The riddle of the universe : at the close of the nineteenth century By Ernst Haeckel

The riddle of the universe PDF book: at the close of the nineteenth century By Ernst Haeckel translated by Joseph McCabe (1913)

The riddle of the universe PDF book


Ernst Heinrich Philipp August Haeckel was a German zoologist, naturalist, philosopher, physician, professor, marine biologist, and artist who discovered, described and named thousands of new species,

Contents of the book


The nature of the problem - our bodily frame  - our life - our embryonic development. the history of our species -the nature of the soul  -psychic gradations  -the embryology of the soul  -the phylogeny of the soul  - consciousness  - -the immortality of the soul - -the law of substance.  - the evolution of the world  - the unity of nature  - god and the world.  - knowledge and belief. - science and Christianity - our monistic religion - our monistic ethics - - solution of the world problems.  conclusion 


From the Author's introduction:

The present study of the monistic philosophy is intended for thoughtful readers of every condition who are united in an honest search for the truth. An intensification of this effort of man to attain a knowledge of the truth is one of the most salient features of the nineteenth century. That is easily explained, in the first place, by the immense progress of science, especially in its most important branch, the history of humanity; it is due, in the second place, to the open contradiction that has developed during the century between science and the traditional " Revelation "; and, finally, it arises from the inevitable extension and deepening of the rational demand for an elucidation of the innumerable facts that have been recently brought to light, and for a fuller knowledge of their causes.

Unfortunately, this vast progress of empirical knowledge in our " Century of Science " has not been accompanied by a corresponding advancement of its theoretical interpretation that higher knowledge of the causal nexus of individual phenomena which we call philosophy. We find, on the contrary, that the abstract and almost wholly metaphysical science which has been taught in our universities for the last hundred years under the name of "philosophy" is far from assimilating our hard-earned treasures of experimental research. On the other hand, we have to admit, with equal regret, that most of the representatives of what is called "exact science" are content with the special care of their own narrow branches of observation and experiment and deem superfluous the deeper study of the universal connection of the phenomena they observe that is philosophy. While these pure empiricists "do not see the wood for the trees," the metaphysicians, on the other hand, are satisfied with the mere picture of the wood, and trouble not about its individual trees. The idea of a "philosophy of nature," to which both those methods of research, the empirical and the speculative, naturally converge, is even yet contemptuously rejected by large numbers of representatives of both tendencies.


This unnatural and fatal opposition between science and philosophy, between the results of experience and of thought, is undoubtedly becoming more and more onerous and painful to thoughtful people. That is easily proved by the increasing spread of the immense popular literature of " natural philosophy " which has sprung up in the course of the last half-century. It is seen, too, in the welcome fact that, in spite of the mutual aversion of the scientific observer and the speculative philosopher, nevertheless eminent thinkers from both camps league themselves in a united effort to attain the solution of that highest object of inquiry which we briefly denominate the "world-riddles." The studies of these " world - riddles " which I offer in the present work cannot reasonably claim to give a perfect solution of them; they merely offer to a wide circle of readers a critical inquiry into the problem and seek to answer the question as to how nearly we have approached that solution at the present day. What stage in the attainment of truth have we actually arrived at in this closing year of the nineteenth century? What progress have we really made during its course towards that immeasurably distant goal?

The answer which I give to these great questions must, naturally, be merely subjective and only partly correct; for my knowledge of nature and my ability to interpret its objective reality are limited, as are those of every man. The one point that I can claim for it, and which, indeed, I must ask of my strongest opponents, is that my Monistic Philosophy is sincere from beginning to end it is the complete expression of the conviction that has come to me, after many years of ardent research into Nature and unceasing reflection, as to the true basis of its phenomena. For fully half a century has my mind s work proceeded, and I now, in my sixty-sixth year, may venture to claim that it is mature; I am fully convinced that this "ripe fruit" of the tree of knowledge will receive no important addition and suffer no substantial modification during the brief spell of life that remains to me.



Author: Ernst Haeckel
Translator: Joseph McCabe
 Publication Date:1913

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