From the very beginning of Life–among the Particles of Inorganic Substance, may be found traces of something like Sensation, and response thereto. Writers have not cared to give to this phenomenon the name of “sensation,” or “sensibility,” as the terms savored too much of “senses,” and “sense-organs.”
But Modern Science has not hesitated to bestow the names so long withheld. The most advanced scientific writers do not hesitate to state that in reaction, chemical response, etc., may be seen indications of rudimentary sensation. Haeckel says: “I cannot imagine the simplest chemical and physical process without attributing the movement of the material particles to unconscious sensation. The idea of Chemical Affinity consists in the fact that the various chemical elements perceive the qualitative differences in other elements and experience ‘pleasure’ or ‘revulsion’ at contacts with them, and execute their specific movements on this ground.” He also speaks of the sensitiveness of “plasm,” or the substance of “living bodies,” as being “only a superior degree of the general irritability of substance.”
Chemical reaction, between atoms, is spoken of by chemists as a “sensitive” reaction. Sensitiveness is found even in the Particles of Inorganic Substance, and may be regarded as the first glimmerings of thought. Science recognizes this when it speaks of the unconscious sensation of the Particles as athesis or “feeling,” and the unconscious Will that responds thereto, as tropesis, or “inclination.” Haeckel says of this that “Sensation perceives the different qualities of the stimuli, and feeling the quantity,” and also, “We may ascribe the feeling of pleasure and pain (in the contact with qualitatively differing atoms) to all atoms, and so explain the elective affinity in chemistry (attraction of loving atoms, inclination; repulsion of hating atoms, disinclination).”
It is impossible to form a clear or intelligent idea of the phenomenon of chemical affinity, etc., unless we attribute to the Atoms something akin to Sensation. It is likewise impossible to understand the actions of the Molecules, unless we think of them as possessing something akin to Sensation. The Law of Attraction is based upon Mental States in Substance. The response of Inorganic Substance to Electricity and Magnetism is also another evidence of Sensation and the response thereto.
In the movements and operations of crystal-life we obtain evidences of still a little higher forms of Sensation and response thereto. The action of crystallization is very near akin to that of some low forms of plasmic action. In fact, the “missing link” between plant life and the crystals is claimed to have been found in some recent discoveries of Science, the connection being found in certain crystals in the interior of plants composed of carbon combinations, and resembling the inorganic crystals in many ways.
Crystals grow along certain lines and forms up to a certain size. Then they begin to form “baby-crystals” on their surfaces, which then take on the growth–the processes being almost analogous to cell-life. Processes akin to fermentation have been detected among chemicals. In many ways it may be seen that the beginning of Mental Life must be looked for among the Minerals and Particles–the latter, be it remembered, composing not only inorganic, but also Organic Substance.