When we have attained to this conception of hylozoism, of a living material universe, the mystery of Nature is solved. The cosmos is not, as some would have it, a vast machine wound up and set in motion with the certainty that it will run down like a clock, and arrive at a period of stagnation and death. The modern theory of thermodynamic, though perhaps true within its limitations, has not yet grasped the problem of the universe. The force that originated and impelled sustains, and is the Divine Spirit which
Spreads undivided, operates uuspent."
The law of birth, growth, and decay, of endless change and perpetual renewal, is everywhere seen working throughout the cosmos, in nebula, in world and in sun, as in rock, in herb, and in man; all of which are but passing phases in the endless circulation of the universe, in that perpetual new birth which we call Nature. This, it will be said, is the poet's view of the external world, but it is at the same time the one which seems to me to be forced upon us as the highest generalization of modern science.
The study of nature in its details presents itself to the mind in a twofold aspect—as historical and as philosophical. The first of these gives rise to a General Physiography or description of nature, which we commonly call Natural History as applied to each of the three great divisions designated as the mineral, vegetable, and animal kingdoms. This physiographic method of study in the latter two gives us systematic and descriptive botany and zoölogy, with their classification and their terminology; while the physiography of the mineral kingdom includes not only systematic and descriptive mineralogy as generally understood, but those branches of geology which we designate as petrography and geognosy, or the study of the constituents of the earth's crust, of their aggregation and their distribution.
terpreter, Davidson, "the ultimate atoms of matter are animate; each atom having united with it, and forming its unity or atomicity, a sensitive principle. When atoms chemically combine, their sensitive principles become one. . . . The unit of natural existence is neither force nor matter, but sentience, and through this all the material and dynamic phenomena of nature may be explained." From the unifications of these sensitive principles, or elementary souls, which take place in the combinations of matter, higher and higher manifestations of sentience appear, constituting the various activities displayed in crystals, in plants, and in animals. From these elementary souls organic souls are built up, and "when these are redissolved into the elementary ones through the dissolution of the organized bodies, the existence of the souls does not cease, but is merely transformed." (See "The Philosophical System of Rosmini," by Thomas Davidson, pp. 284-301.) This volume was unpublished, and these views of Rosmini were unknown to me, at the time of writing the above pages.
The eminent biophysiologist, William B. Carpenter, in an essay on "Life," published in 1847, contends that organization and biotical functions arise from the natural operation of forces inherent in elemental matter.—(Todd's "Cyclopædia of Anatomy and Physiology," vol. iii, p. 151.)