THE reader, no doubt, has been chafing under the unnecessary copiousness of personal detail with which the preceding pages are encumbered. It is the fault of the historian. It is his duty to pass in review a multitude of particular occurrences and incidents. It is right for him to become interested in them, but he should not let his interest run away with him and inflict them on the public.
For what the reader wants to know is the effect of their discovery on the thoughts and opinions of the Unæans—the total change it made. This can best be exhibited by a mythology which sprang up amongst them. The Unæans, like other peoples, made mythologies which, although of no scientific value, yet are invaluable for showing the trend of thought and opinion of a race. For in a mythology those principles and modes of procedure which are used and employed legitimately with regard to the proximate, are projected, and the whole, the total history of the Universe is supposed to proceed after the same pattern. In the mythology which sprang up amongst the Unæans after the discovery of the third dimension, that practically most important fact in the experience of any being—the distinction between the large and the small—held a primary position. The distinction between the large and the small was taken as something basic and fundamental, and formed as it were the beginning and starting point of their imaginings.
This is the mythology:
In the beginning, said the Unæans, were beings three dimensional, yes, even more, with full plentitude of dimensions and every power, faculty, quality, living a blessed life, with all that heart or mind could desire.
But they were small. Small in a vast Universe. As a little family living on a hillside have love and song and joy, all happiness, and contentment, yet to keep and preserve their happiness and joy, they must turn and labour to conquer the floods, the inclemencies of the seasons, the dangers of nature, so these glorious beings, because they were small in a vast Universe, had to meet danger and difficulty. The efforts of each by himself were minute and inefficacious, therefore they combined together, united their efforts, made organisms which in the perfection of their action and the precision and perfection with which they carried out their functions became not mere compound bodies, but new individuals. Each of these individuals by the mere fact of its existence, each, simply by being put on the scene, meant the safe-guarding, the protection, the insurance of the happy noble life of its constituents and makers. And each in turn, in virtue of its completeness and perfectness, entered as an individual on a life of new experience, new meaning, new danger. For round these new beings, new individuals, stretched the vast Universe. The day of danger was not over, it loomed different. The task of organization was not over, it had but assumed different proportions, demanded different means. Then from the life within, from the happy life within, full of all powers, all activities, there came the thought, the design, the ingenious perception, the recognition of principles which gave the new individual the capacity for meeting these new, strange, greater dangers.
And thus cycle after cycle, effort and achievement went on. Ever the organisms, perfect, happy, leading a blessed life, which were the completion of one stage of effort, were themselves small, insignificant, exposed to danger in a vast Universe.
And, said the Unæans, our bodies are one stage in this ever expanding act of protection. The process of evolution is a one way process, it lasts for ever, it is the conquest of the large by the small. Within the body are processes surpassing those that the skill of man can devise. Within is an intelligence of corresponding degree, and corresponding to the perfection of function an inner happiness which the body exists to protect. But men themselves are small and in the vast Universe must combine together for protection, must make bodies in whose power of co-ordinated action, the power of co-ordinated action of a single individual is repeated. In the duty and valour and faithfulness of the individual lies the coherence of the Nation, it but exists as a mere organism in virtue of a higher order of action on the part of the individuals composing it. And thus it is in virtue of powers, emotions, characteristics far higher than those he is conscious of in his individual existence, that an individual comes to be. As he makes, so is he made.
So much for their mythology. What led the Unæans to it? It was this. Suddenly they found that the question to be asked about the motions, the kinds of action that occurred in nature was, not, "How are they produced from rest?"
"How can three dimensional processes and motions be so modified and limited as to produce these motions we observe?"
Thus behind the simple of their experience they found the more complex. Again, when they let all objects and forms fall from their minds, they thought of mere Room, just Room for all to be. And this Room, this possibility of determination, was a two dimensional Room. Now they found that this two dimensional mere emptiness did not exist, it had to be accounted for by real things, it was only possible on the basis of a reality. That they lived in a plane world meant a surface against which they moved; and this meant the existence of a whole range of physical phenomena unknown to them. Here again was complexity behind.
Hence the whole notion of an homogeneous extended matter out of which things were differentiated disappeared—the question came to be, "How is it that in this infinitely more complex more real three dimensional world we get our impression of simplicity and uniformity—our two dimensional simplicity?"
They saw that because it was easy (and indeed the proper way) in thinking of things to suppose them built up out of the simple, they had come to suppose this simple extension, this simple rest to exist outside themselves. They had projected their means of thought and supposed the Universe made up out of it.
Then turning their thoughts to themselves they became willing to admit that behind their consciously realised selves there was something more complex. And again, confirmatory of this view, trying it, they found that they could think of three dimensional things. They found, when they gave it a fair trial, that the thought of things and movements in three dimensional space was more natural than their old thoughts of two dimensional things. They found a function of thought in themselves which for ever and completely displaced their old notion of trying to account for themselves and their mental powers by their relation to their environment, the environment, that is, in which their bodies moved. They saw that previously they had mis-read the meaning of their existence. They were not produced in some mysterious way by the interaction of the organism and its environment, but they were the active makers. Their business was to tap the powers of the life within so that they could meet the problems of the Universe spreading vast around them. From within, from the wonderful intellectual and sense life within, they drew the faculties of comprehension, from it they drew the principles by which their science was equal to the problems of the larger world around them, and from within also they drew the principles of union, sympathies, personal activities which made their social life grow deeper, stronger.
Thinking of themselves there were two ways in which the Unæans could set to work. Let us illustrate these two ways. In our world thinking of water, the substance water, we may say it is made up of fluidity, extension, heaviness and some viscosity. Or we can say it is made up of two other substances, Oxygen and Hydrogen. In the one case we are dealing with adjectives which have no actual occurrence, while in the other case we find constituents of actual occurrence, neither of them in the least of the nature of abstractions.
Thinking of themselves the Unæans could postulate consciousness, volition, and a host of other adjectives. Or they could ask, what is that real which constitutes myself? Adopting the latter way they were led to the following conclusion. Thinking of their bodies it became clear to them that those extended (as we should say film-like extended) masses must be in a certain sense secondary and derived. Real actions and real things were three dimensional. Hence that which was really active and efficient in them must be three dimensional. Now it was only in the minute, in the activities below the scale of their sense of perception that there was any three dimensional activity. Hence, they did not like it, but they were forced to it; they came to think of that which was really themselves as a small being in a two dimensionally extended organism.
Such was the train of thought which led to the Unæan mythology.
The real reason why it took the Unæans so long to admit the existence of the third dimension, was because the admission involved so great a change in all their habitual modes of thinking.
To pass to a different subject. It is impossible to separate the emotional, personal existence of a being from the actual relations in which he is placed. His feelings and the other beings he is in contact with, his character on the one hand and the total of the possibilities of his modes of action on the other hand cannot be separated and analysed apart.
Hence it is certain that the outlook on a different order of physical activity, the discovery that the Universe is so much wider than they thought, must have an effect on the character, emotions and feelings of the Unæans.
And again, to refer to still another subject, Luke's suggestion that there is another mode of thinking than space thinking, a mode of thinking which does not leave space conceptions for metaphysical abstractions, but uses space conceptions to show forth something still more fundamental, this suggestion, leaving as it does on the one hand such freedom for the unfettered application of space thought, and on the other hand opening a horizon beyond, deserves further notice.
But, unfortunately, the preceding pages bring Unæan history down to the present day, and there are no materials by which the record can be extended.