Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

THE OBSERVATION OF UNBOUNDED SPACE.

73

Matter and Spirit the same in Essence. As we have seen, external force, acting upon our peculiar organization, produces the phantom which we call the world : how, then, can spirit be more ethereal than this external force ? or how can ghosts be more ghosts than what we call gross material matter? Spirits, therefore, if they exist, cannot be more ethereal; they may, however, be unseen, or we may be unconscious of their existence, because they may have no relation to our senses.

Time and Space.

That Time and Space are only “ modes of thought," and can have no objective existence, or rather that the reality cannot accord with our conception, is evident from the fact that, according to our idea, the half of either Time or Space is as great as the whole; thus we have the infinite divisibility of atoms, and a past, as long as a future eternity.* We know

* Professor Tyndall tells us that, “ Though we are compelled to think of space as unbounded, there is no mental necessity to compel us to think of it either as filled or as empty; whether it is filled or empty must be decided by experiment and observation.(“ Constitution of the Universe.” — Fortnightly Review.) Now this may be very true, still we must admit that the ground would take some time to get over : he, in fact must be a fast traveller who could go over infinite space in less than infinite time; particularly, if as the Professor tells us, the luminous ether—the interstellar medium, although infinitely more attenuated than any gas, has definite mechanical properties— those of a solid rather than a gas, “ resembling jelly rather than air.” We are told that we are by no means to consider this as a vague or fanciful conception on the part of scientific men, for that of its reality most of them are as convinced as they are of the existence of the sun and planets. Now although this "jelly” may be necessary to the exigencies of the vibratory theory with respect to light and heat, it must be evident that it renders the observation" as to whether unbounded

only of thought, and of the force its correlate or equivalent; and can a thought be a mile long or a yard square? What,

[ocr errors]

space is filled or not, still more difficult. I do not think that the term infinite or boundless can be used in any other sense than as exceeding the bounds of our knowledge; whenever it is attempted to be used otherwise our first philosophers immediately fall into contradictions and absurdities. Righteousness, Holiness, Purity, Goodness, have only a relative existence, that is, can exist only in relation to finite things, how then can they be infinite ? In fact Infinite Goodness and Infinite Wisdom are contradictions,- for goodness must be good to something, and knowledge must be of something, that is of some limited thing. Suppose there to have been a time when these things did not exist, these attributes could not have existed either. According to J. S. Mill there is no incorrectness of speech in the phrase Infinite Power—but in speaking of Knowledge, absolute is the proper word and not infinite. The highest degree of knowledge that can be spoken of with a meaning only amounts to knowing all that there is to be known: when that point is reached, knowledge has attained its utmost limit. So of goodness or justice: they cannot be more than perfect. To which the learned critic (Mansel I am told,) in the Contemporary Review replies, Surely whatever Divine Power can do, Divine Knowledge can know as possible to be done. The one therefore must be as infinite as the other.” Quite so, none of these attributes can be more than relative manifestations and therefore finite, for as the writer says, “ Will Mr. Mill have the kindness to tell us what he means by goodness and knowledge. out of all relation,' i. e., a goodness and knowledge related to no object on which they can be exercised; a goodness that is good to nothing, knowledge which knows nothing ?” As attributes then must be finite, that is, can be exercised only in relation to finite objects, God is without attributes, that is, Pure Being. But that which has no attributes and nothing, to finite capacity is the same thing. The object then of the Hegelian Philosophy is to show how this nothing could become something; nothing however meaning not non-existence, but existence independent of sense or pheno

“Being underlies all modes or forms of being.” God creates, that is, Being becomes, and the fundamental principle of Hegelism is said to be “ That God awoke to consciousness, and acquired a will, in the consciousness and will of man."

But “what can we reason, but from what we know" on this or on any other subject. And what do we know? Perhaps as much as

mena.

EXTENSION NOT AN ATTRIBUTE OF THOUGHT.

75

then, is distance ? and can it apply to thought and feeling, that is, to what we call spirit ? and need there be space, therefore, necessarily separating mind from mind?

The Correlation of the Vital and Mental Forces. We are told, on what I believe to be good authority, that:"Generally speaking, the average amount of daily

this :-- the world was without form and void, that is nebulous, and as the force or heat concentrated, it gradually took first the inorganic and then the special living forms that now lie deep buried in the earth's crust, and with each stratum or layer, was a fresh correlation of mind or sentiency-an evolution, which covering the whole earth with a network of nerves, and passing again and again through different forms was refined and spiritualized till after countless ages it culminated in man, and “ God became conscious in Humanity.” But with respect to man, the highest intelligence here :

“ Think you this mould of hopes and fears

Could find no statelier than his peers
In yonder hundred million spheres ?
This truth within thy mind rehearse,
That in a boundless universe
Is boundless better, boundless worse.” Tennyson.

“ Go to! You know nor this nor that;

Man has no measuring rod
For Nature, Force, and Law, and what

The best of men call God.
For law, and life, and all the course

Of lovely, shifting Nature,
Are but the play of one wise Force,
· Which Moses called Creator.
Think on your knees : 'tis better so,

Than without wings to soar;
What sharp-eyed Logic thinks to know

We find when we adore.

" J. S. B.

99

“ College, Edinburgh.”

food necessary for healthy men is estimated at twelve ounces of beef, twenty ounces of bread, with about half-an-ounce of butter. These articles contain a force capable, if applied by a machine, of raising fourteen million pounds weight to a height of one foot; that is, the oxidation of the elements contained in them would give rise to an amount of heat equivalent to that effect. But in the human body, though it far surpasses all machines, in economy of force, the utmost amount of power attainable from them is not more than equivalent to three-and-a-half millions of pounds raised to the height of a foot; and an average day's labour does not exceed two millions of pounds thus raised. The difference is mainly due, doubtless, to the number of internal actions which are carried on in the living body; such as the circulation, the movements of respiration, and the production of animal heat. These consume a great part of the force of the food, and leave only a remainder to be disposed of in muscular exertion."*

Of course there must be great difference of opinion, not only as to the amount of force generated by the food, but also as to the mode of its expenditure. Thus we have Dr. Carpenter, supported by Helmholtz and Joule, differing from Professor Playfair, and the Professor differing from the above writer in the Cornhill, and we are prepared to receive the latter statement, therefore, only as a very wide approximation. But the question is, since force is indestructible, how is this force—immense in every estimate--expended ? It will be found, I think, that thinking and feeling absorb a larger portion than the vital powers, and the vital than the merely muscular. In a notice of Dr. Playfair's book on “Food and Work,” in the Reader of June 3, 1865, the writer says with

* Cornhill Magazine, September, 1861.

DISTRIBUTION OF FORCE IN THE BODY.

77

reference to the distribution of this force :-" In the steamengine there are only two forces to be considered, the mechanical and the thermal. In man's body there are many different forces, but the study of them is rendered in one sense easy, and in another difficult, by the fact that, however varied they may be within the economy, they pass away into the external world in two phases only, the same phases in which they leave the steam-engine- viz., heat and movement. We speak of mental or cerebral force, of plastic or organic force, we look in upon the forces that go whirling round in our bodies, threading a devious path amid countless changes, working through most intricate machinery; but there are only two ways in which their effects can be measured by one standing without. They either produce muscular movements, or increase the temperature of the body. Intense mental effort cannot by itself be measured by the physiologist. The slight muscular movements through which it strives to express itself, are in no way to be thought of as gauging its intensity. Its only true measure is the amount of heat produced by that combustion of cerebral tissue, which is the condition of its development. So, also, the true measure of the force concerned in the fashioning of a hand, or of any other piece of wonderful organic work, is that heat which is the outcome of all the molecular processes busied therein. We may, if we like, divide the work of the body into various kinds. We may speak of the opus mechanicum, the muscular labour or useful work; of the opus mentale, or brain work; of the opus mechanicum internum, or inner muscular work, such as the heart's beat, the breath's play, the intestinal roll, and the arterial grasp; of the opus vitale, or chemical and fashioning work; of the opus calorificum, or the labour of keeping the body warm. Yet all these issue from the body as two kinds of work only, the opus mechanicum, the amount of foot-pounds

« ZurückWeiter »