Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 13.djvu/220

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208
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

or 243 characters, as we have seen that the notion of a chance-world requires, there would, in fact, be no less than 232, or 4,294,967,296 characters, which would not be all independent, but would have all possible relations with one another.

We further see that so long as we regard characters abstractly, without regard to their relative importance, etc., there is no possibility of a more or less degree of orderliness in the world, the whole system of relationship between the different characters being given by mere logic; that is, being implied in those facts which are tacitly admitted as soon as we admit that there is any such thing as reasoning.

In order to descend from this abstract point of view, it is requisite to consider the characters of things as relative to the perceptions and active powers of living beings. Instead, then, of attempting to imagine a world in which there should be no uniformities, let us suppose one in which none of the uniformities should have reference to characters interesting or important to us. In the first place, there would be nothing to puzzle us in such a world. The small number of qualities which would directly meet the senses would be the ones which would afford the key to everything which could possibly interest us. The whole universe would have such an air of system and perfect regularity that there would be nothing to ask. In the next place, no action of ours, and no event of Nature, would have important consequences in such a world. We should be perfectly free from all responsibility, and there would be nothing to do but to enjoy or suffer whatever happened to come along. Thus there would be nothing to stimulate or develop either the mind or the will, and we consequently should neither act nor think. We should have no memory, because that depends on a law of our organization. Even if we had any senses, we should be situated toward such a world precisely as inanimate objects are toward the present one, provided we suppose that these objects have an absolutely transitory and instantaneous consciousness without memory—a supposition which is a mere mode of speech, for that would be no consciousness at all. We may, therefore, say that a world of chance is simply our actual world viewed from the standpoint of an animal at the very vanishing-point of intelligence. The actual world is almost a chance-medley to the mind of a polyp. The interest which the uniformities of Nature have for an animal measures his place in the scale of intelligence.

Thus, nothing can be made out from the orderliness of Nature in regard to the existence of a God, unless it be maintained that the existence of a finite mind proves the existence of an infinite one.

 
III.

In the last of these papers we examined the nature of inductive or synthetic reasoning. We found it to be a process of sampling. A number of specimens of a class are taken, not by selection within that