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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
The Contiguity and Harmony of the World
By Emanuel Swedenborg (1688–1772)
 
From ‘Principia Rerum Naturalium’

AS Nature operates in the world in a mechanical manner, and the phenomena which she exhibits to our senses are subject to their proper laws and rules, it follows that nature cannot thus operate except by means of contiguity and connection. Thus the mechanism of the world consists in contiguity, without which neither the world nor its mechanism could exist. Contiguity is necessary to the production of every operation. Without a perpetual connection between the ends and the means, the existence of elementary nature, and of the vegetable and animal natures thence originating, would be impossible. The connection between ends and means forms the very life and essence of nature. For nothing can originate from itself; it must originate from some other thing: hence there must be a certain contiguity and connection in the existence of natural things; that is, all things, in regard to their existence, must follow each other in successive order. Thus all things in the world owe their existence to their mutual dependence on each other; there being a connection, by mediums, from ultimate to ultimate, whence all things have respect to their first source from which they derive their existence. Hence it is manifest that there is a continual connection of the whole body with its minutest parts. If the connection with any part were broken, that part would no longer partake of the life of the rest of the body, but would die, having lost its contiguity. If a connecting part, mediating between the grosser and more subtile motions and affections of the body, were to be broken, a resemblance of death would be superinduced upon the part. Hence also the poets have compared the life and fates of man to a continuous thread woven by the Parcæ; and feigned that if this thread were anywhere severed, his life would also be cut off, and all the series of his destinies.  1
  But to return to our elementary world. If we admit a contiguity, we immediately have a cause for every contingent occurrence: but if there be no contiguity, no contingent circumstance can occur in the world; because there is no cause for its occurring either in one manner or in another. The cause and reason of all effects and phenomena is to be found in contiguity and connection. If this contiguum of nature were to begin to be diminished and rarefied, the world, as to the phenomena existing in it, and every part, would pant as it were for breath, and be reduced to its last extremity. Thus all things depend upon something contiguous to them: as the body depends on life, hearing on the air, sight on the ether. The equilibrium of all things in the elements depends also on contiguity. That there is a contiguity and connection in the elements, appears also in men and animals, who are composed, and in a manner formed, according to that contiguity and connection. Thus we find hearing delighted by harmonious sounds, and the concordant vibrations of musical strings. Musical harmony has itself also its own rules, its own proper geometry; but this we have no need to learn in order to perceive the harmony,—we have it in the ear itself and the organs of hearing, which are in harmonious coherence. By harmonious and accordant sounds we are exhilarated, affected, dissolved away; but discordant sounds give us pain. The eye also is capable of feeling whether anything be harmoniously proportioned or not; and if it be, and its mechanism be well arranged, the soul is immediately delighted through the eye. As too there is a like connection and harmony between the eye and the mind, therefore whatever is harmonious immediately extends, with uninterrupted course, to the mind, which it exhilarates and expands; while all things that are deformed, and not in agreement with analogy, occasion it a certain degree of violence. We have still more striking tokens of harmony in the other senses, as in the smell and the taste; so that by the senses alone we can discover whether the parts of a substance be angular or round, or what is their form and figure. The mechanism therefore of some things is natural to our senses.  2
 
 
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