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without. If, then, both the force and the forms are given by the world around, what remains to justify the denial of the unity? It is the same fact we see in each.
That there is a natural revulsion from this view I admit. Who among us has not felt it? We hate to reduce all the beauty of life to fortuitous' concurrences, and even more, probably, to a mechanical Fate. Nay, I own, the thought is to me ridiculous. I do not understand how one who is assured that no 'matter' and no .force' ever come to be except through just so much matter and force having been before, can imagine that order and adaptation can come to be, save by order and adaptation having been before. If not-order can make order, why not notforce make force? Is order but an idea ? matter and force are the same ; alike, both are names for our sensations. Is order a mere condition or mode ? force also is but a name for condition. Why is the primary law of the mind, that will not let anything be supposed to begin absolutely de novo and of itself, here: to be set aside ? In no thought can those instincts of our nature which demand some adequate cause for the beauty and wonderfulness of organic
I abstain from details on this point, having discussed it before. See Life in Nature: On Living Forms. But reference may be made to Mr. Herbert Spencer's writings on Biology.
life be so fully satisfied as in the thought that accounts it a resultant of the force around; for this means that all of wonder and of beauty that we can discover in the less is proved also of the greater; only more still is proved ; such beauty and such adaptation, as should make this little world we call organic—this tiny offshoot—the natural and inevitable expression of its glory.
We let ourselves be befooled by size. Taking any view of the organic life, we must conceive the body as made up of molecules ; small particles of carbon and oxygen, &c. Now, I think, no one supposes these minutest molecules themselves to be more living in the organic body than elsewhere. The ‘life'—it is the material or physical life we are speaking of— lies in the relation between them. Now, would a creature endowed with reason, and yet small enough to live on one of these molecules and find them of an enormous size, perceive that they were parts of a living whole? They would be to it mere dead masses; how would it know that the forces that moved them were the forces of a great Life? But why should not the molecules of a living body be as large as suns and planets seem to us? and why should not the dwellers on them have called one of the powers of the Life that rules them-gravity ?
But it may be asked, what reason is there for insisting on the identity of the organic and inorganic ? or what use in wresting the term Life thus to a new meaning ? There are differences, practically of the greatest amount, between the two: why should not life still denote to us those differences? The reasons to my mind are both obvious and important. First, there is the question of truth. To think of the one world as living and the other as not living—twist or obscure the idea of life as we may—is to think falsely of them ; whatever difference it is meant to imply, it is one that has no right to be affirmed, and that therefore distorts our thoughts of each. And (2.) it hinders our knowledge ; for two different presentations of one object give us more than doubled powers for rightly understanding it. If the organic and inorganic worlds be truly one, we can by the one interpret the other; in the very fact of their apparent difference they throw on each other a mutual light, each making visible to us characters which in the other are hidden. This advantage is plain in the two apparently contrasted forms of motion; but in the intricate pro-, blems alike of physics and of physiology of how much greater service to us were such help! And perhaps it would be a help to us chiefly in the direction in which we are prone least to feel our need of
it; namely, in the interpretation of the inorganic world. For it is at least possible that oựr feeling here is inverse to the truth, and that instead of understanding best (as we seem to ourselves to do) the inorganic, we understand it least, and therefore feel it to be so much more simple. It is possible that the assurance we feel of knowledge here is the assurance that is the very mark of ignorance; and that nothing so much could prove that we know most-little as - that most may be-respecting the organic world, as that we have at least discovered that it is a 'mysterious' thing. Suppose we came to feel that the mechanical explanations which had seemed to answer so well for all that was not 'living,' were really no more than the mechanical explanations of organic processes by aid of which our predecessors contrived to make themselves content with a false feeling of knowledge ? For what have we done, in these explanations of the inorganic, but take one feeling of our own—the feeling of exertion and resistance and apply it to all outside things as if it contained the sum and substance of their secret? Formulating the facts around us in terms of one of our own sensations
-is that real knowledge of them? Indeed it is no longer called so.
But all the while there stands beside us the organic world, pregnant with a fresh significance, introducing new meanings, suggesting quite other reasons, revealing a whole series of relations, and of ends, of which we had no glimpse before. Yet when we turn to study it, it refuses to be found different. On one pedestal after another of special divineness or nobleness, we seek to exalt it; but it descends from every one in turn, and claims kindred with its lowlier brethren. What does it mean? Is it not simply this : that the organic world is but the part of Nature that we best and most truly know-—the part nearest to us, most within our ken? The inorganic is afar off from us; we can perceive it but through senses which leave upon it each its own impress; but this throbbing body of our own—we feel it, our very actions are its actions ; we know that it is living. If we find, by every test we can apply, that it is one with the other larger world, it teaches us that that larger world is living too. It is not that in the seeming more there is something added, but in the seeming less there is something unperceived.