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through change either in its own person or in the circumstances exterior to it, it will vary its action with greater or less ease according to the nature of the change in the position: when the position is gravely altered the animal either bungles or is completely thwarted.
Not only does Von Hartmann suppose that instinct may, and does involve knowledge antecedent to, and independent of, experience-an idea as contrary to the tendency of modern thought as that of spontaneous generation, with which indeed it is identical though presented in another shape-but he implies by his frequent use of the word “unmittelbar” that a result can come about without any cause whatever. So he says, “Für die unbewusste Erkenntniss, welche nicht durch sinnliche Wahrnehmung erworben, sondern als unmittelbarer Besitz,” etc. Because he does not see where the experience can have been gained, he cuts the knot, and denies that there has been experience. We say, Look more attentively and you will discover the time and manner in which the experience was gained.
Again, he continually assumes that animals low down in the scale of life cannot know their own business because they show no sign of knowing ours. See his remarks on Saturnia pavonia minor (page 118), and elsewhere on cattle and gadflies. The question is not what can they know, but what does their action prove to us that they do know. With each species of animal or plant there is one profession only, and it is hereditary. With us there are many professions, and they are not
1 See page 127 of this volume.
hereditary; so that they cannot become instinctive, as they would otherwise tend to do."
He attempts to draw a distinction between the causes that have produced the weapons and working instruments of animals, on the one hand, and those that lead to the formation of hexagonal cells by bees, etc., on the other. No such distinction can be justly drawn.
The ghost-stories which Von Hartmann accepts will hardly be accepted by people of sound judgment. There is one well-marked distinctive feature between the knowledge manifested by animals when acting instinctively and the supposed knowledge of seers and clairvoyants. In the first case, the animal never exhibits knowledge except upon matters concerning which its race has been conversant for generations; in the second, the seer is supposed to do so. In the first case, , a new feature is invariably attended with disturbance of the performance and the awakening of consciousness and deliberation, unless the new matter is too small in proportion to the remaining features of the case to attract attention, or unless, though really new, it appears so similar to an old feature as to be at first mistaken for it; with the second, it is not even professed that the seer's ancestors have had long experience upon the matter concerning which the seer is supposed to have special insight, and I can imagine no more powerful a priori argument against a belief in such stories.
Close upon the end of his chapter Von Hartmann
Page 114 of this volume.
touches upon the one matter which requires consideration. He refers the similarity of instinèt that is observable among all species to the fact that like causes produce like effects; and I gather, though he does not expressly say so, that he considers similarity of instinct in successive generations to be referable to the same cause as similarity of instinct between all the contemporary members of a species. He thus raises the one objection against referring the phenomena of heredity to memory which I think need be gone into with any fulness. I will, however, reserve this matter for my concluding chapters.
Von Hartmann concludes his chapter with a quotation from Schelling, to the effect that the phenomena of animal instinct are the true touchstone of a durable philosophy; by which I suppose it is intended to say that if a system or theory deals satisfactory with animal instinct, it will stand, but not otherwise. I can wish nothing better than that the philosophy of the unconscious advanced by Von Hartmann be tested by this standard.
1 CHAPTER TEN: RECAPITULATION AND STATEMENT OF AN
THE TRUE THEORY OF UNCONSCIOUS action, then, is that of Professor Hering, from whose lecture it is no strained conclusion to gather
that he holds the action of all living beings, from the moment of conception to that of fullest development, to be founded in volition and design, though these have been so long lost sight of that the work is now carried on, as it were, departmentally and in due course according to an official routine which can hardly be departed from
This involves the older“ Darwinism” and the theory of Lamarck, according to which the modification of living forms has been effected mainly through the needs of the living forms themselves, which vary with varying conditions, the survival of the fittest (which, as I see Mr. H. B. Baildon has just said, “ sometimes comes to mean merely the survival of the survivors ”1) being taken as a matter of course. According to this view of evolution, there is a remarkable analogy between the development of living organs or tools and that of those organs or tools external to the body which has been so rapid during the last few thousand years.
Animals and plants, according to Professor Hering, are guided throughout their development, and preserve the due order in each step which they take, through memory of the course they
took on past occasions when in the persons of their ancestors. I am afraid I have already too often said that if this memory remains for long periods together latent and without effect, it is because the vibrations of the molecular substance of the body which are its supposed explanation are during these periods too feeble to generate action, until they are augmented in force through an accession of similar 1 The Spirit of Nature. J. A. Churchill & Co., 1880, p. 39.
vibrations issuing from exterior objects; or, in other words, until recollection is stimulated by a return of the associated ideas. On this the internal agitation becomes so much enhanced, that equilibrium is visibly disturbed, and the action ensues which is proper to the vibrations of the particular substance under the particular conditions. This, at least, is what I suppose Professor Hering to intend.
Leaving the explanation of memory on one side, and confining ourselves to the fact of memory only, a caterpillar on being just hatched is supposed, according to this theory, to lose its memory of the time it was in the egg, and to be stimulated by an intense but unconscious recollection of the action taken by its ancestors when they were first hatched. It is guided in the course it takes by the experience it can thus command. Each step it takes recalls a new recollection, and thus it goes through a development as a performer performs a piece of music, each bar leading his recollection to the bar that should next follow.
In Life and Habit will be found examples of the manner in which this view solves a number of difficulties for the explanation of which the leading men of science express themselves at a loss. The following from Professor Huxley's recent work upon the crayfish may serve for an example. Professor Huxley writes:
It is a widely received notion that the energies of living matter have a tendency to decline and finally disappear, and that the death of the body as a whole is a necessary correlate of its life. That all living beings sooner or later perish needs no demonstration, but it would be difficult to find satisfactory grounds for the belief that they needs must do so. The analogy of a machine, that sooner or later must be brought to a standstill by the wear and tear of its parts, does not hold,