Why I Am A Rationalist by BERTRAND RUSSELL


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In no other way could the distinction of the elementary tissues have been so clearly established. By the co-existence in one organ of sound add impaired tissues, and, again, by different organs being affected by similar maladies, in virtue of the disease of a common tissue, the analysis of the chief anatomical elements was spontaneously indicated, at the same time that the study of the tissues was shown to be more important than that of the organs. It is not consistent with my objects to go further into this: but it was necessary to show that we owe to pathological analysis the perception of this essential truth.

It may be observed however that there are circumstances in which products, and particularly among the solids, are closely united to true anatomical elements in the structure of certain apparatus, to which they supply essential means of improvement. Such are, for instance, the greater number of epidermic productions, the hair, and eminently the teeth. But even in this case, a sufficiently delicate dissection, and a careful analysis of the whole of the function will enable us to ascertain, with entire precision, how much is organic and how much inorganic in the proposed structure.

Such an order of primitive conditions is however now established beyond dispute. In order to prevent any return to vicious or exaggerated notions about the physiological influence of the stars, it is enough to bear in mind two considerations: first, that the astronomical conditions of vital existence are comprised within our own planetary system; and secondly, that they relate, not directly to the organism. but to its environment, affecting as they do the constitution of our globe. In regard to method,—the importance of astronomical study to biologists consists, as in other cases, in its offering the most perfect model of philosophizing on any phenomena whatever; the importance of this example becoming greater in proportion to the complexity of the subordinate science, on account of the stronger temptation to discursive and idle inquiries offered by the latter.

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