“What is the foundation of all philosophical systems of ancient and modern times, in fact, of all the philosophy of men? I am I think; I think, therefore I am. But how could I think and how would I know that I exist, if I had not the eye? For knowledge involve; consciousness; consciousness involves ideas, conceptions; conceptions involve pictures or images, and images the sense of vision, and therefore the organ of sight. But how about blind men, will be asked? Yes, a blind man may depict in magnificent poems, forms and scenes from real life, from a world he physically does not see. A blind man may touch the keys of an instrument with unerring precision, may model the fastest boat, may discover and invent, calculate and construct, may do still greater wonders—but all the blind men who have done such things have descended from those who had seeing eyes.”
“On Light And Other High Frequency Phenomena.” Lecture delivered before the Franklin Institute, Philadelphia, February 1893, and before the National Electric Light Association, St. Louis, March 1893.
“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