Truth and Error or the Science of Intellection/Chapter 22
FALLACIES OF APPREHENSION
Fallacies have been divided into two grand divisions, which we have called illusions and delusions. It will be remembered that we are reclassifying illusions and delusions, each into five classes. Of the illusions we have already set forth the missensations and the misperceptions, and of the delusions we have set forth the hallucinations and the specters. In considering fallacious apprehensions we discover misapprehensions and phantasms. Let us first set forth the nature of misapprehensions.
We are conscious of pressure when bodies impinge against us, and we are conscious of push when we impinge against other bodies; we are therefore conscious of energy both from an active standpoint and from a passive standpoint. But the energy of which we are conscious is that of molar bodies. We must here recall the fact that knowledge begins in the race and also in the infant with the cognition of molar bodies. To the primitive or naïve apprehension, motion is an effect of a cause, and this cause is considered as something which acts on another and produces motion in self, in order to act on that other, and it may also produce motion in that other. It was long before man cognized that force is itself motion and motion is force. Primitive man formed the habit of considering motion as an effect of force. He was conscious that he could exercise force, and discovered that it could produce molar motion. He knew nothing of molecular motion, or that the force which he exercised was derived from molecular motion, so he considered force and motion as disparate properties; this is the primordial misapprehension.
Erroneous judgments once made may be repeated in perpetuating fallacies, for this constant repetition of fallacious judgments is intuition, and there seems to be something sacred about intuition. A world of metaphysic is built on this foundation, that habitual or intuitive judgments are the primordial endowments of mind. A myth is invented to explain a fallacy, then the myth becomes sacred and the moral nature is enlisted in its defense.
The stars were seen to move along the firmament, or surface of the solid, from east to west, as men move along the surface of the earth at will. But the heavenly bodies move by constantly repeated paths, and so primitive man invents myths to explain these repeated paths. For example, the Utes say that the Sun could once go where he pleased, but when he came near to the people he burned them. Tavots, the Rabbit-god, fought with the Sun and compelled him to travel by an appointed path along the surface of the sky, so that there might be day and night. It is an offense to the religion or moral sentiment of the Ute to question this explanation.
The man is conscious that he can move himself, though he is not conscious that the molecular motion in his body is motion, but he is conscious that it produces the effect of molar motion, and he calls this unknown something force. In what manner this molecular motion of the particles of the body is transmuted into molar motion of the body, is not known except by a few scientific men who see that molecular motion of the particles is transmuted into the molar motion of the body through the metabolism of the muscle, and that this motility or self-activity is controlled by the will which controls the choice or affinity of the molecules of the muscles.
This primordial misapprehension is universal to mankind in tribal society, and universal in explaining all motion. Although not formulated in this manner, it is practically believed that motion, which is simple and well known, is the medium between occult force as one force acts on another. This is a very natural error in the stage of culture to which it pertains.
We speak of the sun, the moon, and the stars as rising and setting, and when the sun rises we conceive it in such terms of speech, but in fact the earth in its daily rotation turns toward the sun. Under favorable circumstances I can see the earth turn toward the sun, down in the front when looking at the sun, and up as my back is turned. I have often experimented in this manner with both the sun and the moon, when I have been traveling on the desert, and I can see their rising and setting as the rotation of the earth. I assure you it is a marvelous revelation. It seems like riding on a Ferris wheel. It is just such revelations as these that a man must experience when he discovers new truths in science. When the fallacy wholly vanishes and the verity appears in all its meaning, it is impossible to conceive a fallacy; but when the fallacy and the verity are both believed, we believe contradictions or antinomies.
Phenomena are expressed in words before they are properly understood; when they come to be known the facts do not properly fit them. I speak of the path of the heavenly orbs extending from east to west, but the fact is that the earth revolves from west to east. The metaphysician takes propositions to express judgments, as they are formed before the phenomena are properly understood by science, to be valid, and then finding that which science ultimately discovers, takes it also to be valid, and discovers in the world a set of contradictions.
Consider a tower a thousand feet high, from which there projects an arm so that a cannonball falling from it will strike the ground outside of the base of the tower. Now let a ball be dropped from this arm, and you say it falls to the ground in a straight line. This is not true; the cannonball and the earth both have the motion of the earth in rotation about its axis; the path of the cannonball, therefore, has two components, one in the direction of rotation and another in the direction of fall. Its path, therefore, is in the direction of fall and rotation. This is not all of the path of the ball: it is moving in revolution with the earth and the moon; it is also moving in revolution with the orbs of the solar system about the sun as the center; it is also moving with the solar system about some point in the galaxy. It falls to the earth, therefore, in a vortical or spiral path, because the earth itself is moving in such a path. For some purposes it is necessary only to consider this movement of the earth as a straight line, because only this component of path must be considered when we consider the change of the ball in relation to objects on the earth, when the real path of the cannonball seems to contradict the considered path, and we have an antinomy.
You say that the book lying on the table is at rest, and you conceive rest as a motionless state. But this is not true; the book which lies on the table has the motion of the earth on its axis, and it has also the motion of the hierarchy of celestial bodies, and it has also the motion of a hierarchy of molecular bodies. Rest, therefore, is only motion parallel to the other bodies of this room, and if you deflect its other motion, so that it is no longer parallel to the other bodies, you produce molar motion. If you still hold that rest is a motionless state, and then apprehend, as you do, that the book is in motion when at rest, you believe contradictions. These contradictions are antinomies. One or other of every antinomy is a fallacy.
If I have set forth the nature of antinomies clearly, I am prepared to set forth the fallacy of Kant’s second antinomy. This fallacy consists in holding that there is some force which is not motion, but structure. It is the failure to conceive properly that all bodies are composed of discrete particles which are incorporated by modes of motion, and the failure also to conceive that there is a hierarchy of bodies in which the particle itself is a constituent and that the particle partakes of all the motion of the bodies in which it is incorporated, so that the motion of the particle is vortical. No matter how large or how small the particle may be, it exists in an environment of other particles with which it collides; and by reason of its environment its tendency to a rectilineal path is made vortical, and whenever this vortical path is disturbed by an unwonted collision, it has a tendency to be straightened. Thus the cannonball falling has its path to the earth deflected to one somewhat more in a right line. In order that this statement may more clearly be understood, it requires a further development of the motion of a particle in a hierarchy of bodies. If we can attain to this concept, then the fundamental doctrines of physics are self-evident.
The misapprehensions relating to the forces of molecular bodies linger much longer than those relating to stellar bodies. Only in late years have we learned that heat is a mode of motion, that light is a mode of motion, that electricity is a mode of motion, and a few physicists still believe that gravity is an occult force. Although the law of the persistence of energy or the correlation of forces is established, yet a few apprehend gravity to be an occult force, as attraction and repulsion involving actio in distans; yet gravity, when it is understood as a mode of motion, is so simple that all of its laws can be derived by the Euclidean process from the law of the persistence of energy.
There yet remain certain properties or bodies as forces which usually are not conceived as modes of motion. Inertia and rigidity are the two most important. If they are deprived of their occult attributes, all other forces fall into line as modes of motion. Inertia, as defined by Newton, is resistance to deflection of motion, or resistance to acceleration, positive or negative; but when we remember that a body has the internal motion of its parts, and properly conceive that these motions are deflected when the body is accelerated, inertia becomes simple as resistance to deflection. When we conceive that inertia is resistance to deflection, it becomes a proposition, easily comprehended, that rigidity is resistance to the differential deflection of the molecular parts of a body. Every one of its minute parts must be moved if the body is moved, and the regional parts as distinguished from the molecular parts cannot be moved without fracturing the body. Thus we see that rigidity can be explained simply as a mode of motion without resort to occult force.
I am riding in a railway coach. The world moves by. Houses and men are on the wing, landscape and animals are in flight, yet all this motion in the external world is an illusion which I soon learn to correct. I and my railway coach are the moving bodies. Every time I look out of the window I correctly interpret the motion in this manner. My coach stops at a railway station, and the trains near me move. Now, I have formed a habit of interpreting the passing of outside bodies as motion in myself and the coach, and when the trains outside move I infer that I and my coach move, and so strong is this inference that I am impelled to look for some verification before I can decide in which body the molar motion inheres, for the contradictory judgments are both intuited.
It has been demonstrated by science that motion is persistent—cannot be created or annihilated—and the demonstration has been accepted by a great body of scientific men. Antecedently to this demonstration Newton had propounded three laws of motion, one of which is that action and reaction are equal and in opposite directions. In this law the persistence of motion or the indestructibility of energy was implied, but at first its full significance was not understood, perhaps not even by Newton himself.
In the “Principia” his first chapter is a series of definitions, the third of which is as follows:
- “The vis insita, or innate force of matter, is a power of resisting, by which every body, as much as in it lies, endeavors to persevere in its present state, whether it be of rest or of moving uniformly forward in a right line.
- “This force is ever proportional to the body whose force it is, and differs nothing from the inactivity of the mass, but in our manner of conceiving it. A body, from the inactivity of matter, is not without difficulty put out of its state of rest or motion. Upon which account this vis insita may, by a most significant name, be called vis inertiæ, or force of inactivity. But a body exerts this force only when another force impressed upon it endeavors to change its condition, and the exercise of this force may be considered both as resistance and impulse; it is resistance, in so far as the body for maintaining its present state, withstands the force impressed; it is impulse, in so far as the body, by not easily giving way to the impressed force of another, endeavors to change the state of that other. Resistance is usually ascribed to bodies at rest, and impulse to those in motion; but motion and rest as commonly conceived are only relatively distinguished, nor are those bodies always truly at rest which commonly are taken to be so.”
In the last clause it is apparent that Newton himself was conscious of an illusion in the common conception of the term rest, and it is plain from his entire discussion that his term inertia stood for real force, although many scholars since his time have denied this proposition. Had Newton discovered the real nature of what he called vis inertiæ, the “Principia” would have been simplified, as it has been since his time, by definitions given to momentum, energy, force, and power. But even these newer definitions can be revised and the subject presented in a simpler manner.
Vis inertiæ, or inertia, is a component of real force, inherent in every particle of matter as speed of motion, which can be changed in direction only through the agency of collision. The explanation of Newton’s third law of motion in this manner changes the ideas of motion as they have hitherto existed in philosophy. Motion as speed is inherent, and not something imposed from without. If, indeed, this be true, then much reasoning in scientific circles must be revised, for it has far-reaching results.
In every mind the term rest seems to imply absence of motion, and thus to have a negative content. This implication still properly remains with the term, and while rest does not mean absence of all motion, it still means absence of molar motion. To the ancients, it meant absence of all motion, and this is the fallacy, but it still means absence of molar motion. My pulse beats as the heart beats and the blood flows. The book on my desk is pulseless; that is, it is devoid of that motion of blood impelled by the heart at every beat; still it has motion, though not pulse motion; so the book which lies on the desk has motion, but not molar motion. As the book is not devoid of motion because it has no pulse, so it is not devoid of motion because it has no molar motion.
Molar motion is the only motion that can be seen directly by the eye without instrumental aid. These molar motions have been so often inferred and verified that the concept is intuitional in every human mind. The concept of stellar motion has also been verified, and the concept is intuitive with some but not with all minds, but the concept of stellar motion has the same validity as the concept of molar motion. The concept of molecular motion, though not intuitional to most people, is just as valid as that of stellar or molar motion.
Concepts of molar, stellar and molecular motion are formed in precisely the same manner by the consolidation of verified judgments. The distinction is not between sense judgments and intuitive judgments, but between verified and unverified judgments, for intuitive judgments may themselves be fallacious.
If I seem to dwell on this point and elaborate the explanation, it is because the illusion of a motionless state must be dispelled before other facts in relation to motion can properly be considered.
An unquestioned fallacy exerts a vital influence on all modes of thought to which it may relate, and engenders a spirit of defense that easily develops into antagonism.
In Spencer’s “First Principles,” the third chapter is on ultimate scientific ideas. In the seventeenth section he says:
- “A body impelled by the hand is clearly perceived to move, and to move in a definite direction: there seems at first sight no possibility of doubting that its motion is real, or that it is towards a given point. Yet it is easy to show that we not only may be, but usually are, quite wrong in both these judgments. Here, for instance, is a ship which, for simplicity’s sake, we will suppose to be anchored at the equator with her head to the west. When the captain walks from stem to stern, in what direction does he move? East is the obvious answer—an answer which for the moment may pass without criticism. But now the anchor is heaved, and the vessel sails to the west with a velocity equal to that at which the captain walks. In what direction does he now move when he goes from stem to stern? You cannot say east, for the vessel is carrying him as fast towards the west as he walks to the east; and you cannot say west, for the converse reason. In respect to surrounding space he is stationary; though to all on board the ship he seems to be moving. But now are we quite sure of this conclusion?”
Then he goes on to discuss the motions of molar bodies on the surface of the earth as related to the rotation of the earth on its axis, the revolution of the earth about the sun, and the revolution of the solar system about some point in the heavens lying in the direction of Hercules, but he neglects the molecular motion within the molar body itself. In this discussion he is evidently under misapprehension, which has already been explained and the certitude demonstrated. This certitude is that the acceleration of a body in its proper motion is deflection of its particles. Thus, when a ship is moving in one direction at a certain rate, and the captain is walking from stem to stern at the same rate, his body is deflected by the ship as molar motion in one direction and by motility in the opposite direction; that is, there is a double system of deflection of the particles of his body that compensate one another. The whole subject is thus explained as a double deflection, and all the mystery is solved.
Later in the section Spencer says:
- “Another insuperable difficulty presents itself when we contemplate the transfer of Motion. Habit blinds us to the marvelousness of this phenomenon. Familiar with the fact from childhood, we see nothing remarkable in the ability of a moving thing to generate movement in a thing that is stationary. It is, however, impossible to understand it. In what respect does a body after impact differ from itself before impact? What is this added to it which does not sensibly affect any of its properties and yet enables it to traverse space? Here is an object at rest, and here is the same object moving. In the one state it has no tendency to change its place; but in the other it is obliged at each instant to assume a new position. What is it which will for ever go on producing this effect without being exhausted? and how does it dwell in the object? The motion you say has been communicated. But how?—What has been communicated? The striking body has not transferred a thing to the body struck; and it is equally out of the question to say that it has transferred an attribute. What then has it transferred?”
How simple the explanation! Motion as speed cannot be transferred, but motion as path may be deflected.
Then he goes on to demonstrate the absurdities of transferring motion as speed from one body to another, and he finally says:
- “Thus neither when considered in connection with Space, nor when considered in connection with Matter, nor when considered in connection with Rest, do we find that Motion is truly cognizable. All efforts to understand its essential nature do but bring us to alternative impossibilities of thought.”
In this argument he assumes that the transference of motion is the transfer of speed, but we have demonstrated that the transference of motion is only the transfer of direction by change in the paths of each, which is simple and can be understood by a boy. But the transfer of motion as speed leads to curious and contradictory conclusions, some of which Spencer develops. Here he is reasoning about a fallacy, something which does not exist, and something which is not only unknown, but unknowable, as he affirms. In all of part first of the “First Principles,” wherever he discusses scientific subjects, he deals with fallacies and assumes non-existent things borrowed from the history of metaphysical opinion, all involving contradictions, and as no explanation of them can be given, assumes that they are unknowable; still he affirms that they are known as something relative which he explains as something known in a symbolic manner. Now, these fallacies are all represented in literature, and have words by which they are known, but they are symbols of fallacies when improper meanings are given to them, but symbols of certitudes when proper meanings are implied. In all the history of metaphysic I know of no better illustrations of reasoning about fallacies than are here found in this first part, for the propositions are stated with singular clearness; they are never presented in obscure rhetoric, nor are they enforced by an appeal to moral sanctions.
Spencer is right. The doctrine that motion as speed can be transferred from one particle to another is incomprehensible, or, to use his language, is unknowable, or, to use my language, it is absurd. We must not believe incomprehensible, unknowable, or absurd things. Since the days of Euclid, we are accustomed to the doctrine of reductio ad absurdum in scientific logic. If we can reduce a proposition to absurdity we reject it.
Spencer goes on in the same chapter to a consideration of force. He says:
- “On lifting a chair, the force exerted we regard as equal to that antagonistic force called the weight of the chair; and we cannot think of these as equal without thinking of them as like in kind; since equality is conceivable only between things that are connatural. The axiom that action and reaction are equal and in opposite directions, commonly exemplified by this very instance of muscular effort versus weight, cannot be mentally realized on any other condition. Yet, contrariwise, it is incredible that the force as existing in the chair really resembles the force as present to our minds. It scarcely needs to point out that the weight of the chair produces in us various feelings according as we support it by a single finger, or the whole hand, or the leg; and hence to argue that as it cannot be like all these sensations there is no reason to believe it like any. It suffices to remark that since the force as known to us is an affection of consciousness, we cannot conceive the force existing in the chair under the same form without endowing the chair with consciousness. So that it is absurd to think of Force as in itself like our sensation of it, and yet necessary so to think of it if we realize it in consciousness at all.”
The force in the chair is molecular force; the force in the arm is vital force, partly transmuted into motility, and in the act of lifting the chair molecular force is transmuted into molar force; force in the chair is one mode of force, and in the arm another mode of force; but they are equal, and action and reaction take place, producing effects in opposite directions. The chair moves up, and the man and the earth move down. Of the force in the arm the man is conscious; of the force in the chair he is cognizant, that is, it is learned by combined judgments through inference. But Spencer has never analyzed judgment; he does not distinguish between consciousness and inference, sometimes using consciousness in the sense in which science must use it, but oftener using it in the sense of cognition, and always confounding the two meanings, he rests under the fallacy of the double meaning in consciousness, and reifies it as cognition itself. But the illusion which especially concerns us here inheres in his notion of force. With him force is the ultimate property into which all other properties are resolved, for he seems to resolve kind into force, but of this I am not sure; plainly, he resolves extension into force, by attempting to show that our knowledge of extension is derived from force, not seeing that there can be no knowledge of force without a knowledge of form—that the two are indissoluble properties.
Spencer is supposed to be the philosopher of evolution, and that is his grand theme, but he resolves change into force, not seeing that there can be no change without force, and no force without change. He seems to resolve judgment under the term consciousness, or under the term mind, into force, though his doctrine on this subject is obscure; but with great emphasis and great reiteration, he denies that judgment as mind or consciousness or cognition can be rendered in terms of motion. In this respect he is sound. With him motion is derived from force, not force from motion, and from this force he derives change and persistence; the absolute of change he explains as persistence of force. Then he derives extension from force, and vaguely derives kind from force, and leaves force standing as the substrate of the substrate—the substrate of that which we call matter or substance. Then he argues that extension as a reality must be resolved into void space, and he affirms, without attempting to demonstrate it, that time, as persistence and change, must be resolved into void time, so that with three fallacious entities—void space, void time, and the resolution of all of the attributes of substance into void force—he has three nothings, three voids, three illusions, with which he deals in the first part of his book; and reasoning about these illusions he comes to the conclusion that they are unknowable, but that they are also known in a symbolic manner, and how known in a symbolic manner we have already shown—that it consists in using terms in an illegitimate manner.
It is a dangerous doctrine to claim that we know something because we can talk about it, for we can talk about fallacies and hypotheses as well as about certitudes. Fallacies coined into words or coined into concepts are still fallacies.
In the third chapter of the second part, beginning with the 46th section, Spencer says:
- “That sceptical state of mind which the criticisms of Philosophy usually produce, is, in great measure, caused by the misinterpretation of words. A sense of universal illusion ordinarily follows the reading of metaphysics; and is strong in proportion as the argument has appeared conclusive. This sense of universal illusion would probably never have arisen, had the terms used been always rightly construed. Unfortunately, these terms have by association acquired meanings that are quite different from those given to them in philosophical discussions; and the ordinary meanings being unavoidably suggested, there results more or less of that dreamlike idealism which is so incongruous without instinctive convictions. The word phenomenon and its equivalent word appearance, are in great part to blame for this. In ordinary speech, these are uniformly employed in reference to visual perceptions. Habit, almost, if not quite, disables us from thinking of appearance except as something seen; and though phenomenon has a more generalized meaning, yet we cannot rid it of associations with appearance, which is its verbal equivalent. When, therefore, Philosophy proves that our knowledge of the external world can be but phenomenal—when it concludes that the things of which we are conscious are appearances; it inevitably arouses in us the notion of an illusiveness like that to which our visual perceptions are so liable in comparison with our tactual perceptions. Good pictures show us that the aspects of things may be very nearly simulated by colors on canvas. The looking-glass still more distinctly proves how deceptive is sight when unverified by touch. And the frequent cases in which we misinterpret the impressions made on our eyes, and think we see something which we do not see, further shake our faith in vision. So that the implication of uncertainty has infected the very word appearance. Hence, Philosophy, by giving it an extended meaning, leads us to think of all our senses as deceiving us in the same way that the eyes do; and so makes us feel ourselves floating in a world of phantasms. Had phenomenon and appearance no such misleading associations, little, if any, of this mental confusion would result. Or did we in place of them use the term effect, which is equally applicable to all impressions produced on consciousness through any of the senses, and which carries with it in thought the necessary correlative cause, with which it is equally real, we should be in little danger of falling into the insanities of idealism.”
Here the confusion which arises from fallacy, together with the contradictions involved, are fittingly set forth; but our philosopher accepts the fallacies and indorses the contradictions, and finally speculates with the difference in meaning between the terms phenomenon and appearance, and he adopts the philosophy of noumenon and phenomenon, and makes the noumenon to stand for the thing in itself the occult force, which he supposes to be void substance and void motion. While Spencer reasons about nonentities or fallacies in his first part, he sets forth many important principles in the second part, but they are all more or less vitiated by fallacies.
How shall we rid ourselves of these fallacies? There is one simple rule. All contradictory concepts must be examined to discover the judgments that lead to contradictions, when correct reasoning will eliminate the incongruous. We may always know that concepts are incongruous or contradictory when they lead to a belief in the unknowable. Belief in the unknowable is pessimism about reason and is an evidence of fallacy. Fallacies can be eradicated only by a thorough examination of the concepts involved. The final fallacy on which the philosophy of the contradictory rests can be corrected only by systematic verification of the elementary judgments of which it is composed, and thus by eliminating the errors.
In the 50th section, Spencer says:
- “It is a truism to say that the nature of this undecomposable element of our knowledge is inscrutable. If, to use an algebraic illustration, we represent Matter, Motion, and Force, by the symbols, x, y, and z; then, we may ascertain the values of x and y in terms of z; but the value of z can never be found: z is the unknown quantity which must forever remain unknown; for the obvious reason that there is nothing in which its value can be expressed. It is within the possible reach of our intelligence to go on simplifying the equations of all phenomena, until the complex symbols which formulate them are reduced to certain functions of this ultimate symbol; but when we have done this, we have reached that limit which eternally divides science from nescience.”
But his letters stand for fallacies; the certitudes should be represented by A, B, and C, then C should be resolved into B, and B into A, as one of the known concomitants of matter.
Bear with me in the reiteration of a fundamental illustration. A and B are particles that collide because they have incident paths. When they collide action and reaction are instantaneous and equal, and no speed is lost in either, but when we consider the antecedent and the consequent as cause and effect, we consider the angle of incidence and compare it with the angle of reflection, and find them equal. If the angle of incidence is 90 degrees, the angle of reflection is 90 degrees, and the particles return reversely by the paths in which they approached. If the angle of incidence is less than 90 degrees, the angle of reflection is less than 90 degrees. If the angle of incidence is one degree, the angle of deflection is but one degree. In all of these cases the force remains equal, and in all of these cases the effect remains equal to the cause, but the force cannot be said to be equal to the cause or to the effect, for the cause is angle of incidence, and the effect is angle of reflection. This simple explanation of the difference between causation and force is a complete refutation of all of Spencer’s philosophy of the unknowable. It is also a complete refutation of the doctrine of the dissipation of motion, which he accepts and uses as fundamental to the explanation of evolution.
This is an illusion which we must not neglect. When it is held that motion as speed can leap from one body to another, the doctrine of the dissipation of motion is invented. When the heated iron cools, it is supposed that the iron yields its motion as speed, and dissipates it into surrounding objects, and especially into the ether; it was not seen that the thermal motion in the body is transmuted into another mode of molecular motion still within the body, as exhibited in strength and rigidity. From this fallacy logical consequences are derived when it is held that the sun is dissipating its motion because it is a cooling body. For does not the motion of the sun as heat come through the ether to the earth, and to all other external bodies? Yes, but not as motion, but as cause. Path of motion, not speed of motion, is communicated. The different modes of heat and of light in the ether are not different modes of speed, but different modes of trajectory. Whether the sun can continue to shine is not a question of the dissipation of motion as speed, but a question of the transmutation of one form of motion, called heat, into another form of molecular motion in the body itself. If the conditions for transforming 1 heat into another mode of motion are not favorable to this transmutation, then the sun may still continue to shine and make the planets glad.
Let me suggest, merely as an hypothesis, some reasons for believing that the sun will not go out. On the earth we discover four partially differentiated bodies: air, water, rocks, and the great central body. Geologists have established the theory that this great central body is in a trans-fluid condition, due to pressure, and that thus its heat cannot be transmuted into structural motion. Now the sun is a much larger body than the earth, and for this reason the materials in its outer crust have high specific gravity, and by reason of this higher specific gravity the solid crust must always be thinner, and perhaps this thinner crust cannot be supported against the stresses and strains produced by the stellar motion of the sun, and the stresses and strains developed in the crust itself and coming from the molten nucleus. It may be that the sun’s spots, changeable as they are, give evidence of the breaking down, remelting, and reforming of this thin and variable crust.
I do not present this exposition as anything more than an hypothesis, but perhaps it may be considered worthy of an examination by those better equipped for the investigation. If we are to accept the persistence of energy, we must accept the persistence of motion; if we are to accept the persistence of motion, we are compelled to accept the persistence of motion as speed in every particle. Much scientific speculation needs revision.
We must now turn our attention to the fallacies of apprehension, which are derived from hallucinations, and which first become specters, and then in the stage of apprehension become phantasms. By contemplating hallucinations as phantasms, another stage in the development of delusion is produced. When we consider specters in action we consider phantasms.
When we dream we often go abroad, and the specters of our dreams are engaged in activities. It is from this phenomenon that the primitive mind reaches the conclusion that our ghosts may leave the body. Primitive men realize in others, and believe of themselves, that the body remains quiescent in sleep, and to account for the actions of the specters of the dream they conclude that the ghost can leave the body. When this false judgment becomes habitual—i.e., that the property of conception or judgment can depart from the body and sustain an independent existence, without number, space, motion, and time, or in reciprocal terms, without kind, form, force, and causation—then the specters of dreams may have a separate existence away from the body, as shades, subtle forms, or occult personages.
Among tribal men these occult personages usually leave the body by the portal of the nostrils, and return to it by the same gateway. There is a vast amount of lore concerning ghosts and the circumstances under which they leave the body. Stories of ghosts that leave when the body sleeps; stories of ghosts that leave when the person is absorbed in deep contemplation, and the ghost snatches the opportunity to make a journey by itself; stories when ghosts leave the body for the purpose of gaining information in distant parts; stories of ghosts that are sent on journeys by hypnotic suggestion; stories of ghosts that have wended their way to a distant land on wings of magic, at the will of the intoxicated shaman; and stories of ghosts that have permanently left the body and thus have produced insanity, are abundant in the folk-lore of superstitious people. In the same manner the ghosts of others may come to us in our dreams, and be their cause. They may come to us in states of ecstasy, and make us perform many wonderful deeds; they may come to us in hypnotism and become foreign tenants of the body to do their own sweet will; they may come to us in states of intoxication and perform antics in our bodies and revel in delight, for in insanity they take more permanent possession of the body, and our lives will be controlled by foreign residents. It is thus that the actions of men are attributed to ghosts—perhaps wise actions when they go out and return to us with information from the external world; perhaps foolish actions when they take possession of us while our ghosts are away. It is in this manner that many of the mysteries of existence are explained.