Anaxagoras the νου̃ς — Aristotle — Understanding — Pythagoreans — Pantheism — Lord Gifford — Baghavad Gita — The νου̃ς to Socrates Plato Aristotle — Grote Schwegler Zeller — The world a life — Berkeley Cudworth Plato Zorzi — Subject and object — Nature and thought — Externality and intervality — Bruno — Universal and particular — Spinoza — Physical theories — Space and time — Hodgson Carlyle Berkeley Reid Leibnitz Kant — But for an eye and an ear the world utterly dark utterly silent.
Gifford Lecture the Fourth.
RETURNING to Anaxagoras it is still a question how we are to decide him to have regarded his principle of the νου̑ς whether as a power immanent that is dwelling in matter or as a power transcendent that is outside of and above matter. It really seems to me difficult however to give any other interpretation than the latter to the words of Diogenes Laertius at all events. As though actually quoting from the very work of Anaxagoras Diogenes says παντα χρήματα ἠ̑ν ὁμου̑ all things were together ϵἰ̑τα νου̑ς ϵ̓λθὶν αὐτὰ διϵκόσμησϵ then νου̑ς coming orderly disposed them. We seem to see here one thing lying by itself apart and another at some certain moment of time coming moving towards it and adding itself to it. But that being so νου̑ς is not immanent in matter but transcendent over it. Aristotle near the beginning of the eighth book of the Physics makes the distinction between the two positions what was first and what came second even stronger. His words are “Anaxagoras says that all things being together and having remained so at rest an endless time νου̑ς set motion into them and separated them.” That plainly is to the effect that the movement was set into things from without and not developed in them from within; that νου̑ς namely was a transcendent not an immanent principle.
The Germans seem to incline on the whole however to adopt the mere immanence of the νου̑ς. To some of them the fault of theology is its rigorous separation of the opposites. In the relation of God and the world they would wish to see not a fixed inconceivable sunderedness but a living transition. Others would wish us to see in the νου̑ς not reason but understanding. What they mean by understanding is what some time ago I endeavoured to figure under the word λόγος. You see that inexplicable thing a reel in a bottle; suppose now it were all explained to you every step in the idea that generated it clear before your eyes then that λόγος (for the explanation would be a λόγος)—then that λόγος would be the Verstand the understanding of the reel in the bottle. This reel would no longer be a mere piece of inexplicable matter; it would now be impregnated with the notion so that all its parts were held together by it and as it were one in it. Now that is what the νου̑ς is held by some to be in relation to the world. The world were an unintelligible externality and material chaos did not the understanding enter into it as a connecting and explaining tissue. So it is that even the Pythagoreans too explain the world; it is a congeries of externalities; but into that congeries of externalities mere disjunct atoms proportion enters; and that proportion gives them subsistence connection meaning and unity. In this way it will be intelligible what is meant by an understanding being sunk into the things of the universe. To certain Germans then νου̑ς is such understanding—an immanent ideal bond not a fashioning creator apart from and independent of it. This in general and on its own account is a point of view necessary for us to know even with reference to our general subject of Natural Theology. I mean that the doctrine of the immanence of the νου̑ς involves what is called pantheism. This is the more interesting to us here inasmuch as some of the expressions in which Lord Gifford characterizes his idea of God may seen to have in them a pantheistic echo. As for example these that God is the Infinite the All the One and the Sole Substance the Sole Being the Sole Reality and the Sole Existence. Some of these expressions no doubt even as pantheistic suggest criticism. Reality and existence it may be said for instance are both doubtful words. An iron nail or a brass button is as we generally speak a reality; but God's reality must be a much other reality than the reality of such as these. Existence too at least in certain philosophical works has been pretty well exclusively used in identically the same sense as reality in the case of either nail or button. A brass button is an existence and an iron nail is an existence—the word existence being here taken in its strictly etymological sense as a compound from the Latin words ex and stare. Whatever finitely stands out to sense as an actual object seen of eye or touched of hand etc. is an existence; it stands up and out. But existence in no such sense as that plainly can be predicated of God. God is not an object for eye or ear or touch or any sense. We cannot see God as we see a statue or a house or hear Him as we hear the blowing of the wind or the dashing of the wave. In a word God is to be thought as infinite not finite as immaterial and not material as a spirit and not as a body. In the sense alluded to then He may not exist; but He will still be. The soul of a man will be granted to be—let us conceive its nature to be how we may. Even the crudest judge of character has not his idea of a man as such and such a body merely. There really is an entity that is logically distinguishable from the body and is on its side as much a one or more a one than on the other side the body itself. An ego is a unity and a unity of the whole of its infinite contents take it how you may. Logically then an ego is an entity on its own account—an integer self-contained and self-complete teres totum ac rotundum. An ego of course makes itself known only through and by means of its body but with whatever difference it is precisely so with God; it is the very contention of these lectures that God makes Himself known through His body which is the visible world without and the intelligible world within. As for Lord Gifford's term substance again it reminds at once of Spinoza; substance is the God of Spinoza and Spinoza as we know is the archpantheist. The word All again is certainly a word in pantheistic parlance and may as the others may be so used by Lord Gifford. Even pantheistically however we may stop to say it is a very objectionable word; for even so it is at once too much and too little. Too much! All in its use by Lord Gifford God as the All cannot mean stars and planets sun moon earth air seas and continents minerals plants animals men—collectively that is as so many individual objects in a ring a mere outside aggregate there materially in space and now materially in time. Etymologically no doubt such a description of an All as God or of God as an All may seem but a necessary inference from the very word pantheism; but it is difficult to believe that any pantheist Oriental or Occidental religious or philosophical ever thought of his God as any such clumsy miscellaneousness. In some of the books of the Bhaghavad Gita as the seventh the ninth and the tenth Krishna indeed may be heard exclaiming to Arjoon: “I am sunshine and I am rain; I am the radiant sun the moon the book of hymns Meru among the mountains; I am the lion the vowel A” etc. etc. No doubt however these are but as so much spray from the overflow of the Oriental phantasy. Hardly ever is it the case indeed that they occur in that bare categorical form. More commonly the phrasing itself shows that the term is but a trope: “I am moisture in the water light in the sun and moon sweet-smelling savour in the earth. I am the sacrifice I am the worship I am the spices I am the invocation I am the provisions I am the fire I am the victim” etc. etc. In such form as that it is quite evident that there is no thought of an assemblage of mere outer objects as constituting the All that is to be conceived as God. But if such expressions as are in question and so taken are too much they are as evidently all too little. No such names and no such names even if they were multiplied a thousandfold can exhaust the infinity in unity and the unity in infinity of God. That too is a way of the Orientals that they would seek by mere numberless namings to ascend to the infinite that is God; but again the Orientals themselves confess even in the numberlessness of their namings the impotence of the numberlessness itself. The visible is but an accident and fringe of the invisible; no myriad namings of the seen can reach the unseen.
To certain Germans then almost we may say to the German philosophical historians generally the immanence of the νου̑ς is the established doctrine. With νου̑ς they say there certainly comes in and for the first time in acknowledged history the principle of an understanding and the principle of an understanding that is self-determinative; but still we are not to think of the νου̑ς in nature as of a mind and thinking consciousness in the way we find it in ourselves. Νου̑ς is to be conceived of in nature as we see laws are: we know by the inquiries of our sciences that in the universe of things there is law and consequently so far reason.
In a good deal of all this however there enters the thought that there is the danger of supposing that what Anaxagoras after all meant was merely a deus ex machina that came and ordered the chaos a Zeus a Jupiter or other merely mythological personage of the early crude imagination. So far as such conception is concerned I think it is right to contend against that. Certain it is that Anaxagoras did make no other use so far as the application is concerned of his principle the νου̑ς than such deus ex machina that was no more despite all his description of it than the first cause of motion. It seems that he had no sooner announced it in general than he set himself in particular to the usual mechanical expedients. It does not follow however that we must think the νου̑ς a merely immanent principle as it were of lineamentation and proportion in the material mass and that it was not to be conceived at the same time as a self-centred fount of intelligence and of intelligent action so to speak on its own account and in its own self-dependence.
It seems to me that even the advocates of the immanence of the νου̑ς themselves do not regard it as so to speak a brutely immanent principle but as an intelligent and conscious principle that has in it the distinction of personality. It seems to me also that the universal voice of antiquity is to the same effect. Even Socrates though speaking with disappointment of the application of the principle does not speak differently of the principle itself. To Socrates the νου̑ς in a word was an intelligent principle that knew the better and acted on it. Plato repeats this description at least three times further; twice again indeed on the part of Socrates but once on that of another; so that of his own relative sentiments there can be no reasonable doubt.
As for Aristotle again it would take up too much time to quote all that in this connection his writings show but we must see a passage or two. In the De Anima (404b) he has this on Anaxagoras: τὸ αἴτιον του̑ καλω̑ς καὶ ὀρθ ω̑ς (the cause of the good beautiful and right) τὸν νου̑ν λϵ́γϵι (he calls the νου̑ς). A little farther on (405a18) in this same work we find the νου̑ς characterized as “a principle that knows and as a principle that moves the τὸ πα̑ν” (the all). In the Metaphysic there are several very distinct passages to a like effect. Anaxagoras he says once (985al8) “in his explanation of the construction of the world uses his νου̑ς as a mere stage property; that is he only lugs it in when he is at a loss otherwise.” That concerns the application of it. But the main passage in the Metaphysic is this (984b8): “These (preceding) principles proved insufficient to explain what is; and in further effort this now suggested itself. That things are good and beautiful and right (ϵὐ̑ καὶ καλω̑ς ϵ̓́χϵιν can assuredly not be ascribed to fire or earth or anything else of the kind nor yet to accident or chance; and so it was that when Anaxagoras came forward with the proposition that as in animals so in all nature νου̑ς is immanent as the cause of the world and its whole orderly arrangement he appeared as though a man that was sober in comparison with mere drunken stutterers that had preceded him.…Those then who followed him made the cause of what is good to be the principle of what is and of the movement in it.” Especially does Aristotle insist on the unmixedness and unmovedness of the νου̑ς no doubt having in mind himself his own principle of a πρω̑τον κινου̑ν (a first mover) that unmixed with other things and itself unmoved moves all of them.
As for the νου̑ς of Anaxagoras indeed being a personal self-conscious reason such as we conceive on the part of the Divine Being there can be no doubt that such is the natural inference of any of us now-a-days who will impartially read the words that expressly described it; and there can be as little doubt that as we have seen such was the general understanding on the part of antiquity. It is certainly impossible to think of this principle as only a natural power sunk into matter as Mr. Grote does. One too must with Schwegler give it more spiritual credit by reason of the attributes of thought and conscious design ascribed to it than even Zeller does.
It appears to me right at the same time even while assuming νου̑ς to be capable of an independent existence on its own account that we should attribute almost as partly referred to already more of a life of its own and more of an instinctive reason of its own to nature itself than we usually do. The pious Berkeley (Siris 276) vindicates the doctrine; and it is surely as a doctrine not by any means necessarily either atheism or pantheism. To me it is quite as certain that there is an absolute subject God as it is certain that there is an absolute object His universe. Still it appears to me that the object should be brought much nearer the subject than is customary among us. If we view the object as the other of the subject then we have the two as I think we ought to have them in mutual relation. The world as there at the will of God is still the work of God the expression of God; whatever it is it is still of God: there must be relation between them. So it is in fact that there is such a science as this very Natural Theology that we have before us. Bacon himself as we have seen refers to the two sides of it. He calls it a knowledge “which may be truly termed divine in respect of the object and natural in respect of the light.” Nature is not to be supposed the evil principle and abandoned of God: rather it is the garment we see Him by. Placed in the midst of beauty itself it is still the solemn temple most majestical in which it is ours to bend the knee in awe ours to worship in love. So it is that we shall take nothing from God in commending His work. Nature has a life of its own; it is not simply brute. There is at least relevance for the “plastic nature” of Cudworth or even the world-soul of Plato. We may exclaim in perfect agreement with Cornelius Agrippa ab Nettesheim: “Supremus et unicus rationis actus religio est;” “Religion is reason's sole and supreme act; in vain we philosophize know and understand if He who is the essence and author of our intellect and whose image we are is left unknown by us;” but we may not inconsistently at the same time feign or figure with his contemporary Franciscus Georgius Zorzi Venetus that “the world is an infinitely living individual maintained by a soul in the power of God.” We may even allow ourselves to sympathize with Zorzi's countrymen who came later and held that “a single soul pervades this living universe.” In fact there is great truth in the old way of it that the world is the macrocosm of man as man is the microcosm of the world. We may conceive that it has been the will of God that nature should be the mere externalization of man as that man should be the mere internalization of nature. The categories which are in man and constitute his thinking furniture—these categories if in him only subjective and within are all objective and without in nature. Only so it is that at once nature is intelligible and man intelligent. The relation indeed between an object that is to be understood and a subject that is to understand is precisely as that between matter and form. If form is to take on matter matter to admit into itself form form must be in effect matter matter in effect form. So it is that nature is but the other of thought; thought again but the other of nature. In other words nature is but the externalization of thought—thought but the internalization of nature. Or nature is externality; thought is internality. Nature is the externality of that internality; thought is the internality of that externality. Nature is difference; thought is identity: the one the difference of that identity; the other the identity of that difference. Nature as the object as the externality as the difference is a boundless out and out of objects a boundless out and out of externalities a boundless out and out of differences—a boundless out and out under physical necessity which at the same time can alone be and is physical contingency fortuitousness accident chance. Thought again as the subject the internality the identity is a boundless in and in of subjective internalities subjective identities; and its actuating principle is freedom free will; for thought as thought reason as reason the universal as the universal is the only freedom the only free will. “As externality” says Giordano Bruno in the Della causa principio ed uno “As externality nature is only the shadow of the One of the first and original principle; for what in the principle is unseparated single and one appears in externality—in things—sundered complex and multiplex.” The thought here Bruno's thought as of the one and the many in the language of the Greeks is evidently very much as I have expressed it a moment ago. Thought is the form and the truth and the universal—the one: nature is only the matter and the show and the particular—the many. The world is but the negative of the mind; the mind is the affirmative of the world. It is the world that stands up a presence and the only presence to the senses; but it is mind that is the soul of that world. No man has seen the universal—it is only the particular that can be seen. It is only the objects in the world that can be seen and heard and handled. Accordingly the philosophers of a sensational time will only speak of what they know they say; and they know only the particular—only what they see. They do not believe there is a universal: a universal they never saw. Nevertheless it is only the universal that is the truth of the particular: the particular only is because the universal is. What the particular is that is the universal. Or it is in the particular that we are to see and know the universal. That is the way of the truth. As there cannot be a naked outside—an outside that has no inside so there cannot he a naked particular—a particular that is that and nothing else—a particular that has no universal. We are all of us that are here particulars; I wonder what any of us would be if the universal if man humanity were suddenly allowed to run out of us! The universal is not a single object a thing which we can touch and handle; nevertheless it is and all these particulars are only its: we can touch and handle them only because of it. If it is only seen in them they disappear into it. Separate existence for the universal is only possible in the absolute subject God. And His is the necessary existence. He is that which cannot not be. We can conceive all—all the things of sense—to perish; but still we know that there is God that He cannot perish and that they would come again. Extinguish the lamp of this universe and it is still alight. Crush all into nonentity and it only smiles an actuality in your face. At the same time that too is to be said: we are. We too think; we too are universals but being in a particular body and a particular world not infinitely so: we are as here below only finitely so. Here however the warning is necessary that even in the position that would give to nature a certain life of its own it is not for a moment to be understood that it is Spinoza's deification of nature that is meant. I am not one of those who in these days apotheose Spinoza though I can very sincerely respect him. He was a gentle inoffensive quietly living man who for bare bread contentedly sat polishing his glasses while he pondered the writings of Descartes and Hobbes and others the like which were then before him. For I see no reason to believe that Moses Maimonides or other Jewish philosopher earlier or later had such power over Spinoza as men of an imagination of the Arabian Nights are profuse in eloquence to lead us to believe. Descartes with a little of Hobbes was after all quite enough for Spinoza. It is only the peculiarity of its presentation perhaps that hides the milk and water in the system that for the rest belonged to the character of the man. It might not be very difficult to look at Descartes geometrically; and then for the most part the thing was done—the work was accomplished. Generalized to its ultimate what was in rerum natura was extension and thought. Space indeed was more than extension: it was solid; it was extension in all directions. Even so however it was still geometrical. But take it as extension only then its surface was susceptible of infinite lineamentation infinite configuration. But infinite configurate lineamentation involved relations involved ideas was tantamount to thought. There then it was; that was the world—extension and thought. That also was God: extension with its involution of thought geometrical thought—that was God. What then of man here? Why finite things were the figurations the lineamentations of extension; and one of these was man. Even at the least even at the worst consequently man did occupy actually was a certain portion of the divine surface. The lines that figured him—the lines that cut him out—might indeed be evanescent and perish; but what of the surface they isolated remained. To that extent man was as God; to that extent man was divine; to that extent man was immortal. Surely at all events particularly while quite in coherence with the general idea that is the burden and the effect of propositions 22 and 23 in the fifth book of the Ethic. We are significantly warned by Erdmann however not altogether to trust ourselves to any such concession of immortality on the part of Spinoza seeing that if in such propositions we find “a personal God a personal immortality and one knows not what else we must not forget that according to his (Spinoza's) own express declarations God has neither understanding nor will; that according to him a God who reciprocated love were no God; further that to him personality and duration are only figments of the imagination which even as such he will not eternalize; finally that he makes religion and blessedness to consist simply in the self-forgetting resignation through which man becomes only an instrument of God that when useless is thrown away and replaced by another.” Evidently then on such foundations what stuff what portion of the very substance of his God Spinoza will allow us cannot come to much though applying it as so far a concession on his part to the general interest of the immortality of the soul we may feel inclined in our hearts to thank him at least for his good-will. But to thank him so is not to accept his deification of nature. Nature as that immeasurable panorama out there around us and in front of us give it what properties we may is still an externality and a materiality; it is not a spirit; as such it is not even tantamount to the νου̑ς of Anaxagoras. To attain even to the νου̑ς of Anaxagoras it is not the externality and the materiality that we have to look to but what is of the quality of thought—the order beauty and designful contrivance of the world. The remarkable consideration is that all this is otherwise precisely in these sensational days in which our own lot has fallen. We are enormously in advance of Anaxagoras in our knowledge of the sun and moon which he said he was born to speculate—in our knowledge of the whole heaven to which he pointed as his country; but increase of knowledge instead of guiding and directing us like Anaxagoras more and more to mind seems to have completely turned us round to matter. The stars are matter and the sun and moon and planets; neither is it a principle from within that would give them union and society but only æther a matter from without that according to some shall compress them. Matter here matter there matter everywhere. Particles of matter that in mechanical rushing to their clash shall take fire and flame out suns. Particles of matter that in inevitable mechanical swirl and sweep shall be as worlds around the fires. Worlds and fires for all that which sooner or later shall be as cold and useless as the spur of Percy. Throw the spur of Percy into space and let it sink: even as that spur we are to follow our whole universe into an eternal cold into an eternal dark into an eternal wilderness. Astronomy gives us no hint of life. Geology gives us that much—geology does indeed tell of life; but geology is powerless to save us. Geology transports weathering into the sea and is the while almost even in the single word the epic of the elements piped by the winds in flash of the sun to the dash of the rain; but geology can only join astronomy in the end and speak our doom. Space is to be an infinite tomb: over that tomb time shall be an infinite pall. Existence may have been—a bubble that no sooner was than it burst but what properly is what truly is are in everlasting silence in everlasting cold in the everlasting dark—two dead corpses two dead infinitudes the corpse and the infinitude of space the corpse and the infinitude of time. But what are space and time themselves? If they are the infinitudes if they are the eternities perhaps it is precisely in them that we shall find some light. And shapes more ambiguous and equivocal than time and space are it is impossible to conceive—at once the mockingest of shadows and the toughest of stuffs—now described as the very warp and woof on which the universe is stretched and now as the most unsubstantial playthings of dream. To one Mr. Hodgson they are “immediately and ineradicably certain” the basis of cognition the “corner-stone of philosophy;” to another Carlyle they are but the two “world-enveloping appearances” the “canvass” for all other “minor illusions” if there to “clothe” us there also to “blind” us as it is into their quality all that is resolves. Berkeley (WW. iv. 468) to whom this “world without thought is nec quid nec quantum nec quale” declares “time a sensation and therefore only in the mind; space a sensation and therefore not without the mind;” while even to the sober sensible and somewhat prosaic Dr. Reid (WW. 324 343) space looming up there “an immense eternal immovable and indestructible void or emptiness” is “potentially only not actually” and time is “a dark and difficult object” “a beginning in which is only a contradiction.” The monadology of Leibnitz as is easy to know could give no authority to the perception of sense and no external reality to the forms of space and time which in some way only resulted to us from our perception of the interaction among things. All the early writings of Kant those namely that preceded the Dissertatio de mundi sensibilis atque intelligibilis forma et principiis which did itself precede and usher in the Kritik of Pure Reason—in almost every one of these early writings there is such mention of time and space as proves the great interest of Kant from the very first in their regard.
As is only to be expected Kant is seen in these writings to be for long in respect of time and space a follower of Leibnitz. In his Gedanken von der wahren Schätzung der lebendigen Kräfte for example he holds that “there would be no space and no extension if things had not a power to act out of themselves; for otherwise there would be no connection while without connection there would be no order and without order no space.” He even goes on to say “It is probable that the three dimensions of space derive from the law of the interaction of substances; and substances interact so that the force of their action is inversely as the square of their distances.” And eight or nine years later we have the same doctrine in his Nova dilucidatio principiorum primorum cognitionis metaphysicœ as where he says: nexu substantiarum abolito successio et tempus pariter facessunt (the connection of substances being withdrawn succession and time are equally withdrawn). In his Monadologia physica about the same time he characterizes space as substantialitatis plane expers as plainly devoid of substantiality and as but the phaenomenon the appearance or show of “the external relation of the monads in union.” What is remarkable however is that in 1768 writing his brief paper Vom ersten Grunde des Unterschiedes der Gegenden im Raume he as it were turns his back upon himself and attempts to prove cogently and with conviction that space is an absolute reality and no mere Gedankending—that is remarkable; but it is more remarkable still that in 1770 only a further two years we find the dissertation “concerning the form and principles of the sensible and intelligible world” in large part written to prove space a mere subjective appendicle of sense as sense. This is Kant's last position relatively and in the sequel he never varies from it. Still there are in the writings of the different dates the vacillation on the part of Kant and the contradiction in question. What concerns us however is the fact that Kant did decide in the end both space and time to be but forms of our own sensory within us into which perceptively received disposed and arranged by aid of the categories and their schemata the contributions of our special senses stood up and out at length apart from us as though an infinite universe around us and inhabited by us.
These then are great authorities; and there seems that even in space and time (on every supposition) which would call a halt to the conclusions of the sensationists. But unfortunately we cannot expect every one to be at home with the subtleties of metaphysic or with what may appear the mere dreams of philosophy. One would like so far as in some respects it seems hostile and obstructive to the interests of Natural Theology—one would like to approach science in that regard on its own grounds and to enter into it on its own terms. Suppose we leave aside all questions of a beginning and equally all questions of an end. Suppose we take the world even as we see it or rather even as astronomical science sees it at this very moment. Well—there is the sun by day; and there is the spectacle of the heavens by night. What does astronomy say of all that not as it conceives it to have begun and not as it conceives it to be predestinated to end but simply as it is. And as it is it was seen in his prime by Anaxagoras more than two thousand three hundred years ago. That is a long time in the life of man; but in the life of the universe it would seem so far as difference is concerned simply to dropout. The sun and the moon that we see now from the streets of Edinburgh Anaxagoras saw then from the streets of Athens. Our Sirius was for Anaxagoras his Sirius too; and so it was with the Hyades and the Pleiades and Castor and Pollux and the Milky Way as well. What he saw led him the only sober man among mere inebriates according to Aristotle to speak of an order and a beauty that could be due to intelligence only. Almost in our own days the experience of Anaxagoras was precisely that of Kant. The starry heaven above him was one of the only two things that filled his soul with ever new and increasing wonder and veneration the more and the oftener he reflected. “In effect” he says again “when our spirit is filled with such reflections the aspect of the starry heavens on a clear night awakens in us a joy which only noble souls are capable of feeling; in the universal calm of nature and in the peace of sense the hidden faculty of the immortal soul speaks to us indescribably and breathes into us mysterious thoughts which may be felt but not possibly named.” There then it is that starry heaven—there—in infinite space above us globe upon globe in their own light and in the light of each other all wheeling wheeling in and out and round and round and through each other in a tangle of motion that has still a law not without explosions in this one and the other from within doubtless that would sound to us did we hear them louder dreader more awfully terrific than any thunder of the tropics that would sound to us did we hear them veritably as the crack of doom—well just to think it all that is taking place all that is going on all these globes are whirling in a darkness blacker than the mouth of wolf deeper than in the deepest pit that ever man has sunk—all that is going on all that is taking place in a darkness absolute; and more all that is going on all that is taking place—for exploding globes even—in a silence absolute in a silence dead in a silence that never a whisper—never the faintest whisper never the most momentary echo breaks! Is not that extraordinary? but it is no less true than extraordinary. Undulations there are doubtless that are light to us; but no undulation will give light to them the globes. Vibrations there are doubtless where there is air that are sound to us; but all vibrations are as the dead to them. It is in a cave in a den blacker than the blackest night soundless and more silent than the void of voids that all those intermingling motions of the globes go on—but for us that is; but for an eye and an ear and a soul behind them! That cannot be denied. The deepest astronomical philosopher entranced in what he sees entranced in what he fancies himself to hear must confess that but for himself and the few and feeble others that are like himself all would be as dark as Erebus all would be as silent as the grave. But as the hour now is you will allow me to bring this home—you will allow me to point the lesson in a future lecture.
From the book: