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certain ideas are not innate, yet the fact of their taking form so easily and certainly from out of the chaos of his sensations, is due not to his own labour, but to that of the brain substance of the thousands of thousands of generations from whom he is descended. Theories concerning the development of individual consciousness which deny heredity or the power of transmission, and insist upon an entirely fresh start for every human soul, as though the infinite number of generations that have gone before us might as well have never lived for all the effect they have had upon ourselves, -such theories will contradict the facts of our daily experience at every touch and turn.
The brain processes and phenomena of consciousness which ennoble man in the eyes of his fellows have had a less ancient history than those connected with his physical needs. Hunger and the reproductive instinct affected the oldest and
the simplest forms of the organic world. It is in respect of these instincts, therefore, and of the means to gratify them, that the memory of organized substance is strongest-the impulses and instincts that arise hence having still paramount power over the minds of men. The spiritual life has been superadded slowly; its most splendid outcome belongs to the latest epoch in the history of organized matter, nor has any very great length of time elapsed since the nervous system was first crowned with the glory of a large and well-developed brain.
Oral tradition and written history have been called
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."
the memory of man, and this is not without its truth. But there is another and a living memory in the innate reproductive power of brain substance, and without this both writings and oral tradition would be without significance to posterity. The most sublime ideas, though never so immortalized in speech or letters, are yet nothing for heads that are out of harmony with them; they must be not only heard, but reproduced; and both speech and writing would be in vain were there not an inheritance of inward and outward brain development, growing in correspondence with the inheritance of ideas that are handed down from age to age, and did not an enhanced capacity for their
reproduction on the part of each succeeding generation accompany the thoughts that have been preserved in writing. Man's conscious memory comes to an end at death, but the unconscious memory of Nature is true and ineradicable: whoever succeeds in stamping upon her the impress of his work, she will remember him to the end of time.
CHAPTER SEVEN: INTRODUCTION TO A TRANSLATION OF THE CHAPTER UPON INSTINCT IN VON HARTMANN'S
PHILOSOPHY OF THE UNCONSCIOUS
AM AFRAID MY READERS WILL FIND THE chapter on Instinct from Von Hartmann's Philosophy of the Unconscious, which will now follow, as distasteful to read as I did to translate, and would gladly have spared it them if I could. At present the works of Mr. Sully, who has treated of the Philosophy of the Unconscious both in the Westminster Review (vol. xlix, N.s.) and in his work Pessimism, are the best source to which English readers can have recourse for information concerning Von Hartmann. Giving him all credit for the pains he has taken with an ungrateful, if not impossible subject, I think that a sufficient sample of Von Hart- . mann's own words will be a useful adjunct to Mr. Sully's work, and may perhaps save some readers trouble by resolving them to look no farther into the Philosophy of the Unconscious. Over and above this, I have been so often told that the views concerning unconscious action contained in the foregoing lecture and in Life and Habit are only the very fallacy of Von Hartmann over again, that I should like to give the public an opportunity of seeing whether this is so or no, by placing the two contending theories of unconscious action side by side. I hope that it will thus be seen that neither Professor Hering nor I have fallen into the fallacy of Von Hartmann, but that rather Von Hartmann has fallen into his fallacy through failure to grasp the principle which Professor Hering has insisted upon, and to connect heredity with memory.
Professor Hering's philosophy of the unconscious is of extreme simplicity. He rests upon a fact of daily and hourly experience, namely, that practice makes things easy that were once difficult, and often results in their being done without any consciousness of effort. But if the repetition of an act tends ultimately, under certain circumstances, to its being done unconsciously, so also is the fact of an intricate and difficult action being done unconsciously an argument that it must have been done repeatedly already. As I said in Life and Habit, it is more easy to suppose that occasions on which such an action has been performed have not been wanting, even though we do not see when and where they were, than that the facility which we observe should have been attained without practice and memory (chap. 3).
There can be nothing better established or more easy whether to understand or verify, than the unconsciousness with which habitual actions come to be performed. If, however, it is once conceded that it is the manner of habitual action generally, then all a priori objection to Professor Hering's philosophy of the unconscious is at an end. The question becomes one of fact in individual cases, and of degree.
How far, then, does the principle of the convertibility, as it were, of practice and unconsciousness extend? Can any line be drawn beyond which it shall cease to operate? If not, may it not have operated and be operating to a vast and hitherto unsuspected extent? This is all, and certainly it is sufficiently simple. I sometimes think it has found its greatest stumbling-block in its total want of mystery, as though we must be like those conjurers whose stock in trade is a small deal table and a kitchen-chair with bare legs, and who, with their
no deception” and “ examine everything for yourselves,” deceive worse than others who make use of all manner of elaborate paraphernalia. It is true we require no paraphernalia, and we produce unexpected results, but we are not conjuring:
To turn now to Von Hartmann. When I read Mr. Sully's article in the Westminster Review, I did not know
parade of “
whether the sense of mystification which it produced in me was wholly due to Von Hartmann or no; but on making acquaintance with Von Hartmann himself, I found that Mr. Sully has erred, if at all, in making him more intelligible than he actually is. Von Hartmann has not got a meaning. Give him Professor Hering's key and he might get one, but it would be at the expense of seeing what approach he had made to a system fallen to pieces. Granted that in his details and subordinate passages he often both has and conveys a meaning, there is, nevertheless, no coherence between these details, and the nearest approach to a broad conception covering the work which the reader can carry away with him is at once so incomprehensible and repulsive, that it is difficult to write about it without saying more, perhaps, than those who have not seen the original will accept as likely to be true. The idea to which I refer is that of an unconscious clairvoyance, which, from the language continually used concerning it, must be of the nature of a person, and which is supposed to take possession of living beings so fully as to be the very essence of their nature, the promoter of their embryonic development, and the instigator of their instinctive actions. This approaches closely to the personal God of Mosaic and Christian theology, with the exception that the word “clairvoyance
»i is substituted for God, and that the God is supposed to be unconscious.
Mr. Sully says:
“When we grasp it (the philosophy of Von Hartmann) as a whole it amounts to nothing more than this, that all or nearly all the phenomena of the material and spiritual world rest upon and result from a mysterious,
1 I am obliged to Mr. Sully for this excellent translation of “Hellsehen."