The wonders of life
From the author Introduction:
The publication of the present work on The Wonders of Life has been occasioned by the success of The Riddle of the Universe, which I wrote five years ago. Within a few months of the issue of this study of the monistic philosophy, in the autumn of 1899, ten thousand copies were sold. Moreover, the publisher having been solicited on many sides to issue a popular edition of the work, more than a hundred thousand copies of this were sold within a year.
This extraordinary and-— as far as I was concerned — unexpected success of a philosophical work which was by no means light reading, and which had no particular charm of presentation, affords ample proof of the intense interest taken by even the general reader in the object of the work — the construction of a rational and solid philosophy of life.
Naturally, the clear opposition of my monistic philosophy, based as it was on the most advanced and sound scientific knowledge, to the conventional ideas and to an outworn "revelation," led to the publication of a vast number of criticisms and attacks. During the first twelve months, more than a hundred reviews and a dozen large pamphlets appeared, full of the most contradictory strictures and the most curious observations.
the book details :
The twenty chapters of The Wonders of Life were written uninterruptedly in the course of four months which I spent at Rapallo, on the shore of the blue Mediterranean. The quiet life in this tiny coast-town of the Italian Riviera gave me the leisure to weigh again all the views on organic life which I had formed by the many-sided experience of Hfe and learning since the beginning of my academic studies (1852) and my teaching at Jena (1861).
To this I was stimulated by the constant sight of the blue Mediterranean, the countless inhabitants of which had, for fifty years, afforded such ample material for my biological studies; and my solitary walks in the wild gorges of the Ligurian Apennines, and the moving spectacle of its forest-crowned mountain altars, inspired me with a feeling of the unity of living nature — a feeling that only too easily fades away in the study of detail in the laboratory.
On the other hand, such a situation did not allow a comprehensive survey of the boundless literature which has been evoked by the immense advances in every branch of biology. However, the present work is not intended to be a systematic manual of general biology. In the revision of the text, on which I was engaged during the summer at Jena, I had to restrict myself to occasional additions and improvements.
In this, I had the assistance of my worthy pupil, Dr Heinrich Schmidt, to whom also I am indebted for the careful revision of the proofs. When I completed my seventieth year at Rapallo, on February i6th, I was overwhelmed with a mass of congratulations, letters, telegrams, flowers, and other gifts, most of which came from unknown readers of The Riddle of the Universe in all parts of the world. If my thanks have not yet reached any of them, I beg to tender them in these lines. But I should be especially gratified if they would regard this work on the wonders of life as an expression of my thanks, and as a literary gift in return.
May my readers be moved by it to penetrate deeper and deeper into the glorious work of Nature, and to reach the insight of our greatest German natural philosopher, Goethe: "What greater thing in life can man achieve Than that God-Nature be revealed to him?"
- Chapter I truth
- Chapter ii life 27
- Chapter iii miracles 54
- Chapter iv the science of life 77
- Chapter v death 97
- Part ii.— morphological section: nature of life
- Chapter vi plasm 121
- Chapter vii unities of life i47
- Chapter viii ' forms of life 170
- Chapter ix monera
- Nutrition 210
- Chapter xi reproduction 239
- Chapter xii movement 258
- Chapter xiii sensation 287
- Chapter xiv mental life 315
- Part iv.— genealogical section: history of life
- Chapter xv the origin of life 336
- Chapter xvi the evolution of life 359
- Chapter xvii the value of life 386
- Chapter xviii morality 411
- Chapter xix dualism 433
- Chapter xx monism
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