Immanuel Kant

Universal Natural History and Theory of Heaven

Part Three

which contains in it an attempt, based on natural analogies, at a comparison between the inhabitants of different planets.

He, who through vast immensity can pierce,
See worlds on worlds compose one universe,
Observe how system into system runs,
What other planets circle other suns,
What varied Being peoples every star,
May tell why Heaven has made us as we are.


In my view it is a disgrace to the nature of philosophy when we use it to maintain with a kind of flippancy free-wheeling witty displays having some apparent truth, unless we immediately explain that we are doing this only as an amusement (20). Thus, in the present essay I will not introduce any propositions except those which can really expand our understanding and which are at the same time so plausibly established that we can scarcely deny their validity.

It may appear that in this sort of subject the freedom to be poetical has no real limits, that in judging the make-up of those who live in distant worlds we could allow unbridled fantasy much more freely than a painter in an illustration of the flora and fauna of discovered countries, and that these very ideas could not be proved right or wrong. Nevertheless, we must admit that the distances of the celestial bodies from the sun involve certain relationships which bring with them a vital influence on the different characteristics of the thinking beings found on these very bodies. Their way of working and suffering is associated with the composition of the material to which they are bound and depends upon the quantity of impressions which the world arouses in them, according to the relationship of their living environment with the centre of gravitational power and heat.

I believe that it is not necessary to assert that all planets must be inhabited. However, it would at the same time be absurd to deny this claim with respect to all or even to most of them. Given the richness of Nature, where worlds and systems are only sunny dust specks compared to the totality of creation, there could in fact also be deserted and uninhabited regions with not the slightest function in Nature's purpose, namely, the contemplation by reasoning beings. It would be as if one wished to raise a doubt about the basis of God's wisdom by acknowledging that sandy and uninhabited deserts make up large stretches of the earth's surface and that there are in the earth's oceans abandoned islands where no human being is found. However, a planet is far less in relation to the totality of creation than is a desert or an island in relation to the earth's surface.

Perhaps all the celestial bodies have not yet completely developed. Hundreds and maybe thousands of years are necessary for a large celestial body to reach a stable material condition. Jupiter still appears to be in a state of development. The remarkable changes in its appearance at different moments have already led astronomers for a long time to assume that the planet must be experiencing large upheavals and is a long way from having a calm outer surface, a condition which must pertain for a planet to be inhabited. If Jupiter is uninhabited and even if it is never to have any inhabitants, what an infinitely small natural expenditure that would be compared to the immeasurable size of the total creation. If nature were carefully to display all her richness in every place, would that not be much more a sign of nature's poverty than of her abundance?

But it is more satisfying for us still to assume that if Jupiter is uninhabited right now, nonetheless the planet will be inhabited in the future, when it has had time to develop completely. Earth perhaps existed for a thousand years or more before it was in a condition to support human beings, animals, and plants. The fact that a planet reaches this complete state only after some thousand years does nothing to detract from the reason for its existence. For this very reason the planet will be around for a longer time in the future in its state of complete development, once it has attained it. For there is a certain natural principle that everything which has a beginning gets steadily closer to its dissolution and that much closer to destruction the further it is from its origin.

One can only approve of the satirical portrayal by that witty person from the Hague who, after setting down the general news from the scientific world, could humorously present the imaginary picture of the necessary habitation of all planets. "These very creatures who live in the forests of a beggar's head [i.e., lice]," he says, "had for a long time thought of their dwelling place as an immeasurably large ball and themselves as the masterworks of creation. Then one of them, to whom Heaven had given a more refined soul, a small Fontenelle of his species, unexpectedly learned about a noble man's head. Immediately he assembled all the witty creatures of his region and told them with delight: We are not the only living beings in all nature. Look here at this new land. More creatures live here." If the last remark provokes laughter, that happens not because, as we judge the matter, it is far removed from human nature, but because that same mistake, which among human beings has basically a similar cause, seems more excusable in our case.

Let us judge in an unprejudiced manner. This insect, which in its way of living as well as in its lack of worth expresses very well the condition of most human beings, can be used for such a comparison with good results. According to the louse's imagination, nature is endlessly well suited to its existence. Thus, it considers irrelevant all the rest of nature which does not have a precise goal related to its species as the central purpose of nature. The human being, who similarly stands infinitely far from the highest stages of being, is sufficiently bold to flatter himself with the same imaginative picture of his existence as essential. The unlimited nature of creation contains within itself with equal necessity all creatures which its superbly fecund richness produces. From the most refined classes of thinking beings right down to the most despicable insect, no link is irrelevant to nature. And not a single one can fail to appear without in the process fracturing the beauty of the whole, which consists in the interrelatedness. Moreover, everything is determined by universal laws which nature effects through the combined forces planted in things at their origin. Because nature's actions produce only what is appropriate and ordered, no particular purpose must disturb and break her order. In its initial development a planet's growth was only an infinitely small consequence of nature's fertility. Now, it would be somewhat absurd if nature's well-grounded laws should defer to the specific purposes of this atom. If the composition of a celestial body establishes natural barriers against its becoming inhabited, then it will not have inhabitants, even though in and of itself the planet would be more beautiful if it had its own creatures. The excellence of creation loses nothing in such a case, for among all large quantities the infinite is the one which is not diminished by the subtraction of a finite part. It would be as if one wished to complain that the space between Jupiter and Mars was unnecessarily empty and that there are comets which are not populated. In fact, however insignificant that louse may appear to us, to Nature it is certainly more appropriate to maintaining its entire class than a small number of more excellent creatures (of which there would nevertheless be infinitely many, even if one region or locale should lack them). Because Nature is endlessly fertile in producing both species, in their sustenance and their destruction we really see both equally abandoned disinterestedly to the universal laws. Indeed, has the possessor of the inhabited forests on the beggar's head ever created more disasters among the races of this colony than the son of Philip [Alexander the Great] brought about among the race of his fellow citizens, when his wicked genius gave him the idea that the world was created only for his sake?

However, most of the planets are certainly inhabited, and those that are not will be in the future. Now, what sort of interconnections will occur among the different types of these inhabitants through the relationship between their place in the cosmic structure and the central point from which the warmth which nourishes all life extends outwards? For it is certain that, with the materials of these celestial bodies this heat will bring with it certain relationships in their composition proportional to the distance from the centre. In this comparison, the human being, who is, of all reasoning beings, the one we know most clearly, although at the same time his inner composition is still an unexplored problem, must serve as the common basic reference point. We do not wish here to comment on his moral characteristics or his physical structure. We want only to explore how the capacity to think rationally and the physical movement which obeys rational thought are limited by the material composition proportional to the solar distance. Regardless of the infinite distance encountered between the power of thought and the movement of matter, between the reasoning spirit and the body, it is nevertheless certain that a human being, who receives all his ideas and conceptions from impressions which the universe awakens in his soul by means of the body (both with respect to their clarity and to the skill of combining and comparing them, which we call the capacity for thought) is totally dependent on the composition of this material stuff to which the Creator has bound him.

The human being is made to take in the impressions and emotions which the world must create in him through that very body which is the perceptible part of his being. The body's material serves not only to impress on the imperceptible spirit which lives inside him the first ideas of the world outside but also is indispensable in its inner working to recall these impressions, to link them together, in short, to think (21). As a person's body grows, his intellectual capabilities also proportionally attain the appropriate stage of full development. He first acquires a calm and soberly mature capacity when the fibres of the corporeal machine have gained the strength and endurance which mark the completion of its development. These capabilities are set early enough within him, and with them he can cope sufficiently with the necessities of life to which he is bound by the dependence on external things. Some people's development remains at this level. The ability to combine abstract ideas and through a free use of one's understanding to gain control over passionate tendencies comes late. Some never reach this state during their entire lives. However, in all people this ability is weak; it serves the more primitive forces which it should govern. In the control of these lower forces consists the worth of a person's nature. When we consider the life of most people, it seems that these creatures have been created to absorb liquids, like a plant, to grow, to propagate the species, and finally to grow old and die. Among all creatures, human beings are the poorest at realizing the purpose of their existence, because they exhaust their excellent capabilities in those pursuits which other creatures, with far less capability, attain more confidently and conveniently. The human being would be the most hateful of all creatures, at least from the point of view of true wisdom, if the hope for the future did not elevate him and if there was not awaiting him the time for a full development of the powers locked up inside him.

When we look for the cause of these obstacles which keep human nature so debased, we find it in the coarseness of the material stuff in which his spiritual component is buried, in the stiffness of the fibres and the sluggishness and immobility of the fluids which should obey the movements of his spirit. The cerebral nerves and fluids provide him only crude and unclear ideas. Because he cannot offset sensory stimulation in the inner workings of his thought process by means of sufficiently powerful ideas, he is taken over by his passions and dulled and disturbed by the turmoil of elements which are the foundation of his mechanical body. The attempts of reason to stand up against this and to drive away the confusion with light from the power of judgment are like moments of sunshine when thick clouds constantly interrupt and darken their serenity.

This coarseness in the stuff and fabric of the constitution of human nature is the cause of the lethargy which keeps the soul's capabilities continually weak and powerless. Coping with reflections and ideas rationally is an exhausting condition. The soul cannot be placed in it without resistance. And the natural tendency of the mechanical body is to fall out of that state back into a condition of suffering as soon as sensory stimulations have a determining influence on and take over its behaviour.

This lethargy in the thought process, a consequence of the dependence on a crude and awkward material, is the source not only of vice but also of error. Because the soul is hindered by the difficulty involved in the attempt to scatter the clouds of confused notions and, by comparing ideas, to distinguish general knowledge from sense impressions, the soul prefers to bestow a quick approval on and is content with the possession of an opinion which the sluggishness of its nature and the resistance of the material scarcely allow it to see in perspective.

In this dependency, the spiritual capabilities disappear at the same time as the vitality of the body. When, on account of the weakened circulation of the fluids, extreme old age keeps warm only thick juices, when the flexibility of the fibres and the agility of movement decrease, then the powers of the spirit congeal in a similar fatigue. Rapidity of thought, clarity of ideas, liveliness of wit, and memory grow feeble and cold. The ideas which, through long experience, have been stored still compensate to some extent for the departure of these powers, and the understanding would betray its incapacity even more clearly, if the intensity of passions, which require its rein, did not decline at the same time and even earlier.

From all this it is clear that the powers of the human soul are reduced and hemmed in by the obstacles of the coarse material stuff to which they are innerly tied. But it is still more remarkable that the specific composition of the stuff is inherently related to the degree of the sun's influence. According to this principle, the sun's stimulation of the soul, which renders it capable of carrying out animal functions, is proportional to distance. The necessary connection with the light which spreads out from the centre of the planetary system so as to maintain the required motion in the material stuff is the basis for an analogy which will be firmly established here between the different inhabitants of the planets. Thanks to this relationship, every single class of these inhabitants is bound by its essential nature to the place which it has been allocated in the universe.

The inhabitants of Earth and Venus would not be able to exchange their living environments without the mutual destruction of both. The material out of which the inhabitants of Earth are made is proportional to the degree of heat for their distance from the sun. Thus, it is too light and volatile for an even greater heat, and in a hotter sphere it would suffer from violent movements and natural breakdown, arising from the scattering and drying up of the fluids and a powerful tension in its elastic fibres. The inhabitants of Venus, whose cruder structure and elemental sluggishness require a stronger solar influence, would in a cooler celestial region freeze and die from a lack of vitality. Hence, the body of an inhabitant of Jupiter would have to consist of far lighter and more volatile material, so that the very small motion which the sun can induce at this distance could move these machines just as powerfully as it does in the lower regions. I summarize all this in one general idea: The material stuff out of which the inhabitants of different planets (including the animals and plants) are made must, in general, be of a lighter and finer type and the elasticity of the fibres as well as the advantageous structural design must be more perfect in proportion to their distance away from the sun.

This relationship is so natural and well grounded that not only do the fundamental motives of its higher purpose (which in the study of nature are normally considered weak reasons) lead to it, but also at the same time the proportions of the specific composition of the material stuff making up the planets confirm it. These are derived from Newton's calculations as well as from the basic principles of cosmogony. According to these, the material stuff composing the celestial bodies is always of a lighter type in the more distant planets than in those closer to the sun. This point must necessarily bring with it a similar relationship for the creatures which develop and maintain themselves on the planets.

We have established a comparison between the material composition which reasoning creatures on the planets essentially have in common. Thus, following the introduction of this concept, it is easy to consider that these relationships will involve consequences so far as their spiritual capacities are concerned. For if these spiritual capacities are necessarily dependent on the mechanical material in which they live, we can conclude with more than probable assurance that the excellence of thinking beings, the speed of their powers of organization, the clearness and vivacity of their ideas, which come to them from external stimuli, together with the ability to combine ideas, and finally, too, the rapidity in actual performance--in short the entire extent of their perfection--is governed by a particular rule according to which these characteristics will always be more excellent and perfect in proportion to the distance of their dwelling places from the sun.

Since this relationship is so plausible that it is almost a demonstrated certainty, we have an open field for pleasant speculations arising from the comparison of the characteristics of these different inhabitants. Human nature, which in the scale of being holds, as it were, the middle rung, is located between two absolute outer limits, equidistant from both. If the idea of the most sublime classes of reasoning creatures living on Jupiter or Saturn makes human beings jealous and discourages them with the knowledge of their own humble position, a glance at the lower stages brings content and calms them again. The beings on the planets Venus and Mercury are far below the perfection of human nature. What a wonderful view! On one side we see thinking creatures among whom a Greenlander or a Hottentot would be a Newton; on the other side we see people who would wonder about Newton as if he were an ape.

Superior beings, when of late they saw
A moral Man unfold all Nature's law,
Admir'd such wisdom in an earthly shape,
And shew'd a NEWTON as we shew an Ape.


What an advance in knowledge will the insight of these blissful beings of the highest celestial spheres not attain! What beautiful results will this illumination of knowledge not have for their moral constitution! When rational insights have the appropriate level of perfection and clarity, they have in themselves far more vital charm than the attractions of sense and are able to govern these successfully and tread them underfoot. How beautifully will Divinity itself, pictured in all creatures, present its own portrait in these thinking beings; like a sea unmoved by passionate storms they will calmly receive and shine back its image. We will not extrapolate this assumption beyond the previously declared limits of a physical treatise; only we do again take note of the above mentioned analogy that the perfection of the spiritual and the material worlds for all the planets from Mercury right up to Saturn, or perhaps beyond Saturn (if there are still other planets), grows and advances in an appropriate sequence of stages proportional to their distance from the sun.

To the extent that this analogy flows naturally from the consequences of the physical interrelationship between the dwelling places and the centre of the system, it will be rightly accepted, in part. On the other hand, a real look at the most splendid habitations prepared for the superb perfection of these beings in the higher regions confirms this rule so clearly that it should almost compel assent. The active speed associated with the merits of a lofty nature is better fitted to the rapidly changing time periods of the higher spheres than the slowness of lethargic and more imperfect creatures.

Telescopes teach us that the changes in day and night on Jupiter occur in 10 hours. What would an inhabitant of Earth really do with this division of time, if he were placed on this planet? The 10 hours would scarcely be sufficient for the rest this crude machine requires to recuperate in sleep. What would the preparations for going through waking up, getting dressed, and the time taken up with eating demand as a share of the available time? How would a creature whose activities occur so slowly not be rendered confused and incapable of anything effective when his 5 hours of business would be suddenly interrupted by an intervening period of darkness of exactly the same duration? However, if Jupiter is inhabited by more perfect beings who combine a more refined development and a greater agility in practice, then we can believe that these 5 hours are exactly equivalent to or more than the 12 hours of the day for the humble class of human beings. We know temporal demands are somewhat relative. This cannot be known and understood except from a comparison of the size of the task to be done and the quickness with which it is carried out. Thus, the very same time which for one type of creature is, as it were, an instant can for another creature be a long period in which a large sequence of changes develops rapidly and efficiently. According to the calculations of the probable axial rotation of Saturn, which we have dealt with above, the planet has a very much shorter division of day and night. It therefore allows us to assume even more advantageous capabilities in the nature of its inhabitants.

Finally, everything comes together to confirm the proposed principle. Nature has visibly distributed her goods as richly as possible to the far regions of the world. The moons, which compensate the active beings of these blissful regions for the loss of daylight with a sufficient substitute, are most liberally placed in that area. Nature appears to have taken care to provide her bounty fully and effectively, so that there may be scarcely any time when the inhabitants are prevented from making use of it. So far as Jupiter's moons are concerned, the planet has an obvious advantage over all the lower planets, and Saturn once again has the advantage over Jupiter. Saturn's dwelling places probably derive even greater advantages in the composition of the planet from the beautiful and useful ring surrounding it. By contrast, the lower planets, for whom this advantageous feature would be an unnecessary waste and whose classes of inhabitants approach much more closely to irrationality, have either not been blessed at all with such a benefit or only very little.

However (and here I anticipate an objection which could destroy all the agreement I have mentioned) it is possible to consider the greater distance from the sun, the source of light and life, as nothing but a drawback for which the spaciousness of the dwelling places in the furthest planets is only a partially useful remedy. One could object that in fact the higher planets have a less advantageous situation in the cosmic structure, a position injurious to the perfection of those dwelling places, because they receive a weaker influence from the sun. Now, we know that the effect of light and heat are determined, not by their absolute intensity, but by the capacity of the material stuff which absorbs them and, to a greater or lesser extent, resists their impetus. Therefore, the same distance at which we could designate a moderate climate for a coarse type of material would destroy more subtle liquids with its damaging intensity. Thus, only a more refined material stuff composed of more mobile elements is appropriate to make the solar distances of Jupiter and Saturn fortunate habitations.

Finally, because of the physical composition of the beings in these higher celestial regions, their excellence seems to be closely associated with an ability to last, as their merit deserves. Decay and death can afflict these excellent beings less than they do our humble natures. Exactly the same torpor and coarseness in the material stuff, the specific principle in the degradation in the lower echelons, are the cause of the tendency to decay. When the juices which nourish the animal or human being and make it grow, as they are assimilated among the small fibres and increase its bulk, can no longer expand the spatial dimensions of their vessels and canals, when growth is already complete, then these productive and nourishing liquids must, through the mechanical impulse which is used to feed the animal, constrict and block up the hollow sections of their vessels and destroy the structure of the entire machine with a gradually increasing paralysis. We can believe that, although mortality also eats away at the most perfect beings, nevertheless there is an advantage in the refined quality of the material stuff, in the elasticity of the vessels, and in the lightness and efficacy of the fluids which make up each more perfect entity living in the distant planets. This benefit checks for a much longer time the frailty which results from the coarse material and gives these creatures a life whose length is proportional to their perfection. Thus, the fragility of human life is appropriately linked to human baseness.

I cannot leave this observation without anticipating a doubt about it, which could naturally arise from a comparison of these opinions with our previous principles. In dealing with the dwelling places in the planetary structure, we have acknowledged the wisdom of God in the number of satellites which illuminate the planets with the most distant orbits, in the velocity of their axial rotation, and in the composition of their material stuff, which is proportional to the effects of the sun. This Divine Wisdom has organized everything so beneficially for the advantage of reasoning beings who live on the planets. But how will we now reconcile the concept of intentionality with a mechanistic theory, so that what the Highest Wisdom itself devised is assigned to raw material stuff and rule of providence is left to itself? Is the first not perhaps a confession that the organizing of the cosmic structure is not developed through the general laws of the latter?

We will soon dispose of this doubt if we only think back to what was cited previously in a similar case. Must not the mechanism of all natural movements have an essential tendency towards only such consequences as those which really coincide with the project of the Highest Reason in the full context of all interrelationships? How can they have erratic inclinations and an independent scattering originally, when all their characteristics, from which these consequences develop, are regulated by the eternal idea of the Divine Understanding, in which all things must necessarily interconnect with each other and fit together? When we think correctly, how can we justify the kind of judgment where we see nature as a disgusting subject which can be kept on a regular track and in communal harmony only through some kind of compulsion which sets limits to her free conduct, unless we maintain something to the effect that nature is a self-sufficient principle, whose characteristics acknowledge no cause and which God seeks to force according to His purposeful plan, to the extent that this is possible? The closer we come to getting to know nature, the more we realize that the universal ways in which things are made are not strange and separate from each other. We will be sufficiently convinced that they have essential connections, through which they are coordinated, to support each other in providing a perfect creation, in the reciprocal effects of the elements on the beauty of material things and at the same time for the benefit of the spiritual realm and that the single nature of things in the field of universal truths already make up amongst themselves, so to speak, a system, in which one is interrelated to another. We will also immediately realize that the connection between them in their common origin is unique to them and that from this they, as a totality, have created their essential harmony.

And now to apply this repeated observation to the proposed goal: the very same universal laws of motion which placed the highest planets far from the mid point of the power of attraction and the inertia in the planetary system have at the same time in this way set them in the most advantageous condition to develop themselves as far as possible from the point where they are connected to the coarse material and indeed with greater freedom. However, these laws have also simultaneously set the distant planets in a rule-bound relationship to the influence of the heat which, in accordance with the same law, extends out from this mid-point. These very harmonies have now removed obstructions from the development of the cosmic bodies in these distant regions and made the production of movement, which is dependent upon this development, faster and, in brief, created a more firmly entrenched system. Since finally the spiritual beings necessarily depend upon the material stuff to which they are personally bound, it is no wonder that the perfection of nature is shaped by both points into a single coordinated system of causes and on the same principles. In a more precise view, this harmony is also not something sudden or unanticipated. Because through the same principle the spiritual beings have been infused into the common constitution of matter, the spiritual world is more perfect in the distant spheres for exactly the same reasons that the physical world is.

Thus, everything in the total extent of nature holds together in an uninterrupted series of stages through the eternal harmony which makes all the steps related to each other. The perfections of God have clearly revealed themselves at our levels and are no less beautiful in the lowers classes than in the more lofty ones.

Vast Chain of Being! Which from God began,
Natures ethereal, human, angel, man,
Beast, bird, fish, insect, what no eye can see,
No glass can reach! From Infinite to thee,
From thee to nothing.


We have expanded the earlier conjectures, being faithful to the notion of physical relationships. This has kept them on a reasonably credible track. Shall we permit ourselves one more digression from this track into the field of fantasy? Who indicates to us the border where grounded probability stops and arbitrary poetry begins? Who is so bold to dare an answer to the question whether sin exercises its sway also in the other spheres of the cosmic structure or whether virtue alone has established her control there?

The stars perhaps enthrone the exalted soul
As here vice rules, there virtue has control.

(von Haller)

Does not a certain middle position between wisdom and irrationality belong to the unfortunate capacity to sin? Who knows whether the inhabitants of those distant celestial bodies are not too refined and too wise to allow themselves to fall into the foolishness inherent in sin; whereas, the others who live in the lower planets adhere too firmly to material stuff and are provided with far too little spiritual capacity to have to drag their responsibility for their actions before the judgment seat of justice? With this in mind, would the Earth and perhaps even Mars (so that the painful consolation of having fellow sufferers in misfortune would not be taken from us) be in the dangerous middle path, where the experience of sensual charms has a powerful ability to divert from the ruling mastery of the spirit. The spirit, however, cannot deny its ability to resist, unless its inertia prefers to allow itself to be carried away by these charms. Here is also the dangerous transition point between weakness and the capacity to resist, for the very same advantages which raise the spirit above the lower classes, set it up at a height from which it can again sink down infinitely deeper under them. Indeed, both planets, Earth and Mars, are the middle rungs of the planetary system, and we can assume perhaps with some probability a physical condition as well as a moral constitution half way between the two end points. But I prefer to leave this thought to those who find in themselves more composure in dealing with unprovable knowledge and more motivation to set down an answer.

Знаете ли Вы, что электромагнитное и другие поля есть различные типы колебаний, деформаций и вариаций давления в эфире.

Понятие же "физического вакуума" в релятивистской квантовой теории поля подразумевает, что во-первых, он не имеет физической природы, в нем лишь виртуальные частицы у которых нет физической системы отсчета, это "фантомы", во-вторых, "физический вакуум" - это наинизшее состояние поля, "нуль-точка", что противоречит реальным фактам, так как, на самом деле, вся энергия материи содержится в эфире и нет иной энергии и иного носителя полей и вещества кроме самого эфира.

В отличие от лукавого понятия "физический вакуум", как бы совместимого с релятивизмом, понятие "эфир" подразумевает наличие базового уровня всей физической материи, имеющего как собственную систему отсчета (обнаруживаемую экспериментально, например, через фоновое космичекое излучение, - тепловое излучение самого эфира), так и являющимся носителем 100% энергии вселенной, а не "нуль-точкой" или "остаточными", "нулевыми колебаниями пространства". Подробнее читайте в FAQ по эфирной физике.

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