Passage From The Inorganic To The Organic
( Originally Published 1913 )
In what does the Organic statically differ from the In-organic ? Metaphysicians solve the problem in a facile way; facile, but futile ! They declare that Organic matter differs from Inorganic in being endowed with Vital Force or Vital Principle. This is like Molière's physician explaining that opium caused sleep because it had a soporific virtue ! It is saying, "vitality is due to a vital principle !" An explanation entirely satisfactory to the metaphysical mind'; less so to the positive mind.
Enough of metaphysicians ! Let us turn to the men of Science, and ascertain what answer they can give. Many have been satisfied with the explanation suggested by Berzelius, Fourcroy, De Blainville, Muller, and others, —viz. that Inorganic bodies are formed by binary combinations, Organic by ternary or quaternary combinations.
" In mineral substances," says Muller, " the elements are always combined in a binary manner ; thus two elementary substances unite together, and this binary compound unites again with another simple substance, or with another binary compound.
In minerals the elementary substances are never observed to combine three or four together, so as to form a compound in which each element is equally united with all the others. This, however, is universally the case in organic bodies. Oxygen, hydrogen, carbon, and nitrogen, the same elements which by binary combination formed inorganic substances, unite together, each with all the others, and form the peculiar proximate principles of organic beings. These compounds are termed ternary, or quaternary, according to the number of elements composing them.. Vegetable mucus, starch, and adipose matter, are ternary compounds of oxygen, carbon, and hydrogen : gum, albumen, fibrin, animal mucus, and resin, are quaternary compounds, their fourth ingredient being nitrogen. A doubt has recently been thrown upon this theory of the composition of organic substances, especially with respect to some particular products, such as alcohol ; but there is still great probability in its favour, and more particularly in reference to the higher organic compounds, such as albumen, fibrin, &c."
"I have quoted the whole passage from Muller because it succinctly expresses a very general conception; but the conception is, as Mulder energetically says, durchaus unchemisch " altogether unchemical." The discovery of radicals upsets the whole theory. Ether, for example, does not consist of C4H5O but of C4H5 + O,—that is to say, the four equivalents of Carbon, the five of Hydrogen, and the one of Oxygen, do not form a ternary compound, each combining with the other two ; but the Carbon and the Hydrogen combine together, forming a compound radical named Ethyl, and this afterwards combines with oxygen and forms Ether. The oxygen here introduced may be separated from the group, and sulphur, bromine, or chlorine substituted. Thus, whether we admit the theory of the existence of compound radicals, as most chemists hold it, or whether we side with those who question it,* the facts upon which the theory is built overthrow the old hypothesis of ternary combinations. Indeed, Chemical Philosophy is daily advancing more and more to a recognition of the necessary dualism of all chemical combinations.
This hypothesis of binary and ternary compounds adumbrates one portion of the truth, it points out that the combinations necessary for organic bodies are more complex than those for inorganic bodies ; or, as Mulder puts it, " if any distinction is allowable we must place it in the fact that compound radicals exist in the former, and simple radicals in the latter" The point on which chemists are agreed is one mentioned in the previous section (p. 135) viz. that organic substances differ from the inorganic in possessing higher multiples of equivalents, or in other words that the organic molecule is a greater multiple of forces than the inorganic molecule.
The first stage in our inquiry is attained. We arrive at one capital distinction between Organic and Inorganic substances, and can set forth this primary static Law.
LAW I. The elements which compose Organic substances are the same as those which compose Inorganic substances ; but in the Organic they occur as higher multiples.
In an exhaustive view all organic substances are to be considered --
1st. As to their Elements ;
2nd. As to the Synthesis of these elements, i. e. their modes of combination;
3rd. As to their Form.
Having noted the difference of elementary composition, I will now pass to the difference of Synthesis. As the letters of the alphabet acquire new significations with new arrangements, although each letter preserves throughout its integral value, so do the elements acquire new powers by new arrangements. The letters P o t nay form the word Pot, or the word Top ; so also Carbon, Hydrogen, and Oxygen, in exactly the same proportions, may form Starch or Gum, It is in consequence, however, of chemists not distinctly appreciating the difference between elementary analysis and immediate analysis (or, to reverse the problem, elementary synthesis and immediate synthesis) that so much confusion reigns in this part of science ; among other points I will notice that of the pretended impossibility of forming organic substances by artificial means, an impossibility which is at present owing to our ignorance of the proximate principles and their synthesis. In Miller's Physiology we find this note :
"Berard, Proust, Dobereiner, and Hatchett, believe that they have succeeded in producing organic compounds by artificial processes; but their results have not been sufficiently confirmed. Woehler's experiments afford the only trustworthy instances of the artificial formation of these substances. Woehler discovered that a watery solution of ammonia, after being saturated with cyanogen, contained a considerable quantity of oxalic acid. Again, in the preparation of potassium from charcoal and carbonate of potash, a black mass passes over with the metal, which, when treated with water, yields a large proportion of oxalic acid. Oxalic acid, however, is not regarded as a binary compound of carbon and oxygen ; the fact that it undergoes decomposition when its water of crystallization is extracted is no proof to the contrary, for nitric acid is decomposed by the extraction of the last portion of its water. Woehler also finds, that urea is obtained in place of cyanide of ammonia when a solution of chloride of ammonia is poured over freshly precipitated cyanide of silver, chloride of silver being formed at the same time. Urea is also formed in the decomposition of cyanide of lead by solution of ammonia. The solution at first contains cyanide of ammonia; but by evaporation of the fluid this salt is converted into urea. In the same way, also, whet cyanous acid is mixed with water or liquid ammonia cyanide of ammonia is first formed, and thence urea.
The point is worth consideration. If you analyse an organic substance into its elementary parts, you cannot again reconstruct the original substance from those elements. True. But the reason is that you have made an elementary analysis, and the synthesis required is not elementary, but immediate. The substance was not formed of the four organogens and some mineral elements it was not formed directly of the elements into which it is decomposed it was formed of proximate' principles, and these proximate principles were formed of the elements: In inorganic substances precisely the same difficulty meets us. We can decompose saltpetre into its elements oxygen, nitrogen, and potassium. But we cannot recompose saltpetre by the direct combination of these elements, any more than we can so recompose organic substances ; because saltpetre is formed by a synthesis of nitric acid with potass, and not directly. Thus, as Comte remarks in his chapter on Chemistry, Wöhler would never have succeeded in producing urea if he had endeavoured to combine the elements which compose it; he succeeded because he combined its proximate principles.
An illustration : There is a favourite game in which a number of letters forming a word to be guessed are thrown together pell mell. These letters may represent the elementary atoms. According as they are arranged in sequence they form the word intended, or some other word. My own name, for example, will form Lewes, Sewel, Elwes, Wesel, Weesl, Leews ; in a way analogous to that in which the organogens form isomeric bodies. All depends on the arrangement, sequence, synthesis.
Further, be it remarked that among the proximate principles of organic substances there are many of what may be termed mineral origin, whose part is accessory but indispensable ; and experiment justifies à priori deduction in asserting that in proportion as organic substances contain a large percentage of these principles, the more do they approach those substances which can be artificially formed; and vice versa. Urine, for example, is formed of a larger proportion of water and salts than of other principles, and contains more than other organic products.
" Thus, then, we see that elementary analysis can teach us little or nothing of organic substances formed of proximate principles. The value of the elements varies with their varying positions.
As Mulder says, this synthesis is all important : " if we pass in review the substances present in the organic kingdom, we perceive an endless series of combinations from either two, or three, or four elements only. This is enough to show that there is an indefinite capacity for modification in the primary forces which operate in the elements. The influence of one upon another is thus unlimited also. A slight difference in the state of an element is sufficient to give it the appearance of a new, an entirely peculiar, substance, as compared with the other elements. Let us take, for example, starch, gum, sugar, acetic acid, glucic acid, inuline. All these are composed of the same elements, taken in the same proportions. Thus they consist severally in equivalents of "The carbon of one of these substances is no doubt equal to the carbon of any of the others, in so far as it exhibits the same properties, if separated from its combination. But it is incorrect to suppose that the carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen in sugar are identical with those in acetic acid, for there is a great difference between sugar and acetic acid ; and we cannot attribute this difference to anything but to the difference of the forces by which the same substance is governed. Thus, the carbon, hydrogen, or oxygen is not in any two cases supplied with the same properties. They assume in each substance a peculiar form. The general idea comprehending carbon, hydrogen, or oxygen in sugar and acetic acid, must therefore be modified, because the forces peculiar to matter must necessarily be modified, as matter is itself unalterable.
"This will appear clearly, if we consider the combinations of carbon with hydrogen. If we supposed the carbon and the hydrogen in C5H4, C10H8, C151-P2, C20H16,, to be always the same, we should be constrained to assume the identity of the substances, and any distinction would be impossible. Among the elements we know a considerable number which, without entering into any combination, present an entirely different appearance, in consequence of but a slight difference in the circumstances under which they are placed. For example, phosphorus becomes black when heated and then suddenly cooled; and by means of a red heat silica is so modified, that the substance, after and before the application of such heat, might be taken for two different substances, if we looked to its properties only. The interesting experiments recently made by Berzelius as to the allotropic character of phosphorus, have opened a new path for scientific investigations. If the simple substances can assume the permanent appearance of unlike bodies, without forming any combination, their compounds can do so much more. And such an assumption of other' characters must take place in all cases, in which no other mode remains of explaining the diversity of the compounds, than in the supposition of a real difference in the component elements them-selves."
Our former illustration of letters may help us to an explanation of isomerism, which is erroneously supposed to depend on a simple difference in the grouping of the elementary atoms, and not on a difference also of synthesis. Thus, in Stoekhardt's work on Chemistry we see isomeric diagrams, in which the, atoms are differently arranged, to explain all the differences of phenomena; as if a difference to the eye carried with it all other differences !
Isomeric bodies, properly, defined, are bodies having similar elementary composition with dissimilar immediate synthesis; and in proof thereof, they not only form different compounds when united with similar bodies, bases or acids, but also it is now found they give different products when analyzed with sufficient precaution.* It is to be further noted that all these isomeric bodies are bodies having an organic origin ; many of them are actually organic, i. e., they are formed of several proximate principles.
There is another difference of composition, and one which demarcates Chemistry from Anatomy with sufficient precision to form of itself a ground for denying the propriety of such a science as Organic Chemistry. The difference I refer to is this : Inorganic substances are definite in their composition. Water, for example, whether as water, steam, or ice, is uniformly composed of 122 ounces of hydrogen to 100 ounces of oxygen. Quicklime, however prepared—from marble, limestone, chalk, or oyster-shells—uniformly contains 250 ounces of calcium to 100 ounces of oxygen. It is on this fact rests the brilliant atomic theory of definite proportions.
Not so Organic substances. Those which are specially Organic—those, I mean, which are not crystallizable are uniformly indefinite or indeterminate in their composition, That is one of their definitions. No chemical formula, precise in its equivalents, will serve to characterise absolutely an organic substance.
Not only is the elementary composition of organic substances very complex, the immediate composition is so likewise. This immediate composition is not formed of proportions fixed, determinate, invariable, and de-fined, as in inorganic substances. The organic substance, without losing its distinctive characters of coagulation, &c., may possess a little more or a little less of the elements of water, for example. Elementary analyses do not always give one constant result, as they do in the reduction of inorganic substances ; showing that the composition is not definite.
It is because the composition of organic substances oscillates between certain limits (limits, it is true, not very distant) that we are unable to foretell with any absolute certainty what are the molecular acts of combination or of double decomposition which will occur in any given ease, as we can. with urea, for example. The instability which accompanies this complexity of composition prevents our being certain, after having combined any organic substance with an acid, of finding it precisely as it was before, when we remove the acid by means of a base ; as we can with urea and nitric acid. The composition being indeterminate, it is possible the substance may have lost some of its elements, or its immediate molecular composition may have been modified.
How much of this indeterminateness may be mere mixture, I do not pretend to say. The distinctive fact is all needed for my purpose. The differences resulting from different immediate composition may be seen in Albumen and Fibrine, two substances having exactly the same elementary composition, and yet two substances so different that no one could confound them. Yet by reagents, or by heat, we can change Albumen into a solid and Fibrine into a liquid, so that the two may be indistinguishable one from the other ; and this without altering their elementary composition. Indeed, to use the language of the chemist I have been following, " Ces éléments varient constamment de quantité entre certaines limites pour une même espèce anatomiquement identique, mais prise chez des individus différents, pour une substance dont pourtant tous les autres caractères sont les mêmes. C'est ce qui fait dire que leur composition chimique n'est pas définie, n'est pas déterminée, parceque leur analyse élémentaire ne donne pas un poids de ces différents éléments fixe et constamment le même, comme le sont les sulfates, l'urée, le sucre," &c. Moreover, the nerve-tissue contains phosphorus as a constituent, but the quantity of this phosphorus varies, and yet the tissue remains nerve-tissue whether the phosphorus be more or less ; or any other tissue may lose some of its water without losing its properties.
Gathering up these various threads into one formula, we may by it express the second Static Law of Organized Substances :
LAW II. The presence of higher multiples is accompanied by an indefinite composition in lieu of a definite composition, and by a characteristic immediate synthesis of the elements.
Before passing to the third and final stage, it will be useful to alter the ordinary classification of matter " Organic and Inorganic," for one which I propose, with great hopes of its being found suggestive, viz. :
Matter may be considered under three aspects: 1st. Non-organized; 2nd. Organizable, or partly organized;
3rd. Organized. For these three conditions I propose the names of Anorganic, Merorganic, and Teleorganic.
I. Anorganic matter is that usually termed inorganic —water, salts, minerals, &c.
II. Merorganic matter is matter in an intermediate state, wherein it either wants some addition, to become organized, or else (as in organic products) has lost some of the elements it had when organized. Thus, the blastema from which cells are formed is the highest condition of merorganic matter—it is just on the eve of becoming vital. So also the cells which have lost their vitality in the very fulfilment of their function are all merorganic.
III. Teleorganic matter is matter in that condition in which the cell, fully equipped, can, and does, perform its function.
From this classification it appears that the passage from the inorganic to the organic does not take place directly ; but the anorganic passes into the merorganic, and the merorganic into the organic. What is the indispensable condition of this final passage ? What is it which makes the merorganic substance vital ?
We have already considered organic substances under their two preliminary aspects of elementary composition and synthesis (LAWS I. and II.) ; and, if I have at all succeeded in the exposition, it will not be difficult to gain a clear, firm conception of the third and final process—that, namely, of Form. For Organic matter is differentiated from Inorganic as much by its Form as by its elementary structure.
Before explaining my own view, it will be well to cast a glance at the evidence furnished by crystals :
Crystallization has always seemed to conceal the first beginnings of the phase named Organic, because in crystals we first meet with definite constituent forms, i. e., with Form as a necessary and inseparable condition of their existence as crystals. Inorganic matter can, we know, assume indifferently any shape without thereby losing its properties. But in a crystal the Form is essential—the solution which will become crystallized by even so slight a disturbance of its equilibrium as the touch of a feather, is not yet crystal; it only becomes a crystal when its molecules assume a determinate form.
But there are many obvious and some fundamental distinctions between the highest crystal and the lowest example of organic life, which prevent our accepting crystallization as the transition phase between the inorganic and the organic. Of these distinctions it is enough to name the most striking, viz., the organic cell undergoes a series of transformations, and reproduces itself; the crystal undergoes no transformations, and never reproduces.
It is true that a French chemist, M. Brame, has quite recently made a wonderful discovery, which—if it be established—shows that previous to crystallization certain bodies assume an embryonic cellular condition, the outgrowth and consequence of which is a crystal ; and, what is still more remarkable, in this cellular embryo not only has the microscopic cell an enveloping membrane, enclosing within it a soft semitransparent matter containing vapour, which when condensed forms a crystal (thus furnishing both " cell membrane" and "cell contents"), but these cells assume an arrangement very analogous to that of the organic tissues ! Granting, however, all that M. Brame claims, his discovery reveals nothing of the passage from the inorganic to the organic—it only enlightens us on the formation of crystals. Instead of showing the crystal as an organic beginning, it shows the crystal as a consequence and outgrowth of an organic beginning. We might thus define crystals to be arrested life.
Moreover, the results of all researches into the chemistry of organized bodies show that the proximate principles of the organism are disposable into three classes :
1. Principles of mineral origin which are crystallizable, and which quit the organism such as they entered it.
2. Principles which are crystallizable, formed in the organism, and generally quitting it in the shape of excremental products, such as they were at their formation.
3. Principles which are coagulable but not crystallizable, formed in the organism with the aid of materials for which the first class serve as a vehicle, and decomposed in the place of their formation, thus furnishing the materials for the principles of the second class.
These last are the only true organic principles, and are precisely demarcated from the crystallizable principles. We must not, therefore, look to crystals for the element of Form we are now seeking, simply because crystals never attain the teleorganic condition.
Confining ourselves, as we have done hitherto, to the teachings of observation and induction, we have to ask this question : What is the Form which being universal may be supposed indispensable to organic life?. Half the prosperity of philosophy lies in being able to put a definite question. Interrogate Nature, and she will answer. She answers in this case emphatically—a cell. The cell, or sphere, is not only the typical Form of an organic being, that with which every organic being, from the lowest to the highest, commences—it is the indispensable condition of the being's existence.
A cell is the whole of one of the simplest plants, such as the Protococcus ; and there are large plants which are nothing more than the association of myriads of such simple cells. The lowest type is thus a cell ; the second stage in advance is an association of cells ; the third, a transformation of those cells into a tissue; but in one and every case the starting-point of organic life is the assumption of cellular or spherical form.
On this point hear Mulder :—" The cell is a concave globule. This concave globule is an individual ; that is, in the most simple form in which it can possibly exist (in the lowest moulds), it possesses all the powers of the molecules united into one whole, and thus reduced to a state of equilibrium. This state depends not only on the nature of the substances and of their elements, carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, or carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen ; but also on their form. The state of equilibrium, therefore, could not exist, unless this concave globular form existed. Moreover, this hollow globule possesses the whole of these forces in a state of mutual combination, co-operating for one end ; this being a peculiarity which also apparently depends on the globular form. Since these two ideas are founded on pure observation, we may steadfastly adhere to them, and therefore correctly infer that inorganic nature, besides all the peculiarities existing in the carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen, we must suppose, as a chief consequence of this, a tendency to form membraneous, concave, spherical little bodies, in which, because of this form, new peculiar properties manifest themselves, which cannot be brought out by other forms. Thus by matter and form, by form and matter, all that we observe in nature is to a great extent deter-mined. This general conclusion is drawn from the innumerable phenomena we perceive in the organic world—phenomena which differ, whether, on the one hand, the materials are the same and the forms differ, or, on the other, the materials differ, while the forms are the same.
If, therefore, the vegetable kingdom consisted of one common cellular substance, this being different, however, only as to the form, either in various tribes or genera, or species, or parts, or organs of plants ; the effects of the same chemical body, of the same cellular substance, must, of necessity, be different for each different form. This has, in fact, been found to be true. These little individuals, these little cells, become other individuals when different in form, or when connected together in a different manner, though they consist almost of the same substances. The very smallest difference in the nature of the substances they consist of, or with which they are in contact, can infinitely influence that dif ference of form, and thus the material products of different forms are as innumerable, and as frequently modified, as the different forms produced through their difference in substance are innumerable, and frequently modified. Finally, if the form and substance are constant, the products of the cells must also be constant ; if either the form or the substance of the cells differs, these products must be different.
" It is only right, therefore, that they who study the doctrine of life, should set the highest value upon the knowledge of forms, and should not rest satisfied with merely knowing the percentage of the component parts, or with merely enumerating a series of chemical sub stances, which appear on the analysis of an organic body, even if it were possible to get only natural products by an artificial analysis."
There is more in it than Mulder sees; but his observations, combined with what has previously been set forth, may enable the reader to appreciate the final static Law :
LAW III. Merorganic substances become teleorganic by the assumption of a Spherical Form.
The blastema, or nutrient fluid, contains the higher multiples and the proximate principles of indefinite composition, but it is merorganic, not teleorganic; it is organizable, it is not vital ; and the one decisive condition—the only one known—which can transform this blastema into a vital substance is simply the assumption of a Spherical Form.
In saying that the passage from the inorganic to the organic is effected by the assumption of the spherical form (which may stand as a general statement of my theory, qualified by what has been said respecting multiples and synthesis), I am really saying no more than what the facts reveal. Its novelty may startle, but what is it more than the mineralogist's explanation of crystallization ? Just as the solution becomes a crystal only when its molecules arrange themselves in a determinate form, so does the blastema become vital only when its molecules arrange themselves in a determinate form.
Not only is this assumption of a Spherical Form the last step in the process, but by the loss of that Form the cell loses its peculiar vital characteristic—its reproductive power. I cannot here enter upon the mass of evidence ready to prove this position, but must con-tent myself with the assertion, confident that physiology will show organic substance becomes vital as soon as it assumes the cell form, and ceases to be vital (reproductive), though not ceasing to be organized, with its loss of that form. " It seems established," says Dr. Carpenter, " as the aggregate result of the labours of many observers, that in animals as in plants all the parts in which active vital changes are taking place essentially consist of cells, which may be regarded as the real instruments of these operations, the tissues with which they are blended having no other purpose than to supply the physical conditions requisite for them."* If M. Brame's discovery should prove true, this essential activity of the cell will be further illustrated by it. At any rate, sufficient evidence exists to show that the Spherical Form is a constituent element of organic life, and I have striven to demonstrate that it is the last determinate step in the passage to vitality.
I have been asked, and shall be asked again, " Whence this Spherical Form ? What is the cause which determines these higher multiples to assume the Spherical Form ?"
I do not know. The question is one which no positive philosopher will ask ; recognizing as he does the impossibility of our ever knowing causes. He endeavours to trace the "relations of existence and succession," and is content if he succeed. In the foregoing pages I have endeavoured to trace the statical conditions which characterize organic substances. If they are accurately traced you have no more right to ask me what causes the protein compounds to become spheroid, than you have to ask what causes a saline solution to assume a rhomboidal solidity and become crystal. These are ultimate facts ; the hieroglyphs no priest can read !
It is not hereby implied that no farther and more intimate discovery of the process will be made. I seem to see various avenues opening. When the proximate principles of organized bodies are more accurately known there can be little doubt that we shall arrive at the discovery of certain properties, to be classed among the ultimate facts, which will supply' details now wanted.
As a specimen of what I mean, the well-known discovery of Ascherson * will serve. In the remarks which follow, however, the reader must understand that we are venturing into the vast region of hypothesis guided by very tremulous lights, and he will consider them as supplementary to my theory, not as constituent parts.
Ascherson found that fat or oil globules in an albuminous solution became coated with pellicles of coagulated albumen; thus presenting, he thought, a type of cell-formation. Now whether this taking on of an albuminous pellicle be a chemical phenomenon, as he and Wittich think, or a purely mechanical phenomenon, as Harting, Melsens, and Panum think, the fact is indisputable that a globule of fat does envelope itself in a coating of albumen, and thus presents what may be accepted as at least the analogue of the nucleus of a cell, when we remember that fat is an invariable constituent of the nuclei of all cells animal and vegetable. So that on the one hand we see a globule of fat has the property of enveloping itself in an albuminous coating, which envelope becomes coagulated by the addition of a little water, and thus forms a membranous pellicle for the globule ; and on the other hand we see that the nuclei of all cells are globules of fat.
Another indication : The nutritive Chyle is white and opaque, from the presence of innumerable particles of fatty matter of exceedingly minute yet uniform size. They constitute the molecular base of Chyle. Their fatty nature is beyond doubt, and the reason of their not running together to form larger drops, as particles of pure oil would, is by many physiologists believed to be because each molecule is coated with albumen. Note moreover, that, except these molecules of fatty matter, the Chyle contains no solid or organized substances. The fluid in which they float is albuminous. As the Chyle passes onwards to the thoracic duct the quantity of molecules and oily particles gradually diminishes, and cells are developed in it, to which the name of Chyle corpuscles is given.
The process may therefore be thus conceived : A fatty globule surrounds itself with an albuminous pellicle constituting a nucleus, which again in its turn surrounds itself with a cell-wall, and this " sphere within sphere" is necessary to the completion of the organic condition ; showing, both in respect of Form as in respect of Element, how complexities of function follow upon complexities of structure. Thus the reproductive cell is more than a vesicle. It is a vesicle containing a vesicle, which also contains—I will not say a vesicle, for that is not proved—but at any rate an orbicle ; and in cell, nucleus, and nucleolus, we have a triple sphericity of substances having a physicochemical differentiation. But it is not the spherical Form alone, nor the proximate principles alone, which constitutes vitality—it is the union of the two.
This point need not be further pursued—we must await more accurate knowledge before attempting to determine what are the details of the process ; my object is attained if I have made clear to the reader's mind that --
The passage from the inorganic to the organic is a triple process of differentiation—1. Of Elements; 2. Of Synthesis ; 3. Of Form ; and the union of " higher multiples" (in certain determinate conditions named " proximate principles") with " Spherical Form," is the final step which determines vitality.
The differences, important and minute, which we observe in the myriad phenomena of Organic Life, depend upon minute and important differences in the Synthesis of the Elements and in the Form ; every new addition brings with it a new complexity, for every statical difference carries with it a dynamic difference ; and thus in an `ascending series of evolutions from the simple to the complex, from the anorganic to the merorganic, from the merorganic to the teleorganic, from the simplest stages of the teleorganic to those highly complex manifestations seen in the finest organizations, we learn to gather the phenomena of the universe into one majestic Whole, and learn that all lines of demarcation are subjective only. In a word we learn that Life is an evolution, not a separate creation, and is thus essentially connected with the great Life of the Universe.
No thinking man will imagine anything is explained by this. The great mystery of Life and Being remains as inaccessible as ever. But a grander conception of Nature as one Whole, and a more philosophic attitude of mind, in contemplating the varieties of that whole, will result from the restitution of the homogeneity of Nature, when we learn with Goethe, Schelling, and Coleridge, to see Life everywhere, and nowhere Death.
Be that as it may, I think it indispensable to the true understanding of Biology, that we should familiarize ourselves with the truth, that, between the Inorganic and Organic there is no absolute essential difference, but only a great phenomenal difference, arising from the complexity of the lines of direction of force ; and also with the necessity—as a scientific artifice—of dividing the so-called Organic Chemistry into Chemistry and Biology.