RE THE BRAIN THEOREM OF THE UNIVERSE
[Lucifer, Vol. II, No. 7, March, 1888, p. 71]
To the Editors of Lucifer.
Kindly permit me to direct attention to the ADVERSARY’S garbled quotation of a sentence which quite distorts my meaning. At page 510, 2nd column, of Lucifer for February, is the following passage: “In the teeth of all the scientific luminaries, from Faraday to Huxley, who all confess to knowing NOTHING [which is surely rather too much of a negation] (I) of matter, [Dr. Lewins] declares that—’Matter organic and inorganic, is now fully known’ ” (Auto-Centricism, page 40). On turning to this reference, I find my declaration runs thus, and consequently gives quite a different complexion to my position than that implied by my critic.
“Matter, organic and inorganic, between which no real veil of partition exists,* is now fully known by Medicine to perform, unaided by ‘Spiritual’ agency, all material operations. (2) That fact, though ignored by Newton, was the real outcome of his mechanical theory of the Universe. As soon as he demonstrated innate activity or attractive energy, the push and pull of every atom of matter, the intrusion of a ‘spiritual’ agency was at once abrogated.”
Indeed, it really is quite unthinkable to predicate the interaction of such incompatible elements (concepts) as corporeity and incorporeity. Cui bono nerves or other somatic structures, for the conduction of an unsubstantial substance (Archaeus)? The idea is as inconceivable as inexpressible. The contradiction is quite a reductio ad impossibile. It runs on all fours with Descartes’ Pineal Gland hypothesis of the “Soul.” (3)
ROBERT LEWINS, M.D.
EDITORS’ NOTE.—(1) Many passages from the most eminent physicists of the day could be quoted to prove that there can never be “too much of a negation” in such confessions of ignorance upon this subject. No one knows to this hour the ultimate structure or essence of matter. Hitherto, Science has never yet succeeded in decomposing a single one of the many simple bodies, miscalled “elementary substances.” So far do our materialists stray, nolens volens, into metaphysics, that they are not even sure if molecules are realities, or a simple fancy based on false perceptions! “There may be no such things as molecules . . ,” writes Prof. J. P. Cooke, in his New Chemistry, “. . . the new chemistry assumes as its fundamental postulate, that the magnitudes we call molecules are realities; but this is only a postulate.” Can any critic assume, after this, “too much of a negation”?
* Chemistry, as I have elsewhere stated, since Wöhler’s laboratory manufacture of the organic compound Urea, has quite unified organic and inorganic “Nature.” What used to figure in chemical text books as “Organic Chemistry,” is now treated of as “Carbon Compounds.”
The solution of continuity is formal and apparent only, not real. “ Things “ are indeed not as they seem.
(2) How, then, does Medicine, or any other Science, fully know that matter performs unaided by “Spiritual” agency, all material operations? All they know is, that they are ignorant even of the reality of their molecules, let alone invisible primordial matter. And it is just with regard to the natural functions of the grey matter in the brain, and the action of the mind or consciousness, that Tyndall has declared that were we even enabled to see and feel the very molecules of the brain, still the chasm between the two classes of phenomena would be “intellectually impassable.” How, then, can Dr. Lewins say of that which all naturalists, biologists, psychologists (with the exception, perhaps, of Haeckel, who is undeniably mad on the question of his own omniscience) have proclaimed unknowable to human intellect, that it is “fully known to Medicine,” of all Sciences (with the exception of Surgery) the most tentative, hypothetical and uncertain?
(3) Descartes showed some consistency at least, while putting forth his hypothesis about the pineal gland. He would not talk upon a subject and predicate of an organ that which it is not when entirely ignorant of what it may be. In this he was wiser in his generation than the philosophers and physicists who came after him. Now-adays, the Science of Physiology knows no more than Descartes did of the pineal gland, and the spleen, and a few more mysterious organs in the human body. Yet, even in their great ignorance they will deny point-blank any spiritual agency there, where they are unable to perceive and follow even the material operations. VANITY AND CONCEIT are thy names, oh, young Physiology! And a peacock’s feather in the tail of the XIXth century crow, is the fittest emblem that Lucifer can offer the present generation of “Subtle Doctors.”