Are there any works discussing planetary bodies being forms of life?

Are there any works discussing planetary bodies being forms of life?

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I'm searching for works or individuals that consider and discuss the idea of planetary bodies being considered stand alone living creatures, rather than objects either capable or incapable of supporting life. Anyone familiar with something along those lines?

Look up Gaia hypothesis, James Lovelock, and Lynn Margulis.

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NASA and others know that artists are uniquely able to convey the beauty of space and the meaningfulness of exploration. They commission artwork and fund artists in residence, granting special access to launches, astronauts, clean rooms, and more.


Earth and the Cosmos

Most of us spend our daily lives without devoting a great deal of thought to what lies beyond Earth. People who live outside cities are perhaps more attuned to the cosmos than are their urban counterparts, simply because they see the vast oceans of stars that cover the sky on a clear night. But a person who lives in the city, where bright lights and smog conspire to cover all but the brightest heavenly bodies, rarely finds a reason to look up into the night sky.

One reason people spend little time thinking about the cosmos is that to do so ultimately fills one with a sense of awe bordering on dread. We know that Earth is but one planet of nine, revolving around an average-sized star, the Sun, somewhere between the center and the edge of a galaxy called the Milky Way — itself just one of many galaxies in the universe. This awareness naturally makes a person feel small and almost inevitably raises questions about the nature of the soul, divinity, and the afterlife.


Such questions are a natural accompaniment to of our feeling that if one person is so truly insignificant in this vast cosmos, there must be something else that gives meaning to the structure of reality. These vast issues, of course, are properly addressed not by science but by theology and philosophy. Science, on the other hand, is concerned simply with the facts of how the universe emerged and how Earth fits into the larger picture.

Yet it is easy to see how ancient peoples would have perceived no distinction between religion and science where the study of the cosmos was concerned. The Babylonians, for instance, had no concept of any difference between scientific astronomy and astrology, which today is recognized as a superstitious and thoroughly unscientific pursuit. The Greeks modeled the cosmos on their philosophical systems, which provided a hierarchy of material forms and an ordered arrangement of causes and substances. And the Judeo-Christian tradition depicts a universe fashioned by a loving, all-powerful creator who designed the human being in his own image.

In the belief systems of Judaism and Christianity, handed down through the Bible, the cosmos is depicted as the setting of a vast spiritual drama centered around the themes of free will, sin, and redemption. The Bible never says that Earth is the center of the physical universe, but it clearly presents it as the center of the spiritual one. This is understandable enough, especially if human beings truly are the only intelligent life-forms unfortunately, these spiritual ideas eventually informed an erroneous cosmology that depicted Earth as the physical center of the cosmos.


In fairness to Christianity, it should be said that most religious, philosophical, and even scientific traditions before about 1500 depicted Earth as the center of the universe. Indeed, it required a great feat of insight to discern that Earth is not the center. The same is true of many other discoveries about the cosmos, where nothing is as it appears when simply gazing into the night sky.

In a scene from his great novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884), Mark Twain aptly illustrated the impossibility of understanding the universe simply on the basis of unaided intellect. Huck and the runaway slave Jim have just finished supper and are lying on their backs and staring up at the stars, speculating as to their origins. One of them comes up with a theory that seems altogether plausible on the face of it: the Moon, because it looks larger than the stars, must have laid them like eggs. A similar scene occurs in the children's movie The Lion King (1994), in which one character postulates that the stars have become stuck to the sky like flies on flypaper. When another character, the warthog Pumbaa, correctly suggests that the stars are actually great balls of burning gas billions of miles away, his companions laugh this off as preposterous.


Although they lacked telescopes, the Greeks developed rather sophisticated (though in many cases wrong) ideas concerning the arrangement of the cosmos. Most notable among these early thinkers was the astronomer Aristarchus of Samos (ca. 320-ca. 250 b.c.), who proposed that Earth rotates on its axis once every day and revolves with other planets around the Sun. He also correctly suggested that the Sun is larger than Earth.

Unfortunately, the astronomer Hipparchus (146-127 b.c.) rejected this heliocentric, or Sun-centered, cosmology in favor of a geocentric, or Earth-centered, model. Among Hipparchus's later followers was the Alexandrian Ptolemy (ca. a.d. 100-170), destined to become the most influential astronomer of ancient and medieval times, who established geocentric cosmology as a guiding principle of astronomy.


The influence of Ptolemy's erroneous ideas is partly an accident of history. He lived, as it turned out, in the last great era of civilization: ten years after his death came that of the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius (a.d. 121-180), whose passing marked the beginning of Rome's decline over the next three centuries. Learning in western Europe virtually ceased until about 1200, and even though the Muslim world produced several thinkers of note during this period, most of them worked within the tradition established by Ptolemy. Muslim thinkers' respect for Ptolemy is reflected in the name that Arab translators gave to his most important writing: al-majisti or "majesty." When this work made its way to Europe, it became known as the Almagest.

The Ptolemaic system proves that it is possible to prove anything, if one creates a methodology elaborate enough. Of course, as we know now, Earth is not the center of the universe, but pure observation alone did not reveal this, and Ptolemy's cosmology worked because he developed mathematics and ideas of planetary motion that made it workable. For instance, not only did planets orbit around Earth in Ptolemy's cosmology, but they also moved in circles around the paths of their own orbits. Of course, they do revolve on their axes, but that was not part of Ptolemy's model. In fact, it is hard to find an analogy in the real world, with the exception of some bizarre amusement park ride, for the form of motion Ptolemy was describing.

He was trying to explain retrograde motion, or the fact that other planets seem to speed up and slow down. Retrograde motion makes perfect sense once one understands that Earth is moving even as the other planets are moving, thus creating the optical illusion that the others are changing speeds. Since the Ptolemaic system depicted a still Earth in the middle of a moving universe, however, the explanation of retrograde motion required mental acrobatics.


Although it is incorrect, the Ptolemaic system was a creation of genius otherwise, it could not have survived for as long as it did. Even with the recovery of learning in Europe during the late Middle Ages, scientists continued to uphold Ptolemy's ideas. Instead of discarding his system, or at least calling it into question, astronomers simply adjusted the mathematics and refined their ancient forebear's physical model to account for any anomalies.

The revolution against Ptolemy began quietly enough in the fifteenth century, when the Austrian astronomer and mathematician Georg Purbach (1423-1461) noted the inaccuracies of existing astronomical tables and the need for better translations of Greek texts. Purbach attempted to produce a revised and corrected version of the Almagest, but he died before completing it. The job fell to his student, Johann M ü ller, who was known as Regiomontanus (1436-1476).

The Epitome of the Almagest (1463), begun by Purbach and completed by Regiomontanus, proved to be a turning point in astronomy. Like their medieval predecessors, the two men started out working in the Ptolemaic tradition, but by showing the errors in Ptolemy's work, they actually were criticizing him. Their discoveries were not lost on a young Polish astronomer named Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543).


The story of the Copernican Revolution, the opening chapter in a larger movement known as the Scientific Revolution, is among the greatest sagas in the history of thought. It was a watershed event, marking the birth of modern science as such, but the change in thought patterns created by this revolution was not so much the work of Copernicus as it was of the Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei (1564-1642). Although he often is given less attention than Copernicus and the other most noted figure of the Scientific Revolution, the English natural philosopher Isaac Newton (1642-1727), Galileo was a thinker of the first order who took Copernicus's discoveries much further.

Copernicus had been concerned with how the planets move as they do, and in the course of his work he showed that all of them (Earth included) move around the Sun. Galileo, on the other hand, set out to discover why the planets revolve around the Sun, and in so doing he discovered the principles of inertia and gravitational acceleration that would influence Newton. He made numerous other contributions, such as the discovery that Jupiter had moons, but by far his greatest gift to science was his introduction of the scientific method.

Thanks to Galileo and others who later refined the method, thinkers would no longer be content to let mere conjecture guide their work. Before his time, scientists generally had followed a pattern of absorbing the received wisdom of the ancients and then seeking evidence that confirmed those suppositions. The new scientific method, on the other hand, required rigorous work: detailed observation, the formation of hypotheses, testing of hypotheses, formation of theories, testing of theories, formation of laws, testing of laws — and always more observation and testing.


Building a Better NASA Workforce: Meeting the Workforce Needs for the National Vision for Space Exploration (2007)

Earth Science and Applications from Space: National Imperatives for the Next Decade and Beyond (2007)

Exploring Organic Environments in the Solar System (SSB with the Board on Chemical Sciences and Technology, 2007)

A Performance Assessment of NASA&rsquos Astrophysics Program (SSB with the Board on Physics and Astronomy, 2007)

An Assessment of Balance in NASA&rsquos Science Programs (2006)

Assessment of NASA&rsquos Mars Architecture 2007-2016 (2006)

Assessment of Planetary Protection Requirements for Venus Missions: Letter Report (2006)

Distributed Arrays of Small Instruments for Solar-Terrestrial Research: Report of a Workshop (2006)

Issues Affecting the Future of the U.S. Space Science and Engineering Workforce: Interim Report (SSB with the Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board [ASEB], 2006)

Review of NASA&rsquos 2006 Draft Science Plan: Letter Report (2006)

The Scientific Context for Exploration of the Moon: Interim Report (2006)

Space Radiation Hazards and the Vision for Space Exploration (2006)

The Astrophysical Context of Life (SSB with the Board on Life Sciences, 2005)

Earth Science and Applications from Space: Urgent Needs and Opportunities to Serve the Nation (2005)

Extending the Effective Lifetimes of Earth Observing Research Missions (2005)

Preventing the Forward Contamination of Mars (2005)

Principal-Investigator-Led Missions in the Space Sciences (2005)

Priorities in Space Science Enabled by Nuclear Power and Propulsion (SSB with ASEB, 2005)

Review of Goals and Plans for NASA&rsquos Space and Earth Sciences (2005)

Review of NASA Plans for the International Space Station (2005)

Science in NASA&rsquos Vision for Space Exploration (2005)

Assessment of Options for Extending the Life of the Hubble Space Telescope: Final Report (SSB with ASEB, 2004)

Exploration of the Outer Heliosphere and the Local Interstellar Medium: A Workshop Report (2004)

Issues and Opportunities Regarding the U.S. Space Program: A Summary Report of a Workshop on National Space Policy (SSB with ASEB, 2004)

Plasma Physics of the Local Cosmos (2004)

Review of Science Requirements for the Terrestrial Planet Finder: Letter Report (2004)

Understanding the Sun and Solar System Plasmas: Future Directions in Solar and Space Physics (2004)

Utilization of Operational Environmental Satellite Data: Ensuring Readiness for 2010 and Beyond (SSB with ASEB and the Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate [BASC], 2004)

Limited copies of these reports are available free of charge from:

National Research Council

The Keck Center of the National Academies

500 Fifth Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20001

NOTE: Listed according to year of approval for release, which in some cases precedes the year of publication.


The discovery of extraterrestrial life, in whatever form, will undoubtedly be one of, if not the, most seminal scientific discovery in human history, it is therefore imperative that the integrity of that finding is as unimpeachable as is possible. COSPAR’s PPP and allied efforts are central to that. Paradoxically, the inherent responsiveness that is its greatest strength is also potentially its fatal weakness. That COSPAR is an expert driven process which generates technical guidelines that are adaptive to circumstances and scientific development and that both makes them an exemplary example of ‘soft law’ and has furnished them with high regard within the scientific community. As non-binding guidelines they are followed because space exploration agencies and mission planners recognize their value as “good practice” for scientists. The Achilles heel in this is that actors who see themselves as outside of this community and who do not care about protecting the scientific integrity of outer space, will not feel obliged to adhere to the guidelines. This situation is not terminal, however, as States have the ability, and the responsibility to ensure respect for the guidelines through Article VI of the OST and the resultant licencing process. Furthermore, as can be seen from the above discussion, States would benefit from promoting the COSPAR PPP as a model. This expert led, adaptive process is a model for other areas of space governance to follow particularly as outer space becoming increasingly commercial and non-governmental. It is also sensible, as this transition occurs, to consider a broader 𠇎nvironmental” framework for outer space to ensure that there is not a repeat of the space debris problem around other celestial bodies, among other issues. The incentive for States to act is clear: there will be significant national prestige for the mission that discovers the existence of extraterrestrial life. The many missions to other worlds have shown that adhering to the COSPAR PPP does not prevent activity but it may be vital to establishing the provenance of any discovery of extraterrestrial life.

Sun Planet: The Life Giver Or The Destroyer! Know Yourself.

Sun, as we know, is a luminous body shining in the sky, giving us the light. The whole world is truly grateful as its heat and light give us life. The energy of the Sun dives the life force on earth. It is a sign of positivity and success. Sun is not a planet scientifically, but according to astrology, any celestial body that directly affects the human body directly is termed a planet.

Sun planet in Vedic astrology defines the soul of a human being. The channelling of the Sun’s energy defines the life of a person, whether he will shine like a star or burn like ash. Sun is a symbol of courage, confidence and positivity.

It is the biggest known celestial body in our solar system and holds a high significance in Vedic astrology. The Sun, though stationary in its position, moves the other objects around him. The Sun never turns retrograde as everything else around the Sun moves around him. In astrological significance, the Sun takes 12 months to complete its journey and resides about a month in each astrological sign.

Sun planet in astrology is considered to be the kind of all the planets. It rules the soul and paternity character of a person. The distance of the Sun and other planets determines the strength of the planets and their effect on the individuals. According to the kundali, Sun also governs the ancestors. This is the reason one tends to be cursed by Pitra dosha in kundali if the Sun is confronted by more than one malefic or inauspicious planet. Let us know the Sun as a planet in detail

Sun Planet In Astrology: General Characteristics

Sun in the planet in astrology is called Ravi or Suryadev. Sun is a masculine character. He is considered to be mild malefic due to the heat it generates. In modern astrology, it rules the Leo zodiac. He is forward and on the rise in Aries while he declines in Libra. In Sanskrit, he is called the Atmakaraka, which means the indicator of soul. Sun is the indicator of paternity characters like ego, honours, status, prosperity, vitality and power.

Sun shows the strongest force when placed in the 10th house of the birth chart. However, the Sun is strong in other places like 1st, 4th and 7th houses. Sun is extremely beneficial for fire signs like Aries, Leo and Sagittarius. Sun belongs to the Pitta element due to the fiery nature. To keep the Sun happy, one can wear red ruby on their finger.

Sun gives us vitality, power and immunity from any adverse events. It is directly responsible for the development of the physical characters. Strong Sun provides an individual with qualities like good intellect, prosperity, wealth, good fortune, wisdom, high aspiration and knowledge of medicine. It also governs the spiritual relationship of an individual with temples and other holy places.

According to medical astrology, Sun influences the human spine. The Pingala Nadi, which is represented by the Sun, actually originates at the base of the spine on the right side, ascends upwards and terminates in the right nostrils.

Sun is considered to be the main god of the navagrahas in Vedic astrology. Suryadev in Vedic astrology is depicted as a male riding on the chariot driven by 7 horses or by 1 horse with seven heads. These seven heads represent the 7 chakras in the human body. Surya is also seen as a god with 2 hands holding a lotus in each hand and when in the form of 4 hands then holding lotus, conch (shanka), chakra and mace in respective hands. He is also called the eye of bravery or vishvarupa of Lord Krishna. Incidentally, the Sun is worshipped by all, including the demons. For example, the YAthudhanas, according to Hindu mythology, were the Sun followers.

Sun has a family comprising three queens, namely Sharanya, Ragyi and Prabha. Sharanya was the mother of Satyavrata and twin yama and sister yami. Later Sharanya gave birth to the Ashvin twins, who served as physicians and divine horsemen to the devatas. Sharanya couldn’t bear the extreme heat of the Sun and created a superficial shadow of herself called Chaya. She asked Chaya to serve as Suryadev’s wife. Chaya later gave birth to 2 sons, namely Sararni Manu and Shani and two daughters, namely Tapti and Visthi. Later Shani became the lord of karma while Yama became the lord of death.

Role of Sun In Astrology

Sun is friends with Moon, Mars and Jupiter while enemy to Saturn and Venus. Mercury, however, behaves neutral. Sun is exalted at 10 degrees in Aries and debilitated in Libra by 10 degrees. It generally faces the eastern direction. Lucky colours for a native of the Sun are orange, saffron and light red. Sun is usually associated with Lord Shiva, Rudra, Narayana and Sachidanand.

Sun is extremely beneficial and strong for fire signs like Leo, Aries and Sagittarius. It is on the rise in Aries, while Leo is considered to be the basic triangle or Mooltrikona sign. When the Sun is strong, the native achieves success and prosperity. The health is steady and in strong condition throughout life. A strong Sun in Lagna keeps the person energetic and fit. The positive effects of the Sun in Lagna make the people strong and powerful. Such a person knows how to hold his emotion and assess the situation before concluding anything. The individual will be determined and responsible. People around them might find this confidence as a sign of ego or arrogance. But this is not true.

Due to the effect of the Sun, a person is likely to be placed in the government sector. It helps a person to be principled and disciplined, influential, good organising skills, analysts, creator and a person who likes to achieve success as he progresses.

Where does the Sun sit in your birthchart? Find out now with Free Janampatri Analysis .

However, the Sun is the weakest in Libra. It can also show negative effects in combination with other malefic planets positioned in the kundali. A weak Sun in the lagna can be related to the ill health of the native. Due to this, the other planets are also underperforming. The Sun’s relation with other planets is important, and one needs to check whether the Sun is ascending or descending to other planets. Sun influences the overall personality of a person. However, a weak Sun can give bad results.

What Are The Related Dasha And Antardasha Of Sun?

Like other planets, the Sun has its own Mahadasha that lasts for six years. This is considered as one of the most powerful Vishomttari mahadasha of the Sun. Since the planet’s Sun is the most powerful body in the solar system, it controls all the other planets. This Surya mahadasha can be both malefic and beneficial.

Benefic Mahadasha of Sun will bring wealth, fame, good reputation and life will be like a king. The native will get blessed with a son, and he can enjoy all the family happiness. The native will get power, position, authority and high administrative post.

If the Sun is weak, then the mahadasha will be malefic. This results due to the positioning of the Sun in the 6th, 8th and 12th house in combination with Saturn, Rahu, Ketu and Mars. The native is likely to experience loss of wealth, can be caught in inauspicious deeds. There will be a loss of reputation and rift in the father and Sun relationship. Life will be full of pain.

Antardasha of Sun during its own mahadasha is the first phase of Sun’s Mahadasha. This makes the person attain dominance and authority. This period will take the native towards great heights. The person will also receive gifts and benefits if the Sun is strongly placed. The person will achieve success in his life, but this will also make the native restless.

Conjunction With Different Planets

Sun, in conjunction with different planets, will give different results. Let us discuss the three most common Sun conjunctions.

Sun with Mercury is the most common conjunction since Mercury is the closest to the Sun. This forms a Budh Aditya Yoga . The native will learn new skills, and the intellectual power will be on a high. The communication skill of such individuals will be very good, and one can find them in the field of consultancy, management assistance and advisory field. This conjunction will give good results when Sun and Mercury are placed in 2nd, 11th houses or Kendra.

Sun and Jupiter Conjunction is considered an auspicious combination in Vedic astrology. Both the planets are of masculine origin. During this conjunction, a person is more inclined to the spirituality of life. This combination also benefits a person with wealth and gives fame, recognition and name.

Sun-Moon conjunctions are of different varieties due to the differences in their energy. Sun is hot and fiery, while Moon is calm and composed. When their energy combines in the 10th house or in their own signs like Leo, Aries and Cancer, the effect is generally positive. Such a person will be courageous and confident, but at the same time, his speech will be harsh and highly diplomatic.

Remedies To Enhance A Weak Sun

So how do you cure a weak Sun in your chart? Here are few remedies.

  1. Wear Red coloured ruby seated on metal on Sunday.
  2. Before stepping out of the house, consume a glass of water mixed with sugar.
  3. Perform Surya Namaskar every morning for good health and vitality.
  4. Offer water to the Sun during Sunrise facing the east side.
  5. Sun has a paternity effect, so if anyone wants to reduce the malefic effect of Sun, then he must serve his father, teacher and elder siblings.
  6. Recite Gayatri Mantra or Om Suryaya Namaha (108 times) for maximum favourable results.
  7. Feed cows with wheat and jaggery.

However, all these remedies should be done only after consulting an expert astrologer .

The Sun planet represents the primal force of life, and he often makes you aware of that. It represents the spirit of life, creativity, energy vitality. The power of the Sun creates a personality full of warmth, confidence. However, if the Sun is malefic or unfavourable, then these qualities will be reversed, and this can ruin a native’s life.

Planetary protection – some legal questions

When we legally investigate the topic of Planetary Protection, we have to realise that there are primarily two very distinct parts of our juridical work: We have to study lex lata , the existing applicable Law , especially Space Law, and also lex ferenda , what should be the law . With this in mind, we have to deliberate the legal meaning of the notions “Planetary”, and “Protection”.

About “ Planetary ”: Our own Earth is our most important planet. At present only here do exist human beings, who are sensu strictu the only legal subjects. We make the law, we have to apply it, and we are to be protected as well as bound by it. But what is further meant by “Planetary”? Is it planets in an astronomical sense only, the nine planets which revolve around our fixed star, namely the sun, or is it also satellites, moving around most of these planets, as our own Moon circles Earth. “The Moon and other Celestial Bodies (C.B.)” are subject to Space Law, especially to International Treaties, Agreements, Resolutions of the UN, etc. I propose that they and not only the planets in an strictly astronomical sense are to be protected. But I do not think that the said notion also comprises asteroids, comets, meteorites, etc. although they too belong to our solar system. Our investigation comes to the result that such bodies have a different (lesser) legal quality.

Also we have to ask Protection from what ? From:

Natural bodies – Meteorites, NEO Asteroids, Comets which could hit Earth or C.B.

Artificial Objects: Space Debris threatening especially Earth and near Earth orbits.

Terrestrial Life – no infection of other celestial bodies.

Alien life forms which could bring about “harmful contamination” of Earth and the life, above all human life, there, etc. Here, astrobiological questions have to be discussed.

Special realms on C.B. which should be protected from electronic “noise” such as craters SAHA or Deadalus on the Moon, also taking into account the “Common Heritage” Principle.

Then, we have to examine: Protection where , of whom and of what :

On Earth: Humans, and nature, namely other life forms, air, water and soil, but also all man made things.

On Other celestial bodies: Crew of manned Space Missions, Stations on C.B., possible alien life forms, or remnants of such, water, other environment on C.B. – even if completely barren? Protection of C.B. from becoming “an area of international conflict”.

Finally, we have to discuss overriding interests, such as deflection of Asteroids which threaten to hit Earth, then the legally permitted “Use” of C.B., also mining versus protection, then, too high costs of absolutely sterile Spacecraft, etc.

With this, we have de lege ferenda to create an order of values of protection, whereby the protection of the higher category has priority over the lesser ones.


Eligible full-time and part-time students from the UK don’t have to pay any tuition fees upfront, as government loans are available to cover them.

Maintenance loans are also available for eligible full-time and part-time UK students, to assist with covering living costs, such as accommodation, food, travel, books and study materials. The amount you receive is means-tested and depends on where you live and study and your household income.

Letter from Engels to Marx In London

Written: May 30, 1873
Source: Marx and Engels Correspondence
Publisher: International Publishers (1968)
First Published: Gestamtausgabe
Translated: Donna Torr
Transcribed: Sally Ryan in 1999
HTML Markup: Sally Ryan.

In bed this morning the following dialectical ideas on the natural sciences came into my head:

The subject of natural science — moving matter, bodies. Bodies cannot be separated from motion, their forms and kinds can only be known through motion, of bodies apart from motion, apart from any relation to other bodies, nothing can be asserted. Only in motion does a body reveal what it is. Natural science therefore knows bodies by considering them in their relation to one another, in motion. The knowledge of the different forms of motion is the knowledge of bodies. The investigation of these different forms of motion is therefore the chief subject of natural science.

(1) The simplest form of motion is change of place (in time — to please old Hegel) — mechanical motion.

(a) There is no such thing as the movement of a single body, but relatively speaking, falling can be treated as such. Motion towards a centre common to many bodies. But as soon as an individual body moves in a direction other than towards the centre, while it is still subject to the laws of falling, these undergo modification

(b) in the laws of orbits and lead directly to the reciprocal motion of several bodies — planetary etc., motion, astronomy, equilibrium — a modification temporarily or apparently in the motion itself. But the real result of this kind of motion is always ultimately — the contact of the moving bodies, they fall into one another.

(c) Mechanics of contact — bodies in contact, ordinary mechanics, levers, inclined planes, etc. But the effects of contact are not exhausted by these. Contact is directly manifested in two forms: friction and impact. Both have the property that at given degrees of intensity and under certain conditions they produce new, no longer merely mechanical effects: heat, light, electricity, magnetism.

(2) Physics proper, the science of these forms of movement, after investigation of each individuality, establishes the fact that under certain conditions they pass into one another, and ultimately discovers that all of them — at a given degree of intensity which varies according to the different bodies set in motion — produce effects which transcend physics, changes in the internal structure of bodies — chemical effects.

(3) Chemistry. For the investigation of the previous forms of movement it was more or less indifferent whether this was applied to animate or inanimate bodies. The inanimate bodies even displayed the phenomena in their greatest purity. Chemistry, on the other hand, can only distinguish the chemical nature of the most important bodies in substances which have arisen out of the process of life itself its chief task becomes more and more to prepare these substances artificially. It forms the transition to the organic sciences, but the dialectical transition can only be accomplished when chemistry has either made the real transition or is on the point of doing so.

(4) Organism. Here I will not embark on any dialectic for the time being.

You being seated there at the centre of the natural sciences will be in the best position to judge if there is anything in it.

Are there any works discussing planetary bodies being forms of life? - Astronomy

Lecture XXXV A Philosophy of Life

Source : New Introductory Lectures on Psycho-analysis (1933) publ. Hogarth Press. Last lecture reproduced here.

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN – In the last lecture we were occupied with trivial everyday affairs, with putting, as it were, our modest house in order. We will now take a bold step, and risk an answer to a question which has repeatedly been raised in non-analytic quarters, namely, the question whether psychoanalysis leads to any particular Weltanschauung, and if so, to what.

Weltanschauung’ is, I am afraid, a specifically German notion, which it would be difficult to translate into a foreign language. If I attempt to give you a definition of the word, it can hardly fail to strike you as inept. By Weltanschauung, then, I mean an intellectual construction which gives a unified solution of all the problems of our existence in virtue of a comprehensive hypothesis, a construction, therefore, in which no question is left open and in which everything in which we are interested finds a place. It is easy to see that the possession of such a Weltanschauung is one of the ideal wishes of mankind. When one believes in such a thing, one feels secure in life, one knows what one ought to strive after, and how one ought to organise one’s emotions and interests to the best purpose.

If that is what is meant by a Weltanschauung, then the question is an easy one for psychoanalysis to answer. As a specialised science, a branch of psychology – ‘depth-psychology’ or psychology of the unconscious – it is quite unsuited to form a Weltanschauung of its own it must accept that of science in general. The scientific Weltanschauung is, however, markedly at variance with our definition. The unified nature of the explanation of the universe is, it is true, accepted by science, but only as a programme whose fulfilment is postponed to the future. Otherwise it is distinguished by negative characteristics, by a limitation to what is, at any given time, knowable, and a categorical rejection of certain elements which are alien to it. It asserts that there is no other source of knowledge of the universe but the intellectual manipulation of carefully verified observations, in fact, what is called research, and that no knowledge can be obtained from revelation, intuition or inspiration. It appears that this way of looking at things came very near to receiving general acceptance during the last century or two. It has been reserved for the present century to raise the objection that such a Weltanschauung is both empty and unsatisfying, that it overlooks all the spiritual demands of man, and all the needs of the human mind.

This objection cannot be too strongly repudiated. It cannot be supported for a moment, for the spirit and the mind are the subject of scientific investigation in exactly the same way as any non-human entities. Psycho-analysis has a peculiar right to speak on behalf of the scientific Weltanschauung in this connection, because it cannot be accused of neglecting the part occupied by the mind in the universe. The contribution of psychoanalysis to science consists precisely in having extended research to the region of the mind. Certainly without such a psychology science would be very incomplete. But if we add to science the investigation of the intellectual and emotional functions of men (and animals), we find that nothing has been altered as regards the general position of science, that there are no new sources of knowledge or methods of research. Intuition and inspiration would be such, if they existed but they can safely be counted as illusions, as fulfilments of wishes. It is easy to see, moreover, that the qualities which, as we have shown, are expected of a Weltanschauung have a purely emotional basis. Science takes account of the fact that the mind of man creates such demands and is ready to trace their source, but it has not the slightest ground for thinking them justified. On the contrary, it does well to distinguish carefully between illusion (the results of emotional demands of that kind) and knowledge.

This does not at all imply that we need push these wishes contemptuously aside, or under-estimate their value in the lives of human beings. We are prepared to take notice of the fulfilments they have achieved for themselves in the creations of art and in the systems of religion and philosophy but we cannot overlook the fact that it would be wrong and highly inexpedient to allow such things to be carried over into the domain of knowledge. For in that way one would open the door which gives access to the region of the psychoses, whether individual or group psychoses, and one would drain off from these tendencies valuable energy which is directed towards reality and which seeks by means of reality to satisfy wishes and needs as far as this is possible.

From the point of view of science we must necessarily make use of our critical powers in this direction, and not be afraid to reject and deny. It is inadmissible to declare that science is one field of human intellectual activity, and that religion and philosophy are others, at least as valuable, and that science has no business to interfere with the other two, that they all have an equal claim to truth, and that everyone is free to choose whence he shall draw his convictions and in what he shall place his belief. Such an attitude is considered particularly respectable, tolerant, broad-minded and free from narrow prejudices. Unfortunately it is not tenable it shares all the pernicious qualities of an entirely unscientific Weltanschauung and in practice comes to much the same thing. The bare fact is that truth cannot be tolerant and cannot admit compromise or limitations, that scientific research looks on the whole field of human activity as its own, and must adopt an uncompromisingly critical attitude towards any other power that seeks to usurp any part of its province.

Of the three forces which can dispute the position of science, religion alone is a really serious enemy. Art is almost always harmless and beneficent, it does not seek to be anything else but an illusion. Save in the case of a few people who are, one might say, obsessed by art, it never dares to make any attacks on the realm of reality. Philosophy is not opposed to science, it behaves itself as if it were a science, and to a certain extent it makes use of the same methods but it parts company with science, in that it clings to the illusion that it can produce a complete and coherent picture of the universe, though in fact that picture must needs fall to pieces with every new advance in our knowledge. Its methodological error lies in the fact that it over-estimates the epistemological value of our logical operations, and to a certain extent admits the validity of other sources of knowledge, such as intuition. And often enough one feels that the poet Heine is not unjustified when he says of the philosopher:

‘With his night-cap and his night-shirt tatters,
He botches up the loop-holes in the structure of the world.’

But philosophy has no immediate influence on the great majority of mankind it interests only a small number even of the thin upper stratum of intellectuals, while all the rest find it beyond them. In contradistinction to philosophy, religion is a tremendous force, which exerts its power over the strongest emotions of human beings. As we know, at one time it included everything that played any part in the mental life of mankind, that it took the place of science, when as yet science hardly existed, and that it built up a Weltanschauung of incomparable consistency and coherence which, although it has been severely shaken, has lasted to this day.

If one wishes to form a true estimate of the full grandeur of religion, one must keep in mind what it undertakes to do for men. It gives them information about the source and origin of the universe it assures them of protection and final happiness amid the changing vicissitudes of life, and it guides their thoughts and actions by means of precepts which are backed by the whole force of its authority. It fulfils, therefore, three functions. In the first place, it satisfies man’s desire for knowledge it is here doing the same thing that science attempts to accomplish by its own methods, and here, therefore, enters into rivalry with it. It is to the second function that it performs that religion no doubt owes the greater part of its influence. In so far as religion brushes away men’s fear of the dangers and vicissitudes of life, in so far as it assures them of a happy ending, and comforts them in their misfortunes, science cannot compete with it. Science, it is true, teaches how one can avoid certain dangers and how one can combat many sufferings with success it would be quite untrue to deny that science is a powerful aid to human beings, but in many cases it has to leave them to their suffering, and can only advise them to submit to the inevitable. In the performance of its third function, the provision of precepts, prohibitions and restrictions, religion is furthest removed from science. For science is content with discovering and stating the facts. It is true that from the applications of science rules and recommendations for behaviour may be deduced. In certain circumstances they may be the same as those which are laid down by religion, but even so the reasons for them will be different.

It is not quite clear why religion should combine these three functions. What has the explanation of the origin of the universe to do with the inculcation of certain ethical precepts? Its assurances of protection and happiness are more closely connected with these precepts. They are the reward for the fulfilment of the commands only he who obeys them can count on receiving these benefits, while punishment awaits the disobedient. For the matter of that something of the same kind applies to science for it declares that anyone who disregards its inferences is liable to suffer for it.

One can only understand this remarkable combination of teaching, consolation and precept in religion if one subjects it to genetic analysis. We may begin with the most remarkable item of the three, the teaching about the origin of the universe for why should a cosmogony be a regular element of religious systems? The doctrine is that the universe was created by a being similar to man, but greater in every respect, in power, wisdom and strength of passion, in fact by an idealised superman. Where you have animals as creators of the universe, you have indications of the influence of totemism, which I shall touch on later, at any rate with a brief remark. It is interesting to notice that this creator of the universe is always a single god, even when many gods are believed in. Equally interesting is the fact that the creator is nearly always a male, although there is no lack of indication of the existence of female deities, and many mythologies make the creation of the world begin precisely with a male god triumphing over a female goddess, who is degraded into a monster. This raises the most fascinating minor problems, but we must hurry on. The rest of our enquiry is made easy because this God-Creator is openly called Father. Psycho-analysis concludes that he really is the father, clothed in the grandeur in which he once appeared to the small child. The religious man’s picture of the creation of the universe is the same as his picture of his own creation.

If this is so, then it is easy to understand how it is that the comforting promises of protection and the severe ethical commands are found together with the cosmogony. For the same individual to whom the child owes its own existence, the father (or, more correctly, the parental function which is composed of the father and the mother), has protected and watched over the weak and helpless child, exposed as it is to all the dangers which threaten in the external world in its father’s care it has felt itself safe. Even the grown man, though he may know that he possesses greater strength, and though he has greater insight into the dangers of life, rightly feels that fundamentally he is just as helpless and unprotected as he was in childhood and that in relation to the external world he is still a child. Even now, therefore, he cannot give up the protection which he has enjoyed as a child. But he has long ago realised that his father is a being with strictly limited powers and by no means endowed with every desirable attribute. He therefore looks back to the memory-image of the overrated father of his childhood, exalts it into a Deity, and brings it into the present and into reality. The emotional strength of this memory-image and the lasting nature of his need for protection are the two supports of his belief in God.

The third main point of the religious programme, its ethical precepts, can also be related without any difficulty to the situation of childhood. In a famous passage, which I have already quoted in an earlier lecture, the philosopher Kant speaks of the starry heaven above us and the moral law within us as the strongest evidence for the greatness of God. However odd it may sound to put these two side by side – for what can the heavenly bodies have to do with the question whether one man loves another or kills him? – nevertheless it touches on a great psychological truth. The same father (the parental function) who gave the child his life, and preserved it from the dangers which that life involves, also taught it what it may or may not do, made it accept certain limitations of its instinctual wishes, and told it what consideration it would be expected to show towards its parents and brothers and sisters, if it wanted to be tolerated and liked as a member of the family circle, and later on of more extensive groups. The child is brought up to know its social duties by means of a system of love-rewards and punishments, and in this way it is taught that its security in life depends on its parents (and, subsequently, other people) loving it and being able to believe in its love for them. This whole state of affairs is carried over by the grown man unaltered into his religion. The prohibitions and commands of his parents live on in his breast as his moral conscience God rules the world of men with the help of the same system of rewards and punishments, and the degree of protection and happiness which each individual enjoys depends on his fulfilment of the demands of morality the feeling of security, with which he fortifies himself against the dangers both of the external world and of his human environment, is founded on his love of God and the consciousness of God’s love for him. Finally, he has in prayer a direct influence on the divine will, and in that way insures for himself a share in the divine omnipotence.

I am sure that while you have been listening to me a whole host of questions must have come into your minds which you would like to have answered. I cannot undertake to do so here and now, but I am perfectly certain that none of these questions of detail would shake our thesis that the religious Weltanschauung is determined by the situation that subsisted in our childhood. It is therefore all the more remarkable that, in spite of its infantile character, it nevertheless has a forerunner. There was, without doubt, a time when there was no religion and no gods. It is known as the age of animism. Even at that time the world was full of spirits in the semblance of men (demons, as we call them), and all the objects in the external world were their dwelling-place or perhaps identical with them but there was no supreme power which had created them all which controlled them, and to which it was possible to turn for protection and aid. The demons of animism were usually hostile to man, but it seems as though man had more confidence in himself in those days than later on. He was no doubt in constant terror of these evil spirits, but he defended himself against them by means of certain actions to which he ascribed the power to drive them away. Nor did he think himself entirely powerless in other ways. If he wanted something from nature – rain, for instance – he did not direct a prayer to the Weather-god, but used a spell, by means of which he expected to exert a direct influence over nature he himself made something which resembled rain. In his fight against the powers of the surrounding world his first weapon was magic, the first forerunner of our modern technology. We suppose that this confidence in magic is derived from the over-estimation of the individual’s own intellectual operations, from the belief in the ‘omnipotence of thoughts’, which, incidentally, we come across again in our obsessional neurotics. We may imagine that the men of that time were particularly proud of their acquisition of speech, which must have been accompanied by a great facilitation of thought. They attributed magic power to the spoken word. This feature was later on taken over by religion. ‘And God said: Let there be light, and there was light.’ But the fact of magic actions shows that animistic man did not rely entirely on the force of his own wishes. On the contrary, he depended for success upon the performance of an action which would cause Nature to imitate it. If he wanted it to rain, he himself poured out water if he wanted to stimulate the soil to fertility, he offered it a performance of sexual intercourse in the fields.

You know how tenaciously anything that has once found psychological expression persists. You will therefore not be surprised to hear that a great many manifestations of animism have lasted up to the present day, mostly as what are called superstitions, side by side with and behind religion. But more than that, you can hardly avoid coming to the conclusion that our philosophy has preserved essential traits of animistic modes of thought such as the over-estimation of the magic of words and the belief that real processes in the external world follow the lines laid down by our thoughts. It is, to be sure, an animism without magical practices. On the other hand, we should expect to find that in the age of animism there must already have been some kind of morality, some rules governing the intercourse of men with one another. But there is no evidence that they were closely bound up with animistic beliefs. Probably they were the immediate expression of the distribution of power and of practical necessities.

It would be very interesting to know what determined the transition from animism to religion but you may imagine in what darkness this earliest epoch in the evolution of the human mind is still shrouded. It seems to be a fact that the earliest form in which religion appeared was the remarkable one of totemism, the worship of animals, in the train of which followed the first ethical commands, the taboos. In a book called Totem and Taboo, I once worked out a suggestion in accordance with which this change is to be traced back to an upheaval in the relationships in the human family. The main achievement of religion, as compared with animism, lies in the psychic binding of the fear of demons. Nevertheless, the evil spirit still has a place in the religious system as a relic of the previous age.

So much for the pre-history of the religious Weltanschauung. Let us now turn to consider what has happened since, and what is still going on under our own eyes. The scientific spirit, strengthened by the observation of natural processes, began in the course of time to treat religion as a human matter, and to subject it to a critical examination. This test it failed to pass. In the first place, the accounts of miracles roused a feeling of surprise and disbelief, since they contradicted everything that sober observation had taught, and betrayed all too clearly the influence of human imagination. In the next place, its account of the nature of the universe had to be rejected, because it showed evidence of a lack of knowledge which bore the stamp of earlier days, and because, owing to increasing familiarity with the laws of nature, it had lost its authority. The idea that the universe came into being through an act of generation or creation, analogous to that which produces an individual human being, no longer seemed to be the most obvious and self-evident hypothesis for the distinction between living and sentient beings and inanimate nature had become apparent to the human mind, and had made it impossible to retain the original animistic theory. Besides this, one must not overlook the influence of the comparative study of different religious systems, and the impression they give of mutual exclusiveness and intolerance.

Fortified by these preliminary efforts, the scientific spirit at last summoned up courage to put to the test the most important and the most emotionally significant elements of the religious Weltanschauung. The truth could have been seen at any time, but it was long before anyone dared to say it aloud: the assertions made by religion that it could give protection and happiness to men, if they would only fulfil certain ethical obligations, were unworthy of belief. It seems not to be true that there is a power in the universe which watches over the well-being of every individual with parental care and brings all his concerns to a happy ending. On the contrary, the destinies of man are incompatible with a universal principle of benevolence or with – what is to some degree contradictory – a universal principle of justice. Earthquakes, floods and fires do not differentiate between the good and devout man and the sinner and unbeliever. And, even if we leave inanimate nature out of account and consider the destinies of individual men in so far as they depend on their relations with others of their own kind, it is by no means the rule that virtue is rewarded and wickedness punished, but it happens often enough that the violent, the crafty and the unprincipled seize the desirable goods of the earth for themselves, while the pious go empty away. Dark, unfeeling and unloving powers determine human destiny the system of rewards and punishments, which, according to religion, governs the world, seems to have no existence. This is another occasion for abandoning a portion of the animism which has found refuge in religion.

The last contribution to the criticism of the religious Weltanschauung has been made by psychoanalysis, which has traced the origin of religion to the helplessness of childhood, and its content to the persistence of the wishes and needs of childhood into maturity. This does not precisely imply a refutation of religion, but it is a necessary rounding off of our knowledge about it, and, at least on one point, it actually contradicts it, for religion lays claim to a divine origin. This claim, to be sure, is not false, if our interpretation of God is accepted.

The final judgment of science on the religious Weltanschauung, then, runs as follows. While the different religions wrangle with one another as to which of them is in possession of the truth, in our view the truth of religion may be altogether disregarded. Religion is an attempt to get control over the sensory world, in which we are placed, by means of the wish-world, which we have developed inside us as a result of biological and psychological necessities. But it cannot achieve its end. Its doctrines carry with them the stamp of the times in which they originated, the ignorant childhood days of the human race. Its consolations deserve no trust. Experience teaches us that the world is not a nursery. The ethical commands, to which religion seeks to lend its weight, require some other foundation instead, for human society cannot do without them, and it is dangerous to link up obedience to them with religious belief. If one attempts to assign to religion its place in man’s evolution, it seems not so much to be a lasting acquisition as a parallel to the neurosis which the civilised individual must pass through on his way from childhood to maturity.

You are, of course, perfectly free to criticise this account of mine, and I am prepared to meet you half-way. What I have said about the gradual crumbling of the religious Weltanschauung was no doubt an incomplete abridgment of the whole story the order of the separate events was not quite correctly given, and the co-operation of various forces towards the awakening of the scientific spirit was not traced. I have also left out of account the alterations which occurred in the religious Weltanschauung itself, both during the period of its unchallenged authority and afterwards under the influence of awakening criticism. Finally I have, strictly speaking, limited my remarks to one single form of religion, that of the Western peoples. I have, as it were, constructed a lay-figure for the purposes of a demonstration which I desired to be as rapid and as impressive as possible. Let us leave on one side the question of whether my knowledge would in any case have been sufficient to enable me to do it better or more completely. I am aware that you can find all that I have said elsewhere, and find it better said none of it is new. But I am firmly convinced that the most careful elaboration of the material upon which the problems of religion are based would not shake these conclusions.

As you know, the struggle between the scientific spirit and the religious Weltanschauung is not yet at an end it is still going on under our very eyes to-day. However little psychoanalysis may make use as a rule of polemical weapons, we will not deny ourselves the pleasure of looking into this conflict. Incidentally, we may perhaps arrive at a clearer understanding of our attitude towards the Weltanschauung. You will see how easily some of the arguments which are brought forward by the supporters of religion can be disproved though others may succeed in escaping refutation.

The first objection that one hears is to the effect that it is an impertinence on the part of science to take religion as a subject for its investigations, since religion is something supreme, something superior to the capacities of the human understanding, something which must not be approached with the sophistries of criticism. In other words, science is not competent to sit in judgment on religion. No doubt it is quite useful and valuable, so long as it is restricted to its own province but religion does not lie in that province, and with religion it can have nothing to do. If we are not deterred by this brusque dismissal, but enquire on what grounds religion bases its claim to an exceptional position among human concerns, the answer we receive, if indeed we are honoured with an answer at all, is that religion cannot be measured by human standards, since it is of divine origin, and has been revealed to us by a spirit which the human mind cannot grasp. It might surely be thought that nothing could be more easily refuted than this argument it is an obvious petitio principii, a ‘begging of the question’. The point which is being called in question is whether there is a divine spirit and a revelation and it surely cannot be a conclusive reply to say that the question be asked, because the Deity cannot be called in question. What is happening here is the same kind of thing as we meet with occasionally in our analytic work. If an otherwise intelligent patient denies a suggestion on particularly stupid grounds, his imperfect logic is evidence for the existence of a particularly strong motive for his making the denial, a motive which can only be of an affective nature and serve to bind an emotion.

Another sort of answer may be given, in which a motive of this kind is openly admitted. Religion must not be critically examined, because it is the highest, most precious and noblest thing that the mind of man has brought forth, because it gives expression to the deepest feelings, and is the only thing that makes the world bearable and life worthy of humanity. To this we need not reply by disputing this estimate of religion, but rather by drawing attention to another aspect of the matter. We should point out that it is not a question of the scientific spirit encroaching upon the sphere of religion, but of religion encroaching upon the sphere of scientific thought. Whatever value and importance religion may have, it has no right to set any limits to thought, and therefore has no right to except itself from the application of thought.

Scientific thought is, in its essence, no different from the normal process of thinking, which we all, believers and unbelievers alike, make use of when we are going about our business in everyday life. It has merely taken a special form in certain respects: it extends its interest to things which have no immediately obvious utility, it endeavours to eliminate personal factors and emotional influences, it carefully examines the trustworthiness of the sense perceptions on which it bases its conclusions, it provides itself with new perceptions which are not obtainable by everyday means, and isolates the determinants of these new experiences by purposely varied experimentation. Its aim is to arrive at correspondence with reality, that is to say with what exists outside us and independently of us, and, as experience has taught us, is decisive for the fulfilment or frustration of our desires. This correspondence with the real external world we call truth. It is the aim of scientific work, even when the practical value of that work does not interest us. When, therefore, religion claims that it can take the place of science and that, because it is beneficent and ennobling, it must therefore be true, that claim is, in fact, an encroachment, which, in the interests of everyone, should be resisted. It is asking a great deal of a man, who has learnt to regulate his everyday affairs in accordance with the rules of experience and with due regard to reality, that he should entrust precisely what affects him most nearly to the care of an authority which claims as its prerogative freedom from all the rules of rational thought. And as for the protection that religion promises its believers, I hardly think that any of us would be willing even to enter a motorcar if the driver informed us that he drove without allowing himself to be distracted by traffic regulations, but in accordance with the impulses of an exalted imagination.

And indeed the ban which religion has imposed upon thought in the interests of its own preservation is by no means without danger both for the individual and for society. Analytic experience has taught us that such prohibitions, even though they were originally confined to some particular field, have a tendency to spread, and then become the cause of severe inhibitions in people’s lives. In women a process of this sort can be observed to follow from the prohibition against their occupying themselves, even in thought, with the sexual side of their nature. The biographies of almost all the eminent people of past times show the disastrous results of the inhibition of thought by religion. Intellect, on the other hand, – or rather, to call it by a more familiar name, reason – is among the forces which may be expected to exert a unifying influence upon men – creatures who can be held together only with the greatest difficulty, and whom it is therefore scarcely possible to control. Think how impossible human society would be if everyone had his own particular multiplication table and his own private units of weight and length. Our best hope for the future is that the intellect – the scientific spirit, – reason – should in time establish a dictatorship over the human mind. The very nature of reason is a guarantee that it would not fail to concede to human emotions and to all that is determined by them the position to which they are entitled. But the common pressure exercised by such a domination of reason would prove to be the strongest unifying force among men, and would prepare the way for further unifications. Whatever, like the ban laid upon thought by religion, opposes such a development is a danger for the future of mankind.

The question may now be asked why religion does not put an end to this losing fight by openly declaring: ‘It is a fact that I cannot give you what men commonly call truth to obtain that, you must go to science. But what I have to give you is incomparably more beautiful, more comforting and more ennobling than anything that you could ever get from science. And I therefore say to you that it is true in a different and higher sense.’ The answer is easy to find. Religion cannot make this admission, because if it did it would lose all influence over the mass of mankind. The ordinary man knows only one ‘truth’ – truth in the ordinary sense of the word. What may be meant by a higher, or a highest, truth, he cannot imagine. Truth seems to him as little capable of having degrees as death, and the necessary leap from the beautiful to the true is one that he cannot make. Perhaps you will agree with me in thinking that he is right in this.

The struggle, therefore, is not yet at an end. The followers of the religious Weltanschauung act in accordance with the old maxim: the best defence is attack. ‘What’, they ask, ‘is this science that presumes to depreciate our religion, which has brought salvation and comfort to millions of men for many thousands of years? What has science for its part so far accomplished? What more can be expected of it? On its own admission, it is incapable of comforting or ennobling us. We will leave that on one side, therefore, though it is by no means easy to give up such benefits. But what of its teaching? Can it tell us how the world began, and what fate is in store for it? Can it even paint for us a coherent picture of the universe, and show us where the unexplained phenomena of life fit in, and how spiritual forces are able to operate on inert matter? If it could do that we should not refuse it our respect. But it has done nothing of the sort, not one single problem of this kind has it solved. It gives us fragments of alleged knowledge, which it cannot harmonise with one another, it collects observations of uniformities from the totality of events, and dignifies them with the name of laws and subjects them to its hazardous interpretations. And with what a small degree of certitude does it establish its conclusions! All that it teaches is only provisionally true what is prized to-day as the highest wisdom is overthrown tomorrow and experimentally replaced by something else. The latest error is then given the name of truth. And to this truth we are asked to sacrifice our highest good!’

Ladies and Gentlemen – In so far as you yourselves are supporters of the scientific Weltanschauung I do not think you will be very profoundly shaken by this critic’s attack. In Imperial Austria an anecdote was once current which I should like to call to mind in this connection. On one occasion the old Emperor was receiving a deputation from a political party which he disliked: ‘This is no longer ordinary opposition’, he burst out, ‘this is factious opposition.’ In just the same way you will find that the reproaches made against science for not having solved the riddle of the universe are unfairly and spitefully exaggerated. Science has had too little time for such a tremendous achievement. It is still very young, a recently developed human activity. Let us bear in mind, to mention only a few dates, that only about three hundred years have passed since Kepler discovered the laws of planetary movement the life of Newton, who split up light into the colours of the spectrum, and put forward the theory of gravitation, came to an end in 1727, that is to say a little more than two hundred years ago and Lavoisier discovered oxygen shortly before the French Revolution. I may be a very old man to-day, but the life of an individual man is very short in comparison with the duration of human development, and it is a fact that I was alive when Charles Darwin published his work on the origin of species. In the same year, 1859, Pierre Curie, the discoverer of radium, was born. And if you go back to the beginnings of exact natural science among the Greeks, to Archimedes, or to Aristarchus of Samos (circa 250 B.C.), the forerunner of Copernicus, or even to the tentative origins of astronomy among the Babylonians, you will only be covering a very small portion of the period which anthropology requires for the evolution of man from his original ape-like form, a period which certainly embraces more than a hundred thousand years. And it must not be forgotten that the last century has brought with it such a quantity of new discoveries and such a great acceleration of scientific progress that we have every reason to look forward with confidence to the future of science.

It has to be admitted that the other objections are valid within certain limits. Thus it is true that the path of science is slow, tentative and laborious. That cannot be denied or altered. No wonder that the gentlemen of the opposition are dissatisfied they are spoilt, they have had an easier time of it with their revelation. Progress in scientific work is made in just the same way as in an analysis. The analyst brings expectations with him to his work, but he must keep them in the background. He discovers something new by observation, now here and now there, and at first the bits do not fit together. He puts forward suppositions, he brings up provisional constructions, and abandons them if they are not confirmed he must have a great deal of patience, must be prepared for all possibilities, and must not jump at conclusions for fear of their leading him to overlook new and unexpected factors. And in the end the whole expenditure of effort is rewarded, the scattered discoveries fall into place and he obtains an understanding of a whole chain of mental events he has finished one piece of work and is ready for the next. But the analyst is unlike other scientific workers in this one respect, that he has to do without the help which experiment can bring to research.

But the criticism of science which I have quoted also contains a great deal of exaggeration. It is not true to say that it swings blindly from one attempt to another, and exchanges one error for the next. As a rule the man of science works like a sculptor with a clay model, who persistently alters the first rough sketch, adds to it and takes away from it, until he has obtained a satisfactory degree of similarity to some object, whether seen or imagined. And, moreover, at least in the older and more mature sciences, there is already a solid foundation of knowledge, which is now only modified and elaborated and no longer demolished. The outlook, in fact, is not so bad in the world of science.

And finally, what is the purpose of all these passionate disparagements of science? In spite of its present incompleteness and its inherent difficulties, we could not do without it and could not put anything else in its place. There is no limit to the improvement of which it is capable, and this can certainly not be said of the religious Weltanschauung. The latter is complete in its essentials if it is an error, it must remain one for ever. No attempt to minimise the importance of science can alter the fact that it attempts to take into account our dependence on the real external world, while religion is illusion and derives its strength from the fact that it falls in with our instinctual desires.

I must now go on to mention some other types of Weltanschauung which are in opposition to the scientific one I do so, however, unwillingly, because I know that I am not competent to form a judgment upon them. I hope, therefore, that you will bear this confession in mind in listening to what I have to say, and that if your interest is aroused you will go elsewhere for more trustworthy information.

In the first place I ought at this point to name the various philosophical systems which have ventured to draw a picture of the world, as it is reflected in the minds of thinkers whose eyes are as a rule turned away from it. But I have already attempted to give a general characterisation of philosophy and its methods, and I believe I am more unfitted than almost anyone to pass the individual systems under review. I shall ask you, therefore, instead to turn your attention to two other phenomena which, particularly in these days, cannot be ignored.

The Weltanschauung to which I shall first refer is, as it were, a counterpart of political anarchism, and may perhaps have emanated from it. No doubt there have been intellectual nihilists of this kind before, but at the present day the theory of relativity of modern physics seems to have gone to their heads. It is true that they start out from science, but they succeed in forcing it to cut the ground from under its own feet, to commit suicide, as it were they make it dispose of itself by getting it to refute its own premises. One often has an impression that this nihilism is only a temporary attitude, which will only be kept up until this task has been completed. When once science has been got rid of, some kind of mysticism, or, indeed, the old religious Weltanschauung, can spring up in the space that has been left vacant. According to this anarchistic doctrine, there is no such thing as truth, no assured knowledge of the external world. What we give out as scientific truth is only the product of our own needs and desires, as they are formulated under varying external conditions that is to say, it is illusion once more. Ultimately we find only what we need to find, and see only what we desire to see. We can do nothing else. And since the criterion of truth, correspondence with an external world, disappears, it is absolutely immaterial what views we accept. All of them are equally true and false. And no one has a right to accuse anyone else of error.

For a mind which is interested in epistemology, it would be tempting to enquire into the contrivances and sophistries by means of which the anarchists manage to elicit a final product of this kind from science. One would no doubt be brought up against situations like the one involved in the familiar example of the Cretan who says that all Cretans are liars. But I am not desirous, nor am I capable, of going deeper into this. I will merely remark that the anarchistic theory only retains its remarkable air of superiority so long as it is concerned with opinions about abstract things it breaks down the moment it comes in contact with practical life. Now the behaviour of men is guided by their opinions and knowledge, and the same scientific spirit which speculates about the structure of the atom or the origin of man is concerned in the building of a bridge that will bear its load. If it were really a matter of indifference what we believed, if there were no knowledge which was distinguished from among our opinions by the fact that it corresponds with reality, then we might just as well build our bridges of cardboard as of stone, or inject a tenth of a gram of morphia into a patient instead of a hundredth, or take tear-gas as a narcotic instead of ether. But the intellectual anarchists themselves would strongly repudiate such practical applications of their theory.

The other opposing Weltanschauung is to be taken far more seriously, and in this case I very deeply regret the insufficiency of my knowledge. I dare say that you know more about this subject than I do and that you have long ago taken up your position for or against Marxism. The investigations of Karl Marx into the economic structure of society and into the influence of various forms of economic organisation upon all departments of human life have in our day acquired an authority that cannot be denied. How far they are right or wrong in detail, I naturally do not know. I gather that it is not easy even for better informed people to decide. Some of the propositions in Marx’s theory seem strange to me, such as that the evolution of forms of society is a process of natural history, or that the changes in social stratification proceed from one another in the manner of a dialectical process. I am by no means certain that I understand these statements rightly moreover, they do not sound ‘materialistic’ but like traces of the obscure Hegelian philosophy under the influence of which Marx at one time passed. I do not know how I can throw off the view which I share with other laymen, who are inclined to trace back the formation of classes in society to the struggles which went on from the beginning of history between various human hordes. These hordes differed to a slight degree from one another and it is my view that social differences go back to these original differences of tribe or race. Psychological factors, such as the amount of constitutional aggressiveness and also the degree of cohesion within the horde, and material factors, such as the possession of better weapons, decided the victory. When they came to live together in the same territory, the victors became the masters and the conquered the slaves. There is no sign in all this of natural laws or conceptual modifications on the other hand, we cannot fail to recognise the influence which the progressive control over natural forces exerts on the social relationships between men, since men always place their newly won powers at the service of their aggressiveness, and use them against one another. The introduction of metals, of bronze and iron, put an end to whole cultural epochs and their social institutions. I really believe that gunpowder and fire-arms overthrew chivalry and the domination of the aristocracy, and that the Russian despotism was already doomed before the war was lost, since no amount of in-breeding among the ruling families of Europe could have produced a race of Tsars capable of withstanding the explosive force of dynamite.

It may be, indeed, that with the present economic crisis which followed upon the Great War we are merely paying the price of our latest triumph over Nature, the conquest of the air. This does not sound very convincing, but at least the first links in the chain of argument are clearly recognisable. The policy of England was based on the security guaranteed by the seas which encircle her coasts. The moment Blériot flew over the Channel in his aeroplane this protective isolation was broken through and on the night on which, in a time of peace, a German Zeppelin made an experimental cruise over London, war against Germany became a certainty. Nor must the threat of submarines be forgotten in this connection.

I am almost ashamed of treating a theme of such importance and complexity in such a slight and inadequate manner, and I am also aware that I have not said anything that is new to you. I only wanted to call your attention to the fact that the factor of man’s control over Nature, from which he obtains his weapons for his struggle with his fellow-men, must of necessity also affect his economic arrangements. We seem to have travelled a long way from the problems of a Weltanschauung, but we shall soon come back to the point. The strength of Marxism obviously does not lie in its view of history or in the prophecies about the future which it bases upon that view, but in its clear insight into the determining influence which is exerted by the economic conditions of man upon his intellectual, ethical and artistic reactions. A whole collection of correlations and causal sequences were thus discovered, which had hitherto been almost completely disregarded. But it cannot be assumed that economic motives are the only ones which determine the behaviour of men in society. The unquestionable fact that different individuals, races and nations behave differently under the same economic conditions in itself proves that the economic factor cannot be the sole determinant. It is quite impossible to understand how psychological factors can be overlooked where the reactions of living human beings are involved for not only were such factors already concerned in the establishment of these economic conditions but even in obeying these conditions, men can do no more than set their original instinctual impulses in motion – their self-preservative instinct, their love of aggression, their need for love and their impulse to attain pleasure and avoid pain. In an earlier lecture we have emphasised the importance of the part played by the super-ego, which represents tradition and the ideals of the past, and which will resist for some time the pressure exerted by new economic situations. And, finally, we must not forget that the mass of mankind, subjected though they are to economic necessities, are borne on by a process of cultural development – some call it civilisation – which is no doubt influenced by all the other factors, but is equally certainly independent of them in its origin it is comparable to an organic process, and is quite capable of itself having an effect upon the other factors. It displaces the aims of the instincts, and causes men to rebel against what has hitherto been tolerable and, moreover, the progressive strengthening of the scientific spirit seems to be an essential part of it. If anyone were in a position to show in detail how these different factors – the general human instinctual disposition, its racial variations and its cultural modifications – behave under the influence of varying social organisation, professional activities and methods of subsistence, how these factors inhibit or aid one another – if, I say, anyone could show this, then he would not only have improved Marxism but would have made it into a true social science. For sociology, which deals with the behaviour of man in society, can be nothing other than applied psychology. Strictly speaking, indeed, there are only two sciences – psychology, pure and applied, and natural science.

When at last the far-reaching importance of economic conditions began to be realised, the temptation arose to bring about an alteration in them by means of revolutionary interference, instead of leaving the change to the course of historical development. Theoretical Marxism, as put into effect in Russian Bolshevism, has acquired the energy, the comprehensiveness and the exclusiveness of a Weltanschauung, but at the same time it has acquired an almost uncanny resemblance to what it is opposing. Originally it was itself a part of science, and, in its realisation, was built up on science and technology, but it has nevertheless established a ban upon thought which is as inexorable as was formerly that of religion. All critical examination of the Marxist theory is forbidden, doubts of its validity are as vindictively punished as heresy once was by the Catholic Church. The works of Marx, as the source of revelation, have taken the place of the Bible and the Koran, although they are no freer from contradictions and obscurities than those earlier holy books.

And although practical Marxism has remorselessly swept away all idealistic systems and illusions, it has nevertheless developed illusions itself, which are no less dubious and unverifiable than their predecessors. It hopes, in the course of a few generations, so to alter men that they will be able to live together in the new order of society almost without friction, and that they will do their work voluntarily. In the meantime it moves elsewhere the instinctual barriers which are essential in any society, it directs outwards the aggressive tendencies which threaten every human community, and finds its support in the hostility of the poor against the rich, and of the hitherto powerless against the former holders of power. But such an alteration in human nature is very improbable. The enthusiasm with which the mob follow the Bolshevist lead at present, so long as the new order is incomplete and threatened from outside, gives no guarantee for the future, when it will be fully established and no longer in danger. In exactly the same way as religion, Bolshevism is obliged to compensate its believers for the sufferings and deprivations of the present life by promising them a better life hereafter, in which there will be no unsatisfied needs. It is true that this paradise is to be in this world it will be established on earth, and will be inaugurated within a measurable time. But let us remember that the Jews, whose religion knows nothing of a life beyond the grave, also expected the coming of the Messiah here on earth, and that the Christian Middle Ages constantly believed that the Kingdom of God was at hand.

There is no doubt what the answer of Bolshevism to these criticisms will be. ‘Until men have changed their nature’, it will say, ‘one must employ the methods which are effective with them today. One cannot do without compulsion in their education or a ban upon thinking or the application of force, even the spilling of blood and if one did not awake in them the illusions you speak of, one would not be able to bring them to submit to this compulsion.’ And it might politely ask us to say how else it could be done. At this point we should be defeated. I should know of no advice to give. I should admit that the conditions of this experiment would have restrained me, and people like me, from undertaking it but we are not the only ones concerned. There are also men of action, unshakeable in their convictions, impervious to doubt, and insensitive to the sufferings of anyone who stands between them and their goal. It is owing to such men that the tremendous attempt to institute a new order of society of this kind is actually being carried out in Russia now. At a time when great nations are declaring that they expect to find their salvation solely from a steadfast adherence to Christian piety, the upheaval in Russia – in spite of all its distressing features – seems to bring a promise of a better future. Unfortunately, neither our own misgivings nor the fanatical belief of the other side give us any hint of how the experiment will turn out. The future will teach us. Perhaps it will show that the attempt has been made prematurely and that a fundamental alteration of the social order will have little hope of success until new discoveries are made that will increase our control over the forces of Nature, and so make easier the satisfaction of our needs. It may be that only then will it be possible for a new order of society to emerge which will not only banish the material want of the masses, but at the same time meet the cultural requirements of individual men. But even so we shall still have to struggle for an indefinite length of time with the difficulties which the intractable nature of man puts in the way of every kind of social community.

Ladies and Gentlemen – Let me in conclusion sum up what I had to say about the relation of psychoanalysis to the question of a Weltanschauung. Psychoanalysis is not, in my opinion, in a position to create a Weltanschauung of its own. It has no need to do so, for it is a branch of science, and can subscribe to the scientific Weltanschauung. The latter, however, hardly merits such a high-sounding name, for it does not take everything into its scope, it is incomplete and it makes no claim to being comprehensive or to constituting a system. Scientific thought is still in its infancy there are very many of the great problems with which it has as yet been unable to cope. A Weltanschauung based upon science has, apart from the emphasis it lays upon the real world, essentially negative characteristics, such as that it limits itself to truth and rejects illusions. Those of our fellowmen who are dissatisfied with this state of things and who desire something more for their momentary peace of mind may look for it where they can find it. We shall not blame them for doing so but we cannot help them and cannot change our own way of thinking on their account.

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