may 
be tantamount to the knowing of my volition, but then 
the notion of acting must include the peculiar element of 
approval, permission, or intention, that makes the will such, 
and that is absent in the simple anticipation of the future 
occurrence of an effect proceeding from us. It is vain, there 
fore, to deny the reality of volition, as vain as it would be to 
endeavour by lengthy explanations to make plain its simple 
nature, which is only to be known directly through experi 
ence. The approval through which our will adopts as its 
own the resolution offered to it by the pressing motives of 
the train of ideas, or the disapproval with which it rejects it, 
would be conceivable even if neither possessed the slightest 
power of interfering, for determination and alteration, with 
the course of mental events. Just as external circumstances 
drive men to modes of acting absolutely alien or even repug 
nant to their disposition, so even in thought separate moments 
might form themselves into a chain of unbroken necessity, 
and unceasingly compel actions followed at the very moment 
by the impotent remorse of conscience. 

This idea, startling as it may at first appear, is yet not 
so far removed from thoughts with which we are familiar in 
life. It may almost be said to be only scientific investiga 
tion that is apt to confound unlimited freedom of volition 
with exhaustless capability of performance ; our experience 

VOL. I. E 


of life, on the other hand, warns us of our weakness in con 
flict with the mighty power of involuntary impulses, and we 
believe a higher aid to be needed in order that we may over 
come it. It is, in fact, an error to require of the will more 
than volition, and the difficulties usually thrown in the way of 
the conviction of its freedom proceed mostly, though even in 
that case not irresistibly, from that prejudice. How often 
have fears of a destruction of all actual order been expressed 
as the result of free resolve on the part of an animated 
being, if it were not found possible to bring it into connec 
tion with the rest of Nature as a necessarily conditioned 
effect. This was to forget within how narrow limits the 
power of a finite creature would be confined even if its 
will not only were free, but also had the bodily organization 
absolutely at its disposal as the instrumentality of its 
resolutions. It was to forget that every effect, however 
free and arbitrary may have been its motive, as soon as it 
happens as an effect, takes its place once more in the circle 
of calculable events subject to universal laws, and that no 
freedom is allowed wider room for exercise than falls 
to it by right in the undisturbed order of things. Finally, 
to indulge the fear that nevertheless the processes intro 
duced by the animated will at its choice into the actual course 
of Nature might, as they gradually accumulated, diffuse 
themselves in opposition to the plan of Nature, was further to 
overlook the fact that even the uninterrupted and unfree 
sequence of all states in psychic life would not lessen this 
danger. Tor where is the guarantee that in every individual 
mind, feelings, ideas, and efforts would always be mingled 
together and act on one another in so happy a form and 
degree that they must always end in a practical decision in 
harmony with the true import of the course of Nature ? Do 
we not as we actually are, free or not, as a matter of fact 
interfere to disturb or destroy with the Nature around us, 
leaving behind many distinct traces of our wayward energy, 
while yet we cannot on a large scale shake the order of 
things ? And if we hold now ihat an arbitrary and free will 


directs our actions, would we, from considering the limits of 
our power, have occasion to dread a much more extensive 
disturbance of the order of the outer world 2 No more than 
rloes the Nature around us would our own nature lose all 
internal connection, as is so commonly thought, by coming 
into the possession of unlimited freedom of resolution. For 
it would still be only the resolves that we left free ; the 
unity and stability of our personal consciousness would rest 
on the broad and secure foundation of the innate sense of 
our existence, of our idiosyncrasies, of the sum of impressions 
received, of the memory of past experience, of the abiding 
mood, of the perpetually efficient and universal laws of our 
train of ideas, for over these elements of our mental life 
that freedom would have no power. On the other hand, the 
amount of changeableness that we would still retain, through 
the arbitrariness of our resolves, would accommodate itself 
to the capacity of development which we must desire, more 
easily than to the change which we must shun. 

But does not the universal Law of Causality, that for 
every effect will have a sufficient cause, finally bar the way 
against any doctrine of freedom, and inexorably convert the 
connection of the universe into an endless chain of blind 
effects ? . Wo should have thought that the more distinctly 
this conversion were required as the logical consequence of 
the above conception of the causal connection, the more dis 
tinctly apparent was also the incorrectness of the conception 
itself. So immovably firm is the conviction of our reason, 
that the sum of all actuality cannot present the absurdity of 
a blind and necessary vortex of events, in which there is no 
room for freedom, that no other tapk is left for the rest of 
knowledge than to bring the apparent contradiction of our 
experience into harmony with this conviction as the first 
certain point. We do not deny that this problem of science 
is still far from the happy solution that we desire for it, 
and, without here entering on investigations difficult to make 
and doubtful in their result, we may subject certain points 
of the common conviction to renewed examination, 


If tlie causal law rightfully requires a cause for every 
effect, it is our fault, on the other hand, if we see in every 
event an effect, or regard the discovered cause as itself 
invariably the effect of another cause The indefinitely pro 
longed series in which we here involve ourselves, ought to 
turn our attention to the fact that the proposition in the 
premises affirms less than it seems to do. If we maintain 
that all substance is indestructible, we say what is true, pro 
vided we have included the attribute of indestructibility m 
the notion of substance ; but we do not make any directly 
valid statement ; for the very question before us is whether 
there are substances in this sense, and whether we are 
constrained by experience which beyond doubt bids us 
add in thought to every group of properties and develop 
ments a subject as their base further to conceive this 
subject itself as a so constituted substance. In like manner, 
all that we think and designate as an effect undoubtedly 
requires its cause, but it is a question whether we arc 
entitled to consider every event that happens as in this 
sense an effect. The very infinitude of the series of causes 
is a proof that we are not, for it necessarily leads to the 
recognition of a primitive being and a primitive motion. 
What constitutes the absolute authority of the causal law 
is not that every part of the finite sum of things actual must 
in the finite sphere be produced by fixed causes, according to 
universal laws, but that each constituent once introduced into 
this actual course continues to act according to tlienc laws. 
We commonly speak only of every effect having its cause, 
but we should on the contrary lay stress chiefly on the other 
form of the proposition every cause infallibly has its effect. 
The meaning of causality consists not indeed exclusively, but 
(it seems to me) in its more essential part, in its securing 
to every element of the actual world, springing from no 
matter what source, means of acting energetically on the 
other constituents of the world to which it now belongs, 
at the -same time preventing it from acting within that 
world otherwise than in harmony with the universal laws 


regulating all that takes place in it. Thus tlie world would 
be like a vortex swelled by new waves from all sides, which 
it does not itself attract or produce, but which, once within 
it, are forced to take part in its motion. We have another 
example of the same process in the relation of our own soul 
to the bodily organs ; the soul evolves from itself resolutions, 
starting-points for future movements ; none of them needs to 
be determined by and founded on phenomena in the bodily 
life on which it reacts; but each, at the moment of its 
passing into that life, subordinates itself to the peculiar laws 
of the latter, and generates so much or so little motion and 
force as these permit of motion too in the direction which 
they prescribe and in no other. The universal course of 
things may at every moment have innumerable beginnings 
whose origin lies outside of it, but can have none not 
necessarily continued within it. Where such hen-innings 
are to be found we cannot beforehand say with certainty; 
but if experience convinces us that every event of external 
Nature is at the same time an effect having its cause in pre 
ceding facts, it still remains possible that the cycle of inner 
mental life does not consist throughout of a rigid mechanism 
working necessarily, but that along with unlimited freedom 
of will it also possesses a limited power of absolute com 

6. In now bringing to an end this sketch, in which, far 
from meaning to exhaust the fulness of mental life, we have 
sought merely to indicate the main outlines of its internal con 
nection, we would fain dwell on one point as the chief result of 
our considerations namely, the conviction we have gained 
of the pervading difference separating the' constitution of the 
inner life from the peculiar course of external Nature. Not 
only are its elements different from those of Nature, con 
sciousness, feeling, and will having no resemblance to the states 
which observation either shows us or compels us to infer in 
material bodies ; but further, the modes of energy, those mani 
festations of a power to combine the manifold according to 
relations, with whose value we have become acquainted, have 


in them nothing analogous to the reciprocal actions which we 
can trace going on between the former. However much we 
may have become used, from the much higher point to which 
the physical sciences have been cultivated, to look on their 
fundamental conceptions as universally applicable means of 
investigation, we must nevertheless acknowledge that we 
have here entered on a new and wholly different sphere, 
whose peculiar nature requires us to accustom ourselves to 
new and special points of view. It would be a mistake to 
suppose this demand to be made in opposition merely to 
Materialism, which, denying as it does the independent nature 
of the mental being, must also in consistency decline the 
obligation to seek new modes of considering a subject which 
it does not recognise to be new ; the tendency with which we 
find fault extends far more widely, even among those who, 
like us, base their views on the independent origin, of spirit. 
We are so used in Nature to indirect effects and to their 
being explained by the consideration of single constituents, so 
used to find momentous differences in properties traced back 
to trifling alterations in the amount and mode of combination 
of homogeneous elements, that ut last we lose all understand 
ing of anything immediate, and unconsciously become possessed 
by a passion for construing everything, assigning to every 
thing a complicated machinery as the means of its origination 
and operation. We would then fain assert that even within 
us there is nothing but an exterior concatenation of events, 
resembling the communication of movement by which, in the 
outer world, we see one element come into collision with 
another- and all else that we find within consciousness, 
feeling, and effort we would be almost tempted to regard as 
only a kind of accidental reflection in us of that real action, 
unless indeed we see that there must be something for 
which, and in which this reflection arises. That something 
there is ; every several expression of our consciousness, every 
stirring of our feelings, every dawning resolution, calls aloud 
that processes, not to be measured by the standard of 
physical notions, do indeed take place, with unconquerable and 


undeniable reality. So long as we have this experience, 
Materialism may prolong its existence and celebrate its 
triumphs within the schools, where so many ideas estranged 
from life find shelter, but its own professors will belie their false 
creed in their living action. Tor they will all continue to 
love and hate, to hope and fear, to dream and study, and 
they will in vain seek to persuade us that this varied exercise 
of mental energies, which even deliberate denial of the super 
sensible cannot destroy, is a product of their bodily organiza 
tion, or that the love of truth exhibited by some, the sensitive 
vanity betrayed by others, has its origin in their cerebral 
fibres. Among all the errors of the human mind it has 
always seemed to me the strangest that it could come to 
doubt its own existence, of which alone it has direct experi 
ence, or to take it at second hand as the product of an 
external Nature which we know only indirectly, only by 
means of the knowledge of the very niind to which we would 
fain deny existence. 





Different Stages of Apprehension of the World ; True and Derivative Stand 
points The Universal Bond between Mind and Matter Possibility and 
Inexplicableness of Eeciprocal Action between the Homogeneous and the 
Heterogeneous How Sensations arise Guidance of Movements Influ 
ence of the Soul on Bodily Form. 

1. nnHE study of mental life has led us into paths far 
JL removed from those along which the explanation 
of natural phsenomena is wont to move. But the greater the 
peculiarity of psychic life so great that it requires the most 
thoughtless familiarity with the forms of the material world 
to find conceivable the idea that that life originated in the 
reciprocal action of material substances the more forcibly 
do there now press forward the laboriously held back questions 
in regard to the possibility of the mutual influence which we 
everywhere find the two so sharply separated spheres of action 
exercising on one another. How great and weighty is the 
moulding power over the amount and direction of the 
intellectual activity exerted in each individual by changes 
of bodily temperament, everyday experience is sufficient to 
convince us, 'without further discussion being needful ; that 
experience, I mean, which still remains after we have made 
allowance for the thoughtless exaggeration with which many 
thinkers in our day as if they had lost all remembrance of 
self-control and self-denial assure us that they can find in 
the energies of mental life nothing else than an exact repeti 
tion of physical processes. How much, on the other hand, 
all higher culture Depends on the countless reciprocal actions 
(all ultimately performed by means of corporeal needs and 
activities) going on between tis and the outer world, and 



how powerfully environing Nature, now through slight 
encouragement, now through capricious refusal, encourages 
or hinders new developments of our powers : of this every 
age has furnished convincing examples, yet this dependence 
has come home most clearly and strongly to the thought 
of the present age. Whether this puts us on the whole 
in a hetter position than former generations, whether this 
conscious utilizing of the outer world for the advance 
of the general wellbeing to an extent that can only he 
called grand, will leave intact a feeling for the noble ends 
for which all this externality of culture is recommended as 
means, we must leave it to the future to determine ; as 
yet certainly the hurry of this advance havS not been able 
to stifle the interest in the serious problems ever meeting 
MB anew in regard to the connection in the universe 
"between the spiritual order and the course of Nature, and 
in miniature as to the mode in which our individual soul 
is related to its corporeal envelope. 

But the more manifold the interests by which our outer 
life is stirred and we have to collect ourselves from their 
tumult ere resuming consideration of these problems the 
more diverse are also the cravings after enlightenment and 
the tacit expectations with which we set about its investi 
gation, and the more numerous the secret germs of miscon 
ception threatening later, with increasing force, to perplex 
our efforts with the contradictory insistence of their claims. 
It will he hard for any theory to satisfy all these demands 
of the mind, uncertain of themselves as they so often are ; 
hardest when, without separating the problems, an attempt 
is made to attain at once all the various ends that can be 
proposed for any scientific discussion. 

For our wishes may be directed either towards the com 
prehension of phenomena and the entering into their essential 
meaning, or towards such an accurate acquaintance with their 
external modes of connection as shall enable us to calculate 
the effect exercised by each one on every other; but the 
complete fusion into indivisible unity of the two lines of 


our inquiry seems to be forbidden by more than one im 
perfection of human nature. To go back to the ultimate 
and deepest elements in the being of things, and to explain 
everything that perplexes us in phenomena from the supreme 
laws of action in the universe and from the rational 
nature of the design that combines particular events into 
the order of a significant whole : this ideal task we wish 
neither to depreciate in the eyes of those enthusiastic 
aspirants who with undamped ardour are ever anew resum 
ing it, nor are we willing to concede to those who turn 
from it with contempt that it is of less importance than 
it is. Nevertheless we must acknowledge that this absorp 
tion in the highest has seldom been the source of an 
accurate knowledge of the lower ; while it yielded the mind 
the peculiar satisfaction of secure repose in the universal 
source of things, it did not at the same time heighten the 
acute agility with which the intellect (constrained to make 
itself familiar with the connection of the finite world 
in order to fulfil the requirements of practical life) has so 
great an interest in searching out how the individual proceeds 
from the individual. Where speculative problems come to 
have also practical ends, where what we aim at is not 
merely to understand and admire the sequence of events, but 
to be able to interfere with and direct it, there insight into 
the ultimate and universal reasons of things falls in value 
below acquaintance with the immediate rules of the special 
department in which we may have to act. Now it is easy 
to pass from the study of the particular to that of the uni 
versal and higher that spreads above it, but it is more difficult 
for us to find the way back from the indefiniteness of the uni 
versal into all the complicated details of the concrete which 
it is our business to master. We do not therefore see this 
path taken by the sciences to which we as yet owe the most 
abiding and fruitful extensions of knowledge ; they do not 
start from the points which even subsequent and deliberate 
reflection would have to allow to be the deepest certain foun 
dations of all reasoning, the inherent and essential truth of 


tilings. They rather leave much undetermined, many open 
questions, above all the final vindication of the principles 
which they borrow from the careful analysis of experience as 
supports for the further advance of their explanations, -which 
are well accredited, though obscure in their origin ; ever bent 
on achieving a secure and extended dominion over the concrete, 
they may seem to contemplative minds to have less head, 
but certainly they have better hands and feet, than the 
upholders of higher views of things, who come towards 
them from the other side, generally with impracticable 
claims, always very lavish of requirements, yet themselves 
yielding nothing We perhaps sometimes succeed, with due 
attention to all the conditions of a physical event, in finding 
a formula that completely states the law by which it is 
regulated ; but the equation thus obtained we perhaps 
cannot solve, and the truth which we possess in it remains 
a useless lockecl-up treasure. In such cases science is- con 
tent to stop short, and, leaving out of its investigation 
^somc of the conditions influencing the causation of the phceno- 
mgnon only slightly, but mainly causing the complication of 
the formula, to draw from the simplified and now explicable 
equation inferences that are only proxiniately correct, but, 
because they can be obtained, more useful than absolutely correct 
ones that cannot be had. In like manner, we may perhaps 
attain to a credible explanation iii regard to the highest ends 
of the universe ; but past attempts have made us familiar 
with the disappointing result of finding that from these sub 
lime problems we can get very little light on the complex 
course of events by which Nature works them out, and yet tho 
practical inducements to our inquiries lie mostly in this field, 
the laws governing which do not refuse to disclose themselves 
to a less ambitious train of thought. 

$Tow to this natural preference for things that are attain 
able there is in. our case added a further consideration, which 
persuades us to divide the problem lying before us. Tho 
further we go from the facts given, in order by a generalizing 
comparison to find the fundamental axioms that will agam 


lead us back to them, the more numerous must the possible 
sources of error become; their number increases with that 
of the intermediate links of the reasoning "by which -we 
connect the data with the ultimate generalization of which 
we are in search. Hence, by nothing but by a fatal con 
fidence in its own infallibility can science be led so far astray 
as to attach its knowledge of complex series of phenomena 
by preference to the fewest possible axioms, or to the 
slender thread of a single principle, which causes the whole to 
fall if it gives way. Its labour will be more wisely directed 
if, instead of raising its structure on the sharp edge of a 
single fundamental view, and performing the marvellous feat 
of achieving the greatest possible instability by the most 
recondite means, it looks out for the broadest basis on -which 
to build, and, first of all, starting modestly, traces the given 
facts to the proximate grounds of explanation required by 
their distinctly recognisable peculiarities. It will reserve 
to itself the right of making these preliminary results matter, 
of a more advanced inquiry ; but, remembering how at this 
elevation sharpness of outline in the subjects of our scrutiny, 
and withal trustworthiness in our judgment gradually 
diminish, it will at once allow the possibility, and lessen . the 
mischierousness of error. For it will be open to science to quit 
again those higher spheres which, with its insufficient m^ans, 
it believed it had already conquered, and to retreat to that 
lower "but secure vantage-point, whence the view, though 
not the loftiest possible, still remains that of truth and 

Finally, even if we believed we could unerringly tread the 
path to the highest summit, we would yet have reasons for 
seldom entering on it. Fox, in order to reach the highest 
point, we would be compelled to renounce many of those 
ways of looking at things on whose application depend all 
clearness and vividness in our daily intercourse with the 
world. Now, as surely as we must resotately carry out this 
renunciation of the correctness of the illusion with which 
we have become so familiar, so , surely must we, on our 


return from the most elevated point of view to the level of 
the surrounding finite world, resume once more the language 
of illusion. We gain clearness and insight not by giving up 
in every case the wonted forms of human conception, to put 
in their stead the language of a higher truth, but by once for 
all going back to the source of things, and thenco making 
ourselves acquainted with the limits -within which we niay 
without error apply these wonted forms of conception as 
handy instruments of knowledge, as proximate and manage 
able abbreviations of the true statement. To carry directly 
into special and single investigations the highest principles 
those of all ultimate determination can lead to no advan 
tage, only to the mischief of a disquieting lack of clearness ; 
no one can at one moment keep in view the whole series of 
further conditions, and yet it is only by means of these that 
the highest principles can. be brought to boar on the case in 
point, Though astronomy has established the fact that the 
un stands still and the earth moves, yet in our daily speech 
we avoid the absurdity of making a cumbrous statement of tlic 
real state of things, instead of speaking of the sun's rising 
and setting ; though the greater or less power of bodies to 
resume their altered form depends on the forces by which 
the infinitesimal particles act on each other, we do not OH 
every occasion pause to calculate these, but rejoice to possess 
in the notion of elasticity and in, its laws as discovered by 
experience, means at hand for a more convenient mode of 
expression ; lastly, though every change by which our food 
is made more tempting to the appetite undoubtedly depends 
on universal chemical laws, wo do not wait until theso are 
discovered, nay, even, then gastronomy will probably prefer, 
as guarantees of success, the maxims of experience to the 
precepts of science. The scant inclination hitherto shown 
by the higher inquirers to convert the treasure of their 
perhaps inestimable results into the current small coin of 
thoughts that can be retained in memory, and useful abbrevia 
tions, lias not only cut them off from general sympathy, but 
contributed to their own want of clearness. It is no perfect 


state of society in which the decision of every trifling 
question, directions for the management of the most petty 
affairs, must be given by the supreme tribunal; and as there 
a smoothly working mechanism of administration is subor 
dinated to the powers of legislation and government, so too 
science needs a gradation of points of view, and, while it 
must be possible to refer unsatisfactory decisions from the 
lower to the higher for farther explanation, seekers after law 
must not in every case be compelled to travel the long road 
that leads to the ultimate ground of things. 

2. No question is to be more confidently expected 
than the general one concerning the bond between body 
and soul ; it is commonly the first put in this branch of 
inquiry, and to it from later stages men return, as with a 
long-drawn breath, when, dissatisfied with all more restricted 
modes of expression, they think to sum up in it the 
whole difficulty of the subject. And yet hardly anything 
can be more prejudicial than the misunderstanding involved 
in this conception of the question. Tor what else is a 
bond than a means of externally connecting two things 
which do not of themselves cohere, and, from having no 
inherent relation to one another, are not disposed to exert 
any reciprocal action? And, supposing we had been able 
to discover this universal nay, this single bond between 
body and soul, what craving would we have really 
satisfied ? None of the numberless reactions which we 
see going on between the two would be in form and 
character one whit more intelligible with this external 
collocation than without it ; nay, even the possibility of any 
mutual influence we should still have to try and under 
stand from the nature of the things bound, by a fresh course 
of inquiry, since we should fail to do so from the indefinite 
idea of the bond. Besides, by what new means of cohesion 
are the constituents of every bond themselves held together, 
so that they are able to unite other things ? However far 
into detail we may carry the resource of a constantly renewed 
cement, we shall in the end have to confess that the ultimate 

VOL. i , s 


elements are not rendered capable of reciprocal action by 
any pre-existing bond, but that the reciprocal action is itself 
what holds them together, and fits them to bind together other 
things, the mutual affinities of which are too weak to unite 
them in the face of opposing obstacles. 

But, nevertheless, does not the demand to exhibit this common 
bond mean the justifiable requirement of a condition that 
must first be there before the reciprocal action can be realized? 
Does not the vessel containing two chemical substances act 
as a bond to force them into mutual contact, and thereby 
give them an opportunity of exerting the influences, the pre 
cise nature and amount of which arc of course determined by 
their own mutual affinities ? Certainly the elements whose 
reciprocal relations have not sufficient force to make them 
seek one another, need a guiding hand to bring them together; 
but after they are together, they are kept so neither by the 
hand nor by the vessel, but by their own reciprocal action, 
and often with a force greater than could have been imparted 
by any external bond. And so to drop the simile it is a 
question deserving attention in what manner body and soul 
were united in the first formation of life; but we cannot 
seek a permanent bond between body and soul different from 
the vital reciprocal action of both, in the fully-formed and 
self-maintaining life the explanation of which is of neces 
sity our primary object, as only from the knowledge of its 
constitution can we form conjectures as to its origin. This 
would be an idea alike superfluous and contemptible as 
superfluous as it would be to insist on regarding the bond 
of friendship between two individuals as a particular and 
visible tie, while it is the friendship itself that forms 
the bond; contemptible, because this would indeed be 
to link soul and body together in wholly external 
fashion, without regard to the fact that not by one form 
less bond, but by a fine-spun tissue of numberless 
relations, are both most admirably fitted to work on each 
other's states and needs. For each action and re-action 
passing between them is a fibre of that which forms their 


mutual bond, and the scorn so often cast on the view of 
human nature as composed of soul and body, on account 
of its deriving our being from the addition of two constituent 
parts, is a mere mistaken transference of this miserable idea 
of one universal bond to the unlimited variety of organized 
reciprocal action. Let us then set aside this vain theory, 
alike as in its coarser form it seeks some material cement, 
perhaps of the nature of an ethereal matter, that may make 
body and soul adhere, and as in more refined, yet not more 
trustworthy shape, it makes the soul itself the intermediate 
link between body and mind, and thereby but adds to the 
number of elements which it would fain join into one. 

3. But are not these reciprocal actions themselves most 
incomprehensible, or is there any means of forming an idea 
how impressions pass from the body to the soul and are 
sent back from the latter ? In this question also lurks much 
misunderstanding, in fact it is but a new form of expression 
for the false idea underlying the last. This reciprocal action 
is certainly inexplicable, but it is not among those processes 
whose reality we may doubt on account of their inexplic- 
ability, because they ought to be explained by laws known to 
us ; on the contrary, it is itself the notion of that simple and 
primitive procedure to which all explanation of composite 
occurrences takes us back, and which now, by a confusion of 
ideas, we would fain rest upon its own results. Or do we in 
that question seek something other than a minute and vivid 
description of the arms which the soul aggressively extends 
into the body, of the material organs by which the body con 
veys to it impressions made upon itself, in short, of the whole 
machinery by which here as in other cases of reciprocal 
action which we think we know more accurately the com 
munication of influence from the one side to the other takes 
place 1 

On impartial self-scrutiny, we cannot deny that in our 
speculations as to the universe, curiosity very often usurps 
the place of genuine desire of knowledge, and that the ample 
satisfaction afforded to the one by the entertaining variety of 


a succession of images but too often makes us forget how 
wholly unquenched is the other. We are apt to estimate 
the thoroughness of our insight according to the number of 
details which in any investigation we have mastered ; the 
more internal mechanism, the more intricacy our analyzing 
study finds in any object, the more completely do we believe 
ourselves to understand its nature and manner of working. 
We do not reflect that this multitude of connected parts but 
increases the extent of that which we have to explain, and 
that every new link shown to intervene between the first cause 
and the last effect, instead of solving, only renders more com 
plicated the enigma, how reciprocal action is possible between 
different elements. If we have studied the details of a 
machine, whose mode of working was to us at first wholly 
inexplicable, and seen where each wheel works into the other, 
and transfers its own movements in fixed directions to other 
parts, we think we have solved all problems. And yet we 
have not gained the slightest knowledge of the manner or 
of the internal processes by which the working forces here 
produce their result ; we have merely analyzed the great and 
hidden mystery of the whole machine into those separate 
mysteries of the simple operations of Nature, in respect of 
which we have once for all made up our minds to consider 
them clear, though all closer scrutiny shows them to be 
wrapped in the darkness of complete incomprehensibility. 

For all mechanical working presupposes the transferability 
of motion and the solid construction and connection of the 
masses from one to another of which motion is to bo conveyed. 
Now, which of these two conditions do we understand ? Can 
we state what takes place when motion is transferred, and 
what is the commencement of the process by which the 
impelling body sets the other in motion by impact or pressure, 
and communicates to it a portion of its own velocity ? Or 
is it clear to us how and why the single parts of a driving- 
wheel s adhere together that the blow given to one compels 
the others to move along with it, and to produce the circular 
rotation round an axis which is again applied to bring about 


new and useful results? WQ shall perhaps refer to the 
operation of attractive forces by which particles are bound 
into a whole. But wherein consists this action of reciprocal 
attraction, and how is it brought about ? How do these forces 
make the first advance beyond the limits of the body to 
which they belong, to exert over another and a foreign 
body such a power that it must yield to their attraction ? 
We are not afraid of hearing once more of a bond that holds 
together sun and planets; the question that would imme 
diately arise, how this bond is supposed to be now shortened, 
now lengthened, will be evaded by the frank confession that 
we are here in presence of one of the simple actions, by com- 4 
pounding which we may indeed elucidate the character of 
complex effects, but which themselves are made no more 
intelligible than before by the supposition of additional acces 
sory mechanism. Even as we know what we mean when 
we say that anything is, but never shall thoroughly learn how 
existence is brought about, so we know what we mean when we 
speak of working, but never shall be able to say how workino- 
comes to pass. Science need not hope to do more than 
accurately to search out the conditions under which this 
uncomprehended and incomprehensible working originates; 
and however great and important may be its achievements 
in the disentangling and analyzing of complicated connections, 
when it has reached the simple reciprocal actions, to a com 
bination of which it reduces every manifold, it will invariably 
have to confess that the proper act of working in all con 
ceivable cases of its occurrence remains to us alike inexplicable. 
But this will be allowed only to be again forgotten as soon 
as the special problem of the reciprocal action between body 
and soul is proposed. Though it needs but little study of 
physical science to teach us, that in fact all forms of action 
and reaction between substance and substance are equally 
obscure, it has yet become a habit hardly to .be overcome to 
look upon the mutual influence of body and soul as* a par 
ticular and exceptional case, in which unfortunately, and 
contrary to our expectations, that will not become cleai 


yhich. in every example of merely physical action is perfectly 
ntelligible. How little this latter is the case, we have 
already pointed out ; nevertheless the complaint will still go 
on, for in the case in question the impression of obscurity 
is heightened by the entire dissimilarity of the members 
that have to act on one another. We have on the one 
side the material constituents of the body, oil the other 
the immaterial nature of the soul. How is it possible 
that the impact and pressure of masses, or their chemical 
attraction, apparently the only means of working which 
they have, can make any impression on the soul, which, 
like an unsubstantial shadow, offers them no point of con 
tact ? How, on the other hand, can the soul's command, a 
command without any power of propulsion for its realiza 
tion, move masses, that would only obey a palpable impetus ? 
We can only conceive homogeneous things acting on each 
other. But on closer examination, it appears that this 
demand for homogeneity also springs from, the error of 
supposing that propulsion, pressure, attraction, and repul 
sion or chemical affinity, are explaining conditions of reciprocal 
action, instead of mere forms in which in an inexplicable 
manner the action takes place. The complete homogeneity 
of two balls does not in itself make the communication of 
their motion in impact more intelligible ; it only has for our 
perception the advantage that we can with equal distinctness 
image to ourselves the two reciprocally acting elements, and 
see the motion in space by which they approach one another ; 
i.e., it enables us to form an image of what is there before 
any reciprocal action takes place, but it does not throw any 
light on how it comes to take place, Now, in the present 
case, of course, we are wholly denied the advantage of 
being able to form such an image, We should be consoled 
if we could see the soul facing matter, ready for the leap 
by which it is to make its inroad on the latter's domain, 
or extending itself so as to receive the latter's blow ; we 
would then have obtained the image which we so much 
desire, but we would not be one whit nearer cornprehen- 


sion of the process. Perhaps the subsequent course of 
our investigation will bring us to a point of view at which 
the heterogeneity of the immaterial soul aud of palpable 
matter will have disappeared but even should it not 
disappear, it does not strictly speaking magnify the diffi 
culty. For the act of working, inasmuch as it is not in 
itself palpable to the senses, can require no other homogeneity 
of the reciprocally acting members than such as is amply 
given in the fact that the soul, as a real substance capable of 
acting and being acted on, stands over against the material 
atoms, which on their side we regard as positive centres of 
exeunt and ineunt actions, Any demand for still closer 
similarity would only proceed from the error of looking on 
the act o working as a transference of perfected states from 
one element to another, which must insist on the similarity 
or homogeneity of both, that the exeunt state may at its 
entrance into a fresh element find a home alike in size and 
form to that which it has quitted. 

Lastly, we must add, there are not reciprocal actions in 
general, even as there was no connection in general Every 
action is particular and fixed m form and amount, and we 
have no reason to suppose that the infinite variety of effects 
proceeds exclusively from different modes of combining and 
utilizing one and the same kind of working. If this is 
so, what light would be thrown on phenomena by our having 
somehow explained the general possibility of reciprocal action 
between body and soul, if we yet could not thence draw the 
reason why, under different circumstances, sometimes one, 
sometimes another, particular kind of action must take place 
between the two ? It must therefore be idle, i& the interest 
of science, to pursue further this very abstract inquiry. Science 
has to acknowledge and assume that the manner in which 
working is in general possible is equally inconceivable in all 
cases and in every department of phenomena ; and that the 
true and fruitful field of investigation Lfes in searching under 
what definite and definable cxmclitions equally definite and 
definable actions universally and regularly occur. While 


giving tip the attempt to discover how and by what means 
effects are produced by their causes, it will direct its atten 
tion, to the other and more -useful question what effects 
proceed from what causes. Leaving it to the universal and 
regular necessity of Nature, whose requirements meet with no 
resistance needing special means for its removal, to take care 
of the 'bringing about of phenomena, it will find in this 
problem an equally rich and fruitful subject of inquiry, such 
as astronomy possesses in the notion of universal attraction, 
of whose effectuation it knows nothing, but from which, by 
observation of the manifold circumstances under which its 
incomprehensible working may take place, it is able to explain 
a multitude of most complex phenomena. 

This theory is rightly designated by the name of Occa 
sionalism, but it is wrong to give this name as one of 
reproach. It is thus that we designate a doctrine on 
which all that we naturally regard as the productive cause 
of an effect is merely the occasion on which how we 
know not this effect appears. Now we would fain bring 
home the thought that onr knowledge of Nature is at 
best but an accurate study of the occasions on which by 
means of a mechanism whose inner moving springs we do 
not understand phenomena are manifested, each attached 
by universal laws to an occasion belonging exclusively to 
itself, and each with an equally constant regularity changing 
with a change in that occasion. Our position is not one 
outside the sphere of physical conceptions, when, wo regard 
the reciprocal action between soul and body from this point 
of view we merely consistently extend to this new relation 
the usages of physical science. Nay, the clear apprehension 
that even our knowledge concerning physical events is not 
essentially more profound, will allow us again to apply without 
fear of error those intuitions of daily experience whoso absence 
in this inquiry we before regretted. 

Why, indeed, should we shun speaking of the impact and 
pressure of masses on the soul, of their mutual attraction and 
repulsion, if these terms, though explaining nothing, yet serve 


to convey our conceptions of the relation in question in a 
short, convenient, and easily apprehended form ? What we 
primarily in daily life understand by these words, is the 
external forms assumed by the reciprocal working of large 
and compound bodies. Here the bodies seem to us to work 
through propulsion, through pressure. But if we go back to 
the simple atoms forming the structure of these bodies, we 
meet, as it were inside the sphere of physical intuitions, 
with the idea of great intervals, by which, even in the 
densest mass, the infinitesimal particles are separated, and 
whose amount can, indeed, by the application of various 
forces be diminished, but never be annihilated to such 
an extent that the atoms should touch one another. In 
that case the impact of two atoms would have to be 
differently conceived. Before contact took place, the 
approach of the one would awaken or increase in the 
other a repelling force, and the effect that would follow, and 
that formerly appeared to us to proceed from the material 
rebound of the collision, as a means of its accomplishment, 
would, in fact, result from a mutual influence of the elements, 
for whose realization we are utterly unable to point to any 
farther machinery. The phenomenon of collision would be 
merely the result of an internal direct understanding of things 
among themselves, in virtue of which they make their states 
act on one another according to universal laws. "Why then 
should not an atom of the nervous system equally be able to 
exert impact and pressure on the soul, or the soul on it, seeing 
that closer scrutiny discovers ordinary impact and pressure to 
be not a means to the effect, but only the perceptible form; 
of a far more subtle process between the elements ? 

4. But without attaching too much importance to the 
recovery of these terms, we will rather make clear the 
first general effect which our view has on the treatment 
of the several questions. We have just spoken of the 
strange prejudice according to which the process of working 
is the transference of the complete states of one element 
to another. How little, on such an assumption, the variety 


of results can "be explained which are produced by one 
stimulus in different objects on which it acts, wo need 
say no more to prove ; if its action consisted merely in the 
radiation of a perfected state, received as such by the 
objects*, the response to it could also be nothing else than 
an echo of absolutely identical sound in as many voices as 
there were objects susceptible to the impression. For sup 
posing that from the acting point but one motion extends, 
corresponding to it and its condition, the result which that 
will produce must evidently be different, according to the 
difference of the beings whom it reaches. The view to which 
we have resolved to adhere does not expose us to this error , 
on the contrary, it leads us directly to regard every external 
influence that passes from any one element to any other as 
an exciting stimulus, that does not transfer to the second an 
already existing and foreign state, but only awakens in it 
what already existed potentially in its own nature. The 
wooden notes of the musical instrument do not themselves 
contain the tones which when struck they draw forth from the 
chords, it is only the tension of the latter that by means of 
this propulsion can pass into tone-producing vibrations. In 
like manner all bodily impressions are for the soul but strokes, 
drawing forth from its own nature the internal phenomena 
of sensation, that never can be communicated to it from 
without. For even if it were not the motion of the notes, 
but a veritable wave of sound, that brought the tone from the 
chord, yet that could only reproduce the tone by its own tension, 
no matter whether what sot it in vibration were a process 
similar or dissimilar to that wave. The case would not be 
different if we chose anyhow to look on sensation as a state 
already existing in the nerves ; it would still have to originate 
afresh in the soul through some excitation conveyed to it by 
the sensory nerve, and it could never arise through, external 
impressions, were its own nature not in itself capable of 
evolving this peculiar form of internal action. Accordingly, 
every theory that takes for granted that what is to be mani 
fested in the soul already exists outside ol it, is yet forced to 


come back to this conception, and to view the external as merely 
an occasion, and the inner event, on the other hand, as pro 
ceeding from the nature of that in which it takes place. The 
necessity of this fresh origination can as little be avoided by this 
assumption, as that of reproductive spontaneous activity in any 
mind, if the knowledge of a truth or the glow of a feeling is 
to pass from another to it. Hence, however various be the 
modes in which the influences of the corporeal life determine 
the development of the mental, they yet convey neither con 
sciousness in general nor any particular sensation or thought 
to the soul ready-made, as the already gained result of bodily 
processes ; these influences are all simply signals for the soul to 
evolve definite internal states from its own essential nature, 
and according to unalterable laws ; but the delicate organiza 
tion that makes it possible for the body to transmit these 
signals in a definite grouping and sequence, answering to the 
actual relations of things, also guides the soul to an alterna 
tion and association of its sensations, in which it attains 
all the truth possible through the mere apprehension of 
given facts without reflective elaboration of their internal 

Now, as the whole world of sensation is an internal 
development, not brought in from without, but merely 
awakened in the unity of the thinking being by the 
multitude of extraneous impressions, so also are the various 
corporeal movements taking place at the bidding of the 
soul an evolution of effective relations, grounded in tike 
bodily organization, called forth indeed by the soul's internal 
states, but not transferred by it ready-made to the organs 
of the body. Of the external stimuli that produce a sensa 
tion, our immediate consciousness knows neither their nature 
nor the means by which the impression on us is effected ; 
only science after efforts long fruitless has made fully clear 
the peculiarities of the waves of light and sound to which 
we owe tones and colours. Yet even here, of the processes 
initiated in our nervous system by these stimuli, which are 
the immediate causes of our sensation, we know nothing, 


and hitherto not even physiological investigation has made us 
acquainted with them ; nothing conies into our conscious 
ness but the close of all these processes, the sensation of 
tone or colour itself. Little does the soul understand the 
history of the evolution of its ideas; it does not create 
them with a free and elective energy, conscious of what it 
does, but under the constraint of a universal and binding law 
of Nature it is compelled, as a being constituted as it is, to 
respond to one impression with this, to another with that 
particular sensation. Just as little does the soul know and 
understand of the reality, the situation, the connection, and 
the efficiency of the organs by means of which it executes its 
movements ; it soon, indeed, becomes familiar with the ex 
ternal form of the moveable members, but not immediately, 
and then only with the aid of science, and after all 
imperfectly, does it learn the internal arrangement of the 
muscles and nerves by which they are moved. Not this 
imperfect knowledge qualifies it for action ; it does not 
itself, by a review of the available means, by choice, and 
by special direction, select the muscles needful for the 
execution of a movement. Even had it found these it 
would yet stand helpless, not knowing how to convey to 
these organs the sufficient amount of impetus ; science itself 
is not yet free from doubt as to what form of process it is 
by which the motor nerve communicates its stimulation 
to the muscles. Here, too, the soul must confido in that 
connection which throughout the course of Nature has 
bound state to state according to unalterable laws, and which 
without its co-operation links even the internal energies of 
which its nature is capable with bodily changes, As soon as 
the image of a definite movement arises in our consciousness, 
combined with the wish that it should take place, we have 
the internal state to which this all-pervading reign of natural 
law has attached as a necessary result the appearance of 
that definite movement, and when this preliminary con 
dition of its occurrence is present, it takes plaoe forthwith, 

without our co-operation, without our help, even without any 


insight on our part into the action of the mechanism which 
the course of Nature has put at our disposal 

It is not always, either, that movements proceed from 
our will ; they take place as the expression of passionate 
excitement in our features and in all parts of our bodies, 
frequently without, nay against volition; they take place 
in forms whose meaning or use for the expression or 
relief of this mental excitement we do not understand; 
we weep and laugh without knowing why the one should 
necessarily be an expression of joy, the other of grief; the 
fluctuation of our emotions is betrayed in a thousand varia 
tions of our breathing, and we cannot explain either by 
what means or to what end these corporeal agitations 
associate themselves with those which we feel within. 
Evidently in this way many psychic states, not only voluntary 
resolutions but also non-voluntary feelings and ideas, have 
been made by the all-embracing course of Nature determining 
starting-points starting-points which the soul, at least in 
part, spontaneously evolves from its own inner being, but 
which, after they have been evolved, call forth their corre 
spondent movement with the blind certainty of mechanism, 
without our ordering and guiding co-operation, nay, without 
our knowledge of the possibility of such a process. 

We deceive ourselves, therefore, when with a favourite 
simile we compare the body to a ship the soul to its steers 
man. For the latter knows, or at least may know, the con 
struction of that which he directs ; he sees before him the 
way along which he has to guide it, and, each moment com 
paring the direction in which it is moving with the path 
which it ought to take, he can not only calculate the amount 
of alteration required, but sees before him the mechanical 
handles of the rudder with which to effect it, and his own 
arms that can turn the handles. Far from possessing 
this comparatively perfect insight into the working of the 
machine, the soul, on the contrary, is like a subordinate 
workman, who knows indeed how to turn one end of a winch 
or to put on coals, but understands nothing whatever of the 


internal transference of movements by means of which a 
completed product is turned out at the other end of the 
machinery. Or to keep to the other simile the relation 
between soul and body resembles not that between steers 
man and ship, but of course that between the steersman's 
soul and his body ; the steersman discharges his task only 
because he has at his disposal as means for tho intelligible 
motions which he has to communicate to his instrument, the 
xincomprehended mobility of his own arms. Thus the simile is 
superficially illusory, because it is only tacitly that it contains 
that which is uncomprehended in the comparison. 

Few will be inclined unreservedly to adopt this view. 
We have become too much accustomed to look on the soul 
as an arbitrarily ruling and swaying power, whose command 
the body has to obey. We think we are aware, in the swing 
imparted to the arm, of the direct flowing of our will into 
the organs as it sets them in motion ; and is this impulse not 
sufficient ? Must a universal necessity of Nature make a 
present to the will of the submission of the members ? 
Well, even so it is : in the swing of the arm we are aware 
of anything rather than of the transference of energy ; what we 
feel is nothing else than the change which, in consequence 
of a previous stimulation, the muscles undergo during con 
traction, and of which a perception, resembling fatigue and 
passing into it, returns to our consciousness. Our view 
does not threaten the living energy of the will, or even the 
fact of its power over the limbs ; but it establishes beyond 
doubt that the will is nothing else than living volition, and is 
not also accomplishment ; as little as our will directly extends 
beyond the limits of our body and by its own efficiency 
produces changes in the distant outer world, so little does 
it in itself extend to more in our personality than the soul ; 
if, nevertheless, it exerts a power over the body, which Nature 
has associated with it as its instrument, it is because the 
same necessity of Nature has ordained that its behests, in 
themselves powerless, be followed by an obedience of the 
masses under the regulation of law. 


Thus to return to whence we started the variety of 
our movements is a development of the purposive relations 
of our corporeal organization, not devised, not watched in 
detail and set to work by the soul, "but only blindly initiated 
by it. The soul may indeed, inasmuch as it originates in 
itself a series of inner states sucli as Nature has made the 
starting-points of movements, also call forth a series of the 
latter in an order and purposive grouping for which in 
itself the arrangement of the organism contains no sufficient 
ground ; and yet its dominion over the body does not iu this 
respect exceed an infinitely varied utilization and complica 
tion of elementary movements, not one of which can it devise 
or comprehend. It purposively combines purposive elements, 
as language makes of its vowels and consonants a countless 
multitude of words and euphonies , but as in the case of 
language and its sounds, so the soul finds ready to its hand 
the simple purposive movements, easily initiated by an 
inner state which it can call up, but, as otherwise concerns 
their origination and performance, independent of it and to 
it wholly dark. 

5. Already, when we examined the theories in regard 
to the ground of the purposive formation of the living body 
which, have successively been put forward, we mentioned that 
view on which its harmony is only referable to the active 
co-operation of an intellectual being. We then saw that 
this theory, seeking by the aid of the soul to withdraw the 
development of the body from, the sphere of mechanical 
procedure, failed of its end. For that which alone makes 
the soul more than blind mechanism rational reflection, 
and the voluntary choice of means and ends -could not, by 
all we learn from experience, be viewed as co-operating in 
the gradual building up of the corporeal form. The forms of 
the body are finally fixed or prepared at a period prior to the 
unfolding of these mental activities , the soul, therefore, could 
only so far itself contribute to the establishment of the 
bodily life, as, along with other elements, it was woven into 
the tissue of mechanical actions, from whose harmonious 


energy came forth with blind necessity the predetermined 
form of the organism. 

This needful rejection of a false conception of the mode 
in which the soul takes part in the construction of the 
body, need not prevent us from holding such participation 
to he in itself great and important. The soul, by reason of 
its more significant nature, must always have a place of 
vantage among the other elements, and even although its 
co-operation were confined to necessary reactions, to which 
it is at every moment constrained by its relations to the 
other elements, yet the very depth of its own nature might 
qualify it for thus sending forth from itself influences, whose 
value for the progress of the organization should exceed that 
of all other constituents. BTow, when wo see how even 
within the limits of our observation the impulse of the will 
serves to contract the muscular fibres, how thus a change in 
psychic states is evidently followed by a change in the local 
relations of infinitesimal particles of the body, we cannot in 
general question the possibility that at an earlier period of 
growth, when the elements of the body had not yet assumed 
the fixed structure and position which they have in its 
maturity, the inner workings of the soul may exert a con 
siderable influence on the still undefined relative situation of 
the particles, and consequently on the development of the 
form. Of course the starting-point of this influence cannot 
be the conscious representation of the motion of parts of 
whose very existence and uses the soul at this stage can have 
learned nothing ; but as even in the adult we sec emotions 
involuntarily exert their moulding power on particular parts, 
and in mimetic movements alter the local relations of these 
already fixed elements, so doubtless a similar influence on tho 
primary establishment of particular relations of form may 
be exercised, in conformity with their qualitative nature, by 
the inchoate emotions, still unconnected with any definite 
reactions, that agitate the undeveloped soul of the growing 

But, after all, we must confess that all this is merely 


possible, or at any rate, if even in our opinion the soul 
must to some extent take part in the reciprocal actions 
whence its body originates, we are yet not enabled by the 
analogies of experience to estimate the actual extent of such 
participation. In the full-grown "body the power of the soul 
over the moulding of the form is very slight, and, even so far 
as it extends, seems to be exerted only indirectly, by altera 
tions in some particular groups of muscles or operations 
such as the heart-beat, respiration, and digestion over 
which emotional fluctuation or the habitual practice of certain 
movements has a more or less immediate influence. The 
workings of the soul thus extend mostly over the whole 
body, and affect rather its bearing than its form. While we 
willingly allow that the ennoblement of the mental life in 
the end ennobles also the bodily form, that its degradation 
tends to the deterioration of the latter, we are inclined to 
limit to this the influence of the soul. That influence does, 
in a certain measure, develop beauty and ugliness of form by 
slight alterations in the stamp of already fixed proportions ; 
but that to a preponderant extent the primary formation of 
the organism is due to the soul's moulding power, is a poetic 
imagination cherished by many who overlook the numerous 
examples of deficient agreement between mental dispositions 
and corporeal structure. 

VOL. I. 



Meaning of the Question Limited Sphere of the Soul's Operation Structuio 
of the Brain The Way in which Movements arise Conditions of Space 
Perception Significance of the Tlnbranched Nerve- Pibies Omnipresence 
of the Soul in the Body. 

1. TKT the notion of the soul with which we have 
-*- hitherto been dealing that of an indivisible 
being whose nature is capable of developing ideas, feelings, 
and efforts there is nothing that suggests space and space- 
relations. But the counter-actions which the soul is found to 
exert on the mass of the body naturally give rise to the 
desire to be able to represent not merely in general the possi 
bility and nature of this mutual influence, but also the 
respective position of both parties to the relation, with that 
local distinctness which everywhere attends our observation 
of Nature, not indeed explaining things themselves, bxit un 
questionably giving clearness to our ideas about them. Wo 
shall be questioned as to the seat of the soul. 

The meaning of the question is simple enough ; if we leave 
it an open question whether it is possible to ascribe to the 
indivisible being of any real existence any kind of extension 
in space in the sense in which we believe it to be attribut 
able to material substances, there need be no divergence 
of opinion as to the possibility of even unexteuded existence 
having a position in space. Its place will be at the point 
whither all impressions from without must be transmitted, 
and whence in return come the impulses by which it sets in 
motion directly its own environment, indirectly through that 
the more extended world. This point in space is the place 
at which we must penetrate the spaceless realm of genuine 



existence, in order to find passive and active being; and in 
this sense every theory must search out a seat for the soul, 
even if it deny to it the extension of a space-occupying form,' 
in addition to place. 

Our notions, however, of the reciprocal action of things 
on one another leave several possibilities with respect to 
appearance in space. We can conceive a being not merely 
m some relation to all the rest of the universe, lut to evenj 
part of it in an equally dose and gradationless relation. It 
would, in such case, not merely act and be acted on directly 
by some few things, as a means of indirectly controlling 
others, but stand with all at once in that vital relation which 
involves immediate action by the states of the one on those 
of the other. If situations and places are the expression of 
the closeness or looseness of these internal connections, this 
being would not have a limited seat in space, but, as 
internally alike near to all parts of the universe, would seem 
externally to be omnipresent. So we conceive the existence 

of God. He, the Creator of the whole, is alike nigh to all 

even to apparently forsaken points of the creation; His 
power has no way to travel in order to reach the point at 
which it is to act, and the states of things do not tieed to 
seek Him in order to commit themselves to His Providence, 
by which they are everywhere alike closely encompassed. 
Yet we do not so conceive this omnipresence as to attribute 
to the Divine Being the infinite extent itself that is under 
His sway; rightly avoiding such material conceptions, we 
think of Him as the immaterial, formless Energy, to which 
this infinity is nothing, neither a barrier to its immediate 
presence, nor an attribute adding anything to the fulness of its 


Physical science has accustomed us to a second conceiv 
able case that of "beings that reciprocate action directly 
with all others similar to themselves lut m different degrees 
of relationship with different individuals. Thus the attractive 
force of every gravitating particle extends directly to every 
other even to an infinite distance; but the amount of tire 


force diminishes with increasing distance. Those molecular 
forces, too, the effect of which becomes imperceptible at the 
smallest sensible interval between the reciprocally acting 
elements, we yet suppose to extend ad infaiitum with rapidly 
accelerated diminution; at even the most trifling distance 
its amount may approach the vanishing-point, but there can 
he no fixed distance at which it is absolutely annihilated. 
Various conceptions may be formed of the relation to space 
of things thus acting. They may be said to be omnipresent 
in space, for in fact their efficiency needs no continuous 
medium in order to reach any point in space. In con 
sideration of the gradational character of their efficacy, 
they may equally well have ascribed to them a circum 
scribed locality of punctual magnitude. They will then 
seem to le in the place at whose circumference they exhibit 
their maximum force; on the other hand, they will seem 
only to control with lessening power the rest of infinite 
space, without existing in it. This twofold possibility shows 
that only an illusory interest attaches to the question, 
whether in the case of such action the extension of that 
which acts is finite or infinite ; magnitude in space forms no 
part of its attributes. We did not conceive of God as equal 
in magnitude to the universe which He governs ; so also we 
conceive these working substances as neither infinitely small, 
like the geometrical points whence their energy proceeds, nor 
infinitely great, like the worlds over which it extends. 
They themselves are what they are supersensible beings ; 
nothing more can be said about them than that, in accord 
ance with the part which they have in the whole of the 
universe, within the region of phenomena in space, their 
force must seem to proceed from a fixed place, and at a 
constant rate of diminution to arrive at distant places. 

A third conjecture may be hazarded, according to which a 
thing would act directly and unvaryingly over a jftxed extent 
of space, "but le only indirectly in reciprocal action with all 
that lay beyond its limits. This conjecture would however 
have to avoid a false assumption. There is no conceivable 


ground for supposing that in empty space the force of a being 
should extend only over a globular space of fixed diameter, 
and beyond that limit should cease. If any one distance 
has above another the advantage of possessing this limiting 
power, this can be due only to the fact that space is 
filled as far as it goes, and empty beyond. Besides, a 
force must not be conceived as something always pro 
ceeding from the working element, even when there is no 
second element on which it can act ; it comes into being 
at every moment of the action between the two elements, 
whose qualitative nature renders it inevitable that they 
shall act the one upon the other. Hence it will everywhere 
extend so far in space as it meets with elements whose 
internal affinities impose on them this necessity of working, 
and hence we can never say that, on account of too great 
distance in space, an element escapes from the sway of a force 
which otherwise, in virtue of its nature, it would be bound to 
obey. In other words, there can be no force whose efficacy 
originally extends over a finite region in space, and further 
also over all that this contains ; but in an element such a 
force is quite conceivable as is limited to a certain species or 
certain circle of other elements, and indifferently passes 
by all those which do not belong to that species or that circle. 
I would once more emphatically repeat an assertion under 
lying all that has gone before : it is absolutely necessary to 
convert the oft-heard proposition, A thing acts only where ^t 
is, into the other, It ^s whew it acts. It is a downright 
error to believe that there is any meaning m saying that a 
thing is in a place, and consequently acquires capability for a 
particular direction and extension of its action. Even the 
most ordinary everyday reflection fixes the situation of a 
thing only by reference to its actions ; a body is there, whence 
come the rays of light which it sends out in various directions ; 
it is there, where it meets with resisting pressure the hand 
that seeks to move it ; lastly, it is there, where it acts on 
other bodies, attracting, holding, or repelling them. Further, 
this is not to be understood as if all these actions were only 


subjective grounds leading us to knowledge of the body's 
existence in its place, while that existence itself has a signi 
ficance independent of the effects that make it perceptible. 
On the contrary, we can neither say nor understand why a 
thing that does not act should be said with any better reason 
to exist in one place rather than in any other, or how the 
state of a thing simply existing without any efficacy in a 
particular place could be distinguished from that m which it 
would be, did it occupy any other place. 

This being taken for granted, we are in a position to state 
the conceptions which we can form of the alleged third 
case. If a being is where it acts, but if in its acting it 
is determined exclusively by the internal relations existing 
between it and other elements, and not by empty space 
with its places and distances, we may further add : it is 
wlwrever it acts, and its place is large or small, continuous or 
discontinuous, according to the distribution in space of those 
other elements with which it stands in this direct reciproca 
tion of action. Whatever be the place of an acting being, 
and whatever its form, it is never a property of the being 
itself; the latter does not become large or small, as the 
place increases or diminishes, nor extended, because it has 
extension, nor multiple and divisible, if it is severed into 
a plurality. Let us, in order to make the subject more 
distinct, suppose that an active element a has reciprocal 
action with all the elements of the species I, and that this 
reciprocal action is independent of tho distances between 
the individuals 6 in the world, then a would have as many 
places in space as there are elements I dispersed through 
out infinite space ; a would exist as much in any one of 
these places as in any other, without the unity and in 
divisibility of its being suffering on this account any pre 
judice. This conception is none the less possible that we 
are not aware of any case of it in the actual order of the 
universe. If we further suppose that a directly reciprocates 
action with a certain number of elements 1 3 homogeneous 
or heterogeneous, the place of a will always be where one 


of these elements is. Let us imagine them all assembled 
on the surface of a ball, and the metaphysical place of a will 
be this curved surface, in each one of its points that is 
occupied by one of the real elements &. We would not strictly 
be entitled to hold, but we might indulge ourselves in the 
imagination, that a is in the centre of the globe and thence 
exerts a force whose sphere of action is fixed and limited by 
the finite diameter of the globe ; by this form of statement 
we would set more clearly before ourselves the permanent 
indivisible unity of a, but would not make that more certain 
than it would in any case be. Lastly, we might imagine that 
the elements I, with which a, directly reciprocates action, are 
dispersed throughout space, and that in the intervals between 
them are situated other elements of the species c, to which <&*s 
nature brings it into no effective relation ; then a would have 
a discontinuous place in space embracing many points, or 
would simultaneously exist at many points; and now, on 
account of points being interpolated at which a is not, it 
would be more difficult for our imagination to grasp the 
conception of a's unity, while yet iu the real relations of the 
things no greater difficulty would be involved. 

2, If now we apply these general considerations to the 
particular case in hand, we find that only the happy believers in 
the revelations of clairvoyantes insist on extending the direct 
and perceptible sphere of the soul's power to infinity; the 
experience of waking life has never doubted that in the main 
the contour of the body marks the limits within which the 
soul itself is active and is acted on by external states. We 
are aware only of what affects the body, we move it alone , 
through its instrumentality the outer world acts on us, and 
we act on it. But oft-repeated observations have taught us 
just as certainly that the scene of the direct reciprocal action 
of soul and body is not co-extensive with the body. The 
soul has no concern with any corporeal r state that cannot 
excite some part of the nervous system, the body no concern 
with any mental movement, which is prevented from passing 
out of that system into the obedient organs of the limbs. 


Thus the great mass of the body appears in contrast to the 
soul's proper seat, the nervous tissues as a department of the 
outer world which it sways only indirectly. Even here in 
the nervous system, moreover, observation shows a distinction 
between conducting parts, through which the transmission 
backwards and forwards of stimulation takes place, and other 
more essential parts in which the reciprocal action itself is 
accomplished. If a sensory nerve is severed by a simple cut 
in its passage to the brain, the impressions still received from 
without by its extremity at the surface of the body, are lost 
to the soul ; if by a similar cut a motor nerve is severed, the 
volitional influence of the soul no longer passes into the limbs, 
with whose muscles the severed nerve communicated. The 
soul therefore does not reciprocate action directly with every 
part of the nervous system ; it can be only the excitations of 
the central organs by which it is really moved, and which, on 
the other hand, it calls forth by its own power ; the whole 
system of nervous transmission is but a means of conveying 
to this smaller sphere of veritable action and reaction external 
impressions, which in themselves cannot reach the soul, and 
of transmitting its volitions, in themselves powerless, to the 
limbs by which they are to be carried out. The further 
course of such observations, as made artificially and in cases of 
disease, still farther restricts the mental area ; it shows that a 
severance of brain from spine destroys the susceptibility of 
consciousness for the impressions received by the latter organ, 
and in like manner the soul's control over the limbs to which 
it sends out nerves. 

No doubt decapitated trunks, especially of cold-blooded 
animals, still in obedience to external stimulation execute 
movements, the purposive harmony of which many have 
thought cannot depend on merely physical causes. But even 
these movements take place only so long as the spine and its 
connection with the limbs to be moved remain uninjured ; at 
most, therefore, they would prove that the soul's immediate 
influence, or its seat, is not limited to the brain, but further 
extends to this other part of the central organs. But it is an 


unquestionable fact that by interruption of the communication 
between spine and brain the movements of the parts 
dependent exclusively on the former are withdrawn not only 
from the dominion of will but from consciousness ; on the 
other hand, it is not certain that the movements of decapi 
tated trunks depend directly or if indirectly, in what manner 
they depend on psychic conditions. Let us therefore defer 
till later the consideration of these pheenomena, and for the 
present hold by the propositions that without independent 
evidence impressions which our consciousness does not receive 
are not to be regarded as psychic states, actions are not 
to be regarded as psychic activities which we neither will 
nor are aware of while they are going on. This is, of course, 
to assume that the seat of the soul is limited to the brain. 
Here finally we have grounds for discriminating different 
parts with different psychic values ; but the greater, nay in 
surmountable, difficulties of the investigation make it here no 
longer possible accurately to discriminate between the peculiar 
organs of the soul and the surrounding apparatus of afferent 
and efferent organs. As the result of these reflections, we find 
that the first of the above indicated conceptions is not applic 
able to the relation between soul and body : the soul is not 
omnipresent in its body, as we conceive God to be in the 
universe ; it is in direct reciprocal action only with the 
brain ; there accordingly it has its seat, in the sense which 
the word ought to have. 

Now let us see whether the second conception is fitted to 
enable us more precisely to fix the place of the soul. Accord 
ing to it, the soul would, from a single point at which its 
activity had reached its maximum, extend its influence directly 
over all, but with diminished force over the more distant 
parts of the body. Supposing this diminution to take place 
rapidly indeed, yet with so moderate an acceleration that its 
effects were still perceptible at a .sensible distance from the 
maximum point, there is no actual phenomenon that favours 
such a supposition, The afferent operations of the sensory, 
the efferent activity of the motor, nerves always cease how- 


ever near to the central organs their connection with these 
is severed, and no trace is ever to be found of any direct 
action of the soul extending outwards even so far as to pass 
over the trifling interval created by a fine cut "between two 
immediately adjacent elements of a nerve. The second con 
ception would thus be applicable here only in the particular 
form in which exclusively we apply it to the greater part of 
the ordinary relations of the body; with so extraordinary 
rapidity must distance from the point of maximum action 
diminish the action itself, that at a sensible interval it would 
no longer be perceptible. Just as a body does not reflect the 
rays of light, and is not set in motion by impact, until in 
both cases it has been touched in its place, so the soul would 
exchange action with those elements alone whose effects 
approximated within an imperceptibly small interval to the 
point of its maxinmm action, a point which on this account 
it would be allowable to speak of as the only place of the 
soul's direct efficacy, as its exclusive seat. 

Now this is the conception that fot long has been elaborated 
with special preference. It was favoured on the whole by 
the structure of the nervous system The course of the 
sensory nerves is obviously designed so as to convey impres - 
sions to a place in the brain where they may come into 
reciprocal action with the soul, while the motor nerves transmit 
excitations which there only the will directly communicates 
to material masses to the muscles withdrawn by distance in 
space from the immediate influence of its impulse, It was 
toped that a continuation of the same structure would be 
found in the brain itself, u culminating point of the whole 
nervous system into which all the afferent filaments ran, 
and from which all the efferent channels of energy diverged. 
Such a point all would have been completely satisfied to 
recognise as the soul's seat But as yet anatomy has not been 
able to Jind any such point, and there is no hope of its doing 
so hereafter. The fibres stretch alongside one another, cross, 
and are intertwined ; but they do not merge together into a 
single culminating part, nor even take a common* final course 


so as to approach any such point Not even in the system 
of the ganglionic cells roundish vesicles that in great num 
bers surround the fibrous medulla in the fibres, and are 
scattered between its rows are there any signs of centraliza 
tion. They are connected together by delicate commissural 
filaments : but we know not whether this connection extends 
throughout, or indeed what is the general office of the 
ganglionic cells in regard to the reception, excitation, and 
transformation of the stimulations taking place in the fibrous 

Any one, however, cherishing the hope that more minute 
observation would find some such limited seat of the soul, 
could not but acknowledge that it has been sought for in a 
wrong shape. Slender as is a single nerve-fibre, a point of 
common intersection for all could not be an indivisible point, 
must be a cubic space with a diameter of quite appreciable 
magnitude. This space must be under the soul's direct 
control; within it we would not expect to find isolated 
nerve-filaments continued ; their isolation could only serve to 
bring the physical processes taking place in them, without 
any intermingling, into the soul's sphere of action. When 
they have arrived there, their farther separation is unnecessary ; 
for in the soul itself there are no partition-walls dividing 
different impressions, and it must be capable of holding their 
multitudinous variety, without confusion, in the unity of its 
being. This cubic space, the seat of the soul, would then 
have to be conceived either as filled up with a parenchyma 
without fibres and somehow homogeneous, throughout which 
nerve-stimulations are propagated in all directions, or as a 
cavity along whose sides, and within the distance to which 
the soul's immediate efficiency extends, all the nerv6-fibres 
or ' a sufficient select number of them require to pass 
though not to terminate. The last-mentioned conception has 
in fact frequently been adopted, and the soul located in the 
fourth ventricle, without, however, the needful confirmation 
from anatomical facts. 

I bring forward these possibilities to which many others 


might be added partly from a conviction of the value of 
elaborating any view into perfect clearness, partly from another 
conviction, that anatomy is not yet in a position to pass an 
absolutely decisive judgment on them. In itself none of these 
conjectures is of any great value ; it soon appears that each 
of them, even if correct in point of fact, yet in respect of its 
meaning must be resolved into the third of the conceptions 
referred to above. For what would be the ultimate meaning 
of the statement, that the soul is contained within a limited 
space, and consequently acts on and is acted on by that 
alone which is in contact with this space ? The soul cannot 
prefer one particular empty space to another empty space, as 
finding in the former a more suitable place than in the latter ; 
its having a fixed place means, as wo have seen, no more than 
that its nature compels it to reciprocate action directly only 
with such real elements as arc in that place The taking 
place of such reciprocal action it is that properly constitutes 
that space the soul's seat, and if, as we may unhesitatingly 
assume, there are many elements with which the soul stands 
in this mutual relation, then its place is no less manifold. 
Wot because compelled to do so by the nature of the soul, 
but simply from an easily understood craving for something 
which it can grasp, our imagination still goes on seeking 
for these many places a geometrical centre of their distribu 
tion, and would fain find in it the sours peculiar scat ; but 
it could not say in what closer relation the soul stands to it 
than to those places in which it acts. Therefore, whether the 
many places of efficacy approach in the brain more nearly 
to each other without enclosing other places of inefficacy, 
whether they thus form a seat of the soul that presents itself 
to our imagination as one, or whether they remain a scattered 
plurality of points all this is an anatomical inquiry in regard 
to the arrangement of the reciprocally acting elements, which 
it may be left to experience to answer. Whatever the answer 
may prove to be, it cannot alter the general conceptions at 
which we have arrived. 

I conclude by referring to another conjecture that, 


namely, of a mobile soul, whose seat varies within the central 
organs. It appears to me to have little value. In order 
that the soul should be able to move to the particular point 
at which there is an arriving stimulation to be received, it 
must already have been informed of the quarter whence the 
stimulation is to be expected. Thus, in order to be deter 
mined to this movement towards the just now stimulated 
nerve-fibre and towards no other, it would need to have some 
how been from a distance influenced by its states without being 
affected by the states of the others in which a stimulation is 
not now arising. The soul's motion consequently could serve 
not as an instrumentality for initiating a reciprocal action 
with the stimulated element, but only as a subsidiary means 
of confirming an action already going on. It would be still 
harder to see how the soul would set about making its way to 
the motor element, to which it has first itself to communicate 

3. A difficulty that must already have made itself felt 
constrains us still further to modify in a way, however, that 
will prove to be not without value the views which we 
have reached. That the soul should directly reciprocate 
action with a limited number of nervous elements, and with 
no others, remains improbable so long as we cannot find in the 
nature of these favoured elements anything different from the 
nature of the others with which the soul stands in no such 
relation. Now, it is a view that no doubt has been main 
tained by not a few physiologists, that the functions of the 
nervous centres are essentially different from those of the 
nerves, and also from the energies of those parts of the brain 
that may be regarded as prolongations of the nerves carried 
into the cavity of the skull. This hypothesis involves the 
assumption of a specially privileged nature of the elements 
that minister to these higher functions, though anatomical 
observation affords no direct evidence in support of such a 
conclusion. But however it may be as to this, on more 
general grounds the usual assumption seems to us inadequate, 
that all necessity and capability of reciprocal action between 


two elements results from a definite relation between them in 
what we call their nature or the qualitative content of their 
being. What the one element undergoes from the other will 
depend, not only on what that other is permanently, but also 
on its present temporary state ; perhaps even such a relation 
of efficiency as that one element is compelled to reciprocate 
action with another, does not always hold between the abiding 
natures, but only momentarily between particular states of the 
two. Or, if both are linked together in this way for all time 
and all states, then the ground of their connection is not 
what they both are, but that, in virtue of what they are, they 
can le in states which, by the meaning and plan of the cosmos, 
are bound together as antecedent cause and consequent excita 
tion. I do not intend to pursue this thought into its meta 
physical connections, preferring to give it distinct expression 
in a closer treatment of our special subject. The soul will not 
stand in exclusive and unremitting reciprocal action with a 
particular class of nerve-elements and all states whatever of 
these elements ; but, as it will at first be susceptible only to 
certain kinds of action, it will limit its efficiency and its sus 
ceptibility to that group and number of nerve-elements, because 
in those alone is that action realized. It still remains un 
certain whether it is the peculiar nature of these elements, or 
simply a favourable position among others, that makes them 
the exclusive theatre of this action. In the latter case no 
specific difference between the elements of the ceijitral organs 
and those of the nerves would be necessary ; peculiarity of 
structure would make the central organs the exclusive seat of 
the soul, because it alone would render possible the processes 
for which the soul possesses the sympathetic Husceptibility 
referred to. 

I have still to show that the view now set forth does not 
owe its origin entirely to speculations on the seat of the soul; 
that, on the contrary, independently of those, it reappears in 
the consideration of psychical phsenomena which, at first sight, 
seem by no means compatible with it 

One of the most commonly current conceptions of the 


origin of voluntary movements is that the commencements of 
the motor nerves lie spread ont beside one another in the brain, 
like the notes of a pianoforte But even if these notes are there, 
the soul is incapable of playing on them. It is ignorant of 
the relative situation of these notes, it knows not that this 
and not another note corresponds to the particular movement 
which it intends to make in this unlike the pianist, who has 
learned to connect the note on the instrument which he sees 
with the written note. And even did it know all this, of 
what avail would it be ? How would it set about transferring 
its energy to one note rather than to another ? This the per 
former can do only through the still unexplained tractabihly of 
his fingers, which fall where his will directs ; and he could not 
do it if he had first by his own insight to effect the transfer 
ence of his definite volition to the nerve-fibres corresponding 
to it. The soul, as we have seen, can do nothing else than 
produce or endure a state in itself, to which Nature, without 
jts assistance, has attached the initiation of a corporeal change. 
This state is to be distinguished from others only by what it 
is qualitatively ; and on its quality must depend not only the 
kind and amount, but also the place of the action attached to 
it by nature. Neither pleasure nor pain implies any know 
ledge of particular nerves and muscles, any impulse to move 
them ; but they are heterogeneous disturbances of the mind, 
and on account of this inherent distinction the one is 
followed by laughter, the other by tears. Neither con 
sciously nor unconsciously has the soul here sent forth its 
influence in one direction from pleasure, in another from pain , 
but without any interference on its part, the two several kinds 
of stimulation have been answered by two several movements, 
i.e. the one by an action in certain muscles,, the other by an 
action partly in different muscles. 

Has the soul, then, we shall be asked, to proclaim its states 
at random, and to wait till what is required oomes to pass 
simply through the varying tone of its utterances, without itself 
commanding what is to happen? No doubt this demand, 
which we must in all seriousness make of the imagination, is 


unusual enough ; yet it will prove to be one that is not im 
practicable. Of the countless waves of sound that traverse 
the atmosphere, each one doubtless produces some disturbance 
in any stretched lamina of metal, any window-pane, that it 
happens to strike ; but only one will make the lamina sound 
simultaneously, namely, that one whose vibrations the lamina 
is by its structure and tension fitted to repeat. When out 
of a fluid compound of different substances QUO lias to be 
extracted, we merely apply the proper means for its precipita 
tion, without having to give it a particular direction, and 
thereby to follow the dispersed particles of the substance to 
be extracted ; diffused as it is through the whole of the fluid, of 
itself it keeps aloof as it passes by, from all the particles with 
which it has no affinity, and with perfect accuracy every 
where detects the particles with which it can combine to form 
a precipitate. After this one has been precipitated, another 
ingredient will be extracted from the same solution by a 
second reagent, always by those substances, which from their 
qualities are related, coming into reciprocal action and attracting 
one another at short intervals, never by a particular direction 
being inherent in any one from the first, and the result being 
variously moulded according to the nature of what it meets in 
this direction. Did all the motor nerve-extremities in fact 
lie arranged like notes before the soul, its influence on them 
could be no other than it is. It would not in any case impart 
an impetus in a fixed direction, which would have to excite 
this movement, and not any other, because in that direction 
it came into contact with one nerve-extremity, and not with 
another ; on the contrary, for each intended movement it can 
produce only one special qualitative state, one tone ol definite 
pitch (to return to our simile) and the direction in space 
taken by the soul's influence, and only by an illusory appearance 
inherent in it from the first, will depend solely on the elective 
affinity prevailing between this state and the peculiar capacity 
for work of a particular nerve-commencement, 

These relations are made most clear and simple by a refer 
ence to mimetic movements. The feelings crossing one 


mother in our moods appear embodied in infinitely delicate 
gradations and compositions in the expression of the coun- 
benance. Scarcely any one will be disposed to attribute this 
inexhaustibly characteristic play of slight movements and 
contractions to a conscious or unconscious activity of the soul, 
seeking out a great number of nerve-commencements in order 
bo communicate to each of them an excitation corresponding 
to the elements of pain and pleasure which are here mingled. 
Does the soul itself know why tears suit pain better than 
pleasure, and laughter the latter better than the former ? "Un 
questionably it has here neither sought nor found ; as, on the 
contrary, each several phase of feeling, as a psychic disturb 
ance, finds its way to fixed organs for its expression, because 
these alone share in the excitation of this disturbance, so also 
the blending of feelings of itself makes its complicated way 
to the parts in which it has to find its corporeal echo. But 
this procedure is not confined to this one class of movements. 
Every other movement which we voluntarily execute has 
as its true, generative starting-point a conception of that 
peculiar modification of the organic sensations which former 
experience has taught us is connected with the movement that 
is taking place. We bend our arm, not by giving a particular 
impetus to each of its several nerves, but by renewing in 
ourselves the image of the feeling which we experienced in a 
particular position of the arm, or doubling of the skin, or 
degree of tension of the muscles ; on the other hand, we find 
ourselves unskilful in imitating a movement, when we see it 
distinctly, but cannot at the moment realize the special sensa 
tion by which its performance would be accompanied. 

It would be vain here to attempt to convey a more detailed 
and vivid idea of the manner in which these mental states 
are propagated over the bodily organs, and in some special 
ones awaken an answering echo. We must rather beg that 
if, as we hope, the comparisons employed have made our 
thought clearer, these comparisons themselves may again be 
forgotten. For only the general proposition, that every excit 
ing action of the soul on the body starts from a mental state 

VOL. i. u 


of fixed quality, and therefore takes a local course towards a 
particular organ, can we hold to be necessarily and impera 
tively valid ; we are unable to accept any further explication 
or illustration of this process. For general considerations, 
such as are here competent, will never so completely and 
exactly detect the needs of the soul in its intercourse with 
the body as to enable us beforehand to state the actual 
arrangements, from our insight into what would be to the 
purpose. Usually it is the discovery of facts as they are that 
enables us a posteriori to discern their indwelling purposive- 
ness and directs our attention to necessities which appear to 
us urgent and imperative after we have become acquainted 
with them through the provisions for their satisfaction, bnt of 
which beforehand we had not the faintest prevision. 

4. A counterpart to the preceding discussion is occa 
sioned "by the office of consciousness not merely to apprehend 
a great multitude of sensations in their qualitative content, 
but further to combine them together in fixed spatial order. 
This operation would seem necessarily to imply that the several 
impressions are transmitted to the soul in the same relative . 
situation in which they reached the body, and that at the seat 
of the former the isolated nerve-fibres, each one of which 
conveys but a single impression, terminate in the same 
regular co-ordination in which, in the organ of sense, they 
receive the stimulations as they come. But closer examina 
tion will soon show that this hypothesis would not serve really 
to explain our space-perceptions. 

Must we first of all expressly state, or may we take this 
as acknowledged, that extended images, resembling their 
ectypes, and covering them, are not detached from objects 
in order to enter the soul ? and that, even did this actually 
happen, the presence of these images in the soul would as 
little explain their becoming perceptible as the previous 
existence of the objects outside the soul ? Must we add 
that even what we call an image of the object in our eye is 
nothing more than the fact that on the nerve-extremities 
lying side by side in our organ of sense, variously-coloured 


rays of light fall in the same order in which these rays 
proceed from the objects themselves 1 Lastly, that this fact 
of a regular co-ordination of various stimulations in various 
nerve-fibres is after all not the perception of the process, 
hut only the process itself that is to be perceived, the possi 
bility of which coming into consciousness with its inherent 
order undisturbed, forms the very subject of our inquiry? 
We will assume that at least this is allowed. Now whether, 
as seems to some probable, this ocular image is transmitted 
without injury to its outline, through the optic nerves to the 
soul's seat in the brain, or whether, as others find more easily 
conceivable, the soul itself is immediately present in both 
eyes : in either case, in what way can the fixed situation of 
the variously stimulated nerve-extremities, consequently the 
relative situation of the impressions, become to it an object 
of consciousness ? And to make an extreme concession were 
the soul itself an extended being, filling with its presence 
the circumference of the eyes .and the surface of the skin 
so that every coloured point falling on the retina, every 
pressure on the surface of the body, at the same time touched 
a locally-defined point of the soul ; how even then would it 
become aware that the stimulus had come into contact now 
with one point of its own extension, and not another, and then 
with that point and not this ? 

Tf we will not assume an immediate, complete, and 
inexplicable knowledge by the soul of its own compass, or 
of the form of the body, we must allow that some time the 
moment must come at which the situation in space of the 
points of the image to be perceived however long and care 
fully it may have been held fast by the organ of sense will 
yet wholly disappear on passing into consciousness, in order 
to receive there a fresh birth, and to reappear, not as situation 
in space, bat as perception of the same. The necessity of 
this concession does not at all depend on the conception which 
we form of the sotil as occupying space or not, but solely on 
the notipn of the consciousness that we ascribe to it what 
ever may be its nature. Even should the soul be diffused 


in space, and permeate the body as a subtle exhalation to its 
last extremities : its knowing and perceiving would yet always 
be an intensive energy which we cannot conceive diffused as 
a material substance. In consciousness all those partition-walls, 
cease which in the corporeal organ of sense divided the several 
impressions from one another ; not even that variety of local 
situation can any longer appear, by which we may suppose the 
impressions made on the extended substance of the soul to 
have been still discriminated; the unity of consciousness, 
devoid of all reference to space, remains susceptible only to- 
the qualitative differences of stimulations, and all the coloured 
points in the eye, the pressed points of the irritated skin, 
must primarily coexist in it with as little relation to space 
as the simultaneous and yet distinguishable tones of a 

If the soul is to rearrange this manifold impression into 
a distinct perception of space, two things are needful. ITirst, 
it must possess in the constitution of its nature at once a 
compulsion, a capacity, and an impulse to form concep 
tions of space, and to move the manifold content of its 
sensation in this kind of combining together and drawing 
asunder. Philosophy may perhaps succeed in finding a higher 
reason why the soul at least the human soul must evolve 
from itself this form of perception, perhaps too it may not \ 
we at all events assume this capacity as an acknowledged 
fact, and the object of our examination is not to explain 
itself, but only its possible application. For, before this 
application can be made, before the soul, within the general 
intuition of space which with perfect impartiality it brings 
to bear alike on all possible content of perception, is able to 
assign its particular place to each several impression, there 
is evidently required an impetus proceeding from the 
impressions themselves that have to be arranged, and deter 
mining their relative collocation in space. It is the 
satisfaction of this second necessity alone that forms the 
subject of our present inquiry ; to this exclusively refers 
the conviction which we have already expressed, that the 


constraining reason -why the soul assigns to every impression 
its particular place in the space which it perceives, does not 
consist in the situation of the impression in the organ of 
sense a for these space-relations of the material of impression 
cannot pass into consciousness as they are, as belonging to 
space ; that, on the contrary, that reason can lie only in a 
qualitative property of some kind which the impression 
acquires (in addition to its other qualities) in virtue of the 
peculiar nature of the place at which it conies into contact 
with the body. To such distinctiQns alone is consciousness 
alive, and they act as marks or as local signs, under whose 
guidance it proceeds in spreading out the impressions into an 
image occupying space placing side by side those whose 
local signs are intimately allied parts of a graduated series, 
setting down at fixed intervals others whose marks present 
greater difference. 

In the absence of these marks the impression would he 
perceptible as to its content, but could not be localized in 
a particular place. Cannot any colour successively appear 
at any point whatever in our field of vision, any pressure 
stronger or weaker act on any part of the surface of the 
body \ Hence, from its immediate content that it is of 
such or such a colour, that it possesses a definite degree 
of force no impression can require a particular place in 
our intuition of space. But along with this content, and 
nowise disturbing it, there must in every stimulation be a 
subsidiary determination, which answers exclusively to the 
point at which the stimulus met the susceptible surface of 
the organ of sense, and would be different had the same 
stimulus come into contact with another point in the organ. 
Each Several localizable impression conveyed to the soul con 
sists therefore in a fixed association of two elements : of these 
the one is that physical process which compels consciousness 
to generate a particular quality of sensation, to see a certain 
colour, to feel a particular degree of heat ; the other is the special 
subsidiary process, the same for the content of all kinds of sen 
sations, but different for each several place of commencement. 


An impression therefore is not, as if consciously, referred 
back; by the soul to this its starting-point, because it arose 
at some particular spot, but simply because it lias retained 
this qualitative mark of its situation in respect of others. 

We shall find how this relation corresponds with the 
results at which we formerly arrived in regard to the origin 
of movements. As in that case the soul did not send forth 
identical impulses in particular directions of space, but 
generated qualitative internal states, which it had to leave 
to themselves to find a direction in accordance with their 
peculiar character, so here it does not mark out the places 
of stimuli merely as such, but requires internal differences 
as the condition of their separation in space, and measure- 
able amounts of these differences, that they may be severally 
referred to particular parts of space. This arrangement we 
look on as the necessary foundation of all our conceptions 
of space, through whichever of our senses we may receive 
them ; but we must leave it to the more special investiga 
tions of physiological psychology to indicate in what form 
these general requirements are in each several case fulfilled. 

5. So long as the opinion is maintained that the space 
relations of impressions pass as such into the soul, it must of 
course, in the interest of the soul, be further held that each 
impression is conveyed to it by a distinct fibre, and that the 
fibres reach the seat of the soul with their relative situation 
wholly undisturbed. The consideration usually comes too 
late, that with all this nothing has been achieved; for the 
mere fact that the one impression arrives by this path, 
the other by ,that, would not serve to explain the soul's 
intuitions of space, unless it could either with a new eye 
iind a new unexplained power of perception sec the 'course 
of both paths, and measure the angle between them, or 
else blindly discern whence the stimulus comes. The first 
it cannot do, the second it could do only if the stimulus 
brought in or along with its content a perceptible sign of 
its origin, and thus this opinion would m the end return 
to the conception of local signs from which we set out. If, 


on the contrary, the calculation of the origin of impressions 
does not depend on the direction in which they approach 
the soul, but on the qualitative subsidiary impression which 
they have retained as a reminder of their starting-place, it 
is no longer required by any psychic interest that in the 
interval between the organ of sense and the soul, their 
relative situation should be preserved, and each of them con 
veyed to the latter along a special channel. If we wish 
to place a library in new shelves in the same arrangement 
which it had in the old ones, we do not trouble ourselves to 
preserve the arrangement during removal, nay, we more likely 
disturb it, sometimes putting together volumes that, without 
harming each other, can be conveniently packed together, and 
in the new place we can leave it to a stranger to restore the 
old arrangement according to the label attached to each 
volume, which indicates its place. Just in the same way 
may we suppose that during the passage of nerve-impres 
sions into consciousness, their order in space is deranged, 
and there is no reason why this should not take place even 
previously within the nerves. For all that signifies is that 
each impression be kept apart from others till it has received 
its local label ; after that, no further separation is needed for 
the service of the soul. So a number of letters are put 
up together, and at the place of destination it cau at once 
be seen, from the imprinted mark, whence they come, in 
whatever manner they may have been conveyed. The 
necessity for separation could continue only if the nature of 
nervous processes did not render it possible for different 
impressions, with their local marks, to be simultaneously 
transmitted through the same fibre without disturbance to 
each other. 

It is possible that the latter case does actually occur, 
and indeed this is a quite usual mode of explaining the 
isolated course of the primitive nerve-fibres, which do not 
blend with others and are without division of their simple tube. 
But the explanation of anatomical facts is sometimes rather a 
traditional custom than a demonstrated truth. Natural as it 


is to suppose that the isolation of the fibres is instrumental to 
a separate transmission of impressions, we yet find it in cases 
where it is hardly possible to conceive such an end is to be 
served. A muscle, whose whole mass is designed normally 
to contract, yet receives several nerve-filaments, and they 
also run without "blending to the spinal marrow, though, no 
case ever seems to occur in which it would be favourable to 
the intended function that the excitation of each one should 
be propagated separately from that of the others. The 
olfactory nerve, like all the other nerves of sense, divides into 
a great number of fine filaments, and yet it is hardly designed 
or fitted to receive a corresponding number of smells simul 
taneously and without mingling of their peculiar qualities. 
The same holds good of the gustatory nerves, whose perception 
of different impressions is never so distinct as to make it 
worth while to provide for it by a multitude of separate 
channels. From such facts I do not think that any other 
conclusion can be drawn than this, that the employment of the 
isolated nerve-fibres, whose diameter fluctuates very slightly, 
is necessary for the organism for a very general reason. 
Perhaps the physical process on which the energy of the nerve 
is dependent whatever may be its nature can be developed 
only in filaments of a fixed thickness and limited transverse 
section. If we add the further supposition, that the magni 
tude of this process within one of these cylindrical elements 
can likewise be but limited, it will follow necessarily that 
it is only by means of a larger number of fibres conveying the 
same impression that its force can be brought up to the amount 
required to make it further serviceable for the ends of life. 
The same arrangement we also find outside the nervous system 
in the muscular tissue, whose splitting asunder into an extra- 
^ ordinary number of the most delicate filaments would seem pur 
poseless, except on the supposition that here too only cylinders 
of such slenderness are capable of contraction, so that the 
requisite power of mechanical work has to be supplied by the 
great number of united fibres. The universal employment of 
the cell-form in the structure of the plant is a similar fact ; 


it, too, indicates that the peculiar class of chemical processes 
required by vegetable life is possible only in minute bodies, 
containing a half -fluid sap-ball of small diameter that -with its 
whole bulk lies within the sphere of action of the molecular force 
exerted on it by the tough cuticular envelope. Be* this, how 
ever, as it may, we can at any rate affirm that the formation 
of prolonged and unramified fibres is a very general habit of 
the organic impulse of growth. But after having, for what 
ever reason, been once adopted as one of its permanent modes 
of procedure, it can of course also be advantageously employed 
for the isolation of particular paths of stimulation, where for 
some special purpose this is needed, without in all cases 
exclusively ministering to that end. 

6. In the last place, I would fain emphatically defend 
the attention which we have so long bestowed on this whole 
problem against the depreciation of those holding opposite 
opinions, who regard the discussion as altogether superfluous. 
We cannot think it superfluous to indulge a curiosity which, 
however often it may be stifled, drowned by loud words, yet 
is certain to revive in every mind, and without a distinct 
answer to which, the conception that we form of the reciprocal 
relation of body and soul, deprived of its most natural point 
of attachment, will float unsupported in the air. Our answer 
itself may, but the attempt to give one cannot, deserve censure 
and opposition. It will reap these abundantly and in diverse 
forms from those who conceive the soul as diffused with like 
omnipresent efficacy throughout the wliole body, receiving at 
every point impressions as they come, and dispensing the 
excitations corresponding to its purposes. If, however, the 
worth of a conception may be measured by its conformity with 
observed facts, I do not think we need dread the attack of 
this assailant. Even if it does not necessarily postulate that 
key-stone of the whole nervous arch, which anatomy has not 
been able to find, it has, on the other hand, never yet been 
able satisfactorily to prove what is its need of the nervous 
system, which observation does fiend : it has not succeeded in 
showing how this everywhere diffused soul comes to refer its 


several impressions to particular points of space, and to sketch 
for itself a representation of the body through which it is 
diffused ; finally, it has never been able to set aside the con 
trary evidence of experience, teaching that only after they 
have been transmitted to the central organs do the bodily 
stimulations exist for consciousness, and that only after they 
have been conveyed in the opposite direction do the mental 
impulses exist for the body. Ear more at war with observed 
facts than supported by them, this view only seeks to set up 
a preconceived opinion of the necessary unity of the body and 
the soul, and, in its persuasion of the superior value of its 
conception, seldom deigns to employ any other weapons than 
those of ridicule against the theory which we have been 
defending. So they will retort upon us our personality 
consists of body and soul as two separate component parts ? 
And at a single point the soul, like a human judge, sits on a 
high, throne, listening to witnesses on either side as they 
inform it of what has taken place in its body, arid what it 
has been unable itself directly to learn? The reader can 
easily further imagine these objections, but he will at the same 
time remark that imagination has been at work in them ; for 
we have given no real occasion for the So. Of course we do 
not hold our personality to be made up of body and soul, but 
wherever we may seek our true being (in the strict sense 
of the word) we are aware of .finding it nowhere but in 
the soul; and we have never looked on the body as more 
than the most intimate piece of the outer world, given by a 
higher power to be more truly our own property than any 
thing external can ever be made by our own labour. And 
after all, what shall we find incongruous m a seat of the soul, 
if we quietly set aside the high throne and the whole genre 
picture of a judicial cause, additions due only to the liberal 
fancy of our opponents ? Since, as a matter of fact, our soul 
does not omnisciently perceive phenomena or omnipotently 
produce effects at a distance, what do we lose by honestly 
confessing this fact, and confining the circle of direct reciprocal 
action between body and soul to one single part of the central 


organs ? If the soul becomes aware of the slightest tremblings 
of the body by their direct transmission to itself, and accom 
panies them with the subtlest variations of sensation and 
emotion ; if, on the other hand, the bodily mechanism turns 
into expressive motion every fleeting excitation communicated 
by the soul to one of its points what do we really lose ? 
And what would we really gain by the opposite conviction 
that the soul itself is bent in the bent forefinger with which 
we beckon to some one, or clenched in the clenched fist with 
which we afterwards knock him down ? 



Organ of the Soul Organ of Space-Perception Corporeal Basis of tlie Feelings- 
Higher Intelligence, Moral and ./Esthetic Judgment Organ of Memory- 
Sleep and Unconsciousness Influence of Bodily States upon tho Tram of 
I cleas Central Organ of Movement Rellex Movements Acquired Iforms 
of Reaction Divisibility of the Soul Phrenology Obstruction to the 
Mind caused by its Union with, the Body. 

1. TTTHEIT we seek to escape from the pretensions of 
^' Materialism, and yet cannot deny the patent 
fact that the possibility of mental functions "being exercised 
depends to a great degree on the connection of the brain being 
perfect and its structure uninjured, we are in the habit of 
betaking ourselves to the expedient of regarding this essential 
part of the body as merely the organ of the soul. This 
continues, we say, to exist of itself as a supersensible, simple 
being, provided with capacities with which we are familiar ; 
only in order to exercise these, it requires the instruments 
which the organization offers to it all ready in the structure 
of the brain. 

I have already repeatedly expressed my conviction that 
our knowledge of mental life will make no progress so long 
as we think that we have gained any result of importance 
in so thoughtless a conception as this of the soul's organs. 
It does not surpass even Materialism in clearness. For, apart 
from the general inconceivability how it can succeed in 
linking mental actions with corporeal masses Materialism is 
clear at least in this, that it terms the brain the agent, think 
ing and sensation, feeling and willing, the direct operations of 
that agent. This simple relation we understand; what, on 
the other hand, may be the meaning of the soul feeling, 



thinking, or willing, not itself, but through, the brain, evi 
dently requires explanation ; for every such through is to a 
scientifically trained understanding an enigma which it must 
have solved, while the enthusiasts for higher views of things 
almost always think the solution of all enigmas lies in the 
very obscurity of such instrumental relationships. When an 
instrument is mentioned, we must always inquire by what 
deficiency in inherent force that which is said to make use 
of it is driven to do so ; further, by virtue of what endowments 
this auxiliary can so compensate the deficiencies of the force 
which it serves, that this becomes equal to the accomplishment 
of what otherwise it would be unable to perform ; lastly, in 
what manner the employing force will be able to obtain 
mastery over the instrument and to apply it usefully for its 
designed ends. These questions have seldom been put, and, 
when we survey the great number of organs of presentation, 
thinking, and willing, which have often been spoken of, though 
not described ia detail, we cannot doubt that among them 
there are many that are supposed to do for the soul what it 
needs no outside help to do, many others that could not do what 
they are called in to execute, finally, many as regards which 
one does not understand how their perhaps in itself useful 
arrangement could ever come to be placed at the disposal of 
the soul. 

The comparatively inconsiderable degree of study hitherto 
devoted to making clear what we are properly entitled 
to expect and require of the body in the way of support 
and assistance in the soul's discharge of its functions,, 
has always made it especially difficult to give a correct 
explanation of the central organs. N~or are we likely soon to 
be able to remove this hindrance in the way of a fruitful 
investigation. For, though we can readily discriminate what 
need be looked on only as innate psychic activity, and to seek 
for an organ of which would be folly, it is but rarely that 
we can bring into view the 'whole circle of little aids that 
are necessary in order that a capability should be exercised 
in harmony with the outer world, of which the soul is 


cognizant only by means of bodily organs. Thus there may 
indirectly be bodily organs for operations that, in respect of 
their essential character, neither need nor are capable of 
receiving corporeal assistance. Hence, from our acquaintance 
with psychic life, we can but very imperfectly determine 
beforehand what instruments the organization must put at its 
service. Yet, even after the many and various attempts made 
from the most opposite quarters to explain the actual structure, 
we still feel the fascination of this undertaking, on account 
not so much of the information that we expect it to yield 
concerning the functions of the several parts of the brain, as 
of the occasion offered by it of reviewing the exceedingly 
diverse forms of the mutual influence of body and soul. 

2. It can scarcely be needful for me to speak again more 
fully of sensation, the first stage of mental life. The body 
seems to do nothing more for it than to receive the impres 
sions from without, and so bring them into closer contiguity 
to the soul's sphere of action in a form favourable to easy 
and exact transmission. Whatever may be the physical 
processes that take place in the nerves of sense, their trans 
formation into the sensations of colour, tone, or smell cannot 
be made more comprehensible by the interpolation of a new 
organ between them and the soul. For the operations of 
such an organ could at most result in the conversion of one 
form of nervous stimulation into another, and could not lessen 
the chasm that would still remain between physical movements 
as such and the sensations themselves as states of con 
sciousness. Just as little do those manifestations of relating 1 
knowledge which are limited to a comparison of the data of 
sensation, need, or could they make use of, corporeal ministra 
tion. In order to judge of the greater or less affinity of two 
colours or tones, or of the different strength of impressions, 
consciousness requires nothing but the elements themselves 
that it has to compare, and besides them that faculty of 
relating activity which, of all mental operations, we have 
found to be least attributable to physical agencies. Provided. 
therefore, no other additional offices had to be discharged, 


we would have no occasion to expect a central or^an of 
sentience, on whose preliminary elaboration of impressions 
the soul should he dependent in its own estimation of them ; 
it would require only channels of communication, which 
should convey to it the several stimuli, and render it capable 
of developing its sensations in a series corresponding to the 
variations in the actual state of the outer world. But, besides 
these simpler ones, two offices may he distinguished the 
arrangement in space of the impressions of sense as perceived 
by us, and the apprehension of the values of feeling with 
reference partly to single feelings, partly to particular com 
binations of several. In both these operations the soul 
requires corporeal assistance. 

"We have seen what supposition is necessarily implied in 
the possibility of an intuition of space ; every several 
impression, every colour-point of the retina, every feeling of 
contact in the skin, has to be supplemented by a special 
accessory impression, which, without altering the content of 
the sensation, merely indicates, as a local sign, its place of 
origin. To this necessary requirement we now add a conjec 
ture as to the form in which we believe it is met, at least as 
regards the sense of sight. Only a very small spot in the 
middle of the retina affords us completely distinct percep 
tions; all objects, whose images fall outside of this spot, 
on the side parts of the retina, are indistinctly seen. But 
every tolerably strong image by which one of these less- 
favoured parts is affected, involuntarily calls forth a move 
ment of the eye, through which we turn a full look on it, 
and so transfer the impression produced by it to the spot 
of most distinct vision. Now, according to its particular 
position, for each one of these side points of the retina is 
required a peculiar amount and direction of movement of the 
eye, in order that the spot of most distinct vision may he 
exposed as a receptive surface to the rays that previously 
converged in it to form a less distinct image, The fulfilment 
of this requirement presupposes that each of the several 
fibres, whose extremities receive the impressions of light in 


the retina, can transfer its stimulations, in a manner and 
degree peculiar to itself, to the various motor filaments, on 
whose variously graduated co-operation the extent and direc 
tion of the ocular movements depend. 

Now if we permit ourselves to conjecture that such a 
reciprocal action between the sensory and motor nerves of 
the eyes has heen used as the foundation of the space- 
intuitions, such a manifold and complicated intertwining of 
the filaments of both kinds as we must presuppose for such 
an end would be the very type of a central organ of 
space - perception. Each several stimulated point of the 
retina would then, in consequence of the peculiar way in 
which the fibre proceeding from it is connected with the 
motor fibres, produce in that organ an impulse to motion 
exclusively its own, from which the soul, even if no actual 
movement of the eye follows, can receive an impression of 
some sort. Finally, this impression which need not neces 
sarily even be a process apprehended by consciousness, but 
may be one of those unconscious states which, notwithstanding, 
powerfully influence the soul this impression would be the 
local sign, according to which the soul assigns to the colour- 
point connected with it its position in respect of all the 
other colour-points, i.e. its fixed place in the field of vision. 
We must leave it to the minute researches of physiological 
psychology both to remove the numerous difficulties of detail 
involved in this complicated connection, and to prove that in 
fact a system of such impulses to movement would present 
all the delicacy and multiplicity of gradation and affinity 
between the individual local signs, presupposed in the 
accuracy of our visual spatial perceptions. Our object here 
could be no other than by this theory (which, with all its 
probability, rests not on fact but on conjecture) to illustrate 
the conception that, in this or in some other not essentially 
different manner, we have to form as to the origin of our 
intuition of space. Whatever other particular form of con 
ception may finally be preferred, the necessity of supposing 
a preparatory central organ for this operation of our mental 


energy will not be done away witli ; and we have no hesita 
tion in acknowledging that we believe a considerable * part 
of the bulk of the brain to be designed exclusively for this 

3. We find the feelings of pain and pleasure that partly 
accompany single sensations, and partly spring from the 
comparing and combining of several, fluctuate too notably 
according to the bodily state, to care to seek their origin 
exclusively in the soul's appreciative energy. In very many 
cases, of course, morbid affections alter not only the feeling, 
but also the content of the sensation with which it is 
associated ; it is not the same taste that is repulsive to the 
invalid, pleasant to the person in health ; and in such cases 
we may conjecture that the soul always judges as to the 
impression actually conveyed to it by the nerve of sense 
according to unvarying laws of its own nature, without 
requiring the authoritative intervention of a bodily organ. 
Lut frequently, also, the content of perception remains un 
altered, and yet the amount and nature of the feeling 
awakened by it varies. No doubt here too the strength 
of the interest which we take in it is sometimes increased, 
sometimes lessened, by the general character of the actual 
frame of mind, which may have had a purely mental origin, 
and on such grounds alone probably do we feel the same 
harmonies of tones, the same combinations of colours, some 
times more and sometimes less congenial to us. Nevertheless, 
alike as to the intensity and the phase of our feelings, there 
remains a variability in our being affected that in all proba 
bility can be accounted for only on the supposition that the 
harmony or discord between the stimulations of the nerves 
and the conditions of our life is measured by a particular 
after-effect that takes place, without always duly corresponding 
to the disturbance or furtherance actually experienced. 

In persons under aether or chloroform, consciousness does 
not always cease with feeling ; at first it is sometimes possible 
for them to take note, with tolerable accuracy, of the several 
processes of a surgical operation which they are undergoing, 

VOL. I x 


though they do not feel the pain of it. In other affections of 
the nervous system also, we are made anxious "by the peculiar 
want of tone of our impressions, which are apprehended 
with perfect distinctness, and yet hardly seem to be our own 
states, so little are they attended by that feeling of being 
affected which in healthy life belongs to each of our sensa 
tions. Now here it seems as if the transmission of the 
external stimuli were uninterrupted up to the point where, 
by reciprocal action with the soul, they are converted into 
conscious, indifferent perceptions, but as if at the same time 
they were hindered in their propagation to another point, 
where they had to awaken that peculiar resonance whose 
reaction in the soul first excites the attendant feeling. The 
facts, however, as yet offered by experience do not allow of 
even accurate research finally deciding the question whether 
in this sense we really have to assume a peculiar central 
organ of feeling, or whether some other form of co-operation 
on the part of the body would not equally account for tlie 

But an investigation as to the limits within which in 
general the feelings require this co-operation would not be 
without interest. Does our pleasure in consonant chords 
rest solely on a comparison of the actual sensations of sound, 
so that the soul itself, bereft of a body, would still continue 
to find the same chords beautiful, supposing it possible for 
impressions still to be conveyed to it ? Or is the soul in 
this pleasure only aware of the favourable effect incidentally 
exerted by this precise combination of tones, on some other 
part of its bodily organization, so that its enjoyment springs, 
not from the peculiar inherent affinities of the group of tones, 
hut solely from a concomitant advantage, and would con 
sequently be impossible, if along with the corporeal frame 
work the exclusive conditions of the soul being pleased were 
to disappear ? These questions cannot be answered at present, 
and failing an answer to them (the value of which for our 
conception of the mental life in general is sufficiently shown 
by this single example) we must meanwhile be content with 


the conviction that the warmth and intensity of our feelings, 
and along with that the whole mould of our emotional life, 
is at any rate in great measure dependent on the influence 
of the corporeal organization. 

4. By the accurate transmission of external impressions, 
by the liveliness of the feelings that associate themselves with 
each several sensation and its combinations with others, by all 
these operations the bodily organs pave the way for those 
higher energies by which the mind forms the cognitive results 
of reason and understanding into the total of an orderly con 
ception of the universe. But this working up of the materials 
on which the soul is to exert the energies of its relating 
knowledge seems to be the only contribution that the corporeal 
operations can make to these higher functions of psychic life , 
their actual performance is left to the mind's peculiar activity. 
When organs of understanding or of reason, instruments of 
thinking and judging, are spoken of, we confess that we have 
no idea either what end such theories can serve, or what 
advantage there could be for the higher intellectual life in all 
this apparatus of instruments. None of those relating energies 
from whose inexhaustibly varied repetition all our knowledge 
is derived, can be in the smallest degree promoted by the co 
operation of a corporeal force ; but the practicability of each will 
depend on the related points which it has to compare, which 
form the material of its elaboration, being duly and accurately 
supplied to it by the senses, consequently on its being assisted 
by the bodily processes. Thus (what has never been denied) 
the perfection of mental life is indirectly connected by myriad 
roots with the soil of the bodily existence ; but the soil does 
not, besides the general nutrition which it affords, send 
upwards a special organ of which the plant must make use if 
it is to flourish. 

Turning, further, our attention to the effwd judgment of 
actions, we readily allow that this too is indirectly very largely 
influenced by the accuracy with which we apprehend facts 
through our senses, and the vividness with which, according 
to our permanent tempetament or momentary state of body, 


other ideas more or less circumspectly or confusedly gather 
round these facts, and feelings of their value are developed. 
Nevertheless, no stimulation of a bodily organ of the soul can 
co-operate in the essential point the passing of the moral 
judgment itself ; to the nerves we can at most look for the 
source of the pleasant or unpleasant value m point of feeling of 
the action in question as regards the personal life of the person 
judging, in no wise for that of the estimation of its moral good 
ness or evil, with which no personal pain or pleasure mingles. 
While, therefore, we cannot deny that our moral judgment 
is to but too great a degree actually swayed and confused by 
the influence of bodily activities, we have yet no reason to 
press on it the dangerous assistance of a special bodily organ. 
In like manner, the impression made on us by beautiful 
objects may, to a great extent, be the result of an agreeable 
und harmonious excitation of our nerves. But he who sees 
in the esthetic feeling, along with an undoubted share of the 
sense of personal wellbeing, an independent reverence for 
mid appreciation of the beautiful, will be constrained to 
ascribe this additional element exclusively to the soul. The 
shudder in presence of the sublime, and the laughter over 
comical incidents, are unquestionably both produced, not by a 
transference of the physical excitations of our eyes to the 
nerves of the skin or the diaphragm, but by what is seen 
being taken up into a world of thought, and estimated at the* 
value belonging to it in the rational connection of things. 
The mechanism of our life has annexed this corporeal expres 
sion to the mood of mind hence evolved, but the bodily 
expression would never of itself, without the understanding of 
what it presents, give rise to the mood. However great and 
complex, then, may be the co-operation of the bodily functions 
in the higher life of the mind, it consists certainly not in the 
latter being furnished with special instruments for its most 
peculiar operations, but only in the unrestricted action of a 
number of \preparatory organs being required for the realization 
of many indirectly necessary prerequisites of these operations. 
5. Among these prerequisites are not merely the trans- 


mission of momentary impressions,, but also tlie retention of 
past impressions, their reappearance in consciousness, that 
\vliole rotation of ideas through whose connection our life 
receives unity and our actions achieve definite ends. While 
we have just been trying to conceive the higher energies of 
mind as independent of the body, they would relapse into a 
dependent position, if the maintenance of this groundwork 
from which they arise were left to the physical reactions of 
the organism. According as an organ of memory more or less 
faithfully and permanently preserved the results of the 
previous life, the more easy and elastic were the passage of 
the nervous tremors by which the copies of past impressions 
preserved in the brain resuscitate one another, so much the 
purer and fuller, or the more obscured and poor, would be at 
each moment our consciousness of the connection of our life, 
our duties, and our hopes. Or rather, there would be no 
such connection at all, but moment by moment the soul would 
exhibit the thought, the feeling, or the volition prescribed by 
the bodily stimulation just then newly awaking ; destitute of 
any power even within itself to approximate the past to the 
present, it could not keep steadily before itself, through the 
smallest space of time, a single thought whose significance 
became complete only through a succession of several ideas. 
There is no doubt that our train of thought does to a great 
extent depend indirectly on the constant influence of bodily 
processes; nevertheless, the doctrine of a special organ of 
memory, even as a mere means of support to the sours own 
power of remembrance, is exposed to greater difficulties than 
is commonly thought. The objection that the cerebral mass, 
which is not unalterable, but undergoes slow renovation, 
could not, without confusion, retain for future uso the im 
pressed copies of countless impressions, is met plausibly but 
not convincingly by reference to the countless uadulatory 
movements of sound and of coloured light that can simul 
taneously traverse the same atmospheric space without mutual 

When we have been for a short time looking steadily at 


the sun, we retain a sharply- outlined circular after-image of 
it even if we close our eyes ; for during the whole of the 
short time that the look lasted, the rays fell on the same 
contiguous points of the retina ; the effect continues to thrill 
in the same circle of adjacent nerve-fibres, and thus the 
relative situation of the stimulated parts preserves for us the 
round figure and the size of the image. If, on the other hand, 
we see the figure of some one approaching, every step nearer 
he comes, the image on our retina assumes larger dimensions , 
hardly one point of the whole figure answers at any one 
moment to the same spot of the eye as at the moment before ; 
not one after-image, but numberless images all different one from 
another would remain, if our nervous organs really fixed every 
momentary impression in permanent traces. Nor would we 
gain anything by supposing that a considerable number of these 
fleeting stimulations joined to form a permanent after-image ; 
for what distinct image could proceed from an agglomeration of 
many images resembling one another in their characteristics, but 
in their size so dissimilar that the edges of eacli one projected 
over another, and they all, consequently, covered one another 
with different points of their outline ? If we have observed 
how entirely under the same circumstances the different over 
lapping coloured spectra of the prism blend into a uniform 
grey, we shall assuredly find it impossible to suppose that the 
visual perceptions generate in this manner abiding impressions, 
that, like the after-images, retain the shape and colour of seen 
objects. And yet we have hitherto assumed that these figures 
are invariable in their outlines. But we sec the same person 
perhaps in a thousand different altitudes, and motions of the 
limbs ; which one of the numberless images that ho has thus 
cast on our eye will the brain retail ? Or are we to suppose 
that they axe all retained ? If we should perchance make up 
our minds to this, at what price should wo have after all 
purchased this corporeal fixing of impressions ? At no less a 
price than the admission that, seeing the smallness of the 
brain does not allow us to assume that each of those countless 
images has a special particle in which it inheres, each several 


simple atom must be capable of containing in itself, without 
any mutual disturbance, an infinite number of different im 
pressions. The same atom that in the image of a tree 
represents a green point, must in that of a flower represent 
a red one, in that of the sky a blue one, in that of each 
several human figure one of a different colour ; and, without 
knowing how it is to take place, we must further suppose that 
the resuscitation of any one of these impressions in one of 
these atoms always calls forth in another that particular 
impression which, along with the former, goes to form a 
coherent image. 

Such a theory would simply contain many repetitions of 
the same supposition that we make once. If every several 
atom of the cerebral mass is capable of retaining without 
confusion numberless impressions, why should the soul 
alone, like the atom a simple being, be incapable of doin so ? 
Why should it alone not possess the faculty of memory and 
recollection in itself without the aid of a corporeal organ, 
when we lave to concede that faculty directly and without 
the mediation of a new instrument to every part of the 
assumed organ ? ISTay, we must in fact make the contrary- 
assertion, that the retention and reproduction of impressions is 
possible, not to a number of co-oporant cerebral particles, but 
exclusively to the soul's undivided unity, Eor even the 
images of sense-perceptions preserved in memory are not in 
the strict sense images, not likenesses unvarying in their size 
and the number and position of their parts ; on the contrary, 
the soul retains only the general outline, the design, the idea 
of the internal connection of many marks, and thence, at the 
several moments of recollection, educes the particular images ; 
uor does it always bring back the image of a position, attitude, 
or movement of the figure, which on a previous occasion it 
perceived, and of which it might have retained a fixed im 
pression, but, anticipating experience, it beholds familiar 
figures with their outlines distorted in a way that never has 
been actually witnessed. But this retention not so much of 
the various constituents themselves as of the rule of their 


composition, is an action of relating knowledge, an operation 
of the soul ; to admit an organ of memory would only lead 
to our having to attribute a memory to the soul, and also to 
regard the several atoms of the brain as souls whose power ol 
remembrance assists ours. And throughout this discussion 
we have wholly kept out of view those indirectly produced 
and more general conceptions which are not images of an 
object, but expressions of internal relations ; any attempt to 
account for their retention by corporeal copies would only 
confirm the necessity of including memory among the opera 
tions derived immediately from the sours peculiar nature. 

But do numerous and daily recurring experiences not show 
that this attempt to prove from the notion of ideation and 
recollection the impossibility of their having a corporeal origin 
has reached an incorrect result ? Have we not sufficient 
evidence of such an origin in ordinary sleep, in unconscious 
ness, and in the constantly recurring derangements of memory 
in disease ? Do not all these phenomena show that the above 
mental operations can be performed only so long as their 
organs are uninjured ? Plausible as is this reasoning, it is 
nevertheless ill-grounded, and opposed by another interpreta 
tion of the facts. 

When in a highly complex system of elements the dis 
turbance of one part puts a stop to a particular operation, it 
may be that this operation depended on that part as its 
exclusive efficient cause, and now ceases because that which 
brought it about has ceased to act ; but it is no less possible 
that it was in no wise dependent for its production on the dis 
turbed part, but is only hindered by the disturbance of this as 
by a positive obstacle. We are of course primarily disposed 
by our general view of the nature of consciousness in favour 
of the latter explanation ; for it would seem quite incompre 
hensible that a corporeal organ should be able to communicate 
to the soul the capacity of consciousness, if it did not in 
herently possess it. But, moreover, the results of observation 
in part distinctly favour our conception and nowhere decidedly 
oppose it. To account for ordinary sleep by exhaustion of 


the central organs thus become unfit for further generation of 
consciousness, must seem in the highest degree improbable to 
any one that remembers how quickly in healthy bodies nay, 
where the habit has been formed, how immediately slumber 
may succeed the most vigorous exercise of all the mental 
powers, and how far from being really exhausted when it is 
accidentally interrupted, these powers or the force of the 
central organs underlying them are found to be. Much easier 
is it to suppose that the gradually increasing feeling of exhaus 
tion acts as a stimulus that by its unpleasant enervating effect 
takes away delight and interest in the continuance of the 
train of thought ; and in like manner a person awaking from 
profound sleep gives the impression not so much of one whose 
powers are being restored, as of one who is gradually being 
set free from obstacles. "When very severe bodily suffering 
causes sudden loss of consciousness, we may think that we 
can attribute this to the rapid enfeeblement of an organ 
causing the intermission of its operation, consciousness ; when 
a swoon is the consequence of the mind being suddenly 
affected by calamity, I see no reason why this inward tumult 
of the soul should not be viewed as an obstacle making the 
continuance of consciousness for the moment impossible, and 
at the same time putting a stop to the wonted subjection of 
the corporeal energies to the soul's dominion. If we may 
here look on the mental pain as an antagonistic stimulus 
preventing the (always existent) capacity of consciousness 
from expressing itself, why should not the bodily pain of the 
former case have the same effect ? This, too, is not merely the 
bodily disturbance from which it proceeds, but as feeling it 
is a state of consciousness, and a state too of which we know 
from personal observation how much even in its lesser degrees 
it interferes with the carrying on of steady thought by the 
overpowering impression and the relaxation of interest in any 
thing else which it creates. Lastly, we must add that it is by 
no means necessary that all the influences though they may 
be very powerful exerted by the body on the soul should 
be of such a nature as to cause distinctly conscious perceptions 


and feelings ; on the contrary, as in sensation bodily stimula 
tions call fortli an expression of consciousness; they may 
equally well have the opposite effect, and consciousness may 
suddenly vanish under an impression that either remains quite 
latent or else is felt "by departing sense only under the form 
of vogue, unusual, indescribable feelings. 

We cannot see that the various kinds of unconsciousness 
require any other explanation than this : consciousness need 
not be generated by an organ, the injuring of which causes it 
to cease ; but, as an inborn capacity of the soul, it may be 
opposed by impressions from innumerable quarters that un 
favourably affect the soul's inward condition. Much greater 
obscurity hangs about those half-lapses of memory which 
make it impossible to recall certain parts of the past experi 
ence, and of which we possess (along with many evidently 
falsified accounts from former times) many indubitable 
examples taken from everyday experience. We do not with 
hold the acknowledgment that here much remains un 
explained, and in particular cases will always remain so ; but 
these facts do not impress xis as being in favour of a specially 
corporeal origin of memory. 

Looking only at the course of thought during our healthy 
condition, we must confess that the moving springs that brought 
one idea back to consciousness and the reasons why another 
was so long out of consciousness, are often wholly unknown 
to us ; we dimly conjecture that the succession of our thoughts 
is not merely guided by the association of the ideas with one 
another, which, by observation, we cari track pretty distinctly, 
but is to a great extent determined by those other much vaguer 
associations that at every moment are being formed between 
our actual sphere of thought and the simultaneous general 
sense of our bodily and mental mood. Disease and advancing 
age gradually or suddenly alter this vital feeling ; hence age 
no longer finds itself at home in many of the spheres of 
thought of youth ; for, even if it to some extent reproduces 
the matter of the conceptions, there is now wanting the 
lost temperament that is needed to carry it further ; in like 


manner the convalescent cannot throw himself back into 
the dreams of his illness, for in getting rid of the morbid 
feeling he has lost the key to the gateway admitting to 
them ; thus, finally, in a renewed attack of illness the 

former wild dreams return in consequence of their cause 

disturbance of the general sense being again in action ; thus 
we find ourselves occasionally in life, especially when stirred 
to the depths of our being by strong mental agitation, 
suddenly surprised by long-absent dreams, by recollections 
and moods to which we can hardly assign any definite 
place in the history of our life. 

Those remarkable disturbances of memory which are pro 
duced by disease or injuries, seem to me to present no 
enigmas essentially different from those involved in the acci 
dents that occur in a state of comparative health ; in all cases 
what lias to be clone is to show from what direction an 
antagonistic pressure is exerted on the bond through which in 
health the impressions of the moment would bring back the 
remembrances associated with thetn. We can scarcely hope 
to succeed in showing this fully in any single case ; least of 
all need we attempt to do so with the numerous stories 
current, in which we too often and too unmistakeably meet 
with all sorts of mistakes and omissions caused by the pre 
judice of the observer or his inattention to details that seemed 
to him unimportant. In many such accounts we find loss of 
memory inferred from impaired power of verbal expression. 
But with this phenomenon we enter a department quite 
distinct from the former, in which the soul no longer is self- 
contained, but seeks to use corporeal means of utterance. 
Control over organs of voice and language is assuredly possible 
only through a central organ, in which the motor nerves are 
so arranged and intertwined that the soxmd-idea hovering in 
consciousness can simultaneously stimulate the fibres co 
operating in its utterance. If the conjectures are allowable 
that we have already hazarded m regard to the production of 
movements, it is easy to understand that many morbid affec 
tions of this central organ may prevent the correct trans- 


mission of the stimulation. The patient would then, while 
clearly conscious of the sound which he wishes to make, be 
yet compelled to utter another one, or be incapable of any 
utterance whatever. We have, however, in respect of all 
movements alike, equally with those involved in speech, 
reason to presuppose a co-ordinating central organ, and it is 
time now to state our views in regard to the production of 
bodily movements in general. 

6. We have already seen that the soul is not directly 
cognizant of the means of motion muscles and nerves nor 
of the manner in which they may be made use of the nature 
of the propelling force to be communicated to the nerves 
or the contractility of the muscles. It can do nothing rooro 
than bring about certain states in itself, in the expectation 
that the connection of the organism will attach to these the 
initiation of a particular movement. It does not itself carry 
out the operation, but in a manner to it unknown the vital 
mechanism executes its commands. But at least it must bo 
able to give these commands, it must not only find in itself 
a reason for willing a particular movement, but also be able 
to produce the inner state whence the latter springs. Now, 
were the soul contained in a body that never moved spon 
taneously, whence would it get the ideas that it was moveable, 
that movements were of xise, that this movement can bo 
produced by one inner state, that by another, of the soul's 
individual being ? Evidently it is not only necessary that 
the body should move of itself, in obedience to its own 
stimuli, in order that the soul may take note of its capacity 
of change, and learn what impression motions make on itself, 
but no less necessary that the external stimulus should of 
itself with mechanical certainty excite in the body such 
movements as, under the actual circumstances, are adapted to 
protect life, to adjust a disturbance, or to satisfy a craving. 
The soul, ignorant of all these relations, could not make a 
correct 1 guess, and, were not at all events a hint given, even 
experience would either never teach it to act purposively, at 
any rate not before a long series of mishaps had undermined the 


constitution of the organism. For certainly the latter would 
have small chance of preservation if the soul's sagacity had at 
each moment to discover and apply the means of escape from 
impending disturbances ; the sole condition ol safety is that 
at least to a certain extent the action required should flow as 
a necessary consequence from the impression of the circum 
stances themselves. 

While incapable of devising, the soul will, on the other 
hand, be quite capable of improving this mechanism ; after 
having observed what movement, with what favourable result, 
and what direct impression on itself follows any stimulus, it 
will not require subsequently to wait for the actual experience 
of the stimulus. Its image recollected or perceived at a 
distance, nay, even an image not of it, but of a similar stimulus, 
will awaken in the soul the idea of the impression, and with 
it also an. involuntary impulse to the reproduction of the 
movement. If at first, then, the soul looked on merely as 
an idle spectator at the purposive actions by which the 
organic mechanism protects the security of its seat, it is 
afterwards obliged for them to the mechanism, seeing that 
it now applies its manifold powers of retaining in remem 
brance what is past, of anticipating the future from analogy, 
of detecting similarity under superficial difference, of im 
proving upon involuntary actions by reference to the end 
.aimed at to bringing to refinement and perfection that 
chain of communication between stimuli and reactions which, 
though skilfully constructed, does not at first correspond to 
all the needs of life. The slowness with which the young 
human being gains control over his limbs, taken in connection 
with the stamp of completeness and individuality impressed 
on that control to which in the course of his development 
he may attain, shows how important here is the co-operative 
and ennobling influence of the soul : while the exceedingly 
short space of time usually required by the new-born 
animal in order to become expert in the class of movements 
of its species, and the often comical uniformity with wljich 
the young creatures exhibit the peculiarities of these move- 


merits without any individual distinctions, prove tliat here, 
on the eontraiy, a close and regular connection is at an early 
period established between the impressions of the general sense 
and the movements in question. 

If we observe the aimless, sportive movements of young 
animals and of children, we must be struck by the fact how 
rarely nay, hardly ever without special illness single, un 
connected, meaningless convulsive starts or thrills occur 
among them. And yet one might have expected such from 
the numberless throng of casual impressions by which at 
every moment of their course the motor nerves and the 
muscles are liable to be affected. But they do not appear , 
on the contrary, even the most hesitating and awkward move 
ments that fall under our observation, already show traces of 
the simultaneous and purposive action of connected groups 
of muscles. We may lay it down as a fact attested by 
observation, that in the young organism it is difficult for 
accidental stimuli of whatever kind to excite isolated and 
unconnected fragments of motion, whereas it is easy to call 
forth coherent groups of movements. The former might per 
haps take place, but the latter is not conceivable without a 
central organ, in which the single motor nerve-filaments arc 
so arranged together and interwinecl that a single stimulus 
affecting a particular point at once excites a number of fibres 
to accordant movement. The brain and even the spinal cord 
have alike doubtless among other offices that of such a 
central organ, and though wo would hardly undertake 
definitely to describe its structure d priori, merely from the 
requirements of life, we can yet conjecture one at least of its 
characteristics with sufficient probability, namely, the constant 
entwinement of afferent sensory fibres in the tissue of the 
motor fibres. 

The primary function of a motor central organ would be 
to carry into execution the movements of the body in general, 
which are rendered possible, according to the respective cha 
racters o different species, by the structure of the limbs. 
3?or this it would be sufficient that some internal stimulus 


were it only of the circulation of the blood should alternately 
or continuously excite the elements of the central organ ; we 
would then see the elements of all movement walking, 
swimming, flying, and the like take place with mechanical 
certainty and regularity. But the animal is endowed with 
all these capabilities of movement that it may use them in a 
resisting world, and it must be possible to vary them in the 
utmost detail in accordance with the varying external circum 
stances under which they are to be practised. Now, if the 
office of special sensory fibres is exclusively to receive and to 
convey impressions of the varying condition of the several 
parts, we must expect to find in the central organ sensory 
and motor fibres in contact with one another at a number of 
points. Any slight want of balance in the body will then 
produce (by the new impression which it transmits through the 
former to the latter) a reaction fitted to restore equilibrium, 
and any obstacle will cause at least the beginning of a pur 
posive avoidance. The same connection we shall further find 
made use of where an unusual stimulus coming from without 
calls for a particular movement, partly of defence, partly of 
utilization of its impression. Here, too, we may suppose it 
to be the arrangement best fitted to secure life, that, without 
waiting for the soul's deliberate planning, the stimulus imme 
diately sets free the purposive reaction with mechanical 
necessity. We observe numerous movements of this kind in 
our own bodies, such as convulsive fits of coughing, sneezing, 
vomiting, by which, without our being aware of the modi 
oporandi, pernicious stimuli are removed ; and such have been 
observed in the trunks of decapitated animals, i.e. under 
circumstances that make it most natural to assume that the 
soul has no share in them. 

Now, so long as these movements do not otherwise belie 
their mechanical origin i.e. so long as they do' not appear 
without external or traceable internal physical excitation, and 
(without respect to those outward circumstances which cannot 
make themselves felt by means of phymcal impressions) are 
always alike when produced by the same kind of stimulus so 


long any amount of purposive variety in their combination 
would in fact form no reason for inferring secret co-operation 
on the part of the soul. But much else may render that 
inference plausible, without actually making it valid. It is 
not improbable nay, on the contrary, the probabilities are in 
favour of the supposition that not merely the place but also 
the kind of the exciting stimulus helps to determine the form 
assumed by the movement excited. Little attention has 
hitherto been paid to this point ; psychologists have been 
content to note the fact that, for example, in a decapitated 
frog the irritation of a particular spot in the head is followed 
by a movement of the leg in that direction, and this has 
given rise to the idea that the sensory nerve of a particular 
point in the head transfers its stimulations, of whatever kind 
they may be, always in the same manner to motor nerves, and 
that consequently an identical movement always follows. 
If, on the other hand, we suppose (what is possible) that 
the transference takes places differently, fc. varies alike in 
amount and in the motor nerves to which it passes, when 
the stimulation to be conveyed is different, this would 
introduce into these reflex movements, as they are usually 
designated, the appearance of a deliberate choice, without 
the soul having really any part in them. 

To this extent the harmony of the movements would 
depend on the purposive nature of the permanent forma 
tion of the central organ. But the familiar phenomena of 
practice and habit, the experience that movements the 
performance of which was at first attended with great 
difficulty may become like second nature to us, afford 
convincing evidence that the primary formation of organs 
can in the course of life be developed to still greater 
degrees of efficiency. For from noticing how frequently 
particular traits of acquired grace and refinement of bear 
ing and movement are transmitted by inheritance, we may 
conclude that habits are not formed without causing and 
leaving behind particular physical changes in the corporeal 
organs. Many purposive reactions that in themselves were 


not attached by the permanent plan, of the organism to a 
particular external irritation, can be made to follow it by 
this superinduced tendency of the nervous system ; then the 
organ develops an intelligence of action ^hich did not originally 
belong to it, and is not the immediate act of an indwelling 
soul, but only the acquired physical habit which it owes to 
its former intercourse with the soul. For it could not, of 
course, learn these forms of reaction by itself, the intervening 
activity of the soul must have annexed the reaction to the 
irritation of the organ ; but what the corporeal organization 
could not devise it can retain, after continued repetition has, 
by means of material traces left behind, set the stamp of a 
physical necessity on the connection between the impression 
made and the consequent change. Although, then, we find the 
trunk *of decapitated frogs sometimes respond to external 
irritation by a kind of movement that seems not to be 
sufficiently accounted for by the physical impression actually 
communicated at the moment to the nervous system, it is 
nevertheless not necessary to suppose that the trunk contains 
a fragment of the soul, whose deliberation supplied the per 
ceived stimulus with the intermediate links required for the 
adequate establishment of the purposive movement. 

Whatever may be the observed facts, we cannot permit of 
their being explained by this hypothesis, as its inherent 
impossibility seems to us evident. ' We may with some 
shadow of intelligibility speak of a divisible soul, if we are 
thinking merely of the still undeveloped predisposition to 
mental life, which seems to pervade the body like a homo 
geneous whole ; but if the divided subject be supposed to be 
the already developed consciousness with its remembrances 
and experiences, and the dexterities and knowledge acquired 
by means of these, we could hardly have so much as any clear 
idea of what it is we were asking. And yet only a divisibility 
of the latter kind would account for the phsenoruena ; for the 
capacity of acting in accordance with circumstances would 
be secured for the headless trunk not a whit more easily 
by means of an intelligence possessing no experience than 

VOL. i. y 


of a purely physical mechanism as first formed. These 
observations seem to yield a choice between only two views. 
Either we must regard the purposive character of such 
movements as are frequently performed by headless trunks of 
cold-blooded animals as the result of intelligence, but of an 
intelligence not now present in the animal, but belonging to 
that one soul with whose seat the trunk was formerly in 
connection, and from whose deliberations proceed habits of 
purposive action in its central organ, that continue even after 
all connection between it and the soul has been done away 
with, Or if, yielding (mistakenly, as it appears to me) to 
the impression of complete vitality created no doubt by these 
movements, we conclude that they must be accounted for not 
by any echo, bxtt by the direct presence of intelligence, there 
is nothing to prevent us from admitting in the spinal cord a 
plurality of individual beings of the nature of souls, each of 
which might have an. intelligence for itself. During life the 
one soul, which we call that of the animal, would by its 
more favourable position or the greater energy of its nature 
control all the other partial souls, and, in virtue of their 
mutual connection with one another, all would participate 
in the experiences of the whole animal, and draw from 
them advantage. The decapitated animal having lost the 
influence of its chief soul, the souls of the parts could still 
manifest themselves according to the nature of the stimuli 
affecting their part of the body, and the former experiences, 
which each unquestionably could have only in connection 
with the head and its organs of senso, but which, when once 
possessed, are retained in memory, would now enable them 
to adapt their action to external circumstances. 

7. In the admission of this central organ for tlie 
regulation of movements, we think we have come to the 
end of the immediate helps that must be required from tlie 
"bodily structure for the soul's operations. They are all 
directed towards rendering possible, on the one hand, tlie 
combination of external impressions into a spatial arrange 
ment of perception ; on the other, the development of inner 


states to a purposive connection of spatial movements. On 
the contrary, all the large amount of labour by which the 
intelligence systematizes the matter of sense - impressions, 
into a single rational conception of things, we have had to 
leave exclusively to the unbodied energy of the soul The 
tasks which we impose on the brain will seem, then, much 
simpler than the manifold functions that phrenologists require 
of it in. their search for, and alleged discovery of, special 
organs for many of the most complex manifestations of 
mind. However unsafe these efforts may be, the unpre 
judiced observer cannot dismiss them as groundless, and 
they are not liable to every charge brought against them. 
Without doubt, it is not necessary to suppose that all souls 
m themselves of one kind, owe their individual character to 
the special development of their corporeal organs; on the 
contrary, there is no obstacle m the way of the belief that 
each one is by an originally peculiar character determined 
to a unique development of the general capacities which it 
shares with all others as the common foundation of mental 
life. If, however, we hesitate to set down any part what 
ever of predetermination to the peculiar character and indi 
viduality of the corporeal frame, we forget that all such 
efforts to divorce mental life from bodily conditions are 
made fruitless by other indisputable facts. We have not 
chosen or bestowed on ourselves, our sex, or our people, or 
the time of our birth, or the 'social circumstances of out 
life neither our poverty nor the advantages of our wealth ; 
so long as we see such relations often bring to naught the 
hope of mental development, we have little reason to dispute 
very vehemently the dependence of the mind on its body 
While Materialism offers no prospect of a higher and more 
satisfactory view of things, the assertion of an independent 
soul does not solve the dark and depressing riddles so often 
brought before us by the course of the world and the destinies 
of life. 

But the admission of special organs, distributed over 
different tracts of the brain, for particular higher mental 


faculties, has after all little probability on its side. We 
could neither form any idea of the kind of advantage 
offered by it, nor would we find that it promotes the mutual 
action and reaction constantly going on between all the 
psychic energies ; lastly, even if we gave up the search for 
explanation, the mere collecting of facts in proof of a connec 
tion between a particular cerebral formation and particular 
intellectual operations, would be found to be attended with 
extraordinary difficulties. It would presuppose in the 
inquirer that complete and penetrating knowledge of human 
nature that would at once not only detect all the hidden 
tendencies of an individual character, but also unravel the 
far more secret tissue of antecedents from which they 
flowed as finished results. For unquestionably the form in 
which a man's complete character appears to an observer, 
has been moulded not only by the innate disposition, but 
also by the succession and peculiar character of the external 
circumstances in which it was formed. It need hardly be 
mentioned how difficult must be the redistribution of the 
observed characteristics to these various causes, and how 
much risk there is of interpreting as direct results of a 
corporeal organization effects of education, of way of life, 
and of disease. It might be easier for unprejudiced observa 
tion (though at most in the case of such capabilities as may 
readily be shown to be present, as are frequently transmitted 
by inheritance, and hardly to any perceptible degree to be 
supplied by practice) to establish a relation of some sort 
between these and particular developments of the brain and 
its bony case. Thus sense of locality and of colour, musical 
genius, perhaps a turn for mathematics in general, and 
ingenious manual dexterity, may be found to have corporeal 
foundations, while as regards the subtler peculiarities of 
mental individuality we entertain hardly any such expectation. 
And yet even these may be largely under the influence 
of the bodily life, though otherwise than by the assignment 
of a special organ to each one. The immense differences in 
the amount and peculiar character of mental development 


presented by mankind more than by any other species of 
animals, seem mostly to be derived from distinctions in a 
universal psychic nature, closely related to what we are in 
the habit of calling temperament In all individuals mental 
capacities have an insignificant germ, and, rapid as is their 
growth in some cases, they are yet invariably developed by 
means of the registration and summation of individual acts, 
each of which becomes a means for the performance of a sub 
sequent greater one. The transition from one to another is 
effected with, greater or less rapidity not only by the 
keenness of the original impression of the perceptions, but 
still more by the liveliness of the feelings thereto attached, 
by the activity of the organic life and the mobility of the 
general sense that fluctuates with, its changes, by variety of 
moods and abundance of internal excitations suggesting 
certain series of thoughts and breaking off others; on all 
these influences doubtless are dependent not only the 
rapidity or tardiness of the general mental development, but 
also many abiding peculiarities of the direction followed by 
its course. The instrumentality of these influences of the 
body is in great part not particular organs, but its general 
structure; varying degrees of constitutional vigour form a 
peculiarly coloured background to the mind's action, and, con 
firmed as this is by the experience of disease, we must allow 
to the chemical composition of the blood, by whose stimu 
lative force nervous activity is excited, a considerable influence 
on the amount and direction of intellectual energy. 

Yet iri another respect the formation of the central organs 
may have a bearing also on this. It is chiefly the cerebral 
hemispheres that in the ascending scale of animal life we 
find increasing in bulk as the mental development of the 
species becomes greater, and a consensus of experience leaves 
hardly any doubt that in man, in whom they are most fully 
developed, the amount of intellectual life depends on their 
structure being more or less complete. But these parts of 
the brain do not look like a row of single severally complete 
organs, composed of *a great number of fibres with inter- 


polated ganglionic cells; they possess a far more uniform and 
monotonous structure than the internal and lower parts which 
assume very peculiar forms, above and around which they 
are arched as a thick membranous case marked deeply with 
very many furrows. It is not a demonstrable fact, but may 
be taken as a credible conjecture, that these more definitely 
.shaped regions of the brain comprise the organs of mental 
life, which we have already found it necessary to admit, and 
which are characterized by an unvarying and peculiar form 
of working ; that, on the other hand, the external mass of the 
hemispheres forms an apparatus of general use, designed in 
part as the means of reproduction for the nervous force 
that acts in the organs, in part to regulate their capacity of 
stimulation, in part, lastly, as we hinted when considering 
the feelings, to afford a kind of resonance by which there 
may be communicated to the matter of perception a certain 
amount of feeling, and to the growing volitional impetus a 
particular strength of motive power. Only in this sense 
of an indirect and yet very powerful influence on the 
mental life, would we concede to these parts of the brain 
the name of an organ of intelligence, of emotion, or of volition. 
We have thus delineated the various forms in which the 
body exhibits itself as a means of promoting and assisting 
mental development. In the researches of physical science 
this side of the matter is wont to be exclusively presented ; 
but religious considerations usually lead to the other being 
brought forward ; they beget in us a tendency to look on the 
body as to some extent a barrier hindering the soul's free 
development. There is nothing against the possibility of 
this new view ; as we find that in disease unusual fluctua 
tions of the bodily life clog the mind's activity, so also the 
abiding healthy connection between the two may have a 
retarding effect on the inward development. Experience, 
however, has but a poor array of facts pointing in this 
direction, and in cases of bodily illness that somewhat relax 
the bond between the two natures, we nover find a new and 
unexpected burst of psychic life occur. This assertion is not 


weakened by an appeal to the marvels of somnambulism and 
clairvoyance. After attention Las been so often aroused and 
disappointed by these phenomena, after there has been so 
much clairvoyance without the slightest permanent advantage 
for the progress of mankind: after these experiences, it 
might be supposed that interest in all this had also become 
clairvoyant and had recognised it for what it is, viz. pecu 
liarly intensified morbid processes, the lite of which in less 
intensity are offered by daily experience. Even ordinary 
intoxication shows us that one-sided animation of conscious 
ness that is devoid of any clear and comprehensive survey 
of its content and of the external environment, while there 
appear all sorts of impulses to pathetic rhythmical gesture 
and delight, and along with it dexterity, in daring experi 
ments, all of which is prevented in the sober man partly by 
the inferior liveliness of his nervous actions and the lower 
tone of his general sense, partly by a decorous regard to 
propriety and the usages of life. In like manner, a particu 
larly exciting train of thought that flows on in sleep 
may be then more easily carried out, while the numberless 
distracting impressions of the outer world are absent, and 
the somnambulist in his half-waking consciousness may finish 
the solution of a problem that awake he failed to work out. 
But, at the same time, we do not forget that it is properly 
the powers, the knowledge, in. short, the whole acquisition of 
waking life that made this achievement possible for the 
sleeper. As the consciousness of danger declines, the bold 
ness of the adventurer increases as regard to surroundings 
ceases, the experimenter's audacity waxes ; and as all disturbing 
influences are warded off, inner concentration and harmonious 
energy advance, without anything really new and unexpected 
taking the place of the familiar. Thus the human life which 
is the subject of our observation, is throughout bound to 
reciprocal action with the body, but the greater beauty of 
development to which the soul, freed from this bond, may 
rise, we shall not prematurely guess at, before the bond has 
been torn asunder. 



TLe Constant Illusion of SenseImpossibility of Things being copied in our 
Perception The Special and Higher "Worth of Sense The Inner Activity 
of Things Matter the Manifestation of something Super sensuous Con 
cerning the Possibility of Extended Beings Animation of the whole "World 
Contrast between Body and Soul not letracted Justification of Plurality 
as against Unity. 

1. TTOW many objections may silently have attended 
J_ _L ever y s tep of our statement ! And these not such 
alone as found occasions of dissent in the several difficulties of 
the questions which we have hurried through, and as may be 
answered, not "by us, hut by more extended scientific research ; 
nay more, we must expect a thoroughgoing revolt of the 
heart against the coldness of a theory that transforms all the 
beauty and animation of forms into a rigid physico-psychical 
mechanism. We have had to direct many attacks against the 
creative, self-determined development of corporeal life, against 
the permeation of the body by the mind, against the truth of 
sensation and the spontaneity of movement ; in fact, we have 
made questionable all the characteristics that contain for naive 
feeling the essence of all the poetry of life. We cannot 
therefore wonder at the steadfastness with which the advocates 
of an emotional view will refuse to accept as a higher con 
ception of things the most convincing statements on our side ; 
the more necessary, therefore, is the attempt to prove the 
harmlessness of our theory, which, where it compels us to 
sacrifice opinions in which we seem to surrender a part of 
ourselves, yet by what it gives in exchange makes it possible 
for us to regain our lost content. 

Naive consciousness always takes sensation to be the per* 



ception of a complete, externally-existing, real thing. It 
believes that the world lies around us illuminated by its own 
ladiance, and outside of us tones and odours cross and meet 
one another in the immeasurable space that plays in the 
colours belonging to things. Our senses sometimes close 
themselves against this continual abundance, and confine us to 
the course of our inner life ; sometimes they open like doors 
to the arriving stimulus, to receive it as it is in all its grace 
or ugliness. No doubt disturbs the assurance of this belief, 
and even the illusions of the senses, insignificant in com 
parison with the preponderance of consentient experience, do 
not shake the assurance that we here everywhere look into an 
actual world that does not cease to be as it appears to us even 
when our attention is not turned to it. The brightness of the 
stars seen by the night-watcher will, he hopes, continue to 
shine over him in slumber ; tones and perfumes, unheard and 
unsmelt, will be fragrant and harmonious afterwards as before ; 
nothing of the sensible world will perish save the accidental 
perception of it which consciousness formerly possessed. And 
this full confidence in the reality of sense-perception not only 
is harmless, but a deep need urges men to ardent resistance 
of any attempt to deprive it of the full reality of its phse- 
nomena. It must continue to be the inherent sweetness of 
the objects that comes to us in sweet tastes and fragrant 
odours, the very soul of things that speaks to us in sound ; 
the splendour of colour would grow pale to us if we could not 
look on its radiance as the revelation of another being that, 
though strange to us, becomes so transparent to us that we 
can become sympathetically absorbed into and united with its 
nature. The best part of the significance of the things of 
sense 'would be lost if this lucid reality of the objects of 
sensation were taken from us ; the same longing that in 
higher stages of mental life seeks completion in another, here 
in sensation seeks to preserve the dreamy enjoyment of being 
completely permeated by what is alien. And not only must 
what relates to sense somehow cleave to things themselves ; 
on the contrary, we are drawn by this longing to look on 

346 BOOK in. CHAPTER iv. 

sensible properties as acts of that in which we find them. 
Not merely are things coloured, but it is their living active 
shining that we view in their colours ; their taste, their smell, 
are actions in which their inmost being comes toward ours, 
and discloses that which, within the externally-bounded space 
filled by their forms, forms the true reality of their existence. 
Not always indeed in daily life is this earnestness in 
regard to sensation alike present ; other interests, with the 
manifold reflections which they bring with them, make us 
carelessly take and forget many sense - perceptions \ what 
would interest us in detail, makes on our absently-glancing 
eye an indifferent or a repulsive total impression ; we think 
we see unclean chaotic masses, where the assisted eyo often 
discovers regular crystallization and traces of an ornamental 
formative power. Thus colours become to us indifferent in 
the artificial forms of our utensils ; but if we look at the 
smallest particles of the natural substance that our handicraft 
has forced into a form to it indifferent, to supply the neces 
sities of life, how immediately we again come under the 
power of the spell of sense in the rich depth and brilliant 
splendour of colours, in the marvellous play of broken lights 
that iridescent hover over the finest cracks and stripes of the 
surfaces ! Then we have in miniature the blossoming of that 
same fair mystery that is wont to excite our senses in the 
formless vapoury colouring of the sky, and the mysterious 
shapes of flowers. The many sounds that animate the earth 
blend to the preoccupied or inattentive ear into mere noise ; 
but the thoughtful listening that discriminates them recog 
nises in the several voices of Nature utterances in which, 
though they are untranslatable into any other tongue, yet 
a mysterious inner nature of things speaks to us with all 
distinctness. Only the accidental combinations in which wo 
are accustomed to find many elements of sense, the arbitrary 
forms in which we mould things for our own uses, make the 
original significance of sense-perceptions temporarily disappear 
for us ; but it is always felt anew when we give ourselves up 
to, or seek out, simple impressions, or when with perfected art 


we combine tilings that, by the elective affinities of their 
nature, crave to be united. Then we again recognise the 
claim made by our sensuous nature to give us insight into the 
inmost living essence of an alien but true reality that in its 
alienation faces us now as a friend and now as a foe. 

And of this belief the mechanical view of Nature seeks to 
deprive us, or at least seems inclined to do so. It teaches us 
that sensations are the peculiar product of the soul, suggested 
indeed by outward impressions, but resembling neither these 
nor the things from which they proceed: that the world about 
us has in itself neither darkness nor light, neither sound nor 
stillness, but, on the contrary, is wholly out of relation either 
to light or to sound, that things have no smell or taste. Fay, 
what seemed most unquestionably to warrant the reality of 
the external world hardness, softness, resistance are, ac 
cording to it, forms of sensation in which we are conscious 
merely of our own internal states. Nothing really fills space 
save an indefinite host of myriad atoms vibrating towards one 
another in the most varied forms of motion. And neither 
atoms nor motions, as such, fall under our observation ; both 
are only assumptions presupposed but necessarily presupposed 
in the inferential calculation of phenomena. These simple 
elements cannot themselves be described as they are, absolutely 
devoid of sensible properties, which are the only material out 
of which we can make distinct descriptions their motions 
we can indeed indicate, but in themselves they are never 
objects of our actual perception. In all perception nothing 
is directly in our consciousness but that which it has itself 
created ; only by subsequent reflection on the conditions 'Under 
which our sensations originate are we by degrees carried back to 
assume causes that in themselves remain for ever inaccessible 
to observation. Thus, then, the reality of the external world 
is utterly severed from our senses, and all the variety of the 
perceived world becomes but a phenomenon of our own mind, 
which we indeed throw back upon things as if it were their 
natural form and illumination, but which no more belongs to 
or proceeds from them than do the reflections which experience 


suggests to us cling ready-made to the objects witla which we 
connect them. 

Tain attempts have been made to defend the reality of 
sense-phsenomena against this doctrine. It had to be allowed 
that those modes of motion presupposed in calculations are 
really the conditions that give rise to our sensations; "but 
proof was lacking and was demanded that these are not 
brought to a second birth in consciousness by what, on the 
one hand, is certainly a product of our mental nature, but on 
the other is also present in the outer world itself and in the 
stimuli. Undulations of the luminous aether and vibrating 
waves of sound, it was asserted, traverse space, and the 
mechanical mode of motion is but the external means by 
which they stimulate eye and ear to copy the actually existing 
sensible content. But proof of the contrary should not have 
been expected from mechanical physics, as a little reflection 
might of itself have sufficed to supply it. We not only know 
colour and sound solely through sensation, but we would be 
wholly unable to say what idea we attached to them if they 
were not perceived by our own or some other consciousness. 
As velocity is involved in motion, and not in itself something 
that might be added to motion, so all sensations have but 
one place of existence consciousness, and one kind of exist 
ence that of a state, passive or active, of consciousness. 
Even before a mechanical theory had detected in the modes 
of motion of external elements the causes whence our 
sensations originate, reflection might have discovered that at 
all events they are conceivable only as such states of the 
mind and its knowledge, and that any attempt must fail which 
maintains that what shines in light or sounds in tones is a 
property of things or an event taking place between them, 
somewhere outside of sentient beings. It is vain to call the 
eye sun-like, as if light were before it is seen, and as if the 
eye needed a special occult power to copy what on the 
contrary it has itself produced ; fruitless are all mystic efforts 
to restore to the intuitions of sense, by means of a secret 
identity of mind with things, a reality * outside ourselves. 


But however fruitless they may be, they will undoubtedly be 
ever and anon renewed by that strange susceptibility that 
aims not at fulfilling its perhaps justifiable wishes by actively 
setting about the removal of difficulties, but only at cheating 
them by a facile surrender to the self-contradictory. 

2. Must we then really give up all these claims, which 
to naive consciousness seemed . so well-grounded ? Must all 
the glory revealed by the senses be changed into an illusion 
of our mind, that, incompetent to discern the true nature of 
things, consoles itself by creating a show without objective 
validity of any kind ? If it were at least possible to look on 
sensations as translating, so that the import can be recognised, 
the properties of things into a language familiar to the mind, 
we would be at ease and make up our minds to the inevitable 
loss of clearness suffered by the matter of existence in passing 
into knowledge. But what have vibrations of the sether to 
do with light ? what have undulations of condensation in the 
atmosphere to do with tones ? The physical cause and the 
sensation following it are here on so wholly different lines, 
that in the latter we do not find even a faint echo of the 
former, but a new phenomenon without a shadow of resem 
blance comes into view within us. How ill-fitted therefore 
is sentience for the performance of its task to reflect the 
nature of things, or at least the veritable outside of their 
being ! And consequently how little trustworthy becomes the 
hope that knowledge will penetrate their inmost being ! 
Beset on all sides by error, we can call our sense-perception 
nothing else than a tissue of delusions of the senses. 

If these complaints are natural, it is assuredly, however, not 
the spirit of mechanical investigation that has given occasion 
to them. Physical science, starting from imperceptible 
elements, tracing their manifold motions, and seeking to 
determine the impression produced by the transmission of 
these disturbances on the sensitive nerves of the living body, 
and through them on the soul, regards this connection simply 
as a causal chain of processes, and thinks it no more sur 
prising here than elsewhere that after so many transitions of 



efficacy from one agent to another, the final effect, the quality 
of the conscious sensation itself, is wholly unlike the primary 
occasioning causes. Why, it would be entitled to ask, do you 
require anything different ? Why do you suppose it to be 
the duty of your senses to present the things by which they 
are affected as they really are, and not contrariwise as they 
do actually present them? Why should they bring into 
consciousness the first causes instead of the last effect ? and 
are not the shimmer and the tone which they transmit to 
you, inasmuch as they are transmitted, no less than the 
unseen, vibrations of the rather and the atmosphere a fact, 
having with them an equal right to be recognised ? If you 
regret the loss of the splendour of the world of sense, what 
prevents you from retaining it, and rejoicing that there are in 
the world beings whose inner nature can be stirred by the 
impetus of these modes of motion to so fair reactions, to the 
unfolding of a realm of colour and sound ? Finally, what 
urges you to penetrate to the far less pleasing core, to shatter 
the fair outside, and to long for a sight of the skeleton frame 
work whose rigidity is veiled by its soft outlines ? 

There is indeed every reason to test the apparently self- 
evident assumption, that the sole office of sentience and of all 
knowledge is to present to consciousness the forms of things 
as they are. The objection will doubtfully be brought forward 
against us to what purpose is such a doubt ? Must not the 
office of cognition be to know ? But this objection is only 
another instance of that precipitation to which we arc all so 
prone. Tor only in the perception that our consciousness 
contains a manifold world of ideas, in whose production we 
are dependent on unknown conditions lying outside ourselves, 
have we an undeniable fact that must form the starting-point 
of our discussion. This play of ideas, regular in itself and 
connected with the sphere of these unknown conditions, limns 
in outlines agreeing for different minds the picture of a 
common external world, in which they meet one another 
for mutual transactions and communications. The thought 
of each individual should therefore be tfue, that is, in the 


sense of presenting to each the same world as is showed to 
others, without any individual illusion shutting us out from 
communion with other minds, by cheating us with a series of 
external points of relation, at which we can never come into 
contact with the activity of others, because they exist for 
none but ourselves. At the same time, it remains wholly 
undecided whether the world that is uniformly presented to 
each of us in thought, is for all alike a consistent error, or 
whether what we think we see does in fact present tlie very 
form of the outer world, on whose influences we feel that we 
are dependent. 

Partly the influence of daily life, partly the peculiar interest 
of science, the express object of whose researches is accurate 
acquaintance with things, have accustomed us to estimate the 
worth of our ideas and sensations by the accuracy with which 
they represent the nature of objects. We forget that the 
occurrence of these internal phenomena within us is quite as 
much a pregnant fact as the existence of the source whence 
they spring ; and after we have once become used to apply 
to them the name cognition, and thereby tacitly to put them 
into necessary relation to something external, we are apt to 
contrast being and knowing as if the former comprised the 
whole reality of the universe, and the latter had only to be a 
good or bad cognitive repetition of this complete universe. 
But the fact that the influence of the existent and of its 
changes causes within rational beings a world of sensation to 
come into being, is no insignificant addition to the connection 
of things, as if the import of all existence and action would 
be complete without it ; on the contrary, it is itself one of the 
greatest, if not the greatest of all events, whose depth and 
meaning make all else sink into significance, that could take 
place among the constituents of the universe. As we prize a 
blossom for its brilliance of colour and its fragrance, without 
requiring of it to exhibit a representation of the form of its 
roots, so we 'must prize this inner world of sensation for its 
own beauty and significance, without measuring its value by the 
fidelity with which it reproduces its less important foundation. 



For why, in fact, should we not reverse this whole relation, 
to which a crude mode of conception has accustomed us ? 
Instead of setting up the external as the goal to which all the 
efforts of our sensation are to be directed, why should we not 
rather look upon the splendour of light and sound as the end 
which all those dispositions of the external world, whose 
obscurity we deplore, are designed to realize ? What pleases 
us in the draina that we see developed before us on the stage, 
is the poetical Idea and its inherent beauty ; no one would 
expect to enhance this enjoyment or discern a profounder 
truth if he could indulge in an examination of the machinery 
that effects the changes of scenery and illumination ; no one, 
while taking in the meaning of the spoken words, desires a 
distinct knowledge of the physical processes by which the 
organism of the actors produces the resonant vibrations of 
their voices, or initiates the motion of their expressive gestures. 
The course of the universe is such a drama ; its essential 
truth is the meaning set forth so as to be intelligible to the 
spirit ; but the other, which we would often so fain know, and 
in which, deceived by prejudice, we first of all seek the true 
being of things, is nothing else than the framework on which 
rests the alone momentous actuality of the fair appearance. 
Instead of complaining that in sensation the real properties of 
things outside us are not represented, we should rejoice that 
something so much greater and fairer comes in its place ; we 
would not gain but lose if we had to sacrifice the radiant 
splendour of colour and light, the power and sweetness of 
tones, the fragrance of odours, in order to be consoled with 
receiving in exchange for this vanished world of utmost 
beauty the most accurate acquaintance with vibrations 
moving with more or less velocity in this or that direction. 
Besides, it is within our power to attain to this knowledge by 
scientific research, and actually to reach those colourless 
foundations of the sensible world over which actual sensation 
spreads this deluding, or, as we would be moxo correct to say, 
transfiguring radiance. Let us therefore cease to lament as 
if the reality of things escaped our apprehension; on the- 


contrary, it consists in that as which they appear to us, and 
all that they are before they are made manifest to us is the 
mediating preparation for this final realization of their very 
being. The beauty of colours and tones, warmth and fragrance, 
are what Nature in itself strives to produce and express, but 
cannot do so by itself ; for this it needs as its last and noblest 
instrument, the sentient mind that alone can put into words 
its mute striving, and in the glory of sentient intuition 
set forth in luminous actuality what all the motions and 
gestures of the external world were vainly endeavouring to 

But however great be the importance which we thus ascribe 
to sensation in the order of the universe, we still fear we may 
not thereby have wholly put an end to the old complaints. 
For the advantage of enjoyment falls too partially on the side 
of the world of intelligence, over against which stands all 
Nature as merely the lifeless, even if mobile, framework of 
means by which the beauty of the world of sense may be 
produced in something else, not in itself. Have things by 
their motions, while themselves destitute of enjoyment, only 
to minister to souls as mere stimuli to this inner life ? Has 
the one half of creation, that which we comprise under the 
name of the material world, no function whatever save that 
of serving the other half, the realm of mind, and are we not 
justified in longing to find the lustre of sense in that also 
whence we seem always to derive it ? Perhaps now this 
longing alone would not suffice as the foundation of a new 
moulding of our theories ; assuming, however, that a more 
thorough investigation added to the strength of this founda 
tion, we could yet assuredly find in things themselves the 
reality of all content of sensation only on supposition of the 
conditions on which it is conceivable by us. The content of 
sensation, light and colour, tone and odour, can be understood 
only as modes or states of an intuition or cognition ; if they 
are to be phenomena not merely internal in ourselves but 
inherent in things, things must be capable of appearing to 
themselves and of producing these in their own sensatioft. 

VOL. i. z 


To this inference that slieds over all existence the lustre of 
vital animation, our craving would have resolutely to advance ; 
in tliis reality "within things alone would it find a possible 
foasis for the reality of sense outside us ; on the other hand, 
sill efforts would be vain to annex what is conceivable only 
&s an internal state of sentience to insentient beings as au 
external property. 

"We tlnia find ourselves here brought back to an idea which 

we met in our first discussions concerning the nature of the 

soul, to that hypothesis of a double existence of all matter 

outwardly in accordance with the well - known physical 

properties; inwardly stirred by mental activity. We refused 

then to apply this idea, according to which the whole of the 

living body must be conceived as being the sentient soul, 

or the unity of our consciousness must bo explained by the 

co-operation of many elements. We recognised that the latter 

is thinkable not as a resultant of the Teciprocal action of a 

plurality of beings, but only as the manifestation of an 

indivisible "being, and that a complete fusion of the mental 

energy with the whole of the body, which does not date from 

eternity, but during the process of growth has been formed 

by most heterogeneous contributions from the external world, 

is in opposition alike to universal possibilities and to the 

most definite facts of experience. We cannot think differently 

now, and any attempt to conceive of matter as animated 

must of necessity be combined with another, viz. to prove 

that the form in which we think we immediately apprehend 

matter, infinitely divisible extension, is an illusion, having as its 

foundation a multitude of indivisible beings, whose definition 

contains only supersensible properties. Many threads of our 

discussion that have hitherto lain apart and unfinished now 

ma together and draw near their termination ; may we be 

permitted, as a means o fully uniting them, once more and 

emphatically to direct attention to the conception of matter 

which we have hitherto accepted, contenting ourselves simply 

with repelling its aggressions across its owu borders, and 

from which we must now at last seek to withdraw even that 


which seemed to come under its peculiar sway. For, while 
earlier thinkers believed that the mental life was derived 
from the efficiency of matter as a simple and self-evident 
corollary, we now purpose to vindicate the exclusive and 
original reality of the mental sphere, and to show that it 
makes Nature comprehensible, and not vice versa. 

The general reflections with which we prefaced the sketch 
of the bodily life convinced us that the manifold forms and 
events sot before us en bloc in experience can be explained 
only by the counter-working of many distinct and indepen 
dent centres of exeunt and ineunt forces. This hypothesis of 
an internal systematization of apparently homogeneous masses 
is directly confirmed in many cases by the observations of the 
assisted eye, and a more searching investigation into all the 
perplexing phenomena presented by the more elaborately con 
structed even of inanimate bodies, and by their consequent 
peculiarities of action, would find itself inevitably compelled 
to admit this organization of matter out of single efficient 
parts far beyond the limits of possible perception. But the 
final step of denying to the infinitesimal atoms to which we 
are thus led back any extension, in space, form, or size, was 
then merely a possible, not yet a necessary, termination of that 
theory. Although, however, it was admissible in respect of 
physical science to leave this question undecided, we are 
constrained by the conception that would preserve evon for 
matter intelligent life or something analogous, to seek a defi 
nite answer to it. 

First of all, in opposition to the current doctrine that 
matter is extended, impenetrable, imperishable, and offers 
resistance, we must make the counter assertion that these 
properties and modes of action have no subject : we are not 
told what it is that is extended, impenetrable, and imperish 
able, and what constrains these various properties, which in 
themselves have no necessary connection with one another, to 
appear in combination. Should the supporters of the doctrine 
seek to cover this defect by the acknowledgment that the true 
essence of matter consists of an indescribable 'supersensible 


something, from whose nature those very properties and their 
combination necessarily and permanently follow, we would 
have to reply that, while the other predicates are compatible 
with the notion of something existent, that of extension is 
not, and yet by extension it is that matter is thought to be 
essentially distinguished from all else existent. 

For he who speaks of the extension of matter is not con 
tent to find in every point of the space that his eye can scan, 
the operative sway, the power, or the spiritual presence of a 
substance that yet is itself present only at a single point ; on 
the contrary, he maintains that every infinitesimal part of this 
space is perpetually filled by it just as much as it would fill 
that selected point. And at the same time, on this theory, 
each single point of filled space is also an independent 
abiding centre of forces, and the annihilation of all the others 
could not prevent it from continuing its working in harmony 
with the nature of the portion of reality which it contains. 
This conception thus leads to an infinite divisibility of the 
extended, but along with that it cannot, it appears to me, get 
rid of the idea of an actual division Tor that which, after 
its separation from a whole, can undisturbed continue its 
working with the degree of force corresponding to its size, 
must in the whole have had an independent existence, forming 
with other equally independent parts a regular sum, but 
not a veritable unit Or vice vcrsd, what can be sundered 
into a number of wholly independent parts, and can without 
any alteration of its nature let go certain parts and admit others 
not previously belonging to it, cannot, with such indifference to 
increase or diminution, be conceived as a single self-complete 
being, but only as a combination of what were originally a 
plurality of beings. In contrast to this external multiplicity 
may be set an inner unity of the many ; it may bo supposed 
that all these parts are intimately connected, by homogeneity 
t)f nature, by a common import, and by joint destination to a 
common development and mode of action : but when we ab 
stract from what they have been and what they shall be, when 
we look simply at what they are, none of these higher unities 


can blind us to the fact that primarily they do indisputably 
form a plurality. Whatever other ideas may be entertained in 
regard to the internality of the extended, we insist upon it 
that its externality be not on account of these put into the 
background. And this externality, i.e. extension, will never 
be thinkable unless we suppose single points which are dis 
tinguishable, outside one another, divided from one another by 
intervals, and which lastly, by the action of their forces, or by 
their mutfual influences in general, determine for one another 
the places they occupy. This distinguishability of a number 
of points is no mere corollary of extension, but that which 
constitutes its very notion ; the name extension denotes a 
property implying solely mutual relations in a manifold 
plurality, reciprocal action of several individuals. 

Any attempt to apprehend extension as the predicate not of 
a system of beings but of a single element, must necessarily 
involve the other assertion, that the parts of this element, 
which must be distinguishable in order to form a spatial mag 
nitude, cannot attain to free and independent existence by 
division. But experience confirms in the main at least 
the separability of things distinguishable ; only in the invisibly 
minute dimensions of atoms might we hope to find both 
extension and indivisible continuity. And this latter conjecture 
would help us little. For where, then, would we seek the 
ground of the fixed extent, neither greater nor less, occupied 
unalterably by each atom ? If we do not find it in the number 
of the particles which it comprises, where else than in this fact, 
that the supersensible nature of that which here is really or 
apparently extended, is adequate to fill this and no greater 
space, to set up this and no greater indivisible outward 
form ? Thus, even on this theory, the magnitude of extension 
finally resolves itself into spatial expression for the degree 
of intensive force, and space is filled, strictly speaking, not 
by the being but by its efficacy. Let us therefore rather at 
once acknowledge that extension can no more be the predi 
cate of a being than an eddy or vortex is the mode of motion 
of a single element ; both alike can be conceived only as forms 


of relation between many elements. We are accordingly 
constrained to adhere to that view which formerly showed 
itself "merely as a possible one, and to conceive extended 
matter as a system of unextended beings that, by their forces, 
fix one another's position in space, and by the resistance 
which they offer as if to the intrusion of a stranger to any 
attempt to make them change place, produce the phenomena 
of impenetrability and the continuous occupation of space. 

The tendency to conceive extension as a direct property of 
things actual, perhaps rests on an idea that we carry by 
stealth from our personal experience of life into this wholly 
different sphere of thought. The upholders at least of those 
theories on which the extension of matter is explained as one 
of many manifestations in which is revealed a much more 
comprehensive striving of the creative absolute, a longing for 
infinite evolution and diffusion, betray in their ocsthetic 
enthusiasm for this form of action their remembrance of the 
enjoyment bestowed on us human beings by the freedom of 
unbounded diffusion and expansion of our being. To us the 
environing space is primarily a barrier and wide extent that 
we must overleap and traverse ; hence to us motion is at once 
exertion and enjoyment; the former, because we can execute 
it only by means of the mechanism of our limbs ; the latter, 
because change of position brings the excitement of new per 
ceptions, and the consciousness of the exertion of force through 
which we have won them, This mood, this sense of added 
strength and satisfied desire that animates us in traversing 
great distances, we unconsciotxsly transfer to the general 
notion of motion. All those enthusiasts who saw in the 
perpetual motion of the heavenly bodies an object of rapturous 
devotion, and recognised in it true existence and the eternal 
activity of the existent, secretly believed tlmt the traversing 
of these vast spaces was for the bodies an achievement 
costing a putting forth of vital force of which they themselves 
were conscious ; as the bird rejoices in its flight, so might the 
planets themselves delightedly feel the impetus of their 
motion ; and as the former with keen eye surveys the changes 


in its surroundings, calculating from them how much space it 
has traversed, so too might these somehow be conscious of 
the magnitude of the distances they had travelled. Similar 
associations it is that excite our enthusiasm for the expansion 
of the absolute and the continuous extension of matter , we 
accompany it with a feeling of relief from a cramping 
pressure ; and as in drawing a long breath we fancy we 
directly feel in the expansion of the chest an increase of our 
vital force, so there lies an obscure remembrance of the 
pleasurable sensation of such vigorous expansion even in the 
thought of the space-filling energy that we attribute to matter. 
And yet a simple consideration would convince us that of all 
the conditions on which for us the possibility of this pleasure 
depends, not one exists for unorganized matter; the more 
inherently extension is supposed to belong to it, the less is it 
an achievement requiring for its performance any vital 
exertion; and the expansion of the absolute must be con 
ceived not as the joy of liberation and of passing beyond 
limits, but exclusively as a falling into a multitude of different 
points, on whose externality to one another alone all extension 

Perhaps we should guard against the charge of having in 
these remarks stated accessory ideas that here and there creep 
in as additions of individual fancy, as if they were essential 
parts of the theory of extended matter. But we see from too 
many examples how frequently such pleasing remembrances 
of complete human life do secretly guide the speculations, 
whose reins are believed to be swayed solely by the purest and 
most abstract thought; and in this case I really do not* know, 
if it does not pertain to being to be extended, what should 
induce us so obstinately to seek to attach this property to its 
inner nature, and to fill wholly with continuous matter the 
space that might (adequately for the explanation of phseno- 
mena) be under the control of supersensible beings with their 
vital forces. But we might add that our theory may succeed 
where the other fails ; inasmuch as every several being by its 
reciprocal action with others fixes its own and their place in 


space, emits and receives effects, it will, from its position in 
respect of the total sum of the rest, be capable of receiving 
also impressions that would not have been secured for the 
continuously extended by its mere presence and diffusion in 

3. With this hypothesis of unextcnded atoms we have 
removed the only difficulty that could prevent us from giving 
ourselves up to the thought of an inner mental life pervading 
all matter. The indivisible unity of each of these simple beings 
permits us to suppose that in it the impressions reaching it 
from without are condensed into modes of sensation and 
enjoyment. All that stirred our interest in the content of 
sentience may now have a place of objective existence in 
these beings, and numberless events ascertained, not directly 
by sensation, but on the circuitous path of scientific investiga 
tion, need not now be lost, but may, within the substances in 
which they occur, be converted into much glow and beauty 
of perception to us unknown. All pressure and tension 
undergone by matter, the rest of stable equilibrium and the 
rending asunder of former connections, all this not only takes 
place, but also in taking place gives rise to some enjoyment ; 
each several being entwined with varying reciprocal actions 
into the whole of the world, is, in the words of one of the 
greatest of our national thinkers, a mirror of tho universe, 
from its place feeling the connection of all things, and repre 
senting the special view which it yields to that particular place 
and standpoint. No part of being is any longer devoid of life 
and animation ; only a certain kind of activity, tho motions 
which adjust the states of the one to those of tho other, arc 
twined like an external mechanism through the fulness of the 
animated creation, conveying to all opportunities and incite 
ments to the various development of the inner life. 

In this sketch we indicate a conception of whoso essential 
truth we are convinced, yet to which wo can hardly expect 
any further concession than that, among the dreams of our 
imagination, it may be one of those which do not contradict 
actual facts. Nor is its probability any more evident than 


n . s, for, in the intent to satisfy an enthusiastic craving, it 
cFf)< j fa,r more than that craving cares to accept. Who could 

i l ire the thought that in the dust trodden by our feet, in 
vox? prosaic texture of the cloth that forms our clothing, in the 
materials shaped into all sorts of utensils in the most arbitrary 
manner by technical skill, there is everywhere present the ful 
ness of animated life, which we are nothing loath to think of as 
slumbering in the mysterious outline of the flower, or perhaps 
even in the regular still form of the crystal ? And yet this 
objection would be merely a repetition of the error that, as we 
formerly mentioned, leads our sense-perception disparagingly 
to overlook the beauty of the simple constituents that chance 
sets before it in unfavourable position and confused blending. 
The dust 'is dust to him alone whom it incommodes ; the 
indifferent form of the utensil no more lessens the value of 
the several elements of which it consists, than a confined social 
position that represses the outflow of intellectual life destroys 
the high destiny to which even such oppressed fragments of 
humanity are called. When we speak of the divine origin 
and celestial goal of the human soul, we have more cause to 
cast a sorrowful look on this dust of the spiritual world, 
whose life often seems to us so fruitless, whose work so 
purely a failure ; we have far less reason to deny an inner 
life to such insignificant constituents of the outer world, for 
uncomely as they may appear to us in their accumulations 
they at least everywhere and without shortcoming perform 
the actions permitted to them by the universal order as modes 
of expressing their internal state. 

In fact, the partiality which we here confess for the idea of 
a pervading animation of the universe, springs not from any 
desire now to adopt the belief in the fusion of our soul with the 
totality of our bodily organization which we formerly rejected 
It has no connection whatever with the more limited inquiry 
into the relation between the mental and the corporeal within 
us, but proceeds from a more general conviction in regard 
to the essence of things, the grounds of which must be set 
forth completely and methodically by stricter science. This 


would have to show how radically unthinkable and contra 
dictory is the conception to which ordinary life and even 
computative investigation of the order of things has recourse 
the conception of something existent that never had an 
independent being, but in all its existence was merely a focus 
of impressions, which were not any matter of its own enjoyment 
or a starting-point of effects which, having no foundation in 
either its knowing or its willing, formed for something else a 
stimulus to manifold action. "We would vainly strive to think 
of the essence of this being as characterized by any simple 
and supersensible quality ; we would have to rest in the con 
viction, that even as the sensible qualities, to give up whose 
objective reality we more easily make up our minds, so all 
the supersensible qualities which we are fain to contrast as 
true with tho sensible, have likewise their existence only in 
the consciousness of him who thinks them, and that they 
could never denote the source of actions and forces which we 
see proceed from things, and for which we must seek a founda 
tion in their nature. The dislike to look on one part of the 
cosmos as but a blind and lifeless instrument for the ends of 
another, the desire to diffuse over all the joy of animation, 
and to vindicate a universe enjoying at every point through 
out its own existence as more perfect than one in which, a 
divided structure shows mentality above an unconscious 
basis in this we have but one series of motives inviting 
us beneath the unruffled surface of matter, behind the rigid 
and regular repetitions of its working, to seek tho warmth 
of a hidden mental activity. Another and more urgent 
series of motives lies in the self-contradictions that make it 
impossible for us to conceive anything as simply being, with 
out at the same time possessing and enjoying itself, and force 
on us the conviction that living beings alone truly are, and 
that other forms of existence derive their explanation solely 
from mental life, not the latter from them. 

Thus almost at the end of our journey we find ourselves 
brought back to the thoughts that actuated minds at the 
beginning of human development, in the poetic fancies of 


mythology. And we intentionally note this kinship, little of 
a recommendation as it would seem to be for the scientific 
solidity of our view. For in fact our intention was in this 
affirmation of a cosmos animated throughout to indicate 
exclusively one view that here opens "before us, making it 
possible for us to take a preliminary glimpse, and not actually 
to explore infinite distances. Fain as we are to keep this 
glimpse for ourselves, we yet must not introduce it into science; 
we would, as a matter of fact, only return to baseless visions 
of a less picturesque mythology, did we try to carry out what 
we believe to be the truth of the matter ; did we seek to show 
how the laws of physical phaenomena arise out of the nature 
of the mental activity that, hidden in the heart of things, 
forms their true essence and the one source of their efficacy. 
Already in antiquity there were those who spoke of love and 
hatred as the powers that move substances and determine 
their mutual relations, and who sought thereby to base oil 
living and intelligible motives those attractions and repulsions 
which we now, without any understanding of their ground, 
conceive merely as in fact belonging to the lifeless mass. "We 
must, indeed, in general allow and maintain that all motion of 
matter in space may be explained as the natural expression of 
the inner states of beings that seek or avoid one another with 
a feeling of their need, with a craving for completion through 
elective affinities, with a sense of beginning disturbance ; but 
assuredly we do not stand so in the centre of the world and 
of the creative thought expressed in it as ever to have it in 
our power to deduce from a complete knowledge of intelligent 
existence (which we do not possess) the precise laws of 
physical processes as necessary results. Here, as so often 
for human limitation, the path of knowledge is different from 
that of the development of the nature of the thing ; nothing 
remains for us but to gather from experience the laws found 
valid in the ultimate ramifications of m reality, while silently 
retaining for the whole of the world of sense the understand 
ing that it is but the veil of an infinite realm of mental 


4. Let us now cast a glance at the advantages that may 
flow from this modification of our views to our conception of the 
relation between body and soul, and we shall find them perhaps 
more trifling than we expected, perhaps lying in another 
quarter. Those who were staggered "by the idea of a possible 
action and reaction between the soul and the differently con 
stituted content of matter, may &ow have their scruples 
removed by the perception that in fact two different "beings 
do not here face one another, but that the soul as an indi 
visible being and the body as a combined plurality, form 
kindred and homogeneous terms of this relation. The soul acts 
not on the body so far as matter, but on the supersensible "beings 
which only afford us the phenomenal appearance of extended 
matter by a definite form of combination; not as material 
and not with material instruments does the body exert its 
influence on the mind, but all attraction and repulsion, all 
pressure and impact, are, even in that nature which, to us 
seems utterly devoid of animation, even where they act from 
matter to matter, only the manifestation of a psychical action 
and reaction, which alone contains life and energy. But we 
attach little importance to this advantage, which removes 
only an imaginary difficulty, while casting no light on the 
real incomprehensibility how one thing can in any way act 
on another. 

Our theory may still less please those who looked on a 
complete development of body into soul and soul into body as 
the necessary and alone desirable result of our speculations. 
For we now go on to contrast as sharply as ever the one 
indivisible soul which we call ours with the animated body ; 
and as persistently as before must we regard the body 
itself as a system of parts whose co-operant activities form 
the source of its life, only that an inner mental 
energy now fills each of the particles that in our former 
statement were of importance only as starting-points of 
physical forces. IsTo more than it formerly seemed to us 
possible to explain the peculiar elements of mental life by 
the crossing of physical actions of the nerves, do we now 


find the spiritualized nature of the parts adequate to 
render more comprehensible the rise within us of the one 
consciousness. Whatever internal experiences each atom of 
a nerve may have, whether, under the impression of external 
stimuli, it produce a sensation like or unlike to one of ours, 
have along with it like us a feeling of pain or pleasure, and 
be drawn by it into volition all this inner life has for our 
own mental development no significance whatever so long as 
it is not manifested. Only when each atom of the nerves 
transfers to the one immediately contiguous to it its own 
impression, till through the complete chain of all the excita 
tion is transmitted to the soul also, do the internal states of 
these elements palpably affect the moulding of our mental 
life. But none of them communicates these states as such to 
its neighbour ; no wave of conscious sensation, of living 
feeling and willing, can, by moving on in the path of the 
nerves and simply entering our soul, become our sensation, 
our feeling, our volition ; each several being must produce in 
itself and by its innate energy what is to be its own state, 
and it matters nothing whether the external stimulus exciting 
it thereto resembled the state to be produced or not. "When 
enthusiasm for a great thought spreads swiftly among a 
crowd, it does not as such pass from one to another like a 
kind of atmospheric air or an infectious virus exhaled by one 
body and taken in by another. Each soul must anew pro 
duce it by its own force, and from within warm into a glow 
for the object, whose very image and idea is communicable 
by one to another only by a complicated apparatus of con 
ventional sounds and illuminating remembrances, 

While, then, we long ago allowed the possibility that in 
each atom of the nerve a similar process may take place to 
that of which we ourselves have experience in conscious 
sensation, we must now at the same time repeat the other 
assertion which we added namely, that for psychology that 
possibility is wholly immaterial. The office of the nerves in 
the production of sensation is simply that of messengers 
charged with the conveyance of tidings to their destination. 


Perhaps the messengers are acquainted with the tenor of the 
news, and on the way are thinking it over with kindly interest ; 
hut the sympathy of the messenger will not bring about 
understanding and appreciation of the contents in the 
recipient, if both do not flow to him from a source within, 
nor will these be lessened by the circumstance that the 
message was finally delivered to him by the hand of one 
wholly indifferent. The nerves, therefore, perform the task- 
to which they are called just as well if they are mere paths 
for the transmission of a purely physical process that only 
once, oniy on making an impression on the soul, undergoes a 
transformation into sensation, and it is (with no small benefit 
to its certainty) permissible for science to set aside all refer 
ence to the unknown mental energy with which, on the other 
hand, the aesthetic view of Nature may lawfully fill the sum 
of things actual. 

In fact, nothing but the beauty of the living form is made 
to us more intelligible by this hypothesis. That beauty of 
course is not annulled even for those who hold that the body 
is but a sum of lifeless parts ; as in the sweeping lines of 
drapery we, as it were, have an echo of the power and dignity, 
the grace and splendour, as it were the changeful play 
of energies by whose traces mental life can animate selfless 
matter, so the body a still more pliable wrapping, fitted for 
greater variety of expression would reveal the admirable 
and absolute dominion of the soul over the sense-instruments 
of phenomenal existence. But assuredly this beaiity receives 
a new glow when we do not need to think of the symmetry 
of the human figure and the harmonious arrangement of its 
several parts as merely the nice adjustment of a well-devised 
instrument, or the graceful motions by which in the change 
of attitudes each part by tension or relaxation socks to fall 
into new equilibrium with the rest, as merely an operation 
artificially adjusting its own disturbances ; when, on the 
contrary, we can divine in each point of the form a feeling of 
enjoyment in its particular position and its manifold relations 
to the whole, or in the last faint echoes of slight tensions 


with, which every movement from place to place spreads over 
the outlines of the body, discern a token of the soulful 
intelligence with which all parts unite in common enjoyment 
of their admirable combination. 

The image which we have now to form of the living form 
and its mental life is that of an association of many beings. 
The governing soul, placed at a favoured point of the 
organism, collects the numberless impressions conveyed to it 
by a host of comrades essentially similar but lower in 
rank from the inferior significance of their nature. Within 
itself it cherishes what it receives, fashioning it into motive 
impulses, which it applies to the ready force of its com 
rades, that thereby regular reactions may be evolved. A 
common understanding and sympathy pervades this com 
bination, and nothing that happens to one part is of 
necessity lost to another, nothing but the peculiar plan of 
the whole can stop the diffusion of the effects on all sides. 
I know not in what point the satisfaction which this view 
seems to me to afford could be surpassed by that flowing 
from a hypothesis requiring complete fusion of the soul 
with the bodily organism, and seeking to convert the in 
direct enjoyment procured on our theory for each several 
part by the experiences of all the rest, into a direct coin 
cidence of all. When we think of the soul as spread 
like a diffused breath through the extent of the body, when 
we suppose it to share directly in what at each moment is 
done and suffered at every single point of its structure, do 
we thus gain anything that might not be equally afforded by 
the conception of an indirect reciprocal action ? Do sensa 
tions become less distinctly ours by our supposing their 
excitation to be dependent only on the final effect of a 
physical nerve-stimulus on the nature of an indivisible soul, 
and are they made clearer by our holding that each single 
step of the physical intermediate process by which they 
are transmitted is accompanied by mental action that yet 
never comes to light in consciousness ? Are our movements 
in any higher sense our own vital acts, if our will travels to 


the terminations of the motor nerves, perhaps even to the 
muscular fibres, and would they not remain just as much ours, 
if only a single motion of the soul were needed to call into 
activity the prepared connection of ministering parts ? "What 
inducement can we have to exchange this distinct image of 
the orderly sway of one over an organized multitude for the 
confused conception of a vague unity of all, in which every 
regular form of reciprocal action with which experience makes 
us acquainted would seem to be but an unintelligible 
intricacy ? All that we prize in life, and that is the source 
of nobler enjoyments, rests on this mode of combination in a 
manifold ; the human race, embodied in countless individuals, 
leads the life of constant reciprocal action, of mutual fellow- 
feeling in love and hatred, of uninterrupted progress, that 
makes all share in the gain of one part. All blending of the 
many into the one degrades the dignity of life and of happi 
ness, for it lessens the number of beings, each of which might 
independently have appreciated the value of given relations. 
The unity in which we long to be knit with another is always 
completeness of intercourse, reciprocal enjoyment of what is 
without, never the confused mingling in which all joy of 
union perishes, because along with the antithesis it does 
away with the existence of that which could be aware of 

And how little confirmation, after all, does the dream of 
this nnity receive from impartial observation ! The structure 
of the body is gradually put together from scattered con 
stituents of the outer world, and involved in perpetual 
flux it is continually giving back parts whence they came. 
With what, then, could the soul form a unity ? If it is 
alternately blended with the entering supply of the body 
and divided from the decaying -remnant, in what else can 
that unity consist than in reciprocal actions that unroll 
themselves and then come to an end, according as the course 
of Nature in one case adds new elements to those at work, 
in .another forces others oxit of their relations. This life of 
the parts is like a throng of travellers. Of these we know 


neither whence they come nor whither they go ; though 
strangers they come together, for a short time there goes 
on among them a sociable intercourse, corresponding in its 
general rules to their common end as travellers, and each 
takes in the stimulations afforded to him by the communica 
tions of the others. So we may think of each atom of the 
body as the seat of a peculiar mental energy ; but we do 
not know this ; we are wholly ignorant of its previous history 
and of the development that may await it in the future ; each 
element, drawn for a time into the regular vortex of our living 
body, may enrich its own internal condition by new experi 
ences, and minister to our development by propagation of the 
stimulations imparted to it by the external world; yet its 
inner life never becomes ours, and when the union of different 
beings on which our living form depends falls to pieces, while 
we shall all have gone through something together, it will be 
as beings originally different thai after a passing contact again 

VOT. I. 2 A 



Limitations of Knowledge Questions concorning Piuncval History "Depea- 
dent Nature of all Mechanism Natural Necessity and the Infinite Sub 
stance General Possibility of Action Source of Definite Laws oi Action- 
Immortality Origin of Souls. 

" "D^T whence came together at the "beginning of liis- 
JJ tory the beings who were together to perform the 
drama of animated life, and to manifest so excellent a develop 
ment ? And how is it that in the propagation of the race 
such a marvel is repeated as that every soul finds its body, 
every germ of a bodily organism receives the quickening 
breath of its spirit ? Lastly, what fate awaits the several 
beings after the dissolution of their partnership, most of all 
the soul, of whose destination to endless development we seem 
to have a pledge in the significance of all that it has under 
taken and accomplished in union with the body ? 

The course of our discussion inevitably carries us back in 
the end to these questions ; and the more sharply we have, 
tried to draw the outlines of the relations between body and 
soul, the more imperative do we feel the obligation to give 
completeness to our conceptions by an explanation in regard 
to the origin of this connection and the import of its final 
dissolution. But are we to deceive one another ? I by pre 
tending to be able to solve these problems, and whoever lias 
followed me thus far by pretending to trust me ? We need 
not so much as look back on the fruitless efforts of cen 
turies, we have simply to recall the means at the disposal of 
human thought to feel the hopelessness of any attempt to 



shed over this beginning and ending the clearness of intuitive 
knowledge Let us not for a moment, then, give ourselves 
up to the illusory dream that we can ever succeed in convert 
ing into certain knowledge what is intended merely to 
environ the sphere of human experience as a trastful dim 
anticipation. One task nevertheless remains for us to 
accomplish. For let us, as we will, refrain from making to 
ourselves images of what lies beyond the bounds of that 
sphere, we must yet see whether the views which within it 
we have formed leave open at least the possibility of a satis 
factory conclusion in the far distance, or whether that which 
we hold with strong conviction cuts off even the hope of such 
a consummation. Too surely will gaps that cannot be filled 
up remain in human insight, but it cannot, without self- 
destruction, consent to believe in that which it perceives 
to be incompatible with the necessary validity of its own 

For the consideration of these last questions we find the 
modes of conception which we have hitherto been employing 
inadequate. For they have all assumed the actual order as a 
complete, given fact, and sought only to ascertain the general 
laws according to which the several events of the actual 
course of things are respectively developed. Thus they have 
all had as their exclusive subject the preservation and con 
tinuance of a cycle of phsenomena, whose first beginning and 
final goal have been deliberately left out of the range of their 
inquiries. And, in fact, as from looking at the structure of a 
completed machine we calculate what work it can perform 
and in what order, without being materially aided in our 
estimation by a knowledge of its origin and the method of its 
construction, so we can understand the maintenance of the 
universe and the rhythm of its phaenomena from its present 
constitution, even without "being acquainted with the history 
of its genesis. But this we do, it must be remembered, only 
on the condition that for each several moment we assume that 
the cause of the definite form given to it by events was 
present in the preceding moment as a fact Thus we drive 


the problem backwards step by step, and at last have to make 
the confession that the primal origin of all things remains to 
us a mystery, and that throughout the course of the universe 
we discern at most alternations of development, but nowhere 
the origin of that primary arrangement on which the possi 
bility of this rotation absolutely depends. 

We deceive ourselves if we suppose that science can any 
where overstep these boundaries. Since the idea of the 
formation of the planetary system out of a fiery vapour an 
ingenious speculation in regard to a past period that lies 
beyond all experience has become part of the common stock 
of culture, it has been thought that now at last a fair order 
of phenomena had been evolved, not indeed out of nothing, 
but at least out of formless prima, matcria. But this is to 
forget that the history of this ball of fire, whose subsequent 
transformations are so acutely traced, necessarily runs back 
wards into an endless past. Before the globe gradually 
cooled and condensed, there must have been a time when its 
temperature was still higher, its magnitude greater; where 
now shall we find the first moment of the process of con 
densation which this hypothesis supposes to be already goiug 
on 2 And what originally determined the direction and 
velocity of the revolution in which we must assume all its 
particles as harmoniously moving ? Even this state of chaos 
was not the beginning of the cosmos ; it was only one of those 
middle points in which earlier forms of pluoiiomena have to 
the mind's vision contracted into insignificant simpli 
city ; but through this the matter, the forces, the motions 
of the actual world pass without loss or diminution, to 
expand again on the other side into the variety of a new 
development. Thus every orderly combination of events is 
based on a prior combination, and varied as is this melody of 
the Becoming, now swelling into greater fulness, now shrink 
ing into an insignificant germinal form, it has for us neither 
beginning nor ending, and all our science can do is to climb 
up and down this interminable stem, comprehending the 
connection of particular portions as the result of universal 


laws, but never attaining to a discernment of the originating 
principle of the -whole, or of the goal of its development. 

And what lesson do we draw from the consciousness of 
this limitation ? None other assuredly than for ourselves an 
exhortation to await with unbiassed patience the lesults of the 
progress of science in the past and the future for science 
itself the wish that its votaries may continue to labour with 
scrupulous accuracy, not allowing themselves to be misled by 
partiality for any one particular result of its researches For 
whatever it may teach us, it will not lead us to the end of 
things, and the cravings of our spirit will be satisfied, not by 
any unveiling of the prehistoric stage of our existence, but 
only by a perception of the eternal bond that at all times 
knits together the changing world of phsenornena and the 
world of true being. Did we possess that knowledge, how 
little would it avail us if we succeeded in finding sure answers 
to those questions concerning the origin of the human race to 
which we so often in our passion attach too great importance ! 
Perhaps some day an unexpected piece of good fortune will 
multiply the now inadequate number of starting-points of 
inquiry, and make us equal to a decision that no one now 
can give. Supposing now this improved science should turn 
for us into a certainty the belief to which so many fondly 
cling the belief that with blind inherent necessity the yet 
formless chaos of the infant world steadily advanced in per 
fection till it reached the point where the production of man 
became inevitable, would the outlook into an infinite distance 
that science seems to shun then be closed for it ? If it could 
make men comprehend how first of all the solid earth-crust 
and the skiey spaces of the atmosphere were separated from 
the fiery ball of vapour, how each stage of this separation 
gave occasion for new effects of the elective affinities of the 
elements, how then, in the favourable circumstances supplied 
by the blind necessity of Nature, the first germ of a plant or of 
an animal came into being, still simple and rude in contour, 
and with little aptitude for significant development how, 
fiiially, under happy conditions, to which this low stage of 


life conduced,, organic existence gradually improved, lower 
species were in the course of countless ages developed into 
higher ones, till at last man appeared, not in the image of 
God, but as the final link in this chain of necessary events : 
if science could make all this comprehensible, \vhat more 
would it have accomplished than to have driven back the 
marvel of immediate creation to an earlier point in past time, 
at which infinite wisdom infused into unsightly chaos the 
boundless capacity for regular development ? By the long 
array of graded stages of evolution through which it traced 
the development of the chaotic prima materm, it would but 
have enhanced the splendour and variety of scenes in whose 
outward pomp our admiring fancy could revel ; but it would 
have given no more sufficient explanation of the wondrous 
drama as a whole than does that modest belief which cannot 
conceive of living species as coming into being save by the 
direct creative will of God. So a decision about these 
points, as far as science will ever be able to give one, we 
must quietly wait to receive from its impartial love of truth. 
Whichever way of creation God may have chosen, in none 
can the dependence of the universe on Him become slacker, 
in none be drawn closer. 

But of this patient expectation we are apt to have very 
little ; nay, these two conceptions of the cosmos stand in the 
most vehement antagonism, the one seeking to convert Nature 
into pure mechanism, the other, which believes in the 
immediate efficacy of a divine ruling wisdom, perhaps not yet 
fully apprehending its own import. For what seems to me 
defective and inadequate in this theory is, that it is usually 
the contemplation of life, and psychic life, that stirs up those 
who hold it to the acknowledgment of a higher po'wer that 
unites scattered phenomena into the whole of a course of 
things. To them, too, it seems ab least possible that the 
regular order of the outer world may rest on the blind 
necessity of a self-sufficing mechanism : only the especial 
excellence of the vital organism and the nicely-adjusted 
"harmony of its existence constrain us here to "betake ourselves, 


beyond the ordinary means of explanation, to the belief of a 
creating and preserving wisdom. This acknowledgment seems 
to ine to come too late ; we do not gain anything by snatching 
away one part of actual existence from the sway of the general 
order of Nature, as too exalted to have come into being by 
mechanical causation ; on the contrary, we must reconcile our 
selves to the thought that the immovable necessity that seems 
to hold firm the whole mechanical course of things is but an 
idle dream, and that no reciprocal action ever conies into play 
without the co-operation of that higher cause which we ill- 
advisedly fancy is needed only to give rise to certain favoured 

2. It is a strange and yet an intelligible pride that our 
scientific illuminati take in requiring for the explanatory 
reconstruction of reality in thought no other postulates than an 
original store of matter and force, and the unshaken authority 
of a group of universal and immutable laws of Nature. Strange, 
because after all these are no trifling postulates, and because 
it might be expected to be more in accordance with the com 
prehensive spirit of the human reason to acknowledge the 
unity of a creative cause than to have imposed on it as the 
starting-point of all explanation the promiscuous variety of 
merely actually existent things and notions. And yet in 
telligible, for in return for this single sacrifice the finite under 
standing may now enjoy the satisfaction of never again being, 
overpowered by the transcendent significance and beauty of 
any single phenomenon ; however wondrous and profound 
may appear to it any work of Nature, those universal laws, 
which are to it perfectly transparent, give it the means of 
warding off a disagreeable impression, and, while proving how 
perfectly it understands that even this phenomenon is but an 
incidental result of a well-known order of Nature, it succeeds 
in drawing within the limits of its own finitude what to the 
unprejudiced mind is conceivable only as a product of infinite 

These tendencies and habits of scientific culture it will be 
hard to shake, especially by the arguments usually brought to 


bear on them by the believers in a higher, intelligent guidance 
of the course of Nature. For however distinctly unbiassed 
observation may suggest this belief, so that it may seem alike 
foolish and tedious to attempt to understand the order of 
Nature without it, the supporters of the mechanical conception 
can always with justice reply that nevertheless in the explana 
tion of details their road is always entered by those who on 
the whole believe unquestioningly in the government of an 
intelligently worldng power. They, too, are not content till, for 
each result ordained by this power, they have one by one 
traced out the efficient means through whose necessary anxl 
blind causal connection the required effect must be brought 
about. Even they will never seriously believe that within 
Nature as it lies patent to our senses, this purposive power 
makes new beginnings of working, such as, if traced further 
back, would not always prove to be the necessary results of a 
prior stato of things. While thus even, to those who hold the 
more religious view, the course of events is again converted 
into the unbroken chain of mechanical sequence, from the 
scientific point of view the latter alone is conspicuous, and the 
idea of free action on the part of an intelligent force, to which 
no sphere of action can be assigned, is readily dropped Science 
might be able to allow that the origin, of the whole, whose 
internal relations alone form the subject of its investiga 
tions, may be attributed to a Divine Wisdom, but it would 
demand facts that, within the sphere of experience,, made a 
continuous dependence of the creation on the preserving pro 
vidence of its author a necessary condition of explanation. 
Too ingenuous and self-confident, the believers in this living 
interference of reason working towards an end bring forward 
only the fair aspects of life, and for the time forget its 
shadows; in their admiration of the wondrous harmony of 
organized bodies, and of their careful adaptation to the ends 
of mental life, they do not think of the bitter persistence 
with which this same organized life transmits ugliness and 
disease from generation to generation, or of the manifold 
hindrances that come in the way of the attainment even of 


modest human aims. How little, then, can this conception of 
the universe to which the presence of evil is, if not an in 
soluble, at least an unsolved problem hope by its assaults to 
overcome a habit of mind that finds numberless special con 
firmations in observation, and is inaccessible to any feeling of 
the universal deficiency under which we suppose it to labour ! 

And is it compelled to make even the acknowledgment 
which it will perhaps make, that this world of blind necessity 
came forth at least primarily from the wisdom, of a supreme 
creator ? Doubtless it can reply that even the purposiveness 
of the present fabric, as it now is, could certainly have been 
evolved from the confusion of an original chaos under the 
sway of universal laws. Tor all that was brought together by 
a planless vortex, in unmeaning aggregation and without the 
internal equilibrium of constituents and forces that might 
have secured to it a longer existence in the struggle with 
the onward-sweeping course of external Nature : all this has 
long since perished. Along with and after numberless 
unsuccessful attempts at formation, which perhaps filled 
primaeval times in a rapid alternation of rise and decay, 
Nature gradually shrank into a narrower channel, and only 
those select creatures were preserved on which a happy 
combination of their constituent parts had bestowed the 
power of withstanding the pressure of surrounding stimuli, 
and of propagating their kind throughout an indefinite period. 
However little we may probably esteem this theory, we could 
yet hardly snatch it from those whom it satisfies, and we 
ourselves cannot wholly disallow the charm that scientific 
ingenuity will always find in the, attempt to evolve from the 
formless chaos of whirling motions the necessity of a gradual 
sifting, and the spontaneous formation of permanent forms 
of succession of phsenomena. 

But all such attempts rest on the common assumption that 
the universal sway of unchanging laws prescribes the kind and 
amount of the reciprocal actions engaged in by the several 
substances of the original chaos, and thereby compels them 
to withdraw from combinations in which no equilibrium ia 



possible, and to enter into others in which they are at rest, or 
can retain a constant mode of motion. This assumption it is 
whose trustworthiness we must now test ; with it stands or 
falls the proud certainty of the mechanical conception of the 
universe. Is this veneration for an all-prevailing law of 
Nature, as the only bond that forces the scattered elements 
of the course of things into mutual active relations and 
determines the character of their results, itself a possible 
conception, and can it put the finishing touch to our view of 
Mature, whose perfecting in detail we ourselves have every 
where looked to it to accomplish ? 

3. let us suppose two elements originally in existence, not 
produced by anything, not sprung from any common source, 
existing from eternity as things actual without any antecedents, 
but existing so that they have no other community than that 
of contemporaneous existence : how could the influence of the 
one be communicated to the other, seeing that each is as it 
were in a separate world, and that between them there is 
nothing 1 How is the efficacy of the one to make its way to 
the other through this nothing, offering no means of trans 
mission ? And if we did suppose that the energy of each 
element constantly diffused itself like a separable atmosphere 
through a common space, effective like the rays of light 
where it met with anything on which to act, and floatin^ 
idly in vacuo where nothing presented itself, what should we 
have gained ? We would not understand our own conception, 
either how the action could issue from the limits of that in 
which it was generated ; nor how, floating for some interval 
of time between its source and that which was to be its object, 
it maintained itself in vacuo ; nor, lastly, how, in the end reach 
ing the latter, it was able to exert a transforming power over 
its states. For, while space would offer no obstacle to the 
mutual action of that which, though separated by it, was yet 
united by an inherent relation, contact in space would not 
involve any necessity of reciprocal action, or explain the 
possibility of it between beings each of which in its complete 
self-dependence was divided from the other by the impassable 


gulf of inherent indifference. The transmission of action 
from the one to the other seems simple only to him who, 
looking at the question in a superficial, commonplace way, 
thinks he can distinctly perceive it in the external motions 
by which it is accompanied ; to any one examining it more 
deeply, it becomes more and more inexplicable how the con 
dition of the one can contain a force compelling the other to 
a change of its own internal states. As, before, we were 
unable to follow our will in its outflow into the moveable 
extremities, but had to acknowledge that all volition remains 
confined to the willing mind, and that the execution following it 
is the work of an incomprehensible power : in like manner all 
the forces which we suppose in any form to inhere in the one 
element, will be inadequate to give rise to an influence on 
that in which they do not inhere. Now, can the conception 
of the universal course of Nature supplied by our previous 
speculations, can the idea of a realm of eternally and 
universally valid laws, fill this hiatus, and weld the brittle 
and isolated fragments into the solid whole of a reciprocally 
acting world ? 

Certainly it cannot ; for how could laws exist of them 
selves, as a necessity prescribing particular results for par 
ticular cases ? There can be nothing besides being and its 
inherent states ; and a universal order, before that of which 
it is the order has come into existence, cannot spring up 
between beings as a self-existent background holding them 
together, an efficient, controlling power. If we look back on 
our human life, w shall find that the laws of our social 
relations do not exist beside and between us in independent 
reality, are not powers to direct and control us from without 
because there they are; they exist only in the conscious 
ness of the individuals who feel bound by them; they 
receive sanction and reality only through the actions of living 
persons ; they are nothing but the harmoniously and inwardly- 
developed direction of many individual wills, which to the 
later generalizing scrutiny of observation appears as a higher 
externally-directing power because in its common authority 


over many it no longer presents itself as exclusively the 
product of one. The laws of Nature may be superior to 
the ordinances of the human mind; while the latter may 
Toe gainsaid and disobeyed, the commands of the former are 
unlimited and resistless ; nevertheless Nature cannot bring to 
pass what is self-contradictory, or bestow independent exist 
ence on that which can have its being only in and through 
what is self-existent. We are apt to be led astray in these 
speculations by a widely diffused usage of thought and 
speech that exercises no prejudicial effect on our judgment 
of the incidents of daily life, iu reference to which it has 
arisen. "We speak of ties uniting things, of relations into 
which they enter, of an order which embraces them, finally, 
of laws under whose sway they respectively stand ; and we 
hardly notice the contradiction, contained in these notions of 
relations lying ready before the things came to enter into 
them, of ail order waiting to receive the things ordered, finally, 
of ties stretched like solid threads of a material that we 
could not describe across the abyss that divides one being 
from another. We do not consider that all relations and con 
nections exist only in the unity of observing consciousness 3 
which, passing from one element to another, knits all together 
by its comprehensive activity, and that in like manner all effica 
cious order, all laws, that we are fain to conceive as existing 
between things independently of our knowledge, can exist 
only in the unity of the One that binds them all together. 
Not the empty shadow of an order of Nature, but only the 
full reality of an infinite living being of whom all finite things 
are inwardly cherished parts, has power so to knit together 
the multiplicity of the universe that reciprocal actions shall 
make their way across the chasm that would eternally divide 
the several distinct elements from one another. For action, 
starting from one being, is not lost in an abyss of nothing lying 
between it and another ; but as in all being the truly existent 
is one and the same, so in all reciprocal action the infinite 
acts only on itself, and its activity never quits the sure 
foundation of being. The energizing of one of its parts is 


not confined to that and isolated from the rest; the sino-le 
state has not to travel along an indescribable path in order to 
seek another element to which, it may impart itself, nor lias it 
to exert an equally incomprehensible force in order to compel 
that indifferent other element to participate in it. Every exci 
tation of the individual is an excitation of the whole Infinite, 
that forms the living basis even of the individual's existence, 
and every one can therefore act upon every other which has the 
same living basis ; for it is this which from the unity of its own 
nature causes the finite event here to be followed by its echo 
there. It is not anything finite that out of itself as finite 
acts upon something else ; on the contrary, every stimulation 
of the individual, seeing that it affects the eternal basis that 
in it, as in all, forms the essence of its finite appearance, can 
through this continuity of related being but through this 
alone act upon the apparently remote. 

We are not constrained to bins recognition of an Infinite Sub 
stance, that instead of an unsubstantial and unreal law unites 
all things by its actual reality, merely by admiration for 
single spheres of phaenornena, by whose special significance 
we are impressed; nay, every example of reciprocal action 
however insignificant, every instance of causality, forces us, 
in order to understand the possibility of a transference of 
influence, to substitute for a merely natural connection a sub 
stantial Infinite, containing unseparated the manifold that 
in pheeriomenal existence is separated. "We could not seek 
such a bond between the constituents of the living body alone, 
or between body and soul pre-eminently, as if we did not need 
it everywhere ; on the contrary, seeing that we look on all 
that happens, however it may "fee designated, as but the mani 
fested internal energy of a single Infinite Being, the later 
course of our speculations will carry us further from the 
resuscitated mythology that, like the* ancient sagas, allots 
to certain distinguished phenomena their special genii, and 
leaves the remaining work-day reality to take care of itself. 

For this Universal Being is not a mere bond, a mere 
indifferent bridge, having no other office than to form a way 


for the passage of action from one element to another : it 
is at the same time the sovereign power that for every 
antecedent fixes the form and degree of its consequent, for 
each individual the sphere of its possible activity, for every 
single manifestation of the latter its particular mode. "We 
deceive ourselves when we imagine we can derive the modes 
in which things act on one another, as self-evident results, 
from the particular properties that now constitute their nature, 
and from the joint influence of the circumstances of each 
occasion. Honest consideration, on the contrary, leads us to 
make the acknowledgment that the effects actually presented 
to us by experience are not to be got as necessary conclusions 
from these premises alone, however we may analyse and 
recombine their content, but that an unknown power, as it 
were, having respect to something that we do not meet with 
among these prior conditions, has annexed to their form the 
particular form of the result. The Infinite is this secret 
power, and that to which it has respect in the determina 
tion of results is its own presence in all finite elements, by 
which the universe receives the unity of a being, and on 
account of which the course of its events must receive the 
unity of a connected manifestation of the content of that 
being. Every finite thing, therefore, possesses the capability 
of action only in such amount and such quality as it is per 
mitted by the Infinite to contribute to the realization of the 

4. But we must be more diffuse, and allow ourselves to 
illustrate the faultless consistency of the theory which we 
are now engaged in stating, by the apparently opposite 
assumptions of which we formerly made use in our own 
examination of the separate phenomena. 

In every finite thing, in so far as wo apprehend it as a 
product of the One Infinite, we can point to a certain group 
of marks as the peculiar stamp assumed in it (as distinguished 
from every other finite thing) by that One. "We cannot suppose 
that in any one of these particular forms that make the one 
finite thing this, the other that, the being of the Infinite that 


is in all alike the common ground of particular existence is 
exhausted ; but just as little can we think that its indivisible 
content is split up into countless fragments and present in 
each several thing in only a part of its fulness. In consider 
ing the vital activity of the human soul, we were led to make 
a requirement similar to that here forced on us, and we may 
now he assisted in forming a general conception of the relation 
in question by remembering that more easily grasped instance 
of it. When the soul forms thoughts without a trace of feel 
ing or of willing, we do not suppose that this one-sided activity 
shows that but a part of its being is present, while its other 
capacities are slumbering in apathetic unconcern. On the 
contrary, the same whole nature that, under the influence of 
other stimulations, would develop feelings of pain and pleasure, 
efforts of desire and aversion, we conceived to participate with 
the whole extent of its being in the production of thoughts 
Out it is exhausted in thought no more than in any other 
particular form of its manifestation ; in all fully present and 
active, it finds in each but a one-sided and partial expression, 
and behind the action evolved at each several moment a larger 
and more abundant and potential reservoir remains undis 
closed and concealed. And this vory wholeness of the soul's 
presence, common alike to all the manifold forms of its mani 
festation, is the instrumentality that makes the reciprocal 
action of the various internal states possible, and -fixes the 
character of their resultant. "We did not find feeling flow 
as a necessary and self-evident consequence from any com 
plication of ideas ; it arose because the preservative activity 
called into action the whole living soul, in whose nature feeling 
lay as yet unarousod, but ready to appear under conditions 
of which some are realized by the train of ideas. 

Now let us compare with the soul's indivisible being the 
Infinite, the substance of all things ; with the several forms of 
mental action those finite things the visible elements of the 
world whose various forms are the moulds in which that 
Infinite has been cast. Now, as in the soul the reciprocal 
action of the internal states, so in the process of the universe 


the reciprocal action of things will depend, not only as to its 
general possibility, tut also as to the character of its effects, 
on the community of being by which all are bound together. 
What each individual element performs, it performs not as 
individual, but only in so far as, being individual, it is yet a 
phase of the universal ; not because it is of such a kind and 
no other, includes such attributes and no others, must it pro 
duce such an effect and no other, but only because hrit as it 
is abides the Infinite, whose abundant nature unites the 
attributes, ready with its force to protect them or to carry out 
their alteration. Thus at bottom everything finite works 
only by that in it which makes it secretly better than it 
seems, by the essential power of the Infinite latent even in it; 
the power and capability of action belongs not to the outer 
wrapping of particular properties, but solely to the core, in so 
far as therein enveloped. Now, if we give the name of 
nature of a fhing to the fused and simplified duplicity of the 
Infinite Being that has in it assumed this particular form, 
or of the finite form that has become filled with tho Infinite, 
we shall be entitled from this nature of the thing to derive 
all modes of its behaviour as necessary consequences. For 
inherent truth and consistency will compel the Infinite, wibh 
every special finite form which it assumes, to fix also the 
unalterable mode of action to be executed in it, in accordance 
with the ideal that presided over the creative moulding of this 
particular form as an essential part of its manifestation. But 
the usual bent of science is towards another form of statement ; 
the group of attributes, inefficacious without the living being 
behind them, the finite envelope of the truly existent, is com 
monly termed the nature of a thing, and little is said about 
what we must regard as alone the enduring and cllicacious 
substance of these phenomena. From this merely semi-naturo 
it is believed that the procedure of things can be deduced 
as a necessary consequence ; it is supposed not only that we 
can understand the possibility of influence being transmitted, 
but that in a series of universal and self-evident truths we 
further possess the means of deducing the character of any 


result from the given circumstances and the permanent pro 
perties of the things. 

Here it is overlooked that the impression of self-evidence 
created by so many sequences of cause and effect, proceeds 
not from any inherent necessity intelligible to us, but solely 
from the general and preponderant presence of those con 
nections which, recurring constantly as actual arrangements of 
things, cheat us with the appearance of being not merely facts 
of experience, but necessary relations of thought. 

After experience has taught us that the amount of ponder 
able matter remains unaltered under all transformations, this 
amazing result of observation assumes in our eyes the exalted 
character of a primary necessity, and we imagine that a neces 
sary inference of the permanence of substance might have 
taught us this fact anterior to any experience. After we have 
observed that motion once begun goes on the longer the more 
it is freed from obstacles, we are suddenly possessed by the 
idea that perpetual duration, where it is not resisted, is its 
necessary condition, and yet we never succeed in proving this 
would-be necessary truth from grounds of pure thought. 
Again, after we have seen that one body sets another in 
motion by impact, the distribution of velocities and the com 
munication of motion in general soem to us phenomena 
naturally to be anticipated, and only when we try definitely 
to state the ground of this expectation do we discover that we 
know none. That every physical force diminishes as the dis 
tance between the bodies exerting it increases, we fancy to be 
a law which we cannot think otherwise, and yet, to be candid, 
we know no reason why, on the contrary, attraction should not 
be less at a diminished distance, as it might easily be decreased 
in proportion to the amount of influence already exerted. 
Lastly, how readily do we ascribe an affinity to bodies, when 
their chemical actiqn on one another has to be explained, not 
deducing it from the rest of their nature, but regarding it 
literally as the capability of an operation supplementary to 
their nature ! Of course in this case we shall throw the 
blame on the incompleteness of our knowledge from experi- 

VOL. I, 2 B 


ence ; we think that we are not thoroughly acquainted even 
with the nature of the different elements ; that if we were, we 
should find in it the explanation of their chemical affinities. 
This is possible, hut assuredly only in the sense that the 
general rules according to which we should infer the chemical 
properties from the better-known nature of the elements, 
would themselves presuppose a number of those causal con 
nections which are demonstrable as undeniable facts of the 
actual order of things, but not intelligible as necessities. 

Prom such fundamental facts, after we have learned their 
significance and the line of their development, we can of course 
deduce manifold particular results, but we cannot discern these 
themselves from a mere study of the things as given. Only if 
we knew the idea with which the Infinite brought these things 
into being could we understand them. He who thinks to 
demonstrate the order of events solely from, the incomplete 
nature of the finite, undertakes the hopeless task of forming a 
theory of the motions of shadows without regard to the motion 
of the bodies by which they are cast. For, in fact, as we 
cannot ascertain the speed with which two shadows will seem 
to rebound from mutual contact, from the velocity with which 
they approach one another, but only from the elasticity of 
their relative bodies, so what things perform depends not ou 
their recognisable properties alone, but on the elasticity and 
vitality of the unconditioned, which, as the sole comprehensive 
and efficacious being,, presents this appearance of having pro 
perties. Only if we could see through the inner nature of 
things and say what purpose the Infinite has in this multi 
plicity of phenomena and their endless complexity, would we 
from that purpose understand also the universal laws of work 
ing which it has laid down for itself in this manifestation, and 
be able not merely to accept them as facts, but to comprehend 
them as part of the inherent consistency of the Infinite. 

As this, however, is not the case, we would not find fault 
with the phraseology of physical science, so long as it is 
designed only to apply to current investigations, not to express 
the outcome of completed inquiry. Just as in life we hold 


fast the silent conviction that each one of our moments is in 
the hand of God, while not caring to desecrate His name by 
bringing it into our thoughts about every trifling incident 
whose dependence on His will we do not understand, so we 
shall once for all adopt the belief that each stage of the course 
of Nature is reached only through the working and shaping 
power of the Infinite ; but we shall not be ever and anon 
repeating this belief in the interpretation of particular phae- 
nomena. For in such particulars the Infinite operates only 
under the guise of thoso derived principles into which it has 
transformed itself, of those substances, forces, and operations 
which it has created, of which it has prescribed the character 
and laws, which, finally, it has woven into the connected whole of 
a mechanical course of Nature. When in this sense we reduce 
all events in Nature to mechanical sequence, we act in accord 
ance with the spirit of the Infinite, and show reverence to its 
ordinance ; we do not set up mechanism in opposition to it as 
an independent, hostile power that it has to subdue, but we 
see m this the true efficacy of the Infinite, that which it would 
wish recognised throughout the world of phenomena as the 
hand by which its ends are accomplished. Thus physical 
science may seem to do without the Infinite, because it does 
not speak of it, and the superficial physical culture of our 
time may think it can do without it, because, exclusively 
concerned with little transitions from finite to finite, it loses 
sight of the beginnings of the wob in which it is enmeshed ; 
but, in point of fact, all honest reflection will arrive at a 
serious conviction of the utter absence of independence in 
Nature, and, where it stumbles upon questions such as those 
which led to this explanation, it will not be able to refrain 
from the open expression of this conviction. 

5. Let us now turn back to these questions, in order not to 
linger too long in the sphere of general considerations, and we 
shall at once meet, in the doubts as to the soul's final destiny 
and the efforts to resolve these, with au instance of tho 
fruitless endeavours which we have been censuring. Men 
seek in three ways to arrive at certainty in regard to i 


tality, For, besides those many analogies, similes, and 
images to which the doubting imagination always first of 
all has recourse, and which, while preparing the mind for the 
reception of a truth, can never prove it, they seek to provo 
sometimes that immortality flows inevitably from the nature 
of things, sometimes that on grounds of justice it is a neces 
sary concession on the part of the ruling powers of the universe. 
We have no intention of here repeating the numerous argu 
ments of the latter kind , we would merely add a statement 
of our conviction that only from them never, on the other 
hand, from those apparently more strict investigations that 
take the nature of things as their starting-point can the mind 
derive grounds on which, with some confidence in their 
stability, to rest its expectation of eternal duration. There 
is no nature of things that, like an unforeseen destiny, pro- 
cedes all reality as a code of laws that cannot be evaded ; 
there is no such quintessence of the essentially possible and 
necessary to which the world-creating power must have looked 
in order to learn within what limits the realization of its ends 
was permissible, and under what obligations of consistent 
development it must come at each starting of a germ ; finally, 
there is no eternal and premundane birthright of things or 
substances, on the ground of which they could demand that 
every power seeking their services in the formation of a world 
should respect their privileges and employ them only in a 
manner befitting their inherent dignity. All this the exist 
ence of such things, the peculiarities of their nature, and the 
rights which seem to pertain to it is at once autl uncondi 
tionally the product of the creative power itself; the universe 
contains them in just the quality and quantity that the 
Infinite needs or rather allows for the accomplishment of its 
will i each thing possesses those rights alone which have been 
assigned by the inherent consistency of the Eternally One to 
each of its creatures as its limits, which have been bestowed 
on it by that creative will ; within those laws alone do all its 
actions and its destinies seem to move with original necessity. 
Only if, standing in the creative centre of the universe, we 


could fully scan the thought whence it lias sprung, could 
we from it foretell the destinies of the individual called 
to contribute to its realization; this we cannot do from 
our human point of view that brings us face to face not 
with the Creator and His purposes, hut only with the created, 
If, as we rightly believe, our mind is in possession of a 
treasure of innate, necessary truth, we certainly commit the 
first and greatest sin against the nature of that truth when 
we ascribe to it any origin which implies that even its content 
is not due solely to that creative power ; it will guide us 
in combining the finite in harmony with the whole to which 
it ministers, but it cannot seek to comprehend the final destiny 
of all things apart from the knowledge of the supreme end on 
which that destiny is exclusively dependent 

The one conviction that has been brought home to us by 
our discussions is, that the soul is to be viewed as the sub 
stantial and permanent subject of the phenomena of our inner 
life. But that, because the soul is the abiding substance of 
these phenomena, it must therefore be endowed with an 
eternal and imperishable duration, as the privilege of its 
nature the unprejudiced mind will never be convinced of 
the certainty of that inference. If required to allow that every 
substance is by the very idea of it necessarily indestructible, 
we may willingly grant that this idea is correct, but then we 
have to deny that it applies to the soul. We have no warrant 
for assuming that what once is must necessarily always be, 
and we sometimes doubt the possibility of rise and decay only 
because, with the wonted inqnisitiveness of our thought, we 
would fain be able to conceive how they come to pass. Then, 
if the connection of our other views tends so strongly to make 
us see in all finite things but creations of the Eternal, it is 
impossible that the destinies of the individual can be other 
than accordant with the dictate of the whole. That will last 
for ever which on account of its excellence and its spirit must 
be an abiding part of the order of the universe ; what lacks 
that preserving worth will perish. We can discover no other 
supreme law of our destiny than this, but this is itself inapplic- 


able in OUT human hands. "We dare not presume to judge and 
determine which mental development wins immortality by the 
eternal significance whereto it has raised itself, and to which 
this is denied. We must not seek to decide either whether all 
animal souls are perishable or all human souls imperishable, 
but take refuge in the belief that to each "being right will be 

And even as the soul's continuance after death, so is its 
existence before its birth into this earthly life no object of 
human knowledge He who in view of future immortality 
believes that an infinite anterior history of the soul is .required, 
can hardly be incommoded by science in his belief and in the 
imaginations with which he fills up this void in our remem 
brance. But the experience of our present life contains but 
few traces that can point a mind so disposed back to this pre- 
existent state ; the dream of a transmigration of souls, to which 
this conception would almost inevitably tend, has hitherto 
remained a dream of the fancy, nor has any one yot succeeded 
in giving it a higher moral significance for the order of the 
universe ; lastly, no necessity of reason constrains us to shun 
the thought of a beginning of the soul. The organic body, in 
process of being formed, certainly does not educe it from itself ; 
but the living body itself is no incoherent heap of atoms 
driven to a particular development by a universal law, in an 
otherwise empty world. As, on the contrary, every physical 
process, even the most minute, apparently taking place between 
two elements, is likewise an event within the Eternal, on whose 
constant presence all possibility of action depends, even so the 
quietly advancing formation of the organic germ is no isolated 
independent event, but a development of the Infinite itself. 
Fostered by it, received by it into its own inner being, this natural 
event there excites the creative power to new development ; 
and as our human soul receives stimuli from without and 
answers them by the production of a sensation, so the con 
sistent unity of the Infinite Being lets itself bo stimulated 
by this internal event of physical development to produce out 
of itself the soul appropriate to the growing organism. 


There is more unity and simplicity in this process than in 
the conception which we can give of it. Differing from the 
example of the relation between our finite soul and stimuli 
from without, that event of Nature is not to the Infinite a 
stimulus which, coming from without, has to travel along a path 
before it finds the centre whence it has to call forth the new 
development ; each several event of Nature takes place in the 
Infinite, each is equally near the centre, and equally near at 
all times. And the soul does not spring forth again from this 
centre as a new second element that has to travel along a 
path in order to unite itself externally with the hody of which 
it is in search : unsevered by time and space do these two 
creations unfold together., the Infinite expressing in their 
simultaneous development the inherent truth of its own being. 
The soul originates neither in the body nor in nothing; it 
goes forth from the substance of the Infinite with no less ful 
ness of reality than all actual Nature brought forth from the 
same source. And neither do soul and body come together 
by chance, nor is it the work of the body by its organization 
to make to itself a soul corresponding to the possible form of 
its vital activity ; * nor does the Infinite arbitrarily distribute 
ready-fashioned minds, to infant germs. But as with free con 
sistency it makes every bodily organism the. necessary result 
of the parent organisms, so also in the creation of souls it 
doubtless follows a self-imposed law, that weaves their succeed 
ing generations into the gradations of an inherent affinity. 
The soul of the parents cannot be split up by division into the 
souls of the children, but we are left to the dim conjecture 
that the creative hand of the Infinite reproduces in the latter 
the mental image of the parents, and brings inwardly also into 
near relationship those beings which it has linked together 
most closely for outward life. 

But a dim conjecture it is ; here, too, by a thousand instances 
experience teaches us how unsearchable are the ways of God. 
By faithful and modest observation we may perhaps here and 
there gain a wider glimpse of the direction in which they tend, 
but we shall never be able to survey the course of the spiritual 


order of the universe with, the same approximation to truth 
that is granted to our view of natural phenomena. And all 
the increase of knowledge to which we may hope to attain, wo 
must look for, not from the contemplation of our intelligent 
nature in general, "but solely from a concentration of conscious 
ness upon our destiny. Insight into what ought to "be will 
alone open our eyes to discern what is ; for there can be no 
body of facts, no arrangement of things, no course of destiny > 
apart from the end and meaning of the whole, from which 
each part has received, not only existence, but also the active? 
nature in which it glories. 


I WOULD not say that it is a summit commanding a wide 
prospect to which, our examination has led us by a way long 
and yet for the variety of the adjacent tract perhaps too short ; 
but we have at least reached the height granted to our powers, 
and looking back we may well recall the doubts from amidst 
which we started, and the altered scene now presented by the 
region travelled through. When we contemplated the struggle 
between the different views of Nature, we found that, while 
it was especially against the element of a dark and rigid neces 
sity of Nature that the human spirit unceasingly waged war, it 
ended at last by making a blind surrender to the worship of 
that blind sway that seemed to come rather from renunciation 
than from conviction. Have we now discovered a way of 
reconciling the antagonistic ideas there in conflict ? And what 
value ought we to attach to the several points of the theory that 
has gradually been formed for us during the removal of these 
urgent difficulties ? No one will omit once more with honest 
self-scrutiny to seek a comprehensive answer to these ques 
tions, who has learned by habitual scientific research how often 
after its close there has been lost much of the radiance of the 
saving thoughts that were so dazzling when in the freshness of 
their birth they leaped to meet the difficulties. Then they 
were lighted up by the hopeful glow of labour, and shone with 
this far more than with their own light. Perhaps we too shall 
not here escape this fate ; but perhaps also something will 
remain as a solid gain, which we may carry with us from this 
general survey of the conditions of all life into the special 
consideration of human affairs. 

The belief in personal spirits of Nature, in which the mythic 



conception of things embodied the "beauty and significance of 
particular phenomena in the form of living enjoyment, we 
silently relinquished. No experience confirmed this dream ; 
but at the same time it was more than all experience could 
accomplish, to overthrow another dream, in which the spirit, 
craving for inherent vitality in Nature, might in other wise win 
"back its lost content. For nothing prevented, and much 
encouraged us, to suppose those simple beings, from, whose 
combination the outward form of lifeless matter seems to our 
selves to spring, to be the seat of an inner life capable of 
entering with the most varied forms of feeling into the 
peculiarity of every situation into which the changeful course 
of Nature threw them, or in which a more persistent process 
of growth retained them. On this conception the enjoyment 
of Nature was merely generalized ; one favoured class of things 
has not its genii, while another lies blind and lifeless ; but this 
glow of feeling might pervade all. And no longer, confined to 
the forms of human psychic life, does this innate energy now 
show us everywhere what we already know ; we can conceive 
as dispersed throughout Nature, wholly different indescribable 
modes of enjoyment and feeling that hover in the distance 
before us but in dreamy fancy, so corresponding to the par 
ticular positions of the simple beings that no event of the 
varied course of Nature is shut out from this transformation 
through conscious enjoyment. But we arc not inclined to 
expatiate on the advantages of this view, which from the com 
parative absence of distinct perceptibility in the intelligent 
beings of which it speaks, would the more commend itself to the 
musical tendencies of culture ; we prefer to dwell on the fact 
that it may perhaps not be an idle dream, but yet that It lies 
far aloof from the serious and weighty convictions on which we 
seek to base our consideration of human culture. The progress 
of human development depended on which view as to the inner 
life of Nature was the prevalent one in each age, only so long 
as it could be a question whether the outer world, the scene 
and object of our actions, was ruled by wanton freedom and 
the caprices of genii and daemons, or by the absolute consist- 


cncy of universal laws. After that has been settled, the sensi 
tive fancy with which we seek to search out the soul of Nature, 
will be less favourable to the advance of our culture than the 
sterner mood that begins by taking the things of Nature for 
what they profess to be for blind, deaf products, subject to a 
necessary order, that may have an inner life of their own, 
but for us form a sphere of instruments Without, therefore, 
blaming the imagination for pursuing the other line of thought, 
we must affirm that not in it but in the prose of the every 
day appearance of things lie the more important foundations 
of our mental development. 

In view of personal spirits of Nature, mythology could 
never get rid of the idea of an unforeseen necessity, within 
whose limiting bounds moves all the life of the celestial 
world. But the more ready we were to grant the presence 
everywhere of this necessary order, the more decidedly 'did we 
oppose the conception of it as a premundane fate, in contrast 
to the creative power to which the fixed forms of the actual 
world are due. It is not the case, as mythology in dark 
images taught, that the radiant world of gods, holding in their 
hands the order of the present world, only comes after an 
earlier, dark, and gloomy divinity, by whose mysterious sway 
was fixed the ground-plan of reality, which the former is busy 
enjoying and embellishing. On the contrary, the most solid 
part of our conviction was that the highest, most unbending, 
most general, and most necessary law anywhere presented to 
us by the world, is but the self-imposed condition on which 
the one creative Infinite has based its eternal evolution. Thus 
of itself our inquiry led us into the domain of other views 
that honour the quickening and animating impulses of the 
world of phenomena, only as endlessly varied expressions of 
the one thought that, in, itself unutterable, forms the fulness of 
the universal soul. 

Eccognising that that alone truly is which has its place in 
the rational connection of the eternal Idea, that- that alone 
takes place which lies in the line of its development, that 
everything finite possesses solely in the thought of the \iniversal 


soul embodied by it the explanatory ground of the impulse 
by which it is moved, we retained in these affirmations the 
fundamental doctrines of the above theory of things. And 
although we found the notion of impulses inadequate for 
detailed investigations, and substituted for it the unbroken 
causal chain of mechanism, there is here nothing antagonistic 
to the spirit of that theory, since we recognise all the laws of 
this mechanism as but the very will of the universal soul, 
all combinations and divisions of efficient means as its own 
actions, its operations on itself. But' after all, what satisfaction 
could this theory afford if it were unable to unite the two 
great contrasting parts that together make up the world 
Nature and the sphere of Ethics ? And can we deny that all 
those doctrines do but give us a soul of Nature instead of 
the world - soul ? A being in whose one infinite shaping 
impulse the countless several impulses of finite phenomena 
blend like coloured rays in the unity of white light ? But 
where in this being is the cause of the development of the 
moral world, where that whence proceeds the distinction of 
good and evil ? If we will not relapsing into the old 
antagonism either externally ground the moral world on a 
Nature originally given, or assume that the two separate roots 
coexist without any bond of union in a Supreme Being that 
we call One, no other choice remains than either to include 
the Good in the cycle of natural phenomena, or Nature in the 
accomplishment of Good. I cannot for a moment doubt that 
the latter alternative is alone permissible : all being, all that 
we call mode and form, thing and event, the whole sum of 
Nature, can be nothing else than the condition for the realiza 
tion of Good, can be as it is only because thus in it the infinite 
worth of the Good manifested itself. But this decided, con 
viction indicates only an ultimate and farthest goal that may 
give our thoughts their direction ; it does not indicate know 
ledge that deserves the name of science, because it can be formu 
lated in a demonstrable doctrine. To our human reason a 
chasm that cannot be filled, or at least has never yet been 
filled, divides the world of values from the world of forms, and 


however energetically our receptive mind may work its way 
backwards in thought to spell out from the actual forms of 
Nature the value of their ethical significance, we cannot 
hence proceed to prove from the consciousness of the 
highest values the necessity of their taking shape in these 
and in no other forms of Nature. With the firmest conviction 
of the undivided unity of the two we combine the most 
distinctly conscious belief in the impossibility of this unity 
being known. 

How easily could we avoid this confession by a conceal 
ment of the facts ! For how inventive has our speculative 
science always been to spare itself by means of new names and 
images the humiliating confession that its problem here is no 
other than that which has all along engaged the unsophisticated 
human mind, and yet that it has come no nearer a solution. 
When the question is asked how from the hand of the same 
God that established the sanctities of the moral world could 
come forth the revolution of the planets, the beauty of the 
earth, with the joyous multitude of its plants and animals 
and the unbending necessity of the mechanism which these 
conceal : how easy it is, and yet how contemptible, to speak 
of a real and an ideal factor in God ; of a preponderance of 
blind or of conscious working in His activity, and to attribute 
to the former, Nature, still mysterious in its forms,, and to the 
latter the equally shadowy outlines of mental existence ! How 
easy is it to see in God something that is not God Himself, 
a dark ground growing out into the material stem of Nature 
and overarched by the more lustrous manifestation of the other 
element in God that is more peculiarly Himself I With such 
miserable shifts is the seriousness of the question trifled with, 
and after all less is said than is contained in the simple creed 
of the artless mind, that the unsearchable wisdom of God is the 
source of all finite forms. 

We have to make the same confession of the impossibility 
of giving scientific precision to a belief which is not on that 
account less sure in our relation to the last great view of Nature 
the mechanical. We granted it unreservedly, in so far as 


concerns the examination of the relations between finite and 
finite, the origin and accomplishment of any reciprocal actions 
whatsoever ; we as decidedly denied its authority, where it 
claimed acceptance, not as a formal instrument of investigation, 
hut as a final theory of things. While denying, however, the 
independent reality of a mechanical course of Nature, we 
cannot complete the deduction of its several laws from the 
supreme end of the universe, hut must leave it to the slow 
progress of science to show how far this attempt is practicahle, 
how far it will ever lie beyond the reach of human thought. 
All we could do was to point out how little necessary connec 
tion there is between the character of externality, so often laid 
as a charge against the mechanical conception, and the spirit 
of that conception. Those who hold it are not prevented 
from accepting internal states in the effective elements by 
whose varying combinations they account for the variety of 
natural phenomena, and a secret energy in the life of these 
which they are at liberty to heighten, till they come to believe 
in a play of mental excitations akin to ours. The motley 
abundance of phenomena does not necessarily become for them 
lowered to an unintelligent exchange of motions, an ever new 
and ever alike meaningless distribution of velocities, a restless 
changing of the situation and combination of the particles : 
they, too, can look on these vicissitudes of external Nature as but 
the sum of occasioning causes by which, according to immut 
able laws, an inner nature is called forth which forms tho 
inexhaustible variety of feelings within beings. Mechanical 
natural science no doubt makes the external history alone the 
subject of its examination, and leaves the internal, which it 
cannot study with the aid of experience, to the activity of our 
imagination. Yet it does not believe that in the world of 
motion it possesses the true reality, the ultimate meaning of 
a jll existence, the final end of all creation, but holds also that 
Mechanism is but the collection of all the instrumental forms 
IE, which God has willed that created beings shall act on one 
with their unknown natures, and that all their states 
be welded into the endless chain of a world -hi story. 


This view explores the sphere of means, not the sphere of the 
ends to which these minister. As in our life we see the 
physical motions of external Nature employed as stimuli 
to excite that in ourselves which is far higher conscious 
sensation : so, we think, throughout the universe mechanical 
events are hut the external tissue of regularly crossing 
stimuli, designed to Idndle at innumerable points, within 
innumerable beings, the true action of a more intelligent 

But if we lay stress on the dependence of Nature, so that 
the deification of mechanism, with which after all we may per 
haps be charged, consists only in our conceiving it, not as a 
self-supporting fate, but merely as a product of divine wisdom; 
we must, on the other hand, require the recognition of its 
absolute validity. We think we have shown how, in most of 
the cases where a view of Nature, more sympathetic than clear, 
oppressed by the rigidity of this, betakes itself for refuge to 
other higher forces and powers, on the one hand, experience 
forces on us (often most bitterly) the permanence of mechanical 
conditionally, on the other, our own feeling would reap no 
advantage from the conjectures which, with a secret conscious 
ness of their discrepancy, it might venture to form in regard 
to given facts. "We did not find the freedom which we may 
justly wish to preserve, formally incompatible with the con 
tinuity and firm connection of the mechanical construction of 
the universe ; but doubt as to whether in this case what we 
conjectured might answer to the rightly understood reason for 
its being conjectured, made us hesitate along with the pos 
sibility of freedom to speak of its reality, and to assign to 
the notion a particular place in the whole of the mechanical 
universe. The further, however, we travel along this path 
away from the wretched narrowness of the views of former 
times, to which mechanism was nothing else than an endless 
communication of mutual shocks, the more must we repel 
every attempt to withdraw particular parts of finite reality 
from the universal law of the instrumental character of finite 
events. Nowhere is mechanism the essence of the matter; 


but nowhere does being assume another form of finite exist 
ence except through it; as we have not other gods beside 
God, so we need no other form beside this universal form 
of action in JSTature. 

We are well aware of the reason of the contemptuous aver* 
sion with which so many minds revolt against this acknow 
ledgment. To us all at times the world of forms seems too 
much, to conceal the world of values, the realm of means to 
eclipse the realm of ends ; we long for the unity of truest 
being, in which Ideas have reality without being tied to the 
mediation of instruments, the highest happiness exists without 
being bound by the myriad conditions of particular positions, 
in which immediate understanding between minds makes all 
external modes of reciprocal action superfluous ; in which, 
finally, Creator and created blend in a community of life, for 
whose dim profundity the noblest mysticism scarce offers 
adequate expression. While looking up to such a last and 
highest, we are pained by this world of resistance, of mediacy, 
of- conditioning circumstances, of delay ; it disquiets us that 
we cannot comprehend the beauty of natural forms from n 
breath, of creative vital power, but must think of it as reached 
along the roundabout path of countless reciprocal actions of a 
plurality ; lastly, it troubles us to know that even in our 
mental development we are fettered by the mutual working of 
powers, whose universal regularity stands in chilling contrast 
to the ardour of our desires. But, far as we are from denying 
the truth of the unity which this mystic ecstasy thinks it dis 
cerns, this earthly life of ours assuredly lies, not in its sphere, 
but in that of duality and contrast. We stand neither in our 
knowing nor in our acting at the motionless centre of the 
universe, but at the farthest extremities of its structure, loud 
with the whirl of machinery ; and the impatient longing that 
seeks to escape thence to the centre should beware of thinking 
lightly of the seriousness and magnitude of conditions under 
whose sway an irrevocable decree has placed our finite life. 
If the views of things whence this longing springs are higher, 
they float like distant clouds, brilliantly lit up with noble 


anticipations, at a secure height above all the thorny com 
plexities of our situation here below : they point out no path 
through the thicket, only one which leads to resignation. 

But the life of the human race consists not alone in loncr- 
mg for the goal, in enthusiastic dreams of having come within 
sight of it, but in the labour of travelling towards it. If we 
would fulfil this task with self-conscious circumspection, we 
cannot be too zealous in searching into the conditions imposed 
even on the development of our mental life in the nature of 
the scene that surrounds us and the course of the history by 
which we are drawn along. As in the great fabric of the 
universe the creative spirit imposed on itself unchangeable 
laws by which it moves the world of phenomena, diffusing 
the fulness of the Highest Good throughout innumerable forms 
and events, and distilling it again, from them into the bliss of 
consciousness and enjoyment so must man, acknowledging 
the same laws, develop given existence into a knowledge of its 
value, and the value of his ideals into a series of external 
forms proceeding from himself. To this labour we are called, 
and the most admirable feature in the history of our race is 
the unquenchable perseverance with which the most prominent 
intellects in all ages have devoted themselves to the perfecting 
of the outward relations of life, the subjugation of Nature, the 
advancement of all useful arts, the improvement of social 
institutions, though they know that the true bliss of existence 
lies in those quiet moments of solitary communion with God 
when all human daily toil, all culture and civilisation, the 
gravity and the burden, of noisy life, shrink into something like 
a mere preliminary exercise of powers without any abiding 
result. In the energy of a freedom that does not aimlessly 
stray and desire the fruit without the slow growth of the plant, 
but consciously restraining himself within the firm bounds 
of a necessity which he holds sacred, and following the tracks 
prescribed to him, Man will be that which, according to an 
ancient idea, he is above all creatures the complete reflection 
of the great real world, the little world, the Microcosm. 

VOL. i. 2 o 





Mechanical Explanation and Ideal Intel pretation of Nature Mutual Indepen 
dence of these Conceptions, and Necessity of combining them Purposive 
Creation The Ideal in the Eeal Nature as Fact. 

1 TTTOW reluctantly, how incredulously, do we all listen 
JL.JL while obtrusive shrewdness tries to analyse the 
highly complex structure of our inner nature ; and how 
little are we impressed by the calm, confidence that pretends, 
from general points of view, to foretell the necessary course of 
development of our particular temperament and disposition ! 

We think that we are something more than one of many 
possible combinations of properties ; that every attempt to 
measure us by a standard fitting others as well rebounds from 
the outside of our being, leaving unapproached and uncom- 
prehended a unique residue, the true self, which, so far as 
open to observation, presents only an external surface resembling 
others. What we thus demand for ourselves we are ready 
also to allow, outside ourselves, to the products of Nature. 
There is a certain modesty of observation that is ready to 
trace in each natural form the consistent course of its peculiar 
formation ; following unbiassedly the tracks before it, it seeks 
to feel its way to a comprehension of the secret meaning that 
gives life to all things, and that perforce escapes us when, on 
the contrary, we unsympathetically measure the characteristic 
variety of their development by general standards. The course 
of our speculations has hitherto showed no trace of such 
reverence for the living individuality of pheenomena. With 
seemingly inexorable sternness we repelled the intrusive 
eloquence of entreaty with which they appealed to us to 
recognise their special significance ; we throughout persisted 



In regarding them but as examples of the manifold results to 
"be gained from a general body of laws when by chance the 
elements of reality come under its operation in this or that 

Undoubtedly such a conception of the course of Nature 
does not in the least satisfy the expectations with which an 
unprejudiced mind usually sets about the work of observation , 
for, in fact ; did we proceed solely with this view, we could 
scarcely escape the charge of having unawares eliminated from 
our view the very idea of Nature. No one understands by that 
name a mere aggregate of substances indefinite in number, 
coming together disjointedly from unknown sources and set 
in motion by arbitrary accidents, whose blind ferment reflects 
with inevitable but unintentional regularity nothing but the 
irresistible might of universal laws. On the contrary, we 
ppeak of a kingdom of Nature ; and we desire to see Nature in 
secure possession of the living proportion between parts and 
whole of the mutual relations of complementary and sup 
porting structures that make the smallest fabric more than au 
illustration of the statical laws carried out in it of the full 
rational significance of internal connection. This desire for 
unbroken unity in Nature may spring originally from the 
longing of the imagination to find realized its ideal of har 
monious existence ; it cannot but be quickened by recollection 
of the problem that now occupies all our thoughts our own 
position in this Nature with whose unrest and flux we find 
ourselves so inextricably united. - The view which we form 
in regard to the scene of our existence will inevitably help to 
determine the tone of our beliefs about tho meaning and ends 
of our own action. Were we plunged into the midst of an eddy 
ing vortex determined in its direction not by any plan for the 
future, but only by the necessary after-effect of the past, we 
would fear for the steadiness of the aims of our own striving ; 
the confidence of our hope and the whole joy of our existence 
depend on our believing in a predetermined unity of the 
universal frame, in which we have our allotted place, and 
which contains in the blind operations of Nature the germ 


of the evolution that is to "be taken up and carried on by 
intelligent life. 

With such views the confident ardour of which we do not 
grudge the human mind, that will ever anew create them, even 

were the attempt to deprive it of them less hopeless in such 

a mood, we look back on the way along which we have been 
travelling, .and cannot but find it barren. It will indeed 
always remain true, and every contrary effort of imagination 
will reluctantly be compelled to confess it, that all problems 
concerning the process of realization of a phenomenon, and 
the possibility of its existence, must return to the already 
indicated path of a mechanical conception. But it will never 
satisfy us to hear repeated, for any impressive harmony and 
beauty in reality, the explanation that it is produced with 
blind necessity as an inevitable result consequent on these and 
no other determining conditions, this and no other combina 
tion of elements. Though mechanical physics rejoices in the 
certainty with which it can. infer the nearest necessary results 
from any collocation of things, let chance weave them as it 
will, we yet cannot believe that the whole essence of Nature 
is to bo found in universal laws which only by means of an 
accident gain an object to work upon, and so a definite form 
for their effect. Nay, rather, the true creative Nature, what 
as an example of the general rule formerly seemed to bo 
but a foil to Nature as Zaw and its unlimited power, lies iu 
the fact that there is a certain variety of effective elements 
under control of law, that combinations of these elements are 
not caught unconnectedly, like scattered game, in the con 
nected net of mechanical rules, but that in a definite selection 
and succession, grouped together, these constellations of cir 
cumstances occur, in order to deliver to the steady guidance 
of the laws, for sure development, the germs of abundant and 
fair outcome contained within them. To search into the basis 
and origin of this order is a task whose importance we must 
not try to depreciate, and which the mechanical view cannot 
help tolerating alongside of itself. 

The attempt to solve this problem this view will of course 


rightfully avoid. It will remind us how every explanation 
must presuppose some actual matter of fact which has to bo 
recognised, and whose consistent consequences alone it can 
draw out according to universal laws. There is nothing, it 
will say, to prevent our conceiving the first relative situation 
of elements in the universe to have been such as to involve 
in itself all harmony, beauty, and adaptation to ends subse 
quently met with in things actual. The disinclination to rest 
in this supposition secretly implies the other and stranger 
assumption, that disorder is more natural than order, and that 
a barren chaos is more likely, nay, has almost more right, to 
have existed than a harmonious condition of things whose 
establishment required express assistance. How incalculable 
are the turns of thought ! The one view, in its conviction 
that the deeply felt beauty of Nature is more piously honoured 
by being derived from a far higher source, finds itself unex 
pectedly outdone by the other, which indignantly pqints out 
liow extravagant and unbefitting the dignity of reality is the 
fear that it is easier for the inferior and confused to come into 
being than for the opposite. 

We do not mean to enter into this contest ; we are content 
with extorting a concession from the mechanical view, which, 
if it means to take up arms, it cannot withhold. For, refer 
ring all beauty, adaptation to ends, and ideal significance in 
Nature to a primitive situation, composition, and motion of the 
elements, it thinks, by negation chiefly, to ward off the idea 
of a special rationally creative origin of things; and yet 
involuntarily it thereby affirms the fact that the primal con 
dition of the world was a rational order, and that all its OWE 
attempts at explanation but turn to account the consequences 
of this original reason. Now, as regards the immediate ends 
of its investigations, mechanical science may be right to take 
account of this reason only in the form of an eternally exist 
ing fact, without going beyond it to account for its existence. 
For in fact any attempt to explain its origin could only pre 
suppose another prior fact, concerning \rbich the sanie question, 
with the same result or want of result, would recur. At the 


same time, the necessity of bringing explanations of the origin 
of things to a close by recognising some ultimate datum, 
cannot prevent us from in a different form making this 
primitive foundation the subject of new inquiries. Tor the 
unanswered question will always come up again Whence come 
the endless mmiher of primary relations between the elements 
of the universe that have to be assumed come, further, with 
such a happy mutual complementing and connection of all 
with all, that the necessary consequence of this primary 
matter of fact is a system of Nature adjusted to common life ? 
There thus arises, besides the mechanical conception of Nature, 
another with different ends, and a different character in its 
investigation. While the former., which is strictly explanatory 
science, everywhere seeks out the real means by whose regular 
combination everything, great and small, beautiful and ugly, 
healthy and diseased, is made, the other, the interpretative 
view of Nature, is indifferent towards these means of realiza 
tion. Giving up the attempt to explain the origin of the 
original arrangements "which it is forced to recognise as actual, 
it seeks to compensate for this shortcoming by demonstrating 
that at least no disjointed plurality of disconnected details, 
but the unity of a significant Idea, forms the primary datum 
an. Idea which, from its absolute worth, deserves to he the 
deepest and most solid foundation of the universe, and from 
whose total import is evolved, with the persuasive constraint 
of a poetical necessity, the infinite variety of the several 
primary relations of Nature. 

2. Between these two conceptions of Nature we find, on 
the one hand a contest misapprehendingly waged, on the other 
an adjustment of it that does not remove all our doubts. We 
see at once how readily the two can be kept distinct up to a 
certain point, and the problems of each be separately dealt 
with. The aesthetic effect of a picture is primarily the result 
only of the lines which we find it set before us, not of any 
knowledge of the methods by which the artist succeeded in 
executing them. In like manner, insight into the ideal mean 
ing of a natural product, into the thought whose visible 


manifestation it is called to be, is not gained by acquaintance 
with, the machinery through which Nature succeeded in bringing 
it forth. Only where a still advancing evolution is among the 
traits that express the meaning of a changing natural form can 
any important end be served by searching into the ministering 
elements and the intermediate processes here employed to 
realize that meaning, not without there being significance in 
their selection. Now, if it is a common delusion that the way 
in which it is painted wholly determines the aesthetic value 
of a picture, this fault is rarely committed by the student of 
Nature ; he in nowise considers his explanations of the genesis 
of an event as a determination of its ideal value, but leaves 
that to be ascertained by other inquirers, who are more firmly 
convinced of its existence, and think they know how to set 
about its discovery. Far more frequently, on the contrary, 
do the ideal interpreters of Nature mistake the boundaries 
of their activity; they often expect that the meaning of 
phenomena disclosed by them shall also bo accepted as an 
explanation of how they come about. And yet the knowledge 
how an event came to pass is no more dependent on the 
understanding of the thought, perhaps latent iu it, than is that 
understanding upon the knowledge. For no matter whether 
some Idea directs things or not, no matter, further, what may 
be the purport of this controlling thought, anything can exist 
and can happen only in so far as it has constraining causes 
in antecedent circumstances. So, whatever the Idea ordains, 
whether and in what form its ordinance is carried out will 
always be decided in the last resort by a knowledge of the 
actual means (and of their given combination) placed at its 
disposal by Nature, from which, when, they are there, the same 
result must, with blind necessity, flow, without, nay, even in 
opposition to, the bidding of the Idea. These two departments 
of inquiry thus become severed and lie parallel to one another. 
Mechanical investigation, step by step, carries back the origin 
of events to their efficient causes, and makes no objection 
when another line of inquiry thinks it discovers farther a 
rational meaning in the total course of Nature. The ideal 


interpretation brings the connection and internal consistency 
of this meaning into prominence, and, if it does not repel 
the demonstration that significant Ideas are realized only by 
means of mechanism, it is yet convinced that in every case, 
even were the sum of these means different, the same thoughts 
would reappear in this different world under other but equally 
appropriate forms. 

Nevertheless there is a limit to this division of labour. In 
all particular researches it may be useful thereby to compose 
the strife of the two views, and in this way to avoid the 
undue mixing together of different problems. Where, how 
ever, the matter in hand is the shaping of our theory of things 
in general, it must be unsatisfactory to keep asunder the 
various questions that ought here, on the contrary, to be 
answered from a single source However little our admiration 
of a beautiful picture may depend on our knowledge of the 
technique of painting, it yet at least rests on the supposition 
that the picture is the product of an artist's imagination, 
which, by the unity of its aim combined the motley elements 
into the unity of a connected manifestation. Were we 
assuredly convinced that nothing but a disconnected vortex 
of accidents had brought together the coloured points into 
these outlines, could we not at least cheat ourselves into 
belief of the contrary, our admiration would be sensibly 
diminished by the consciousness that it is only we who put 
into these forms a significance that does not look out from 
them as the expression of their own meaning. The same 
doubts are sure to stir us where we have to do with the 
total conception of reality. We cannot regard Nature as a 
kaleidoscope that, shaken by chance, produces forms that 
look as if they had a meaning; if there is to be any meaning 
in this meaning, we must seriously assume and hold fast 
the conviction that the same power whence proceed the 
efficient capabilities of things, also directly includes that 
moulding imagination which assigns to these capabilities their 
points of application and their significant lines. It is not 
therefore sufficient to suppose that along with the mechanical 


course of Nature nay, in it there is also ideal significance. 
On the contrary, any theory ot the universe that aims at 
completeness must comprise some definite representation of 
the relation in which in Nature the archetypal ilwuglit must 
stand to the efficient causes of its representative realization. 

3. This is usually accomplished in one of two ways, each 
of which soon brings us into peculiar difficulties. 

One way unhesitatingly applies to the relation of Nature 
to its source our own relation to our products ; it derives 
the harmonious organization of the world's course from the 
designing and adapting wisdom of a self-consciously personal 
God. We will not too harshly join in the charge laid against 
it of the self-conceit with which it presumes to understand 
divine purposes } the universal laws of the mechanical course 
of Nature do not lie within us as innate cognitions, and yet 
it is possible to master them at least in great part. "Why 
should it be impossible for thoughtful observers of Nature, not 
arrogantly teaching but modestly learning, with a like degree 
of approximation to gather trom comparison of experiences, 
not indeed all the designs of God, but much that it may with 
confidence put down to these, and utilize in the methodiz 
ing of other phsenoinena ? Besides, the truth of its rimdaniental 
thought would not depend on the possibility of applying it 
effectively throughout the examination of all the details of 
the course of things ; we do not doubt the correctness of the 
most general points ot view of our mechanical system because 
the complexity o objects often only allows of a general and 
inaccurate application of them. In like manner this view 
also would remain unshaken, however little it could fully 
explain; enough if, along with the general impression of 
Nature in its favour, no special experience raised any insuper 
able difficulty. 

But, however successful this view may be in its efforts to 
explain given facts, it will find it harder to overcome the more 
general difficulties involved in the transference of human modes 
of action to this infinitely higher case of creative activity. That 
will alon&xran have ends, whose volition is not tantamount to 


execution, whose purpose, on the contrary, hindered by the 
resistance of an independent nature of things, becomes con 
verted into an aim to be reached in a particular way. Action 
adapted to an end is to be found not where an absolute 
moulding power produces everything directly out of itself, but 
where a limited efficacy needs means for the achievement 
of its results, means which it can make serviceable to its 
ends only on condition of its accommodating the character of 
its own designs to the nature of this foreign material. All 
that we human beings can effect is dependent on this relation 
ship, dependent on our being environed by a realm of foreign 
elements, working according to fixed laws independent of us, 
connected together in modes exquisitely traced out beforehand 
dependent also on our being organically connected with 
these in the most intimate manner. Thence arises not alone 
the possibility of any of our inward stirrings, of our thoughts, 
intentions, and resolutions coming to any effect in the outer 
world from the same source spring also the visible and living 
forms of our action. Those ultimate moving-springs of our 
exertion are all themselves without form : the pleasure which 
we seek, the sorrow that oppresses us, nay, even all nobler 
longing of the imagination for something higher, is at first a 
surging within us without any definite direction; not till they 
are in course of being realized does the essentially brief and 
vague meaning of our wishes expand into a complete pheno 
menon, and acquire characteristic features, appearing in forms 
fitted to overcome definite hindrances and in modes of utilizing 
external impediments. Were the independent outer world, 
from whose educative resistance we gain shape, to be anni 
hilated, the visible image of our action would relapse into a 
unity of purpose and fulfilment that would elude our appre 
hension. N"ow we cannot transfer to the Divine Being, the 
source of the universe, those conditions which enable us to 
understand the results of our own action for an end. Be 
lieving, as we do, that we comprehend the significance of 
many special arrangements, this only makes more obscure 
the origin of the world of forms in general within which 


it is possible to speak of a plan. What else would we fain 
think as the final quickening source of creation in the being 
of God than that spirit of holiness, goodness, and beauty, in 
which yet we would vainly strive to find a necessary direction 
of His creative energy towards the production, of the definite 
natural forms that surround us ? Only if an independent 
world of matter faced this energy could we understand 
creative power being driven by the peculiar character of this 
foreign condition of its working into definite forms of expression 
of its indefinite tendency. 

This view thus ends in a contradiction hard to reconcile. 
Along with the creative wisdom of God, the source of the 
world's ideal content, appears another power, a dark back 
ground, by which the formless ray of Ideas is first refracted 
into a play of visible forms. We cannot get rid of this 
foreign and unfathomable element, and yet we are aware of 
nothing that entitles us to retain it ; while its original nature 
and its regularity yield to us, for whose development obstacles 
are necessary, at once resistance and educative stimulus, they 
can offer neither to the Divine Being. 

The other conception of which we have to speak avoids 
this fatal opposition between the adaptive purpose and the 
means of its realization by directly blending both. According 
to it, an Infinite, a dreaming soul of the universe, at onco 
matter and Idea,, pliable material and shaping thought, pulsates 
in all phcenomena, and from the unity of its impulse of 
development evolves the harmonious beauty of things. Not 
guided by an external consciousness, not burdened with the 
obligation to accomplish ends not spontaneously its owu, on 
the other hand not limited in its productions by having to 
accommodate them to universal laws, which indifferently face 
its creative impulse, the actual world is a spontaneous, perpetual 
self-evolution, at once grave and gay, the aimless surging of a 
moulding fancy that has infinite delight in the manifold 
unfolding of its ingenious wealth of forms. In statements 
of this kind, this conception not only exhibits itself as a 
vivid, brief, and pertinent expression of problems which we 


do not here create for ourselves, "but, on the contrary, find 
involved in the nature of the subject, but likewise expresses 
that careless romance of youthful reflection which fancies 
that in the statement of problems it has also their solution. 
Throughout all periods of human culture this mode of con 
ceiving things has been repeated in various forms without 
making any material advance towards the attainment of its 
end ; even its most recent modes of expression, to the echo of 
which our imagination has now become accustomed, are hardly 
more than a more pompous repetition of thoughts that from 
the dawn of antiquity have been in the mind of all who 
uttered the word Nature or Averts. 

An unpleasant contrast of light and darkness can be softened 
not only by brightening the latter, but by dimming the 
former; we are almost disposed to think that for a similar 
reason human thought has a natural tendency ever anew to 
plunge into the abyss of this mystic view. For, while it 
reduces the idea of a creative self-consciousness to that of an 
unconscious reason that is at the same time self-moulding 
matter, it diffuses the deep obscurity that in the above- 
mentioned theory enveloped the relationship between the two 
there clearly discriminated terms, as a comparatively agreeable 
vagueness over the whole conception. The intention is indeed 
that the whole world of natural forms shall proceed from 
reason, not as an external drapery, but as its own outer 
aspect, that the reason shall not labour from without on 
foreign material, but merely reflect in consciousness what has 
been produced by its own unconscious action ; but this end 
is unattainable, unless we first of all dilute the significance of 
the question that led to this attempt at a blending of the 
ultimate opposed terms. For as long as we comprise under 
the^ name of reason what we must hold to be the animating 
thought of the world of intelligence the Ideas of holiness, of 
goodness, and of bliss we cannot regard this realm of forms 
constituted by the stars with their minerals, plants, and animals, 
as the native outer aspect of that reason, but as an external 
garment of accidental and inexplicable origin that hangs about 


it, fitted perhaps to interpret its inner life by its drapery, 
but certainly not entitled to be taken for the only possible 
and exhaustive exterior of this interior. Only if we dilate 
the notion of reason almost to apathy, and from the first 
seek in it nothing but a phantasy dreaming of future 
magnetism, and seeking to pour out its unrest into the 
expansive impulse of the plant or the activity of the animal 
body, only then does the world of natural forms become the 
exact expression of this Idea, the true outer aspect of this 
interior. But then the meaning of the question to which we 
were seeking an answer becomes altered, For the unity 
pervading all Nature, to account for which this whole view 
was elaborated, bad serious value for us only because it alone 
rendered possible the full subjection of the actual world 
to the rule of that truly spiritual ideal world from whose 
content shines forth in clearest light the absolute worth of 
moral Ideas. The desired end is not attained by supposing 
the existence of a soul of the universe that knows and is 
only phsenomena, whose inner nature shapes its outer, 
outer models itself upon its inner nature, while nowhere is 
anything to be found that by its absolute and infinite worth 
consecrates this play of forces. The ideal source, the creative 
thought, is here burdened with an impulse to definite shaping 
that does not veritably proceed from itself, and is limited to 
becoming conscious of that which this impulse sets before its 
view. I cannot see that this result is more inviting than the 
issue of the first theory, already stated. If there we found 
discrepancy between adaptive wisdom and the realm of means 
of realization, the former was at least independent in its 
designs ; aiming at truly spiritual ends, it appeared in rela 
tion to the latter as the ruling power contrasted with the 
ministering material; the second theory recognises only the* 
material, ignoring the higher power above it. For its soul of 
the universe is nothing else than this foreign and unfathom 
able element, the dark background in which the other view 
also seeks the definite forms for the realization of the divine 
purposes. Brought into exclusive prominence, this background 


here appears endowed with, consciousness of what it is , but it 
misuses this spark of heavenly light only to round off into 
systematic unity that self-sufficiency and purposelessness of a 
motley play of action that formed our charge against the 
dreary mechanical theory of the course of things, 

4. Neither of these two views accomplishes its end ; they 
both, leave unsolved the problem but to fail in solving it is 
not discreditable to human sagacity. "We shall be exposed to 
the same clanger at the end o our speculations, but the very 
next steps we have to take should not be taken without an 
acknowledgment of the xmmastered enigma which we pro 
visionally leave behind. Our whole theory of the universe 
has three starting-points. We find within ourselves a know 
ledge of universal laws, which, without themselves giving rise 
to any particular form of existence, force themselves on our 
attention as the necessary and immediately certain limits 
within which all reality must move. Oil the other hand, we 
find within ourselves an instinct "bidding us discern in Ideas 
of the good, the beautiful, and the holy, the one indefeasible 
end whence alone reality derives any value ; but even this 
end does not bring to our cognition the special form of the 
means by which it is to be attained. Between these two 
extreme points extends for us a third region that of ex 
perience boundless in, the wealth of its forms and events, 
unknown in its origin. We can track into this wealth the 
universal laws imposed on all phenomena; and ia the first 
part of our discussions we tried to set forth their undi- 
rmnished and indistinguishable validity in all departments of 
reality. In this wealth of reality we may also seek the 
radiance of those Ideas which give worth to all being and 
doing; and in the last part of our discussions it is our purpose 
to follow the traces of their presence and formative energy 
in the whirl of phenomena. But the more, while endeavour 
ing to fulfil one of these two tasks, we become absorbed in 
the details of Nature's course, the more does Nature's own 
originality again come to the front the independent wealth of 
.forms in which it envelopes the universal and colourless laws 
VOL. i. 2 D 


of mechanism, and the self-will with which it carries out 
'Ideas not always in what seems to us the shortest way, "but 
by circuitous paths and in accordance with general and far- 
reaching habits of working. Far from being a collection of 
single contrivances and instruments fitted to meet the several 
requirements of an ideal world, Nature, on the contrary, is 
above all internally consistent an organism, a great economy, 
ready indeed in its totality to minister to the totality of 
Ideas and to receive from it a prescribed sum of tasks, but 
reserving to itself the planning of their perfornance, and not 
extemporizing a special momentary effort to meet each several 
need. Events, unmindful of their tasks, seem for a long time 
to give themselves up to the complex variety of their own 
play of forms, frequently to follow an indefinite path leading 
past their ends, even to take a direction the opposite of that 
which our precipitate imagination would assign to them in 
the interest of the highest ideals ; only an eye that, instead 
of the section of Nature small as to both space and time 
that lies open to our observation, could survey the whole of 
it, would discern the final prevalence of absolutely excellent 
ends amidst this apparent confusion. But even this is a 
conception which we have to go far beyond experience and 
observation in order to grasp ; and although we would not 
hinder its being silently kept before our thoughts as an end 
to which we have to approximate, we must yet for a while 
turn away from it Our inquiries must for the present be 
confined to ascertaining what leading usages and what modes 
of operation Nature actually unrolls before us; with what 
unity and what connection in her several phenomena experi 
ence makes us acquainted ; lastly, what is man's position in 
Nature, and what the conditions, favourable, unfavourable, or 
moulding, which she has attached to his development. 



Doubt as to the Supremacy of Ends Created Beings as Ends in themselves 
Ends and Results Development of things from Chaos Spontaneous Growth 
of Older from Unorder The Elements of Chaos Inherent Purposiveness 
in things and in their Operations The Unity of Nature considered as a 
Product of manifold Actions and Eeactions. 

our Attention, in all sim- 
plicity to tliat view which, in spite of the 
momentary failure of our attempts to approach it more 
closely, has in its favour the unshaken testimony of the in 
herent truth of its aim, the living internal unity of Nature 
It will be well now to listen to another voice, that of the 
spirit of negation I mean of that very mechanical conception 
to which, now that we are on the point of finally turning 
away from it, we must grant the opportunity of a final 

What real foundation in experience, its advocates will ask, 
is there for the opinion that there is in Nature a unity such 
as requires for its explanation the comprehensive design of 
one Creator, or the impulse to evolution of a single substance 
underlying the multiplicity of things ? We can understand 
that there is in human nature a desire to verify this view of 
Nature ; but in what given facts is there any proof that this 
desire can be fulfilled, that this systematic inner vitality and 
unity of Nature is real ? Must we not, on the contrary, 
acknowledge that after all only some few of its characteristics 
and events suggest to us the idea of purposiveness and ideal 
consistency, that then, without good grotmds, we infer from 
these particular experiences a general harmony and purpose, 
and from the vantage-ground thus gained we conclude the 



necessity of a rationally creative being ? That, finally, we 
lience draw the deduction that there must be reason and 
purposiveness in Nature even where (as is unfortunately so 
often the case) we certainly cannot prove it 

A short review may suffice to show us how our thoughts 
have proceeded. The living body is the usual starting-point 
of such discussions. We overflow with admiration of the 
extraordinary fitness of its formation for its ends, and repeat 
the common assertion that in it all is at once means and end. 
How many parts are there still in it whose end no one as 
yet knows, nor can we actually know that these have any end 
at all, and are not aimless products of the formative forces, 
but we merely take, all this for granted on the warrant of the 
above unproved general assertion ! The animal world likewise 
presents in many instances a dazzling appearance of adapta 
tion to ends, but undeniably, at the same time, much that is 
inexplicable, much that, as far as we can see, is purposeless ; 
myriad oddities of formation that are easily understood as 
sports and casual effects of a Nature joyously breaking out in 
all possible directions, but only with laboured artificiality can be 
construed as products of deliberate design. Still less can the 
idea of predetermined adaptation be traced through the vegetable 
kingdom, where no end can be pointed out beyond tho mere 
existence of forms, whose arrangement, duration, development, 
and power of self-preservation present endless differences in 
kind and amount. Lastly, is not this whole world of life embraced 
and supported by the globe and by the space of the universe, 
while in the geological formation of the former, and in tho 
distribution of the masses of the latter, no human ingenuity 
can discover any pervading adaptation to ends nay, perhaps 
would not even wish to discover any ? On the contrary, we 
breathe with a certain sense of relief when we perceive that 
here at least there underlies the much-admired, endless calcu 
lation and design of the course of things an impressive 
stupendous reality that, without pretending to point to any 
thing beyond itself, stretches as a steady tranquil barrier 
before our restlessly searchi g thoughts. Shall we add that 


the examination of events would load to the same double 
result as that of forms ? Further, that along with, indications 
of design, confused inexplicable accidents also present them 
selves ; and still further, that at last, weary of eternal calcu 
lation and planning, we not only resign ourselves to, but 
accept with a feeling of relief, the thought of a predominant 
fate willing nothing hat itself ? 

It will, perhaps, "be allowed that this is not an incorrect 
rendering of the confused and indistinct moods into which 
we often find ourselves plunged by the failure of our attempts 
at explanation ; but our partiality for the idea of an inherent 
unity in Nature will not at once yield itself captive to these 
counter-representations. Above all, it will recall that it has 
long since got rid of tlio hopeless tendency to seek external 
ends for every creature, every phenomenon, and every single 
occurrence an intellectual habit, no doubt, apt to end m 
incompetence to discover either the urgent importance of 
those ends, or the inclispensableness of the means of fulfil 
ment which we find present. The end of every creature lies 
rather in its own existence, and if a salutary and harmonious 
action and reaction between things different is a broad fact 
of experience, yet the real import of this conception of Nature 
lies not in the mutual relations of the several "beings to one 
another, which we very imperfectly understand, but in the 
inherent purposiveness of each one, whose different con 
stituents are woven into the whole of a firmly-knit organiza 
tion. No external utility forms for each creature the limit* 
with reference to which all its properties are formed, but the 
Idea of its own existence is tlie supreme end to fulfil which 
all the details of its structure work together as means. 

We certainly would rather not return to the jejune inter 
pretations with which this tendency to seek in external 
utilities the justification of the existence of things has disfigured 
the conception of Nature. At the same time, the introduction, 
of an inherent end, such as the special Idea of each being 
would present, in place of an external one, does not appear 
to us calculated to increase the stability of the view in general. 


l\>r it would furnish a convincing proof of the systematic 
unity of Nature and of the intelligent operation of the creative 
force only if, first of all, apart from all experience, it could 
ahow what kinds of events and what forms of existence mudt, 
on account of their absolute worth, be the necessary ends of 
all reality ; and if it could further show that only such causes 
and effects as promote the realization of these ends form part 
of the connected course of Nature, all others, though in 
themselves neither inconceivable nor impossible, being ex 
cluded from it. Only in this way would it produce in us 
the conviction that those phenomena, whoso mutual harmony 
we are to be afterwards exhorted to admire, have a right, as 
ends in themselves, to exist solely for the development of then 
own Idea. But the usual course of inquirers is different 
They too soon and too simply take account of tjhe facts which 
they see actually before them, and incautiously taking the 
routine of events in which we habitually move as in our 
vital element, for an excellent state of things or even for 
the most perfect conceivable they, of course, do not then 
find it difficult to demonstrate the faultless adaptation of all 
Nature's arrangements for its establishment. 

I think that if for each animal species we set bcsido 
the evident instances of adaptation in its formation, which 
we understand, all the unaccountable things in it which we 
do not understand ; if we set beside the nimble dexterity of 
the animal in one direction its conspicuous helplessness in 
another, beside its power of self-preservation against one class 
of hindrances its complete defencelcssness against others ; if we 
thus comprise in our determination of an animal family the 
whole sum of positive and negative attributes as presented 
in experience, all happiness and inevitable misery, and in this 
total behold the Idea which the family is meant to embody 
then it is easy to show that the organization in all its details 
is fitted with perfect adaptation to the fulfilment of this office. 
For as long as all that is and happens exerts precisely the 
amount and kind of effect which according to universal laws 
it ought to do, so long will each result effected contain exactly 


neither more nor less than what was fixed by its antece 
dent causes j and on the other hand, the causes will determine 
not more or less, or other than what subsequently becomes 
manifest in the result. Whenever, therefore, we look at the 
result in the light of an end to be fulfilled, we must always 
and necessarily regard the sum of its causes not merely as a 
system of means accurately adjusted for its fulfilment, but as 
the only one adequate to the discharge of this office. No such 
inherent consistency, therefore, which we may observe in any 
creature, can prove its having originated in a designing intelli 
gence until it has been convincingly demonstrated that the 
whole constitution of the creature as we have it before us is 
entitled to be considered not merely an inevitable result, but 
a predetermined end. By itself that consistency would not 
even protect us from the wretched witticism, that the hunch 
back is perfectly fitted to be a hunchback Lastly, were the 
world quite different from what it is, filled with other beings, 
moved by other forces, had it sprung from the most barren 
chance or from many chances, it would still possess this 
formal character of designed consistency with itself; every 
thing that could exist and maintain itself within it would be 
the bare and exact expression of its causes, and these causes 
would always be the adequate and only system of means 
adapted to its realization. It scarcely requires special men 
tion that all events, however they might succeed one another, 
would to the student of them always seem to express some 
meaning, and that consequently they might always be regarded 
as the foreseen and predetermined forms of manifestation of 
that particular Idea which they chanced to suggest to the 
observer, The theory under consideration would, following 
this track, end in a meaningless play on words. 

2. Its supporters are sure to meet these objections with 
the reply that they do not take this tr.ack, or at most use it 
only as a starting-point for their speculations. , They will un 
hesitatingly grant that the relation between an effect and the 
sum of the causes that actually bring it to pass is invariably 
that of a nicely adjusted system of means to its end but main- 


tain that precisely on this account the doctrine that Nature 
had its origin in the unity of designing and adaptive wisdom is 
not based on this merely formal adaptation, which occurs no 
less in the unintelligent and the diseased than in the intelligent 
and the healthy. It is based, on the contrary, on the signifi 
cant import of actual effects, which makes an undesigned 
convergence of causes for its realization highly improbable. 
In studying a single organ of an animal body, we may make the 
experiment of regarding its function as a consequence of its 
structure, and not its structure as a designed means for the 
discharge of its function. It may be said that an image is 
formed on the retina, because the mechanical forces of the 
animal germ, as it was, could not help forming an eye refract 
ing rays of light ; when the hand involuntarily seeks to grasp 
the object that has stimulated the sensitive skin of the palm, 
this movement may be merely the inevitable consequence of a 
transmission of the stimulus that could not but take place with 
the existing connection between sensory and motor nerves; in 
short, it may be as Lucretius declares the animals may be 
able to walk because they have knees, not have knees in order 
that they may walk. But how far shall wo care to carry this 
way of looking at things ? The organism is constituted not 
merely by an accumulation of such pairs of structural relations 
and the operations proceeding from, them, but by innumerable 
such pairs being combined in a form that makes it possible 
for them to work together for the realization of a harmonious 
plan of life. JSTow is it credible or conceivable that, without 
any directing purpose, in the same corporeal structure which 
possesses here a reflecting eye, a prehensile member should 
there come into being, capable of grasping seen objects, in a 
third place, teeth with which to break up what lias been 
seized, in a fourth, organs of digestion fitted to act upon 
food in a manner beneficial to the whole array of parts \ 
And this apparently predesigned connection of parts recurs 
constantly also in tho formation of the single organs. Again, 
shall we ask whether it is credible that without any directing 
purpose a conglomeration of elements should have been formed 


whose blind, mechanical further development necessarily occa 
sioned the origination of transparent, translucent and opaque 
membranes, being more or less refractive, and at the same 
time the arrangement of these parts in just such positions, and 
at just such distances as was needful in order that a cone of 
rays falling on this eye should again converge on an extremely 
minute point in the back of it ? 

We do not deny that in the actual connection of things 
organic formation is carried on merely by mechanical tradi 
tion ; but without the assumption of a designing consciousness, 
we believe it is impossible to account for the origination of the 
germs whose blind and necessary evolution constitutes the 
course of Nature. And now that we have once had recourse 
to this guiding hand, we make unquestionably the inference 
laid to our charge we believe in its co-operation even where 
we do not see it. For it is natural to imagine that we may 
find in it an unguessed justification of the shortcomings of the 
course of things that seem to militate against the omnipresence 
of designing wisdom a justification consisting in the content 
of a plan of the actual universe which, we do not profess 
wholly to comprehend ; while, on the other hand, without that 
wisdom the countless instances of particular excellence and 
intelligence that force themselves on every unprejudiced mind 
appear unaccountable. Moreover, even where we are content 
not to understand what are the ends of the universe, we every 
where come across forms of being and acting that distinctly 
show they are the results of a comprehensive plan. The host 
of actual living creatures is divided into genera and species, 
which clearly and naturally fall into a graduated series of 
more or less allied forms ; however obscure may be the order 
and law of this series, no less powerful is the total impression 
which it creates, of a unity of formative volition, a constancy 
reigning throughout, which does not allow the manifold actual 
world to consist of disparate individuals, but arranges it as a 
well-ordered realm of things. 

3. On such considerations rests the abiding and persuasive 
force with which this view of Nature ever anew asserts itself 


against all assailants. Doubtless even the advocates of the 
mechanical theory will in the end have to acknowledge the 
force of these arguments, but it is of consequence that this 
acknowledgment should not come too early, and they will be 
able justly to urge much more than we expect against the 
statement just made of the doctrine of an organic unity in 

First of all, they will, not without reason, observe that our 
admiration of Nature's products is frequently bestowed not so 
much on the inherent significance of their forms as on the 
mere number of parts which we see united into a whole, and 
on the variety and alternation of the movements springing from 
their combination. As we are impressed by the mere magni 
tude of things, so also are we impressed by the number and 
variety of their internal relationships, no matter what be the 
final form of the result ; and wherever we see a great deal 
take place within small compass, we are secretly disposed to 
seek the productive source in a power superior to merely 
physical and undesigning forces. And yet we know and can 
scientifically prove that a very small and insignificant number 
of elements, and very simple relations between them, are quite 
sufficient to form the source of an endless play of exceedingly 
varied and changeful forms of development, which, did they 
stand embodied before us, the human mind would think 
incontrovertibly exhibited the prevalence of adaptive design. 
Whoever bears in mmd that no organized creature comes 
full-grown into being, but that Nature itself evolves it 
laboriously and by long ciicuits out of its germ, will often 
l>e inclined to conceive that germ itself under too complex a 
form; transferring to it the capacities for all the details of 
subsequent development as if these were not successively 
produced and heightened by reciprocal action between the 
growing organism and its environment no doubt it will 
seem to him incredible that the elements should over have 
come together in this mysterious association without the 
influence of an overruling purpose. Closer acquaintance with 
the manifold effects that may flow from comparatively very 


simple causes, will gradually lessen this doubt without over 
wholly removing it. For ever and anon the thought will 
recur however simple may have been the primitive germs of 
natural products, it always remains an unaccountable marvel 
how out of the infinite number of conceivable combinations of 
elements that chance might have formed, this appropriate 
selection should have found its way to realization. 

Bat yet this feeling of wonder the mechanical theorists 
can show to be based on a false assumption. For our 
amazement would really be justified only if we found that all 
the other less significant or quite unmeaning associations ot 
elements had from the first been withheld from trying their 
luck and occupying so much space in the actual world as 
their capacities allowed them. Were the actual world really 
such a small extract from the infinite realm of potentialities, 
and had that which does not fit into its order and does not 
appear never even made any attempt to find place in it, then 
assuredly we could ascribe this realized extract to nothing but 
a providence working towards ends and towards nothing but 
its ends But we cannot see that experience cither constrains 
or entitles us to make such an assumption. And if we do 
nob make it, then we can justly reply that for the picking out 
of a few cases from the infinite region of potentialities no 
other review, judgment, and selection is needful than such as 
the mechanical connection of things must of itself necessarily 

For let us start with the idea of a chaos, and let us con 
ceive this as chaotic as may be, supposing therefore that there 
was in it no predominant tendency whatever to any particular 
grouping, but that, in the language of the atomistic thinkers 
of antiquity, all in it moved confusedly in all sorts of manners 
and all sorts of directions : in such a seething mass any com 
bination of two or more elements will be just as likely to 
occur as any other combination of the same number But 
the fate of these groups will be very different. None of 
them indeed will be prevented by a selective providence from 
crossing the threshold of existence, but a countless multitude 


may be of such a kind that the inherent regularity of the 
mechanism which controls the reactions of all cuts them off 
from any duration and any development. Perishable pro 
ducts, they either disappear at once from want of any inherent 
equilibrium to secure their preservation, or may be perhaps 
condemned not even to enjoy a brief moment of actual exist 
ence, but to hide themselves in the stream of Becoming as 
products ever about to be, but inevitably falling to pieces 
before coming to completion. But others, whose relations 
were such as at least to pern) it of their becoming actually 
existent, have a very different lot The case is not in reality 
as the defenders of the designed unity of Nature would 
sometimes have it appear; we are not alike surprised by dis* 
tinct traces of intelligent contrivance in all formations that 
have attained to actual existence. Alongside of things com 
plex, manifold, yet in their mamfolclness orderly and ideal, 
stand simple, undeveloped, rigid forms of being, which hardly 
any one could deny might possibly have sprung from the 
caprice of accident Even the animate kingdom contains a 
number of genera of differing value, many ill-poised, destined 
to perish quickly, though reappearing with equal readiness in 
the course of events ; while others, with more numerous and 
delicately adjusted parts, form a varied harmony of mutu 
ally interlacing operations. When we survey creation, wo 
find it presenting not merely an extract of the best, but great 
and small, simple and complex, perfect and imperfect aro 
mingled together as we could suppose them to have sprung 
together from the impartial haphazard of chaos. But one thing 
is absent from this manifold world that which is perverse and 
essentially unadaptable to design, and to this mechanical laws, 
on account of its inherent contradiction, could allow no per 
manent actual existence. Transitorily, of course, as is shown 
by the great host of diseases and so many deformed specimens 
of creation, such contradictory products clo occur ; but for all 
generic forms that are permanently to form part of the 
abiding order of Nature, internal adaptability is synonymous 
with possibility. It is conceivable that the present creation 


\vas preceded "by more imperfect efforts of Nature, nay, by 
contradictory monstrous formations, which while they could 
not themselves endure, yet having perished left the elements so 
combined as to give rise to better products. Without, however, 
indulging in this mythical idea, we may in general assert that, 
whether the perverse was there or not, the fact that it could 
not be mechanically maintained would prevent its continuing 
to exist. But the actual world contains out of the infinite 
number of combinations of elements that an irrational chaos 
might yield, not a selection made by designing purpose, but 
the smaller sum of such forms as the mechanical course of 
Nature itself tested in the endless alternation of its phenomena, 
and selected for preservation, as wholes fitted for ends, out 
of the vanishing chaff of the perverse, which it impar 
tially brought into being, but no less impartially allowed to 

Now, it will be objected, is all this less wondrous ? How 
comes it that this mechanical course of Nature is always 
favourable to the rational, and expels the irrational from 
reality ? The rationality of things which we meant to 
explain is by no means identical with the mechanical absence 
of contradiction that has unobserved been put in its place, but 
consists in an inherent harmony and consistency which, far 
from being a mere absence of defects that simply guarantees 
the settled existence of phenomena, by the ingenious excel 
lence of its content unites the most various elements in the 
carrying on of a common and highly significant life. How 
could mechanical Nature which must bo contented with all 
that satisfies its universal laws be the source of this super 
fluous perfection ? To this the mechanical theorists would, 
however, with justice reply, that the evidence of experience is 
by no means in favour of the invariable rational significance 
of all creation, and yet only if it were invariable would this 
perfection transcend the capabilities of a mere course of 
Nature. In fact, it cannot be demonstrated that all parts of 
Nature indicate ideal significance and definite ends ; along 
with myriad phaenomena that undoubtedly do create that 


impression, occur myriad others that comport themselves as if 
they were unintentional and incidental results of a chance- 
formed combination of atoms results which in accordance 
with a deliberate plan by no means ought to have come about, 
but which have come about, and once in existence have main 
tained themselves, because they were not out of conformity 
with the mechanical conditions of existence. Thus mechanism 
has perhaps produced much that to a creative Idea suppos 
ing such would have been unimportant ; and, on the other 
hand, perhaps there is much which mechanism has not realized, 
and which the Idea would have desired, in the existence of 
which it would have strongly interested itself. Tor who 
indeed would undertake to prove not merely that all that 
exists is rational, but further, that all that is rational exists '> 
Do then all fair dreams perish, and is the actual all that can 
be desired ? Does not even imagination in its independent 
creations add fresh ones to the list of forms of Nature ? 
The actual world does not show those winged angel forms in 
which religious art delights, and yet we cannot show cause 
why these forms, to whose ideal significance our reverence is 
A testimony, have not deserved to exist : it may have been 
contrary to the means and laws at the disposal of Nature for 
her work. On the other hand, Nature profusely brings forth 
giraffes and kangaroos, and we do not comprehend why it 
should have been indispensable for the complete expression 
of the highest Idea that the curious modes of locomotion 
rendered necessary in these animals by the disproportion 
of their legs should have been represented in the actual 
world. I fancy I hear distinctly the indignant exclamation 
that doubtless even in these facts there is a deep meaning 
though our human short-sightedness cannot fathom it. , That 
1 do not dispute ; I abide by the confession of such short 
sightedness. But the question with which we wore now 
dealing was whether belief in all-pervading deliberate design 
on the part of the creative force is justified or compelled by 
experience. We do not deny that it may have other solid 
foundations but a significance and a profound ideality that 


In many cases we absolutely can not discern, does not hold 
good as an experimental proof of the rationality pervading all 
creation. If we would put into words the impression made 
by Nature directly, not modified by any theory of the schools, 
we can only say that there is in it much that is purposive 
and harmonious, yet that on the whole its existence seems to 
have no special significance, and that on the other hand we 
do not find realized all that might appear to offer a possible 
end to intentional design. And this is the relation which it 
is quite natural to expect, if we conceive the world as sprung 
from a planless chaos, that can give birth only to the possible 
and self-consistent, but within these just as readily and easily 
to the meaningless as to the most ingenious. 

4. With all this the mechanical theory has yet by no 
means been freed from the stain of incredibility attaching to 
its affirmations. Of course it must be allowed that every 
creature, even every organically living creature, consists of 
elements that were not always so conjoined, but had to be 
brought together even by a creative purpose, if such a purpose 
was active in the setting up of the primeval germs. Ifc thus 
was possible for these elements to fall into such relations to 
each other, and neither the path by which they had to travel 
from their previous position to this point of union, nor the 
movement towards unity itself, could be such as were contrary 
to their nature or to the mechanical laws to which that is 
subject. And then it may further be maintained that any 
motion which can be given to the elements by the propulsion 
of an ordering hand, could also possibly be given to them, by 
the purposeless propulsion of an accident. In fact, it needed 
only a certain succession of ga]es in alternate directions 
gradually to raise the pile of the pyramids from the several 
grains of sand carried by each. The adherents of the other 
view turn away silently from the monstrous improbability of 
such arguments, refusing to be satisfied with the merely 
not-impossible, and requiring positive grounds why the 
elements of chaos have been driven precisely into the actual 
combinations, in addition to which according even to the 


mechanical theory an infinite number of others were equally 

And now it really is time to take back a wholly unwar 
ranted assumption which we have above allowed to be made, 
and after the removal of which the mechanical theory will for 
the first time feel the full weight of the arguments brought 
against it. There is evidently nothing in that phrase of the 
atomists of antiquity, that at the beginning of the world there 
was infinite motion and mixture in infinitely various ways 
and directions. jSTo one who means to think clearly can form 
any idea of the existence of such an infinite agglomeration of 
countless possibilities. However manifold we may suppose 
the original relations of the elements to have Leen, they must 
yet have constituted a total condition of the universe that 
was exclusively actual, and it is impossible that the other 
infinitely numerous conditions of the universe that might have 
been in the absence of this one, can have co-existed alon^ 
with it. Hence the abyss of indefinitoness, to which we 
formerly gave the name of chaos, is- unthinkable, and any 
attempt to set distinctly before ourselves the origin of natural 
forms must start from some particular primitive state, which, 
because it was that and no other, from the first excluded from 
actual existence much in itself possible, while with reference 
to much else it contained not only bare possibility, but a more 
or less immediate and urgent positive reason for realization. 
Now, how on the mechanical theory is this primitive state to 
be conceived ? 

Its advocates have first of all no reason and no right to 
assent to the doctrine of the ancient atomists, that the 
elements are like essentially identical building stones only cut 
in diverse shapes a doctrine itself the offspring of that 
mistaken straining after unity which cannot tolerate any 
abundance of original plurality. On the contrary, they will 
assume an innumerable multitude of originally diverse 
elements, which are not merely seized upon by a shaping 
movement from without and welded together, but whose 
innate forces exert an essential determining influence on the 


results of their combination. These forces are not externally 
attached to them like subsequently and arbitrarily bestowed 
capabilities, but are the expression of many and various inner 
states that can find in the kingdom of space-phenomena no 
other mode of manifestation than the monotonous attractions 
and repulsions to which all physical and chemical effects are 
reducible. And finally, least of all has the mechanical theory 
occasion to tread in the footsteps of Materialism, with which 
(though they are really wholly indifferent to each other) 
a current misapprehension is apt to identify it. As it must 
acknowledge the power of intelligent life in experience as a 
fact, it can have no hesitation in conceiving the spark of this 
inner life as already stirring even in the original supersensible 
elements from whose regular reciprocal action it holds the 
show of extended matter to proceed and the universe to be 
constructed. 'Not, indeed, as if it could apprehend the power of 
mind as a single quickening directing breath, as an effulgence 
spreading over Nature , it merely breaks up this surging 
current into a countless multitude of sharply discriminated 
centres of radiation, each of which (in itself indivisible) 
forms one of those reciprocally acting atoms which are in 
truth the active causes of phenomena. When we thus 
expand the originally given elements of the fabric of the 
universe, the domain of chance becomes correspondingly con 
tracted. We do not expect to see the ingenious forms that 
fill Nature crystallized all at once from the indefinite vortex 
of a motion that drives the atoms externally against one 
another, as if the formation of an organic germ, or even of an 
inorganic shape, were completed with the ceasing of the 
shock whereby myriads of inert and patient constituents were 
brought into a mutual contact indifferent to all. Here as in 
mental life the external impetus we look on merely as an 
occasioning cause so far approximating the different "beings 
that one comes within the sphere of action of another ; it is 
the force inherent in both and the now awaking vital con 
nection of their natures that determines the further course of 
the development, conducting it to far greater variety of form 

VOL. I. 2 E 


and to infinitely deeper meaning than could ever have been 
done by the poor impetus of the external motion, had it 
been left to itself. 

We may doubt whether even this inherent vitality of a 
multitude of (after all) scattered elements can explain the 
accordant harmony of the forms proceeding from them ; closer 
examination shows, however, that in all the elements a certain 
purposiveness in action not merely is compatible with, but 
ought hardly to be sundered from, the fundamental conceptions 
of the mechanical theory. We are all agreed that the forces 
with which things act are not merely subsequently stamped 
on their completed nature ; he who speaks of the force of an 
element means that tjie force belongs to it, not as an accidental 
possession that might be wanting, but as the necessary and 
consistent outcome of its own being. But not even this fully 
expresses the opinion which we are bound to hold and do 
hold. Should any one assert that this very necessity and 
consistency of every being causes all its reactions on external 
stimuli to lead but to its own annihilation, or at least to the 
deterioration of its internal states, we would perceive from 
our involuntary revolt against the absurdity of such an 
opinion how confidently we had tacitly presupposed a con 
trary relation. We are ready to acknowledge that in a com 
posite structure the relative situation of the parts may be so 
hopelessly distorted that every reaction attempted by tho 
whole but hastens its destruction ; but we do not doubt that 
every simple being will of itself develop only such effects as 
are fitted to bring the position into which it has accidentally 
come into accordance with the conditions of its permanence. 
In so far as its activity has reference to tins task of self-pre 
servation, it will appear to us necessary and self-evident ; less 
confidently ahal] we add the conjecture that it further includes 
a striving after self-development and perfection. The term 
strimng at any rate will not properly apply to what we mean. 
For, without being acted on from without, every being will 
even to our perception persist in its original repose, and no 
reaction will be got from it except by means of an external 


stimulus. Such reaction is itself no systematic activity 
evolved from itself by the imagination of the "being through 
contemplation of the image of a more favourable situation * 
on the contrary, it remains the necessary and inevitable 
consequence of a contact of this being with that stimulus. 
Hence, limited by the call made upon it, this force must be 
content to produce the small element of purposiveness to 
which the call gives rise , while ready to respond to a sub 
sequent stimulus with an equally purposive element of working 
it will evolve out of itself no far-reaching plans of connected 

Now, without setting tip this view of a principle of pro 
gress inherent in everything that exists, as a theoretical tenet, 
we may yet make the experiment of introducing it among the 
means of our explanations. For from among the countless 
original facts, some of which we must take for granted, the 
rational and significant are not to be excluded in favour of 
the meaningless. But we do not affirm more than that this 
feature of inherent adaptation to ends is part of that actual 
nature of beings to which the mechanical theory applies its 
laws. Applied to such a nature, these laws will tend to 
produce a significant world of forms with the same necessity 
with which, brought to bear on a different original nature of 
elements, they would liave given rise to a manifold sphere of 
forms other than that which calls forth our admiration and 
our studious interest. 

Perhaps to many this speculation will appear all of a 
sudden to alter materially the boundaries of that which even 
in our own vocabulary has hitherto been styled mechanism. 
We may seem to be opening the door to a mysticism that 
threatens to blur all those outlines of our convictions which 
were before so sharply defined. Nevertheless we have here 
merely brought into prominence a phase which always belonged 
to our conception, and of wHch no mechanical view, however 
strict, needs to rid itself. Every calculation, as soon as it 
becomes more than a mere statement of numerical relations, 
arid is brought to bear on the actual things, must assume the 


independent nature of such things. What things in them 
selves may be, and how they intend to act upon each other, 
is their own affair, and no mechanical theory can A priori 
fathom the depths of their being, and assign to them but a 
few properties, a few simple forms of action, to the exclusion 
of others. N"ot till these properties and modes of action 
appear as magnitudes, and magnitudes reducible to a common 
standard of unity, will mechanism be able to show that the 
being of things (in itself not determinate by it) has by this 
step fettered itself for the future, and that henceforth the 
value and the final form of its effects are fixed by the 
universal laws that everywhere govern the result of any 
definite relation between magnitudes. Tims it is left to 
the nature of things to choose with what properties, what 
internal impulses it shall enter the field of possible calcu 
lation ; but after it has once adopted a particular form of 
being and action, it can no longer prevent the consequences 
of its adoption being in each case entailed by the laws of 
mechanical action according to universal rules. Philosophical 
speculation may venture to attack the question what nature 
and what impulses the rational connection of the universe 
allows things to have ; physical research has only to inquire 
what modes of activity actually occur, or must be assumed in 
order to account for things ; but it mistakes its task when it 
strives to be more than an elaboration of the data yielded by 
the nature of things. Such an encroachment, at once narrow- 
minded and unwise, was made by the mechanical theorizers 
of antiquity, when they sought wholly to remove all inherent 
character, every occult property of their being, from the ele 
ments out of which the universe was to be constructed ; and to 
conceive them as merely homogeneous points of junction for 
action, scattered through space nay, not even as such, but 
merely as points capable of receiving an impetus, and so of 
being set in motion. It is but a short step in the other 
direction to fill up the internal vacuum of these points, at 
least with forces of attraction and repulsion, so long as these 
forces are supposed only to be added to, not to proceed from, 


the nature of the elements. Just as physical science as such 
has little reason to concern itself -with, the internal states of 
things, which it cannot observe, we, on the other hand, an 
forming our ultimate fundamental notions, have to take 
account of the existence of this inner life, and, instead of 
denying it, rather to be ready to accept the greatest conceivable 
variety for it in order that/ wherever in future its influences 
may be distinctly traceable on the succession of phenomena, 
our modes of conception may be such as to enable us to 
estimate its worth. 

Now in the place that must be left vacant by the mechanical 
theory let us put our conjecture. If we cannot beforehand 
determine what reactions any being will develop in contact 
with others, and consequently what material it will offer for 
calculation, we can permit ourselves the hypothesis concerning 
this unknown point, that contact or a series of different con 
ditions acting on an element awaken in it energies that aim 
not only* at self-preservation, but also at the improvement of 
its internal states. We must not, however, allow ourselves 
thence to suppose that these efforts of the individual being 
bestow on it any unlimited power over others. Were that 
being a soul, and had co-existence with other elements 
awakened in it the endeavour to procure satisfaction of 
its cravings by surrounding itself with a regular system, of 
material substances, the soul would notwithstanding thence 
derive no unlimited moulding power, in obedience to which 
the organic body might arise. Any internal state of one 
being will possess radiating force only if the absolute regu 
larity of Nature not merely permits of this, but further 
causes that the said state* shall necessarily be followed by 
another state of another being ; and so here too the environ 
ing elements do not, in answer to the soul's wish, combine 
into an organic form agreeable to it, but merely now and 
then obey it so far as they are compelled, and as the required 
form yields the same satisfaction to their own internal states. 
The stern necessity of mechanism will still, therefore, govern un 
interruptedly the formation of things, only it will not exclusively 


annex external states to external states, but at each point of 
its course enter within the elements, and concede to the 
intelligent Workings there in process of development a regularly 
adjusted influence on the character of the future. There may 
therefore be particular lucky cases in which a number of 
elements, originally brought together by accident, all find in 
one and the same grouping, towards which they in common 
strive, satisfaction for the new needs awakened within them 
by their meeting. These fortunate products, in which what 
is suited to the ends of the individual parts yield together the 
purposive equipoise of a whole, will be living creatures, and 
we must suppose that as here their origin, so also the 
mechanism of their propagation and preservation is pervaded 
by this inner purposive activity. 

The meaning and process of such events become more 
distinct if we call to mind the destinies and the forms of 
social grouping which spring from the gathering together of 
human beings, and by a universal instinct are correctly desig 
nated organic formations. Men are not suddenly, by a scries 
of impetuses from without, brought in a moment into satis 
factory forms of intercourse, nor do they by an impulse from 
within directly discover a fitting order of association in which 
to alpide ; just as little, lastly, is the organization of society 
the work of a conscious artistic design, that, working from the 
first on a plan, and hovering outside of and above individuals, 
moves them into their right places. Any accidental contact 
excites in those sharing in it impressions and reactions, which 
at first seek merely as atoms satisfaction for momentarily 
arising wishes and needs, and in thus seeking partly derange 
the external collocation of circumstances, partly themselves 
receive, new feelings from the advantages and disadvantages 
of this derangement. While frequently antagonistic to one 
another, these internal motions of individuals give rise to 
many temporary social arrangements,, whose advantage and 
pressure react afresh on the whole united multitude and on 
each individual in it, till at last, after many vicissitudes, more 
permanent forms of social life are established, which meet the 


needs of the parts in harmony with the conditions of existence 
of the whole. In like manner, accidental contact allies minds 
as to their inner life into a reciprocal action in the course of 
which, not through the organizing design of any individual 
but through the co-operant rational activity of all the 
elements proceeding from each individual, the purposeless 
gradually eliminates itself; a position of equilibrium is 
attained in which the allied minds are at rest, whetheV 
from each being satisfied or from the dissatisfaction of some 
having, through some counter-pressure, lost the power of 
exciting fresh disturbance. We have to concede to the 
corporeal elements nothing more than the capacity to be 
internally affected by circumstances, and from this affection 
with rational necessity to evolve improving reactions, in 
order to understand liow even from their chaotic min^hncf 


excellently devised organic forms come forth, not suddenly 
and at once completed, but produced by a long and serious 
process of reciprocal action, just as even now Nature brings 
forth none of these creatures full grown, but requires of each 
a long and laborious process of development from its germ, 
As many of these germs as chaos brought together, so many 
might there be of partly successful, partly abortive attempts 
to reach the state of equilibrium. Even final distribution 
of organized beings into a graduated series of genera and 
species, manifestly governed throughout by a few general 
types, does not need for its explanation the hypothesis of 
an idea everywhere identical by which all have been 
created, but only the assumption that the elements themselves 
included no boundless variety, but only a finite number of 
distinctions in which case a number of similar characteristics 
and of comparable forms of acting must go all through their 
combinations and the developments of the same. 

5. Now let us have done with this dialogue between the 
contending parties. It is clear whither the mechanical view 
tends. Asserting that it is ever producing order, however 
unruly and confused may have been the beginnings of the 
cosmos, it would wean us from the idea of the unity of a com- 


prehensive creative will. Now, how is the unity of Nature 
saved In this pluralism of origin? This objection we not 
unfrequently find brought forward as tlie last and weightiest, 
and yet I know not if it could not easily he mot. For there 
is a unity of Nature that arises in this condemned way, though 
it no more than arises, and comes about as the final result of 
the labour of many, not preceding their existence as its con 
trolling source. But is it any the worse for having this 
history ? When in human society moral powers gradually 
show themselves and grow up, when general views in regard 
to spheres of duty, accordant acknowledgments as to the 
services required of each individual by the actual position of 
his country as grounded in its history, the limits imposed on 
him by the national code of ethics, and a better insight into 
the necessary ends of effort and the means adequate to their 
attainment, gradually come to prevail: are these various 
forms of civilisation of less value because they did not 
directly spring forth mature from the unity of a germ of 
civilisation, but, as fortunate positions of a finally Attained 
equilibrium, were won through a struggle between countless 
passions and conflicting interests ? Now this unity, the result 
of conciliation, Nature also possesses ; in its present condition 
the wild war of elements no longer goes on ; we are sur 
rounded by steady solid deposits of permanent forms, the 
varied course of phenomena is organized and governed by 
widespread and unchanging habits of working gradually 
developed ; the sum-total of things either has iouud the posi 
tion of harmony between all its partis that admits of no other 
motion than that of a regular and progressive development, or, 
if there is still anywhere a lawless war o forces, even its 
future prospects will appear no less cheering on our view thau 
on that which puts a, single plan at the beginning of events. 

There is nothing in which we are so apt to err as in our 
judgment concerning the forms of existence that we deem 
indispensable to the fulfilment of our most earnest wishes. 
We have grown used to familiar modes of satisfaction, and 
mistrust every nc\v situation and every change of things, 


while if we courageously made the attempt we would learn 
that even new relations have sources of enjoyment. Perhaps 
the conviction of the necessity of a primal unity of Nature 
is one of these delusions. Perhaps we were wrong when 
we formerly maintained that our delight in a picture 
would vanish if it were impossible to believe in. the unity 
of the imagination whose work it is. In fact, when we 
admire a landscape, we can scarce seriously cling to the 
illusion that it was one breath of Nature which, with the 
comprehensive unity of poetic phantasy, brought together the 
manifold and unique constituents of the scene. The cottages 
and ruins crowning those heights were no part of the plan of 
the forces of Nature, the seeds of the plants whose varied 
tints of green enchant us were wafted to this valley by lawless 
winds knowing naught of each other, and the sun whose rays 
gild the peaceful scene shines down from a path far above 
all, and through mists that ascend from other regions of the 
globe. In this picture there are unquestionably a plurality of 
origins ; its charm lies in the quiet confidence of mutual 
understanding with which these originally alien constituents 
are bound together, all sharing the common bliss oi a satisfy 
ing union. 

But one thing seems wholly incompatible with the 
mechanical theory the idea of predestination. As long as 
we looked up to one Cause of the universe, we knew that we 
formed part of one great universal fabric culminating in a 
preconceived design; as fellow-labourers on this fabric, we 
found in the destiny which it imposed on us justification for 
our existence and guidance for our efforts. A universe formed 
by the coalescence of innumerable origins has no end and 
no obligations ; whatever it may be it has a right to be, 
and it imposes neither on itself nor on its several elements the 
task of pursuing a yet unattained goal. In it facts must 
throughout prevail and the actual be always right, while all 
our human feeling is consciously under the obligation to 
realize a not yet existent ideal. Now, does the mechanical 
theory cheat us of this idea, and seek by stealth to deprive us 


of it ? I think that, on the contrary, it is familiar with, it in 
a different form. It is not its part to tell us that by a wise 
design the feeling of moral obligation and the types of moral 
ideals have been implanted in living souls, and it therefore 
does not involve itself in the complexities of the question, 
how to reconcile with this deliberate" setting up of the germ 
the countless hindrances which the course of things put?, in 
the way of its development. It knows only that even these 
inner workings form part of the actual nature of souls, and, 
looking on the moral impulse as one of those forces which 
the course of things brings into contact and conflict, it does 
not require that all other circumstances shall accommodate 
themselves to it, but trusts to its maintaining its place in the 
reciprocal action of all. Very different from that bizarre 
Materialism which takes on itself the office of bringing 
intelligent life out of unintelligent matter as an incidental 
product whose trifling and precarious value does not permit 
of its setting up any peculiar claims in presence of matter, the 
one true substance, the mechanical view can, on the contrary, 
discern in the fact of a moral impulse one of the most 
important and original characteristics of the soul, from which 
all its other regular relationships result as consistent phases of 
self-preservation. Neither the fact that there are beings who 
assign a value to themselves and their manifestations, accusing 
and excusing themselves, nor the absolute authority of the 
law involved in it, will be called in question or made light of 
by this view ; and if it cannot teach that above the individual 
there soar ideals to fulfil winch he is destined, it yet acknow 
ledges that m each individual an ideal may be developed from 
which he cannot without self-condemnation shake himself Iroe, 



Unity of the Basis of Tilings, and its Results The System of Material Elements 
and their Distribution Preseivation of Unity in the Course of Events 
Notion of Miracles Plan of Development in the World and in Man 
Cosmic Periods Limitation of oni Knowledge and Being Universal and 
Terrestrial Nature Giades of Natural Products The Animal Kingdom 
and its Typical Forms. 

1. T DO not tliink that tlie lovers of cliaos could find 
J- other grounds on which to prove the origin of the 
universe from it, than those supplied by our last speculation. If 
these were all inadequate to stifle the voice of a contrary con 
viction, we do not lament this ; for our previous reflections 
pointed out to us another path, from which we once more sought 
to survey the concentrated force of the mechanical conception 
of the universe. If our attention has now been given to it for 
a longer time than to many may have seemed needful, this was 
because we could not see that its claims arc so contemptible 
as they may appear to the confident advocates of the opposite 
view. It is like an enemy whose internal organization is too 
vast and too compact to allow of our succeeding in an 
attempt simply to annihilate it, we must incorporate it 
in our own community with the whole disciplined force that 
it displayed against us, and there open up to its energy 
a field of useful action. In fact, we would not have dwelt 
in such detail on the several ideas which we sought to 
illustrate, did they not, within the other conception which 
we have to vindicate, retain as subordinate parts a validity 
which, as an independent theory of the universe, they cannot 
make good. 

When, anticipating the slow course of my examination, I 
sought, in a preliminary survey, to indicate the direction it 
would take, I pointed out that every attempt to derive from 



formless chaos the necessary appearance of discrimination and 
order in things, rests on the assumption that a sphere of 
universal and absolutely authoritative laws unvaryingly pre 
scribes to all elements the form and amount of their reciprocal 
action (supra, p. 364 sq.). This has been confirmed in the 
course of our last discussions. For though we liberally 
enlarged the somewhat scanty stock of means of explana 
tion commonly made use of, by allowing that the elements 
themselves are endowed with internal vitality and mobility ; 
and though we accounted for the reactions exhibited by each 
element only as the consistent result of its own specific 
nature, it remained none the less necessary that a universal 
system of law should unite together all beings, and regulate 
their mutual communication. For even accepting this account, 
every reaction must assume that the state of the one element 
contains a call to the other to change its condition, in 
order that the latter may be affected by the former, Let 
it therefore provide for its self-defence according to the 
dictates of its own genius ; the fact that danger could threaten 
it will be explicable only on the supposition of an all- 
embracing sphere of law that compulsonly annexes a particu 
lar affection in things to every particular situation of them, 
And in the end, does not the internal consistency of each 
being in itself likewise presuppose this absolute regularity of 
demeanour throughout the universe ? Further, a free inner 
development can be called consistent only because the con 
nection of its several stages corresponds to an externally 
applied standard, to a wider necessity, which decides what 
particular consequent can lawfully bo drawn from any par 
ticular antecedent. Any course of things admitting some 
events as possible, excluding others as impossible, requiring 
some as necessary, even if leaving some to free choice, can 
judge in regard to these various cases only according to 
universal laws ; and chaos will not develop order until in 
obedience to this law the frail and tottering combinations of 
things have been compelled to yield to those which are 
firmer and self-consistent, Tf, then, the mechanical theory 


starts from a plurality of existent elements, it grasps ^U 
the more firmly the unity of the universal system of law, 
whose power gradually elaborated from the planless disorder 
of these beginnings the sketch of a plan now permanent. 

But we have satisfied ourselves how impossible it is to 
conceive this sphere of laws as a self-existent power, preced 
ing things and hovering over them ; we were irresistibly 
constrained to apprehend this single bond, as soon as it has 
to assert its uniting power over the split-up variety of the 
elements, as one actual infinite Being, of whom all finite things 
are the intimately cherished parts. Only thus could the 
reciprocal actions, on which the course of events depends, 
extend across the chasm that divides the several elements, 
and would eternally separate them from one another, unless 
they derived from the common substance from which they 
spring the capacity for, and the obligation to, a vital mutual 
relationship, and a reciprocation of their internal states 
(supra, p. 368). If, then, after an examination of the content 
of Nature, and of the purposiveness of its creations, we could 
still be in doubt whether, after all, it had not possibly 
originated in solitary and unconnected beginnings, the fact 
that there are reciprocal actions will, on the other hand, 
compel us to believe in a real unity of all things, and a 
common source whence they have flowed. 

2. In now endeavouring to track the consequences of 
this conviction, we must beware of requiring from it more 
results than it can yield. The path by which we reached 
the notion of this Supreme Cause taught us nothing about 
it, save that it is actual, and one and the same in all 
things; it disclosed to us nothing of the content of its 
being, and of the inherent nature with which it fills this 
mould of unity and infinity. From so unknown a Supreme 
Cause we cannot venture to deduce the process of the creation 
of the world, and set it forth in concrete description ; just as 
little can we attempt to determine beforehand the particular 
order of Nature, in which must necessarily be displayed the 
creative energy of that principle whose designs and opera- 


tj#ms are concealed from vis "by our ignorance of its peculiar 
^attributes. We can follow out only those consequences which 
flow from the formal character of unity, and which, in any 
creation supposed to be derived from a Unity, would recur as 
necessary features of its organization, independently of the 
nature of the Supreme Cause. Limited as are these admis 
sible conclusions, they yet go far beyond what our experi 
mental knowledge is as yet in a position to confirm, and \ve 
can but indicate them as necessary guiding maxims of our 
inquiries, not as facts that can be observed. 

Whatever may be the process by which plurality arises 
from unity, it would be contrary to the notion of unity if 
an accidental indefinite plurality should arise from it. On 
the contrary, from the first the variety of the elements will 
form a complete system, that grasped in its totality offoi\s 
an expression of the whole nature of the One. Not as if this 
One, like a magnitude, fell into a number of co-ordinate parts, 
the sum of which must be taken in order to make up the 
unit again , for the Cause, in the act of creation, would send 
forth from itself no single finite element, without at the same 
time adding thereto a fixed number of others, which, taken 
along with the former, should make the reality its com 
plete manifestation. As a complex chemical compound does 
not suffer one of its constituents to be withdrawn from it 
singly, but, on the contrary, also discharges a second, which 
after the removal of the first would no longer be in equili 
brium with the residuum ; or, as it does not take in a new 
constituent, except on condition of simultaneously appropriat 
ing another also, by which this increment may be balanced 
in the constellation of its internal forces: so we have to 
conceive the sum of reality as a completed formula of -which 
each part supplements the sum of tho rest, so as to con 
stitute a full expression of the common ground of all. 

This conception we have to apply first of all to the 
original constituents, which we find woven into tho texture of 
the universe, or must assume as woven into it, to the various 
ponderable elementary substances of Nature, next to the 


imponderable elements (should we with, advancing knowledge 
still be compelled to retain them), and lastly, to intelligent 
natures, if the various forms of psychic life should not appear 
to admit of being explained as various levels of development 
of the same beings 

While our experience, almost -wholly confined to the earth, 
is still taking up the chemical elements one by one, tho 
progress of discovery is altering their number, and their 
conjoint occurrence seems an accidental and arbitrary fact; 
the existence of each element, on the other hand, involves to 
us the existence of all the others as a necessary consequence, 
and all together form a complete system. Each link in this 
chain, along with its special properties and capabilities of 
action, has its fixed place, and together with all the others 
forms a complete expression neither to be added to nor 
taken from of the nature of the Universal Substance. 

If, further, the number and distribution of the atoms of 
each, element should to our observation seem subject to no 
rule, we must, in. opposition to this appearance, conceive the 
total amount of each several element and the dispersion of its 
parts in space as fixed by a formula that determines for each 
substance, in view of the peculiarity of its nature, alike the 
quantity in which it is to appear and the places whence its 
atoms are to begin their reciprocal action with others. The 
present condition of Mature, deranged as it has been by 
innumerable regular developments, and to a small extent by 
the encroachments of arbitrary lawlessness, does not permit of 
our working our way backwards to the orderliness of the first 
moment of the universe ; we may believe that such there was, 
but we cannot accept as the necessary form of that original 
aspect of things either the conception of an equal distribution 
of all elements among all, or even that of a somehow sym 
metrical grouping of the different elements. Just as little 
does our hypothesis enable us to decide whether the quantity 
of actual existence is limited or unlimited. Were the attribute 
of infinity compatible with that of unity, a difference of total 
amount would be just as conceivable Between elements, each 


of them made up of an infinite number of atoms, as definite 
and computable differences of magnitude "between plane angles, 
the arms of which extend ad infinitwn. 

Finally, the world is not in a state of rest ; this internal 
equilibrium must not be present merely for once in the 
compass of a moment ; the unity must be preserved at each 
moment of the course of evolution. Like every transverse section 
which we take out of the history of Nature, it must present 
in the new positions which, in consequence of recent changes, 
the elements have taken up in it, a new and full expression of 
the consonance of all the parts to form the whole. "We can 
therefore admit no original motion of the smallest atom not 
from the first adjusted so as to form a harmonious whole with 
the motions of