Life and Matter

A Criticism of Professor Haeckel's 'Riddle of the Universe'

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Author: Oliver Lodge
Published: 1905
Language: English
Wordcount: 27,785 / 89 pg
Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease: 41
LoC Category: BD
Downloads: 567
Added to site: 2008.08.16 21736
Genre: Religion

This small volume is in form controversial, but in substance it has a more ambitious aim: it is intended to formulate, or perhaps rather to reformulate, a certain doctrine concerning the nature of man and the interaction between mind and matter. Incidentally it attempts to confute two errors which are rather prevalent:—

1. The notion that because material energy is constant in quantity, therefore its transformations and transferences—which admittedly constitute terrestrial activity—are not susceptible of guidance or directive control.

2. The idea that the specific guiding power which we call "life" is one of the forms of material energy, so that directly it relinquishes its connection with matter other equivalent forms of energy must arise to replace it.

The book is specially intended to act as an antidote to the speculative and destructive portions of Professor Haeckel's interesting and widely-read work, but in other respects it may be regarded less as a hostile attack than as a supplement—an extension of the more scientific portions of that work into higher and more fruitful regions of inquiry.

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verse were thereby excluded.

Great leaders of thought, in fact, are not accustomed to take a narrow view of existence, or to suppose that one mode of regarding it, or one set of formulæ expressing it, can possibly be sufficient and complete. Even a sheet of paper has two sides: a terrestrial globe presents different aspects from different points of view; a crystal has a variety of facets; and the totality of existence is not likely to be more simple than any of these--is not likely to be readily expressible in any form of words, or to be thoroughly conceivable by any human mind.

It may be well to remember that Sir Isaac Newton was a Theist of the most pronounced and thorough conviction, although he had a great deal to do with the reduction of the major Cosmos to mechanics, i.e. with its explanation by the elaborated machinery of simple forces; and he conceived it possible that, in the progress of science, this process of reduction to mechanics would continue till it embraced nearl

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