You may have seen a comic strip or a movie where a hasty individual walks into a pole or hits a glass door. In one of Marcel Pagnol’s movies (a famous French writer and filmmaker), someone kicks a hat, but underneath it some naughty pranksters have hidden a brick. Such sights may cause a jolt or elicit a cry from bystanders—as if they feel in themselves the pain that follows the shock. This very natural empathy exists only for the “human” victims, of course; no one would ever think of feeling compassion for a pole, a glass door, or a brick.
It would seem that two types of matter exist—inert, insensitive, unintelligent matter, and matter that is alive, sensitive, and intelligent. But is that true?
That question came to me as a result of the following experience:
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