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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/253

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of organism, the death of the organism involves a discontinuance of all its functions—thought, affection, and will, not excepted—and their resolution into the more primitive forces from which they originally sprang But it is clearly a most unwarranted assumption that spiritual individuality—the fundamental principle of which no one pretends to apprehend—can not be prolonged or perpetuated, except under such material circumstances as earth supplies. If it be recollected how ignorant man is of the essences of matter and motion, and that there are in mind or spirit qualities which can not be ranged with material things, or with their almost infinitely subtile forces, we will readily see that the assumption of no conscious life except under such circumstances as material things supply is most unwarrantable.

Even the argument against immortality, based upon the relations of mind to organism, when closely examined, loses much of its seeming fitness. The persistence of force is, indeed, as much an axiom of science as the indestructibility of matter. What appears to be cessation of force is simply its transformation into other forces. But muscular movements provoked by volition are not actuated by mental force. The mind, in voluntary motions, does not supply the force. It only signals the nerve-centers that furnish the force. The centers of motion, which have of late been demonstrated in the brain, do not supply the force for the operation of the muscles, whose contractions they specially control. The brain-centers are properly only intellectual signal-centers—centers whence issue the volitions that liberate the forces of the lower nerve-centers for contracting special muscles. Fatal errors in reference to mind may easily grow from confounding nervous force with mental force. It is impossible to form right conceptions of mind so long as it is regarded as a merely resultant force made up of the organic forces which lead up to it. In any such conception there is left out an important element which it is difficult explicitly to define, but which may be forcibly suggested by a comparison. The beautiful form—symmetry and proportions—of a noble tree may be regarded apart from the organic materials and forces which underlie it. Thus regarded it is, as it were, spiritual, and is capable of arousing conceptions of beauty and grandeur in the soul of the beholder. Mind, in this view, instead of a mere force, becomes a symmetrical and living expression of the relations of the myriad forces which have from the very beginning entered into the life. It is, therefore, in one view, as absolutely immaterial as the form and beauty of a tree. But in still another aspect mind must be considered a higher and vastly more subtile force than any physical forces with which we are acquainted, and in its actions and methods of development is governed by laws peculiarly its own. Mind or mental force is, therefore, unique, and stands apart as a grand exception to the general law of the correlation of forces. But, as all the physical forces are persistent in some form or other, it is eminently unreasonable to suppose that this peculiar force,