Denton Jaques Snider.

Cosmos and diacosmos. The processes of nature psychologically treated online

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The Processes of Nature
Psychologically Treated


• * * »

j -



210 Pine St.

(For Sale by A. C. M'Clure A Co., Booksellers, Chicago,

To whom the trade is referred.)

Copyright by
D. J. SNIDER. 1909.

• .













Chapter I. The Elemental Cosmos ... 39

Motion 45

(1) Space 50

(2) Time 59

(3) Quantity 70

Matter 85

*j_ (1) Immanent Character 92

(2) Qualitative Character 101

(3) Quantitative Character 106

Measure 112

(1) Geometry 119

(2) Arithmetic 132

(3) Algebra 156

Chapter II. The Particularized Cosmos . 170

The Moving Body 178

The Impinging Body 188

The Gravitating Body 215





Chapter III. The Systemic Cosmos . . . 243

The Pancosmos 288

The Stars 303

The Sun 321


Chapter I. The Molecular Diacosmos . . 368

The Liquid 373

The Gas 393

The Ether 414

Chapter II. The Radiant Diacosmos . . . 440

Heat 450

Light 476

Electricity 497

Chapter III. The Chemical Diacosmos . . 538

The Elemental Atom 547

The Electron and Radium 555

The Systemic Atom 578



The word Cosmos is sufficiently familiar to the
reader in its general sense; but what about that
other strange vocable in the above head-line, Dia-
cosmosl Not known to the English dictionary , it has
belonged hitherto to the Greek lexicon, in which it is
ascribed to an ancient philosopher who maintained
the atomic theory of the physical universe. More
will be said upon this point and its significance
later, when the atom in Natural Science comes up
for consideration. At present we can merely give
a forecast of the place and purport of the word in
the following book. The prefix dia in Greek, whose
ordinary meaning is through, or asunder, is derived
from an old Aryan root, signifying two, and thus
reaches back linguistically to the primordial con-



cept of division separation, twoness. In the order-
ing of Nature as here unfolded, the Diacosmos is
taken to represent the entire second stage of the
total process of Nature, that is, the separation
stage, in contrast with the Cosmos proper,
which is the first stage. To these two parts is
added the third, and the three form the total cycle
of Nature. The justification of these divisions
must appear in the course of their special ex-

I. There are and always have been various
ways of looking at Nature and of formulating its
activity in human speech. Primarily poetry seizes
upon it and makes it the bearer of the soul's storm
and sunshine, thus reproducing it as a symbol in
one form or other. Different from poetry is the so-
called poetic description of Nature. The art of
Painting employs it in landscapes, often with a
unique sympathy for its color. Nature is con-
ceived to have moods and to show them in an ever-
changing diversity, which starts corresponding
echoes in the heart of man. The artistic use of
Nature is properly a chapter in Aesthetics.

Philosophy also takes its early beginning from
Nature. Ever memorable in many ways was the
declaration of ancient Thales that water was the
■ principle of all things, or the essence of being. He
took a single physical object and conceived it to be
the origin of all phenomena. Really he was seek-
ing the unity of Nature, and tried to find in one


manifestation of it the source or ground of all the
rest. The earlier Greek philosophers had the same
general tendency, their aim was to philosophize
Nature, hence they were called by Aristotle physio-
logoi, Nature philosophers. In them Philosophy
and Natural Science had not yet been differentiated.
In our modern time these two branches of knowl-
edge have become not only distinct, but hostile.
Significant is it to note that in the beginning the
philosopher and the naturalist were one and the
same, personally and scientifically. At the present
moment it looks as if they were coming together
again after their long alienation. Certainly recent
physical science shows an emphatically speculative,
theoretic trend, and is becoming in its way as ideal-
istic as any philosophy. The atom, the ion, the
electron, are ideas, supersensible forms, ever receding
from the realm of the sensible ; nor can they stop in
this recession till they reach a universal principle.
As the case stands at present, science is struggling
to construct the supersensible out of the sensible*
to make the universal out of something particular, *
and hence feels its own contradiction in every fibre.
It resembles the early Greek philosophers who
seized upon a special clement and declared its uni-
versality, which was first a sensible material (as
water and air), and then a supersensible material
(the atom). This last is what modern physical
science is unfolding to a supreme degree of refine-
ment. Some of its devotees are trying to halt it,


but plainly it must go on till it completes its
present phase of evolution.

II. Nature is a vast theme, indeed through it
rises the very conception of vastness or magnitude ;
but vast as it is, we are to see it ultimately as only
a part or phase of the great Totality, of the Universe
as a whole. Religion, Philosophy, and Psychology
also in the supreme sense grapple with this Universe
each in its own way, and regard it as embracing the
three grand divisions, usually called God, Nature,
Man. These three form the process of the All
which is psychical, or rather pampsychical, and
which deserves a special name — we call it the Para-
psychosis, or the psychosis of the All which is thus
conceived as Self, having Nature as the second
stage of its process.

Such a Universe cannot be interrogated concern-
ing its origin from without, since .that would con-
tradict it in its essence. Cause does not apply to
it unless it should be conceived as self-caused; if
something else beside itself caused it, then it is not
the Universe, which as Ego or Self must have its
own process.

Nature, then, takes its fundamental character
from the fact that it is the second or separative
stage of the Psychosis, here of the All-psychosis.
It is the derived, the created, the separated — from
what? From the Primordial One as the creative
Self, of which, however, we must grasp it as an in-
herent essential part. It is not to be conceived as


something ejected or externally formed by a trans-
cendent creator, of whose perfection it constitutes
no integral portion. To be sure, it is the stage of
separation in and from the All-Self, and taking
this point of view we may deem it the Unself of the
Universe, the other side of the same and yet belong-
ing to the same. Now this separation, very gener-
ally stated, is the most pervasive psychical charac-
teristic of Nature, is what distinguishes it from
beginning to end and unites all its varied phenom-
ena in a common trait. And we are to see that this
separation of Nature from the All makes Nature
all-separative, cutting it up into ever-diminishing
particles, atomizing it to the last degree of division-
To this basic originative conception of Nature
we shall often come back to re-think it and to ap-
propriate it anew. There is one, and only one,
presupposition in the Universe, and that is the Uni-
verse itself, but as Self. It has no beyond or out-
side, for the beyond and outside lie in it. Still it
as universal must be its opposite, its other, which
as Plato long ago remarked, is Nature. Or we may
penetrate to the thought in this way: the All-Self
must unselve itself and through this act be com-
plete as object; otherwise indeed its difference is
outside of it and not a constitutive part of its pro-
cess. Now this act of unselving itself and creating
an Unself, gives Nature, the separative stage of
the Universe. And furthermore, this separative
act of Nature-making goes over into Nature itself,


which is perpetually self-reproductive in infinite
diversity. And what we may call the first mani-
festation of Nature, Motion, shows the ever-
separating character which is truly Nature's soul.

At this point another conception enters. Nature
trying to get outside of itself in Motion, hints a
striving for some end — what is that end? A kind
of dissatisfaction it shows with its separation, and
seeks to separate from the same, whereby it simply
repeats the separative act. Still it keeps up the
struggle to reach beyond itself, but cannot so long
as it remains Nature. Gravity manifests the striv-
ing of an unobstructed stone to get rid of gravity
at the center of the earth, or perchance at the cen-
ter of the Universe. Nature in every throb reveals
an aspiration to return to the All whence it came.
But it must not, else that All would not be com-
plete, would not have its total process, would not
be All. Still Nature will whisper her ideal unity
even in her real separation. In this aspect she,
though the Unself, is always aspiring to re-selve
herself in the fountain of her original existence.

III. From time immemorial men of thought have
asked, What is the first of Nature? What object
or appearance has the right to be considered prim-
ordial? In the multitude and complexity of nat-
ural phenomena, which one must be taken as the
start of the physical world? Evidently that which
actually starts in itself and is the pure form of all
beginning — Motion. There is a remarkable con-


sensus tfpon this point; two of the deepest thinkers
on Nature, Aristotle in antiquity and Descartes in
the modern epoch, are agreed that Motion is the
first of Nature and is wrought through the same
from beginning to end under many shapes.

If we take a steady glance at Motion, we find it to
be ever separating from itself and passing beyond;
it is separation pure and simple, we shall call it the
Separating in accord with its fundamental trait.
It is the opposite of the All-Self, the most complete
estrangement from universal selfhood; really the
process of self-estranging it bears in its own bosom,
so that it is always getting away from itself in order
to be itself. Motion is, accordingly, the primal
manifestation of Nature's dualism, its very birth-
mark stamped at creation. The first antithesis of
the All-Self is not Space, nor Matter (as some have
thought), but Motion, which is the prototypal form
of Nature, its all-separating act; for it is Motion
which keeps Nature going, and radiates it out and
beyond, toward infinity. Motion is the primal
manifestation of the All-Self in its necessary self-
opposition, that is, in its unselving itself and be-
coming Nature. Motion is accordingly the peren-
nial dec-entering of all things and primarily of itself.
Still it is a striving for the center, for the universal
center, that is the center of the Universe — which
remains a striving.

If Motion be the first, what is the second of Na-
ture? Here again is quite a consensus of the best


judges, who select Matter. Motion and Matter are
then the primordial twain of Nature sprung of the
All. Sometimes the order is reversed into Matter
and Motion, Matter being deemed Nature's first.
Such an arrangement, however, obscures their
physical genesis, and must be corrected.

Matter is, in its turn, the counterpart of Motion,
being the fixed, the inert, the enemy of change.
Still it manifests the full separation of Motion, only
it does not move in itself; at least such is its appear-
ance, even if modern Science is reading Motion into
the molecules of rigid Matter. We have still to
make a difference between Motion and Matter, be-
tween which exists a sort of perpetual war in Na-
ture. How shall we distinguish them? Matter is
as external as Motion, but halted in its externality
and crystallized on the spot. It is not the separat-
ing, but the separated. It is already outside itself,
not forever going that way, like Motion, but gone.
It is not only external but self-external and thus

In its basic thought we shall call Matter the Sep-
arated of Nature in line with, yet in contrast to
Motion as the Separating. With all their differ-
ence we shall find that they belong together in a
common Psychosis which is hereafter to be devel-
oped. Accordingly we shall in the present exposi-
tion designate Motion and Matter as the Separating
and the Separated, the active and the passive, both
being derived from the All-self and opposites of it,


yet in diverse ways. Hence both are also opposites
of each other, though in a single domain of Nature ;
they form a process together, in which a third ele-
ment, Measure, will appear as their psychical

It may be added that Matter as separated from
the great Totality will show its origin. Matter has
gravity, which strives to carry all separated bodies
into unity and thus overcome the separation in-
volved in every material particle. Gravity may be
deemed the soul of Matter, which longs to return
out of its estrangement from the One-and-All.
But this end remains ideal, an aspiration of Nature,
which cannot be fully realized without break-
ing up the order of the Universe. The weight
of a little piece of Matter is a voice which, when
fully heard, speaks out of the heart of the uni-
versal Self.

IV. Nature is born with the original mighty con-
tradiction between Motion and Matter, both of
which rise through a series of forms or stages, with
the ever-advancing triumph of Motion over Matter
or of Force over Body, till Body vanishes and Mo-
tion remains as pure self-activity or self-movement
in the human consciousness. This is no longer
Nature, which must cease when its dualism between
Motion and Matter ceases. Life is indeed a phase
of self-movement, but is not purely such, being in a
body which still gravitates. So the destiny of Mo-
tion (and with it of Nature) is to be its own Matter,


and to become self-moved within itself, in other
words, to become the Ego.

As Nature is dual and indeed contradictory with
its incessant play of attraction and repulsion, it
was already in old Greece called dialectical. Mat-
ter and Motion are not only opposites, but each is
internally self-opposed, contradicting itself. The
well-known difficulty about Motion usually takes
this form: a thing cannot move where it is and can
not move where it is not, hence there is no
Motion. The self-contradiction in Motion as the
Separating goes back to Zeno the Eleatic. If
Motion moves it quits itself, negates itself. And
yet this self-transcending is just what Motion is.
Deeper is the Dialectic of Motion as the separation
from All-Self of which it still remains a part.
Zeno also pointed out the Dialectic which is in-
volved in the conception of Matter the separated;
for if Matter be infinitely separated, it must be
separated from itself— which is its negation. A
similar Dialectic of Matter re-appears in Kant's
second antinomy.

Without going into the details of this abtruse
subject, we may mark the historic fact that an old
Greek philosopher in the first half of the fifth cent-
tury B. C, this Zeno, very distinctly affirmed the
inherent dualism and contradiction of Nature,
which was called its Dialectic. Particularly he
singled out its first two manifestations, Motion and
Matter, and showed their dualism, we might say


duplicity: There has been some question about
the meaning of Zeno: did he intend to deny the
sensuous reality of Motion and Matter, and so of
all Nature? Hegel thinks that Zeno had no such
intention, that he purposed to assert merely the un-
truth or the phenomenality of Motion and Matter.
At any rate Zeno strikes the fundamental charac-
teristic of all Nature as the second or separative
stage of the Parapsychosis. He brings to the sur-
face its twofoldness, its dualism. He, therefore,
occupies a very important place in the history of
the Science of Nature. It may be that he did not
go so far as to deny the existence of an external
world, though he showed its inner self-assailing
Dialectic as a necessary element of its being. This
external world, too, must be, even in its inner con-

It should be added that the doctrine of Zeno has
its application to Mind as well as to Nature. All
finitude, be it inner or outer, is inherently dialecti-
cal, self-undoing, negative to itself. Zeno did not
probably carry out his view so far, but it was much
extended by Plato, though its fullest and most sym-
pathetic elaboration is to be found running through
the entire philosophy of Hegel, often called the
last philosopher of Europe. Zeno's greatness is,
as we look at it, to have given the first conception
of a Science of Nature by showing its innermost
character. To be sure his method was not that
of the scientist, not experimental. He thought


Nature in its genesis, he re-created it in idea after
its creator, and formulated the same for the future.

The dualism of Nature may be further illustrated
by the doubt which it has often excited in specula-
tive minds (doubt is itself dual, from duo). Is it
an appearance to the senses without substance?
Does it at times dart into reality and then flit out
of it like a ghost, playing hide-and-seek with its
pursuers, though they be scientists? We have
already noted the present speculative tendency of
Science, its flights to the supersensible. Famous
philosophers have questioned the reality of Space
and Time, others have reached the point of deny-
ing Nature on account of its Dialectic. Fichte
questions it, Berkeley more than questions it. But
because Nature is dialectical, gives no ground for
denying its existence.

Here we may repeat that Nature, just through
its separation and contradiction has its place in the
Universe as pampsychical. There would be no
Universe, no complete process of it, without Na-
ture as its second or separative stage. This sep-
arative dialectical character of Nature is, there-
fore, fundamental, truly a necessary constituent of
the All. It must be recognized at the start; the
first duty of Science is such recognition. Philoso-
phy and Theology have sometimes damned Nature
as the evil one who is somehow to be put out of the
Universe. Thus, however, they would completely
undo themselves, and the Creator, too.


V. That Nature taken by itself is dual, has been
stated sufficiently; but now we must add that her
process, her movement is threefold, being at bot-
tom psychical and therein bearing the impression
of its origin. Nature we have seen to be a stage,
the second, in the process of the universal Self,
which process is psychical also. We must, there-
fore, put together these two thoughts: Nature is
dual, but the process of this dualism is triple, that is,
has its three stages. Or we may say that the content
of Nature is the threefold process of her twofold-
ness. For instance Motion, Matter and Magnitude
(Measure) form one of Nature's processes, to be
shown later; but all three have in them Nature's
primordial dualism, each in its own way. Inertia,
Repulsion, Attraction, are three well-known cate-
gories of Matter, and make a psychical process to-
gether, but each is endowed with the original sep-
arative character of Nature.

All this is an illustration of a fundamental fact in
universal Psychology: each stage of a psychical
process must have in it that process in order to be
a stage of the same. Or each part of a whole must
have in it the process of that whole in order to be
such a part. So Nature is a stage or part of the
great Totality, of the Pampsychosis, whose psychi-
cal process must hold of Nature in order to make it
a part or stage of the same. From this point of
view we have again to observe the double character
of Nature: It is on the one hand a single stage yet


u- i r^roopss dual in itself, yet
also the total psychical process, d I ^

triple in its movement, a part w ^ we

the whole of winch it is a , ait. O
are to follow Nature unfolding as
vernal science of J*****- and inde cd to feel
We have, ««4?*.^ before it and
. in Nature a ^»» it came and to
. beyond it, something -^ and in ite way
which it is going. It rsm bridge between

mediational; we may deem p a mpsy-

the absolute Self ^.f^S-to- Nature
chosis and the Psychosis Suehm ^ ^

has not only for the poet and «^» holo .

true scientist, and especiahy or the t P y

gist . Nature's process - tha ^

though it, taken by ^,^ it is of itself,

In theEgo the psychical processs rf

but not so in Nature, which W« rf ft

.ration and estrangement = ^ ^

and to return. But tms ^^

anend(theAristotehantc^h.h ^.^

only b y transcei , m N ^ 01 . ganiaes it and gives
or ideal end of Nature ^

to it unity in its muiucu Cosmos

tion, for instance, f * ^ f t * e stri ving for the
to its f^est -*-mf « t reato of ufe

unification of all Matter. for the

intion -eals the grand^tnvm ^ ^

highest organ, fo - N ^ & poet by
in exuberance; a greai pu


any means, could call her "a Bacchic god" in a
mighty carousal of shapes, as if the Absolute were
breaking loose through her into a fit of universal
revelry. But deeper than her maddest delights is
her soul's sigh for restoration out of her estrange-
ment in the Universe. Such is the perennial un-
dertone of Nature's aspiration, not to be neglected
by the scientist. Schelling called Nature "a petri-
fied intelligence," but the expression does not re-
cognize her soulful striving underneath all her
riotous play of forms.

The scientist is usually content to investigate
Nature as it is in itself, in its dualism. He reduces
its seeming license and lawlessness to law— cer-
tainly a great service. Thus he becomes the legis-
lator of Nature, which cannot be allowed to run at
will through the Universe. But the laws them-
selves become manifold and even contradictory;
they too must be brought into an order which goes
back to their source and puts them into an organic
totality or law of laws. That brings us again to
the psychical fountain-head of Nature itself, as well
as of its laws, which will be found to be some part
of its process.

Accordingly all the laws of Nature, so far as dis-
covered, must ultimately find their place in some
stage of the psychical process which runs through
and co-ordinates the physical universe. Nature as
a whole we conceive to be the absolutely separated
from the All, and hence separated from itself, for it


belongs to the All. Here we may note again the
flash of its Dialectic. Its character is, therefore,
self-dividing, atomic to infinity, yet the atom, if
material, is still divisible. Motion we may regard
as the active atomizing of Nature, its Separating
from itself, while Matter is the atomized, the Sep-
arated, the divisibility of Nature.

VI. And now we have to summon before us the
total domain of Nature, and behold its full sweep
from beginning to end. This would embrace the
cycle of the Natural Sciences, each of which has its
own special field, and is specially cultivated in our
age of specialization. The attempt here is to see
them not so much in their isolation as in their
continuity and in their order, which is their
process. Three grand divisions or stages consti-
tute the totality of Nature from the foregoing point
of view:

(I.) The first division we shall call the Cosmos,
which term has been also used to designate the or-
dered Whole of Nature. The Cosmos as here re-
garded is the getting and the unifying of the physi-
cal universe, in its immediate separation from the
All-Self, and it includes the first Motion and Matter,
as well as their final organization into a system.
But the pivotal characteristic of the Cosmos is
Gravitation; all the separated bodies, terrestrial
and celestial, draw one another in the smallest
particle as well as in the largest mass, and so have
the tendency to become one and form a unity.


(II.)' Our second division is called the Diacosmos,
of which word the general meaning has been already
given. It is in its sphere the opposite of the Cosmos ;
instead of gravitating, it has the tendency to de-

Online LibraryDenton Jaques SniderCosmos and diacosmos. The processes of nature psychologically treated → online text (page 1 of 35)