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Section 31

31. Our problem embraces all act and all experience throughout the entire kosmos- whether due to nature, in the current phrase, or effected by art. The natural proceeds, we must hold, from the All towards its members and from the members to the All, or from member to other member: the artificial either remains, as it began, within the limit of the art- attaining finality in the artificial product alone- or is the expression of an art which calls to its aid natural forces and agencies, and so sets up act and experience within the sphere of the natural.

When I speak of the act and experience of the All I mean the total effect of the entire kosmic circuit upon itself and upon its members: for by its motion it sets up certain states both within itself and upon its parts, upon the bodies that move within it and upon all that it communicates to those other parts of it, the things of our earth.

The action of part upon part is manifest; there are the relations and operations of the sun, both towards the other spheres and towards the things of earth; and again relations among elements of the sun itself, of other heavenly bodies, of earthly things and of things in the other stars, demand investigation.

As for the arts: Such as look to house building and the like are exhausted when that object is achieved; there are again those- medicine, farming, and other serviceable pursuits- which deal helpfully with natural products, seeking to bring them to natural efficiency; and there is a class- rhetoric, music and every other method of swaying mind or soul, with their power of modifying for better or for worse- and we have to ascertain what these arts come to and what kind of power lies in them.

On all these points, in so far as they bear on our present purpose, we must do what we can to work out some approximate explanation.

It is abundantly evident that the Circuit is a cause; it modifies, firstly, itself and its own content, and undoubtedly also it tells on the terrestrial, not merely in accordance with bodily conditions but also by the states of the soul it sets up; and each of its members has an operation upon the terrestrial and in general upon all the lower.

Whether there is a return action of the lower upon the higher need not trouble us now: for the moment we are to seek, as far as discussion can exhibit it, the method by which action takes place; and we do not challenge the opinions universally or very generally entertained.

We take the question back to the initial act of causation. It cannot be admitted that either heat or cold and the like what are known as the primal qualities of the elements- or any admixture of these qualities, should be the first causes we are seeking; equally inacceptable, that while the sun's action is all by heat, there is another member of the Circuit operating wholly by cold- incongruous in the heavens and in a fiery body- nor can we think of some other star operating by liquid fire.

Such explanations do not account for the differences of things, and there are many phenomena which cannot be referred to any of these causes. Suppose we allow them to be the occasion of moral differences- determined, thus, by bodily composition and constitution under a reigning heat or cold- does that give us a reasonable explanation of envy, jealously, acts of violence? Or, if it does, what, at any rate, are we to think of good and bad fortune, rich men and poor, gentle blood, treasure-trove?

An immensity of such examples might be adduced, all leading far from any corporeal quality that could enter the body and soul of a living thing from the elements: and it is equally impossible that the will of the stars, a doom from the All, any deliberation among them, should be held responsible for the fate of each and all of their inferiors. It is not to be thought that such beings engage themselves in human affairs in the sense of making men thieves, slave-dealers, burglars, temple-strippers, or debased effeminates practising and lending themselves to disgusting actions: that is not merely unlike gods; it is unlike mediocre men; it is, perhaps, beneath the level of any existing being where there is not the least personal advantage to be gained.

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