physics, the existence of any pressure is which it is liable to pass when applied to the index of a potential energy which, mind is that man cannot conceive infinthough it may be doing no work, is yet ity. And never was any proposition so always capable of doing it. And so in commonly accepted which, in this sense, the intellectual world, the sense of pres- is so absolutely devoid of all foundation. sure and confinement is the index of Not only is infinity conceivable by us, powers which under other conditions are but it is inseparable from conceptions capable of doing what they cannot do at which are of all others the most familiar. present. It is in these conditions that Both the great conceptions of space and the barrier consists, and at least to a large time are, in their very nature, infinite. extent they are external. What we feel, We cannot conceive of either of these as in short, is less an incapacity than a re- subject to limitation. We cannot constraint.

ceive of a moment after which there shall So much undoubtedly is to be said as be no more time, nor of a boundary beto the nature of those limitations on our yond which there is no more space. This mental powers of which we are conscious. means that we cannot but think of space And the considerations thus presented to as infinite, and of time as everlasting. us are of immense importance in qualify- If these two conceptions stood alone ing the conclusions to be drawn from the they would be enough, for in regard to facts of consciousness. They do not jus- them the only incapacity under which we tify, although they may account for, any labor is the incapacity to conceive the feeling of despair as to the ultimate acces- finite. For all the divisions of space and sibility of that knowledge which we so time with which we are so familiar, much desire. On the contrary, they sug- days and months and years, and our varigest the idea that there is within us a ous units of distance, we can only think reserve of power to some unknown and of as bits and fragments of a whole which indefinite extent. It is as if we could is illimitable. But although these great understand indefinitely more than we can conceptions of space and time are possidiscover, if only some higher intelligence bly the only conceptions to which the would explain it to us.

idea of infinity attaches as an absolute But if it is of importance to take note necessity of thought, they are by no of this reserve of power of which we are means the only conceptions to which the conscious in ourselves, it is at least of same idea can be attached, and probably equal importance to estimate aright the ought to be so. The conception of matconceptions to which we can and do attain ter is one, and the conception of force is without drawing upon this reserve at all. another, to which we do not perhaps Not only are the bars confining us bars attach, as of necessity, the idea of indewhich we can conceive removed, but they structibility, or the idea of eternal existare bars which in certain directions offer ce and of infinite extension. But it is no impediment at all to a boundless range remarkable that in exact proportion as of vision. Perhaps there is no subject science advances, we are coming to unon which the fallacies of philosophicderstand that both of these are concerphraseology have led to greater errors. tions to which the idea of infinity not “That the finite cannot comprehend the only may be, but ought to be attached. infinite,” is a proposition constantly pro. That is to say, that the eternal existence pounded as an undoubted and all-compre- of matter and the eternal duration of hensive truth. Such truth as does belong force are not only conceivable but true. to it seems to come from the domain of Nay, it may be our ignorance alone that physics, in which it represents the axiom makes us think we can conceive the conthat a part cannot be equal to the whole. trary. It is possible to conceive of space From this, in the domain of mind, it being utterly devoid of matter, only percomes to represent the truth, equally un- haps because we are accustomed to see deniable, that we cannot know all that and to think of spaces which are indeed infinity contains. But the meaning into | empty of visible substances. We can


expel also the invisible substances or stances, because of the ease and the cergases of the atmosphere, and we can tainty with which the balanced forces can speak and think of the result as a vacu- be liberated, is a principle which really

But we know now that when air and prevails in the composition of all mateall other terrestrial gases are gone the rial substances whatever; the only differluminiferous medium remains; and so far ence being that the energies by which as we have means of knowing, this me- their molecules are held together are so dium is ubiquitous and omnipresent in held under conditions which are more the whole universe of space. In like stable — conditions which it is much more manner we are accustomed to see solid difficult to change - and conditions, therematter so dissipated as to be invisible, fore, which conceal from us the universal intangible, and wholly imperceptible; and prevalence and power of force in the contherefore we think we can imagine matter stitution of the material universe. It is, to be really destructible. But the more therefore, distinctly the tendency of sciwe know of it the more certain we be. ence more and more to impress us with come that it cannot be destroyed, and can the idea of the unlimited duration and only be redistributed. In like manner, in indestructible nature both of matter and regard to force, we are accustomed to see of the energies which work in and upon it. matter in what is called statical equilib- One of the scientific forms under which rium — that is to say, at rest; and so per- this idea is expressed is the conservation haps we think we can conceive the cessa- of energy. It affirms that though we often tion or extinction of force. But here see moving bodies stopped in their course, again the progress of research is tending and the energy with which they move more and more to attach irrevocably the apparently extinguished, no such extincidea of indestructibility — that is, of eter- tion is really effected. It affirins that this inal existence — to that which we know as energy is merely transformed into other force. The truth is, that this conception kinds of motion, which may or may not is really implicitly involved in the concep- be visible, but which, whether visible or tion of the indestructibility of matter. not, do always really survive the motion For all that we know of matter is insep- which has been arrested. It affirms, in arably connected with the forces which it short, that energy, like matter, cannot be exerts, or which it is capable of exerting, destroyed or lessened in quantity, but can or which are being exerted in it. The only be redistributed. force of gravitation seems to be all-per- As, however, the whole existing order vading, and to be either an inherent power of nature depends on very special distribuor property in every kind, or almost every tions and concentrations of force, this kind of matter, or else to be the result of doctrine affords no ground for presuming some kind of energy which is universal on the permanence, or even on the proand unquenchable. All bodies, however longed continuance, of that order. Quite passive and inert they may seem to be the contrary; for another general concepunder certain conditions, yet indicate by tion has been attained from science which their very existence the power of those at first sight appears to be a contradicmolecular forces to which the cohesion of tion of the doctrine of “conservation their atoms is due. The fact is now fa- of energy” — namely, the “dissipation of miliar to us that the most perfect stillness energy." This doctrine, however, does and apparent rest in many forms of mat- not affirm that energy can be dissipated ter is but the result of a balance or equi- in the sense of being wholly lost or finally librium maintained between forces of the extinguished. It only affirms that all the most tremendous energy, which are ready existing concentrations of force are being to burst forth at a monient's notice, when gradually exhausted, and that the forces the conditions are changed under which concerned in them are being diffused that balance is maintained. And this (generally in the form of heat) more and principle, which has become familiar in more equally over the infinitudes of matthe case of what are called explosive sub- ter and of space.


Closely connected with, if indeed it beling in a special medium. Conversely not a necessary part and consequence of, light becomes the cause of heat, because these conceptions of the infinity of space again the same energy passes into another and time, of matter and of force, is the medium and there produces a different more general concept of causation. effect. And so all the so-called “corre

It is impossible to conceive of anything lated forces” may be interchangeably the happening without a cause. Even if we cause or the consequence of each other, could conceive the utter destruction or according to the order of time in which the annihilation of any particular force or changes of form are seen. This, howform of force, we cannot conceive of this ever, does not confound, but only illus. very destruction happening except as the trates the ineradicable conviction that for effect of some cause. All attempts to all such changes there must be a cause. reduce this idea of causation to other and it may be perfectly true that all these lower terms have been worse than futile. correlated forces can be ideally reduced They have uniformly left out something to different "forms of motion;" but mowhich is of the very essence of the idea. tion itself is inconceivable except as The notion of “uniform antecedence” is existing in matter, and as the result of not equivalent. Necessary antecedence" some moving force. Every difference of is more near the mark. These words do direction in motion or of form in matter indeed indicate the essential element in implies a change, and we can conceive no the idea with tolerable clearness. But change without a cause — that is to say, like all other simple fundamental concep- apart from the operation of some conditions, the idea of causation defies analy. tion without which that change would not sis. As, however, we cannot dissociate have been. the idea of causation from the idea of The same ultimate conceptions, and no force or energy, it may perhaps be said other, appear to constitute all the truth that the indestructibility or eternal dura- that is to be found in a favorite doctrine tion of force is a physical doctrine which among the cultivators of physical science gives strength and substance to the meta- - the so-called “law of continuity.” This physical concept of causation. Science phrase is indeed often used with such may discover, and indeed has already looseness of meaning that it is extremely discovered, that as regards our applica- difficult to understand the primary signifition of the idea of cause, and of the cor- cation attached to it. One common defirelative idea of effect, to particular cases nition, or rather one common illustration, of sequence, there is often some apparent of this law is said to be that nature does confusion arising from the fact that the nothing suddenly — nothing per saltum. relative positions of cause and effect may Of course this can only be accepted under be interchangeable, so that A, which at some metaphorical or transcendental one moment appears as the cause of B, meaning In nature there is such a thing becomes at another moment the conse as a flash of lightning, and this is generquence of B, and not its cause. Thus ally recognized as sufficiently sudden. heat is very often the cause of visible A great many other exertions of electric motion, and visible motion is again the force are of similar rapidity. The action cause of heat. And so of the whole cycle of chemical affinity is always rapid, and of physical forces, which Sir W. Grove very often even instantaneous. Yet these and others have proved to be “correlated ” are among the most common and the

- that is, to be so intimately related that most powerful factors in the mechanism each may in turn produce or pass into all of nature. They have the most intimate the others. But this does not really ob- connection with the phenomena of life, scure or cast any doubt upon the truth of and in these the profoundest changes are our idea of causation. On the contrary, osten determined in moments of time. that idea is confirmed in receiving a new For many purposes to which this so-called interpretation, and in the disclosure of “law of continuity” is often applied in physical facts involving the same concep- argument no idler dogma was ever intion. The necessity of the connection rented in the schools. There is a combetween an effect and its cause receives mon superstition that this so-called law an unexpected confirmation when it comes negatives the possibility, for example, of to be regarded as simply the necessary the sudden appearance of new sorms of passing of an energy which is universal life. What it does negative, however, is and indestructible from one form of action not appearances which are sudden, but into another. Heat becomes the cause of only appearances which have been unlight because it is the same energy work. I prepared. Innumerable things may come

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to be, - in a moment, in the twinkling | They stand behind and before every law, of an eye. But nothing can come to be whether that word be taken to mean simwithout a long, even if it be a secret, his- ply an observed order of facts, or some tory. The “law of continuity” is, there particular force to which that order is due, fore, a phrase of ambiguous meaning; or some combinations of force for the but at the bottom of it there lies the true discharge of function, or some abstract and invincible conviction that for every definition of observed phenomena such as change, however sudden - for every the “laws of motion." All these, though

leap,” however wide — there has always they may be “invariable” so far as we been a long chain of predetermining can see, carry with them no character of causes, and that even the most tremen- universal or necessary truth -no convice dous bursts of energy and the most sud- tion that they are and must be true in all den exhibitions of force have all been places and for all time. There is no exslowly and silently prepared. In this isting order - no present combinations of sense the law of continuity is nothing but matter or of force

which we cannot the idea of causation. It is founded on conceive coming to an end. But when the necessary duration which we cannot that end is come we cannot conceive but but attribute to the existence of force, and that something must remain, - if it be this appears to be the only truth which nothing else than that by which the endthe law of continuity represents.

ing was brought about, or, as it were, the When now we consider the place in the raw materials of the creation which has whole system of our knowledge which is passed away. That this conception, occupied by these great fundamental con- when once suggested and clearly appreceptions of time and space, and of matter hended, cannot be eradicated, is one of and of force, and when we consider that the most indisputable facts of instructed we cannot even think of any one of these consciousness. That no possible amount realities as capable of coming to an end, of mere external observation or experiwe may well be assured that, whatever ment can cover the infinitude of the conmay be the limits of the human mind, they clusion is also unquestionably true. But certainly do not prevent us from appre- if“ experience” is to be upheld as in any hending infinity. On the contrary, it sense the ground and basis of all our would rather appear that this apprehen- knowledge, it must be understood as emsion is the invariable and necessary result bracing that most important of all kinds of every investigation of nature.

of experience in the study of nature It is indeed of the highest importance the experience we have of the laws of to observe that some of these conceptions, mind. It is one of the most certain of especially the indestructibility of matter those laws, that in proportion as the powand of force, belong to the domain of sci- ers of the understanding are well devel

That is to say, the systeinatic oped, and are prepared by previous train. examination of natural phenomena has ing for the interpretation of natural facts, given them distinctness and a consistency there is no relation whatever between the which they never possessed before. As time occupied in the observation of phenow accepted and defined, they are the nomena and the breadth or sweep of the result of direct experiment. And yet, conclusions which may be arrived at from strictly speaking, all that experiment can them. A single glance, lasting not above do is to prove that in all the cases in a moment of time, may awaken the recogwhich either matter or force seems to be nition of truths as wide as the universe destroyed, no such destruction has taken and as everlasting as time itself. Nay, it place. Here then we have a very limited has often happened in the history of and imperfect amount of “experience ” science that such recognitions of general giving rise to an infinite conception. But truths have been reached by no other kind it is another of the suggestions of the of observation than that of the mind beAgnostic philosophy that this can never coming conscious of its own innate perbe a legitimate result. Nevertheless, as ceptions. Conceptions of this nature a matter of fact, these conceptions have bave perpetually gone before experiment been reached. They are now universally have suggested it, guided it, — and accepted and taught as truths lying at the have received nothing more than corrobofoundation of every branch of natural ration from it. I do not say that these science — at once the beginning and the conceptions have been reached without end of every physical investigation. They any process. But the process has been are not what are ordinarily called “ laws."' to a large extent as unconscious as that They stand on much higher ground. by which we see the light. I do not say



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they have been reached without "experi- concerned. This law holds good quite as ence,” even in that narrow sense in which much of the higher intuitions which are it means the observation of external peculiar to man as of the mere intuitions of things. But the experience has been sensation which are common to him and nothing more than the act of living in the to the animals beneath him. The lowest world, and of breathing in it, and of look- savage does many things by mere instinct ing round upon it. These conceptions which contain implicitly truths of a very have come to man because he is a being abstract nature truths of which, as in harmony with surrounding nature. such, he has not the remotest conception, The human mind has opened to them as and which, in the present undeveloped a bud opens to the sun and air. So true condition of his faculties, it would be in. is this, that when reasons have been possible to explain to him. Thus, when given for the conclusions thus arrived at he goes into the forest to cut a branch fit

these reasons have often been quite for being made into a bow, or when he erroneous. Nothing in the history of goes to the marsh to cut a reed fit for bephilosophy is more curious than the close ing made into an arrow, and when in doing correspondence between many ideas so he cuts them off the proper length by enunciated by the ancients as the result of measuring them by the bows and arrows speculation, and some, at least, of the which he already has, in this simple ideas now prevalent as the result of sci-operation he is acting on the abstract and

It is true that the ancients ex- most fruitful truth that “things equal to pressed them vaguely, associated them the same thing are equal to one another." with other conceptions which are wide of This is one of the axioms which lie at the truth, and quoted in support of them the basis of all mathematical demonstraillustrations which are often childish. tion. But as a general, universal, ard Nevertheless the fact remains that they necessary truth the savage knows nothing had attained to some central truths, how- of it - as little as he knows of the wonever obscured the perception may have derful consequences to which it will some been by ignorance of the more precise and day lead his children or descendants. So accurate analogies by which they can be in like manner when the savage designs, best explained, and which only the proc- as he often does, most ingenious traps ess of observation has revealed. They for the capture of his prey, and so baits had in some way grasped,” says Mr. Bal them as to attract the animals he desires four Stewart,* " the idea of the essential to catch, he is counting first on the conunrest and energy of things. They had stancy and uniformity of physical causaalso the idea of small particles or atoms; tion, and, secondly, on the profoundly and finally of a medium of some sort, so different action of the motives which dethat they were not wholly ignorant of termine the conduct of creatures having the most profound and deeply seated of life and will. But of neither of these as the principles of the material universe.” general truths does he know anything, There is but one explanation of this, but and of one of them at least, not even it is all-sufficient. It is that the mind of the greatest philosophers have reached man is a part, and one at least of the the full depth or meaning. Nevertheless, highest parts, of the system of the uni- it would be a great error to suppose that

the result of mechanism most the savage, because he has no conception suited to the purpose of catching and of the general truth involved in his contranslating into thought the light of truth duct, has been guided in that conduct by as embodied in surrounding nature. anything in the nature of chance or acci

We have seen that the foundations of dent. His intuitions have been right, all conscious reasoning are to be found in and have involved so much perception of certain propositions which we call self-evi- truth as is necessary to carry him along dent. That is to say in propositions the the little way he requires to travel, betruth of which is intuitively perceived. cause the mind in which those intuitions We have seen, too, as a general law affect- lie is a product and a part of nature ing all inanifestations of life or mind, even product and part of that great system of in its very lowest forms, that instinctive things which is held together by laws or intuitional perceptions are the guide intelligible to mind — laws which the and index of other and larger truths which human mind has been constructed to feel lie entirely beyond the range of the per- even when it cannot clearly see. More. ception or intuition which is immediately over, when these laws come to be clearly

seen, they are seen only because the mind Conservation of Energy, p. 135.

has organs adjusted to the perception of



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