CHAPTER IX
THE LAWS OF MOTION

§ 1. -- Corpuscles and their Structure

I N the last chapter we have seen how the physicist conceptually constructs the universe by aid of a vast atomic dance. I use the word atom although it is most probably the ultimate element of the ether, which we ought to talk about as the fundamental unit of the dance. Let us term this latter unit the ether-element, without intending to assert by the use of this word that the ether is necessarily discontinuous.1 Two adjacent ether-elements will be the symbols, necessarily geometrical, by which we represent the relative motion of the parts of the ether. On the basis of the ether-element let us try and conceive how the physicist imagines his mechanical model of the universe constructed. Perceptual experience gives us no hint as to what we ought to conceive the ether-element to consist of, or how we ought to imagine it to act, if it could be isolated. But we are compelled to consider ether-elements when in each other's presence as moving in certain definite modes, as taking part in a regulated dance. Perceptually there is no reason for this dance, conceptually it enables us to describe the world of sense- impressions.

Probably, although this point is far from being definitely settled, one type of motion among the ether-elements may

____________________
1
If we suppose the ether to be a conceptual limit to a perceptual fluid or jelly (pp. 289 and 301), then to conceptualise at all its transmission of stress or its elasticity we are, I think, compelled to suppose it discontinuous.

-305-

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