« iepriekšējāTurpināt »
The late Professor Goodsir, on the other hand, one of the most profound anatomists that Britain has ever produced, defines instinct as "a collective term applied to those laws in virtue of which the psychical endowments of the animal are so adjusted in reference to its organism with its functions, and to all the necessary and contingent circumstances in its existence, as to enable them to work together harmoniously in the adaptation of means to ends, without self-consciousness." In other words, instinct is a collective term applied to those laws in virtue of which each species of animal acts in a definite and unvarying manner under given circumstances, its actions being performed "with unerring accuracy and without previous training."
Whatever definition of instinct be ultimately adopted, few of those who have studied the subject will be disposed to deny that animals, in some cases, exhibit phenomena which cannot rightly be called instinctive. Mr. Darwin concludes that animals exhibit emotions essentially similar to those of man: maternal affection, jealousy, love of praise, shame, wonder, curiosity, imitation, attention, memory, imagination, and reason; and the evidence, as regards most of these, will no doubt bear him out in his assertion. We may remark, however, en passant that it is an assumption that dreaming is an act of the imagination, and no other proof is adduced that animals possess this faculty beyond the fact that they certainly dream. As regards the faculty of reason, few unprejudiced observers will probably deny its possession to the brutes, though there are doubt less some to whom such an allowance would be distasteful. In reality, however, no stronger assistance could be given to the Darwinian theory of the descent of man than by an obstinate adherence to the untenable doctrine that animals possess nothing higher than mere blind and mechanical instincts.
The late Prof. Goodsir, indeed, whilst denying to the brutes the possession of a
reason comparable to that of man, nevertheless believed that it could not well be denied " that there is in the constitution of the brute an essence which is not material.” He believed that this immaterial principle is the essential element of the animal, "failing which, the body of the animal would have had no existence," and that it is in this immaterial principle that "the instinctive consciousness of the animal subsists." He believed, however, that the immaterial principle of the brute is destitute of self-consciousness and, therefore, necessarily incapable of "intellectual movement;" so that "its so-called intellectual processes resolve themselves into mere suggestive acts. Its socalled thoughts, or trains of thought, are merely individual acts of objective consciousness connected by the determining law of its instinct. These acts of objective consciousness may be immediate—that is, induced by the actual presence of the object; or they may be mediate that is reproductions of acts of objective consciousness, through the memory or imagination."
It is not necessary that we should accept all the views of this profound observer upon this subject; but the belief that animals possess a much higher mental organization than that usually allotted to them is one which is constantly gaining ground, and which certainly in no way interferes with the belief that man's mental powers are sui generis and wholly distinct in kind from those of animals. The admission of this cuts away from the Darwinian theory one of its strongest supports, for it deprives the evidence to be obtained from domesticated animals of almost all its weight. If animals possess a mental organization peculiar to each species, then there is no reason whatever why such an organization should not be influenced and improved by man. We know that we can influence and improve the physical organization of a horse or a dog, without thinking that we could convert either into an elephant or a monkey. We may believe
also, with equal reason, that we can influence and improve the mental powers of these animals, without thinking that we could ever teach them to do Euclid, or to write poetry. Because the psychical or mental organization of an animal is within certain limits plastic and capable of improvement or degradation, it by no means follows that its power of change is illimitable, however long a time be allowed for such a process.
On this theory, therefore, the truly marvellous mental phenomena manifested by the dog, and to a less extent by other domestic animals, lose almost their entire weight as bearing on the unity of man's mental organization with that of the lower animals. If such a unity is ever to be proved it must be by observations made upon wild animals in a state of nature. The mental phenomena exhibited by the domestic animals are the result of the action of man's personality upon their partially plastic organization; and no proof has yet been advanced to show that this plasticity extends beyond certain very definite limits.
Up to this point, then, in our enquiry we may admit that man and the lower animals show differences of degree only and not of kind; both alike exhibiting certain fundamental emotions and instincts, along with the power of reasoning and the faculty of memory. Before going on to consider if there is any proof of the same community between man and brutes as regards the higher faculties, we may pause to consider a point which seems highly adverse to Mr. Darwin's theory. Upon this theory, we ought beyond all doubt to find the highest mental development in those animals which are themselves highest in the zoological scale, and nearest to man in physical structure. It may very fairly be doubted, however, if this holds good, even within the narrow limits of the Mammals. It may fairly be doubted, for instance, if the highest of the Anthropoid Apes can be compared as regards his mental development with the dog
or the horse, or even the elephant. Much stress need not, however, be laid on this, for it may be said that this depends on the different opportunities of mental improvement enjoyed by each. A very much greater difficulty is presented to us when we consider the case of some of the lower animals which unquestionably owe none of their peculiarities to man's influence or man's interference. If we take the case of some of the ants, and more especially the various species which are known to make and keep slaves, we are in the first place dealing with Invertebrate animals, whose nervous system is of a very low type, only doubtfully presenting anything which can be compared with the brain of the Vertebrates. And yet, they present mental phenomena of the most striking nature, and which certainly can not be set down to mere instinct, at any rate not according to Mr. Darwin's definition. The Russet Ant (Formica rufescens), for example, habitually keeps slaves which are captured when young. These slaves belong to a wholly different species, yet so entirely do they forget their instincts or "inherited habits," that they actually devote their lives to their masters, feed them, build their nests, bring up their young, and defend them with the utmost bravery. They show no recollection of their own species, and manifest no desire to return to their own people. Being of no developed sex, they cannot, of course, transmit these qualities to any descendants; and, for the same reason, the masters can only keep up their stock by constantly making fresh captures. The masters, on the other hand, accept the services of the slaves in every particular, except that they go alone on their slave-making expeditions. this system was one which was not born with the species is shown by the fact that long holding of slaves has completely demoralized the masters, who can no longer even feed themselves without assistance. Were it not for the slaves, therefore, the species would die out.
If we admit that the system of
slave-making is an inherited habit-as indeed it almost certainly is in part-there must have been a time when the species dispensed with such artificial aid, but we fail to see any adequate explanation of the change. The change must certainly have been in opposition to previously contracted habits and instincts, and could hardly have arisen without some exercise of reasoning. That the behaviour of the slaves cannot be ascribed to instinct-if instinct be but "inherited habit" -is quite certain; since their conduct is by no means in accordance with any habits they could have derived from their parents. That the conduct of the masters is not wholly instinctive seems also almost certain, the delicate touch of nature, betrayed by their not allowing their willing slaves to accompany them on slave-making expeditions, being almost human.
To those who, like the present writer, believe that animals have certain mental endowments, each according to his kind, and apart from what is ordinarily called instinct, the romantic history of the slavemaking Ants offers no difficulties. It appears, however, to present an almost insuperable bar to the theory of the evolution of man's mental faculties out of those of the lower animals. If, as before said, the germs of man's faculties are present in the lower animals, then most certainly we ought to find the nearest approach to man's mental phenomena in the animals nearest him in anatomical structure. Upon this theory we should hardly expect to find any psychical phenomena comparable to those of man, except in the highest Vertebrates; and the advocates of this view might have fairly explained the absence of high mental powers in all lower than the Mammals, by saying that these alone possessed a brain in any way comparable to that of man. Here, however, we have an Invertebrate animal, further removed in anatomical structure from the lowest Vertebrate than man himself is, exhibiting a sequence of mental phenomena
which-whatever their true nature may be -are of at least as high a character as those exhibited by any quadruped whatsoever in an undomesticated condition. It may be doubted, indeed, if any domesticated Mammal has ever exhibited phenomena so strictly human; for no cases seem to be on record in which one species of Mammal has succeeded in making another species work for it.* It will not do to say that the one set of actions are instinctive and another set of the same, or of a higher, order are actuated by reason. Whatever theory we adopt, we must apply the same reasoning to all cases, and from this point of view it seems impossible to concede the possession of reason to the Apes, and to deny at least an equal amount of it to the Ants. Nor is it a sufficient explanation to say that these are "social instincts" arising from the fact that Ants live in communities; since this leaves untouched the fact that no social Birds or Mammals have exhibited anything higher in point of mental development. From whatever point of view we look at it, it would seem that either the Ants, as Invertebrate animals, are much more clever than their type of nervous system should permit, or the Apes and other Mammals are far less clever. The same conclusion may be reached by a consideration of many other phenomena in the marvellous history of Ants, to say nothing of White Ants or Bees, but the case here chosen will be sufficient for its purpose.
Let us pass on now to consider very briefly some of the points in which man is asserted to be superior to the lower animals, so superior that he differs from then in kind and not in degree only. According to Darwin, these points are "that man alone is capable of progressive improvement; that he alone makes use of tools or fire, domesticates other
* The Jackal has sometimes been spoken of as the "Lion's provider"; but there is no reason to believe that jackals have any connection with lions other than that caused by their anxiety to secure the leavings of the stronger beast.
animals, possesses property, or employs language; that no other animal is self-conscious, comprehends itself, has the power of abstraction, or possesses general ideas; that man alone has a sense of beauty, is liable to caprice, has the feeling of gratitude, mystery, etc; believes in God, or is endowed with a conscience." Many of these alleged peculiarities are so palpably dependent and consequent on others of the same list, or are intrinsically of such secondary importance, that it will be sufficient to confine our attention here to two of them, namely man's self-consciousnesss, and his moral sense. The possession of language will not be touched upon here, partly because, at best, language is merely an outward and visible sign of something far deeper, and partly because there are phenomena in certain diseases, more especially in aphasia, which appear to have been overlooked by Mr. Darwin, and to be utterly fatal to his beliefs as to the origin, nature and development of language.
As regards the presence of self-consciousness, as distinguishing man from any and all animals, we can not do better than shortly consider the views advocated by Goodsir, in his admirable lectures on the "Dignity of the Human Body," without entering into any discussion as to the extent to which these views may be defended. According to this eminent observer, man consists essentially of three elements-a corporeal, a psychical and a spiritual. The psychical element of man agrees in its nature with the immaterial principle of animals, and is the seat of his instinctive consciousness. Το this psychical element is due the form and structure of the human body; and in it "are based all those instincts, emotions, appetites and passions which, stronger, keener and more numerous than in the animal, were conferred on man for his higher purpose and greater enjoyment, so long as subject to his higher principle; but which have, under his freedom of choice, become the sources
of misery and death." The human organism properly so-called is the combination of this psychical element with the corporeal mechanism. It is "the animal in man" and is the only point in which man resembles the animal. In addition, however, to his corporeal and psychical elements, in which he resembles the animal, man possesses a spiritual principle or rational consciousness, in virtue of which he becomes self-conscious.--Self-consciousness, in turn, implies the exercise of thought; since it "involves a comparison and jndgment regarding two things, neither of which we can think down or out of existence-namely, the self which thinks, and the self which is thought of." In virtue of this self-conscious spiritual principle, man alone of all the organized beings on the earth, is capable of disobeying the laws of his psychical principle or organism; man alone is capable of thought and speech, "the phonetic expression of thought"; man alone "is impressed with the belief of moral truth and divine agency," and alone possesses a will properly so termed. "At this point we reach the solution of the question as to the essence of humanity. With an animal body and instincts, man possesses also a consciousness involving Divine truth in its regulative principles. But along with this highly endowed consciousness, the human being has been left free to act either according to the impulses of his animal or of his higher principle. The actual history of humanity, of its errors, its sufferings and its progress, is the record of the struggle between man's animal and Divine principle, and of the means vouchsafed by his Creator for his relief." This possession by man of a form of conscious principle higher than and distinct from that of any animal "leaves no place for man in any conceivable arrangement of the animal kingdom."
Such, stated in the briefest and baldest manner, are the views entertained by one of the greatest anatomists which this century has produced, as to the constitution of man
and his proper place in the world which he inhabits. It were doubtless easy to point out that many of these views are more or less of the nature of unprovable assumptions. It were easy, however, to point out a similar defect in many of the views entertained by his opponents. We prefer, therefore, to abstain from all comment, merely remarking that it is a noteworthy fact, that views acceptable to all advocates of a Spiritual Philosophy should have been arrived at, by a wholly independent line of thought, by one whose life was devoted to the study of man's physical structure.
It remains only very cursorily to consider how far man's possession of a "moral sense" can be said to distinguish him from animals. By the term "moral sense" is understood the conception of right, or, in the words of Darwin, the comprehension of all that "is summed up in that short but imperious word ought, so full of high significance." presence of a moral sense, or of a conception of right, has long been advanced as one of the most striking characters by which man is distinguished from the brutes; since animals certainly have no comprehension of the meaning of the word "ought." Animals, however, appear to have some idea of what is useful to them, as they possess the power of experiencing both painful and pleasurable sensations. Animals can, therefore, be taught in many instances either to perform certain acts, or to abstain from the performance of others. Those who regard man's faculties as differing from those of animals in degree only, have sought to break down the barriers which distinguish the moral sense, and have endeavoured to show that the conception of right is at bottom but an expanded and developed comprehension of what is useful. This is absolutely essential to the view that man, in his totality, has been evolved out of the lower animals. How a perception of expediency becomes converted into a sense of right might at first sight appear a somewhat puzzling problem. We will,
however, give the views of those who hold that this conversion has actually taken place, in the terse and vigorous language of St. George Mivart:
"They say that natural selection' has evolved moral conceptions from perceptions of what was useful, i. e, pleasurable, by having through long ages preserved a predominating number of those individuals who have had a natural and spontaneous liking for practices and habits of mind useful to the race, and that the same power has destroyed a predominating number of those individuals who possessed a marked tendency to contrary practices. The descendants of individuals so preserved have, they say, come to inherit such a liking and such useful habits of mind, and that at last, (finding this inherited tendency thus existing in themselves, distinct from their tendency to self-gratification) they have become apt to regard it as fundamentally distinct, innate, and independent of all experience. In fact, according to this school, the idea of 'right' is only the result of the gradual accretion of useful predilections which, from time to time, arose in a series of ancestors naturally selected. In this way, 'morality' is, as it were, the congealed past experience of the race, and 'virtue' becomes no more than a sort of retrieving,' which the thus improved human animal practises by a perfected and inherited habit, regardless of self-gratification, just as the brute animal has acquired the habit of seeking prey and bringing it to his master, instead of devouring it himself."
It appears to us that this debasing and degrading view of man's morality is one, the refutation of which might safely be left to the innate feelings of the great bulk of mankind. That virtue is but a sort of retrieving is an opinion which is hopelessly at variance with the knowledge which, we should hope, most men intuitively possess as to their moral constitution. The theory, however, is one which must be met upon scientific grounds, and it is satisfactory to believe that the