Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 13.djvu/86

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either entirely wanting in the oyster, or are of the most rudimentary nature.

The nervous structure of an oyster is so low that we can no more detect consciousness than we can detect the physical structure of an atom. In man the nervous organization is exceedingly complicated, and centres in a massive brain unparalleled in its activity; to this are added the special senses (probably entirely wanting in the oyster), through which alone all knowledge comes to the mind. Now, we observe that all the inflexible laws that, in the same way, limit and govern these extremes of organic life, are of the infinite order, having their beginnings beyond the scope of the senses, while the differences are of the finite order and grow out of the relation of one thing to another; in other words, the difference is one of degree, and therefore finite. There was a time, in the infantile development of every man, when he was as unconscious of all his higher functions as the passive oyster; but there came a time when, through the special senses, he began to take on thought, which is an impression made upon the brain by external action, and these impressions multiply and accumulate as we come more and more in contact with surrounding objects, until the accumulated thoughts are called knowledge; that is to say, the mind is evolved from without, and not from within. It is utterly impossible for us to conceive of anything bearing no likeness to anything we have ever seen, or heard, or felt, because our thoughts are the result of impressions already made. We certainly can form no conception of a color unlike any of the prismatic colors and their combinations, because, through the organ of vision, no other impressions have been made upon the brain.

The difference in the scope of the receptive and perceptive faculties of the lower order of organisms, as compared with those of the higher, is vast and almost incomprehensible, just as is the difference in distance between two contiguous atoms and two of the most widely-separated visible stars, but it is a difference of degree and is finite. The great underlying life-principles are the same in each, and for want of a better name we call them principles of the infinite order.

Now, we insist that a well-defined line may be drawn between simple forces of the infinite order and a result growing out of the changed relation of one force to another—a difference between simple and resultant forces—the one constant and unvarying, the other forever changing. We may fashion metallic wheels and put them into certain relations to each other, and by employing weights or springs construct a clock that shall mark time in minutes or seconds, and by changing the relation of parts we may measure weeks or months, omitting to note the subdivisions, varying these results at pleasure; but in all this we create nothing, nor do we in any way modify a pre-existing principle. The mathematical laws of multiples, by which the results of all the wheel-movements are determined, preëxisted in the infinite and indestructible laws of numbers and of motion, and the