{Electricity}


In fact, while the tendency of the diffused atoms to return into Unity, will be recognized, at once, as the principle of the Newtonian Gravity, what I have spoken of as a repulsive influence prescribing limits to the (immediate) satisfaction of the tendency, will be understood as that which we have been in the practice of designating now as heat, now as magnetism, now as electricity; displaying our ignorance of its awful character in the vacillation of the phraseology with which we endeavor to circumscribe it.

Calling it, merely for the moment, electricity, we know that all experimental analysis of electricity has given, as an ultimate result, the principle, or seeming principle, heterogeneity. Only where things differ is electricity apparent; and it is presumable that they never differ where it is not developed at least, if not apparent. Now, this result is in the fullest keeping with that which I have reached unempirically. The design of the repulsive influence I have maintained to be that of preventing immediate Unity among the diffused atoms; and these atoms are represented as different each from each. Difference is their character – their essentiality – just as no-difference was the essentiality of their course. When we say, then, that an attempt to bring any two of these atoms together would induce an effort, on the part of the repulsive influence, to prevent the contact, we may as well use the strictly convertible sentence that an attempt to bring together any two differences will result in a development of electricity. All existing bodies, of course, are composed of these atoms in proximate contact, and are therefore to be considered as mere assemblages of more or fewer differences; and the resistance made by the repulsive spirit, on bringing together any two such assemblages, would be in the ratio of the two sums of the differences in each: – an expression which, when reduced, is equivalent to this: – The amount of electricity developed on the approximation of two bodies, is proportional to the difference between the respective sums of the atoms of which the bodies are composed. That no two bodies are absolutely alike, is a simple corollary from all that has been here said. Electricity, therefore, existing always, is developed whenever any bodies, but manifested only when bodies of appreciable difference, are brought into approximation.

To electricity – so, for the present, continuing to call it – we may not be wrong in referring the various physical appearances of light, heat and magnetism; but far less shall we be liable to err in attributing to this strictly spiritual principle the more important phænomena of vitality, consciousness and Thought. On this topic, however, I need pause here merely to suggest that these phænomena, whether observed generally or in detail, seem to proceed at least in the ratio of the heterogeneous.

Discarding now the two equivocal terms, ›gravitation‹ and ›electricity,‹ let us adopt the more definite expressions, ›attraction‹ and ›repulsion.‹ The former is the body; the latter the soul: the one is the material; the other the spiritual, principle of the Universe. No other principles exist. All phænomena are referable to one, or to the other, or to both combined. So rigorously is this the case – so thoroughly demonstrable is it that attraction and repulsion are the sole properties through which we perceive the Universe – in other words, by which Matter is manifested to Mind – that, for all merely argumentative purposes, we are fully justified in assuming that matter exists only as attraction and repulsion – that attraction and repulsion are matter: – there being no conceivable case in which we may not employ the term ›matter‹ and the terms ›attraction‹ and ›repulsion,‹ taken together, as equivalent, and therefore convertible, expressions in Logic.

I said, just now, that what I have described as the tendency of the diffused atoms to return into their original unity, would be understood as the principle of the Newtonian law of gravity: and, in fact, there can be but little difficulty in such an understanding, if we look at the Newtonian gravity in a merely general view, as a force impelling matter to seek matter; that is to say, when we pay no attention to the known modus operandi of the Newtonian force. The general coincidence satisfies us; but, upon looking closely, we see, in detail, much that appears incoincident, and much in regard to which no coincidence, at least, is established. For example; the Newtonian gravity, when we think of it in certain moods, does not seem to be a tendency to oneness at all, but rather a tendency of all bodies in all directions – a phrase apparently expressive of a tendency to diffusion. Here, then, is an incoincidence. Again; when we reflect on the mathematical law governing the Newtonian tendency, we see clearly that no coincidence has been made good, in respect of the modus operandi, at least, between gravitation as known to exist and that seemingly simple and direct tendency which I have assumed.



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