“Great strides have since been made in the art of anatomy, physiology and all branches of science, and the workings of the man-machine are now perfectly clear. Yet the very fewest among us are able to trace their actions to primary external causes. It is indispensable to the arguments I shall advance to keep in mind the main facts which I have myself established in years of close reasoning and observation and which may be summed up as follows:
1. The human being is a self-propelled automaton entirely under the control of external influences. Willful and predetermined though they appear, his actions are governed not from within, but from without. He is like a float tossed about by the waves of a turbulent sea.
There is no memory or retentive faculty based on lasting impression. What we designate as memory is but increased responsiveness to repeated stimuli.
It is not true, as Descartes taught, that the brain is an accumulator. There is no permanent record in the brain, there is no stored knowledge. Knowledge is something akin to an echo that needs a disturbance to be called into being.
All knowledge or form conception is evoked through the medium of the eye, either in response to disturbances directly received on the retina or to their fainter secondary effects and reverberations. Other sense organs can only call forth feelings which have no reality of existence and of which no conception can be formed.
Contrary to the most important tenet of Cartesian philosophy that the perceptions of the mind are illusionary, the eye transmits to it the true and accurate likeness of external things. This is because light propagates in straight lines and the image cast on the retina is an exact reproduction of the external form and one which, owing to the mechanism of the optic nerve, can not be distorted in the transmission to the brain. What is more, the process must be reversible, that in to say, a form brought to consciousness can, by reflex action, reproduce the original image on the retina just as an echo can reproduce the original disturbance If this view is borne out by experiment an immense revolution in all human relations and departments of activity will be the consequence.”
“How Cosmic Forces Shape Our Destines.”New York American, February 7, 1915
“I gave a demonstration of one experiment, which I think is the most beautiful I have ever tried. I think if I live a long life and work all the time I shall never have a more beautiful experiment than that. I had a boat without crew or captain, which I controlled merely by the force of my intelligence. I would will ‘turn,’ and it would turn, ‘go to the right,’ and it would go to the right, ‘to the left,’ it would go to the left. The beautiful thing about it was that it seem to be instinct with life, and, as a dog obeys the commands of his master, so this machine obeyed mind. And yet, it was governed simply by the electrical waves striking upon a receiver. And so which any machine.
“Why I could make an automaton in the shape of a man that could walk, move, perform all the motions of a man, except wherein the fact of it not being an organic being would make a difference. All this theory is developed from my idea that the actions of all inanimate beings are governed by impressions from outside objects received upon the eye.
“My idea is that people are simply automata, governed by the transmission of circumstances surrounding them upon the eye. This is the greatest idea of the age. The relations of nations will be affected by it. It will revolutionize thought. It may take years, but it will gradually come about. Men of science find it difficult to accept this idea. They cannot comprehend it. It is stupendous, and yet it is very simple.”
“The ambient medium is alive with movement and energy, in a state of unceasing agitation which is beyond comprehension. Strangely enough, to most of this terrible turmoil the human machine is insensible. The automaton does not feel the weight of the atmosphere crushing him with a force of 16 tons. He is unaffected by the shower of particles shooting through his body of cloud and the hurricane of finer substance rushing through him with the speed of light. He is unconscious that he is being whisked through space at the fearful rate of 70,000 miles an hour. But when gentle waves of light or sound strike him his eye and ear respond, his resonant nerve fibres transmit the vibrations and his muscles contract and relax. Thus, like a float on a turbulent sea, swayed by external influences, he moves and acts. The average person is not aware of this constant dependence on his environment; but a trained observer has no difficulty in locating the primary disturbance which prompts him into action, and continued exercise soon satisfies him that virtually all of his purely mechanical motions are caused by visual impressions, directly or indirectly received.”
“Tesla’s Tidal Wave to Make War Impossible.”New York World, April 21, 1907.