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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/352

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

justification in the idea that effort is taught by nature, even when a definite result is invisible, yet the teachings of physical causation show that it is vain to expect an escape from some material trammels. We see the vibration of two apparently opposing social forces, in which the high and more intelligent force is slowly gaining the ascendency by a process of adaptation, so that the physical force is becoming a source of power to men instead of fear. Emerson's conclusion, like that of Kant, is two-sided—that the principle of mind is manifested to us through material action. This holds true aside from Kant's "Forms of Thought" on one hand, or Herbert Spencer's relations between particles on the other. We can not have the unalloyed mind-power or control usually wished for, because our demands are unreasonable in the sense that we would dispense with the necessary and lower conditions upon which the higher depend, and thus thrust out causation, which is the principle of combination or order by which error and absurdity could be escaped if the relations between events were completely mastered. This mastery of physical power represents an ideal condition in which the mind is no longer enslaved by forces that seem material or mechanical.

In closing with a general view of this subject, we encounter the following contradiction: During a long period we see that fortunes and reputations grow by means of industry, and that a high percentage of the men having these industrious qualities accomplish their purpose. On the other hand, it is obvious that many of the physiological phenomena of the human body, the varying limitation of thought in individuals, and especialy the universe of matter, are not appreciably influenced by our actions or ideas. The idea of possible control narrows from a solar system to a planet, to a particular part of planetary surface, to a special series, of effects, and to special kinds of callings. The arguer can truthfully claim that we have no control, and hold his position by referring to the material universe and the development of mankind; but particular kinds of effort when so considered undermine his argument as applied to immediate results of actions. In arguing on the other side, he can maintain as truthfully, to put the same idea in different form, that the control is almost complete, but he must apply his argument to special and restricted conditions.

It has been denied that we can trace with certainty any manifestation of law in circumstances; that there is a fatal error in conclusions regarding the inevitableness of causation or law; that there is no perceptible law, because everything shows a margin of variation which may reach inconceivable results in the course of ages. Law, as understood by a member of the Theosophical Society, means the exact repetition of previous conditions, owing to vast averages and inconceivably great lapses of time.[1] The argument as to whether phenomena are

  1. ↑ This definition of law was advanced by one of the younger members of the society. It may not fairly represent the views of all the members.