MoboReader > Literature > Unconscious Memory

   Chapter 13 No.13

Unconscious Memory By Samuel Butler Characters: 49230

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:05


If we observed the resemblance between successive generations to be as close as that between distilled water and distilled water through all time, and if we observed that perfect unchangeableness in the action of living beings which we see in what we call chemical and mechanical combinations, we might indeed suspect that memory had as little place among the causes of their action as it can have in anything, and that each repetition, whether of a habit or the practice of art, or of an embryonic process in successive generations, was an original performance, for all that memory had to do with it. I submit, however, that in the case of the reproductive forms of life we see just so much variety, in spite of uniformity, as is consistent with a repetition involving not only a nearly perfect similarity in the agents and their circumstances, but also the little departure therefrom that is inevitably involved in the supposition that a memory of like presents as well as of like antecedents (as distinguished from a memory of like antecedents only) has played a part in their development-a cyclonic memory, if the expression may be pardoned.

There is life infinitely lower and more minute than any which our most powerful microscopes reveal to us, but let us leave this upon one side and begin with the am?ba. Let us suppose that this structureless morsel of protoplasm is, for all its structurelessness, composed of an infinite number of living molecules, each one of them with hopes and fears of its own, and all dwelling together like Tekke Turcomans, of whom we read that they live for plunder only, and that each man of them is entirely independent, acknowledging no constituted authority, but that some among them exercise a tacit and undefined influence over the others. Let us suppose these molecules capable of memory, both in their capacity as individuals, and as societies, and able to transmit their memories to their descendants, from the traditions of the dimmest past to the experiences of their own lifetime. Some of these societies will remain simple, as having had no history, but to the greater number unfamiliar, and therefore striking, incidents will from time to time occur, which, when they do not disturb memory so greatly as to kill, will leave their impression upon it. The body or society will remember these incidents, and be modified by them in its conduct, and therefore more or less in its internal arrangements, which will tend inevitably to specialisation. This memory of the most striking events of varied lifetimes I maintain, with Professor Hering, to be the differentiating cause, which, accumulated in countless generations, has led up from the am?ba to man. If there had been no such memory, the am?ba of one generation would have exactly resembled time am?ba of the preceding, and a perfect cycle would have been established; the modifying effects of an additional memory in each generation have made the cycle into a spiral, and into a spiral whose eccentricity, in the outset hardly perceptible, is becoming greater and greater with increasing longevity and more complex social and mechanical inventions.

We say that the chicken grows the horny tip to its beak with which it ultimately pecks its way out of its shell, because it remembers having grown it before, and the use it made of it. We say that it made it on the same principles as a man makes a spade or a hammer, that is to say, as the joint result both of desire and experience. When I say experience, I mean experience not only of what will be wanted, but also of the details of all the means that must be taken in order to effect this. Memory, therefore, is supposed to guide the chicken not only in respect of the main design, but in respect also of every atomic action, so to speak, which goes to make up the execution of this design. It is not only the suggestion of a plan which is due to memory, but, as Professor Hering has so well said, it is the binding power of memory which alone renders any consolidation or coherence of action possible, inasmuch as without this no action could have parts subordinate one to another, yet bearing upon a common end; no part of an action, great or small, could have reference to any other part, much less to a combination of all the parts; nothing, in fact, but ultimate atoms of actions could ever happen-these bearing the same relation to such an action, we will say, as a railway journey from London to Edinburgh as a single molecule of hydrogen to a gallon of water. If asked how it is that the chicken shows no sign of consciousness concerning this design, nor yet of the steps it is taking to carry it out, we reply that such unconsciousness is usual in all cases where an action, and the design which prompts it, have been repeated exceedingly often. If, again, we are asked how we account for the regularity with which each step is taken in its due order, we answer that this too is characteristic of actions that are done habitually-they being very rarely misplaced in respect of any part.

When I wrote "Life and Habit," I had arrived at the conclusion that memory was the most essential characteristic of life, and went so far as to say, "Life is that property of matter whereby it can remember-matter which can remember is living." I should perhaps have written, "Life is the being possessed of a memory-the life of a thing at any moment is the memories which at that moment it retains"; and I would modify the words that immediately follow, namely, "Matter which cannot remember is dead"; for they imply that there is such a thing as matter which cannot remember anything at all, and this on fuller consideration I do not believe to be the case; I can conceive of no matter which is not able to remember a little, and which is not living in respect of what it can remember. I do not see how action of any kind is conceivable without the supposition that every atom retains a memory of certain antecedents. I cannot, however, at this point, enter upon the reasons which have compelled me to this conclusion. Whether these would be deemed sufficient or no, at any rate we cannot believe that a system of self-reproducing associations should develop from the simplicity of the am?ba to the complexity of the human body without the presence of that memory which can alone account at once for the resemblances and the differences between successive generations, for the arising and the accumulation of divergences-for the tendency to differ and the tendency not to differ.

At parting, therefore, I would recommend the reader to see every atom in the universe as living and able to feel and to remember, but in a humble way. He must have life eternal, as well as matter eternal; and the life and the matter must be joined together inseparably as body and soul to one another. Thus he will see God everywhere, not as those who repeat phrases conventionally, but as people who would have their words taken according to their most natural and legitimate meaning; and he will feel that the main difference between him and many of those who oppose him lies in the fact that whereas both he and they use the same language, his opponents only half mean what they say, while he means it entirely.

The attempt to get a higher form of a life from a lower one is in accordance with our observation and experience. It is therefore proper to be believed. The attempt to get it from that which has absolutely no life is like trying to get something out of nothing. The millionth part of a farthing put out to interest at ten per cent, will in five hundred years become over a million pounds, and so long as we have any millionth of a millionth of the farthing to start with, our getting as many million pounds as we have a fancy for is only a question of time, but without the initial millionth of a millionth of a millionth part, we shall get no increment whatever. A little leaven will leaven the whole lump, but there must be some leaven.

I will here quote two passages from an article already quoted from on page 55 of this book. They run:-

"We are growing conscious that our earnest and most determined efforts to make motion produce sensation and volition have proved a failure, and now we want to rest a little in the opposite, much less laborious conjecture, and allow any kind of motion to start into existence, or at least to receive its specific direction from psychical sources; sensation and volition being for the purpose quietly insinuated into the constitution of the ultimately moving particles." [177a]


"In this light it can remain no longer surprising that we actually find motility and sensibility so intimately interblended in nature." [177b]

We should endeavour to see the so-called inorganic as living, in respect of the qualities it has in common with the organic, rather than the organic as non-living in respect of the qualities it has in common with the inorganic. True, it would be hard to place one's self on the same moral platform as a stone, but this is not necessary; it is enough that we should feel the stone to have a moral platform of its own, though that platform embraces little more than a profound respect for the laws of gravitation, chemical affinity, &c. As for the difficulty of conceiving a body as living that has not got a reproductive system-we should remember that neuter insects are living but are believed to have no reproductive system. Again, we should bear in mind that mere assimilation involves all the essentials of reproduction, and that both air and water possess this power in a very high degree. The essence of a reproductive system, then, is found low down in the scheme of nature.

At present our leading men of science are in this difficulty; on the one hand their experiments and their theories alike teach them that spontaneous generation ought not to be accepted; on the other, they must have an origin for the life of the living forms, which, by their own theory, have been evolved, and they can at present get this origin in no other way than by the Deus ex machina method, which they reject as unproved, or a spontaneous generation of living from non-living matter, which is no less foreign to their experience. As a general rule, they prefer the latter alternative. So Professor Tyndall, in his celebrated article (Nineteenth Century, November 1878), wrote:-

"It is generally conceded (and seems to be a necessary inference from the lessons of science) that spontaneous generation must at one time have taken place" (italics mine).

No inference can well be more unnecessary or unscientific. I suppose spontaneous generation ceases to be objectionable if it was "only a very little one," and came off a long time ago in a foreign country. The proper inference is, that there is a low kind of livingness in every atom of matter. Life eternal is as inevitable a conclusion as matter eternal.

It should not be doubted that wherever there is vibration or motion there is life and memory, and that there is vibration and motion at all times in all things.

The reader who takes the above position will find that he can explain the entry of what he calls death among what he calls the living, whereas he could by no means introduce life into his system if he started without it. Death is deducible; life is not deducible. Death is a change of memories; it is not the destruction of all memory. It is as the liquidation of one company, each member of which will presently join a new one, and retain a trifle even of the old cancelled memory, by way of greater aptitude for working in concert with other molecules. This is why animals feed on grass and on each other, and cannot proselytise or convert the rude ground before it has been tutored in the first principles of the higher kinds of association.

Again, I would recommend the reader to beware of believing anything in this book unless he either likes it, or feels angry at being told it. If required belief in this or that makes a man angry, I suppose he should, as a general rule, swallow it whole then and there upon the spot, otherwise he may take it or leave it as he likes. I have not gone far for my facts, nor yet far from them; all on which I rest are as open to the reader as to me. If I have sometimes used hard terms, the probability is that I have not understood them, but have done so by a slip, as one who has caught a bad habit from the company he has been lately keeping. They should be skipped.

Do not let him be too much cast down by the bad language with which professional scientists obscure the issue, nor by their seeming to make it their business to fog us under the pretext of removing our difficulties. It is not the ratcatcher's interest to catch all the rats; and, as Handel observed so sensibly, "Every professional gentleman must do his best for to live." The art of some of our philosophers, however, is sufficiently transparent, and consists too often in saying "organism which must be classified among fishes," instead of "fish," [179a] and then proclaiming that they have "an ineradicable tendency to try to make things clear." [179b]

If another example is required, here is the following from an article than which I have seen few with which I more completely agree, or which have given me greater pleasure. If our men of science would take to writing in this way, we should be glad enough to follow them. The passage I refer to runs thus:-

"Professor Huxley speaks of a 'verbal fog by which the question at issue may be hidden'; is there no verbal fog in the statement that the ?tiology of crayfishes resolves itself into a gradual evolution in the course of the mesosoic and subsequent epochs of the world's history of these animals from a primitive astacomorphous form? Would it be fog or light that would envelop the history of man if we said that the existence of man was explained by the hypothesis of his gradual evolution from a primitive anthropomorphous form? I should call this fog, not light." [180]

Especially let him mistrust those who are holding forth about protoplasm, and maintaining that this is the only living substance. Protoplasm may be, and perhaps is, the most living part of an organism, as the most capable of retaining vibrations, but this is the utmost that can be claimed for it.

Having mentioned protoplasm, I may ask the reader to note the breakdown of that school of philosophy which divided the ego from the non ego. The protoplasmists, on the one hand, are whittling away at the ego, till they have reduced it to a little jelly in certain parts of the body, and they will whittle away this too presently, if they go on as they are doing now.

Others, again, are so unifying the ego and the non ego, that with them there will soon be as little of the non ego left as there is of the ego with their opponents. Both, however, are so far agreed as that we know not where to draw the line between the two, and this renders nugatory any system which is founded upon a distinction between them.

The truth is, that all classification whatever, when we examine its raison d'être closely, is found to be arbitrary-to depend on our sense of our own convenience, and not on any inherent distinction in the nature of the things themselves. Strictly speaking, there is only one thing and one action. The universe, or God, and the action of the universe as a whole.

Lastly, I may predict with some certainty that before long we shall find the original Darwinism of Dr. Erasmus Darwin (with an infusion of Professor Hering into the bargain) generally accepted instead of the neo-Darwinism of to-day, and that the variations whose accumulation results in species will be recognised as due to the wants and endeavours of the living forms in which they appear, instead of being ascribed to chance, or, in other words, to unknown causes, as by Mr. Charles Darwin's system. We shall have some idyllic young naturalist bringing up Dr. Erasmus Darwin's note on Trapa natans, [181a] and Lamarck's kindred passage on the descent of Ranunculus hederaceus from Ranunculus aquatilis [181b] as fresh discoveries, and be told, with much happy simplicity, that those animals and plants which have felt the need of such or such a structure have developed it, while those which have not wanted it have gone without it. Thus, it will be declared, every leaf we see around us, every structure of the minutest insect, will bear witness to the truth of the "great guess" of the greatest of naturalists concerning the memory of living matter.

I dare say the public will not object to this, and am very sure that none of the admirers of Mr. Charles Darwin or Mr. Wallace will protest against it; but it may be as well to point out that this was not the view of the matter taken by Mr. Wallace in 1858 when he and Mr. Darwin first came forward as preachers of natural selection. At that time Mr. Wallace saw clearly enough the difference between the theory of "natural selection" and that of Lamarck. He wrote:-

"The hypothesis of Lamarck-that progressive changes in species have been produced by the attempts of animals to increase the development of their own organs, and thus modify their structure and habits-has been repeatedly and easily refuted by all writers on the subject of varieties and species, . . . but the view here developed tenders such an hypothesis quite unnecessary. . . . The powerful retractile talons of the falcon and the cat tribes have not been produced or increased by the volition of those animals, neither did the giraffe acquire its long neck by desiring to reach the foliage of the more lofty shrubs, and constantly stretching its neck for this purpose, but because any varieties which occurred among its antitypes with a longer neck than usual at once secured a fresh range of pasture over the same ground as their shorter-necked companions, and on the first scarcity of food were thereby enabled to outlive them" (italics in original). [182a]

This is absolutely the neo-Darwinian doctrine, and a denial of the mainly fortuitous character of the variations in animal and vegetable forms cuts at its root. That Mr. Wallace, after years of reflection, still adhered to this view, is proved by his heading a reprint of the paragraph just quoted from [182b] with the words "Lamarck's hypothesis very different from that now advanced"; nor do any of his more recent works show that he has modified his opinion. It should be noted that Mr. Wallace does not call his work "Contributions to the Theory of Evolution," but to that of "Natural Selection."

Mr. Darwin, with characteristic caution, only commits himself to saying that Mr. Wallace has arrived at almost (italics mine) the same general conclusions as he, Mr. Darwin, has done; [182c] but he still, as in 1859, declares that it would be "a serious error to suppose that the greater number of instincts have been acquired by habit in one generation, and then transmitted by inheritance to succeeding generations," [183a] and he still comprehensively condemns the "well-known doctrine of inherited habit, as advanced by Lamarck." [183b]

As for the statement in the passage quoted from Mr. Wallace, to the effect that Lamarck's hypothesis "has been repeatedly and easily refuted by all writers on the subject of varieties and species," it is a very surprising one. I have searched Evolution literature in vain for any refutation of the Erasmus Darwinian system (for this is what Lamarck's hypothesis really is) which need make the defenders of that system at all uneasy. The best attempt at an answer to Erasmus Darwin that has yet been made is "Paley's Natural Theology," which was throughout obviously written to meet Buffon and the "Zoonomia." It is the manner of theologians to say that such and such an objection "has been refuted over and over again," without at the same time telling us when and where; it is to be regretted that Mr. Wallace has here taken a leaf out of the theologians' book. His statement is one which will not pass muster with those whom public opinion is sure in the end to follow.

Did Mr. Herbert Spencer, for example, "repeatedly and easily refute" Lamarck's hypothesis in his brilliant article in the Leader, March 20, 1852? On the contrary, that article is expressly directed against those "who cavalierly reject the hypothesis of Lamarck and his followers." This article was written six years before the words last quoted from Mr. Wallace; how absolutely, however, does the word "cavalierly" apply to them!

Does Isidore Geoffroy, again, bear Mr. Wallace's assertion out better? In 1859-that is to say, but a short time after Mr. Wallace had written-he wrote as follows:-

"Such was the language which Lamarck heard during his protracted old age, saddened alike by the weight of years and blindness; this was what people did not hesitate to utter over his grave yet barely closed, and what indeed they are still saying-commonly too without any knowledge of what Lamarck maintained, but merely repeating at secondhand bad caricatures of his teaching.

"When will the time come when we may see Lamarck's theory discussed-and, I may as well at once say, refuted in some important points [184a]-with at any rate the respect due to one of the most illustrious masters of our science? And when will this theory, the hardihood of which has been greatly exaggerated, become freed from the interpretations and commentaries by the false light of which so many naturalists have formed their opinion concerning it? If its author is to be condemned, let it be, at any rate, not before he has been heard." [184b]

In 1873 M. Martin published his edition of Lamarck's "Philosophie Zoologique." He was still able to say, with, I believe, perfect truth, that Lamarck's theory has "never yet had the honour of being discussed seriously." [184c]

Professor Huxley in his article on Evolution is no less cavalier than Mr. Wallace. He writes:-[184d]

"Lamarck introduced the conception of the action of an animal on itself as a factor in producing modification."

[Lamarck did nothing of the kind. It was Buffon and Dr. Darwin who introduced this, but more especially Dr. Darwin.]

"But a little consideration showed" (italics mine) "that though Lamarck had seized what, as far as it goes, is a true cause of modification, it is a cause the actual effects of which are wholly inadequate to account for any considerable modification in animals, and which can have no influence whatever in the vegetable world, &c."

I should be very glad to come across some of the "little consideration" which will show this. I have searched for it far and wide, and have never been able to find it.

I think Professor Huxley has been exercising some of his ineradicable tendency to try to make things clear in the article on Evolution, already so often quoted from. We find him (p. 750) pooh-poohing Lamarck, yet on the next page he says, "How far 'natural selection' suffices for the production of species remains to be seen." And this when "natural selection" was already so nearly of age! Why, to those who know how to read between a philosopher's lines, the sentence comes to very nearly the same as a declaration that the writer has no great opinion of "natural selection." Professor Huxley continues, "Few can doubt that, if not the whole cause, it is a very important factor in that operation." A philosopher's words should be weighed carefully, and when Professor Huxley says "few can doubt," we must remember that he may be including himself among the few whom he considers to have the power of doubting on this matter. He does not say "few will," but "few can" doubt, as though it were only the enlightened who would have the power of doing so. Certainly "nature,"-for this is what "natural selection" comes to,-is rather an important factor in the operation, but we do not gain much by being told so. If, however, Professor Huxley neither believes in the origin of species, through sense of need on the part of animals themselves, nor yet in "natural selection," we should be glad to know what he does believe in.

The battle is one of greater importance than appears at first sight. It is a battle between teleology and non-teleology, between the purposiveness and the non-purposiveness of the organs in animal and vegetable bodies. According to Erasmus Darwin, Lamarck, and Paley, organs are purposive; according to Mr. Darwin and his followers, they are not purposive. But the main arguments against t

he system of Dr. Erasmus Darwin are arguments which, so far as they have any weight, tell against evolution generally. Now that these have been disposed of, and the prejudice against evolution has been overcome, it will be seen that there is nothing to be said against the system of Dr. Darwin and Lamarck which does not tell with far greater force against that of Mr. Charles Darwin and Mr. Wallace.





[0a] This is the date on the title-page. The preface is dated October 15, 1886, and the first copy was issued in November of the same year. All the dates are taken from the Bibliography by Mr. H. Festing Jones prefixed to the "Extracts" in the New Quarterly Review (1909).

[0b] I.e. after p. 285: it bears no number of its own!

[0c] The distinction was merely implicit in his published writings, but has been printed since his death from his "Notebooks," New Quarterly Review, April, 1908. I had developed this thesis, without knowing of Butler's explicit anticipation in an article then in the press: "Mechanism and Life," Contemporary Review, May, 1908.

[0d] The term has recently been revived by Prof. Hubrecht and by myself (Contemporary Review, November 1908).

[0e] See Fortnightly Review, February 1908, and Contemporary Review, September and November 1909. Since these publications the hypnosis seems to have somewhat weakened.

[0f] A "hormone" is a chemical substance which, formed in one part of the body, alters the reactions of another part, normally for the good of the organism.

[0g] Mr. H. Festing Jones first directed my attention to these passages and their bearing on the Mutation Theory.

[0i] He says in a note, "This general type of reaction was described and illustrated in a different connection by Pfluger in 'Pfluger's Archiv. f.d. ges. Physiologie,' Bd. XV." The essay bears the significant title "Die teleologische Mechanik der lebendigen Natur," and is a very remarkable one, as coming from an official physiologist in 1877, when the chemico-physical school was nearly at its zenith.

[0j] "Contributions to the Study of the Lower Animals" (1904), "Modifiability in Behaviour" and "Method of Regulability in Behaviour and in other Fields," in Journ. Experimental Zoology, vol. ii. (1905).

[0h] See "The Hereditary Transmission of Acquired Characters" in Contemporary Review, September and November 1908, in which references are given to earlier statements.

[0k] Semon's technical terms are exclusively taken from the Greek, but as experience tells that plain men in England have a special dread of suchlike, I have substituted "imprint" for "engram," "outcome" for "ecphoria"; for the latter term I had thought of "efference," "manifestation," etc., but decided on what looked more homely, and at the same time was quite distinctive enough to avoid that confusion which Semon has dodged with his Gr?cisms.

[0l] "Between the 'me' of to-day and the 'me' of yesterday lie night and sleep, abysses of unconsciousness; nor is there any bridge but memory with which to span them."-Unconscious Memory, p. 71.

[0m] Preface by Mr. Charles Darwin to "Erasmus Darwin." The Museum has copies of a Kosmos that was published 1857–60 and then discontinued; but this is clearly not the Kosmos referred to by Mr. Darwin, which began to appear in 1878.

[0n] Preface to "Erasmus Darwin."

[2] May 1880.

[3] Kosmos, February 1879, Leipsic.

[4] Origin of Species, ed. i., p. 459.

[8a] Origin of Species, ed. i., p. 1.

[8b] Kosmos, February 1879, p. 397.

[8c] Erasmus Darwin, by Ernest Krause, pp. 132, 133.

[9a] Origin of Species, ed. i., p. 242.

[9b] Ibid., p. 427.

[10a] Nineteenth Century, November 1878; Evolution, Old and New, pp. 360. 361.

[10b] Encyclop?dia Britannica, ed. ix., art. "Evolution," p. 748.

[11] Ibid.

[17] Encycl. Brit., ed. ix., art. "Evolution," p. 750.

[23a] Origin of Species, 6th ed., 1876, p. 206.

[23b] Ibid., p. 233.

[24a] Origin of Species, 6th ed., p. 171, 1876.

[24b] Pp. 258–260.

[26] Zoonomia, vol. i. p. 484; Evolution, Old and New, p. 214.

[27] "Erasmus Darwin," by Ernest Krause, p. 211, London, 1879.

[28a] See "Evolution, Old and New," p. 91, and Buffon, tom. iv. p. 383, ed. 1753.

[28b] Evolution, Old and New, p. 104.

[29a] Encycl. Brit., 9th ed., art. "Evolution," p. 748.

[29b] Palingénésie Philosophique, part x. chap. ii. (quoted from Professor Huxley's article on "Evolution," Encycl. Brit., 9th ed., p. 745).

[31] The note began thus: "I have taken the date of the first publication of Lamarck from Isidore Geoffroy St. Hilaire's (Hist. Nat. Générale tom. ii. p. 405, 1859) excellent history of opinion upon this subject. In this work a full account is given of Buffon's fluctuating conclusions upon the same subject."-Origin of Species, 3d ed., 1861, p. xiv.

[33a] Life of Erasmus Darwin, pp. 84, 85.

[33b] See Life and Habit, p. 264 and pp. 276, 277.

[33c] See Evolution, Old and New, pp. 159–165.

[33d] Ibid., p. 122.

[34] See Evolution, Old and New, pp. 247, 248.

[35a] Vestiges of Creation, ed. 1860, "Proofs, Illustrations, &c.," p. lxiv.

[35b] The first announcement was in the Examiner, February 22, 1879.

[36] Saturday Review, May 31, 1879.

[37a] May 26, 1879.

[37b] May 31, 1879.

[37c] July 26, 1879.

[37d] July 1879.

[37e] July 1879.

[37f] July 29, 1879.

[37g] January 1880.

[39] How far Kosmos was "a well-known" journal, I cannot determine. It had just entered upon its second year.

[41] Evolution, Old and New, p. 120, line 5.

[43] Kosmos, February 1879, p. 397.

[44a] Kosmos, February 1879, p. 404.

[44b] Page 39 of this volume.

[50] See Appendix A.

[52] Since published as "God the Known and God the Unknown." Fifield, 1s. 6d. net. 1909.

[54a] "Contemplation of Nature," Engl. trans., Lond. 1776. Preface, p. xxxvi.

[54b] Ibid., p. xxxviii.

[55] Life and Habit, p. 97.

[56] "The Unity of the Organic Individual," by Edward Montgomery, Mind, October 1880, p. 466.

[58] Life and Habit, p. 237.

[59a] Discourse on the Study of Natural Philosophy. Lardner's Cab. Cyclo., vol. xcix. p. 24.

[59b] Young's Lectures on Natural Philosophy, ii. 627. See also Phil. Trans., 1801–2.

[63] The lecture is published by Karl Gerold's Sohn, Vienna.

[69] See quotation from Bonnet, p. 54 of this volume.

[70] Professor Hering is not clear here. Vibrations (if I understand his theory rightly) should not be set up by faint stimuli from within. Whence and what are these stimuli? The vibrations within are already existing, and it is they which are the stimuli to action. On having been once set up, they either continue in sufficient force to maintain action, or they die down, and become too weak to cause further action, and perhaps even to be perceived within the mind, until they receive an accession of vibration from without. The only "stimulus from within" that should be able to generate action is that which may follow when a vibration already established in the body runs into another similar vibration already so established. On this consciousness, and even action, might be supposed to follow without the presence of an external stimulus.

[71] This expression seems hardly applicable to the overtaking of an internal by an external vibration, but it is not inconsistent with it. Here, however, as frequently elsewhere, I doubt how far Professor Hering has fully realised his conception, beyond being, like myself, convinced that the phenomena of memory and of heredity have a common source.

[72] See quotation from Bonnet, p. 54 of this volume. By "preserving the memory of habitual actions" Professor Hering probably means, retains for a long while and repeats motion of a certain character when such motion has been once communicated to it.

[74a] It should not be "if the central nerve system were not able to reproduce whole series of vibrations," but "if whole series of vibrations do not persist though unperceived," if Professor Hering intends what I suppose him to intend.

[74b] Memory was in full operation for so long a time before anything like what we call a nervous system can be detected, that Professor Hering must not be supposed to be intending to confine memory to a motor nerve system. His words do not even imply that he does, but it is as well to be on one's guard.

[77] It is from such passages as this, and those that follow on the next few pages, that I collect the impression of Professor Hering's meaning which I have endeavoured to convey in the preceding chapter.

[78] That is to say, "an infinitely small change in the kind of vibration communicated from the parent to the germ."

[79] It may be asked what is meant by responding. I may repeat that I understand Professor Hering to mean that there exists in the offspring certain vibrations, which are many of them too faint to upset equilibrium and thus generate action, until they receive an accession of force from without by the running into them of vibrations of similar characteristics to their own, which last vibrations have been set up by exterior objects. On this they become strong enough to generate that corporeal earthquake which we call action.

This may be true or not, but it is at any rate intelligible; whereas much that is written about "fraying channels" raises no definite ideas in the mind.

[80a] I interpret this, "We cannot wonder if often-repeated vibrations gather strength, and become at once more lasting and requiring less accession of vibration from without, in order to become strong enough to generate action."

[80b] "Characteristics" must, I imagine, according to Professor Hering, resolve themselves ultimately into "vibrations," for the characteristics depend upon the character of the vibrations.

[81] Professor Hartog tells me that this probably refers to Fritz Müller's formulation of the "recapitulation process" in "Facts for Darwin," English edition (1869), p. 114.-R.A.S.

[82] This is the passage which makes me suppose Professor Hering to mean that vibrations from exterior objects run into vibrations already existing within the living body, and that the accession to power thus derived is his key to an explanation of the physical basis of action.

[84] I interpret this: "There are fewer vibrations persistent within the bodies of the lower animals; those that there are, therefore, are stronger and more capable of generating action or upsetting the status in quo. Hence also they require less accession of vibration from without. Man is agitated by more and more varied vibrations; these, interfering, as to some extent they must, with one another, are weaker, and therefore require more accession from without before they can set the mechanical adjustments of the body in motion."

[89] I am obliged to Mr. Sully for this excellent translation of "Hellsehen."

[90a] Westminster Review, New Series, vol. xlix. p. 143.

[90b] Ibid., p. 145.

[90c] Ibid., p. 151.

[92a] "Instinct ist zweckm?ssiges Handeln ohne Bewusstsein des Zwecks."-Philosophy of the Unconscious, 3d ed., Berlin, 1871, p. 70.

[92b] "1. Eine blosse Folge der k?rperlichen Organisation.

"2. Ein von der Natur eingerichteter Gehirn-oder Geistesmechanismus.

"3. Eine Folge unbewusster Geistesthiitigkeit."-Philosophy of the Unconscious, 3d ed., p. 70.

[97] "Hiermit ist der Annahme das Urtheil gesprochen, welche die unbewusste Vorstellung des Zwecks in jedem einzelnen Falle vorwiegt; denn wollte man nun noch die Vorstellung des Geistesmechanismus festhalten so müsste für jede Variation und Modification des Instincts, nach den ?usseren Umst?nden, eine besondere constante Vorrichtung . . . eingefügt sein."-Philosophy of the Unconscious 3d ed., p. 74.

[99] "Indessen glaube ich, dass die angeführten Beispiele zur Genüge beweisen, dass es auch viele F?lle giebt, wo ohne jede Complication mit der bewussten Ueberlegung die gew?hnliche und aussergew?hnliche Handlung aus derselben Quelle stammen, dass sie entweder beide wirklicher Instinct, oder beide Resultate bewusster Ueberlegung sind."-Philosophy of the Unconscious, 3d ed., p. 76.

[100] "Dagegen haben wir nunmehr unseren Blick noch einmal sch?rfer auf den Begriff eines psychischen Mechanismus zu richten, und da zeigt sich, dass derselbe, abgesehen davon, wie viel er erkl?rt, so dunke list, dass man sich kaum etwas dabei denken kann."-Philosophy of the Unconscious, 3d ed., p. 76.

[101] "Das Endglied tritt als bewusster Wille zu irgend einer Handlung auf; beide sind aber ganz ungleichartig und haben mit der gew?hnlichen Motivation nichts zu thun, welche ausschliesslich darin besteht, dass die Vorstellung einer Lust oder einer Unlust das Begehren erzeugr, erstere zu erlangen, letztere sich fern zu halten."-Ibid., p. 76.

[102a] "Diese causale Verbindung f?llt erfahrungsm?ssig, wie wir von unsern menschlichen Instincten wissen, nicht in's Bewussisein; folglich kann dieselbe, wenn sie ein Mechanismus sein soll, nur entweder ein nicht in's Bewusstsein fallende mechanische Leitung und Umwandlung der Schwingungen des vorgestellten Motivs in die Schwingungen der gewollten Handlung im Gehirn, oder ein unbewusster geistiger Mechanismus sein."-Philosophy of the Unconscious 3d ed., p. 77.

[102b] "Man hat sich also zwischen dem bewussten Motiv, und dem Willen zur Insticthandlung eine causale Verbindung durch unbewusstes Vorstellen und Wollen zu denken, und ich weiss nicht, wie diese Verbindung einfacher gedacht werden k?nnte, als durch den vorgestellten und gewollten Zweck. Damit sind wir aber bei dem allen Geistern eigenthümlichen und immanenten Mechanismus der Logik angelangt, und haben die unbewusster Zweckvorstellung bei jeder einzelnen Instincthandlung als unentbehrliches Glied gefunden; hiermit hat also der Begrift des todten, ?usserlich pr?destinirten Geistesmechanismus sich selbst aufgehoben und in das immanente Geistesleben der Logik umgewandelt, und wir sind bei der letzten M?glichkeit angekommen, welche für die Auffassung eines wirklichen Instincts übrig bleibt: der Instinct ist bewusstes Wollen des Mittels zu einem unbewusst gewollten Zweck."-Philosophy of the Unconscious, 3d ed., p. 78.

[105a] "Also der Instinct ohne Hülfsmechanismus die Ursache der Entstehung des Hülfsmechanismus ist."-Philosophy of the Unconscious, 3d ed., p. 79.

[105b] "Dass auch der fertige Hülfsmechanismus das Unbewusste nicht etwa zu dieser bestimmten Instincthandlung necessirt, sondern blosse pr?disponirt."-Philosophy of the Unconscious, 3d ed., p. 79.

[105c] "Giebt es einen wirklichen Instinct, oder sind die sogenannten Instincthandlungen nur Resultate bewusster Ueberlegung?"-Philosophy of the Unconscious, 3d ed., p. 79.

[111] "Dieser Beweis ist dadurch zu führen; erstens dass die betreffenden Thatsachen in; der Zukunft liegen, und dem Verstande die Anhaltepunkte fehlen, um ihr zukünftiges Eintreten aus den gegenw?rtigen Verh?ltnissen zu erschliessen; zweitens, dass die betreffenden Thatsachen augenscheinlich der sinnlichen Wahrnehmung verschlossen liegen, weil nur die Erfahrung früherer F?lle über sie belehren kann, und diese laut der Beobachtung ausgeschlossen ist. Es würde für unsere Interessen keinen Unterschied machen, wenn, was ich wahrscheinlich halte, bei fortschreitender physiologischer Erkenntniss alle jetzt für den ersten Fall anzuführenden Beispiele sich als solche des zweiten Falls ausweisen sollten, wie dies unleugbar bei vielen früher gebrauchten Beispielen schon geschehen ist; denn ein apriorisches Wissen ohne jeden sinnlichen Anstoss ist wohl kaum wunderbarer zu nennen, als ein Wissen, welches zwar bei Gelegenheit gewisser sinnlicher Wahrnehmung zu Tage tritt, aber mit diesen nur durch eine solche Kette von Schlüssen und angewandten Kenntnissen in Verbindung stehend gedacht werden k?nnte, dass deren M?glichkeit bei dem Zustande der F?higkeiten und Bildung der betreffenden Thiere entschieden geleugnet werden muss."-Philosophy of the Unconscious, 3d ed., p. 85.

[113] "Man hat dieselbe jederzeit anerkannt und mit den Worten Vorgefühl oder Ahnung bezeichnet; indess beziehen sich diese W?rte einerseits nur auf zukünftiges, nicht auf gegenw?rtiges, r?umlich getrenntes Unwahmehrnbares, anderseits bezeichnen sie nur die leise, dumpfe, unbestimmte Resonanz des Bewusstseins mit dem unfehlbar bestimmten Zustande der unbewussten Erkenntniss. Daher das Wort Vorgefühl in Rücksicht auf die Dumpfheit und Unbestimmtheit, w?hrend doch leicht zu sehen ist, dass das von allen, auch den unbewussten Vorstellungen entbl?sste Gefühl für das Resultat gar keinen Einfluss haben kann, sondern nur eine Vorstellung, weil diese allein Erkenntniss enth?lt. Die in Bewusstsein mitklingende Ahnung kann allerdings unter Umst?nden ziemlich deutlich sein, so dass sie sich beim Menschen in Gedanken und Wort fixiren l?sst; doch ist dies auch im Menschen erfahrungsm?ssig bei den eigenthümlichen Instincten nicht der Fall, vielmehr ist bei diesen die Resonanz der unbewussten Erkenntniss im Bewusstsein meistens so schwach, dass sie sich wirklich nur in begleitenden Gefühlen oder der Stimmung ?ussert, dass sie einen unendlich kleinen Bruchtheil des Gemeingefühls bildet."-Philosophy of the Unconscious, 3d ed., p. 86.

[115a] "In der Bestimmung des Willens durch einen im Unbewussten liegenden Process . . . für welchen sich dieser Character der zweifellosen Selbstgewissheit in allen folgenden Untersuchungen bew?hren wird."-Philosophy of the Unconscious, p. 87.

[115b] "Sondern als unmittelbarer Besitz vorgefunden wird."-Philosophy of the Unconscious, p. 87.

[115c] "Hellsehen."

[119a] "Das Hellsehon des Unbewussten hat sie den rechten Weg ahnen lassen."-Philosophy of the Unconscious, p. 90, 3d ed., 1871.

[119b] "Man wird doch wahrlich nicht den Thieren zumuthen wollen, durch meteorologische Schlüsse das Wetter auf Monate im Voraus zu berechnen, ja sogar Ueberschwemmungen vorauszusehen. Vielmehr ist eine solche Gefühlswahrnehmung gegenw?rtiger atmosph?rischer Einflüsse nichts weiter als die sinnliche Wahrnehmung, welche als Motiv wirkt, und ein Motiv muss ja doch immer vorhanden sein, wenn ein Instinct functioniren soll. Es bleibt also trotzdem bestehen dass das Voraussehen der Witterung ein unbewusstes Hellsehen ist, von dem der Storch, der vier Wochen früher nach Süden aufbricht, so wenig etwas weiss, als der Hirsch, der sich vor einem kalten Winter einen dickeren Pelz als gew?hnlich wachsen l?sst. Die Thiere haben eben einerseits das gegenw?rtige Witterungsgefühl im Bewusstsein, daraus folgt andererseits ihr Handeln gerade so, als ob sie die Vorstellung der zukünftigen Witterung h?tten; im Bewusstsein haben sie dieselbe aber nicht, also bietet sich als einzig natürliches Mittelglied die unbewusste Vorstellung, die nun aber immer ein Hellsehen ist, weil sie etwas enth?lt, was dem Thier weder dutch sinnliche Wahrnehmung direct gegeben ist, noch durch seine Verstandesmittel aus der Wahrnehmung geschlossen werden kann."-Philosophy of the Unconscious, p. 91, 3d ed., 1871.

[124] "Meistentheils tritt aber hier der h?heren Bewusstseinstufe der Menschen entsprechend eine st?rkete Resonanz des Bewusstseins mit dem bewussten Hellsehen hervor, die sich also mehr odor minder deutliche Ahnung darstellt. Ausserdem entspricht es der gr?sseren Selbstst?ndigkeit des menschlichen Intellects, dass diese Ahnung nicht ausschliesslich Behufs der unmittelbaren Ausführung einer Handlung eintritt, sondern bisweilen auch unab?ngig von der Bedingung einer momentan zu leistenden That als blosse Vorstellung ohne bewussten Willen sich zeigte, wenn nur die Bedingung erfüllt ist, dass der Gegenstand dieses Ahnens den Willen des Ahnenden im Allgemeinen in hohem Grade interessirt."-Philosophy of the Unconscious, 3d ed., p. 94.

[126] "H?ufig sind die Ahnungen, in denen das Hellsehen des Unbewussten sich dem Bewusstsein offenbart, dunkel, unverst?ndlich und symbolisch, weil sie im Gehirn sinnliche Form annehmen müssen, w?hrend die unbewusste Vorstellung an der Form der Sinnlichkeit kein Theil haben kann."-Philosophy of the Unconscious, 3d ed., p. 96.

[128] "Ebenso weil es diese Reihe nur in gesteigerter Bewusstseinresonanz fortsetzt, stützt es jene Aussagen der Instincthandlungen üher ihr eigenes Wesen ebenso sehr," &c.-Philosophy of the Unconscious, 3d ed., p. 97.

[129] "Wir werden trotzdem diese gomeinsame Wirkung eines Masseninstincts in der Entstehung der Sprache und den grossen politischen und socialen Bewegungen in der Woltgeschichte deutlich wieder erkennen; hier handelt es sich um m?glichst einfache und deutliche Beispiele, und darum greifen wir zu niederen Thieren, wo die Mittel der Gedankenmittheilung bei fehlender Stimme, Mimik und Physiognomie so unvollkommen sind, dass die Uebereinstimmung und das Ineinandergreifen der einzelnen Leistungen in den Hauptsachen unm?glich der bewussten Verst?ndigung durch Sprache zugeschrieben werden darf."-Philosophy of the Unconscious, 3d ed., p. 98.

[131a] "Und wie durch Instinct dot Plan des ganzen Stocks in unbewusstem Hellsehen jeder einzelnen Biene einwohnt."-Philosophy of the Unconscious, 3d ed., p. 99.

[131b] "Indem jedes Individuum den Plan des Ganzen und S?mmtliche gegenwartig zu ergreifende Mittel im unbewussten Hellsehen hat, wovon aber nut das Eine, was ihm zu thun obliegt, in sein Bewusstsein f?llt."-Philosophy of the Unconscious, 3d ed., p. 99.

[132] "Der Instinct ist nicht Resultat bewusster Ueberlegung, nicht Folge der k?rperlichen Organisation, nicht blosses Resultat eines in der Organisation des Gehirns gelegenen Mechanismus, nicht Wirkung eines dem Geiste von aussen angeklebten todten, seinem innersten Wesen fremden Mechanismus, sondern selbsteigene Leistung des Individuum aus seinem innersten Wesen und Character entspringend."-Philosophy of the Unconscious, 3d ed., p. 100.

[133] "H?ufig ist die Kenntniss des Zwecks der bewussten Erkenntniss durch sinnliche Wahrnehmung gar nicht zug?nglich; dann documentirt sich die Eigenthümlichkeit des Unbewussten im Hellsehen, von welchem das Bewusstsein theils nar eine verschwindend dumpfe, theils auch namentlich beim Menschen mehr oder minder deutliche Resonanz als Ahnung verspütt."-Philosophy of the Unconscious, 3d ed., p. 100.

[135] "Und eine so d?monische Gewalt sollte durch etwas ausgeübt werden k?nnon, was als ein dem inneren Wesen fremder Mechanismus dem Geiste aufgepfropft ist, oder gar durch eine bewusste Ueberlegung, welche doch stets nur im kahlen Egoismus stecken bleibt," &c.-Philosophy of the Unconscious, 3d ed., p. 101.

[139a] Page 100 of this vol.

[139b] Pp. 106, 107 of this vol.

[140] Page 100 of this vol.

[141] Page 99 of this vol.

[144a] See page 115 of this volume.

[144b] Page 104 of this vol.

[146] The Spirit of Nature. J. A. Churchill & Co., 1880, p. 39.

[149] I have put these words into the mouth of my supposed objector, and shall put others like them, because they are characteristic; but nothing can become so well known as to escape being an inference.

[153] Erewhon, chap. xxiii.

[160] It must be remembered that this passage is put as if in the mouth of an objector.

[177a] "The Unity of the Organic Individual," by Edward Montgomery. Mind, October 1880, p. 477.

[177b] Ibid., p. 483.

[179a] Professor Huxley, Encycl. Brit., 9th ed., art. Evolution, p. 750.

[179b] "Hume," by Professor Huxley, p. 45.

[180] "The Philosophy of Crayfishes," by the Right Rev. the Lord Bishop of Carlisle. Nineteenth Century for October 1880, p. 636.

[181a] Les Amours des Plantes, p. 360. Paris, 1800.

[181b] Philosophie Zoologique, tom. i. p. 231. Ed. M. Martin. Paris, 1873.

[182a] Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society. Williams & Norgate, 1858, p. 61.

[182b] Contributions to the Theory of Natural Selection, 2d ed., 1871, p. 41.

[182c] Origin of Species, p. 1, ed. 1872.

[183a] Origin of Species, 6th ed., p. 206. I ought in fairness to Mr. Darwin to say that he does not hold the error to be quite as serious as he once did. It is now "a serious error" only; in 1859 it was "the most serious error."-Origin of Species, 1st ed., p. 209.

[183b] Origin of Species, 1st ed., p. 242; 6th ed., p. 233.

[184a] I never could find what these particular points were.

[184b] Isidore Geoffroy, Hist. Nat. Gen., tom. ii. p. 407, 1859.

[184c] M. Martin's edition of the "Philosophie Zoologique" (Paris, 1873), Introduction, p. vi.

[184d] Encyclop?dia Britannica, 9th ed., p. 750.

(← Keyboard shortcut) Previous Contents (Keyboard shortcut →)
 Novels To Read Online Free

Scan the QR code to download MoboReader app.

Back to Top