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Title: First Principles
Author: Spencer, Herbert
Language: English
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                            HERBERT SPENCER,


                            SECOND THOUSAND.

                             COVENT GARDEN.

                _The Right of Translation is reserved._

                     JOHN CHILDS AND SON, PRINTERS.



This volume is the first of a series described in a prospectus
originally distributed in March, 1860. Of that prospectus, the annexed
is a reprint.

                        A SYSTEM OF PHILOSOPHY.

Mr. Herbert Spencer proposes to issue in periodical parts a connected
series of works which he has for several years been preparing. Some
conception of the general aim and scope of this series may be gathered
from the following Programme.

                           FIRST PRINCIPLES.

    PART I. THE UNKNOWABLE.—Carrying a step further the doctrine put
    into shape by Hamilton and Mansel; pointing out the various
    directions in which Science leads to the same conclusions; and
    showing that in this united belief in an Absolute that transcends
    not only human knowledge but human conception, lies the only
    possible reconciliation of Science and Religion.

    PART II. LAWS OF THE KNOWABLE.—A statement of the ultimate
    principles discernible throughout all manifestations of the
    Absolute—those highest generalizations now being disclosed by
    Science which are severally true not of one class of phenomena but
    of _all_ classes of phenomena; and which are thus the keys to all
    classes of phenomena.[1]

    [_In logical order should here come the application of these First
    Principles to Inorganic Nature. But this great division it is
    proposed to pass over: partly because, even without it, the scheme
    is too extensive; and partly because the interpretation of Organic
    Nature after the proposed method, is of more immediate importance.
    The second work of the series will therefore be_—]

                       THE PRINCIPLES OF BIOLOGY.

                                VOL. I.

    PART I. THE DATA OF BIOLOGY.—Including those general truths of
    Physics and Chemistry with which rational Biology must set out.

    II. THE INDUCTIONS OF BIOLOGY.—A statement of the leading
    generalizations which Naturalists, Physiologists, and Comparative
    Anatomists, have established.

    III. THE EVOLUTION OF LIFE.—Concerning the speculation commonly
    known as “The Development Hypothesis”—its _à priori_ and _à
    posteriori_ evidences.

                                VOL. II.

    IV. MORPHOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT.—Pointing out the relations that are
    everywhere traceable between organic forms and the average of the
    various forces to which they are subject; and seeking in the
    cumulative effects of such forces a theory of the forms.

    V. PHYSIOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT.—The progressive differentiation of
    functions similarly traced; and similarly interpreted as
    consequent upon the exposure of different parts of organisms to
    different sets of conditions.

    VI. THE LAWS OF MULTIPLICATION.—Generalizations respecting the
    rates of reproduction of the various classes of plants and
    animals; followed by an attempt to show the dependence of these
    variations upon certain necessary causes.[2]

                     THE PRINCIPLES OF PSYCHOLOGY.

                                VOL. I.

    PART I. THE DATA OF PSYCHOLOGY.—Treating of the general connexions
    of Mind and Life and their relations to other modes of the

    II. THE INDUCTIONS OF PSYCHOLOGY.—A digest of such generalizations
    respecting mental phenomena as have already been empirically

    III. GENERAL SYNTHESIS.—A republication, with additional chapters,
    of the same part in the already-published _The Principles of

    IV. SPECIAL SYNTHESIS.—A republication, with extensive revisions
    and additions, of the same part, &c. &c.

    V. PHYSICAL SYNTHESIS.—An attempt to show the manner in which the
    succession of states of consciousness conforms to a certain
    fundamental law of nervous action that follows from the First
    Principles laid down at the outset.

                                VOL. II.

    VI. SPECIAL ANALYSIS.—As at present published, but further
    elaborated by some additional chapters.

    VII. GENERAL ANALYSIS.—As at present published, with several
    explanations and additions.

    VIII. COROLLARIES.—Consisting in part of a number of derivative
    principles which form a necessary introduction to Sociology.[3]

                      THE PRINCIPLES OF SOCIOLOGY.

                                VOL. I.

    PART I. THE DATA OF SOCIOLOGY.—A statement of the several sets of
    factors entering into social phenomena—human ideas and feelings
    considered in their necessary order of evolution; surrounding
    natural conditions; and those ever complicating conditions to
    which Society itself gives origin.

    II. THE INDUCTIONS OF SOCIOLOGY.—General facts, structural and
    functional, as gathered from a survey of Societies and their
    changes: in other words, the empirical generalizations that are
    arrived at by comparing different societies, and successive phases
    of the same society.

    III. POLITICAL ORGANIZATION.—The evolution of governments, general
    and local, as determined by natural causes; their several types
    and metamorphoses; their increasing complexity and specialization;
    and the progressive limitation of their functions.

                                VOL. II.

    IV. ECCLESIASTICAL ORGANIZATION.—Tracing the differentiation of
    religious government from secular; its successive complications
    and the multiplication of sects; the growth and continued
    modification of religious ideas, as caused by advancing knowledge
    and changing moral character; and the gradual reconciliation of
    these ideas with the truths of abstract science.

    V. CEREMONIAL ORGANIZATION.—The natural history of that third kind
    of government which, having a common root with the others, and
    slowly becoming separate from and supplementary to them, serves to
    regulate the minor actions of life.

    VI. INDUSTRIAL ORGANIZATION.—The development of productive and
    distributive agencies, considered, like the foregoing, in its
    necessary causes: comprehending not only the progressive division
    of labour, and the increasing complexity of each industrial
    agency, but also the successive forms of industrial government as
    passing through like phases with political government.

                               VOL. III.

    VII. LINGUAL PROGRESS.—The evolution of Languages regarded as a
    psychological process determined by social conditions.

    VIII. INTELLECTUAL PROGRESS.—Treated from the same point of view:
    including the growth of classifications; the evolution of science
    out of common knowledge; the advance from qualitative to
    quantitative prevision, from the indefinite to the definite, and
    from the concrete to the abstract.

    IX. ÆSTHETIC PROGRESS.—The Fine Arts similarly dealt with: tracing
    their gradual differentiation from primitive institutions and from
    each other; their increasing varieties of development; and their
    advance in reality of expression and superiority of aim.

    X. MORAL PROGRESS.—Exhibiting the genesis of the slow emotional
    modifications which human nature undergoes in its adaptation to
    the social state.

    XI. THE CONSENSUS.—Treating of the necessary interdependence of
    structures and of functions in each type of society, and in the
    successive phases of social development.[4]

                      THE PRINCIPLES OF MORALITY.

                                VOL. I.

    PART I. THE DATA OF MORALITY.—Generalizations furnished by
    Biology, Psychology and Sociology, which underlie a true theory of
    right living: in other words, the elements of that equilibrium
    between constitution and conditions of existence, which is at once
    the moral ideal and the limit towards which we are progressing.

    II. THE INDUCTIONS OF MORALITY.—Those empirically-established
    rules of human action which are registered as essential laws by
    all civilized nations: that is to say—the generalizations of

    III. PERSONAL MORALS.—The principles of private conduct—physical,
    intellectual, moral and religious—that follow from the conditions
    to complete individual life: or, what is the same thing—those
    modes of private action which must result from the eventual
    equilibration of internal desires and external needs.

                                VOL. II.

    IV. JUSTICE.—The mutual limitations of men’s actions necessitated
    by their co-existence as units of a society—limitations, the
    perfect observance of which constitutes that state of equilibrium
    forming the goal of political progress.

    V. NEGATIVE BENEFICENCE.—Those secondary limitations, similarly
    necessitated, which, though less important and not cognizable by
    law, are yet requisite to prevent mutual destruction of happiness
    in various indirect ways: in other words—those minor
    self-restraints dictated by what may be called passive sympathy.

    VI. POSITIVE BENEFICENCE.—Comprehending all modes of conduct,
    dictated by active sympathy, which imply pleasure in giving
    pleasure—modes of conduct that social adaptation has induced and
    must render ever more general; and which, in becoming universal,
    must fill to the full the possible measure of human happiness.[5]

    In anticipation of the obvious criticism that the scheme here
    sketched out is too extensive, it may be remarked that an
    exhaustive treatment of each topic is not intended; but simply the
    establishment of _principles_, with such illustrations as are
    needed to make their bearings fully understood. It may also be
    pointed out that, besides minor fragments, one large division
    (_The Principles of Psychology_) is already, in great part,
    executed. And a further reply is, that impossible though it may
    prove to execute the whole, yet nothing can be said against an
    attempt to set forth the First Principles and to carry their
    applications as far as circumstances permit.

    The price per Number to be half-a-crown; that is to say, the four
    Numbers yearly issued to be severally delivered, post free, to all
    annual subscribers of Ten Shillings.

                  *       *       *       *       *

This Programme I have thought well to reprint for two reasons:—the one
being that readers may, from time to time, be able to ascertain what
topics are next to be dealt with; the other being that an outline of the
scheme may remain, in case it should never be completed.

The successive instalments of which this volume consists, were issued to
the subscribers at the following dates:—Part I. (pp. 1–80) in October,
1860; Part II. (pp. 81–176) in January, 1861; Part III. (pp. 177–256) in
April, 1861; Part IV. (pp. 257–334) in October, 1861; Part V. (pp.
335–416) in March, 1862; and Part VI. (pp. 417–504) in June, 1862.

      _London, June 5th, 1862_


Footnote 1:

  One of these generalizations is that currently known as “the
  Conservation of Force;” a second may be gathered from a published
  essay on “Progress: its Law and Cause;” a third is indicated in a
  paper on “Transcendental Physiology;” and there are several others.

Footnote 2:

  The ideas to be developed in the second volume of the _Principles of
  Biology_ the writer has already briefly expressed in sundry
  Review-Articles. Part IV. will work out a doctrine suggested in a
  paper on “The Laws of Organic Form,” published in the
  _Medico-Chirurgical Review_ for January, 1859. The germ of Part V. is
  contained in the essay on “Transcendental Physiology:” See _Essays_,
  pp. 280–90. And in Part VI. will be unfolded certain views crudely
  expressed in a “Theory of Population,” published in the _Westminster
  Review_ for April, 1852.

Footnote 3:

  Respecting the several additions to be made to the _Principles of
  Psychology_, it seems needful only to say that Part V. is the
  unwritten division named in the preface to that work—a division of
  which the germ is contained in a note on page 544, and of which the
  scope has since been more definitely stated in a paper in the
  _Medico-Chirurgical Review_ for Jan. 1859.

Footnote 4:

  Of this treatise on Sociology a few small fragments may be found in
  already-published essays. Some of the ideas to be developed in Part
  II. are indicated in an article on “The Social Organism,” contained in
  the last number of the _Westminster Review_; those which Part V. will
  work out, may be gathered from the first half of a paper written some
  years since on “Manners and Fashion;” of Part VIII. the germs are
  contained in an article on the “Genesis of Science;” two papers on
  “The Origin and Function of Music” and “The Philosophy of Style,”
  contain some ideas to be embodied in Part IX.; and from a criticism of
  Mr. Bain’s work on “The Emotions and the Will,” in the last number of
  the _Medico-Chirurgical Review_, the central idea to be developed in
  Part X. may be inferred.

Footnote 5:

  Part IV. of the _Principles of Morality_ will be co-extensive (though
  not identical) with the first half of the writer’s _Social Statics_.


                        PART I.—THE UNKNOWABLE.

         CHAP.                                            PAGE

            I.— RELIGION AND SCIENCE                         3

           II.— ULTIMATE RELIGIOUS IDEAS                    25

          III.— ULTIMATE SCIENTIFIC IDEAS                   47

           IV.— THE RELATIVITY OF ALL KNOWLEDGE             68

            V.— THE RECONCILIATION                          98

                    PART II.—LAWS OF THE KNOWABLE.

            I.— LAWS IN GENERAL                            127

           II.— THE LAW OF EVOLUTION                       146

          III.— THE LAW OF EVOLUTION (CONTINUED)           175

           IV.— THE CAUSES OF EVOLUTION                    219

            V.— SPACE, TIME, MATTER, MOTION, AND FORCE     224

           VI.— THE INDESTRUCTIBILITY OF MATTER            238

          VII.— THE CONTINUITY OF MOTION                   246

         VIII.— THE PERSISTENCE OF FORCE                   251


            X.— THE DIRECTION OF MOTION                    286

           XI.— THE RHYTHM OF MOTION                       313



          XIV.— THE MULTIPLICATION OF EFFECTS              388

           XV.— DIFFERENTIATION AND INTEGRATION            416

           VI.— EQUILIBRATION                              440

         XVII.— SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION                     487

                                PART I.

                            THE UNKNOWABLE.

                               CHAPTER I.
                         RELIGION AND SCIENCE.

§ 1. We too often forget that not only is there “a soul of goodness in
things evil,” but very generally also, a soul of truth in things
erroneous. While many admit the abstract probability that a falsity has
usually a nucleus of reality, few bear this abstract probability in
mind, when passing judgment on the opinions of others. A belief that is
finally proved to be grossly at variance with fact, is cast aside with
indignation or contempt; and in the heat of antagonism scarcely any one
inquires what there was in this belief which commended it to men’s
minds. Yet there must have been something. And there is reason to
suspect that this something was its correspondence with certain of their
experiences: an extremely limited or vague correspondence perhaps; but
still, a correspondence. Even the absurdest report may in nearly every
instance be traced to an actual occurrence; and had there been no such
actual occurrence, this preposterous misrepresentation of it would never
have existed. Though the distorted or magnified image transmitted to us
through the refracting medium of rumour, is utterly unlike the reality;
yet in the absence of the reality there would have been no distorted or
magnified image. And thus it is with human beliefs in general. Entirely
wrong as they may appear, the implication is that they germinated out of
actual experiences—originally contained, and perhaps still contain, some
small amount of verity.

More especially may we safely assume this, in the case of beliefs that
have long existed and are widely diffused; and most of all so, in the
case of beliefs that are perennial and nearly or quite universal. The
presumption that any current opinion is not wholly false, gains in
strength according to the number of its adherents. Admitting, as we
must, that life is impossible unless through a certain agreement between
internal convictions and external circumstances; admitting therefore
that the probabilities are always in favour of the truth, or at least
the partial truth, of a conviction; we must admit that the convictions
entertained by many minds in common are the most likely to have some
foundation. The elimination of individual errors of thought, must give
to the resulting judgment a certain additional value. It may indeed be
urged that many widely-spread beliefs are received on authority; that
those entertaining them make no attempts at verification; and hence it
may be inferred that the multitude of adherents adds but little to the
probability of a belief. But this is not true. For a belief which gains
extensive reception without critical examination, is thereby proved to
have a general congruity with the various other beliefs of those who
receive it; and in so far as these various other beliefs are based upon
personal observation and judgment, they give an indirect warrant to one
with which they harmonize. It may be that this warrant is of small
value; but still it is of some value.

Could we reach definite views on this matter, they would be extremely
useful to us. It is important that we should, if possible, form
something like a general theory of current opinions; so that we may
neither over-estimate nor under-estimate their worth. Arriving at
correct judgments on disputed questions, much depends on the attitude of
mind we preserve while listening to, or taking part in, the controversy;
and for the preservation of a right attitude, it is needful that we
should learn how true, and yet how untrue, are average human beliefs. On
the one hand, we must keep free from that bias in favour of received
ideas which expresses itself in such dogmas as “What every one says must
be true,” or “The voice of the people is the voice of God.” On the other
hand, the fact disclosed by a survey of the past, that majorities have
usually been wrong, must not blind us to the complementary fact, that
majorities have usually not been _entirely_ wrong. And the avoidance of
these extremes being a prerequisite to catholic thinking, we shall do
well to provide ourselves with a safe-guard against them, by making a
valuation of opinions in the abstract. To this end we must contemplate
the kind of relation that ordinarily subsists between opinions and
facts. Let us do so with one of those beliefs which under various forms
has prevailed among all nations in all times.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 2. The earliest traditions represent rulers as gods or demigods. By
their subjects, primitive kings were regarded as superhuman in origin,
and superhuman in power. They possessed divine titles; received
obeisances like those made before the altars of deities; and were in
some cases actually worshipped. If there needs proof that the divine and
half-divine characters originally ascribed to monarchs were ascribed
literally, we have it in the fact that there are still existing savage
races, among whom it is held that the chiefs and their kindred are of
celestial origin, or, as elsewhere, that only the chiefs have souls. And
of course along with beliefs of this kind, there existed a belief in the
unlimited power of the ruler over his subjects—an absolute possession of
them, extending even to the taking of their lives at will: as even still
in Fiji, where a victim stands unbound to be killed at the word of his
chief; himself declaring, “whatever the king says must be done.”

In times and among races somewhat less barbarous, we find these beliefs
a little modified. The monarch, instead of being literally thought god
or demigod, is conceived to be a man having divine authority, with
perhaps more or less of divine nature. He retains however, as in the
East to the present day, titles expressing his heavenly descent or
relationships; and is still saluted in forms and words as humble as
those addressed to the Deity. While the lives and properties of his
people, if not practically so completely at his mercy, are still in
theory supposed to be his.

Later in the progress of civilization, as during the middle ages in
Europe, the current opinions respecting the relationship of rulers and
ruled are further changed. For the theory of divine origin, there is
substituted that of divine right. No longer god or demigod, or even
god-descended, the king is now regarded as simply God’s vice-gerent. The
obeisances made to him are not so extreme in their humility; and his
sacred titles lose much of their meaning. Moreover his authority ceases
to be unlimited. Subjects deny his right to dispose at will of their
lives and properties; and yield allegiance only in the shape of
obedience to his commands.

With advancing political opinion has come still greater restriction of
imperial power. Belief in the supernatural character of the ruler, long
ago repudiated by ourselves for example, has left behind it nothing more
than the popular tendency to ascribe unusual goodness, wisdom, and
beauty to the monarch. Loyalty, which originally meant implicit
submission to the king’s will, now means a merely nominal profession of
subordination, and the fulfilment of certain forms of respect. Our
political practice, and our political theory, alike utterly reject those
regal prerogatives which once passed unquestioned. By deposing some, and
putting others in their places, we have not only denied the divine
rights of certain men to rule; but we have denied that they have any
rights beyond those originating in the assent of the nation. Though our
forms of speech and our state-documents still assert the subjection of
the citizens to the ruler, our actual beliefs and our daily proceedings
implicitly assert the contrary. We obey no laws save those of our own
making. We have entirely divested the monarch of legislative power; and
should immediately rebel against his or her exercise of such power, even
in matters of the smallest concern. In brief, the aboriginal doctrine is
all but extinct among us.

Nor has the rejection of primitive political beliefs, resulted only in
transferring the authority of an autocrat to a representative body. The
views entertained respecting governments in general, of whatever form,
are now widely different from those once entertained. Whether popular or
despotic, governments were in ancient times supposed to have unlimited
authority over their subjects. Individuals existed for the benefit of
the State; not the State for the benefit of individuals. In our days,
however, not only has the national will been in many cases substituted
for the will of the king; but the exercise of this national will has
been restricted to a much smaller sphere. In England, for instance,
though there has been established no definite theory setting bounds to
governmental authority; yet, in practice, sundry bounds have been set to
it which are tacitly recognized by all. There is no organic law formally
declaring that the legislature may not freely dispose of the citizens’
lives, as early kings did when they sacrificed hecatombs of victims; but
were it possible for our legislature to attempt such a thing, its own
destruction would be the consequence, rather than the destruction of
citizens. How entirely we have established the personal liberties of the
subject against the invasions of State-power, would be quickly
demonstrated, were it proposed by Act of Parliament forcibly to take
possession of the nation, or of any class, and turn its services to
public ends; as the services of the people were turned by primitive
rulers. And should any statesman suggest a re-distribution of property
such as was sometimes made in ancient democratic communities, he would
be met by a thousand-tongued denial of imperial power over individual
possessions. Not only in our day have these fundamental claims of the
citizen been thus made good against the State, but sundry minor claims
likewise. Ages ago, laws regulating dress and mode of living fell into
disuse; and any attempt to revive them would prove the current opinion
to be, that such matters lie beyond the sphere of legal control. For
some centuries we have been asserting in practice, and have now
established in theory, the right of every man to choose his own
religious beliefs, instead of receiving such beliefs on State-authority.
Within the last few generations we have inaugurated complete liberty of
speech, in spite of all legislative attempts to suppress or limit it.
And still more recently we have claimed and finally obtained under a few
exceptional restrictions, freedom to trade with whomsoever we please.
Thus our political beliefs are widely different from ancient ones, not
only as to the proper depositary of power to be exercised over a nation,
but also as to the extent of that power.

Not even here has the change ended. Besides the average opinions which
we have just described as current among ourselves, there exists a less
widely-diffused opinion going still further in the same direction. There
are to be found men who contend that the sphere of government should be
narrowed even more than it is in England. The modern doctrine that the
State exists for the benefit of citizens, which has now in a great
measure supplanted the ancient doctrine that the citizens exist for the
benefit of the State, they would push to its logical results. They hold
that the freedom of the individual, limited only by the like freedom of
other individuals, is sacred; and that the legislature cannot equitably
put further restrictions upon it, either by forbidding any actions which
the law of equal freedom permits, or taking away any property save that
required to pay the cost of enforcing this law itself. They assert that
the sole function of the State is the protection of persons against each
other, and against a foreign foe. They urge that as, throughout
civilization, the manifest tendency has been continually to extend the
liberties of the subject, and restrict the functions of the State, there
is reason to believe that the ultimate political condition must be one
in which personal freedom is the greatest possible and governmental
power the least possible: that, namely, in which the freedom of each has
no limit but the like freedom of all; while the sole governmental duty
is the maintenance of this limit.

Here then in different times and places we find concerning the origin,
authority, and functions of government, a great variety of
opinions—opinions of which the leading genera above indicated subdivide
into countless species. What now must be said about the truth or falsity
of these opinions? Save among a few barbarous tribes the notion that a
monarch is a god or demigod is regarded throughout the world as an
absurdity almost passing the bounds of human credulity. In but few
places does there survive a vague notion that the ruler possesses any
supernatural attributes. Most civilized communities, which still admit
the divine right of governments, have long since repudiated the divine
right of kings. Elsewhere the belief that there is anything sacred in
legislative regulations is dying out: laws are coming to be considered
as conventional only. While the extreme school holds that governments
have neither intrinsic authority, nor can have authority given to them
by convention; but can possess authority only as the administrators of
those moral principles deducible from the conditions essential to social
life. Of these various beliefs, with their innumerable modifications,
must we then say that some one alone is wholly right and all the rest
wholly wrong; or must we say that each of them contains truth more or
less completely disguised by errors? The latter alternative is the one
which analysis will force upon us. Ridiculous as they may severally
appear to those not educated under them, every one of these doctrines
has for its vital element the recognition of an unquestionable fact.
Directly or by implication, each of them insists on a certain
subordination of individual actions to social requirements. There are
wide differences as to the power to which this subordination is due;
there are wide differences as to the motive for this subordination;
there are wide differences as to its extent; but that there must be
_some_ subordination all are agreed. From the oldest and rudest idea of
allegiance, down to the most advanced political theory of our own day,
there is on this point complete unanimity. Though, between the savage
who conceives his life and property to be at the absolute disposal of
his chief, and the anarchist who denies the right of any government,
autocratic or democratic, to trench upon his individual freedom, there
seems at first sight an entire and irreconcilable antagonism; yet
ultimate analysis discloses in them this fundamental community of
opinion; that there are limits which individual actions may not
transgress—limits which the one regards as originating in the king’s
will, and which the other regards as deducible from the equal claims of

It may perhaps at first sight seem that we here reach a very unimportant
conclusion; namely, that a certain tacit assumption is equally implied
in all these conflicting political creeds—an assumption which is indeed
of self-evident validity. The question, however, is not the value or
novelty of the particular truth in this case arrived at. My aim has been
to exhibit the more general truth, which we are apt to overlook, that
between the most opposite beliefs there is usually something in
common,—something taken for granted by each; and that this something, if
not to be set down as an unquestionable verity, may yet be considered to
have the highest degree of probability. A postulate which, like the one
above instanced, is not consciously asserted but unconsciously involved;
and which is unconsciously involved not by one man or body of men, but
by numerous bodies of men who diverge in countless ways and degrees in
the rest of their beliefs; has a warrant far transcending any that can
be usually shown. And when, as in this case, the postulate is
abstract—is not based on some one concrete experience common to all
mankind, but implies an induction from a great variety of experiences,
we may say that it ranks next in certainty to the postulates of exact

Do we not thus arrive at a generalization which may habitually guide us
when seeking for the soul of truth in things erroneous? While the
foregoing illustration brings clearly home the fact, that in opinions
seeming to be absolutely and supremely wrong something right is yet to
be found; it also indicates the method we should pursue in seeking the
something right. This method is to compare all opinions of the same
genus; to set aside as more or less discrediting one another those
various special and concrete elements in which such opinions disagree;
to observe what remains after the discordant constituents have been
eliminated; and to find for this remaining constituent that abstract
expression which holds true throughout its divergent modifications.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§3. A candid acceptance of this general principle and an adoption of the
course it indicates, will greatly aid us in dealing with those chronic
antagonisms by which men are divided. Applying it not only to current
ideas with which we are personally unconcerned, but also to our own
ideas and those of our opponents, we shall be led to form far more
correct judgments. We shall be ever ready to suspect that the
convictions we entertain are not wholly right, and that the adverse
convictions are not wholly wrong. On the one hand we shall not, in
common with the great mass of the unthinking, let our beliefs be
determined by the mere accident of birth in a particular age on a
particular part of the Earth’s surface; and, on the other hand, we shall
be saved from that error of entire and contemptuous negation, which is
fallen into by most who take up an attitude of independent criticism.

Of all antagonisms of belief, the oldest, the widest, the most profound
and the most important, is that between Religion and Science. It
commenced when the recognition of the simplest uniformities in
surrounding things, set a limit to the previously universal fetishism.
It shows itself everywhere throughout the domain of human knowledge:
affecting men’s interpretations alike of the simplest mechanical
accidents and of the most complicated events in the histories of
nations. It has its roots deep down in the diverse habits of thought of
different orders of minds. And the conflicting conceptions of nature and
life which these diverse habits of thought severally generate, influence
for good or ill the tone of feeling and the daily conduct.

An unceasing battle of opinion like this which has been carried on
throughout all ages under the banners of Religion and Science, has of
course generated an animosity fatal to a just estimate of either party
by the other. On a larger scale, and more intensely than any other
controversy, has it illustrated that perennially significant fable
concerning the knights who fought about the colour of a shield of which
neither looked at more than one face. Each combatant seeing clearly his
own aspect of the question, has charged his opponent with stupidity or
dishonesty in not seeing the same aspect of it; while each has wanted
the candour to go over to his opponent’s side and find out how it was
that he saw everything so differently.

Happily the times display an increasing catholicity of feeling, which we
shall do well in carrying as far as our natures permit. In proportion as
we love truth more and victory less, we shall become anxious to know
what it is which leads our opponents to think as they do. We shall begin
to suspect that the pertinacity of belief exhibited by them must result
from a perception of something we have not perceived. And we shall aim
to supplement the portion of truth we have found with the portion found
by them. Making a more rational estimate of human authority, we shall
avoid alike the extremes of undue submission and undue rebellion—shall
not regard some men’s judgments as wholly good and others as wholly bad;
but shall rather lean to the more defensible position that none are
completely right and none are completely wrong.

Preserving, as far as may be, this impartial attitude, let us then
contemplate the two sides of this great controversy. Keeping guard
against the bias of education and shutting out the whisperings of
sectarian feeling, let us consider what are the _à priori_ probabilities
in favour of each party.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§4. When duly realized, the general principle above illustrated must
lead us to anticipate that the diverse forms of religious belief which
have existed and which still exist, have all a basis in some ultimate
fact. Judging by analogy the implication is, not that any one of them is
altogether right; but that in each there is something right more or less
disguised by other things wrong. It may be that the soul of truth
contained in erroneous creeds is very unlike most, if not all, of its
several embodiments; and indeed, if, as we have good reason to expect,
it is much more abstract than any of them, its unlikeness necessarily
follows. But however different from its concrete expressions, some
essential verity must be looked for. To suppose that these multiform
conceptions should be one and all _absolutely_ groundless, discredits
too profoundly that average human intelligence from which all our
individual intelligences are inherited.

This most general reason we shall find enforced by other more special
ones. To the presumption that a number of diverse beliefs of the same
class have some common foundation in fact, must in this case be added a
further presumption derived from the omnipresence of the beliefs.
Religious ideas of one kind or other are almost if not quite universal.
Even should it be true, as alleged, that there exist tribes of men who
have nothing approaching to a theory of creation—even should it be true
that only when a certain phase of intelligence is reached do the most
rudimentary of such theories make their appearance; the implication is
practically the same. Grant that among all races who have passed a
certain stage of intellectual development there are found vague notions
concerning the origin and hidden nature of surrounding things; and there
arises the inference that such notions are necessary products of
progressing intelligence. Their endless variety serves but to strengthen
this conclusion: showing as it does a more or less independent
genesis—showing how, in different places and times, like conditions have
led to similar trains of thought, ending in analogous results. That
these countless different, and yet allied, phenomena presented by all
religions are accidental or factitious, is an untenable supposition. A
candid examination of the evidence quite negatives the doctrine
maintained by some, that creeds are priestly inventions. Even as a mere
question of probabilities it cannot rationally be concluded that in
every society, past and present, savage and civilized, certain members
of the community have combined to delude the rest, in ways so analogous.
To any who may allege that some primitive fiction was devised by some
primitive priesthood, before yet mankind had diverged from a common
centre, a reply is furnished by philology; for philology proves the
dispersion of mankind to have commenced before there existed a language
sufficiently organized to express religious ideas. Moreover, were it
otherwise tenable, the hypothesis of artificial origin fails to account
for the facts. It does not explain why, under all changes of form,
certain elements of religious belief remain constant. It does not show
us how it happens that while adverse criticism has from age to age gone
on destroying particular theological dogmas, it has not destroyed the
fundamental conception underlying these dogmas. It leaves us without any
solution of the striking circumstance that when, from the absurdities
and corruptions accumulated around them, national creeds have fallen
into general discredit, ending in indifferentism or positive denial,
there has always by and by arisen a re-assertion of them: if not the
same in form, still the same in essence. Thus the universality of
religious ideas, their independent evolution among different primitive
races, and their great vitality, unite in showing that their source must
be deep-seated instead of superficial. In other words, we are obliged to
admit that if not supernaturally derived as the majority contend, they
must be derived out of human experiences, slowly accumulated and

Should it be asserted that religious ideas are products of the religious
sentiment, which, to satisfy itself, prompts imaginations that it
afterwards projects into the external world, and by and by mistakes for
realities; the problem is not solved, but only removed further back.
Whether the wish is father to the thought, or whether sentiment and idea
have a common genesis, there equally arises the question—Whence comes
the sentiment? That it is a constituent in man’s nature is implied by
the hypothesis; and cannot indeed be denied by those who prefer other
hypotheses. And if the religious sentiment, displayed habitually by the
majority of mankind, and occasionally aroused even in those seemingly
devoid of it, must be classed among human emotions, we cannot rationally
ignore it. We are bound to ask its origin and its function. Here is an
attribute which, to say the least, has had an enormous influence—which
has played a conspicuous part throughout the entire past as far back as
history records, and is at present the life of numerous institutions,
the stimulus to perpetual controversies, and the prompter of countless
daily actions. Any Theory of Things which takes no account of this
attribute, must, then, be extremely defective. If with no other view,
still as a question in philosophy, we are called on to say what this
attribute means; and we cannot decline the task without confessing our
philosophy to be incompetent.

Two suppositions only are open to us: the one that the feeling which
responds to religious ideas resulted, along with all other human
faculties, from an act of special creation; the other that it, in common
with the rest, arose by a process of evolution. If we adopt the first of
these alternatives, universally accepted by our ancestors and by the
immense majority of our contemporaries, the matter is at once settled:
man is directly endowed with the religious feeling by a creator; and to
that creator it designedly responds. If we adopt the second alternative,
then we are met by the questions—What are the circumstances to which the
genesis of the religious feeling is due? and—What is its office? We are
bound to entertain these questions; and we are bound to find answers to
them. Considering all faculties, as we must on this supposition, to
result from accumulated modifications caused by the intercourse of the
organism with its environment, we are obliged to admit that there exist
in the environment certain phenomena or conditions which have determined
the growth of the feeling in question; and so are obliged to admit that
it is as normal as any other faculty. Add to which that as, on the
hypothesis of a development of lower forms into higher, the end towards
which the progressive changes directly or indirectly tend, must be
adaptation to the requirements of existence; we are also forced to infer
that this feeling is in some way conducive to human welfare. Thus both
alternatives contain the same ultimate implication. We must conclude
that the religious sentiment is either directly created, or is created
by the slow action of natural causes; and whichever of these conclusions
we adopt, requires us to treat the religious sentiment with respect.

One other consideration should not be overlooked—a consideration which
students of Science more especially need to have pointed out. Occupied
as such are with established truths, and accustomed to regard things not
already known as things to be hereafter discovered, they are liable to
forget that information, however extensive it may become, can never
satisfy inquiry. Positive knowledge does not, and never can, fill the
whole region of possible thought. At the uttermost reach of discovery
there arises, and must ever arise, the question—What lies beyond? As it
is impossible to think of a limit to space so as to exclude the idea of
space lying outside that limit; so we cannot conceive of any explanation
profound enough to exclude the question—What is the explanation of that
explanation? Regarding Science as a gradually increasing sphere, we may
say that every addition to its surface does but bring it into wider
contact with surrounding nescience. There must ever remain therefore two
antithetical modes of mental action. Throughout all future time, as now,
the human mind may occupy itself, not only with ascertained phenomena
and their relations, but also with that unascertained something which
phenomena and their relations imply. Hence if knowledge cannot
monopolize consciousness—if it must always continue possible for the
mind to dwell upon that which transcends knowledge; then there can never
cease to be a place for something of the nature of Religion; since
Religion under all its forms is distinguished from everything else in
this, that its subject matter is that which passes the sphere of

Thus, however untenable may be any or all the existing religious creeds,
however gross the absurdities associated with them, however irrational
the arguments set forth in their defence, we must not ignore the verity
which in all likelihood lies hidden within them. The general probability
that widely-spread beliefs are not absolutely baseless, is in this case
enforced by a further probability due to the omnipresence of the
beliefs. In the existence of a religious sentiment, whatever be its
origin, we have a second evidence of great significance. And as in that
nescience which must ever remain the antithesis to science, there is a
sphere for the exercise of this sentiment, we find a third general fact
of like implication. We may be sure therefore that religions, though
even none of them be actually true, are yet all adumbrations of a truth.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 5. As, to the religious, it will seem absurd to set forth any
justification for Religion; so, to the scientific, will it seem absurd
to defend Science. Yet to do the last is certainly as needful as to do
the first. If there exists a class who, in contempt of its follies and
disgust at its corruptions, have contracted towards Religion a
repugnance which makes them overlook the fundamental verity contained in
it; so, too, is there a class offended to such a degree by the
destructive criticisms men of science make on the religious tenets they
regard as essential, that they have acquired a strong prejudice against
Science in general. They are not prepared with any avowed reasons for
their dislike. They have simply a remembrance of the rude shakes which
Science has given to many of their cherished convictions, and a
suspicion that it may perhaps eventually uproot all they regard as
sacred; and hence it produces in them a certain inarticulate dread.

What is Science? To see the absurdity of the prejudice against it, we
need only remark that Science is simply a higher development of common
knowledge; and that if Science is repudiated, all knowledge must be
repudiated along with it. The extremest bigot will not suspect any harm
in the observation that the sun rises earlier and sets later in the
summer than in the winter; but will rather consider such an observation
as a useful aid in fulfilling the duties of life. Well, Astronomy is an
organized body of similar observations, made with greater nicety,
extended to a larger number of objects, and so analyzed as to disclose
the real arrangements of the heavens, and to dispel our false
conceptions of them. That iron will rust in water, that wood will burn,
that long kept viands become putrid, the most timid sectarian will teach
without alarm, as things useful to be known. But these are chemical
truths: Chemistry is a systematized collection of such facts,
ascertained with precision, and so classified and generalized as to
enable us to say with certainty, concerning each simple or compound
substance, what change will occur in it under given conditions. And thus
is it with all the sciences. They severally germinate out of the
experiences of daily life; insensibly as they grow they draw in remoter,
more numerous, and more complex experiences; and among these, they
ascertain laws of dependence like those which make up our knowledge of
the most familiar objects. Nowhere is it possible to draw a line and
say—here Science begins. And as it is the function of common observation
to serve for the guidance of conduct; so, too, is the guidance of
conduct the office of the most recondite and abstract inquiries of
Science. Through the countless industrial processes and the various
modes of locomotion which it has given to us, Physics regulates more
completely our social life than does his acquaintance with the
properties of surrounding bodies regulate the life of the savage.
Anatomy and Physiology, through their effects on the practice of
medicine and hygiene, modify our actions almost as much as does our
acquaintance with the evils and benefits which common environing
agencies may produce on our bodies. All Science is prevision; and all
prevision ultimately aids us in greater or less degree to achieve the
good and avoid the bad. As certainly as the perception of an object
lying in our path warns us against stumbling over it; so certainly do
those more complicated and subtle perceptions which constitute Science,
warn us against stumbling over intervening obstacles in the pursuit of
our distant ends. Thus being one in origin and function, the simplest
forms of cognition and the most complex must be dealt with alike. We are
bound in consistency to receive the widest knowledge which our faculties
can reach, or to reject along with it that narrow knowledge possessed by
all. There is no logical alternative between accepting our intelligence
in its entirety, or repudiating even that lowest intelligence which we
possess in common with brutes.

To ask the question which more immediately concerns our argument—whether
Science is substantially true?—is much like asking whether the sun gives
light. And it is because they are conscious how undeniably valid are
most of its propositions, that the theological party regard Science with
so much secret alarm. They know that during the two thousand years of
its growth, some of its larger divisions—mathematics, physics,
astronomy—have been subject to the rigorous criticism of successive
generations; and have notwithstanding become ever more firmly
established. They know that, unlike many of their own doctrines, which
were once universally received but have age by age been more frequently
called in question, the doctrines of Science, at first confined to a few
scattered inquirers, have been slowly growing into general acceptance,
and are now in great part admitted as beyond dispute. They know that men
of science throughout the world subject each other’s results to the most
searching examination; and that error is mercilessly exposed and
rejected as soon as discovered. And, finally, they know that still more
conclusive testimony is to be found in the daily verification of
scientific predictions, and in the never-ceasing triumphs of those arts
which Science guides.

To regard with alienation that which has such high credentials is a
folly. Though in the tone which many of the scientific adopt towards
them, the defenders of Religion may find some excuse for this
alienation; yet the excuse is a very insufficient one. On the side of
Science, as on their own side, they must admit that short-comings in the
advocates do not tell essentially against that which is advocated.
Science must be judged by itself: and so judged, only the most perverted
intellect can fail to see that it is worthy of all reverence. Be there
or be there not any other revelation, we have a veritable revelation in
Science—a continuous disclosure, through the intelligence with which we
are endowed, of the established order of the Universe. This disclosure
it is the duty of every one to verify as far as in him lies; and having
verified, to receive with all humility.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§6. On both sides of this great controversy, then, truth must exist. An
unbiassed consideration of its general aspects forces us to conclude
that Religion, everywhere present as a weft running through the warp of
human history, expresses some eternal fact; while it is almost a truism
to say of Science that it is an organised mass of facts, ever growing,
and ever being more completely purified from errors. And if both have
bases in the reality of things, then between them there must be a
fundamental harmony. It is an incredible hypothesis that there are two
orders of truth, in absolute and everlasting opposition. Only on some
Manichean theory, which among ourselves no one dares openly avow however
much his beliefs may be tainted by it, is such a supposition even
conceivable. That Religion is divine and Science diabolical, is a
proposition which, though implied in many a clerical declamation, not
the most vehement fanatic can bring himself distinctly to assert. And
whoever does not assert this, must admit that under their seeming
antagonism lies hidden an entire agreement.

Each side, therefore, has to recognize the claims of the other as
standing for truths that are not to be ignored. He who contemplates the
Universe from the religious point of view, must learn to see that this
which we call Science is one constituent of the great whole; and as such
ought to be regarded with a sentiment like that which the remainder
excites. While he who contemplates the universe from the scientific
point of view, must learn to see that this which we call Religion is
similarly a constituent of the great whole; and being such, must be
treated as a subject of science with no more prejudice than any other
reality. It behoves each party to strive to understand the other, with
the conviction that the other has something worthy to be understood; and
with the conviction that when mutually recognized this something will be
the basis of a complete reconciliation.

How to find this something—how to reconcile them, thus becomes the
problem which we should perseveringly try to solve. Not to reconcile
them in any makeshift way—not to find one of those compromises we hear
from time to time proposed, which their proposers must secretly feel are
artificial and temporary; but to arrive at the terms of a real and
permanent peace between them. The thing we have to seek out, is that
ultimate truth which both will avow with absolute sincerity—with not the
remotest mental reservation. There shall be no concession—no yielding on
either side of something that will by and by be reasserted; but the
common ground on which they meet shall be one which each will maintain
for itself. We have to discover some fundamental verity which Religion
will assert, with all possible emphasis, in the absence of Science; and
which Science, with all possible emphasis, will assert in the absence of
Religion—some fundamental verity in the defence of which each will find
the other its ally.

Or, changing the point of view, our aim must be to co-ordinate the
seemingly opposed convictions which Religion and Science embody. From
the coalescence of antagonist ideas, each containing its portion of
truth, there always arises a higher development. As in Geology when the
igneous and aqueous hypotheses were united, a rapid advance took place;
as in Biology we are beginning to progress through the fusion of the
doctrine of types with the doctrine of adaptations; as in Psychology the
arrested growth recommences now that the disciples of Kant and those of
Locke have both their views recognized in the theory that organized
experiences produce forms of thought; as in Sociology, now that it is
beginning to assume a positive character, we find a recognition of both
the party of progress and the party of order, as each holding a truth
which forms a needful complement to that held by the other; so must it
be on a grander scale with Religion and Science. Here too we must look
for a conception which combines the conclusions of both; and here too we
may expect important results from their combination. To understand how
Science and Religion express opposite sides of the same fact—the one its
near or visible side, and the other its remote or invisible side—this it
is which we must attempt; and to achieve this must profoundly modify our
general Theory of Things.

Already in the foregoing pages the method of seeking such a
reconciliation has been vaguely foreshadowed. Before proceeding further,
however, it will be well to treat the question of method more
definitely. To find that truth in which Religion and Science coalesce,
we must know in what direction to look for it, and what kind of truth it
is likely to be.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 7. We have found _à priori_ reason for believing that in all
religions, even the rudest, there lies hidden a fundamental verity. We
have inferred that this fundamental verity is that element common to all
religions, which remains after their discordant peculiarities have been
mutually cancelled. And we have further inferred that this element is
almost certain to be more abstract than any current religious doctrine.
Now it is manifest that only in some highly abstract proposition, can
Religion and Science find a common ground. Neither such dogmas as those
of the trinitarian and unitarian, nor any such idea as that of
propitiation, common though it may be to all religions, can serve as the
desired basis of agreement; for Science cannot recognize beliefs like
these: they lie beyond its sphere. Hence we see not only that, judging
by analogy, the essential truth contained in Religion is that most
abstract element pervading all its forms; but also that this most
abstract element is the only one in which Religion is likely to agree
with Science.

Similarly if we begin at the other end, and inquire what scientific
truth can unite Science and Religion. It is at once manifest that
Religion can take no cognizance of special scientific doctrines; any
more than Science can take cognizance of special religious doctrines.
The truth which Science asserts and Religion indorses cannot be one
furnished by mathematics; nor can it be a physical truth; nor can it be
a truth in chemistry: it cannot be a truth belonging to any particular
science. No generalization of the phenomena of space, of time, of
matter, or of force, can become a Religious conception. Such a
conception, if it anywhere exists in Science, must be more general than
any of these—must be one underlying all of them. If there be a fact
which Science recognizes in common with Religion, it must be that fact
from which the several branches of Science diverge, as from their common

Assuming then, that since these two great realities are constituents of
the same mind, and respond to different aspects of the same Universe,
there must be a fundamental harmony between them; we see good reason to
conclude that the most abstract truth contained in Religion and the most
abstract truth contained in Science must be the one in which the two
coalesce. The largest fact to be found within our mental range must be
the one of which we are in search. Uniting these positive and negative
poles of human thought, it must be the ultimate fact in our

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 8. Before proceeding in the search for this common datum let me
bespeak a little patience. The next three chapters, setting out from
different points and converging to the same conclusion, will be
comparatively unattractive. Students of philosophy will find in them
much that is more or less familiar; and to most of those who are
unacquainted with the literature of modern metaphysics, they may prove
somewhat difficult to follow.

Our argument however cannot dispense with these chapters; and the
greatness of the question at issue justifies even a heavier tax on the
reader’s attention. The matter is one which concerns each and all of us
more than any other matter whatever. Though it affects us little in a
direct way, the view we arrive at must indirectly affect us in all our
relations—must determine our conception of the Universe, of Life, of
Human Nature—must influence our ideas of right and wrong, and so modify
our conduct. To reach that point of view from which the seeming
discordance of Religion and Science disappears, and the two merge into
one, must cause a revolution of thought fruitful in beneficial
consequences, and must surely be worth an effort.

Here ending preliminaries, let us now address ourselves to this
all-important inquiry.

                              CHAPTER II.
                       ULTIMATE RELIGIOUS IDEAS.

§ 9. When, on the sea-shore, we note how the hulls of distant vessels
are hidden below the horizon, and how, of still remoter vessels, only
the uppermost sails are visible, we realize with tolerable clearness the
slight curvature of that portion of the sea’s surface which lies before
us. But when we seek in imagination to follow out this curved surface as
it actually exists, slowly bending round until all its meridians meet in
a point eight thousand miles below our feet, we find ourselves utterly
baffled. We cannot conceive in its real form and magnitude even that
small segment of our globe which extends a hundred miles on every side
of us; much less the globe as a whole. The piece of rock on which we
stand can be mentally represented with something like completeness: we
find ourselves able to think of its top, its sides, and its under
surface at the same time; or so nearly at the same time that they seem
all present in consciousness together; and so we can form what we call a
conception of the rock. But to do the like with the Earth we find
impossible. If even to imagine the antipodes as at that distant place in
space which it actually occupies, is beyond our power; much more beyond
our power must it be at the same time to imagine all other remote points
on the Earth’s surface as in their actual places. Yet we habitually
speak as though we had an idea of the Earth—as though we could think of
it in the same way that we think of minor objects.

What conception, then, do we form of it? the reader may ask. That its
name calls up in us some state of consciousness is unquestionable; and
if this state of consciousness is not a conception, properly so called,
what is it? The answer seems to be this:—We have learnt by indirect
methods that the Earth is a sphere; we have formed models approximately
representing its shape and the distribution of its parts; generally when
the Earth is referred to, we either think of an indefinitely extended
mass beneath our feet, or else, leaving out the actual Earth, we think
of a body like a terrestrial globe; but when we seek to imagine the
Earth as it really is, we join these two ideas as well as we can—such
perception as our eyes give us of the Earth’s surface we couple with the
conception of a sphere. And thus we form of the Earth, not a conception
properly so called, but only a symbolic conception.[6]

A large proportion of our conceptions, including all those of much
generality, are of this order. Great magnitudes, great durations, great
numbers, are none of them actually conceived, but are all of them
conceived more or less symbolically; and so, too, are all those classes
of objects of which we predicate some common fact. When mention is made
of any individual man, a tolerably complete idea of him is formed. If
the family he belongs to be spoken of, probably but a part of it will be
represented in thought: under the necessity of attending to that which
is said about the family, we realize in imagination only its most
important or familiar members, and pass over the rest with a nascent
consciousness which we know could, if requisite, be made complete.
Should something be remarked of the class, say farmers, to which this
family belongs, we neither enumerate in thought all the individuals
contained in the class, nor believe that we could do so if required; but
we are content with taking some few samples of it, and remembering that
these could be indefinitely multiplied. Supposing the subject of which
something is predicated be Englishmen, the answering state of
consciousness is a still more inadequate representative of the reality.
Yet more remote is the likeness of the thought to the thing, if
reference be made to Europeans or to human beings. And when we come to
propositions concerning the mammalia, or concerning the whole of the
vertebrata, or concerning animals in general, or concerning all organic
beings, the unlikeness of our conceptions to the objects named reaches
its extreme. Throughout which series of instances we see, that as the
number of objects grouped together in thought increases, the concept,
formed of a few typical samples joined with the notion of multiplicity,
becomes more and more a mere symbol; not only because it gradually
ceases to represent the size of the group, but also because as the group
grows more heterogeneous, the typical samples thought of are less like
the average objects which the group contains.

This formation of symbolic conceptions, which inevitably arises as we
pass from small and concrete objects to large and to discrete ones, is
mostly a very useful, and indeed necessary, process. When, instead of
things whose attributes can be tolerably well united in a single state
of consciousness, we have to deal with things whose attributes are too
vast or numerous to be so united, we must either drop in thought part of
their attributes, or else not think of them at all—either form a more or
less symbolic conception, or no conception. We must predicate nothing of
objects too great or too multitudinous to be mentally represented; or we
must make our predications by the help of extremely inadequate
representations of such objects—mere symbols of them.

But while by this process alone we are enabled to form general
propositions, and so to reach general conclusions, we are by this
process perpetually led into danger, and very often into error. We
habitually mistake our symbolic conceptions for real ones; and so are
betrayed into countless false inferences. Not only is it that in
proportion as the concept we form of any thing or class of things,
misrepresents the reality, we are apt to be wrong in any assertion we
make respecting the reality; but it is that we are led to suppose we
have truly conceived a great variety of things which we have conceived
only in this fictitious way; and further to confound with these certain
things which cannot be conceived in any way. How almost unavoidably we
fall into this error it will be needful here to observe.

From objects readily representable in their totality, to those of which
we cannot form even an approximate representation, there is an
insensible transition. Between a pebble and the entire Earth a series of
magnitudes might be introduced, each of which differed from the adjacent
ones so slightly that it would be impossible to say at what point in the
series our conceptions of them became inadequate. Similarly, there is a
gradual progression from those groups of a few individuals which we can
think of as groups with tolerable completeness, to those larger and
larger groups of which we can form nothing like true ideas. Whence it is
manifest that we pass from actual conceptions to symbolic ones by
infinitesimal steps. Note next that we are led to deal with our symbolic
conceptions as though they were actual ones, not only because we cannot
clearly separate the two, but also because, in the great majority of
cases, the first serve our purposes nearly or quite as well as the
last—are simply the abbreviated signs we substitute for those more
elaborate signs which are our equivalents for real objects. Those very
imperfect representations of ordinary things which we habitually make in
thinking, we know can be developed into adequate ones if needful. Those
concepts of larger magnitudes and more extensive classes which we cannot
make adequate, we still find can be verified by some indirect process of
measurement or enumeration. And even in the case of such an utterly
inconceivable object as the Solar System, we yet, through the fulfilment
of predictions founded on our symbolic conception of it, gain the
conviction that this symbolic conception stands for an actual existence,
and, in a sense, truly expresses certain of its constituent relations.
Thus our symbolic conceptions being in the majority of cases capable of
development into complete ones, and in most other cases serving as steps
to conclusions which are proved valid by their correspondence with
observation, we acquire a confirmed habit of dealing with them as true
conceptions—as real representations of actualities. Learning by long
experience that they can, if needful, be verified, we are led habitually
to accept them without verification. And thus we open the door to some
which profess to stand for known things, but which really stand for
things that cannot be known in any way.

To sum up, we must say of conceptions in general, that they are complete
only when the attributes of the object conceived are of such number and
kind that they can be represented in consciousness so nearly at the same
time as to seem all present together; that as the objects conceived
become larger and more complex, some of the attributes first thought of
fade from consciousness before the rest have been represented, and the
conception thus becomes imperfect; that when the size, complexity, or
discreteness of the object conceived becomes very great, only a small
portion of its attributes can be thought of at once, and the conception
formed of it thus becomes so inadequate as to be a mere symbol; that
nevertheless such symbolic conceptions, which are indispensable in
general thinking, are legitimate, provided that by some cumulative or
indirect process of thought, or by the fulfilment of predictions based
on them, we can assure ourselves that they stand for actualities; but
that when our symbolic conceptions are such that no cumulative or
indirect processes of thought can enable us to ascertain that there are
corresponding actualities, nor any predictions be made whose fulfilment
can prove this, then they are altogether vicious and illusive, and in no
way distinguishable from pure fictions.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 10. And now to consider the bearings of this general truth on our
immediate topic—Ultimate Religious Ideas.

To the aboriginal man and to every civilized child the problem of the
Universe suggests itself. What is it? and whence comes it? are questions
that press for solution, when, from time to time, the imagination rises
above daily trivialities. To fill the vacuum of thought, any theory that
is proposed seems better than none. And in the absence of others, any
theory that is proposed easily gains a footing and afterwards maintains
its ground: partly from the readiness of mankind to accept proximate
explanations; partly from the authority which soon accumulates round
such explanations when given.

A critical examination, however, will prove not only that no current
hypothesis is tenable, but also that no tenable hypothesis can be

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 11. Respecting the origin of the Universe three verbally intelligible
suppositions may be made. We may assert that it is self-existent; or
that it is self-created; or that it is created by an external agency.
Which of these suppositions is most credible it is not needful here to
inquire. The deeper question, into which this finally merges, is,
whether any one of them is even conceivable in the true sense of the
word. Let us successively test them.

When we speak of a man as self-supporting, of an apparatus as
self-acting, or of a tree as self-developed, our expressions, however
inexact, stand for things that can be realized in thought with tolerable
completeness. Our conception of the self-development of a tree is
doubtless symbolic. But though we cannot really represent in
consciousness the entire series of complex changes through which the
tree passes, yet we can thus represent the leading features of the
series; and general experience teaches us that by long continued
observation we could gain the power to realize in thought a series of
changes more fully representing the actual series: that is, we know that
our symbolic conception of self-development can be expanded into
something like a real conception; and that it expresses, however
inaccurately, an actual process in nature. But when we speak of
self-existence, and, helped by the above analogies, form some vague
symbolic conception of it, we delude ourselves in supposing that this
symbolic conception is of the same order as the others. On joining the
word _self_ to the word _existence_, the force of association makes us
believe we have a thought like that suggested by the compound word
self-acting. An endeavour to expand this symbolic conception, however,
will undeceive us.       In the first place, it is clear that by
self-existence we especially mean, an existence independent of any
other—not produced by any other: the assertion of self-existence is
simply an indirect denial of creation. In thus excluding the idea of any
antecedent cause, we necessarily exclude the idea of a beginning; for to
admit the idea of a beginning—to admit that there was a time when the
existence had not commenced—is to admit that its commencement was
determined by something, or was caused; which is a contradiction.
Self-existence, therefore, necessarily means existence without a
beginning; and to form a conception of self-existence is to form a
conception of existence without a beginning. Now by no mental effort can
we do this. To conceive existence through infinite past-time, implies
the conception of infinite past-time, which is an impossibility.
      To this let us add, that even were self-existence conceivable, it
would not in any sense be an explanation of the Universe. No one will
say that the existence of an object at the present moment is made easier
to understand by the discovery that it existed an hour ago, or a day
ago, or a year ago; and if its existence now is not made in the least
degree more comprehensible by its existence during some previous finite
period of time, then no accumulation of such finite periods, even could
we extend them to an infinite period, would make it more comprehensible.
Thus the Atheistic theory is not only absolutely unthinkable, but, even
if it were thinkable, would not be a solution. The assertion that the
Universe is self-existent does not really carry us a step beyond the
cognition of its present existence; and so leaves us with a mere
re-statement of the mystery.

The hypothesis of self-creation, which practically amounts to what is
called Pantheism, is similarly incapable of being represented in
thought. Certain phenomena, such as the precipitation of invisible
vapour into cloud, aid us in forming a symbolic conception of a
self-evolved Universe; and there are not wanting indications in the
heavens, and on the earth, which help us to render this conception
tolerably definite. But while the succession of phases through which the
Universe has passed in reaching its present form, may perhaps be
comprehended as in a sense self-determined; yet the impossibility of
expanding our symbolic conception of self-creation into a real
conception, remains as complete as ever. Really to conceive
self-creation, is to conceive potential existence passing into actual
existence by some inherent necessity; which we cannot do.       We
cannot form any idea of a potential existence of the universe, as
distinguished from its actual existence. If represented in thought at
all, potential existence must be represented as _something_, that is as
an actual existence; to suppose that it can be represented as nothing,
involves two absurdities—that nothing is more than a negation, and can
be positively represented in thought; and that one nothing is
distinguished from all other nothings by its power to develope into
something. Nor is this all. We have no state of consciousness answering
to the words—an inherent necessity by which potential existence became
actual existence. To render them into thought, existence, having for an
indefinite period remained in one form, must be conceived as passing
without any external or additional impulse, into another form; and this
involves the idea of a change without a cause—a thing of which no idea
is possible. Thus the terms of this hypothesis do not stand for real
thoughts; but merely suggest the vaguest symbols incapable of any
interpretation.       Moreover, even were it true that potential
existence is conceivable as a different thing from actual existence; and
that the transition from the one to the other can be mentally realized
as a self-determined change; we should still be no forwarder: the
problem would simply be removed a step back. For whence the potential
existence? This would just as much require accounting for as actual
existence; and just the same difficulties would meet us. Respecting the
origin of such a latent power, no other suppositions could be made than
those above named—self-existence, self-creation, creation by external
agency. The self-existence of a potential universe is no more
conceivable than we have found the self-existence of the actual universe
to be. The self-creation of such a potential universe would involve over
again the difficulties here stated—would imply behind this potential
universe a more remote potentiality; and so on in an infinite series,
leaving us at last no forwarder than at first. While to assign as the
source of this potential universe an external agency, would be to
introduce the notion of a potential universe for no purpose whatever.

There remains to be examined the commonly-received or theistic
hypothesis—creation by external agency. Alike in the rudest creeds and
in the cosmogony long current among ourselves, it is assumed that the
genesis of the Heavens and the Earth is effected somewhat after the
manner in which a workman shapes a piece of furniture. And this
assumption is made not by theologians only, but by the immense
majority of philosophers, past and present. Equally in the writings of
Plato, and in those of not a few living men of science, we find it
taken for granted that there is an analogy between the process of
creation and the process of manufacture.       Now in the first place,
not only is this conception one that cannot by any cumulative process
of thought, or the fulfilment of predictions based on it, be shown to
answer to anything actual; and not only is it that in the absence of
all evidence respecting the process of creation, we have no proof of
correspondence even between this limited conception and some limited
portion of the fact; but it is that the conception is not even
consistent with itself—cannot be realized in thought, when all its
assumptions are granted. Though it is true that the proceedings of a
human artificer may vaguely symbolize to us a method after which the
Universe might be shaped, yet they do not help us to comprehend the
real mystery; namely, the origin of the material of which the Universe
consists. The artizan does not make the iron, wood, or stone, he uses;
but merely fashions and combines them. If we suppose suns, and
planets, and satellites, and all they contain to have been similarly
formed by a “Great Artificer,” we suppose merely that certain
pre-existing elements were thus put into their present arrangement.
But whence the pre-existing elements? The comparison helps us not in
the least to understand that; and unless it helps us to understand
that, it is worthless. The production of matter out of nothing is the
real mystery, which neither this simile nor any other enables us to
conceive; and a simile which does not enable us to conceive this, may
just as well be dispensed with.       Still more manifest does the
insufficiency of this theory of creation become, when we turn from
material objects to that which contains them—when instead of matter we
contemplate space. Did there exist nothing but an immeasurable void,
explanation would be needed as much as now. There would still arise
the question—how came it so? If the theory of creation by external
agency were an adequate one, it would supply an answer; and its answer
would be—space was made in the same manner that matter was made. But
the impossibility of conceiving this is so manifest, that no one dares
to assert it. For if space was created, it must have been previously
non-existent. The non-existence of space cannot, however, by any
mental effort be imagined. It is one of the most familiar truths that
the idea of space as surrounding us on all sides, is not for a moment
to be got rid of—not only are we compelled to think of space as now
everywhere present, but we are unable to conceive its absence either
in the past or the future. And if the non-existence of space is
absolutely inconceivable, then, necessarily, its creation is
absolutely inconceivable.       Lastly, even supposing that the
genesis of the Universe could really be represented in thought as the
result of an external agency, the mystery would be as great as ever;
for there would still arise the question—how came there to be an
external agency? To account for this only the same three hypotheses
are possible—self-existence, self-creation, and creation by external
agency. Of these the last is useless: it commits us to an infinite
series of such agencies, and even then leaves us where we were. By the
second we are practically involved in the same predicament; since, as
already shown, self-creation implies an infinite series of potential
existences. We are obliged therefore to fall back upon the first,
which is the one commonly accepted and commonly supposed to be
satisfactory. Those who cannot conceive a self-existent universe; and
who therefore assume a creator as the source of the universe; take for
granted that they can conceive a self-existent creator. The mystery
which they recognize in this great fact surrounding them on every
side, they transfer to an alleged source of this great fact; and then
suppose that they have solved the mystery. But they delude themselves.
As was proved at the outset of the argument, self-existence is
rigorously inconceivable; and this holds true whatever be the nature
of the object of which it is predicated. Whoever agrees that the
atheistic hypothesis is untenable because it involves the impossible
idea of self-existence, must perforce admit that the theistic
hypothesis is untenable if it contains the same impossible idea.

Thus these three different suppositions respecting the origin of things,
verbally intelligible though they are, and severally seeming to their
respective adherents quite rational, turn out, when critically examined,
to be literally unthinkable. It is not a question of probability, or
credibility, but of conceivability. Experiment proves that the elements
of these hypotheses cannot even be put together in consciousness; and we
can entertain them only as we entertain such pseud-ideas as a square
fluid and a moral substance—only by abstaining from the endeavour to
render them into actual thoughts. Or, reverting to our original mode of
statement, we may say that they severally involve symbolic conceptions
of the illegitimate and illusive kind. Differing so widely as they seem
to do, the atheistic, the pantheistic, and the theistic hypotheses
contain the same ultimate element. It is impossible to avoid making the
assumption of self-existence somewhere; and whether that assumption be
made nakedly, or under complicated disguises, it is equally vicious,
equally unthinkable. Be it a fragment of matter, or some fancied
potential form of matter, or some more remote and still less imaginable
cause, our conception of its self-existence can be formed only by
joining with it the notion of unlimited duration through past time. And
as unlimited duration is inconceivable, all those formal ideas into
which it enters are inconceivable; and indeed, if such an expression is
allowable, are the more inconceivable in proportion as the other
elements of the ideas are indefinite. So that in fact, impossible as it
is to think of the actual universe as self-existing, we do but multiply
impossibilities of thought by every attempt we make to explain its

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 12. If from the origin of the Universe we turn to its nature, the like
insurmountable difficulties rise up before us on all sides—or rather,
the same difficulties under new aspects. We find ourselves on the one
hand obliged to make certain assumptions; and yet on the other hand we
find these assumptions cannot be represented in thought.

When we inquire what is the meaning of the various effects produced upon
our senses—when we ask how there come to be in our consciousness
impressions of sounds, of colours, of tastes, and of those various
attributes which we ascribe to bodies; we are compelled to regard them
as the effects of some cause. We may stop short in the belief that this
cause is what we call matter. Or we may conclude, as some do, that
matter is only a certain mode of manifestation of spirit; which is
therefore the true cause. Or, regarding matter and spirit as proximate
agencies, we may attribute all the changes wrought in our consciousness
to immediate divine power. But be the cause we assign what it may, we
are obliged to suppose _some_ cause. And we are not only obliged to
suppose some cause, but also a first cause. The matter, or spirit, or
whatever we assume to be the agent producing on us these various
impressions, must either be the first cause of them or not. If it is the
first cause, the conclusion is reached. If it is not the first cause,
then by implication there must be a cause behind it; which thus becomes
the real cause of the effect. Manifestly, however complicated the
assumptions, the same conclusion must inevitably be reached. We cannot
think at all about the impressions which the external world produces on
us, without thinking of them as caused; and we cannot carry out an
inquiry concerning their causation, without inevitably committing
ourselves to the hypothesis of a First Cause.

But now if we go a step further, and ask what is the nature of this
First Cause, we are driven by an inexorable logic to certain further
conclusions. Is the First Cause finite or infinite? If we say finite we
involve ourselves in a dilemma. To think of the First Cause as finite,
is to think of it as limited. To think of it as limited, necessarily
implies a conception of something beyond its limits: it is absolutely
impossible to conceive a thing as bounded without conceiving a region
surrounding its boundaries. What now must we say of this region? If the
First Cause is limited, and there consequently lies something outside of
it, this something must have no First Cause—must be uncaused. But if we
admit that there can be something uncaused, there is no reason to assume
a cause for anything. If beyond that finite region over which the First
Cause extends, there lies a region, which we are compelled to regard as
infinite, over which it does not extend—if we admit that there is an
infinite uncaused surrounding the finite caused; we tacitly abandon the
hypothesis of causation altogether. Thus it is impossible to consider
the First Cause as finite. And if it cannot be finite it must be

Another inference concerning the First Cause is equally unavoidable. It
must be independent. If it is dependent it cannot be the First Cause;
for that must be the First Cause on which it depends. It is not enough
to say that it is partially independent; since this implies some
necessity which determines its partial dependence, and this necessity,
be it what it may, must be a higher cause, or the true First Cause,
which is a contradiction. But to think of the First Cause as totally
independent, is to think of it as that which exists in the absence of
all other existence; seeing that if the presence of any other existence
is necessary, it must be partially dependent on that other existence,
and so cannot be the First Cause. Not only however must the First Cause
be a form of being which has no necessary relation to any other form of
being, but it can have no necessary relation within itself. There can be
nothing in it which determines change, and yet nothing which prevents
change. For if it contains something which imposes such necessities or
restraints, this something must be a cause higher than the First Cause,
which is absurd. Thus the First Cause must be in every sense perfect,
complete, total: including within itself all power, and transcending all
law. Or to use the established word, it must be absolute.

Here then respecting the nature of the Universe, we seem committed to
certain unavoidable conclusions. The objects and actions surrounding us,
not less than the phenomena of our own consciousness, compel us to ask a
cause; in our search for a cause, we discover no resting place until we
arrive at the hypothesis of a First Cause; and we have no alternative
but to regard this First Cause as Infinite and Absolute. These are
inferences forced upon us by arguments from which there appears no
escape. It is hardly needful however to show those who have followed
thus far, how illusive are these reasonings and their results. But that
it would tax the reader’s patience to no purpose, it might easily be
proved that the materials of which the argument is built, equally with
the conclusions based on them, are merely symbolic conceptions of the
illegitimate order. Instead, however, of repeating the disproof used
above, it will be desirable to pursue another method; showing the
fallacy of these conclusions by disclosing their mutual contradictions.

Here I cannot do better than avail myself of the demonstration which Mr
Mansel, carrying out in detail the doctrine of Sir William Hamilton, has
given in his “Limits of Religious Thought.” And I gladly do this, not
only because his mode of presentation cannot be improved, but also
because, writing as he does in defence of the current Theology, his
reasonings will be the more acceptable to the majority of readers.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 13. Having given preliminary definitions of the First Cause, of the
Infinite, and of the Absolute, Mr Mansel says:—

“But these three conceptions, the Cause, the Absolute, the Infinite, all
equally indispensable, do they not imply contradiction to each other,
when viewed in conjunction, as attributes of one and the same Being? A
Cause cannot, as such, be absolute: the Absolute cannot, as such, be a
cause. The cause, as such, exists only in relation to its effect: the
cause is a cause of the effect; the effect is an effect of the cause. On
the other hand, the conception of the Absolute implies a possible
existence out of all relation. We attempt to escape from this apparent
contradiction, by introducing the idea of succession in time. The
Absolute exists first by itself, and afterwards becomes a Cause. But
here we are checked by the third conception, that of the Infinite. How
can the Infinite become that which it was not from the first? If
Causation is a possible mode of existence, that which exists without
causing is not infinite; that which becomes a cause has passed beyond
its former limits.” * * *

“Supposing the Absolute to become a cause, it will follow that it
operates by means of freewill and consciousness. For a necessary cause
cannot be conceived as absolute and infinite. If necessitated by
something beyond itself, it is thereby limited by a superior power; and
if necessitated by itself, it has in its own nature a necessary relation
to its effect. The act of causation must therefore be voluntary; and
volition is only possible in a conscious being. But consciousness again
is only conceivable as a relation. There must be a conscious subject,
and an object of which he is conscious. The subject is a subject to the
object; the object is an object to the subject; and neither can exist by
itself as the absolute. This difficulty, again, may be for the moment
evaded, by distinguishing between the absolute as related to another and
the absolute as related to itself. The Absolute, it may be said, may
possibly be conscious, provided it is only conscious of itself. But this
alternative is, in ultimate analysis, no less self-destructive than the
other. For the object of consciousness, whether a mode of the subject’s
existence or not, is either created in and by the act of consciousness,
or has an existence independent of it. In the former case, the object
depends upon the subject, and the subject alone is the true absolute. In
the latter case, the subject depends upon the object, and the object
alone is the true absolute. Or if we attempt a third hypothesis, and
maintain that each exists independently of the other, we have no
absolute at all, but only a pair of relatives; for coexistence, whether
in consciousness or not, is itself a relation.”

“The corollary from this reasoning is obvious. Not only is the Absolute,
as conceived, incapable of a necessary relation to anything else; but it
is also incapable of containing, by the constitution of its own nature,
an essential relation within itself; as a whole, for instance, composed
of parts, or as a substance consisting of attributes, or as a conscious
subject in antithesis to an object. For if there is in the absolute any
principle of unity, distinct from the mere accumulation of parts or
attributes, this principle alone is the true absolute. If, on the other
hand, there is no such principle, then there is no absolute at all, but
only a plurality of relatives. The almost unanimous voice of philosophy,
in pronouncing that the absolute is both one and simple, must be
accepted as the voice of reason also, so far as reason has any voice in
the matter. But this absolute unity, as indifferent and containing no
attributes, can neither be distinguished from the multiplicity of finite
beings by any characteristic feature, nor be identified with them in
their multiplicity. Thus we are landed in an inextricable dilemma. The
Absolute cannot be conceived as conscious, neither can it be conceived
as unconscious: it cannot be conceived as complex, neither can it be
conceived as simple: it cannot be conceived by difference, neither can
it be conceived by the absence of difference: it cannot be identified
with the universe, neither can it be distinguished from it. The One and
the Many, regarded as the beginning of existence, are thus alike

“The fundamental conceptions of Rational Theology being thus
self-destructive, we may naturally expect to find the same antagonism
manifested in their special applications. * * * How, for example, can
Infinite Power be able to do all things, and yet Infinite Goodness be
unable to do evil? How can Infinite Justice exact the utmost penalty for
every sin, and yet Infinite Mercy pardon the sinner? How can Infinite
Wisdom know all that is to come, and yet Infinite Freedom be at liberty
to do or to forbear? How is the existence of Evil compatible with that
of an infinitely perfect Being; for if he wills it, he is not infinitely
good; and if he wills it not, his will is thwarted and his sphere of
action limited?” * * *

“Let us, however, suppose for an instant that these difficulties are
surmounted, and the existence of the Absolute securely established on
the testimony of reason. Still we have not succeeded in reconciling this
idea with that of a Cause: we have done nothing towards explaining how
the absolute can give rise to the relative, the infinite to the finite.
If the condition of casual activity is a higher state than that of
quiescence, the Absolute, whether acting voluntarily or involuntarily,
has passed from a condition of comparative imperfection to one of
comparative perfection; and therefore was not originally perfect. If the
state of activity is an inferior state to that of quiescence, the
Absolute, in becoming a cause, has lost its original perfection. There
remains only the supposition that the two states are equal, and the act
of creation one of complete indifference. But this supposition
annihilates the unity of the absolute, or it annihilates itself. If the
act of creation is real, and yet indifferent, we must admit the
possibility of two conceptions of the absolute, the one as productive,
the other as non-productive. If the act is not real, the supposition
itself vanishes.” * * *

“Again, how can the relative be conceived as coming into being? If it is
a distinct reality from the absolute, it must be conceived as passing
from non-existence into existence. But to conceive an object as
non-existent, is again a self-contradiction; for that which is conceived
exists, as an object of thought, in and by that conception. We may
abstain from thinking of an object at all; but, if we think of it, we
cannot but think of it as existing. It is possible at one time not to
think of an object at all, and at another to think of it as already in
being; but to think of it in the act of becoming, in the progress from
not being into being, is to think that which, in the very thought,
annihilates itself.” * * *

“To sum up briefly this portion of my argument. The conception of the
Absolute and Infinite, from whatever side we view it, appears
encompassed with contradictions. There is a contradiction in supposing
such an object to exist, whether alone or in conjunction with others;
and there is a contradiction in supposing it not to exist. There is a
contradiction in conceiving it as one; and there is a contradiction in
conceiving it as many. There is a contradiction in conceiving it as
personal; and there is a contradiction in conceiving it as impersonal.
It cannot, without contradiction, be represented as active; nor, without
equal contradiction, be represented as inactive. It cannot be conceived
as the sum of all existence; nor yet can it be conceived as a part only
of that sum.”

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 14. And now what is the bearing of these results on the question
before us? Our examination of Ultimate Religious Ideas has been carried
on with the view of making manifest some fundamental verity contained in
them. Thus far however we have arrived at negative conclusions only.
Criticising the essential conceptions involved in the different orders
of beliefs, we find no one of them to be logically defensible. Passing
over the consideration of credibility, and confining ourselves to that
of conceivability, we see that Atheism, Pantheism, and Theism, when
rigorously analysed, severally prove to be absolutely unthinkable.
Instead of disclosing a fundamental verity existing in each, our
investigation seems rather to have shown that there is no fundamental
verity contained in any. To carry away this conclusion, however, would
be a fatal error; as we shall shortly see.

Leaving out the accompanying moral code, which is in all cases a
supplementary growth, every Religion may be defined as an _à priori_
theory of the Universe. The surrounding facts being given, some form of
agency is alleged which, in the opinion of those alleging it, accounts
for these facts. Be it in the rudest Fetishism, which assumes a separate
personality behind every phenomenon; be it in Polytheism, in which these
personalities are partially generalized; be it in Monotheism, in which
they are wholly generalized; or be it in Pantheism, in which the
generalized personality becomes one with the phenomena; we equally find
an hypothesis which is supposed to render the Universe comprehensible.
Nay, even that which is commonly regarded as the negation of all
Religion—even positive Atheism, comes within the definition; for it,
too, in asserting the self-existence of Space, Matter, and Motion, which
it regards as adequate causes of every appearance, propounds an _à
priori_ theory from which it holds the facts to be deducible. Now every
theory tacitly asserts two things: firstly, that there is something to
be explained; secondly, that such and such is the explanation. Hence,
however widely different speculators may disagree in the solutions they
give of the same problem; yet by implication they agree that there is a
problem to be solved. Here then is an element which all creeds have in
common. Religions diametrically opposed in their overt dogmas, are yet
perfectly at one in the tacit conviction that the existence of the world
with all it contains and all which surrounds it, is a mystery ever
pressing for interpretation. On this point, if on no other, there is
entire unanimity.

Thus we come within sight of that which we seek. In the last chapter,
reasons were given for inferring that human beliefs in general, and
especially the perennial ones, contain, under whatever disguises of
error, some soul of truth; and here we have arrived at a truth
underlying even the grossest superstitions. We saw further that this
soul of truth was most likely to be some constituent common to
conflicting opinions of the same order; and here we have a constituent
which may be claimed alike by all religions. It was pointed out that
this soul of truth would almost certainly be more abstract than any of
the beliefs involving it; and the truth we have arrived at is one
exceeding in abstractness the most abstract religious doctrines. In
every respect, therefore, our conclusion answers to the requirements. It
has all the characteristics which we inferred must belong to that
fundamental verity expressed by religions in general.

That this is the vital element in all religions is further proved by the
fact, that it is the element which not only survives every change, but
grows more distinct the more highly the religion is developed.
Aboriginal creeds, though pervaded by the idea of personal agencies
which are usually unseen, yet conceive these agencies under perfectly
concrete and ordinary forms—class them with the visible agencies of men
and animals; and so hide a vague perception of mystery in disguises as
unmysterious as possible. The Polytheistic conceptions in their advanced
phases, represent the presiding personalities in greatly idealized
shapes, existing in a remote region, working in subtle ways, and
communicating with men by omens or through inspired persons; that is,
the ultimate causes of things are regarded as less familiar and
comprehensible. The growth of a Monotheistic faith, accompanied as it is
by a denial of those beliefs in which the divine nature is assimilated
to the human in all its lower propensities, shows us a further step in
the same direction; and however imperfectly this higher faith is at
first realized, we yet see in altars “to the unknown and unknowable
God,” and in the worship of a God that cannot by any searching be found
out, that there is a clearer recognition of the inscrutableness of
creation. Further developments of theology, ending in such assertions as
that “a God understood would be no God at all,” and “to think that God
is, as we can think him to be, is blasphemy,” exhibit this recognition
still more distinctly; and it pervades all the cultivated theology of
the present day. Thus while other constituents of religious creeds one
by one drop away, this remains and grows even more manifest; and so is
shown to be the essential constituent.

Nor does the evidence end here. Not only is the omnipresence of
something which passes comprehension, that most abstract belief which is
common to all religions, which becomes the more distinct in proportion
as they develope, and which remains after their discordant elements have
been mutually cancelled; but it is that belief which the most unsparing
criticism of each leaves unquestionable—or rather makes ever clearer. It
has nothing to fear from the most inexorable logic; but on the contrary
is a belief which the most inexorable logic shows to be more profoundly
true than any religion supposes. For every religion, setting out though
it does with the tacit assertion of a mystery, forthwith proceeds to
give some solution of this mystery; and so asserts that it is not a
mystery passing human comprehension. But an examination of the solutions
they severally propound, shows them to be uniformly invalid. The
analysis of every possible hypothesis proves, not simply that no
hypothesis is sufficient, but that no hypothesis is even thinkable. And
thus the mystery which all religions recognize, turns out to be a far
more transcendent mystery than any of them suspect—not a relative, but
an absolute mystery.

Here, then, is an ultimate religious truth of the highest possible
certainty—a truth in which religions in general are at one with each
other, and with a philosophy antagonistic to their special dogmas. And
this truth, respecting which there is a latent agreement among all
mankind from the fetish-worshipper to the most stoical critic of human
creeds, must be the one we seek. If Religion and Science are to be
reconciled, the basis of reconciliation must be this deepest, widest,
and most certain of all facts—that the Power which the Universe
manifests to us is utterly inscrutable.


Footnote 6:

  Those who may have before met with this term, will perceive that it is
  here used in quite a different sense.

                              CHAPTER III.
                       ULTIMATE SCIENTIFIC IDEAS.

§ 15. What are Space and Time? Two hypotheses are current respecting
them: the one that they are objective, and the other that they are
subjective—the one that they are external to, and independent of,
ourselves, the other that they are internal, and appertain to our own
consciousness. Let us see what becomes of these hypotheses under

To say that Space and Time exist objectively, is to say that they are
entities. The assertion that they are non-entities is self-destructive:
non-entities are non-existences; and to allege that non-existences exist
objectively, is a contradiction in terms. Moreover, to deny that Space
and Time are things, and so by implication to call them nothings,
involves the absurdity that there are two kinds of nothing. Neither can
they be regarded as attributes of some entity; seeing, not only that it
is impossible really to conceive any entity of which they are
attributes, but seeing further that we cannot think of them as
disappearing, even if everything else disappeared; whereas attributes
necessarily disappear along with the entities they belong to. Thus as
Space and Time cannot be either non-entities, nor the attributes of
entities, we have no choice but consider them as entities.       But
while, on the hypothesis of their objectivity, Space and Time must be
classed as things, we find, on experiment, that to represent them in
thought as things is impossible. To be conceived at all, a thing must be
conceived as having attributes. We can distinguish something from
nothing, only by the power which the something has to act on our
consciousness; the several affections it produces on our consciousness
(or else the hypothetical causes of them), we attribute to it, and call
its attributes; and the absence of these attributes is the absence of
the terms in which the something is conceived, and involves the absence
of a conception. What now are the attributes of Space? The only one
which it is possible for a moment to think of as belonging to it, is
that of extension; and to credit it with this implies a confusion of
thought. For extension and Space are convertible terms: by extension, as
we ascribe it to surrounding objects, we mean occupancy of Space; and
thus to say that Space is extended, is to say that Space occupies Space.
How we are similarly unable to assign any attribute to Time, scarcely
needs pointing out.       Nor are Time and Space unthinkable as entities
only from the absence of attributes; there is another peculiarity,
familiar to readers of metaphysics, which equally excludes them from the
category. All entities which we actually know as such, are limited; and
even if we suppose ourselves either to know or to be able to conceive
some unlimited entity, we of necessity in so classing it positively
separate it from the class of limited entities. But of Space and Time we
cannot assert either limitation or the absence of limitation. We find
ourselves totally unable to form any mental image of unbounded Space;
and yet totally unable to imagine bounds beyond which there is no Space.
Similarly at the other extreme: it is impossible to think of a limit to
the divisibility of Space; yet equally impossible to think of its
infinite divisibility. And, without stating them, it will be seen that
we labour under like impotencies in respect to Time.       Thus we
cannot conceive Space and Time as entities, and are equally disabled
from conceiving them as either the attributes of entities or as
non-entities. We are compelled to think of them as existing; and yet
cannot bring them within those conditions under which existences are
represented in thought.

Shall we then take refuge in the Kantian doctrine? shall we say that
Space and Time are forms of the intellect,—“_à priori_ laws or
conditions of the conscious mind”? To do this is to escape from great
difficulties by rushing into greater. The proposition with which Kant’s
philosophy sets out, verbally intelligible though it is, cannot by any
effort be rendered into thought—cannot be interpreted into an idea
properly so called, but stands merely for a pseud-idea.       In the
first place, to assert that Space and Time, as we are conscious of them,
are subjective conditions, is by implication to assert that they are not
objective realities: if the Space and Time present to our minds belong
to the _ego_, then of necessity they do not belong to the _non-ego_. Now
it is absolutely impossible to think this. The very fact on which Kant
bases his hypothesis—namely that our consciousness of Space and Time
cannot be suppressed—testifies as much; for that consciousness of Space
and Time which we cannot rid ourselves of, is the consciousness of them
as existing objectively. It is useless to reply that such an inability
must inevitably result if they are subjective forms. The question here
is—What does consciousness directly testify? And the direct testimony of
consciousness is, that Time and Space are not within but without the
mind; and so absolutely independent of it that they cannot be conceived
to become non-existent even were the mind to become non-existent.
      Besides being positively unthinkable in what it tacitly denies,
the theory of Kant is equally unthinkable in what it openly affirms. It
is not simply that we cannot combine the thought of Space with the
thought of our own personality, and contemplate the one as a property of
the other—though our inability to do this would prove the
inconceivableness of the hypothesis—but it is that the hypothesis
carries in itself the proof of its own inconceivableness. For if Space
and Time are forms of thought, they can never be thought of; since it is
impossible for anything to be at once the _form_ of thought and the
_matter_ of thought. That Space and Time are objects of consciousness,
Kant emphatically asserts by saying that it is impossible to suppress
the consciousness of them. How then, if they are _objects_ of
consciousness, can they at the same time be _conditions_ of
consciousness? If Space and Time are the conditions under which we
think, then when we think of Space and Time themselves, our thoughts
must be unconditioned; and if there can thus be unconditioned thoughts,
what becomes of the theory?

It results therefore that Space and Time are wholly incomprehensible.
The immediate knowledge which we seem to have of them, proves, when
examined, to be total ignorance. While our belief in their objective
reality is insurmountable, we are unable to give any rational account of
it. And to posit the alternative belief (possible to state but
impossible to realize) is merely to multiply irrationalities.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 16. Were it not for the necessities of the argument, it would be
inexcusable to occupy the reader’s attention with the threadbare, and
yet unended, controversy respecting the divisibility of matter. Matter
is either infinitely divisible or it is not: no third possibility can be
named. Which of the alternatives shall we accept? If we say that Matter
is infinitely divisible, we commit ourselves to a supposition not
realizable in thought. We can bisect and re-bisect a body, and
continually repeating the act until we reduce its parts to a size no
longer physically divisible, may then mentally continue the process
without limit. To do this, however, is not really to conceive the
infinite divisibility of matter, but to form a symbolic conception
incapable of expansion into a real one, and not admitting of other
verification. Really to conceive the infinite divisibility of matter, is
mentally to follow out the divisions to infinity; and to do this would
require infinite time. On the other hand, to assert that matter is not
infinitely divisible, is to assert that it is reducible to parts which
no conceivable power can divide; and this verbal supposition can no more
be represented in thought than the other. For each of such ultimate
parts, did they exist, must have an under and an upper surface, a right
and a left side, like any larger fragment. Now it is impossible to
imagine its sides so near that no plane of section can be conceived
between them; and however great be the assumed force of cohesion, it is
impossible to shut out the idea of a greater force capable of overcoming
it. So that to human intelligence the one hypothesis is no more
acceptable than the other; and yet the conclusion that one or other must
agree with the fact, seems to human intelligence unavoidable.

Again, leaving this insoluble question, let us ask whether substance
has, in reality, anything like that extended solidity which it presents
to our consciousness. The portion of space occupied by a piece of metal,
seems to eyes and fingers perfectly filled: we perceive a homogeneous,
resisting mass, without any breach of continuity. Shall we then say that
Matter is as actually solid as it appears? Shall we say that whether it
consists of an infinitely divisible element or of ultimate units
incapable of further division, its parts are everywhere in actual
contact? To assert as much entangles us in insuperable difficulties.
Were Matter thus absolutely solid, it would be, what it is
not—absolutely incompressible; since compressibility, implying the
nearer approach of constituent parts, is not thinkable unless there is
unoccupied space between the parts. Nor is this all. It is an
established mechanical truth, that if a body, moving at a given
velocity, strikes an equal body at rest in such wise that the two move
on together, their joint velocity will be but half that of the striking
body. Now it is a law of which the negation is inconceivable, that in
passing from any one degree of magnitude to any other, all intermediate
degrees must be passed through. Or, in the case before us, a body moving
at velocity 4, cannot, by collision, be reduced to velocity 2, without
passing through all velocities between 4 and 2. But were Matter truly
solid—were its units absolutely incompressible and in absolute
contact—this “law of continuity,” as it is called, would be broken in
every case of collision. For when, of two such units, one moving at
velocity 4 strikes another at rest, the striking unit must have its
velocity 4 instantaneously reduced to velocity 2; must pass from
velocity 4 to velocity 2 without any lapse of time, and without passing
through intermediate velocities; must be moving with velocities 4 and 2
at the same instant, which is impossible.

The supposition that Matter is absolutely solid being untenable, there
presents itself the Newtonian supposition, that it consists of solid
atoms not in contact but acting on each other by attractive and
repulsive forces, varying with the distances. To assume this, however,
merely shifts the difficulty: the problem is simply transferred from the
aggregated masses of matter to these hypothetical atoms. For granting
that Matter, as we perceive it, is made up of such dense extended units
surrounded by atmospheres of force, the question still arises—What is
the constitution of these units? We have no alternative but to regard
each of them as a small piece of matter. Looked at through a mental
microscope, each becomes a mass of substance such as we have just been
contemplating. Exactly the same inquiries may be made respecting the
parts of which each atom consists; while exactly the same difficulties
stand in the way of every answer. And manifestly, even were the
hypothetical atom assumed to consist of still minuter ones, the
difficulty would re-appear at the next step; nor could it be got rid of
even by an infinite series of such assumptions.

Boscovich’s conception yet remains to us. Seeing that Matter could not,
as Leibnitz suggested, be composed of unextended monads (since the
juxtaposition of an infinity of points having no extension, could not
produce that extension which matter possesses); and perceiving
objections to the view entertained by Newton; Boscovich proposed an
intermediate theory, uniting, as he considered, the advantages of both
and avoiding their difficulties. His theory is, that the constituents of
Matter are centres of force—points without dimensions, which attract and
repel each other in suchwise as to be kept at specific distances apart.
And he argues, mathematically, that the forces possessed by such centres
might so vary with the distances, that under given conditions the
centres would remain in stable equilibrium with definite interspaces;
and yet, under other conditions, would maintain larger or smaller
interspaces. This speculation however, ingeniously as it is elaborated,
and eluding though it does various difficulties, posits a proposition
which cannot by any effort be represented in thought: it escapes all the
inconceivabilities above indicated, by merging them in the one
inconceivability with which it sets out. A centre of force absolutely
without extension is unthinkable: answering to these words we can form
nothing more than a symbolic conception of the illegitimate order. The
idea of resistance cannot be separated in thought from the idea of an
extended body which offers resistance. To suppose that central forces
can reside in points not infinitesimally small but occupying no space
whatever—points having position only, with nothing to mark their
position—points in no respect distinguishable from the surrounding
points that are not centres of force;—to suppose this, is utterly beyond
human power.

Here it may possibly be said, that though all hypotheses respecting the
constitution of Matter commit us to inconceivable conclusions when
logically developed, yet we have reason to think that one of them
corresponds with the fact. Though the conception of Matter as consisting
of dense indivisible units, is symbolic and incapable of being
completely thought out, it may yet be supposed to find indirect
verification in the truths of chemistry. These, it is argued,
necessitate the belief that Matter consists of particles of specific
weights, and therefore of specific sizes. The general law of definite
proportions seems impossible on any other condition than the existence
of ultimate atoms; and though the combining weights of the respective
elements are termed by chemists their “equivalents,” for the purpose of
avoiding a questionable assumption, we are unable to think of the
combination of such definite weights, without supposing it to take place
between definite numbers of definite particles. And thus it would appear
that the Newtonian view is at any rate preferable to that of Boscovich.
      A disciple of Boscovich, however, may reply that his master’s
theory is involved in that of Newton; and cannot indeed be escaped.
“What,” he may ask, “is it that holds together the parts of these
ultimate atoms?”. “A cohesive force,” his opponent must answer. “And
what,” he may continue, “is it that holds together the parts of any
fragments into which, by sufficient force, an ultimate atom might be
broken?” Again the answer must be—a cohesive force. “And what,” he may
still ask, “if the ultimate atom were, as we can imagine it to be,
reduced to parts as small in proportion to it, as it is in proportion to
a tangible mass of matter—what must give each part the ability to
sustain itself, and to occupy space?” Still there is no answer but—a
cohesive force. Carry the process in thought as far as we may, until the
extension of the parts is less than can be imagined, we still cannot
escape the admission of forces by which the extension is upheld; and we
can find no limit until we arrive at the conception of centres of force
without any extension.

Matter then, in its ultimate nature, is as absolutely incomprehensible
as Space and Time. Frame what suppositions we may, we find on tracing
out their implications that they leave us nothing but a choice between
opposite absurdities.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 17. A body impelled by the hand is clearly perceived to move, and to
move in a definite direction: there seems at first sight no possibility
of doubting that its motion is real, or that it is towards a given
point. Yet it is easy to show that we not only may be, but usually are,
quite wrong in both these judgments. Here, for instance, is a ship
which, for simplicity’s sake, we will suppose to be anchored at the
equator with her head to the West. When the captain walks from stem to
stern, in what direction does he move? East is the obvious answer—an
answer which for the moment may pass without criticism. But now the
anchor is heaved, and the vessel sails to the West with a velocity equal
to that at which the captain walks. In what direction does he now move
when he goes from stem to stern? You cannot say East, for the vessel is
carrying him as fast towards the West as he walks to the East; and you
cannot say West for the converse reason. In respect to surrounding space
he is stationary; though to all on board the ship he seems to be moving.
But now are we quite sure of this conclusion?—Is he really stationary?
When we take into account the Earth’s motion round its axis, we find
that instead of being stationary he is travelling at the rate of 1000
miles per hour to the East; so that neither the perception of one who
looks at him, nor the inference of one who allows for the ship’s motion,
is anything like the truth. Nor indeed, on further consideration, shall
we find this revised conclusion to be much better. For we have forgotten
to allow for the Earth’s motion in its orbit. This being some 68,000
miles per hour, it follows that, assuming the time to be midday, he is
moving, not at the rate of 1000 miles per hour to the East, but at the
rate of 67,000 miles per hour to the West. Nay, not even now have we
discovered the true rate and the true direction of his movement. With
the Earth’s progress in its orbit, we have to join that of the whole
Solar system towards the constellation Hercules; and when we do this, we
perceive that he is moving neither East nor West, but in a line inclined
to the plane of the Ecliptic, and at a velocity greater or less
(according to the time of the year) than that above named. To which let
us add, that were the dynamic arrangements of our sidereal system fully
known to us, we should probably discover the direction and rate of his
actual movement to differ considerably even from these.       How
illusive are our ideas of Motion, is thus made sufficiently manifest.
That which seems moving proves to be stationary; that which seems
stationary proves to be moving; while that which we conclude to be going
rapidly in one direction, turns out to be going much more rapidly in the
opposite direction. And so we are taught that what we are conscious of
is not the real motion of any object, either in its rate or direction;
but merely its motion as measured from an assigned position—either the
position we ourselves occupy or some other. Yet in this very process of
concluding that the motions we perceive are not the real motions, we
tacitly assume that there are real motions. In revising our successive
judgments concerning a body’s course or velocity, we take for granted
that there is an actual course and an actual velocity—we take for
granted that there are fixed points in space with respect to which all
motions are absolute; and we find it impossible to rid ourselves of this
idea. Nevertheless, absolute motion cannot even be imagined, much less
known. Motion as taking place apart from those limitations of space
which we habitually associate with it, is totally unthinkable. For
motion is change of place; but in unlimited space, change of place is
inconceivable, because place itself is inconceivable. Place can be
conceived only by reference to other places; and in the absence of
objects dispersed through space, a place could be conceived only in
relation to the limits of space; whence it follows that in unlimited
space, place cannot be conceived—all places must be equidistant from
boundaries that do not exist. Thus while we are obliged to think that
there is an absolute motion, we find absolute motion incomprehensible.

Another insuperable difficulty presents itself when we contemplate the
transfer of Motion. Habit blinds us to the marvelousness of this
phenomenon. Familiar with the fact from childhood, we see nothing
remarkable in the ability of a moving thing to generate movement in a
thing that is stationary. It is, however, impossible to understand it.
In what respect does a body after impact differ from itself before
impact? What is this added to it which does not sensibly affect any of
its properties and yet enables it to traverse space? Here is an object
at rest and here is the same object moving. In the one state it has no
tendency to change its place; but in the other it is obliged at each
instant to assume a new position. What is it which will for ever go on
producing this effect without being exhausted? and how does it dwell in
the object? The motion you say has been communicated. But how?—What has
been communicated? The striking body has not transferred a _thing_ to
the body struck; and it is equally out of the question to say that it
has transferred an _attribute_. What then has it transferred?

Once more there is the old puzzle concerning the connexion between
Motion and Rest. We daily witness the gradual retardation and final
stoppage of things projected from the hand or otherwise impelled; and we
equally often witness the change from Rest to Motion produced by the
application of force. But truly to represent these transitions in
thought, we find impossible. For a breach of the law of continuity seems
necessarily involved; and yet no breach of it is conceivable. A body
travelling at a given velocity cannot be brought to a state of rest, or
no velocity, without passing through all intermediate velocities. At
first sight nothing seems easier than to imagine it doing this. It is
quite possible to think of its motion as diminishing insensibly until it
becomes infinitesimal; and many will think equally possible to pass in
thought from infinitesimal motion to no motion. But this is an error.
Mentally follow out the decreasing velocity as long as you please, and
there still remains _some_ velocity. Halve and again halve the rate of
movement for ever, yet movement still exists; and the smallest movement
is separated by an impassable gap from no movement. As something,
however minute, is infinitely great in comparison with nothing; so is
even the least conceivable motion, infinite as compared with rest.
      The converse perplexities attendant on the transition from Rest to
Motion, need not be specified. These, equally with the foregoing, show
us that though we are obliged to think of such changes as actually
occurring, their occurrence cannot be realized.

Thus neither when considered in connexion with Space, nor when
considered in connexion with Matter, nor when considered in connexion
with Rest, do we find that Motion is truly cognizable. All efforts to
understand its essential nature do but bring us to alternative
impossibilities of thought.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 18. On lifting a chair, the force exerted we regard as equal to that
antagonistic force called the weight of the chair; and we cannot think
of these as equal without thinking of them as like in kind; since
equality is conceivable only between things that are connatural. The
axiom that action and reaction are equal and in opposite directions,
commonly exemplified by this very instance of muscular effort _versus_
weight, cannot be mentally realized on any other condition. Yet,
contrariwise, it is incredible that the force as existing in the chair
really resembles the force as present to our minds. It scarcely needs to
point out that the weight of the chair produces in us various feelings
according as we support it by a single finger, or the whole hand, or the
leg; and hence to argue that as it cannot be like all these sensations
there is no reason to believe it like any. It suffices to remark that
since the force as known to us is an affection of consciousness, we
cannot conceive the force existing in the chair under the same form
without endowing the chair with consciousness. So that it is absurd to
think of Force as in itself like our sensation of it, and yet necessary
so to think of it if we realize it in consciousness at all.

How, again, can we understand the connexion between Force and Matter?
Matter is known to us only through its manifestations of Force: our
ultimate test of Matter is the ability to resist: abstract its
resistance and there remains nothing but empty extension. Yet, on the
other hand, resistance is equally unthinkable apart from Matter—apart
from something extended. Not only, as pointed out some pages back, are
centres of force devoid of extension unimaginable; but, as an inevitable
corollary, we cannot imagine either extended or unextended centres of
force to attract and repel other such centres at a distance, without the
intermediation of some kind of matter. We have here to remark, what
could not without anticipation be remarked when treating of Matter, that
the hypothesis of Newton, equally with that of Boscovich, is open to the
charge that it supposes one thing to act upon another through a space
which is absolutely empty—a supposition which cannot be represented in
thought. This charge is indeed met by the introduction of a hypothetical
fluid existing between the atoms or centres. But the problem is not thus
solved: it is simply shifted, and re-appears when the constitution of
this fluid is inquired into.       How impossible it is to elude the
difficulty presented by the transfer of Force through space, is best
seen in the case of astronomical forces. The Sim acts upon us in such
way as to produce the sensations of light and heat; and we have
ascertained that between the cause as existing in the Sun, and the
effect as experienced on the Earth, a lapse of about eight minutes
occurs: whence unavoidably result in us, the conceptions of both a force
and a motion. So that for the assumption of a luminiferous ether, there
is the defence, not only that the exercise of force through 95,000,000
of miles of absolute vacuum is inconceivable, but also that it is
impossible to conceive motion in the absence of something moved.
Similarly in the case of gravitation. Newton described himself as unable
to think that the attraction of one body for another at a distance,
could be exerted in the absence of an intervening medium. But now let us
ask how much the forwarder we are if an intervening medium be assumed.
This ether whose undulations according to the received hypothesis
constitute heat and light, and which is the vehicle of gravitation—how
is it constituted? We must regard it, in the way that physicists do
regard it, as composed of atoms which attract and repel each
other—infinitesimal it may be in comparison with those of ordinary
matter, but still atoms. And remembering that this ether is
imponderable, we are obliged to conclude that the ratio between the
interspaces of these atoms and the atoms themselves, is incommensurably
greater than the like ratio in ponderable matter; else the densities
could not be incommensurable. Instead then of a direct action by the Sun
upon the Earth without anything intervening, we have to conceive the
Sun’s action propagated through a medium whose molecules are probably as
small relatively to their interspaces as are the Sun and Earth compared
with the space between them: we have to conceive these infinitesimal
molecules acting on each other through absolutely vacant spaces which
are immense in comparison with their own dimensions. How is this
conception easier than the other? We still have mentally to represent a
body as acting where it is not, and in the absence of anything by which
its action may be transferred; and what matters it whether this takes
place on a large or a small scale?       We see therefore that the
exercise of Force is altogether unintelligible. We cannot imagine it
except through the instrumentality of something having extension; and
yet when we have assumed this something, we find the perplexity is not
got rid of but only postponed. We are obliged to conclude that matter,
whether ponderable or imponderable, and whether aggregated or in its
hypothetical units, acts upon matter through absolutely vacant space;
and yet this conclusion is positively unthinkable.

Again, Light, Heat, Gravitation and all central forces, vary inversely
as the squares of the distances; and physicists in their investigations
assume that the units of matter act upon each other according to the
same law—an assumption which indeed they are obliged to make; since this
law is not simply an empirical one, but one deducible mathematically
from the relations of space—one of which the negation is inconceivable.
But now, in any mass of matter which is in internal equilibrium, what
must follow? The attractions and repulsions of the constituent atoms are
balanced. Being balanced, the atoms remain at their present distances;
and the mass of matter neither expands nor contracts. But if the forces
with which two adjacent atoms attract and repel each other both vary
inversely as the squares of the distances, as they must; and if they are
in equilibrium at their present distances, as they are; then,
necessarily, they will be in equilibrium at all other distances. Let the
atoms be twice as far apart, and their attractions and repulsions will
both be reduced to one fourth of their present amounts. Let them be
brought within half the distance, and their attractions and repulsions
will both be quadrupled. Whence it follows that this matter will as
readily as not assume any other density; and can offer no resistance to
any external agents. Thus we are obliged to say that these antagonist
molecular forces do not both vary inversely as the squares of the
distances, which is unthinkable; or else that matter does not possess
that attribute of resistance by which alone we distinguish it from empty
space, which is absurd.

While then it is impossible to form any idea of Force in itself, it is
equally impossible to comprehend either its mode of exercise or its law
of variation.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 19. Turning now from the outer to the inner world, let us contemplate,
not the agencies to which we ascribe our subjective modifications, but
the subjective modifications themselves. These constitute a series.
Difficult as we find it distinctly to separate and individualize them,
it is nevertheless beyond question that our states of consciousness
occur in succession.

Is this chain of states of consciousness infinite or finite? We cannot
say infinite; not only because we have indirectly reached the conclusion
that there was a period when it commenced, but also because all infinity
is inconceivable—an infinite series included. We cannot say finite; for
we have no knowledge of either of its ends. Go back in memory as far as
we may, we are wholly unable to identify our first states of
consciousness: the perspective of our thoughts vanishes in a dim
obscurity where we can make out nothing. Similarly at the other extreme.
We have no immediate knowledge of a termination to the series at a
future time; and we cannot really lay hold of that temporary termination
of the series reached at the present moment. For the state of
consciousness recognized by us as our last, is not truly our last. That
any mental affection may be contemplated as one of the series, it must
be remembered—_represented_ in thought, not _presented_. The truly last
state of consciousness is that which is passing in the very act of
contemplating a state just past—that in which we are thinking of the one
before as the last. So that the proximate end of the chain eludes us, as
well as the remote end.

“But,” it may be said, “though we cannot directly _know_ consciousness
to be finite in duration, because neither of its limits can be actually
reached; yet we can very well _conceive_ it to be so.” No: not even this
is true. In the first place, we cannot _con_ceive the terminations of
that consciousness which alone we really know—our own—any more than we
can _per_ceive its terminations. For in truth the two acts are here one.
In either case such terminations must be, as above said, not presented
in thought, but represented; and they must be represented as in the act
of occurring. Now to represent the termination of consciousness as
occurring in ourselves, is to think of ourselves as contemplating the
cessation of the last state of consciousness; and this implies a
supposed continuance of consciousness after its last state, which is
absurd. In the second place, if we regard the matter objectively—if we
study the phenomena as occurring in others, or in the abstract, we are
equally foiled. Consciousness implies perpetual change and the perpetual
establishment of relations between its successive phases. To be known at
all, any mental affection must be known as such or such—as like these
foregoing ones or unlike those: if it is not thought of in connexion
with others—not distinguished or identified by comparison with others,
it is not recognized—is not a state of consciousness at all. A last
state of consciousness, then, like any other, can exist only through a
perception of its relations to previous states. But such perception of
its relations must constitute a state later than the last, which is a
contradiction. Or to put the difficulty in another form:—If ceaseless
change of state is the condition on which alone consciousness exists,
then when the supposed last state has been reached by the completion of
the preceding change, change has ceased; therefore consciousness has
ceased; therefore the supposed last state is not a state of
consciousness at all; therefore there can be no last state of
consciousness. In short, the perplexity is like that presented by the
relations of Motion and Rest. As we found it was impossible really to
conceive Rest becoming Motion or Motion becoming Rest; so here we find
it is impossible really to conceive either the beginning or the ending
of those changes which constitute consciousness.

Hence, while we are unable either to believe or to conceive that the
duration of consciousness is infinite, we are equally unable either to
know it as finite, or to conceive it as finite.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 20. Nor do we meet with any greater success when, instead of the
extent of consciousness, we consider its substance. The question—What is
this that thinks? admits of no better solution than the question to
which we have just found none but inconceivable answers.

The existence of each individual as known to himself, has been always
held by mankind at large, the most incontrovertible of truths. To say—“I
am as sure of it as I am sure that I exist,” is, in common speech, the
most emphatic expression of certainty. And this fact of personal
existence, testified to by the universal consciousness of men, has been
made the basis of sundry philosophies; whence may be drawn the
inference, that it is held by thinkers, as well as by the vulgar, to be
beyond all facts unquestionable.

Belief in the reality of self, is, indeed, a belief which no hypothesis
enables us to escape. What shall we say of these successive impressions
and ideas which constitute consciousness? Shall we say that they are the
affections of something called mind, which, as being the subject of
them, is the real _ego_? If we say this, we manifestly imply that the
_ego_ is an entity. Shall we assert that these impressions and ideas are
not the mere superficial changes wrought on some thinking substance, but
are themselves the very body of this substance—are severally the
modified forms which it from moment to moment assumes? This hypothesis,
equally with the foregoing, implies that the individual exists as a
permanent and distinct being; since modifications necessarily involve
something modified. Shall we then betake ourselves to the sceptic’s
position, and argue that we know nothing more than our impressions and
ideas themselves—that these are to us the only existences; and that the
personality said to underlie them is a mere fiction? We do not even thus
escape; since this proposition, verbally intelligible but really
unthinkable, itself makes the assumption which it professes to
repudiate. For how can consciousness be wholly resolved into impressions
and ideas, when an impression of necessity implies something impressed?
Or again, how can the sceptic who has decomposed his consciousness into
impressions and ideas, explain the fact that he considers them as _his_
impressions and ideas? Or once more, if, as he must, he admits that he
has an impression of his personal existence, what warrant can he show
for rejecting this impression as unreal while he accepts all his other
impressions as real? Unless he can give satisfactory answers to these
queries, which he cannot, he must abandon his conclusions; and must
admit the reality of the individual mind.

But now, unavoidable as is this belief—established though it is, not
only by the assent of mankind at large, endorsed by divers philosophers,
but by the suicide of the sceptical argument—it is yet a belief
admitting of no justification by reason: nay, indeed, it is a belief
which reason, when pressed for a distinct answer, rejects. One of the
most recent writers who has touched upon this question—Mr Mansel—does
indeed contend that in the consciousness of self, we have a piece of
real knowledge. The validity of immediate intuition he holds in this
case unquestionable: remarking that “let system-makers say what they
will, the unsophisticated sense of mankind refuses to acknowledge that
mind is but a bundle of states of consciousness, as matter is (possibly)
a bundle of sensible qualities.” On which position the obvious comment
is, that it does not seem altogether a consistent one for a Kantist, who
pays but small respect to “the unsophisticated sense of mankind” when it
testifies to the objectivity of space. Passing over this, however, it
may readily be shown that a cognition of self, properly so called, is
absolutely negatived by the laws of thought. The fundamental condition
to all consciousness, emphatically insisted upon by Mr Mansel in common
with Sir William Hamilton and others, is the antithesis of subject and
object. And on this “primitive dualism of consciousness,” “from which
the explanations of philosophy must take their start,” Mr Mansel founds
his refutation of the German absolutists. But now, what is the corollary
from this doctrine, as bearing on the consciousness of self? The mental
act in which self is known, implies, like every other mental act, a
perceiving subject and a perceived object. If, then, the object
perceived is self, what is the subject that perceives? or if it is the
true self which thinks, what other self can it be that is thought of?
Clearly, a true cognition of self implies a state in which the knowing
and the known are one—in which subject and object are identified; and
this Mr Mansel rightly holds to be the annihilation of both.

So that the personality of which each is conscious, and of which the
existence is to each a fact beyond all others the most certain, is yet a
thing which cannot truly be known at all: knowledge of it is forbidden
by the very nature of thought.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 21. Ultimate Scientific Ideas, then, are all representative of
realities that cannot be comprehended. After no matter how great a
progress in the colligation of facts and the establishment of
generalizations ever wider and wider—after the merging of limited and
derivative truths in truths that are larger and deeper has been carried
no matter how far; the fundamental truth remains as much beyond reach as
ever. The explanation of that which is explicable, does but bring out
into greater clearness the inexplicableness of that which remains
behind. Alike in the external and the internal worlds, the man of
science sees himself in the midst of perpetual changes of which he can
discover neither the beginning nor the end. If, tracing back the
evolution of things, he allows himself to entertain the hypothesis that
the Universe once existed in a diffused form, he finds it utterly
impossible to conceive how this came to be so; and equally, if he
speculates on the future, he can assign no limit to the grand succession
of phenomena ever unfolding themselves before him. In like manner if he
looks inward, he perceives that both ends of the thread of consciousness
are beyond his grasp; nay, even beyond his power to think of as having
existed or as existing in time to come. When, again, he turns from the
succession of phenomena, external or internal, to their intrinsic
nature, he is just as much at fault. Supposing him in every case able to
resolve the appearances, properties, and movements of things, into
manifestations of Force in Space and Time; he still finds that Force,
Space, and Time pass all understanding. Similarly, though the analysis
of mental actions may finally bring him down to sensations, as the
original materials out of which all thought is woven, yet he is little
forwarder; for he can give no account either of sensations themselves or
of that something which is conscious of sensations. Objective and
subjective things he thus ascertains to be alike inscrutable in their
substance and genesis. In all directions his investigations eventually
bring him face to face with an insoluble enigma; and he ever more
clearly perceives it to be an insoluble enigma. He learns at once the
greatness and the littleness of the human intellect—its power in dealing
with all that comes within the range of experience; its impotence in
dealing with all that transcends experience. He realizes with a special
vividness the utter incomprehensibleness of the simplest fact,
considered in itself. He, more than any other, truly _knows_ that in its
ultimate essence nothing can be known.

                              CHAPTER IV.

§ 22. The same conclusion is thus arrived at, from whichever point we
set out. If, respecting the origin and nature of things, we make some
assumption, we find that through an inexorable logic it inevitably
commits us to alternative impossibilities of thought; and this holds
true of every assumption that can be imagined. If, contrariwise, we make
no assumption, but set out from the sensible properties of surrounding
objects, and, ascertaining their special laws of dependence, go on to
merge these in laws more and more general, until we bring them all under
some most general laws; we still find ourselves as far as ever from
knowing what it is which manifests these properties to us: clearly as we
seem to know it, our apparent knowledge proves on examination to be
utterly irreconcilable with itself. Ultimate religious ideas and
ultimate scientific ideas, alike turn out to be merely symbols of the
actual, not cognitions of it.

The conviction, so reached, that human intelligence is incapable of
absolute knowledge, is one that has been slowly gaining ground as
civilization has advanced. Each new ontological theory, from time to
time propounded in lieu of previous ones shown to be untenable, has been
followed by a new criticism leading to a new scepticism. All possible
conceptions have been one by one tried and found wanting; and so the
entire field of speculation has been gradually exhausted without
positive result: the only result arrived at being the negative one above
stated—that the reality existing behind all appearances is, and must
ever be, unknown. To this conclusion almost every thinker of note has
subscribed. “With the exception,” says Sir William Hamilton, “of a few
late Absolutist theorisers in Germany, this is, perhaps, the truth of
all others most harmoniously re-echoed by every philosopher of every
school.” And among these he names—Protagoras, Aristotle, St. Augustin,
Boethius, Averroes, Albertus Magnus, Gerson, Leo Hebræus, Melancthon,
Scaliger, Francis Piccolomini, Giordano Bruno, Campanella, Bacon,
Spinoza, Newton, Kant.

It yet remains to point out how this belief may be established
rationally, as well as empirically. Not only is it that, as in the
earlier thinkers above named, a vague perception of the inscrutableness
of things in themselves results from discovering the illusiveness of
sense-impressions; and not only is it that, as shown in the foregoing
chapters, definite experiments evolve alternative impossibilities of
thought out of every ultimate conception we can frame; but it is that
the relativity of our knowledge is demonstrable analytically. The
induction drawn from general and special experiences, may be confirmed
by a deduction from the nature of our intelligence. Two ways of reaching
such a deduction exist. Proof that our cognitions are not, and never can
be, absolute, is obtainable by analyzing either the _product_ of
thought, or the _process_ of thought. Let us analyze each.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 23. If, when walking through the fields some day in September, you
hear a rustle a few yards in advance, and on observing the ditch-side
where it occurs, see the herbage agitated, you will probably turn
towards the spot to learn by what this sound and motion are produced. As
you approach there flutters into the ditch, a partridge; on seeing which
your curiosity is satisfied—you have what you call an _explanation_ of
the appearances. The explanation, mark, amounts to this; that whereas
throughout life you have had countless experiences of disturbance among
small stationary bodies, accompanying the movement of other bodies among
them, and have generalized the relation between such disturbances and
such movements, you consider this particular disturbance explained, on
finding it to present, an instance of the like relation.       Suppose
you catch the partridge; and, wishing to ascertain why it did not
escape, examine it, and find at one spot, a slight trace of blood upon
its feathers. You now _understand_, as you say, what has disabled the
partridge. It has been wounded by a sportsman—adds another case to the
many cases already seen by you, of birds being killed or injured by the
shot discharged at them from fowling-pieces. And in assimilating this
case to other such cases, consists your understanding of it.       But
now, on consideration, a difficulty suggests itself. Only a single shot
has struck the partridge, and that not in a vital place: the wings are
uninjured, as are also those muscles which move them; and the creature
proves by its struggles that it has abundant strength. Why then, you
inquire of yourself, does it not fly? Occasion favouring, you put the
question to an anatomist, who furnishes you with _a solution_. He points
out that this solitary shot has passed close to the place at which the
nerve supplying the wing-muscles of one side, diverges from the spine;
and that a slight injury to this nerve, extending even to the rupture of
a few fibres, may, by preventing a perfect co-ordination in the actions
of the two wings, destroy the power of flight. You are no longer
puzzled. But what has happened?—what has changed your state from one of
perplexity to one of _comprehension_? Simply the disclosure of a class
of previously known cases, along with which you can include this case.
The connexion between lesions of the nervous system and paralysis of
limbs has been already many times brought under your notice; and you
here find a relation of cause and effect that is essentially similar.

Let us suppose you are led on to make further inquiries concerning
organic actions, which, conspicuous and remarkable as they are, you had
not before cared to understand. How is respiration effected? you ask—why
does air periodically rush into the lungs? The answer is that in the
higher vertebrata, as in ourselves, influx of air is caused by an
enlargement of the thoracic cavity, due, partly to depression of the
diaphragm, partly to elevation of the ribs. But how does elevation of
the ribs enlarge the cavity? In reply the anatomist shows you that the
plane of each pair of ribs makes an acute angle with the spine; that
this angle widens when the moveable ends of the ribs are raised; and he
makes you realize the consequent dilatation of the cavity, by pointing
out how the area of a parallelogram increases as its angles approach to
right angles—you understand this special fact when you see it to be an
instance of a general geometrical fact. There still arises, however, the
question—why does the air rush into this enlarged cavity? To which comes
the answer that, when the thoracic cavity is enlarged, the contained
air, partially relieved from pressure, expands, and so loses some of its
resisting power; that hence it opposes to the pressure of the external
air a less pressure; and that as air, like every other fluid, presses
equally in all directions, motion must result along any line in which
the resistance is less than elsewhere; whence follows an inward current.
And this _interpretation_ you recognize as one, when a few facts of like
kind, exhibited more plainly in a visible fluid such as water, are cited
in illustration.       Again, when it was pointed out that the limbs are
compound levers acting in essentially the same way as levers of iron or
wood, you might consider yourself as having obtained a partial
_rationale_ of animal movements. The contraction of a muscle, seeming
before utterly unaccountable, would seem less unaccountable were you
shown how, by a galvanic current, a series of soft iron magnets could be
made to shorten itself, through the attraction of each magnet for its
neighbours:—an alleged analogy which especially answers the purpose of
our argument; since, whether real or fancied, it equally illustrates the
mental illumination that results on finding a class of cases within
which a particular case may possibly be included. And it may be further
noted how, in the instance here named, an additional feeling of
comprehension arises on remembering that the influence conveyed through
the nerves to the muscles, is, though not positively electric, yet a
form of force nearly allied to the electric.       Similarly when you
learn that animal heat arises from chemical combination, and so is
evolved as heat is evolved in other chemical combinations—when you learn
that the absorption of nutrient fluids through the coats of the
intestines, is an instance of osmotic action—when you learn that the
changes undergone by food during digestion, are like changes
artificially producible in the laboratory; you regard yourself as
_knowing_ something about the natures of these phenomena.

Observe now what we have been doing. Turning to the general question,
let us note where these successive interpretations have carried us. We
began with quite special and concrete facts. In explaining each, and
afterwards explaining the more general facts of which they are
instances, we have got down to certain highly general facts:—to a
geometrical principle or property of space, to a simple law of
mechanical action, to a law of fluid equilibrium—to truths in physics,
in chemistry, in thermology, in electricity. The particular phenomena
with which we set out, have been merged in larger and larger groups of
phenomena; and as they have been so merged, we have arrived at solutions
that we consider profound in proportion as this process has been carried
far. Still deeper explanations are simply further steps in the same
direction. When, for instance, it is asked why the law of action of the
lever is what it is, or why fluid equilibrium and fluid motion exhibit
the relations which they do, the answer furnished by mathematicians
consists in the disclosure of the principle of virtual velocities—a
principle holding true alike in fluids and solids—a principle under
which the others are comprehended. And similarly, the insight obtained
into the phenomena of chemical combination, heat, electricity, &c.,
implies that a rationale of them, when found, will be the exposition of
some highly general fact respecting the constitution of matter, of which
chemical, electrical, and thermal facts, are merely different

Is this process limited or unlimited? Can we go on for ever explaining
classes of facts by including them in larger classes; or must we
eventually come to a largest class? The supposition that the process is
unlimited, were any one absurd enough to espouse it, would still imply
that an ultimate explanation could not be reached; since infinite time
would be required to reach it. While the unavoidable conclusion that it
is limited (proved not only by the finite sphere of observation open to
us, but also by the diminution in the number of generalizations that
necessarily accompanies increase of their breadth) equally implies that
the ultimate fact cannot be understood. For if the successively deeper
interpretations of nature which constitute advancing knowledge, are
merely successive inclusions of special truths in general truths, and of
general truths in truths still more general; it obviously follows that
the most general truth, not admitting of inclusion in any other, does
not admit of interpretation. Manifestly, as the _most_ general cognition
at which we arrive cannot be reduced to a _more_ general one, it cannot
be understood. Of necessity, therefore, explanation must eventually
bring us down to the inexplicable. The deepest truth which we can get
at, must be unaccountable. Comprehension must become something other
than comprehension, before the ultimate fact can be comprehended.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 24. The inference which we thus find forced upon us when we analyze
the product of thought, as exhibited objectively in scientific
generalizations, is equally forced upon us by an analysis of the process
of thought, as exhibited subjectively in consciousness. The
demonstration of the necessarily relative character of our knowledge, as
deduced from the nature of intelligence, has been brought to its most
definite shape by Sir William Hamilton. I cannot here do better than
extract from his essay on the “Philosophy of the Unconditioned,” the
passage containing the substance of his doctrine.

“The mind can conceive,” he argues, “and consequently can know,” only
the _limited, and the conditionally limited_. The unconditionally
unlimited, or the _Infinite_, the unconditionally limited, or the
_Absolute_, cannot positively be construed to the mind; they can be
conceived, only by a thinking away from, or abstraction of, those very
conditions under which thought itself is realized; consequently, the
notion of the Unconditioned is only negative,—negative of the
conceivable itself. For example, on the one hand we can positively
conceive, neither an absolute whole, that is, a whole so great, that we
cannot also conceive it as a relative part of a still greater whole; nor
an absolute part, that is, a part so small, that we cannot also conceive
it as a relative whole, divisible into smaller parts. On the other hand,
we cannot positively represent, or realize, or construe to the mind (as
here understanding and imagination coincide), an infinite whole, for
this could only be done by the infinite synthesis in thought of finite
wholes, which would itself require an infinite time for its
accomplishment; nor, for the same reason, can we follow out in thought
an infinite divisibility of parts. The result is the same, whether we
apply the process to limitation in _space_, in _time_, or in _degree_.
The unconditional negation, and the unconditional affirmation of
limitation; in other words, the _infinite_ and _absolute, properly so
called_, are thus equally inconceivable to us.

As the conditionally limited (which we may briefly call the
_conditioned_) is thus the only possible object of knowledge and of
positive thought—thought necessarily supposes conditions. To _think_ is
to _condition_; and conditional limitation is the fundamental law of the
possibility of thought. For, as the greyhound cannot outstrip his
shadow, nor (by a more appropriate simile) the eagle outsoar the
atmosphere in which he floats, and by which alone he may be supported;
so the mind cannot transcend that sphere of limitation, within and
through which exclusively the possibility of thought is realized.
Thought is only of the conditioned; because, as we have said, to think
is simply to condition. The _absolute_ is conceived merely by a negation
of conceivability; and all that we know, is only known as

             ——‘won from the void and formless _infinite_.’

How, indeed, it could ever be doubted that thought is only of the
conditioned, may well be deemed a matter of the profoundest
admiration. Thought cannot transcend consciousness; consciousness is
only possible under the antithesis of a subject and object of thought,
known only in correlation, and mutually limiting each other; while,
independently of this, all that we know either of subject or object,
either of mind or matter, is only a knowledge in each of the
particular, of the plural, of the different, of the modified, of the
phenomenal. We admit that the consequence of this doctrine is,—that
philosophy, if viewed as more than a science of the conditioned, is
impossible. Departing from the particular, we admit, that we can
never, in our highest generalizations, rise above the finite; that our
knowledge, whether of mind or matter, can be nothing more than a
knowledge of the relative manifestations of an existence, which in
itself it is our highest wisdom to recognize as beyond the reach of
philosophy,—in the language of St Austin,—‘_cognoscendo ignorari, et
ignorando cognosci_.’

“The conditioned is the mean between two extremes,—two inconditionates,
exclusive of each other, neither of which _can be conceived as
possible_, but of which, on the principles of contradiction and excluded
middle, one _must be admitted as necessary_. On this opinion, therefore,
reason is shown to be weak, but not deceitful. The mind is not
represented as conceiving two propositions subversive of each other, as
equally possible; but only, as unable to understand as possible, either
of two extremes; one of which, however, on the ground of their mutual
repugnance, it is compelled to recognize as true. We are thus taught the
salutary lesson, that the capacity of thought is not to be constituted
into the measure of existence; and are warned from recognizing the
domain of our knowledge as necessarily co-extensive with the horizon of
our faith. And by a wonderful revelation, we are thus, in the very
consciousness of our inability to conceive aught above the relative and
finite, inspired with a belief in the existence of something
unconditioned beyond the sphere of all comprehensible reality.”

Clear and conclusive as this statement of the case appears when
carefully studied, it is expressed in so abstract a manner as to be not
very intelligible to the general reader. A more popular presentation of
it, with illustrative applications, as given by Mr Mansel in his “Limits
of Religious Thought,” will make it more fully understood. The following
extracts, which I take the liberty of making from his pages, will

“The very conception of consciousness, in whatever mode it may be
manifested, necessarily implies _distinction between one object and
another_. To be conscious, we must be conscious of something; and that
something can only be known, as that which it is, by being distinguished
from that which it is not. But distinction is necessarily limitation;
for, if one object is to be distinguished from another, it must possess
some form of existence which the other has not, or it must not possess
some form which the other has. But it is obvious the Infinite cannot be
distinguished, as such, from the Finite, by the absence of any quality
which the Finite possesses; for such absence would be a limitation. Nor
yet can it be distinguished by the presence of an attribute which the
Finite has not; for, as no finite part can be a constituent of an
infinite whole, this differential characteristic must itself be
infinite; and must at the same time have nothing in common with the
finite. We are thus thrown back upon our former impossibility; for this
second infinite will be distinguished from the finite by the absence of
qualities which the latter possesses. A consciousness of the Infinite as
such thus necessarily involves a self-contradiction; for it implies the
recognition, by limitation and difference, of that which can only be
given as unlimited and indifferent. * * *

“This contradiction, which is utterly inexplicable on the supposition
that the infinite is a positive object of human thought, is at once
accounted for, when it is regarded as the mere negation of thought. If
all thought is limitation;—if whatever we conceive is, by the very act
of conception, regarded as finite,—_the infinite_, from a human point of
view, is merely a name for the absence of those conditions under which
thought is possible. To speak of a _Conception of the Infinite_ is,
therefore, at once to affirm those conditions and to deny them. The
contradiction, which we discover in such a conception, is only that
which we have ourselves placed there, by tacitly assuming the
conceivability of the inconceivable. The condition of consciousness is
distinction; and condition of distinction is limitation. We can have no
consciousness of Being in general which is not some Being in particular:
a _thing_, in consciousness, is one thing out of many. In assuming the
possibility of an infinite object of consciousness, I assume, therefore,
that it is at the same time limited and unlimited;—actually something,
without which it could not be an object of consciousness, and actually
nothing, without which it could not be infinite. * * *

“A second characteristic of Consciousness is, that it is only possible
in the form of a _relation_. There must be a Subject, or person
conscious, and an Object, or thing of which he is conscious. There can
be no consciousness without the union of these two factors; and, in that
union, each exists only as it is related to the other. The subject is a
subject, only in so far as it is conscious of an object: the object is
an object, only in so far as it is apprehended by a subject: and the
destruction of either is the destruction of consciousness itself. It is
thus manifest that a consciousness of the Absolute is equally
self-contradictory with that of the Infinite. To be conscious of the
Absolute as such, we must know that an object, which is given in
relation to our consciousness, is identical with one which exists in its
own nature, out of all relation to consciousness. But to know this
identity, we must be able to compare the two together; and such a
comparison is itself a contradiction. We are in fact required to compare
that of which we are conscious with that of which we are not conscious;
the comparison itself being an act of consciousness, and only possible
through the consciousness of both its objects. It is thus manifest that,
even if we could be conscious of the absolute, we could not possibly
know that it is the absolute: and, as we can be conscious of an object
as such, only by knowing it to be what it is, this is equivalent to an
admission that we cannot be conscious of the absolute at all. As an
object of consciousness, every thing is necessarily relative; and what a
thing may be out of consciousness, no mode of consciousness can tell us.

“This contradiction, again, admits of the same explanation as the
former. Our whole notion of existence is necessarily relative; for it is
existence as conceived by us. But _Existence_, as we conceive it, is but
a name for the several ways in which objects are presented to our
consciousness,—a general term, embracing a variety of relations. _The
Absolute_, on the other hand, is a term expressing no object of thought,
but only a denial of the relation by which thought is constituted. To
assume absolute existence as an object of thought, is thus to suppose a
relation existing when the related terms exist no longer. An object of
thought exists, as such, in and through its relation to a thinker; while
the Absolute, as such, is independent of all relation. The _Conception
of the Absolute_ thus implies at the same time the presence and absence
of the relation by which thought is constituted; and our various
endeavours to represent it are only so many modified forms of the
contradiction involved in our original assumption. Here, too, the
contradiction is one which we ourselves have made. It does not imply
that the Absolute cannot exist; but it implies, most certainly, that we
cannot conceive it as existing.”

Here let me point out how the same general inference may be evolved from
another fundamental condition of thought, omitted by Sir W. Hamilton,
and not supplied by Mr Mansel;—a condition which, under its obverse
aspect, we have already contemplated in the last section. Every complete
act of consciousness, besides distinction and relation, also implies
likeness. Before it can become an idea, or constitute a piece of
knowledge, a mental state must not only be known as separate in kind
from certain foregoing states to which it is known as related by
succession; but it must further be known as of the same kind with
certain other foregoing states. That organization of changes which
constitutes thinking, involves continuous integration as well as
continuous differentiation. Were each new affection of the mind
perceived simply as an affection in some way contrasted with the
preceding ones—were there but a chain of impressions, each of which as
it arose was merely distinguished from its predecessors; consciousness
would be an utter chaos. To produce that orderly consciousness which we
call intelligence, there requires the assimilation of each impression to
others, that occurred earlier in the series. Both the successive mental
states, and the successive relations which they bear to each other, must
be classified; and classification involves not only a parting of the
unlike, but also a binding together of the like. In brief, a true
cognition is possible only through an accompanying recognition.
      Should it be objected that if so, there cannot be a first
cognition, and hence there can be no cognition; the reply is, that
cognition proper arises gradually—that during the first stage of
incipient intelligence, before the feelings produced by intercourse with
the outer world have been put into order, there _are_ no cognitions,
strictly so called; and that, as every infant shows us, these slowly
emerge out of the confusion of unfolding consciousness as fast as the
experiences are arranged into groups—as fast as the most frequently
repeated sensations, and their relations to each other, become familiar
enough to admit of their recognition as such or such, whenever they
recur. Should it be further objected that if cognition pre-supposes
recognition, there can be, no cognition, even by an adult, of an object
never before seen; there is still the sufficient answer that in so far
as it is not assimilated to previously-seen objects, it is _not_ known,
and that it _is_ known in so far as it is assimilated to them. Of this
paradox the interpretation is, that an object is classifiable in various
ways, with various degrees of completeness. An animal hitherto _unknown_
(mark the word), though not referable to any established species or
genus, is yet _recognized_ as belonging to one of the larger
divisions—mammals, birds, reptiles, or fishes; or should it be so
anomalous that its alliance with any of these is not determinable, it
may yet be classed as vertebrate or invertebrate; or if it be one of
those organisms of which it is doubtful whether the animal or vegetal
characteristics predominate, it is still known as a living body; even
should it be questioned whether it is organic, it remains beyond
question that it is a material object, and it is cognized by being
recognized as such. Whence it is manifest that a thing is perfectly
known only when it is in all respects like certain things previously
observed; that in proportion to the number of respects in which it is
unlike them, is the extent to which it is unknown; and that hence when
it has absolutely no attribute in common with anything else, it must be
absolutely beyond the bounds of knowledge.

Observe the corollary which here concerns us. A cognition of the Real,
as distinguished from the Phenomenal, must, if it exists, conform to
this law of cognition in general. The First Cause, the Infinite, the
Absolute, to be known at all, must be classed. To be positively thought
of, it must be thought of as such or such—as of this or that kind. Can
it be like in kind to anything of which we have sensible experience?
Obviously not. Between the creating and the created, there must be a
distinction transcending any of the distinctions existing between
different divisions of the created. That which is uncaused cannot be
assimilated to that which is caused: the two being, in the very naming,
antithetically opposed. The Infinite cannot be grouped along with
something that is finite; since, in being so grouped, it must be
regarded as not-infinite. It is impossible to put the Absolute in the
same category with anything relative, so long as the Absolute is defined
as that of which no necessary relation can be predicated. Is it then
that the Actual, though unthinkable by classification with the Apparent,
is thinkable by classification with itself? This supposition is equally
absurd with the other. It implies the plurality of the First Cause, the
Infinite, the Absolute; and this implication is self-contradictory.
There cannot be more than one First Cause; seeing that the existence of
more than one would involve the existence of something necessitating
more than one, which something would be the true First Cause. How
self-destructive is the assumption of two or more Infinites, is manifest
on remembering that such Infinites, by limiting each other, would become
finite. And similarly, an Absolute which existed not alone but along
with other Absolutes, would no longer be an absolute but a relative. The
Unconditioned therefore, as class-able neither with any form of the
conditioned nor with any other Unconditioned, cannot be classed at all.
And to admit that it cannot be known as of such or such kind, is to
admit that it is unknowable.

Thus, from the very nature of thought, the relativity of our knowledge
is inferable in three several ways. As we find by analyzing it, and as
we see it objectively displayed in every proposition, a thought involves
_relation_, _difference_, _likeness_. Whatever does not present each of
these does not admit of cognition. And hence we may say that the
Unconditioned, as presenting none of them, is trebly unthinkable.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 25. From yet another point of view we may discern the same great
truth. If, instead of examining our intellectual powers directly as
exhibited in the act of thought, or indirectly as exhibited in thought
when expressed by words, we look at the connexion between the mind and
the world, a like conclusion is forced upon us. In the very definition
of Life, when reduced to its most abstract shape, this ultimate
implication becomes visible.

All vital actions, considered not separately but in their ensemble, have
for their final purpose the balancing of certain outer processes by
certain inner processes. There are unceasing external forces tending to
bring the matter of which organic bodies consist, into that state of
stable equilibrium displayed by inorganic bodies; there are internal
forces by which this tendency is constantly antagonized; and the
perpetual changes which constitute Life, may be regarded as incidental
to the maintenance of the antagonism. To preserve the erect posture, for
instance, we see that certain weights have to be neutralized by certain
strains: each limb or other organ, gravitating to the Earth and pulling
down the parts to which it is attached, has to be preserved in position
by the tension of sundry muscles; or in other words, the group of forces
which would if allowed bring the body to the ground, has to be
counterbalanced by another group of forces. Again, to keep up the
temperature at a particular point, the external process of radiation and
absorption of heat by the surrounding medium, must be met by a
corresponding internal process of chemical combination, whereby more
heat may be evolved; to which add, that if from atmospheric changes the
loss becomes greater or less, the production must become greater or
less. And similarly throughout the organic actions in general.

When we contemplate the lower kinds of life, we see that the
correspondences thus maintained are direct and simple; as in a plant,
the vitality of which mainly consists in osmotic and chemical actions
responding to the co-existence of light, heat, water, and carbonic acid
around it. But in animals, and especially in the higher orders of them,
the correspondences become extremely complex. Materials for growth and
repair not being, like those which plants require, everywhere present,
but being widely dispersed and under special forms, have to be found, to
be secured, and to be reduced to a fit state for assimilation. Hence the
need for locomotion; hence the need for the senses; hence the need for
prehensile and destructive appliances; hence the need for an elaborate
digestive apparatus. Observe, however, that these successive
complications are essentially nothing but aids to the maintenance of the
organic balance in its integrity, in opposition to those physical,
chemical, and other agencies which tend to overturn it. And observe,
moreover, that while these successive complications subserve this
fundamental adaptation of inner to outer actions, they are themselves
nothing else but further adaptations of inner to outer actions. For what
are those movements by which a predatory creature pursues its prey, or
by which its prey seeks to escape, but certain changes in the organism
fitted to meet certain changes in its environment? What is that compound
operation which constitutes the perception of a piece of food, but a
particular correlation of nervous modifications, answering to a
particular correlation of physical properties? What is that process by
which food when swallowed is reduced to a fit form for assimilation, but
a set of mechanical and chemical actions responding to the mechanical
and chemical actions which distinguish the food? Whence it becomes
manifest, that while Life in its simplest form is the correspondence of
certain inner physico-chemical actions with certain outer
physico-chemical actions, each advance to a higher form of Life consists
in a better preservation of this primary correspondence by the
establishment of other correspondences.

Divesting this conception of all superfluities and reducing it to its
most abstract shape, we see that Life is definable as the continuous
adjustment of internal relations to external relations. And when we so
define it, we discover that the physical and the psychial life are
equally comprehended by the definition. We perceive that this which we
call Intelligence, shows itself when the external relations to which the
internal ones are adjusted, begin to be numerous, complex, and remote in
time or space; that every advance in Intelligence essentially consists
in the establishment of more varied, more complete, and more involved
adjustments; and that even the highest achievements of science are
resolvable into mental relations of co-existence and sequence, so
co-ordinated as exactly to tally with certain relations of co-existence
and sequence that occur externally. A caterpillar, wandering at random
and at length finding its way on to a plant having a certain odour,
begins to eat—has inside of it an organic relation between a particular
impression and a particular set of actions, answering to the relation
outside of it, between scent and nutriment. The sparrow, guided by the
more complex correlation of impressions which the colour, form, and
movements of the caterpillar gave it; and guided also by other
correlations which measure the position and distance of the caterpillar;
adjusts certain correlated muscular movements in such way as to seize
the caterpillar. Through a much greater distance in space is the hawk,
hovering above, affected by the relations of shape and motion which the
sparrow presents; and the much more complicated and prolonged series of
related nervous and muscular changes, gone through in correspondence
with the sparrow’s changing relations of position, finally succeed when
they are precisely adjusted to these changing relations. In the fowler,
experience has established a relation between the appearance and flight
of a hawk and the destruction of other birds, including game; there is
also in him an established relation between those visual impressions
answering to a certain distance in space, and the range of his gun; and
he has learned, too, by frequent observation, what relations of position
the sights must bear to a point somewhat in advance of the flying bird,
before he can fire with success. Similarly if we go back to the
manufacture of the gun. By relations of co-existence between colour,
density, and place in the earth, a particular mineral is known as one
which yields iron; and the obtainment of iron from it, results when
certain correlated acts of ours, are adjusted to certain correlated
affinities displayed by ironstone, coal, and lime, at a high
temperature. If we descend yet a step further, and ask a chemist to
explain the explosion of gunpowder, or apply to a mathematician for a
theory of projectiles, we still find that special or general relations
of co-existence and sequence between properties, motions, spaces &c.,
are all they can teach us. And lastly, let it be noted that what we call
_truth_, guiding us to successful action and the consequent maintenance
of life, is simply the accurate correspondence of subjective to
objective relations; while _error_, leading to failure and therefore
towards death, is the absence of such accurate correspondence.

If, then, Life in all its manifestations, inclusive of Intelligence in
its highest forms, consists in the continuous adjustment of internal
relations to external relations, the necessarily relative character of
our knowledge becomes obvious. The simplest cognition being the
establishment of some connexion between subjective states, answering to
some connexion between objective agencies; and each successively more
complex cognition being the establishment of some more involved
connexion of such states, answering to some more involved connexion of
such agencies; it is clear that the process, no matter how far it be
carried, can never bring within the reach of Intelligence, either the
states themselves or the agencies themselves. Ascertaining which things
occur along with which, and what things follow what, supposing it to be
pursued exhaustively, must still leave us with co-existences and
sequences only. If every act of knowing is the formation of a relation
in consciousness parallel to a relation in the environment, then the
relativity of knowledge is self-evident—becomes indeed a truism.
Thinking being relationing, no thought can ever express more than

And here let us not omit to mark how that to which our intelligence is
confined, is that with which alone our intelligence is concerned. The
knowledge within our reach, is the only knowledge that can be of service
to us. This maintenance of a correspondence between internal actions and
external actions, which both constitutes our life at each moment and is
the means whereby life is continued through subsequent moments, merely
requires that the agencies acting upon us shall be known in their
co-existences and sequences, and not that they shall be known in
themselves. If _x_ and _y_ are two uniformly connected properties in
some outer object, while _a_ and _b_ are the effects they produce in our
consciousness; and if while the property _x_ produces in us the
indifferent mental state _a_, the property _y_ produces in us the
painful mental state _b_ (answering to a physical injury); then, all
that is requisite for our guidance, is, that _x_ being the uniform
accompaniment of _y_ externally, _a_ shall be the uniform accompaniment
of _b_ internally; so that when, by the presence of _x_, _a_ is produced
in consciousness, _b_, or rather the idea of _b_, shall follow it, and
excite the motions by which the effect of _y_ may be escaped. The sole
need is that _a_ and _b_ and the relation between them, shall always
answer to _x_ and _y_ and the relation between them. It matters nothing
to us if _a_ and _b_ are like _x_ and _y_ or not. Could they be exactly
identical with them, we should not be one whit the better off; and their
total dissimilarity is no disadvantage to us.

Deep down then in the very nature of Life, the relativity of our
knowledge is discernible. The analysis of vital actions in general,
leads not only to the conclusion that things in themselves cannot be
known to us; but also to the conclusion that knowledge of them, were it
possible, would be useless.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 26. There still remains the final question—What must we say concerning
that which transcends knowledge? Are we to rest wholly in the
consciousness of phenomena?—is the result of inquiry to exclude utterly
from our minds everything but the relative? or must we also believe in
something beyond the relative?

The answer of pure logic is held to be, that by the limits of our
intelligence we are rigorously confined within the relative; and that
anything transcending the relative can be thought of only as a pure
negation, or as a non-existence. “The _absolute_ is conceived merely by
a negation of conceivability,” writes Sir William Hamilton. “The
_Absolute_ and the _Infinite_” says Mr Mansel, “are thus, like the
_Inconceivable_ and the _Imperceptible_, names indicating, not an object
of thought or of consciousness at all, but the mere absence of the
conditions under which consciousness is possible.” From each of which
extracts may be deduced the conclusion, that since reason cannot warrant
us in affirming the positive existence of what is cognizable only as a
negation, we cannot rationally affirm the positive existence of anything
beyond phenomena.

Unavoidable as this conclusion seems, it involves, I think, a grave
error. If the premiss be granted, the inference must doubtless be
admitted; but the premiss, in the form presented by Sir William
Hamilton and Mr Mansel, is not strictly true. Though, in the foregoing
pages, the arguments used by these writers to show that the Absolute
is unknowable, have been approvingly quoted; and though these
arguments have been enforced by others equally thoroughgoing; yet
there remains to be stated a qualification, which saves us from that
scepticism otherwise necessitated. It is not to be denied that so long
as we confine ourselves to the purely logical aspect of the question,
the propositions quoted above must be accepted in their entirety; but
when we contemplate its more general, or psychological, aspect, we
find that these propositions are imperfect statements of the truth:
omitting, or rather excluding, as they do, an all-important fact. To
speak specifically:—Besides that _definite_ consciousness of which
Logic formulates the laws, there is also an _indefinite_ consciousness
which cannot be formulated. Besides complete thoughts, and besides the
thoughts which though incomplete admit of completion, there are
thoughts which it is impossible to complete; and yet which are still
real, in the sense that they are normal affections of the intellect.

Observe in the first place, that every one of the arguments by which the
relativity of our knowledge is demonstrated, distinctly postulates the
positive existence of something beyond the relative. To say that we
cannot know the Absolute, is, by implication, to affirm that there _is_
an Absolute. In the very denial of our power to learn _what_ the
Absolute is, there lies hidden the assumption _that_ it is; and the
making of this assumption proves that the Absolute has been present to
the mind, not as a nothing, but as a something. Similarly with every
step in the reasoning by which this doctrine is upheld. The Noumenon,
everywhere named as the antithesis of the Phenomenon, is throughout
necessarily thought of as an actuality. It is rigorously impossible to
conceive that our knowledge is a knowledge of Appearances only, without
at the same time conceiving a Reality of which they are appearances; for
appearance without reality is unthinkable. Strike out from the argument
the terms Unconditioned, Infinite, Absolute, with their equivalents, and
in place of them write, “negation of conceivability,” or “absence of the
conditions under which consciousness is possible,” and you find that the
argument becomes nonsense. Truly to realize in thought any one of the
propositions of which the argument consists, the Unconditioned must be
represented as positive and not negative. How then can it be a
legitimate conclusion from the argument, that our consciousness of it is
negative? An argument, the very construction of which assigns to a
certain term a certain meaning, but which ends in showing that this term
has no such meaning, is simply an elaborate suicide. Clearly, then, the
very demonstration that a _definite_ consciousness of the Absolute is
impossible to us, unavoidably presupposes an _indefinite_ consciousness
of it.

Perhaps the best way of showing that by the necessary conditions of
thought, we are obliged to form a positive though vague consciousness of
this which transcends distinct consciousness, is to analyze our
conception of the antithesis between Relative and Absolute. It is a
doctrine called in question by none, that such antinomies of thought as
Whole and Part, Equal and Unequal, Singular and Plural, are necessarily
conceived as correlatives: the conception of a part is impossible
without the conception of a whole; there can be no idea of equality
without one of inequality. And it is admitted that in the same manner,
the Relative is itself conceivable as such, only by opposition to the
Irrelative or Absolute.       Sir William Hamilton however, in his
trenchant (and in most parts unanswerable) criticism on Cousin,
contends, in conformity with his position above stated, that one of
these correlatives is nothing whatever beyond the negation of the other.
“Correlatives” he says “certainly suggest each other, but correlatives
may, or may not, be equally real and positive. In thought
contradictories necessarily imply each other, for the knowledge of
contradictories is one. But the reality of one contradictory, so far
from guaranteeing the reality of the other, is nothing else than its
negation. Thus every positive notion (the concept of a thing by what it
is) suggests a negative notion (the concept of a thing by what it is
not); and the highest positive notion, the notion of the conceivable, is
not without its corresponding negative in the notion of the
inconceivable. But though these mutually suggest each other, the
positive alone is real; the negative is only an abstraction of the
other, and in the highest generality, even an abstraction of thought
itself.”       Now the assertion that of such contradictories “the
negative is _only_ an abstraction of the other”—“is _nothing_ else than
its negation,”—is not true. In such correlatives as Equal and Unequal,
it is obvious enough that the negative concept contains something
besides the negation of the positive one; for the things of which
equality is denied are not abolished from consciousness by the denial.
And the fact overlooked by Sir William Hamilton, is, that the like holds
even with those correlatives of which the negative is inconceivable, in
the strict sense of the word. Take for example the Limited and the
Unlimited. Our notion of the Limited is composed, firstly of a
consciousness of some kind of being, and secondly of a consciousness of
the limits under which it is known. In the antithetical notion of the
Unlimited, the consciousness of limits is abolished; but not the
consciousness of some kind of being. It is quite true that in the
absence of conceived limits, this consciousness ceases to be a concept
properly so called; but it is none the less true that it remains as a
mode of consciousness. If, in such cases, the negative contradictory
were, as alleged, “_nothing else_” than the negation of the other, and
therefore a mere nonentity, then it would clearly follow that negative
contradictories could be used interchangeably: the Unlimited might be
thought of as antithetical to the Divisible; and the Indivisible as
antithetical to the Limited. While the fact that they cannot be so used,
proves that in consciousness the Unlimited and the Indivisible are
qualitatively distinct, and therefore positive or real; since
distinction cannot exist between nothings. The error, (very naturally
fallen into by philosophers intent on demonstrating the limits and
conditions of consciousness,) consists in assuming that consciousness
contains _nothing but_ limits and conditions; to the entire neglect of
that which is limited and conditioned. It is forgotten that there is
something which alike forms the raw material of definite thought and
remains after the definiteness which thinking gave to it has been
destroyed.       Now all this applies by change of terms to the last and
highest of these antinomies—that between the Relative and the
Non-relative. We are conscious of the Relative as existence under
conditions and limits; it is impossible that these conditions and limits
can be thought of apart from something to which they give the form; the
abstraction of these conditions and limits, is, by the hypothesis, the
abstraction of them _only_; consequently there must be a residuary
consciousness of something which filled up their outlines; and this
indefinite something constitutes our consciousness of the Non-relative
or Absolute. Impossible though it is to give to this consciousness any
qualitative or quantitative expression whatever, it is not the less
certain that it remains with us as a positive and indestructible element
of thought.

Still more manifest will this truth become when it is observed that our
conception of the Relative itself disappears, if our conception of the
Absolute is a pure negation. It is admitted, or rather it is contended,
by the writers I have quoted above, that contradictories can be known
only in relation to each other—that Equality, for instance, is
unthinkable apart from its correlative Inequality; and that thus the
Relative can itself be conceived only by opposition to the Non-relative.
It is also admitted, or rather contended, that the consciousness of a
relation implies a consciousness of both the related members. If we are
required to conceive the relation between the Relative and Non-relative
without being conscious of both, “we are in fact” (to quote the words of
Mr Mansel differently applied) “required to compare that of which we are
conscious with that of which we are not conscious; the comparison itself
being an act of consciousness, and only possible through the
consciousness of both its objects.” What then becomes of the assertion
that “the Absolute is conceived merely by a negation of conceivability,”
or as “the mere absence of the conditions under which consciousness is
possible?” If the Non-relative or Absolute, is present in thought only
as a mere negation, then the relation between it and the Relative
becomes unthinkable, because one of the terms of the relation is absent
from consciousness. And if this relation is unthinkable, then is the
Relative itself unthinkable, for want of its antithesis: whence results
the disappearance of all thought whatever.

Let me here point out that both Sir Wm Hamilton and Mr Mansel, do, in
other places, distinctly imply that our consciousness of the Absolute,
indefinite though it is, is positive and not negative. The very passage
already quoted from Sir Wm Hamilton, in which he asserts that “the
_absolute_ is conceived merely by a negation of conceivability,” itself
ends with the remark that, “by a wonderful revelation, we are thus, in
the very consciousness of our inability to conceive aught above the
relative and finite, inspired with a belief in the existence of
something unconditioned beyond the sphere of all comprehensible
reality.” The last of these assertions practically admits that which the
other denies. By the laws of thought as Sir Wm Hamilton has interpreted
them, he finds himself forced to the conclusion that our consciousness
of the Absolute is a pure negation. He nevertheless finds that there
does exist in consciousness an irresistible conviction of the real
“existence of something unconditioned.” And he gets over the
inconsistency by speaking of this conviction as “a wonderful
revelation”—“a belief” with which we are “inspired:” thus apparently
hinting that it is supernaturally at variance with the laws of thought.
Mr Mansel is betrayed into a like inconsistency. When he says that “we
are compelled, by the constitution of our minds, to believe in the
existence of an Absolute and Infinite Being,—a belief which appears
forced upon us, as the complement of our consciousness of the relative
and the finite;” he clearly says by implication that this consciousness
is positive, and not negative. He tacitly admits that we are obliged to
regard the Absolute as something more than a negation—that our
consciousness of it is _not_ “the mere absence of the conditions under
which consciousness is possible.”

The supreme importance of this question must be my apology for taxing
the reader’s attention a little further, in the hope of clearing up the
remaining difficulties. The necessarily positive character of our
consciousness of the Unconditioned, which, as we have seen, follows from
an ultimate law of thought, will be better understood on contemplating
the process of thought.

One of the arguments used to prove the relativity of our knowledge, is,
that we cannot conceive Space or Time as either limited or unlimited. It
is pointed out that when we imagine a limit, there simultaneously arises
the consciousness of a space or time existing beyond the limit. This
remoter space or time, though not contemplated as definite, is yet
contemplated as real. Though we do not form of it a conception proper,
since we do not bring it within bounds, there is yet in our minds the
unshaped material of a conception. Similarly with our consciousness of
Cause. We are no more able to form a circumscribed idea of Cause, than
of Space or Time; and we are consequently obliged to think of the Cause
which transcends the limits of our thought as positive though
indefinite. Just in the same manner that on conceiving any bounded
space, there arises a nascent consciousness of space outside the bounds;
so, when we think of any definite cause, there arises a nascent
consciousness of a cause behind it: and in the one case as in the other,
this nascent consciousness is in substance like that which suggests it,
though without form. The momentum of thought inevitably carries us
beyond conditioned existence to unconditioned existence; and this ever
persists in us as the body of a thought to which we can give no shape.

Hence our firm belief in objective reality—a belief which metaphysical
criticisms cannot for a moment shake. When we are taught that a piece of
matter, regarded by us as existing externally, cannot be really known,
but that we can know only certain impressions produced on us, we are
yet, by the relativity of our thought, compelled to think of these in
relation to a positive cause—the notion of a real existence which
generated these impressions becomes nascent. If it be proved to us that
every notion of a real existence which we can frame, is utterly
inconsistent with itself—that matter, however conceived by us, cannot be
matter as it actually is, our conception, though transfigured, is not
destroyed: there remains the sense of reality, dissociated as far as
possible from those special forms under which it was before represented
in thought. Though Philosophy condemns successively each attempted
conception of the Absolute—though it proves to us that the Absolute is
not this, nor that, nor that—though in obedience to it we negative, one
after another, each idea as it arises; yet, as we cannot expel the
entire contents of consciousness, there ever remains behind an element
which passes into new shapes. The continual negation of each particular
form and limit, simply results in the more or less complete abstraction
of all forms and limits; and so ends in an indefinite consciousness of
the unformed and unlimited.

And here we come face to face with the ultimate difficulty—How can there
possibly be constituted a consciousness of the unformed and unlimited,
when, by its very nature, consciousness is possible only under forms and
limits? If every consciousness of existence is a consciousness of
existence as conditioned, then how, after the negation of conditions,
can there be any residuum?. Though not directly withdrawn by the
withdrawal of its conditions, must not the raw material of consciousness
be withdrawn by implication? Must it not vanish when the conditions of
its existence vanish?       That there must be a solution of this
difficulty is manifest; since even those who would put it, do, as
already shown, admit that we have some such consciousness; and the
solution appears to be that above shadowed forth. Such consciousness is
not, and cannot be, constituted by any single mental act; but is the
product of many mental acts. In each concept there is an element which
persists. It is alike impossible for this element to be absent from
consciousness, and for it to be present in consciousness alone: either
alternative involves unconsciousness—the one from the want of the
substance; the other from the want of the form. But the persistence of
this element under successive conditions, _necessitates_ a sense of it
as distinguished from the conditions, and independent of them. The sense
of a something that is conditioned in every thought, cannot be got rid
of, because the something cannot be got rid of. How then must the sense
of this something be constituted? Evidently by combining successive
concepts deprived of their limits and conditions. We form this
indefinite thought, as we form many of our definite thoughts, by the
coalescence of a series of thoughts. Let me illustrate this.       A
large complex object, having attributes too numerous to be represented
at once, is yet tolerably well conceived by the union of several
representations, each standing for part of its attributes. On thinking
of a piano, there first rises in imagination its visual appearance, to
which are instantly added (though by separate mental acts) the ideas of
its remote side and of its solid substance. A complete conception,
however, involves the strings, the hammers, the dampers, the pedals; and
while successively adding these to the conception, the attributes first
thought of lapse more or less completely out of consciousness.
Nevertheless, the whole group constitutes a representation of the piano.
Now as in this case we form a definite concept of a special existence,
by imposing limits and conditions in successive acts; so, in the
converse case, by taking away the limits and conditions in successive
acts, we form an indefinite notion of general existence. By fusing a
series of states of consciousness, in each of which, as it arises, the
limitations and conditions are abolished, there is produced a
consciousness of something unconditioned.       To speak more
rigorously:—this consciousness is not the abstract of any one group of
thoughts, ideas, or conceptions; but it is the abstract of _all_
thoughts, ideas, or conceptions. That which is common to them all, and
cannot be got rid of, is what we predicate by the word existence.
Dissociated as this becomes from each of its modes by the perpetual
change of those modes, it remains as an indefinite consciousness of
something constant under all modes—of being apart from its appearances.
The distinction we feel between special and general existence, is the
distinction between that which is changeable in us, and that which is
unchangeable. The contrast between the Absolute and the Relative in our
minds, is really the contrast between that mental element which exists
absolutely, and those which exist relatively.

By its very nature, therefore, this ultimate mental element is at once
necessarily indefinite and necessarily indestructible. Our consciousness
of the unconditioned being literally the unconditioned consciousness, or
raw material of thought to which in thinking we give definite forms, it
follows that an ever-present sense of real existence is the very basis
of our intelligence. As we can in successive mental acts get rid of all
particular conditions and replace them by others, but cannot get rid of
that undifferentiated substance of consciousness which is conditioned
anew in every thought; there ever remains with us a sense of that which
exists persistently and independently of conditions. At the same time
that by the laws of thought we are rigorously prevented from forming a
conception of absolute existence; we are by the laws of thought equally
prevented from ridding ourselves of the consciousness of absolute
existence: this consciousness being, as we here see, the obverse of our
self-consciousness. And since the only possible measure of relative
validity among our beliefs, is the degree of their persistence in
opposition to the efforts made to change them, it follows that this
which persists at all times, under all circumstances, and cannot cease
until consciousness ceases, has the highest validity of any.

To sum up this somewhat too elaborate argument:—We have seen how in the
very assertion that all our knowledge, properly so called, is Relative,
there is involved the assertion that there exists a Non-relative. We
have seen how, in each step of the argument by which this doctrine is
established, the same assumption is made. We have seen how, from the
very necessity of thinking in relations, it follows that the Relative is
itself inconceivable, except as related to a real Non-relative. We have
seen that unless a real Non-relative or Absolute be postulated, the
Relative itself becomes absolute; and so brings the argument to a
contradiction. And on contemplating the process of thought, we have
equally seen how impossible it is to get rid of the consciousness of an
actuality lying behind appearances; and how, from this impossibility,
results our indestructible belief in that actuality.

                               CHAPTER V.
                          THE RECONCILIATION.

§ 27. Thus do all lines of argument converge to the same conclusion. The
inference reached _à priori_. in the last chapter, confirms the
inferences which, in the two preceding chapters, were reached _à
posteriori_. Those imbecilities of the understanding that disclose
themselves when we try to answer the highest questions of objective
science, subjective science proves to be necessitated by the laws of
that understanding. We not only learn by the frustration of all our
efforts, that the reality underlying appearances is totally and for ever
inconceivable by us; but we also learn why, from the very nature of our
intelligence, it must be so. Finally we discover that this conclusion,
which, in its unqualified form, seems opposed to the instinctive
convictions of mankind, falls into harmony with them when the missing
qualification is supplied. Though the Absolute cannot in any manner or
degree be known, in the strict sense of knowing, yet we find that its
positive existence is a necessary datum of consciousness; that so long
as consciousness continues, we cannot for an instant rid it of this
datum; and that thus the belief which this datum constitutes, has a
higher warrant than any other whatever.

Here then is that basis of agreement we set out to seek. This conclusion
which objective science illustrates, and subjective science shows to be
unavoidable,—this conclusion which, while it in the main expresses the
doctrine of the English school of philosophy, recognizes also a soul of
truth in the doctrine of the antagonist German school—this conclusion
which brings the results of speculation into harmony with those of
common sense; is also the conclusion which reconciles Religion with
Science. Common Sense asserts the existence of a reality; Objective
Science proves that this reality cannot be what we think it; Subjective
Science shows why we cannot think of it as it is, and yet are compelled
to think of it as existing; and in this assertion of a Reality utterly
inscrutable in nature, Religion finds an assertion essentially
coinciding with her own. We are obliged to regard every phenomenon as a
manifestation of some Power by which we are acted upon; phenomena being,
so far as we can ascertain, unlimited in their diffusion, we are obliged
to regard this Power as omnipresent; and criticism teaches us that this
Power is wholly incomprehensible. In this consciousness of an
Incomprehensible Omnipresent Power, we have just that consciousness on
which Religion dwells. And so we arrive at the point where Religion and
Science coalesce.

To understand fully how real is the reconciliation thus reached, it will
be needful to look at the respective attitudes that Religion and Science
have all along maintained towards this conclusion. We must observe how,
all along, the imperfections of each have been undergoing correction by
the other; and how the final out-come of their mutual criticisms, can be
nothing else than an entire agreement on this deepest and widest of all

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 28. In Religion let us recognize the high merit that from the
beginning it has dimly discerned the ultimate verity, and has never
ceased to insist upon it. In its earliest and crudest forms it
manifested, however vaguely and inconsistently, an intuition forming the
germ of this highest belief in which all philosophies finally unite. The
consciousness of a mystery is traceable in the rudest fetishism. Each
higher religious creed, rejecting those definite and simple
interpretations of Nature previously given, has become more religious by
doing this. As the quite concrete and conceivable agencies alleged as
the causes of things, have been replaced by agencies less concrete and
conceivable, the element of mystery has of necessity become more
predominant. Through all its successive phases the disappearance of
those positive dogmas by which the mystery was made unmysterious, has
formed the essential change delineated in religious history. And so
Religion has ever been approximating towards that complete recognition
of this mystery which is its goal.

For its essentially valid belief, Religion has constantly done battle.
Gross as were the disguises under which it first espoused this belief,
and cherishing this belief, though it still does, under disfiguring
vestments, it has never ceased to maintain and defend it. It has
everywhere established and propagated one or other modification of the
doctrine that all things are manifestations of a Power that transcends
our knowledge. Though from age to age, Science has continually defeated
it wherever they have come in collision, and has obliged it to
relinquish one or more of its positions; it has still held the remaining
ones with undiminished tenacity. No exposure of the logical
inconsistency of its conclusions—no proof that each of its particular
dogmas was absurd, has been able to weaken its allegiance to that
ultimate verity for which it stands. After criticism has abolished all
its arguments and reduced it to silence, there has still remained with
it the indestructible consciousness of a truth which, however faulty the
mode in which it had been expressed, was yet a truth beyond cavil. To
this conviction its adherence has been substantially sincere. And for
the guardianship and diffusion of it, Humanity has ever been, and must
ever be, its debtor.

But while from the beginning, Religion has had the all-essential office
of preventing men from being wholly absorbed in the relative or
immediate, and of awakening them to a consciousness of something beyond
it, this office has been but very imperfectly discharged. Religion has
ever been more or less irreligious; and it continues to be partially
irreligious even now.       In the first place, as implied above, it has
all along professed to have some knowledge of that which transcends
knowledge; and has so contradicted its own teachings. While with one
breath it has asserted that the Cause of all things passes
understanding, it has, with the next breath, asserted that the Cause of
all things possesses such or such attributes—can be in so far
understood.       In the second place, while in great part sincere in
its fealty to the great truth it had had to uphold, it has often been
insincere, and consequently irreligious, in maintaining the untenable
doctrines by which it has obscured this great truth. Each assertion
respecting the nature, acts, or motives of that Power which the Universe
manifests to us, has been repeatedly called in question, and proved to
be inconsistent with itself, or with accompanying assertions. Yet each
of them has been age after age insisted on, in spite of a secret
consciousness that it would not bear examination. Just as though unaware
that its central position was impregnable, Religion has obstinately held
every outpost long after it was obviously indefensible.       And this
naturally introduces us to the third and most serious form of irreligion
which Religion has displayed; namely, an imperfect belief in that which
it especially professes to believe. How truly its central position _is_
impregnable, Religion has never adequately realized. In the devoutest
faith as we habitually see it, there lies hidden an innermost core of
scepticism; and it is this scepticism which causes that dread of inquiry
displayed by Religion when face to face with Science. Obliged to abandon
one by one the superstitions it once tenaciously held, and daily finding
its cherished beliefs more and more shaken, Religion shows a secret fear
that all things may some day be explained; and thus itself betrays a
lurking doubt whether that Incomprehensible Cause of which it is
conscious, is really incomprehensible.

Of Religion then, we must always remember, that amid its many errors and
corruptions it has asserted and diffused a supreme verity. From the
first, the recognition of this supreme verity, in however imperfect a
manner, has been its vital element; and its various defects, once
extreme but gradually diminishing, have been so many failures to
recognize in full that which it recognized in part. The truly religious
element of Religion has always been good; that which has proved
untenable in doctrine and vicious in practice, has been its irreligious
element; and from this it has been ever undergoing purification.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 29. And now observe that all along, the agent which has effected the
purification has been Science. We habitually overlook the fact that this
has been one of its functions. Religion ignores its immense debt to
Science; and Science is scarcely at all conscious how much Religion owes
it. Yet it is demonstrable that every step by which Religion has
progressed from its first low conception to the comparatively high one
it has now reached, Science has helped it, or rather forced it, to take;
and that even now, Science is urging further steps in the same

Using the word Science in its true sense, as comprehending all positive
and definite knowledge of the order existing among surrounding
phenomena, it becomes manifest that from the outset, the discovery of an
established order has modified that conception of disorder, or
undetermined order, which underlies every superstition. As fast as
experience proves that certain familiar changes always happen in the
same sequence, there begins to fade from the mind the conception of a
special personality to whose variable will they were before ascribed.
And when, step by step, accumulating observations do the like with the
less familiar changes, a similar modification of belief takes place with
respect to them.

While this process seems to those who effect, and those who undergo it,
an anti-religious one, it is really the reverse. Instead of the specific
comprehensible agency before assigned, there is substituted a less
specific and less comprehensible agency; and though this, standing in
opposition to the previous one, cannot at first call forth the same
feeling, yet, as being less comprehensible, it must eventually call
forth this feeling more fully.       Take an instance. Of old the Sun
was regarded as the chariot of a god, drawn by horses. How far the idea
thus grossly expressed, was idealized, we need not inquire. It suffices
to remark that this accounting for the apparent motion of the Sun by an
agency like certain visible terrestrial agencies, reduced a daily wonder
to the level of the commonest intellect. When, many centuries after,
Kepler discovered that the planets moved round the Sun in ellipses and
described equal areas in equal times, he concluded that in each planet
there must exist a spirit to guide its movements. Here we see that with
the progress of Science, there had disappeared the idea of a gross
mechanical traction, such as was first assigned in the case of the Sun;
but that while for this there was substituted an indefinite and
less-easily conceivable force, it was still thought needful to assume a
special personal agent as a cause of the regular irregularity of motion.
When, finally, it was proved that these planetary revolutions with all
their variations and disturbances, conformed to one universal law—when
the presiding spirits which Kepler conceived were set aside, and the
force of gravitation put in their place; the change was really the
abolition of an imaginable agency, and the substitution of an
unimaginable one. For though the _law_ of gravitation is within our
mental grasp, it is impossible to realize in thought the _force_ of
gravitation. Newton himself confessed the force of gravitation to be
incomprehensible without the intermediation of an ether; and, as we have
already seen, (§ 18,) the assumption of an ether does not in the least
help us.       Thus it is with Science in general. Its progress in
grouping particular relations of phenomena under laws, and these special
laws under laws more and more general, is of necessity a progress to
causes that are more and more abstract. And causes more and more
abstract, are of necessity causes less and less conceivable; since the
formation of an abstract conception involves the dropping of certain
concrete elements of thought. Hence the most abstract conception, to
which Science is ever slowly approaching, is one that merges into the
inconceivable or unthinkable, by the dropping of all concrete elements
of thought. And so is justified the assertion, that the beliefs which
Science has forced upon Religion, have been intrinsically more religious
than those which they supplanted.

Science however, like Religion, has but very incompletely fulfilled its
office. As Religion has fallen short of its function in so far as it has
been irreligious; so has Science fallen short of its function in so far
as it has been unscientific. Let us note the several parallelisms.
      In its earlier stages, Science, while it began to teach the
constant relations of phenomena, and so discredited the belief in
separate personalities as the causes of them, itself substituted the
belief in causal agencies which, if not personal, were yet concrete.
When certain facts were said to show “Nature’s abhorrence of a vacuum,”
when the properties of gold were explained as due to some entity called
“aureity,” and when the phenomena of life were attributed to “a vital
principle;” there was set up a mode of interpreting the facts, which,
while antagonistic to the religious mode, because assigning other
agencies, was also unscientific, because it professed to know that about
which nothing was known. Having abandoned these metaphysical
agencies—having seen that they were not independent existences, but
merely special combinations of general causes, Science has more recently
ascribed extensive groups of phenomena to electricity, chemical
affinity, and other like general powers. But in speaking of these as
ultimate and independent entities, Science has preserved substantially
the same attitude as before. Accounting thus for all phenomena, those of
Life and Thought included, it has not only maintained its seeming
antagonism to Religion, by alleging agencies of a radically unlike kind;
but, in so far as it has tacitly assumed a knowledge of these agencies,
it has continued unscientific. At the present time, however, the most
advanced men of science are abandoning these later conceptions, as their
predecessors abandoned the earlier ones. Magnetism, heat, light &c,
which were awhile since spoken of as so many distinct imponderables,
physicists are now beginning to regard as different modes of
manifestation of some one universal force; and in so doing are ceasing
to think of this force as comprehensible.       In each phase of its
progress, Science has thus stopped short with superficial solutions—has
unscientifically neglected to ask what was the nature of the agents it
so familiarly invoked. Though in each succeeding phase it has gone a
little deeper, and merged its supposed agents in more general and
abstract ones, it has still, as before, rested content with these as if
they were ascertained realities. And this, which has all along been the
unscientific characteristic of Science, has all along been a part cause
of its conflict with Religion.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 30. We see then that from the first, the faults of both Religion and
Science have been the faults of imperfect development. Originally a mere
rudiment, each has been growing into a more complete form; the vice of
each has in all times been its incompleteness; the disagreements between
them have throughout been nothing more than the consequences of their
incompleteness; and as they reach their final forms, they come into
entire harmony.

The progress of intelligence has throughout been dual. Though it has not
seemed so to those who made it, every step in advance has been a step
towards both the natural and the supernatural. The better interpretation
of each phenomenon has been, on the one hand, the rejection of a cause
that was relatively conceivable in its nature but unknown in the order
of its actions, and, on the other hand, the adoption of a cause that was
known in the order of its actions but relatively inconceivable in its
nature. The first advance out of universal fetishism, manifestly
involved the conception of agencies less assimilable to the familiar
agencies of men and animals, and therefore less understood; while, at
the same time, such newly-conceived agencies in so far as they were
distinguished by their uniform effects, were better understood than
those they replaced. All subsequent advances display the same double
result. Every deeper and more general power arrived at as a cause of
phenomena, has been at once less comprehensible than the special ones it
superseded, in the sense of being less definitely representable in
thought; while it has been more comprehensible in the sense that its
actions have been more completely predicable. The progress has thus been
as much towards the establishment of a positively unknown as towards the
establishment of a positively known. Though as knowledge approaches its
culmination, every unaccountable and seemingly supernatural fact, is
brought into the category of facts that are accountable or natural; yet,
at the same time, all accountable or natural facts are proved to be in
their ultimate genesis unaccountable and supernatural. And so there
arise two antithetical states of mind, answering to the opposite sides
of that existence about which we think. While our consciousness of
Nature under the one aspect constitutes Science, our consciousness of it
under the other aspect constitutes Religion.

Otherwise contemplating the facts, we may say that Religion and Science
have been undergoing a slow differentiation; and that their ceaseless
conflicts have been due to the imperfect separation of their spheres and
functions. Religion has, from the first, struggled to unite more or less
science with its nescience; Science has, from the first, kept hold of
more or less nescience as though it were a part of science. Each has
been obliged gradually to relinquish that territory which it wrongly
claimed, while it has gained from the other that to which it had a
right; and the antagonism between them has been an inevitable
accompaniment of this process. A more specific statement will make this
clear.       Religion, though at the outset it asserted a mystery, also
made numerous definite assertions respecting this mystery—professed to
know its nature in the minutest detail; and in so far as it claimed
positive knowledge, it trespassed upon the province of Science. From the
times of early mythologies, when such intimate acquaintance with the
mystery was alleged, down to our own days, when but a few abstract and
vague propositions are maintained, Religion has been compelled by
Science to give up one after another of its dogmas—of those assumed
cognitions which it could not substantiate. In the mean time, Science
substituted for the personalities to which Religion ascribed phenomena,
certain metaphysical entities; and in doing this it trespassed on the
province of Religion; since it classed among the things which it
comprehended, certain forms of the incomprehensible. Partly by the
criticisms of Religion, which has occasionally called in question its
assumptions, and partly as a consequence of spontaneous growth, Science
has been obliged to abandon these attempts to include within the
boundaries of knowledge that which cannot be known; and has so yielded
up to Religion that which of right belonged to it.       So long as this
process of differentiation is incomplete, more or less of antagonism
must continue. Gradually as the limits of possible cognition are
established, the causes of conflict will diminish. And a permanent peace
will be reached when Science becomes fully convinced that its
explanations are proximate and relative; while Religion becomes fully
convinced that the mystery it contemplates is ultimate and absolute.

Religion and Science are therefore necessary correlatives. As already
hinted, they stand respectively for those two antithetical modes of
consciousness which cannot exist asunder. A known cannot be thought of
apart from an unknown; nor can an unknown be thought of apart from a
known. And by consequence neither can become more distinct without
giving greater distinctness to the other. To carry further a metaphor
before used,—they are the positive and negative poles of thought; of
which neither can gain in intensity without increasing the intensity of
the other.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 31. Thus the consciousness of an Inscrutable Power manifested to us
through all phenomena, has been growing ever clearer; and must
eventually be freed from its imperfections. The certainty that on the
one hand such a Power exists, while on the other hand its nature
transcends intuition and is beyond imagination, is the certainty towards
which intelligence has from the first been progressing. To this
conclusion Science inevitably arrives as it reaches its confines; while
to this conclusion Religion is irresistibly driven by criticism. And
satisfying as it does the demands of the most rigorous logic at the same
time that it gives the religious sentiment the widest possible sphere of
action, it is the conclusion we are bound to accept without reserve or

Some do indeed allege that though the Ultimate Cause of things cannot
really be thought of by us as having specified attributes, it is yet
incumbent upon us to assert these attributes. Though the forms of our
consciousness are such that the Absolute cannot in any manner or degree
be brought within them, we are nevertheless told that we must represent
the Absolute to ourselves under these forms. As writes Mr Mansel, in the
work from which I have already quoted largely—“It is our duty, then, to
think of God as personal; and it is our duty to believe that He is

That this is not the conclusion here adopted, needs hardly be said. If
there be any meaning in the foregoing arguments, duty requires us
neither to affirm nor deny personality. Our duty is to submit ourselves
with all humility to the established limits of our intelligence; and not
perversely to rebel against them. Let those who can, believe that there
is eternal war set between our intellectual faculties and our moral
obligations. I for one, admit no such radical vice in the constitution
of things.

This which to most will seem an essentially irreligious position, is an
essentially religious one—nay is _the_ religious one, to which, as
already shown, all others are but approximations. In the estimate it
implies of the Ultimate Cause, it does not fall short of the alternative
position, but exceeds it. Those who espouse this alternative position,
make the erroneous assumption that the choice is between personality and
something lower than personality; whereas the choice is rather between
personality and something higher. Is it not just possible that there is
a mode of being as much transcending Intelligence and Will, as these
transcend mechanical motion? It is true that we are totally unable to
conceive any such higher mode of being. But this is not a reason for
questioning its existence; it is rather the reverse. Have we not seen
how utterly incompetent our minds are to form even an approach to a
conception of that which underlies all phenomena? Is it not proved that
this incompetency is the incompetency of the Conditioned to grasp the
Unconditioned? Does it not follow that the Ultimate Cause cannot in any
respect be conceived by us because it is in every respect greater than
can be conceived? And may we not therefore rightly refrain from
assigning to it any attributes whatever, on the ground that such
attributes, derived as they must be from our own natures, are not
elevations but degradations? Indeed it seems somewhat strange that men
should suppose the highest worship to lie in assimilating the object of
their worship to themselves. Not in asserting a transcendant difference,
but in asserting a certain likeness, consists the element of their creed
which they think essential. It is true that from the time when the
rudest savages imagined the causes of all things to be creatures of
flesh and blood like themselves, down to our own time, the degree of
assumed likeness has been diminishing. But though a bodily form and
substance similar to that of man, has long since ceased, among
cultivated races, to be a literally-conceived attribute of the Ultimate
Cause—though the grosser human desires have been also rejected as unfit
elements of the conception—though there is some hesitation in ascribing
even the higher human feelings, save in greatly idealized shapes; yet it
is still thought not only proper, but imperative, to ascribe the most
abstract qualities of our nature. To think of the Creative Power as in
all respects anthropomorphous, is now considered impious by men who yet
hold themselves bound to think of the Creative Power as in some respects
anthropomorphous; and who do not see that the one proceeding is but an
evanescent form of the other. And then, most marvellous of all, this
course is persisted in even by those who contend that we are wholly
unable to frame any conception whatever of the Creative Power. After it
has been shown that every supposition respecting the genesis of the
Universe commits us to alternative impossibilities of thought—after it
has been shown that each attempt to conceive real existence ends in an
intellectual suicide—after it has been shown why, by the very
constitution of our minds, we are eternally debarred from thinking of
the Absolute; it is still asserted that we ought to think of the
Absolute thus and thus. In all imaginable ways we find thrust upon us
the truth, that we are not permitted to know—nay are not even permitted
to conceive—that Reality which is behind the veil of Appearance; and yet
it is said to be our duty to believe (and in so far to conceive) that
this Reality exists in a certain defined manner. Shall we call this
reverence? or shall we call it the reverse?

Volumes might be written upon the impiety of the pious. Through the
printed and spoken thoughts of religious teachers, may almost everywhere
be traced a professed familiarity with the ultimate mystery of things,
which, to say the least of it, seems anything but congruous with the
accompanying expressions of humility. And surprisingly enough, those
tenets which most clearly display this familiarity, are those insisted
upon as forming the vital elements of religious belief. The attitude
thus assumed, can be fitly represented only by further developing a
simile long current in theological controversies—the simile of the
watch. If for a moment we made the grotesque supposition that the
tickings and other movements of a watch constituted a kind of
consciousness; and that a watch possessed of such a consciousness,
insisted on regarding the watchmaker’s actions as determined like its
own by springs and escapements; we should simply complete a parallel of
which religious teachers think much. And were we to suppose that a watch
not only formulated the cause of its existence in these mechanical
terms, but held that watches were bound out of reverence so to formulate
this cause, and even vituperated, as atheistic watches, any that did not
venture so to formulate it; we should merely illustrate the presumption
of theologians by carrying their own argument a step further.       A
few extracts will bring home to the reader the justice of this
comparison. We are told, for example, by one of high repute among
religious thinkers, that the Universe is “the manifestation and abode of
a Free Mind, like our own; embodying His personal thought in its
adjustments, realizing His own ideal in its phenomena, just as we
express own inner faculty and character through the natural language of
an external life. In this view, we interpret Nature by Humanity; we find
the key to her aspects in such purposes and affections as our own
consciousness enables us to conceive; we look everywhere for physical
signals of an ever-living Will; and decipher the universe as the
autobiography of an Infinite Spirit, repeating itself in miniature
within our Finite Spirit.” The same writer goes still further. He not
only thus parallels the assimilation of the watchmaker to the watch,—he
not only thinks the created can “decipher” “the autobiography” of the
Creating; but he asserts that the necessary limits of the one are
necessary limits of the other. The primary qualities of bodies, he says,
“belong eternally to the material datum objective to God” and control
his acts; while the secondary ones are “products of pure Inventive
Reason and Determining Will”—constitute “the realm of Divine
originality.” * * * “While on this Secondary field His Mind and ours are
thus contrasted, they meet in resemblance again upon the Primary: for
the evolutions of deductive Reason there is but one track possible to
all intelligences; no _merum arbitrium_ can interchange the false and
true, or make more than one geometry, one scheme of pure Physics, for
all worlds; and the Omnipotent Architect Himself, in realizing the
Kosmical conception, in shaping the orbits out of immensity and
determining seasons out of eternity, could but follow the laws of
curvature, measure and proportion.” That is to say, the Ultimate Cause
is like a human mechanic, not only as “shaping” the “material datum
objective to” Him, but also as being obliged to conform to the necessary
properties of that “datum.” Nor is this all. There follows some account
of “the Divine psychology,” to the extent of saying that “we learn” “the
character of God—the order of affections in Him” from “the distribution
of authority in the hierarchy of our impulses.” In other words, it is
alleged that the Ultimate Cause has desires that are to be classed as
higher and lower like our own.[7]       Every one has heard of the king
who wished he had been present at the creation of the world, that he
might have given good advice. He was humble however compared with those
who profess to understand not only the relation of the Creating to the
created, but also how the Creating is constituted. And yet this
transcendant audacity, which claims to penetrate the secrets of the
Power manifested to us through all existence—nay even to stand behind
that Power and note the conditions to its action—this it is which passes
current as piety! May we not without hesitation affirm that a sincere
recognition of the truth that our own and all other existence is a
mystery absolutely and for ever beyond our comprehension, contains more
of true religion than all the dogmatic theology ever written?

Meanwhile let us recognize whatever of permanent good there is in these
persistent attempts to frame conceptions of that which cannot be
conceived. From the beginning it has been only through the successive
failures of such conceptions to satisfy the mind, that higher and higher
ones have been gradually reached; and doubtless, the conceptions now
current are indispensable as transitional modes of thought. Even more
than this may be willingly conceded. It is possible, nay probable, that
under their most abstract forms, ideas of this order will always
continue to occupy the background of our consciousness. Very likely
there will ever remain a need to give shape to that indefinite sense of
an Ultimate Existence, which forms the basis of our intelligence. We
shall always be under the necessity of contemplating it as _some_ mode
of being; that is—of representing it to ourselves in _some_ form of
thought, however vague. And we shall not err in doing this so long as we
treat every notion we thus frame as merely a symbol, utterly without
resemblance to that for which it stands. Perhaps the constant formation
of such symbols and constant rejection of them as inadequate, may be
hereafter, as it has hitherto been, a means of discipline. Perpetually
to construct ideas requiring the utmost stretch of our faculties, and
perpetually to find that such ideas must be abandoned as futile
imaginations, may realize to us more fully than any other course, the
greatness of that which we vainly strive to grasp. Such efforts and
failures may serve to maintain in our minds a due sense of the
incommensurable difference between the Conditioned and the
Unconditioned. By continually seeking to know and being continually
thrown back with a deepened conviction of the impossibility of knowing,
we may keep alive the consciousness that it is alike our highest wisdom
and our highest duty to regard that through which all things exist as
The Unknowable.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 32. An immense majority will refuse with more or less of indignation,
a belief seeming to them so shadowy and indefinite. Having always
embodied the Ultimate Cause so far as was needful to its mental
realization, they must necessarily resent the substitution of an
Ultimate Cause which cannot be mentally realized at all. “You offer us,”
they say, “an unthinkable abstraction in place of a Being towards whom
we may entertain definite feelings. Though we are told that the Absolute
is real, yet since we are not allowed to conceive it, it might as well
be a pure negation. Instead of a Power which we can regard as having
some sympathy with us, you would have us contemplate a Power to which no
emotion whatever can be ascribed. And so we are to be deprived of the
very substance of our faith.”

This kind of protest of necessity accompanies every change from a lower
creed to a higher. The belief in a community of nature between himself
and the object of his worship, has always been to man a satisfactory
one; and he has always accepted with reluctance those successively less
concrete conceptions which have been forced upon him. Doubtless, in all
times and places, it has consoled the barbarian to think of his deities
as so exactly like himself in nature, that they could be bribed by
offerings of food; and the assurance that deities could not be so
propitiated, must have been repugnant, because it deprived him of an
easy method of gaining supernatural protection. To the Greeks it was
manifestly a source of comfort that on occasions of difficulty they
could obtain, through oracles, the advice of their gods,—nay, might even
get the personal aid of their gods in battle; and it was probably a very
genuine anger which they visited upon philosophers who called in
question these gross ideas of their mythology. A religion which teaches
the Hindoo that it is impossible to purchase eternal happiness by
placing himself under the wheel of Juggernaut, can scarcely fail to seem
a cruel one to him; since it deprives him of the pleasurable
consciousness that he can at will exchange miseries for joys. Nor is it
less clear that to our Catholic ancestors, the beliefs that crimes could
be compounded for by the building of churches, that their own
punishments and those of their relatives could be abridged by the saying
of masses, and that divine aid or forgiveness might be gained through
the intercession of saints, were highly solacing ones; and that
Protestantism, in substituting the conception of a God so comparatively
unlike ourselves as not to be influenced by such methods, must have
appeared to them hard and cold. Naturally, therefore, we must expect a
further step in the same direction to meet with a similar resistance
from outraged sentiments.       No mental revolution can be accomplished
without more or less of laceration. Be it a change of habit or a change
of conviction, it must, if the habit or conviction be strong, do
violence to some of the feelings; and these must of course oppose it.
For long-experienced, and therefore definite, sources of satisfaction,
have to be substituted sources of satisfaction that have not been
experienced, and are therefore indefinite. That which is relatively well
known and real, has to be given up for that which is relatively unknown
and ideal. And of course such an exchange cannot be made without a
conflict involving pain.       Especially then must there arise a strong
antagonism to any alteration in so deep and vital a conception as that
with which we are here dealing. Underlying, as this conception does, all
others, a modification of it threatens to reduce the superstructure to
ruins. Or to change the metaphor—being the root with which are connected
our ideas of goodness, rectitude, or duty, it appears impossible that it
should be transformed without causing these to wither away and die. The
whole higher part of the nature almost of necessity takes up arms
against a change which, by destroying the established associations of
thought, seems to eradicate morality.

This is by no means all that has to be said for such protests. There is
a much deeper meaning in them. They do not simply express the natural
repugnance to a revolution of belief, here made specially intense by the
vital importance of the belief to be revolutionized; but they also
express an instinctive adhesion to a belief that is in one sense the
best—the best for those who thus cling to it, though not abstractedly
the best.       For here let me remark that what were above spoken of as
the imperfections of Religion, at first great but gradually diminishing,
have been imperfections only as measured by an absolute standard; and
not as measured by a relative one. Speaking generally, the religion
current in each age and among each people, has been as near an
approximation to the truth as it was then and there possible for men to
receive: the more or less concrete forms in which it has embodied the
truth, have simply been the means of making thinkable what would
otherwise have been unthinkable; and so have for the time being served
to increase its impressiveness.       If we consider the conditions of
the case, we shall find this to be an unavoidable conclusion. During
each stage of evolution, men must think in such terms of thought as they
possess. While all the conspicuous changes of which they can observe the
origins, have men and animals as antecedents, they are unable to think
of antecedents in general under any other shapes; and hence creative
agencies are of necessity conceived by them in these shapes. If during
this phase, these concrete conceptions were taken from them, and the
attempt made to give them comparatively abstract conceptions, the result
would be to leave their minds with none at all; since the substituted
ones could not be mentally represented. Similarly with every successive
stage of religious belief, down to the last. Though, as accumulating
experiences slowly modify the earliest ideas of causal personalities,
there grow up more general and vague ideas of them; yet these cannot be
at once replaced by others still more general and vague. Further
experiences must supply the needful further abstractions, before the
mental void left by the destruction of such inferior ideas can be filled
by ideas of a superior order. And at the present time, the refusal to
abandon a relatively concrete notion for a relatively abstract one,
implies the inability to frame the relatively abstract one; and so
proves that the change would be premature and injurious.       Still
more clearly shall we see the injuriousness of any such premature
change, on observing that the effects of a belief upon conduct must be
diminished in proportion as the vividness with which it is realized
becomes less. Evils and benefits akin to those which the savage has
personally felt, or learned from those who have felt them, are the only
evils and benefits he can understand; and these must be looked for as
coming in ways, like those of which he has had experience. His deities
must be imagined to have like motives and passions and methods with the
beings around him; for motives and passions and methods of a higher
character, being unknown to him, and in great measure unthinkable by
him, cannot be so realized in thought as to influence his deeds. During
every phase of civilization, the actions of the Unseen Reality, as well
as the resulting rewards and punishments, being conceivable only in such
forms as experience furnishes, to supplant them by higher ones before
wider experiences have made higher ones conceivable, is to set up vague
and uninfluential motives for definite and influential ones. Even now,
for the great mass of men, unable through lack of culture to trace out
with due clearness those good and bad consequences which conduct brings
round through the established order of the Unknowable, it is needful
that there should be vividly depicted future torments and future
joys—pains and pleasures of a definite kind, produced in a manner direct
and simple enough to be clearly imagined.       Nay still more must be
conceded. Few if any are as yet fitted wholly to dispense with such
conceptions as are current. The highest abstractions take so great a
mental power to realize with any vividness, and are so inoperative upon
conduct unless they are vividly realized, that their regulative effects
must for a long period to come be appreciable on but a small minority.
To see clearly how a right or wrong act generates consequences, internal
and external, that go on branching out more widely as years progress,
requires a rare power of analysis. To mentally represent even a single
series of these consequences, as it stretches out into the remote
future, requires an equally rare power of imagination. And to estimate
these consequences in their totality, ever multiplying in number while
diminishing in intensity, requires a grasp of thought possessed by none.
Yet it is only by such analysis, such imagination, and such grasp, that
conduct can be rightly guided in the absence of all other control: only
so can ultimate rewards and penalties be made to outweigh proximate
pains and pleasures. Indeed, were it not that throughout the progress of
the race, men’s experiences of the effects of conduct have been slowly
generalized into principles—were it not that these principles have been
from generation to generation insisted on by parents, upheld by public
opinion, sanctified by religion, and enforced by threats of eternal
damnation for disobedience—were it not that under these potent
influences, habits have been modified, and the feelings proper to them
made innate—were it not, in short, that we have been rendered in a
considerable degree organically moral; it is certain that disastrous
results would ensue from the removal of those strong and distinct
motives which the current belief supplies. Even as it is, those who
relinquish the faith in which they have been brought up, for this most
abstract faith in which Science and Religion unite, may not uncommonly
fail to act up to their convictions. Left to their organic morality,
enforced only by general reasonings imperfectly wrought out and
difficult to keep before the mind, their defects of nature will often
come out more strongly than they would have done under their previous
creed. The substituted creed can become adequately operative only when
it becomes, like the present one, an element in early education, and has
the support of a strong social sanction. Nor will men be quite ready for
it until, through the continuance of a discipline which has already
partially moulded them to the conditions of social existence, they are
completely moulded to those conditions.

We must therefore recognize the resistance to a change of theological
opinion, as in great measure salutary. It is not simply that strong and
deep-rooted feelings are necessarily excited to antagonism—it is not
simply that the highest moral sentiments join in the condemnation of a
change which seems to undermine their authority; but it is that a real
adaptation exists between an established belief and the natures of those
who defend it; and that the tenacity of the defence measures the
completeness of the adaptation. Forms of religion, like forms of
government, must be fit for those who live under them; and in the one
case as in the other, that form which is fittest is that for which there
is an instinctive preference. As certainly as a barbarous race needs a
harsh terrestrial rule, and habitually shows attachment to a despotism
capable of the necessary rigour; so certainly does such a race need a
belief in a celestial rule that is similarly harsh, and habitually shows
attachment to such a belief. And just in the same way that the sudden
substitution of free institutions for tyrannical ones, is sure to be
followed by a reaction; so, if a creed full of dreadful ideal penalties
is all at once replaced by one presenting ideal penalties that are
comparatively gentle, there will inevitably be a return to some
modification of the old belief.       The parallelism holds yet further.
During those early stages in which there is an extreme incongruity
between the relatively best and the absolutely best, both political and
religious changes, when at rare intervals they occur, are necessarily
violent; and necessarily entail violent retrogressions. But as the
incongruity between that which is and that which should be, diminishes,
the changes become more moderate, and are succeeded by more moderate
retrogressions; until, as these movements and counter-movements decrease
in amount and increase in frequency, they merge into an almost
continuous growth. That adhesion to old institutions and beliefs, which,
in primitive societies, opposes an iron barrier to any advance, and
which, after the barrier has been at length burst through, brings back
the institutions and beliefs from that too-forward position to which the
momentum of change had carried them, and so helps to re-adapt social
conditions to the popular character—this adhesion to old institution and
beliefs, eventually becomes the constant check by which the constant
advance is prevented from being too rapid. This holds true of religious
creeds and forms, as of civil ones. And so we learn that theological
conservatism, like political conservatism, has an all-important

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 33. That spirit of toleration which is so marked a characteristic of
modern times, and is daily growing more conspicuous, has thus a far
deeper meaning than is supposed. What we commonly regard simply as a due
respect for the right of private judgment, is really a necessary
condition to the balancing of the progressive and conservative
tendencies—is a means of maintaining the adaptation between men’s
beliefs and their natures. It is therefore a spirit to be fostered; and
it is a spirit which the catholic thinker, who perceives the functions
of these various conflicting creeds, should above all other men display.
      Doubtless whoever feels the greatness of the error to which his
fellows cling and the greatness of the truth which they reject, will
find it hard to show a due patience. It is hard for him to listen calmly
to the futile arguments used in support of irrational doctrines, and to
the misrepresentation of antagonist doctrines. It is hard for him to
bear the manifestation of that pride of ignorance which so far exceeds
the pride of science. Naturally enough such a one will be indignant when
charged with irreligion because he declines to accept the
carpenter-theory of creation as the most worthy one. He may think it
needless as it is difficult, to conceal his repugnance to a creed which
tacitly ascribes to The Unknowable a love of adulation such as would be
despised in a human being. Convinced as he is that all punishment, as we
see it wrought out in the order of nature, is but a disguised
beneficence, there will perhaps escape from him an angry condemnation of
the belief that punishment is a divine vengeance, and that divine
vengeance is eternal. He may be tempted to show his contempt when he is
told that actions instigated by an unselfish sympathy or by a pure love
of rectitude, are intrinsically sinful; and that conduct is truly good
only when it is due to a faith whose openly-professed motive is
other-worldliness. But he must restrain such feelings. Though he may be
unable to do this during the excitement of controversy, or when
otherwise brought face to face with current superstitions, he must yet
qualify his antagonism in calmer moments; so that his mature judgment
and resulting conduct may be without bias.

To this end let him ever bear in mind three cardinal facts—two of them
already dwelt upon, and one still to be pointed out.       The first is
that with which we set out; namely the existence of a fundamental verity
under all forms of religion, however degraded. In each of them there is
a soul of truth. Through the gross body of dogmas traditions and rites
which contain it, it is always visible—dimly or clearly as the case may
be. This it is which gives vitality even to the rudest creed; this it is
which survives every modification; and this it is which we must not
forget when condemning the forms under which it is presented.       The
second of these cardinal facts, set forth at length in the foregoing
section, is, that while those concrete elements in which each creed
embodies this soul of truth, are bad as measured by an absolute
standard, they are good as measured by a relative standard. Though from
higher perceptions they hide the abstract verity within them; yet to
lower perceptions they render this verity more appreciable than it would
otherwise be. They serve to make real and influential over men, that
which would else be unreal and uninfluential. Or we may call them the
protective envelopes, without which the contained truth would die.
      The remaining cardinal fact is, that these various beliefs are
parts of the constituted order of things; and not accidental but
necessary parts. Seeing how one or other of them is everywhere present;
is of perennial growth; and when cut down, redevelops in a form but
slightly modified; we cannot avoid the inference that they are needful
accompaniments of human life, severally fitted to the societies in which
they are indigenous. From the highest point of view, we must recognize
them as elements in that great evolution of which the beginning and end
are beyond our knowledge or conception—as modes of manifestation of The
Unknowable; and as having this for their warrant.

Our toleration therefore should be the widest possible. Or rather, we
should aim at something beyond toleration, as commonly understood. In
dealing with alien beliefs, our endeavour must be, not simply to refrain
from injustice of word or deed; but also to do justice by an open
recognition of positive worth. We must qualify our disagreement with as
much as may be of sympathy.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 34. These admissions will perhaps be held to imply, that the current
theology should be passively accepted; or, at any rate, should not be
actively opposed. “Why,” it may be asked, “if all creeds have an average
fitness to their times and places, should we not rest content with that
to which we are born? If the established belief contains an essential
truth—if the forms under which it presents this truth, though
intrinsically bad, are extrinsically good—if the abolition of these
forms would be at present detrimental to the great majority—nay, if
there are scarcely any to whom the ultimate and most abstract belief can
furnish an adequate rule of life; surely it is wrong, for the present at
least, to propagate this ultimate and most abstract belief.”

The reply is, that though existing religious ideas and institutions have
an average adaptation to the characters of the people who live under
them; yet, as these characters are ever changing, the adaptation is ever
becoming imperfect; and the ideas and institutions need remodelling with
a frequency proportionate to the rapidity of the change. Hence, while it
is requisite that free play should be given to conservative thought and
action, progressive thought and action must also have free play. Without
the agency of both, there cannot be those continual re-adaptations which
orderly progress demands.

Whoever hesitates to utter that which he thinks the highest truth, lest
it should be too much in advance of the time, may reassure himself by
looking at his acts from an impersonal point of view. Let him duly
realize the fact that opinion is the agency through which character
adapts external arrangements to itself—that his opinion rightly forms
part of this agency—is a unit of force, constituting, with other such
units, the general power which works out social changes; and he will
perceive that he may properly give full utterance to his innermost
conviction: leaving it to produce what effect it may. It is not for
nothing that he has in him these sympathies with some principles and
repugnance to others. He, with all his capacities, and aspirations, and
beliefs, is not an accident, but a product of the time. He must remember
that while he is a descendant of the past, he is a parent of the future;
and that his thoughts are as children born to him, which he may not
carelessly let die. He, like every other man, may properly consider
himself as one of the myriad agencies through whom works the Unknown
Cause; and when the Unknown Cause produces in him a certain belief, he
is thereby authorized to profess and act out that belief. For, to render
in their highest sense the words of the poet—

                     ——Nature is made better by no mean,
               But nature makes that mean: over that art
               Which you say adds to nature, is an art
               That nature makes.

Not as adventitious therefore will the wise man regard the faith which
is in him. The highest truth he sees he will fearlessly utter; knowing
that, let what may come of it, he is thus playing his right part in the
world—knowing that if he can effect the change he aims at—well: if
not—well also; though not _so_ well.


Footnote 7:

  These extracts are from an article entitled “Nature and God,”
  published in the _National Review_ for October, 1860.

                                PART II.

                         LAWS OF THE KNOWABLE.

                               CHAPTER I.
                            LAWS IN GENERAL.

§ 35. We have seen that intellectual advance has been dual—has been
towards the establishment of both a positively unknown and a positively
known. In making ever more certain the inaccessibility of one kind of
truth, experience has made ever more certain the accessibility of
another kind. The differentiation of the knowable from the unknowable,
is shown as much in the reduction of the one to perfect clearness, as in
the reduction of the other to impenetrable mystery. Progressing
enlightenment discloses a definite limit to human intelligence; and
while all which lies on the other side of the limit, is, with increasing
distinctness, seen to transcend our finite faculties, it grows more and
more obvious that all which lies on this side of the limit may become an
indisputable possession.

To speak specifically—it has been shown that though we can never learn
the _nature_ of that which is manifested to us, we are daily learning
more completely the _order_ of its manifestations. We are conscious of
effects produced in us by something separate from ourselves. The effects
of which we are conscious—the changes of consciousness which make up our
mental life, we ascribe to the forces of an external world. The
intrinsic character of these forces—of this external world—of that which
underlies all appearances, we find inscrutable; as is also the internal
something whose changes constitute consciousness, but at the same time
we find that among the changes of consciousness thus produced, there
exist various constant relations; and we have no choice but to ascribe
constancy to the relations which subsist among the inscrutable causes of
these changes. Observation early discloses certain invariable connexions
of coexistence and sequence among phenomena. Accumulating experiences
tend continually to augment the number of invariable connexions
recognized. When, as in the later stages of civilization, there arises
not only a diligent gathering together of experiences but a critical
comparison of them, more remote and complex connexions are added to the
list. And gradually there grows up the habit of regarding these
uniformities of relation as characterizing all manifestations of the
Unknowable. Under the endless variety and seeming irregularity, there is
ever more clearly discerned that “constant course of procedure” which we
call Law.

The growing belief in the universality of Law, is so conspicuous to all
cultivated minds as scarcely to need illustration. None who read these
pages will ask for proof that this has been the central element of
intellectual progress. But though the fact is sufficiently familiar, the
philosophy of the fact is not so; and it will be desirable now to
consider it. Partly because the development of our conception of Law
will so be rendered more comprehensible; but chiefly because our
subsequent course will thus be facilitated; I propose here to enumerate
the several conditions that determine the order in which the various
relations among phenomena are discovered. Seeing, as we shall, the
consequent necessity of this order; and enabled, as we shall also be, to
estimate the future by inference from the past; we shall perceive how
inevitable is our advance towards the ultimatum that has been indicated.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 36. The recognition of Law, being the recognition of uniformity of
relations among phenomena, it follows that the order in which different
groups of phenomena are reduced to law, must depend on the frequency and
distinctness with which the uniform relations they severally present,
are experienced. At any given stage of progress, those uniformities will
be most recognized with which men’s minds have been oftenest and most
strongly impressed. In proportion partly to the number of times a
relation has been presented to consciousness (not merely to the senses);
and in proportion partly to the vividness with which the terms of the
relation have been cognized; will be the degree in which the constancy
of connexion is perceived.

The frequency and impressiveness with which different classes of
relations are repeated in conscious experience, thus primarily
determining the succession in which they are generalized, there result
certain derivative principles to which this succession must more
immediately and obviously conform.       First in importance comes _the
directness with which personal welfare is affected_. While, among
surrounding things, many do not appreciably influence the body in any
way, some act detrimentally and some beneficially, in various degrees;
and manifestly, those things whose actions on the organism are most
influential, will, cæteris paribus, be those whose laws of action are
earliest observed.       Second in order, is _the conspicuousness of one
or both the phenomena between which a relation is to be perceived_. On
every side are countless phenomena so concealed as to be detected only
by close observation; others not obtrusive enough to attract notice;
others which moderately solicit the attention; others so imposing or
vivid as to force themselves upon consciousness; and supposing
incidental conditions to be the same, these last will of course be among
the first to have their relations generalized.       In the third place,
we have _the absolute frequency with which the relations occur_. There
are coexistences and sequences of all degrees of commonness, from those
which are ever present to those which are extremely rare; and it is
clear that the rare coexistences and sequences, as well as the sequences
which are very long in taking place, will not be reduced to law so soon
as those which are familiar and rapid.       Fourthly has to be added
_the relative frequency of occurrence_. Many events and appearances are
more or less limited to times and places; and as a relation which does
not exist within the environment of an observer, cannot be cognized by
him, however common it may be elsewhere or in another age, we have to
take account of the surrounding physical circumstances, as well as the
state of society, of the arts, and of the sciences—all of which affect
the frequency with which certain groups of facts are exposed to
observation.       The fifth corollary to be noticed, is, that the
succession in which different classes of phenomena are reduced to law,
depends in part on their _simplicity_. Phenomena presenting great
composition of causes or conditions, have their essential relations so
masked, that it requires accumulated experiences to impress upon
consciousness the true connexion of antecedents and consequents they
involve. Hence, other things equal, the progress of generalization will
be from the simple to the complex; and this it is which M. Comte has
wrongly asserted to be the sole regulative principle of the progress.
      Sixth, and last, comes _the degree of abstractness_. Concrete
relations are the earliest acquisitions. The colligation of any group of
these into a general relation, which is the first step in abstraction,
necessarily comes later than the discovery of the relations colligated.
The union of a number of these lowest generalizations into a higher and
more abstract generalization, is necessarily subsequent to the formation
of such lowest generalizations. And so on continually, until the highest
and most abstract generalizations have been reached.

These then are the several derivative principles. The frequency and
vividness with which uniform relations are repeated in conscious
experience, determining the recognition of their uniformity; and this
frequency and vividness depending on the above conditions; it follows
that the order in which different classes of facts are generalized, must
depend on the extent to which the above conditions are fulfilled in each
class. Let us mark how the facts harmonize with this conclusion: taking
first a few that elucidate the general truth, and afterwards some that
are illustrative of the several special truths which we here see follow
from it.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 37. The relations earliest known as uniformities, are those subsisting
between the common physical properties of matter—tangibility,
visibility, cohesion, weight &c. We have no trace of an era in human
history when the resistance offered by every visible object, was
regarded as caused by the will of the object; or when the pressure of a
body on the hand supporting it, was ascribed to the direct agency of a
living being. And accordingly, we see that these are the relations
oftenest repeated in consciousness; being as they are, objectively
frequent, conspicuous, simple, concrete, and of immediate personal

Similarly with respect to the ordinary phenomena of motion. The fall of
a mass on the withdrawal of its support, is a sequence which directly
affects bodily welfare, is conspicuous, simple, concrete, and very often
repeated. Hence it is one of the uniformities recognized before the dawn
of tradition. We know of no time when movements due to terrestrial
gravitation were attributed to volition. Only when the relation is
obscured—only, as in the case of an aerolite, where the antecedent of
the descent is unperceived, do we find the fetishistic conception
persistent.       On the other hand, motions of intrinsically the same
order as that of a falling stone—those of the heavenly bodies—long
remain ungeneralized; and until their uniformity is seen, are construed
as results of will. This difference is clearly not dependent on
comparative complexity or abstractness; since the motion of a planet in
an ellipse, is as simple and concrete a phenomenon as the motion of a
projected arrow in a parabola. But the antecedents are not conspicuous;
the sequences are of long duration; and they are infrequently repeated.
Hence in a given period, there cannot be the same multiplied experiences
of them. And that this is the chief cause of their slow reduction to
law, we see in the fact that they are severally generalized in the order
of their frequency and conspicuousness—the moon’s monthly cycle, the
sun’s annual change, the periods of the inferior planets, the periods of
the superior planets.

While astronomical sequences were still ascribed to volition, certain
terrestrial sequences of a different kind, but some of them equally
without complication, were interpreted in like manner. The
solidification of water at a low temperature, is a phenomenon that is
simple, concrete, and of much personal concern. But it is neither so
frequent as those which we saw are earliest generalized, nor is the
presence of the antecedent so uniformly conspicuous. Though in all but
tropical climates, mid-winter displays the relation between cold and
freezing with tolerable constancy; yet, during the spring and autumn,
the occasional appearance of ice in the mornings has no very manifest
connexion with coldness of the weather. Sensation being so inaccurate a
measure, it is not possible for the savage to experience the definite
relation between a temperature of 32° and the congealing of water; and
hence the long-continued conception of personal agency. Similarly, but
still more clearly, with the winds. The absence of regularity and the
inconspicuousness of the antecedents, allowed the mythological
explanation to survive for a great period.

During the era in which the uniformity of many quite simple inorganic
relations was still unrecognized, certain classes of organic relations,
intrinsically very complex and special, were generalized. The constant
coexistence of feathers and a beak, of four legs with a bony internal
framework, of a particular leaf with poisonous berries, are facts which
were, and are, familiar to every savage. Did a savage find a bird with
teeth, or a mammal clothed with feathers, he would be as much surprised
as an instructed naturalist; and would probably make a fetish of the
anomalous form: so showing that while the exceptional relation suggested
the notion of a personal cause, the habitual relation did not. Now these
uniformities of organic structure which are so early perceived, are of
exactly the same class as those more numerous ones later established by
biology. The constant coexistence of mammary glands with two occipital
condyles in the skull, of vertebræ with teeth lodged in sockets, of
frontal horns with the habit of rumination, are generalizations as
purely empirical as those known to the aboriginal hunter. The vegetal
physiologist cannot in the least understand the complex relation between
the kind of leaf and the kind of fruit borne by a particular plant: he
knows these and like connexions simply in the same manner that the
barbarian knows them. But the fact that sundry of the uniform relations
which chiefly make up the organic sciences, were very early recognized,
is due to the high degree of vividness and frequency with which they
were presented to consciousness. Though the connexion between the form
of a given creature and the sound it makes, or the quality of its fur,
or the nature of its flesh, is extremely involved; yet the two terms of
the relation are conspicuous; are usually observed in close
juxtaposition in time and space; are so observed perhaps daily, or many
times a day; and above all a knowledge of their connexion has a direct
and obvious bearing on personal welfare. Meanwhile, we see that
innumerable other relations of exactly the same order, which are
displayed with even greater frequency by surrounding plants and animals,
remain for thousands of years unrecognized, if they are unobtrusive or
of no apparent moment.

When, passing from this primitive stage to a more advanced stage, we
trace the discovery of those less familiar uniformities which constitute
what is technically distinguished as Science, we find the order of
discovery to be still determined in the same manner. We shall most
clearly see this in contemplating separately the influence of each
derivative condition; as was proposed in the last section.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 38. How relations that have an immediate bearing on the maintenance of
life, are, other things equal, necessarily fixed in the mind before
those which have no such immediate bearing, is abundantly illustrated in
the history of Science. The habits of existing uncivilized races, who
fix times by moons and barter so many of one article for so many of
another, show us that numeration, which is the germ of mathematical
science, commenced under the immediate pressure of personal wants; and
it can scarcely be doubted that those laws of numerical relations which
are embodied in the rules of arithmetic, were first brought to light
through the practice of mercantile exchange. Similarly with Geometry.
The derivation shows us that it originally included only certain methods
of partitioning ground and laying out buildings. The properties of the
scales and the lever, involving the first principle in mechanics, were
early generalized under the stimulus of commercial and architectural
needs. To fix the times of religious festivals and agricultural
operations, were the motives which led to the establishment of the
simpler astronomic periods. Such small knowledge of chemical relations
as was involved in ancient metallurgy, was manifestly obtained in
seeking how to improve tools and weapons. In the alchemy of later times,
we see how greatly an intense hope of private benefit contributed to the
disclosure of a certain class of uniformities. Nor is our own age barren
of illustrations. “Here,” says Humboldt when in Guiana, “as in many
parts of Europe, the sciences are thought worthy to occupy the mind,
only so far as they confer some immediate and practical benefit on
society.” “How is it possible to believe,” said a missionary to him,
“that you have left your country to come and be devoured by mosquitoes
on this river, and to measure lands that are not your own.” Our coasts
furnish like instances. Every sea-side naturalist knows how great is the
contempt with which fishermen regard the collection of objects for the
microscope or aquarium: their incredulity as to the possible value of
such things, being so great, that they can scarcely be induced even by
bribes to preserve the refuse of their nets. Nay, we need not go for
evidence beyond daily table-talk. The demand for “practical science”—for
a knowledge that can be brought to bear on the business of life; joined
to the ridicule commonly vented on pursuits that have no obvious use;
suffice to show that the order in which different coexistences and
sequences are discovered, greatly depends on the directness with which
they affect our welfare.

That, when all other conditions are the same, obtrusive relations will
be generalized before unobtrusive ones, is so nearly a truism that
examples appear almost superfluous. If it be admitted that by the
aboriginal man, as by the child, the co-existent properties of large
surrounding objects are noticed before those of minute objects; and that
the external relations which bodies present are generalized before their
internal ones; it must be admitted that in all subsequent stages of
progress, the comparative conspicuousness of relations has greatly
affected the order in which they were recognized as uniform. Hence it
happened that after the establishment of those very manifest sequences
constituting a lunation, and those less manifest ones marking a year,
and those still less manifest ones marking the planetary periods,
Astronomy occupied itself with such inconspicuous sequences as those
displayed in the repeating cycle of lunar eclipses, and those which
suggested the theory of epicycles and eccentrics; while modern Astronomy
deals with still more inconspicuous sequences: some of which, as the
planetary rotations, are nevertheless the simplest which the heavens
present. In Physics, the early use of canoes implied an empirical
knowledge of certain hydrostatic relations that are intrinsically more
complex than sundry static relations then unknown; but these hydrostatic
relations were thrust upon observation. Or if we compare the solution of
the problem of specific gravity by Archimedes, with the discovery of
atmospheric pressure by Torricelli, (the two involving mechanical
relations of exactly the same kind,) we perceive that the much earlier
occurrence of the first than the last, was determined neither by a
difference in their bearings on personal welfare, nor by a difference in
the frequency with which illustrations of them come under observation,
nor by relative simplicity; but solely by the greater obtrusiveness of
the connexion between antecedent and consequent in the one case than in
the other. Similarly with Chemistry. The burning of wood, the rusting of
iron, the putrefaction of dead bodies, were early known as consequents
uniformly related to certain antecedents; but not until long after was
there reached a like empirical knowledge of the effect produced by air
in the decomposition of soil: a phenomenon of equal simplicity, equal or
greater importance, and greater frequency; but one that is extremely
unobtrusive. Among miscellaneous illustrations, it may be pointed out
that the connexions between lightning and thunder and between rain and
clouds, were established long before others of the same order; simply
because they thrust themselves on the attention. Or the long-delayed
discovery of the microscopic forms of life, with all the phenomena they
present, may be named as very clearly showing how certain groups of
relations that are not ordinarily perceptible, though in all other
respects like long-familiar relations, have to wait until changed
conditions render them perceptible. But, without further details, it
needs only to consider the inquiries which now occupy the electrician,
the chemist, the physiologist, to see that Science has advanced and is
advancing from the more conspicuous phenomena to the less conspicuous

How the degree of absolute frequency of a relation affects the
recognition of its uniformity, we see in contrasting certain biological
facts. Death and disease are near akin in most of their relations to us;
while in respect of complexity, conspicuousness, and the directness with
which they personally concern us, diseases in general may be put pretty
nearly on a level with each other. But there are great differences in
the times at which the natural sequences they severally exhibit are
recognized as such. The connexion between death and bodily injury,
constantly displayed not only in men but in all inferior creatures, was
known as an established uniformity while yet diseases were thought
supernatural. Among diseases themselves, it is observable that
comparatively unusual ones were regarded as of demoniacal origin during
ages when the more frequent were ascribed to ordinary causes: a truth
paralleled indeed among our own peasantry, who by the use of charms show
a lingering superstition with respect to rare disorders, which they do
not show with respect to common ones, such as colds. Passing to physical
illustrations, we may note that within the historic period, whirlpools
were accounted for by the agency of water-spirits; but we do not find
that within the same period the disappearance of water on exposure
either to the sun or to artificial heat was interpreted in an analogous
way: though a much more marvellous occurrence, and a much more complex
one, its great frequency led to the early establishment of it as a
natural uniformity. Rainbows and comets do not differ greatly in
conspicuousness, and a rainbow is intrinsically the more involved
phenomenon; but chiefly because of their far greater commonness,
rainbows were perceived to have a direct dependence on sun and rain
while yet comets were regarded as supernatural appearances.

That races living inland must long have remained ignorant of the daily
and monthly sequences of the tides, and that intertropical races could
not early have comprehended the phenomena of northern winters, are
extreme illustrations of the influence which relative frequency has on
the recognition of uniformities. Animals which, where they are
indigenous, call forth no surprise by their structure or habits, because
these are so familiar, when taken to a part of the earth where they have
never been seen, are looked at with an astonishment approaching to
awe—are even thought supernatural: a fact which will suggest numerous
others that show how the localization of phenomena, in part controls the
order in which they are reduced to law. Not only however does their
localization in space affect the progression, but also their
localization in time. Facts which are rarely if ever manifested during
one era, are rendered very frequent in another, simply through the
changes wrought by civilization. The lever, of which the properties are
illustrated in the use of sticks and weapons, is vaguely understood by
every savage—on applying it in a certain way he rightly anticipates
certain effects; but the action of the equally simple wedge, which is
not commonly displayed till tool-making has made some progress, is less
early generalized; while the wheel and axle, pulley, and screw, cannot
have their powers either empirically or rationally known till the
advance of the arts has more or less familiarized them. Through those
various means of exploration which we have inherited and are ever
increasing, we have become acquainted with a vast range of chemical
relations that were relatively non-existent to the primitive man: to
highly developed industries we owe both the substances and the apparatus
that have disclosed to us countless uniformities which our ancestors had
no opportunity of seeing, and therefore could not recognize. These and
sundry like instances that will occur to the reader, show that the
accumulated materials, and processes, and appliances, and products,
which characterize the environments of complex societies, greatly
increase the accessibility of various classes of relations; and by so
multiplying the experiences of them, or making them relatively frequent,
facilitate their generalization. To which add, that various classes of
phenomena presented by society itself, as for instance those which
political economy formulates, become relatively frequent and therefore
recognizable in advanced social states; while in less advanced ones they
are too rarely displayed to have their relations perceived, or, as in
the least advanced ones, are not displayed at all.

That, where no other circumstances interfere, the order in which
different uniformities are established varies as their complexity, is
manifest. The geometry of straight lines was understood before the
geometry of curved lines; the properties of the circle before the
properties of the ellipse, parabola and hyperbola; and the equations of
curves of single curvature were ascertained before those of curves of
double curvature. Plane trigonometry comes in order of time and
simplicity before spherical trigonometry; and the mensuration of plane
surfaces and solids before the mensuration of curved surfaces and
solids. Similarly with mechanics: the laws of simple motion were
generalized before those of compound motion; and those of rectilinear
motion before those of curvilinear motion. The properties of equal-armed
levers, or scales, were understood before those of the lever with
unequal arms; and the law of the inclined plane was formulated earlier
than that of the screw, which involves it. In chemistry, the progress
has been from the simple inorganic compounds, to the more involved
organic ones. And where, as in most of the other sciences, the
conditions of the exploration are more complicated, we still may clearly
trace relative complexity as one of the determining circumstances.

The progression from concrete relations to abstract ones, and from the
less abstract to the more abstract, is equally obvious. Numeration,
which in its primary form concerned itself only with groups of actual
objects, came earlier than simple arithmetic: the rules of which deal
with numbers apart from objects. Arithmetic, limited in its sphere to
concrete numerical relations, is alike earlier and less abstract than
Algebra, which deals with the relations of these relations. And in like
manner, the Infinitesimal Calculus comes after Algebra, both in order of
evolution and in order of abstractness. In Astronomy, the progress has
been from special generalizations, each expressing the motions of a
particular planet, to the generalizations of Kepler, expressing the
motions of the planets at large; and then to Newton’s generalization,
expressing the motions of all heavenly bodies whatever. Similarly with
Physics, Chemistry and Biology, there has ever been an advance from the
relations of particular facts and particular classes of facts, to the
relations presented by still wider classes—to truths of a high
generality or greater abstractness.

Brief and rude as is this sketch of a mental development that has been
long and complicated, it fulfils its end if it displays the several
conditions that have regulated the course of the development. I venture
to think it shows inductively, what was deductively inferred, that the
order in which separate groups of uniformities are recognized, depends
not on one circumstance but on several circumstances. A survey of the
facts makes it manifest that the various classes of relations are
generalized in a certain succession, not solely because of one
particular kind of difference in their natures; but also because they
are variously placed with respect to time, space, other relations, and
our own constitutions: our perception of them being influenced by all
these conditions in endless combinations. The comparative degrees of
importance, of obtrusiveness, of absolute frequency, of relative
frequency, of simplicity, of concreteness, are every one of them
factors; and from their union in proportions that are more or less
different in every case, there results a highly complex process of
mental evolution. But while it thus becomes manifest that the proximate
causes of the succession in which relations are reduced to law, are
numerous and involved; it also becomes manifest that there is one
ultimate cause to which these proximate ones are subordinate. As the
several circumstances that determine the early or late recognition of
uniformities, are circumstances that determine the number and strength
of the impressions which these uniformities make on the mind; it follows
that the progression conforms to a certain fundamental principle of
psychology. We see _à posteriori_, what we concluded _à priori_, that
the order in which relations are generalized, depends on the frequency
and impressiveness with which they are repeated in conscious experience.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 39. And now to observe the bearings of these truths on our general
argument. Having roughly analyzed the progress of the past, let us take
advantage of the light thus thrown on the present, and consider what is
implied respecting the future.

Note first that the likelihood of the universality of Law, has been ever
growing greater. Out of the countless coexistences and sequences with
which mankind are environed, they have been continually transferring
some from the group whose order was supposed to be arbitrary, to the
group whose order is known to be uniform. Age by age, the number of
recognized connexions of phenomena has been increasing; and that of
unrecognized connexions decreasing. And manifestly, as fast as the class
of ungeneralized relations becomes smaller, the probability that among
them there may be some that do not conform to law, becomes less. To put
the argument numerically—It is clear that when out of surrounding
phenomena a hundred of several kinds have been found to occur in
constant connexions, there arises a slight presumption that all
phenomena occur in constant connexions. When uniformity has been
established in a thousand cases, more varied in their kinds, the
presumption gains strength. And when the established cases of uniformity
mount to myriads, including many of each variety, it becomes an ordinary
induction that uniformity exists everywhere. Just as from the numerous
observed cases in which heavenly bodies have been found to move in
harmony with the law of gravitation, it is inferred that all heavenly
bodies move in harmony with the law of gravitation; so, from the
innumerable observed cases in which phenomena are found to stand in
invariable connexions, it is inferred that in all cases phenomena stand
in invariable connexions.

Silently and insensibly their experiences have been pressing men on
towards the conclusion thus drawn. Not out of a conscious regard for
these abstract reasons, but from a habit of thought which these abstract
reasons formulate and justify, all minds have been advancing towards a
belief in the constancy of surrounding coexistences and sequences.
Familiarity with special uniformities, has generated the abstract
conception of uniformity—the idea of _Law_; and this idea has been in
successive generations slowly gaining fixity and clearness. Especially
has it been thus among those whose knowledge of natural phenomena is the
most extensive—men of science. The Mathematician, the Physicist, the
Astronomer, the Chemist, severally acquainted with the vast
accumulations of uniformities established by their predecessors, and
themselves daily adding new ones as well as verifying the old, acquire a
far stronger faith in Law than is ordinarily possessed. With them this
faith, ceasing to be merely passive, becomes an active stimulus to
inquiry. Wherever there exist phenomena of which the dependence is not
yet ascertained, these most cultivated intellects, impelled by the
conviction that here too there is some invariable connexion, proceed to
observe, compare, and experiment; and when they discover the law to
which the phenomena conform, as they eventually do, their general belief
in the universality of law is further strengthened. So overwhelming is
the evidence, and such the effect of this discipline, that to the
advanced student of nature, the proposition that there are lawless
phenomena, has become not only incredible but almost inconceivable.

Hence we may see how inevitably there must spread among mankind at
large, this habitual recognition of law which already distinguishes
modern thought from ancient thought. Not only is it that each conquest
of generalization over a region of fact hitherto ungeneralized, and each
merging of lower generalizations in a higher one, adds to the
distinctness of this recognition among those immediately concerned—not
only is it that the fulfilment of the predictions made possible by every
new step, and the further command so gained of nature’s forces, prove to
the uninitiated the validity of these generalizations and the doctrine
they illustrate; but it is that widening education is daily diffusing
among the mass of men, that knowledge of generalizations which has been
hitherto confined to the few. And as fast as this diffusion goes on,
must the belief of the scientific become the belief of the world at
large. The simple accumulation of instances, must inevitably establish
in the general mind, a conviction of the universality of law; even were
the influence of this accumulation to be aided by no other.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 40. But it will be aided by another. From the evidence above set
forth, it may be inferred that a secondary influence will by and by
enforce this primary one. That law is universal, will become an
irresistible conclusion when it is perceived that _the progress in the
discovery of laws itself conforms to law_; and when it is hence
understood why certain groups of phenomena have been reduced to law,
while other groups are still unreduced. When it is seen that the order
in which uniformities are recognized, must depend upon the frequency and
vividness with which they are repeated in conscious experience; when it
is seen that, as a matter of fact, the most common, important,
conspicuous, concrete and simple uniformities were the earliest
recognized, because they were experienced oftenest and most distinctly;
when it is further seen that from the beginning the advance has been to
the recognition of uniformities which, from one or other circumstance,
were less often experienced; it will by implication be seen that long
after the great mass of phenomena have been generalized, there must
remain phenomena which, from their rareness, or unobtrusiveness, or
seeming unimportance, or complexity, or abstractness, are still
ungeneralized.       Thus will be furnished a solution to a difficulty
sometimes raised. When it is asked why the universality of law is not
already fully established, there will be the answer that the directions
in which it is not yet established are those in which its establishment
must necessarily be latest. That state of things which is inferable
beforehand, is just the state which we find to exist. If such
coexistences and sequences as those of Biology and Sociology are not yet
reduced to law, the presumption is not that they are irreducible to law,
but that their laws elude our present means of analysis. Having long ago
proved uniformity throughout all the lower classes of relations; and
having been step by step proving uniformity throughout classes of
relations successively higher and higher; if we have not at present
succeeded with the highest classes, it may be fairly concluded that our
powers are at fault, rather than that the uniformity does not exist. And
unless we make the absurd assumption that the process of generalization,
now going on with unexampled rapidity, has reached its limit, and will
suddenly cease, we must infer that ultimately mankind will discover a
constant order of manifestation even in the most involved, obscure, and
abstract phenomena.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 41. Not even yet, however, have we exhausted the evidence. The
foregoing arguments have to be merged in another, still more cogent,
which fuses all fragmentary proofs into one general proof.

Thus far we have spoken of laws that are more or less special; and from
the still-continuing disclosure of special laws, each formulating some
new class of phenomena, have inferred that eventually all classes of
phenomena will be formulated. If, now, we find that there are laws of
far higher generality, to which those constituting the body of Science
are subordinate; the fact must greatly strengthen the proof that Law is
universal. If, underneath different groups of concrete phenomena,
Mechanical, Chemical, Thermal, Electric, &c., we discern certain
uniformities of action common to them all; we have a new and weighty
reason for believing that uniformity of action pervades the whole of
nature. And if we also see that these most general laws hold not only of
the inorganic but of the organic worlds—if we see that the phenomena of
Life, of Mind, of Society, whose special laws are yet unestablished,
nevertheless conform to these most general laws; the proof of the
universality of Law amounts to demonstration.

That there are laws of this transcendant generality, has now to be
shown. To specify and illustrate them, will be the purpose of the
succeeding chapters. And while, in contemplating them, we shall perceive
how irresistible is the conclusion that the workings of the Unknowable
are distinguished from those of finite agents by their absolute
uniformity; we shall at the same time familiarize ourselves with those
primary facts through which all other facts are to be interpreted.

                              CHAPTER II.
                        THE LAW OF EVOLUTION.[8]

§ 42. The class of phenomena to be considered under the title of
Evolution, is in a great measure co-extensive with the class commonly
indicated by the word Progress. But the word Progress is here
inappropriate, for several reasons. To specify these reasons will
perhaps be the best way of showing what is to be understood by

In the first place, the current conception of Progress is shifting and
indefinite. Sometimes it comprehends little more than simple growth—as
of a nation in the number of its members and the extent of territory
over which it has spread. At other times it has reference to quantity of
material products—as when the advance of agriculture and manufactures is
the topic. Now the superior quality of these products is contemplated;
and then the new or improved appliances by which they are produced.
When, again, we speak of moral or intellectual progress, we refer to the
state of the individual or people exhibiting it; while, when the
progress of Knowledge, of Science, of Art, is commented upon, we have in
view certain abstract results of human thought and action.       In the
second place, besides being more or less vague, the ordinary idea of
Progress is in great measure erroneous. It takes in not so much the
reality as its accompaniments—not so much the substance as the shadow.
That progress in intelligence seen during the growth of the child into
the man, or the savage into the philosopher, is commonly regarded as
consisting in the greater number of facts known and laws understood;
whereas the actual progress consists in those internal modifications of
which this increased knowledge is the expression. Social progress is
supposed to consist in the produce of a greater quantity and variety of
the articles required for satisfying men’s wants—in the increasing
security of person and property—in widening freedom of action; whereas,
rightly understood, social progress consists in those changes of
structure in the social organism which have entailed these consequences.
The interpretation is a teleological one. The phenomena are contemplated
solely as bearing on human happiness. Only those changes are held to
constitute progress, which directly or indirectly tend to heighten human
happiness. And they are thought to constitute progress simply _because_
they tend to heighten human happiness.       In the third place, in
consequence of its teleological implications, the term Progress is
rendered scarcely applicable to a wide range of phenomena which are
intrinsically of the same nature as those included under it. The
metamorphoses of an insect are only by analogy admitted within the scope
of the word, as popularly accepted; though, considered in themselves,
they have as much right there as the changes which constitute
civilization. Having no apparent bearing on human interests, an
increasing complication in the arrangement of ocean-currents, would not
ordinarily be regarded as progress; though really of the same character
as phenomena which are so regarded.

Hence the need for another word. Our purpose here is to analyze the
various class of changes usually considered as Progress, together with
others like them which are not so considered; and to see what is their
intrinsic peculiarity—what is their essential nature apart from their
bearings on our welfare. And that we may avoid the confusion of thought
likely to result from pre-established associations, it will be best to
substitute for the term Progress, the term Evolution. Our question is
then—what is Evolution?

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 43. In respect to that evolution which individual organisms display,
this question has been answered. Pursuing an idea which Harvey set
afloat, Wolff, Goethe, and Von Baer, have established the truth that the
series of changes gone through during the development of a seed into a
tree, or an ovum into an animal, constitute an advance from homogeneity
of structure to heterogeneity of structure. In its primary stage, every
germ consists of a substance that is uniform throughout, both in texture
and chemical composition. The first step is the appearance of a
difference between two parts of this substance; or, as the phenomenon is
called in physiological language, a differentiation. Each of these
differentiated divisions presently begins itself to exhibit some
contrast of parts; and by and by these secondary differentiations become
as definite as the original one. This process is continuously
repeated—is simultaneously going on in all parts of the growing embryo;
and by endless such differentiations there is finally produced that
complex combination of tissues and organs, constituting the adult animal
or plant. This is the history of all organisms whatever. It is settled
beyond dispute that organic evolution consists in a change from the
homogeneous to the heterogeneous.

Now I propose in the first place to show, that this law of organic
evolution is the law of all evolution. Whether it be in the development
of the Earth, in the development of Life upon its surface, in the
development of Society, of Government, of Manufactures, of Commerce, of
Language, Literature, Science, Art, this same advance from the simple to
the complex, through successive differentiations, holds uniformly. From
the earliest traceable cosmical changes down to the latest results of
civilization, we shall find that the transformation of the homogeneous
into the heterogeneous, is that in which Evolution essentially consists.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 44. With the view of showing that _if_ the Nebular Hypothesis be true,
the genesis of the solar system supplies one illustration of this law,
let us assume that the matter of which the sun and planets consist was
once in a diffused form; and that from the gravitation of its atoms
there resulted a gradual concentration. By the hypothesis, the solar
system in its nascent state existed as an indefinitely extended and
nearly homogeneous medium—a medium almost homogeneous in density, in
temperature, and in other physical attributes. The first advance towards
consolidation resulted in a differentiation between the occupied space
which the nebulous mass still filled, and the unoccupied space which it
previously filled. There simultaneously resulted a contrast in density
and a contrast in temperature, between the interior and the exterior of
this mass. And at the same time there arose throughout it, rotatory
movements, whose velocities varied according to their distances from its
centre. These differentiations increased in number and degree until
there was evolved the organized group of sun, planets, and satellites,
which we now know—a group which presents numerous contrasts of structure
and action among its members. There are the immense contrasts between
the sun and the planets, in bulk and in weight; as well as the
subordinate contrasts between one planet and another, and between the
planets and their satellites. There is the similarly marked contrast
between the sun as almost stationary, and the planets as moving round
him with great velocity; while there are the secondary contrasts between
the velocities and periods of the several planets, and between their
simple revolutions and the double ones of their satellites, which have
to move round their primaries while moving round the sun. There is the
yet further strong contrast between the sun and the planets in respect
of temperature; and there is reason to suppose that the planets and
satellites differ from each other in their proper heat, as well as in
the heat they receive from the sun. When we bear in mind that, in
addition to these various contrasts, the planets and satellites also
differ in respect to their distances from each other and their primary;
in respect to the inclinations of their orbits, the inclinations of
their axes, their times of rotation on their axes, their specific
gravities, and their physical constitutions; we see what a high degree
of heterogeneity the solar system exhibits, when compared with the
almost complete homogeneity of the nebulous mass out of which it is
supposed to have originated.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 45. Passing from this hypothetical illustration, which must be taken
for what it is worth, without prejudice to the general argument, let us
descend to a more certain order of evidence.

It is now generally agreed among geologists that the Earth was at first
a mass of molten matter; and that it is still fluid and incandescent at
the distance of a few miles beneath its surface. Originally, then, it
was homogeneous in consistence, and, because of the circulation that
takes place in heated fluids, must have been comparatively homogeneous
in temperature; and it must have been surrounded by an atmosphere
consisting partly of the elements of air and water, and partly of those
various other elements which assume a gaseous form at high temperatures.
That slow cooling by radiation which is still going on at an
inappreciable rate, and which, though originally far more rapid than
now, necessarily required an immense time to produce any decided change,
must ultimately have resulted in the solidification of the portion most
able to part with its heat; namely, the surface. In the thin crust thus
formed, we have the first marked differentiation. A still further
cooling, a consequent thickening of this crust, and an accompanying
deposition of all solidifiable elements contained in the atmosphere,
must finally have been followed by the condensation of the water
previously existing as vapour. A second marked differentiation must thus
have arisen; and as the condensation must have taken place on the
coolest parts of the surface—namely, about the poles—there must thus
have resulted the first geographical distinction of parts.

To these illustrations of growing heterogeneity, which, though deduced
from the known laws of matter, may be regarded as more or less
hypothetical, Geology adds an extensive series that have been
inductively established. Its investigations show that the Earth has been
continually becoming more heterogeneous through the multiplication of
the strata which form its crust; further, that it has been becoming more
heterogeneous in respect of the composition of these strata, the latter
of which, being made from the detritus of the older ones, are many of
them rendered highly complex by the mixture of materials they contain;
and that this heterogeneity has been vastly increased by the action of
the Earth’s still molten nucleus upon its envelope: whence have resulted
not only a great variety of igneous rocks, but the tilting up of
sedimentary strata at all angles, the formation of faults and metallic
veins, the production of endless dislocations and irregularities. Yet
again, geologists teach us that the Earth’s surface has been growing
more varied in elevation—that the most ancient mountain systems are the
smallest, and the Andes and Himalayas the most modern; while, in all
probability, there have been corresponding changes in the bed of the
ocean. As a consequence of these ceaseless differentiations, we now find
that no considerable portion of the Earth’s exposed surface is like any
other portion, either in contour, in geologic structure, or in chemical
composition; and that in most parts it changes from mile to mile in all
these characteristics.

Moreover, it must not be forgotten that there has been simultaneously
going on a gradual differentiation of climates. As fast as the Earth
cooled and its crust solidified, there arose appreciable differences in
temperature between those parts of its surface most exposed to the sun
and those less exposed. Gradually, as the cooling progressed, these
differences became more pronounced; until there finally resulted the
marked contrasts between regions of perpetual ice and snow, regions
where winter and summer alternately reign for periods varying according
to the latitude, and regions where summer follows summer with scarcely
an appreciable variation. At the same time, the successive elevations
and subsidences of different portions of the Earth’s crust, tending as
they have done to the present irregular distribution of land and sea,
have entailed various modifications of climate beyond those dependent on
latitude; while a yet further series of such modifications have been
produced by increasing differences of elevation in the land, which have
in sundry places brought arctic, temperate, and tropical climates to
within a few miles of each other. And the general result of these
changes is, that not only has every extensive region its own
meteorologic conditions, but that every locality in each region differs
more or less from others in those conditions: as in its structure, its
contour, its soil.

Thus, between our existing Earth, the phenomena of whose varied crust
neither geographers, geologists, mineralogists nor meteorologists have
yet enumerated, and the molten globe out of which it was evolved, the
contrast in heterogeneity is sufficiently striking.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 46. When from the Earth itself we turn to the plants and animals that
have lived, or still live, upon its surface, we find ourselves in some
difficulty from lack of facts. That every existing organism has been
developed out of the simple into the complex, is indeed the first
established truth of all; and that every organism which has existed was
similarly developed, is an inference that no physiologist will hesitate
to draw. But when we pass from individual forms of life to Life in
general, and inquire whether the same law is seen in the _ensemble_ of
its manifestations,—whether modern plants and animals are of more
heterogeneous structure than ancient ones, and whether the Earth’s
present Flora and Fauna are more heterogeneous than the Flora and Fauna
of the past,—we find the evidence so fragmentary, that every conclusion
is open to dispute. Two-thirds of the Earth’s surface being covered by
water; a great part of the exposed land being inaccessible to, or
untravelled by, the geologist; the greater part of the remainder having
been scarcely more than glanced at; and even the most familiar portions,
as England, having been so imperfectly explored, that a new series of
strata has been added within these few years,—it is manifestly
impossible for us to say with any certainty what creatures have, and
what have not, existed at any particular period. Considering the
perishable nature of many of the lower organic forms, the metamorphosis
of many sedimentary strata, and the gaps that occur among the rest, we
shall see further reason for distrusting our deductions. On the one
hand, the repeated discovery of vertebrate remains in strata previously
supposed to contain none,—of reptiles where only fish were thought to
exist,—of mammals where it was believed there were no creatures higher
than reptiles; renders it daily more manifest how small is the value of
negative evidence. On the other hand, the worthlessness of the
assumption that we have discovered the earliest, or anything like the
earliest, organic remains, is becoming equally clear. That the oldest
known aqueous formations have been greatly changed by igneous action,
and that still older ones have been totally transformed by it, is
becoming undeniable. And the fact that sedimentary strata earlier than
any we know, have been melted up, being admitted, it must also be
admitted that we cannot say how far back in time this destruction of
sedimentary strata has been going on. Thus it is manifest that the title
_Palæozoic_, as applied to the earliest known fossiliferous strata,
involves a _petitio principii_; and that, for aught we know to the
contrary, only the last few chapters of the Earth’s biological history
may have come down to us.

All inferences drawn from such scattered facts as we find, must thus be
extremely questionable. If, looking at the general aspect of evidence, a
progressionist argues that the earliest known vertebrate remains are
those of Fishes, which are the most homogeneous of the vertebrata; that
Reptiles, which are more heterogeneous, are later; and that later still,
and more heterogeneous still, are Mammals and Birds; it may be replied
that the Palæozoic deposits, not being estuary deposits, are not likely
to contain the remains of terrestrial vertebrata, which may nevertheless
have existed at that era. The same answer may be made to the argument
that the vertebrate fauna of the Palæozoic period, consisting so far as
we know, entirely of Fishes, was less heterogeneous than the modern
vertebrate fauna, which includes Reptiles, Birds and Mammals, of
multitudinous genera; or the uniformitarian may contend with great show
of truth, that this appearance of higher and more varied forms in later
geologic eras, was due to progressive immigration—that a continent
slowly upheaved from the ocean at a point remote from pre-existing
continents, would necessarily be peopled from them in a succession like
that which our strata display.       At the same time the
counter-arguments may be proved equally inconclusive. When, to show that
there cannot have been a continuous evolution of the more homogeneous
organic forms into the more heterogeneous ones, the uniformitarian
points to the breaks that occur in the succession of these forms; there
is the sufficient answer that current geological changes show us why
such breaks must occur, and why, by subsidences and elevations of large
area, there must be produced such marked breaks as those which divide
the three great geologic epochs. Or again, if the opponent of the
development hypothesis cites the facts set forth by Professor Huxley in
his lecture on “Persistent Types”—if he points out that “of some two
hundred known orders of plants, not one is exclusively fossil,” while
“among animals, there is not a single totally extinct class; and of the
orders, at the outside not more than seven per cent. are unrepresented
in the existing creation”—if he urges that among these some have
continued from the Silurian epoch to our own day with scarcely any
change—and if he infers that there is evidently a much greater average
resemblance between the living forms of the past and those of the
present, than consists with this hypothesis; there is still a
satisfactory reply, on which in fact Prof. Huxley insists; namely, that
we have evidence of a “pre-geologic era” of unknown duration. And
indeed, when it is remembered, that the enormous subsidences of the
Silurian period show the Earth’s crust to have been approximately as
thick then as it is now—when it is concluded that the time taken to form
so thick a crust, must have been immense as compared with the time which
has since elapsed—when it is assumed, as it must be, that during this
comparatively immense time the geologic and biologic changes went on at
their usual rates; it becomes manifest, not only that the
palæontological records which we find, do not negative the theory of
evolution, but that they are such as might rationally be looked for.

Moreover, it must not be forgotten that though the evidence suffices
neither for proof nor disproof, yet some of its most conspicuous facts
support the belief, that the more heterogeneous organisms and groups of
organisms, have been evolved from the less heterogeneous ones. The
average community of type between the fossils of adjacent strata, and
still more the community that is found between the latest tertiary
fossils and creatures now existing, is one of these facts. The discovery
in some modern deposits of such forms as the Palæotherium and
Anaplotherium, which, if we may rely on Prof. Owen, had a type of
structure intermediate between some of the types now existing, is
another of these facts. And the comparatively recent appearance of Man,
is a third fact of this kind, which possesses still greater
significance. Hence we may say, that though our knowledge of past life
upon the Earth, is too scanty to justify us in asserting an evolution of
the simple into the complex, either in individual forms or in the
aggregate of forms; yet the knowledge we have, not only consists with
the belief that there has been such an evolution, but rather supports it
than otherwise.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 47. Whether an advance from the homogeneous to the heterogeneous is or
is not displayed in the biological history of the globe, it is clearly
enough displayed in the progress of the latest and most heterogeneous
creature—Man. It is alike true that, during the period in which the
Earth has been peopled, the human organism has grown more heterogeneous
among the civilized divisions of the species; and that the species, as a
whole, has been made more heterogeneous by the multiplication of races
and the differentiation of these races from each other.       In proof
of the first of these positions, we may cite the fact that, in the
relative development of the limbs, the civilized man departs more widely
from the general type of the placental mammalia, than do the lower human
races. Though often possessing well-developed body and arms, the Papuan
has extremely small legs: thus reminding us of the quadrumana, in which
there is no great contrast in size between the hind and fore limbs. But
in the European, the greater length and massiveness of the legs has
become very marked—the fore and hind limbs are relatively more
heterogeneous. Again, the greater ratio which the cranial bones bear to
the facial bones, illustrates the same truth. Among the vertebrata in
general, evolution is marked by an increasing heterogeneity in the
vertebral column, and more especially in the segments constituting the
skull: the higher forms being distinguished by the relatively larger
size of the bones which cover the brain, and the relatively smaller size
of those which form the jaws, &c. Now, this characteristic, which is
stronger in Man than in any other creature, is stronger in the European
than in the savage. Moreover, judging from the greater extent and
variety of faculty he exhibits, we may infer that the civilized man has
also a more complex or heterogeneous nervous system than the uncivilized
man; and indeed the fact is in part visible in the increased ratio which
his cerebrum bears to the subjacent ganglia. If further elucidation be
needed, we may find it in every nursery. The infant European has sundry
marked points of resemblance to the lower human races; as in the
flatness of the alæ of the nose, the depression of its bridge, the
divergence and forward opening of the nostrils, the form of the lips,
the absence of a frontal sinus, the width between the eyes, the
smallness of the legs. Now, as the developmental process by which these
traits are turned into those of the adult European, is a continuation of
that change from the homogeneous to the heterogeneous displayed during
the previous evolution of the embryo, which every physiologist will
admit; it follows that the parallel developmental process by which the
like traits of the barbarous races have been turned into those of the
civilized races, has also been a continuation of the change from the
homogeneous to the heterogeneous.       The truth of the second
position—that Mankind, as a whole, have become more heterogeneous—is so
obvious as scarcely to need illustration. Every work on Ethnology, by
its divisions and subdivisions of races, bears testimony to it. Even
were we to admit the hypothesis that Mankind originated from several
separate stocks, it would still remain true that as, from each of these
stocks, there have sprung many now widely different tribes, which are
proved by philological evidence to have had a common origin, the race as
a whole is far less homogeneous than it once was. Add to which, that we
have, in the Anglo-Americans, an example of a new variety arising within
these few generations; and that, if we may trust to the descriptions of
observers, we are likely soon to have another such example in Australia.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 48. On passing from Humanity under its individual form, to Humanity as
socially embodied, we find the general law still more variously
exemplified. The change from the homogeneous to the heterogeneous, is
displayed equally in the progress of civilization as a whole, and in the
progress of every tribe or nation; and is still going on with increasing

As we see in existing barbarous tribes, society in its first and lowest
form is a homogeneous aggregation of individuals having like powers and
like functions: the only marked difference of function being that which
accompanies difference of sex. Every man is warrior, hunter, fisherman,
tool-maker, builder; every woman performs the same drudgeries; every
family is self-sufficing, and, save for purposes of aggression and
defence, might as well live apart from the rest. Very early, however, in
the process of social evolution, we find an incipient differentiation
between the governing and the governed. Some kind of chieftainship seems
coeval with the first advance from the state of separate wandering
families to that of a nomadic tribe. The authority of the strongest
makes itself felt among a body of savages, as in a herd of animals, or a
posse of school-boys. At first, however, it is indefinite, uncertain; is
shared by others of scarcely inferior power; and is unaccompanied by any
difference in occupation or style of living: the first ruler kills his
own game, makes his own weapons, builds his own hut, and, economically
considered, does not differ from others of his tribe. Gradually, as the
tribe progresses, the contrast between the governing and the governed
grows more decided. Supreme power becomes hereditary in one family; the
head of that family, ceasing to provide for his own wants, is served by
others; and he begins to assume the sole office of ruling.       At the
same time there has been arising a co-ordinate species of
government—that of Religion. As all ancient records and traditions
prove, the earliest rulers are regarded as divine personages. The maxims
and commands they uttered during their lives are held sacred after their
deaths, and are enforced by their divinely-descended successors; who in
their turns are promoted to the pantheon of the race, there to be
worshipped and propitiated along with their predecessors: the most
ancient of whom is the supreme god, and the rest subordinate gods. For a
long time these connate forms of government—civil and religious—continue
closely associated. For many generations the king continues to be the
chief priest, and the priesthood to be members of the royal race. For
many ages religious law continues to contain more or less of civil
regulation, and civil law to possess more or less of religious sanction;
and even among the most advanced nations these two controlling agencies
are by no means completely differentiated from each other.       Having
a common root with these, and gradually diverging from them, we find yet
another controlling agency—that of Manners or ceremonial usages. All
titles of honour are originally the names of the god-king; afterwards of
God and the king; still later of persons of high rank; and finally come,
some of them, to be used between man and man. All forms of complimentary
address were at first the expressions of submission from prisoners to
their conqueror, or from subjects to their ruler, either human or
divine—expressions that were afterwards used to propitiate subordinate
authorities, and slowly descended into ordinary intercourse. All modes
of salutation were once obeisances made before the monarch and used in
worship of him after his death. Presently others of the god-descended
race were similarly saluted; and by degrees some of the salutations have
become the due of all.[9] Thus, no sooner does the originally
homogeneous social mass differentiate into the governed and the
governing parts, than this last exhibits an incipient differentiation
into religious and secular—Church and State; while at the same time
there begins to be differentiated from both, that less definite species
of government which rides our daily intercourse—a species of government
which, as we may see in heralds’ colleges, in books of the peerage, in
masters of ceremonies, is not without a certain embodiment of its own.
      Each of these kinds of government is itself subject to successive
differentiations. In the course of ages, there arises, as among
ourselves, a highly complex political organization of monarch,
ministers, lords and commons, with their subordinate administrative
departments, courts of justice, revenue offices, &c., supplemented in
the provinces by municipal governments, county governments, parish or
union governments—all of them more or less elaborated. By its side there
grows up a highly complex religious organization, with its various
grades of officials from archbishops down to sextons, its colleges,
convocations, ecclesiastical courts, &c.; to all which must be added the
ever-multiplying independent sects, each with its general and local
authorities. And at the same time there is developed a highly complex
aggregation of customs, manners, and temporary fashions, enforced by
society at large, and serving to control those minor transactions
between man and man which are not regulated by civil and religious law.
Moreover, it is to be observed that this ever-increasing heterogeneity
in the governmental appliances of each nation, has been accompanied by
an increasing heterogeneity in the governmental appliances of different
nations: all of which are more or less unlike in their political systems
and legislation, in their creeds and religious institutions, in their
customs and ceremonial usages.

Simultaneously there has been going on a second differentiation of a
more familiar kind; that, namely, by which the mass of the community
has been segregated into distinct classes and orders of workers. While
the governing part has undergone the complex development above
detailed, the governed part has undergone an equally complex
development; which has resulted in that minute division of labour
characterizing advanced nations.       It is needless to trace out
this progress from its first stages, up through the caste divisions of
the East and the incorporated guilds of Europe, to the elaborate
producing and distributing organization existing among ourselves.
Political economists have long since indicated the evolution which,
beginning with a tribe whose members severally perform the same
actions, each for himself ends with a civilized community whose
members severally perform different actions for each other; and they
have further pointed out the changes through which the solitary
producer of any one commodity, is transformed into a combination of
producers who, united under a master, take separate parts in the
manufacture of such commodity.       But there are yet other and
higher phases of this advance from the homogeneous to the
heterogeneous in the industrial organization of society. Long after
considerable progress has been made in the division of labour among
the different classes of workers, there is still little or no division
of labour among the widely separated parts of the community: the
nation continues comparatively homogeneous in the respect that in each
district the same occupations are pursued. But when roads and other
means of transit become numerous and good, the different districts
begin to assume different functions, and to become mutually dependent.
The calico-manufacture locates itself in this county, the
woollen-manufacture in that; silks are produced here, lace there;
stockings in one place, shoes in another; pottery, hardware, cutlery,
come to have their special towns; and ultimately every locality grows
more or less distinguished from the rest by the leading occupation
carried on in it. Nay, more, this subdivision of functions shows
itself not only among the different parts of the same nation, but
among different nations. That exchange of commodities which free-trade
promises so greatly to increase, will ultimately have the effect of
specializing, in a greater or less degree, the industry of each
people.       So that beginning with a barbarous tribe, almost if not
quite homogeneous in the functions of its members, the progress has
been, and still is, towards an economic aggregation of the whole human
race; growing ever more heterogeneous in respect of the separate
functions assumed by separate nations, the separate functions assumed
by the local sections of each nation, the separate functions assumed
by the many kinds of makers and traders in each town, and the separate
functions assumed by the workers united in producing each commodity.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 49. Not only is the law thus clearly exemplified in the evolution of
the social organism, but it is exemplified with equal clearness in the
evolution of all products of human thought and action; whether concrete
or abstract, real or ideal. Let us take Language as our first

The lowest form of language is the exclamation, by which an entire idea
is vaguely conveyed through a single sound; as among the lower animals.
That human language ever consisted solely of exclamations, and so was
strictly homogeneous in respect of its parts of speech, we have no
evidence. But that language can be traced down to a form in which nouns
and verbs are its only elements, is an established fact. In the gradual
multiplication of parts of speech out of these primary ones—in the
differentiation of verbs into active and passive, of nouns into abstract
and concrete—in the rise of distinctions of mood, tense, person, of
number and case—in the formation of auxiliary verbs, of adjectives,
adverbs, pronouns, prepositions, articles—in the divergence of those
orders, genera, species, and varieties of parts of speech by which
civilized races express minute modifications of meaning—we see a change
from the homogeneous to the heterogeneous. And it may be remarked, in
passing, that it is more especially in virtue of having carried this
subdivision of functions to a greater extent and completeness, that the
English language is superior to all others.       Another aspect under
which we may trace the development of language, is the differentiation
of words of allied meanings. Philology early disclosed the truth that in
all languages words may be grouped into families having a common
ancestry. An aboriginal name, applied indiscriminately to each of an
extensive and ill-defined class of things or actions, presently
undergoes modifications by which the chief divisions of the class are
expressed. These several names springing from the primitive root,
themselves become the parents of other names still further modified. And
by the aid of those systematic modes which presently arise, of making
derivatives and forming compound terms expressing still smaller
distinctions, there is finally developed a tribe of words so
heterogeneous in sound and meaning, that to the uninitiated it seems
incredible they should have had a common origin. Meanwhile, from other
roots there are being evolved other such tribes, until there results a
language of some sixty thousand or more unlike words, signifying as many
unlike objects, qualities, acts.       Yet another way in which language
in general advances from the homogeneous to the heterogeneous, is in the
multiplication of languages. Whether, as Max Müller and Bunsen think,
all languages have grown from one stock, or whether, as some
philologists say, they have grown from two or more stocks, it is clear
that since large families of languages, as the Indo-European, are of one
parentage, they have become distinct through a process of continuous
divergence. The same diffusion over the Earth’s surface which has led to
the differentiation of the race, has simultaneously led to a
differentiation of their speech: a truth which we see further
illustrated in each nation by the peculiarities of dialect found in
separate districts. Thus the progress of Language conforms to the
general law, alike in the evolution of languages, in the evolution of
families of words, and in the evolution of parts of speech.

On passing from spoken to written language, we come upon several classes
of facts, all having similar implications. Written language is connate
with Painting and Sculpture; and at first all three are appendages of
Architecture, and have a direct connexion with the primary form of all
Government—the theocratic. Merely noting by the way the fact that sundry
wild races, as for example the Australians and the tribes of South
Africa, are given to depicting personages and events upon the walls of
caves, which are probably regarded as sacred places, let us pass to the
case of the Egyptians. Among them, as also among the Assyrians, we find
mural paintings used to decorate the temple of the god and the palace of
the king (which were, indeed, originally identical); and as such they
were governmental appliances in the same sense that state-pageants and
religious feasts were. Further, they were governmental appliances in
virtue of representing the worship of the god, the triumphs of the
god-king, the submission of his subjects, and the punishment of the
rebellious. And yet again they were governmental, as being the products
of an art reverenced by the people as a sacred mystery.       From the
habitual use of this pictorial representation, there naturally grew up
the but slightly-modified practice of picture-writing—a practice which
was found still extant among the Mexicans at the time they were
discovered. By abbreviations analogous to those still going on in our
own written and spoken language, the most familiar of these pictured
figures were successively simplified; and ultimately there grew up a
system of symbols, most of which had but a distant resemblance to the
things for which they stood. The inference that the hieroglyphics of the
Egyptians were thus produced, is confirmed by the fact that the
picture-writing of the Mexicans was found to have given birth to a like
family of ideographic forms; and among them, as among the Egyptians,
these had been partially differentiated into the _kuriological_ or
imitative, and the _tropical_ or symbolic: which were, however, used
together in the same record. In Egypt, written language underwent a
further differentiation; whence resulted the _hieratic_ and the
_epistolographic_ or _enchorial_: both of which are derived from the
original hieroglyphic. At the same time we find that for the expression
of proper names, which could not be otherwise conveyed, phonetic symbols
were employed; and though it is alleged that the Egyptians never
actually achieved complete alphabetic writing, yet it can scarcely be
doubted that these phonetic symbols occasionally used in aid of their
ideographic ones, were the germs out of which alphabetic writing grew.
Once having become separate from hieroglyphics, alphabetic writing
itself underwent numerous differentiations—multiplied alphabets were
produced: between most of which, however, more or less connexion can
still be traced. And in each civilized nation there has now grown up,
for the representation of one set of sounds, several sets of written
signs, used for distinct purposes. Finally, through a yet more important
differentiation came printing; which, uniform in kind as it was at
first, has since become multiform.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 50. While written language was passing through its earlier stages of
development, the mural decoration which formed its root was being
differentiated into Painting and Sculpture. The gods, kings, men, and
animals represented, were originally marked by indented outlines and
coloured. In most cases these outlines were of such depth, and the
object they circumscribed so far rounded and marked out in its leading
parts, as to form a species of work intermediate between intaglio and
bas-relief. In other cases we see an advance upon this: the raised
spaces between the figures being chiselled off, and the figures
themselves appropriately tinted, a painted bas-relief was produced. The
restored Assyrian architecture at Sydenham, exhibits this style of art
carried to greater perfection—the persons and things represented, though
still barbarously coloured, are carved out with more truth and in
greater detail; and in the winged lions and bulls used for the angles of
gateways, we may see a considerable advance towards a completely
sculptured figure; which, nevertheless, is still coloured, and still
forms part of the building. But while in Assyria the production of a
statue proper, seems to have been little, if at all, attempted, we may
trace in Egyptian art the gradual separation of the sculptured figure
from the wall. A walk through the collection in the British Museum will
clearly show this; while it will at the same time afford an opportunity
of observing the evident traces which the independent statues bear of
their derivation from bas-relief: seeing that nearly all of them not
only display that union of the limbs with the body which is the
characteristic of bas-relief, but have the back of the statue united
from head to foot with a block which stands in place of the original
wall.       Greece repeated the leading stages of this progress. As in
Egypt and Assyria, these twin arts were at first united with each other
and with their parent, Architecture; and were the aids of Religion and
Government. On the friezes of Greek temples, we see coloured bas-reliefs
representing sacrifices, battles, processions, games—all in some sort
religious. On the pediments we see painted sculptures more or less
united with the tympanum, and having for subjects the triumphs of gods
or heroes. Even when we come to statues that are definitely separated
from the buildings to which they pertain, we still find them coloured;
and only in the later periods of Greek civilization, does the
differentiation of sculpture from painting appear to have become
complete.       In Christian art we may clearly trace a parallel
re-genesis. All early paintings and sculptures throughout Europe, were
religious in subject—represented Christs, crucifixions, virgins, holy
families, apostles, saints. They formed integral parts of church
architecture, and were among the means of exciting worship: as in Roman
Catholic countries they still are. Moreover, the early sculptures of
Christ on the cross, of virgins, of saints, were coloured; and it needs
but to call to mind the painted madonnas and crucifixes still abundant
in continental churches and highways, to perceive the significant fact
that painting and sculpture continue in closest connexion with each
other, where they continue in closest connexion with their parent. Even
when Christian sculpture was pretty clearly differentiated from
painting, it was still religious and governmental in its subjects—was
used for tombs in churches and statues of kings; while, at the same
time, painting, where not purely ecclesiastical, was applied to the
decoration of palaces, and besides representing royal personages, was
almost wholly devoted to sacred legends. Only in quite recent times have
painting and sculpture become entirely secular arts. Only within these
few centuries has painting been divided into historical, landscape,
marine, architectural, genre, animal, still-life, &c., and sculpture
grown heterogeneous in respect of the variety of real and ideal subjects
with which it occupies itself.

Strange as it seems then, we find it no less true, that all forms of
written language, of painting, and of sculpture, have a common root in
the politico-religious decorations of ancient temples and palaces.
Little resemblance as they now have, the bust that stands on the
console, the landscape that hangs against the wall, and the copy of the
_Times_ lying upon the table, are remotely akin; not only in nature, but
by extraction. The brazen face of the knocker which the postman has just
lifted, is related not only to the woodcuts of the _Illustrated London
News_ which he is delivering, but to the characters of the _billet-doux_
which accompanies it. Between the painted window, the prayer-book on
which its light falls, and the adjacent monument, there is
consanguinity. The effigies on our coins, the signs over shops, the
figures that fill every ledger, the coat of arms outside the
carriage-panel, and the placards inside the omnibus, are, in common with
dolls, blue-books and paper-hangings, lineally descended from the rude
sculpture-paintings in which the Egyptians represented the triumphs and
worship of their god-kings. Perhaps no example can be given which more
vividly illustrates the multiplicity and heterogeneity of the products
that in course of time may arise by successive differentiations from a
common stock.

Before passing to other classes of facts, it should be observed that the
evolution of the homogeneous into the heterogeneous is displayed not
only in the separation of Painting and Sculpture from Architecture and
from each other, and in the greater variety of subjects they embody; but
it is further shown in the structure of each work. A modern picture or
statue is of far more heterogeneous nature than an ancient one. An
Egyptian sculpture-fresco represents all its figures as on one
plane—that is, at the same distance from the eye; and so is less
heterogeneous than a painting that represents them as at various
distances from the eye. It exhibits all objects as exposed to the same
degree of light; and so is less heterogeneous than a painting which
exhibits different objects, and different parts of each object, as in
different degrees of light. It uses scarcely any but the primary
colours, and these in their full intensity; and so is less heterogeneous
than a painting which, introducing the primary colours but sparingly,
employs an endless variety of intermediate tints, each of heterogeneous
composition, and differing from the rest not only in quality but in
intensity.       Moreover, we see in these earliest works a great
uniformity of conception. The same arrangement of figures is perpetually
reproduced—the same actions, attitudes, faces, dresses. In Egypt the
modes of representation were so fixed that it was sacrilege to introduce
a novelty; and indeed it could have been only in consequence of a fixed
mode of representation that a system of hieroglyphics became possible.
The Assyrian bas-reliefs display parallel characters. Deities, kings,
attendants, winged-figures and animals, are severally depicted in like
positions, holding like implements, doing like things, and with like
expression or non-expression of face. If a palm-grove is introduced, all
the trees are of the same height, have the same number of leaves, and
are equidistant. When water is imitated, each wave is a counterpart of
the rest; and the fish, almost always of one kind, are evenly
distributed over the surface. The beards of the kings, the gods, and the
winged-figures, are everywhere similar; as are the manes of the lions,
and equally so those of the horses. Hair is represented throughout by
one form of curl. The king’s beard is quite architecturally built up of
compound tiers of uniform curls, alternating with twisted tiers placed
in a transverse direction, and arranged with perfect regularity; and the
terminal tufts of the bulls’ tails are represented in exactly the same
manner.       Without tracing out analogous facts in early Christian
art, in which, though less striking, they are still visible, the advance
in heterogeneity will be sufficiently manifest on remembering that in
the pictures of our own day the composition is endlessly varied; the
attitudes, faces, expressions, unlike; the subordinate objects different
in size, form, position, texture; and more or less of contrast even in
the smallest details. Or, if we compare an Egyptian statue, seated bolt
upright on a block, with hands on knees, fingers outspread and parallel,
eyes looking straight forward, and the two sides perfectly symmetrical
in every particular, with a statue of the advanced Greek or the modern
school, which is asymmetrical in respect of the position of the head,
the body, the limbs, the arrangement of the hair, dress, appendages, and
in its relations to neighbouring objects, we shall see the change from
the homogeneous to the heterogeneous clearly manifested.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 51. In the co-ordinate origin and gradual differentiation of Poetry,
Music, and Dancing, we have another series of illustrations. Rhythm in
speech, rhythm in sound, and rhythm in motion, were in the beginning,
parts of the same thing; and have only in process of time become
separate things. Among various existing barbarous tribes we find them
still united. The dances of savages are accompanied by some kind of
monotonous chant, the clapping of hands, the striking of rude
instruments: there are measured movements, measured words, and measured
tones; and the whole ceremony, usually having reference to war or
sacrifice, is of governmental character. In the early records of the
historic races we similarly find these three forms of metrical action
united in religious festivals. In the Hebrew writings we read that the
triumphal ode composed by Moses on the defeat of the Egyptians, was sung
to an accompaniment of dancing and timbrels. The Israelites danced and
sung “at the inauguration of the golden calf. And as it is generally
agreed that this representation of the Deity was borrowed from the
mysteries of Apis, it is probable that the dancing was copied from that
of the Egyptians on those occasions.” There was an annual dance in
Shiloh on the sacred festival; and David danced before the ark. Again,
in Greece the like relation is everywhere seen: the original type being
there, as probably in other cases, a simultaneous chanting and mimetic
representation of the life and adventures of the god. The Spartan dances
were accompanied by hymns and songs; and in general the Greeks had “no
festivals or religious assemblies but what were accompanied with songs
and dances”—both of them being forms of worship used before altars.
Among the Romans, too, there were sacred dances: the Salian and
Lupercalian being named as of that kind. And even in Christian
countries, as at Limoges in comparatively recent times, the people have
danced in the choir in honour of a saint.       The incipient separation
of these once united arts from each other and from religion, was early
visible in Greece. Probably diverging from dances partly religious,
partly warlike, as the Corybantian, came the war-dances proper, of which
there were various kinds; and from these resulted secular dances.
Meanwhile Music and Poetry, though still united, came to have an
existence separate from dancing. The aboriginal Greek poems, religious
in subject, were not recited but chanted; and though at first the chant
of the poet was accompanied by the dance of the chorus, it ultimately
grew into independence. Later still, when the poem had been
differentiated into epic and lyric—when it became the custom to sing the
lyric and recite the epic—poetry proper was born. As during the same
period musical instruments were being multiplied, we may presume that
music came to have an existence apart from words. And both of them were
beginning to assume other forms besides the religious.       Facts
having like implications might be cited from the histories of later
times and peoples; as the practices of our own early minstrels, who sang
to the harp heroic narratives versified by themselves to music of their
own composition: thus uniting the now separate offices of poet,
composer, vocalist, and instrumentalist. But, without further
illustration, the common origin and gradual differentiation of Dancing,
Poetry, and Music will be sufficiently manifest.

The advance from the homogeneous to the heterogeneous is displayed not
only in the separation of these arts from each other and from religion,
but also in the multiplied differentiations which each of them
afterwards undergoes. Not to dwell upon the numberless kinds of dancing
that have, in course of time, come into use; and not to occupy space in
detailing the progress of poetry, as seen in the development of the
various forms of metre, of rhyme, and of general organization; let us
confine our attention to music as a type of the group.       As argued
by Dr. Burney, and as implied by the customs of still extant barbarous
races, the first musical instruments were, without doubt,
percussive—sticks, calabashes, tom-toms—and were used simply to mark the
time of the dance; and in this constant repetition of the same sound, we
see music in its most homogeneous form. The Egyptians had a lyre with
three strings. The early lyre of the Greeks had four, constituting their
tetrachord. In course of some centuries lyres of seven and eight strings
were employed. And, by the expiration of a thousand years, they had
advanced to their “great system” of the double octave. Through all which
changes there of course arose a greater heterogeneity of melody.
Simultaneously there came into use the different modes—Dorian, Ionian,
Phrygian, Æolian, and Lydian—answering to our keys: and of these there
were ultimately fifteen. As yet, however, there was but little
heterogeneity in the time of their music. Instrumental music during this
period being merely the accompaniment of vocal music, and vocal music
being completely subordinated to words,—the singer being also the poet,
chanting his own compositions and making the lengths of his notes agree
with the feet of his verses; there unavoidably arose a tiresome
uniformity of measure, which, as Dr Burney says, “no resources of melody
could disguise.” Lacking the complex rhythm obtained by our equal bars
and unequal notes, the only rhythm was that produced by the quantity of
the syllables, and was of necessity comparatively monotonous. And
further, it may be observed that the chant thus resulting, being like
recitative, was much less clearly differentiated from ordinary speech
than is our modern song. Nevertheless, considering the extended range of
notes in use, the variety of modes, the occasional variations of time
consequent on changes of metre, and the multiplication of instruments,
we see that music had, towards the close of Greek civilization, attained
to considerable heterogeneity: not indeed as compared with our music,
but as compared with that which preceded it.       As yet, however,
there existed nothing but melody: harmony was unknown. It was not until
Christian church-music had reached some development, that music in parts
was evolved; and then it came into existence through a very unobtrusive
differentiation. Difficult as it may be to conceive, _à priori_, how the
advance from melody to harmony could take place without a sudden leap,
it is none the less true that it did so. The circumstance which prepared
the way for it, was the employment of two choirs singing alternately the
same air. Afterwards it became the practice (very possibly first
suggested by a mistake) for the second choir to commence before the
first had ceased; thus producing a fugue. With the simple airs then in
use, a partially harmonious fugue might not improbably thus result; and
a very partially harmonious fugue satisfied the ears of that age, as we
know from still preserved examples. The idea having once been given, the
composing of airs productive of fugal harmony would naturally grow up;
as in some way it _did_ grow up out of this alternate choir-singing. And
from the fugue to concerted music of two, three, four, and more parts,
the transition was easy.       Without pointing out in detail the
increasing complexity that resulted from introducing notes of various
lengths, from the multiplication of keys, from the use of accidentals,
from varieties of time, from modulations and so forth, it needs but to
contrast music as it is, with music as it was, to see how immense is the
increase of heterogeneity. We see this if, looking at music in its
_ensemble_, we enumerate its many different genera and species—if we
consider the divisions into vocal, instrumental, and mixed; and their
subdivisions into music for different voices and different
instruments—if we observe the many forms of sacred music, from the
simple hymn, the chant, the canon, motet, anthem, &c., up to the
oratorio; and the still more numerous forms of secular music, from the
ballad up to the serenata, from the instrumental solo up to the
symphony. Again, the same truth is seen on comparing any one sample of
aboriginal music with a sample of modern music—even an ordinary song for
the piano; which we find to be relatively highly heterogeneous, not only
in respect of the varieties in the pitch and in the length of the notes,
the number of different notes sounding at the same instant in company
with the voice, and the variations of strength with which they are
sounded and sung, but in respect of the changes of key, the changes of
time, the changes of _timbre_ of the voice, and the many other
modifications of expression. While between the old monotonous
dance-chant and a grand opera of our own day, with its endless
orchestral complexities and vocal combinations, the contrast in
heterogeneity is so extreme that it seems scarcely credible that the one
should have been the ancestor of the other.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 52. Were they needed, many further illustrations might be cited. Going
back to the early time when the deeds of the god-king, chanted and
mimetically represented in dances round his altar, were further narrated
in picture-writings on the walls of temples and palaces, and so
constituted a rude literature, we might trace the development of
Literature through phases in which, as in the Hebrew Scriptures it
presents in one work, theology, cosmogony, history, biography, civil
law, ethics, poetry; through other phases in which, as in the Iliad, the
religious, martial, historical, the epic, dramatic, and lyric elements
are similarly commingled; down to its present heterogeneous development,
in which its divisions and subdivisions are so numerous and varied as to
defy complete classification. Or we might track the evolution of
Science: beginning with the era in which it was not yet differentiated
from Art, and was, in union with Art, the handmaid of Religion; passing
through the era in which the sciences were so few and rudimentary, as to
be simultaneously cultivated by the same philosophers; and ending with
the era in which the genera and species are so numerous that few can
enumerate them, and no one can adequately grasp even one genus. Or we
might do the like with Architecture, with the Drama, with Dress. But
doubtless the reader is already weary of illustrations; and my promise
has been amply fulfilled. I believe it has been shown beyond question,
that that which the German physiologists have found to be the law of
organic development, is the law of all development. The advance from the
simple to the complex, through a process of successive differentiations,
is seen alike in the earliest changes of the Universe to which we can
reason our way back, and in the earliest changes which we can
inductively establish; it is seen in the geologic and climatic evolution
of the Earth, and of every single organism on its surface; it is seen in
the evolution of Humanity, whether contemplated in the civilized
individual, or in the aggregation of races; it is seen in the evolution
of Society, in respect alike of its political, its religious, and its
economical organization; and it is seen in the evolution of all those
endless concrete and abstract products of human activity, which
constitute the environment of our daily life. From the remotest past
which Science can fathom, up to the novelties of yesterday, that in
which Evolution essentially consists, is the transformation of the
homogeneous into the heterogeneous.


Footnote 8:

  The substance of this chapter is nearly identical with the first half
  of an essay on “Progress: its Law and Cause,” which was originally
  published in the _Westminster Review_ for April 1857: only a few
  unimportant additions and alterations have been made. The succeeding
  chapter, however, in which the subject is continued, is, with the
  exception of a fragment embodied in it, wholly new.

Footnote 9:

  For detailed proof of these assertions see essay on _Manners and

                              CHAPTER III.
                    THE LAW OF EVOLUTION, CONTINUED.

§ 53. But now, does this generalization express the whole truth? Does it
include all the phenomena of Evolution? and does it exclude all other
phenomena? A careful consideration of the facts, will show that it does

That there are changes from the less heterogeneous to the more
heterogeneous, which do not come within what we call Evolution, is
proved in every case of local disease. A portion of the body in which
there arises a cancer, or other morbid growth, unquestionably displays a
new differentiation. Whether this morbid growth be, or be not, more
heterogeneous than the tissues in which it is seated, is not the
question. The question is, whether the structure of the organism as a
whole, is, or is not, rendered more heterogeneous by the addition of a
part unlike every pre-existing part, both in form and composition. And
to this question there can be none but an affirmative answer.
      Again, it might with apparent truth be contended, that the earlier
stages of decomposition in a dead body, similarly involve an increase of
heterogeneity. Supposing the chemical changes to commence in some parts
of the body earlier than in other parts, as they commonly do; and to
affect different tissues in different, ways, as they must; it seems to
be a necessary admission that the entire body, made up of undecomposed
parts and parts decomposed in different ways and degrees, has become
more heterogeneous than it was. Though greater homogeneity will be the
eventual result, the immediate result is the opposite. And yet this
immediate result is certainly not evolution.       But perhaps of all
illustrations the least debatable are those furnished by social
disorders and disasters. When in any nation there occurs a rebellion,
which, while leaving some provinces undisturbed, developes itself here
in secret societies, there in public demonstrations, and elsewhere in
actual appeal to arms, leading probably to conflict and bloodshed; it
must be admitted that the society, regarded as a whole, has so been
rendered more heterogeneous. Or when a dearth causes commercial panic
with its entailed bankruptcies, closed factories, discharged operatives,
political agitations, food riots, incendiarisms; it is manifest that as,
throughout the rest of society, there still exists the ordinary
organization displaying the usual phenomena, these new phenomena must be
regarded as adding to the complexity previously existing. Nevertheless,
it is clear that such changes so far from constituting a further stage
of evolution, are steps towards dissolution.

There is good reason to think then, that the definition arrived at in
the last chapter, is an imperfect one. We may suspect, not that the
process of evolution is different from the process there described; but
that the description did not contain all that it should. The changes
above instanced as coming within the formula as it now stands, are so
obviously different from the rest, that the inclusion of them implies
some oversight—some distinction hitherto overlooked. Such further
distinction we shall find really exists.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 54. At the same time that all evolution is a change from the
homogeneous to the heterogeneous, it is also a change from the
indefinite to the definite. As well as an advance from simplicity to
complexity, there is an advance from confusion to order—from
undetermined arrangement to determined arrangement. In the process of
development, no matter what sphere it is displayed in, there is not only
a gradual multiplication of unlike parts; but there is a gradual
increase in the distinctness with which these parts are marked off from
each other. And so is that increase of heterogeneity which characterizes
Evolution, distinguished from that increase of heterogeneity which does
not.       For proof of this, it needs only to reconsider the instances
given above. The structural changes constituting a disease, have no such
definiteness, either in locality, extent, or outline, as the structural
changes constituting development. Though certain morbid growths arise
much more commonly in some parts of the body than in others (as warts on
the hands, cancer on the breasts, tubercle in the lungs), yet they are
not confined to these parts; nor, when found on them, are they anything
like so precise in their relative positions as are the normal parts
around them. In size, again, they are extremely variable—they bear no
such constant proportion to the body as organs do. Their forms, too, are
far less specific than organic forms. And they are extremely irregular
or confused in their internal structures. That is to say, they are in
all respects comparatively indefinite.       The like peculiarity may be
traced in decomposition. That state of total indefiniteness to which a
dead body is finally reduced, is a state towards which the putrefactive
changes have tended from their commencement. Each step in the
destruction of the organic compounds, is accompanied by a blurring of
the minute structure—diminishes its distinctness. From the portions that
have undergone most decomposition, there is a gradual transition to the
less decomposed portions. And step by step the lines of organization,
once so precise, disappear.       Similarly with social changes of an
abnormal kind. A political outbreak rising finally to a rebellion, tends
from the very first to obliterate the specializations, governmental and
industrial, which previously existed. The disaffection which originates
such an outbreak, itself implies a loosening of those ties by which the
citizens are bound up into distinct classes and sub-classes. Agitation,
growing into revolutionary meetings, shows us a decided tendency towards
the fusion of ranks that are usually separated. Acts of open
insubordination exhibit a breaking through of those definite limits to
individual conduct which were previously observed; and a disappearance
of the lines previously existing between those in authority and those
beneath them. At the same time, by the arrest of trade, artizans and
others lose their occupations; and in so ceasing to be functionally
distinguished, become fused into a mass from which the demarcations in
great part vanish. And when at last there comes positive insurrection,
all magisterial and official powers, all class distinctions, and all
industrial differences, at once cease: organized society lapses into an
unorganized aggregation of social units. How the like holds true of such
social disasters as are entailed by famine, needs not be pointed out. On
calling to mind that in cases of this kind the changes are from order
towards disorder, it will at once be seen that like the foregoing they
are changes from definite arrangements to indefinite arrangements.

Thus then is that increase of heterogeneity which constitutes Evolution,
distinguished from that increase of heterogeneity which does not do so.
Though in disease and death, individual or social, the earliest
modifications may be construed as additions to the heterogeneity
previously existing; yet they cannot be construed as additions to the
definiteness previously existing. They begin from the very outset to
destroy this definiteness; and so, gradually produce a heterogeneity
that is indeterminate instead of determinate. Just in the same way that
a city, already multiform in its variously arranged structures of
various architecture, may be made more multiform by an earthquake, which
leaves part of it standing and overthrows other parts in different ways
and degrees, and yet is at the same time reduced from definite
arrangement to indefinite arrangement; so may organized bodies be made
for a time more multiform by changes which are nevertheless
disorganizing changes. And in the one case as in the other, it is the
absence of definiteness which distinguishes the multiformity of
regression from the multiformity of progression.

If the advance from the indefinite to the definite is an essential
characteristic of Evolution, we shall of course find it everywhere
displayed; as in the last Chapter we found the advance from the
homogeneous to the heterogeneous. With a view of showing that it is so,
let us now briefly reconsider the same several classes of facts.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 55. Beginning as before with a hypothetical illustration, we have to
note that each further stage in the evolution of the Solar System,
supposing it to have originated from diffused matter, was an advance
towards more definite forms, and times, and forces. At first irregular
in shape and with indistinct margins, the attenuated substance, as it
concentrated and acquired a rotatory motion, must have assumed the shape
of an oblate spheroid; which, with every increase of density, became
more specific in general outline, and had its surface more sharply
marked off from the surrounding void. At the same time, the constituent
portions of nebulous matter, instead of independently moving towards
their common centre of gravity from all points, and tending to revolve
round it in various planes, as they would at first do, must have had
these planes more and more merged into a single plane; and this plane
must have gained greater precision as the concentration progressed. To
which add that in the gradual establishment of a common and determinate
angular velocity, instead of the various and conflicting angular
velocities of different parts, we have a further change of like nature.
      According to the hypothesis, change from indistinct
characteristics to distinct ones, was repeated in the evolution of each
planet and satellite; and may in them be traced to a much greater
extent. A gaseous spheroid is less definitely marked off from the space
around it than a fluid spheroid, since it is subject to larger and more
rapid undulations of surface, and to much greater distortions of general
form; and similarly a fluid spheroid, covered as it must be with waves
of various magnitudes, is less definite than a solid spheroid. Nor is it
only in greater fixity of surface that a planet in its last stage, is
distinguished from a planet in its earlier stages. Its general form,
too, is more precise. The sphere, to which in the end it very closely
approximates, is a perfectly specific figure; while the spheroid, under
which figure it previously existed, being infinitely variable in
oblateness, is an imperfectly specific figure. And further, a planet
having an axis inclined to the plane of its orbit, must, while its form
is very oblate, have its plane of rotation greatly disturbed by the
attraction of external bodies; whereas its approach to a spherical form,
involving a less extreme precessional motion, implies less marked
variations in the direction of its axis.       Nor is it only in respect
of space-relations that the Solar System in general and in detail has
become more precise. The like is true of time-relations. During the
process of concentration the various portions of the nebulous mass must
not only differ more or less from each other in their angular
velocities, but each of them must gradually change the period in which
it moves round the general axis. In every detached ring however, and in
the resulting planet, this progressive alteration ceases: there results
a determinate period of revolution. And similarly the time of axial
rotation, which, during the formation of each planet, is continually
diminishing, becomes at last practically fixed: as in the case of the
Earth, whose day is not a second less than it was 2000 years ago.
      It is scarcely needful to point out that the force-relations have
simultaneously become more and more settled. The exact calculations of
physical astronomy, show us how definite these force-relations now are;
while the great indefiniteness which once characterized them, is implied
in the extreme difficulty, if not impossibility, of subjecting the
nebular hypothesis to mathematical treatment.

From that originally molten state of the Earth inferable from
established geological data—a state in harmony with the nebular
hypothesis but inexplicable on any other—the transition to its existing
state has been through stages in which the characters became more
determinate. Besides being, as above pointed out, comparatively unstable
in surface and contour, a fluid spheroid is less definite than a solid
spheroid in having no fixed distribution of parts. Currents of molten
matter, though kept to certain general circuits by the conditions of
equilibrium, cannot in the absence of solid boundaries be precise or
permanent in direction: all parts must be in motion with respect to
other parts. But a solidification of the surface, even though but
partial, is manifestly a step towards the establishment of definite
relations of position. In a thin crust however, frequently ruptured as
it must be by disturbing forces, and moved by every tidal undulation,
such fixity of relative position can be but temporary. Only as the crust
slowly increases in thickness, can there arise distinct and settled
geographical relations. Observe too that when, on a crust that has
cooled to the requisite degree, there begins to precipitate the water
floating above as vapour, the water which is precipitated cannot
maintain any definiteness either of state or place. Falling on a surface
not thick enough to preserve anything beyond slight variations of level,
it must form small shallow deposits over areas sufficiently cool to
permit condensation; which areas must not only pass insensibly into
others that are too hot for this, but must themselves from time to time
be so raised in temperature as to drive off the water lying on them.
With progressive refrigeration, however,—with an increasing thickness of
crust, a consequent formation of larger elevations and depressions, and
the condensation of more atmospheric water, there comes an arrangement
of parts that is comparatively fixed in both time and space; and the
definiteness of state and position increases, until there results such a
distribution of continents and oceans as we now see—a distribution that
is not only topographically precise, but also in its cliff-marked
coast-lines presents a more definite division of land from water than
could have existed during the period when islands of low elevation had
shelving beaches up which the tide ebbed and flowed to great distances.
      Respecting the characteristics technically classed as geological,
we may draw parallel inferences. While the Earth’s crust was thin,
mountain-chains were impossibilities: there could not have been long and
well-defined axes of elevation, with distinct water-sheds and areas of
drainage. Moreover, from small islands admitting of but small rivers,
and tidal streams both feeble and narrow, there would result no
clearly-marked sedimentary strata. Confused and varying masses of
detritus, such as those now found at the mouths of brooks, must have
been the prevailing formations. And these could give place to distinct
strata, only as there arose continents and oceans, with their great
rivers, long coast-lines, and wide-spreading marine currents.       How
there must simultaneously have resulted more definite meteorological
characters, need not be pointed out in detail. That differences of
climates and seasons must have grown relatively decided as the heat of
the Sun became distinguishable from the proper heat of the Earth; that
the establishment through this cause of comparatively constant
atmospheric currents, must have similarly produced more specific
conditions in each locality; and that these effects must have been aided
by increasing permanence in the distribution of land and sea and of
ocean currents; are conclusions which are sufficiently obvious.

Let us turn now to the evidence furnished by organic bodies. In place of
deductive illustrations like the foregoing, we shall here find numerous
illustrations which, as being inductively established, are less open to
criticism. The process of mammalian development, for example, will
supply us with numerous proofs ready-described by embryologists.
      The first change which the ovum of a mammal undergoes, after
continued segmentation has reduced its yelk to a mulberry-like mass, is
the appearance of a greater definiteness in the peripheral cells of this
mass: each of which acquires a distinct enveloping membrane. These
peripheral cells, vaguely distinguished from the internal ones both by
their greater completeness and by their minuter subdivision, coalesce to
form the blastoderm or germinal membrane. One portion of the blastoderm
presently becomes contrasted with the rest, through the accumulation of
cells still more subdivided, which, together, form an opaque roundish
spot. This _area germinativa_, as it is called, is not sharply
delineated, but shades off gradually into the surrounding parts of the
blastoderm; and the _area pellucida_, subsequently formed in the midst
of this germinal area, is similarly without any precise margin. The
“primitive trace,” which makes its appearance in the centre of the _area
pellucida_, and is the rudiment of that vertebrate axis which is to be
the fundamental characteristic of the mature animal, is shown by its
name to be at first indefinite—a mere trace. Beginning as a shallow
groove, this becomes slowly more pronounced: its sides grow higher,
their summits overlap, and at last unite; and so the indefinite groove
passes into a definite tube, forming the vertebral canal. In this
vertebral canal the leading divisions of the brain are at first
discernible only as slight bulgings; while the vertebræ commence as
indistinct modifications of the tissue bounding the canal.
Simultaneously, the outer portion of the blastoderm has been undergoing
separation from the inner portion: there has been a division into the
serous and mucous layers—a division at the outset indistinct, and
traceable only about the germinal area, but which insensibly spreads
throughout nearly the whole germinal membrane, and becomes definite.
From the mucous layer, the development of the alimentary canal proceeds
as that of the vertebral canal does from the serous layer. Originally a
simple channel along the under surface of the embryonic mass, the
intestine is rendered step by step more distinct by the bending down, on
each side, of ridges which finally join to form a tube—the permanent
absorbing surface is by degrees clearly cut off from that temporary
absorbing surface of which it was at first a part like all the rest. And
in an analogous manner the entire embryo, which at first lies outspread
upon the surface of the yelk-sack, gradually rises up from it, and, by
the infolding of its ventral surface, becomes a separate mass, connected
with the yelk-sack only by a narrow duct.       These changes through
which the general structure of the embryo is marked out with
slowly-increasing precision, are paralleled in the evolution of each
organ. The heart is at first a mere aggregation of cells, of which the
inner liquify to form the cavity, while the outer are transformed into
the walls; and when thus sketched out, the heart is indefinite not only
as being unlined by limiting membrane, but also as being but vaguely
distinguishable from the great blood-vessels: of which it is little more
than a dilatation. By and by the receiving portion of the cavity becomes
distinct from the propelling portion. Afterwards there begins to be
formed across the ventricle, a septum, which, however, is some time
before it completely shuts off the two halves from each other; while the
later-formed septum of the auricle remains incomplete during the whole
of fœtal life. Again, the liver commences as a multiplication of certain
cells in the wall of the intestine. The thickening produced by this
multiplication “increases so as to form a projection upon the exterior
of the canal;” and at the same time that the organ grows and becomes
distinct from the intestine, the channels which permeate it are
transformed into ducts having clearly-marked walls. Similarly, by the
increase of certain cells of the external coat of the alimentary canal
at its upper portion, are produced buds from which the lungs are
developed; and these, in their general outlines and detailed structure,
acquire distinctness step by step.       Changes of this order continue
long after birth; and, in the human being, are some of them not
completed till middle life. During youth, most of the articular surfaces
of the bones remain rough and fissured—the calcareous deposit ending
irregularly in the surrounding cartilage. But between puberty and the
age of thirty, the articular surfaces are finished off by the addition
of smooth, hard, sharply-cut “epiphyses.” Thus we may say that during
Evolution, an increase of definiteness continues long after there ceases
to be any appreciable increase of heterogeneity. And, indeed, there is
reason to think that those structural modifications which take place
after maturity, ending in old age and death, are modifications of this
nature; since they result in a growing rigidity of structure, a
consequent restriction of movement and of functional pliability, a
gradual narrowing of the limits within which the vital processes go on,
ending at length in an organic adjustment too precise—too narrow in its
margin of possible variation to permit the requisite adaptation to
external changes of condition.

To demonstrate that the Earth’s Flora and Fauna, regarded either as
wholes or in their separate species, have progressed in definiteness, is
of course no more possible than it was to demonstrate that they have
progressed in heterogeneity: lack of facts being an obstacle to the one
conclusion as to the other. If, however, we allow ourselves to reason
from the hypothesis, now daily rendered more probable, that every
species of organic form up to the most complex, has arisen out of the
simplest through the accumulation of modifications upon modifications,
just as every individual organic form arises; we shall see that in such
case there must have been a progress from the indeterminate to the
determinate, both in the particular forms and in the groups of forms.
      We may set out with the significant fact that many of the lowest
living organisms (which are analogous in structure to the germs of all
higher ones) are so indefinite in character that it is difficult, if not
impossible, to decide whether they are plants or animals. Respecting
sundry of them there are unsettled disputes between zoologists and
botanists; and it has even been proposed to group them into a separate
kingdom, forming a common basis to the animal and vegetal kingdoms. Note
next that among the _Protozoa_, extreme indefiniteness of shape is very
general. In the shell-less Rhizopods and their allies, not only is the
form so irregular as to admit of no description, but it is neither alike
in any two individuals nor in the same individual at successive moments.
By the aggregation of such creatures, are produced, among other
indefinite bodies, the sponges—bodies that are indefinite in size, in
contour, in internal arrangement, and in the absence of an external
limiting membrane. As further showing the relatively indeterminate
character of the simplest organisms, it may be mentioned that their
structures vary very greatly with surrounding conditions: so much so
that, among the _Protozoa_ and _Protophyta_, many forms which were once
classed as distinct species, and even as distinct genera, are found to
be merely varieties of one species. If now we call to mind how precise
in their attributes are the highest organisms—how sharply cut their
outlines, how invariable their proportions, and how comparatively
constant their structures under changed conditions, we cannot deny that
greater definiteness is one of their characteristics; and that if they
have been evolved out of lower organisms, an increase of definiteness
has been an accompaniment of their evolution.       That in course of
time, species have become more sharply marked off from other species,
genera from genera, and orders from orders, is a conclusion not
admitting of a more positive establishment than the foregoing; and must,
indeed, stand or fall with it. If, however, species and genera and
orders have resulted from the process of “natural selection,” then, as
Mr. Darwin shows, there must have been a tendency to divergence, causing
the contrasts between groups to become more and more pronounced. By the
disappearance of intermediate forms, less fitted for special spheres of
existence than the extreme forms they connected, the differences between
the extreme forms must be rendered more decided; and so, from indistinct
and unstable varieties, must slowly be produced distinct and stable
species. Of which inference it may be remarked, not only that it follows
from a process to which the organic creation is of necessity ever
subject, but also that it is in harmony with what we know respecting
races of men and races of domestic animals.

Evidence that in the course of psychial development, there is a change
from the vague to the distinct, may be seen in every nursery. The
confusion of the infant’s perceptions is shown by its inability to
distinguish persons. The dimness of its ideas of direction and distance,
may be inferred from the ill-guided movements of its hands, and from its
endeavours to grasp objects far out of reach. Only by degrees does the
sense of equilibrium, needful for safe standing and moving, gain the
requisite precision. Through the insensible steps that end in
comprehensible speech, we may trace an increase in the accuracy with
which sounds are discriminated and in the nicety with which they are
imitated. And similarly during education, the change is towards the
establishment of internal relations more perfectly corresponding to
external ones—to exactness in calculations, to a better representation
of objects drawn, to a more correct spelling, to a completer conformity
to the rules of speech, to clearer ideas respecting the affairs of life.
      How in the further progress to maturity the law still holds, needs
not here be pointed out; more especially as it will presently be shown
in treating of the evolution of intelligence during the advance of
civilization. The only further fact calling for remark, is, that this
increase of mental definiteness is, in some ways, manifested even during
the advance from maturity to old age. The habits of life grow more and
more fixed; the character becomes less capable of change; the quantity
of knowledge previously acquired ceases to have its limits alterable by
additions; and the opinions upon every point admit of no modification.

Still more manifestly do the successive phases through which societies
pass, display the progress from indeterminate arrangement to determinate
arrangement. A wandering tribe of savages, as being fixed neither in its
locality nor in the relative positions of its parts, is far less
definite than a nation, covering a territory clearly marked out, and
formed of individuals grouped together in towns and villages. In such a
tribe the social relations are similarly confused and unsettled.
Political authority is neither well established nor precise.
Distinctions of rank are neither clearly marked nor impassable.
“Medicine-men” and “rain-makers” form a class by no means as distinct
from the rest of the community as eventually becomes the priesthood they
foreshadow. And save in the different occupations of men and women,
there are no complete industrial divisions. Only in tribes of
considerable size, which have enslaved other tribes, is the economical
differentiation decided.       Any one of these primitive societies
however that developes, becomes step by step more specific. Increasing
in size, consequently ceasing to be so nomadic, and restricted in its
range by neighbouring tribes, it acquires, after prolonged border
warfare, a more settled territorial boundary. The distinction between
the royal race and the people, grows so extreme as to amount in the
popular apprehension to a difference of nature. The warrior-class
attains a perfect separation from classes devoted to the cultivation of
the soil or other occupations regarded as servile. And there arises a
priesthood that is defined in its rank, its functions, its privileges.
This sharpness of definition, growing both greater and more variously
exemplified as societies advance to maturity, is extremest in those that
have reached their full development or are declining. Of ancient Egypt
we read that its social divisions were strongly-marked and its customs
rigid. Recent investigations make it more than ever clear, that among
the Assyrians and surrounding peoples, not only were the laws
unalterable, but even the minor habits, down to those of domestic
routine, possessed a sacredness which insured their permanence. In India
at the present day, the unchangeable distinctions of caste, not less
than the constancy in modes of dress, industrial processes, and
religious observances, show us how fixed are the arrangements where the
antiquity is great. Nor does China with its long-settled political
organization, its elaborate and precise conventions, and its
unprogressive literature, fail to exemplify the same truth.       The
successive phases of our own and neighbouring societies, furnish facts
somewhat different in kind but similar in meaning. After our leading
class-divisions had become tolerably well-established, it was long
before they acquired their full precision. Originally, monarchical
authority was more baronial, and baronial authority more monarchical,
than they afterwards became. Between modern priests and the priests of
old times, who while officially teachers of religion were also warriors,
judges, architects, there is a marked difference in definiteness of
function. And among the people engaged in productive occupations, the
like contrast would be found to hold: the industrial office has become
more distinct from the military; and its various divisions from each
other. A history of our constitution, reminding us how, after prolonged
struggles, the powers of King, Lords, and Commons, have been gradually
settled, would clearly exhibit analogous changes. Countless facts
bearing the like construction would meet us, were we to trace the
development of legislation: in the successive stages of which, we should
find statutes made more precise in their provisions—more specific in
their applications to particular cases. Even at the present time we see
that each new law, beginning as a vague proposition, is, in the course
of enactment, elaborated into specific clauses; and further that only
after its interpretation has been established by judges’ decisions in
courts of justice, does it reach its final definiteness. From the
history of minor institutions like evidence may be gathered. Religious,
charitable, literary, and all other societies, beginning with ends and
methods roughly sketched out and easily modifiable, show us how, by the
accumulation of rules and precedents, the purposes become more distinct
and the modes of action more restricted; until at last death often
results from a fixity which admits of no adaptation to new conditions.
Should it be objected that among civilized nations there are examples of
decreasing definiteness, (instance the breaking down of limits between
ranks,) the reply is, that such apparent exceptions are the
accompaniments of a social metamorphosis—a change from the military or
predatory type of social structure, to the industrial or mercantile
type, during which the old lines of organization are disappearing and
the new ones becoming more marked.

That all organized results of social action, pass in the course of
civilization through parallel phases, is demonstrable. Being, as they
are, objective products of subjective processes, they must display
corresponding changes; and that they do this, the cases of Language, of
Science, of Art, clearly prove.

If we strike out from our sentences everything but nouns and verbs, we
shall perceive how extremely vague is the expression of ideas in
undeveloped tongues. When we note how each inflection of a verb or
addition by which the case of a noun is marked, serves to limit the
conditions of action or of existence, we see that these constituents of
speech enable men more precisely to communicate their thoughts. That the
application of an adjective to a noun or an adverb to a verb, narrows
the class of things or changes indicated, implies that these additional
words serve further to define the meaning. And similarly with other
parts of speech.       The like effect results from the multiplication
of words of each order. When the names for objects, and acts, and
qualities, are but few, the range of each is proportionately wide, and
its meaning therefore unspecific. The similes and metaphors so
abundantly used by aboriginal races, are simply vehicles for indirectly
and imperfectly conveying ideas, which lack of words disables them from
conveying directly and perfectly. In contrasting these figurative
expressions, interpretable in various senses, with the expressions which
we should use in place of them, the increase of exactness which wealth
of language gives, is rendered very obvious. Or to take a case from
ordinary life, if we compare the speech of the peasant, who, out of his
limited vocabulary, can describe the contents of the bottle he carries,
only as “doctor’s-stuff” which he has got for his “sick” wife, with the
speech of the physician, who tells those educated like himself the
particular composition of the medicine, and the particular disorder for
which he has prescribed it; we have vividly brought home to us, the
precision which language gains by the multiplication of terms.
      Again, in the course of its evolution, each tongue acquires a
further accuracy through processes which fix the meaning of each word.
Intellectual intercourse tends gradually to diminish laxity of
expression. By and by dictionaries give definitions. And eventually,
among the most cultivated, indefiniteness is not tolerated, either in
the terms used or in their grammatical combinations.       Once more,
languages considered as wholes, become gradually more distinct from each
other, and from their common parent: as witness in early times the
divergence from the same root of two languages so unlike as Greek and
Latin, and in later times the development of three Latin dialects into
Italian, French, and Spanish.

In his “History of the Inductive Sciences,” Dr. Whewell says that the
Greeks failed in physical philosophy because their “ideas were not
distinct, and appropriate to the facts.” I do not quote this remark for
its luminousness; since it would be equally proper to ascribe the
indistinctness and inappropriateness of their ideas to the imperfection
of their physical philosophy; but I quote it because it serves as good
evidence of the indefiniteness of primitive science. The same work and
its fellow on “The Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences,” supply other
evidences equally good, because equally independent of any such
hypothesis as is here to be established. Respecting mathematics we have
the fact that geometrical theorems grew out of empirical methods; and
that these theorems, at first isolated, did not acquire the clearness
which complete demonstration gives, until they were arranged by Euclid
into a series of dependent propositions. At a later period the same
general truth was exemplified in the progress from the “method of
exhaustions” and the “method of indivisibles” to the “method of limits;”
which is the central idea of the infinitesimal calculus. In early
mechanics, too, may be traced a dim perception that action and re-action
are equal and opposite; though for ages after, this truth remained
unformulated. And similarly, the property of inertia, though not
distinctly comprehended until Kepler lived, was vaguely recognized long
previously. “The conception of statical force,” “was never presented in
a distinct form till the works of Archimedes appeared;” and “the
conception of accelerating force was confused, in the mind of Kepler and
his contemporaries, and did not become clear enough for purposes of
sound scientific reasoning before the succeeding century.” To which
specific assertions may be added the general remark, that “terms which
originally, and before the laws of motion were fully known, were used in
a very vague and fluctuating sense, were afterwards limited and rendered
precise.” When we turn from abstract scientific conceptions to the
concrete previsions of science, of which astronomy furnishes us with
numerous examples, the like contrast is visible. The times at which
celestial phenomena will occur, have been predicted with ever-increasing
accuracy: errors once amounting to days, have been reduced down to
seconds. The correspondence between the real and supposed forms of
orbits, has been growing gradually more precise. Originally thought
circular, then epicyclical, then elliptical, orbits are now ascertained
to be curves which always deviate more or less from perfect ellipses,
and which are ever undergoing change.       But the general advance of
Science in definiteness, is best shown by the contrast between its
qualitative stage, and its quantitative stage. At first, the facts
ascertained were, that between such and such phenomena some connexion
existed—that the appearances _a_ and _b_ always occurred together or in
succession; but it was neither known what was the nature of the relation
between _a_ and _b_, nor how much of _a_ accompanied so much of _b_. The
development of Science has in part been the reduction of these vague
connexions to distinct ones. Most relations have been determined as
belonging to the classes mechanical, chemical, thermal, electric,
magnetic, &c.; and we have learnt to infer the amounts of the
antecedents and consequents from each other with an exactness that
becomes ever greater. Were there space to state them, illustrations of
this truth might be cited from all departments of physics; but it must
suffice here to instance the general progress of chemistry. Besides the
conspicuous fact that we have positively ascertained the constituent
elements of an immense number of compounds which our ancestors could not
analyze, and of a far greater number which they never even saw, there is
the still more conspicuous fact that the combining equivalents of these
elements are accurately calculated. The beginnings of a like advance
from qualitative to quantitative prevision, may be traced even in some
of the higher sciences. Physiology shows it in the weighing and
measuring of organic products, and of the materials consumed. By
Pathology it is displayed in the use of the statistical method of
determining the sources of diseases, and the effects of treatment. In
Zoology and Botany, the numerical comparisons of Floras and Faunas,
leading to specific conclusions respecting their sources and
distributions, illustrate it. And in Sociology, questionable as are the
conclusions usually drawn from the classified sum-totals of the census,
from Board-of-Trade tables, and from criminal returns, it must be
admitted that these imply a progress towards more accurate conceptions
of social phenomena.       That an essential characteristic of advancing
Science is increase in definiteness, appears indeed almost a truism,
when we remember that Science may be described as definite knowledge, in
contradistinction to that indefinite knowledge possessed by the
uncultured. And if, as we cannot question, Science has, in the slow
course of ages, been evolved out of this indefinite knowledge of the
uncultured; then, the gradual acquirement of that great definiteness
which now distinguishes it, must have been a leading trait in its

The Arts, industrial and æsthetic, furnish illustrations perhaps still
more striking. Flint implements of the kind recently found in certain of
the later geologic deposits—implements so rude that some have held them
to be of natural rather than of artificial origin—show the extreme want
of precision in men’s first handyworks. Though a great advance on these
is seen in the tools and weapons of existing savage tribes, yet an
inexactness in forms and fittings, more than anything else distinguishes
such tools and weapons from those of civilized races. In a less degree,
the productions of semi-barbarous nations are characterized by like
defects. A Chinese junk with all its contained furniture and appliances,
nowhere presents a perfectly straight line, a uniform curve, or a true
surface. Nor do the utensils and machines of our ancestors fail to
exhibit a similar inferiority to our own. An antique chair, an old
fireplace, a lock of the last century, or almost any article of
household use that has been preserved for a few generations, will prove
by contrast how greatly the industrial products of our time excel those
of the past in their accuracy. Since planing machines have been
invented, it has become possible to produce absolutely straight lines,
and surfaces so truly level as to be air-tight when applied to each
other. While in the dividing-engine of Troughton, in the micrometer of
Whitworth, and in microscopes that show fifty thousand divisions to the
inch, we have an exactness as far exceeding that reached in the works of
our great-grandfathers, as theirs exceeded that of the aboriginal
celt-makers.       In the Fine Arts there has been a parallel process.
From the rudely carved and painted idols of savages, through the early
sculptures characterized by limbs having no muscular detail,
wooden-looking drapery, and faces devoid of individuality, up to the
later statues of the Greeks or some of those now produced, the increased
accuracy of representation is conspicuous. Compare the mural paintings
of the Egyptians with the paintings of medieval Europe, or these with
modern paintings, and the more precise rendering of the appearances of
objects is manifest. So too is it with the delineations of fiction and
the drama. In the marvellous tales current among Eastern nations, in the
romantic legends of feudal Europe, as well as in the mystery-plays and
those immediately succeeding them, we see great want of correspondence
to the realities of life; not only in the predominance of supernatural
events and extremely improbable coincidences, but also in the
vaguely-indicated personages, who are nothing more than embodiments of
virtue and vice in general, or at best of particular virtues and vices.
Through transitions that need not be specified, there has been a
progressive diminution, in both fiction and the drama, of whatever is
unnatural—whatever does not answer to real life. And now, novels and
plays are applauded in proportion to the fidelity with which they
exhibit individual characters with their motives and consequent actions;
improbabilities, like the impossibilities which preceded them, are
disallowed; and there is even an incipient abandonment of those
elaborate plots which the realities of life rarely if ever furnish.

Were it needful, it would be easy to accumulate evidences of various
other kinds. The progress from myths and legends, extreme in their
misrepresentations, to a history that has slowly become, and is still
becoming, more accurate; the establishment of settled systematic methods
of doing things, instead of the indeterminate ways at first pursued; and
the great increase in the number of points on which conflicting opinion
has settled down into exact knowledge; might severally be used further
to exemplify the general truth enunciated. The basis of induction is,
however, already sufficiently wide. Proof that all Evolution is from the
indefinite to the definite, we find to be not less abundant than proof
that all Evolution is from the homogeneous to the heterogeneous. The one
kind of change is co-extensive with the other—is equally with it
exhibited throughout Nature.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 56. To form a complete conception of Evolution, we have to contemplate
it under yet another aspect. This advance from the indefinite to the
definite, is obviously not primary but secondary—is an incidental result
attendant on the finishing of certain changes. The transformation of a
whole that was originally uniform, into a combination of multiform
parts, implies a progressive separation. While this is going on there
must be indistinctness. Only as each separated division draws into its
general mass those diffused peripheral portions which are at first
imperfectly disunited from the peripheral portions of neighbouring
divisions, can it acquire anything like a precise outline. And it cannot
become perfectly definite until its units are aggregated into a compact
whole. That is to say, the acquirement of definiteness is simply a
concomitant of complete union of the elements constituting each
component division.       Thus, Evolution is characterized not only by a
continuous multiplication of parts, but also by a growing oneness in
each part. And while an advance in heterogeneity results from
progressive differentiation, an advance in definiteness results from
progressive integration. The two changes are simultaneous; or are rather
opposite aspects of the same change. This change, however, cannot be
rightly comprehended without looking at both its sides. Let us then once
more consider Evolution under its several manifestations; for the
purpose of noting how it is throughout a process of integration.

The illustrations furnished by the Solar System, supposing it to have
had a nebular origin, are so obvious as scarcely to need indicating.
That as a whole, it underwent a gradual concentration while assuming its
present distribution of parts; and that there subsequently took place a
like concentration of the matter forming each planet and satellite, is
the leading feature of the hypothesis. The process of integration is
here seen in its simplest and most decided form.

Geologic evolution, if we trace it up from that molten state of the
Earth’s substance which we are obliged to postulate, supplies us with
more varied facts of like meaning. The advance from a thin crust, at
first everywhere fissured and moveable, to a crust so solid and thick as
to be but now and then very partially dislocated by disturbing forces,
exemplifies the unifying process; as does likewise the advance from a
surface covered with small patches of land and water, to one divided
into continents and oceans—an advance also resulting from the Earth’s
gradual solidification. Moreover, the collection of detritus into strata
of great extent, and the union of such strata into extensive “systems,”
becomes possible only as surfaces of land and water become wide, and
subsidences great, in both area and depth; whence it follows that
integrations of this order must have grown more pronounced as the
Earth’s crust thickened.       Different and simpler instances of the
process through which mixed materials are separated, and the kindred
units aggregated into masses, are exhibited in the detailed structure of
the Earth. The phenomena of crystallization may be cited _en masse_, as
showing how the unifications of similar elements take place wherever the
conditions permit. Not only do we see this where there is little or no
hindrance to the approach of the particles, as in the cases of crystals
formed from solutions, or by sublimation; but it is also seen where
there are great obstacles to their approach. The flints and the nodules
of iron pyrites that are found in chalk, as well as the silicious
concretions which occasionally occur in limestone, can be interpreted
only as aggregations of atoms of silex or sulphuret of iron, originally
diffused almost uniformly through the deposit, but gradually collected
round certain centres, notwithstanding the solid or semi-solid state of
the surrounding matter. Iron-stone as it ordinarily occurs, presents a
similar phenomenon to be similarly explained; and what is called bog
iron-ore supplies the conditions and the result in still more obvious

During the evolution of an organism, there occurs, as every physiologist
knows, not only separation of parts, but coalescence of parts. In the
mammalian embryo, the heart, at first a long pulsating blood-vessel, by
and by twists upon itself and becomes integrated. The layer of
bile-cells constituting the rudimentary liver, do not simply become
different from the wall of the intestine in which they at first lie; but
they simultaneously diverge from it and consolidate into an organ. The
anterior segments of the cerebro-spinal axis, which are at first
continuous with the rest, and distinguished only by their larger size,
undergo a gradual union; and at the same time the resulting head
consolidates into a mass clearly marked off from the rest of the
vertebral column. The like process, variously exemplified in other
organs, is meanwhile exhibited by the body as a whole; which becomes
integrated, somewhat in the same way that the contents of an outspread
handkerchief become integrated when its edges are drawn in and fastened
to make a bundle. Analogous changes go on long after birth, and continue
even up to old age. In the human being that gradual solidification of
the bony framework, which, during childhood, is seen in the coalescence
of portions of the same bone ossified from different centres, is
afterwards seen in the coalescence of bones that were originally
distinct. The appendages of the vertebræ unite with the vertebral
centres to which they belong—a change not completed until towards
thirty. At the same time the epiphyses, formed separately from the main
bodies of their respective bones, have their cartilaginous connexions
turned into osseous ones—are fused to the masses beneath them. The
component vertebræ of the sacrum, which remain separate till about the
sixteenth year, then begin to unite; and in ten or a dozen years more
their union is complete. Still later occurs the coalescence of the
coccygeal vertebræ; and there are some other bony unions which are not
completed until advanced age. To which add that the increase of density
and toughness, going on throughout the tissues in general during life,
may be regarded as the formation of a more highly integrated substance.
      The species of change thus illustrated under its several aspects
in the unfolding of the human body, may be traced in all animals. That
mode of it which consists in the union of homogeneous parts originally
separate, has been described by Milne-Edwards and others, as exhibited
in various of the invertebrata; though it does not seem to have been
included by them as an essential peculiarity in the process of organic
development. We shall, however, be led strongly to suspect that
progressive integration should form part of the definition of this
process, when we find it displayed not only in tracing up the stages
passed through by every embryo, but also in ascending from the lower
living creatures to the higher. And here, as in the evolution of
individual organisms, it goes on both longitudinally and transversely:
under which different forms we may indeed most conveniently consider it.
      Of _longitudinal integration_, the sub-kingdom _Annulosa_ supplies
abundant examples. Its lower members, such as worms and myriapods, are
mostly characterized by the great number of segments composing them:
reaching in some cases to several hundreds. But in the higher
divisions—crustaceans, insects, and spiders—we find this number reduced
down to twenty-two, thirteen, or even fewer; while, accompanying the
reduction, there is a shortening or integration of the whole body,
reaching its extreme in the crab and the spider. The significance of
these contrasts, as bearing upon the general doctrine of Evolution, will
be seen when it is pointed out that they are parallel to those which
arise during the development of individual _Annulosa_. In the lobster,
the head and thorax form one compact box, made by the union of a number
of segments which in the embryo were separable. Similarly, the butterfly
shows us segments so much more closely united than they were in the
caterpillar, as to be, some of them, no longer distinguishable from each
other. The _Vertebrata_ again, throughout their successively higher
classes, furnish like instances of longitudinal union. In most fishes,
and in reptiles that have no limbs, the only segments of the spinal
column that coalesce, are those forming the skull. In most mammals and
in birds, a variable number of vertebræ become fused together to form
the sacrum; and in the higher quadrumana and man, the caudal vertebræ
also lose their separate individualities in a single _os coccygis_.
      That which we may distinguish as _transverse integration_, is well
illustrated among the _Annulosa_ in the development of the nervous
system. Leaving out those most degraded forms which do not present
distinct ganglia, it is to be observed that the lower annulose animals,
in common with the larvæ of the higher, are severally characterized by a
double chain of ganglia running from end to end of the body; while in
the more perfectly formed annulose animals, this double chain becomes
more or less completely united into a single chain. Mr. Newport has
described the course of this concentration as exhibited in insects; and
by Rathke it has been traced in crustaceans. During the early stages of
the _Astacus fluviatilis_, or common cray-fish, there is a pair of
separate ganglia to each ring. Of the fourteen pairs belonging to the
head and thorax, the three pairs in advance of the mouth consolidate
into one mass to form the brain, or cephalic ganglion. Meanwhile, out of
the remainder, the first six pairs severally unite in the median line,
while the rest remain more or less separate. Of these six double ganglia
thus formed, the anterior four coalesce into one mass; the remaining two
coalesce into another mass; and then these two masses coalesce into one.
Here we see longitudinal and transverse integration going on
simultaneously; and in the highest crustaceans they are both carried
still further. The _Vertebrata_ clearly exhibit transverse integration
in the development of the generative system. The lowest of the
mammalia—the _Monotremata_—in common with birds, to which they are in
many respects allied, have oviducts which towards their lower
extremities are dilated into cavities, severally performing in an
imperfect way the function of a uterus. “In the _Marsupialia_ there is a
closer approximation of the two lateral sets of organs on the median
line; for the oviducts converge towards one another and meet (without
coalescing) on the median line; so that their uterine dilatations are in
contact with each other, forming a true ‘double uterus....’ As we ascend
the series of ‘placental’ mammals, we find the lateral coalescence
becoming more and more complete.... In many of the _Rodentia_ the uterus
still remains completely divided into two lateral halves; whilst in
others these coalesce at their lower portions, forming a rudiment of the
true ‘body’ of the uterus in the human subject. This part increases at
the expense of the lateral ‘cornua’ in the higher herbivora and
carnivora; but even in the lower quadrumana the uterus is somewhat cleft
at its summit.”[10]

In the social organism integrative changes are not less clearly and
abundantly exemplified. Uncivilized societies display them when
wandering families, such as the bushmen show us, unite into tribes of
considerable numbers. Among these we see a further progress of like
nature everywhere manifested in the subjugation of weaker tribes by
stronger ones; and in the subordination of their respective chiefs to
the conquering chief. The partial combinations thus resulting, which
among aboriginal races are being continually formed and continually
broken up, become, among the superior races, both more complete and more
permanent. If we trace the metamorphoses through which our own society,
or any adjacent one, has passed, we see this unification from time to
time repeated on a larger scale and with increasing stability. The
aggregation of juniors and the children of juniors under elders and the
children of elders; the consequent establishment of groups of vassals
bound to their respective nobles; the subordination afterwards
established of groups of inferior nobles to dukes or earls; and the
still later establishment of the kingly power over dukes or earls; are
so many instances of increasing consolidation. This process through
which petty tenures are combined into feuds, feuds into provinces,
provinces into kingdoms, and finally contiguous kingdoms into a single
one, slowly completes itself by destroying the original lines of
demarcation. And it may be further remarked of the European nations as a
whole, that in the tendency to form alliances more or less lasting, in
the restraining influences exercised by the several governments over
each other, in the system that is gradually establishing itself of
settling international disputes by congresses, as well as in the
breaking down of commercial barriers and the increasing facilities of
communication, we may trace the incipient stage of a European
confederation—a still larger integration than any now established.
      But it is not only in these external unions of groups with groups,
and of the compound groups with each other, that the general law is
exemplified. It is exemplified also in unions that take place
internally, as the groups become more highly organized. These, of which
the most conspicuous are commercial in their origin and function, are
well illustrated in our own society. We have integrations consequent on
the simple growth of adjacent parts performing like functions: as, for
instance, the junction of Manchester with its calico-weaving suburbs. We
have other integrations that arise when, out of several places producing
a particular commodity, one monopolizes more and more of the business,
and leaves the rest to dwindle: as witness the growth of the Yorkshire
cloth-districts at the expense of those in the west of England; or the
absorption by Staffordshire of the pottery-manufacture, and the
consequent decay of the establishments that once flourished at
Worcester, Derby, and elsewhere. And we have those yet other
integrations produced by the actual approximation of the
similarly-occupied parts: whence result such facts as the concentration
of publishers in Paternoster Row; of lawyers in the Temple and
neighbourhood; of corn-merchants about Mark Lane; of civil engineers in
Great George Street; of bankers in the centre of the city. Industrial
combinations that consist, not in the approximation or fusion of parts,
but in the establishment of common centres of connexion, are exhibited
in the Bank clearing-house and the Railway clearing-house. While of yet
another genus are those unions which bring into relation the more or
less dispersed citizens who are occupied in like ways: as traders are
brought by the Exchange and the Stock-Exchange; and as are professional
men by institutes, like those of Civil Engineers, Architects, &c.

Here, as before, it is manifest that a law of Evolution which holds of
organisms, must hold too of all objective results of their activity; and
that hence Language, and Science, and Art, must not only in the course
of their development display increasing heterogeneity and definiteness,
but also increasing integration. We shall find this conclusion to be in
harmony with the facts.

Among uncivilized races, the many-syllabled terms used for not uncommon
objects, as well as the descriptive character of proper names, show us
that the words used for the less familiar things are formed by
compounding the words used for the more familiar things. This process of
composition is sometimes found in its incipient stage—a stage in which
the component words are temporarily united to signify some unnamed
object, and do not (from lack of frequent use) permanently cohere. But
in the majority of inferior languages, the process of “agglutination,”
as it is called, has gone far enough to produce considerable stability
in the compound words: there is a manifest integration. How small is the
degree of this integration, however, when compared with that reached in
well-developed languages is shown both by the great length of the
compound words used for things and acts of constant occurrence, and by
the separableness of their elements. Certain North-American tongues very
well illustrate this. In a Ricaree vocabulary extending to fifty names
of common objects, which in English are nearly all expressed by single
syllables, there is not one monosyllabic word; and in the nearly-allied
vocabulary of the Pawnees, the names for these same common objects are
monosyllabic in but two instances. Things so familiar to these hunting
tribes as _dog_ and _bow_, are, in the Pawnee language, _ashakish_ and
_teeragish_; the _hand_ and the _eyes_ are respectively _iksheeree_ and
_keereekoo_; for _day_ the term is _shakoorooeeshairet_, and for _devil_
it is _tsaheekshkakooraiwah_; while the numerals are composed of from
two syllables up to five, and in Ricaree up to seven. That the great
length of these familiar words implies a low degree of development, and
that in the formation of higher languages out of lower there is a
progressive integration, which reduces the polysyllables to dissyllables
and monosyllables, is an inference fully confirmed by the history of our
own language. Anglo-Saxon _steorra_ has been in course of time
consolidated into English _star_, _mona_ into _moon_, and _nama_ into
_name_. The transition through the intermediate semi-Saxon is clearly
traceable. _Sunu_ became in semi-Saxon _sune_, and in English _son_: the
final _e_ of _sune_ being an evanescent form of the original _u_. The
change from the Anglo-Saxon plural, formed by the distinct syllable
_as_, to our plural formed by the appended consonant _s_, shows us the
same thing: _smithas_ in becoming _smiths_, and _endas_ in becoming
_ends_, illustrate progressive coalescence. So too does the
disappearance of the terminal _an_ in the infinitive mood of verbs; as
shown in the transition from the Anglo-Saxon _cuman_ to the semi-Saxon
_cumme_, and to the English _come_. Moreover the process has been slowly
going on, even since what we distinguish as English was formed. In
Elizabeth’s time, verbs were still very frequently pluralized by the
addition of _en_—we _tell_ was we _tellen_; and in some rural districts
this form of speech may even now be heard. In like manner the terminal
_ed_ of the past tense, has united with the word it modifies. _Burn-ed_
has in pronunciation become _burnt_; and even in writing the terminal
_t_ has in some cases taken the place of the _ed_. Only where antique
forms in general are adhered to, as in the church-service, is the
distinctness of this inflection still maintained. Further, we see that
the compound vowels have been in many cases fused into single vowels.
That in _bread_ the _e_ and _a_ were originally both sounded, is proved
by the fact that they are still so sounded in parts where old habits
linger. We, however, have contracted the pronunciation into _bred_; and
we have made like changes in many other common words. Lastly, let it be
noted that where the frequency of repetition is greatest, the process is
carried furthest; as instance the contraction of _lord_ (originally
_laford_) into _lud_ in the mouths of Barristers; and still better the
coalescence of _God be with you_ into _Good bye_.       Besides
exhibiting in this way the integrative process, Language equally
exhibits it throughout all grammatical development. The lowest kinds of
human speech, having merely nouns and verbs without inflections to them,
manifestly permit no such close union of the elements of a proposition
as results when the relations are either marked by inflections or by
words specially used for purposes of connexion. Such speech is
necessarily what we significantly call “incoherent.” To a considerable
extent, incoherence is seen in the Chinese language. “If, instead of
saying _I go_ to _London_, _figs come_ from _Turkey_, _the sun shines_
through _the air_, we said, _I go_ end _London_, _figs come_ origin
_Turkey_, _the sun shines_ passage _air_, we should discourse of the
manner of the Chinese.” From this “aptotic” form, there is clear
evidence of a transition by coalescence to a form in which the
connexions of words are expressed by the addition to them of certain
inflectional words. “In Languages like the Chinese,” remarks Dr Latham,
“the separate words most in use to express relation may become adjuncts
or annexes.” To this he adds the fact that “the numerous inflexional
languages fall into two classes. In one, the inflexions have no
appearance of having been separate words. In the other, their origin as
separate words is demonstrable.” From which the inference drawn is, that
the “aptotic” languages, by the more and more constant use of adjuncts,
gave rise to the “agglutinate” languages, or those in which the original
separateness of the inflexional parts can be traced; and that out of
these, by further use, arose the “amalgamate” languages, or these in
which the original separateness of the inflexional parts can no longer
be traced. Strongly corroborative of this inference is the
unquestionable fact, that by such a process there have grown out of the
amalgamate languages, the “anaptotic” languages; of which our own is the
most perfect example—languages in which, by further consolidation,
inflexions have almost disappeared, while, to express the verbal
relations, certain new kinds of words have been developed. When we see
the Anglo-Saxon inflexions gradually lost by contraction during the
development of English, and, though to a less degree, the Latin
inflexions dwindling away during the development of French, we cannot
deny that grammatical structure is modified by integration; and seeing
how clearly the earlier stages of grammatical structure are explained by
it, we can scarcely doubt that it has been going on from the first.
      And now mark that in proportion to the degree of the integration
above described, is the extent to which integration of another order is
shown. Aptotic languages are, as already pointed out, necessarily
incoherent—the elements of a proposition cannot be tied into a definite
and complete whole. But as fast as coalescence produces inflected words,
it becomes possible to unite them into sentences of which the parts are
so mutually dependent that no considerable change can be made without
destroying the meaning. Yet a further stage in this process may be
noted. After the development of those grammatical forms which make
definite statements possible, we do not at first find them used to
express anything beyond statements of a simple kind. A single subject
with a single predicate, accompanied by but few qualifying terms, are
usually all. If we compare, for instance, the Hebrew scriptures with
writings of modern times, a marked difference of aggregation among the
groups of words, is visible. In the number of subordinate propositions
which accompany the principal one; in the various complements to
subjects and predicates; and in the numerous qualifying clauses—all of
them united into one complex whole—many sentences in modern composition
exhibit a degree of integration not to be found in ancient ones.

The history of Science presents facts of the same meaning at every step.
Indeed the integration of groups of like entities and like relations,
may be said to constitute the most conspicuous part of scientific
progress. A glance at the classificatory sciences, shows us not only
that the confused aggregations which the vulgar make of natural objects,
are differentiated into groups that are respectively more homogeneous,
but also that these groups are gradually rendered complete and compact.
While, instead of considering all marine creatures as fish, shell-fish,
and jelly-fish, Zoology establishes divisions and sub-divisions under
the heads _Vertebrata_, _Annulosa_, _Mollusca_, &c.—while in place of
the wide and vague assemblage popularly described as “creeping things,”
it makes the specific classes _Annelida_, _Myriopoda_, _Insecta_,
_Arachnida_; it at the same time gives to these an increasing
consolidation. The several orders and genera of which each consists, are
arranged according to their affinities and bound together under common
definitions; at the same time that, by extended observation and rigorous
criticism, the previously unknown and undetermined forms are integrated
with their respective congeners.       Nor is the same process less
clearly manifested in those sciences which have for their
subject-matter, not classified objects, but classified relations. Under
one of its chief aspects, the advance of Science is the advance of
generalization; and generalization is the uniting into groups all like
co-existencies and sequences among phenomena. Not only, however, does
the colligation of a number of concrete relations into a generalization
of the lowest order, exemplify the principle enunciated; but it is again
and again exemplified in the colligation of these lowest generalizations
into higher ones, and these into still higher ones. Year by year are
established certain connexions among orders of phenomena that seem
wholly unallied; and these connexions, multiplying and strengthening,
gradually bring the seemingly unallied orders under a common bond. When,
for example, Humboldt quotes the saying of the Swiss—“it is going to
rain because we hear the murmur of the torrents nearer,”—when he remarks
the relation between this and an observation of his own, that the
cataracts of the Orinoco are heard at a greater distance by night than
by day—when he notes the essential parallelism existing between these
facts and the fact that the unusual visibility of remote objects is also
an indication of coming rain—and when he points out that the common
cause of these variations is the smaller hindrance offered to the
passage of both light and sound, by media which are comparatively
homogeneous, either in temperature or hygrometric state; he helps in
bringing under one generalization the phenomena of light and those of
sound. Experiment having shown that these conform to like laws of
reflection and refraction, the conclusion that they are both produced by
undulations gains probability: there is an incipient integration of two
great orders of phenomena, between which no connexion was suspected in
times past. A still more decided integration has been of late taking
place between the once independent sub-sciences of Electricity,
Magnetism, and Light. And indeed it must be obvious to those who are
familiar with the present state of Science, that there will eventually
take place a far wider integration, by which all orders of phenomena
will be combined as differently conditioned forms of one ultimate fact.

Nor do the industrial and æsthetic Arts fail to supply us with equally
conclusive evidence. The progress from rude, small, and simple tools, to
perfect, complex, and large machines, illustrates not only a progress in
heterogeneity and in definiteness, but also in integration. Among what
are classed as the mechanical powers, the advance from the lever to the
wheel-and-axle is an advance from a simple agent to an agent made up of
several simple ones combined together. On comparing the wheel-and-axle,
or any of the machines used in early times with those used now, we find
an essential difference to be, that in each of our machines several of
the primitive machines are united into one. A modern apparatus for
spinning or weaving, for making stockings or lace, contains not simply a
lever, an inclined plane, a screw, a wheel-and-axle, united together;
but several of each integrated into one complex whole. Again, in early
ages, when horse-power and man-power were alone employed, the motive
agent was not bound up with the tool moved; but the two have now become
in many cases fused together: the fire-box and boiler of a locomotive
are combined with the machinery which the steam works. Nor is this the
most extreme case. A still more extensive integration is exhibited in
every large factory. Here we find a large number of complicated
machines, all connected by driving shafts with the same steam-engine—all
united with it into one vast apparatus.       Contrast the mural
decorations of the Egyptians and Assyrians with modern historical
paintings, and there becomes manifest a great advance in unity of
composition—in the subordination of the parts to the whole. One of these
ancient frescoes is in truth made up of a number of pictures that have
little mutual dependence. The several figures of which each group
consists, show very imperfectly by their attitudes, and not at all by
their expressions, the relations in which they stand to each other; the
respective groups might be separated with but little loss of meaning;
and the centre of chief interest, which should link all parts together,
is often inconspicuous. The same trait may be noted in the tapestries of
medieval days. Representing perhaps a hunting scene, one of these
exhibits men, horses, dogs, beasts, birds, trees, and flowers,
miscellaneously dispersed: the living objects being variously occupied,
and mostly with no apparent consciousness of each other’s proximity. But
in the paintings since produced, faulty as many of them are in this
respect, there is always a more or less manifest co-ordination of
parts—an arrangement of attitudes, expressions, lights, and colours,
such as to combine the picture into an organic whole; and the success
with which unity of effect is educed from variety of components, is a
chief test of merit.       In music, progressive integration is
displayed in still more numerous ways. The simple cadence embracing but
a few notes, which in the chants of savages is monotonously repeated,
becomes among civilized races, a long series of different musical
phrases combined into one whole; and so complete is the integration,
that the melody cannot be broken off in the middle, nor shorn of its
final note, without giving us a painful sense of incompleteness. When to
the air, a bass, a tenor, and an alto are added; and when to the harmony
of different voice-parts there is added an accompaniment; we see
exemplified integrations of another order, which grow gradually more
elaborate. And the process is carried a stage higher when these complex
solos, concerted pieces, choruses, and orchestral effects, are combined
into the vast ensemble of a musical drama; of which, be it remembered,
the artistic perfection largely consists in the subordination of the
particular effects to the total effect.       Once more the Arts of
literary delineation, narrative and dramatic, furnish us with parallel
illustrations. The tales of primitive times, like those with which the
story-tellers of the East still daily amuse their listeners, are made up
of successive occurrences that are not only in themselves unnatural, but
have no natural connexion: they are but so many separate adventures put
together without necessary sequence. But in a good modern work of
imagination, the events are the proper products of the characters
working under given conditions; and cannot at will be changed in their
order or kind, without injuring or destroying the general effect. And
further, the characters themselves, which in early fictions play their
respective parts without showing us how their minds are modified by each
other or by the events, are now presented to us as held together by
complex moral relations, and as acting and re-acting upon each other’s

Evolution, then, is in all cases a change from a more diffused or
incoherent form, to a more consolidated or coherent form. This proves to
be a characteristic displayed equally in those earliest changes which
the Universe as a whole is supposed to have undergone, and in those
latest changes which we trace in society and the products of social
life. Nor is it only that in the development of a planet, of an
organism, of a society, of a science, of an art, the process of
integration is seen in a more complete aggregation of each whole and of
its constituent parts; but it is also shown in an increasing mutual
dependence of the parts. Dimly foreshadowed as this mutual dependence is
among inorganic phenomena, both celestial and terrestrial, it becomes
distinct among organic phenomena. From the lowest living forms upwards,
the degree of development is marked by the degree in which the several
parts constitute a mutually-dependent whole. The advance from those
creatures which live on in each part when cut in pieces, up to those
creatures which cannot lose any considerable part without death, nor any
inconsiderable part without great constitutional disturbance, is clearly
an advance to creatures which are not only more integrated in respect of
their solidification, but are also more integrated as consisting of
organs that live for and by each other. The like contrast between
undeveloped and developed societies, need not be shown in detail: the
ever-increasing co-ordination of parts, is conspicuous to all. And it
must suffice just to indicate that the same thing holds true of social
products: as, for instance, of Science; which has become highly
integrated not only in the sense that each division is made up of
mutually-dependent propositions, but also in the sense that the several
divisions are mutually-dependent—cannot carry on their respective
investigations without aid from each other.

It seems proper to remark that the generalization here variously
illustrated, is akin to one enunciated by Schelling, that Life is the
tendency to individuation. Struck by the fact that an aggregative
process is traceable throughout nature, from the growth of a crystal up
to the development of a man; and by the fact that the wholes resulting
from this process, completer in organic than in inorganic bodies, are
completest where the vital manifestations are the highest; Schelling
concluded that this characteristic was the essential one. According to
him, the formation of individual bodies is not incident to Life, but is
that in which Life fundamentally consists.       This position is, for
several reasons, untenable. In the first place, it requires the
conception of Life to be extended so as to embrace inorganic phenomena;
since in crystallization, and even in the formation of amorphous masses
of matter, this tendency to individuation is displayed. Schelling, fully
perceiving this, did indeed accept the implication; and held that
inorganic bodies had life lower only in degree than that of organic
bodies—their degree of life being measured by their degree of
individuation. This bold assumption, which Schelling evidently made to
save his definition, is inadmissible. Rational philosophy cannot ignore
those broad distinctions which the general sense of mankind has
established. If it transcends them, it must at the same time show what
is their origin; how far only they are valid; and why they disappear
from a higher point of view.       Note next that the more complete
individuality which Schelling pointed out as characterizing bodies
having the greatest amount of life, is only _one_ of their structural
traits. The greater degree of heterogeneity which they exhibit, is, as
we have seen, a much more conspicuous peculiarity; and though it might
possibly be contended that greater heterogeneity is remotely implied by
greater individuality, it must be admitted that in defining Life as the
tendency to individuation, no hint is given that the bodies which live
most are the most heterogeneous bodies.       Moreover it is to be
remarked that this definition of Schelling, refers much more to the
structures of living bodies than to the processes which constitute Life.
Not Life, but the invariable accompaniment of Life, is that which his
formula alone expresses. The formation of a completer organic whole, a
more fully individuated body, is truly a necessary concomitant of a
higher life; and the development of a higher life must therefore be
accompanied by a tendency to greater individuation. But to represent
this tendency as Life itself, is to mistake an incidental result for an
original cause. Life, properly so called, consists of multiform changes
united together in various ways; and is not expressed either by an
anatomical description of the organism which manifests it, or by a
history of the modifications through which such organism has reached its
present structure. Yet it is only in such description and such history
that the tendency to individuation is seen.       Lastly, this
definition which Schelling gave of Life is untenable, not only because
it refers rather to the organism than to the actions going on in it; but
also because it wholly ignores that connexion between the organism and
the external world, on which Life depends. All organic processes,
physical and psychial, having for their object the maintenance of
certain relations with environing agencies and objects; it is impossible
that there should be a true definition of Life, in which the environment
is not named.       Nevertheless, Schelling’s conception was not a
baseless one. Though not a truth, it was yet the adumbration of a truth.
In defining Life as the tendency to individuation, he had in view that
formation of a more compact, complete, and mutually-dependent whole,
which, as we have seen, is one characteristic of Evolution in general.
His error was, firstly, in regarding it as a characteristic of Life,
instead of a characteristic of living bodies, displayed, though in a
less degree, by other bodies; and, secondly, in regarding it as the sole
characteristic of such bodies.       It remains only to add, that for
expressing this aspect of the process of Evolution, the word integration
is for several reasons preferable to the word individuation. Integration
is the true antithesis of differentiation; it has not that tacit
reference to living bodies which the word individuation cannot be wholly
freed from; it expresses the aggregative tendency not only as displayed
in the formation of more complete wholes, but also as displayed in the
consolidation of the several parts of which such wholes are made up; and
it has not the remotest teleological implication. In short, it simply
formulates in the most abstract manner, a wide induction untainted by
any hypothesis.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 57. Thus we find that to complete the definition arrived at in the
last chapter, much has to be added. What was there alleged is true; but
it is not the whole truth. Evolution is unquestionably a change from a
homogeneous state to a heterogeneous state; but, as we have seen, there
are some advances in heterogeneity which cannot be included in the idea
of Evolution. This undue width of the definition, implies the omission
of some further peculiarity by which Evolution is distinguished; and
this peculiarity we find to be that the more highly developed things
become, the more definite they become. Advance from the indefinite to
the definite, is as constantly and variously displayed as advance from
the homogeneous to the heterogeneous. And we are thus obliged to regard
it as an essential characteristic of Evolution. Further analysis,
however, shows us that this increase of definiteness is not an
independent process; but is rather the necessary concomitant of another
process. A very little consideration of the facts proves that a change
from the indefinite to the definite, can arise only through a completer
consolidation of the respective parts, and of the whole which they
constitute. And so we find that while Evolution is a transformation of
the homogeneous into the heterogeneous, and of the indefinite into the
definite, it is also a transformation of the incoherent into the
coherent. Along with the differentiation shown in increasing contrasts
of parts with each other, there goes on an integration, by which the
parts are rendered distinct units, as well as closely united components
of one whole.       These clauses here added to the definition, are
essential ones; not only as being needful to distinguish Evolution from
that which is not Evolution, but likewise as being needful to express
all which the idea of Evolution includes. Progressive integration with
the growing definiteness necessarily resulting from it, is of
co-ordinate importance with the progressive differentiation before dwelt
upon—nay, from one point of view, may be held of greater importance. For
organization, in which what we call Evolution is most clearly and
variously displayed, consists even more in the union of many parts into
one whole, than in the formation of many parts. The Evolution which we
see throughout inorganic nature, is lower than that which organic nature
exhibits to us, for the especial reason that the mutual dependence of
parts is extremely indefinite, even when traceable at all. In an
amorphous mass of matter, you may act mechanically or chemically upon
one part without appreciably affecting the other parts. Though their
electrical or thermal states may be for the moment altered, their
original states are soon resumed. Even in the highest inorganic
aggregation—a crystal—the apex may be broken off and leave the rest
intact: the only clear evidence of mutual dependence of parts, being,
the ability of the crystal to regenerate its apex if replaced in the
solution from which it was formed. But the constituent parts of organic
bodies can severally maintain their existing states, only while
remaining in connexion. Even in the lowest living forms, mutilation
cannot be carried beyond a certain point without decomposition ensuing.
As we advance through the higher up to the highest forms, we see a
gradual narrowing of the limits within which the mutilation does not
cause destruction: a progressive increase of mutual dependence or
integration which is, at the same time, the condition to greater
functional perfection. In societies this truth is equally manifest. That
the component units slowly segregate into groups of different ranks and
occupations, is a fact scarcely more conspicuous than is the fact that
these groups are necessary to each other’s existence. And we cannot
contemplate the still-progressing division of labour, without seeing
that the interdependence becomes ever greater as the evolution becomes
higher.       It remains only to point out definitely, what has been
already implied, that these several forms of change which have been
successively described as making up the process of Evolution, are not in
reality separate forms of change, but different aspects of the same
change. Intrinsically the transformation is one and indivisible. The
establishment of differences that become gradually more decided, is
evidently but the beginning of an action which cannot be pushed to its
extreme without producing definite divisions between the parts, and
reducing each part to a separate mass. But with our limited faculties,
it is not possible to take in the entire process at one view; nor have
we any single terms by which the process can be described. Hence we are
obliged to contemplate each of its aspects separately, and to find a
separate expression for its characteristic.

Having done this, we are now in a position to frame a true idea of
Evolution. Combining these partial definitions we get a complete
definition, which may be most conveniently expressed thus—_Evolution is
a change from an indefinite, incoherent homogeneity, to a definite,
coherent heterogeneity; through continuous differentiations and

It may perhaps be remarked that the last of these clauses is
superfluous; since the differentiation and integration are implied in
the first clause. This is true: the transition which the first clause
specifies, is impossible save through the process specified in the
second. Nevertheless, a mere statement of the two extreme stages with
which Evolution begins and ends, omitting all reference to changes
connecting them, leaves the mind with but an incomplete idea. The idea
becomes much more concrete when these changes are described. Hence,
though not logically necessary, the second clause of the definition is
practically desirable.

Before closing the chapter, a few words must be added respecting certain
other modes of describing Evolution. Organic bodies, from the changes of
which the idea of Evolution has arisen, and to the changes of which
alone it is usually applied, are often said to progress from simplicity
to complexity. The transformation of the simple into the complex, and of
the homogeneous into the heterogeneous, are used as equivalent phrases;
or, if any difference is recognized between them, it is to the advantage
of the first, which is held to be the more specific. After what has been
said, however, it must be obvious that Evolution cannot be thus
adequately formulated. No hint is given of that increased definiteness
which we have found to be a concomitant of development. Nor is there
anything implying the greater mutual dependence of parts. Nevertheless,
the brevity of the expression gives it a value for ordinary purposes;
and I shall probably hereafter frequently use it, both in those cases
where more precise language is not demanded, and in those cases where it
indicates the particular aspect of Evolution referred to.       Another
description frequently given of Evolution, is, that it is a change from
the general to the special. The more or less spherical germ from which
every organism, animal and vegetal, proceeds, is comparatively general:
alike in the sense that in appearance and chemical nature it is very
similar to all other germs; and also in the sense that its form is less
markedly distinguished from the average forms of objects at large, than
is that of the mature organism—a contrast which equally holds of
internal structure. But this progress from the more general to the more
special, is rather a derivative than an original characteristic. An
increase of speciality being really an increase in the number of
attributes—an addition of traits not possessed by bodies that are in
other respects similar—is a necessary result of multiplying
differentiations. In other words, general and special are subjective or
ideal distinctions involved in our conceptions of classes, rather than
objective or real distinctions presented in the bodies classified.
Nevertheless, this abstract formula is not without its use. It expresses
a fact of much significance; and one which we shall have constantly to
refer to when dealing with the relations between organic bodies and
their surrounding conditions.

The law of Evolution however, be it expressed in full as above, or in
these shorter but less specific phrases, is essentially that which has
been exhibited in detail throughout the foregoing pages. So far as we
can ascertain, this law is universal. It is illustrated with endless
repetition, and in countless ways, wherever the facts are abundant; and
where the facts do not suffice for induction, deduction goes far to
supply its place. Among all orders of phenomena that lie within the
sphere of observation, we see ever going on the process of change above
defined; and many significant indications warrant us in believing, that
the same process of change went on throughout that remote past which
lies beyond the sphere of observation. If we must form any conclusion
respecting the general course of things, past, present, and future, the
one which the evidence as far as it goes justifies, and the only one for
which there is any justification, is, that the change from an
indeterminate uniformity to a determinate multiformity which we
everywhere see going on, has been going on from the first, and will
continue to go on.


Footnote 10:

  Carpenter’s Prin. of Comp. Phys., p. 617.

                              CHAPTER IV.
                        THE CAUSES OF EVOLUTION.

§ 58. Is this law ultimate or derivative? Must we rest satisfied with
the conclusion that throughout all classes of concrete phenomena such is
the mode of evolution? Or is it possible for us to ascertain _why_ such
is the mode of evolution? May we seek for some all-pervading principle
which underlies this all-pervading process? Can we by a further step
reduce our empirical generalization to a rational generalization?

Manifestly this community of result implies community of causation. It
may be that of such causation no account can be given, further than that
the Unknowable is manifested to us after this manner. Or, it may be,
that the mode of manifestation is reducible to simpler ones, from which
these many complex consequences follow. Analogy suggests the latter
inference. At present, the conclusion that every kind of Evolution is
from a state of indefinite incoherent homogeneity to a state of definite
coherent heterogeneity, stands in the same position as did the once
ultimate conclusion that every kind of organized body undergoes, when
dead, a more or less rapid decay. And as, for the various kinds of
decomposition through which animal and vegetal products pass, we have
now discovered a rationale in the chemical affinities of their
constituent elements; so, possibly, this universal transformation of the
simple into the complex may be affiliated upon certain simple primordial

Such cause or causes of Evolution, may be sought for without in the
least assuming that the ultimate mystery can be fathomed. Fully
conscious that an absolute solution is for ever beyond us, we may still
look for a relative solution—may try to reduce the problem to its lowest
terms. Just as it was possible to interpret Kepler’s laws as necessary
consequences of the law of gravitation, and then to admit that
gravitation transcends analysis; so it may be possible to interpret the
law of Evolution as the necessary consequence of some deeper law, beyond
which we may nevertheless be unable to go.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 59. The probability of common causation, and the possibility of
formulating it, being granted, it will be well before going further, to
consider what must be the general characteristics of such causation, and
in what direction we ought to look for it. We can with certainty predict
that be it simple or compound, the cause has a high degree of
generality; seeing that it is common to such infinitely varied
phenomena: in proportion to the universality of its application must be
the abstractness of its character. Whatever be the agency and the
conditions under which it acts, we need not expect to see in them an
obvious explanation of this or that species of Evolution, because they
equally underlie species of Evolution of quite a different order.
Determining Evolution of every kind—astronomic, geologic, organic,
ethnologic, social, economic, artistic, &c.—they must be concerned with
something common to all these; and to see what these possess in common,
will therefore be the best method of guiding ourselves towards the
desired solution.

The only obvious respect in which all kinds of Evolution are alike, is,
that they are modes of _change_. Every phenomenon to which we apply the
term, presents us with a succession of states; and when such succession
ceases, we no longer predicate Evolution. Equally in those past forms of
it which are more or less hypothetical, and in those forms of it which
we see going on around, this is the common characteristic.       Note
next, that the kind of change which constitutes Evolution, is broadly
distinguished from change of an equally general kind, in this, that it
is change of internal relations instead of change of external relations.
All things in motion through space are the subjects of change; but while
in this which we call mechanical motion, the relative position as
measured from surrounding objects is continually altered, there is not
implied any alteration in the positions of the parts of the moving body
in respect to each other. Conversely, a body exhibiting what we call
Evolution, while it either may or may not display new relations of
position to the things around it, _must_ display new relations of
position among the parts of which it is made up. Thus we narrow the
field of inquiry by recognizing the change in which Evolution consists,
as _a change in the arrangement of parts_: of course using the word
parts in its most extended sense, as signifying both ultimate units and
masses of such units.       Further, we have to remember that this
change in the arrangement of parts which constitutes Evolution, is a
certain order of such change. As we saw in the last chapter, there is a
change in the arrangement of parts which is not Evolution but
Dissolution—a destructive change as opposed to a constructive change—a
change by which the definite is gradually rendered indefinite, the
coherent slowly becomes incoherent, and the heterogeneous eventually
lapses into comparative homogeneity.       Thus then we reduce that
which we have to investigate to its most abstract shape. Our task is to
find the cause or causes of a certain order of change that takes place
in the arrangement of parts.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 60. Evidently the problem, as thus expressed, brings us face to face
with the ultimate elements of phenomena in general. It is impossible to
account for a certain change in the arrangement of the parts of any
mass, without involving—first, the _matter_ which makes up the parts
thus re-arranged; next, the _motion_ exhibited during the
re-arrangement; and then, the _force_ producing this motion. The problem
is a dynamical one; and there can be no truly scientific solution of it,
save one given in terms of Matter, Motion, and Force—terms in which all
other dynamical problems are expressed and solved.

The proposal thus to study the question from a purely physical point of
view, will most likely, notwithstanding what has been said in the first
part of this work, raise in some minds either alarm or prejudice.
Having, throughout life, constantly heard the charge of materialism made
against those who ascribed the more involved phenomena to agencies like
those seen in the simplest phenomena, most persons have acquired a
repugnance to such methods of interpretation; and when it is proposed to
apply them universally, even though it is premised that the solution
they give can be but relative, more or less of the habitual feeling will
probably arise. Such an attitude of mind, however, is significant, not
so much of a reverence for the Unknown Cause, as of an irreverence for
those omnipresent forms in which the Unknown Cause is manifested to us.
Men who have not risen above that vulgar conception which unites with
Matter the contemptuous epithets “gross” and “brute,” may naturally
enough feel dismay at the proposal to reduce the phenomena of Life, of
Mind, and of Society, to a level with those which they think so
degraded. But whoever remembers that the forms of existence which the
uncultivated speak of with so much scorn, are not only shown by the man
of science to be the more marvellous in their attributes the more they
are investigated, but are also proved to be in their ultimate nature
absolutely incomprehensible—as absolutely incomprehensible as sensation,
or the conscious something which perceives it—whoever fully realizes
this truth, I say, will see that the course proposed does not imply a
degradation of the so-called higher, but an elevation of the so-called
lower. Perceiving, as he will, that the Materialist and Spiritualist
controversy is a mere war of words, in which the disputants are equally
absurd—each thinking he understands that which it is impossible for any
man to understand—he will perceive how utterly groundless is the fear
referred to. Being fully convinced that whatever nomenclature is used,
the ultimate mystery must remain the same, he will be as ready to
formulate all phenomena in terms of Matter, Motion, and Force, as in any
other terms; and will rather indeed anticipate, that only in a doctrine
which recognizes the Unknown Cause as co-extensive with all orders of
phenomena, can there be a consistent Religion, or a consistent Science.

On the other hand, the conclusion that Evolution, considered under its
most abstract form, is a certain change in the arrangement of parts; and
that the causes of this change can be expressed only in terms of Matter,
Motion, and Force; may in critical minds raise the question—What are
Matter, Motion, and Force? Referring back in thought to the reasonings
contained in the chapter on “Ultimate Scientific Ideas;” and remembering
how it was there shown that absolute knowledge of Matter, Motion, and
Force, is impossible; some readers will perhaps conclude that any such
interpretation as the one above proposed, must be visionary. It may be
asked—How can a comprehensible account of Evolution be given in terms
that are themselves incomprehensible?

Before proceeding, this question must be met. There can be no sound
philosophy without clearly defined terms; and as, on the meanings of the
terms to be here used, doubts have probably been cast by the reasonings
contained in the chapter referred to, such doubts must be removed. If,
as was shown, our ideas of things do not correspond with things in
themselves, it becomes necessary to inquire in what way they are to be
accepted. If they are not absolutely true, then what is the exact
meaning of the assertion that they are relatively true? To this question
let us now address ourselves.

                               CHAPTER V.

§ 61. That sceptical state of mind which the criticisms of Philosophy
usually produce, is, in great measure, caused by the misinterpretation
of words. A sense of universal illusion ordinarily follows the reading
of metaphysics; and is strong in proportion as the argument has appeared
conclusive. This sense of universal illusion would probably never have
arisen, had the terms used been always rightly construed. Unfortunately,
these terms have by association acquired meanings that are quite
different from those given to them in philosophical discussions; and the
ordinary meanings being unavoidably suggested, there results more or
less of that dreamlike idealism which is so incongruous with our
instinctive convictions. The word _phenomenon_ and its equivalent word
_appearance_, are in great part to blame for this. In ordinary speech,
these are uniformly employed in reference to visual perceptions. Habit,
almost, if not quite, disables us from thinking of _appearance_ except
as something seen; and though _phenomenon_ has a more generalized
meaning, yet we cannot rid it of associations with _appearance_, which
is its verbal equivalent. When, therefore, Philosophy proves that our
knowledge of the external world can be but phenomenal—when it concludes
that the things of which we are conscious are appearances; it inevitably
arouses in us the notion of an illusiveness like that to which our
visual perceptions are so liable in comparison with our tactual
perceptions. Good pictures show us that the aspects of things may be
very nearly simulated by colours on canvass. The looking-glass still
more distinctly proves how deceptive is sight when unverified by touch.
And the frequent cases in which we misinterpret the impressions made on
our eyes, and think we see something which we do not see, further shake
our faith in vision. So that the implication of uncertainty has infected
the very word _appearance_. Hence, Philosophy, by giving it an extended
meaning, leads us to think of all our senses as deceiving us in the same
way that the eyes do; and so makes us feel ourselves floating in a world
of phantasms. Had _phenomenon_ and _appearance_ no such misleading
associations, little, if any, of this mental confusion would result. Or
did we in place of them use the term _effect_, which is equally
applicable to all impressions produced on consciousness through any of
the senses, and which carries with it in thought the necessary
correlative _cause_, with which it is equally real, we should be in
little danger of falling into the insanities of idealism.

Such danger as there might still remain, would disappear on making a
further verbal correction. At present, the confusion resulting from the
above misinterpretation, is made greater by an antithetical
misinterpretation. We increase the seeming unreality of that phenomenal
existence which we can alone know, by contrasting it with a noumenal
existence which we imagine would, if we could know it, be more truly
real to us. But we delude ourselves with a verbal fiction.       What is
the meaning of the word _real_? This is the question which underlies
every metaphysical inquiry; and the neglect of it is the remaining cause
of the chronic antagonisms of metaphysicians. In the interpretation put
on the word _real_, the discussions of philosophy retain one element of
the vulgar conception of things, while they reject all its other
elements; and create confusion by the inconsistency. The peasant, on
contemplating an object, does not regard that which he contemplates as
something in himself, but believes the thing of which he is conscious to
be the external object—imagines that his consciousness extends to the
very place where the object lies: to him the appearance and the reality
are one and the same thing. The metaphysician, however, is convinced
that consciousness cannot embrace the reality, but only the appearance
of it; and so he transfers the appearance into consciousness and leaves
the reality outside. This reality left outside of consciousness, he
continues to think of much in the same way as the ignorant man thinks of
the appearance. Though the reality is asserted to be out of
consciousness, yet the _realness_ ascribed to it is constantly spoken of
as though it were a knowledge possessed apart from consciousness. It
seems to be forgotten that the conception of reality can be nothing more
than some mode of consciousness; and that the question to be considered
is—What is the relation between this mode and other modes?

By reality we mean _persistence_ in consciousness: a persistence that is
either unconditional, as our consciousness of space, or that is
conditional, as our consciousness of a body while grasping it. The real,
as we conceive it, is distinguished solely by the test of persistence;
for by this test we separate it from what we call the unreal. Between a
person standing before us, and the idea of such a person, we
discriminate by our ability to expel the idea from consciousness, and
our inability, while looking at him, to expel the person from
consciousness. And when in doubt as to the validity or illusiveness of
some impression made upon us in the dusk, we settle the matter by
observing whether the impression persists on closer observation; and we
predicate reality if the persistence is complete.       How truly
persistence is what we mean by reality, is shown in the fact that when,
after criticism has proved that the real as we are conscious of it is
not the objectively real, the indefinite notion which we form of the
objectively real, is of something which persists absolutely, under all
changes of mode, form, or appearance. And the fact that we cannot form
even an indefinite notion of the absolutely real, except as the
absolutely persistent, clearly implies that persistence is our ultimate
test of the real as present to consciousness.

Reality then, as we think it, being nothing more than persistence in
consciousness, the result must be the same to us whether that which we
perceive be the Unconditioned itself, or an effect invariably wrought on
us by the Unconditioned. If some mode of the Unconditioned uniformly
produces some mode of consciousness—if the mode of consciousness so
produced, is as persistent as would be such mode of the Unconditioned
were it immediately known; it follows that the reality will be to our
consciousness as complete in the one case as in the other. Were the
Unconditioned itself present in thought, it could but be persistent; and
if instead of it, there is present its persistent effect, the resulting
consciousness of reality must be exactly the same.

Hence there may be drawn these conclusions:—First, that we have an
indefinite consciousness of an absolute reality transcending relations,
which is produced by the absolute persistence in us of something which
survives all changes of relation. Second, that we have a definite
consciousness of relative reality, which unceasingly persists in us
under one or other of its forms, and under each form so long as the
conditions of presentation are fulfilled; and that the relative reality,
being thus continuously persistent in us, is as real to us as would be
the absolute reality could it be immediately known. Third, that thought
being possible only under relation, the relative reality can be
conceived as such only in connexion with an absolute reality; and the
connexion between the two being absolutely persistent in our
consciousness, is real in the same sense as the terms it unites are

Thus then we may resume, with entire confidence, those realistic
conceptions which philosophy at first sight seems to dissipate. Though
reality under the forms of our consciousness, is but a conditioned
effect of the absolute reality, yet this conditioned effect standing in
indissoluble relation with its unconditioned cause, and being equally
persistent with it so long as the conditions persist, is, to the
consciousness supplying those conditions, equally real. The persistent
impressions being the persistent results of a persistent cause, are for
practical purposes the same to us as the cause itself; and may be
habitually dealt with as its equivalents. Somewhat in the same way that
our visual perceptions, though merely symbols found to be the
equivalents of tactual perceptions, are yet so identified with those
tactual perceptions that we actually appear to see the solidity and
hardness which we do but infer, and thus conceive as objects what are
only the signs of objects; so, on a higher stage, do we deal with these
relative realities as though they were absolutes instead of effects of
the absolute. And we may legitimately continue so to deal with them as
long as the conclusions to which they help us are understood as relative
realities and not absolute ones.

This general conclusion it now remains to interpret specifically, in its
application to each of our ultimate scientific ideas.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 62.[11] We think in relations. This is truly the form of all thought;
and if there are any other forms, they must be derived from this. We
have seen (Chap. iii. Part I.) that the several ultimate modes of being
cannot be known or conceived as they exist in themselves; that is, out
of _relation_ to our consciousness. We have seen, by analyzing the
product of thought, (§ 23,) that it always consists of _relations_; and
cannot include anything beyond the most general of these. On analyzing
the process of thought, we found that cognition of the Absolute was
impossible, because it presented neither _relation_, nor its
elements—difference and likeness. Further, we found that not only
Intelligence but Life itself, consists in the establishment of internal
_relations_ in correspondence with external relations. And lastly, it
was shown that though by the relativity of our thought we are eternally
debarred from knowing or conceiving Absolute Being; yet that this very
_relativity_ of our thought, necessitates that vague consciousness of
Absolute Being which no mental effort can suppress. That _relation_ is
the universal form of thought, is thus a truth which all kinds of
demonstration unite in proving.

By the transcendentalists, certain other phenomena of consciousness are
regarded as forms of thought. Presuming that relation would be admitted
by them to be a universal mental form, they would class with it two
others as also universal. Were their hypothesis otherwise tenable
however, it must still be rejected if such alleged further forms are
interpretable as generated by the primary form. If we think in
relations, and if relations have certain universal forms, it is manifest
that such universal forms of relations will become universal forms of
our consciousness. And if these further universal forms are thus
explicable, it is superfluous, and therefore unphilosophical, to assign
them an independent origin.       Now relations are of two
orders—relations of sequence, and relations of co-existence; of which
the one is original and the other derivative. The relation of sequence
is given in every change of consciousness. The relation of co-existence,
which cannot be originally given in a consciousness of which the states
are serial, becomes distinguished only when it is found that certain
relations of sequence have their terms presented in consciousness in
either order with equal facility; while the others are presented only in
one order. Relations of which the terms are not reversible, become
recognized as sequences proper; while relations of which the terms occur
indifferently in both directions, become recognized as co-existences.
Endless experiences, which from moment to moment present both orders of
these relations, render the distinction between them perfectly definite;
and at the same time generate an abstract conception of each. The
abstract of all sequences is Time. The abstract of all co-existences is
Space. From the fact that in thought, Time is inseparable from sequence,
and Space from co-existence, we do not here infer that Time and Space
are original conditions of consciousness under which sequences and
co-existences are known; but we infer that our conceptions of Time and
Space are generated, as other abstracts are generated from other
concretes: the only difference being, that the organization of
experiences has, in these cases, been going on throughout the entire
evolution of intelligence.

This synthesis is confirmed by analysis. Our consciousness of Space is a
consciousness of co-existent positions. Any limited portion of space can
be conceived only by representing its limits as co-existing in certain
relative positions; and each of its imagined boundaries, be it line or
plane, can be thought of in no other way than as made up of co-existent
positions in close proximity. And since a position is not an
entity—since the congeries of positions which constitute any conceived
portion of space, and mark its bounds, are not sensible existences; it
follows that the co-existent positions which make up our consciousness
of Space, are not co-existences in the full sense of the word (which
implies realities as their terms), but are the blank forms of
co-existences, left behind when the realities are absent; that is, are
the abstracts of co-existences.       The experiences out of which,
during the evolution of intelligence, this abstract of all co-existences
has been generated, are experiences of individual positions as
ascertained by touch; and each of such experiences involves the
resistance of an object touched, and the muscular tension which measures
this resistance. By countless unlike muscular adjustments, involving
unlike muscular tensions, different resisting positions are disclosed;
and these, as they can be experienced in one order as readily as
another, we regard as co-existing. But since, under other circumstances,
the same muscular adjustments do not produce contact with resisting
positions, there result the same states of consciousness, minus the
resistances—blank forms of co-existence from which the co-existent
objects before experienced are absent. And from a building up of these,
too elaborate to be here detailed, results that abstract of all
relations of co-existence which we call Space.       It remains only to
point out, as a thing which we must not forget, that the experiences
from which the consciousness of Space arises, are experiences of
_force_. A certain correlation of the muscular forces we ourselves
exercise, is the index of each position as originally disclosed to us;
and the resistance which makes us aware of something existing in that
position, is an equivalent of the pressure we consciously exert. Thus,
experiences of forces variously correlated, are those from which our
consciousness of Space is abstracted.

That which we know as Space being thus shown, alike by its genesis and
definition, to be purely relative, what are we to say of that which
causes it? Is there an absolute Space which relative Space in some sort
represents? Is Space in itself a form or condition of absolute
existence, producing in our minds a corresponding form or condition of
relative existence? These are unanswerable questions. Our conception of
Space is produced by some mode of the Unknowable; and the complete
unchangeableness of our conception of it simply implies a complete
uniformity in the effects wrought by this mode of the Unknowable upon
us. But therefore to call it a necessary mode of the Unknowable, is
illegitimate. All we can assert is, that Space is a relative reality;
that our consciousness of this unchanging relative reality implies an
absolute reality equally unchanging in so far as we are concerned; and
that the relative reality may be unhesitatingly accepted in thought as a
valid basis for our reasonings; which, when rightly carried on, will
bring us to truths that have a like relative reality—the only truths
which concern us or can possibly be known to us.

Concerning Time, relative and absolute, a parallel argument leads to
parallel conclusions. These are too obvious to need specifying in

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 63. Our conception of Matter, reduced to its simplest shape, is that
of co-existent positions that offer resistance; as contrasted with our
conception of Space, in which the co-existent positions offer no
resistance. We think of Body as bounded by surfaces that resist; and as
made up throughout of parts that resist. Mentally abstract the
co-existent resistances, and the consciousness of Body disappears;
leaving behind it the consciousness of Space. And since the group of
co-existing resistent positions constituting a portion of matter, is
uniformly capable of giving us impressions of resistance in combination
with various muscular adjustments, according as we touch its near, its
remote, its right, or its left side; it results that as different
muscular adjustments habitually indicate different co-existences, we are
obliged to conceive every portion of matter as containing more than one
resistent position—that is, as occupying Space. Hence the necessity we
are under of representing to ourselves the ultimate elements of Matter
as being at once extended and resistent: this being the universal form
of our sensible experiences of Matter, becomes the form which our
conception of it cannot transcend, however minute the fragments which
imaginary subdivisions produce.       Of these two inseparable elements,
the resistance is primary, and the extension secondary. Occupied
extension, or Body, being distinguished in consciousness from unoccupied
extension, or Space, by its resistance, this attribute must clearly have
precedence in the genesis of the idea. Such a conclusion is, indeed, an
obvious corollary from that at which we arrived in the foregoing
section. If, as was there contended, our consciousness of Space is a
product of accumulated experiences, partly our own but chiefly
ancestral—if, as was pointed out, the experiences from which our
consciousness of Space is abstracted, can be received only through
impressions of resistance made upon the organism; the necessary
inference is, that experiences of resistance being those from which the
conception of Space is generated, the resistance-attribute of Matter
must be regarded as primordial and the space-attribute as derivative.
      Whence it becomes manifest that our experience of _force_, is that
out of which the idea of Matter is built. Matter as opposing our
muscular energies, being immediately present to consciousness in terms
of force; and its occupancy of Space being known by an abstract of
experiences originally given in terms of force; it follows that forces,
standing in certain correlations, form the whole content of our idea of

Such being our cognition of the relative reality, what are we to say of
the absolute reality? We can only say that it is some mode of the
Unknowable, related to the Matter we know, as cause to effect. The
relativity of our cognition of Matter is shown alike by the above
analysis, and by the contradictions which are evolved when we deal with
the cognition as an absolute one (§ 16). But, as we have lately seen,
though known to us only under relation, Matter is as real in the true
sense of that word, as it would be could we know it out of relation; and
further, the relative reality which we know as Matter, is necessarily
represented to the mind as standing in a persistent or real relation to
the absolute reality.       We may therefore deliver ourselves over
without hesitation, to those terms of thought which experience has
organized in us. We need not in our physical, chemical, or other
researches, refrain from dealing with Matter as made up of extended and
resistent atoms; for this conception, necessarily resulting from our
experiences of Matter, is not less legitimate, than the conception of
aggregate masses as extended and resistent. The atomic hypothesis, as
well as the kindred hypothesis of an all-pervading ether consisting of
molecules, is simply a necessary development of those universal forms
which the actions of the Unknowable have wrought in us. The conclusions
logically worked out by the aid of these hypotheses, are sure to be in
harmony with all others which these same forms involve, and will have a
relative truth that is equally complete.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 64. The conception of Motion as presented or represented in the
developed consciousness, involves the conceptions of Space, of Time, and
of Matter. A something that moves; a series of positions occupied in
succession; and a group of co-existent positions united in thought with
the successive ones—these are the constituents of the idea. And since,
as we have seen, these are severally elaborated from experiences of
_force_ as given in certain correlations, it follows that from a further
synthesis of such experiences, the idea of Motion is also elaborated. A
certain other element in the idea, which is in truth its fundamental
element, (namely, the necessity which the moving body is under to go on
changing its position), results immediately from the earliest
experiences of force. Movements of different parts of the organism in
relation to each other, are the first presented in consciousness. These,
produced by the action of the muscles, necessitate reactions upon
consciousness in the shape of sensations of muscular tension.
Consequently, each stretching-out or drawing-in of a limb, is originally
known as a series of muscular tensions, varying in intensity as the
position of the limb changes. And this rudimentary consciousness of
Motion, consisting of serial impressions of force, becomes inseparably
united with the consciousness of Space and Time as fast as these are
abstracted from further impressions of force. Or rather, out of this
primitive conception of Motion, the adult conception of it is developed
simultaneously with the development of the conceptions of Space and
Time: all three being evolved from the more multiplied and varied
impressions of muscular tension and objective resistance. Motion, as we
know it, is thus traceable, in common with the other ultimate scientific
ideas, to experiences of force.

That this relative reality answers to some absolute reality, it is
needful only for form’s sake to assert. What has been said above,
respecting the Unknown Cause which produces in us the effects called
Matter, Space, and Time, will apply, on simply changing the terms, to

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 65. We come down then finally to Force, as the ultimate of ultimates.
Though Space, Time, Matter, and Motion, are apparently all necessary
data of intelligence, yet a psychological analysis (here indicated only
in rude outline) shows us that these are either built up of, or
abstracted from, experiences of Force. Matter and Motion, as we know
them, are differently conditioned manifestations of Force. Space and
Time, as we know them, are disclosed along with these different
manifestations of Force as the conditions under which they are
presented. Matter and Motion are concretes built up from the _contents_
of various mental relations; while Space and Time are abstracts of the
_forms_ of these various relations. Deeper down than these, however, are
the primordial experiences of Force, which, as occurring in
consciousness in different combinations, supply at once the materials
whence the forms of relations are generalized, and the related objects
built up. A single impression of force is manifestly receivable by a
sentient being devoid of mental forms: grant but sensibility, with no
established power of thought, and a force producing some nervous change,
will still be presentable at the supposed seat of sensation. Though no
single impression of force so received, could itself produce
consciousness (which implies relations between different states), yet a
multiplication of such impressions, differing in kind and degree, would
give the materials for the establishment of relations, that is, of
thought. And if such relations differed in their forms as well as in
their contents, the impressions of such forms would be organized
simultaneously with the impressions they contained. Thus all other modes
of consciousness are derivable from experiences of Force; but
experiences of Force are not derivable from anything else. Indeed, it
needs but to remember that consciousness consists of changes, to see
that the ultimate datum of consciousness must be that of which change is
the manifestation; and that thus the force by which we ourselves produce
changes, and which serves to symbolize the cause of changes in general,
is the final disclosure of analysis.

It is a truism to say that the nature of this undecomposable element of
our knowledge is inscrutable. If, to use an algebraic illustration, we
represent Matter, Motion, and Force, by the symbols _x_, _y_, and _z_;
then, we may ascertain the values of _x_ and _y_ in terms of _z_; but
the value of _z_ can never be found: _z_ is the unknown quantity which
must for ever remain unknown; for the obvious reason that there is
nothing in which its value can be expressed. It is within the possible
reach of our intelligence to go on simplifying the equations of all
phenomena, until the complex symbols which formulate them are reduced to
certain functions of this ultimate symbol; but when we have done this,
we have reached that limit which eternally divides science from

That this undecomposable mode of consciousness into which all other
modes may be decomposed, cannot be itself the Power manifested to us
through phenomena, has been already proved (§ 18). We saw that to assume
an identity of nature between the cause of changes as it absolutely
exists, and that cause of change of which we are conscious in our own
muscular efforts, betrays us into alternative impossibilities of
thought. Force, as we know it, can be regarded only as a certain
conditioned effect of the Unconditioned Cause—as the relative reality
indicating to us an Absolute Reality by which it is immediately
produced. And here, indeed, we see even more clearly than before, how
inevitable is that transfigured realism to which sceptical criticism
finally brings us round. Getting rid of all complications, and
contemplating pure Force, we are irresistibly compelled by the
relativity of our thought, to vaguely conceive some unknown force as the
correlative of the known force. Conditioned effect and unconditioned
cause, are here presented in their primordial relation as two sides of
the same change; of which we are obliged to regard the conditioned and
the unconditioned sides as equally real: the only difference being that
the reality of the one is made relative by the imposition of the forms
and limits of our consciousness, while the reality of the other, in the
absence of those forms and limits, remains absolute.

Thus much respecting the nature of our ultimate scientific ideas. Before
proceeding to our general inquiry concerning the causes of Evolution, we
have still to consider certain ultimate scientific truths.


Footnote 11:

  For the psychological conclusions briefly set forth in this and the
  three sections following it, the justification will be found in the
  writer’s _Principles of Psychology_.

                              CHAPTER VI.

§ 66. Not because the truth is unfamiliar, is it needful here to say
something concerning the indestructibility of Matter; but partly because
the symmetry of our argument demands the enunciation of this truth, and
partly because the evidence on which it is accepted requires
examination. Could it be shown, or could it with any rationality be even
supposed, that Matter, either in its aggregates or in its units, ever
became non-existent, there would be an end to the inquiry on which we
are now setting out. Evolution, considered as a re-arrangement of parts,
could not be scientifically explained, if, during its course, any of the
parts might arise out of nothing or might lapse into nothing. The
question would no longer be one comprehending only the forces and
motions by which the re-arrangement is effected; but would involve an
incalculable element, and would hence be insoluble. Clearly, therefore,
the indestructibility of Matter is an indispensable axiom.

So far from being admitted as a self-evident truth, this would, in
primitive times, have been rejected as a self-evident error. There was
once universally current, a notion that things could vanish into
absolute nothing, or arise out of absolute nothing. If we analyze early
superstitions, or that faith in magic which was general in later times
and even still survives among the uncultured, we find one of its
postulates to be, that by some potent spell Matter can be called out of
nonentity, and can be made non-existent. If men did not believe this in
the strict sense of the word (which would imply that the process of
creation or annihilation was clearly represented in consciousness), they
still believed that they believed it; and how nearly, in their confused
thoughts, the one was equivalent to the other, is shown by their
conduct. Nor, indeed, have dark ages and inferior minds alone betrayed
this belief. The current theology, in its teachings respecting the
beginning and end of the world, is clearly pervaded by it; and it may be
even questioned whether Shakespeare, in his poetical anticipation of a
time when all things should disappear and “leave not a wrack behind,”
was not under its influence.       The gradual accumulation of
experiences however, and still more the organization of experiences, has
tended slowly to reverse this conviction; until now, the doctrine that
Matter is indestructible has become a common-place. Whatever may be true
of it absolutely, we have learnt that relatively to our consciousness,
Matter never either comes into existence or ceases to exist. Cases which
once gave an apparent support to the illusion that something could come
out of nothing, a wider knowledge has one by one cancelled. The comet
that is all at once discovered in the heavens and nightly waxes larger,
is proved not to be a newly-created body, but a body that was until
lately beyond the range of vision. The cloud which in the course of a
few minutes forms in the sky, consists not of substance that has just
begun to be, but of substance that previously existed in a more diffused
and transparent form. And similarly with a crystal or precipitate in
relation to the fluid depositing it. Conversely, the seeming
annihilations of Matter turn out, on closer observation, to be only
changes of state. It is found that the evaporated water, though it has
become invisible, may be brought by condensation to its original shape.
The discharged fowling-piece gives evidence that though the gunpowder
has disappeared, there have appeared in place of it certain gases,
which, in assuming a larger volume, have caused the explosion.
      Not, however, until the rise of quantitative chemistry, could the
conclusion suggested by such experiences be reduced to a certainty.
When, having ascertained not only the combinations into which various
substances enter, but also the proportions in which they combine,
chemists were enabled to account for the matter that had made its
appearance or become invisible, the proof was rendered complete. When,
in place of the candle that had slowly burnt away, it was shown that
certain calculable quantities of carbonic acid and water had
resulted—when it was demonstrated that the joint weight of the carbonic
acid and water thus produced, was equal to the weight of the candle plus
that of the oxygen uniting with its constituents during combustion; it
was put beyond doubt that the carbon and hydrogen forming the candle,
were still in existence, and had simply changed their state. And of the
general conclusion thus exemplified, the exact analyses daily made, in
which the same portion of matter is pursued through numerous
transformations and finally separated, furnish never-ceasing

Such has become the effect of this specific evidence, joined to that
general evidence which the continued existence of familiar objects
unceasingly gives us; that the indestructibility of Matter is now
recognized by many as a truth of which the negation is inconceivable.
Habitual experiences being no longer met by any counter-experiences, as
they once seemed to be; but these apparent counter-experiences
furnishing new proof that Matter exists permanently, even where the
senses fail to detect it; it has grown into an axiom of science, that
whatever metamorphoses Matter undergoes, its quantity is fixed. The
chemist, the physicist, and the physiologist, not only one and all take
this for granted, but would severally profess themselves unable to
realize any supposition to the contrary.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 67. This last fact naturally raises the question, whether we have any
higher warrant for this fundamental belief, than the warrant of
conscious induction. The indestructibility of Matter is proved
experimentally to be an absolute uniformity within the range of our
experience. But absolute uniformities of experience, generate absolute
uniformities of thought. Does it not follow, then, that this ultimate
truth must be a cognition involved in our mental organization? An
affirmative answer we shall find unavoidable.

What is termed the ultimate incompressibility of Matter, is an admitted
law of thought. Though it is possible to imagine a piece of matter to be
compressed without limit, yet however small the bulk to which we
conceive it reduced, it is impossible to conceive it reduced into
nothing. While we can represent to ourselves the parts of the matter as
indefinitely approximated, and the space occupied as indefinitely
decreased, we cannot represent to ourselves the quantity of matter as
made less. To do this would imply an imagined disappearance of some of
the constituent parts—would imply that some of the constituent parts
were in thought compressed into nothing; which is no more possible than
the compression of the whole into nothing. Whence it is an obvious
corollary, that the total quantity of matter in the Universe, cannot
really be conceived as diminished, any more than it can be conceived as
increased.       Our inability to conceive Matter becoming non-existent,
is immediately consequent on the very nature of thought. Thought
consists in the establishment of relations. There can be no relation
established, and therefore no thought framed, when one of the related
terms is absent from consciousness. Hence it is impossible to think of
something becoming nothing, for the same reason that it is impossible to
think of nothing becoming something—the reason, namely, that nothing
cannot become an object of consciousness. The annihilation of Matter is
unthinkable for the same reason that the creation of Matter is
unthinkable; and its indestructibility thus becomes an _à priori_
cognition of the highest order—not one that results from a long
continued registry of experiences gradually organized into an
irreversible mode of thought; but one that is given in the form of all
experiences whatever.

Doubtless it will be considered strange that a truth only in modern
times accepted as unquestionable, and then only by men of science,
should be classed as an _à priori_ truth; not only of equal certainty
with those commonly so classed, but of even higher certainty. To set
down as a proposition which cannot be thought, one which mankind once
universally professed to think, and which the great majority profess to
think even now, seems absurd. The explanation is, that in this, as in
countless other cases, men have supposed themselves to think what they
did not think. As was shown at the outset, the greater part of our
conceptions are symbolic. Many of these symbolic conceptions, though
rarely developed into real ones, admit of being so developed; and, being
directly or indirectly proved to correspond with actualities, are valid.
But along with these there pass current others which cannot be
developed—cannot by any direct or indirect process be realized in
thought; much less proved to correspond with actualities. Not being
habitually tested, however, the legitimate and illegitimate symbolic
conceptions are confounded together; and supposing themselves to have
literally thought, that which they have thought only symbolically, men
say they believe propositions of which the terms cannot even be put
together in consciousness. Hence the ready acceptance given to sundry
hypotheses respecting the origin of the Universe, which yet are
absolutely unthinkable. And as before we found the commonly asserted
doctrine that Matter was created out of nothing, to have been never
really conceived at all, but to have been conceived only symbolically;
so here we find the annihilation of Matter to have been conceived only
symbolically, and the symbolic conception mistaken for a real one.
      Possibly it will be objected that the words _thought_, and
_belief_, and _conception_, are here employed in new senses; and that it
is a misuse of language to say that men did not really think that which
has nevertheless so profoundly influenced their conduct. It must be
confessed that there is an inconvenience in so restricting the meanings
of these words. There is no remedy however. Definite conclusions can be
reached, only by the use of well-defined terms. Questions touching the
validity of any portion of our knowledge, cannot be profitably discussed
unless the words _knowing_, and _thinking_, have specific
interpretations. We must not include under them whatever confused
processes of consciousness the popular speech applies them to; but only
the distinct processes of consciousness. And if this obliges us to
reject a large part of human thinking as not thinking at all, but merely
pseudo-thinking, there is no help for it.

Returning to the general question, we find the results to be:—that we
have positive experience of the continued existence of Matter; that the
form of our thought renders it impossible for us to have experience of
Matter passing into non-existence, since such experience would involve
cognition of a relation having one of its terms not representable in
consciousness; that hence the indestructibility of Matter is in
strictness an _à priori_ truth; that nevertheless, certain illusive
experiences, suggesting the notion of its annihilation, have produced in
undisciplined minds not only the supposition that Matter could be
conceived to become non-existent, but the notion that it did so; but
that careful observation, showing the supposed annihilations to have
never taken place, has confirmed, _à posteriori_, the _à priori_
cognition which Psychology shows to result from a uniformity of
experience that can never be met by counter-experience.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 68. The fact, however, which it most concerns us here to observe, is,
the nature of the perceptions by which the permanence of Matter is
perpetually illustrated to us, and from which Science draws the
inference that Matter is indestructible. These perceptions, under all
their forms, amount simply to this—that the _force_ which a given
quantity of matter exercises, remains always the same. This is the proof
on which common sense and exact science alike rely.       When, for
example, somebody known to have existed a few years since is said to
exist still, by one who yesterday saw him, his assertion amounts to
this—that an object which in past time wrought on his consciousness a
certain group of changes, still exists because a like group of changes
has been again wrought on his consciousness: the continuance of the
power thus to impress him, he holds to prove the continuance of the
object. Should some auditor allege a mistake in identity, the witness is
admitted to give conclusive proof when he says that he not only saw, but
shook hands with this person, and remarked while grasping his hand, that
absence of the index finger which was his known peculiarity: the
implication being, that an object which through a special combination of
forces, produces special tactual impressions, is concluded still to
exist while it continues still to do this. Even more clearly do we see
that force is our ultimate measure of Matter, in those cases where the
shape of the matter has been changed. A piece of gold given to an
artizan to be worked into an ornament, and which when brought back
appears to be less, is placed in the scales; and if it balances a much
smaller weight than it did in its rough state, we infer that much has
been lost either in manipulation or by direct abstraction. Here the
obvious postulate is, that the quantity of Matter is finally
determinable by the quantity of gravitative force it manifests.
      And this is the kind of evidence on which Science bases its
experimentally-established induction that Matter is indestructible.
Whenever a piece of substance lately visible and tangible, has been
reduced to an invisible, intangible shape, but is proved by the weight
of the gas into which it has been transformed to be still existing; the
assumption is, that though otherwise insensible to us, the amount of
matter is the same, if it still tends towards the Earth with the same
force. Similarly, every case in which the weight of an element present
in combination, is inferred from the known weight of another element
which it neutralizes, is a case in which the quantity of matter is
expressed in terms of the quantity of chemical force it exerts; and in
which this specific chemical force is assumed to be the necessary
correlative of a specific gravitative force.

Thus then by the indestructibility of Matter, we really mean the
indestructibility of the _force_ with which Matter affects us. As we
become conscious of Matter only through that resistance which it opposes
to our muscular energy, so do we become conscious of the permanence of
Matter only through the permanence of this resistance; as either
immediately or mediately proved to us. And this truth is made manifest
not only by analysis of the _à posteriori_ cognition, but equally so by
analysis of the _à priori_ one. For that which we cannot conceive to be
diminished by the continued compression of Matter, is not its occupancy
of space, but its ability to resist.

                              CHAPTER VII.
                       THE CONTINUITY OF MOTION.

§ 69. Another general truth of the same order with the foregoing, must
here be specified—one which, though not so generally recognized, has yet
long been familiar among men of science. The continuity of Motion, like
the indestructibility of Matter, is clearly an axiom underlying the very
possibility of a rational theory of Evolution. That kind of change in
the arrangement of parts, which we have found to constitute Evolution,
could not be deductively explained were it possible for Motion either to
appear or disappear. If those motions through which the parts pass into
a new arrangement, might either proceed from nothing or lapse into
nothing, there would be an end to scientific interpretation of them.
Each constituent change might as well as not be supposed to begin and
end of itself.

The axiomatic character of the truth that Motion is continuous, is
recognized only after the discipline of exact science has given
precision to the conceptions. Aboriginal men, our uneducated population,
and even most of the so-called educated, think in an extremely
indefinite manner. From careless observations, they pass by careless
reasoning, to conclusions of which they do not contemplate the
implications—conclusions which they never develope for the purpose of
seeing whether they are consistent. Accepting without criticism the
dicta of unaided perception, to the effect that surrounding bodies when
put in motion soon return to rest, the great majority tacitly assume
that the motion is actually lost. They do not consider whether the
phenomenon can be otherwise interpreted; or whether the interpretation
they put on it can be mentally realized. They are content with a
colligation of mere appearances.       But the establishment of certain
facts having quite an opposite implication, led to inquiries which have
gradually proved such appearances to be illusive. The discovery that the
planets revolve round the Sun with undiminishing speed, raised the
suspicion that a moving body, when not interfered with, will go on for
ever without change of velocity; and suggested the question whether
bodies which lose their motion, do not at the same time communicate as
much motion to other bodies. It was a familiar fact that a stone would
glide further over a smooth surface, such as ice, presenting no small
objects to which it could part with its motion by collision, than over a
surface strewn with such small objects; and that a projectile would
travel a far greater distance through a rare medium like air, than
through a dense medium like water. Thus the primitive notion that moving
bodies had an inherent tendency gradually to lose their motion and
finally stop—a notion of which the Greeks did not get rid, but which
lasted till the time of Galileo—began to give way. It was further shaken
by such experiments as those of Hooke, which proved that the spinning of
a top continued long in proportion as it was prevented from
communicating movement to surrounding matter—experiments which, when
repeated with the aid of modern appliances, have shown that _in vacuo_
such rotation, retarded only by the friction of the axis, will continue
for nearly an hour. Thus have been gradually dispersed, the obstacles to
the reception of the first law of motion;—the law, namely, that when not
influenced by external forces, a moving body will go on in a straight
line with a uniform velocity. And this law is in our day being merged in
the more general one, that Motion, like Matter, is indestructible; and
that whatever is lost by any one portion of matter is transferred to
other portions—a conclusion which, however much at variance it seems
with cases of sudden arrest from collision with an immovable object, is
yet reconciled with such cases by the discovery that the motion
apparently lost continues under new forms, though forms not directly

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 70. And here it may be remarked of Motion, as it was before of Matter,
that its indestructibility is not only to be inductively inferred, but
that it is a necessity of thought: its destructibility never having been
truly conceived at all, but having always been, as it is now, a mere
verbal proposition that cannot be realized in consciousness—a
pseud-idea. Whether that absolute reality which produces in us the
consciousness we call Motion, be or be not an eternal mode of the
Unknowable, it is impossible for us to say; but that the relative
reality which we call Motion never can come into existence, or cease to
exist, is a truth involved in the very nature of our consciousness. To
think of Motion as either being created or annihilated—to think of
nothing becoming something, or something becoming nothing—is to
establish in consciousness a relation between two terms of which one is
absent from consciousness, which is impossible. The very nature of
intelligence, negatives the supposition that Motion can be conceived
(much less known) to either commence or cease.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 71. It remains to be pointed out that the continuity of Motion, as
well as the indestructibility of Matter, is really known to us in terms
of _force_. That a certain manifestation of force remains for ever
undiminished, is the ultimate content of the thought; whether reached _à
posteriori_ or _à priori_.

From terrestrial physics let us take the case of sound propagated to a
great distance. Whenever we are directly conscious of the causation of
sound (namely, when we produce it ourselves), its invariable antecedent
is force. The immediate sequence of this force we know to be
motion—first, of our own organs, and then of the body which we set
vibrating. The vibrations so generated we can discern both through the
fingers and through the ears; and that the sensations received by the
ears are the equivalents of mechanical force communicated to the air,
and by it impressed on surrounding objects, we have clear proof when
objects are fractured: as windows by the report of a cannon; or a glass
vessel by a powerful voice. On what, then, rests the reasoning when, as
occasionally happens under favourable circumstances, men on board a
vessel a hundred miles from shore, hear the ringing of church-bells on
placing their ears in the focus of the main sail; and when it is
inferred that atmospheric undulations have traversed this immense
distance? Manifestly, the assertion that the motion of the clapper,
transformed into the vibrations of the bell, and communicated to the
surrounding air, has propagated itself thus far on all sides,
diminishing in intensity as the mass of air moved became greater, is
based solely upon a certain change produced in consciousness through the
ears. The listeners are not conscious of motion; they are conscious of
an impression produced on them—an impression which implies a force as
its necessary correlative. With force they begin, and with force they
end: the intermediate motion being simply inferred.       Again, where,
as in celestial physics, the continuity of motion is quantitatively
proved, the proof is not direct but inferential; and forces furnish the
data for the inference. A particular planet can be identified only by
its constant power to affect our visual organs in a special way—to
impress upon the retina a group of forces standing in a particular
correlation. Further, such planet has not been _seen_ to move by the
astronomical observer; but its motion is _inferred_ from a comparison of
its present position with the position it before occupied. If rigorously
examined, this comparison proves to be a comparison between the
different impressions produced on him by the different adjustments of
the observing instruments. Going a step further back, it turns out that
this difference is meaningless until shown to correspond with a certain
calculated position which the planet must occupy, supposing that no
motion has been lost. And if, finally, we examine the implied
calculation, we find that it makes allowances for those accelerations
and retardations which ellipticity of the orbit involves, as well as
those variations of velocity caused by adjacent planets—we find, that
is, that the motion is concluded to be indestructible not from the
uniform velocity of the planet, but from the constant quantity of motion
exhibited when allowance is made for the motion communicated to, or
received from, other celestial bodies. And when we ask how this
communicated motion is estimated, we discover that the estimate is based
upon certain laws of force; which laws, one and all, embody the
postulate that force cannot be destroyed. Without the axiom that action
and re-action are equal and opposite, astronomy could not make its exact
predictions; and we should lack the rigorous inductive proof they
furnish that motion can never be lost, but can only be transferred.

Similarly with the _à priori_ conclusion that Motion is continuous. That
which defies suppression in thought, is really the force which the
motion indicates. The unceasing change of position, considered by
itself, may be mentally abolished without difficulty. We can readily
imagine retardation and stoppage to result from the action of external
bodies. But to imagine this, is not possible without an abstraction of
the force implied by the motion. We are obliged to conceive this force
as impressed in the shape of re-action on the bodies that cause the
arrest. And the motion that is communicated to them, we are compelled to
regard, not as directly communicated, but as a product of the
communicated force. We can mentally diminish the velocity or
space-element of motion, by diffusing the momentum or force-element over
a larger mass of matter; but the quantity of this force-element, which
we regard as the cause of the motion, is unchangeable in thought.

                             CHAPTER VIII.
                     THE PERSISTENCE OF FORCE.[12]

§ 72. Before taking a first step in the rational interpretation of
Evolution, it is needful to recognize, not only the facts that Matter is
indestructible and Motion continuous, but also the fact that Force
persists. An attempt to assign the _causes_ of Evolution, would
manifestly be absurd, if that agency to which the metamorphosis in
general and in detail is due, could either come into existence or cease
to exist. The succession of phenomena would in such case be altogether
arbitrary; and deductive science impossible.

Here, indeed, the necessity is even more imperative than in the two
preceding cases. For the validity of the proofs given that Matter is
indestructible and Motion continuous, really depends upon the validity
of the proof that Force is persistent. An analysis of the reasoning
demonstrated that in both cases, the _à posteriori_ conclusion involves
the assumption that unchanged quantities of Matter and Motion are proved
by unchanged manifestations of Force; and in the _à priori_ cognition we
found this to be the essential constituent. Hence, that the quantity of
Force remains always the same, is the fundamental cognition in the
absence of which these derivative cognitions must disappear.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 73. But now on what grounds do we assert the persistence of Force?
Inductively we can allege no evidence except such as is presented to us
throughout the world of sensible phenomena. No force however, save that
of which we are conscious during our own muscular efforts, is
immediately known to us. All other force is mediately known through the
changes we attribute to it. Since, then, we cannot infer the persistence
of Force from our own sensation of it, which does not persist; we must
infer it, if it is inferred at all, from the continuity of Motion, and
the undiminished ability of Matter to produce certain effects. But to
reason thus is manifestly to reason in a circle. It is absurd to allege
the indestructibility of Matter, because we find experimentally that
under whatever changes of form a given mass of matter exhibits the same
gravitation, and then afterwards to argue that gravitation is constant
because a given mass of matter exhibits always the same quantity of it.
We cannot prove the continuity of Motion by assuming that Force is
persistent, and then prove the persistence of Force by assuming that
Motion is continuous.

The data of both objective and subjective science being involved in this
question touching the nature of our cognition that Force is persistent,
it will be desirable here to examine it more closely. At the risk of
trying the reader’s patience, we must reconsider the reasoning through
which the indestructibility of Matter and the continuity of Motion are
established; that we may see how impossible it is to arrive by parallel
reasoning at the persistence of Force.       In all three cases the
question is one of quantity:—does the Matter, or Motion, or Force, ever
diminish in quantity? Quantitative science implies measurement; and
measurement implies a unit of measure. The units of measure from which
all others of any exactness are derived, are units of linear extension.
From these, through the medium of the equal-armed lever or scales, we
derive our equal units of weight, or gravitative force. And it is by
means of these equal units of extension and equal units of weight, that
we make those quantitative comparisons by which the truths of exact
science are reached. Throughout the investigations leading the chemist
to the conclusion that of the carbon which has disappeared during
combustion, no portion has been lost, and that in any compound
afterwards formed by the resulting carbonic acid the whole of the
original carbon is present, what is his repeatedly assigned proof? That
afforded by the scales. In what terms is the verdict of the scales
given? In grains—in units of weight—in units of gravitative force. And
what is the total content of the verdict? That as many units of
gravitative force as the carbon exhibited at first, it exhibits still.
The quantity of matter is asserted to be the same, if the number of
units of force it counter-balances is the same. The validity of the
inference, then, depends entirely upon _the constancy of the units of
force_. If the force with which the portion of metal called a
grain-weight, tends towards the Earth, has varied, the inference that
Matter is indestructible is vicious. Everything turns on the truth of
the assumption that the gravitation of the weights is persistent; and of
this no proof is assigned, or can be assigned.       In the reasonings
of the astronomer there is a like implication; from which we may draw
the like conclusion. No problem in celestial physics can be solved
without the assumption of some unit of force. This unit need not be,
like a pound or a ton, one of which we can take direct cognizance. It is
requisite only that the mutual attraction which some two of the bodies
concerned exercise at a given distance, should be taken as one; so that
the other attractions with which the problem deals, may be expressed in
terms of this one. Such unit being assumed, the momenta which the
respective masses will generate in each other in a given time, are
calculated; and compounding these with the momenta they already have,
their places at the end of that time are predicted. The prediction is
verified by observation. From this, either of two inferences may be
drawn. Assuming the masses to be fixed, the motion may be proved to be
undiminished; or assuming the motion to be undiminished, the masses may
be proved to be fixed. But the validity of one or other inference,
depends wholly on the truth of the assumption that the unit of force is
unchanged. Let it be supposed that the gravitation of the two bodies
towards each other at the given distance, has varied, and the
conclusions drawn are no longer true.       Nor is it only in their
concrete data that the reasonings of terrestrial and celestial physics
assume the persistence of Force. They equally assume it in the abstract
principle with which they set out; and which they repeat in
justification of every step. The equality of action and reaction is
taken for granted from beginning to end of either argument; and to
assert that action and reaction are equal and opposite, is to assert
that Force is persistent. The allegation really amounts to this, that
there cannot be an isolated force beginning and ending in nothing; but
that any force manifested, implies an equal antecedent force from which
it is derived, and against which it is a reaction. Further, that the
force so originating cannot disappear without result; but must expend
itself in some other manifestation of force, which, in being produced,
becomes its reaction; and so on continually. Clearly then the
persistence of Force is an ultimate truth of which no inductive proof is

We might indeed be certain, even in the absence of any such analysis as
the foregoing, that there must exist some principle which, as being the
basis of science, cannot be established by science. All reasoned-out
conclusions whatever, must rest on some postulate. As before shown (§
23), we cannot go on merging derivative truths in those wider and wider
truths from which they are derived, without reaching at last a widest
truth which can be merged in no other, or derived from no other. And
whoever contemplates the relation in which it stands to the truths of
science in general, will see that this truth transcending demonstration
is the persistence of Force.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 74. But now what is the force of which we predicate persistence? It is
not the force we are immediately conscious of in our own muscular
efforts; for this does not persist. As soon as an outstretched limb is
relaxed, the sense of tension disappears. True, we assert that in the
stone thrown or in the weight lifted, is exhibited the effect of this
muscular tension; and that the force which has ceased to be present in
our consciousness, exists elsewhere. But it does not exist elsewhere
under any form cognizable by us. It was proved (§ 18), that though, on
raising an object from the ground, we are obliged to think of its
downward pull as equal and opposite to our upward pull; and though it is
impossible to represent these pulls as equal without representing them
as like in kind; yet, since their likeness in kind would imply in the
object a sensation of muscular tension, which cannot be ascribed to it,
we are compelled to admit that force as it exists out of our
consciousness, is not force as we know it. Hence the force of which we
assert persistence is that Absolute Force of which we are indefinitely
conscious as the necessary correlate of the force we know.       Thus,
by the persistence of Force, we really mean the persistence of some
Power which transcends our knowledge and conception. The manifestations,
as occurring either in ourselves or outside of us, do not persist; but
that which persists is the Unknown Cause of these manifestations. In
other words, asserting the persistence of Force, is but another mode of
asserting an Unconditioned Reality, without beginning or end.

Thus, quite unexpectedly, we come down once more to that ultimate truth
in which, as we saw, Religion and Science coalesce. On examining the
data underlying a rational theory of Evolution, we find them all at last
resolvable into that datum without which consciousness was shown to be
impossible—the continued existence of an Unknowable as the necessary
correlative of the Knowable. Once commenced, the analysis of the truths
taken for granted in scientific inquiries, inevitably brings us down to
this deepest truth, in which Common Sense and Philosophy are reconciled.

The arguments and conclusion contained in this and the foregoing three
chapters, supply, indeed, the complement to the arguments and conclusion
set forth in the preceding part of this work. It was there first shown,
by an examination of our ultimate religious ideas, that knowledge of
Absolute Being is impossible; and the impossibility of knowing Absolute
Being, was also shown by an examination of our ultimate scientific
ideas. In a succeeding chapter a subjective analysis proved, that while,
by the very conditions of thought, we are prevented from knowing
anything beyond relative being; yet that by these very same conditions
of thought, an indefinite consciousness of Absolute Being is
necessitated. And here, by objective analysis, we similarly find that
the axiomatic truths of physical science, unavoidably postulate Absolute
Being as their common basis.

Thus there is even a more profound agreement between Religion and
Science than was before shown. Not only are they wholly at one on the
negative proposition that the Non-relative cannot be known; but they are
wholly at one on the positive proposition that the Non-relative is an
actual existence. Both are obliged by the demonstrated untenability of
their supposed cognitions, to confess that the Ultimate Reality is
incognizable; and yet both are obliged to assert the existence of an
Ultimate Reality. Without this, Religion has no subject-matter; and
without this, Science, subjective and objective, lacks its indispensable
datum. We cannot construct a theory of internal phenomena without
postulating Absolute Being; and unless we postulate Absolute Being, or
being which persists, we cannot construct a theory of external

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 75. A few words must be added respecting the nature of this
fundamental consciousness. Already it has been looked at from several
points of view; and here it seems needful finally to sum up the results.

In Chapter IV. we saw that the Unknown Power of which neither beginning
nor end can be conceived, is present to us as that unshaped material of
consciousness which is shaped afresh in every thought. Our inability to
conceive its limitation, is thus simply the obverse of our inability to
put an end to the thinking subject while still continuing to think.
      In the two foregoing chapters, we contemplated this fundamental
truth under another aspect. The indestructibility of Matter and the
continuity of Motion, we saw to be really corollaries from the
impossibility of establishing in thought a relation between something
and nothing. What we call the establishment of a relation in thought, is
the passage of the substance of consciousness, from one form into
another. To think of something becoming nothing, would involve that this
substance of consciousness having just existed under a given form,
should next assume no form; or should cease to be consciousness. And
thus our inability to conceive Matter and Motion destroyed, is our
inability to suppress consciousness itself.       What, in these two
foregoing chapters, was proved true of Matter and Motion, is, _à
fortiori_, true of the Force out of which our conceptions of Matter and
Motion are built. Indeed, as we saw, that which is indestructible in
matter and motion, is the force they present. And, as we here see, the
truth that Force is indestructible, is the obverse of the truth that the
Unknown Cause of the changes going on in consciousness is
indestructible. So that the persistence of consciousness, constitutes at
once our immediate experience of the persistence of Force, and imposes
on us the necessity we are under of asserting its persistence.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 76. Thus, in all ways there is forced on us the fact, that here is an
ultimate truth given in our mental constitution. It is not only a datum
of science, but it is a datum which even the assertion of our nescience
involves. Whoever alleges that the inability to conceive a beginning or
end of the Universe, is a _negative_ result of our mental structure,
cannot deny that our consciousness of the Universe as persistent, is a
_positive_ result of our mental structure. And this persistence of the
Universe, is the persistence of that Unknown Cause, Power, or Force,
which is manifested to us through all phenomena.

Such then is the foundation of any possible system of positive
knowledge. Deeper than demonstration—deeper even than definite
cognition—deep as the very nature of mind, is the postulate at which we
have arrived. Its authority transcends all other whatever; for not only
is it given in the constitution of our own consciousness, but it is
impossible to imagine a consciousness so constituted as not to give it.
Thought, involving simply the establishment of relations, may be readily
conceived to go on while yet these relations have not been organized
into the abstracts we call Space and Time; and so there is a conceivable
kind of consciousness which does not contain the truths, commonly called
_à priori_, involved in the organization of these forms of relations.
But thought cannot be conceived to go on without some element between
which its relations may be established; and so there is no conceivable
kind of consciousness which does not imply continued existence as its
datum. Consciousness without this or that particular _form_ is possible;
but consciousness without _contents_ is impossible.

The sole truth which transcends experience by underlying it, is thus the
persistence of Force. This being the basis of experience, must be the
basis of any scientific organization of experiences. To this an ultimate
analysis brings us down; and on this a rational synthesis must build up.


Footnote 12:

  Some two years ago, I expressed to my friend Professor Huxley, my
  dissatisfaction with the current expression—“Conservation of Force;”
  assigning as reasons, first, that the word “conservation” implies a
  conserver and an act of conserving; and, second, that it does not
  imply the existence of the force before that particular manifestation
  of it with which we commence. In place of “conservation,” Professor
  Huxley suggested _persistence_. This entirely meets the first of the
  two objections; and though the second may be urged against it, no
  other word less faulty in this respect can be found. In the absence of
  a word specially coined for the purpose, it seems the best; and as
  such I adopt it.

                              CHAPTER IX.

§ 77. When, to the unaided senses, Science began to add supplementary
senses in the shape of measuring instruments, men began to perceive
various phenomena which eyes and fingers could not distinguish. Of known
forms of force, minuter manifestations became appreciable; and forms of
force before unknown were rendered cognizable and measurable. Where
forces had apparently ended in nothing, and had been carelessly supposed
to have actually done so, instrumental observation proved that effects
had in every instance been produced: the forces reappearing in new
shapes. Hence there has at length arisen the inquiry whether the force
displayed in each surrounding change, does not in the act of expenditure
undergo metamorphosis into an equivalent amount of some other force or
forces. And to this inquiry experiment is giving an affirmative answer,
which becomes day by day more decisive. Grove, Helmholtz, and Meyer, are
more than any others to be credited with the clear enunciation of this
doctrine. Let us glance at the evidence on which it rests.

Motion, wherever we can directly trace its genesis, we find to pre-exist
as some other mode of force. Our own voluntary acts have always certain
sensations of muscular tension as their antecedents. When, as in letting
fall a relaxed limb, we are conscious of a bodily movement requiring no
effort, the explanation is that the effort was exerted in raising the
limb to the position whence it fell. In this case, as in the case of an
inanimate body descending to the Earth, the force accumulated by the
downward motion is just equal to the force previously expended in the
act of elevation.       Conversely, Motion that is arrested produces,
under different circumstances, heat, electricity, magnetism, light. From
the warming of the hands by rubbing them together, up to the ignition of
a railway-brake by intense friction—from the lighting of detonating
powder by percussion, up to the setting on fire a block of wood by a few
blows from a steam-hammer; we have abundant instances in which heat
arises as Motion ceases. It is uniformly found, that the heat generated
is great in proportion as the Motion lost is great; and that to diminish
the arrest of motion, by diminishing the friction, is to diminish the
quantity of heat evolved. The production of electricity by Motion is
illustrated equally in the boy’s experiment with rubbed sealing-wax, in
the common electrical machine, and in the apparatus for exciting
electricity by the escape of steam. Wherever there is friction between
heterogeneous bodies, electrical disturbance is one of the consequences.
Magnetism may result from Motion either immediately, as through
percussion on iron, or mediately as through electric currents previously
generated by Motion. And similarly, Motion may create light; either
directly, as in the minute incandescent fragments struck off by violent
collisions, or indirectly, as through the electric spark. “Lastly,
Motion may be again reproduced by the forces which have emanated from
Motion; thus, the divergence of the electrometer, the revolution of the
electrical wheel, the deflection of the magnetic needle, are, when
resulting from frictional electricity, palpable movements reproduced by
the intermediate modes of force, which have themselves been originated
by motion.”

That mode of force which we distinguish as Heat, is now generally
regarded by physicists as molecular motion—not motion as displayed in
the changed relations of sensible masses to each other, but as occurring
among the units of which such sensible masses consist. If we cease to
think of Heat as that particular sensation given to us by bodies in
certain conditions, and consider the phenomena otherwise presented by
these bodies, we find that motion, either in them or in surrounding
bodies, or in both, is all that we have evidence of. With one or two
exceptions which are obstacles to every theory of Heat, heated bodies
expand; and expansion can be interpreted only as a movement of the units
of a mass in relation to each other. That so-called radiation through
which anything of higher temperature than things around it, communicates
Heat to them, is clearly a species of motion. Moreover, the evidence
afforded by the thermometer that Heat thus diffuses itself, is simply a
movement caused in the mercurial column. And that the molecular motion
which we call Heat, may be transformed into visible motion, familiar
proof is given by the steam-engine; in which “the piston and all its
concomitant masses of matter are moved by the molecular dilatation of
the vapour of water.”       Where Heat is absorbed without apparent
result, modern inquiries show that decided though unobtrusive changes
are produced: as on glass, the molecular state of which is so far
changed by heat, that a polarized ray of light passing through it
becomes visible, which it does not do when the glass is cold; or as on
polished metallic surfaces, which are so far changed in structure by
thermal radiations from objects very close to them, as to retain
permanent impressions of such objects. The transformation of Heat into
electricity, occurs when dissimilar metals touching each other are
heated at the point of contact: electric currents being so induced.
Solid, incombustible matter introduced into heated gas, as lime into the
oxyhydrogen flame, becomes incandescent; and so exhibits the conversion
of Heat into light. The production of magnetism by Heat, if it cannot be
proved to take place directly, may be proved to take place indirectly
through the medium of electricity. And through the same medium may be
established the correlation of Heat and chemical affinity—a correlation
which is indeed implied by the marked influence that Heat exercises on
chemical composition and decomposition.

The transformations of Electricity into other modes of force, are still
more clearly demonstrable. Produced by the motion of heterogeneous
bodies in contact, Electricity, through attractions and repulsions, will
immediately reproduce motion in neighbouring bodies. Now a current of
Electricity generates magnetism in a bar of soft iron; and now the
rotation of a permanent magnet generates currents of Electricity. Here
we have a battery in which from the play of chemical affinities an
electric current results; and there, in the adjacent cell, we have an
electric current effecting chemical decomposition. In the conducting
wire we witness the transformation of Electricity into heat; while in
electric sparks and in the voltaic arc we see light produced. Atomic
arrangement, too, is changed by Electricity: as instance the transfer of
matter from pole to pole of a battery; the fractures caused by the
disruptive discharge; the formation of crystals under the influence of
electric currents. And whether, conversely, Electricity be or be not
directly generated by re-arrangement of the atoms of matter, it is at
any rate indirectly so generated through the intermediation of

How from Magnetism the other physical forces result, must be next
briefly noted—briefly, because in each successive case the illustrations
become in great part the obverse forms of those before given. That
Magnetism produces motion is the ordinary evidence we have of its
existence. In the magneto-electric machine we see a rotating magnet
evolving electricity. And the electricity so evolved may immediately
after exhibit itself as heat, light, or chemical affinity. Faraday’s
discovery of the effect of Magnetism on polarized light, as well as the
discovery that change of magnetic state is accompanied by heat, point to
further like connexions. Lastly, various experiments show that the
magnetization of a body alters its internal structure; and that
conversely, the alteration of its internal structure, as by mechanical
strain, alters its magnetic condition.

Improbable as it seemed, it is now proved that from Light also may
proceed the like variety of agencies. The solar rays change the atomic
arrangements of particular crystals. Certain mixed gases, which do not
otherwise combine, combine in the sunshine. In some compounds Light
produces decomposition. Since the inquiries of photographers have drawn
attention to the subject, it has been shown that “a vast number of
substances, both elementary and compound, are notably affected by this
agent, even those apparently the most unalterable in character, such as
metals.” And when a daguerreotype plate is connected with a proper
apparatus “we get chemical action on the plate, electricity circulating
through the wires, magnetism in the coil, heat in the helix, and motion
in the needles.”

The genesis of all other modes of force from Chemical Action, scarcely
needs pointing out. The ordinary accompaniment of chemical combination
is heat; and when the affinities are intense, light also is, under fit
conditions, produced. Chemical changes involving alteration of bulk,
cause motion, both in the combining elements and in adjacent masses of
matter: witness the propulsion of a bullet by the explosion of
gunpowder. In the galvanic battery we see electricity resulting from
chemical composition and decomposition. While through the medium of this
electricity, Chemical Action produces magnetism.

These facts, the larger part of which are culled from Mr. Grove’s work
on “The Correlation of Physical Forces,” show us that each force is
transformable, directly or indirectly, into the others. In every change
Force undergoes metamorphosis; and from the new form or forms it
assumes, may subsequently result either the previous one or any of the
rest, in endless variety of order and combination. It is further
becoming manifest that the physical forces stand not simply in
qualitative correlations with each other, but also in quantitative
correlations. Besides proving that one mode of force may be transformed
into another mode, experiments illustrate the truth that from a definite
amount of one, definite amounts of others always arise. Ordinarily it is
indeed difficult to show this; since it mostly happens that the
transformation of any force is not into some one of the rest but into
several of them: the proportions being determined by the ever-varying
conditions. But in certain cases, positive results have been reached.
Mr. Joule has ascertained that the fall of 772 lbs. through one foot,
will raise the temperature of a pound of water one degree of Fahrenheit.
The investigations of Dulong, Petit and Neumann, have proved a relation
in amount between the affinities of combining bodies and the heat
evolved during their combination. Between chemical action and voltaic
electricity, a quantitative connexion has also been established:
Faraday’s experiments implying that a specific measure of electricity is
disengaged by a given measure of chemical action. The well-determined
relations between the quantities of heat generated and water turned into
steam, or still better the known expansion produced in steam by each
additional degree of heat, may be cited in further evidence. Whence it
is no longer doubted that among the several forms which force assumes,
the quantitative relations are fixed. The conclusion tacitly agreed on
by physicists, is, not only that the physical forces undergo
metamorphoses, but that a certain amount of each is the constant
equivalent of certain amounts of the others.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 78. Throughout Evolution under all its phases, this truth of course
invariably holds. Every successive change or group of changes forming
part of it, is of necessity limited by the conditions thus implied. The
forces which any step in Evolution exhibits, must be affiliable on the
like or unlike forces previously existing; while from the forces so
generated must thereafter be derived others more or less transformed.
And besides recognizing the forces at any time existing, as necessarily
linked with those preceding and succeeding them, we must also recognize
the amounts of these forces successively manifested as determinate,—as
necessarily producing such and such quantities of results, and as
necessarily limited to those quantities.

Involved as are the phenomena of Evolution, it is not to be expected
that a _definite_ quantitative relation can in each case, or indeed in
any case, be shown between the forces expended in successive phases. We
have not adequate data for this; and probably shall never have them. The
antecedents of the simpler forms of Evolution, belong to a remote past
respecting which we can have nothing but inferential knowledge; while
the antecedents of the only kind of Evolution which is traceable from
beginning to end (namely, that of individual organisms) are too complex
to be dealt with by exact methods. Hence we cannot hope to establish
_equivalence_ among the successive manifestations of force which each
order of Evolution affords. The most we can hope is to establish a
qualitative correlation that is indefinitely quantitative—quantitative
in so far as involving something like a due proportion between causes
and effects. If this can be done, however, some progress will be made
towards the solution of our problem. Though it may be beyond our power
to show a measurable relation between the force or group of forces which
any phase of Evolution displays, and the force or group of forces
immediately succeeding it; yet if we can show that there always are
antecedent forces, and that the effects they produce always become the
antecedents of further ones—if while unable to calculate how much of
each change will be produced, we can prove that a change of that kind
was necessitated—if we can discern even the vaguest correspondence
between the amount of such change and the amount of the pre-existing
force; we shall advance a step towards interpreting the transformation
of the simple into the complex.

With the view of attempting this, let us now reconsider the different
types of Evolution awhile since delineated: taking them in the same
order as before.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 79. On contemplating our Solar System the first fact which strikes us,
is, that all its members are in motion; and that their motion is of a
two-fold, or rather of a three-fold, kind. Each planet and satellite has
a movement of rotation and a movement of translation; besides the
movement through space which all have in common with their rotating
primary. Whence this unceasing change of place?

The hypothesis of Evolution supplies us with an answer. Impossible as it
is to assign a reason for the pre-existence of matter in the diffused
form supposed; yet assuming its pre-existence in that form, we have in
the gravitation of its parts a cause of motion adequate to the results.
So far too as the evidence carries us, we can perceive some quantitative
relation between the motions produced, and the gravitative forces
expended in producing them. The planets formed from that matter which
has travelled the shortest distance towards the common centre of
gravity, have the smallest velocities: the uniform law being that in
advancing from the outermost to the innermost planets, the rate of
orbital motion progressively increases. It may indeed be remarked that
this is explicable on the teleological hypothesis; since it is a
condition to equilibrium. But without dwelling on the fact that this is
beside the question, it will suffice to point out that the like cannot
be said of the planetary rotations. No such final cause can be assigned
for the rapid axial movement of Jupiter and Saturn, or the slow axial
movement of Mercury. But if in pursuance of the doctrine of correlation
we look for the antecedents of these gyrations which all planets
exhibit, the theory of Evolution furnishes us with equivalent ones; and
ones which bear manifest quantitative relations to the motions
displayed. For the planets that turn on their axes with extreme
rapidity, are those having great masses and large orbits—those, that is,
of which the once diffused elements moved to their centres of gravity
through immense spaces, and so acquired high velocities. While,
conversely, there has resulted the smallest axial movement where the
orbit and the mass are both the smallest.

“But what,” it may be asked, “has in such case become of all that motion
which brought about the aggregation of this diffused matter into solid
bodies?” The rotation of each body can be but a residuary result of
concentration—a result due to the imperfect balancing of gravitative
movements from opposite points towards the common centre. Such
gravitative movements from opposite points must in great measure destroy
each other. What then has become of these mutually-destroyed motions?
The answer which the doctrine of correlation suggests is—they must have
been radiated in the form of heat and light. And this answer the
evidence, so far as it goes, confirms. Apart from any speculation
respecting the genesis of the solar system, the inquiries of geologists
lead to the conclusion that the heat of the Earth’s still molten nucleus
is but a remnant of the heat which once made molten the entire Earth.
The mountainous surfaces of the Moon and of Venus (which alone are near
enough to be scrutinized), indicating, as they do, crusts that have,
like our own, been corrugated by contraction, imply that these bodies
too have undergone refrigeration—imply in each of them a primitive heat,
such as the hypothesis necessitates. Lastly, we have in the Sun a
still-continued production of this heat and light, which must result
from the arrest of diffused matter moving towards a common centre of
gravity.       Here also, as before, a quantitative relation is
traceable. Among the bodies which make up the Solar System, those
containing comparatively small amounts of matter whose centripetal
motion has been destroyed, have already lost nearly all the produced
heat: a result which their relatively larger surfaces have facilitated.
But the Sun, a thousand times as great in mass as the largest planet,
and having therefore to give off an enormously greater quantity of heat
and light due to arrest of moving matter, is still radiating with great

Thus we see that when, in pursuance of the doctrine of correlation, we
ask whence come the forces which our Solar System displays, the
hypothesis of Evolution gives us a proximate explanation. If the Solar
System once existed in a state of indefinite, incoherent homogeneity,
and has progressed to its present state of definite, coherent
heterogeneity; then the Motion, Heat, and Light now exhibited by its
members, are interpretable as the correlatives of pre-existing forces;
and between them and their antecedents we may discern relations that are
not only qualitative, but also rudely quantitative. How matter came to
exist under the form assumed, is a mystery which we must regard as
ultimate. But grant such a previous form of existence, and the
hypothesis of Evolution interpreted by the laws of correlation, explains
for us the forces as we now see them.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 80. If we inquire the origin of those forces which have wrought the
surface of our planet into its present shape, we find them traceable to
the same primordial source as that just assigned. Assuming the solar
system to have been evolved, then geologic changes are either direct or
indirect results of the unexpended heat caused by nebular condensation.
These changes are commonly divided into igneous and aqueous:—heads under
which we may most conveniently consider them.

All those periodic disturbances which we call earthquakes, all those
elevations and subsidences which they severally produce, all those
accumulated effects of many such elevations and subsidences exhibited in
ocean-basins, islands, continents, table-lands, mountain-chains, and all
those formations which are distinguished as volcanic, geologists now
regard as modifications of the Earth’s crust produced by the
still-molten matter occupying its interior. However untenable may be the
details of M. Elie de Beaumont’s theory, there is good reason to accept
the general proposition that the disruptions and variations of level
which take place at intervals on the terrestrial surface, are due to the
progressive collapse of the Earth’s solid envelope upon its cooling and
contracting nucleus. Even supposing that volcanic eruptions, extrusions
of igneous rock, and upheaved mountain-chains, could be otherwise
satisfactorily accounted for, which they cannot; it would be impossible
otherwise to account for those wide-spread elevations and depressions
whence continents and oceans result. The conclusion to be drawn is,
then, that the forces displayed in these so-called igneous changes, are
derived positively or negatively from the unexpended heat of the Earth’s
interior. Such phenomena as the fusion or agglutination of sedimentary
deposits, the warming of springs, the sublimation of metals into the
fissures where we find them as ores, may be regarded as positive results
of this residuary heat; while fractures of strata and alterations of
level are its negative results, since they ensue on its escape. The
original cause of all these effects is still, however, as it has been
from the first, the gravitating movement of the Earth’s matter towards
the Earth’s centre; seeing that to this is due both the internal heat
itself and the collapse which takes place as it is radiated into space.

When we inquire under what forms previously existed the force which
works out the geological changes classed as aqueous, the answer is less
obvious. The effects of rain, of rivers, of winds, of waves, of marine
currents, do not manifestly proceed from one general source. Analysis,
nevertheless, proves to us that they have a common genesis. If we
ask,—Whence comes the power of the river-current, bearing sediment down
to the sea? the reply is,—The gravitation of water throughout the tract
which this river drains. If we ask,—How came the water to be dispersed
over this tract? the reply is,—It fell in the shape of rain. If we
ask,—How came the rain to be in that position whence it fell? the reply
is,—The vapour from which it was condensed was drifted there by the
winds. If we ask,—How came this vapour to be at that elevation? the
reply is,—It was raised by evaporation. And if we ask,—What force thus
raised it? the reply is,—The sun’s heat. Just that amount of gravitative
force which the sun’s heat overcame in raising the atoms of water, is
given out again in the fall of those atoms to the same level. Hence the
denudations effected by rain and rivers, during the descent of this
condensed vapour to the level of the sea, are indirectly due to the
sun’s heat. Similarly with the winds that transport the vapours hither
and thither. Consequent as atmospheric currents are on differences of
temperature (either general, as between the equatorial and polar
regions, or special as between tracts of the Earth’s surface of unlike
physical characters) all such currents are due to that source from which
the varying quantities of heat proceed. And if the winds thus originate,
so too do the waves raised by them on the sea’s surface. Whence it
follows that whatever changes waves produce—the wearing away of shores,
the breaking down of rocks into shingle, sand, and mud—are also
traceable to the solar rays as their primary cause. The same may be said
of ocean-currents. Generated as the larger ones are by the excess of
heat which the ocean in tropical climates continually acquires from the
Sun; and generated as the smaller ones are by minor local differences in
the quantities of solar heat absorbed; it follows that the distribution
of sediment and other geological processes which these marine currents
effect, are affiliable upon the force which the sun radiates. The only
aqueous agency otherwise originating is that of the tides—an agency
which, equally with the others, is traceable to unexpended astronomical
motion. But making allowance for the changes which this works, we reach
the conclusion that the slow wearing down of continents and gradual
filling up of seas, by rain, rivers, winds, waves, and ocean-streams,
are the indirect effects of solar heat.

Thus the implication forced on us by the doctrine of correlation, that
the forces which have moulded and re-moulded the Earth’s crust must have
pre-existed under some other shape, is quite in conformity with the
theory of Evolution; since this pre-supposes certain forces that are
both adequate to the results, and cannot be expended without producing
the results. We see that while the geological changes classed as
igneous, result from the still-progressing motion of the Earth’s
substance to its centre of gravity; the antagonistic changes classed as
aqueous, result from the still-progressing motion of the Sun’s substance
towards its centre of gravity—a motion which, transformed into heat and
radiated to us, is here re-transformed, directly into motions of the
gaseous and liquid matters on the Earth’s surface, and indirectly into
motions of the solid matters.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 81. That the forces exhibited in vital actions, vegetal and animal,
are similarly derived, is so obvious a deduction from the facts of
organic chemistry, that it will meet with ready acceptance from readers
acquainted with these facts. Let us note first the physiological
generalizations; and then the generalizations which they necessitate.

Plant-life is all directly or indirectly dependant on the heat and light
of the sun—directly dependant in the immense majority of plants, and
indirectly dependant in plants which, as the fungi, flourish in the
dark: since these, growing as they do at the expense of decaying organic
matter, mediately draw their forces from the same original source. Each
plant owes the carbon and hydrogen of which it mainly consists, to the
carbonic acid and water contained in the surrounding air and earth. The
carbonic acid and water must, however, be decomposed before their carbon
and hydrogen can be assimilated. To overcome the powerful affinities
which hold their elements together, requires the expenditure of force;
and this force is supplied by the Sun. In what manner the decomposition
is effected we do not know. But we know that when, under fit conditions,
plants are exposed to the Sun’s rays, they give off oxygen and
accumulate carbon and hydrogen. In darkness this process ceases. It
ceases too when the quantities of light and heat received are greatly
reduced, as in winter. Conversely, it is active when the light and heat
are great, as in summer. And the like relation is seen in the fact that
while plant-life is luxuriant in the tropics, it diminishes in temperate
regions, and disappears as we approach the poles. Thus the irresistible
inference is, that the forces by which plants abstract the materials of
their tissues from surrounding inorganic compounds—the forces by which
they grow and carry on their functions, are forces that previously
existed as solar radiations.

That animal life is immediately or mediately dependant on vegetal life
is a familiar truth; and that, in the main, the processes of animal life
are opposite to those of vegetal life is a truth long current among men
of science. Chemically considered, vegetal life is chiefly a process of
de-oxidation, and animal life chiefly a process of oxidation: chiefly,
we must say, because in so far as plants are expenders of force for the
purposes of organization, they are oxidizers (as is shown by the
exhalation of carbonic acid during the night); and animals, in some of
their minor processes, are probably de-oxidizers. But with this
qualification, the general truth is that while the plant, decomposing
carbonic acid and water and liberating oxygen, builds up the detained
carbon and hydrogen (along with a little nitrogen and small quantities
of other elements elsewhere obtained) into branches, leaves, and seeds;
the animal, consuming these branches, leaves, and seeds, and absorbing
oxygen, recomposes carbonic acid and water, together with certain
nitrogenous compounds in minor amounts. And while the decomposition
effected by the plant, is at the expense of certain forces emanating
from the sun, which are employed in overcoming the affinities of carbon
and hydrogen for the oxygen united with them; the recomposition effected
by the animal, is at the profit of these forces, which are liberated
during the combination of such elements. Thus the movements, internal
and external, of the animal, are re-appearances in new forms of a power
absorbed by the plant under the shape of light and heat. Just as, in the
manner above explained, the solar forces expended in raising vapour from
the sea’s surface, are given out again in the fall of rain and rivers to
the same level, and in the accompanying transfer of solid matters; so,
the solar forces that in the plant raised certain chemical elements to a
condition of unstable equilibrium, are given out again in the actions of
the animal during the fall of these elements to a condition of stable

Besides thus tracing a qualitative correlation between these two great
orders of organic activity, as well as between both of them and
inorganic agencies, we may rudely trace a quantitative correlation.
Where vegetal life is abundant, we usually find abundant animal life;
and as we advance from torrid to temperate and frigid climates, the two
decrease together. Speaking generally, the animals of each class reach a
larger size in regions where vegetation is abundant, than in those where
it is sparse. And further, there is a tolerably apparent connexion
between the quantity of energy which each species of animal expends, and
the quantity of force which the nutriment it absorbs gives out during

Certain phenomena of development in both plants and animals, illustrate
still more directly the ultimate truth enunciated. Pursuing the
suggestion made by Mr. Grove, in the first edition of his work on the
“Correlation of the Physical Forces,” that a connexion probably exists
between the forces classed as vital and those classed as physical, Dr.
Carpenter has pointed out that such a connexion is clearly exhibited
during incubation. The transformation of the unorganized contents of an
egg into the organized chick, is altogether a question of heat: withhold
heat and the process does not commence; supply heat and it goes on while
the temperature is maintained, but ceases when the egg is allowed to
cool. The developmental changes can be completed only by keeping the
temperature with tolerable constancy at a definite height for a definite
time; that is—only by supplying a definite quantity of heat. In the
metamorphoses of insects we may discern parallel facts. Experiments show
not only that the hatching of their eggs is determined by temperature,
but also that the evolution of the pupa into the imago is similarly
determined; and may be immensely accelerated or retarded according as
heat is artificially supplied or withheld. It will suffice just to add
that the germination of plants presents like relations of cause and
effect—relations so similar that detail is superfluous.

Thus then the various changes exhibited to us by the organic creation,
whether considered as a whole, or in its two great divisions, or in its
individual members, conform, so far as we can ascertain, to the law of
correlation. Where, as in the transformation of an egg into a chick, we
can investigate the phenomena apart from all complications, we find that
the re-arrangement of parts which constitutes evolution, involves
expenditure of a pre-existing force. Where it is not, as in the egg or
the chrysalis, merely the change of a fixed quantity of matter into a
new shape, but where, as in the growing plant or animal, we have an
incorporation of matter existing outside, there is still a pre-existing
external force at the cost of which this incorporation is effected. And
where, as in the higher division of organisms, there remain over and
above the forces expended in organization, certain surplus forces
expended in movement, these too are indirectly derived from this same
pre-existing external force.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 82. Even after all that has been said in the foregoing part of this
work, many will be alarmed by the assertion, that the forces which we
distinguish as mental, come within the same generalization. Yet there is
no alternative but to make this assertion: the facts which justify, or
rather which necessitate it, being abundant and conspicuous. They fall
into the following groups.

All impressions from moment to moment made on our organs of sense, stand
in direct correlation with physical forces existing externally. The
modes of consciousness called pressure, motion, sound, light, heat, are
effects produced in us by agencies which, as otherwise expended, crush
or fracture pieces of matter, generate vibrations in surrounding
objects, cause chemical combinations, and reduce substances from a solid
to a liquid form. Hence if we regard the changes of relative position,
of aggregation, or of chemical state, thus arising, as being transformed
manifestations of the agencies from which they arise; so must we regard
the sensations which such agencies produce in us, as new forms of the
forces producing them.       Any hesitation to admit that, between the
physical forces and the sensations there exists a correlation like that
between the physical forces themselves, must disappear on remembering
how the one correlation, like the other, is not qualitative only but
quantitative. Masses of matter which, by scales or dynamometer, are
shown to differ greatly in weight, differ as greatly in the feelings of
pressure they produce on our bodies. In arresting moving objects, the
strains we are conscious of are proportionate to the momenta of such
objects as otherwise measured. Under like conditions the impressions of
sounds given to us by vibrating strings, bells, or columns of air, are
found to vary in strength with the amount of force applied. Fluids or
solids proved to be markedly contrasted in temperature by the different
degrees of expansion they produce in the mercurial column, produce in us
correspondingly different degrees of the sensation of heat. And
similarly unlike intensities in our impressions of light, answer to
unlike effects as measured by photometers.

Besides the correlation and equivalence between external physical
forces, and the mental forces generated by them in us under the form of
sensations, there is a correlation and equivalence between sensations
and those physical forces which, in the shape of bodily actions, result
from them. The feelings we distinguish as light, heat, sound, odour,
taste, pressure, &.c, do not die away without immediate results; but are
invariably followed by other manifestations of force. In addition to the
excitements of secreting organs, that are in some cases traceable, there
arises a contraction of the involuntary muscles, or of the voluntary
muscles, or of both. Sensations increase the action of the
heart—slightly when they are slight; markedly when they are marked; and
recent physiological inquiries imply not only that contraction of the
heart is excited by every sensation, but also that the muscular fibres
throughout the whole, vascular system, are at the same time more or less
contracted. The respiratory muscles, too, are stimulated into greater
activity by sensations. The rate of breathing is visibly and audibly
augmented both by pleasurable and painful impressions on the nerves,
when these reach any intensity. It has even of late been shown that
inspiration becomes more frequent on transition from darkness into
sunshine,—a result probably due to the increased amount of direct and
indirect nervous stimulation involved. When the quantity of sensation is
great, it generates contractions of the voluntary muscles, as well as of
the involuntary ones. Unusual excitement of the nerves of touch, as by
tickling, is followed by almost incontrollable movements of the limbs.
Violent pains cause violent struggles. The start that succeeds a loud
sound, the wry face produced by the taste of anything extremely
disagreeable, the jerk with which the hand or foot is snatched out of
water that is very hot, are instances of the transformation of feeling:
into motion; and in these cases, as in all others, it is manifest that
the quantity of bodily action is proportionate to the quantity of
sensation. Even where from pride there is a suppression of the screams
and groans expressive of great pain (also indirect results of muscular
contraction), we may still see in the clenching of the hands, the
knitting of the brows, and the setting of the teeth, that the bodily
actions developed are as great, though less obtrusive in their results.
      If we take emotions instead of sensations, we find the correlation
and equivalence equally manifest. Not only are the modes of
consciousness directly produced in us by physical forces,
re-transformable into physical forces under the form of muscular motions
and the changes they initiate; but the like is true of those modes of
consciousness which are not directly produced in us by the physical
forces. Emotions of moderate intensity, like sensations of moderate
intensity, generate little beyond excitement of the heart and vascular
system, joined sometimes with increased action of glandular organs. But
as the emotions rise in strength, the muscles of the face, body, and
limbs, begin to move. Of examples may be mentioned the frowns, dilated
nostrils, and stampings of anger; the contracted brows, and wrung hands,
of grief; the smiles and leaps of joy; and the frantic struggles of
terror or despair. Passing over certain apparent, but only apparent,
exceptions, we see that whatever be the kind of emotion, there is a
manifest relation between its amount, and the amount of muscular action
induced: alike from the erect carriage and elastic step of exhilaration,
up to the dancings of immense delight, and from the fidgetiness of
impatience up to the almost convulsive movements accompanying great
mental agony.       To these several orders of evidence must be joined
the further one, that between our feelings and those voluntary motions
into which they are transformed, there comes the sensation of muscular
tension, standing in manifest correlation with both—a correlation that
is distinctly quantitative: the sense of strain varying, other things
equal, directly as the quantity of momentum generated.

“But how,” it may be asked, “can we interpret by the law of correlation
the genesis of those thoughts and feelings which, instead of following
external stimuli, arise spontaneously? Between the indignation caused by
an insult, and the loud sounds or violent acts that follow, the alleged
connexion may hold; but whence come the crowd of ideas and the mass of
feelings that expend themselves in these demonstrations? They are
clearly not equivalents of the sensations produced by the words on the
ears; for the same words otherwise arranged, would not have caused them.
The thing said bears to the mental action it excites, much the same
relation that the pulling of a trigger bears to the subsequent
explosion—does not produce the power, but merely liberates it. Whence
then arises this immense amount of nervous energy which a whisper or a
glance may call forth?”       The reply is, that the immediate
correlates of these and other such modes of consciousness, are not to be
found in the agencies acting on us externally, but in certain internal
agencies. The forces called vital, which we have seen to be correlates
of the forces called physical, are the immediate sources of these
thoughts and feelings; and are expended in producing them. The proofs of
this are various. Here are some of them.       It is a conspicuous fact
that mental action is contingent on the presence of a certain nervous
apparatus; and that, greatly obscured as it is by numerous and involved
conditions, a general relation may be traced between the size of this
apparatus and the quantity of mental action as measured by its results.
Further, this apparatus has a particular chemical constitution on which
its activity depends; and there is one element in it between the amount
of which and the amount of function performed, there is an ascertained
connexion: the proportion of phosphorus present in the brain being the
smallest in infancy, old age and idiotcy, and the greatest during the
prime of life.       Note next, that the evolution of thought and
emotion varies, other things equal, with the supply of blood to the
brain. On the one hand, a cessation of the cerebral circulation, from
arrest of the heart’s action, immediately entails unconsciousness. On
the other hand, excess of cerebral circulation (unless it is such as to
cause undue pressure) results in an excitement rising finally to
delirium.       Not the quantity only, but also the condition of the
blood passing through the nervous system, influences the mental
manifestations. The arterial currents must be duly aerated, to produce
the normal amount of cerebration. At the one extreme, we find that if
the blood is not allowed to exchange its carbonic acid for oxygen, there
results asphyxia, with its accompanying stoppage of ideas and feelings.
While at the other extreme, we find that by the inspiration of nitrous
oxide, there is produced an excessive, and indeed irrepressible, nervous
activity.       Besides the connexion between the development of the
mental forces and the presence of sufficient oxygen in the cerebral
arteries, there is a kindred connexion between the development of the
mental forces and the presence in the cerebral arteries of certain other
elements. There must be supplied special materials for the nutrition of
the nervous centres, as well as for their oxidation. And how what we may
call the quantity of consciousness, is, other things equal, determined
by the constituents of the blood, is unmistakably seen in the exaltation
that follows when certain chemical compounds, as alcohol and the
vegeto-alkalies, are added to it. The gentle exhilaration which tea and
coffee create, is familiar to all; and though the gorgeous imaginations
and intense feelings of happiness produced by opium and hashish, have
been experienced by few, (in this country at least,) the testimony of
those who have experienced them is sufficiently conclusive.       Yet
another proof that the genesis of the mental energies is immediately
dependent on chemical change, is afforded by the fact, that the effete
products separated from the blood by the kidneys, vary in character with
the amount of cerebral action. Excessive activity of mind is habitually
accompanied by the excretion of an unusual quantity of the alkaline
phosphates. Conditions of abnormal nervous excitement bring on analogous
effects. And the “peculiar odour of the insane,” implying as it does
morbid products in the perspiration, shows a connexion between insanity
and a special composition of the circulating fluids—a composition which,
whether regarded as cause or consequence, equally implies correlation of
the mental and the physical forces.       Lastly we have to note that
this correlation too, is, so far as we can trace it, quantitative.
Provided the conditions to nervous action are not infringed on, and the
concomitants are the same, there is a tolerably constant ratio between
the amounts of the antecedents and consequents. Within the implied
limits, nervous stimulants and anæsthetics produce effects on the
thoughts and feelings, proportionate to the quantities administered. And
conversely, where the thoughts and feelings form the initial term of the
relation, the degree of reaction on the bodily energies is great, in
proportion as they are great: reaching in extreme cases a total
prostration of physique.

Various classes of facts thus unite to prove that the law of
metamorphosis, which holds among the physical forces, holds equally
between them and the mental forces. Those modes of the Unknowable which
we call motion, heat, light, chemical affinity, &c., are alike
transformable into each other, and into those modes of the Unknowable
which we distinguish as sensation, emotion, thought: these, in their
turns, being directly or indirectly re-transformable into the original
shapes. That no idea or feeling arises, save as a result of some
physical force expended in producing it, is fast becoming a common place
of science; and whoever duly weighs the evidence will see, that nothing
but an overwhelming bias in favour of a pre-conceived theory, can
explain its non-acceptance.       How this metamorphosis takes place—how
a force existing as motion, heat, or light, can become a mode of
consciousness—how it is possible for aerial vibrations to generate the
sensation we call sound, or for the forces liberated by chemical changes
in the brain to give rise to emotion—these are mysteries which it is
impossible to fathom. But they are not profounder mysteries than the
transformations of the physical forces into each other. They are not
more completely beyond our comprehension than the natures of Mind and
Matter. They have simply the same insolubility as all other ultimate
questions. We can learn nothing more than that here is one of the
uniformities in the order of phenomena.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 83. Of course if the law of correlation and equivalence holds of the
forces we class as vital and mental, it must hold also of those which we
class as social. Whatever takes place in a society is due to organic or
inorganic agencies, or to a combination of the two—results either from
the undirected physical forces around, from these physical forces as
directed by men, or from the forces of the men themselves. No change can
occur in its organization, its modes of activity, or the effects it
produces on the face of the Earth, but what proceeds, mediately or
immediately, from these. Let us consider first the correlation between
the phenomena which societies display, and the vital phenomena.

Social power and life varies, other things equal, with the population.
Though different races, differing widely in their fitness for
combination, show us that the forces manifested in a society are not
necessarily proportionate to the number of people; yet we see that under
given conditions, the forces manifested are confined within the limits
which the number of people imposes. A small society, no matter how
superior the character of its members, cannot exhibit the same quantity
of social action as a large one. The production and distribution of
commodities must be on a comparatively small scale. A multitudinous
press, a prolific literature, or a massive political agitation, is not
possible. And there can be but a small total of results in the shape of
art-products and scientific discoveries.       The correlation of the
social with the physical forces through the intermediation of the vital
ones, is, however, most clearly shown in the different amounts of
activity displayed by the same society according as its members are
supplied with different amounts of force from the external world. In the
effects of good and bad harvests, we yearly see this relation
illustrated. A greatly deficient yield of wheat is soon followed by a
diminution of business. Factories are worked half-time, or close
entirely; railway traffic falls; retailers find their sales much
lessened; house-building is almost suspended; and if the scarcity rises
to famine, a thinning of the population still more diminishes the
industrial vivacity. Conversely, an unusually abundant harvest,
occurring under conditions not otherwise unfavourable, both excites the
old producing and distributing agencies and sets up new ones. The
surplus social energy finds vent in speculative enterprises. Capital
seeking investment carries out inventions that have been lying
unutilized. Labour is expended in opening new channels of communication.
There is increased encouragement to those who furnish the luxuries of
life and minister to the æsthetic faculties. There are more marriages,
and a greater rate of increase in population. Thus the social organism
grows larger, more complex, and more active.       When, as happens with
most civilized nations, the whole of the materials for subsistence are
not drawn from the area inhabited, but are partly imported, the people
are still supported by certain harvests elsewhere grown at the expense
of certain physical forces. Our own cotton-spinners and weavers supply
the most conspicuous instance of a section in one nation living, in
great part, on imported commodities, purchased by the labour they expend
on other imported commodities. But though the social activities of
Lancashire are due chiefly to materials not drawn from our own soil,
they are none the less evolved from physical forces elsewhere stored up
in fit forms and then brought here.

If we ask whence come these physical forces from which, through the
intermediation of the vital forces, the social forces arise, the reply
is of course as heretofore—the solar radiations. Based as the life of a
society is on animal and vegetal products; and dependent as these animal
and vegetal products are on the light and heat of the sun; it follows
that the changes going on in societies are effects of forces having a
common origin with those which produce all the other orders of changes
that have been analyzed. Not only is the force expended by the horse
harnessed to the plough, and by the labourer guiding it, derived from
the same reservoir as is the force of the falling cataract and the
roaring hurricane; but to this same reservoir are eventually traceable
those subtler and more complex manifestations of force which humanity,
as socially embodied, evolves. The assertion is a startling one, and by
many will be thought ludicrous; but it is an unavoidable deduction which
cannot here be passed over.

Of the physical forces that are directly transformed into social ones,
the like is to be said. Currents of air and water, which before the use
of steam were the only agencies brought in aid of muscular effort for
the performance of industrial processes, are, as we have seen, generated
by the heat of the sun. And the inanimate power that now, to so vast an
extent, supplements human labour, is similarly derived. The late George
Stephenson was one of the first to recognize the fact that the force
impelling his locomotive, originally emanated from the sun. Step by step
we go back—from the motion of the piston to the evaporation of the
water; thence to the heat evolved during the oxidation of coal; thence
to the assimilation of carbon by the plants of whose imbedded remains
coal consists; thence to the carbonic acid from which their carbon was
obtained; and thence to the rays of light that de-oxidized this carbonic
acid. Solar forces millions of years ago expended on the Earth’s
vegetation, and since locked up beneath its surface, now smelt the
metals required for our machines, turn the lathes by which the machines
are shaped, work them when put together, and distribute the fabrics they
produce. And in so far as economy of labour makes possible the support
of a larger population; gives a surplus of human power that would else
be absorbed in manual occupations; and so facilitates the development of
higher kinds of activity; it is clear that these social forces which are
directly correlated with physical forces anciently derived from the sun,
are only less important than those whose correlates are the vital forces
recently derived from it.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 84. Regarded as an induction, the doctrine set forth in this chapter
will most likely be met by a demurrer. Many who admit that among
physical phenomena at least, the correlation of forces is now
established, will probably say that inquiry has not yet gone far enough
to enable us to predicate equivalence. And in respect of the forces
classed as vital, mental, and social, the evidence assigned, however
little to be explained away, they will consider by no means conclusive
even of correlation, much less of equivalence.

To those who think thus, it must now however be pointed out, that the
universal truth above illustrated under its various aspects, is a
necessary corollary from the persistence of force. Setting out with the
proposition that force can neither come into existence, nor cease to
exist, the several foregoing general conclusions inevitably follow. Each
manifestation of force can be interpreted only as the effect of some
antecedent force: no matter whether it be an inorganic action, an animal
movement, a thought, or a feeling. Either this must be conceded, or else
it must be asserted that our successive states of consciousness are
self-created. Either mental energies, as well as bodily ones, are
quantitatively correlated to certain energies expended in their
production, and to certain other energies which they initiate; or else
nothing must become something and something must become nothing. The
alternatives are, to deny the persistence of force, or to admit that
every physical and psychial change is generated by certain antecedent
forces, and that from given amounts of such forces neither more nor less
of such physical and psychial changes can result. And since the
persistence of force, being a datum of consciousness, cannot be denied,
its unavoidable corollary must be accepted.       This corollary cannot
indeed be made more certain by accumulating illustrations. The truth as
arrived at deductively, cannot be inductively confirmed. For every one
of such facts as those above detailed, is established only through the
indirect assumption of that persistence of force, from which it really
follows as a direct consequence. The most exact proof of correlation and
equivalence which it is possible to reach by experimental inquiry, is
that based on measurement of the forces expended and the forces
produced. But, as was shown in the last chapter, any such process of
measurement implies the use of some unit of force which is assumed to
remain constant; and for this assumption there can be no warrant but
that it is a corollary from the persistence of force. How then can any
reasoning based on this corollary, prove the equally direct corollary
that when a given quantity of force ceases to exist under one form, an
equal quantity must come into existence under some other form or forms?
Clearly the _à priori_ truth expressed in this last corollary, cannot be
more firmly established by any _à posteriori_ proofs which the first
corollary helps us to.

“What then,” it may be asked, “is the use of these investigations by
which the correlation and equivalence of forces is sought to be
established as an inductive truth? Surely it will not be alleged that
they are useless. Yet if this correlation cannot be made more certain by
them than it is already, does not their uselessness necessarily follow?”
No. They are of value as disclosing the many particular implications
which the general truth does not specify. They are of value as teaching
us how much of one mode of force is the equivalent of so much of another
mode. They are of value as determining under what conditions each
metamorphosis occurs. And they are of value as leading us to inquire in
what shape the remnant of force has escaped, when the apparent results
are not equivalent to the cause.

                               CHAPTER X.
                        THE DIRECTION OF MOTION.

§ 85. The Absolute Cause of changes, inclusive of those constituting
Evolution, is not less incomprehensible in respect of the unity or
duality of its action, than in all other respects. We cannot decide
between the alternative suppositions, that phenomena are due to the
variously-conditioned workings of a single force, and that they are due
to the conflict of two forces. Whether, as some contend, everything is
explicable on the hypothesis of universal pressure, whence what we call
tension results differentially from inequalities of pressure in opposite
directions; or whether, as might be with equal propriety contended,
things are to be explained on the hypothesis of universal tension, from
which pressure is a differential result; or whether, as most physicists
hold, pressure and tension everywhere co-exist; are questions which it
is impossible to settle. Each of these three suppositions makes the
facts comprehensible, only by postulating an inconceivability. To assume
a universal pressure, confessedly requires us to assume an infinite
plenum—an unlimited space full of something which is everywhere pressed
by something beyond; and this assumption cannot be mentally realized.
That universal tension is the immediate agency to which phenomena are
due, is an idea open to a parallel and equally fatal objection. And
however verbally intelligible may be the proposition that pressure and
tension everywhere co-exist, yet we cannot truly represent to ourselves
one ultimate unit of matter as drawing another while resisting it.

Nevertheless, this last belief is one which we are compelled to
entertain. Matter cannot be conceived except as manifesting forces of
attraction and repulsion. Body is distinguished in our consciousness
from Space, by its opposition to our muscular energies; and this
opposition we feel under the two-fold form of a cohesion that hinders
our efforts to rend, and a resistance that hinders our efforts to
compress. Without resistance there can be merely empty extension.
Without cohesion there can be no resistance. Probably this conception of
antagonistic forces, is originally derived from the antagonism of our
flexor and extensor muscles. But be this as it may, we are obliged to
think of all objects as made up of parts that attract and repel each
other; since this is the form of our experience of all objects.

By a higher abstraction results the conception of attractive and
repulsive forces pervading space. We cannot dissociate force from
occupied extension, or occupied extension from force; because we have
never an immediate consciousness of either in the absence of the other.
Nevertheless, we have abundant proof that force is exercised through
what appears to our senses a vacuity. Mentally to represent this
exercise, we are hence obliged to fill the apparent vacuity with a
species of matter—an etherial medium. The constitution we assign to this
etherial medium, however, like the constitution we assign to solid
substance, is necessarily an abstract of the impressions received from
tangible bodies. The opposition to pressure which a tangible body offers
to us, is not shown in one direction only, but in all directions; and so
likewise is its tenacity. Suppose countless lines radiating from its
centre on every side, and it resists along each of these lines and
coheres along each of these lines. Hence the constitution of those
ultimate units through the instrumentality of which phenomena are
interpreted. Be they atoms of ponderable matter or molecules of ether,
the properties we conceive them to possess are nothing else than these
perceptible properties idealized. Centres of force attracting and
repelling each other in all directions, are simply insensible portions
of matter having the endowments common to sensible portions of
matter—endowments of which we cannot by any mental effort divest them.
In brief, they are the invariable elements of the conception of matter,
abstracted from its variable elements—size, form, quality, &c. And so to
interpret manifestations of force which cannot be tactually experienced,
we use the terms of thought supplied by our tactual experiences; and
this for the sufficient reason that we must use these or none.

After all that has been before shown, and after the hint given above, it
needs scarcely be said that these universally co-existent forces of
attraction and repulsion, must not be taken as realities, but as our
symbols of the reality. They are the forms under which the workings of
the Unknowable are cognizable by us—modes of the Unconditioned as
presented under the conditions of our consciousness. But while knowing
that the ideas thus generated in us are not absolutely true, we may
unreservedly surrender ourselves to them as relatively true; and may
proceed to evolve a series of deductions having a like relative truth.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 86. From universally co-existent forces of attraction and repulsion,
there result certain laws of direction of all movement. Where attractive
forces alone are concerned, or rather are alone appreciable, movement
takes place in the direction of their resultant; which may, in a sense,
be called the line of greatest traction. Where repulsive forces alone
are concerned, or rather are alone appreciable, movement takes place
along their resultant; which is usually known as the line of least
resistance. And where both attractive and repulsive forces are
concerned, or are appreciable, movement takes place along the resultant
of all the tractions and resistances. Strictly speaking, this last is
the sole law; since, by the hypothesis, both forces are everywhere in
action. But very frequently the one kind of force is so immensely in
excess that the effect of the other kind may be left out of
consideration. Practically we may say that a body falling to the Earth,
follows the line of greatest traction; since, though the resistance of
the air must, if the body be irregular, cause some divergence from this
line, (quite perceptible with feathers and leaves,) yet ordinarily the
divergence is so slight that we may omit it. In the same manner, though
the course taken by the steam from an exploding boiler, differs somewhat
from that which it would take were gravitation out of the question; yet,
as gravitation affects its course infinitesimally, we are justified in
asserting that the escaping steam follows the line of least resistance.
Motion then, we may say, always follows the line of greatest traction,
or the line of least resistance, or the resultant of the two: bearing in
mind that though the last is alone strictly true, the others are in many
cases sufficiently near the truth for practical purposes.

Movement set up in any direction is itself a cause of further movement
in that direction, since it is the embodiment of a surplus force in that
direction. This holds equally with the transit of matter through space,
the transit of matter through matter, and the transit through matter of
any kind of vibration. In the case of matter moving through space, this
principle is expressed in the law of inertia—a law on which the
calculations of physical astronomy are wholly based. In the case of
matter moving through matter, we trace the same truth under the familiar
experience that any breach made by one solid through another, or any
channel formed by a fluid through a solid, becomes a route along which,
other things equal, subsequent movements of like nature take place. And
in the case of motion passing through matter under the form of an
impulse communicated from part to part, the facts of magnetization go to
show that the establishment of undulations along certain lines,
determines their continuance along those lines.

It further follows from the conditions, that the direction of movement
can rarely if ever be perfectly straight. For matter in motion to pursue
continuously the exact line in which it sets out, the forces of
attraction and repulsion must be symmetrically disposed around its path;
and the chances against this are infinitely great. The impossibility of
making an absolutely true edge to a bar of metal—the fact that all which
can be done by the best mechanical appliances, is to reduce the
irregularities of such an edge to amounts that cannot be perceived
without magnifiers—sufficiently exemplifies how, in consequence of the
unsymmetrical distribution of forces around the line of movement, the
movement is rendered more or less indirect.       It may be well to add
that in proportion as the forces at work are numerous and varied, the
curve a moving body describes is necessarily complex: witness the
contrast between the flight of an arrow and the gyrations of a stick
tossed about by breakers.

We have now to trace these laws of direction of movement throughout the
process of Evolution, under its various forms. We have to note how every
change in the arrangement of parts, takes place along the line of
greatest traction, of least resistance, or of their resultant; how the
setting up of motion along a certain line, becomes a cause of its
continuance along that line; how, nevertheless, change of relations to
external forces, always renders this line indirect; and how the degree
of its indirectness increases with every addition to the number of
influences at work.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 87. If we assume the first stage in nebular condensation to be the
precipitation into flocculi of denser matter previously diffused through
a rarer medium, (a supposition both physically justified, and in harmony
with certain astronomical observations,) we shall find that nebular
motion is interpretable in pursuance of the above general laws. Each
portion of such vapour-like matter must begin to move towards the common
centre of gravity. The tractive forces which would of themselves carry
it in a straight line to the centre of gravity, are opposed by the
resistant forces of the medium through which it is drawn. The direction
of movement must be the resultant of these—a resultant which, in
consequence of the unsymmetrical form of the flocculus, must be a curve
directed, not to the centre of gravity, but towards one side of it. And
it may be readily shown that in an aggregation of such flocculi,
severally thus moving, there must, by composition of forces, eventually
result a rotation of the whole nebula in one direction.

Merely noting this hypothetical illustration for the purpose of showing
how the law applies to the case of nebular evolution, supposing it to
have taken place, let us pass to the phenomena of the Solar System as
now exhibited. Here the general principles above set forth are every
instant exemplified. Each planet and satellite has a momentum which
would, if acting alone, carry it forward in the direction it is at any
instant pursuing. This momentum hence acts as a resistance to motion in
any other direction. Each planet and satellite, however, is drawn by a
force which, if unopposed, would take it in a straight line towards its
primary. And the resultant of these two forces is that curve which it
describes—a curve manifestly consequent on the unsymmetrical
distribution of the forces around its path. This path, when more closely
examined, supplies us with further illustrations. For it is not an exact
circle or ellipse; which it would be were the tangential and centripetal
forces the only ones concerned. Adjacent members of the Solar System,
ever varying in their relative positions, cause what we call
perturbations; that is, slight divergences in various directions from
that circle or ellipse which the two chief forces would produce. These
perturbations severally show us in minor degrees, how the line of
movement is the resultant of all the forces engaged; and how this line
becomes more complicated in proportion as the forces are multiplied.
      If instead of the motions of the planets and satellites as wholes,
we consider the motions of their parts, we meet with comparatively
complex illustrations. Every portion of the Earth’s substance in its
daily rotation, describes a curve which is in the main a resultant of
that resistance which checks its nearer approach to the centre of
gravity, that momentum which would carry it off at a tangent, and those
forces of gravitation and cohesion which keep it from being so carried
off. If this axial motion be compounded with the orbital motion, the
course of each part is seen to be a much more involved one. And we find
it to have a still greater complication on taking into account that
lunar attraction which mainly produces the tides and the precession of
the equinoxes.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 88. We come next to terrestrial changes: present ones as observed, and
past ones as inferred by geologists. Let us set out with the
hourly-occurring alterations in the Earth’s atmosphere; descend to the
slower alterations in progress on its surface; and then to the still
slower ones going on beneath.

Masses of air, absorbing heat from surfaces warmed by the sun, expand,
and so lessen the weight of the atmospheric columns of which they are
parts. Hence they offer to adjacent atmospheric columns, diminished
lateral resistance; and these, moving in the directions of the
diminished resistance, displace the expanded air; while this, pursuing
an upward course, displays a motion along that line in which there is
least pressure. When again, by the ascent of such heated masses from
extended areas like the torrid zone, there is produced at the upper
surface of the atmosphere, a protuberance beyond the limits of
equilibrium—when the air forming this protuberance begins to overflow
laterally towards the poles; it does so because, while the tractive
force of the Earth is nearly the same, the lateral resistance is greatly
diminished. And throughout the course of each current thus generated, as
well as throughout the course of each counter-current flowing: into the
vacuum that is left, the direction is always the resultant of the
Earth’s tractive force and the resistance offered by the surrounding
masses of air: modified only by conflict with other currents similarly
determined, and by collision with prominences on the Earth’s crust.
      The movements of water, in both its gaseous and liquid states,
furnish further examples. In conformity with the mechanical theory of
heat, it may be shown that evaporation is the escape of particles of
water in the direction of least resistance; and that as the resistance
(which is due to the pressure of the water diffused in a gaseous state)
diminishes, the evaporation increases. Conversely, that rushing together
of particles called condensation, which takes place when any portion of
atmospheric vapour has its temperature much lowered, may be interpreted
as a diminution of the mutual pressure among the condensing particles,
while the pressure of surrounding particles remains the same; and so is
a motion taking place in the direction of lessened resistance. In the
course followed by the resulting rain-drops, we have one of the simplest
instances of the joint effect of the two antagonist forces. The Earth’s
attraction, and the resistance of atmospheric currents ever varying in
direction and intensity, give as their resultants, lines which incline
to the horizon in countless different degrees and undergo perpetual
variations. More clearly still is the law exemplified by these same
rain-drops when they reach the ground. In the course they take while
trickling over its surface, in every rill, in every larger stream, and
in every river, we see them descending as straight as the antagonism of
surrounding objects permits. From moment to moment, the motion of water
towards the Earth’s centre is opposed by the solid matter around and
under it; and from moment to moment its route is the resultant of the
lines of greatest traction and least resistance. So far from a cascade
furnishing, as it seems to do, an exception, it furnishes but another
illustration. For though all solid obstacles to a vertical fall of the
water are removed, yet the water’s horizontal momentum is an obstacle;
and the parabola in which the stream leaps from the projecting ledge, is
generated by the combined gravitation and momentum.       It may be well
just to draw attention to the degree of complexity here produced in the
line of movement by the variety of forces at work. In atmospheric
currents, and still more clearly in water-courses (to which might be
added ocean-streams), the route followed is too complex to be defined,
save as a curve of three dimensions with an ever varying equation.

The Earth’s solid crust undergoes changes that supply another group of
illustrations. The denudation of lands and the depositing of the removed
sediment in new strata at the bottoms of seas and lakes, is a process
throughout which motion is obviously determined in the same way as is
that of the water effecting the transport. Again, though we have no
direct inductive proof that the forces classed as igneous, expend
themselves along lines of least resistance; yet what little we know of
them is in harmony with the belief that they do so. Earthquakes
continually revisit the same localities, and special tracts undergo for
long periods together successive elevations or subsidences,—facts which
imply that already-fractured portions of the Earth’s crust are those
most prone to yield under the pressure caused by further contractions.
The distribution of volcanoes along certain lines, as well as the
frequent recurrence of eruptions from the same vents, are facts of like

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 89. That organic growth takes place in the direction of least
resistance, is a proposition that has been set forth and illustrated by
Mr. James Hinton, in the _Medico-Chirurgical Review_ for October, 1858.
After detailing a few of the early observations which led him to this
generalization, he formulates it thus:—

“Organic form is the result of motion.”

“Motion takes the direction of least resistance.”

“Therefore organic form is the result of motion in the direction of
least resistance.”

After an elucidation and defence of this position, Mr. Hinton proceeds
to interpret, in conformity with it, sundry phenomena of development.
Speaking of plants he says:—

“The formation of the root furnishes a beautiful illustration of the law
of least resistance, for it grows by insinuating itself, cell by cell,
through the interstices of the soil; it is by such minute additions that
it increases, winding and twisting whithersoever the obstacles it meets
in its path determine, and growing there most, where the nutritive
materials are added to it most abundantly. As we look on the roots of a
mighty tree, it appears to us as if they had forced themselves with
giant violence into the solid earth. But it is not so; they were led on
gently, cell added to cell, softly as the dews descended, and the
loosened earth made way. Once formed, indeed, they expand with an
enormous power, but the spongy condition of the growing radicles utterly
forbids the supposition that they are forced into the earth. Is it not
probable, indeed, that the enlargement of the roots already formed may
crack the surrounding soil, and help to make the interstices into which
the new rootlets grow?” * * *

“Throughout almost the whole of organic nature the spiral form is more
or less distinctly marked. Now, motion under resistance takes a spiral
direction, as may be seen by the motion of a body rising or falling
through water. A bubble rising rapidly in water describes a spiral
closely resembling a corkscrew, and a body of moderate specific gravity
dropped into water may be seen to fall in a curved direction, the spiral
tendency of which may be distinctly observed. * * * In this prevailing
spiral form of organic bodies, therefore, it appears to me, that there
is presented a strong _prima facie_ case for the view I have maintained.
* * * The spiral form of the branches of many trees is very apparent,
and the universally spiral arrangement of the leaves around the stem of
plants needs only to be referred to. * * * The heart commences as a
spiral turn, and in its perfect form a manifest spiral may be traced
through the left ventricle, right ventricle, right auricle, left auricle
and appendix. And what is the spiral turn in which the heart commences
but a necessary result of the lengthening, under a limit, of the
cellular mass of which it then consists?” * * *

“Every one must have noticed the peculiar curling up of the young leaves
of the common fern. The appearance is as if the leaf were rolled up, but
in truth this form is merely a phenomenon of growth. The curvature
results from the increase of the leaf, it is only another form of the
wrinkling up, or turning at right angles by extension under limit.”

“The rolling up or imbrication of the petals in many flower-buds is a
similar thing; at an early period the small petals may be seen lying
side by side, afterwards growing within the capsule, they become folded
round one another.” * * *

“If a flower-bud be opened at a sufficiently early period, the stamens
will be found as if moulded in the cavity between the pistil and the
corolla, which cavity the antlers exactly fill; the stalks lengthen at
an after period. I have noticed also in a few instances, that in those
flowers in which the petals are imbricated, or twisted together, the
pistil is tapering as growing up between the petals; in some flowers
which have the petals so arranged in the bud as to form a dome (as the
hawthorn; e. g.), the pistil is flattened at the apex, and in the bud
occupies a space precisely limited by the stamens below, and the
enclosing petals above and at the sides. I have not, however, satisfied
myself that this holds good in all cases.”

Without endorsing all Mr. Hinton’s illustrations, to some of which
exception might be taken, his conclusion may be accepted as a large
instalment of the truth. It is, however, to be remarked, that in the
case of organic growth, as in all other cases, the line of movement is
in strictness the resultant of tractive and resistant forces; and that
the tractive forces here form so considerable an element that the
formula is scarcely complete without them. The shapes of plants are
manifestly modified by gravitation: the direction of each branch is not
what it would have been were the tractive force of the Earth absent; and
every flower and leaf is somewhat altered in the course of development
by the weight of its parts. Though in animals such effects are less
conspicuous, yet the instances in which flexible organs have their
directions in great measure determined by gravity, justify the assertion
that throughout the whole organism the forms of parts must be affected
by this force.

The organic movements which constitute growth, are not, however, the
only organic movements to be interpreted. There are also those which
constitute function. And throughout these the same general principles
are discernible. That the vessels along which blood, lymph, bile, and
all the secretions, find their ways, are channels of least resistance,
is a fact almost too conspicuous to be named as an illustration. Less
conspicuous, however, is the truth, that the currents setting along
these vessels are affected by the tractive force of the Earth: witness
varicose veins; witness the relief to an inflamed part obtained by
raising it; witness the congestion of head and face produced by
stooping. And in the fact that dropsy in the legs gets greater by day
and decreases at night, while, conversely, that œdematous fullness under
the eyes common in debility, grows worse during the hours of reclining
and decreases after getting up, shows us how the transudation of fluid
through the walls of the capillaries, varies according as change of
position changes the effect of gravity in different parts of the body.

It may be well in passing just to note the bearing of the principle on
the development of species. From a dynamic point of view, “natural
selection” is the evolution of Life along lines of least resistance. The
multiplication of any kind of plant or animal in localities that are
favourable to it, is a growth where the antagonistic forces are less
than elsewhere. And the preservation of varieties that succeed better
than their allies in coping with surrounding conditions, is the
continuance of vital movement in those directions where the obstacles to
it are most eluded.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 90. Throughout the phenomena of mind the law enunciated is not so
readily established. In a large part of them, as those of thought and
emotion, there is no perceptible movement. Even in sensation and
volition, which show us in one part of the body an effect produced by a
force applied to another part, the intermediate movement is inferential
rather than visible. Such indeed are the difficulties that it is not
possible here to do more than briefly indicate the proofs which might be
given did space permit.

Supposing the various forces throughout an organism to be previously in
equilibrium, then any part which becomes the seat of a further force,
added or liberated, must be one from which the force, being resisted by
smaller forces around, will initiate motion towards some other part of
the organism. If elsewhere in the organism there is a point at which
force is being expended, and which so is becoming minus a force which it
before had, instead of plus a force which it before had not, and thus is
made a point at which the re-action against surrounding forces is
diminished; then, manifestly, a motion taking place between the first
and the last of these points is a motion along the line of least
resistance. Now a sensation implies a force added to, or evolved in,
that part of the organism which is its seat; while a mechanical movement
implies an expenditure or loss of force in that part of the organism
which is its seat. Hence if, as we find to be the fact, motion is
habitually propagated from those parts of an organism to which the
external world adds forces in the shape of nervous impressions, to those
parts of an organism which react on the external world through muscular
contractions, it is simply a fulfilment of the law above enunciated.
      From this general conclusion we may pass to a more special one.
When there is anything in the circumstances of an animal’s life,
involving that a sensation in one particular place is habitually
followed by a contraction in another particular place—when there is thus
a frequently-repeated motion through the organism between these places;
what must be the result as respects the line along which the motions
take place? Restoration of equilibrium between the points at which the
forces have been increased and decreased, must take place through some
channel. If this channel is affected by the discharge—if the obstructive
action of the tissues traversed, involves any reaction upon them,
deducting from their obstructive power; then a subsequent motion between
these two points will meet with less resistance along this channel than
the previous motion met with; and will consequently take this channel
still more decidedly. If so, every repetition will still further
diminish the resistance offered by this route; and hence will gradually
be formed between the two a permanent line of communication, differing
greatly from the surrounding tissue in respect of the ease with which
force traverses it. We see, therefore, that if between a particular
impression and a particular motion associated with it, there is
established a connexion producing what is called reflex action, the law
that motion follows the line of least resistance, and that, if the
conditions remain constant, resistance in any direction is diminished by
motion occurring in that direction, supplies an explanation.
      Without further details it will be manifest that a like
interpretation may be given to the succession of all other nervous
changes. If in the surrounding world there are objects, attributes, or
actions, that usually occur together, the effects severally produced by
them in the organism will become so connected by those repetitions which
we call experience, that they also will occur together. In proportion to
the frequency with which any external connexion of phenomena is
experienced, will be the strength of the answering internal connexion of
nervous states. Thus there will arise all degrees of cohesion among
nervous states, as there are all degrees of commonness among the
surrounding co-existences and sequences that generate them: whence must
result a general correspondence between associated ideas and associated
actions in the environment.[13]

The relation between emotions and actions may be similarly construed. As
a first illustration let us observe what happens with emotions that are
undirected by volitions. These, like feelings in general, expend
themselves in generating organic changes, and chiefly in muscular
contractions. As was pointed out in the last chapter, there result
movements of the involuntary and voluntary muscles, that are great in
proportion as the emotions are strong. It remains here to be pointed
out, however, that the order in which these muscles are affected is
explicable only on the principle above set forth. Thus, a pleasurable or
painful state of mind of but slight intensity, does little more than
increase the pulsations of the heart. Why? For the reason that the
relation between nervous excitement and vascular contraction, being
common to every genus and species of feeling, is the one of most
frequent repetition; that hence the nervous connexion is, in the way
above shown, the one which offers the least resistance to a discharge;
and is therefore the one along which a feeble force produces motion. A
sentiment or passion that is somewhat stronger, affects not only the
heart but the muscles of the face, and especially those around the
mouth. Here the like explanation applies; since these muscles, being
both comparatively small, and, for purposes of speech, perpetually used,
offer less resistance than other voluntary muscles to the nerve-motor
force. By a further increase of emotion the respiratory and vocal
muscles become perceptibly excited. Finally, under strong passion, the
muscles in general of the trunk and limbs are violently contracted.
Without saying that the facts can be thus interpreted in all their
details (a task requiring data impossible to obtain) it may be safely
said that the order of excitation is from muscles that are small and
frequently acted on, to those which are larger and less frequently acted
on. The single instance of laughter, which is an undirected discharge of
feeling that affects first the muscles round the mouth, then those of
the vocal and respiratory apparatus, then those of the limbs, and then
those of the spine;[14] suffices to show that when no special route is
opened for it, a force evolved in the nervous centres produces motion
along channels which offer the least resistance, and if it is too great
to escape by these, produces motion along channels offering successively
greater resistance.

Probably it will be thought impossible to extend this reasoning so as to
include volitions. Yet we are not without evidence that the transition
from special desires to special muscular acts, conforms to the same
principle. It may be shown that the mental antecedents of a voluntary
movement, are antecedents which temporarily make the line along which
this movement takes place, the line of least resistance. For a volition,
suggested as it necessarily is by some previous thought connected with
it by associations that determine the transition, is itself a
representation of the movements that are willed, and of their sequences.
But to represent in consciousness certain of our own movements, is
partially to arouse the sensations accompanying such movements,
inclusive of those of muscular tension—is partially to excite the
appropriate motor-nerves and all the other nerves implicated. That is to
say, the volition is itself an incipient discharge along a line which
previous experiences have rendered a line of least resistance. And the
passing of volition into action is simply a completion of the discharge.

One corollary from this must be noted before proceeding; namely, that
the particular set of muscular movements by which any object of desire
is reached, are movements implying the smallest total of forces to be
overcome. As each feeling generates motion along the line of least
resistance, it is tolerably clear that a group of feelings, constituting
a more or less complex desire, will generate motion along a series of
lines of least resistance. That is to say, the desired end will be
achieved with the smallest expenditure of effort. Should it be objected
that through want of knowledge or want of skill, a man often pursues the
more laborious of two courses, and so overcomes a larger total of
opposing forces than was necessary; the reply is, that relatively to his
mental state the course he takes is that which presents the fewest
difficulties. Though there is another which in the abstract is easier,
yet his ignorance of it, or inability to adopt it, is, physically
considered, the existence of an insuperable obstacle to the discharge of
his energies in that direction. Experience obtained by himself, or
communicated by others, has not established in him such channels of
nervous communication as are required to make this better course the
course of least resistance to him.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 91. As in individual animals, inclusive of man, motion follows lines
of least resistance, it is to be inferred that among aggregations of
men, the like will hold good. The changes in a society, being due to the
joint actions of its members, the courses of such changes will be
determined as are those of all other changes wrought by composition of

Thus when we contemplate a society as an organism, and observe the
direction of its growth, we find this direction to be that in which the
average of opposing forces is the least. Its units have energies to be
expended in self-maintenance and reproduction. These energies are met by
various environing energies that are antagonistic to them—those of
geological origin, those of climate, of wild animals, of other human
races with whom they are at enmity or in competition. And the tracts the
society spreads over, are those in which there is the smallest total
antagonism. Or, reducing the matter to its ultimate terms, we may say
that these social units have jointly and severally to preserve
themselves and their offspring from those inorganic and organic forces
which are ever tending to destroy them (either indirectly by oxidation
and by undue abstraction of heat, or directly by bodily mutilation);
that these forces are either counteracted by others which are available
in the shape of food, clothing, habitations, and appliances of defence,
or are, as far as may be, eluded; and that population spreads in
whichever directions there is the readiest escape from these forces, or
the least exertion in obtaining the materials for resisting them, or
both.       For these reasons it happens that fertile valleys where
water and vegetal produce abound, are early peopled. Sea-shores, too,
supplying a large amount of easily-gathered food, are lines along which
mankind have commonly spread. The general fact that, so far as we can
judge from the traces left by them, large societies first appeared in
those tropical regions where the fruits of the earth are obtainable with
comparatively little exertion, and where the cost of maintaining bodily
heat is but slight, is a fact of like meaning. And to these instances
may be added the allied one daily furnished by emigration; which we see
going on towards countries presenting the fewest obstacles to the
self-preservation of individuals, and therefore to national growth.
      Similarly with that resistance to the movements of a society which
neighbouring societies offer. Each of the tribes or nations inhabiting
any region, increases in numbers until it outgrows its means of
subsistence. In each there is thus a force ever pressing outwards on to
adjacent areas—a force antagonized by like forces in the tribes or
nations occupying those areas. And the ever-recurring wars that
result—the conquests of weaker tribes or nations, and the over-running
of their territories by the victors, are instances of social movements
taking place in the directions of least resistance. Nor do the conquered
peoples, when they escape extermination or enslavement, fail to show us
movements that are similarly determined. For migrating as they do to
less fertile regions—taking refuge in deserts or among mountains—moving
in a direction where the resistance to social growth is comparatively
great; they still do this only under an excess of pressure in all other
directions: the physical obstacles to self-preservation they encounter,
being really less than the obstacles offered by the enemies from whom
they fly.

Internal social movements may also be thus interpreted. Localities
naturally fitted for producing particular commodities—that is,
localities in which such commodities are got at the least cost of
force—that is, localities in which the desires for these commodities
meet with the least resistance; become localities especially devoted to
the obtainment of these commodities. Where soil and climate render wheat
a profitable crop, or a crop from which the greatest amount of
life-sustaining power is gained by a given quantity of effort, the
growth of wheat becomes the dominant industry. Where wheat cannot be
economically produced, oats, or rye, or maize, or rice, or potatoes, is
the agricultural staple. Along sea-shores men support themselves with
least effort by catching fish; and hence choose fishing as an
occupation. And in places that are rich in coal or metallic ores, the
population, finding that labour devoted to the raising of these
materials brings a larger return of food and clothing than when
otherwise directed, becomes a population of miners.       This last
instance introduces us to the phenomena of exchange; which equally
illustrate the general law. For the practice of barter begins as soon as
it facilitates the fulfilment of men’s desires, by diminishing the
exertion needed to reach the objects of those desires. When instead of
growing his own corn, weaving his own cloth, sewing his own shoes, each
man began to confine himself to farming, or weaving, or shoemaking; it
was because each found it more laborious to make everything he wanted,
than to make a great quantity of one thing and barter the surplus for
the rest: by exchange, each procured the necessaries of life without
encountering so much resistance. Moreover, in deciding what commodity to
produce, each citizen was, as he is at the present day, guided in the
same manner. For besides those local conditions which determine whole
sections of a society towards the industries easiest for them, there are
also individual conditions and individual aptitudes which to each
citizen render certain occupations preferable; and in choosing those
forms of activity which their special circumstances and faculties
dictate, these social units are severally moving towards the objects of
their desires in the directions which present to them the fewest
obstacles.       The process of transfer which commerce pre-supposes,
supplies another series of examples. So long as the forces to be
overcome in procuring any necessary of life in the district where it is
consumed, are less than the forces to be overcome in procuring it from
an adjacent district, exchange does not take place. But when the
adjacent district produces it with an economy that is not out-balanced
by cost of transit—when the distance is so small and the route so easy
that the labour of conveyance plus the labour of production is less than
the labour of production in the consuming district, transfer commences.
Movement in the direction of least resistance is also seen in the
establishment of the channels along which intercourse takes place. At
the outset, when goods are carried on the backs of men and horses, the
paths chosen are those which combine shortness with levelness and
freedom from obstacles—those which are achieved with the smallest
exertion. And in the subsequent formation of each highway, the course
taken is that which deviates horizontally from a straight line so far
only as is needful to avoid vertical deviations entailing greater labour
in draught. The smallest total of obstructive forces determines the
route, even in seemingly exceptional cases; as where a detour is made to
avoid the opposition of a landowner. All subsequent improvements, ending
in macadamized roads, canals, and railways, which reduce the antagonism
of friction and gravity to a minimum, exemplify the same truth. After
there comes to be a choice of roads between one point and another, we
still see that the road chosen is that along which the cost of transit
is the least: cost being the measure of resistance. Even where, time
being a consideration, the more expensive route is followed, it is so
because the loss of time involves loss of force.       When, division of
labour having been carried to a considerable extent and means of
communication made easy, there arises a marked localization of
industries, the relative growths of the populations devoted to them may
be interpreted on the same principle. The influx of people to each
industrial centre, as well as the rate of multiplication of those
already inhabiting it, is determined by the payment for labour; that
is—by the quantity of commodities which a given amount of effort will
obtain. To say that artisans flock to places where, in consequence of
facilities for production, an extra proportion of produce can be given
in the shape of wages; is to say that they flock to places where there
are the smallest obstacles to the support of themselves and families.
Hence, the rapid increase of number which occurs in such places, is
really a social growth at points where the opposing forces are the

Nor is the law less clearly to be traced in those functional changes
daily going on. The flow of capital into businesses yielding the largest
returns; the buying in the cheapest market and selling in the dearest;
the introduction of more economical modes of manufacture; the
development of better agencies for distribution; and all those
variations in the currents of trade that are noted in our newspapers and
telegrams from hour to hour; exhibit movement taking place in directions
where it is met by the smallest total of opposing forces. For if we
analyze each of these changes—if instead of interest on capital we read
surplus of products which remains after maintenance of labourers; if we
so interpret large interest or large surplus to imply labour expended
with the greatest results; and if labour expended with the greatest
results means muscular action so directed as to evade obstacles as far
as possible; we see that all these commercial phenomena are complicated
motions set up along lines of least resistance.

Objections of two opposite kinds will perhaps be made to these
sociological applications of the law. By some it may be said that the
term force as here used, is used metaphorically—that to speak of men as
_impelled_ in certain directions by certain desires, is a figure of
speech and not the statement of a physical fact. The reply is, that the
foregoing illustrations are to be interpreted literally, and that the
processes described _are_ physical ones. The pressure of hunger is an
actual force—a sensation implying some state of nervous tension; and the
muscular action which the sensation prompts is really a discharge of it
in the shape of bodily motion—a discharge which, on analyzing the mental
acts involved, will be found to follow lines of least resistance. Hence
the motions of a society whose members are impelled by this or any other
desire, are actually, and not metaphorically, to be understood in the
manner shown.       An opposite objection may possibly be, that the
several illustrations given are elaborated truisms; and that the law of
direction of motion being once recognized, the fact that social
movements, in common with all others, must conform to it, follows
inevitably. To this it may be rejoined, that a mere abstract assertion
that social movements must do this, would carry no conviction to the
majority; and that it is needful to show _how_ they do it. For social
evolution to be interpreted after the method proposed, it is requisite
that such generalisations as those of political economy shall be reduced
to equivalent propositions expressed in terms of force and motion.

Social movements of these various orders severally conform to the two
derivative principles named at the outset. In the first place we may
observe how, once set up in given directions, such movements, like all
others, tend to continue in these directions. A commercial mania or
panic, a current of commodities, a social custom, a political agitation,
or a popular delusion, maintains its course for a long time after its
original source has ceased; and requires antagonistic forces to arrest
it. In the second place it is to be noted that in proportion to the
complexity of social forces is the tortuousness of social movements. The
involved series of muscular contractions gone through by the artizan,
that he may get the wherewithal to buy a loaf lying at the baker’s next
door, show us how extreme becomes the indirectness of motion when the
agencies at work become very numerous—a truth still better illustrated
by the more public social actions; as those which end in bringing a
successful man of business, towards the close of his life, into

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 92. And now of the general truth set forth in this chapter, as of that
dealt with in the last, let us ask—what is our ultimate evidence? Must
we accept it simply as an empirical generalization? or is it to be
established as a corollary from a still deeper truth? The reader will
anticipate the answer. We shall find it deducible from that datum of
consciousness which underlies all science.

Suppose several tractive forces, variously directed, to be acting on a
given body. By what is known among mathematicians as the composition of
forces, there may be found for any two of these, a single force of such
amount and direction as to produce on the body an exactly equal effect.
If in the direction of each of them there be drawn a straight line, and
if the lengths of these two straight lines be made proportionate to the
amounts of the forces; and if from the end of each line there be drawn a
line parallel to the other, so as to complete a parallelogram; then the
diagonal of this parallelogram represents the amount and direction of a
force that is equivalent to the two. Such a resultant force, as it is
called, may be found for any pair of forces throughout the group.
Similarly, for any pair of such resultants a single resultant may be
found. And by repeating this course, all of them may be reduced to two.
If these two are equal and opposite—that is, if there is no line of
greatest traction, motion does not take place. If they are opposite but
not equal, motion takes place in the direction of the greater. And if
they are neither equal nor opposite, motion takes place in the direction
of their resultant. For in either of these cases there is an
unantagonized force in one direction. And this residuary force that is
not neutralized by an opposing one, must move the body in the direction
in which it is acting. To assert the contrary is to assert that a force
can be expended without effect—without generating an equivalent force;
and by so implying that force can cease to exist, this involves a denial
of the persistence of force.       It needs scarcely be added that if in
place of tractions we take resistances, the argument equally holds; and
that it holds also where both tractions and resistances are concerned.
Thus the law that motion follows the line of greatest traction, or the
line of least resistance, or the resultant of the two, is a necessary
deduction from that primordial truth which transcends proof.

Reduce the proposition to its simplest form, and it becomes still more
obviously consequent on the persistence of force. Suppose two weights
suspended over a pulley or from the ends of an equal-armed lever; or
better still—suppose two men pulling against each other. In such cases
we say that the heavier weight will descend, and that the stronger man
will draw the weaker towards him. But now, if we are asked how we know
which is the heavier weight or the stronger man; we can only reply that
it is the one producing motion in the direction of its pull. Our only
evidence of excess of force is the movement it produces. But if of two
opposing tractions we can know one as greater than the other only by the
motion it generates in its own direction, then the assertion that motion
occurs in the direction of greatest traction is a truism. When, going a
step further back, we seek a warrant for the assumption that of the two
conflicting forces, that is the greater which produces motion in its own
direction, we find no other than the consciousness that such part of the
greater force as is unneutralized by the lesser, must produce its
effect—the consciousness that this residuary force cannot disappear, but
must manifest itself in some equivalent change—the consciousness that
force is persistent.       Here too, as before, it may be remarked that
no amount of varied illustrations, like those of which this chapter
mainly consists, can give greater certainty to the conclusion thus
immediately drawn from the ultimate datum of consciousness. For in all
cases, as in the simple ones just given, we can identify the greatest
force only by the resulting motion. It is impossible for us ever to get
evidence of the occurrence of motion in any other direction than that of
the greatest force; since our measure of relative greatness among forces
is their relative power of generating motion. And clearly, while the
comparative greatness of forces is thus determined, no multiplication of
instances can add certainty to a law of direction of movement which
follows immediately from the persistence of force.

From this same primordial truth, too, may be deduced the principle that
motion once set up along any line, becomes itself a cause of subsequent
motion along that line. The mechanical axiom that, if left to itself,
matter moving in any direction will continue in that direction with
undiminished velocity, is but an indirect assertion of the persistence
of force; since it is an assertion that the force manifested in the
transfer of a body along a certain length of a certain line in a certain
time, cannot disappear without producing some equal manifestation—a
manifestation which, in the absence of conflicting forces, must be a
further transfer in the same direction at the same velocity.       In
the case of matter traversing matter the like inference is necessitated.
Here indeed the actions are much more complicated. A liquid that follows
a certain channel through or over a solid, as water along the Earth’s
surface, loses part of its motion in the shape of heat, through friction
and collision with the matters forming its bed. A further amount of its
motion may be absorbed in overcoming forces which it liberates; as when
it loosens a mass which falls into, and blocks up, its channel. But
after these deductions by transformation into other modes of force, any
further deduction from the motion of the water is at the expense of a
reaction on the channel, which by so much diminishes its obstructive
power: such reaction being shown in the motion acquired by the detached
portions which are carried away. The cutting out of river-courses is a
perpetual illustration of this truth.       Still more involved is the
case of motion passing through matter by impulse from part to part; as a
nervous discharge through animal tissue. Some chemical change may be
wrought along the route traversed, which may render it less fit than
before for conveying a current. Or the motion may itself be in part
metamorphosed into some obstructive form of force; as in metals, the
conducting power of which is, for the time, decreased by the heat which
the passage of electricity itself generates. The real question is,
however, what structural modification, if any, is produced throughout
the matter traversed, apart from _incidental_ disturbing forces—apart
from everything but the _necessary_ resistance of the matter: that,
namely, which results from the inertia of its units. If we confine our
attention to that part of the motion which, escaping transformation,
continues its course, then it is a corollary from the persistence of
force that as much of this remaining motion as is taken up in changing
the positions of the units, must leave these by so much less able to
obstruct subsequent motion in the same direction.

Thus in all the changes heretofore and at present displayed by the Solar
System; in all those that have gone on and are still going on in the
Earth’s crust; in all processes of organic development and function; in
all mental actions and the effects they work on the body; and in all
modifications of structure and activity in societies; the implied
movements are of necessity determined in the manner above set forth.
Every alteration in the arrangement of parts, constituting Evolution
under each of its phases, must conform to this universal principle.
Wherever we see motion, its direction must be that of the greatest
force. And wherever we see the greatest force to be acting in a given
direction, in that direction motion must ensue.


Footnote 13:

  This paragraph is a re-statement, somewhat amplified, of an idea set
  forth in the _Medico-Chirurgical Review_ for January, 1859 (pp. 189
  and 190); and contains the germ of the intended fifth part of the
  _Principles of Psychology_, which was withheld for the reasons given
  in the preface to that work.

Footnote 14:

  For details see a paper on “The Physiology of Laughter,” published in
  _Macmillan’s Magazine_ for March 1860.

                              CHAPTER XI.
                         THE RHYTHM OF MOTION.

§ 93. When the pennant of a vessel lying becalmed first shows the coming
breeze, it does so by gentle undulations that travel from its fixed to
its free end. Presently the sails begin to flap; and their blows against
the mast increase in rapidity as the breeze rises. Even when, being
fully bellied out, they are in great part steadied by the strain of the
yards and cordage, their free edges tremble with each stronger gust. And
should there come a gale, the jar that is felt on laying hold of the
shrouds shows that the rigging vibrates; while the rush and whistle of
the wind prove that in it, also, rapid undulations are generated. Ashore
the conflict between the current of air and the things it meets results
in a like rhythmical action. The leaves all shiver in the blast; each
branch oscillates; and every exposed tree sways to and fro. The blades
of grass and dried bents in the meadows, and still better the stalks in
the neighbouring corn-fields, exhibit the same rising and falling
movement. Nor do the more stable objects fail to do the like, though in
a less manifest fashion; as witness the shudder that may be felt
throughout a house during the paroxysms of a violent storm.
      Streams of water produce in opposing objects the same general
effects as do streams of air. Submerged weeds growing in the middle of a
brook, undulate from end to end. Branches brought down by the last
flood, and left entangled at the bottom where the current is rapid, are
thrown into a state of up and down movement that is slow or quick in
proportion as they are large or small; and where, as in great rivers
like the Mississippi, whole trees are thus held, the name “sawyers,” by
which they are locally known, sufficiently describes the rhythm produced
in them. Note again the effect of the antagonism between the current and
its channel. In shallow places, where the action of the bottom on the
water flowing over it is visible, we see a ripple produced—a series of
undulations. And if we study the action and re-action going on between
the moving fluid and its banks, we still find the principle illustrated,
though in a different way. For in every rivulet, as in the mapped-out
course of every great river, the bends of the stream from side to side
throughout its tortuous course constitute a lateral undulation—an
undulation so inevitable that even an artificially straightened channel
is eventually changed into a serpentine one. Analogous phenomena may be
observed where the water is stationary and the solid matter moving. A
stick drawn laterally through the water with much force, proves by the
throb which it communicates to the hand that it is in a state of
vibration. Even where the moving body is massive, it only requires that
great force should be applied to get a sensible effect of like kind:
instance the screw of a screw-steamer, which instead of a smooth
rotation falls into a rapid rhythm that sends a tremor through the whole
vessel.       The sound which results when a bow is drawn over a
violin-string, shows us vibrations produced by the movement of a solid
over a solid. In lathes and planing machines, the attempt to take off a
thick shaving causes a violent jar of the whole apparatus, and the
production of a series of waves on the iron or wood that is cut. Every
boy in scraping his slate-pencil finds it scarcely possible to help
making a ridged surface. If you roll a ball along the ground or over the
ice, there is always more or less up and down movement—a movement that
is visible while the velocity is considerable, but becomes too small and
rapid to be seen by the unaided eye as the velocity diminishes. However
smooth the rails, and however perfectly built the carriages, a
railway-train inevitably gets into oscillations, both lateral and
vertical. Even where moving matter is suddenly arrested by collision,
the law is still illustrated; for both the body striking and the body
struck are made to tremble; and trembling is rhythmical movement. Little
as we habitually observe it, it is yet certain that the impulses our
actions impress from moment to moment on surrounding objects, are
propagated through them in vibrations. It needs but to look through a
telescope of high power, to be convinced that each pulsation of the
heart gives a jar to the whole room.       If we pass to motions of
another order—those namely which take place in the etherial medium—we
still find the same thing. Every fresh discovery confirms the hypothesis
that light consists of undulations. The rays of heat, too, are now found
to have a like fundamental nature; their undulations differing from
those of light only in their comparative length. Nor do the movements of
electricity fail to furnish us with an illustration; though one of a
different order. The northern aurora may often be observed to pulsate
with waves of greater brightness; and the electric discharge through a
vacuum shows us by its stratified appearance that the current is not
uniform, but comes in gushes of greater and lesser intensity.
      Should it be said that at any rate there are some motions, as
those of projectiles, which are not rhythmical, the reply is, that the
exception is apparent only; and that these motions would be rhythmical
if they were not interrupted. It is common to assert that the trajectory
of a cannon ball is a parabola; and it is true that (omitting
atmospheric resistance) the curve described differs so slightly from a
parabola that it may practically be regarded as one. But, strictly
speaking, it is a portion of an extremely eccentric ellipse, having the
Earth’s centre of gravity for its remoter focus; and but for its arrest
by the substance of the Earth, the cannon ball would travel round that
focus and return to the point whence it started; again to repeat this
slow rhythm. Indeed, while seeming at first sight to do the reverse, the
discharge of a cannon furnishes one of the best illustrations of the
principle enunciated. The explosion produces violent undulations in the
surrounding air. The whizz of the shot, as it flies towards its mark, is
due to another series of atmospheric undulations. And the movement to
and from the Earth’s centre, which the cannon ball is beginning to
perform, being checked by solid matter, is transformed into a rhythm of
another order; namely, the vibration which the blow sends through
neighbouring bodies.[15]

Rhythm is very generally not simple but compound. There are usually at
work various forces, causing undulations differing in rapidity; and
hence it continually happens that besides the primary rhythms there are
secondary rhythms, produced by the periodic coincidence and antagonism
of the primary ones. Double, triple, and even quadruple rhythms, are
thus generated. One of the simplest instances is afforded by what in
acoustics are known as “beats:” recurring intervals of sound and silence
which are perceived when two notes of nearly the same pitch are struck
together; and which are due to the alternate correspondence and
antagonism of the atmospheric waves. In like manner the various
phenomena due to what is called interference of light, severally result
from the periodic agreement and disagreement of etherial
undulations—undulations which, by alternately intensifying and
neutralizing each other, produce intervals of increased and diminished
light. On the sea-shore may be noted sundry instances of compound
rhythm. We have that of the tides, in which the daily rise and fall
undergoes a fortnightly increase and decrease, due to the alternate
coincidence and antagonism of the solar and lunar attractions. We have
again that which is perpetually furnished by the surface of the sea:
every large wave bearing smaller ones on its sides, and these still
smaller ones; with the result that each flake of foam, along with the
portion of water bearing it, undergoes minor ascents and descents of
several orders while it is being raised and lowered by the greater
billows. A quite different and very interesting example of compound
rhythm, occurs in the little rills which, at low tide, run over the sand
out of the shingle banks above. Where the channel of one of these is
narrow, and the stream runs strongly, the sand at the bottom is raised
into a series of ridges corresponding to the ripple of the water. On
watching for a short time, it will be seen that these ridges are being
raised higher and the ripple growing stronger; until at length, the
action becoming violent, the whole series of ridges is suddenly swept
away, the stream runs smoothly, and the process commences afresh.
Instances of still more complex rhythms might be added; but they will
come more appropriately in connexion with the several forms of
Evolution, hereafter to be dealt with.

From the ensemble of the facts as above set forth, it will be seen that
rhythm results wherever there is a conflict of forces not in
equilibrium. If the antagonist forces at any point are balanced, there
is rest; and in the absence of motion there can of course be no rhythm.
But if instead of a balance there is an excess of force in one
direction—if, as necessarily follows, motion is set up in that
direction; then for that motion to continue uniformly in that direction,
it is requisite that the moving matter should, notwithstanding its
unceasing change of place, present unchanging relations to the sources
of force by which its motion is produced and opposed. This however is
impossible. Every further transfer through space must alter the ratio
between the forces concerned—must increase or decrease the predominance
of one force over the other—must prevent uniformity of movement. And if
the movement cannot be uniform, then, in the absence of acceleration or
retardation continued through infinite time and space, (results which
cannot be conceived) the only alternative is rhythm.

A secondary conclusion must not be omitted. In the last chapter we saw
that motion is never absolutely rectilinear; and here it remains to be
added that, as a consequence, rhythm is necessarily incomplete. A truly
rectilinear rhythm can arise only when the opposing forces are in
exactly the same line; and the probabilities against this are infinitely
great. To generate a perfectly circular rhythm, the two forces concerned
must be exactly at right angles to each other, and must have exactly a
certain ratio; and against this the probabilities are likewise
infinitely great. All other proportions and directions of the two forces
will produce an ellipse of greater or less eccentricity. And when, as
indeed always happens, above two forces are engaged, the curve described
must be more complex; and cannot exactly repeat itself. So that in fact
throughout nature, this action and re-action of forces never brings
about a complete return to a previous state. Where the movement is very
involved, and especially where it is that of some aggregate whose units
are partially independent, anything like a regular curve is no longer
traceable; we see nothing more than a general oscillation. And on the
completion of any periodic movement, the degree in which the state
arrived at differs from the state departed from, is usually marked in
proportion as the influences at work are numerous.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 94. That spiral arrangement so general among the more diffused
nebulæ—an arrangement which must be assumed by matter moving towards a
centre of gravity through a resisting medium—shows us the progressive
establishment of revolution, and therefore of rhythm; in those remote
spaces which the nebulæ occupy. Double stars, moving round common
centres of gravity in periods some of which are now ascertained, exhibit
settled rhythmical actions in distant parts of our sidereal system. And
another fact which, though of a different order, has a like general
significance, is furnished by variable stars—stars which alternately
brighten and fade.

The periodicities of the planets, satellites, and comets, are so
familiar that it would be inexcusable to name them, were it not needful
here to point out that they are so many grand illustrations of this
general law of movement. But besides the revolutions of these bodies in
their orbits (all more or less excentric) and their rotations on their
axes, the Solar System presents us with various rhythms of a less
manifest and more complex kind. In each planet and satellite there is
the revolution of the nodes—a slow change in the position of the
orbit-plane, which after completing itself commences afresh. There is
the gradual alteration in the length of the axis major of the orbit; and
also of its excentricity: both of which are rhythmical alike in the
sense that they alternate between maxima and minima, and in the sense
that the progress from one extreme to the other is not uniform, but is
made with fluctuating velocity. Then, too, there is the revolution of
the line of apsides, which in course of time moves round the heavens—not
regularly, but through complex oscillations. And further we have
variations in the directions of the planetary axes—that known as
nutation, and that larger gyration which, in the case of the Earth,
causes the precession of the equinoxes.       These rhythms, already
more or less compound, are compounded with each other. Such an instance
as the secular acceleration and retardation of the moon, consequent on
the varying excentricity of the Earth’s orbit, is one of the simplest.
Another, having more important consequences, results from the changing
direction of the axes of rotation in planets whose orbits are decidedly
excentric. Every planet, during a certain long period, presents more of
its northern than of its southern hemisphere to the sun at the time of
its nearest approach to him; and then again, during a like period,
presents more of its southern hemisphere than of its northern—a
recurring coincidence which, though causing in some planets no sensible
alterations of climate, involves in the case of the Earth an epoch of
21,000 years, during which each hemisphere goes through a cycle of
temperate seasons, and seasons that are extreme in their heat and cold.
Nor is this all. There is even a variation of this variation. For the
summers and winters of the whole Earth become more or less strongly
contrasted, as the excentricity of its orbit increases and decreases.
Hence during increase of the excentricity, the epochs of moderately
contrasted seasons and epochs of strongly contrasted seasons, through
which alternately each hemisphere passes, must grow more and more
different in the degrees of their contrasts; and contrariwise during
decrease of the excentricity. So that in the quantity of light and heat
which any portion of the Earth receives from the sun, there goes on a
quadruple rhythm: that of day and night; that of summer and winter; that
due to the changing position of the axis at perihelion and aphelion,
taking 21,000 years to complete; and that involved by the variation of
the orbit’s excentricity, gone through in millions of years.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 95. Those terrestrial processes whose dependence on the solar heat is
direct, of course exhibit a rhythm that corresponds to the periodically
changing amount of heat which each part of the Earth receives. The
simplest, though the least obtrusive, instance is supplied by the
magnetic variations. In these there is a diurnal increase and decrease,
an annual increase and decrease, and a decennial increase and decrease;
the latter answering to a period during which the solar spots become
alternately abundant and scarce: besides which known variations there
are probably others corresponding with the astronomical cycles just
described. More obvious examples are furnished by the movements of the
ocean and the atmosphere. Marine currents from the equator to the poles
above, and from the poles to the equator beneath, show us an unceasing
backward and forward motion throughout this vast mass of water—a motion
varying in amount according to the seasons, and compounded with smaller
like motions of local origin. The similarly-caused general currents in
the air, have similar annual variations similarly modified. Irregular as
they are in detail, we still see in the monsoons and other tropical
atmospheric disturbances, or even in our own equinoctial gales and
spring east winds, a periodicity sufficiently decided.       Again, we
have an alternation of times during which evaporation predominates with
times during which condensation predominates: shown in the tropics by
strongly marked rainy seasons and seasons of drought, and in the
temperate zones by corresponding changes of which the periodicity,
though less definite, is still traceable. The diffusion and
precipitation of water, besides the slow alternations answering to
different parts of the year, furnish us with examples of rhythm of a
more rapid kind. During wet weather, lasting, let us say, over some
weeks, the tendency to condense, though greater than the tendency to
evaporate, does not show itself in continuous rain; but the period is
made up of rainy days and days that are wholly or partially fair. Nor is
it in this rude alternation only that the law is manifested. During any
day throughout this wet weather a minor rhythm is traceable; and
especially so when the tendencies to evaporate and to condense are
nearly balanced. Among mountains this minor rhythm and its causes may be
studied to great advantage. Moist winds, which do not precipitate their
contained water in passing over the comparatively warm lowlands, lose so
much heat when they reach the cold mountain peaks, that condensation
rapidly takes place. Water, however, in passing from the gaseous to the
fluid state, gives out a considerable amount of heat; and hence the
resulting clouds are warmer than the air that precipitates them, and
much warmer than the high rocky surfaces round which they fold
themselves. Hence in the course of the storm, these high rocky surfaces
are raised in temperature, partly by radiation from the enwrapping
cloud, partly by contact of the falling rain-drops. Giving off more heat
than before, they no longer lower so greatly the temperature of the air
passing over them; and so cease to precipitate its contained water. The
clouds break; the sky begins to clear; and a gleam of sunshine promises
that the day is going to be fine. But the small supply of heat which the
cold mountain’s sides have received, is soon lost: especially when the
dispersion of the clouds permits free radiation into space. Very soon,
therefore, these elevated surfaces, becoming as cold as at first, (or
perhaps even colder in virtue of the evaporation set up,) begin again to
condense the vapour in the air above; and there comes another storm,
followed by the same effects as before. In lowland regions this action
and reaction is usually less conspicuous, because the contrast of
temperatures is less marked. Even here, however, it may be traced; and
that not only on showery days, but on days of continuous rain; for in
these we do not see uniformity: always there are fits of harder and
gentler rain that are probably caused as above explained.

Of course these meteorologic rhythms involve something corresponding to
them in the changes wrought by wind and water on the Earth’s surface.
Variations in the quantities of sediment brought down by rivers that
rise and fall with the seasons, must cause variations in the resulting
strata—alternations of colour or quality in the successive laminæ. Beds
formed from the detritus of shores worn down and carried away by the
waves, must similarly show periodic differences answering to the
periodic winds of the locality. In so far as frost influences the rate
of denudation, its recurrence is a factor in the rhythm of sedimentary
deposits. And the geological changes produced by glaciers and icebergs
must similarly have their alternating periods of greater and less

There is evidence also that modifications in the Earth’s crust due to
igneous action have a certain periodicity. Volcanic eruptions are not
continuous but intermittent, and as far as the data enable us to judge,
have a certain average rate of recurrence; which rate of recurrence is
complicated by rising into epochs of greater activity and falling into
epochs of comparative quiescence. So too is it with earthquakes and the
elevations or depressions caused by them. At the mouth of the
Mississippi, the alternation of strata gives decisive proof of
successive sinkings of the surface, that have taken place at tolerably
equal intervals. Everywhere, in the extensive groups of conformable
strata that imply small subsidences recurring with a certain average
frequency, we see a rhythm in the action and reaction between the
Earth’s crust and its molten contents—a rhythm compounded with those
slower ones shown in the termination of groups of strata, and the
commencement of other groups not conformable to them.       There is
even reason for suspecting a geological periodicity that is immensely
slower and far wider in its effects; namely, an alternation of those
vast upheavals and submergencies by which continents are produced where
there were oceans, and oceans where there were continents. For
supposing, as we may fairly do, that the Earth’s crust is throughout of
tolerably equal thickness, it is manifest that such portions of it as
become most depressed below the average level, must have their inner
surfaces most exposed to the currents of molten matter circulating
within, and will therefore undergo a larger amount of what may be called
igneous denudation; while, conversely, the withdrawal of the inner
surfaces from these currents where the Earth’s crust is most elevated,
will cause a thickening more or less compensating the aqueous denudation
going on externally. Hence those depressed areas over which the deepest
oceans lie, being gradually thinned beneath and not covered by much
sedimentary deposit above, will become areas of least resistance, and
will then begin to yield to the upward pressure of the Earth’s contents;
whence will result, throughout such areas, long-continued elevations,
ceasing only when the reverse state of things has been brought about.
Whether this speculation be well or ill founded, does not however affect
the general conclusion. Apart from it we have sufficient evidence that
geologic processes are rhythmical.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 96. Perhaps nowhere are the illustrations of rhythm so numerous and so
manifest as among the phenomena of life. Plants do not, indeed, usually
show us any decided periodicities, save those determined by day and
night and by the seasons. But in animals we have a great variety of
movements in which the alternation of opposite extremes goes on with all
degrees of rapidity. The swallowing of food is effected by a wave of
constriction passing along the œsophagus; its digestion is accompanied
by a muscular action of the stomach that is also undulatory; and the
peristaltic motion of the intestines is of like nature. The blood
obtained from this food is propelled not in a uniform current but in
pulses; and it is aerated by lungs that alternately contract and expand.
All locomotion results from oscillating movements: even where it is
apparently continuous, as in many minute forms, the microscope proves
the vibration of cilia to be the agency by which the creature is moved
smoothly forwards.

Primary rhythms of the organic actions are compounded with secondary
ones of longer duration. These various modes of activity have their
recurring periods of increase and decrease. We see this in the periodic
need for food, and in the periodic need for repose. Each meal induces a
more rapid rhythmic action of the digestive organs; the pulsation of the
heart is accelerated; and the inspirations become more frequent. During
sleep, on the contrary, these several movements slacken. So that in the
course of the twenty-four hours, those small undulations of which the
different kinds of organic action are constituted, undergo one long wave
of increase and decrease, complicated with several minor waves.
      Experiments have shown that there are still slower rises and falls
of functional activity. Waste and assimilation are not balanced by every
meal, but one or other maintains for some time a slight excess; so that
a person in ordinary health is found to undergo an increase and decrease
of weight during recurring intervals of tolerable equality. Besides
these regular periods there are still longer and comparatively irregular
ones; namely, those alternations of greater and less vigour, which even
healthy people experience. So inevitable are these oscillations that
even men in training cannot be kept stationary at their highest power,
but when they have reached it begin to retrograde.       Further
evidence of rhythm in the vital movements is furnished by invalids.
Sundry disorders are named from the intermittent character of their
symptoms. Even where the periodicity is not very marked, it is mostly
traceable. Patients rarely if ever get uniformly worse; and
convalescents have usually their days of partial relapse or of less
decided advance.

Aggregates of living creatures illustrate the general truth in other
ways. If each species of organism be regarded as a whole, it displays
two kinds of rhythm. Life as it exists in all the members of such
species, is an extremely complex kind of movement, more or less distinct
from the kinds of movement which constitutes life in other species. In
each individual of the species, this extremely complex kind of movement
begins, rises to its climax, declines, and ceases in death. And every
successive generation thus exhibits a wave of that peculiar activity
characterizing the species as a whole.       The other form of rhythm is
to be traced in that variation of number which each tribe of animals and
plants is ever undergoing. Throughout the unceasing conflict between the
tendency of a species to increase and the antagonistic tendencies, there
is never an equilibrium: one always predominates. In the case even of a
cultivated plant or domesticated animal, where artificial means are used
to maintain the supply at a uniform level, we still see that
oscillations of abundance and scarcity cannot be avoided. And among the
creatures uncared for by man, such oscillations are usually more marked.
After a race of organisms has been greatly thinned by enemies or lack of
food, its surviving members become more favourably circumstanced than
usual. During the decline in their numbers their food has grown
relatively more abundant; while their enemies have diminished from want
of prey. The conditions thus remain for some time favourable to their
increase; and they multiply rapidly. By and by their food is rendered
relatively scarce, at the same time that their enemies have become more
numerous; and the destroying influences being thus in excess, their
number begins to diminish again.       Yet one more rhythm, extremely
slow in its action, may be traced in the phenomena of Life, contemplated
under their most general aspect. The researches of palæontologists show,
that there have been going on, during the vast period of which our
sedimentary rocks bear record, successive changes of organic forms.
Species have appeared, become abundant, and then disappeared. Genera, at
first constituted of but few species, have for a time gone on growing
more multiform; and then have begun to decline in the number of their
subdivisions; leaving at last but one or two representatives, or none at
all. During longer epochs whole orders have thus arisen, culminated, and
dwindled away. And even those wider divisions containing many orders
have similarly undergone a gradual rise, a high tide, and a
long-continued ebb. The stalked _Crinoidea_, for example, which, during
the carboniferous epoch, became abundant, have almost disappeared: only
a single species being extant. Once a large family of molluscs, the
_Brachiopoda_ have now become rare. The shelled Cephalopods, at one time
dominant among the inhabitants of the ocean, both in number of forms and
of individuals, are in our day nearly extinct. And after an “age of
reptiles,” there has come an age in which reptiles have been in great
measure supplanted by mammals. Whether these vast rises and falls of
different kinds of life ever undergo anything approaching to
repetitions, (which they may possibly do in correspondence with those
vast cycles of elevation and subsidence that produce continents and
oceans,) it is sufficiently clear that Life on the Earth has not
progressed uniformly, but in immense undulations.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 97. It is not manifest that the changes of consciousness are in any
sense rhythmical. Yet here, too, analysis proves both that the mental
state existing at any moment is not uniform, but is decomposable into
rapid oscillations; and also that mental states pass through longer
intervals of increasing and decreasing intensity.

Though while attending to any single sensation, or any group of related
sensations constituting the consciousness of an object, we seem to
remain for the time in a persistent and homogeneous condition of mind, a
careful self-examination shows that this apparently unbroken mental
state is in truth traversed by a number of minor states, in which
various other sensations and perceptions are rapidly presented and
disappear. From the admitted fact that thinking consists in the
establishment of relations, it is a necessary corollary that the
maintenance of consciousness in any one state to the entire exclusion of
other states, would be a cessation of thought, that is, of
consciousness. So that any seemingly continuous feeling, say of
pressure, really consists of portions of that feeling perpetually
recurring after the momentary intrusion of other feelings and
ideas—quick thoughts concerning the place where it is felt, the external
object producing it, its consequences, and other things suggested by
association. Thus there is going on an extremely rapid departure from,
and return to, that particular mental state which we regard as
persistent. Besides the evidence of rhythm in consciousness which direct
analysis thus affords, we may gather further evidence from the
correlation between feeling and movement. Sensations and emotions expend
themselves in producing muscular contractions. If a sensation or emotion
were strictly continuous, there would be a continuous discharge along
those motor nerves acted upon. But so far as experiments with artificial
stimuli enable us to judge, a continuous discharge along the nerve
leading to a muscle, does not contract it: a broken discharge is
required—a rapid succession of shocks. Hence muscular contraction
pre-supposes that rhythmic state of consciousness which direct
observation discloses.       A much more conspicuous rhythm, having
longer waves, is seen during the outflow of emotion into dancing,
poetry, and music. The current of mental energy that shows itself in
these modes of bodily action, is not continuous, but falls into a
succession of pulses. The measure of a dance is produced by the
alternation of strong muscular contractions with weaker ones; and, save
in measures of the simplest order such as are found among barbarians and
children, this alternation is compounded with longer rises and falls in
the degree of muscular excitement. Poetry is a form of speech which
results when the emphasis is regularly recurrent; that is, when the
muscular effort of pronunciation has definite periods of greater and
less intensity—periods that are complicated with others of like nature
answering to the successive verses. Music, in still more various ways,
exemplifies the law. There are the recurring bars, in each of which
there is a primary and a secondary beat. There is the alternate increase
and decrease of muscular strain, implied by the ascents and descents to
the higher and lower notes—ascents and descents composed of smaller
waves, breaking the rises and falls of the larger ones, in a mode
peculiar to each melody. And then we have, further, the alternation of
_piano_ and _forte_ passages. That these several kinds of rhythm,
characterizing æsthetic expression, are not, in the common sense of the
word, artificial, but are intenser forms of an undulatory movement
habitually generated by feeling in its bodily discharge, is shown by the
fact that they are all traceable in ordinary speech; which in every
sentence has its primary and secondary emphases, and its cadence
containing a chief rise and fall complicated with subordinate rises and
falls; and which is accompanied by a more or less oscillatory action of
the limbs when the emotion is great.       Still longer undulations may
be observed by every one, in himself and in others, on occasions of
extreme pleasure or extreme pain. Note, in the first place, that pain
having its origin in bodily disorder, is nearly always perceptibly
rhythmical. During hours in which it never actually ceases, it has its
variations of intensity—fits or paroxysms; and then after these hours of
suffering there usually come hours of comparative ease. Moral pain has
the like smaller and larger waves. One possessed by intense grief does
not utter continuous moans, or shed tears with an equable rapidity; but
these signs of passion come in recurring bursts. Then after a time
during which such stronger and weaker waves of emotion alternate, there
comes a calm—a time of comparative deadness; to which again succeeds
another interval, when dull sorrow rises afresh into acute anguish, with
its series of paroxysms. Similarly in great delight, especially as
manifested by children who have its display less under control, there
are visible variations in the intensity of feeling shown—fits of
laughter and dancing about, separated by pauses in which smiles, and
other slight manifestations of pleasure, suffice to discharge the
lessened excitement.       Nor are there wanting evidences of mental
undulations greater in length than any of these—undulations which take
weeks, or months, or years, to complete themselves. We continually hear
of moods which recur at intervals. Very many persons have their epochs
of vivacity and depression. There are periods of industry following
periods of idleness; and times at which particular subjects or tastes
are cultivated with zeal, alternating with times at which they are
neglected. Respecting which slow oscillations, the only qualification to
be made is, that being affected by numerous influences, they are
comparatively irregular.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 98. In nomadic societies the changes of place, determined as they
usually are by exhaustion or failure of the supply of food, are
periodic; and in many cases show a recurrence answering to the seasons.
Each tribe that has become in some degree fixed in its locality, goes on
increasing, till under the pressures of unsatisfied desires, there
results migration of some part of it to a new region—a process repeated
at intervals. From such excesses of population, and such successive
waves of migration, come conflicts with other tribes; which are also
increasing and tending to diffuse themselves. This antagonism, like all
others, results not in an uniform motion, but in an intermittent one.
War, exhaustion, recoil—peace, prosperity, and renewed aggression:—see
here the alternation more or less discernible in the military activities
of both savage and civilized nations. And irregular as is this rhythm,
it is not more so than the different sizes of the societies, and the
extremely involved causes of variation in their strengths, would lead us
to anticipate.

Passing from external to internal changes, we meet with this backward
and forward movement under many forms. In the currents of commerce it is
especially conspicuous. Exchange during early times is almost wholly
carried on at fairs, held at long intervals in the chief centres of
population. The flux and reflux of people and commodities which each of
these exhibits, becomes more frequent as national development leads to
greater social activity. The more rapid rhythm of weekly markets begins
to supersede the slow rhythm of fairs. And eventually the process of
exchange becomes at certain places so active, as to bring about daily
meetings of buyers and sellers—a daily wave of accumulation and
distribution of cotton, or corn, or capital.       If from exchange we
turn to production and consumption, we see undulations, much longer
indeed in their periods, but almost equally obvious. Supply and demand
are never completely adapted to each other; but each of them from time
to time in excess, leads presently to an excess of the other. Farmers
who have one season produced wheat very abundantly, are disgusted with
the consequent low price; and next season, sowing a much smaller
quantity, bring to market a deficient crop; whence follows a converse
effect. Consumption undergoes parallel undulations that need not be
specified. The balancing of supplies between different districts, too,
entails analogous oscillations. A place at which some necessary of life
is scarce, becomes a place to which currents of it are set up from other
places where it is relatively abundant; and these currents from all
sides lead to a wave of accumulation where they meet—a glut: whence
follows a recoil—a partial return of the currents.       But the
undulatory character of these actions is perhaps best seen in the rises
and falls of prices. These, given in numerical measures which may be
tabulated and reduced to diagrams, show us in the clearest manner how
commercial movements are compounded of oscillations of various
magnitudes. The price of consols or the price of wheat, as thus
represented, is seen to undergo vast ascents and descents whose highest
and lowest points are reached only in the course of years. These largest
waves of variation are broken by others extending over periods of
perhaps many months. On these again come others having a week or two’s
duration. And were the changes marked in greater detail, we should have
the smaller undulations that take place each day, and the still smaller
ones which brokers telegraph from hour to hour. The whole outline would
show a complication like that of a vast ocean-swell, on whose surface
there rise large billows, which themselves bear waves of moderate size,
covered by wavelets, that are roughened by a minute ripple. Similar
diagrammatic representations of births, marriages, and deaths, of
disease, of crime, of pauperism, exhibit involved conflicts of
rhythmical motions throughout society under these several aspects.

There are like characteristics in social changes of a more complex kind.
Both in England and among continental nations, the action and reaction
of political progress have come to be generally recognized. Religion,
besides its occasional revivals of smaller magnitude, has its long
periods of exaltation and depression—generations of belief and
self-mortification, following generations of indifference and laxity.
There are poetical epochs, and epochs in which the sense of the
beautiful seems almost dormant. Philosophy, after having been awhile
predominant, lapses for a long season into neglect; and then again
slowly revives. Each science has its eras of deductive reasoning, and
its eras when attention is chiefly directed to collecting and
colligating facts. And how in such minor but more obtrusive phenomena as
those of fashion, there are ever going on oscillations from one extreme
to the other, is a trite observation.

As may be foreseen, social rhythms well illustrate the irregularity that
results from combination of many causes. Where the variations are those
of one simple element in national life, as the supply of a particular
commodity, we do indeed witness a return, after many involved movements,
to a previous condition—the price may become what it was before:
implying a like relative abundance. But where the action is one into
which many factors enter, there is never a recurrence of exactly the
same state. A political reaction never brings round just the old form of
things. The rationalism of the present day differs widely from the
rationalism of the last century. And though fashion from time to time
revives extinct types of dress, these always re-appear with decided

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 99. The universality of this principle suggests a question like that
raised in foregoing cases. Rhythm being manifested in all forms of
movement, we have reason to suspect that it is determined by some
primordial condition to action in general. The tacit implication is that
it is deducible from the persistence of force. This we shall find to be
the fact.

When the prong of a tuning-fork is pulled on one side by the finger, a
certain extra tension is produced among its cohering particles; which
resist any force that draws them out of their state of equilibrium. As
much force as the finger exerts in pulling the prong aside, so much
opposing force is brought into play among the cohering particles. Hence,
when the prong is liberated, it is urged back by a force equal to that
used in deflecting it. When, therefore, the prong reaches its original
position, the force impressed on it during its recoil, has generated in
it a corresponding amount of momentum—an amount of momentum nearly
equivalent, that is, to the force originally impressed (nearly, we must
say, because a certain portion has gone in communicating motion to the
air, and a certain other portion has been transformed into heat). This
momentum carries the prong beyond the position of rest, nearly as far as
it was originally drawn in the reverse direction; until at length, being
gradually used up in producing an opposing tension among the particles,
it is all lost. The opposing tension into which the expended momentum
has been transformed, then generates a second recoil; and so on
continually—the vibration eventually ceasing only because at each
movement a certain amount of force goes in creating atmospheric and
etherial undulations. Now it needs but to contemplate this repeated
action and reaction, to see that it is, like every action and reaction,
a consequence of the persistence of force. The force exerted by the
finger in bending the prong cannot disappear. Under what form then does
it exist? It exists under the form of that cohesive tension which it has
generated among the particles. This cohesive tension cannot cease
without an equivalent result. What is its equivalent result? The
momentum generated in the prong while being carried back to its position
of rest. This momentum too—what becomes of it? It must either continue
as momentum, or produce some correlative force of equal amount. It
cannot continue as momentum, since change of place is resisted by the
cohesion of the parts; and thus it gradually disappears by being
transformed into tension among these parts. This is re-transformed into
the equivalent momentum; and so on continuously.       If instead of
motion that is directly antagonized by the cohesion of matter, we
consider motion through space, the same truth presents itself under
another form. Though here no opposing force seems at work, and therefore
no cause of rhythm is apparent, yet its own accumulated momentum must
eventually carry the moving body beyond the body attracting it; and so
must become a force at variance with that which generated it. From this
conflict, rhythm necessarily results as in the foregoing case. The force
embodied as momentum in a given direction, cannot be destroyed; and if
it eventually disappears, it re-appears in the reaction on the retarding
body; which begins afresh to draw the now arrested mass back from its
aphelion. The only conditions under which there could be absence of
rhythm—the only conditions, that is, under which there could be a
continuous motion through space in the same straight line for ever,
would be the existence of an infinity void of everything but the moving
body. And neither of these conditions can be represented in thought.
Infinity is inconceivable; and so also is a motion which never had a
commencement in some pre-existing source of power.       Thus, then,
rhythm is a necessary characteristic of all motion. Given the
coexistence everywhere of antagonist forces—a postulate which, as we
have seen, is necessitated by the form of our experience—and rhythm is
an inevitable corollary from the persistence of force.

Hence, throughout that re-arrangement of parts which constitutes
Evolution, we must nowhere expect to see the change from one position of
things to another, effected by continuous movement in the same
direction. Be it in that kind of Evolution which the inorganic creation
presents, or in that presented by the organic creation, we shall
everywhere find a periodicity of action and reaction—a backward and
forward motion, of which progress is a differential result.


Footnote 15:

  After having for some years supposed myself alone in the belief that
  all motion is rhythmical, I discovered that my friend Professor
  Tyndall also held this doctrine.

                              CHAPTER XII.

§ 100. One more preliminary is needful before proceeding. We have still
to study the conditions under which alone, Evolution can take place.

The process to be interpreted is, as already said, a certain change in
the arrangement of parts. That increase of heterogeneity commonly
displayed throughout Evolution, is not an increase in the number of
kinds of ultimate or undecomposable units which an aggregate contains;
but it is a change in the distribution of such units. If it be assumed
that what we call chemical elements, are absolutely simple (which is,
however, an hypothesis having no better warrant than the opposite one);
then it must be admitted that in respect to the number of kinds of
matter contained in it, the Earth is not more heterogeneous at present
than it was at first—that in this respect, it would be as heterogeneous
were all its undecomposable parts uniformly mixed, as it is now, when
they are arranged and combined in countless different ways. But the
increase of heterogeneity with which we have to deal, and of which alone
our senses can take cognizance, is that produced by the passage from
unity of distribution to variety of distribution. Given an aggregate
consisting of several orders of primitive units that are unchangeable;
then, these units may be so uniformly dispersed among each other, that
any portion of the mass shall be like any other portion in its sensible
properties; or they may be so segregated, simply and in endless
combinations, that the various portions of the mass shall not be like
each other in their sensible properties. A transformation of one of
these arrangements into the other, is that which constitutes Evolution.
We have to analyze the process through which structural uniformity
becomes structural multiformity—to ascertain how the originally equal
relations of position among the mixed units, pass into relations of
position that are more and more unequal, and more and more numerous in
their kinds of inequality; and how this takes place throughout all the
ascending grades of compound units, until we come even to those of which
societies are made up.

Change in the relations of position among the component units, simple or
complex, being the phenomenon we have to interpret; we must first
inquire what are the circumstances which prevent its occurrence, and
what are the circumstances which facilitate it.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 101. The constituents of an aggregate cannot be re-arranged, unless
they are moveable: manifestly, they must not be so firmly bound together
that the incident force fails to alter their positions. No bodies are,
indeed, possessed of this absolute rigidity; since an incident force in
being propagated through a body, always produces temporary alterations
in the relative positions of its units, if not permanent alterations. It
is true also, that even permanent re-arrangements of the units may be
thus wrought throughout the interiors of comparatively dense masses,
without any outward sign: as happens with certain crystals, which, on
exposure to sunlight, undergo molecular changes so great as to alter
their planes of cleavage. Nevertheless, since total immobility of the
parts must totally negative their re-arrangement; and since that
comparative immobility which we see in very coherent matter, is a great
obstacle to re-arrangement; it is self-evident that Evolution can be
exhibited in any considerable degree, only where there is comparative
mobility of parts.       On the other hand, those definite distributive
changes which constitute Evolution, cannot be extensively or variously
displayed, where the mobility of the parts is extreme. In liquids, the
cohesion of the units is so slight that there is no permanency in their
relations of position to each other. Such re-arrangement as any incident
force generates, is immediately destroyed again by the momentum of the
constituents moved; and so, nothing but that temporary heterogeneity
seen in circulating currents, can be produced. The like still more
obviously holds of gases.       Thus, while the theoretical limits
between which Evolution is possible, are absolute immobility of parts
and absolute mobility of parts; we may say that practically, Evolution
cannot go on to any considerable extent where the mobility is very great
or very little. A few examples will facilitate the realization of this

The highest degrees of Evolution are found in semi-solid bodies, or
bodies that come midway between the two extremes specified. Even
semi-solid bodies of the inorganic class, exhibit the segregation of
mixed units with comparative readiness: witness the fact to which
attention was first drawn by Mr. Babbage, that when the pasty mixture of
ground flints and kaolin, prepared for the manufacture of porcelain, is
kept some time, it becomes gritty and unfit for use, in consequence of
the particles of silica separating themselves from the rest, and uniting
together in grains; or witness the fact known to every housewife, that
in long-kept currant-jelly the sugar takes the shape of imbedded
crystals. While throughout the immense majority of the semi-solid
bodies, namely, the organic bodies, the proclivity to a re-arrangement
of parts is so comparatively great, as to be usually taken for a
distinctive characteristic of them.       Among organic bodies
themselves, we may trace contrasts having a like significance. It is an
accepted generalization that, other things equal, the rate of Evolution
is greatest where the plasticity is most marked. In that portion of an
egg which displays the formative processes during the early stages of
incubation, the changes of arrangement are more rapid than those which
an equal portion of the body of a hatched chick undergoes. As may be
inferred from their respective powers to acquire habits and aptitudes,
the structural modifiability of a child is greater than that of an adult
man; and the structural modifiability of an adult man is greater than
that of an old man: contrasts which are accompanied by corresponding
contrasts in the densities of the tissues; since the ratio of water to
solid matter diminishes with advancing age.       The most decisive
proof, however, is furnished by those marked retardations or arrests of
organic change, that take place when the tissues suffer a great loss of
water. Certain of the lower animals, as the _Rotifera_, may be rendered
apparently lifeless by desiccation, and will yet revive when wetted: as
their substance passes from the fluid-solid to the solid state, it
ceases to be the seat of those changes which constitute functional
activity and cause structural advance; and such changes recommence as
their substance passes from the solid to the fluid-solid state.
Analogous instances occur among much higher animals. When the African
rivers which it inhabits are dried up, the _Lepidosiren_ remains torpid
in the hardened mud, until the return of the rainy season brings water.
Humboldt states that during the summer drought, the alligators of the
Pampas lie buried in a state of suspended animation beneath the parched
surface, and struggle up out of the earth as soon as it becomes humid.
Now though we have no proof that these partial arrests of vital
activity, are consequent on the reduction of the fluid-solid tissues to
a more solid form; yet their occurrence along with a cessation in the
supply of water, is reason for suspecting that this is the case. And
similarly, though in the more numerous instances where loss of water
leads to complete arrest of vital activity, we are unable to say that
the immediate cause is a stoppage of molecular changes that results from
a diminution of molecular mobility; yet it seems not improbable that
this is the rationale of death by thirst.

Probably few will expect to find this same condition to Evolution,
illustrated in aggregates so widely different in kind as societies. Yet
even here it may be shown that no considerable degree of Evolution is
exhibited, where there is either great mobility of the parts, or great
immobility of them. In such tribes as those inhabiting Australia, we see
extremely little cohesion among the units: there is neither that partial
fixity of relative positions which results from the commencement of
agriculture, nor that partial fixity of relative positions implied by
the establishment of social grades. And along with this want of
cohesion, we find an absence of permanent differentiations. Conversely,
in societies of the oriental type, where accumulated traditions, laws,
and usages, and long-fixed class-arrangements, exercise great
restraining power over individual actions, we find Evolution almost
stopped. Through the medium of institutions and opinions, the forces
brought to bear on each unit by the rest, are so great as to prevent the
units from sensibly yielding to forces tending to re-arrange them. The
condition most favourable to increase of social heterogeneity, is a
medium coherence among the parts—a moderate facility of change in the
relations of citizens, joined with a moderate resistance to such
change—a considerable freedom of individual actions, qualified by a
considerable restraint over individual actions—a certain attachment to
pre-established arrangements, and a certain readiness to be impelled by
new influences into new arrangements—a compromise between fixity and
unfixity such as that which we, perhaps as much as any nation, exhibit.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 102. Another condition to Evolution, of the same order as the last
though of a different genus, must be noted. We have found that permanent
re-arrangement among the units of an aggregate, can take place only when
they have neither extreme immobility nor extreme mobility. The mobility
and immobility thus far considered (at least in all aggregates except
social ones) are those due to mechanical cohesion. There is, however,
what we must call chemical cohesion, which also influences the mobility
of the units, and consequently the re-arrangement of them. Manifestly,
if two or more kinds of units contained in any aggregate, are united by
powerful affinities, an incident force, failing to destroy their
cohesions, will not cause such various re-arrangements as it would,
could it produce new chemical combinations as well as new mechanical
adjustments. On the other hand, chemical affinities that are easily
overcome, must be favourable to multiplied re-arrangements of the units.

This condition, as well as the preceding one, is fulfilled in the
highest degree, by those aggregates which most variously display the
transformation of the uniform into the multiform. Organic bodies are on
the average distinguished from inorganic bodies, by the readiness with
which the compounds they consist of undergo decomposition, and
recomposition: the chemical cohesions of their components are so
comparatively small, that small incident forces suffice to overcome them
and cause transpositions of the components. Further, between the two
great divisions of organisms, we find a contrast in the degree of
Evolution co-existing with a contrast in the degree of chemical
modifiability. As a class, the nitrogenous compounds are peculiarly
unstable; and, speaking generally, these are present in much larger
quantities in animal tissues than they are in vegetal tissues; while,
speaking generally, animals are much more heterogeneous than plants.

Under this head it may be well also to point out that, other things
equal, the structural variety which is possible in any aggregate, must
bear a relation to the number of kinds of units contained in the
aggregate. A body made up of units of one order, cannot admit of so many
different re-arrangements, as one made up of units of two orders. And
each additional order of units must increase, in a geometrical
proportion, the number of re-arrangements that may be made.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 103. Yet one more condition to be specified, is the state of agitation
in which the constituents of an aggregate are kept. A familiar
expedience will introduce us to this condition. When a vessel has been
filled to the brim with loose fragments, shaking the vessel causes them
to settle down into less space, so that more may be put in. And when
among these fragments, there are some of much greater specific gravity
than the rest, these will, in the course of a prolonged shaking, find
their way to the bottom. What now is the meaning of these two results,
when expressed in general terms? We have a group of units acted on by an
incident force—the attraction of the Earth. So long as these units are
not agitated, this incident force produces no changes in their relative
positions; agitate them, and immediately their loose arrangement passes
into a more compact arrangement. Again, so long as they are not
agitated, the incident force cannot separate the heavier units from the
lighter; agitate them, and immediately the heavier units begin to
segregate. By these illustrations, a rude idea will be conveyed of the
effect which vibration has in facilitating those re-arrangements which
constitute Evolution. What here happens with visible units subject to
visible oscillations, happens also with invisible units subject to
invisible oscillations.

One or two cases in which these oscillations are of mechanical origin,
may first be noted. When a bar of steel is suspended in the magnetic
meridian, and repeatedly so struck as to send vibrations through it, it
becomes magnetized: the magnetic force of the Earth, which does not
permanently affect it while undisturbed, alters its internal state when
a mechanical agitation is propagated among its particles; and the
alteration is believed by physicists, to be a molecular re-arrangement.
It may be fairly objected that this re-arrangement is hypothetical; and
did the fact stand alone, it would be of little worth. It gains
significance, however, when joined with the fact that in the same
substance, long-continued mechanical vibrations are followed by
molecular re-arrangements that are abundantly visible. A piece of iron
which, when it leaves the workshop, is fibrous in structure, will become
crystalline if exposed to a perpetual jar. Though the polar forces
mutually exercised by the atoms, fail to change their disorderly
arrangement into an orderly arrangement while the atoms are relatively
quiescent, these forces produce this change when the atoms are kept in a
state of intestine disturbance.

But the effects which visible oscillations and oscillations sensible to
touch, have in facilitating the re-arrangement of parts by an incident
force, are insignificant compared with the effects which insensible
oscillations have in aiding such change of structure. It is a doctrine
now generally accepted among men of science, that the particles of
tangible matter, as well as the particles of ether, undulate. As
interpreted in conformity with this doctrine, the heat of a body is
simply its state of molecular motion. A mass which feels cold, is one
having but slight molecular motion, and conveying but slight molecular
motion to the surrounding medium or to the hand touching it. A mass hot
enough to radiate a sensible warmth, is one of which the more violently
agitated molecules, communicate increased undulations to the surrounding
ethereal medium; while the burn inflicted by it on the skin, is the
expression of increased undulations of the organic molecules. Such
further heat as produces softening and a consequent distortion of the
mass, is an agitation so much augmented that the units can no longer
completely maintain their relative positions. Fusion is an agitation so
extreme, that the relative positions of the units are changeable with
ease. When, finally, at a still higher temperature, the liquid is
transformed into a gas, the explanation is, that the oscillations are so
violent as to overbalance that force which held the units in close
contiguity—so violent as to keep the units at those relatively great
distances apart to which they are now thrown.       Since the
establishment of the correlation between heat and motion first gave
probability to this hypothesis, it has been receiving various
confirmations—especially by recent remarkable discoveries respecting the
absorption of heat by gases. Prof. Tyndall has proved that the quantity
of heat which any gas takes up from rays of heat passing through it, has
a distinct relation to the complexity of the atoms composing the gas.
The simple gases abstract but little; the gases composed of binary atoms
abstract, say in round numbers, a hundred times as much; while the gases
composed of atoms severally containing three, four, or more simple ones,
abstract something like a thousand times as much. These differences
Prof. Tyndall regards as due to the different abilities of the different
atoms to take up, in the increase of their own undulations, those
undulations of the ethereal medium which constitute heat—an
interpretation in perfect accordance with the late results of
spectrum-analysis; which go to show that the various elementary atoms,
when in an aeriform state, intercept those luminiferous vibrations of
the ether which are in unison or harmony with their own. And since it
holds of solid as of gaseous matters, that those consisting of simple
units transmit heat far more readily than those consisting of complex
units; we get confirmation of the inference otherwise reached, that the
units of matter in whatever state of aggregation they exist, oscillate,
and that variations of temperature are variations in the amounts of
their oscillations.

Proceeding on this hypothesis, which it would be out of place here to
defend at greater length, we have now to note how the re-arrangement of
parts is facilitated by these insensible vibrations, as we have seen it
to be by sensible vibrations. One or two cases of physical
re-arrangement may first be noted.       When some molten glass is
dropped into water, and when its outside is thus, by sudden
solidification, prevented from partaking in that contraction which the
subsequent cooling of the inside tends to produce; the units are left in
such a state of tension, that the mass flies into fragments if a small
portion of it be broken off. But now, if this mass be kept for a day or
two at a considerable heat, though a heat not sufficient to alter its
form or produce any sensible diminution of hardness, this extreme
brittleness disappears: the component particles being thrown into
greater agitation, the tensile forces are enabled to re-arrange them
into a state of equilibrium. An illustration of another order is
furnished by the subsidence of fine precipitates. These sink down very
slowly from solutions that are cold; while warm solutions deposit them
with comparative rapidity. That is to say, an increase of molecular
vibration throughout the mass, allows the suspended particles to
separate more readily from the particles of fluid.       The effect of
heat on chemical re-arrangement is so familiar, that examples are
scarcely needed. Be the substances concerned gaseous, liquid, or solid,
it equally holds that their chemical unions and disunions are aided by a
rise of temperature. Affinities which do not suffice to effect the
re-arrangement of mixed units that are in a state of feeble agitation,
suffice to effect it when the agitation is raised to a certain point.
And so long as this molecular motion is not great enough to prevent
those chemical cohesions which the affinities tend to produce, increase
of it gives increased facility of chemical re-arrangement.

This condition, in common with the preceding ones, is fulfilled most
completely in those aggregates which exhibit the phenomena of Evolution
in the highest degree; namely, the organic aggregates. And throughout
the various orders and states of these, we find minor contrasts showing
the relation between amount of molecular vibration and activity of the
metamorphic changes. Such contrasts may be arranged in the several
following groups.       Speaking generally, the phenomena of Evolution
are manifested in a much lower degree throughout the vegetal kingdom
than throughout the animal kingdom; and speaking generally, the heat of
plants is less than that of animals. Among plants themselves, the
organic changes vary in rate as the temperature varies. Though light is
the agent which effects those molecular changes causing vegetal growth,
yet we see that in the absence of heat, such changes are not effected:
in winter there is enough light, but the heat being insufficient,
plant-life is suspended. That this is the sole cause of the suspension,
is proved by the fact that at the same season, plants contained in
hot-houses, where they receive even a smaller amount of light, go on
producing leaves and flowers.       A comparison of the several
divisions of the animal kingdom with each other, shows among them
parallel relations. Regarded as a whole, vertebrate animals are higher
in temperature than invertebrate ones; and they are as a whole higher in
organic activity and development. Between subdivisions of the vertebrata
themselves, like differences in the state of molecular vibration,
accompany like differences in the degree of evolution. The least
heterogeneous of the vertebrata are the fishes; and in most cases, the
heat of fishes is nearly the same as that of the water in which they
swim: only some of them being decidedly warmer. Though we habitually
speak of reptiles as cold-blooded; and though they have not much more
power than fishes of maintaining a temperature above that of their
medium; yet since their medium (which is, in the majority of cases, the
air of warm climates) is on the average warmer than the medium inhabited
by fishes, the temperature of the class of reptiles is higher than that
of the class of fishes; and we see in them a correspondingly higher
complexity. The much more active molecular agitation in mammals and
birds, is associated with a considerably greater multiformity of
structure and a very much greater vivacity. And though birds, which are
hotter blooded than mammals, do not show us a greater multiformity; yet,
judging from their apparently greater locomotive powers, we may infer
more rapid functional changes, which, equally with structural changes,
imply molecular re-arrangement.       The most instructive contrasts,
however, are those presented by the same organic aggregates at different
temperatures. Thus we see that ova undergoing development, must be kept
more or less warm—that in the absence of a certain molecular vibration,
the re-arrangement of parts does not go on. We see, again, that in
hybernating animals, loss of heat carried to a particular point, results
in extreme retardation of the organic changes. Yet further, we see that
in animals which do not hybernate, as in man, prolonged exposure to
extreme cold, produces an irresistible tendency to sleep (which implies
a lowering of the functional activity); and then, if the abstraction of
heat continues, this sleep ends in death, or arrest of functional
activity. Lastly, we see that when the temperature is lowered till the
contained water solidifies, there is a stoppage not only of those
molecular re-arrangements which constitute life and development, but
also of those molecular re-arrangements which constitute decomposition.

Evidently then, both sensible and insensible agitations among the
components of an aggregate, facilitate any re-distributions to which
there may be a tendency. When that rhythmic change in the relative
positions of the units which constitutes vibration, is considerable, the
relative positions of the units more readily undergo permanent changes
through the action of incident forces.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 104. These special conditions to Evolution, are clearly but different
forms of one general condition. The abstract proposition, that a
permanent re-arrangement of units is possible only when they have
neither absolute immobility nor absolute mobility with respect to each
other, we saw to be practically equivalent to the proposition, that
extreme cohesion and extreme want of cohesion among the units are
unfavourable to Evolution. Be this cohesion or want of cohesion that
which physically characterizes the matter as we ordinarily know it; be
it that cohesion or want of cohesion distinguished as chemical; or be it
that cohesion or want of cohesion consequent on the degree of molecular
vibration; matters not, in so far as the general conclusion is
concerned. Inductively as well as deductively, we find that the genesis
of such permanent changes in the relative positions of parts, as can be
effected without destroying the continuity of the aggregate, implies a
medium stability in the relative positions of the parts: be this
stability physical, chemical, or that which varies with the state of
agitation. And as might be anticipated _à priori_, it is proved _à
posteriori_, that this re-arrangement of parts goes on most actively in
those aggregates whose units are moderately influenced by all these
forces which affect their mobility.

Here also may properly be added the remark, that to effect these changes
in the relative positions of parts, the incident forces must range
within certain limits. It is wholly a question of the ratio between
those agencies which hold the units in their positions, and those
agencies which tend to change their positions. Having given intensities
in the powers that oppose re-arrangement, there need proportionate
intensities in the powers that work re-arrangement. As there must be
neither too great nor too little cohesion; so there must be neither too
little nor too great amounts of the influences antagonistic to cohesion.
While a slight mechanical strain produces no lasting alterations in the
relative positions of parts, an excessive mechanical strain causes
disruption—causes so great an alteration in the relative positions of
parts as to destroy their union in one aggregate. While a very feeble
chemical affinity brought to bear on the associated units, fails to work
any re-arrangement of them; a chemical affinity that is extremely
intense, destroys their structural continuity, and reduces such complex
re-arrangements as have been made, to comparatively simple ones. And
while in the absence of adequate thermal undulations, the units have not
freedom enough to obey the re-arranging influences impressed on them,
the incidence of violent thermal undulations gives them such extreme
freedom that they break their connexions, and the aggregate lapses into
a liquid or gaseous form.

On the one hand, therefore, the statical forces which uphold the state
of aggregation must not be so great as wholly to prevent those changes
of relative position among the units which the dynamical forces tend to
produce; and, on the other hand, the dynamical forces must not be so
great as wholly to overcome the statical forces, and destroy the state
of aggregation. The excess of the dynamical forces must be sufficient to
produce Evolution, but not sufficient to produce Dissolution.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 105. And now we are naturally introduced to a consideration which,
though it does not come quite within the limits of this chapter as
expressed in its title, may yet be more conveniently dealt with here
than elsewhere. Hitherto we have studied the metamorphosis of things,
only as exhibited in the changed distribution of matter. It remains to
look at it as exhibited in the changed distribution of motion. The
definition of Evolution in its material aspect, has to be supplemented
by a definition of Evolution in its dynamical aspect.

On inquiring the source of the sensible motions seen in every kind of
Evolution, we find them all traceable to insensible motions; either of
that tangible matter which we perceive as constituting the objects
around us, or of that intangible matter which we infer as occupying
space. A brief reconsideration of the facts will make this obvious.
      The formation of celestial bodies, supposing it caused by the
union of dispersed units, must, from the beginning, have involved a
diminished motion of these units with respect to each other; and such
motion as each resulting body acquired, must previously have existed in
the motions of its units. If concrete matter has arisen by the
aggregation of diffused matter, then concrete motion has arisen by the
aggregation of diffused motion. That which now exists as the movement of
masses, implies the cessation of an equivalent molecular movement.
      Those transpositions of matter which constitute geological
changes, are clearly referable to the same source. As before shown, the
denudation of lands and deposit of new strata, are effected by water in
the course of its descent from the clouds to the sea, or during the
arrest of those undulations produced on it by winds; and, as before
shown, the elevation of water to the height whence it fell, is due to
solar heat, as is also the genesis of those aerial currents which drift
it about when evaporated and agitate its surface when condensed. That is
to say, the molecular motion of the etherial medium, is transformed into
the motion of gases, thence into the motion of liquids, and thence into
the motion of solids—stages in each of which, successively, a certain
amount of molecular motion is lost and an equivalent motion of masses
produced.       If we seek the origin of vital movements, we soon reach
a like conclusion. The actinic rays issuing from the Sun, enable the
plant to reduce special elements existing in gaseous combination around
it, to a solid form,—enable the plant, that is, to grow and carry on its
functional changes. And since growth, equally with circulation of sap,
is a mode of sensible motion, while those rays which have been expended
in generating it consist of insensible motions, we have here, too, a
transformation of the kind alleged. Animals, derived as their forces
are, directly or indirectly, from plants, carry this transformation a
step further. The automatic movements of the viscera, together with the
voluntary movements of the limbs and body at large, arise at the expense
of certain molecular movements throughout the nervous and muscular
tissues; and these originally arose at the expense of certain other
molecular movements propagated by the Sun to the Earth; so that both the
structural and functional motions which organic Evolution displays, are
motions of aggregates generated by the arrested motions of units.
      Even with the aggregates of these aggregates the same rule holds.
For among associated men, the progress is ever towards a merging of
individual actions in the actions of corporate bodies. An undeveloped
society is composed of members between whom there is little concert:
they fulfil their several wants without mutual aid; and only on
occasions of aggression or defence, act together—occasions on which
their combination, small as it is in extent, frequently fails because it
is so imperfect. In the course of civilization, however, co-operation
becomes step by step more decided. As tribes grow into nations, there
result larger aggregates, each of which has a joint political life—a
common policy and movement with respect to other aggregates. Legislative
and administrative progress, involves an increase in the number of
restraining agents brought into united and simultaneous action. In
military organization, we see an advance from small undisciplined hordes
of armed men, to vast bodies of regular troops, so drilled that the
movements of the units are entirely subordinated to the movements of the
masses. Nor does industrial development fail to show parallel changes.
Beginning with independent workers, and passing step by step to the
employment of several assistants by one master, there has ever been, and
still is, a progress towards the co-operation of greater masses of
labourers in the same establishment, and towards the union of
capitalists into more numerous and larger companies: in both which kinds
of combined action, equivalent amounts of individual action disappear.
      Under all its forms, then, Evolution, considered dynamically, is a
decrease in the relative movements of parts, and an increase in the
relative movements of wholes—using the words parts and wholes in their
widest senses. From the infinitesimal motions of those infinitesimal
units composing the etherial medium, to the larger though still
insensible motions of the larger though still insensible units composing
gaseous, fluid, and solid matter, and thence to the visible motions of
visible aggregates, the advance is from molecular motion to the motion
of masses.

But now what of the converse process? If the foregoing proposition is
true, then a change from the motion of masses to molecular motion, is
the opposite to Evolution—is Dissolution. Is this so?       Of inorganic
dissolution we have but little experience; or at least, our experience
of it is on too small a scale to exhibit it as the antithesis of
Evolution. We know, indeed, that when solids are dissolved in liquids,
their dissolution implies increased movements of their units, at the
expense of diminished movements among the units of their solvents; and
we know that when a liquid evaporates, its dissipation or dissolution
similarly implies greater relative movements of the units, and decrease
of such combined movement as they before had. But since these small
aggregates of inorganic matter, do not exhibit the phenomena of
Evolution, save in the form of simple integration; so they do not
exhibit the phenomena of dissolution, save in the form of simple
disintegration.       Of organic dissolution, however, our experience
suffices to show that it is a decrease of combined motion, and an
increase in the motion of uncombined parts. The gradual cessation of
functions, vegetal or animal, is a cessation of the sensible movements
of fluids and solids. In animals, the impulsions of the body from place
to place, first cease; presently the limbs cannot be stirred; later
still the respiratory actions stop; finally the heart becomes
stationary, and, with it, the circulating fluids. That is, the
transformation of molecular motion into the motion of masses, comes to
an end. What next takes place? We cannot say that sensible movements are
transformed into insensible movements; for sensible movements no longer
exist. Nevertheless, the process of decay involves an increase of
insensible movements; since this is far greater in the gases generated
by decomposition, than it is in the fluid-solid matters generating them.
Indeed, it might be contended that as, during Dissolution, there is a
change from the vibration of large compound atoms to the vibration of
small and comparatively simple ones, the process is strictly
antithetical to that of Evolution. In conformity with the now current
conception lately explained, each of the highly complex chemical units
composing an organic body, possesses a rhythmic movement—a movement in
which its many component units jointly partake. When decomposition
breaks up these highly complex atoms, and their constituents assume a
gaseous form, there is both an increase of molecular motion implied by
the diffusion, and a further increase implied by the resolving of such
motions as the aggregate atoms possessed, into motions of their
constituent atoms. So that in organic dissolution we have, first, an end
put to that transformation of the motion of units into the motion of
aggregates, which constitutes Evolution, dynamically considered; and we
have also, though in a subtler sense, a transformation of the motion of
aggregates into the motion of units.       The formula equally applies
to the dissolution of a society. When social ties, be they governmental
or industrial, are destroyed, the combined actions of citizens lapse
into uncombined actions. Those general forces which restrained
individual doings, having disappeared, the only remaining restraints are
those separately exercised by individuals on each other. There are no
longer any of the joint operations by which men satisfy their wants;
and, in so far as they can, they satisfy their wants by separate
operations. That is to say, the movement of parts replaces the movement
of wholes.

Under its dynamical aspect then, Evolution, so far as we can trace it,
is a change from molecular motion to the motion of masses; while
Dissolution, so far as we can trace it, is a change from the motion of
masses to molecular motion.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 106. To these abstract definitions may be added concrete ones. Besides
an integration of motions corresponding to the integration of masses,
Evolution involves an increase in the multiformity of the motions,
corresponding to the increase in the multiformity of the masses. If,
contemplating it as materially displayed, we find Evolution to consist
in the change from an indefinite, homogeneous distribution of parts to a
definite, heterogeneous distribution of parts; then, contemplating
Evolution as dynamically displayed, it consists in a change from
indefinite, homogeneous motions to definite, heterogeneous motions.

This change takes place under the form of an increased variety of
rhythms. We have already seen that all motion is rhythmical, from the
infinitesimal vibrations of infinitesimal molecules, up to those vast
oscillations between perihelion and aphelion performed by vast celestial
bodies. And as the contrast between these extreme cases suggests, a
multiplication of rhythms must accompany a multiplication in the degrees
and modes of aggregation, and in the relations of the aggregated masses
to incident forces. The degree or mode of aggregation will not, indeed,
affect the rate or extent of rhythm where the incident force increases
as the aggregate increases, which is the case with gravitation: here the
only cause of variation in rhythm, is difference of relation to the
incident forces; as we see in a pendulum, which, though unaffected in
its movements by a change in the weight of the bob, alters its rate of
oscillation when taken to the equator. But in all cases where the
incident forces do not vary as the masses, every new order of
aggregation initiates a new order of rhythm: witness the conclusion
drawn from the recent researches into radiant heat and light, that the
atoms of different gases have different rates of undulation. So that
increased multiformity in the arrangement of matter, has necessarily
generated increased multiformity of rhythm; both through increased
variety in the sizes and forms of aggregates, and through increased
variety in their relations to the forces which move them.       The
advancing heterogeneity of motion, thus entailed by advancing
heterogeneity in the distribution of matter, does not, however, end
here. Besides multiplication in the kinds of rhythm, there is a
progressing complexity in their combinations. As there arise wholes
composed of heterogeneous parts, each of which has its own rhythm, there
must arise compound rhythms proportionately heterogeneous. We before saw
that this is visible even in the cyclical perturbations of the Solar
System—simple as are its structure and movements. And when we
contemplate highly-developed organic bodies, we find the complication of
rhythms so great, that it defies definite analysis, and from moment to
moment works out in resultants that are incalculable.

This conception of Evolution forms a needful complement to that on which
we have hitherto chiefly dwelt. To comprehend the phenomena in their
entirety, we have to contemplate both the increasing multiformity of
parts, and the increasing multiformity of the actions simultaneously
assumed by these parts. At the same time that there are differentiations
and integrations of the matter, there are differentiations and
integrations of its motion. And this increasingly heterogeneous
distribution of motion, constitutes Evolution _functionally_ considered;
as distinguished from that increasingly heterogeneous distribution of
matter, which constitutes Evolution _structurally_ considered. While of
course, Dissolution exhibits the transition to a reverse distribution,
both structurally and functionally.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 107. One other preliminary must be set down. When specifically
interpreting Evolution, we shall have to consider under their concrete
forms, the various resolutions of force that follow its conflict with
matter. Here it will be well to contemplate such resolutions under their
most general or abstract forms.

Any incident force is primarily resolvable or divisible into its
_effective_ and _non-effective_ portions. In mechanical impact, the
entire momentum of a striking body is never communicated to the body
struck: even under those most favourable conditions in which the
striking body loses all its sensible motion, there still remains with it
a portion of the original momentum, under the shape of that insensible
motion produced among its particles by the collision. Of the light or
heat falling on any mass, a part, more or less considerable, is
reflected; and only the remaining part works molecular changes in the
mass.       Next it is to be noted that the effective force, is itself
divisible into the _temporarily effective_ and the _permanently
effective_. The units of an aggregate acted on, may undergo those
rhythmical changes of relative position which constitute increased
vibration, as well as other changes of relative position which are not
from instant to instant neutralized by opposite ones. Of these, the
first, disappearing in the shape of radiating undulations, leave the
molecular arrangement as it originally was; while the second conduce to
that re-arrangement constituting Evolution.       Yet a further
distinction has to be made. The permanently effective force works out
changes of relative position of two kinds—the _insensible_ and the
_sensible_. The insensible transpositions among the units are those
constituting what we call chemical composition and decomposition; and it
is these which we recognize as the qualitative differences that arise in
an aggregate. The sensible transpositions are such as result when
certain of the units, instead of being put into different relations with
their immediate neighbours, are carried away from them and united
together elsewhere.

Concerning these divisions and sub-divisions of any force affecting an
aggregate, the fact which it chiefly concerns us to observe, is, that
they are complementary to each other. Of the whole incident force, the
effective must be that which remains after deducting the non-effective.
The two parts of the effective force must vary inversely as each other:
where much of it is temporarily effective, little of it can be
permanently effective; and _vice versâ_. Lastly, the permanently
effective force, being expended in working both the insensible
re-arrangements which constitute chemical modification, and the sensible
re-arrangements which result in structure, must generate of either kind
an amount that is great or small in proportion as it has generated a
small or great amount of the other.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 108. And now of the propositions grouped together in this chapter, it
may be well to remark that, in common with foregoing propositions, they
have for their warrant the fundamental truth with which our synthesis
set out.

That when a given force falls on any aggregate, the permanently
effective part of it will produce an amount of re-arrangement that is
inversely proportional to the cohesion existing among the parts of the
aggregate, is demonstrable _à priori_. Whether the cohesion be
mechanical or chemical, or whether it be temporarily modified by a
changed degree of molecular vibration, matters not to the general
conclusion. In all these cases it follows from the persistence of force,
that in proportion as the units offer great resistance to alteration in
their relative positions, must the amount of motion which a given force
impresses on them be small. The proposition is in fact an identical one;
since the cohesion of units is known to be great or small, only by the
smallness or greatness of the re-arrangement which a given incident
force produces.

The continuity of motion we found to be a corollary from the persistence
of force; and from the continuity of motion, it follows that molecular
motion and the motion of masses can be respectively increased only at
each other’s expense. Hence, if in the course of Evolution there arises
a motion of masses that did not before exist, there must have ceased an
equivalent molecular motion; and if in the course of Dissolution there
arises a molecular motion that did not before exist, an equivalent
motion of masses must have disappeared.

Equally necessary is the conclusion that the several results of the
force expended on any aggregate, must be complementary to each other. It
is not less obviously a corollary from the persistence of force, that of
the whole incident force the effective is the part which remains after
deducting the non-effective; than it is, that of the effective force,
whatever does not work permanent results, works temporary results, and
that such amount of the permanently effective force as is not absorbed
in producing insensible re-arrangements, will produce sensible

                             CHAPTER XIII.

§ 109. Thus far our steps towards the interpretation of Evolution have
been preparatory. We have dealt with the factors of the process, rather
than the process itself. After the ultimate truth that, Matter, Motion,
and Force, as cognizable by human intelligence, can neither come into
existence nor cease to exist, we have considered certain other ultimate
truths concerning the modes in which Force and Motion are manifested
during the changes they produce in Matter. Now we have to study the
changes themselves. We have here to analyze that re-arrangement in the
parts of Matter, which occurs under the influence of Force, that is
unchangeable in quantity though changeable in form, through the medium
of Motion taking place rhythmically along lines of least resistance. The
proposition which comes first in logical order, is, that some
re-arrangement must result; and this proposition may be best dealt with
under the more specific shape, that the condition of homogeneity is a
condition of unstable equilibrium.

First, as to the meaning of the terms; respecting which some readers may
need explanation. The phrase _unstable equilibrium_ is one used in
mechanics to express a balance of forces of such kind, that the
interference of any further force, however minute, will destroy the
arrangement previously subsisting; and bring about a totally different
arrangement. Thus, a stick poised on its lower end is in unstable
equilibrium: however exactly it may be placed in a perpendicular
position, as soon as it is left to itself it begins, at first
imperceptibly, to lean on one side, and with increasing rapidity falls
into another attitude. Conversely, a stick suspended from its upper end
is in stable equilibrium: however much disturbed, it will return to the
same position. The proposition is, then, that the state of homogeneity,
like the state of the stick poised on its lower end, is one that cannot
be maintained. Let us take a few illustrations.

Of mechanical ones the most familiar is that of the scales. If they be
accurately made, and not clogged by dirt or rust, it is impossible to
keep a pair of scales perfectly balanced: eventually one scale will
descend and the other ascend—they will assume a heterogeneous relation.
Again, if we sprinkle over the surface of a fluid a number of
equal-sized particles, having an attraction for each other, they will,
no matter how uniformly distributed, by and by concentrate irregularly
into one or more groups. Were it possible to bring a mass of water into
a state of perfect homogeneity—a state of complete quiescence, and
exactly equal density throughout—yet the radiation of heat from
neighbouring bodies, by affecting differently its different parts, would
inevitably produce inequalities of density and consequent currents; and
would so render it to that extent heterogeneous. Take a piece of red-hot
matter, and however evenly heated it may at first be, it will quickly
cease to be so: the exterior, cooling faster than the interior, will
become different in temperature from it. And the lapse into
heterogeneity of temperature, so obvious in this extreme case, takes
place more or less in all cases.       The action of chemical forces
supplies other illustrations. Expose a fragment of metal to air or
water, and in course of time it will be coated with a film of oxide,
carbonate, or other compound: that is—its outer parts will become unlike
its inner parts. Usually the heterogeneity produced by the action of
chemical forces on the surfaces of masses, is not striking; because the
changed portions are soon washed away, or otherwise removed. But if this
is prevented, comparatively complex structures result. Quarries of
trap-rock contain some striking examples. Not unfrequently a piece of
trap may be found reduced, by the action of the weather, to a number of
loosely-adherent coats, like those of an onion. Where the block has been
quite undisturbed, we may trace the whole series of these, from the
angular, irregular outer one, through successively included ones in
which the shape becomes gradually rounded, ending finally in a spherical
nucleus. On comparing the original mass of stone with this group of
concentric coats, each of which differs from the rest in form, and
probably in the state of decomposition at which it has arrived, we get a
marked illustration of the multiformity to which, in lapse of time, a
uniform body may be brought by external chemical action.       The
instability of the homogeneous is equally seen in the changes set up
throughout the interior of a mass, when it consists of units that are
not rigidly bound together. The atoms of a precipitate never remain
separate, and equably distributed through the fluid in which they make
their appearance. They aggregate either into crystalline grains, each
containing an immense number of atoms, or they aggregate into flocculi,
each containing a yet larger number; and where the mass of fluid is
great, and the process prolonged, these flocculi do not continue
equidistant, but break up into groups. That is to say, there is a
destruction of the balance at first subsisting among the diffused
particles, and also of the balance at first subsisting among the groups
into which these particles unite.       Certain solutions of
non-crystalline substances in highly volatile liquids, exhibit in the
course of half an hour a whole series of changes that are set up in the
alleged way. If for example a little shell-lac-varnish (made by
dissolving shell-lac in coal-naphtha until it is of the consistence of
cream) be poured on a piece of paper, the surface of the varnish will
shortly become marked by polygonal divisions, which, first appearing
round the edge of the mass, spread towards its centre. Under a lense
these irregular polygons of five or more sides, are seen to be severally
bounded by dark lines, on each side of which there are light-coloured
borders. By the addition of matter to their inner edges, the borders
slowly broaden, and thus encroach on the areas of the polygons; until at
length there remains nothing but a dark spot in the centre of each. At
the same time the boundaries of the polygons become curved; and they end
by appearing like spherical sacs pressed together; strangely simulating
(but only simulating) a group of nucleated cells. Here a rapid loss of
homogeneity is exhibited in three ways:—First, in the formation of the
film, which is the seat of these changes; second, in the formation of
the polygonal sections into which this film divides; and third, in the
contrast that arises between the polygonal sections round the edge,
where they are small and early formed, and those in the centre which are
larger and formed later.

The instability thus variously illustrated is obviously consequent on
the fact, that the several parts of any homogeneous aggregation are
necessarily exposed to different forces—forces that differ either in
kind or amount; and being exposed to different forces they are of
necessity differently modified. The relations of outside and inside, and
of comparative nearness to neighbouring sources of influence, imply the
reception of influences that are unlike in quantity or quality, or both;
and it follows that unlike changes will be produced in the parts thus
dissimilarly acted upon.

For like reasons it is manifest that the process must repeat itself in
each of the subordinate groups of units that are differentiated by the
modifying forces. Each of these subordinate groups, like the original
group, must gradually, in obedience to the influences acting upon it,
lose its balance of parts—must pass from a uniform into a multiform
state. And so on continuously.       Whence indeed it is clear that not
only must the homogeneous lapse into the non-homogeneous, but that the
more homogeneous must tend ever to become less homogeneous. If any given
whole, instead of being absolutely uniform throughout, consist of parts
distinguishable from each other—if each of these parts, while somewhat
unlike other parts, is uniform within itself; then, each of them being
in unstable equilibrium, it follows that while the changes set up within
it must render it multiform, they must at the same time render the whole
more multiform than before. The general principle, now to be followed
out in its applications, is thus somewhat more comprehensive than the
title of the chapter implies. No demurrer to the conclusions drawn, can
be based on the ground that perfect homogeneity nowhere exists; since,
whether that state with which we commence be or be not one of perfect
homogeneity, the process must equally be towards a relative

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 110. The stars are distributed with a three-fold irregularity. There
is first the marked contrast between the plane of the milky way and
other parts of the heavens, in respect of the quantities of stars within
given visual areas. There are secondary contrasts of like kind in the
milky way itself, which has its thick and thin places; as well as
throughout the celestial spaces in general, which are much more closely
strewn in some regions than in others. And there is a third order of
contrasts produced by the aggregation of stars into small clusters.
Besides this heterogeneity of distribution of the stars in general,
considered without distinction of kinds, a further such heterogeneity is
disclosed when they are classified by their differences of colour, which
doubtless answer to differences of physical constitution. While the
yellow stars are found in all parts of the heavens, the red and blue
stars are not so: there are wide regions in which both red and blue
stars are rare; there are regions in which the blue occur in
considerable numbers, and there are other regions in which the red are
comparatively abundant. Yet one more irregularity of like significance
is presented by the nebulæ,—aggregations of matter which, whatever be
their nature, most certainly belong to our sidereal system. For the
nebulæ are not dispersed with anything like uniformity; but are abundant
around the poles of the galactic circle and rare in the neighbourhood of
its plane.       No one will expect that anything like a definite
interpretation of this structure can be given on the hypothesis of
Evolution, or any other hypothesis. The most that can be looked for is
some reason for thinking that irregularities, not improbably of these
kinds, would occur in the course of Evolution, supposing it to have
taken place. Any one called on to assign such reason might argue, that
if the matter of which stars and all other celestial bodies consist, be
assumed to have originally existed in a diffused form throughout a space
far more vast even than that which our sidereal system now occupies, the
instability of the homogeneous would negative its continuance in that
state. In default of an absolute balance among the forces with which the
dispersed particles acted on each other (which could not exist in any
aggregation having limits) he might show that motion and consequent
changes of distribution would necessarily result. The next step in the
argument would be that in matter of such extreme tenuity and feeble
cohesion there would be motion towards local centres of gravity, as well
as towards the general centre of gravity; just as, to use a humble
illustration, the particles of a precipitate aggregate into flocculi at
the same time that they sink towards the earth. He might urge that in
the one case as in the other, these smallest and earliest local
aggregations must gradually divide into groups, each concentrating to
its own centre of gravity,—a process which must repeat itself on a
larger and larger scale. In conformity with the law that motion once set
up in any direction becomes itself a cause of subsequent motion in that
direction, he might further infer that the heterogeneities thus set up
would tend ever to become more pronounced. Established mechanical
principles would justify him in the conclusion that the motions of these
irregular masses of slightly aggregated nebular matter towards their
common centre of gravity must be severally rendered curvelinear, by the
resistance of the medium from which they were precipitated; and that in
consequence of the irregularities of distribution already set up, such
conflicting curvelinear motions must, by composition of forces, end in a
rotation of the incipient sidereal system. He might without difficulty
show that the resulting centrifugal force must so far modify the process
of general aggregation, as to prevent anything like uniform distribution
of the stars eventually formed—that there must arise a contrast such as
we see between the galactic circle and the rest of the heavens. He might
draw the further not unwarrantable inference, that differences in the
process of local concentration would probably result from the unlikeness
between the physical conditions existing around the general axis of
rotation and those existing elsewhere. To which he might add, that after
the formation of distinct stars, the ever-increasing irregularities of
distribution due to continuance of the same causes would produce that
patchiness which distinguishes the heavens in both its larger and
smaller areas.       We need not here however commit ourselves to such
far-reaching speculations. For the purposes of the general argument it
is needful only to show, that any finite mass of diffused matter, even
though vast enough to form our whole sidereal system, could not be in
stable equilibrium; that in default of absolute sphericity, absolute
uniformity of composition, and absolute symmetry of relation to all
forces external to it; its concentration must go on with an
ever-increasing irregularity; and that thus the present aspect of the
heavens is not, so far as we can judge, incongruous with the hypothesis
of a general evolution consequent on the instability of the homogeneous.

Descending to that more limited form of the nebular hypothesis which
regards the solar system as having resulted by gradual concentration;
and assuming this concentration to have advanced so far as to produce a
rotating spheroid of nebulous matter; let us consider what further
consequence the instability of the homogeneous necessitates. Having
become oblate in figure, unlike in the densities of its centre and
surface, unlike in their temperatures, and unlike in the velocities with
which its parts move round their common axis, such a mass can no longer
be called homogeneous; and therefore any further changes exhibited by it
as a whole, can illustrate the general law, only as being changes from a
more homogeneous to a less homogeneous state. Changes of this kind are
to be found in the transformations of such of its parts as are still
homogeneous within themselves. If we accept the conclusion of Laplace,
that the equatorial portion of this rotating and contracting spheroid
will at successive stages acquire a centrifugal force great enough to
prevent any nearer approach to the centre round which it rotates, and
will so be left behind by the inner parts of the spheroid in its
still-continued contraction; we shall find, in the fate of the detached
ring, a fresh exemplification of the principle we are following out.
Consisting of gaseous matter, such a ring, even if absolutely uniform at
the time of its detachment, cannot continue so. To maintain its
equilibrium there must be an almost perfect uniformity in the action of
all external forces upon it (almost, we must say, because the cohesion,
even of extremely attenuated matter, might suffice to neutralize very
minute disturbances); and against this the probabilities are immense. In
the absence of equality among the forces, internal and external, acting
on such a ring, there must be a point or points at which the cohesion of
its parts is less than elsewhere—a point or points at which rupture will
therefore take place. Laplace assumed that the ring would rupture at one
place only; and would then collapse on itself. But this is a more than
questionable assumption—such at least I know to be the opinion of an
authority second to none among those now living. So vast a ring,
consisting of matter having such feeble cohesion, must break up into
many parts. Nevertheless, it is still inferrable from the instability of
the homogeneous, that the ultimate result which Laplace predicted would
take place. For even supposing the masses of nebulous matter into which
such a ring separated, were so equal in their sizes and distances as to
attract each other with exactly equal forces (which is infinitely
improbable); yet the unequal action of external disturbing forces would
inevitably destroy their equilibrium—there would be one or more points
at which adjacent masses would begin to part company. Separation once
commenced, would with ever-accelerating speed lead to a grouping of the
masses. And obviously a like result would eventually take place with the
groups thus formed; until they at length aggregated into a single mass.

Leaving the region of speculative astronomy, let us consider the Solar
System as it at present exists. And here it will be well, in the first
place, to note a fact which may be thought at variance with the
foregoing argument—namely, the still-continued existence of Saturn’s
rings; and especially of the internal nebulous ring lately discovered.
To the objection that the outer rings maintain their equilibrium, the
reply is that the comparatively great cohesion of liquid or solid
substance would suffice to prevent any slight tendency to rupture from
taking effect. And that a nebulous ring here still preserves its
continuity, does not really negative the foregoing conclusion; since it
happens under the quite exceptional influence of those symmetrically
disposed forces which the external rings exercise on it.       Here
indeed it deserves to be noted, that though at first sight the Saturnian
system appears at variance with the doctrine that a state of homogeneity
is one of unstable equilibrium, it does in reality furnish a curious
confirmation of this doctrine. For Saturn is not quite concentric with
his rings; and it has been proved mathematically that were he and his
rings concentrically situated, they could not remain so: the homogeneous
relation being unstable, would gravitate into a heterogeneous one. And
this fact serves to remind us of the allied one presented throughout the
whole Solar System. All orbits, whether of planets or satellites, are
more or less excentric—none of them are perfect circles; and were they
perfect circles they would soon become ellipses. Mutual perturbations
would inevitably generate excentricities. That is to say, the
homogeneous relations would lapse into heterogeneous ones.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 111. Already so many references have been made to the gradual
formation of a crust over the originally incandescent Earth, that it may
be thought superfluous again to name it. It has not, however, been
before considered in connexion with the general principle under
discussion. Here then it must be noted as a necessary consequence of the
instability of the homogeneous. In this cooling down and solidification
of the Earth’s surface, we have one of the simplest, as well as one of
the most important, instances, of that change from a uniform to a
multiform state which occurs in any mass through exposure of its
different parts to different conditions.       To the differentiation of
the Earth’s exterior from its interior thus brought about, we must add
one of the most conspicuous differentiations which the exterior itself
afterwards undergoes, as being similarly brought about. Were the
conditions to which the surface of the Earth is exposed, alike in all
directions, there would be no obvious reason why certain of its parts
should become permanently unlike the rest. But being unequally exposed
to the chief external centre of force—the Sun—its main divisions become
unequally modified: as the crust thickens and cools, there arises that
contrast, now so decided, between the polar and equatorial regions.

Along with these most marked physical differentiations of the Earth,
which are manifestly consequent on the instability of the homogeneous,
there have been going on numerous chemical differentiations, admitting
of similar interpretation. Without raising the question whether, as some
think, the so-called simple substances are themselves compounded of
unknown elements (elements which we cannot separate by artificial heat,
but which existed separately when the heat of the Earth was greater than
any which we can produce),—without raising this question, it will
suffice the present purpose to show how, in place of that comparative
homogeneity of the Earth’s crust, chemically considered, which must have
existed when its temperature was high, there has arisen, during its
cooling, an increasing chemical heterogeneity: each element or compound,
being unable to maintain its homogeneity in presence of various
surrounding affinities, having fallen into heterogeneous combinations.
Let us contemplate this change somewhat in detail.       There is every
reason to believe that at an extreme heat, the bodies we call elements
cannot combine. Even under such heat as can be generated artificially,
some very strong affinities yield; and the great majority of chemical
compounds are decomposed at much lower temperatures. Whence it seems not
improbable that, when the Earth was in its first state of incandescence,
there were no chemical combinations at all. But without drawing this
inference, let us set out with the unquestionable fact that the
compounds which can exist at the highest temperatures, and which must
therefore have been the first formed as the Earth cooled, are those of
the simplest constitutions. The protoxides—including under that head the
alkalies, earths, &c.—are, as a class, the most fixed compounds known:
the majority of them resisting decomposition by any heat we can
generate. These, consisting severally of one atom of each component
element, are combinations of the simplest order—are but one degree less
homogeneous than the elements themselves. More heterogeneous than these,
more decomposable by heat, and therefore later in the Earth’s history,
are the deutoxides, tritoxides, peroxides, &c.; in which two, three,
four, or more atoms of oxygen are united with one atom of metal or other
base. Still less able to resist heat, are the salts; which present us
with compound atoms each made up of five, six, seven, eight, ten,
twelve, or more atoms, of three, if not more, kinds. Then there are the
hydrated salts, of a yet greater heterogeneity, which undergo partial
decomposition at much lower temperatures. After them come the
further-complicated supersalts and double salts, having a stability
again decreased; and so throughout. After making a few unimportant
qualifications demanded by peculiar affinities, I believe no chemist
will deny it to be a general law of these inorganic combinations that,
other things equal, the stability decreases as the complexity increases.
And then when we pass to the compounds that make up organic bodies, we
find this general law still further exemplified: we find much greater
complexity and much less stability. An atom of albumen, for instance,
consists of 482 ultimate atoms of five different kinds. Fibrine, still
more intricate in constitution, contains in each atom, 298 atoms of
carbon, 49 of nitrogen, 2 of sulphur, 228 of hydrogen, and 92 of
oxygen—in all, 660 atoms; or, more strictly speaking—equivalents. And
these two substances are so unstable as to decompose at quite moderate
temperatures; as that to which the outside of a joint of roast meat is
exposed. Possibly it will be objected that some inorganic compounds, as
phosphuretted hydrogen and chloride of nitrogen, are more decomposable
than most organic compounds. This is true. But the admission may be made
without damage to the argument. The proposition is not that _all_ simple
combinations are more fixed than _all_ complex ones. To establish our
inference it is necessary only to show that, as an _average fact_, the
simple combinations can exist at a higher temperature than the complex
ones. And this is wholly beyond question.       Thus it is manifest that
the present chemical heterogeneity of the Earth’s surface has arisen by
degrees as the decrease of heat has permitted; and that it has shown
itself in three forms—first, in the multiplication of chemical
compounds; second, in the greater number of different elements contained
in the more modern of these compounds; and third, in the higher and more
varied multiples in which these more numerous elements combine.

Without specifying them, it will suffice just to name the meteorologic
processes eventually set up in the Earth’s atmosphere, as further
illustrating the alleged law. They equally display that destruction of a
homogeneous state which results from unequal exposure to incident

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 112. Take a mass of unorganized but organizable matter—either the body
of one of the lowest living forms, or the germ of one of the higher.
Consider its circumstances. Either it is immersed in water or air, or it
is contained within a parent organism. Wherever placed, however, its
outer and inner parts stand differently related to surrounding
agencies—nutriment, oxygen, and the various stimuli. But this is not
all. Whether it lies quiescent at the bottom of the water or on the leaf
of a plant; whether it moves through the water preserving some definite
attitude; or whether it is in the inside of an adult; it equally results
that certain parts of its surface are more exposed to surrounding
agencies than other parts—in some cases more exposed to light, heat, or
oxygen, and in others to the maternal tissues and their contents. Hence
must follow the destruction of its original equilibrium. This may take
place in one of two ways. Either the disturbing forces may be such as to
overbalance the affinities of the organic elements, in which case there
result those changes which are known as decomposition; or, as is
ordinarily the case, such changes are induced as do not destroy the
organic compounds, but only modify them: the parts most exposed to the
modifying forces being most modified. To elucidate this, suppose we take
a few cases.

Note first what appear to be exceptions. Certain minute animal forms
present us either with no appreciable differentiations or with
differentiations so obscure as to be made out with great difficulty. In
the Rhizopods, the substance of the jelly-like body remains throughout
life unorganized, even to the extent of having no limiting membrane; as
is proved by the fact that the thread-like processes protruded by the
mass, coalesce on touching each other. Whether or not the nearly allied
_Amœba_, of which the less numerous and more bulky processes do not
coalesce, has, as lately alleged, something like a cell-wall and a
nucleus, it is clear that the distinction of parts is very slight; since
particles of food pass bodily into the inside through any part of the
periphery, and since when the creature is crushed to pieces, each piece
behaves as the whole did. Now these cases, in which there is either no
contrast of structure between exterior and interior or very little,
though seemingly opposed to the above inference, are really very
significant evidences of its truth. For what is the peculiarity of this
division of the _Protozoa_? Its members undergo perpetual and irregular
changes of form—they show no persistent relation of parts. What lately
formed a portion of the interior is now protruded, and, as a temporary
limb, is attached to some object it happens to touch. What is now a part
of the surface will presently be drawn, along with the atom of nutriment
sticking to it, into the centre of the mass. Either the relations of
inner and outer have no permanent existence, or they are very slightly
marked. But by the hypothesis, it is only because of their unlike
positions with respect to modifying forces, that the originally like
units of a living mass become unlike. We must therefore expect no
established differentiation of parts in creatures which exhibit no
established differences of position in their parts; and we must expect
extremely little differentiation of parts where the differences of
position are but little determined—which is just what we find.
      This negative evidence is borne out by positive evidence. When we
turn from these proteiform specks of living jelly to organisms having an
unchanging distribution of substance, we find differences of tissue
corresponding to differences of relative position. In all the higher
_Protozoa_, as also in the _Protophyta_, we meet with a fundamental
differentiation into cell-membrane and cell-contents; answering to that
fundamental contrast of conditions implied by the terms outside and
inside.       On passing from what are roughly classed as unicellular
organisms, to the lowest of those which consist of aggregated cells, we
equally observe the connection between structural differences and
differences of circumstance. Negatively, we see that in the sponge,
permeated throughout by currents of sea-water, the indefiniteness of
organization corresponds with the absence of definite unlikeness of
conditions: the peripheral and central portions are as little contrasted
in structure as in exposure to surrounding agencies. While positively,
we see that in a form like the _Thalassicolla_, which, though equally
humble, maintains its outer and inner parts in permanently unlike
circumstances, there is displayed a rude structure obviously
subordinated to the primary relations of centre and surface: in all its
many and important varieties, the parts exhibit a more or less
concentric arrangement.

After this primary modification, by which the outer tissues are
differentiated from the inner, the next in order of constancy and
importance is that by which some part of the outer tissues is
differentiated from the rest; and this corresponds with the almost
universal fact that some part of the outer tissues is more exposed to
certain environing influences than the rest. Here, as before, the
apparent exceptions are extremely significant. Some of the lowest
vegetal organisms, as the _Hematococci_ and _Protococci_, evenly
imbedded in a mass of mucus, or dispersed through the Arctic snow,
display no differentiations of surface; the several parts of their
surfaces being subjected to no definite contrasts of conditions.
Ciliated spheres such as the _Volvox_ have no parts of their periphery
unlike other parts; and it is not to be expected that they should have;
since, as they revolve in all directions, they do not, in traversing the
water, permanently expose any part to special conditions. But when we
come to organisms that are either fixed, or while moving preserve
definite attitudes, we no longer find uniformity of surface. The most
general fact which can be asserted with respect to the structures of
plants and animals, is, that however much alike in shape and texture the
various parts of the exterior may at first be, they acquire unlikenesses
corresponding to the unlikenesses of their relations to surrounding
agencies. The ciliated germ of a Zoophyte, which, during its locomotive
stage, is distinguishable only into outer and inner tissues, no sooner
becomes fixed, than its upper end begins to assume a different structure
from its lower. The disc-shaped _gemmæ_ of the _Marchantia_, originally
alike on both surfaces, and falling at random with either side
uppermost, immediately begin to develop rootlets on the under side, and
_stomata_ on the upper side: a fact proving beyond question, that this
primary differentiation is determined by this fundamental contrast of

Of course in the germs of higher organisms, the metamorphoses
immediately due to the instability of the homogeneous, are soon masked
by those due to the assumption of the hereditary type. Such early
changes, however, as are common to all classes of organisms, and so
cannot be ascribed to heredity, entirely conform to the hypothesis. A
germ which has undergone no developmental modifications, consists of a
spheroidal group of homogeneous cells. Universally, the first step in
its evolution is the establishment of a difference between some of the
peripheral cells and the cells which form the interior—some of the
peripheral cells, after repeated spontaneous fissions, coalesce into a
membrane; and by continuance of the process this membrane spreads until
it speedily invests the entire mass, as in mammals, or, as in birds,
stops short of that for some time. Here we have two significant facts.
The first is, that the primary unlikeness arises between the exterior
and the interior. The second is, that the change which thus initiates
development, does not take place simultaneously over the whole exterior;
but commences at one place, and gradually involves the rest. Now these
facts are just those which might be inferred from the instability of the
homogeneous. The surface must, more than any other part, become unlike
the centre, because it is most dissimilarly conditioned; and all parts
of the surface cannot simultaneously exhibit this differentiation,
because they cannot be exposed to the incident forces with absolute
uniformity.       One other general fact of like implication remains.
Whatever be the extent of this peripheral layer of cells, or blastoderm
as it is called, it presently divides into two layers—the serous and
mucous; or, as they have been otherwise called, the ectoderm and the
endoderm. The first of these is formed from that portion of the layer
which lies in contact with surrounding agents; and the second of them is
formed from that portion of the layer which lies in contact with the
contained mass of yelk. That is to say, after the primary
differentiation, more or less extensive, of surface from centre, the
resulting superficial portion undergoes a secondary differentiation into
inner and outer parts—a differentiation which is clearly of the same
order with the preceding, and answers to the next most marked contrast
of conditions.

But, as already hinted, this principle, understood in the simple form
here presented, supplies no key to the detailed phenomena of organic
development. It fails entirely to explain generic and specific
peculiarities; and indeed leaves us equally in the dark respecting those
more important distinctions by which families and orders are marked out.
Why two ova, similarly exposed in the same pool, should become the one a
fish, and the other a reptile, it cannot tell us. That from two
different eggs placed under the same hen, should respectively come forth
a duckling and a chicken, is a fact not to be accounted for on the
hypothesis above developed. We have here no alternative but to fall back
upon the unexplained principle of hereditary transmission. The capacity
possessed by an unorganized germ of unfolding into a complex adult,
which repeats ancestral traits in the minutest details, and that even
when it has been placed in conditions unlike those of its ancestors, is
a capacity we cannot at present understand. That a microscopic portion
of seemingly structureless matter should embody an influence of such
kind, that the resulting man will in fifty years after become gouty or
insane, is a truth which would be incredible were it not daily
illustrated.       Should it however turn out, as we shall hereafter
find reason for suspecting, that these complex differentiations which
adults exhibit, are themselves the slowly accumulated and transmitted
results of a process like that seen in the first changes of the germ; it
will follow that even those embryonic changes due to hereditary
influence, are remote consequences of the alleged law. Should it be
shown that the slight modifications wrought during life on each adult,
and bequeathed to offspring along with all like preceding modifications,
are themselves unlikenesses of parts that are produced by unlikenesses
of conditions; then it will follow that the modifications displayed in
the course of embryonic development, are partly direct consequences of
the instability of the homogeneous, and partly indirect consequences of
it.       To give reasons for entertaining this hypothesis, however, is
not needful for the justification of the position here taken. It is
enough that the most conspicuous differentiations which incipient
organisms universally display, correspond to the most marked differences
of conditions to which their parts are subject. It is enough that the
habitual contrast between outside and inside, which we _know_ is
produced in inorganic masses by unlikeness of exposure to incident
forces, is strictly paralleled by the first contrast that makes its
appearance in all organic masses.

It remains to point out that in the assemblage of organisms
constituting a species, the principle enunciated is equally traceable.
We have abundant materials for the induction that each species will
not remain uniform, but is ever becoming to some extent multiform; and
there is ground for the deduction that this lapse from homogeneity to
heterogeneity is caused by the subjection of its members to unlike
sets of circumstances. The fact that in every species, animal and
vegetal, the individuals are never quite alike; joined with the fact
that there is in every species a tendency to the production of
differences marked enough to constitute varieties; form a sufficiently
wide basis for the induction. While the deduction is confirmed by the
familiar experience that varieties are most numerous and decided
where, as among cultivated plants and domestic animals, the conditions
of life depart from the original ones, most widely and in the most
numerous ways. Whether we regard “natural selection” as wholly, or
only in part, the agency through which varieties are established,
matters not to the general conclusion. For as the survival of any
variety proves its constitution to be in harmony with a certain
aggregate of surrounding forces—as the multiplication of a variety and
the usurpation by it of an area previously occupied by some other part
of the species, implies different effects produced by such aggregate
of forces on the two, it is clear that this aggregate of forces is the
real cause of the differentiation—it is clear that if the variety
supplants the original species in some localities but not in others,
it does so because the aggregate of forces in the one locality is
unlike that in the other—it is clear that the lapse of the species
from a state of homogeneity to a state of heterogeneity arises from
the exposure of its different parts to different aggregates of forces.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 113. Among mental phenomena it is difficult to establish the alleged
law without an analysis too extensive for the occasion. To show
satisfactorily how states of consciousness, originally homogeneous,
become heterogeneous through differences in the changes wrought by
different forces, would require us carefully to trace out the
organization of early experiences. Were this done it would become
manifest that the development of intelligence, is, under one of its
chief aspects, a dividing into separate classes, the unlike things
previously confounded together in one class—a formation of sub-classes
and sub-sub-classes, until the once confused aggregate of objects known,
is resolved into an aggregate which unites extreme heterogeneity among
its multiplied groups, with complete homogeneity among the members of
each group. If, for example, we followed, through ascending grades of
creatures, the genesis of that vast structure of knowledge acquired by
sight, we should find that in the first stage, where eyes suffice for
nothing beyond the discrimination of light from darkness, the only
possible classifications of objects seen, must be those based on the
manner in which light is obstructed, and the degree in which it is
obstructed. We should find that by such undeveloped visual organs, the
shadows traversing the rudimentary retina would be merely distinguished
into those of the stationary objects which the creature passed during
its own movements, and those of the moving objects which came near the
creature while it was at rest; and that so the extremely general
classification of visible things into stationary and moving, would be
the earliest formed. We should find that whereas the simplest eyes are
not fitted to distinguish between an obstruction of light caused by a
small object close to, and an obstruction caused by a large object at
some distance, eyes a little more developed must be competent to such a
distinction; whence must result a vague differentiation of the class of
moving objects, into the nearer and the more remote. We should find that
such further improvements in vision as those which make possible a
better estimation of distances by adjustment of the optic axes, and
those which, through enlargement and subdivision of the retina, make
possible the discrimination of shapes, must have the effects of giving
greater definiteness to the classes already formed, and of sub-dividing
these into smaller classes, consisting of objects less unlike. And we
should find that each additional refinement of the perceptive organs,
must similarly lead to a multiplication of divisions and a sharpening of
the limits of each division. In every infant might be traced the
analogous transformation of a confused aggregate of impressions of
surrounding objects, not recognized as differing in their distances,
sizes, and shapes, into separate classes of objects unlike each other in
these and various other respects. And in the one case as in the other,
it might be shown that the change from this first indefinite, incoherent
and comparatively homogeneous consciousness, to a definite, coherent,
and heterogeneous one, is due to differences in the actions of incident
forces on the organism.       These brief indications of what might be
shown, did space permit, must here suffice. Probably they will give
adequate clue to an argument by which each reader may satisfy himself
that the course of mental evolution offers no exception to the general
law. In further aid of such an argument, I will here add an illustration
that is comprehensible apart from the process of mental evolution as a

It has been remarked (I am told by Coleridge, though I have been unable
to find the passage) that with the advance of language, words which were
originally alike in their meanings acquire unlike meanings—a change
which he expresses by the formidable word “desynonymization.” Among
indigenous words this loss of equivalence cannot be clearly shown;
because in them the divergencies of meaning began before the dawn of
literature. But among words that have been coined, or adopted from other
languages, since the writing of books commenced, it is demonstrable. In
the old divines, _miscreant_ is used in its etymological sense of
_unbeliever_; but in modern speech it has entirely lost this sense.
Similarly with _evil-doer_ and _malefactor_: exactly synonymous as these
are by derivation, they are no longer synonymous by usage: by a
_malefactor_ we now understand a convicted criminal, which is far from
being the acceptation of _evil-doer_. The verb _produce_, bears in
Euclid its primary meaning—to _prolong_, or _draw out_; but the now
largely developed meanings of _produce_ have little in common with the
meanings of _prolong_, or _draw out_. In the Church of England liturgy,
an odd effect results from the occurrence of _prevent_ in its original
sense—_to come before_, instead of its modern specialized sense—_to come
before with the effect of arresting_. But the most conclusive cases are
those in which the contrasted words consist of the same parts
differently combined; as in _go under_ and _undergo_. We _go under_ a
tree, and we _undergo_ a pain. But though, if analytically considered,
the meanings of these expressions would be the same were the words
transposed, habit has so far modified their meanings that we could not
without absurdity speak of _undergoing_ a tree and _going under_ a pain.
      Countless such instances might be brought to show that between two
words which are originally of like force, an equilibrium cannot be
maintained. Unless they are daily used in exactly equal degrees, in
exactly similar relations (against which there are infinite
probabilities), there necessarily arises a habit of associating one
rather than the other with particular acts, or objects. Such a habit,
once commenced, becomes confirmed; and gradually their homogeneity of
meaning disappears. In each individual we may see the tendency which
inevitably leads to this result. A certain vocabulary and a certain set
of phrases, distinguish the speech of each person: each person
habitually uses certain words in places where other words are habitually
used by other persons; and there is a continual recurrence of favourite
expressions. This inability to maintain a balance in the use of verbal
symbols, which characterizes every man, characterizes, by consequence,
aggregates of men; and the desynonymization of words is the ultimate

Should any difficulty be felt in understanding how these mental changes
exemplify a law of physical transformations that are wrought by physical
forces, it will disappear on contemplating acts of mind as nervous
functions. It will be seen that each loss of equilibrium above
instanced, is a loss of functional equality between some two elements of
the nervous system. And it will be seen that, as in other cases, this
loss of functional equality is due to differences in the incidence of

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 114. Masses of men, in common with all other masses, show a like
proclivity similarly caused. Small combinations and large societies
equally manifest it; and in the one, as in the other, both governmental
and industrial differentiations are initiated by it. Let us glance at
the facts under these two heads.

A business partnership, balanced as the authorities of its members may
theoretically be, practically becomes a union in which the authority of
one partner is tacitly recognized as greater than that of the other or
others. Though the shareholders have given equal powers to the directors
of their company, inequalities of power soon arise among them; and
usually the supremacy of some one director grows so marked, that his
decisions determine the course which the board takes. Nor in
associations for political, charitable, literary, or other purposes, do
we fail to find a like process of division into dominant and subordinate
parties; each having its leader, its members of less influence, and its
mass of uninfluential members. These minor instances in which
unorganized groups of men, standing in homogeneous relations, may be
watched gradually passing into organized groups of men standing in
heterogeneous relations, give us the key to social inequalities.
Barbarous and civilized communities are alike characterized by
separation into classes, as well as by separation of each class into
more important and less important units; and this structure is
manifestly the gradually-consolidated result of a process like that
daily exemplified in trading and other combinations. So long as men are
constituted to act on one another, either by physical force or by force
of character, the struggles for supremacy must finally be decided in
favour of some one; and the difference once commenced must tend to
become ever more marked. Its unstable equilibrium being destroyed, the
uniform must gravitate with increasing rapidity into the multiform. And
so supremacy and subordination must establish themselves, as we see they
do, throughout the whole structure of a society, from the great
class-divisions pervading its entire body, down to village cliques, and
even down to every posse of school-boys.       Probably it will be
objected that such changes result, not from the homogeneity of the
original aggregations, but from their non-homogeneity—from certain
slight differences existing among their units at the outset. This is
doubtless the proximate cause. In strictness, such changes must be
regarded as transformations of the relatively homogeneous into the
relatively heterogeneous. But it is abundantly clear that an aggregation
of men, absolutely alike in their endowments, would eventually undergo a
similar transformation. For in the absence of perfect uniformity in the
lives severally led by them—in their occupations, physical conditions,
domestic relations, and trains of thought and feeling—there must arise
differences among them; and these must finally initiate social
differentiations. Even inequalities of health caused by accidents, must,
by entailing inequalities of physical and mental power, disturb the
exact balance of mutual influences among the units; and the balance once
disturbed, must inevitably be lost. Whence, indeed, besides seeing that
a body of men absolutely homogeneous in their governmental relations,
must, like all other homogeneous bodies, become heterogeneous, we also
see that it must do this from the same ultimate cause—unequal exposure
of its parts to incident forces.

The first industrial divisions of societies are much more obviously due
to unlikenesses of external circumstances. Such divisions are absent
until such unlikenesses are established. Nomadic tribes do not
permanently expose any groups of their members to special local
conditions; nor does a stationary tribe, when occupying only a small
area, maintain from generation to generation marked contrasts in the
local conditions of its members; and in such tribes there are no decided
economical differentiations. But a community which, growing populous,
has overspread a large tract, and has become so far settled that its
members live and die in their respective districts, keeps its several
sections in different physical circumstances; and then they no longer
remain alike in their occupations. Those who live dispersed continue to
hunt or cultivate the earth; those who spread to the sea-shore fall into
maritime occupations; while the inhabitants of some spot chosen, perhaps
for its centrality, as one of periodical assemblage, become traders, and
a town springs up. Each of these classes undergoes a modification of
character consequent on its function, and better fitting it to its
function. Later in the process of social evolution these local
adaptations are greatly multiplied. A result of differences in soil and
climate, is that the rural inhabitants in different parts of the kingdom
have their occupations partially specialized; and become respectively
distinguished as chiefly producing cattle, or sheep, or wheat, or oats,
or hops, or cyder. People living where coal-fields are discovered are
transformed into colliers; Cornishmen take to mining because Cornwall is
metalliferous; and the iron-manufacture is the dominant industry where
ironstone is plentiful. Liverpool has assumed the office of importing
cotton, in consequence of its proximity to the district where cotton
goods are made; and for analogous reasons, Hull has become the chief
port at which foreign wools are brought in. Even in the establishment of
breweries, of dye-works, of slate-quarries, of brickyards, we may see
the same truth. So that both in general and in detail, the
specializations of the social organism which characterize separate
districts, primarily depend on local circumstances. Those divisions of
labour which under another aspect were interpreted as due to the setting
up of motion in the directions of least resistance (§ 91), are here
interpreted as due to differences in the incident forces; and the two
interpretations are quite consistent with each other. For that which in
each case _determines_ the direction of least resistance, is the
distribution of the forces to be overcome; and hence unlikenesses of
distribution in separate localities, entails unlikenesses in the course
of human action in those localities—entails industrial differentiations.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 115. In common with the general truths set forth in preceding
chapters, the instability of the homogeneous is demonstrable _à priori_.
It, like each of them, is a corollary from the persistence of force.
Already this has been tacitly implied by assigning unlikeness in the
exposure of its part to surrounding agencies, as the reason why a
uniform mass loses its uniformity. But here it will be proper to expand
this tacit implication into definite proof.

On striking a mass of matter with such force as either to indent it or
make it fly to pieces, we see both that the blow affects differently its
different parts, and that the differences are consequent on the unlike
relations of its parts to the force impressed. The part with which the
striking body comes in contact, receiving the whole of the communicated
momentum, is driven in towards the centre of the mass. It thus
compresses and tends to displace the more centrally situated portions of
the mass. These, however, cannot be compressed or thrust out of their
places without pressing on all surrounding portions. And when the blow
is violent enough to fracture the mass, we see, in the radial dispersion
of its fragments, that the original momentum, in being distributed
throughout it, has been divided into numerous minor momenta, unlike in
their directions. We see that these directions are determined by the
positions of the parts with respect to each other, and with respect to
the point of impact. We see that the parts are differently affected by
the disruptive force, because they are differently related to it in
their directions and attachments—that the effects being the joint
products of the cause and the conditions, cannot be alike in parts which
are differently conditioned.       A body on which radiant heat is
falling, exemplifies this truth still more clearly. Taking the simplest
case (that of a sphere) we see that while the part nearest to the
radiating centre receives the rays at right angles, the rays strike the
other parts of the exposed side at all angles from 90° down to 0°.
Again, the molecular vibrations propagated through the mass from the
surface which receives the heat, must proceed inwards at angles
differing for each point. Further, the interior parts of the sphere
affected by the vibrations proceeding from all points of the heated
side, must be dissimilarly affected in proportion as their positions are
dissimilar. So that whether they be on the recipient area, in the
middle, or at the remote side, the constituent atoms are all thrown into
states of vibration more or less unlike each other.

But now, what is the ultimate meaning of the conclusion that a uniform
force produces different changes throughout a uniform mass, because the
parts of the mass stand in different relations to the force? Fully to
understand this, we must contemplate each part as simultaneously subject
to other forces—those of gravitation, of cohesion, of molecular motion,
&c. The effect wrought by an additional force, must be a resultant of it
and the forces already in action. If the forces already in action on two
parts of any aggregate, are different in their directions, the effects
produced on these two parts by like forces must be different in their
directions. Why must they be different? They must be different because
such unlikeness as exists between the two sets of factors, is made by
the presence in the one of some specially-directed force that is not
present in the other; and that this force will produce an effect,
rendering the total result in the one case unlike that in the other, is
a necessary corollary from the persistence of force.       Still more
manifest does it become that the dissimilarly-placed parts of any
aggregate must be dissimilarly modified by an incident force, when we
remember that the _quantities_ of the incident force to which they are
severally subject, are not equal, as above supposed; but are nearly
always very unequal. The outer parts of masses are usually alone exposed
to chemical actions; and not only are their inner parts shielded from
the affinities of external elements, but such affinities are brought to
bear unequally on their surfaces; since chemical action sets up currents
through the medium in which it takes place, and so brings to the various
parts of the surface unequal quantities of the active agent. Again, the
amounts of any external radiant force which the different parts of an
aggregate receive, are widely contrasted: we have the contrast between
the quantity falling on the side next the radiating centre, and the
quantity, or rather no quantity, falling on the opposite side; we have
contrasts in the quantities received by differently-placed areas on the
exposed side; and we have endless contrasts between the quantities
received by the various parts of the interior. Similarly when mechanical
force is expended on any aggregate, either by collision, continued
pressure, or tension, the amounts of strain distributed throughout the
mass are manifestly unlike for unlike positions. But to say the
different parts of an aggregate receive different quantities of any
incident force, is to say that their states are modified by it in
different degrees—is to say that if they were before homogeneous in
their relations they must be rendered to a proportionate extent
heterogeneous; since, force being persistent, the different quantities
of it falling on the different parts, must work in them different
quantities of effect—different changes.       Yet one more kindred
deduction is required to complete the argument. We may, by parallel
reasoning, reach the conclusion that, even apart from the action of any
external force, the equilibrium of a homogeneous aggregate must be
destroyed by the unequal actions of its parts on each other. That mutual
influence which produces aggregation (not to mention other mutual
influences) must work different effects on the different parts; since
they are severally exposed to it in unlike amounts and directions. This
will be clearly seen on remembering that the portions of which the whole
is made up, may be severally regarded as minor wholes; that on each of
these minor wholes, the action of the entire aggregate then becomes an
external incident force; that such external incident force must, as
above shown, work unlike changes in the parts of any such minor whole;
and that if the minor wholes are severally thus rendered heterogeneous,
the entire aggregate is rendered heterogeneous.

The instability of the homogeneous is thus deducible from that
primordial truth which underlies our intelligence. One stable
homogeneity only, is hypothetically possible. If centres of force,
absolutely uniform in their powers, were diffused with absolute
uniformity through unlimited space, they would remain in equilibrium.
This however, though a verbally intelligible supposition, is one that
cannot be represented in thought; since unlimited space is
inconceivable. But all finite forms of the homogeneous—all forms of it
which we can know or conceive, must inevitably lapse into heterogeneity.
In three several ways does the persistence of force necessitate this.
Setting external agencies aside, each unit of a homogeneous whole must
be differently affected from any of the rest by the aggregate action of
the rest upon it. The resultant force exercised by the aggregate on each
unit, being in no two cases alike in both amount and direction, and
usually not in either, any incident force, even if uniform in amount and
direction, cannot produce like effects on the units. And the various
positions of the parts in relation to any incident force, preventing
them from receiving it in uniform amounts and directions, a further
difference in the effects wrought on them is inevitably produced.

One further remark is needed. To the conclusion that the changes with
which Evolution _commences_, are thus necessitated, remains to be added
the conclusion that these changes must _continue_. The absolutely
homogeneous must lose its equilibrium; and the relatively homogeneous
must lapse into the relatively less homogeneous. That which is true of
any total mass, is true of the parts into which it segregates. The
uniformity of each such part must as inevitably be lost in multiformity,
as was that of the original whole; and for like reasons. And thus the
continued changes which characterize Evolution, in so far as they are
constituted by the lapse of the homogeneous into the heterogeneous, and
of the less heterogeneous into the more heterogeneous, are necessary
consequences of the persistence of force.


Footnote 16:

  The idea developed in this chapter originally formed part of an
  article on “Transcendental Physiology,” published in 1857. See
  _Essays_, pp. 279–290.

                              CHAPTER XIV.

§ 116. To the cause of increasing complexity set forth in the last
chapter, we have in this chapter to add another. Though secondary in
order of time, it is scarcely secondary in order of importance. Even in
the absence of the cause already assigned, it would necessitate a change
from the homogeneous to the heterogeneous; and joined with it, it makes
this change both more rapid and more involved. To come in sight of it,
we have but to pursue a step further, that conflict between force and
matter already delineated. Let us do this.

When a uniform aggregate is subject to a uniform force, we have seen
that its constituents, being differently conditioned, are differently
modified. But while we have contemplated the various parts of the
aggregate as thus undergoing unlike changes, we have not yet
contemplated the unlike changes simultaneously produced on the various
parts of the incident force. These must be as numerous and important as
the others. Action and re-action being equal and opposite, it follows
that in differentiating the parts on which it falls in unlike ways, the
incident force must itself be correspondingly differentiated. Instead of
being as before, a uniform force, it must thereafter be a multiform
force—a group of dissimilar forces. A few illustrations will make this
truth manifest.

A single force is divided by conflict with matter into forces that
widely diverge. In the case lately cited, of a body shattered by violent
collision, besides the change of the homogeneous mass into a
heterogeneous group of scattered fragments, there is a change of the
homogeneous momentum into a group of momenta, heterogeneous in both
amounts and directions. Similarly with the forces we know as light and
heat. After the dispersion of these by a radiating body towards all
points, they are re-dispersed towards all points by the bodies on which
they fall. Of the Sun’s rays, issuing from him on every side, some few
strike the Moon. These being reflected at all angles from the Moon’s
surface, some few of them strike the Earth. By a like process the few
which reach the Earth are again diffused through surrounding space. And
on each occasion, such portions of the rays as are absorbed instead of
reflected, undergo refractions that equally destroy their parallelism.
      More than this is true. By conflict with matter, a uniform force
is in part changed into forces differing in their directions; and in
part it is changed into forces differing in their kinds. When one body
is struck against another, that which we usually regard as the effect,
is a change of position or motion in one or both bodies. But a moment’s
thought shows that this is a very incomplete view of the matter. Besides
the visible mechanical result, sound is produced; or, to speak
accurately, a vibration in one or both bodies, and in the surrounding
air: and under some circumstances we call this the effect. Moreover, the
air has not simply been made to vibrate, but has had currents raised in
it by the transit of the bodies. Further, if there is not that great
structural change which we call fracture, there is a disarrangement of
the particles of the two bodies around their point of collision;
amounting in some cases to a visible condensation. Yet more, this
condensation is accompanied by disengagement of heat. In some cases a
spark—that is, light—results, from the incandescence of a portion struck
off; and occasionally this incandescence is associated with chemical
combination. Thus, by the original mechanical force expended in the
collision, at least five, and often more, different kinds of forces have
been produced. Take, again, the lighting of a candle. Primarily, this is
a chemical change consequent on a rise of temperature. The process of
combination having once been set going by extraneous heat, there is a
continued formation of carbonic acid, water, &c.—in itself a result more
complex than the extraneous heat that first caused it. But along with
this process of combination there is a production of heat; there is a
production of light; there is an ascending column of hot gases
generated; there are currents established in the surrounding air. Nor
does the decomposition of one force into many forces end here. Each of
the several changes worked becomes the parent of further changes. The
carbonic acid formed, will by and by combine with some base; or under
the influence of sunshine give up its carbon to the leaf of a plant. The
water will modify the hygrometric state of the air around; or, if the
current of hot gases containing it come against a cold body, will be
condensed: altering the temperature, and perhaps the chemical state, of
the surface it covers. The heat given out melts the subjacent tallow,
and expands whatever it warms. The light, falling on various substances,
calls forth from them reactions by which it is modified; and so divers
colours are produced. Similarly even with these secondary actions, which
may be traced out into ever-multiplying ramifications, until they become
too minute to be appreciated.       Universally, then, the effect is
more complex than the cause. Whether the aggregate on which it falls be
homogeneous or otherwise, an incident force is transformed by the
conflict into a number of forces that differ in their amounts, or
directions, or kinds; or in all these respects. And of this group of
variously-modified forces, each ultimately undergoes a like

Let us now mark how the process of evolution is furthered by this
multiplication of effects. An incident force decomposed by the reactions
of a body into a group of unlike forces—a uniform force thus reduced to
a multiform force—becomes the cause of a secondary increase of
multiformity in the body which decomposes it. In the last chapter we saw
that the several parts of an aggregate are differently modified by any
incident force. It has just been shown that by the reactions of the
differently modified parts, the incident force itself must be divided
into differently modified parts. Here it remains to point out that each
differentiated division of the aggregate, thus becomes a centre from
which a differentiated division of the original force is again diffused.
And since unlike forces must produce unlike results, each of these
differentiated forces must produce, throughout the aggregate, a further
series of differentiations.       This secondary cause of the change
from homogeneity to heterogeneity, obviously becomes more potent in
proportion as the heterogeneity increases. When the parts into which any
evolving whole has segregated itself, have diverged widely in nature,
they will necessarily react very diversely on any incident force—they
will divide an incident force into so many strongly contrasted groups of
forces. And each of them becoming the centre of a quite distinct set of
influences, must add to the number of distinct secondary changes wrought
throughout the aggregate.       Yet another corollary must be added. The
number of unlike parts of which an aggregate consists, as well as the
degree of their unlikeness, is an important factor in the process. Every
additional specialized division is an additional centre of specialized
forces. If a uniform whole, in being itself made multiform by an
incident force, makes the incident force multiform; if a whole
consisting of two unlike sections, divides an incident force into two
unlike groups of multiform forces; it is clear that each new unlike
section must be a further source of complication among the forces at
work throughout the mass—a further source of heterogeneity. The
multiplication of effects must proceed in geometrical progression. Each
stage of evolution must initiate a higher stage.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 117. The force of aggregation acting on irregular masses of rare
matter, diffused through a resisting medium, will not cause such masses
to move in straight lines to their common centre of gravity; but, as
before said, each will take a curvilinear path, directed to one or other
side of the centre of gravity. All of them being differently
conditioned, gravitation will impress on each a motion differing in
direction, in velocity, and in the degree of its curvature—uniform
aggregative force will be differentiated into multiform momenta. The
process thus commenced, must go on till it produces a single mass of
nebulous matter; and these independent curvilinear motions must result
in a movement of this mass round its axis: a simultaneous condensation
and rotation in which we see how two effects of the aggregative force,
at first but slightly divergent, become at last widely differentiated. A
gradual increase of oblateness in this revolving spheroid, must take
place through the joint action of these two forces, as the bulk
diminishes and the rotation grows more rapid; and this we may set down
as a third effect. The genesis of heat, which must accompany
augmentation of density, is a consequence of yet another order—a
consequence by no means simple; since the various parts of the mass,
being variously condensed, must be variously heated. Acting throughout a
gaseous spheroid, of which the parts are unlike in their temperatures,
the forces of aggregation and rotation must work a further series of
changes: they must set up circulating currents, both general and local.
At a later stage light as well as heat will be generated. Thus without
dwelling on the likelihood of chemical combinations and electric
disturbances, it is sufficiently manifest that, supposing matter to have
originally existed in a diffused state, the once uniform force which
caused its aggregation, must have become gradually divided into
different forces; and that each further stage of complication in the
resulting aggregate, must have initiated further subdivisions of this
force—a further multiplication of effects, increasing the previous

This section of the argument may however be adequately sustained,
without having recourse to any such hypothetical illustrations as the
foregoing. The astronomical attributes of the Earth, will even alone
suffice our purpose. Consider first the effects of its momentum round
its axis. There is the oblateness of its form; there is the alternation
of day and night; there are certain constant marine currents; and there
are certain constant aërial currents. Consider next the secondary series
of consequences due to the divergence of the Earth’s plane of rotation
from the plane of its orbit. The many differences of the seasons, both
simultaneous and successive, which pervade its surface, are thus caused.
External attraction acting on this rotating oblate spheroid with
inclined axis, produces the motion called nutation, and that slower and
larger one from which follows the precession of the equinoxes, with its
several sequences. And then by this same force are generated the tides,
aqueous and atmospheric.

Perhaps, however, the simplest way of showing the multiplication of
effects among phenomena of this order, will be to set down the
influences of any member of the Solar System on the rest. A planet
directly produces in neighbouring planets certain appreciable
perturbations, complicating those otherwise produced in them; and in the
remoter planets it directly produces certain less visible perturbations.
Here is a first series of effects. But each of the perturbed planets is
itself a source of perturbations—each directly affects all the others.
Hence, planet A having drawn planet B out of the position it would have
occupied in A’s absence, the perturbations which B causes are different
from what they would else have been; and similarly with C, D, E, &c.
Here then is a secondary series of effects: far more numerous though far
smaller in their amounts. As these indirect perturbations must to some
extent modify the movements of each planet, there results from them a
tertiary series; and so on continually. Thus the force exercised by any
planet works a different effect on each of the rest; this different
effect is from each as a centre partially broken up into minor different
effects on the rest; and so on in ever multiplying and diminishing waves
throughout the entire system.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 118. If the Earth was formed by the concentration of diffused matter,
it must at first have been incandescent; and whether the nebular
hypothesis be accepted or not, this original incandescence of the Earth
must now be regarded as inductively established—or, if not established,
at least rendered so probable that it is a generally admitted geological
doctrine. Several results of the gradual cooling of the Earth—as the
formation of a crust, the solidification of sublimed elements, the
precipitation of water, &c., have been already noticed—and I here again
refer to them merely to point out that they are simultaneous effects of
the one cause, diminishing heat. Let us now, however, observe the
multiplied changes afterwards arising from the continuance of this one
cause.       The Earth, falling in temperature, must contract. Hence the
solid crust at any time existing, is presently too large for the
shrinking nucleus; and being unable to support itself, inevitably
follows the nucleus. But a spheroidal envelope cannot sink down into
contact with a smaller internal spheroid, without disruption: it will
run into wrinkles, as the rind of an apple does when the bulk of its
interior decreases from evaporation. As the cooling progresses and the
envelope thickens, the ridges consequent on these contractions must
become greater; rising ultimately into hills and mountains; and the
later systems of mountains thus produced must not only be higher, as we
find them to be, but they must be longer, as we also find them to be.
Thus, leaving out of view other modifying forces, we see what immense
heterogeneity of surface arises from the one cause, loss of heat—a
heterogeneity which the telescope shows us to be paralleled on the Moon,
where aqueous and atmospheric agencies have been absent.       But we
have yet to notice another kind of heterogeneity of surface, similarly
and simultaneously caused. While the Earth’s crust was still thin, the
ridges produced by its contraction must not only have been small, but
the tracts between them must have rested with comparative smoothness on
the subjacent liquid spheroid; and the water in those arctic and
antarctic regions where it first condensed, must have been evenly
distributed. But as fast as the crust grew thicker and gained
corresponding strength, the lines of fracture from time to time caused
in it, necessarily occurred at greater distances apart; the intermediate
surfaces followed the contracting nucleus with less uniformity; and
there consequently resulted larger areas of land and water. If any one,
after wrapping an orange in wet tissue paper, and observing both how
small are the wrinkles and how evenly the intervening spaces lie on the
surface of the orange, will then wrap it in thick cartridge-paper, and
note both the greater height of the ridges and the larger spaces
throughout which the paper does not touch the orange, he will realize
the fact, that as the Earth’s solid envelope thickened, the areas of
elevation and depression became greater. In place of islands more or
less homogeneously scattered over an all-embracing sea, there must have
gradually arisen heterogeneous arrangements of continent and ocean, such
as we now know.       This double change in the extent and in the
elevation of the lands, involved yet another species of
heterogeneity—that of coast-line. A tolerably even surface raised out of
the ocean will have a simple, regular sea-margin; but a surface varied
by table-lands and intersected by mountain-chains, will, when raised out
of the ocean, have an outline extremely irregular, alike in its leading
features and in its details. Thus endless is the accumulation of
geological and geographical results slowly brought about by this one
cause—the escape of the Earth’s primitive heat.

When we pass from the agency which geologists term igneous, to aqueous
and atmospheric agencies, we see a like ever-growing complication of
effects. The denuding actions of air and water have, from the beginning,
been modifying every exposed surface: everywhere working many different
changes. As already shown (§ 80) the original source of those gaseous
and fluid motions which effect denudation, is the solar heat. The
transformation of this into various modes of force, according to the
nature and condition of the matter on which it falls, is the first stage
of complication. The sun’s rays, striking at all angles a sphere, that
from moment to moment presents and withdraws different parts of its
surface, and each of them for a different time daily throughout the
year, would produce a considerable variety of changes even were the
sphere uniform. But falling as they do on a sphere surrounded by an
atmosphere in some parts of which wide areas of cloud are suspended, and
which here unveils vast tracts of sea, there of level land, there of
mountains, there of snow and ice, they initiate in its several parts
countless different movements. Currents of air of all sizes, directions,
velocities, and temperatures, are set up; as are also marine currents
similarly contrasted in their characters. In this region the surface is
giving off water in the state of vapour; in that, dew is being
precipitated; and in the other rain is descending—differences that arise
from the ever-changing ratio between the absorption and radiation of
heat in each place. At one hour, a rapid fall in temperature leads to
the formation of ice, with an accompanying expansion throughout the
moist bodies frozen; while at another, a thaw unlocks the dislocated
fragments of these bodies. And then, passing to a second stage of
complication, we see that the many kinds of motion directly or
indirectly caused by the sun’s rays, severally produce results that vary
with the conditions. Oxidation, drought, wind, frost, rain, glaciers,
rivers, waves, and other denuding agents effect disintegrations that are
determined in their amounts and qualities by local circumstances. Acting
upon a tract of granite, such agents here work scarcely an appreciable
effect; there cause exfoliations of the surface, and a resulting heap of
_débris_ and boulders; and elsewhere, after decomposing the feldspar
into a white clay, carry away this with the accompanying quartz and
mica, and deposit them in separate beds, fluviatile and marine. When the
exposed land consists of several unlike formations, sedimentary and
igneous, changes proportionably more heterogeneous are wrought. The
formations being disintegrable in different degrees, there follows an
increased irregularity of surface. The areas drained by different rivers
being differently constituted, these rivers carry down to the sea unlike
combinations of ingredients; and so sundry new strata of distinct
composition arise. And here indeed we may see very simply illustrated,
the truth, that the heterogeneity of the effects increases in a
geometrical progression, with the heterogeneity of the object acted
upon. A continent of complex structure, presenting many strata
irregularly distributed, raised to various levels, tilted up at all
angles, must, under the same denuding agencies, give origin to immensely
multiplied results: each district must be peculiarly modified; each
river must carry down a distinct kind of detritus; each deposit must be
differently distributed by the entangled currents, tidal and other,
which wash the contorted shores; and every additional complication of
surface must be the cause of more than one additional consequence. But
not to dwell on these, let us, for the fuller elucidation of this truth
in relation to the inorganic world, consider what would presently follow
from some extensive cosmical revolution—say the subsidence of Central
America. The immediate results of the disturbance would themselves be
sufficiently complex. Besides the numberless dislocations of strata, the
ejections of igneous matter, the propagation of earthquake vibrations
thousands of miles around, the loud explosions, and the escape of gases,
there would be the rush of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans to supply the
vacant space, the subsequent recoil of enormous waves, which would
traverse both these oceans and produce myriads of changes along their
shores, the corresponding atmospheric waves complicated by the currents
surrounding each volcanic vent, and the electrical discharges with which
such disturbances are accompanied. But these temporary effects would be
insignificant compared with the permanent ones. The complex currents of
the Atlantic and Pacific would be altered in directions and amounts. The
distribution of heat achieved by these currents would be different from
what it is. The arrangement of the isothermal lines, not only on the
neighbouring continents, but even throughout Europe, would be changed.
The tides would flow differently from what they do now. There would be
more or less modification of the winds in their periods, strengths,
directions, qualities. Rain would fall scarcely anywhere at the same
times and in the same quantities as at present. In short, the
meteorological conditions thousands of miles off, on all sides, would be
more or less revolutionized. In these many changes, each of which
comprehends countless minor ones, the reader will see the immense
heterogeneity of the results wrought out by one force, when that force
expends itself on a previously complicated area; and he will readily
draw the corollary that from the beginning the complication has advanced
at an increasing rate.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 119. We have next to trace throughout organic evolution, this same
all-pervading principle. And here, where the transformation of the
homogeneous into the heterogeneous was first observed, the production of
many changes by one cause is least easy to demonstrate. The development
of a seed into a plant, or an ovum into an animal, is so gradual; while
the forces which determine it are so involved, and at the same time so
unobtrusive; that it is difficult to detect the multiplication of
effects which is elsewhere so obvious. Nevertheless, by indirect
evidence we may establish our proposition; spite of the lack of direct

Observe, first, how numerous are the changes which any marked stimulus
works on an adult organism—a human being, for instance. An alarming
sound or sight, besides impressions on the organs of sense and the
nerves, may produce a start, a scream, a distortion of the face, a
trembling consequent on general muscular relaxation, a burst of
perspiration, an excited action of the heart, a rush of blood to the
brain, followed possibly by arrest of the heart’s action and by syncope;
and if the system be feeble, an illness with its long train of
complicated symptoms may set in. Similarly in cases of disease. A minute
portion of the small-pox virus introduced into the system, will, in a
severe case, cause, during the first stage, rigors, heat of skin,
accelerated pulse, furred tongue, loss of appetite, thirst, epigastric
uneasiness, vomiting, headache, pains in the back and limbs, muscular
weakness, convulsions, delirium, &c.; in the second stage, cutaneous
eruption, itching, tingling, sore throat, swelled fauces, salivation,
cough, hoarseness, dyspnœa, &c.; and in the third stage, œdematous
inflammations, pneumonia, pleurisy, diarrhœa, inflammation of the brain,
ophthalmia, erysipelas, &c.: each of which enumerated symptoms is itself
more or less complex. Medicines, special foods, better air, might in
like manner be instanced as producing multiplied results.       Now it
needs only to consider that the many changes thus wrought by one force
on an adult organism, must be partially paralleled in an
embryo-organism, to understand how here also the production of many
effects by one cause is a source of increasing heterogeneity. The
external heat and other agencies which determine the first complications
of the germ, will, by acting on these, superinduce further
complications; on these still higher and more numerous ones; and so on
continually: each organ as it is developed, serving, by its actions and
reactions on the rest, to initiate new complexities. The first
pulsations of the fœtal heart must simultaneously aid the unfolding of
every part. The growth of each tissue, by taking from the blood special
proportions of elements, must modify the constitution of the blood; and
so must modify the nutrition of all the other tissues. The distributive
actions, implying as they do a certain waste, necessitate an addition to
the blood of effete matters, which must influence the rest of the
system, and perhaps, as some think, initiate the formation of excretory
organs. The nervous connections established among the viscera must
further multiply their mutual influences. And so with every modification
of structure—every additional part and every alteration in the ratios of
parts.       Still stronger becomes the proof when we call to mind the
fact, that the same germ may be evolved into different forms according
to circumstances. Thus, during its earlier stages, every embryo is
sexless—becomes either male or female as the balance of forces acting on
it determines. Again, it is well-known that the larva of a working-bee
will develop into a queen-bee, if, before a certain period, its food be
changed to that on which the larvæ of queen-bees are fed. Even more
remarkable is the case of certain entozoa. The ovum of a tape-worm,
getting into the intestine of one animal, unfolds into the form of its
parent; but if carried into other parts of the system, or into the
intestine of some unlike animal, it becomes one of the sac-like
creatures, called by naturalists _Cysticerci_, or _Cœnuri_, or
_Echinococci_—creatures so extremely different from the tape-worm in
aspect and structure, that only after careful investigations have they
been proved to have the same origin. All which instances imply that each
advance in embryonic complication results from the action of incident
forces on the complication previously existing.       Indeed, the now
accepted doctrine of epigenesis necessitates the conclusion that organic
evolution proceeds after this manner. For since it is proved that no
germ, animal or vegetal, contains the slightest rudiment, trace, or
indication of the future organism—since the microscope has shown us that
the first process set up in every fertilized germ is a process of
repeated spontaneous fissions, ending in the production of a mass of
cells, not one of which exhibits any special character; there seems no
alternative but to conclude that the partial organization at any moment
subsisting in a growing embryo, is transformed by the agencies acting on
it into the succeeding phase of organization, and this into the next,
until, through ever-increasing complexities, the ultimate form is
reached.       Thus, though the subtlety of the forces and the slowness
of the metamorphosis, prevent us from _directly_ tracing the genesis of
many changes by one cause, throughout the successive stages which every
embryo passes through; yet, _indirectly_, we have strong evidence that
this is a source of increasing heterogeneity. We have marked how
multitudinous are the effects which a single agency may generate in an
adult organism; that a like multiplication of effects must happen in the
unfolding organism, we have inferred from sundry illustrative cases;
further, it has been pointed out that the ability which like germs have
to originate unlike forms, implies that the successive transformations
result from the new changes superinduced on previous changes; and we
have seen that structureless as every germ originally is, the
development of an organism out of it is otherwise incomprehensible.
Doubtless we are still in the dark respecting those mysterious
properties which make the germ, when subject to fit influences, undergo
the special changes beginning this series of transformations. All here
contended is, that given a germ possessing these mysterious properties,
the evolution of an organism from it depends, in part, on that
multiplication of effects which we have seen to be a cause of evolution
in general, so far as we have yet traced it.

When, leaving the development of single plants and animals, we pass to
that of the Earth’s flora and fauna, the course of the argument again
becomes clear and simple. Though, as before admitted, the fragmentary
facts Palæontology has accumulated, do not clearly warrant us in saying
that, in the lapse of geologic time, there have been evolved more
heterogeneous organisms, and more heterogeneous assemblages of
organisms; yet we shall now see that there _must_ ever have been a
tendency towards these results. We shall find that the production of
many effects by one cause, which, as already shown, has been all along
increasing the physical heterogeneity of the Earth, has further
necessitated an increasing heterogeneity in its flora and fauna,
individually and collectively. An illustration will make this clear.
      Suppose that by a series of upheavals, occurring, as they are now
known to do, at long intervals, the East Indian Archipelago were to be
raised into a continent, and a chain of mountains formed along the axis
of elevation. By the first of these upheavals, the plants and animals
inhabiting Borneo, Sumatra, New Guinea, and the rest, would be subjected
to slightly-modified sets of conditions. The climate in general would be
altered in temperature, in humidity, and in its periodical variations;
while the local differences would be multiplied. These modifications
would affect, perhaps inappreciably, the entire flora and fauna of the
region. The change of level would produce additional modifications;
varying in different species, and also in different members of the same
species, according to their distance from the axis of elevation. Plants,
growing only on the sea-shore in special localities, might become
extinct. Others, living only in swamps of a certain humidity, would, if
they survived at all, probably undergo visible changes of appearance.
While more marked alterations would occur in some of the plants that
spread over the lands newly raised above the sea. The animals and
insects living on these modified plants, would themselves be in some
degree modified by change of food, as well as by change of climate; and
the modification would be more marked where, from the dwindling or
disappearance of one kind of plant, an allied kind was eaten. In the
lapse of the many generations arising before the next upheaval, the
sensible or insensible alterations thus produced in each species, would
become organized—in all the races that survived there would be a more or
less complete adaptation to the new conditions. The next upheaval would
superinduce further organic changes, implying wider divergences from the
primary forms; and so repeatedly. Now however let it be observed that
this revolution would not be a substitution of a thousand modified
species for the thousand original species; but in place of the thousand
original species there would arise several thousand species, or
varieties, or changed forms. Each species being distributed over an area
of some extent, and tending continually to colonize the new area
exposed, its different members would be subject to different sets of
changes. Plants and animals migrating towards the equator would not be
affected in the same way with others migrating from it. Those which
spread towards the new shores, would undergo changes unlike the changes
undergone by those which spread into the mountains. Thus, each original
race of organisms would become the root from which diverged several
races, differing more or less from it and from each other; and while
some of these might subsequently disappear, probably more than one would
survive in the next geologic period: the very dispersion itself
increasing the chances of survival. Not only would there be certain
modifications thus caused by changes of physical conditions and food;
but also in some cases other modifications caused by changes of habit.
The fauna of each island, peopling, step by step, the newly-raised
tracts, would eventually come in contact with the faunas of other
islands; and some members of these other faunas would be unlike any
creatures before seen. Herbivores meeting with new beasts of prey,
would, in some cases, be led into modes of defence or escape differing
from those previously used; and simultaneously the beasts of prey would
modify their modes of pursuit and attack. We know that when
circumstances demand it, such changes of habit _do_ take place in
animals; and we know that if the new habits become the dominant ones,
they must eventually in some degree alter the organization.
      Observe now, however, a further consequence. There must arise not
simply a tendency towards the differentiation of each race of organisms
into several races; but also a tendency to the occasional production of
a somewhat higher organism. Taken in the mass, these divergent
varieties, which have been caused by fresh physical conditions and
habits of life, will exhibit alterations quite indefinite in kind and
degree; and alterations that do not necessarily constitute an advance.
Probably in most cases the modified type will be not appreciably more
heterogeneous than the original one. But it _must_ now and then occur,
that some division of a species, falling into circumstances which give
it rather more complex experiences, and demand actions somewhat more
involved, will have certain of its organs further differentiated in
proportionately small degrees—will become slightly more heterogeneous.
Hence, there will from time to time arise an increased heterogeneity
both of the Earth’s flora and fauna, and of individual races included in
them. Omitting detailed explanations, and allowing for the
qualifications which cannot here be specified, it is sufficiently clear
that geological mutations have all along tended to complicate the forms
of life, whether regarded separately or collectively. That
multiplication of effects which has been a part-cause of the
transformation of the Earth’s crust from the simple into the complex,
has simultaneously led to a parallel transformation of the Life upon its

The deduction here drawn from the established truths of geology and the
general laws of life, gains immensely in weight on finding it to be in
harmony with an induction drawn from direct experience. Just that
divergence of many races from one race, which we inferred must have been
continually occurring during geologic time, we know to have occurred
during the pre-historic and historic periods, in man and domestic
animals. And just that multiplication of effects which we concluded must
have been instrumental to the first, we see has in a great measure
wrought the last. Single causes, as famine, pressure of population, war,
have periodically led to further dispersions of mankind and of dependent
creatures: each such dispersion initiating new modifications, new
varieties of type. Whether all the human races be or be not derived from
one stock, philology makes it clear that whole groups of races, now
easily distinguishable from each other, were originally one race—that
the diffusion of one race into different climates and conditions of
existence has produced many altered forms of it. Similarly with domestic
animals. Though in some cases (as that of dogs) community of origin will
perhaps be disputed, yet in other cases (as that of the sheep or the
cattle of our own country) it will not be questioned that local
differences of climate, food, and treatment, have transformed one
original breed into numerous breeds, now become so far distinct as to
produce unstable hybrids. Moreover, through the complication of effects
flowing from single causes, we here find, what we before inferred, not
only an increase of general heterogeneity, but also of special
heterogeneity. While of the divergent divisions and subdivisions of the
human race, many have undergone changes not constituting an advance;
others have become decidedly more heterogeneous. The civilized European
departs more widely from the vertebrate archetype than does the savage.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 120. A sensation does not expend itself in arousing some single state
of consciousness; but the state of consciousness aroused is made up of
various represented sensations connected by co-existence, or sequence
with the presented sensation. And that, in proportion as the grade of
intelligence is high, the number of ideas suggested is great, may be
readily inferred. Let us, however, look at the proof that here too, each
change is the parent of many changes; and that the multiplication
increases in proportion as the area affected is complex.

Were some hitherto unknown bird, driven say by stress of weather from
the remote north, to make its appearance on our shores, it would excite
no speculation in the sheep or cattle amid which it alighted: a
perception of it as a creature like those constantly flying about, would
be the sole interruption of that dull current of consciousness which
accompanies grazing and rumination. The cow-herd, by whom we may suppose
the exhausted bird to be presently caught, would probably gaze at it
with some slight curiosity, as being unlike any he had before seen—would
note its most conspicuous markings, and vaguely ponder on the questions,
where it came from, and how it came. The village bird-stuffer would have
suggested to him by the sight of it, sundry forms to which it bore a
little resemblance; would receive from it more numerous and more
specific impressions respecting structure and plumage; would be reminded
of various instances of birds brought by storms from foreign parts—would
tell who found them, who stuffed them, who bought them. Supposing the
unknown bird taken to a naturalist of the old school, interested only in
externals, (one of those described by the late Edward Forbes, as
examining animals as though they were merely skins filled with straw,)
it would excite in him a more involved series of mental changes: there
would be an elaborate examination of the feathers, a noting of all their
technical distinctions, with a reduction of these perceptions to certain
equivalent written symbols; reasons for referring the new form to a
particular family, order, and genus would be sought out and written
down; communications with the secretary of some society, or editor of
some journal, would follow; and probably there would be not a few
thoughts about the addition of the _ii_ to the describer’s name, to form
the name of the species. Lastly, in the mind of a comparative anatomist,
such a new species, should it happen to have any marked internal
peculiarity, might produce additional sets of changes—might very
possibly suggest modified views respecting the relationships of the
division to which it belonged; or, perhaps, alter his conceptions of the
homologies and developments of certain organs; and the conclusions drawn
might not improbably enter as elements into still wider inquiries
concerning the origin of organic forms.

From ideas let us turn to emotions. In a young child, a father’s anger
produces little else than vague fear—a disagreeable sense of impending
evil, taking various shapes of physical suffering or deprivation of
pleasures. In elder children, the same harsh words will arouse
additional feelings: sometimes a sense of shame, of penitence, or of
sorrow for having offended; at other times, a sense of injustice, and a
consequent anger. In the wife, yet a further range of feelings may come
into existence—perhaps wounded affection, perhaps self-pity for
ill-usage, perhaps contempt for groundless irritability, perhaps
sympathy for some suffering which the irritability indicates, perhaps
anxiety about an unknown misfortune which she thinks has produced it.
Nor are we without evidence that among adults, the like differences of
development are accompanied by like differences in the number of
emotions that are aroused, in combination or rapid succession—the lower
natures being characterized by that impulsiveness which results from the
uncontrolled action of a few feelings; and the higher natures being
characterized by the simultaneous action of many secondary feelings,
modifying those first awakened.

Possibly it will be objected that the illustrations here given, are
drawn from the functional changes of the nervous system, not from its
structural changes; and that what is proved among the first, does not
necessarily hold among the last. This must be admitted. Those, however,
who recognize the truth that the structural changes are the slowly
accumulated results of the functional changes, will readily draw the
corollary, that a part-cause of the evolution of the nervous system, as
of other evolution, is this multiplication of effects which becomes ever
greater as the development becomes higher.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 121. If the advance of Man towards greater heterogeneity in both body
and mind, is in part traceable to the production of many effects by one
cause, still more clearly may the advance of Society towards greater
heterogeneity be so explained. Consider the growth of an industrial
organization. When, as must occasionally happen, some individual of a
tribe displays unusual aptitude for making an article of general use (a
weapon, for instance) which was before made by each man for himself,
there arises a tendency towards the differentiation of that individual
into a maker of weapons. His companions (warriors and hunters all of
them) severally wish to have the best weapons that can be made; and are
therefore certain to offer strong inducements to this skilled individual
to make weapons for them. He, on the other hand, having both an unusual
faculty, and an unusual liking, for making weapons (the capacity and the
desire for any occupation being commonly associated), is predisposed to
fulfil these commissions on the offer of adequate rewards: especially as
his love of distinction is also gratified. This first specialization of
function, once commenced, tends ever to become more decided. On the side
of the weapon-maker, continued practice gives increased skill—increased
superiority to his products. On the side of his clients, cessation of
practice entails decreased skill. Thus the influences that determine
this division of labour grow stronger in both ways: this social movement
tends ever to become more decided in the direction in which it was first
set up; and the incipient heterogeneity is, on the average of cases,
likely to become permanent for that generation, if no longer.       Such
a process, besides differentiating the social mass into two parts, the
one monopolizing, or almost monopolizing, the performance of a certain
function, and the other having lost the habit, and in some measure the
power, of performing that function, has a tendency to initiate other
differentiations. The advance described implies the introduction of
barter: the maker of weapons has, on each occasion, to be paid in such
other articles as he agrees to take in exchange. Now he will not
habitually take in exchange one kind of article, but many kinds. He does
not want mats only, or skins, or fishing-gear; but he wants all these;
and on each occasion will bargain for the particular things he most
needs. What follows? If among the members of the tribe there exist any
slight differences of skill in the manufacture of these various things,
as there are almost sure to do, the weapon-maker will take from each one
the thing which that one excels in making: he will exchange for mats
with him whose mats are superior, and will bargain for the fishing-gear
of whoever has the best. But he who has bartered away his mats or his
fishing-gear, must make other mats or fishing-gear for himself; and in
so doing must, in some degree, further develop his aptitude. Thus it
results that the small specialities of faculty possessed by various
members of the tribe will tend to grow more decided. If such
transactions are from time to time repeated, these specializations may
become appreciable. And whether or not there ensue distinct
differentiations of other individuals into makers of particular
articles, it is clear that incipient differentiations take place
throughout the tribe: the one original cause produces not only the first
dual effect, but a number of secondary dual effects, like in kind but
minor in degree.       This process, of which traces may be seen among
groups of school-boys, cannot well produce a lasting distribution of
functions in an unsettled tribe; but where there grows up a fixed and
multiplying community, such differentiations become permanent, and
increase with each generation. An addition to the number of citizens,
involving a greater demand for every commodity, intensifies the
functional activity of each specialized person or class; and this
renders the specialization more definite where it already exists, and
establishes it where it is but nascent. By increasing the pressure on
the means of subsistence, a larger population again augments these
results; since every individual is forced more and more to confine
himself to that which he can do best, and by which he can gain most. And
this industrial progress, by aiding future production, opens the way for
further growth of population, which reacts as before.       Presently,
under the same stimuli, new occupations arise. Competing workers,
severally aiming to produce improved articles, occasionally discover
better processes or better materials. In weapons and cutting-tools, the
substitution of bronze for stone entails on him who first makes it, a
great increase of demand—so great an increase that he presently finds
all his time occupied in making the bronze for the articles he sells,
and is obliged to depute the fashioning of these articles to others; and
eventually the making of bronze, thus gradually differentiated from a
pre-existing occupation, becomes an occupation by itself. But now mark
the ramified changes which follow this change. Bronze soon replaces
stone, not only in the articles it was first used for, but in many
others; and so affects the manufacture of them. Further, it affects the
processes which such improved utensils subserve, and the resulting
products—modifies buildings, carvings, dress, personal decorations. Yet
again, it sets going sundry manufactures which were before impossible,
from lack of a material fit for the requisite tools. And all these
changes react on the people—increase their manipulative skill, their
intelligence, their comfort—refine their habits and tastes.

It is out of the question here to follow through its successive
complications, this increasing social heterogeneity that results from
the production of many effects by one cause. But leaving the
intermediate phases of social development, let us take an illustration
from its passing phase. To trace the effects of steam-power, in its
manifold applications to mining, navigation, and manufactures, would
carry us into unmanageable detail. Let us confine ourselves to the
latest embodiment of steam-power—the locomotive engine. This, as the
proximate cause of our railway-system, has changed the face of the
country, the course of trade, and the habits of the people. Consider,
first, the complicated sets of changes that precede the making of every
railway—the provisional arrangements, the meetings, the registration,
the trial-section, the parliamentary survey, the lithographed plans, the
books of reference, the local deposits and notices, the application to
Parliament, the passing Standing-Orders Committee, the first, second,
and third readings: each of which brief heads indicates a multiplicity
of transactions, and the further development of sundry occupations, (as
those of engineers, surveyors, lithographers, parliamentary agents,
share-brokers,) and the creation of sundry others (as those of
traffic-takers, reference-takers). Consider, next, the yet more marked
changes implied in railway construction—the cuttings, em-bankings,
tunnellings, diversions of roads; the building of bridges and stations;
the laying down of ballast, sleepers, and rails; the making of engines,
tenders, carriages, and wagons: which processes, acting upon numerous
trades, increase the importation of timber, the quarrying of stone, the
manufacture of iron, the mining of coal, the burning of bricks;
institute a variety of special manufactures weekly advertised in the
_Railway Times_; and call into being some new classes of
workers—drivers, stokers, cleaners, plate-layers, &c. &c. Then come the
changes, more numerous and involved still, which railways in action
produce on the community at large. The organization of every business is
more or less modified: ease of communication makes it better to do
directly what was before done by proxy; agencies are established where
previously they would not have paid; goods are obtained from remote
wholesale houses instead of near retail ones; and commodities are used
which distance once rendered inaccessible. The rapidity and small cost
of carriage, tend to specialize more than ever the industries of
different districts—to confine each manufacture to the parts in which,
from local advantages, it can be best carried on. Economical
distribution equalizes prices, and also, on the average, lowers prices:
thus bringing divers articles within the means of those before unable to
buy them, and so increasing their comforts and improving their habits.
At the same time the practice of travelling is immensely extended.
Classes who before could not afford it, take annual trips to the sea;
visit their distant relations; make tours; and so we are benefited in
body, feelings, and intellect. The more prompt transmission of letters
and of news produces further changes—makes the pulse of the nation
faster. Yet more, there arises a wide dissemination of cheap literature
through railway book-stalls, and of advertisements in railway carriages:
both of them aiding ulterior progress. And the innumerable changes here
briefly indicated are consequent on the invention of the locomotive
engine. The social organism has been rendered more heterogeneous, in
virtue of the many new occupations introduced, and the many old ones
further specialized; prices in all places have been altered; each trader
has, more or less, modified his way of doing business; and every person
has been affected in his actions, thoughts, emotions.

The only further fact demanding notice, is, that we here see more
clearly than ever, that in proportion as the area over which any
influence extends, becomes heterogeneous, the results are in a yet
higher degree multiplied in number and kind. While among the primitive
tribes to whom it was first known, caoutchouc caused but few changes,
among ourselves the changes have been so many and varied that the
history of them occupies a volume. Upon the small, homogeneous community
inhabiting one of the Hebrides, the electric telegraph would produce,
were it used, scarcely any results; but in England the results it
produces are multitudinous.

Space permitting, the synthesis might here be pursued in relation to all
the subtler products of social life. It might be shown how, in Science,
an advance of one division presently advances other divisions—how
Astronomy has been immensely forwarded by discoveries in Optics, while
other optical discoveries have initiated Microscopic Anatomy, and
greatly aided the growth of Physiology—how Chemistry has indirectly
increased our knowledge of Electricity, Magnetism, Biology, Geology—how
Electricity has reacted on Chemistry and Magnetism, developed our views
of Light and Heat, and disclosed sundry laws of nervous action. In
Literature the same truth might be exhibited in the still-multiplying
forms of periodical publications that have descended from the first
newspaper, and which have severally acted and reacted on other forms of
literature and on each other; or in the bias given by each book of power
to various subsequent books. The influence which a new school of
Painting (as that of the pre-Raphaelites) exercises on other schools;
the hints which all kinds of pictorial art are deriving from
Photography; the complex results of new critical doctrines; might
severally be dwelt on as displaying the like multiplication of effects.
But it would needlessly tax the reader’s patience to detail, in their
many ramifications, these various changes: here become so involved and
subtle as to be followed with some difficulty.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 122. After the argument which closed the last chapter, a parallel one
seems here scarcely required. For symmetry’s sake, however, it will be
proper briefly to point out how the multiplication of effects, like the
instability of the homogeneous, is a corollary from the persistence of

Things which we call different are things which react in different ways;
and we can know them as different only by the differences in their
reactions. When we distinguish bodies as hard and soft, rough and
smooth, we simply mean that certain like muscular forces expended on
them are followed by unlike sets of sensations—unlike re-active forces.
Objects that are classed as red, blue, yellow, &c., are objects that
decompose light in strongly-contrasted ways; that is, we know contrasts
of colour as contrasts in the changes produced in a uniform incident
force. Manifestly, any two things which do not work unequal effects on
consciousness, either by unequally opposing our own energies, or by
impressing our senses with unequally modified forms of certain external
energies, cannot be distinguished by us. Hence the proposition that the
different parts of any whole must react differently on a uniform
incident force, and must so reduce it to a group of multiform forces, is
in essence a truism. A further step will reduce this truism to its
lowest terms.

When, from unlikeness between the effects they produce on consciousness,
we predicate unlikeness between two objects, what is our warrant? and
what do we mean by the unlikeness, objectively considered? Our warrant
is the persistence of force. Some kind or amount of change has been
wrought in us by the one, which has not been wrought by the other. This
change we ascribe to some force exercised by the one which the other has
not exercised. And we have no alternative but to do this, or to assert
that the change had no antecedent; which is to deny the persistence of
force. Whence it is further manifest that what we regard as the
objective unlikeness is the presence in the one of some force, or set of
forces, not present in the other—something in the kinds or amounts or
directions of the constituent forces of the one, which those of the
other do not parallel. But now if things or parts of things which we
call different, are those of which the constituent forces differ in one
or more respects; what must happen to any like forces, or any uniform
force, falling on them? Such like forces, or parts of a uniform force,
must be differently modified. The force which is present in the one and
not in the other, must be an element in the conflict—must produce its
equivalent reaction; and must so affect the total reaction. To say
otherwise is to say that this differential force will produce no effect;
which is to say that force is not persistent.

I need not develop this corollary further. It manifestly follows that a
uniform force, falling on a uniform aggregate, must undergo dispersion;
that falling on an aggregate made up of unlike parts, it must undergo
dispersion from each part, as well as qualitative differentiations; that
in proportion as the parts are unlike, these qualitative
differentiations must be marked; that in proportion to the number of the
parts, they must be numerous; that the secondary forces so produced,
must undergo further transformations while working equivalent
transformations in the parts that change them; and similarly with the
forces they generate. Thus the conclusions that a part-cause of
Evolution is the multiplication of effects; and that this increases in
geometrical progression as the heterogeneity becomes greater; are not
only to be established inductively, but are deducible from the deepest
of all truths.


Footnote 17:

  Had this paragraph, first published in the _Westminster Review_ in
  1857, been written after the appearance of Mr. Darwin’s work on _The
  Origin of Species_, it would doubtless have been otherwise expressed.
  Reference would have been made to the process of “natural selection,”
  as greatly facilitating the differentiations described. As it is,
  however, I prefer to let the passage stand in its original shape:
  partly because it seems to me that these successive changes of
  conditions would produce divergent varieties or species, apart from
  the influence of “natural selection” (though in less numerous ways as
  well as less rapidly); and partly because I conceive that in the
  absence of these successive changes of conditions, “natural selection”
  would effect comparatively little. Let me add that though these
  positions are not enunciated in _The Origin of Species_, yet a mutual
  friend gives me reason to think that Mr. Darwin would coincide in
  them; if he did not indeed consider them as tacitly implied in his

                              CHAPTER XV.

§ 123. The general interpretation of Evolution is far from being
completed in the preceding chapters. We must contemplate its changes
under yet another aspect, before we can form a definite conception of
the process constituted by them. Though the laws already set forth,
furnish a key to the re-arrangement of parts which Evolution exhibits,
in so far as it is an advance from the uniform to the multiform; they
furnish no key to this re-arrangement in so far as it is an advance from
the indefinite to the definite. On studying the actions and re-actions
everywhere going on, we have found it to follow inevitably from a
certain primordial truth, that the homogeneous must lapse into the
heterogeneous, and that the heterogeneous must become more
heterogeneous; but we have not discovered why the differently-affected
parts of any simple whole, become clearly marked off from each other, at
the same time that they become unlike. Thus far no reason has been
assigned why there should not ordinarily arise a vague chaotic
heterogeneity, in place of that orderly heterogeneity displayed in
Evolution. It still remains to find out the cause of that integration of
parts which accompanies their differentiation—that gradually-completed
segregation of like units into a group, distinctly separated from
neighbouring groups which are severally made up of other kinds of units.
The rationale will be conveniently introduced by a few instances in
which we may watch this segregative process taking place.

When towards the end of September, the trees are gaining their autumn
colours, and we are hoping shortly to see a further change increasing
still more the beauty of the landscape, we are not uncommonly
disappointed by the occurrence of an equinoxial gale. Out of the mixed
mass of foliage on each branch, the strong current of air carries away
the decaying and brightly-tinted leaves, but fails to detach those which
are still green. And while these last, frayed and seared by
long-continued beatings against each other, and the twigs around them,
give a sombre colour to the woods, the red and yellow and orange leaves
are collected together in ditches and behind walls and in corners where
eddies allow them to settle. That is to say, by the action of that
uniform force which the wind exerts on both kinds, the dying leaves are
picked out from among their still living companions and gathered in
places by themselves. Again, the separation of particles of different
sizes, as dust and sand from pebbles, may be similarly effected; as we
see on every road in March. And from the days of Homer downwards, the
power of currents of air, natural and artificial, to part from one
another units of unlike specific gravities, has been habitually utilized
in the winnowing of chaff from wheat.       In every river we see how
the mixed materials carried down, are separately deposited—how in rapids
the bottom gives rest to nothing but boulders and pebbles; how where the
current is not so strong, sand is let fall; and how, in still places,
there is a sediment of mud. This selective action of moving water, is
commonly applied in the arts to obtain masses of particles of different
degrees of fineness. Emery, for example, after being ground, is carried
by a slow current through successive compartments; in the first of which
the largest grains subside; in the second of which the grains that reach
the bottom before the water has escaped, are somewhat smaller; in the
third smaller still; until in the last there are deposited only those
finest particles which fall so slowly through the water, that they have
not previously been able to reach the bottom. And in a way that is
different though equally significant, this segregative effect of water
in motion, is exemplified in the carrying away of soluble from insoluble
matters—an application of it hourly made in every laboratory.       The
effects of the uniform forces which aerial and aqueous currents
exercise, are paralleled by those of uniform forces of other orders.
Electric attraction will separate small bodies from large, or light
bodies from heavy. By magnetism, grains of iron may be selected from
among other grains; as by the Sheffield grinder, whose magnetized gauze
mask filters out the steel-dust which his wheel gives off, from the
stone-dust that accompanies it. And how the affinity of any agent acting
differently on the components of a given body, enables us to take away
some component and leave the rest behind, is shown in almost every
chemical experiment.

What now is the general truth here variously presented? How are these
several facts and countless similar ones, to be expressed in terms that
embrace them all? In each case we see in action a force which may be
regarded as simple or uniform—fluid motion in a certain direction at a
certain velocity; electric or magnetic attraction of a given amount;
chemical affinity of a particular kind: or rather, in strictness, the
acting force is compounded of one of these and certain other uniform
forces, as gravitation, etc. In each case we have an aggregate made up
of unlike units—either atoms of different substances combined or
intimately mingled, or fragments of the same substance of different
sizes, or other constituent parts that are unlike in their specific
gravities, shapes, or other attributes. And in each case these unlike
units, or groups of units, of which the aggregate consists, are, under
the influence of some resultant force acting indiscriminately on them
all, separated from each other—segregated into minor aggregates, each
consisting of units that are severally like each other and unlike those
of the other minor aggregates. Such being the common aspect of these
changes, let us look for the common interpretation of them.

In the chapter on “The Instability of the Homogeneous,” it was shown
that a uniform force falling on any aggregate, produces unlike
modifications in its different parts—turns the uniform into the
multiform and the multiform into the more multiform. The transformation
thus wrought, consists of either insensible or sensible changes of
relative position among the units, or of both—either of those molecular
re-arrangements which we call chemical, or of those larger
transpositions which are distinguished as mechanical, or of the two
united. Such portion of the permanently effective force as reaches each
different part, or differently-conditioned part, may be expended in
modifying the mutual relations of its constituents; or it may be
expended in moving the part to another place; or it may be expended
partially in the first and partially in the second. Hence, so much of
the permanently effective force as does not work the one kind of effect,
must work the other kind. It is manifest that if of the permanently
effective force which falls on some compound unit of an aggregate,
little, if any, is absorbed in re-arranging the ultimate components of
such compound unit, much or the whole, must show itself in motion of
such compound unit to some other place in the aggregate; and conversely,
if little or none of this force is absorbed in generating mechanical
transposition, much or the whole must go to produce molecular
alterations.       What now must follow from this? In cases where none
or only part of the force generates chemical re-distributions, what
physical re-distributions must be generated? Parts that are similar to
each other will be similarly acted on by the force; and will similarly
react on it. Parts that are dissimilar will be dissimilarly acted on by
the force; and will dissimilarly react on it. Hence the permanently
effective incident force, when wholly or partially transformed into
mechanical motion of the units, will produce like motions in units that
are alike, and unlike motions in units that are unlike. If then, in an
aggregate containing two or more orders of mixed units, those of the
same order will be moved in the same way, and in a way that differs from
that in which units of other orders are moved, the respective orders
must segregate. A group of like things on which are impressed motions
that are alike in amount and direction, must be transferred as a group
to another place, and if they are mingled with some group of other
things, on which the motions impressed are like each other, but unlike
those of the first group in amount or direction or both, these other
things must be transferred as a group to some other place—the mixed
aggregate must undergo a simultaneous differentiation and integration.

In further elucidation of this process, it will be well here to set down
a few instances in which we may see that, other things equal, the
definiteness of the separation is in proportion to the definiteness of
the difference between the units. Take a handful of any pounded
substance, containing fragments of all sizes; and let it fall to the
ground while a gentle breeze is blowing. The large fragments will be
collected together on the ground almost immediately under the hand;
somewhat smaller fragments will be carried a little to the leeward;
still smaller ones a little further; and those minute particles which we
call dust, will be drifted a long way before they reach the earth: that
is, the integration is indefinite where the difference among the
fragments is indefinite, though the divergence is greatest where the
difference is greatest. If, again, the handful be made up of quite
distinct orders of units—as pebbles, coarse sand, and dust—these will,
under like conditions, be segregated with comparative definiteness: the
pebbles will drop almost vertically; the sand will fall in an inclined
direction, and deposit itself within a tolerably circumscribed space
beyond the pebbles; while the dust will be blown almost horizontally to
a great distance. A case in which another kind of force comes into play,
will still better illustrate this truth. Through a mixed aggregate of
soluble and insoluble substances, let water slowly percolate. There will
in the first place be a distinct parting of the substances that are the
most widely contrasted in their relations to the acting forces: the
soluble will be carried away; the insoluble will remain behind. Further,
some separation, though a less definite one, will be effected among the
soluble substances; since the first part of the current will remove the
most soluble substances in the largest amounts, and after these have
been all dissolved, the current will still continue to bring out the
remaining less soluble substances. Even the undissolved matters will
have simultaneously undergone a certain segregation; for the percolating
fluid will carry down the minute fragments from among the large ones,
and will deposit those of small specific gravity in one place, and those
of great specific gravity in another.       To complete the elucidation
we must glance at the obverse fact; namely, that mixed units which
differ but slightly, are moved in but slightly-different ways by
incident forces, and can therefore be separated only by such adjustments
of the incident forces as allow slight differences to become appreciable
factors in the result. This truth is made manifest by antithesis in the
instances just given; but it may be made much more manifest by a few
such instances as those which chemical analysis supplies in abundance.
The parting of alcohol from water by distillation is a good one. Here we
have atoms consisting of oxygen and hydrogen, mingled with atoms
consisting of oxygen, hydrogen, and carbon. The two orders of atoms have
a considerable similarity of nature: they similarly maintain a fluid
form at ordinary temperatures; they similarly become gaseous more and
more rapidly as the temperature is raised; and they boil at points not
very far apart. Now this comparative likeness of the atoms is
accompanied by difficulty in segregating them. If the mixed fluid is
unduly heated, much water distils over with the alcohol: it is only
within a narrow range of temperature, that the one set of atoms are
driven off rather than the others; and even then not a few of the others
accompany them. The most interesting and instructive example, however,
is furnished by certain phenomena of crystallization. When several salts
that have little analogy of constitution, are dissolved in the same body
of water, they are separated without much trouble, by crystallization:
their respective units moved towards each other, as physicists suppose,
by polar forces, segregate into crystals of their respective kinds. The
crystals of each salt do, indeed, usually contain certain small amounts
of the other salts present in the solution—especially when the
crystallization has been rapid; but from these other salts they are
severally freed by repeated resolutions and crystallizations. Mark now,
however, that the reverse is the case when the salts contained in the
same body of water are chemically homologous. The nitrates of baryta and
lead, or the sulphates of zinc, soda, and magnesia, unite in the same
crystals; nor will they crystallize separately if these crystals be
dissolved afresh, and afresh crystallized, even with great care. On
seeking the cause of this anomaly, chemists found that such salts were
isomorphous—that their atoms, though not chemically identical, were
identical in the proportions of acid, base, and water, composing them,
and in their crystalline forms: whence it was inferred that their atoms
are nearly alike in structure. Thus is clearly illustrated the truth,
that units of unlike kinds are differentiated and integrated with a
readiness proportionate to the degree of their unlikeness. In the first
case we see that being dissimilar in their forms, but similar in so far
as they are soluble in water of a certain temperature, the atoms
segregate, though imperfectly. In the second case we see that the atoms,
having not only the likeness implied by solubility in the same
menstruum, but also a great likeness of structure, do not segregate—are
differentiated and integrated only under quite special conditions, and
then very incompletely. That is, the incident force of mutual polarity
impresses unlike motions on the mixed units in proportion as they are
unlike; and therefore, in proportion as they are unlike, tends to
deposit them in separate places.

There is a converse cause of segregation, which it is needless here to
treat of with equal fulness. If different units acted on by the same
force, must be differently moved; so, too, must units of the same kind
be differently moved by different forces. Supposing some group of units
forming part of a homogeneous aggregate, are unitedly exposed to a force
that is unlike in amount or direction to the force acting on the rest of
the aggregate; then this group of units will separate from the rest,
provided that, of the force so acting on it, there remains any portion
not dissipated in molecular vibrations, nor absorbed in producing
molecular re-arrangements. After all that has been said above, this
proposition needs no defence.

Before ending our preliminary exposition, a complementary truth must be
specified; namely, that mixed forces are segregated by the reaction of
uniform matters, just as mixed matters are segregated by the action of
uniform forces. Of this truth a complete and sufficient illustration is
furnished by the dispersion of refracted light. A beam of light, made up
of ethereal undulations of different orders, is not uniformly deflected
by a homogeneous refracting body; but the different orders of
undulations it contains, are deflected at different angles: the result
being that these different orders of undulations are separated and
integrated, and so produce what we know as the colours of the spectrum.
A segregation of another kind occurs when rays of light traverse an
obstructing medium. Those rays which consist of comparatively short
undulations, are absorbed before those which consist of comparatively
long ones; and the red rays, which consist of the longest undulations,
alone penetrate when the obstruction is very great. How, conversely,
there is produced a separation of like forces by the reaction of unlike
matters, is also made manifest by the phenomena of refraction: since
adjacent and parallel beams of light, falling on, and passing through,
unlike substances, are made to diverge.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 124. On the assumption of their nebular origin, stars and planets
exemplify that cause of material integration last assigned—the action of
unlike forces on like units.

In a preceding chapter (§ 110) we saw that if matter ever existed in a
diffused form, it could not continue uniformly distributed, but must
break up into masses. It was shown that in the absence of a perfect
balance of mutual attractions among atoms dispersed through unlimited
space, there must arise breeches of continuity throughout the aggregate
formed by them, and a concentration of it towards centres of dominant
attraction. Where any such breech of continuity occurs, and the atoms
that were before adjacent separate from each other; they do so in
consequence of a difference in the forces to which they are respectively
subject. The atoms on the one side of the breech are exposed to a
certain surplus attraction in the direction in which they begin to move;
and those on the other to a surplus attraction in the opposite
direction. That is, the adjacent groups of like units are exposed to
unlike resultant forces; and accordingly separate and integrate.

The formation and detachment of a nebulous ring, illustrates the same
general principle. To conclude, as Laplace did, that the equatorial
portion of a rotating nebulous spheroid, will, during concentration,
acquire a centrifugal force sufficient to prevent it from following the
rest of the contracting mass, is to conclude that such portions will
remain behind as are in common subject to a certain differential force.
The line of division between the ring and the spheroid, must be a line
inside of which the aggregative force is greater than the force
resisting aggregation; and outside of which the force resisting
aggregation is greater than the aggregative force. Hence the alleged
process conforms to the law that among like units, separation and
integration is produced by the action of unlike forces.

Astronomical phenomena do not furnish any other than these hypothetical
examples. In its present comparatively settled condition, the Solar
System exhibits no direct evidence of progressing integration: unless
indeed under the insignificant form of the union of meteoric masses with
the Earth, and, occasionally perhaps, of cometary matter with the Sun.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 125. Those geologic changes usually classed as aqueous, display under
numerous forms the segregation of unlike units by a uniform incident
force. On sea-shores, the waves are ever sorting-out and separating the
mixed materials against which they break. From each mass of fallen
cliff, the rising and ebbing tide carries away all those particles which
are so small as to remain long suspended in the water; and, at some
distance from shore, deposits them in the shape of fine sediment. Large
particles, sinking with comparative rapidity, are accumulated into beds
of sand near low water-mark. The coarse grit and small pebbles collect
together on the incline up which the breakers rush. And on the top lie
the larger stones and boulders. Still more specific segregations may
occasionally be observed. Flat pebbles, produced by the breaking down of
laminated rock, are sometimes separately collected in one part of a
shingle bank. On this shore the deposit is wholly of mud; on that it is
wholly of sand. Here we find a sheltered cove filled with small pebbles
almost of one size; and there, in a curved bay one end of which is more
exposed than the other, we see a progressive increase in the massiveness
of the stones as we walk from the less exposed to the more exposed end.
Indeed, our sedimentary strata form one vast series of illustrations of
the alleged law. Trace the history of each deposit, and we are quickly
led down to the fact, that mixed fragments of matter, differing in their
sizes or weights, are, when exposed to the momentum and friction of
water, joined with the attraction of the Earth, selected from each
other, and united into groups of comparatively like fragments. We see
that, other things equal, the separation is definite in proportion as
the differences of the units are marked; and that, under the action of
the same aggregate of forces, the most widely unlike units are most
widely removed from each other.

Among igneous changes we do not find so many examples of the process
described. When specifying the conditions to Evolution, it was pointed
out (§ 104) that molecular vibration exceeding a certain intensity, does
not permit those integrations which result from the action of minor
differential forces. Nevertheless, geological phenomena of this order
are not barren of illustrations. Where the mixed matters composing the
Earth’s crust have been raised to a very high temperature, segregation
habitually takes place as the temperature diminishes. Sundry of the
substances that escape in a gaseous form from volcanoes, sublime into
crystals on coming against cool surfaces; and solidifying, as these
substances do, at different temperatures, they are deposited at
different parts of the crevices through which they are emitted together.
The best illustration, however, is furnished by the changes that occur
during the slow cooling of igneous rock. When, through one of the
fractures from time to time made in the solid shell which forms the
Earth’s crust, a portion of the molten nucleus is extruded; and when
this is cooled with comparative rapidity, through free radiation and
contact with cold masses; it forms a substance known as trap or basalt—a
substance that is uniform in texture, though made up of various
ingredients. But when, not escaping through the superficial strata, such
a portion of the molten nucleus is slowly cooled, it becomes what we
know as granite: the mingled particles of quartz, feldspar, and mica,
being kept for a long time in a fluid and semi-fluid state—a state of
comparative mobility—undergo those changes of position which the forces
impressed on them by their fellow units necessitate. Having time in
which to generate the requisite motions of the atoms, the differential
forces arising from mutual polarity, segregate the quartz, feldspar, and
mica, into crystals. How completely this is dependent on the
long-continued agitation of the mixed particles, and consequent
long-continued mobility by small differential forces, is proved by the
fact that in granite dykes, the crystals in the centre of the mass,
where the fluidity or semi-fluidity continued for a longer time, are
much larger than those at the sides, where contact with the neighbouring
rock caused more rapid cooling and solidification.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 126. The actions going on throughout an organism are so involved and
subtle, that we cannot expect to identify the particular forces by which
particular integrations are effected. Among the few instances admitting
of tolerably definite interpretation, the best are those in which
mechanical pressures and tensions are the agencies at work. We shall
discover several on studying the bony frame of the higher animals.

The vertebral column of a man, is subject, as a whole, to certain
general strains—the weight of the body, together with the reactions
involved by all considerable muscular efforts; and in conformity with
this, it has a certain general integration. At the same time, being
exposed to different forces in the course of those lateral bendings
which the movements necessitate, its parts retain a certain
separateness. And if we trace up the development of the vertebral column
from its primitive form of a cartilaginous cord in the lowest fishes, we
see that, throughout, it maintains an integration corresponding to the
unity of the incident forces, joined with a division into segments
corresponding to the variety of the incident forces.       Each segment,
considered apart, exemplifies the truth more simply. A vertebra is not a
single bone, but consists of a central mass with sundry appendages or
processes; and in rudimentary types of vertebræ, those appendages are
quite separate from the central mass, and, indeed, exist before it makes
its appearance. But these several independent bones, constituting a
primitive spinal segment, are subject to a certain aggregate of forces
which agree more than they differ: as the fulcrum to a group of muscles
habitually acting together, they perpetually undergo certain reactions
in common. And accordingly, we see that in the course of development
they gradually coalesce.       Still clearer is the illustration
furnished by spinal segments that become fused together where they are
together exposed to some predominant strain. The sacrum consists of a
group of vertebræ firmly united. In the ostrich and its congeners there
are from seventeen to twenty sacral vertebræ; and besides being
confluent with each other, these are confluent with the iliac bones,
which run on each side of them. If now we assume these vertebræ to have
been originally separate, as they still are in the embryo bird; and if
we consider the mechanical conditions to which they must in such case
have been exposed; we shall see that their union results in the alleged
way. For through these vertebræ the entire weight of the body is
transferred to the legs: the legs support the pelvic arch; the pelvic
arch supports the sacrum; and to the sacrum is articulated the rest of
the spine, with all the limbs and organs attached to it. Hence, if
separate, the sacral vertebræ must be held firmly together by
strongly-contracted muscles; and must, by implication, be prevented from
partaking in those lateral movements which the other vertebræ
undergo—they must be subject to a common strain, while they are
preserved from strains which would affect them differently; and so they
fulfil the conditions under which integration occurs.       But the
cases in which cause and effect are brought into the most obvious
relation, are supplied by the limbs. The metacarpal bones (those which
in man support the palm of the hand) are separate from each other in the
majority of mammalia: the separate actions of the toes entailing on them
slight amounts of separate movements. This is not so however in the
ox-tribe and the horse-tribe. In the ox-tribe, only the middle
metacarpals (third and fourth) are developed; and these, attaining
massive proportions, coalesce to form the cannon bone. In the
horse-tribe, the integration is what we may distinguish as indirect: the
second and fourth metacarpals are present only as rudiments united to
the sides of the third, while the third is immensely developed; thus
forming a cannon bone which differs from that of the ox in being a
single cylinder, instead of two cylinders fused together. The metatarsus
in these quadrupeds exhibits parallel changes. Now each of these
metamorphoses occurs where the different bones grouped together have no
longer any different functions, but retain only a common function. The
feet of oxen and horses are used solely for locomotion—are not put like
those of unguiculate mammals to purposes which involve some relative
movements of the metacarpals. Thus there directly or indirectly results
a single mass of bone where the incident force is single. And for the
inference that these facts have a causal connexion, we find confirmation
throughout the entire class of birds; in the wings and legs of which,
like integrations are found under like conditions.       While this
sheet is passing through the press, a fact illustrating this general
truth in a yet more remarkable manner, has been mentioned to me by Prof.
Huxley; who kindly allows me to make use of it while still unpublished
by him. The _Glyptodon_, an extinct mammal found fossilized in South
America, has long been known as a large uncouth creature allied to the
Armadillo, but having a massive dermal armour consisting of polygonal
plates closely fitted together so as to make a vast box, inclosing the
body in such way as effectually to prevent it from being bent, laterally
or vertically, in the slightest degree. This bony box, which must have
weighed several hundred-weight, was supported on the spinous processes
of the vertebræ, and on the adjacent bones of the pelvic and thoracic
arches. And the significant fact now to be noted, is, that here, where
the trunk vertebræ were together exposed to the pressure of this heavy
dermal armour, at the same time that, by its rigidity, they were
preserved from all relative movements, the entire series of them were
united into one solid, continuous bone.

The formation and maintenance of a species, considered as an assemblage
of similar organisms, is interpretable in an analogous way. We have
already seen that in so far as the members of a species are subject to
different sets of incident forces, they are differentiated, or divided
into varieties. And here it remains to add that in so far as they are
subject to like sets of incident forces, they are integrated, or reduced
to, and kept in, the state of a uniform aggregate. For by the process of
“natural selection,” there is a continual purification of each species
from those individuals which depart from the common type in ways that
unfit them for the conditions of their existence. Consequently, there is
a continual leaving behind of those individuals which are in all
respects fit for the conditions of their existence; and are therefore
very nearly alike. The circumstances to which any species is exposed,
being, as we before saw, an involved combination of incident forces; and
the members of the species having mixed with them some that differ more
than usual from the average structure required for meeting these forces;
it results that these forces are constantly separating such divergent
individuals from the rest, and so preserving the uniformity of the
rest—keeping up its integrity as a species. Just as the changing autumn
leaves are picked out by the wind from among the green ones around them,
or just as, to use Prof. Huxley’s simile, the smaller fragments pass
through the sieve while the larger are kept back; so, the uniform
incidence of external forces affects the members of a group of organisms
similarly in proportion as they are similar, and differently in
proportion as they are different; and thus is ever segregating the like
by parting the unlike from them. Whether these separated members are
killed off, as mostly happens, or whether, as otherwise happens, they
survive and multiply into a distinct variety, in consequence of their
fitness to certain partially unlike conditions, matters not to the
argument. The one case conforms to the law, that the unlike units of an
aggregate are differentiated and integrated when uniformly subject to
the same incident forces; and the other to the converse law, that the
like units of an aggregate are differentiated and integrated when
subject to different incident forces. And on consulting Mr. Darwin’s
remarks on divergence of character, it will be seen that the
segregations thus caused tend ever to become more definite.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 127. Mental evolution under one of its leading aspects, we found to
consist in the formation of groups of like objects and like
relations—a differentiation of the various things originally
confounded together in one assemblage, and an integration of each
separate order of things into a separate group (§ 113). Here it
remains to point out that while unlikeness in the incident forces is
the cause of such differentiations, likeness in the incident forces is
the cause of such integrations. For what is the process through which
classifications are established? At first, in common with the
uninitiated, the botanist recognizes only such conventional divisions
as those which agriculture has established—distinguishes a few
vegetables and cereals, and groups the rest together into the one
miscellaneous aggregate of wild plants. How do these wild plants
become grouped in his mind into orders, genera, and species? Each
plant he examines yields him a certain complex impression. Every now
and then he picks up a plant like one before seen; and the recognition
of it is the production in him of a like connected group of
sensations, by a like connected group of attributes. That is to say,
there is produced throughout the nerves concerned, a combined set of
changes, similar to a combined set of changes before produced.
Considered analytically, each such combined set of changes is a
combined set of molecular modifications wrought in the affected part
of the organism. On every repetition of the impression, a like
combined set of molecular modifications is superposed on the previous
ones, and makes them greater: thus generating an internal idea
corresponding to these similar external objects. Meanwhile, another
kind of plant produces in the brain of the botanist another set of
combined changes or molecular modifications—a set which does not agree
with and deepen the one we have been considering, but disagrees with
it; and by repetition of such there is generated a different idea
answering to a different species.       What now is the nature of this
process expressed in general terms? On the one hand there are the like
and unlike things from which severally emanate the groups of forces by
which we perceive them. On the other hand, there are the organs of
sense and percipient centres, through which, in the course of
observation, these groups of forces pass. In passing through these
organs of sense and percipient centres, the like groups of forces are
segregated, or separated from the unlike groups of forces; and each
such differentiated and integrated series of groups of forces,
answering to an external genus or species, constitutes a state of
consciousness which we call our idea of the genus or species. We
before saw that as well as a separation of mixed matters by the same
force, there is a separation of mixed forces by the same matter; and
here we may further see that the unlike forces so separated, work
unlike structural changes in the aggregate that separates
them—structural changes each of which thus represents, and is
equivalent to, the integrated series of motions that has produced it.

By a parallel process, the connexions of co-existence and sequence among
impressions, become differentiated and integrated simultaneously with
the impressions themselves. When two phenomena that have been
experienced in a given order, are repeated in the same order, those
nerves which before were affected by the transition are again affected;
and such molecular modification as they received from the first motion
propagated through them, is increased by this second motion along the
same route. Each such motion works a structural alteration, which, in
conformity with the general law set forth in Chapter X., involves a
diminution of the resistance to all such motions that afterwards occur.
The integration of these successive motions (or more strictly, the
permanently effective portions of them expended in overcoming
resistance) thus becomes the cause of, and the measure of, the mental
connexion between the impressions which the phenomena produce.
Meanwhile, phenomena that are recognized as different from these, being
phenomena that therefore affect different nervous elements, will have
their connexions severally represented by motions along other routes;
and along each of these other routes, the nervous discharges will
severally take place with a readiness proportionate to the frequency
with which experience repeats the connexion of phenomena. The
classification of relations must hence go on _pari passu_ with the
classification of the related things. In common with the mixed
sensations received from the external world, the mixed relations it
presents, cannot be impressed on the organism without more or less
segregation of them resulting. And through this continuous
differentiation and integration of changes or motions, which constitutes
nervous function, there is gradually wrought that differentiation and
integration of matter, which constitutes nervous structure.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 128. In social evolution, the collecting together of the like and the
separation of the unlike, by incident forces, is primarily displayed in
the same manner as we saw it to be among groups of inferior creatures.
The human races tend to differentiate and integrate, as do races of
other living forms.       Of the forces which effect and maintain the
segregations of mankind, may first be named those external ones which we
class as physical conditions. The climate and food that are favourable
to an indigenous people, are more or less detrimental to a people of
different bodily constitution, coming from a remote part of the Earth.
In tropical regions the northern races cannot permanently exist: if not
killed off in the first generation, they are so in the second; and, as
in India, can maintain their footing only by the artificial process of
continuous immigration and emigration. That is to say, the external
forces acting equally on the inhabitants of a given locality, tend to
expel all who are not of a certain type; and so to keep up the
integration of those who are of that type. Though elsewhere, as among
European nations, we see a certain amount of permanent intermixture,
otherwise brought about, we still see that this takes place between
races of not very different types, that are naturalized to not very
different conditions.       The other forces conspiring to produce these
national integrations, are those mental ones which show themselves in
the affinities of men for others like themselves. Emigrants usually
desire to get back among their own people; and where their desire does
not take effect, it is only because the restraining ties are too great.
Units of one society who are obliged to reside in another, very
generally form colonies in the midst of that other—small societies of
their own. Races which have been artificially severed, show strong
tendencies to re-unite. Now though these integrations that result from
the mutual affinities of kindred men, do not seem interpretable as
illustrations of the general principle above enunciated, they really are
thus interpretable. When treating of the direction of motion (§ 91), it
was shown that the actions performed by men for the satisfaction of
their wants, were always motions along lines of least resistance. The
feelings characterizing a member of a given race, are feelings which get
complete satisfaction only among other members of that race—a
satisfaction partly derived from sympathy with those having like
feelings, but mainly derived from the adapted social conditions which
grow up where such feelings prevail. When, therefore, a citizen of any
nation is, as we see, attracted towards others of his nation, the
rationale is, that certain agencies which we call desires, move him in
the direction of least resistance. Human motions, like all other
motions, being determined by the distribution of forces, it follows that
such integrations of races as are not produced by incident external
forces, are produced by forces which the units of the races exercise on
each other.

During the development of each society, we see analogous segregations
caused in analogous ways. A few of them result from minor natural
affinities; but those most important ones which constitute political and
industrial organization, result from the union of men in whom
similarities have been produced by education—using education in its
widest sense, as comprehending all processes by which citizens are
moulded to special functions. Men brought up to bodily labour, are men
who have had wrought in them a certain likeness—a likeness which, in
respect of their powers of action, obscures and subordinates their
natural differences. Those trained to brain-work, have acquired a
certain other community of character which makes them, as social units,
more like each other than like those trained to manual occupations. And
there arise class-integrations answering to these superinduced
likenesses. Much more definite integrations take place among the much
more definitely assimilated members of any class who are brought up to
the same calling. Even where the necessities of their work forbid
concentration in one locality, as among artizans happens with masons and
brick-layers, and among traders happens with the retail distributors,
and among professionals happens with the medical men; there are not
wanting Operative Builders Unions, and Grocers Societies, and Medical
Associations, to show that these artificially-assimilated citizens
become integrated as much as the conditions permit. And where, as among
the manufacturing classes, the functions discharged do not require the
dispersion of the citizens thus artificially assimilated, there is a
progressive aggregation of them in special localities; and a consequent
increase in the definiteness of the industrial divisions.       If now
we seek the causes of these integrations, considered as results of force
and motion, we find ourselves brought to the same general principle as
before. This likeness generated in any class or subclass by training, is
an aptitude acquired by its members for satisfying their wants in like
ways. That is, the occupation to which each man has been brought up, has
become to him, in common with those similarly brought up, a line of
least resistance. Hence under that pressure which determines all men to
activity, these similarly-modified social units are similarly affected,
and tend to take similar courses. If then there be any locality which,
either by its physical peculiarities or by peculiarities wrought on it
during social evolution, is rendered a place where a certain kind of
industrial action meets with less resistance than elsewhere; it follows
from the law of direction of motion that those social units who have
been moulded to this kind of industrial action, will move towards this
place, or become integrated there. If, for instance, the proximity of
coal and iron mines to a navigable river, gives to Glasgow a certain
advantage in the building of iron ships—if the total labour required to
produce the same vessel, and get its equivalent in food and clothing, is
less there than elsewhere; a concentration of iron-ship builders is
produced at Glasgow: either by keeping there the population born to
iron-ship building; or by immigration of those elsewhere engaged in it;
or by both—a concentration that would be still more marked did not other
districts offer counter-balancing facilities. The principle equally
holds where the occupation is mercantile instead of manufacturing.
Stock-brokers cluster together in the city, because the amount of effort
to be severally gone through by them in discharging their functions, and
obtaining their profits, is less there than in other localities. A place
of exchange having once been established, becomes a place where the
resistance to be overcome by each is less than elsewhere; and the
pursuit of the course of least resistance by each, involves their
aggregation around this place.

Of course, with units so complicated as those which constitute a
society, and with forces so involved as those which move them, the
resulting differentiations and integrations must be far more entangled,
or far less definite, than those we have hitherto considered. But though
there may be pointed out many anomalies which at first sight seem
inconsistent with the alleged law, a closer study shows that they are
but subtler illustrations of it. For men’s likenesses being of various
kinds, lead to various order of integration. There are likenesses of
disposition, likenesses of taste, likenesses produced by intellectual
culture, likenesses that result from class-training, likenesses of
political feeling; and it needs but to glance round at the
caste-divisions, the associations for philanthropic, scientific, and
artistic purposes, the religious parties and social cliques; to see that
some species of likeness among the component members of each body
determines their union. Now these different integrations, by traversing
each other, and often by their indirect antagonism, more or less obscure
each other; and prevent any one kind of integration from becoming
complete. Hence the anomalies referred to. But if this cause of
incompleteness be duly borne in mind, social segregations will be seen
to conform entirely to the same principle as all other segregations.
Analysis will show that either by external incident forces, or by what
we may in a sense regard as mutual polarity, there are ever being
produced in society integrations of those units which have either a
natural likeness or a likeness generated by training.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 129. Can the general truth thus variously illustrated be deduced from
the persistence of force, in common with foregoing ones? Probably the
exposition at the beginning of the chapter will have led most readers to
conclude that it can be so deduced.

The abstract propositions involved are these:—First, that like units,
subject to a uniform force capable of producing motion in them, will be
moved to like degrees in the same direction. Second, that like units if
exposed to unlike forces capable of producing motion in them, will be
differently moved—moved either in different directions or to different
degrees in the same direction. Third, that unlike units if acted on by a
uniform force capable of producing motion in them, will be differently
moved—moved either in different directions or to different degrees in
the same direction. Fourth, that the incident forces themselves must be
affected in analogous ways: like forces falling on like units must be
similarly modified by the conflict; unlike forces falling on like units
must be dissimilarly modified; and like forces falling on unlike units
must be dissimilarly modified. These propositions admit of reduction to
a still more abstract form. They all of them amount to this:—that in the
actions and reactions of force and matter, an unlikeness in either of
the factors necessitates an unlikeness in the effects; and that in the
absence of unlikeness in either of the factors the effects must be

When thus generalized, the immediate dependence of these propositions on
the persistence of force, becomes obvious. Any two forces that are not
alike, are forces which differ either in their amounts or directions or
both; and by what mathematicians call the resolution of forces, it may
be proved that this difference is constituted by the presence in the one
of some force not present in the other. Similarly, any two units or
portions of matter which are unlike in size, weight, form, or other
attribute, can be known by us as unlike only through some unlikeness in
the forces they impress on our consciousness; and hence this unlikeness
also, is constituted by the presence in the one of some force or forces
not present in the other. Such being the common nature of these
unlikenesses, what is the inevitable corollary? Any unlikeness in the
incident forces, where the things acted on are alike, must generate a
difference between the effects; since otherwise, the differential force
produces no effect, and force is not persistent. Any unlikeness in the
things acted on, where the incident forces are alike, must generate a
difference between the effects; since otherwise, the differential force
whereby these things are made unlike, produces no effect, and force is
not persistent. While, conversely, if the forces acting and the things
acted on, are alike, the effects must be alike; since otherwise, a
differential effect can be produced without a differential cause, and
force is not persistent.

Thus these general truths being necessary implications of the
persistence of force, all the re-distributions above traced out as
characterizing Evolution in its various phases, are also implications of
the persistence of force. Such portions of the permanently effective
forces acting on any aggregate, as produce sensible motions in its
parts, cannot but work the segregations which we see take place. If of
the mixed units making up such aggregate, those of the same kind have
like motions impressed on them by a uniform force, while units of
another kind are moved by this uniform force in ways more or less unlike
the ways in which those of the first kind are moved, the two kinds must
separate and integrate. If the units are alike and the forces unlike, a
division of the differently affected units is equally necessitated. Thus
there inevitably arises the demarcated grouping which we everywhere see.
By virtue of this segregation that grows ever more decided while there
remains any possibility of increasing it, the change from uniformity to
multiformity is accompanied by a change from indistinctness in the
relations of parts to distinctness in the relations of parts. As we
before saw that the transformation of the homogeneous into the
heterogeneous is inferrable from that ultimate truth which transcends
proof; so we here see, that from this same truth is inferrable the
transformation of an indefinite homogeneity into a definite

                              CHAPTER XVI.

§ 130. And now towards what do these changes tend? Will they go on for
ever? or will there be an end to them? Can things increase in
heterogeneity through all future time? or must there be a degree which
the differentiation and integration of Matter and Motion cannot pass? Is
it possible for this universal metamorphosis to proceed in the same
general course indefinitely? or does it work towards some ultimate
state, admitting no further modification of like kind? The last of these
alternative conclusions is that to which we are inevitably driven.
Whether we watch concrete processes, or whether we consider the question
in the abstract, we are alike taught that Evolution has an impassable

The re-distributions of matter that go on around us, are ever being
brought to conclusions by the dissipation of the motions which effect
them. The rolling stone parts with portions of its momentum to the
things it strikes, and finally comes to rest; as do also, in like
manner, the various things it has struck. Descending from the clouds and
trickling over the Earth’s surface till it gathers into brooks and
rivers, water, still running towards a lower level, is at last arrested
by the resistance of other water that has reached the lowest level. In
the lake or sea thus formed, every agitation raised by a wind or the
immersion of a solid body, propagates itself around in waves that
diminish as they widen, and gradually become lost to observation in
motions communicated to the atmosphere and the matter on the shores. The
impulse given by a player to the harp-string, is transformed through its
vibrations into aerial pulses; and these, spreading on all sides, and
weakening as they spread, soon cease to be perceptible; and finally die
away in generating thermal undulations that radiate into space. Equally
in the cinder that falls out of the fire, and in the vast masses of
molten lava ejected by a volcano, we see that the molecular agitation
known to us as heat, disperses itself by radiation; so that however
great its amount, it inevitably sinks at last to the same degree as that
existing in surrounding bodies. And if the actions observed be
electrical or chemical, we still find that they work themselves out in
producing sensible or insensible movements, that are dissipated as
before; until quiescence is eventually reached.       The proximate
rationale of the process exhibited under these several forms, lies in
the fact dwelt on when treating of the Multiplication of Effects, that
motions are ever being decomposed into divergent motions, and these into
re-divergent motions. The rolling stone sends off the stones it hits in
directions differing more or less from its own; and they do the like
with the things they hit. Move water or air, and the movement is quickly
resolved into radiating movements. The heat produced by pressure in a
given direction, diffuses itself by undulations in all directions; and
so do the light and electricity similarly generated. That is to say,
these motions undergo division and subdivision; and by continuance of
this process without limit, they are, though never lost, gradually
reduced to insensible motions.

In all cases then, there is a progress toward equilibration. That
universal co-existence of antagonist forces which, as we before saw,
necessitates the universality of rhythm, and which, as we before saw,
necessitates the decomposition of every force into divergent forces, at
the same time necessitates the ultimate establishment of a balance.
Every motion being motion under resistance, is continually suffering
deductions; and these unceasing deductions finally result in the
cessation of the motion.

The general truth thus illustrated under its simplest aspect, we must
now look at under those more complex aspects it usually presents
throughout Nature. In nearly all cases, the motion of an aggregate is
compound; and the equilibration of each of its components, being carried
on independently, does not affect the rest. The ship’s bell that has
ceased to vibrate, still continues those vertical and lateral
oscillations caused by the ocean-swell. The water of the smooth stream
on whose surface have died away the undulations caused by the rising
fish, moves as fast as before onward to the sea. The arrested bullet
travels with undiminished speed round the Earth’s axis. And were the
rotation of the Earth destroyed, there would not be implied any
diminution of the Earth’s movement with respect to the Sun and other
external bodies. So that in every case, what we regard as equilibration
is a disappearance of some one or more of the many movements which a
body possesses, while its other movements continue as before.       That
this process may be duly realized and the state of things towards which
it tends fully understood, it will be well here to cite a case in which
we may watch this successive equilibration of combined movements more
completely than we can do in those above instanced. Our end will best be
served, not by the most imposing, but by the most familiar example. Let
us take that of the spinning top. When the string which has been wrapped
round a top’s axis is violently drawn off, and the top falls on to the
table, it usually happens that besides the rapid rotation, two other
movements are given to it. A slight horizontal momentum, unavoidably
impressed on it when leaving the handle, carries it away bodily from the
place on which it drops; and in consequence of its axis being more or
less inclined, it falls into a certain oscillation, described by the
expressive though inelegant word—“wabbling.” These two subordinate
motions, variable in their proportions to each other and to the chief
motion, are commonly soon brought to a close by separate processes of
equilibration. The momentum which carries the top bodily along the
table, resisted somewhat by the air, but mainly by the irregularities of
the surface, shortly disappears; and the top thereafter continues to
spin on one spot. Meanwhile, in consequence of that opposition which the
axial momentum of a rotating body makes to any change in the plane of
rotation, (so beautifully exhibited by the gyroscope,) the “wabbling”
diminishes; and like the other is quickly ended. These minor motions
having been dissipated, the rotatory motion, interfered with only by
atmospheric resistance and the friction of the pivot, continues some
time with such uniformity that the top appears stationary: there being
thus temporarily established a condition which the French mathematicians
have termed _equilibrium mobile_. It is true that when the axial
velocity sinks below a certain point, new motions commence, and increase
till the top falls; but these are merely incidental to a case in which
the centre of gravity is above the point of support. Were the top,
having an axis of steel, to be suspended from a surface adequately
magnetized, all the phenomena described would be displayed, and the
moving equilibrium having been once arrived at, would continue until the
top became motionless, without any further change of position.       Now
the facts which it behoves us here to observe, are these. First, that
the various motions which an aggregate possesses are separately
equilibrated: those which are smallest, or which meet with the greatest
resistance, or both, disappearing first; and leaving at last, that which
is greatest, or meets with least resistance, or both. Second, that when
the aggregate has a movement of its parts with respect to each other,
which encounters but little external resistance, there is apt to be
established an _equilibrium mobile_. Third, that this moving equilibrium
eventually lapses into complete equilibrium.

Fully to comprehend the process of equilibration, is not easy; since we
have simultaneously to contemplate various phases of it. The best course
will be to glance separately at what we may conveniently regard as its
four different orders.       The first order includes the comparatively
simple motions, as those of projectiles, which are not prolonged enough
to exhibit their rhythmical character; but which, being quickly divided
and subdivided into motions communicated to other portions of matter,
are presently dissipated in the rhythm of ethereal undulations.       In
the second order, comprehending the various kinds of vibration or
oscillation as usually witnessed, the motion is used up in generating a
tension which, having become equal to it or momentarily equilibrated
with it, thereupon produces a motion in the opposite direction, that is
subsequently equilibrated in like manner: thus causing a visible rhythm,
that is, however, soon lost in invisible rhythms.       The third order
of equilibration, not hitherto noticed, obtains in those aggregates
which continually receive as much motion as they expend. The steam
engine (and especially that kind which feeds its own furnace and boiler)
supplies an example. Here the force from moment to moment dissipated in
overcoming the resistance of the machinery driven, is from moment to
moment replaced from the fuel; and the balance of the two is maintained
by a raising or lowering of the expenditure according to the variation
of the supply: each increase or decrease in the quantity of steam,
resulting in a rise or fall of the engine’s movement, such as brings it
to a balance with the increased or decreased resistance. This, which we
may fitly call the _dependent_ moving equilibrium, should be specially
noted; since it is one that we shall commonly meet with throughout
various phases of Evolution.       The equilibration to be distinguished
as of the fourth order, is the _independent_ or perfect moving
equilibrium. This we see illustrated in the rhythmical motions of the
Solar System; which, being resisted only by a medium of inappreciable
density, undergo no sensible diminution in such periods of time as we
can measure.

All these kinds of equilibration may, however, from the highest point of
view, be regarded as different modes of one kind. For in every case the
balance arrived at is relative, and not absolute—is a cessation of the
motion of some particular body in relation to a certain point or points,
involving neither the disappearance of the relative motion lost, which
is simply transformed into other motions, nor a diminution of the body’s
motions with respect to other points. Thus understanding equilibration,
it manifestly includes that _equilibrium mobile_, which at first sight
seems of another nature. For any system of bodies exhibiting, like those
of the Solar System, a combination of balanced rhythms, has this
peculiarity;—that though the constituents of the system have relative
movements, the system as a whole has no movement. The centre of gravity
of the entire group remains fixed. Whatever quantity of motion any
member of it has in any direction, is from moment to moment
counter-balanced by an equivalent motion in some other part of the group
in an opposite direction; and so the aggregate matter of the group is in
a state of rest. Whence it follows that the arrival at a state of moving
equilibrium, is the disappearance of some movement which the aggregate
had in relation to external things, and a continuance of those movements
only which the different parts of the aggregate have in relation to each
other. Thus generalizing the process, it becomes clear that all forms of
equilibration are intrinsically the same; since in every aggregate, it
is the centre of gravity only that loses its motion: the constituents
always retaining some motion with respect to each other—the motion of
molecules if none else.

Those readers who happen to bear in mind a proposition concerning the
functional characteristics of Evolution, which was set forth in Chapter
XII, will probably regard it as wholly at variance with that set forth
in this Chapter. It was there alleged that throughout Evolution,
integration of matter is accompanied by integration of such motion as
the matter previously had; and that thus there is a transformation of
diffused motion into aggregated motion, parallel to the transformation
of diffused matter into aggregated matter. Here however, it is asserted
that every aggregate motion is constantly undergoing diffusion—every
integrated motion undergoing perpetual disintegration. And so the motion
of masses, which before was said gradually to arise out of molecular
motion, is here said to be gradually lost in molecular motion. Doubtless
these statements, if severally accepted without qualification, are
contradictory. Neither of them, however, expresses the whole truth. Each
needs the other as its indispensable complement. It is quite true, as
before alleged, that there goes on an integration of motion
corresponding to the integration of matter; and that this essential
characteristic of Evolution, functionally considered, is clearly
displayed in proportion as the Evolution is active. But the
disintegration of motion, which, as we before saw, constitutes
Dissolution, functionally considered, is all along going on; and though
at first it forms but a small deduction from the change constituting
Evolution, it gradually becomes equal to it, and eventually exceeding
it, entails reverse changes. The aggregation of matter never being
complete, but leaving behind less aggregated or unaggregated matter, in
the shape of liquid, aeriform, or ethereal media; it results that from
the beginning, the integrated motion of integrated masses, is ever being
obstructed by these less integrated or unintegrated media. So that
though while the integration of matter is rapidly going on, there is an
increase of integrated motion, spite of the deductions thus continually
made from it, there comes a time when the integration of matter and
consequently of motion, ceases to increase, or increases so slowly that
the deductions counterbalance it; and thenceforth these begin to
decrease it, and, by its perpetual diffusion, to bring about a relative
equilibration. From the beginning, the process of Evolution is
antagonized by a process of Dissolution; and while the first for a long
time predominates, the last finally arrests and reverses it.

Returning from this parenthetical explanation, we must now especially
note two leading truths brought out by the foregoing exposition: the one
concerning the ultimate, or rather the penultimate, state of motion
which the processes described tend to bring about; the other concerning
the concomitant distribution of matter.       This penultimate state of
motion is the moving equilibrium; which, as we have seen, tends to arise
in an aggregate having compound motions, as a transitional state on the
way towards complete equilibrium. Throughout Evolution of all kinds,
there is a continual approximation to, and more or less complete
maintenance of, this moving equilibrium. As in the Solar System there
has been established an independent moving equilibrium—an equilibrium
such that the relative motions of the constituent parts are continually
so counter-balanced by opposite motions, that the mean state of the
whole aggregate never varies; so is it, though in a less distinct
manner, with each form of dependent moving equilibrium. The state of
things exhibited in the cycles of terrestrial changes, in the balanced
functions of organic bodies that have reached their adult forms, and in
the acting and re-acting processes of fully-developed societies, is
similarly one characterized by compensating oscillations. The involved
combination of rhythms seen in each of these cases, has an average
condition which remains practically constant during the deviations ever
taking place on opposite sides of it. And the fact which we have here
particularly to observe, is, that as a corollary from the general law of
equilibration above set forth, the evolution of every aggregate must go
on until this _equilibrium mobile_ is established; since, as we have
seen, an excess of force which the aggregate possesses in any direction,
must eventually be expended in overcoming resistances to change in that
direction: leaving behind only those movements which compensate each
other, and so form a moving equilibrium.       Respecting the structural
state simultaneously reached, it must obviously be one presenting an
arrangement of forces that counterbalance all the forces to which the
aggregate is subject. So long as there remains a residual force in any
direction—be it excess of a force exercised by the aggregate on its
environment, or of a force exercised by its environment on the
aggregate, equilibrium does not exist; and therefore the re-distribution
of matter must continue. Whence it follows that the limit of
heterogeneity towards which every aggregate progresses, is the formation
of as many specializations and combinations of parts, as there are
specialized and combined forces to be met.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 131. Those successively changed forms which, if the nebular hypothesis
be granted, must have arisen during the evolution of the Solar System,
were so many transitional kinds of moving equilibrium; severally giving
place to more permanent kinds on the way towards complete equilibration.
Thus the assumption of an oblate spheroidal figure by condensing
nebulous matter, was the assumption of a temporary and partial moving
equilibrium among the component parts—a moving equilibrium that must
have slowly grown more settled, as local conflicting movements were
dissipated.       In the formation and detachment of the nebulous rings,
which, according to this hypothesis, from time to time took place, we
have instances of progressive equilibration ending in the establishment
of a complete moving equilibrium. For the genesis of each such ring,
implies a perfect balancing of that aggregative force which the whole
spheroid exercises on its equatorial portion, by that centrifugal force
which the equatorial portion has acquired during previous concentration:
so long as these two forces are not equal, the equatorial portion
follows the contracting mass; but as soon as the second force has
increased up to an equality with the first, the equatorial portion can
follow no further, and remains behind. While, however, the resulting
ring, regarded as a whole connected by forces with external wholes, has
reached a state of moving equilibrium; its parts are not balanced with
respect to each other. As we before saw (§ 110) the probabilities
against the maintenance of an annular form by nebulous matter, are
immense: from the instability of the homogeneous, it is inferrable that
nebulous matter so distributed must break up into portions; and
eventually concentrate into a single mass. That is to say, the ring must
progress towards a moving equilibrium of a more complete kind, during
the dissipation of that motion which maintained its particles in a
diffused form: leaving at length a planetary body, attended perhaps by a
group of minor bodies, severally having residuary relative motions that
are no longer resisted by sensible media; and there is thus constituted
an _equilibrium mobile_ that is all but absolutely perfect.[18]

Hypothesis aside, the principle of equilibration is still perpetually
illustrated in those minor changes of state which the Solar System is
undergoing. Each planet, satellite, and comet, exhibits to us at its
aphelion a momentary equilibrium between that force which urges it
further away from its primary, and that force which retards its retreat;
since the retreat goes on until the last of these forces exactly
counterpoises the first. In like manner at perihelion a converse
equilibrium is momentarily established. The variation of each orbit in
size, in eccentricity, and in the position of its plane, has similarly a
limit at which the forces producing change in the one direction, are
equalled by those antagonizing it; and an opposite limit at which an
opposite arrest takes place. Meanwhile, each of these simple
perturbations, as well as each of the complex ones resulting from their
combination, exhibits, besides the temporary equilibration at each of
its extremes, a certain general equilibration of compensating deviations
on either side of a mean state.       That the moving equilibrium thus
constituted, tends, in the course of indefinite time, to lapse into a
complete equilibrium, by the gradual decrease of planetary motions and
eventually integration of all the separate masses composing the Solar
System, is a belief suggested by certain observed cometary retardations,
and entertained by some of high authority. The received opinion that the
appreciable diminution in the period of Encke’s comet, implies a loss of
momentum caused by resistance of the ethereal medium, commits
astronomers who hold it, to the conclusion that this same resistance
must cause a loss of planetary motions—a loss which, infinitesimal
though it may be in such periods as we can measure, will, if
indefinitely continued, bring these motions to a close. Even should
there be, as Sir John Herschel suggests, a rotation of the ethereal
medium in the same direction with the planets, this arrest, though
immensely postponed, would not be absolutely prevented. Such an
eventuality, however, must in any case be so inconceivably remote as to
have no other than a speculative interest for us. It is referred to
here, simply as illustrating the still-continued tendency towards
complete equilibrium, through the still-continued dissipation of
sensible motion, or transformation of it into insensible motion.

But there is another species of equilibration going on in the Solar
System, with which we are more nearly concerned—the equilibration of
that molecular motion known as heat. The tacit assumption hitherto
current, that the Sun can continue to give off an undiminished amount of
light and heat through all future time, is fast being abandoned.
Involving as it does, under a disguise, the conception of power produced
out of nothing, it is of the same order as the belief that misleads
perpetual-motion schemers. The spreading recognition of the truth that
force is persistent, and that consequently whatever force is manifested
under one shape must previously have existed under another shape, is
carrying with it a recognition of the truth that the force known to us
in solar radiations, is the changed form of some other force of which
the Sun is the seat; and that by the gradual dissipation of these
radiations into space, this other force is being slowly exhausted. The
aggregative force by which the Sun’s substance is drawn to his centre of
gravity, is the only one which established physical laws warrant us in
suspecting to be the correlate of the forces thus emanating from him:
the only source of a known kind that can be assigned for the insensible
motions constituting solar light and heat, is the sensible motion which
disappears during the progressing concentration of the Sun’s substance.
We before saw it to be a corollary from the nebular hypothesis, that
there is such a progressing concentration of the Sun’s substance. And
here remains to be added the further corollary, that just as in the case
of the smaller members of the Solar System, the heat generated by
concentration, long ago in great part radiated into space, has left only
a central residue that now escapes but slowly; so in the case of that
immensely larger mass forming the Sun, the immensely greater quantity of
heat generated and still in process of rapid diffusion, must, as the
concentration approaches its limit, diminish in amount, and eventually
leave only an inappreciable internal remnant.       With or without the
accompaniment of that hypothesis of nebular condensation, whence, as we
see, it naturally follows, the doctrine that the Sun is gradually losing
his heat, has now gained considerable currency; and calculations have
been made, both respecting the amount of heat and light already
radiated, as compared with the amount that remains, and respecting the
period during which active radiation is likely to continue. Prof.
Helmholtz estimates, that since the time when, according to the nebular
hypothesis, the matter composing the Solar System extended to the orbit
of Neptune, there has been evolved by the arrest of sensible motion, an
amount of heat 454 times as great as that which the Sun still has to
give out. He also makes an approximate estimate of the rate at which
this remaining 1/454th is being diffused: showing that a diminution of
the Sun’s diameter to the extent of 1/10,000, would produce heat, at the
present rate, for more than 2000 years; or in other words, that a
contraction of 1/20,000,000 of his diameter, suffices to generate the
amount of light and heat annually emitted; and that thus, at the present
rate of expenditure, the Sun’s diameter will diminish by something like
1/20 in the lapse of the next million years.[19] Of course these
conclusions are not to be considered as more than rude approximations to
the truth. Until quite recently, we have been totally ignorant of the
Sun’s chemical composition; and even now have obtained but a superficial
knowledge of it. We know nothing of his internal structure; and it is
quite possible (probable, I believe,) that the assumptions respecting
central density, made in the foregoing estimates, are wrong. But no
uncertainty in the data on which these calculations proceed, and no
consequent error in the inferred rate at which the Sun is expending his
reserve of force, militates against the general proposition that this
reserve of force _is_ being expended; and must in time be exhausted.
Though the residue of undiffused motion in the Sun, may be much greater
than is above concluded; though the rate of radiation cannot, as
assumed, continue at a uniform rate, but must eventually go on with
slowly-decreasing rapidity; and though the period at which the Sun will
cease to afford us adequate light and heat, is very possibly far more
distant than above implied; yet such a period must some time be reached,
and this is all which it here concerns us to observe.

Thus while the Solar System, if evolved from diffused matter, has
illustrated the law of equilibration in the establishment of a complete
moving equilibrium; and while, as at present constituted, it illustrates
the law of equilibration in the balancing of all its movements; it also
illustrates this law in the processes which astronomers and physicists
infer are still going on. That motion of masses produced during
Evolution, is being slowly re-diffused in molecular motion of the
ethereal medium; both through the progressive integration of each mass,
and the resistance to its motion through space. Infinitely remote as may
be the state when all the motions of masses shall be transformed into
molecular motion, and all the molecular motion equilibrated; yet such a
state of complete integration and complete equilibration, is that
towards which the changes now going on throughout the Solar System
inevitably tend.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 132. A spherical figure is the one which can alone equilibrate the
forces of mutually-gravitating atoms. If the aggregate of such atoms has
a rotatory motion, the form of equilibrium becomes a spheroid of greater
or less oblateness, according to the rate of rotation; and it has been
ascertained that the Earth is an oblate spheroid, diverging just as much
from sphericity as is requisite to counterbalance the centrifugal force
consequent on its velocity round its axis. That is to say, during the
evolution of the Earth, there has been reached a complete equilibrium of
those forces which affect its general outline.       The only other
process of equilibration which the Earth as a whole can exhibit, is the
loss of its axial motion; and that any such loss is going on, we have no
direct evidence. It has been contended, however, by Prof. Helmholtz,
that inappreciable as may be its effect within known periods of time,
the friction of the tidal wave must be slowly diminishing the Earth’s
rotatory motion, and must eventually destroy it. Now though it seems an
oversight to say that the Earth’s rotation can thus be destroyed, since
the extreme effect, to be reached only in infinite time by such a
process, would be an extension of the Earth’s day to the length of a
lunation; yet it seems clear that this friction of the tidal wave is a
real cause of decreasing rotation. Slow as its action is, we must
recognize it as exemplifying, under another form, the universal progress
towards equilibrium.

It is needless to point out, in detail, how those movements which the
Sun’s rays generate in the air and water on the Earth’s surface, and
through them in the Earth’s solid substance,[20] one and all teach the
same general truth. Evidently the winds and waves and streams, as well
as the denudations and depositions they effect, perpetually illustrate
on a grand scale, and in endless modes, that gradual dissipation of
motions described in the first section; and the consequent tendency
towards a balanced distribution of forces. Each of these sensible
motions, produced directly or indirectly by integration of those
insensible motions communicated from the Sun, becomes, as we have seen,
divided and subdivided into motions less and less sensible; until it is
finally reduced to insensible motions, and radiated from the Earth in
the shape of thermal undulations.       In their totality, these complex
movements of aerial, liquid, and solid matter on the Earth’s crust,
constitute a dependent moving equilibrium. As we before saw, there is
traceable throughout them an involved combination of rhythms. The
unceasing circulation of water from the ocean to the land, and from the
land back to the ocean, is a type of these various compensating actions;
which, in the midst of all the irregularities produced by their mutual
interferences, maintain an average. And in this, as in other
equilibrations of the third order, we see that the power from moment to
moment in course of dissipation, is from moment to moment renewed from
without: the rises and falls in the supply, being balanced by rises and
falls in the expenditure; as witness the correspondence between the
magnetic variations and the cycle of the solar spots.       But the fact
it chiefly concerns us to observe, is, that this process must go on
bringing things ever nearer to complete rest. These mechanical
movements, meteorologic and geologic, which are continually being
equilibrated, both temporarily by counter-movements and permanently by
the dissipation of such movements and counter-movements, will slowly
diminish as the quantity of force received from the Sun diminishes. As
the insensible motions propagated to us from the centre of our system
become feebler, the sensible motions here produced by them must
decrease; and at that remote period when the solar heat has ceased to be
appreciable, there will no longer be any appreciable re-distributions of
matter on the surface of our planet.

Thus from the highest point of view, all terrestrial changes are
incidents in the course of cosmical equilibration. It was before pointed
out, (§ 80) that of the incessant alterations which the Earth’s crust
and atmosphere undergo, those which are not due to the still-progressing
motion of the Earth’s substance towards its centre of gravity, are due
to the still-progressing motion of the Sun’s substance towards its
centre of gravity. Here it is to be remarked, that this continuance of
integration in the Earth and in the Sun, is a continuance of that
transformation of sensible motion into insensible motion which we have
seen ends in equilibration; and that the arrival in each case at the
extreme of integration, is the arrival at a state in which no more
sensible motion remains to be transformed into insensible motion—a state
in which the forces producing integration and the forces opposing
integration, have become equal.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 133. Every living body exhibits, in a four-fold form, the process we
are tracing out—exhibits it from moment to moment in the balancing of
mechanical forces; from hour to hour in the balancing of functions; from
year to year in the changes of state that compensate changes of
condition; and finally in the complete arrest of vital movements at
death. Let us consider the facts under these heads.

The sensible motion constituting each visible action of an organism, is
soon brought to a close by some adverse force within or without the
organism. When the arm is raised, the motion given to it is antagonized
partly by gravity and partly by the internal resistances consequent on
structure; and its motion, thus suffering continual deduction, ends when
the arm has reached a position at which the forces are equilibrated. The
limits of each systole and diastole of the heart, severally show us a
momentary equilibrium between muscular strains that produce opposite
movements; and each gush of blood requires to be immediately followed by
another, because the rapid dissipation of its momentum would otherwise
soon bring the mass of circulating fluid to a stand. As much in the
actions and re-actions going on among the internal organs, as in the
mechanical balancing of the whole body, there is at every instant a
progressive equilibration of the motions at every instant produced.
      Viewed in their aggregate, and as forming a series, the organic
functions constitute a dependent moving equilibrium—a moving
equilibrium, of which the motive power is ever being dissipated through
the special equilibrations just exemplified, and is ever being renewed
by the taking in of additional motive power. Food is a store of force
which continually adds to the momentum of the vital actions, as much as
is continually deducted from them by the forces overcome. All the
functional movements thus maintained, are, as we have seen, rhythmical
(§ 96); by their union compound rhythms of various lengths and
complexities are produced; and in these simple and compound rhythms, the
process of equilibration, besides being exemplified at each extreme of
every rhythm, is seen in the habitual preservation of a constant mean,
and in the re-establishment of that mean when accidental causes have
produced divergence from it. When, for instance, there is a great
expenditure of motion through muscular activity, there arises a
re-active demand on those stores of latent motion which are laid up in
the form of consumable matter throughout the tissues: increased
respiration and increased rapidity of circulation, are instrumental to
an extra genesis of force, that counter-balances the extra dissipation
of force. This unusual transformation of molecular motion into sensible
motion, is presently followed by an unusual absorption of food—the
source of molecular motion; and in proportion as there has been a
prolonged draft upon the spare capital of the system, is there a
tendency to a prolonged rest, during which that spare capital is
replaced. If the deviation from the ordinary course of the functions has
been so great as to derange them, as when violent exertion produces loss
of appetite and loss of sleep, an equilibration is still eventually
effected. Providing the disturbance is not such as to overturn the
balance of the functions, and destroy life (in which case a complete
equilibration is suddenly effected), the ordinary balance is by and by
re-established: the returning appetite is keen in proportion as the
waste has been large; while sleep, sound and prolonged, makes up for
previous wakefulness. Not even in those extreme cases where some excess
has wrought a derangement that is never wholly rectified, is there an
exception to the general law; for in such cases the cycle of the
functions is, after a time, equilibrated about a new mean state, which
thenceforth becomes the normal state of the individual. Thus, among the
involved rhythmical changes constituting organic life, any disturbing
force that works an excess of change in some direction, is gradually
diminished and finally neutralized by antagonistic forces; which
thereupon work a compensating change in the opposite direction, and so,
after more or less of oscillation, restore the medium condition. And
this process it is, which constitutes what physicians call the _vis
medicatrix naturæ_.       The third form of equilibration displayed by
organic bodies, is a necessary sequence of that just illustrated. When
through a change of habit or circumstance, an organism is permanently
subject to some new influence, or different amount of an old influence,
there arises, after more or less disturbance of the organic rhythms, a
balancing of them around the new average condition produced by this
additional influence. As temporary divergences of the organic rhythms
are counteracted by temporary divergences of a reverse kind; so there is
an equilibration of their permanent divergences by the genesis of
opposing divergences that are equally permanent. If the quantity of
motion to be habitually generated by a muscle, becomes greater than
before, its nutrition becomes greater than before. If the expenditure of
the muscle bears to its nutrition, a greater ratio than expenditure
bears to nutrition in other parts of the system; the excess of nutrition
becomes such that the muscle grows. And the cessation of its growth is
the establishment of a balance between the daily waste and the daily
repair—the daily expenditure of force, and the amount of latent force
daily added. The like must manifestly be the case with all organic
modifications consequent on change of climate or food. This is a
conclusion which we may safely draw without knowing the special
re-arrangements that effect the equilibration. If we see that a
different mode of life is followed, after a period of functional
derangement, by some altered condition of the system—if we see that this
altered condition, becoming by and by established, continues without
further change; we have no alternative but to say, that the new forces
brought to bear on the system, have been compensated by the opposing
forces they have evoked. And this is the interpretation of the process
which we call _adaptation_.       Finally, each organism illustrates the
law in the _ensemble_ of its life. At the outset it daily absorbs under
the form of food, an amount of force greater than it daily expends; and
the surplus is daily equilibrated by growth. As maturity is approached,
this surplus diminishes; and in the perfect organism, the day’s
absorption of potential motion balances the day’s expenditure of actual
motion. That is to say, during adult life, there is continuously
exhibited an equilibration of the third order. Eventually, the daily
loss, beginning to out-balance the daily gain, there results a
diminishing amount of functional action; the organic rhythms extend less
and less widely on each side of the medium state; and there finally
results that complete equilibration which we call death.

The ultimate structural state accompanying that ultimate functional
state towards which an organism tends, both individually and as a
species, may be deduced from one of the propositions set down in the
opening section of this chapter. We saw that the limit of heterogeneity
is arrived at whenever the equilibration of any aggregate becomes
complete—that the re-distribution of matter can continue so long only as
there continues any motion unbalanced. Whence we found it to follow that
the final structural arrangements, must be such as will meet all the
forces acting on the aggregate, by equivalent antagonist forces. What is
the implication in the case of organic aggregates; the equilibrium of
which is a moving one? We have seen that the maintenance of such a
moving equilibrium, requires the habitual genesis of internal forces
corresponding in number, directions, and amounts to the external
incident forces—as many inner functions, single or combined, as there
are single or combined outer actions to be met. But functions are the
correlatives of organs; amounts of functions are, other things equal,
the correlatives of sizes of organs; and combinations of functions the
correlatives of connections of organs. Hence the structural complexity
accompanying functional equilibration, is definable as one in which
there are as many specialized parts as are capable, separately and
jointly, of counteracting the separate and joint forces amid which the
organism exists. And this is the limit of organic heterogeneity; to
which man has approached more nearly than any other creature.

Groups of organisms display this universal tendency towards a balance
very obviously. In § 96, every species of plant and animal was shown to
be perpetually undergoing a rhythmical variation in number—now from
abundance of food and absence of enemies rising above its average; and
then by a consequent scarcity of food and abundance of enemies being
depressed below its average. And here we have to observe that there is
thus maintained an equilibrium between the sum of those forces which
result in the increase of each race, and the sum of those forces which
result in its decrease. Either limit of variation is a point at which
the one set of forces, before in excess of the other, is counterbalanced
by it. And amid these oscillations produced by their conflict, lies that
average number of the species at which its expansive tendency is in
equilibrium with surrounding repressive tendencies. Nor can it be
questioned that this balancing of the preservative and destructive
forces which we see going on in every race, must necessarily go on.
Since increase of number cannot but continue until increase of mortality
stops it; and decrease of number cannot but continue until it is either
arrested by fertility or extinguishes the race entirely.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 134. The equilibrations of those nervous actions which constitute what
we know as mental life, may be classified in like manner with those
which constitute what we distinguish as bodily life. We may deal with
them in the same order.

Each pulse of nervous force from moment to moment generated, (and it was
shown in § 97 that nervous currents are not continuous but rhythmical)
is met by counteracting forces; in overcoming which it is dispersed and
equilibrated. When tracing out the correlation and equivalence of
forces, we saw that each sensation and emotion, or rather such part of
it as remains after the excitation of associated ideas and feelings, is
expended in working bodily changes—contractions of the involuntary
muscles, the voluntary muscles, or both; as also in a certain
stimulation of secreting organs. That the movements thus initiated are
ever being brought to a close by the opposing forces they evoke, was
pointed out above; and here it is to be observed that the like holds
with the nervous changes thus initiated. Various facts prove that the
arousing of a thought or feeling, always involves the overcoming of a
certain resistance: instance the fact that where the association of
mental states has not been frequent, a sensible effort is needed to call
up the one after the other; instance the fact that during nervous
prostration there is a comparative inability to think—the ideas will not
follow one another with the habitual rapidity; instance the converse
fact that at times of unusual energy, natural or artificial, the
friction of thought becomes relatively small, and more numerous, more
remote, or more difficult connections of ideas are formed. That is to
say, the wave of nervous energy each instant generated, propagates
itself throughout body and brain, along those channels which the
conditions at the instant render lines of least resistance; and
spreading widely in proportion to its amount, ends only when it is
equilibrated by the resistances it everywhere meets.       If we
contemplate mental actions us extending over hours and days, we discover
equilibrations analogous to those hourly and daily established among the
bodily functions. In the one case as in the other, there are rhythms
which exhibit a balancing of opposing forces at each extreme, and the
maintenance of a certain general balance. This is seen in the daily
alternation of mental activity and mental rest—the forces expended
during the one being compensated by the forces acquired during the
other. It is also seen in the recurring rise and fall of each desire:
each desire reaching a certain intensity, is equilibrated either by
expenditure of the force it embodies, in the desired actions, or, less
completely, in the imagination of such actions: the process ending in
that satiety, or that comparative quiescence, forming the opposite limit
of the rhythm. And it is further manifest under a two-fold form, on
occasions of intense joy or grief: each paroxysm of passion, expressing
itself in vehement bodily actions, presently reaches an extreme whence
the counteracting forces produce a return to a condition of moderate
excitement; and the successive paroxysms finally diminishing in
intensity, end in a mental equilibrium either like that before existing,
or partially differing from it in its medium state.       But the
species of mental equilibration to be more especially noted, is that
shown in the establishment of a correspondence between relations among
our states of consciousness and relations in the external world. Each
outer connection of phenomena which we are capable of perceiving,
generates, through accumulated experiences, an inner connection of
mental states; and the result towards which this process tends, is the
formation of a mental connection having a relative strength that answers
to the relative constancy of the physical connection represented. In
conformity with the general law that motion pursues the line of least
resistance, and that, other things equal, a line once taken by motion is
made a line that will be more readily pursued by future motion; we have
seen that the ease with which nervous impressions follow one another,
is, other things equal, great in proportion to the number of times they
have been repeated together in experience. Hence, corresponding to such
an invariable relation as that between the resistance of an object and
some extension possessed by it, there arises an indissoluble connection
in consciousness; and this connection, being as absolute internally as
the answering one is externally, undergoes no further change—the inner
relation is in perfect equilibrium with the outer relation. Conversely,
it hence happens that to such uncertain relations of phenomena as that
between clouds and rain, there arise relations of ideas of a like
uncertainty; and if, under given aspects of the sky, the tendencies to
infer fair or foul weather, correspond to the frequencies with which
fair or foul weather follow such aspects, the accumulation of
experiences has balanced the mental sequences and the physical
sequences. When it is remembered that between these extremes there are
countless orders of external connections having different degrees of
constancy, and that during the evolution of intelligence there arise
answering internal associations having different degrees of cohesion; it
will be seen that there is a progress towards equilibrium between the
relations of thought and the relations of things. This equilibration can
end only when each relation of things has generated in us a relation of
thought, such that on the occurrence of the conditions, the relation in
thought arises as certainly as the relation in things. Supposing this
state to be reached (which however it can be only in infinite time)
experience will cease to produce any further mental evolution—there will
have been reached a perfect correspondence between ideas and facts; and
the intellectual adaptation of man to his circumstances will be
complete.       The like general truths are exhibited in the process
moral of adaptation; which is a continual approach to equilibrium
between the emotions and the kinds of conduct necessitated by
surrounding conditions. The connections of feelings and actions, are
determined in the same way as the connections of ideas: just as
repeating the association of two ideas, facilitates the excitement of
the one by the other; so does each discharge of feeling into action,
render the subsequent discharge of such feeling into such action more
easy. Hence it happens that if an individual is placed permanently in
conditions which demand more action of a special kind than has before
been requisite, or than is natural to him—if the pressure of the painful
feelings which these conditions entail when disregarded, impels him to
perform this action to a greater extent—if by every more frequent or
more lengthened performance of it under such pressure, the resistance is
somewhat diminished; then, clearly, there is an advance towards a
balance between the demand for this kind of action and the supply of it.
Either in himself, or in his descendants continuing to live under these
conditions, enforced repetition must eventually bring about a state in
which this mode of directing the energies will be no more repugnant than
the various other modes previously natural to the race. Hence the limit
towards which emotional modification perpetually tends, and to which it
must approach indefinitely near (though it can absolutely reach it only
in infinite time) is a combination of desires that correspond to all the
different orders of activity which the circumstances of life call
for—desires severally proportionate in strength to the needs for these
orders of activity; and severally satisfied by these orders of activity.
In what we distinguish as acquired habits, and in the moral differences
of races and nations produced by habits that are maintained through
successive generations, we have countless illustrations of this
progressive adaptation; which can cease only with the establishment of a
complete equilibrium between constitution and conditions.

Possibly some will fail to see how the equilibrations described in this
section, can be classed with those preceding them; and will be inclined
to say that what are here set down as facts, are but analogies.
Nevertheless such equilibrations are as truly physical as the rest. To
show this fully, would require a more detailed analysis than can now be
entered on. For the present it must suffice to point out, as before (§
82), that what we know subjectively as states of consciousness, are,
objectively, modes of force; that so much feeling is the correlate of so
much motion; that the performance of any bodily action is the
transformation of a certain amount of feeling into its equivalent amount
of motion; that this bodily action is met by forces which it is expended
in overcoming; and that the necessity for the frequent repetition of
this action, implies the frequent recurrence of forces to be so
overcome. Hence the existence in any individual of an emotional stimulus
that is in equilibrium with certain external requirements, is literally
the habitual production of a certain specialized portion of nervous
energy, equivalent in amount to a certain order of external resistances
that are habitually met. And thus the ultimate state, forming the limit
towards which Evolution carries us, is one in which the kinds and
quantities of mental energy daily generated and transformed into
motions, are equivalent to, or in equilibrium with, the various orders
and degrees of surrounding forces which antagonize such motions.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 135. Each society taken as a whole, displays the process of
equilibration in the continuous adjustment of its population to its
means of subsistence. A tribe of men living on wild animals and fruits,
is manifestly, like every tribe of inferior creatures, always
oscillating about that average number which the locality can support.
Though by artificial production, and by successive improvements in
artificial production, a superior race continually alters the limit
which external conditions put to population; yet there is ever a
checking of population at the temporary limit reached. It is true that
where the limit is being so rapidly changed as among ourselves, there is
no actual stoppage: there is only a rhythmical variation in the rate of
increase. But in noting the causes of this rhythmical variation—in
watching how, during periods of abundance, the proportion of marriages
increases, and how it decreases during periods of scarcity; it will be
seen that the expansive force produces unusual advance whenever the
repressive force diminishes, and _vice versâ_; and thus there is as near
a balancing of the two as the changing conditions permit.

The internal actions constituting social functions, exemplify the
general principle no less clearly. Supply and demand are continually
being adjusted throughout all industrial processes; and this
equilibration is interpretable in the same way as preceding ones. The
production and distribution of a commodity, is the expression of a
certain aggregate of forces causing special kinds and amounts of motion.
The price of this commodity, is the measure of a certain other aggregate
of forces expended by the labourer who purchases it, in other kinds and
amounts of motion. And the variations of price represent a rhythmical
balancing of these forces. Every rise or fall in the rate of interest,
or change in the value of a particular security, implies a conflict of
forces in which some, becoming temporarily predominant, cause a movement
that is presently arrested or equilibrated by the increase of opposing
forces; and amid these daily and hourly oscillations, lies a more
slowly-varying medium, into which the value ever tends to settle; and
would settle but for the constant addition of new influences.       As
in the individual organism so in the social organism, functional
equilibrations generate structural equilibrations. When on the workers
in any trade there comes an increased demand, and when in return for the
increased supply, there is given to them an amount of other commodities
larger than was before habitual—when, consequently, the resistances
overcome by them in sustaining life are less than the resistances
overcome by other workers; there results a flow of other workers into
this trade. This flow continues until the extra demand is met, and the
wages so far fall again, that the total resistance overcome in obtaining
a given amount of produce, is as great in this newly-adopted occupation
as in the occupations whence it drew recruits. The occurrence of motion
along lines of least resistance, was before shown to necessitate the
growth of population in those places where the labour required for
self-maintenance is the smallest; and here we further see that those
engaged in any such advantageous locality, or advantageous business,
must multiply till there arises an approximate balance between this
locality or business and others accessible to the same citizens. In
determining the career of every youth, we see an estimation by parents
of the respective advantages offered by all that are available, and a
choice of the one which promises best; and through the consequent influx
into trades that are at the time most profitable, and the withholding of
recruits from over-stocked trades, there is insured a general equipoise
between the power of each social organ and the function it has to

The various industrial actions and re-actions thus continually
alternating, constitute a dependent moving equilibrium like that which
is maintained among the functions of an individual organism. And this
dependent moving equilibrium parallels those already contemplated, in
its tendency to become more complete. During early stages of social
evolution, while yet the resources of the locality inhabited are
unexplored, and the arts of production undeveloped, there is never
anything more than a temporary and partial balancing of such actions,
under the form of acceleration or retardation of growth. But when a
society approaches the maturity of that type on which it is organized,
the various industrial activities settle down into a comparatively
constant state. Moreover, it is observable that advance in organization,
as well as advance in growth, is conducive to a better equilibrium of
industrial functions. While the diffusion of mercantile information is
slow, and the means of transport deficient, the adjustment of supply to
demand is extremely imperfect: great over-production of each commodity
followed by great under-production, constitute a rhythm having extremes
that depart very widely from the mean state in which demand and supply
are equilibrated. But when good roads are made, and there is a rapid
diffusion of printed or written intelligence, and still more when
railways and telegraphs come into existence—when the periodical fairs of
early days lapse into weekly markets, and these into daily markets;
there is gradually produced a better balance of production and
consumption. Extra demand is much more quickly followed by augmented
supply; and the rapid oscillations of price within narrow limits on
either side of a comparatively uniform mean, indicate a near approach to
equilibrium.       Evidently this industrial progress has for its limit,
that which Mr. Mill has called “the stationary state.” When population
shall have become dense over all habitable parts of the globe; when the
resources of every region have been fully explored; and when the
productive arts admit of no further improvements; there must result an
almost complete balance, both between the fertility and mortality of
each society, and between its producing and consuming activities. Each
society will exhibit only minor deviations from its average number, and
the rhythm of its industrial functions will go on from day to day and
year to year with comparatively insignificant perturbations. This limit,
however, though we are inevitably advancing towards it, is indefinitely
remote; and can never indeed be absolutely reached. The peopling of the
Earth up to the point supposed, cannot take place by simple spreading.
In the future, as in the past, the process will be carried on
rhythmically, by waves of emigration from new and higher centres of
civilization successively arising; and by the supplanting of inferior
races by the superior races they beget; and the process so carried on
must be extremely slow. Nor does it seem to me that such an
equilibration will, as Mr. Mill suggests, leave scope for further mental
culture and moral progress; but rather that the approximation to it must
be simultaneous with the approximation to complete equilibrium between
man’s nature and the conditions of his existence.

One other kind of social equilibration has still to be considered:—that
which results in the establishment of governmental institutions, and
which becomes complete as these institutions fall into harmony with the
desires of the people. There is a demand and supply in political affairs
as in industrial affairs; and in the one case as in the other, the
antagonist forces produce a rhythm which, at first extreme in its
oscillations, slowly settles down into a moving equilibrium of
comparative regularity. Those aggressive impulses inherited from the
pre-social state—those tendencies to seek self-satisfaction regardless
of injury to other beings, which are essential to a predatory life,
constitute an anti-social force, tending ever to cause conflict and
eventual separation of citizens. Contrariwise, those desires whose ends
can be achieved only by union, as well as those sentiments which find
satisfaction through intercourse with fellow-men, and those resulting in
what we call loyalty, are forces tending to keep the units of a society
together. On the one hand, there is in each citizen, more or less of
resistance against all restraints imposed on his actions by other
citizens: a resistance which, tending continually to widen each
individual’s sphere of action, and reciprocally to limit the spheres of
action of other individuals, constitutes a repulsive force mutually
exercised by the members of a social aggregate. On the other hand, the
general sympathy of man for man, and the more special sympathy of each
variety of man for others of the same variety, together with sundry
allied feelings which the social state gratifies, act as an attractive
force, tending ever to keep united those who have a common ancestry. And
since the resistances to be overcome in satisfying the totality of their
desires when living separately, are greater than the resistances to be
overcome in satisfying the totality of their desires when living
together, there is a residuary force that prevents their separation.
Like all other opposing forces, those exerted by citizens on each other,
are ever producing alternating movements, which, at first extreme,
undergo a gradual diminution on the way to ultimate equilibrium. In
small, undeveloped societies, marked rhythms result from these
conflicting tendencies. A tribe whose members have held together for a
generation or two, reaches a size at which it will not hold together;
and on the occurrence of some event causing unusual antagonism among its
members, divides. Each primitive nation, depending largely for its
continued union on the character of its chief, exhibits wide
oscillations between an extreme in which the subjects are under rigid
restraint, and an extreme in which the restraint is not enough to
prevent disorder. In more advanced nations of like type, we always find
violent actions and reactions of the same essential nature—“despotism
tempered by assassination,” characterizing a political state in which
unbearable repression from time to time brings about a bursting of all
bonds. In this familiar fact, that a period of tyranny is followed by a
period of license and _vice versâ_, we see how these opposing forces are
ever equilibrating each other; and we also see, in the tendency of such
movements and counter-movements to become more moderate, how the
equilibration progresses towards completeness. The conflicts between
Conservatism (which stands for the restraints of society over the
individual) and Reform (which stands for the liberty of the individual
against society), fall within slowly approximating limits; so that the
temporary predominance of either, produces a less marked deviation from
the medium state.       This process, now so far advanced among
ourselves that the oscillations are comparatively unobtrusive, must go
on till the balance between the antagonist forces approaches
indefinitely near perfection. For, as we have already seen, the
adaptation of man’s nature to the conditions of his existence, cannot
cease until the internal forces which we know as feelings are in
equilibrium with the external forces they encounter. And the
establishment of this equilibrium, is the arrival at a state of human
nature and social organization, such that the individual has no desires
but those which may be satisfied without exceeding his proper sphere of
action, while society maintains no restraints but those which the
individual voluntarily respects. The progressive extension of the
liberty of citizens, and the reciprocal removal of political
restrictions, are the steps by which we advance towards this state. And
the ultimate abolition of all limits to the freedom of each, save those
imposed by the like freedom of all, must result from the complete
equilibration between man’s desires and the conduct necessitated by
surrounding conditions.

Of course in this case, as in the preceding ones, there is thus involved
a limit to the increase of heterogeneity. A few pages back, we reached
the conclusion that each advance in mental evolution, is the
establishment of some further internal action, corresponding to some
further external action—some additional connection of ideas or feelings,
answering to some before unknown or unantagonized connection of
phenomena. We inferred that each such new function, involving some new
modification of structure, implies an increase of heterogeneity; and
that thus, increase of heterogeneity must go on, while there remain any
outer relations affecting the organism which are unbalanced by inner
relations. Whence we saw it to follow that increase of heterogeneity can
come to an end only as equilibration is completed. Evidently the like
must simultaneously take place with society. Each increment of
heterogeneity in the individual, must directly or indirectly involve, as
cause or consequence, some increment of heterogeneity in the
arrangements of the aggregate of individuals. And the limit to social
complexity can be arrived at, only with the establishment of the
equilibrium, just described, between social and individual forces.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 136. Here presents itself a final question, which has probably been
taking a more or less distinct shape in the minds of many, while reading
this chapter. “If Evolution of every kind, is an increase in complexity
of structure and function that is incidental to the universal process of
equilibration—if equilibration, passing through the gradually-perfected
forms of moving equilibrium, must end in complete rest; what is the fate
towards which all things tend? If the bodies constituting our Solar
System are slowly dissipating the forces they possess—if the Sun is
losing his heat at a rate which, though insignificant as stated in terms
of our chronology, will tell in millions of years—if geologic and
meteorologic processes cannot but diminish in activity as the Sun’s
radiations diminish—if with the diminution of these radiations there
must also go on a diminution in the quantity of vegetal and animal
existence—if Man and Society, however high the degree of evolution at
which they arrive, are similarly dependent on this supply of force that
is gradually coming to an end—if thus the highest, equally with the
lowest, terrestrial life, must eventually dwindle and disappear; are we
not manifestly progressing towards omnipresent death? And have we thus
to contemplate, as the out-come of things, a universe of extinct suns
round which circle planets devoid of life?”

That such a state must be the proximate end of the processes everywhere
going on, seems beyond doubt. But the further question tacitly involved,
whether this state will continue eternally, is quite a different one. To
give a positive answer to this further question would be quite
illegitimate; since to affirm any proposition into which unlimited time
enters as one of the terms, is to affirm a proposition of which one term
cannot be represented in consciousness—is to affirm an unthinkable
proposition. At a first glance it may appear that the reverse conclusion
must be equally illegitimate; and that so the question is altogether
insoluble. But further consideration will show that this is not true. So
long as the terms to which we confine our reasonings are finite, the
finite conclusions reached are not necessarily illegitimate. Though, if
the general argument, when carried out, left no apparent escape from the
inference that the state of rest to which Evolution is carrying things,
must, when arrived at, last for ever, this inference would be invalid,
as transcending the scope of human intelligence; yet if, on pushing
further the general argument, we bring out the inference that such a
state will not last for ever, this inference is not necessarily invalid:
since, by the hypothesis, it contains no terms necessarily transcending
the scope of human intelligence. It is permissible therefore, to
inquire, what are the probable ulterior results of this process which
must bring Evolution to a close in Universal Death. Without being so
rash as to form anything like a positive conclusion on a matter so vast
and so far beyond the boundaries of exact science; we may still inquire
what _seems_ to be the remote future towards which the facts point.

It has been already shown that all equilibration, so far as we can trace
it, is relative. The dissipation of a body’s motion by communication of
it to surrounding matter, solid, liquid, gaseous, and ethereal, tends to
bring the body to a fixed position in relation to the matter that
abstracts its motion. But all its other motions continue as before. The
arrest of a cannon-shot does not diminish its movement towards the East
at a thousand miles an hour, along with the wall it has struck; and a
gradual dispersion of the Earth’s rotatory motion, would abstract
nothing from the million and a half miles per day through which the
Earth speeds in its orbit. Further, we have to bear in mind that this
motion, the disappearance of which causes relative equilibration, is not
lost but simply transferred; and by continual division and subdivision
finally reduced to ethereal undulations and radiated through space.
Whether the sensible motion dissipated during relative equilibration, is
directly transformed into insensible motion, as happens in the case of
the Sun; or whether, as in the sensible motions going on around us, it
is directly transformed into smaller sensible motions, and these into
still smaller, until they become insensible, matters not. In every
instance the ultimate result is, that whatever motion of masses is lost,
re-appears as molecular motion pervading space. Thus the questions we
have to consider, are—Whether after the completion of all the relative
equilibrations above contemplated as bringing Evolution to a close,
there remain any further equilibrations to be effected?—Whether there
are any other motions of masses that must eventually be transformed into
molecular motion?—And if there are such other motions, what must be the
consequence when the molecular motion generated by their transformation,
is added to that which already exists?

To the first of these questions the answer is, that there _do_ remain
motions which are undiminished by all the relative equilibrations thus
far considered; namely, the motions of translation possessed by those
vast masses of incandescent matter called stars—masses now known to be
suns that are in all probability, like our own, surrounded by circling
groups of planets. The belief that the stars are literally fixed, has
long since been exploded: observation has proved many of them to have
sensible proper motions. Moreover, it has been ascertained by
measurement, that in relation to the stars nearest to us, our own star
is moving at the rate of about half a million miles per day; and if, as
is admitted to be not improbable by sundry astronomers, our own star is
traversing space in the same direction with adjacent stars, its absolute
velocity may be, and most likely is, immensely greater than this. Now no
such changes as those taking place within the Solar System, even when
carried to the extent of integrating the whole of its matter into one
mass, and diffusing all its relative movements in an insensible form
through space, can affect these sidereal movements. Hence, there appears
no alternative but to infer, that these sidereal movements must remain
to be equilibrated by some subsequent process.

The next question that arises, if we venture to inquire the probable
nature of this process, is—To what law do sidereal motions conform? And
to this question Astronomy replies—the law of gravitation. The relative
motions of binary stars have proved this. When it was discovered that
certain of the double stars are not optically double but physically
double, and move round each other, it was at once suspected that their
revolutions might be regulated by a mutual attraction like that which
regulates the revolutions of planets and satellites. The requisite
measurements having been from time to time made, the periodic times of
sundry binary stars were calculated on this assumption; and the
subsequent performances of their revolutions in the predicted periods,
have completely verified the assumption. If, then, it is demonstrated
that these remote bodies are centres of gravitation—if we infer that all
other stars are centres of gravitation, as we may fairly do—and if we
draw the unavoidable corollary, that this gravitative force which so
conspicuously affects stars that are comparatively near each other, must
affect remote stars; we find ourselves led to the conclusion that all
the members of our Sidereal System gravitate, individually and as an

But if these widely-dispersed moving masses mutually gravitate, what
must happen? There appears but one tenable answer. Even supposing they
were all absolutely equal in weight, and arranged into an annulus with
absolute regularity, and endowed with exactly the amounts of centrifugal
force required to prevent nearer approach to their common centre of
gravity; the condition would still be one which the slightest disturbing
force would destroy. Much more then are we driven to the inference, that
our actual Sidereal System cannot preserve its present arrangement: the
irregularities of its distribution being such as to render even a
temporary moving equilibrium impossible. If the stars are so many
centres of an attractive force that varies inversely as the square of
the distance, there appears to be no escape from the conclusion, that
the structure of our galaxy must be undergoing change; and must continue
to undergo change.

Thus, in the absence of tenable alternatives, we are brought to the
positions:—1, that the stars are in motion;—2, that they move in
conformity with the law of gravitation;—3, that, distributed as they
are, they cannot move in conformity with the law of gravitation, without
undergoing change of arrangement. If now we permit ourselves to take a
further step, and ask the nature of this change of arrangement, we find
ourselves obliged to infer a progressive concentration. Whether we do or
do not suppose the clustering which is now visible, to have been caused
by mutual gravitation acting throughout past eras, as the hypothesis of
Evolution implies, we are equally compelled to conclude that this
clustering must increase throughout future eras. Stars at present
dispersed, must become locally aggregated; existing aggregations, at the
same time that they are enlarged by the drawing in of adjacent stars,
must grow more dense; and aggregations must coalesce with each other:
each greater degree of concentration augmenting the force by which
further concentration is produced.

And now what must be the limit of this concentration? The mutual
attraction of two individual stars, when it so far predominates over
other attractions as to cause approximation, almost certainly ends in
the formation of a binary star; since the motions generated by other
attractions, prevent the two stars from moving in straight lines to
their common centre of gravity. Between small clusters, too, having also
certain proper motions as clusters, mutual attraction may lead, not to
complete union, but to the formation of binary clusters. As the process
continues however, and the clusters become larger, it seems clear that
they must move more directly towards each other, thus forming clusters
of increasing density; and that eventually all clusters must unite into
one comparatively close aggregation. While, therefore, during the
earlier stages of concentration, the probabilities are immense against
the actual contact of these mutually-gravitating masses; it is tolerably
manifest, that as the concentration increases, collision must become
probable, and ultimately certain. This is an inference not lacking the
support of high authority. Sir John Herschel, treating of those numerous
and variously-aggregated clusters of stars revealed by the telescope,
and citing with apparent approval his father’s opinion, that the more
diffused and irregular of these, are “globular clusters in a less
advanced state of condensation;” subsequently remarks, that “among a
crowd of solid bodies of whatever size, animated by independent and
partially opposing impulses, motions opposite to each other _must_
produce collision, destruction of velocity, and subsidence or near
approach towards the centre of preponderant attraction; while those
which conspire, or which remain outstanding after such conflicts, _must_
ultimately give rise to circulation of a permanent character.” Now what
is here alleged of these minor sidereal aggregations, cannot be denied
of the large aggregations; and thus the above-described process of
concentration, appears certain to bring about an increasingly-frequent
integration of masses.

We have next to consider the consequences of the accompanying loss of
velocity. The sensible motion which disappears, cannot be destroyed; but
must be transformed into insensible motion. What will be the effect of
this insensible motion? Some approach to a conception of it, will be
made by considering what would happen were the comparatively
insignificant motion of our planet thus transformed. In his essay on
“The Inter-action of Natural Forces,” Prof. Helmholtz states the thermal
equivalent of the Earth’s movement through space; as calculated on the
now received datum of Mr. Joule. “If our Earth,” he says, “were by a
sudden shock brought to rest in her orbit,—which is not to be feared in
the existing arrangement of our system—by such a shock a quantity of
heat would be generated equal to that produced by the combustion of
fourteen such Earths of solid coal. Making the most unfavourable
assumption as to its capacity for heat, that is, placing it equal to
that of water, the mass of the Earth would thereby be heated 11,200
degrees; it would therefore be quite fused, and for the most part
reduced to vapour. If then the Earth, after having been thus brought to
rest, should fall into the Sun, which of course would be the case, the
quantity of heat developed by the shock would be 400 times greater.” Now
so relatively small a momentum as that acquired by the Earth in falling
through 95,000,000 of miles to the Sun, being equivalent to a molecular
motion such as would reduce the Earth to gases of extreme rarity; what
must be the molecular motion generated by the mutually-arrested momenta
of two stars, that have moved to their common centre of gravity through
spaces immeasurably greater? There seems no alternative but to conclude,
that this molecular motion must be so great, as to reduce the matter of
the stars to an almost inconceivable tenuity—a tenuity like that which
we ascribe to nebular matter.       Such being the immediate effect of
the integration of any two stars in a concentrating aggregate, what must
be the ulterior effect on the aggregate as a whole? Sir John Herschel,
in the passage above quoted, describing the collisions that must arise
in a mutually-gravitating group of stars, adds that those stars “which
remain outstanding after such conflicts, _must_ ultimately give rise to
circulation of a permanent character.” The problem, however, is here
dealt with purely as a mechanical one: the assumption being, that the
mutually-arrested masses will continue as masses—an assumption to which
no objection was apparent at the time when Sir John Herschel wrote this
passage; since the doctrine of the correlation of forces was not then
recognized. But obliged as we now are to conclude, that stars moving at
the high velocities acquired during concentration, will, by mutual
arrest, be dissipated into gases of great tenuity, the problem becomes
different; and a different inference appears unavoidable. For the
diffused matter produced by such conflicts, must form a resisting
medium, occupying that central region of the aggregate through which its
members from time to time pass in describing their orbits—a resisting
medium which they cannot move through without having their velocities
diminished. Every further such collision, by augmenting this resisting
medium, and making the losses of velocity greater, must further aid in
preventing the establishment of that equilibrium which would else arise;
and so must conspire to produce more frequent collisions. And the
nebulous matter thus formed, presently enveloping and extending beyond
the whole aggregate, must, by continuing to shorten their gyrations,
entail an increasingly-active integration and re-active disintegration
of the moving masses; until they are all finally dissipated.       This,
indeed, is the conclusion which, leaving out all consideration of the
process gone through, presents itself as a simple deduction from the
persistence of force. If the stars have been, and still are,
concentrating however indirectly on their common centre of gravity, and
must eventually reach it; it is a corollary from the persistence of
force, that the quantities of motion they have severally acquired, must
suffice to carry them away from the common centre of gravity to those
remote regions whence they originally began to move towards it. And
since, by the conditions of the case, they cannot return to these remote
regions in the shape of concrete masses, they must return in the shape
of diffused masses. Action and reaction being equal and opposite, the
momentum producing dispersion, must be as great as the momentum acquired
by aggregation; and being spread over the same quantity of matter, must
cause an equivalent distribution through space, whatever be the form of
the matter.       One condition, however, essential to the literal
fulfilment of this result, must be specified; namely, that the quantity
of molecular motion produced and radiated into space by each star in the
course of its formation from diffused matter, shall be compensated by an
equal quantity of molecular motion radiated from other parts of space
into the space which our Sidereal System occupies. In other words, if we
set out with that amount of molecular motion implied by the existence of
the matter of our Sidereal System in a nebulous form; then it follows
from the persistence of force, that if this matter undergoes the
re-distribution constituting Evolution, the quantity of molecular motion
given out during the integration of each mass, plus the quantity of
molecular motion given out during the integration of all the masses,
must suffice again to reduce it to the same nebulous form.       Here
indeed we arrive at an impassable limit to our reasonings; since we
cannot know whether this condition is or is not fulfilled. On the
hypothesis of an unlimited space, containing, at certain intervals,
Sidereal Systems like our own, it may be that the quantity of molecular
motion radiated into the region occupied by our Sidereal System, is
equal to that which our Sidereal System radiates; in which case the
quantity of motion possessed by it, remaining undiminished, our Sidereal
System may continue during unlimited time, to repeat this alternate
concentration and diffusion. But if, on the other hand, throughout
boundless space there exist no other Sidereal Systems subject to like
changes, or if such other Sidereal Systems exist at more than a certain
average distance from each other; then it seems an unavoidable
conclusion that the quantity of motion possessed, must diminish by
radiation into unoccupied space; and that so, on each successive
resumption of the nebulous form, the matter of our Sidereal System will
occupy a less space; until at the end of an infinite time it reaches
either a state in which its concentrations and diffusions are relatively
small, or a state of complete aggregation and rest. Since, however, we
have no evidence showing the existence or non-existence of Sidereal
Systems throughout remote space; and since, even had we such evidence, a
legitimate conclusion could not be drawn from premises of which one
element (unlimited space) is inconceivable; we must be for ever without
answer to this transcendent question. All we can say is, that so far as
the data enable us to judge, the integration of our Sidereal System will
be followed by disintegration; that such integration and disintegration
will be repeated; and that, for anything we know to the contrary, the
alternation of them may continue without limit.

But leaving this ultimate insoluble problem, and confining ourselves to
the proximate and not necessarily insoluble one, we find reason for
thinking that after the completion of those various equilibrations which
bring to a close all the forms of Evolution we have contemplated, there
must still continue an equilibration of a far wider kind. When that
integration everywhere in progress throughout our Solar System, has
reached its climax, there will remain to be effected the immeasurably
greater integration of our Solar System, with all other such systems. As
in those minor forms now going on around us, this integration with its
concomitant equilibration, involves the change of aggregate motion into
diffused motion; so in those vaster forms hereafter to be carried out,
there must similarly be gained in molecular motion what is lost in the
motion of masses; and the inevitable transformation of this motion of
masses into molecular motion, cannot take place without reducing the
masses to a nebulous form. Thus we seem led to the conclusion that the
entire process of things, as displayed in the aggregate of the visible
Universe, is analogous to the entire process of things as displayed in
the smallest aggregates. Where, as in organic bodies, the whole series
of changes constituting Evolution can be traced, we saw that,
dynamically considered, Evolution is a change from molecular motion to
the motion of masses; and this change, becoming more active during the
ascending phase of Evolution while the masses increase in bulk and
heterogeneity, eventually begins to get less active; until, passing
through stages in which the integration grows greater, and the
equilibrium more definite, it finally ceases; whereupon there arises, by
an ulterior process, an increase of molecular motion, ending in the more
or less complete dissolution of the aggregate. And here we find reason
to believe that, along with each of the thousands of similar ones
dispersed through the heavens, our Solar System, after passing through
stages during which the motion of masses is produced at the expense of
lost molecular motion, and during which there goes on an increasingly
active differentiation and integration, arrives at a climax whence these
changes, beginning to decline in activity, slowly bring about that
complete integration and equilibration which in other cases we call
death; and that there afterwards comes a time, when the still-remaining
motions of masses are transformed into a molecular motion which causes
dissolution of the masses. Motion as well as Matter being fixed in
quantity, it would seem that the change in the distribution of Matter
which Motion effects, coming to a limit in whichever direction it is
carried, the indestructible Motion thereupon necessitates a reverse
distribution. Apparently, the universally-coexistent forces of
attraction and repulsion, which, as we have seen, necessitate rhythm in
all minor changes throughout the Universe, also necessitate rhythm in
the totality of its changes—produce now an immeasurable period during
which the attractive forces predominating, cause universal
concentration, and then an immeasurable period during which the
repulsive forces predominating, cause universal diffusion—alternate eras
of Evolution and Dissolution. And thus there is suggested the conception
of a past during which there have been successive Evolutions similar to
that which is now going on; and a future during which successive other
such Evolutions may go on.

Let none suppose, however, that this is to be taken as anything more
than a speculation. In dealing with times and spaces and forces so
immensely transcending those of which we have definite experience, we
are in danger of passing the limits to human intelligence. Though these
times and spaces and forces cannot literally be classed as infinite; yet
they are so utterly beyond the possibility of definite conception, as to
be almost equally unthinkable with the infinite. What has been above
said, should therefore be regarded simply as a possible answer to a
possible doubt. When, pushing to its extreme the argument that Evolution
must come to a close in complete equilibrium or rest, the reader
suggests that for aught which appears to the contrary, the Universal
Death thus implied will continue indefinitely; it is legitimate to point
out how, on carrying the argument still further, we are led to infer a
subsequent Universal Life. But while this last inference may fitly be
accepted as a demurrer to the first, it would be unwise to accept it in
any more positive sense.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 137. Returning from this parenthetical discussion, concerning the
probable or possible state of things that may arise after Evolution has
run its course; and confining ourselves to the changes constituting
Evolution, with which alone we are immediately concerned; we have now to
inquire whether the cessation of these changes, in common with all their
transitional characteristics, admits of _à priori_ proof. It will soon
become apparent that equilibration, not less than the preceding general
principles, is deducible from the persistence of force.

We have seen (§ 85) that phenomena are interpretable only as the results
of universally-coexistent forces of attraction and repulsion. These
universally-coexistent forces of attraction and repulsion, are, indeed,
the complementary aspects of that absolutely persistent force which is
the ultimate datum of consciousness. Just in the same way that the
equality of action and re-action is a corollary from the persistence of
force, since their inequality would imply the disappearance of the
differential force into nothing, or its appearance out of nothing; so,
we cannot become conscious of an attractive force without becoming
simultaneously conscious of an equal and opposite repulsive force. For
every experience of a muscular tension, (under which form alone we can
immediately know an attractive force,) presupposes an equivalent
resistance—a resistance shown in the counter-balancing pressure of the
body against neighbouring objects, or in that absorption of force which
gives motion to the body, or in both—a resistance which we cannot
conceive as other than equal to the tension, without conceiving force to
have either appeared or disappeared, and so denying the persistence of
force. And from this necessary correlation, results our inability,
before pointed out, of interpreting any phenomena save in terms of these
correlatives—an inability shown alike in the compulsion we are under to
think of the statical forces which tangible matter displays, as due to
the attraction and repulsion of its atoms, and in the compulsion we are
under to think of dynamical forces exercised through space, by regarding
space as filled with atoms similarly endowed. Thus from the existence of
a force that is for ever unchangeable in quantity, there follows, as a
necessary corollary, the co-extensive existence of these opposite forms
of force—forms under which the conditions of our consciousness oblige us
to represent that absolute force which transcends our knowledge.

But the forces of attraction and repulsion being universally
co-existent, it follows, as before shown, that all motion is motion
under resistance. Units of matter, solid, liquid, aëriform, or ethereal,
filling the space which any moving body traverses, offer to such body
the resistance consequent on their cohesion, or their inertia, or both.
In other words, the denser or rarer medium which occupies the places
from moment to moment passed through by such moving body, having to be
expelled from them, as much motion is abstracted from the moving body as
is given to the medium in expelling it from these places. This being the
condition under which all motion occurs, two corollaries result. The
first is, that the deductions perpetually made by the communication of
motion to the resisting medium, cannot but bring the motion of the body
to an end in a longer or shorter time. The second is, that the motion of
the body cannot cease until these deductions destroy it. In other words,
movement must continue till equilibration takes place; and equilibration
must eventually take place. Both these are manifest deductions from the
persistence of force. To say that the whole or part of a body’s motion
can disappear, save by transfer to something which resists its motion,
is to say that the whole or part of its motion can disappear without
effect; which is to deny the persistence of force. Conversely, to say
that the medium traversed can be moved out of the body’s path, without
deducting from the body’s motion, is to say that motion of the medium
can arise out of nothing; which is to deny the persistence of force.
Hence this primordial truth is our immediate warrant for the
conclusions, that the changes which Evolution presents, cannot end until
equilibrium is reached; and that equilibrium must at last be reached.

Equally necessary, because equally deducible from this same truth that
transcends proof, are the foregoing propositions respecting the
establishment and maintenance of moving equilibria, under their several
aspects. It follows from the persistence of force, that the various
motions possessed by any aggregate, either as a whole or among its
parts, must be severally dissipated by the resistances they severally
encounter; and that thus, such of them as are least in amount, or meet
with greatest opposition, or both, will be brought to a close while the
others continue. Hence in every diversely moving aggregate, there
results a comparatively early dissipation of motions which are smaller
and much resisted; followed by long-continuance of the larger and
less-resisted motions; and so there arise dependent and independent
moving equilibria. Hence also may be inferred the tendency to
conservation of such moving equilibria; since, whenever the new motion
given to the parts of a moving equilibrium by a disturbing force, is not
of such kind and amount that it cannot be dissipated before the
pre-existing motions (in which case it brings the moving equilibrium to
an end) it must be of such kind and amount that it can be dissipated
before the pre-existing motions (in which case the moving equilibrium is

Thus from the persistence of force follow, not only the various direct
and indirect equilibrations going on around, together with that cosmical
equilibration which brings Evolution under all its forms to a close; but
also those less manifest equilibrations shown in the re-adjustments of
moving equilibria that have been disturbed. By this ultimate principle
is proveable the tendency of every organism, disordered by some unusual
influence, to return to a balanced state. To it also may be traced the
capacity, possessed in a slight degree by individuals, and in a greater
degree by species, of becoming adapted to new circumstances. And not
less does it afford a basis for the inference, that there is a gradual
advance towards harmony between man’s mental nature and the conditions
of his existence. After finding that from it are deducible the various
characteristics of Evolution, we finally draw from it a warrant for the
belief, that Evolution can end only in the establishment of the greatest
perfection and the most complete happiness.


Footnote 18:

  Sir David Brewster has recently been citing with approval, a
  calculation by M. Babinet, to the effect that on the hypothesis of
  nebular genesis, the matter of the Sun, when it filled the Earth’s
  orbit, must have taken 3181 years to rotate; and that therefore the
  hypothesis cannot be true. This calculation of M. Babinet may pair-off
  with that of M. Comte, who, contrariwise, made the time of this
  rotation agree very nearly with the Earth’s period of revolution round
  the Sun; for if M. Comte’s calculation involved a _petitio principii_,
  that of M. Babinet is manifestly based on two assumptions, both of
  which are gratuitous, and one of them totally inconsistent with the
  doctrine to be tested. He has evidently proceeded on the current
  supposition respecting the Sun’s internal density, which is not
  proved, and from which there are reasons for dissenting; and he has
  evidently taken for granted that all parts of the nebulous spheroid,
  when it filled the Earth’s orbit, had the same angular velocity;
  whereas if (as is implied in the nebular hypothesis, rationally
  understood) this spheroid resulted from the concentration of far more
  widely-diffused matter, the angular velocity of its equatorial portion
  would obviously be immensely greater than that of its central portion.

Footnote 19:

  See paper “On the Inter-action of Natural Forces,” by Prof. Helmholtz,
  translated by Prof. Tyndall, and published in the _Philosophical
  Magazine_, supplement to Vol. XI. fourth series.

Footnote 20:

  Until I recently consulted his “Outlines of Astronomy” on another
  question, I was not aware that so far back as 1833, Sir John Herschel
  had enunciated the doctrine that “the sun’s rays are the ultimate
  source of almost every motion which takes place on the surface of the
  earth.” He expressly includes all geologic, meteorologic, and vital
  actions; as also those which we produce by the combustion of coal. The
  late George Stephenson appears to have been wrongly credited with this
  last idea.

                             CHAPTER XVII.
                        SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION.

§ 138. In the chapter on “Laws in general,” after delineating the
progress of mankind in recognizing uniformities of relation among
surrounding phenomena—after showing how the actual succession in the
establishment of different orders of co-existences and sequences,
corresponds with the succession deducible _à priori_ from the conditions
to human knowledge—after showing how, by the ever-multiplying
experiences of constant connections among phenomena, there has been
gradually generated the conception of universal conformity to law; it
was suggested that this conception will become still clearer, when it is
perceived that there are laws of wider generality than any of those at
present accepted.

The existence of such more general laws, is, indeed, almost implied by
the _ensemble_ of the facts set forth in the above-named chapter; since
they make it apparent, that the process hitherto carried on, of bringing
phenomena under fewer and wider laws, has not ceased, but is advancing
with increasing rapidity. Apart, however, from evidence of this kind,
the man of science, hourly impressed with new proof of uniformity in the
relations of things, until the conception of uniformity has become with
him a necessity of thought, tacitly entertains the conclusion that the
minor uniformities which Science has thus far established, will
eventually be merged in uniformities that are universal. Taught as he is
by every observation and experiment, to regard phenomena as
manifestations of Force; and learning as he does to contemplate Force as
unchangeable in amount; there tends to grow up in him a belief in
unchangeable laws common to Force under all its manifestations. Though
he may not have formulated it to himself, he is prepared to recognize
the truth, that, being fixed in quantity, fixed in its two ultimate
modes of presentation (Matter and Motion), and fixed in the conditions
under which it is presented (Time and Space); Force must have certain
equally fixed laws of action, common to all the changes it produces.

Hence to the classes who alone are likely to read these pages, the
hypothesis of a fundamental unity, extending from the simplest inorganic
actions up to the most complex associations of thought and the most
involved social processes, will have an _à priori_ probability. All
things being recognized as having one source, will be expected to
exhibit one method. Even in the absence of a clue to uniformities
co-extensive with all modes of Force, as the mathematical uniformities
are co-extensive with Space and Time, it will be inferred that such
uniformities exist. And thus a certain presumption will result in favour
of any formula, of a generality great enough to include concrete
phenomena of every order.

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 139. In the chapters on the “Law of Evolution,” there was set forth a
principle, which, so far as accessible evidence enables us to judge,
possesses this universality. The order of material changes, first
perceived to have certain constant characteristics in cases where it
could be readily traced from beginning to end, we found to have these
same characteristics in cases where it could be less readily traced; and
we saw numerous indications that these same characteristics were
displayed during past changes of which we have no direct knowledge. The
transformation of the homogeneous into the heterogeneous, first observed
by naturalists to be exhibited during the development of every plant and
animal, proved to be also exhibited during the development of every
society; both in its political and industrial organization, and in all
the products of social life,—language, science, art, and literature.
From the disclosures of geology, we drew adequate support for the
conclusion, that in the structure of the Earth there has similarly been
a progress from uniformity, through ever-increasing degrees of
multiformity, to the complex state which we now see. And on the
assumption of that nebular origin to which so many facts point, we
inferred that a like transition from unity to variety of distribution,
must have been undergone by our Solar System; as well as by that vast
assemblage of such systems constituting the visible Universe.       This
definition of the metamorphosis, first asserted by physiologists of
organic aggregates only, but which we thus found reason to think, holds
of all other aggregates, proved on further inquiry to be too wide. Its
undue width was shown to arise from the omission of certain other
characteristics, that are, not less than the foregoing one, displayed
throughout all kinds of Evolution. We saw that simultaneously with the
change from homogeneity to heterogeneity, there takes place a change
from indefiniteness of arrangement to definiteness of arrangement—a
change everywhere equally traceable with that which it accompanies.
Further consideration made it apparent, that the increasing definiteness
thus manifested along with increasing heterogeneity, necessarily results
from increasing integration of the parts severally rendered unlike. And
thus we finally reached the conclusion, that there has been going on
throughout an immeasurable past, is still going on, and will continue to
go on, an advance from a diffused, indeterminate, and uniform
distribution of Matter, to a concentrated, determinate, and multiform
distribution of it.

At a subsequent stage of our inquiry, we discovered that this
progressive change in the arrangement of Matter, is accompanied by a
parallel change in the arrangement of Motion—that every increase in the
structural complexity of things, involves a corresponding increase in
their functional complexity. It was shown that along with the
integration of molecules into masses, there arises an integration of
molecular motion into the motion of masses; and that as fast as there
results variety in the sizes and forms of aggregates and their relations
to incident forces, there also results variety in their movements.
Whence it became manifest, that the general process of things is from a
confused simplicity to an orderly complexity, in the distribution of
both Matter and Motion.

It was pointed out, however, that though this species of transformation
is universal, in the sense of holding throughout all classes of
phenomena, it is not universal in the sense of being continued without
limit in all classes of phenomena. Those aggregates which exhibit the
entire change from uniformity to multiformity of structure and function,
in comparatively short periods, eventually show us a reverse set of
changes: Evolution is followed by Dissolution. The differentiations and
integrations of Matter and Motion, finally reach a degree which the
conditions do not allow them to pass; and there then sets in a process
of disintegration and assimilation, of both the parts and the movements
that were before growing more united and more distinct.

But under one or the other of these processes, all observable
modifications in the arrangement of things may be classed. Every change
comes under the head of integration or disintegration, material or
dynamical; or under the head of differentiation or assimilation,
material or dynamical; or under both. Each inorganic mass is either
undergoing increase by the combination with it of surrounding elements
for which its parts have affinity; or undergoing decrease by the solvent
and abraiding action of surrounding elements; or both one and the other
in varied succession and combination. By perpetual additions and losses
of heat, it is having its parts temporarily differentiated from each
other, or temporarily assimilated to each other, in molecular state. And
through the actions of divers agents, it is also undergoing certain
permanent molecular re-arrangements; rendering it either more uniform or
more multiform in structure. These opposite kinds of change, thus
vaguely typified in every surrounding fragment of matter, are displayed
in all aggregates with increasing distinctness in proportion as the
conditions essential to re-arrangement of parts are fulfilled. So that
universally, the process of things is either in the one direction or the
other. There is in all cases going on that ever-complicating
distribution of Matter and Motion which we call Evolution; save in those
cases where it has been brought to a close and reversed by what we call

                  *       *       *       *       *

§ 140. Whether this omnipresent metamorphosis admits of interpretation,
was the inquiry on which we next entered. Recognizing the changes thus
formulated as consisting in Motions of Matter that are produced by
Force, we saw that if they are interpretable at all, it must be by the
affiliation of them on certain ultimate laws of Matter, Motion, and
Force. We therefore proceeded to inquire what these ultimate laws are.

We first contemplated under its leading aspects, the principle of
correlation and equivalence among forces. The genesis of sensible motion
by insensible motion, and of insensible motion by sensible motion, as
well as the like reciprocal production of those forms of insensible
motion which constitute Light, Heat, Electricity, Magnetism, and
Chemical Action, was shown to be a now accepted doctrine, that involves
certain corollaries respecting the processes everywhere going on around
us. Setting out with the probability that the insensible motion radiated
by the Sun, is the transformed product of the sensible motion lost
during the progressive concentration of the solar mass; we saw that by
this insensible motion, are in turn produced the various kinds of
sensible motion on the Earth’s surface. Besides the inorganic
terrestrial changes, we found that the changes constituting organic life
are thus originated. We were obliged to conclude that within this
category, come the vital phenomena classed as mental, as well as those
classed as physical. And it appeared inevitably to follow that of social
changes, too, the like must be said.       We next saw that phenomena
being cognizable by us only as products of Force, manifested under the
two-fold form of attraction and repulsion, there results the general law
that all Motion must occur in the direction of least resistance, or in
the direction of greatest traction, or in the direction of their
resultant. It was pointed out that this law is every instant illustrated
in the movements of the celestial bodies. The innumerable transpositions
of matter, gaseous, liquid, and solid, going on over the Earth’s
surface, were shown to conform to it. Evidence was given that this same
ultimate principle of motion underlies the structural and functional
changes of organisms. Throughout the succession of those nervous actions
which constitute thought and feeling, as also in the discharge of
feeling into action, we no less found this principle conspicuous. Nor
did we discover any exception to it in the movements, temporary and
permanent, that go on in societies.       From the universal coexistence
of opposing forces, there also resulted the rhythm of motion. It was
shown that this is displayed from the infinitesimal vibrations of
molecules up to the enormous revolutions and gyrations of planets; that
it is traceable throughout all meteorologic and geologic changes; that
the functions of every organic body exemplify it in various forms; that
mental activities too, intellectual and emotional, exhibit periodicities
of sundry kinds; and that actions and reactions illustrating this law
under a still more complex form, pervade social processes.

Such being the principles to which conform all changes produced by
Force on the distribution of Matter, and all changes re-actively
produced by Matter on the distribution of Force, we proceeded to
inquire what must be the consequent nature of any re-distributions
produced: having first noted the limiting conditions between which
such re-distributions are possible, and the medium conditions that are
most favourable to them.       The first conclusion arrived at, was,
that any finite homogeneous aggregate must inevitably lose its
homogeneity, through the unequal exposure of its parts to incident
forces. We observed how this was shown in surrounding things, by the
habitual establishment of differences between inner and outer parts,
and parts otherwise dissimilarly circumstanced. It was pointed out
that the production of diversities of structure by forces acting under
diverse conditions, has been illustrated in astronomic evolution,
supposing such evolution to have taken place; and that a like
connection of cause and effect is seen in the large and small
modifications undergone by our globe. In the early changes of organic
germs, we discovered further evidence that unlikenesses of structure
follow unlikenesses of relations to surrounding agencies—evidence
enforced by the tendency of the differently-placed members of each
species to diverge into varieties. We found that the principle is also
conformed to in the establishment of distinctions among our ideas; and
that the contrasts, political and industrial, that arise between the
parts of societies are no less in harmony with it. The instability of
the homogeneous thus caused, and thus everywhere exemplified, we also
saw must hold of the unlike parts into which any uniform whole lapses;
and that so the less heterogeneous must tend continually to become
more heterogeneous—an inference which we also found to be everywhere
confirmed by fact.       Carrying a step further our inquiry into
these actions and reactions between Force and Matter, there was
disclosed a secondary cause of increasing multiformity. Every
differentiated part becomes, we found, a parent of further
differentiations; not only in the sense that it must lose its own
homogeneity in heterogeneity, but also in the sense that it must, in
growing unlike other parts, become a centre of unlike reactions on
incident forces; and by so adding to the diversity of forces at work,
must add to the diversity of effects produced. This multiplication of
effects, likewise proved to be manifest throughout all Nature. That
forces modified in kind and direction by every part of every
aggregate, are gradually expended in working changes that grow more
numerous and more varied as the forces are subdivided, is shown in the
actions and reactions going on throughout the Solar System, in the
never-ceasing geologic complications, in the involved symptoms
produced in organisms by disturbing influences, in the many thoughts
and feelings generated by single impressions, and in the
ever-ramifying results of each new agency brought to bear on a
society. To which add the corollary, confirmed by abundant facts, that
the multiplication of effects must increase in a geometrical
progression, as the heterogeneity increases.       Completely to
interpret the structural changes constituting Evolution, there
remained to assign a reason for that increasingly-distinct demarcation
of parts, which accompanies the production of differences between
parts. This reason we discovered to be, the segregation of mixed units
under the action of forces capable of moving them. We saw that when
the parts of an aggregate have been made qualitatively unlike by
unlike incident forces—that is, when they have become contrasted in
the natures of their component units; there necessarily arises a
tendency to separation of the dissimilar orders of units from each
other, and to aggregation of those units which are similar. This cause
of the integration that accompanies differentiation, turned out to be
likewise exemplified by all kinds of Evolution—by the formation of
celestial bodies, by the moulding of the Earth’s crust, by organic
modifications, by the establishment of mental distinctions, by the
genesis of social divisions. And we inferred, what we may everywhere
see, that the segregation thus produced goes on so long as there
remains a possibility of making it more complete.       At length, to
the query whether the processes thus traced out have any limit, there
came the answer that they must end in equilibration. That continual
division and subdivision of forces, which is instrument