« ПретходнаНастави »
and the next moment to transmit them through its particles, we can form not the least idea.? pp. 162, 163.
Gravitation too supplies, in its force, and the laws by which it is regulated, a variety of evidence. We quote only the author's conclusion.
• The considerations that suggest themselves from this examination of the property of gravitation, bearing more immediately upon the object of the present work, are those which remind us of the inefficiency of the human intellect to comprehend the most apparently simple properties of matter,—those wherein the force of gravitation is shown to be actively operating under circumstances that appear to exclude the possibility of its presence,—and those which exhibit the prospect of its eternal duration. From the first of these considerations we may derive an additional lesson against ignorantly presuming that phenomena, which to us are unintelligible, must therefore be impossible ; from the second, we learn, that the difficulties which appear to attend the supposed existence of the sentient principle in a state of separation from the body, may find a parallel in the latent combinations of the properties of matter; and from the third consideration we may draw the inference, that if the attraction of gravitation, --which is a mere property of matterbe indestructible, the more subtile essence of the human soul, which animates the organized frame, is also imperishable and immortal.' pp. 180, 181.
In the General Summary, which constitutes the last chapter of Part II. our author applies his argument to the hypotheses of materialists, and comes to the conclusion, “wbetber, therefore, we view the sentient principle merely as a property belonging to a certain combination of other properties of matter, or regard it as an elementary principle developed by organization, we shall be forced to admit, that it is, in either case, distinct from the organized system in which it is manifested; that it is like those subtile agents capable of a separate existence and like them too, imperishable.” Part. III. is devoted to the consideration of the Phenomena of Life. Here again our author attempts to meet the materialist, and, whether or not all bis reasonings be admitted as unanswerable, their ingenunity must at least be felt, and the difficulty which they oppose to such philosophy as he has in view will,
no doubt, be readily acknowledged. The following passages will more fully explain his proposed method.
• The intimate, and apparently necessary, connection between the mind and an organized frame, constitutes, it is true, one of the strongest grounds on which the system of materialism is founded ; and physiological investigations have, therefore, been considered unfavorable to the argument of the separate existence of an immaterial principle. The dependence of the condition of the mind upon the state of the body, Vol. VIII.
its depression when the body is subject to disease,-its vigor when the animal machine is in perfect order,—and the corresponding decay of the mental faculties with those of the corporeal frame with which it is united,-have served as the foundations for inferences and supposed analogies, drawn from partial and limited views of those phenomena, that will not, it is conceived, bear the test of examination.'
It will be our province, in the following pages, to show that this living principle in plants, and the sentient and thinking principles in man, are distinct from the organized structures in which they are developed ; and that they are not inherent in any portion of the matter which composes those organizations. We shall also endeavor to prove, from facts and illustrations derived from an examination of the exercise of the perceptive and mental faculties, and the corporeal functions, that the sentient principle is not only distinct from, but may, and does exist, independently of the material organization of the body. pp. 195, 197.
We must rapidly pass over the various chapters, for we have already dwelt longer than we intended upon the former part of the work. The process of Vegetation, from the germ to the fruit, the means of nourishment provided and furnished in so wonderful a manner, is briefly sketched,—the analogy is drawn, and a conclusion made similar to that in the preceding portions of the arguments. Animal Organization again supplies us with numerous interesting facts, which our author skillfully uses to sustain his leading position with respect to the sentient principle, as inmaterial and immortal. He confines himself, more particularly here, to the organization of the human form and its functions, as the most perfect specimen of organic being. The production, sustentation of the animal from the process of assimilation, and whatever aids in the growth and development of the animal powers, are touched upon and brought into service. Aware of the objections which the materialist would urge, he replies:
From the foregoing consideration of the mode by which animal organization is perfected and sustained, it might appear that the action of organized matter alone is sufficient to create the vital functions ; but this method of viewing the question would be very superficial; and it will appear on further consideration that we have as yet been occupied merely in examining the effects of organization, and have not made any advance towards the developement of its causes. True it is, that the particles of living organized matter possess the power of moulding and adapting other particles to their own models ; but what is the nature of that power, and whence is it derived? The power must exist before the effect can be produced, and none of the properties of the matter which constitutes the organic structure are capable of producing any effects similar to those observable in the formation of the animal frame, and in the discharge of the animal functions.
As the power is not, therefore, the same as that of the ordinary pro
perties of matter, it must either be distinct from those properties, or it must be some peculiar modification of them induced by the system of organization. pp. 229, 230.
In his chapter on Animal Life, our author adverts to the theories of phrenologists, and, though unwilling to rest his deductions on “such questionable ground,” he assumes the physiological facts of the functions of the brain. Still the question is, Where or what is the vital principle ?--The substances of which the brain, when reduced to its elements, is found to be composed, possess no properties at all analogous to the qualities developed by the exercise of volition and the faculties of the mind. It is beyond our power to conceive of any combination or modification of their properties to produce such effects. Can they generate them? Here our auihor, by way of illustration, recurs to galvanism as being perhaps the most analogous to the vital principle. No one can suppose that galvanism, excited by contact of zinc and silver, is a positive creation of an active power materialized in these metals. Suppose it, as some do, a previously existing subtile agent, merely rendered perceptible in some unknown manner by chimical action and friction.
* Now if the supposed materialised vital principle be presumed to be called into operation in a similar mode to galvanism and the other properties of matter, the arguments of the materialists, when pushed to their legitimate consequences, would militate directly against their own opinions, and would thus tend to establish that part of our position which rests upon the existence of the living principle distinct from the mere matter that constitutes animal organization. Unless they are prepared to aifirm that the sentient and intellectual principles are more material, more tangible, and more comprehensible than galvanism and the other subtile properties of matter—or unless they can point out some mode by which these etherial agents are generated, different from that by which other active subtile principles are developed—they must admit, that the peculiar organization of the brain, instead of creating, only calls into operation, their supposed material living principle. That principle must, therefore-even if viewed as a material substance-exist prior to, and independently of, the animal organization by which it is thus supposed to be developed ; and if it existed previously to its connection with animal organization, we must reasonably conclude it will continue to exist after that connection is dissolved ; unless we were to suppose it possible for the subordinate agent, which merely calls the principle into perceptible operation, to possess the property of annihilating the power by which itself is governed.' pp. 246, 247.
The Organs of Sensation, the five senses,-with the curious and skillful adaptation of means to an end, have ever been viewed as an inestimable witness to the power and wisdom of him who gave us being. Mysteries there too meet us. How the perception of
objects of sight or sound, impress the brain and excite their appropriate sensations, human learning cannot tell. Whether Descartes, Locke, Hartley, Hume and others, are right in referring each sensation to a process of reasoning and association; or whether Dr. Reid and others still are right in maintaining, that the ideas received from the senses are the direct result of the operation of external objects without any such process of reasoning,—who can say? We may examine minutely ihe structure of the organ,—we may dissect the eye,-expose its material organization and its connection with the brain, but still we are no nearer to the decision of the great question than before.
• Though all the links in the chain of communication between external objects and the power of perception, are, therefore, intimately dependent on one another for the production of their combined effect, yet each agent is distinct, and enjoys the capacity of exerting its individual properties in the absence of co-operating agents. Thus, the outward forms of objects exist, and they possess the peculiar property that enables them to decompose the rays of light, whether light be present or not; the properties of light, again, have no necessary reference to the structure of the eye ; nor does the image on the retina bear any discoverable relation to the construction of the optic nerve ; the latter is not essential to the existence of the brain, which is the more immediate agent of communication with the percipient power ; and the power of perception is not extinguished nor diminished when the operation of all those agents that serve to bring it into action are suspended. Nay, we know that every subservient agent-with the exception of the brainmight be destroyed without injury to the percipient principle ; and when the impressions derived from external objects have been conveyed to the mind by the medium of the organs of sense, the ideas excited by those impressions are retained long after the objects that excited them have ceased to exist.
Our incapacity to investigate the nature of the connection between the percipient power and the brain, prevents us from ascertaining positively whether that power is independent of the brain, as well as of the subordinate organs of sensation. But the foregoing consideration respecting the abstract independence of the several constituents of the organs of sensation, and the independence of the power of perception, present strong analogous evidence that the percipient principle is not dependent on the substance of the brain for its existence as an active power, though its peculiar and inscrutable properties are brought into action by material substance. And when, in addition to this analogical evidence, we find that the substance of the brain bears no conceivable relation to the ideas excited by the organs of sense, and that we are obliged to refer the organization of the brain itself to some subtile governing power, we feel irresistibly led to the conclusion that perception is not the mere result of material organization ; and that this mysterious power must be referred to some subtile immaterial principle, that is only connected with the brain as the last perceptible link in the chain of communication with material objects.' pp. 266-268.
Similar mysteries are found in Animal Mutations and Personal Identity. The matter of our bodies is wholly changed in the course of years. Yet the ideas which we had in childhood can be recalled though the organs of sensation are not the same material, the brain and all the system having undergone a complete transformation. The limb that has been amputated, still seems in its place,-a sense of pain is felt where it should have been ; and yet every atom of the nervous system which once connected it with the brain is passed away, like the whole body itself, and is replaced by new matter. Who can say, that when all other matter is so constantly changing its forms,—the matter of ideas, as the materialist might claim it to be, is not also equally liable wholly to disappear? But thus to view ideas would falsify the facts of every man's memory. His control over them to a certain degree remains, and he is every day exercising it. We shall not enter upon any nice speculations respecting so vexed a question as that of personal identity. It is sufficient to us, that we have a memory of former consciousness of the exercise of the same powers of the mind as we are now exercising, adequate to all the purposes of the economy of life, and to render us accountable to our final Judge. Our author's remarks, however, are ingenious; and what he says of mutations, and transformations, and personal identity, taken as a whole, form a strong analogical argument in favor of his position of a future lise. Under the phenomena of lise, comes also Suspended Animation -Dreams and Spectral Illusions. Here again he boldly faces the materialist on what has been considered one of his strongest fields of evidence. But we leave him to speak for himself.
"So far, indeed, are the phenomena of sleep from affording proofs of the identity of matter and mind, that we conceive they may be advanced as evidence in support of the opinion, that the mind is distinct from, and may exist independently of, corporeal organization.
In the first place, the suspension of the mental faculties, whilst the corporeal functions are in full activity, may surely be considered rather as indicative of a difference between, than as proof of the identity of, those faculties and functions; for were they mutually dependent, we must suppose that the operations of the one could not be suspended without putting a stop to the actions of the other. Again ; were the brain itself the sentient principle, we should conceive that the effect of corporeal exhaustion would be only to weaken the force of sensation, and not to extinguish it ; and that, as the brain and nerves became invigorated by the renewal of their wasted substance, the mental faculties would gradually resume their wonted activity. We find, however, that the restoration of the exhausted powers of the brain is imperceptible until consciousness is revived at the moment of awaking ; and then the power of perception resumes, in an instant, its operations, and not till then do we feel our mental faculties to have particinated with our bodily organs in the refreshing influence of slee