THE SUBSTANTIAL NATURE OF MAGNETISM
Article by H. P. Blavatsky
MATERIALISTS who arraign the Occultists and Theosophists for believing that every Force (so called) in Nature has at its origin a substantial NOUMENON, an Entity, conscious and intelligent, whether it be a Planetary (Dhyan Chohan) or an Elemental, are advised to fix their attention, first of all, on a far more dangerous body than the one called the Theosophical Society. We mean the Society in the U.S. of America whose members call themselves the Substantialists. We call it dangerous for this reason, that this body, combining in itself dogmatic Church Christianity, i.e., the anthropomorphic element of the Bible--with sterling Science, makes, nevertheless, the latter subservient in all to the former. This is equivalent to saying, that the new organization, will, in its fanatical dogmatism--if it wins the day--lead on the forthcoming generations to anthropomorphism past redemption. It will achieve this the more easily in our age of Science-worship, since a show of undeniable learning must help to impart additional strength to belief in a gigantic human god, as their hypotheses, like those of modern materialistic science, may be easily built to answer their particular aim. The educated and thoughtful classes of Society, once set free from ecclesiastical thraldom, could laugh at a St. Augustine's or a "venerable" Bede's scientific data, which led them to maintain on the authority and dead letter of what they regarded as Revelation that our Earth, instead of being a sphere, was flat, hanging under a crystalline canopy studded with shining brass nails and a sun no larger than it appears. But the same classes will be always forced by public opinion into respecting the hypotheses of modern Science--in whatever direction the nature of scientific speculation may lead them. They have been so led for the last century--into crass Materialism; they may be so led again in an opposite direction. The cycle has closed, and if Science ever falls into the hands of the Opposition--the learned "Reverends" and bigoted Churchmen--the world may find itself gradually approaching the ditch on the opposite side and be landed at no distant future in crass anthropomorphism. Once more the masses will have rejected true philosophy--impartial and unsectarian--and will thus be caught again in new meshes of their own weaving, the fruitage and results of the reaction created by an all-denying age. The solemn ideal of a universal, infinite, all-pervading Noumenon of Spirit, of an impersonal and absolute Deity, will fade out of the human mind once more, and will make room for the MONSTER-GOD of sectarian nightmares.
Now, modern official science is composed--as at present--of 5 per cent of undeniable axiomatic truths and facts, and of 95 per cent of mere speculation. Furthermore, it has laid itself open to endless attacks, owing to its numerous mutually contradictory hypotheses, each one as scientific, in appearance, as the other. On the other hand, the Substantialists, who rank, as they boast, among their numbers some of the most eminent men of Science in the United States, have undeniably discovered and accumulated a vast store of facts calculated to upset the modern theories on Force and Matter. And once that their data are shown correct, in this conflict between (materialistic) Science and (a still more materialistic) Religion the outcome of the forthcoming battle is not difficult to foresee: modern Science will be floored. The Substantiality of certain Forces of Nature cannot be denied for it is a fact in Kosmos. No Energy or Force without Matter, no Matter without Force, Energy or Life--however latent. But this ultimate Matter is--Substance or the Noumenon of matter. Thus, the head of the golden Idol of scientific truth will fall, because it stands on feet of clay. Such a result would not be anything to be regretted, except for its immediate consequences: the golden Head will remain the same, only its pedestal will be replaced by one as weak and as much of clay as ever. Instead of resting on Materialism, science will rest on anthropomorphic superstition--if the Substantialists ever gain the day. For, instead of holding to philosophy alone, pursued in a spirit of absolute impartiality, both materialists and adherents of what is so pompously called the "Philosophy of Substantialism" work on lines traced by preconception and with a prejudged object; and both stretch their facts on the Procrustean beds of their respective hobbies. It is facts that have to fit their theories, even at the risk of mutilating the immaculate nature of Truth.
Before presenting the reader with extracts from the work of a Substantialist--those extracts showing better than would any critical review the true nature of the claims of "The Substantial Philosophy"--we mean to go no further, as we are really very little concerned with them, and intend to waste no words over their flaws and pretensions. Nevertheless, as their ideas on the nature of physical Forces and phenomena are curiously--in some respects only--like the occult doctrines, our intention is to utilize their arguments--on Magnetism, to begin with. These are unanswerable, and we may thus defeat exact science by its own methods of observation and weapons. So far, we are only acquainted with the theories of the Substantialists by their writings. It is possible that, save the wide divergence between our views on the nature of the "phenomena-producing causes"--as they queerly call physical forces--there is but little difference in our opinions with regard to the substantial nature of Light, Heat, Electricity, Magnetism, etc., etc., perhaps only one in the form and terms used. No Theosophist, however, would agree to such expressions as are used in the New Doctrine: e.g., "If its principles be true, then every force or form of Energy known to science must be a substantial Entity." For although Dr. Hall's proofs with regard to magnetic fluid being something more than "a mode of motion" are irrefutable, still there are other "forces" which are of quite a different nature. As this paper, however, is devoted to prove the substantiality of magnetism--whether animal or physical--we will now quote from the Scientific Arena (July, 1886) the best arguments that have ever appeared against the materialistic theory of modern Science.
The above quoted passages are positively unanswerable. As far as magnetic force, or fluid, is concerned the Substantialists have most undeniably made out their case; and their triumph will be hailed with joy by every Occultist. It is impossible to see, indeed, how the phenomena of magnetism - whether terrestrial or animal--can be explained otherwise than by admitting a material, or substantial magnetic fluid. This, even some of the Scientists do not deny--Helmholtz believing that electricity must be as atomic as matter--which it is (Helmholtz, "Faraday Lecture"). And, unless Science is prepared to divorce force from matter, we do not see how it can support its position much longer.
But we are not at all so sure about certain other Forces--so far as their effects are concerned--and Esoteric philosophy would find an easy objection to every assumption of the Substantialists--e.g., with regard to sound. As the day is dawning when the new theory is sure to array itself against Occultism, it is as well, perhaps, to anticipate the objections and dispose of them at once.
The expression "immaterial Substance" used above in connection with magnetism is a very strange one, and moreover, it is self-contradictory. If, instead of saying that "magnetism . . . is not only a real substantial entity but an absolutely immaterial substance," the writer should have applied this definition to light, sound or any other force in its effects, we would have nothing to say, except to remark that the adjective "supersensuous" would have been more applicable to any force than the word "immaterial." 2 But to say this of the magnetic fluid is wrong, as it is an essence which is quite perceptible to any clairvoyant, whether in darkness--as in the case of odic emanations--or in light--when animal magnetism is practised. Being then a fluid in a supersensuous state, still matter, it cannot be "immaterial," and the expression becomes at once as illogical as it is sophistical. With regard to the other forces--if by "immaterial" is meant only that which is objective, but beyond the range of our present normal perceptions or senses, well and good; but then whatever Substantialists may mean by it, we Occultists and Theosophists demur to the form in which they put it. Substance, we are told in philosophical dictionaries and encyclopedias, is that which underlies outward phenomena; substratum; the permanent subject or cause of phenomena, whether material or spiritual; that in which properties inhere; that which is real in distinction from that which is only apparent--especially in this world of maya. It is in short--real, and the one real Essence. But the Occult sciences, while calling Substance the noumenon of every material form, explain that noumenon as being still matter--only on another plane. That which is noumenon to our human perceptions is matter to those of a Dhyan Chohan. As explained by our learned Vedantin Brother--T. Subba Row--Mulaprakriti, the first universal aspect of Parabrahma, its Kosmic Veil, and whose essence, to us, is unthinkable, is to the LOGOS "as material as any object is material to us" (Notes on Bhagavad Gita). Hence--no Occultist would describe Substance as "immaterial" in esse.
Substance is a confusing term, in any case. We may call our body, or an ape, or a stone, as well as any kind of fabric--"substantial." Therefore, we call "Essence" rather, the material of the bodies of those Entities--the supersensuous Beings, in whom we believe, and who do exist, but whom Science and its admirers regard as superstitious nonsense, calling fictions alike a "personal" god and the angels of the Christians, as they would our Dhyan Chohans, or the Devas, "Planetary Men," Genii, etc., etc., of the Kabalists and Occultists. But the latter would never dream of calling the phenomena of Light, Sound, Heat, Cohesion, etc. "Entities," as the Substantialists do. They would define those Forces as purely immaterial perceptive effects--without, of substantial and essential CAUSES--within: at the ultimate end of which, or at the origin, stands an ENTITY, the essence of the latter changing with that of the Element 3 it belongs to. (See "Monads, Gods, and Atoms" of Volume I "Secret Doctrine," Book II.) Nor can the Soul be confused with FORCES, which are on quite another plane of perception. It shocks, therefore, a Theosophist to find the Substantialists so unphilosophically including Soul among the Forces.
Having--as he tells his readers "laid the foundation of our argument in the clearly defined analogies of Nature," the editor of the Scientific Arena, in an article called "The Scientific Evidence of a Future Life," proceeds as follows:--
SPIRIT--a "substantial Entity"!! Surely Substantialism cannot pretend very seriously to the title of philosophy--in such case. But let us read the arguments to the end. Here we find a just and righteous attack on Materialism wound up with the same unphilosophical assertion! . . .
We sympathize with the "Minister" who refuses to include Sound among "Substantial Entities." We believe in FOHAT, but would hardly refer to his Voice and Emanations as "Entities," though they are produced by an electric shock of atoms and repercussions producing both Sound and Light. Science would accept no more our Fohat than the Sound or Light-Entities of the "Substantial Philosophy"(?). But we have this satisfaction, at any rate, that, once thoroughly explained, Fohat will prove more philosophical than either the materialistic or substantial theories of the forces of nature.
How can anyone with pretensions to both a scientific and psychological mind, speaking of Soul and especially of Spirit, place them on the same level as the physical phenomena of nature, and this, in a language one can apply only to physical facts! Even Professor Bain, "a monistic ANNIHILATIONIST," as he is called, confesses that "mental and bodily states are utterly contrasted." 4
Thus, the direct conclusion the Occultists and the Theosophists can come to at any rate on the prima facie evidence furnished them by writings which no philosophy can now rebut, is--that Substantial Philosophy, which was brought forth into this world to fight materialistic science and to slay it, surpasses it immeasurably in Materialism. No Bain, no Huxley, nor even Haeckel, has ever confused to this degree mental and physical phenomena. At the same time the "apostles of Materialism" are on a higher plane of philosophy than their opponents. For, the charge preferred against them of teaching that Soul is "the mere motion of brain and nerve particles" is untrue, for they never did so teach. But, even supposing such would be their theory, it would only be in accordance with Substantialism, since the latter assures us that Soul and Spirit, as much as all "the phenomena-producing causes"(?) whether physical, mental, or spiritual--if not regarded as SUBSTANTIAL ENTITIES--"must come within the same category as non-entitative(?) modes of motion of material particles."
All this is not only painfully vague, but is almost meaningless. The inference that the acceptance of the received scientific theories on light, sound and heat, etc., would be equivalent to accepting the soul motion of molecules--is certainly hardly worth discussion. It is quite true that some thirty or forty years ago Bæchner and Moleschott attempted to prove that sensation and thought are a movement of matter. But this has been pronounced by a well-known English Annihilationist "unworthy of the name of 'philosophy'." Not one man of real scientific reputation or of any eminence, not Tyndall, Huxley, Maudsley, Clifford, Bain, Spencer nor Lewis, in England, nor Virchow, nor Haeckel in Germany, has ever gone so far as to say:--"Thought IS a motion of molecules." Their only quarrel with the believers in a soul was and is, that while the latter maintain that soul is the cause of thought, they (the Scientists) assert that thought is the concomitant of certain physical processes in the brain. Nor have they ever said (the real scientists and philosophers, however materialistic) that thought and nervous motion are the same, but that they are "the subjective and objective sides of the same thing."
John Stuart Mill is a good authority and an example to quote, and thus deny the charge. For, speaking of the rough and rude method of attempting to resolve sensation into nervous motion (taking as his example the case of the nerve-vibrations to the brain which are the physical side of the light perception), "at the end of all these motions, there is something which is not motion there is a feeling or sensation of colour" . . . he says. Hence, it is quite true to say, that "the subjective feeling" here spoken of by Mill will outlive even the acceptance of the undulatory theory of light, or heat, as a mode of motion. For the latter is based on a physical speculation and the former is built on everlasting philosophy--however imperfect, because so tainted with Materialism.
Our quarrel with the Materialists is not so much for their soulless Forces, as for their denying the existence of any "Force-bearer," the Noumenon of Light, Electricity, etc. To accuse them of not making a difference between mental and physical phenomena is equal to proclaiming oneself ignorant of their theories. The most famous Negationists are to-day the first to admit that SELF-CONSCIOUSNESS and MOTION "are at the opposite poles of existence." That which remains to be settled between us and the materialistic IDEALISTS--a living paradox by the way, now personified by the most eminent writers on Idealistic philosophy in England--is the question whether that consciousness is only experienced in connection with organic molecules of the brain or not. We say it is the thought or mind which sets the molecules of the physical brain in motion; they deny any existence to mind, independent of the brain. But even they do not call the seat of the mind "a molecular fabric," but only that it is "the mind-principle"--the seat or the organic basis of the manifesting mind. That such is the real attitude of materialistic science may be demonstrated by reminding the reader of Mr. Tyndall's confessions in his Fragments of Science, for since the days of his discussions with Dr. Martineau, the attitude of the Materialists has not changed. This attitude remains unaltered, unless, indeed, we place the Hylo-idealists on the same level as Mr. Tyndall--which would be absurd. Treating of the phenomenon of Consciousness, the great physicist quotes this question from Mr. Martineau: "A man can say 'I feel, I think, I love'; but how does consciousness infuse itself into the problem?" And he thus answers: "The passage from the physics of the brain to the corresponding facts of consciousness is unthinkable. Granted that a definite thought and a molecular action in the brain occur simultaneously; we do not possess the intellectual organ, nor apparently any rudiments of the organ, which would enable us to pass by a process of reasoning from one to the other. They appear together, but we do not know why. Were our minds and senses so expanded, strengthened and illuminated, as to enable us to see and feel the very molecules of the brain; were we capable of following all their motions, all their groupings, all their electric discharges, if such there be; and were we intimately acquainted with the corresponding states of thought and feeling, we should be as far as ever from the solution of the problem, 'How are these physical processes connected with the facts of consciousness?' The chasm between the two classes of phenomena would still remain intellectually impassable."
Thus, there appears to be far less disagreement between the Occultists and modern Science than between the former and the Substantialists. The latter confuse most hopelessly the subjective with the objective phases of all phenomena, and the Scientists do not, withstanding that they limit the subjective to the earthly or terrestrial phenomena only. In this they have chosen the Cartesian method with regard to atoms and molecules; we hold to the ancient and primitive philosophical beliefs, so intuitively perceived by Leibnitz. Our system can thus be called, as his was--"Spiritualistic and Atomistic."
Substantialists speak with great scorn of the vibratory theory of science. But, until able to prove that their views would explain the phenomena as well, filling, moreover, the actual gaps and flaws in the modern hypotheses, they have hardly the right to use such a tone. As all such theories and speculations are only provisional, we may well leave them alone. Science has made wonderful discoveries on the objective side of all the physical phenomena. Where it is really wrong is, when it perceives in matter alone--i.e., in that matter which is known to it--the alpha and the omega of all phenomena. To reject the scientific theory, however, of vibrations in light and sound, is to court as much ridicule as the scientists do in rejecting physical and objective spiritualistic phenomena by attributing them all to fraud. Science has ascertained and proved the exact rapidity with which the sound-waves travel, and it has artificially imitated--on the data of transmission of sound by those waves the human voice and other acoustic phenomena. The sensation of sound--the response of the sensory tract to an objective stimulus (atmospheric vibrations) is an affair of consciousness: and to call sound an "Entity" on this plane, is to objectivate most ridiculously a subjective phenomenon which is but an effect after all--the lower end of a concatenation of causes. If Materialism locates all in objective matter and fails to see the origin and primary causes of the Forces--so much the worse for the materialists; for it only shows the limitations of their own capacities of hearing and seeing--limitations which Huxley, for one, recognizes, for he is unable on his own confession to define the boundaries of our senses, and still asserts his materialistic tendency by locating sounds only in cells of matter, and on our sensuous plane. Behold, the great Biologist dwarfing our senses and curtailing the powers of man and nature in his usual ultra-poetical language. Hear him (as quoted by Sterling "Concerning Protoplasm") speak of "the wonderful noonday silence of a tropical forest," which "is after all due only to the dullness of our hearing, and could our ears only catch the murmurs of these tiny maelstroms as they whirl in the innumerable myriads of living cells which constitute each tree, we should be stunned as with the roar of a great city."
The telephone and the phonograph, moreover, are there to upset any theory except the vibratory one--however materialistically expressed. Hence, the attempt of the Substantialists "to show the fallacy of the wave-theory of sound as universally taught, and to outline the substantial theory of acoustics," cannot be successful. If they shew that sound is not a mode of motion in its origin and that the forces are not merely the qualities and property of matter induced or generated in, by and through matter, under certain conditions--they will have achieved a great triumph. But, whether as substance, matter or effect, sound and light can never be divorced from their modes of manifesting through vibrations--as the whole subjective or occult nature is one everlasting perpetual motion of VORTICAL vibrations.
2 The use of the terms "matter, or substance existing in supersensuous conditions" or, "supersensuous states of matter" would avoid an outburst of fierce but just criticism not only from men of Science, but from any ordinary well educated man who knows the value of terms.
3 Useless to remind again the leader, that by Elements it is not the compound air, water and earth, that exist present to our terrestrial and sensuous perceptions that are meant but the noumenal Elements of the ancients.
4 The Substantialists call, moreover, Spirit that which we call mind (Manas), and thus it is Soul which takes with them the place of ATMA; in short they confuse the vehicle with the Driver inside.