The push and pull of the bond explains cosmic self-organization, and in the Universal Natural History Kant shows how the chaos evolved to the starry skies visible now. It should be possible to do the same for organisms, but science at the time did not explain the formation of life. How life unfolds we do not know (1:230.14–20); we only know that it does. Kant believes (science agrees) that star birth is easier to determine than the creation of life (1:230.20–26).
With his famous nebular hypothesis, Kant discerned how planets, stars, and galaxies form. Their birth is a process of titanic power. Attractive forces contract particles into clouds, but repulsive forces deflect them up close. Continued accretion increases deflection, imparting angular momentum on the ever quicker rotating cloud. Rotation generates centrifugal forces, pulling the cloud’s equators outwards, crushing the poles, until the out-bulging yet in-falling sphere, revolving ever faster around its center, flattens into a disc. The bond, in Newton’s model of universal gravitation, continues coalescing in momentum and spin, until the center of the cosmic disc is so energized that it combusts. Increased energy translates into increased structure, organizing the ecliptic plane into lumpy coalescence. When the disc plane sediments into spinning bands, the lumps grow massive, while caroming along their orbits. The moving masses vacuum their paths and grow into planets strung along an ecliptic plane, orbiting a sun in now empty space—or, on a higher order of magnitude, into suns majestically revolving around a brightly lit galactic center. Whether suns in spiral galaxies, or planets in solar systems, the orbiting satellites sweep out equal areas in equal times, with their periods in sync with their distances from the gravitational centers.
With this essay, Kant synthesize Newton with his own theory of forces, leading Kant to the cutting edge of current knowledge. Nature, in the Universal Natural History, streams outward in a wavefront of organization (1:314.1–2), generating worlds (1:314.8), biospheres and sentience (1:317.5–13, 352–3), and finally reason, human and otherwise (1:351–66). Organization is fragile, and spontaneity, pushed far enough, invites chaos. Mature cosmic regions decay, chaos sets in, and entropy follows in the wake of complexity. But entropy provides the very conditions that allow the cosmic pulse to bounce material points back to order. Thus the expanding chaos coalesces at its center into order, followed by chaos, by order, by chaos. Like a rising and burning phoenix, nature cycles between life and death (1:312.13).
For creatures, the cosmic phoenix is a problem. Humans are just feathers on its wings. Humans grow only to burn to ashes; they are not exempt from the cosmic law (1:318.17–18). As the pulsing cosmic vector governs everything, order emerges on all orders of magnitude, from the repetitive birth of the phoenix to the elements to life and to inevitable collapse—only to begin anew again. The force-space bond unfolds in the interactive harmony of dynamic opposites, an interaction governed by Newton’s universal gravitation, churning out galaxies, suns, planets, life, and minds. Thus, as Kant writes, a “single universal rule” guides natural evolution in an absolutely glorious way (1:306.18–23).