Essays on Education and Kindred Subjects eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 497 pages of information about Essays on Education and Kindred Subjects.

When, again, he turns from the succession of phenomena, external or internal, to their essential nature, he is equally at fault.  Though he may succeed in resolving all properties of objects into manifestations of force, he is not thereby enabled to realise what force is; but finds, on the contrary, that the more he thinks about it, the more he is baffled.  Similarly, though analysis of mental actions may finally bring him down to sensations as the original materials out of which all thought is woven, he is none the forwarder; for he cannot in the least comprehend sensation—­cannot even conceive how sensation is possible.  Inward and outward things he thus discovers to be alike inscrutable in their ultimate genesis and nature.  He sees that the Materialist and Spiritualist controversy is a mere war of words; the disputants being equally absurd—­each believing he understands that which it is impossible for any man to understand.  In all directions his investigations eventually bring him face to face with the unknowable; and he ever more clearly perceives it to be the unknowable.  He learns at once the greatness and the littleness of human intellect—­its power in dealing with all that comes within the range of experience; its impotence in dealing with all that transcends experience.  He feels, with a vividness which no others can, the utter incomprehensibleness of the simplest fact, considered in itself.  He alone truly sees that absolute knowledge is impossible.  He alone knows that under all things there lies an impenetrable mystery.

[1] Westminster Review, April 1857.

[2] For detailed proof of these assertions see essay on “Manners and Fashion.”

[3] The idea that the Nebular Hypothesis has been disproved because what were thought to be existing nebulae have been resolved into clusters of stars is almost beneath notice. A priori it was highly improbable, if not impossible, that nebulous masses should still remain uncondensed, while others have been condensed millions of years ago.

[4] Personal Narrative of the Origin of the Caoutchouc, or India-Rubber Manufacture in England. By Thomas Hancock.

ON MANNERS AND FASHION[1]

Whoever has studied the physiognomy of political meetings, cannot fail to have remarked a connection between democratic opinions and peculiarities of costume.  At a Chartist demonstration, a lecture on Socialism, or a soiree of the Friends of Italy, there will be seen many among the audience, and a still larger ratio among the speakers, who get themselves up in a style more or less unusual.  One gentleman on the platform divides his hair down the centre, instead of on one side; another brushes it back off the forehead, in the fashion known as “bringing out the intellect;” a third has so long forsworn the scissors, that his locks sweep his shoulders.  A considerable sprinkling

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Essays on Education and Kindred Subjects from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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