“There is no way of acquiring knowledge except through the eye. 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 involves 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 thinks have descended from those who had seeing eyes. Nature may reach the same result in many ways. Like a wave in the physical world, in the infinite ocean of the medium which pervades all, so in the world of organism, in life, an impulse started proceeds onward, at times, may be, with the speed of light, at times, again, so slowly that for ages and ages it seems to stay; passing through processes of a complexity inconceivable to men, but in all its forms, in all its stages, its energy ever and ever integrally present. A single ray of light from a distant star falling upon the eye of a tyrant in by-gone times, may have altered the course of his life, may have changed the destiny of nations, may have transformed the surface of the globe. So intricate, so inconceivably complex are the processes in Nature. In no way can we get such an overwhelming idea of the grandeur of Nature, as when we consider, that in accordance with the law of the conservation of energy, throughout the infinite, the forces are in a perfect balance, and hence the energy of a single thought may determine the motion of a Universe. It is not necessary that every individual, not even that every generation or many generations, should have the physical instrument of sight, in order to be able to form images and to think, that is, form ideas or conceptions; but sometime or other, during the process of evolution, the eye certainly must have existed, else thought, as we understand it, would be impossible; else conceptions, like spirit, intellect, mind, call it as you may, could not exist. It is conceivable, that in some other world, in some other beings, the eye is replaced by a different organ, equally or more perfect, but these beings cannot be men.”
“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.