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a teleological one-the purpose residing within the animal and not without it. There is, however, nothing in his lecture to indicate that he does not see this.
It should be remembered that the question whether memory is due to the persistence within the body of certain vibrations, which have been already set up within the bodies of its ancestors, is true or no, will not affect the position I took up in Life and Habit. In that book I have maintained nothing more than that whatever memory is heredity is also. I am not committed to the vibration theory of memory, though inclined to accept it on a prima facie view. All I am committed to is, that if memory is due to persistence of vibrations, so is heredity; and if memory is not so due, then no more is heredity.
Finally, I may say that Professor Hering's lecture, the passage quoted from Dr. Erasmus Darwin on p. 28 of this volume, and a few hints in the extracts from Mr. Patrick Matthew which I have quoted in Evolution, Old and Nen, are all that I yet know of in other writers as pointing to the conclusion that the phenomena of heredity are phenomena also of memory.
CHAPTER SIX: PROFESSOR EWALD HERING
WILL NOW LAY BEFORE THE READER A translation of Professor Hering's own words. I have had it carefully revised throughout by a gentleman whose native language is German, but who has resided in England for many years past. The original lecture is entitled On Memory as a Universal Function of Organized Matter, and was delivered at the anniversary meeting of the Imperial Academy of Sciences at Vienna, 30th May 1870.1 It is as follows:
When the student of Nature quits the narrow workshop of his own particular inquiry, and sets out upon an excursion into the vast kingdom of philosophical investigation, he does so, doubtless, in the hope of finding the answer to that great riddle, to the solution of a small part of which he devotes his life. Those, however, whom he leaves behind him still working at their own special branch of inquiry, regard his departure with secret misgivings on his behalf while the born citizens of the kingdom of speculation among whom he would naturalize himself, receive him with well-authorized distrust. He is likely, therefore, to lose ground with the first, while not gaining it with the second.
The subject to the consideration of which I would now solicit your attention does certainly appear likely to lure us on towards the flattering land of speculation, but bearing in mind what I have just said, I will beware of quitting the department of natural science to which I have devoted myself hitherto. I shall, however, endeavour to attain its highest point, so as to take a freer view of the surrounding territory.
It will soon appear that I should fail in this purpose if my remarks were to confine themselves solely to physiology. I hope to show how far psychological
- [Über das Gedachtniss als eine allgemeine Function der organisirten Materie.] The lecture is published by Karl Gerold's Sohn, Vienna.
investigations also afford not only permissible, but indispensable, aid to physiological inquiries.
Consciousness is an accompaniment of that animal and human organization and of that material mechanism which it is the province of physiology, to explore; and as long as the atoms of the brain follow their due course according to certain definite laws, there arises an inner life which springs from sensation and idea, from feeling and will.
We feel this in our own cases; it strikes us in our converse with other people; we can see it plainly in the more highly organized animals; even the lowest forms of life bear traces of it; and who can draw a line in the
a kingdom of organic life, and say that it is here the soul ceases?
With what eyes, then, is physiology to regard this two-fold life of the organized world?" Shall she close them entirely to one whole side of it, that she may fix them more intently on the other?
So long as the physiologist is content to be a physicist, and nothing more-using the word “physicist” in its widest signification - his position in regard to the organic world is one of extreme but legitimate onesidedness. As the crystal to the mineralogist or the vibrating string to the acoustician, so from this point of view both man and the lower animals are to the physiologist neither more nor less than the matter of which they consist. That animals feel desire and repugnance, that the material mechanism of the human frame is in close connection with emotions of pleasure or pain, and with the active idea-life of consciousnessthis cannot, in the eyes of the physicist, make the animal or human body into anything more than what it actually is. To him it is a combination of matter, subjected to the same inflexible laws as stones and plants-a material combination, the outward and inward movements of which interact as cause and effect, and are in as close connection with each other and with their surroundings as the working of a machine with the revolutions of the wheels that compose it.
Neither sensation, nor idea, nor yet conscious will, can form a link in this chain of material occurrences which make up the physical life of an organism. If I am asked a question and reply to it, the material process which the nerve fibre conveys from the organ of hearing to the brain must travel through my brain as an actual and material process before it can reach the nerves which will act upon my organs of speech. It cannot, on reaching a given place in the brain, change then and there into an immaterial something, and turn up again some time afterwards in another part of the brain as a material process. The traveller in the desert might as well hope, before he again goes forth into the wilderness of reality, to take rest and refreshment in the oasis with which the Fata Morgana illudes him; or as well might a prisoner hope to escape from his prison through a door reflected in a mirror.
So much for the physiologist in his capacity of pure physicist. As long as he remains behind the scenes in painful exploration of the details of the machinery-as long as he only observes the action of the players from behind the stage-so long will he miss the spirit of the performance, which is, nevertheless, caught easily by one who sees it from the front. May he not, then, for once in a way, be allowed to change his standpoint? True, he came not to see the representation of an imaginary world; he is in search of the actual; but surely it must help him to a comprehension of the dramatic apparatus itself, and of the manner in which it is worked, if he were to view its action from the front
as well as from behind, or at least allow himself to hear what sober-minded spectators can tell him upon the subject.
There can be no question as to the answer; and hence it comes that psychology is such an indispensable help to physiology, whose fault it only in small part is that she has hitherto made such little use of this assistance; for psychology has been late in beginning to till her fertile field with the plough of the inductive method, and it is only from ground so tilled that fruits can spring which can be of service to physiology.
If, then, the student of nervous physiology takes his stand between the physicist and the psychologist, and if the first of these rightly makes the unbroken causative continuity of all material processes an axiom of his system of investigation, the prudent psychologist, on the other hand, will investigate the laws of conscious life according to the inductive method, and will hence, as much as the physicist, make the existence of fixed laws his initial assumption. If, again, the most superficial introspection teaches the physiologist that his conscious life is dependent upon the mechanical adjustments of his body, and that inversely his body is subjected with certain limitations to his will, then it only remains for him to make one assumption more, namely, that this mutual interdependence between the spiritual and the material is itself also dependent on law, and he has discovered the bond by which the science of matter and the science of consciousness are united into a single whole.
Thus regarded, the phenomena of consciousness become functions of the material changes of organized substance, and inversely, though this is involved in the use of the word “ function”-the material processes of brain substance become functions of the phenomena