Bauhaus-Universität Weimar

nevertheless we are by no means justified in regarding it as iden¬ 
tical with the known imponderable matters, or general physical 
forces,—caloric, light, and electricity, a resemblance to which is 
disproved by a close investigation. The researches on the so-called 
animal magnetism at first promised to throw some light on this 
enigmatical principle, or imponderable matter. It was thought 
that, by one person laying his hand upon, or passing it along the 
surface of another, and by other procedures, remarkable effects 
were produced, arising from the overflow of the animal magnetic 
fluid; some indeed have imagined that by certain operations they 
could produce accumulation of this hypothetic fluid. These tales, 
however, are a lamentable tissue of falsehood, deception, and cre¬ 
dulity; and from them we have only learned how incapable most 
medical men are of instituting an experimental investigation, how 
little idea they have of a logical criticism, which in other natural 
sciences has become a universal method. There is no single fact 
relating to this doctrine which is free from doubt, except the cer¬ 
tainty of endless deceptions; and in the practice of medicine there 
is also no fact which can be connected with these wonders, except 
the often repeated, but still unconfirmed accounts of the cure of 
; paralysis by investing the limbs with the bodies of animals just 
billed, and the willingly credited fables of the restoration of youth 
to the old and diseased, by their being in the proximity and exposed 
to the exhalation of healthy children, and vice versâ. 
We have thus seen that organic bodies consist of matters which 
present a peculiar combination of their component elements—a 
combination of three, four, or more to form one compound, which 
is observed only in organic bodies, and in them only during life. 
Organised bodies moreover are constituted of organs,—that is, of 
essential members of one whole,—each member having a separate 
function, and each deriving its existence from the whole: and they 
not merely consist of these organs, but by virtue of an innate 
power they form them within themselves. Life, therefore, is not 
simply the result of the harmony and reciprocal action of these 
parts; but it is first manifested in a principle, or imponderable mat¬ 
ter which is in action in the substance of the germ, enters into the 
composition of the matter of this germ, and imparts to organic 
combinations properties which cease at death. 
Conditions necessary for the manifestation of life.— Vital 
stimuli.—The .action of the vital or organic force, is, however, not 
independent of certain conditions. The necessary elementary com¬ 
bination and the vital principle itself may be present, and yet not 
manifest themselves by the phenomena of life. This quiescent 
state of the vital principle, as it is seen in the impregnated germ of 
the egg before incubation, or in the seeds of plants before germi¬ 
nation, must not be confounded with the state of death; it is also 
not life, but a specific state of “ capability of living.” Life itself, 
namely, the manifestation of the organic or vital force, begins under


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