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{State of progressive collapse}


And now we have reached a point at which the intellect is forced, again, to struggle against its propensity for analogical inference – against its monomaniac grasping at the infinite. Moons have been seen revolving about planets; planets about stars; and the poetical instinct of humanity – its instinct of the symmetrical, if the symmetry be but a symmetry of surface: – this instinct, which the Soul, not only of Man but of all created beings, took up, in the beginning, from the geometrical basis of the Universal irradiation – impels us to the fancy of an endless extension of this system of cycles. Closing our eyes equally to deduction and induction, we insist upon imagining a revolution of all the orbs of the Galaxy about some gigantic globe which we take to be the central pivot of the whole. Each cluster in the great cluster of clusters is imagined, of course, to be similarly supplied and constructed; while, that the ›analogy‹ may be wanting at no point, we go on to conceive these clusters themselves, again, as revolving about some still more august sphere; – this latter, still again, with its encircling clusters, as but one of a yet more magnificent series of agglomerations, gyrating about yet another orb central to them – some orb still more unspeakably sublime – some orb, let us rather say, of infinite sublimity endlessly multiplied by the infinitely sublime. Such are the conditions, continued in perpetuity, which the voice of what some people term ›analogy‹ calls upon the Fancy to depict and the Reason to contemplate, if possible, without becoming dissatisfied with the picture. Such, in general, are the interminable gyrations beyond gyration which we have been instructed by Philosophy to comprehend and to account for, at least in the best manner we can. Now and then, however, a philosopher proper – one whose frenzy takes a very determinate turn – whose genius, to speak more reverentially, has a stronglypronounced washer-womanish bias, doing every thing up by the dozen – enables us to see precisely that point out of sight, at which the revolutionary processes in question do, and of right ought to, come to an end.

It is hardly worth while, perhaps, even to sneer at the reveries of Fourrier – but much has been said, latterly, of the hypothesis of Mädler – that there exists, in the centre of the Galaxy, a stupendous globe about which all the systems of the cluster revolve. The period of our own, indeed, has been stated – 117 millions of years.

That our Sun has a motion in space, independently of its rotation, and revolution about the system's centre of gravity, has long been suspected. This motion, granting it to exist, would be manifested perspectively. The stars in that firmamental region which we were leaving behind us, would, in a very long series of years, become crowded; those in the opposite quarter, scattered. Now, by means of astronomical History, we ascertain, cloudily, that some such phænomena have occurred. On this ground it has been declared that our system is moving to a point in the heavens diametrically opposite the star Zeta Herculis: – but this inference is, perhaps, the maximum to which we have any logical right. Mädler, however, has gone so far as to designate a particular star, Alcyone in the Pleiades, as being at or about the very spot around which a general revolution is performed.

Now, since by ›analogy‹ we are led, in the first instance, to these dreams, it is no more than proper that we should abide by analogy, at least in some measure, during their development; and that analogy which suggests the revolution, suggests at the same time a central orb about which it should be performed: – so far the astronomer was consistent. This central orb, however, should, dynamically, be greater than all the orbs, taken together, which surround it. Of these there are about 100 millions. »Why, then,« it was of course demanded, »do we not see this vast central sun – at least equal in mass to 100 millions of such suns as ours – why do we not see it – we, especially, who occupy the mid region of the cluster – the very locality near which, at all events, must be situated this incomparable star?« The reply was ready – »It must be non-luminous, as are our planets.« Here, then, to suit a purpose, analogy is suddenly let fall. »Not so,« it may be said – »we know that non-luminous suns actually exist.« It is true that we have reason at least for supposing so; but we have certainly no reason whatever for supposing that the non-luminous suns in question are encircled by luminous suns, while these again are surrounded by non-luminous planets: – and it is precisely all this with which Mädler is called upon to find any thing analogous in the heavens – for it is precisely all this which he imagines in the case of the Galaxy. Admitting the thing to be so, we cannot help here picturing to ourselves how sad a puzzle the why is it so must prove to all à priori philosophers.

But granting, in the very teeth of analogy and of every thing else, the non-luminosity of the vast central orb, we may still inquire how this orb, so enormous, could fail of being rendered visible by the flood of light thrown upon it from the 100 millions of glorious suns glaring in all directions about it. Upon the urging of this question, the idea of an actually solid central sun appears, in some measure, to have been abandoned; and speculation proceeded to assert that the systems of the cluster perform their revolutions merely about an immaterial centre of gravity common to all. Here again then, to suit a purpose, analogy is let fall. The planets of our system revolve, it is true, about a common centre of gravity; but they do this in connexion with, and in consequence of, a material sun whose mass more than counterbalances the rest of the system.


 &c; textlog.de 2004 • 23.10.2020 10:18:11 •
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