Classics in the History of Psychology

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Christopher D. Green
York University, Toronto, Ontario

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The Principles of Psychology

William James (1890)


In this final chapter I shall treat of what has sometimes been called psychogenesis, and try to ascertain just how far the connections of things in the outward environment can account for our tendency to think of, and to react upon, certain things in certain ways and in no others, even though personally we have had of the things in question no experience, or almost no experience, at all. It is a familiar truth that some propositions are necessary. We must attach the predicate 'equal' to the subject 'opposite sides of a parallelogram' if we think those terms together at all, whereas we need not in any such way attach the predicate 'rainy,' for example, to the subject 'to-morrow.' The dubious sort of coupling of terms is universally admitted to be due to 'experience'; the certain sort is ascribed to the 'organic structure' of the mind. This structure is in turn supposed by the so-called apriorists to be of transcendental origin, or at any rate not to be explicable by experience; whilst by evolutionary empiricists it is supposed to be also due to experience, only not to the experience of the individual, but to that of his ancestors as far back as one may please to go. Our emotional and instinctive tendencies, our irresistible impulses to couple certain movements with the perception or thought of certain things, are also features of our connate mental structure, and like the necessary judgments, are interpreted by the apriorists and the empiricists in the same warring ways.

I shall try in the course of the chapter to make plain three things:

1) That, taking the word experience as it is universally understood, the experience of the race can no more account [p. 618] for our necessary or a priori judgments than the experience of the individual can;

2) That there is no good evidence for the belief that our instinctive reactions are fruits of our ancestors' education in the midst of the same environment, transmitted to us at birth.

3) That the features of our organic mental structure cannot be explained at all by our conscious intercourse with the outer environment, but must rather be understood as congenital variations, 'accidental'[1] in the first instance, but then transmitted as fixed features of the race.

On the whole, then, the account which the apriorists give of the facts is that which I defend; although I should contend (as will hereafter appear) for a naturalistic view of their cause.

The first thing I have to say is that all schools (however they otherwise differ) must allow that the elementary qualities of cold, heat, pleasure, pain, red, blue, sound, silence, etc., are original, innate, or a priori properties of our subjective nature, even though they should require the touch of experience to waken them into actual consciousness, and should slumber, to all eternity, without it.

This is so on either of the two hypotheses we may make concerning the relation of the feelings to the realities at whose touch they become alive. For in the first place, if a feeling do not mirror the reality which wakens it and to which we say it corresponds, if it mirror no reality whatever outside of the mind, it of course is a purely mental product. By its very definition it can be nothing else. But in the second place, even if it do mirror the reality exactly, still it is not that reality itself, it is a duplication of it, the result of a mental reaction. And that the mind should have the power of reacting in just that duplicate way can only be stated as a harmony between its nature and the nature of the truth outside of it, a harmony whereby it follows that the qualities of both parties match.

[p. 619] The originality of these elements is not, then, a question for dispute. The warfare of philosophers is exclusively relative to their FORMS OF COMBINATION. The empiricist maintains that these forms can only follow the order of combination in which the elements were originally awakened by the impressions of the external world; the apriorists insist, on the contrary, that some modes of combination, at any rate, follow from the natures of the elements themselves, and that no amount of experience can modify this result.


The phrase 'organic mental structure' names the matter in dispute. Has the mind such a structure or not? Are its contents arranged from the start, or is the arrangement they may possess simply due to the shuffling of them by experience in an absolutely plastic bed? Now the first thing to make sure of is that when we talk of 'experience,' we attach a definite meaning to the word. Experience means experience of something foreign supposed to impress us, whether spontaneously or in consequence of our own exertions and acts. Impressions, as we well know, affect certain orders of sequence and coexistence, and the mind's habits copy the habits of the impressions, so that our images of things assume a time- and space-arrangement which resembles the time- and space-arrangements outside. To uniform outer coexistences and sequences correspond constant conjunctions of ideas, to fortuitous coexistences and sequences casual conjunctions of ideas. We are sure that fire will burn and water wet us, less sure that thunder will come after lightning, not at all sure whether a strange dog will bark at us or let us go by. In these ways experience moulds us every hour, and makes of our minds a mirror of the time- and space-connections between the things in the world. The principle of habit within us so fixes the copy at last that we find it difficult even to imagine how the outward order could possibly be different from what it is, and we continually divine from the present what the future is to be. These habits of transition, from one thought to another, are features of mental structure which were lack- [p. 620] ing in us at birth; we can see their growth under experience's moulding finger, and we can see how often experience undoes her own work, and for an earlier order substitutes a new one. 'The order of experience,' in this matter of the time- and space-conjunctions of things, is thus an indisputably vera causa of our forms of thought. It is our educator, our sovereign helper and friend; and its name, standing for something with so real and definite a use, ought to be kept sacred and encumbered with no vaguer meaning.

If all the connections among ideas in the mind could be interpreted as so many combinations of sense-data wrought into fixity in this way from without, then experience in the common and legitimate sense of the word would be the sole fashioner of the mind.

The empirical school in psychology has in the main contended that they can be so interpreted. Before our generation, it was the experience of the individual only which was meant. But when one nowadays says that the human mind owes its present shape to experience, he means the experience of ancestors as well. Mr. Spencer's statement of this is the earliest emphatic one, and deserves quotation in full:[2]

"The supposition that the inner cohesions are adjusted to the outer persistences by accumulated experience of those outer persistences is in harmony with all our actual knowledge of mental phenomena. Though in so far as reflex actions and instincts are concerned, the experience-hypothesis seems insufficient; yet its seeming insufficiency occurs only where the evidence is beyond our reach. Nay, even here such few facts as we can get point to the conclusion that automatic psychical connections result from the registration of experiences continued for numberless generations.

"In brief, the case stands thus: It is agreed that all psychical relations, save the absolutely indissoluble, are determined by experiences. Their various strengths are admitted, other things equal, to be proportionate to the multiplication of experiences. It is an unavoidable [p. 621] corollary that an infinity of experiences will produce a. psychical relation that is indissoluble. Though such infinity of experiences cannot be received by a single individual, yet it may be received by the succession of individuals forming a race. And if there is a transmission of induced tendencies in the nervous system, it is inferrible that all psychical relations whatever, from the necessary to the fortuitous, result from the experiences of the corresponding external relations; and are so brought into harmony with them.

"Thus, the experience-hypothesis furnishes an adequate solution. The genesis of instinct, the development of memory and reason out of it, and the consolidation of rational actions and inferences into instinctive ones, are alike explicable on the single principle that the cohesion between psychical states is proportionate to the frequency with which the relation between the answering external phenomena has been repeated in experience.

"The universal law that, other things equal, the cohesion of psychical states is proportionate to the frequency with which they have followed one another in experience, supplies an explanation of the so-called 'forms of thought,' as soon as it is supplemented by the law that habitual psychical successions entail some hereditary tendency to such successions, which, under persistent conditions, will become cumulative in generation after generation. We saw that the establishment of those compound reflex actions called instincts is comprehensible on the principle that inner relations are, by perpetual repetition, organized into correspondence with outer relations. We have now to observe that the establishment of those consolidated, those indissoluble, those instinctive mental relations constituting our ideas of Space and Time is comprehensible on the same principle. For if even to external relations that are often experienced during the life of a single organism, answering internal relations are established that become next to automatic -- if such a combination of psychical changes as that which guides a savage in hitting a bird with an arrow becomes, by constant repetition, so organized as to be performed almost without thought of the processes of adjustment gone through -- and if skill of this kind is so far transmissible that particular races of men become characterized by particular aptitudes, which are nothing else than partially-organized psychical connections; then, if there exist certain external relations which are experienced by all organisms at all instants of their waking lives -- relations which are absolutely constant, absolutely universal -- there will be established answering internal relations that are absolutely constant, absolutely universal. Such relations we have in those of Space and Time. The organization of subjective relations adjusted to these objective relations has been cumulative, not in each race of creatures only, but throughout successive races of creatures; and such subjective relations have, therefore, become more consolidated than all others. Being experienced in every perception and every action of each creature, these connections among outer existences must, for this reason too, be [p. 622] responded to by connections among inner feelings, that are, above all others, indissoluble. As the substrata of all other relations in the non-ego, they must be responded to by conceptions that are the substrata of all other relations in the ego. Being the constant and infinitely-repeated elements of thought, they must become the automatic elements of thought -- the elements of thought which it is impossible to get rid of -- the 'forms of intuition.'

"Such, it seems to me, is the only possible reconciliation between the experience-hypothesis and the hypothesis of the transcendentalists; neither of which is tenable by itself. Insurmountable difficulties are presented by the Kantian doctrine (as we shall, hereafter see); and the antagonist doctrine, taken alone, presents difficulties that are equally insurmountable. To rest with the unqualified assertion that, antecedent to experience, the mind is a blank, is to ignore the questions -- whence comes the power of organizing experiences? whence arise the different degrees of that power possessed by different races of organisms, and different individuals of the same race? If, at birth, there exists nothing but a passive receptivity of impressions, why is not a horse as educable as a man? Should it be said that language makes the difference, then why do not the cat and the dog, reared in the same house-hold, arrive at equal degrees and kinds of intelligence? Understood in its current form, the experience-hypothesis implies that the presence of a definitely-organized nervous system is a circumstance of no moment -- a fact not needing to be taken into account! Yet it is the all-important fact -- the fact to which, in one sense, the criticisms of Leibnitz and others pointed -- the fact without which an assimilation of experiences is inexplicable. Throughout the animal kingdom in general, the actions are dependent on the nervous structure. The physiologist shows us that each reflex movement implies the agency of certain nerves and ganglia; that a development of complicated instincts is accompanied by complication of the nervous centres and their commissural connections; that the same creature in different stages, as larva and imago for example, changes its instincts as its nervous structure changes; and that as we advance to creatures of high intelligence, a vast increase ill the size and in the complexity of the nervous system takes place. What is the obvious inference? It is that the ability to co-ordinate impressions and to perform the appropriate actions always implies the pre-existence of certain nerves arranged in a certain way. What is the meaning of the human brain? It is that the many established relations among its parts stand for so many established relations among the psychical changes. Each of the constant connections among the fibres of the cerebral masses answers to some constant connection of phenomena in the experiences of the race. Just as the organized arrangement subsisting between the sensory nerves of the nostrils and the motor nerves of the respiratory muscles not only makes possible a sneeze, but also, in the newly-born infant, implies sneezings to be hereafter performed ; so, all the organized arrangements subsisting among the nerves of the [p. 623] infant's brain not only make possible certain combinations of impressions, but also imply that such combinations will hereafter be made -- imply that there are answering combinations in the outer world -- imply a preparedness to cognize these combinations -- imply faculties of comprehending them. It is true that the resulting compound psychical changes do not take place with the same readiness and automatic precision as the simple reflex action instanced -- it is true that some individual experiences seem required to establish them. But while this is partly due to the fact that these combinations are highly involved, extremely varied in their modes of occurrence, made up therefore of psychical relations less completely coherent, and hence need further repetitions to perfect them; it is in a much greater degree due to the fact that at birth the organization of the brain is incomplete, and does not cease its spontaneous progress for twenty or thirty years afterwards. Those who contend that knowledge results wholly from the experiences of the individual, ignoring as they do the mental evolution which accompanies the autogenous development of the nervous system, fall into an error as great as if they were to ascribe all bodily growth and structure to exercise, forgetting the innate tendency to assume the adult form. Were the infant born with a full-sized and completely-constructed brain, their position would be less untenable. But, as the case stands, the gradually-increasing intelligence displayed throughout childhood and youth is more attributable to the completion of the cerebral organization than to the individual experiences -- a truth proved by the fact that in adult life there is sometimes displayed a high endowment of some faculty which, during education, was never brought into play. Doubtless, experiences received by the individual furnish the concrete materials for all thought. Doubtless, the organized and semi-organized arrangements existing among the cerebral nerves can give no knowledge until there has been a presentation of the external relations to which they correspond. And doubtless the child's daily observations and reasonings aid the formation of those involved nervous connections that are in process of spontaneous evolution; just as its daily gambols aid the development of its limbs. But saying this is quite a different thing from saying that its intelligence is wholly produced by its experiences. That is an utterly inadmissible doctrine -- a doctrine which makes the presence of a brain meaningless -- a doctrine which makes idiotcy [sic] unaccountable.

"In the sense, then, that there exist in the nervous system certain pre-established relations answering to relations in the environment, there is truth in the doctrine of 'forms of intuition' -- not the truth which its defenders suppose, but a parallel truth. Corresponding to absolute external relations, there are established in the structure of the nervous system absolute internal relations -- relations that are potentially present before birth in the shape of definite nervous connections; that are antecedent to, and independent of, individual experiences; and that are automatically disclosed along with the first cognitions. And, [p. 624] as here understood, it is not only these fundamental relations which are thus predetermined, but also hosts of other relations of a more or less constant kind, which are congenitally represented by more or less complete nervous connections. But these predetermined internal relations, though independent of the experiences of the individual, are not independent of experiences in general: they have been determined by the experiences of preceding organisms. The corollary here drawn from the general argument is that the human brain is an organized register of infinitely-numerous experiences received during the evolution of life, or rather during the evolution of that series of organisms through which the human organism has been reached. The effects of the most uniform and frequent of these experiences have been successively bequeathed, principal and interest; and have slowly amounted to that high intelligence which lies latent in the brain of the infant -- which the infant in after-life exercises and perhaps strengthens or further complicates -- and which, with minute additions, it bequeaths to future generations. And thus it happens that the European inherits from twenty to thirty cubic inches more brain than the Papuan. Thus it happens that faculties, as of music, which scarcely exist in some inferior human races, become congenital in superior ones. Thus it happens that out of savages unable to count up to the number of their fingers, and speaking a language containing only nouns and verbs, arise at length our Newtons and Shakspeares."

This is a brilliant and seductive statement, and it doubtless includes a good deal of truth. Unfortunately it fails to go into details; and when the details are scrutinized, as they soon must be by us, many of them will be seen to be inexplicable in this simple way, and the choice will then remain to us either of denying the experiential origin of certain of our judgments, or of enlarging the meaning of the word experience so as to include these cases among its effects.


If we adopt the former course we meet with a controversial difficulty. The 'experience-philosophy' has from time immemorial been the opponent of theological modes of thought. The word experience has a halo of anti-super-naturalism about it; so that if anyone express dissatisfaction with any function claimed for it, he is liable to be treated as if he could only be animated by loyalty to the [p. 625] catechism, or in some way have the interests of obscurantism at heart. I am entirely certain that, on this ground alone, what I have ereloing [sic] to say will make this a sealed chapter to many of my readers. "He denies experience!" they will exclaim, "denies science; believes the mind created by miracle; is a regular old partisan of innate ideas! That is enough! we'll listen to such antediluvian twaddle no more." Regrettable as is the loss of readers capable of such wholesale discipleship, I feel that a definite meaning for the word experience is even more important than their company. 'Experience' does not mean every natural, as opposed to every supernatural, cause. It means a particular sort of natural agency, alongside of which other more recondite natural agencies may perfectly well exist. With the scientific animus of anti-supernaturalism we ought to agree, but we ought to free ourselves from its verbal idols and bugbears.

Nature has many methods of producing the same effect. She may make a 'born' draughtsman or singer by tipping in a certain direction at an opportune moment the molecules of some human ovum; or she may bring forth a child ungifted and make him spend laborious but successful years at school. She may make our ears ring by the sound of a bell, or by a dose of quinine; make us see yellow by spreading a field of buttercups before our eyes, or by mixing a little santonine powder with our food; fill us with terror of certain surroundings by making them really dangerous, or by a blow which produces a pathological alteration of our brain. It is obvious that we need two words to designate these two modes of operating. In the one case the natural agents produce perceptions which take cognizance of the agents themselves; in the other case, they produce perceptions which take cognizance of something else. What is taught to the mind by the 'experience,' in the first case, is the order of the experience itself -- the 'inner relation' (in Spencer's phrase) 'corresponds' to the 'outer relation' which produced it, by remembering and knowing the latter. But in the case of the other sort of natural agency, what is taught to the mind has nothing to do with the agency [p. 626] itself, but with some different outer relation altogether. A diagram will express the 

alternatives. B stands for our human brain in the midst of the world. All the little o's with arrows proceeding from them are natural objects (like sunsets, etc.), which impress it through the senses, and in the strict sense of the word give it experience, teaching it by habit and association what is the order of their ways. All the little x's inside the brain and all the little x's outside of it are other natural objects and processes (in the ovum, in the blood, etc.), which equally modify the brain, but mould it to no cognition of themselves. The tinnitus aurium discloses no properties of the quinine; the musical endowment teaches no embryology; the morbid dread (of solitude, perhaps) no brain-pathology; but the way in which a dirty sunset and a rainy morrow hang together in the mind copies and teaches the sequences of sunsets and rainfall in the outer world.

In zoological evolution we have two modes in which an animal race may grow to be a better match for its environment.

First, the so-called way of 'adaptation,' in which the environment may itself modify its inhabitant by exercising, hardening, and habituating him to certain sequences, and these habits may, it is often maintained, become hereditary.

Second, the way of 'accidental variation,' as Mr. Darwin termed it, in which certain young are born with peculiarities that help them and their progeny to survive. That variations of this sort tend to become hereditary, no one doubts.

[p. 627] The first mode is called by Mr. Spencer direct, the second indirect, equilibration. Both equilibrations must of course be natural and physical processes, but they belong to entirely different physical spheres. The direct influences are obvious and accessible things. The causes of variation in the young are, on the other hand, molecular and hidden. The direct influences are the animal's 'experiences,' in the widest sense of the term. Where what is influenced by them is the mental organism, they are conscious experiences, and become the objects as well as the causes of their effects. That is, the effect consists in a tendency of the experience itself to be remembered, or to have its elements thereafter coupled in imagination just as they were coupled in the experience. In the diagram these experiences are represented by the o's exclusively. The x's, on the other hand, stand for the indirect causes of mental modification -- causes of which we are not immediately conscious as such, and which are not the direct objects of the effects they produce. Some of them are molecular accidents before birth; some of them are collateral and remote combinations, unintended combinations, one might say, of more direct effects wrought in the unstable and intricate brain-tissue. Such a result is unquestionably the susceptibility to music, which some individuals possess at the present day. It has no zoological utility; it corresponds to no object in the natural environment; it is a pure incident of having a hearing organ, an incident depending on such instable and inessential conditions that one brother may have it and another brother not. Just so with the susceptibility to sea-sickness, which, so far from being engendered by long experience of its 'object' (if a heaving deck can be called its object) is erelong annulled thereby. Our higher æsthetic, moral, and intellectual life seems made up of affections of this collateral and incidental sort, which have entered the mind by the back stairs, as it were, or rather have not entered the mind at all, but got surreptitiously born in the house. No one can successfully treat of psychogenesis, or the factors of mental evolution, without distinguishing between these two ways in which the mind is assailed. [p. 628] The way of 'experience' proper is the front door, the door of the five senses. The agents which affect the brain in this way immediately become the mind's objects. The other agents do not. It would be simply silly to say of two men with perhaps equal effective skill in drawing, one an untaught natural genius, the other a mere obstinate plodder in the studio, that both alike owe their skill to their 'experience.' The reasons of their several skills lie in wholly disparate natural cycles of causation.[3]

I will then, with the reader's permission, restrict the word 'experience' to processes which influence the mind by the front-door-way of simple habits and association. What the back-door-effects may be will probably grow clearer [p. 629] as we proceed; so I will pass right on to a scrutiny of the actual mental structure which we find.


We find: 1. Elementary sorts of sensation, and feelings of personal activity;

2. Emotions; desires; instincts; ideas of worth; æsthetic ideas;

3. Ideas of time and space and number;

4. Ideas of difference and resemblance, and of their degrees.

5. Ideas of causal dependence among events; of end and means; of subject and attribute.

6. Judgments affirming, denying, doubting, supposing any of the above ideas.

7. Judgments that the former judgments logically involve, exclude, or are indifferent to, each other.

Now we may postulate at the outset that all these forms of thought have a natural origin, if we could only get at it. That assumption must be made at the outset of every scientific investigation, or there is no temptation to proceed. But the first account of their origin which we are likely to hit upon is a snare. All these mental affections are ways of knowing objects. Most psychologists nowadays believe that the objects first, in some natural way, engendered a brain from out of their midst, and then imprinted these various cognitive affections upon it. But how? The ordinary evolutionist answer to this question is exceedingly simple-minded. The idea of most speculators seems to be that, since it suffices now for us to become acquainted with a complex object, that it should be simply present to us often enough, so it must be fair to assume universally that, with time enough given, the mere presence of the various objects and relations to be known must end by bringing about the latter's cognition, and that in this way all mental structure was from first to last evolved. Any ordinary Spencerite will tell you that just as the experience of blue objects wrought into our mind the color blue, and hard objects got it to feel hardness, so the presence of large and small objects in the world gave it the notion of [p. 630] size, moving objects made it aware of motion, and objective successions taught it time. Similarly in a world with different impressing things, the mind had to acquire a sense of difference, whilst the like parts of the world as they fell upon it kindled in it the perception of similarity. Outward sequences which sometimes held good, and sometimes failed, naturally engendered in it doubtful and uncertain forms of expectation, and ultimately gave rise to the disjunctive forms of judgment; whilst the hypothetic form, 'if a, then b,' was sure to ensue from sequences that were invariable in the outer world. On this view, if the outer order suddenly were to change its elements and modes, we should have no faculties to cognize the new order by. At most we should feel a sort of frustration and confusion. But little by little the new presence would work on us as the old one did; and in course of time another set of psychic categories would arise, fitted to take cognizance of the altered world.

This notion of the outer world inevitably building up a sort of mental duplicate of itself if we only give it time, is so easy and natural in its vagueness that one hardly knows how to start to criticise it. One thing, however, is obvious, namely that the manner in which we now become acquainted with complex objects need not in the least resemble the manner in which the original elements of our consciousness grew up. Now, it is true, a new sort of animal need only be present to me, to impress its image permanently on my mind; but this is because I am already in possession of categories for knowing each and all of its several attributes, and of a memory for retracing the order of their conjunction. I now have preformed categories for all possible objects. The objects need only awaken these from their slumber. But it is a very different matter to account for the categories themselves. I think we must admit that the origin of the various elementary feelings is a recondite history, even after some sort of neural tissue is there for the outer world to begin its work on. The mere existence of things to be known is even now not, as a rule, sufficient to bring about a knowledge of them. Our abstract and general discoveries usually come to us as lucky fancies; and it is only après [p. 631] coup that we find that they correspond to some reality. What immediately produced them were previous thoughts, with which, and with the brain-processes of which, that reality had naught to do.

Why may it not have been so of the original elements of consciousness, sensation, time, space, resemblance, difference, and other relations? Why may they not have come into being by the back-door method, by such physical processes as lie more in the sphere of morphological accident, of inward summation of effects, than in that of the 'sensible presence' of objects? Why may they not, in short, be pure idiosyncrasies, spontaneous variations, fitted by good luck (those of them which have survived) to take cognizance of objects (that is, to steer us in our active dealings with them), without being in any intelligible sense immediate derivatives from them? I think we shall find this view gain more and more plausibility as we proceed.[4]

All these elements are subjective duplicates of outer objects. They are not the outer objects. The secondary qualities among them are not supposed by any educated person even to resemble the objects. Their nature depends more on the reacting brain than on the stimuli which touch it off. This is even more palpably true of the natures of pleasure and pain, effort, desire and aversion, and of such feelings as those of cause and substance, of denial and of [p. 632] doubt. Here then is a native wealth of inner forms whose origin is shrouded in mystery, and which at any rate were not simply 'impressed' from without, in any intelligible sense of the verb 'to impress.'

Their time- and space-relations, however, are impressed from without -- for two outer things at least the evolutionary psychologist must believe to resemble our thoughts of them, these are the time and space in which the objects lie. The time- and space-relations between things do stamp copies of themselves within. Things juxtaposed in space impress us, and continue to be thought, in the relation in which they exist there. Things sequent in time, ditto. And thus, through experience in the legitimate sense of the word, there can be truly explained an immense number of our mental habitudes, many of our abstract beliefs, and all our ideas of concrete things, and of their ways of behavior. Such truths as that fire burns and water wets, that glass refracts, heat melts snow, fishes live in water and die on land, and the like, form no small part of the most refined education, and are the all-in-all of education amongst the brutes and lowest men. Here the mind is passive and tributary, a servile copy, fatally and unresistingly fashioned from without. It is the merit of the associationist school to have seen the wide scope of these effects of neighborhood in time and space; and their exaggerated applications of the principle of mere neighborhood ought not to blind us to the excellent service it has done to Psychology in their hands. As far as a large part of our thinking goes, then, it can intelligibly be formulated as a mere lot of habits impressed upon us from without. The degree of cohesion of our inner relations, is, in this part of our thinking, proportionate, in Mr. Spencer's phrase, to the degree of cohesion of the outer relations; the causes and the objects of our thought are one; and we are, in so far forth, what the materialistic evolutionists would have us altogether, mere offshoots and creatures of our environment, and naught besides.[5]

[p. 633] But now the plot thickens, for the images impressed upon our memory by the outer stimuli are not restricted to the mere time- and space-relations, in which they originally came, but revive in various manners (dependent on the intricacy of the brain-paths and the instability of the tissue thereof), and form secondary combinations such as the forms of judgment, which, taken per se, are not congruent either with the forms in which reality exists or in those in which experiences befall us, but which may nevertheless be explained by the way in which experiences befall in a mind gifted with memory, expectation, and the possibility of feeling doubt, curiosity, belief, and denial. The conjunctions of experience befall more or less invariably, variably, or never. The idea of one term will then engender a fixed, a wavering, or a negative expectation of another, giving affirmative, the hypothetical, disjunctive, interrogative, and negative judgments, and judgments of actuality and possibility about certain things. The separation of attribute from subject in all judgments (which violates the way in which nature exists) may be similarly explained by the piecemeal order in which our perceptions come to us, a, vague nucleus growing gradually more detailed as we attend to it more and more. These particular secondary mental forms have had ample justice done them by associationists from Hume downwards.

Associationists have also sought to account for discrimination, abstraction, and generalization by the rates of frequency in which attributes come to us conjoined. With much less success, I think. In the chapter on Discrimination, I have, under the "law of dissociation by varying concomitants," sought to explain as much as possible by the passive order of experience. But the reader saw how much was left for active interest and unknown forces to do. In the chapter on Imagination I have similarly striven to do justice to the 'blended image' theory of generalization and abstraction. So I need say no more of these matters here.


Our 'scientific' ways of thinking the outer reality are highly abstract ways. The essence of things for science is [p. 634] not to be what they seem, but to be atoms and molecules moving to and from each other according to strange laws. Nowhere does the account of inner relations produced by outer ones in proportion to the frequency with which the latter have been met, more egregiously break down than in the case of scientific conceptions. The order of scientific thought is quite incongruent either with the way in which reality exists or with the way in which it comes before us. Scientific thought goes by selection and emphasis exclusively. We break the solid plenitude of fact into separate essences, conceive generally what only exists particularly, and by our classifications leave nothing in its natural neighborhood, but separate the contiguous, and join what the poles divorce. The reality exists as a plenum. All its parts are contemporaneous, each is as real as any other, and each as essential for making the whole just what it is and nothing else. But we can neither experience nor think this plenum. What we experience, what comes before us, is a chaos of fragmentary impressions interrupting each other;[6] what we think is an abstract system of hypothetical data and laws.[7]

[p. 635] This sort of scientific algebra, little as it immediately resembles the reality given to us, turns out (strangely [p. 636] enough) applicable to it. That is, it yields expressions which, at given places and times, can be translated into real values, or interpreted as definite portions of the chaos that falls upon our sense. It becomes thus a practical guide to our expectations as well as a theoretic delight. But I do not see how any one with a sense for the facts can possibly call our systems immediate results of 'experience' in the ordinary sense. Every scientific conception is in the first instance a 'spontaneous variation' in some one's brain.[8] For one that proves useful and applicable there are a thousand that perish through their worthlessness. Their genesis is strictly akin to that of the flashes of poetry and sallies of wit to which the instable brain-paths equally give rise. But whereas the poetry and wit (like the science of the ancients) are their 'own excuse for being,' and have to run the gauntlet of no farther test, the 'scientific' conceptions must prove their worth by being 'verified.' This test, however, is the cause of their preservation, not that of their production; and one might as well account for the origin of Artemus Ward's jokes by the 'cohesion' of subjects with predicates in proportion to the 'persistence of the outer relations' to which they 'correspond' as to treat the genesis of scientific conceptions in the same ponderously unreal way.

The most persistent outer relations which science believes in are never matters of experience at all, but have to be disengaged from under experience by a process of elimination, that is, by ignoring conditions which are always present. The elementary laws of mechanics, physics, and chemistry are all of this sort. The principle of uniformity in nature is of this sort; it has to be sought under and in spite of the most rebellious appearances; and our convic- [p. 637] tion of its truth is far more like a religious faith than like assent to a demonstration. The only cohesions which experience in the literal sense of the word produces in our mind are, as we contended some time back, the proximate laws of nature, and habitudes of concrete things, that heat melts ice, that salt preserves meat, that fish die out of water, and the like.[9] Such 'empirical truths' as these we [p. 638] admitted to form an enormous part of human wisdom. The 'scientific' truths have to harmonize with these truths, or be given up as useless; but they arise in the mind in no such passive associative way as that in which the simpler truths arise. Even those experiences which are used to prove a scientific truth are for the most part artificial experiences of the laboratory gained after the truth itself has been conjectured. Instead of experiences engendering the 'inner relations,' the inner relations are what engender the experiences here.

What happens in the brain after experience has done its utmost is what happens in every material mass which has been fashioned by an outward force, -- in every pudding or mortar, for example, which I may make with my hands. The fashioning from without brings the elements into collocations which set new internal forces free to exert their effects in turn. And the random irradiations and resettlements of our ideas, which supervene upon experience, and constitute our free mental play, are due entirely to these secondary internal processes, which vary enormously from brain to brain, even though the brains be exposed to exactly the same 'outer relations.' The higher thought-processes owe their being to causes which correspond far more to the sourings and fermentations of dough, the setting of mortar, or the subsidence of sediments in mixtures, than to the manipulations by which these physical aggregates came to be compounded. Our study of similar association and reasoning taught us that the whole superiority of man depended on the facility with which in his brain the paths worn by the most frequent outer cohesions could be ruptured. The causes of the instability, the reasons why now this point and now that become in him the seat of rupture, [p. 639] we saw to be entirely obscure. (Vol. I. p. 580; Vol. II. p. 364.) The only clear thing about the peculiarity seems to be its interstitial character, and the certainty that no mere appeal to man's 'experience' suffices to explain it.

When we pass from scientific to æsthetic and ethical systems, every one readily admits that, although the elements are matters of experience, the peculiar forms of relation into which they are woven are incongruent with the order of passively received experience. The world of æsthetics and ethics is an ideal world, a Utopia, a world which the outer relations persist in contradicting, but which we as stubbornly persist in striving to make actual. Why do we thus invincibly crave to alter the given order of nature? Simply because other relations among things are far more interesting to us and more charming than the mere rates of frequency of their time- and space-conjunctions. These other relations are all secondary and brain-born, 'spontaneous variations' most of them, of our sensibility, whereby certain elements of experience, and certain arrangements in time and space, have acquired an agreeableness which otherwise would not have been felt. It is true that habitual arrangements may also become agreeable. But this agreeableness of the merely habitual is felt to be a mere ape and counterfeit of real inward fitness; and one sign of intelligence is never to mistake the one for the other.

There are then ideal and inward relations amongst the objects of our thought which can in no intelligible sense whatever be interpreted as reproductions of the order of outer experience. In the æsthetic and ethical realms they conflict with its order -- the early Christian with his kingdom of heaven, and the contemporary anarchist with his abstract dream of justice, will tell you that the existing order must perish, root and branch, ere the true order can come. Now the peculiarity of those relations among the objects of our thought which are dubbed 'scientific' is this, that although they no more are inward reproductions of the outer order than the ethical and æsthetic relations are, yet they do not conflict with that order, but, once having sprung up by the play of the inward forces, are found -- some of them at least, namely the only ones which have survived long enough to [p. 640] be matters of record -- to be congruent with the time- and space-relations which our impressions affect.

In other words, though nature's materials lend themselves slowly and discouragingly to our translation of them into ethical forms, but more readily into æsthetic forms; to translation into scientific forms they lend themselves with relative ease and completeness. The translation, it is true, will probably never be ended. The perceptive order does not give way, nor the right conceptive substitute for it arise, at our bare word of command.[10] It is often a deadly fight; and many a man of science can say, like Johannes Müller, after an investigation, 'Es klebt Blut an der Arbeit.' But victory after victory makes us sure that the essential doom of our enemy is defeat.[11]


I have now stated in general terms the relation of the natural sciences to experience strictly so called, and shall complete what I have to say by reverting to the subject on a later page. At present I will pass to the so-called pure or a priori sciences of Classification, Logic, and Mathematics. My thesis concerning these is that they are even less than the natural sciences effects of the order of the world as it comes to our experience. THE PURE SCIENCES EXPRESS RESULTS OF COMPARISON exclusively; comparison is not a conceivable effect of the order in which outer impressions are experienced -- it is one of the house-born (p. 627) portions of our mental structure; therefore the pure sciences form a body of propositions with whose genesis experience has nothing to do.

First, consider the nature of comparison. The relations of resemblance and difference among things have nothing to do with the time- and space-order in which we may experience the latter. Suppose a hundred beings created by God and gifted with the faculties of memory and comparison. Suppose that upon each of them the same lot of sensations are imprinted, but in different orders. Let some [p. 642] of them have no single sensation more than once. Let some have this one and others that one repeated. Let every conceivable permutation prevail. And then let the magic-lantern show die out, and keep the creatures in a void eternity, with naught but their memories to muse upon. Inevitably in their long leisure they will begin to play with the items of their experience and rearrange them, make classificatory series of them, place gray between white and black, orange between red and yellow, and trace all other degrees of resemblance and difference. And this new construction will be absolutely identical in all the hundred creatures, the diversity of the sequence of the original experiences having no effect as regards this rearrangement. Any and every form of sequence will give the same result, because the result expresses the relation between the inward natures of the sensations; and to that the question of their outward succession is quite irrelevant. Black will differ from white just as much in a world in which they always come close together as in one in which they always come far apart; just as much in one in which they appear rarely as in one in which they appear all the time.

But the advocate of 'persistent outer relations' may still return to the charge: These are what make us so sure that white and black differ, he may say; for in a world where sometimes black resembled white and sometimes differed from it, we could never be so sure. It is because in this world black and white have always differed that the sense of their difference has become a necessary form of thought. The pair of colors on the one hand and the sense of difference on the other, inseparably experienced, not only by ourselves but by our ancestors, have become inseparably connected in the mind. Not through any essential structure of the mind, which made difference the only possible feeling which they could arouse; no, but because they simply did differ so often that at last they begat in us an impotency to imagine them doing anything else, and made us accept such a fabulous account as that just presented, of creatures to whom a single experience would suffice to make us feel the neccessariness of this relation.

[p. 643] I know not whether Mr. Spencer would subscribe to this or not; -- nor do I care, for there are mysteries which press more for solution than the meaning of this vague writer's words. But to me such an explanation of our difference-judgment is absolutely unintelligible. We now find black and white different, the explanation says, because we have always have so found them. But why should we always have so found them? Why should difference have popped into our heads so invariably with the thought of them? There must have been either a subjective or an objective reason. The subjective reason can only be that our minds were so constructed that a sense of difference was the only sort of conscious transition possible between black and white; the objective reason can only be that difference was always there, with these colors, outside the mind as an objective fact. The subjective reason explains outer frequency by inward structure, not inward structure by outer frequency; and so surrenders the experience-theory. The objective reason simply says that if an outer difference is there the mind must needs know it -- which is no explanation at all, but a mere appeal to the fact that somehow the mind does know what is there.

The only clear thing to do is to give up the sham of a pretended explanation, and to fall back on the fact that the sense of difference has arisen, in some natural manner doubtless, but in a manner which we do not understand. It was by the back-stairs way, at all events; and, from the very first, happened to be the only mode of reaction by which consciousness could feel the transition from one term to another of what (in consequence of this very reaction) we now call a contrasted pair.

In noticing the differences and resemblances of things, and their degrees, the mind feels its own activity, and has given the name of comparison thereto. It need not compare its materials, but if once roused to do so, it can compare them with but one result, and this a fixed consequence of the nature of the materials themselves. Difference and resemblance are thus relations between ideal objects, or conceptions as such. To learn whether black and white differ, [p. 644] I need not consult the world of experience at all; the mere ideas suffice. What I mean by black differs from what I mean by white, whether such colors exist extra mentem meam or not. If they ever do so exist, they will differ. White things may blacken, but the black of them will differ from the white of them, so long as I mean anything definite by these three words.[12]

I shall now in what follows call all propositions which express time- and space-relations empirical propositions; and I shall give the name of rational propositions to all propositions which express the results of a comparison. The latter denomination is in a sense arbitrary, for resemblance and difference are not usually held to be the only rational relations between things. I will next proceed to show, however, how many other rational relations commonly supposed distinct can be resolved into these, so that my definition of rational propositions will end, I trust, by proving less arbitrary than it now appears to be.


In Chapter XII we saw that the mind can at successive moments mean the same, and that it gradually comes into possession of a stock of permanent and fixed meanings, ideal objects, or conceptions, some of which are universal qualities, like the black and white of out example, and some, individual things. We now see that not only are the objects permanent mental possessions, but the results of their comparison are permanent too. The objects and their differences together form an immutable system. The same objects, compared in the same way, always give the same results; [p. 645] if the result be not the same, then the objects are not those originally meant.

This last principle, which we may call the axiom of constant result, holds good throughout all our mental operations, not only when we compare, but when we add, divide, class, or infer a given matter in any conceivable way. Its most general expression would be "the Same operated on in the same way gives the Same." In mathematics it takes the form of "equals added to, or subtracted from, equals give equals," and the like. We shall meet with it again.

The next thing which we observe is that the operation of comparing may be repeated on its own results; in other words, that we can think of the various resemblances and differences which we find and compare them with each other, making differences and resemblances of a higher order. The mind thus becomes aware of sets of similar differences, and forms series of terms with the same kind and amount of difference between them, terms which, as they succeed each other, maintain a constant direction of serial increase. This sense of constant direction in a series of operations we saw in Chapter XIII (p. 490) to be a cardinal mental fact. "A differs from B differs from C differs from D, etc.," makes a series only when the differences are in the same direction. In any such difference-series all terms differ in just the same way from their predecessors. The numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, . . . the notes of the chromatic scale in music, are familiar examples. As soon as the mind grasps such a series as a whole, it perceives that two terms taken far apart differ more than two terms taken near together, and that any one term differs more from a remote than from a near successor, and this no matter what the terms may be, or what the sort of difference may be, provided it is always the same sort.

This PRINCIPLE OF MEDIATE COMPARISON might be briefly (though obscurely) expressed by the formula "more than the more is more than the less" -- the words more and less standing simply for degrees of increase along a constant direction of differences. Such a formula would cover all possible cases, as, earlier than early is earlier than late, [p. 646] worse than bad is worse than good, east of east is east of west; etc., etc., ad libitum.[13] Symbolically, we might write it as a < b < c < d . . . and say that any number of intermediaries may be expunged without obliging us to alter anything in what remains written.

The principle of mediate comparison is only one form of a law which holds in many series of homogeneously related terms, the law that skipping intermediary terms leaves relations the same. This AXIOM OF SKIPPED INTERMEDIARIES or of TRANSFERRED RELATIONS occurs, as we soon shall see, in logic as the fundamental principle of inference, in arithmetic as the fundamental property of the number-series, in geometry as that of the straight line, the plane and the parallel. It seems to be on the whole the broadest and deepest law of man's thought.

In certain lists of terms the result of comparison may be to find no-difference, or equality in place of difference. Here also intermediaries may be skipped, and mediate comparison be carried on with the general result expressed by the axiom of mediate equality, "equals of equals are equal," which is the great principle of the mathematical sciences. This too as a result of the mind's mere acuteness, and in utter independence of the order in which experiences come associated together. Symbolically, again: a = b = c = d . . , with the same consequence as regards expunging terms which we saw before.


Thus we have a rather intricate system of necessary and immutable ideal truths of comparison, a system applicable to terms experienced in any order of sequence or frequency, or even to terms never experienced or to be experienced, such as the mind's imaginary constructions would be. These truths of comparison result in Classifications. It is, for some unknown reason, a, great æsthetic delight for the mind to break the order of experience, and class its materials in serial orders, proceeding from step to step of difference, and to contemplate untiringly the crossings and inosculations of the [p. 647] series among themselves. The first steps in most of the sciences are purely classificatory. Where facts fall easily into rich and intricate series (as plants and animals and chemical compounds do), the mere sight of the series fill the mind with a satisfaction sui generis; and a world whose real materials naturally lend themselves to serial classification is pro tanto a more rational world, a world with which the mind will feel more intimate, than with a world in which they do not. By the pre-evolutionary naturalists, whose generation has hardly passed away, classifications were supposed to be ultimate insights into God's mind, filling us with adoration of his ways. The fact that Nature lets us make them was a proof of the presence of his Thought in her bosom. So far as the facts of experience can not be serially classified, therefore, so far experience fails to be rational in one of the ways, at least, which we crave.


Closely akin to the function of comparison is that of judging, predicating, or subsuming. In fact, these elementary intellectual functions run into each other so, that it is often only a question of practical convenience whether we shall call a given mental operation by the name of one or of the other. Comparisons result in groups of like things; and presently (through discrimination and abstraction) in conceptions of the respects in which the likenesses obtain. The groups are genera, or classes, the respects are characters or attributes. The attributes again may be compared, forming genera of higher orders, and their characters singled out; so that we have a new sort of series, that of predication, or of kind including kind. Thus horses are quadrupeds, quadrupeds animals, animals machines, machines liable to wear out, etc. In such a series as this the several couplings of terms may have been made out originally at widely different times and under different circumstances. But memory may bring them together afterwards; and whenever it does so, our faculty of apprehending serial increase makes us conscious [p. 648] of them as a single system of successive terms united by the same relation.[14]

Now whenever we become thus conscious, we may become aware of an additional relation which is of the highest intellectual importance, inasmuch as upon it the whole structure of logic is reared. The principle of mediate predication or subsumption is only the axiom of skipped intermediaries applied to a series of successive predications. It expresses the fact that any earlier term in the series stands to any later term in the same relation in which it stands to any intermediate term; in other words, that whatever has an attribute has all the attributes of that attribute; or more briefly still, that whatever is of a kind is of that kind's kind. A little explanation of this statement will bring out all that it involves.

We learned in the chapter on Reasoning what our great motive is for abstracting attributes and predicating them. It is that our varying practical purposes require us to lay hold of different angles of the reality at different times. But for these we should be satisfied to 'see it whole,' and always alike. The purpose, however, makes one aspect essential; so, to avoid dispersion of the attention, we treat the reality as if for the time being it were nothing but that aspect, and we let its supernumerary determinations go. In short, we substitute the aspect for the whole real thing. For our purpose the aspect can be substituted for the whole, and the two treated as the same; and the word is (which couples the whole with its aspect or attribute in the categoric judgment) expresses (among other things) the identifying operation performed. The predication-series a is b, b is c, c is d, . . . . closely resembles for certain practical purposes the equation-series a = b, b = c, c = d, etc.

But what is our purpose in predicating? Ultimately, it may be anything we please; but proximately and immediately, it is always the gratification of a certain curi- [p. 649] osity as to whether the object in hand is or is not of a kind connected with that ultimate purpose. Usually the connection is not obvious, and we only find that the object S is of a kind connected with P, after first finding that it is of a kind M, which itself is connected with P. Thus, to fix our ideas by an example, we have a curiosity (our ultimate purpose being conquest over nature) as to how Sirius may move. It is not obvious whether Sirius is a kind of thing which moves in the line of sight or not. When, however, we find it to be a kind of thing in whose spectrum the hydrogen-line is shifted, and when we reflect that that kind of thing is a kind of thing which moves in the line of sight; we conclude that Sirius does so move. Whatever Sirius's attribute is, Sirius is; its adjective's adjective can supersede its own adjective in our thinking, and this with no loss to our knowledge, so long as we stick to the definite purpose in view.

Now please note that this elimination of intermediary kinds and transfer of is's along the line, results from our insight into the very meaning of the word is, and into the constitution of any series of terms connected by that relation. It has naught to do with what any particular thing is or is not; but, whatever any given thing may be, we see that it also is whatever that is, indefinitely. To grasp in one view a, succession of is's is to apprehend this relation between the terms which they connect; just as to grasp a list of successive equals is to apprehend their mutual equality throughout. The principle of mediate subsumption thus expresses relations of ideal objects as such. It can be discovered by a mind left at leisure with any set of meanings (however originally obtained), of which some are predicable of others. The moment we string them in a serial line, that moment we see that we can drop intermediaries, use remote terms just like near ones, and put a genus in the place of a species. This shows that the principle of mediate subsumption has nothing to do with the particular order of our experiences, or with the outer coexistences and sequences of terms. Were it a mere outgrowth of habit and association, we should be forced to regard it as having no universal validity; for every hour of the day we meet [p. 650] things which we consider to be of this kind or of that, but later learn that they have none of the kind's properties, that they do not belong to the kind's kind. Instead, however, of correcting the principle by these cases, we correct the cases by the principle. We say that if the thing we named an M has not M's properties, then we were either mistaken in calling it an M, or mistaken about M's properties; or else that it is no longer M, but has changed. But we never say that it is an M without M's properties; for by conceiving a thing as of the kind M I mean that it shall have M's properties, be of M's kind, even though I should never be able to find in the real world anything which is an M. The principle emanates from my perception of what a lot of successive is's mean. This perception can no more be confirmed by one set, or weakened by another set, of outer facts, than the perception that black is not white can be confirmed by the fact that snow never blackens, or weakened by the fact that photographer's paper blackens as soon as you lay it in the sun.

The abstract scheme of successive predications, extended indefinitely, with all the possibilities of substitution which it involves, is thus an immutable system of truth which flows from the very structure and form of our thinking. If any real terms ever do fit into such a scheme, they will obey its laws; whether they do is a question as to nature's facts, the answer to which can only be empirically ascertained. Formal logic is the name of the Science which traces in skeleton form all the remote relations of terms connected by successive is's with each other, and enumerates their possibilities of mutual substitution. To our principle of mediate subsumption she has given various formulations, of which the best is perhaps this broad expression, that the same can be substituted for the same in any mental operation.[15]

The ordinary logical series contains but three terms [p. 651] -- "Socrates, man, mortal." But we also have 'Sorites' --Socrates, man, animal, machine, run down, mortal, etc. -- and it violates psychology to represent these as syllogisms with terms suppressed. The ground of there being any logic at all is our power to grasp any series as a whole, and the more terms it holds the better. This synthetic consciousness of an uniform direction of advance through a multiplicity of terms is, apparently, what the brutes and lower men cannot accomplish, and what gives to us our extraordinary power of ratiocinative thought. The mind which can grasp a string of is's as a whole -- the objects linked by them may be ideal or real, physical, mental, or symbolic, indifferently -- can also apply to it the principle of skipped intermediaries. The logic-list is thus in its origin and essential nature just like those graded classificatory lists which we erewhile described. The 'rational proposition' which lies at the basis of all reasoning, the dictum de omni et nullo in all the various forms in which it may be expressed, the fundamental law of thought, is thus only the result of the function of comparison in a mind which has come by some lucky variation to apprehend a series of more than two terms at once.[16] So far, then, both Systematic Classification and Logic are seen to be incidental results of the mere capacity for discerning difference and likeness, which capacity is a thing with which the order of experience, properly so styled, has absolutely nothing to do.

But how comes it (it may next be asked) when systematic classifications have so little ultimate theoretic importance -- for the conceiving of things according to their mere degrees of resemblance always yields to other modes of conceiving when these can be obtained -- that the logical relations among things should form such a mighty engine for dealing with the facts of life?

Chapter XXII already gave the reason (see p. 335, above). This world might be a world in which all things differed, and in which what properties there were were [p. 652] ultimate and had no farther predicates. In such a world there would be as many kinds as there were separate things. We could never subsume a new thing under an old kind; or if we could, no consequences would follow. Or, again, this might be a world in which innumerable things were of a kind, but in which no concrete thing remained of the same kind long, but all objects were in a flux. Here again, though we could subsume and infer, our logic would be of no practical use to us, for the subjects of our propositions would have changed whilst we were talking. In such worlds, logical relations would obtain, and be known (doubtless) as they are now, but they would form a merely theoretic scheme and be of no use for the conduct of life. But our world is no such world. It is a very peculiar world, and plays right into logic's hands. Some of the things, at least, which it contains are of the same kind as other things; some of them remain always of the kind of which they once were; and some of the properties of them cohere indissolubly and are always found together. Which things these latter things are we learn by experience in the strict sense of the word, and the results of the experience are embodied in 'empirical propositions.' Whenever such a thing is met with by us now, our sagacity notes it to be of a certain kind; our learning immediately recalls that kind's kind, and then that kind's kind, and so on; so that a moment's thinking may make us aware that the thing is of a kind so remote that we could never have directly perceived the connection. The flight to this last kind over the heads of the intermediaries is the essential feature of the intellectual operation here. Evidently it is a pure outcome of our sense for apprehending serial increase; and, unlike the several propositions themselves which make up the series (and which may all be empirical), it has nothing to do with the time- and space-order in which the things have been experienced.


So much for the a priori necessities called systematic classification and logical inference. The other couplings of data which pass for a priori necessities of thought are the mathematical judgments, and certain metaphysical prop- [p. 653] ositions. These latter we shall consider farther on. As regards the mathematical judgments, they are all 'rational propositions' in the sense defined on p. 644, for they express results of comparison and nothing more. The mathematical sciences deal with similarities and equalities exclusively, and not with coexistences and sequences. Hence they have, in the first instance, no connection with the order of experience. The comparisons of mathematics are between numbers and extensive magnitudes, giving rise to arithmetic and geometry respectively.

Number seems to signify primarily the strokes of our attention in discriminating things. These strokes remain in the memory in groups, large or small, and the groups can be compared. The discrimination is, as we know, psychologically facilitated by the mobility of the thing as a total (p. 173). But within each thing we discriminate parts; so that the number of things which any one given phenomenon may be depends in the last instance on our way of taking it. A globe is one, if undivided; two, if composed of hemispheres. A sand-heap is one thing, or twenty thousand things, as we may choose to count it. We amuse ourselves by the counting of mere strokes, to form rhythms, and these we compare and name. Little by little in our minds the number-series is formed. This, like all lists of terms in which there is a direction of serial increase, carries with it the sense of those mediate relations between its terms which we expressed by the axiom "the more than the more is more than the less." That axiom seems, in fact, only a way of stating that the terms do form an increasing series. But, in addition to this, we are aware of certain other relations among our strokes of counting. We may interrupt them where we like, and go on again. All the while we feel that the interruption does not alter the strokes themselves. We may count 12 straight through; or count 7 and pause, and then count 5, but still the strokes will be the same. We thus distinguish between our acts of counting and those of interrupting or grouping, as between an unchanged matter and an operation of mere shuffling performed on it. The matter is the original units or strokes; [p. 654] which all modes of grouping or combining simply give us back unchanged. In short, combinations of numbers are combinations of their units, which is the fundamental axiom of arithmetic,[17] leading to such consequences as that 7 + 5 = 8 + 4 because both = 12. The general axiom of mediate equality, that equals of equals are equal, comes in here.[18] The principle of constancy in our meanings, when applied to strokes of counting, also gives rise to the axiom that the same number, operated on (interrupted, grouped) in the same way will always give the same result or be the same. How shouldn't it? Nothing is supposed changed.

Arithmetic and its fundamental principles are thus independent of our experiences or of the order of the world. The matter of arithmetic is mental matter; its principles flow from the fact that the matter forms a series, which can be cut into by us wherever we like without the matter changing. The empiricist school has strangely tried to interpret the truths of number as results of coexistences among outward things. John Mill calls number a physical property of things. 'One,' according to Mill, means one sort of passive sensation which we receive, 'two' another, 'three' a third. The same things, however, can give us different number-sensations. Three things arranged thus, °°°, for example, impress us differently from three things arranged thus,. But experience tells us that every real object-group which can be arranged in one of these ways can always be arranged in the other also, and that 2 + 1 and 3 are thus modes of numbering things which 'coexist' invariably with each other. The indefeasibility of our belief in their 'co-existence' (which is Mill's word for their equivalence) is due solely to the enormous amount of experience we have of it. For all things, whatever other sensations they may give us, give us at any rate number-sensations. Those number-sensations which the same thing may be successively made to arouse are the numbers which we deem [p. 655] equal to each other; those which the same thing refuses to arouse are those which we deem unequal.

This is as clear a restatement as I can make of Mill's doctrine.[19] And its failure is written upon its front. Woe to arithmetic, were such the only grounds for its validity! The same real things are countable in numberless ways, and pass from one numerical form, not only to its equivalent (as Mill implies), but to its other, as the sport of physical accidents or of our mode of attending may decide. How could our notion that one and one are eternally and necessarily two ever maintain itself in a world where every time we add one drop of water to another we get not two but one again? in a world where every time we add a drop to a crumb of quicklime we get a dozen or more? -- had it no better warrant than such experiences? At most we could then say that one and one are usually two. Our arithmetical propositions would never have the confident tone which they now possess. That confident tone is due to the fact that they deal with abstract and ideal numbers exclusively. What we mean by one plus one is two; we make two out of it; and it would mean two still even in a world where physically (according to a conceit of Mill's) a third thing was engendered every time one thing came together with another. We are masters of our meanings, and discriminate between the things we mean and our ways of taking them, between our strokes of numeration themselves, and our bundlings and separatings thereof.

Mill ought not only to have said, "All things are numbered." He ought, in order to prove his point, to have shown that they are unequivocally numbered, which they notoriously are not. Only the abstract numbers themselves are unequivocal, only those which we create mentally and hold fast to as ideal objects always the same. A concrete natural thing can always be numbered in a great variety of ways. "We need only conceive a thing divided into four equal parts (and all things may be conceived as so divided)," as [p. 656] Mill is himself compelled to say, to find the number four in it, and so on.

The relation of numbers to experience is just like that of 'kinds' in logic. So long as an experience will keep its kind we can handle it by logic. So long as it will keep its number we can deal with it by arithmetic. Sensibly, however, things are constantly changing their numbers, just as they are changing their kinds. They are forever breaking apart and fusing. Compounds and their elements are never numerically identical, for the elements are sensibly many and the compounds sensibly one. Unless our arithmetic is to remain without application to life, we must somehow make more numerical continuity than we spontaneously find. Accordingly Lavoisier discovers his weight-units which remain the same in compounds and elements, though volume-units and quality-units all have changed. A great discovery! And modern science outdoes it by denying that compounds exist at all. There is no such thing as 'water' for 'science;' that is only a handy name for H2 and O when they have got into the position H-O-H, and then affect our senses in a novel way. The modern theories of atoms, of heat, and of gases are, in fact, only intensely artificial devices for gaining that constancy in the numbers of things which sensible experience will not show. "Sensible things are not the things for me," says Science, "because in their changes they will not keep their numbers the same. Sensible qualities are not the qualities for me, because they can with difficulty be numbered at all. These hypothetic atoms, however, are the things, these hypothetic masses and velocities are the qualities for me; they will stay numbered all the time."

By such elaborate inventions, and at such a cost to the imagination, do men succeed in making for themselves a world in which real things shall be coerced per fas aut nefas under arithmetical law.

The other branch of mathematics is geometry. Its objects are also ideal creations. Whether nature contain circles or not, I can know what I mean by a circle and can stick to my meaning; and when I mean two circles I [p. 657] mean two things of an identical kind. The axiom of constant results (see above, p. 645) holds in geometry. The same forms, treated in the same way (added, subtracted, or compared), give the same results -- how shouldn't they? The axioms of mediate comparison (p. 645), of logic (p. 648), and of number (p. 654) all apply to the forms which we imagine in space, inasmuch as these resemble or differ from each other, form kinds, and are numerable things. But in addition to these general principles, which are true of space-forms only as they are of other mental conceptions, there are certain axioms relative to space-forms exclusively, which we must briefly consider.

Three of them give marks of identity among straight lines, planes, and parallels. Straight lines which have two points, planes which have three points, parallels to a given line which have one point, in common, coalesce throughout. Some say that the certainty of our belief in these axioms is due to repeated experiences of their truth; others that it is due to an intuitive acquaintance with the properties of space. It is neither. We experience lines enough which pass through two points only to separate again, only we won't call them straight. Similarly of planes and parallels. We have a definite idea of what we mean by each of these words; and when something different is offered us, we see the difference. Straight lines, planes, and parallels, as they figure in geometry, are mere inventions of our faculty for apprehending serial increase. The farther continuations of these forms, we say, shall bear the same relation to their last visible parts which these did to still earlier parts. It thus follows (from that axiom of skipped intermediaries which obtains in all regular series) that parts of these figures separated by other parts must agree in direction, just as contiguous parts do. This uniformity of direction throughout is, in fact, all that makes us care for these forms, gives them their beauty, and stamps them into fixed conceptions in our mind. But obviously if two lines, or two planes, with a common segment, were to part company beyond the segment, it could only be because the direction of at least one of them had changed. Parting company in lines and planes means changing direction, means assuming [p. 658] a new relation to the parts that pre-exist; and assuming a new relation means ceasing to be straight or plane. If we mean by a parallel a line that will never meet a second line; and if we have one such line drawn through a point, any third line drawn through that point which does not coalesce with the first must be inclined to it, and if inclined to it must approach the second, i.e., cease to be parallel with it. No properties of outlying space need come in here: only a definite conception of uniform direction, and constancy in sticking to one's point.

The other two axioms peculiar to geometry are that figures can be moved in space without change, and that no variation in the way of subdividing a given amount of space alters its total quantity.[20] This last axiom is similar to what we found to obtain in numbers. 'The whole is equal to its parts' is an abridged way of expressing it. A man is not the same biological whole if we cut him in two at the neck as if we divide him at the ankles; but geometrically he is the same whole, no matter in which place we cut him. The axiom about figures being movable in space is rather a postulate than an axiom. So far as theyare so movable, then certain fixed equalities and differences obtain between forms, no matter where placed. But if translation through space warped or magnified forms, then the relations of equality, etc., would always have to be expressed with a position-qualification added. A geometry as absolutely certain as ours could be invented on the supposition of such a space, if the laws of its warping and deformation were fixed. It would, however, be much more complicated than our geometry, which makes the simplest possible supposition; and finds, luckily enough, that it is a supposition with which the space of our experience seems to agree.

By means of these principles, all playing into each other's hands, the mutual equivalences of an immense number of forms can be traced, even of such as at first sight bear hardly any resemblance to each other. We move and [p. 659] turn them mentally, and find that parts of them will superpose. We add imaginary lines which subdivide or enlarge them, and find that the new figures resemble each other in ways which show us that the old ones are equivalent too. We thus end by expressing all sorts of forms in terms of other forms, enlarging our knowledge of the kinds of things which certain other kinds of things are; or to which they are equivalent.

The result is a new system of mental objects which can be treated as identical for certain purposes, a new series of is's almost indefinitely prolonged, just like the series of equivalencies among numbers, part of which the multiplication-table expresses. And all this is in the first instance regardless of the coexistences and sequences of nature, and regardless of whether the figures we speak of have ever been outwardly experienced or not.


Classification, logic, and mathematics all result, then, from the mere play of the mind comparing its conceptions, no matter whence the latter may have come. The essential condition for the formation of all these sciences is that we should have grown capable of apprehending series as such, and of distinguishing them as homogeneous or heterogeneous, and as possessing definite directions of what I have called 'increase.' This consciousness of series is a human perfection which has been gradually evolved, and which varies amazingly from one man to another. No accounting for it as a result of habitual associations among outward impressions, so we must simply ascribe it to the factors, whatever they be, of inward cerebral growth. Once this consciousness attained to, however, mediate thought becomes possible; with our very awareness of a series may go an awareness that dropping terms out of it will leave identical relations between the terms that remain; and thus arises a perception of relations between things so naturally separate that we should otherwise never have compared them together at all.

The axiom of skipped intermediaries applies, however, only to certain particular series, and among them to those [p. 660] which we have considered, in which the recurring relation is either of difference, of likeness, of kind, of numerical addition, or of prolongation in the same linear or plane direction. It is therefore not a purely formal law of thinking, but flows from the nature of the matters thought about. It will not do to say universally that in all series of homogeneously related terms the remote members are related to each other as the near ones are; for that will often be untrue. The series A is not B is not C is not D . . . does not permit the relation to be traced between remote terms. From two negations no inference can be drawn. Nor, to become more concrete, does the lover of a woman generally love her beloved, or the contradictor of a contradictor contradict whomever he contradicts. The slayer of a slayer does not slay the latter's victim; the acquaintances or enemies of a man need not be each other's acquaintances or enemies; nor are two things which are on top of a third thing necessarily on top of each other.

All skipping of intermediaries and transfer of relations occurs within homogeneous series. But not all homogeneous series allow of intermediaries being skipped and relations transferred. It depends on which series they are, on what relations they contain.[21] Let it not be said that it is a mere matter of verbal association, due to the fact that language sometimes permits us to transfer the name of a relation over skipped intermediaries, and sometimes does not; as where we call men 'progenitors' of their remote as well as of their immediate posterity, but refuse to call them 'fathers' thereof. There are relations which are intrinsically transferable, whilst others are not. The relation of condition, e.g., is intrinsically transferable. What conditions a condition conditions what it conditions -- "cause of cause is cause of effect." The relations of negation and frustration, on the other hand, are not transferable: what frustrates a frustration does not frustrate what it frustrates. No changes of terminology would annul the intimate difference between these two cases.

[p. 661] Nothing but the clear sight of the ideas themselves shows whether the axiom of skipped intermediaries applies to them or not. Their connections, immediate and remote, flow from their inward natures. We try to consider them in certain ways, to bring them into certain relations, and we find that sometimes we can and sometimes we cannot.

The question whether there are or are not inward and essential connections between conceived objects as such, really is the same thing as the question whether we can get any new perception from mentally coupling them together, or pass from one to another by a mental operation which gives a result. In the case of some ideas and operations we get a result; but no result in the case of others. Where a result comes, it is due exclusively to the nature of the ideas and of the operation. Take blueness and yellowness, for example. We can operate on them in some ways, but not in other ways. We can compare them; but we cannot add one to or subtract it from the other. We can refer them to a common kind, color; but we cannot make one a kind of the other, or infer one from the other. This has nothing to do with experience. For we can add blue pigment to yellow pigment, and subtract it again, and get a result both times. Only we know perfectly that this is no addition or subtraction of the blue and yellow qualities or natures themselves.[22]

There is thus no denying the fact that the mind is filled with necessary and eternal relations which it finds between certain of its ideal conceptions, and which form a determinate system, independent of the order of frequency in which experience may have associated the conception's originals in time and space.

Shall we continue to call these sciences 'intuitive,' 'innate,' or 'a priori' bodies of truth, or not?[23] Personally [p. 662] I should like to do so. But I hesitate to use the terms, on account of the odium which controversial history has made the whole of their connotation for many worthy persons. The most politic way not to alienate these readers is to flourish the name of the immortal Locke. For in truth I have done nothing more in the previous pages than to make a little more explicit the teachings of Locke's fourth book:

"The immutability of the same relations between the same immutable things is now the idea that shows him that if the three angles of a triangle were once equal to two right angles, they will always be equal to two right ones. And hence he comes to be certain that what was once true in the case is always true; what ideas once agreed will always agree . . . Upon this ground it is that particular demonstrations in mathematics afford general knowledge. If, then, the perception that the same ideas will eternally have the same habitudes and relations be not a sufficient ground of knowledge, there could be no knowledge of general propositions in mathematics. . . . All general knowledge lies only in our own thoughts, and consists barely in the contemplation of our abstract ideas. Wherever we perceive any agreement or disagreement amongst them, there we have general knowledge; and by putting the names of those ideas together accordingly in propositions, can with certainty pronounce general truths. . . . What is once known of such ideas will be perpetually and forever true. So that, as to all general knowledge, we must search and find it only in our own minds and it is only the examining of our own ideas that furnisheth us with that. Truths belonging to essences of things (that is, to abstract ideas) are [p. 663]eternal, and are to be found out only by the contemplation of those essences. . . . Knowledge is the consequence of the ideas (be they what they will) that are in our minds, producing there certain general propositions. . . . Such propositions are therefore called 'eternal truths,' . . . because, being once made about abstract ideas so as to be true, they will, whenever they can be supposed to be made again, at any time past or to come, by a mind having those ideas, always actually be true. For names being supposed to stand perpetually for the same ideas, and the same ideas having immutably the same habitudes one to another, propositions concerning any abstract ideas that are once true must needs be eternal verities."

But what are these eternal verities, these 'agreements,' which the mind discovers by barely considering its own fixed meanings, except what I have said? -- relations of likeness and difference, immediate or mediate, between the terms of certain series. Classification is serial comparison, logic mediate subsumption, arithmetic mediate equality of different bundles of attention-strokes, geometry mediate equality of different ways of carving space. None of these eternal verities has anything to say about facts, about what is or is not in the world. Logic does not say whether Socrates, men, mortals or immortals exist; arithmetic does not tell us where her 7's, 5's, and 12's are to be found; geometry affirms not that circles and rectangles are real. All that these sciences make us sure of is, that if these things are anywhere to be found, the eternal verities will obtain of them. Locke accordingly never tires of telling us that the "universal propositions of whose truth or falsehood we can have certain knowledge, concern not existence. . . . These universal and self-evident principles, being only our constant, clear, and distinct knowledge of our own ideas more general or comprehensive, can assure us of nothing that passes without the mind; their certainty is founded only upon the knowledge of each idea by itself, and of its distinction from others; about which we cannot be mistaken whilst they are in our minds. . . . The mathematician considers the truth and properties belonging to a rectangle or circle only as they are in idea in his own mind. For it is possible he never found either of them existing mathematically, i.e., precisely true, in his life. But yet the knowledge he has of any truths or properties belonging to a circle, or any other mathematical figure, are nevertheless true and certain even of real things existing; because real things are no farther concerned nor intended to be meant by any such propositions, than as things really agree to those archetypes in his mind. Is it true of the idea of a triangle, that its [p. 664] three angles are equal to two right ones? It is true also of a triangle wherever it really exists. Whatever other figure exists that is not exactly answerable to that idea in his mind is not at all concerned in that proposition. And therefore he is certain all his knowledge concerning such ideas is real knowledge: because, intending things no farther than they agree with those his ideas, he is sure what he knows concerning those figures when they have barely an ideal existence in his mind will hold true of them also when they have a real existence in matter." But "that any or what bodies do exist, that we are left to our senses to discover to us as far as they can."[24]

Locke accordingly distinguishes between 'mental truth' and 'real truth.'[25] The former is intuitively certain; the latter dependent on experience. Only hypothetically can we affirm intuitive truths of real things -- by supposing, namely, that real things exist which correspond exactly with the ideal subjects of the intuitive propositions.

If our senses corroborate the supposition all goes well. But note the strange descent in Locke's hands of the dignity of a priori propositions. By the ancients they were considered, without farther question, to reveal the constitution of Reality. Archetypal things existed, it was assumed, in the relations in which we had to think them. The mind's necessities were a warrant for those of Being; and it was not till Descartes' time that scepticism had so advanced (in 'dogmatic' circles) that the warrant must itself be warranted, and the veracity of the Deity invoked as a reason for holding fast to our natural beliefs.

But the intuitive propositions of Locke leave us as regards outer reality none the better for their possession. We still have to "go to our senses" to find what the reality is. The vindication of the intuitionist position is thus a barren victory. The eternal verities which the very structure of our mind lays hold of do not necessarily themselves lay hold on extra-mental being, nor have they, as Kant pretended later,[26] a legislating character even [p. 665] for all possible experience. They are primarily interesting only as subjective facts. They stand waiting in the mind, forming a beautiful ideal network; and the most we can say is that we hope to discover realities over which the network may be flung so that ideal and real may coincide.

And this brings us back to 'science' from which we diverted our attention so long ago (see p. 640). Science thinks she has discovered the objective realities in question. Atoms and ether, with no properties but masses and velocities expressible by numbers, and paths expressible by analytic formulas, these at last are things over which the mathematico-logical network may be flung, and by supposing which instead of sensible phenomena science becomes yearly more able to manufacture for herself a world about which rational propositions may be framed. Sensible phenomena are pure delusions for the mechanical philosophy. The 'things' and qualities we instinctively believe in do not exist. The only realities are swarming solids in everlasting motion, undulatory or continued, whose expressionless and meaningless changes of position form the history of the world, and are deducible from initial collocations and habits of movement hypothetically assumed. Thousands of years ago men started to cast the chaos of nature's sequences and juxtapositions into a form that might seem intelligible. Many were their ideal prototypes of rational order: teleological and æsthetic ties between things, causal and substantial bonds, as well as logical and mathematical relations. The most promising of these ideal systems at first were of course the richer ones, the sentimental ones. The baldest and least promising were the mathematical ones; but the history of the latter's application is a history of steadily advancing successes, whilst that of the sentimentally richer [p. 666] systems is one of relative sterility and failure.[27] Take those aspects of phenomena which interest you as a human being most, and class the phenomena as perfect and imperfect, as ends and means to ends, as high and low, beautiful and ugly, positive and negative, harmonious and discordant, fit and unfit, natural and unnatural, etc., and barren are all your results. In the ideal world the kind 'precious' has characteristic properties. What is precious should be preserved; unworthy things should be sacrificed for its sake; exceptions made on its account; its preciousness is a reason for other things' actions, and the like. But none of these things need happen to your 'precious' object in the real world. Call the things of nature as much as you like by sentimental, moral, and æsthetic names, no natural consequences follow from the naming. They may be of the kinds you allege, but they are not of 'the kind's kind; and the last great system-maker of this sort, Hegel, was obliged explicitly to repudiate logic in order to make any inferences at all from the names he called things by.

But when you give things mathematical and mechanical names and call them just so many solids in just such positions, describing just such paths with just such velocities, all is changed. Your sagacity finds its reward in the verification by nature of all the deductions which you may next proceed to make. Your 'things' realize all the consequences of the names by which you classed them. The modern mechanico-physical philosophy of which we are all so proud, because it includes the nebular cosmogony, the conservation of energy, the kinetic theory of heat and [p. 667] gases, etc., etc., begins by saying that the only facts are collocations and motions of primordial solids, and the only laws the changes of motion which changes in collocation bring. The ideal which this philosophy strives after is a mathematical world-formula, by which, if all the collocations and motions at a given moment were known, it would be possible to reckon those of any wished-for future moment, by simply considering the necessary geometrical, arithmetical, and logical implications. Once we have the world in this bare shape, we can fling our net of a priori relations over all its terms, and pass from one of its phases to another by inward thought-necessity. Of course it is a world with a very minimum of rational stuff. The sentimental facts and relations are butchered at a blow. But the rationality yielded is so superbly complete in form that to many minds this atones for the loss, and reconciles the thinker to the notion of a purposeless universe, in which all the things and qualities men love, dulcissima mundi nomina, are but illusions of our fancy attached to accidental clouds of dust which the eternal cosmic weather will dissipate as carelessly as it has formed them.

The popular notion that 'Science' is forced on the mind ab extra, and that our interests have nothing to do with its constructions, is utterly absurd. The craving to believe that the things of the world belong to kinds which are related by inward rationality together, is the parent of Science as well as of sentimental philosophy; and the original investigator always preserves a healthy sense of how plastic the materials are in his hands.

"Once for all," says Helmholtz in beginning that little work of his which laid the foundations of the 'conservation of energy,' "it is the task of the physical sciences to seek for laws by which particular processes in nature may be referred to general rules, and deduced from such again. Such rules (for example the laws of reflection or refraction of light, or that of Mariotte and Gay-Lussac for gas-volumes) are evidently nothing but generic-concepts for embracing whole classes of phenomena. The search for them is the business of the experimental division of our Science. Its theoretic division, on the other hand, tries to discover the unknown causes of processes from their visible effects; tries to understand them by the law of causality. . . . The ultimate goal of theoretic physics is to find the last unchanging causes [p. 668] of the processes in Nature. Whether all processes be really ascribable to such causes, whether, in other words, nature be completely intelligible, or whether there be changes which would elude the law of a necessary causality, and fall into a realm of spontaneity or freedom, is not here the place to determine: but at any rate it is clear that the Science whose aim it is to make nature appear intelligible [die Natur zu begreifen {James' insertion}] must start with the assumption of her intelligibility, and draw consequences in conformity with this assumption, until irrefutable facts show the limitations of this method. . . . The postulate that natural phenomena must be reduced to changeless ultimate causes next shapes itself so that forces unchanged by time must be found to be these causes. Now in Science we have already found portions of matter with changeless forces (indestructible qualities), and called them (chemical) elements. If, then, we imagine the world composed of elements with inalterable qualities, the only changes that can remain possible in such a world are spatial changes, i.e. movements, and the only outer relations which can modify the action of the forces are spatial too or, in other words, the forces are motor forces dependent for their effect only on spatial relations. More exactly still: The phenomena of nature must be reduced to [zurückgeführt, conceived as, classed as {James' insertion}] motions of material points with inalterable motor forces acting according to space-relations alone. . . . But points have no mutual space-relations except their distance, . . . and a motor force which they exert upon each other can cause nothing but a change of distance -- i.e. be an attractive or a repulsive force. . . . And its intensity can only depend on distance. So that at last the task of Physics resolves itself into this, to refer phenomena to inalterable attractive and repulsive forces whose intensity varies with distance. The solution of this task would at the same time be the condition of Nature's complete intelligibility."[28]

The subjective interest leading to the assumption could not be more candidly expressed. What makes the assumption 'scientific' and not merely poetic, what makes a Helmholtz and his kin discoverers, is that the things of Nature turn out to act as if they were of the kind assumed. They behave as such mere drawing and driving atoms would behave; and so far as they have been distinctly enough translated into molecular terms to test the point, so far a certain fantastically ideal object, namely, the mathematical sum containing their mutual distances and velocities, is found to be constant throughout all their movements. This sum is called the total energy of the molecules considered. Its con- [p. 669] stancy or 'conservation' gives the name to the hypothesis of molecules and central forces from which it was logically deduced.

Take any other mathematico-mechanical theory and it is the same. They are all translations of sensible experiences into other forms, substitutions of items between which ideal relations of kind, number, form, equality, etc., obtain, for items between which no such relations obtain; coupled with declarations that the experienced form is false and the ideal form true, declarations which are justified by the appearance of new sensible experiences at just those times and places at which we logically infer that their ideal correlates ought to be. Wave-hypotheses thus make us predict things of darkness and color, distortions, dispersions, changes of pitch in sonorous bodies moving from us, etc.; molecule-hypotheses lead to predictions of vapor-density, freezing point, etc., -- all which predictions fall true.

Thus the world grows more orderly and rational to the mind, which passes from one feature of it to another by deductive necessity, as soon as it conceives it as made up of so few and so simple phenomena as bodies with no properties but number and movement to and fro.


But alongside of these ideal relations between terms which the world verifies, there are other ideal relations not as yet so verified. I refer to those propositions (no longer expressing mere results of comparison) which are formulated in such metaphysical and æsthetic axioms as "The Principle of things is one;" "The quantity of existence is unchanged;" "Nature is simple and invariable;" "Nature acts by the shortest ways;" "Ex nihilo nihil fit;" "Nothing can be evolved which was not involved;" "Whatever is in the effect must be in the cause;" "A thing can only work where it is;" "A thing can only affect another of its own kind;" "Cessante causa, cessat et effectus;" "Nature makes no leaps;" "Things belong to discrete and permanent kinds;" "Nothing is or happens without a reason;" "The world is throughout rationally intelligible;" etc., [p. 670] etc., etc. Such principles as these, which might be multiplied to satiety,[29] are properly to be called postulates of rationality, not propositions of fact. If nature did obey them, she would be pro tanto more intelligible; and we seek meanwhile so to conceive her phenomena as to show that she does obey them. To a certain extent we succeed. For example, instead of the 'quantity of existence' so vaguely postulated as unchanged, Nature allows us to suppose that curious sum of distances and velocities which for want of a better term we call 'energy.' For the effect being 'contained in the cause,' nature lets us substitute 'the effect is the cause,' so soon as she lets us conceive both effect and cause as the same molecules, in two successive positions. -- But all around these incipient successes (as all around the molecular world, so soon as we add to it as its 'effects' those illusory 'things' of common-sense which we had to butcher for its sake), there still spreads a vast field of irrationalized fact whose items simply are together, and from one to another of which we can pass by no ideally 'rational' way.

It is not that these more metaphysical postulates of rationality are absolutely barren -- though barren enough they were when used, as the scholastics used them, as immediate propositions of fact.[30] They have a fertility as [p. 671] ideals, and keep us uneasy and striving always to recast the world of sense until its lines become more congruent with theirs. Take for example the principle that 'nothing can happen without a cause.' We have no definite idea of what we mean by cause, or of what causality consists in. But the principle expresses a demand for some deeper sort of inward connection between phenomena than their merely habitual time-sequence seems to us to be. The word 'cause' is, in short, an altar to an unknown god; an empty pedestal still marking the place of a hoped-for statue. Any really inward belonging-together of the sequent terms, if discovered, would be accepted as what the word cause was meant to stand for. So we seek, and seek; and in the molecular systems we find a sort of inward belonging in the notion of identity of matter with change of collocation. Perhaps by still seeking we may find other sorts of inward belonging, even between the molecules and those 'secondary qualities,' etc., which they produce upon our minds.

It cannot be too often repeated that the triumphant application of any one of our ideal systems of rational relations to the real world justifies our hope that other systems may be found also applicable. Metaphysics should take heart from the example of physics, simply confessing that hers is the longer task. Nature may be remodelled, nay, certainly will be remodelled, far beyond the point at present reached. Just how far? -- is a question which only the whole future history of Science and Philosophy can answer.[31] Our task being Psychology, we cannot even cross the threshold of that larger problem.

Besides the mental structure which results in such [p. 672] metaphysical principles as those just considered, there is a mental structure which expresses itself in


The æsthetic principles are at bottom such axioms as that a note sounds good with its third and fifth, or that potatoes need salt, We are once for all so made that when certain impressions come before our mind, one of them will seem to call for or repel the others as its companions. To a certain extent the principle of habit will explain these æsthetic connections. When a conjunction is repeatedly experienced, the cohesion of its terms grows grateful, or at least their disruption grows unpleasant. But to explain all æsthetic judgments in this way would be absurd; for it is notorious how seldom natural experiences come up to our æsthetic demands. Many of the so-called metaphysical principles are at bottom only expressions of æsthetic feeling. Nature is simple and invariable; makes no leaps, or makes nothing but leaps; is rationally intelligible; neither increases nor diminishes in quantity; flows from one principle, etc., etc., -- what do all such principles express save our sense of how pleasantly our intellect would feel if it had a Nature of that sort to deal with? The subjectivity of which feeling is of course quite compatible with Nature also turning out objectively to be of that sort, later on.

The moral principles which our mental structure engenders are quite as little explicable in toto by habitual experiences having bred inner cohesions. Rightness is not mere usualness, wrongness not mere oddity, however numerous the facts which might be invoked to prove such identity. Nor are the moral judgments those most invariably and emphatically impressed on us by public opinion. The most characteristically and peculiarly moral judgments that a man is ever called on to make are in unprecedented cases and lonely emergencies, where no popular rhetorical maxims can avail, and the hidden oracle alone can speak; and it speaks often in favor of conduct quite unusual, and suicidal as far as gaining popular approbation goes. The forces which conspire to this resultant are subtle harmonies and discords between the [p. 673] elementary ideas which form the data of the case. Some of these harmonies, no doubt, have to do with habit; but in respect to most of them our sensibility must assuredly be a phenomenon of supernumerary order, correlated with a brain-function quite as secondary as that which takes cognizance of the diverse excellence of elaborate musical compositions. No more than the higher musical sensibility can the higher moral sensibility be accounted for by the frequency with which outer relations have cohered.[32] Take judgments of justice or equity, for example. Instinctively, one judges everything differently, according as it pertains to one's self or to some one else, Empirically one that everybody else does the same. But little by little there dawns in one the judgment "nothing can be right for me which would not be right for another similarly placed;" or the fulfilment of my desires is intrinsically no more imperative than that of anyone else's;" or "what it is reasonable that another should do for me, it is also reasonable that I should do for him;"[33] and forthwith the whole mass of the habitual gets overturned. It gets seriously overturned only in a few fanatical heads. But its overturning is due to a back-door and not to a front-door process. Some minds are preternaturally sensitive to logical consistency and inconsistency. When they have ranked a thing under a kind, they must treat it as of that kind's kind, or feel all out of tune. In many respects we do class ourselves with other men, and call them and ourselves by a common name. They agree with us in having the same Heavenly Father, in not being consulted about their birth, [p. 674] in not being themselves to thank or blame for their natural gifts, in having the same desires and pains and pleasures, in short in a host of fundamental relations. Hence, if these things be our essence, we should be substitutable for other men, and they for us, in any proposition in which either of us is involved. The more fundamental and common the essence chosen, and the more simple the reasoning,[34] the more wildly radical and unconditional will the justice be which is aspired to. Life is one long struggle between conclusions based on abstract ways of conceiving cases, and opposite conclusions prompted by our instinctive perception of them as individual facts. The logical stickler for justice always seems pedantic and mechanical to the man who goes by tact and the particular instance, and who usually makes a poor show at argument. Sometimes the abstract conceiver's way is better, sometimes that of the man of instinct. But just as in our study of reasoning we found it impossible to lay down any mark whereby to distinguish right conception of a concrete case from confusion (see pp. 336, 350), so here we can give no general rule for deciding when it is morally useful to treat a concrete case as sui generis, and when to lump it with others in an abstract class.[35]

[p. 675] An adequate treatment of the way in which we come by our æsthetic and moral judgments would require a separate chapter, which I cannot conveniently include in this book. Suffice it that these judgments express inner harmonies and discords between objects of thought; and that whilst outer cohesions frequently repeated will often seem harmonious, all harmonies are not thus engendered, but our feeling of many of them is a secondary and incidental function of the mind. Where harmonies are asserted of the real world, they are obviously mere postulates of rationality, so far as they transcend experience. Such postulates are exemplified by the ethical propositions that the individual and universal good are one, and that happiness and goodness are bound to coalesce in the same subject.


I will now sum up our progress so far by a short summary of the most important conclusions which we have reached.

[p. 676] The mind has a native structure in this sense, that certain of its objects, if considered together in certain ways, give definite results; and that no other ways of considering, and no other results, are possible if the same objects be taken.

The results are 'relations' which are all expressed by judgments of subsumption and of comparison.

The judgments of subsumption are themselves subsumed under the laws of logic.

Those of comparison are expressed in classifications, and in the sciences of arithmetic and geometry.

Mr. Spencer's opinion that our consciousness of classificatory, logical, and mathematical relations between ideas is due to the frequency with which the corresponding 'outer relations' have impressed our minds, is unintelligible.

Our consciousness of these relations, no doubt, has a natural genesis. But it is to be sought rather in the inner forces which have made the brain grow, than in any mere paths of 'frequent' association which outer stimuli may have ploughed in that organ.

But let our sense for these relations have arisen as it may, the relations themselves form a fixed system of lines of cleavage, so to speak, in the mind, by which we naturally pass from one object to another; and the objects connected by these lines of cleavage are often not connected by any regular time- and space-associations. We distinguish, therefore, between the empirical order of things, and this their rational order of comparison; and, so far as possible, we seek to translate the former into the latter, as being the more congenial of the two to our intellect.

Any classification of things into kinds (especially if the kinds form series, or if they successively involve each other) is a more rational way of conceiving the things than is that mere juxtaposition or separation of them as individuals in time and space which is the order of their crude perception. Any assimilation of things to terms between which such classificatory relations, with their remote and mediate transactions, obtain, is a way of bringing the things into a more rational scheme.

Solids in motion are such terms; and the mechanical [p. 677] philosophy is only a way of conceiving nature so as to arrange its items along some of the more natural lines of cleavage of our mental structure.

Other natural lines are the moral and æsthetic relations. Philosophy is still seeking to conceive things so that these relations also may seem to obtain between them.

As long as things have not successfully been so conceived, the moral and æsthetic relations obtain only between entia rationis, terms in the mind; and the moral and æsthetic principles remain but postulates, not propositions, with regard to the real world outside.

There is thus a large body of a priori or intuitively necessary truths. As a rule, these are truths of comparison only, and in the first instance they express relations between merely mental terms. Nature, however, acts as if some of her realities were identical with these mental terms. So far as she does this, we can make a priori propositions concerning natural fact. The aim of both science and philosophy is to make the identifiable terms more numerous. So far it has proved easier to identify nature's things with mental terms of the mechanical than with mental terms of the sentimental order.

The widest postulate of rationality is that the world is rationally intelligible throughout, after the pattern of some ideal system. The whole war of the philosophies is over that point of faith. Some say they can see their way already to the rationality; others that it is hopeless in any other but the mechanical way. To some the very fact that there is a world at all seems irrational. Nonentity would be a more natural thing than existence, for these minds. One philosopher at least says that the relatedness of things to each other is irrational anyhow, and that a world of relations can never be made intelligible.[36]

With this I may be assumed to have completed the programme which I announced at the beginning of the chapter, so far as the theoretic part of our organic mental struc- [p. 678] ture goes. It can be due neither to our own nor to our ancestors' experience. I now pass to those practical parts of our organic mental structure. Things are a little different here; and our conclusion, though it lies in the same direction, can be by no means as confidently expressed.

To be as short and simple as possible, I will take the case of instincts, and, supposing the reader to be familiar with Chapter XXIV, I will plunge in medias res.


Instincts must have been either

1) Each specially created in complete form, or

2) Gradually evolved.

As the first alternative is nowadays obsolete, I proceed directly to the second. The two most prominent suggestions as to the way in which instincts may have been evolved are associated with the names of Lamarck and Darwin.

Lamarck's statement is that animals have wants, and contract, to satisfy them, habits which transform themselves gradually into so many propensities which they can neither resist nor change. These propensities, once acquired, propagate themselves by way of transmission to the young, so that they come to exist in new individuals, anteriorly to all exercise. Thus are the same emotions, the same habits, the same instincts, perpetuated without variation from one generation to another, so long as the outward conditions of existence remain the same.[37] Mr. Lewes calls this the theory of 'lapsed intelligence.' Mr. Spencer's words are clearer than Lamarck's, so that I will quote from him:[38]

[p. 679] "Setting out with the unquestionable assumption, that every new form of emotion making its appearance in the individual or the race is a modification of some pre-existing emotion, or a compounding of several pre-existing emotions, we should be greatly aided by knowing what always are the pre-existing emotions. When, for example, we find that very few, if any, of the lower animals show any love of accumulation, and that this feeling is absent in infancy; when we see that an infant in arms exhibits anger, fear, wonder, while yet it manifests no desire of permanent possession; and that a brute which has no acquisitive emotion can nevertheless feel attachment, jealousy, love of approbation, -- we may suspect that the feeling which property satisfies is compounded out of simpler and deeper feelings. We may conclude that as when a dog hides a bone there must exist in him a prospective gratification of hunger, so there must similarly, at first, in all cases where anything is secured or taken possession of, exist an ideal excitement of the feeling which that thing will gratify. We may further conclude that when the intelligence is such that a variety of objects come to be utilized for different purposes; when, as among savages, divers wants are satisfied through the articles appropriated for weapons, shelter, clothing, ornament, -- the act of appropriating comes to be one constantly involving agreeable associations, and one which is therefore pleasurable, irrespective of the end subserved. And when, as in civilized life, the property acquired is of a kind not conducing to one order of gratifications, but is capable of ministering to all gratifications, the pleasure of acquiring property grows more distinct from each of the various pleasures subserved -- is more completely differentiated into a separate emotion.[39] It is well known that on newly-discovered islands not inhabited by man, birds are so devoid of fear as to allow themselves to be knocked over with sticks, but that in the course of genera- [p. 680] tions they acquire such a dread of man as to fly on his approach, and that this dread is manifested by young as well as old. Now unless this change be ascribed to the killing off of the least fearful, and the preservation and multiplication of the more fearful, which, considering the small number killed by man, is an inadequate cause, it must be ascribed to accumulated experiences, and each experience must be held to have a share in producing it. We must conclude that in each bird that escapes with injuries inflicted by man, or is alarmed by the outcries of other members of the flock, . . . there is established an association of ideas between the human aspect and the pains, direct and indirect, suffered from human agency. And we must further conclude that the state of consciousness which impels the bird to take flight is at first nothing more than an ideal reproduction of those painful impressions which before followed man's approach; that such ideal reproduction becomes more vivid and more massive as the painful experiences, direct or sympathetic, increase; and that thus the emotion, in its incipient state, is nothing else than an aggregation of the revived pains before experienced. As, in the course of generations, the young birds of this race begin to display a fear of man before they have been injured by him, it is an unavoidable inference that the nervous system of the race has been organically modified by these experiences; we have no choice but to conclude that when a young bird is thus led to fly, it is because the impression produced on its senses by the approaching man entails, through an incipiently reflex action, a partial excitement of all those nerves which, in its ancestors, had been excited under the like conditions; that this partial excitement has its accompanying painful consciousness; and that the vague painful consciousness thus arising constitutes emotion proper -- emotion, undecomposable into specific experiences, and therefore seemingly homogeneous. If such be the explanation of the fact in this case, then it is in all cases. If the emotion is so generated here, then it is so generated throughout. If so, we must perforce conclude that the emotional modifications displayed by different nations, and those higher emotions by which civilized are distinguished from savage, are to be accounted for on the same principle. And, concluding this, we are led strongly to suspect that the emotions in general have severally thus originated."[40]

Obviously the word 'emotion' here means instinct as well, -- the actions we call instinctive are expressions or manifestations of the emotions whose genesis Mr. Spencer describes. Now if habit could thus bear fruit outside the individual life, and if the modifications so painfully acquired by the parents' nervous systems could be found ready-made at birth in those of the young, it would be hard [p. 681] to overestimate the importance, both practical and theoretical, of such an extension of its sway. In principle, instincts would then be assimilated to 'secondarily-automatic' habits, and the origin of many of them out of tentative experiments made during ancestral lives, perfected by repetition, addition, and association through successive generations, would be a comparatively simple thing to understand.

Contemporary students of instinct have accordingly been alert to discover all the facts which would seem to establish the possibility of such an explanation. The list is not very long, considering what a burden of conclusions it has to bear. Let acquisitiveness and fear of man, as just argued for by Spencer, lead it off. Other cases of the latter sort are the increased shyness of the woodcock noticed to have occurred within sixty years' observation by Mr. T. A. Knight, and the greater shyness everywhere shown by large than by small birds, to which Darwin has called attention.

Then we may add --

The propensities of 'pointing,' 'retrieving,' etc., in sporting dogs, which seem partly, at any rate, to be due to training, but which in well-bred stock are all but innate. It is in these breeds considered bad for a litter of young if its sire or dam have not been trained in the field.

Docility of domestic breeds of horses and cattle.

Tameness of young of tame rabbit -- young wild rabbits being invincibly timid.

Young foxes are most wary in those places where they are most severely hunted.

Wild ducks, hatched out by tame ones, fly off. But if kept close for some generations, the young are said to become tame.[41]

Young savages at a certain age will revert to the woods.

English greyhounds taken to the high plateau of Mexico could not at first run well, on account of rarefied air. Their whelps entirely got over the difficulty.

Mr. Lewes somewhere[42] tells of a terrier pup whose parents had been taught to 'beg,' and who constantly [p. 682] threw himself spontaneously into the begging attitude. Darwin tells of a French orphan-child, brought up out of France, yet shrugging like his ancestors.[43]

Musical ability often increases from generation to generation in the families of musicians.

The hereditarily epileptic guinea-pigs of Brown-Séquard, whose parents had become epileptic through surgical operations on the spinal cord or sciatic nerve. The adults often lose some of their hind toes, and the young, in addition to being epileptic, are frequently born with the corresponding toes lacking. The offspring of guinea-pigs whose cervical sympathetic nerve has been cut on one side will have the ear larger, the eyeball smaller, etc., just like their parents after the operation. Puncture of the 'restiform body' of the medulla will, in the same animal, congest and enlarge one eye, and cause gangrene of one ear. In the young of such parents the same symptoms occur.

Physical refinement, delicate hands and feet, etc., appear in families well-bred and rich for several generations.

The 'nervous' temperament also develops in the descendants of sedentary brain-working people.

Inebriates produce offspring in various ways degenerate.

Nearsightedness is produced by indoor occupation for generations. It has been found in Europe much more frequent among schoolchildren in towns than among children of the same age in the country.

These latter cases are of the inheritance of structural rather than of functional peculiarities. But as structure gives rise to function it may be said that the principle is the same. Amongst other inheritances of adaptive[44] structural change may be mentioned:

The 'Yankee' type.

Scrofula, rickets, and other diseases of bad conditions of life.

The udders and permanent milk of the domestic breeds of cow.

[p. 683] The 'fancy' rabbit's ears, drooping through lack of need to erect them. Dog's, ass's, etc., in some breeds ditto.

The obsolete eyes of mole and various cave-dwelling animals.

The diminished size of the wing-bones of domesticated ducks, due to ancestral disuse of flight.[45]

These are about all the facts which, by one author or another, have been invoked as evidence in favor of the 'lapsed intelligence' theory of the origin of instincts.

Mr. Darwin's theory is that of the natural selection of accidentally produced tendencies to action.

"It would," says he, "be the most serious error to suppose that the greater number of instincts have been acquired by habit in one generation, and then transmitted by inheritance in succeeding generations. It can clearly be shown that the most wonderful instincts with which we are acquainted, namely, those of the hive-bee and of many ants, could not possibly have been thus acquired.[46] It will be universally admitted that instincts are as important as corporeal structure for the welfare of each species, under its present conditions of life. Under changed conditions of life, it is at least possible that slight modifications of instinct might be profitable to a species; and if it can be shown that instincts do vary ever so little, then I can see no difficulty in natural selection preserving and continually accumulating variations of instinct to any extent that may be profitable. It is thus, as I believe, that all the most complex and wonderful instincts have arisen. . . . I believe that the effects of habit are of quite subordinate importance to the effects of the natural selection of what may be called accidental variations of instincts; -- that is, of variations produced by the same unknown causes which produce slight deviations of bodily structure."[47]

The evidence for Mr. Darwin's view is too complex to be given in this place. To my own mind it is quite convincing. If, with the Darwinian theory in mind, one re-reads [p. 684] the list of examples given in favor of the Lamarckian theory, one finds that many of the cases are irrelevant, and that some make for one side as well as for the other. This is so obvious in many of the cases that it is needless to point it out in detail. The shrugging child and the begging pup, e.g., prove somewhat too much. They are examples so unique as to suggest spontaneous variation rather than inherited habit. In other cases the observations much need corroboration, e.g., the effects of not training for a generation in sporting dogs and race-horses, the difference between young wild rabbits born in captivity and young tame ones, the cumulative effect of many generations of captivity on wild ducks, etc.

Similarly, the increased wariness of the large birds, of those on islands frequented by men, of the woodcock, of the foxes, may be due to the fact that the bolder families have been killed off, and left none but the naturally timid behind, or simply to the individual experience of older birds being imparted by example to the young so that a new educational tradition has occurred. -- The cases of physical refinement, nervous temperament, Yankee type, etc., also need much more discriminating treatment than they have yet received from the Lamarckians. There is no real evidence that physical refinement and nervosity tend to accumulate from generation to generation in aristocratic or intellectual families; nor is there any that the change in that direction which Europeans transplanted to America undergo is not all completed in the first generation of children bred on our soil. To my mind, the facts all point that way. Similarly the better breathing of the grey-hounds born in Mexico was surely due to a post-natal adaptation of the pups' thorax to the rarer air.

Distinct neurotic degeneration may undoubtedly accumulate from parent to child, and as the parent usually in this case grows worse by his own irregular habits of life, the temptation lies near to ascribe the child's deterioration to this cause. This, again, is a hasty conclusion. For neurotic degeneration is unquestionably a disease whose original causes are unknown; and like other 'accidental variations' it is hereditary. But it ultimately ends in sterility; and it seems to me quite unfair to draw any conclusions from its [p. 685] natural history in favor of the transmission of acquired peculiarities. Nor does the degeneration of the children of alcoholics prove anything in favor of their having inherited the shattered nervous system which the alcohol has induced in their parents: because the poison usually has a chance to directly affect their own bodies before birth, by acting on the germinal matter from which they are formed whilst it is still nourished by the alcoholized blood of the parent. In many cases, however, the parental alcoholics are themselves degenerates neurotically, and the drink-habit is only a symptom of their disease, which in some form or other they also propagate to their children.

There remain the inherited mutilations of the guinea-pig. But these are such startling exceptions to the ordinary rule with animals that they should hardly be used as examples of a typical process. The docility of domestic cattle is certainly in part due to man's selection, etc., etc. In a word, the proofs form rather a beggarly array.

Add to this that the writers who have tried to carry out the theory of transmitted habit with any detail are always obliged somewhere to admit inexplicable variation. Thus Spencer allows that

"Sociality can begin only where, through some slight variation, there is less tendency than usual for the individuals to disperse. . . . That slight variations of mental nature, sufficient to initiate this process, may be fairly assumed, all our domestic animals show us: differences in their characters and likings are conspicuous Sociality having thus commenced, and survival of the fittest tending ever to maintain and increase it, it will be further strengthened by the inherited effects of habit.'[48] Again, in writing of the pleasure of pity, Mr. Spencer says: "This feeling is not one that has arisen through the inherited effects of experiences, but belongs to a quite different group, traceable to the survival of the fittest simply -- to the natural selection of incidental variations. In this group are included all the bodily appetites, together with those simpler instincts, sexual and parental, by which every race is maintained; and which must exist before the higher processes of mental evolution can commence."[49]

The inheritance of tricks of manner and trifling peculiarities, such as handwriting, certain odd gestures when pleased, peculiar movements during sleep, etc., have also been quoted in favor of the theory of transmission of acquired habits. Strangely enough; for of all things in the [p. 686] world these tricks seem most like idiosyncratic variations. They are usually defects or oddities which the education of the individual, the pressure of what is really acquired by him, would counteract, but which are too native to be repressed, and breaks through all artificial barriers, in his children as well as in himself.

I leave my text practically just as it was written in 1885. I proceeded at that time to draw a tentative conclusion to the effect that the origin of most of our instincts must certainly be deemed fruits of the back-door method of genesis, and not of ancestral experience in the proper meaning of the term. Whether acquired ancestral habits played any part at all in their production was still an open question in which it would be as rash to affirm as to deny. Already before that time, however, Professor Weismann of Freiburg had begun a very serious attack upon the Lamarckian theory,[50] and his polemic has at last excited such a widespread interest among naturalists that the whilom almost unhesitatingly accepted theory seems almost on the point of being abandoned.

I will therefore add some of Weismann's criticisms of the supposed evidence to my own. In the first place, he has a captivating theory of descent of his own,[51] which makes him think it a priori impossible that any peculiarity acquired during lifetime by the parent should be transmitted to the germ. Into the nature of that theory this is not the place to go. Suffice to say that it has made him a keener critic of Lamarck's and Spencer's theory then he otherwise might have been. The only way in which the germinal products can be influenced whilst in the body of the parent is, according to Weismann, by good or bad nutrition. Through this they may degenerate in various ways or lose vitality altogether. They may also be infected through the blood by small-pox, syphilis, or other virulent diseases, and otherwise be poisoned. But peculiarities of neural structure and habit in the parents which the parents themselves were not [p. 687] born with, they can never acquire unless perhaps accidentally through some coincidental variation of their own. Accidental variations develop of course into idiosyncrasies which tend to pass to later generations in virtue of the well-known law which no one doubts.

Referring to the often-heard assertion that the increase of talent found in certain families from one generation to another is due to the transmitted effects of exercise of the faculty concerned (the Bachs, the Bernoullis, Mozart, etc.), he sensibly remarks, that the talent being kept in exercise, it ought to have gone on growing for an indefinite number of generations. As a matter of fact, it quickly reaches a maximum, and then we hear no more of it, which is what happens always when an idiosyncrasy is exposed to the effects of miscellaneous intermarriage.

The hereditary epilepsy and other degenerations of the operated guinea-pigs are explained by Professor Weismann as results of infection of the young by the parent's blood. The latter he supposes to undergo a pathologic change in consequence of the original traumatic injury. The obsolescence of disused organs he explains very satisfactorily, without invoking any transmission of the direct effects of disuse, by his theory of panmixy, for which I must refer to his own writings. Finally, he criticises searchingly the stories we occasionally hear of inherited mutilations in animals (dogs' ears and tails, etc.), and cites a prolonged series of experiments of his own on mice, which he bred for many generations, cutting off both parental tails each time, without interfering in the least with the length of tail with which the young continued to be born.

The strongest argument, after all, in favor of the Lamarckian theory remains the a priori one urged by Spencer in his little work (much the solidest thing, by the way, which he has ever written) 'The Factors of Organic Evolution.' Since, says Mr. Spencer, the accidental variations of all parts of the body are independent of each other, if the entire organization of animals mere due to such accidental variations alone, the amount of mutual adaptation and harmony that we now find there could hardly possibly have come about in any finite time. We must rather suppose that the divers varying parts brought the other parts into har- [p. 688] mony with themselves by exercising them ad hoc, and that the effects of the exercise remained and were passed on to the young. This forms, of course, a great presumption against the all-sufficiency of the view of selection of accidental variations exclusively. But it must be admitted that in favor of the contrary view, that adaptive changes are inherited, we have as yet perhaps not one single unequivocal item of positive proof.

I must therefore end this chapter on the genesis of our mental structure by reaffirming my conviction that the so-called Experience-philosophy has failed to prove its point. No more if we take ancestral experiences into account than if we limit ourselves to those of the individual after birth, can we believe that the couplings of terms within the mind are simple copies of corresponding couplings impressed upon it by the environment. This indeed is true of a small part of our cognitions. But so far as logical and mathematical, ethical, æsthetical, and metaphysical propositions go, such an assertion is not only untrue but altogether unintelligible; for these propositions say nothing about the time- and space-order of things, and it is hard to understand how such shallow and vague accounts of them as Mill's and Spencer's could ever have been given by thinking men.

The causes of our mental structure are doubtless natural, and connected, like all our other peculiarities, with those of our nervous structure. Our interests, our tendencies of attention, our motor impulses, the æsthetic, moral, and theoretic combinations we delight in, the extent of our power of apprehending schemes of relation, just like the elementary relations themselves, time, space, difference and similarity, and the elementary kinds of feeling, have all grown up in ways of which at present we can give no account. Even in the clearest parts of Psychology our insight is insignificant enough. And the more sincerely one seeks to trace the actual course of psychogenesis, the steps by which as a race we may have come by the peculiar mental attributes which we possess, the more clearly one perceives "the slowly gathering twilight close in utter night."


[1] 'Accidental' in the Darwinian sense, as belonging to a cycle of causation inaccessible to the present order of research.

[2] The passage is in § 207 of the Principles of Psychology, at the end of the chapter entitled 'Reason.' I italicize certain words in order to show that the essence of this explanation is to demand numerically frequent experiences. The bearing of this remark will later appear. (Cf. pp. 641-2, infra.)

[3] Principles of Biology, part III. chaps. XI, XII. -- Goltz, and Loeb have found that dogs become mild in character when their occipital, and fierce when their frontal, brain-lobes are cut off. "A dog which originally was cross in an extreme degree, never suffering himself to be touched, and even refusing, after two days' fasting, to take a piece of bread from my hand, became, after a bilateral operation on the occipital lobes, perfectly trustful and harmless. He underwent five operations on these parts. . . . Each one of them made him more good-natured; so that at last (just as Goltz observed of his dogs) he would let other dogs take away the very bones which he was gnawing" (Loeb, Pflüger's Archiv, XXXIX. 300). A course of kind treatment and training might have had a similar effect. But how absurd to call two such different causes by the same name, and to say both times that the beast's 'experience of outer relations' is what educates him to good-nature. This, however, is virtually what all writers do who ignore the distinction between the 'front-door' and the 'back-door' manners of producing mental change.

One of the most striking of these back-door affections is susceptibility to the charm of drunkenness. This (taking drunkenness in the broadest sense, as teetotalers use the word) is one of the deepest functions of human nature. Half of both the poetry and the tragedy of human life would vanish if alcohol were taken away. As it is, the thirst for it is such that in the United States the cash-value of its sales amounts to that of the sales of meat and of bread put together. And yet what ancestral 'outer relation' is responsible for this peculiar reaction of ours? The only 'outer relation' could be the alcohol itself, which, comparatively speaking, came into the environment but yesterday, and which, so far from creating, is tending to eradicate, the love of itself from our mental structure, by letting only those families of men survive in whom it is not strong. The love of drunkenness is a purely accidental susceptibility of a brain, evolved for entirely different uses, and its causes are to be sought in the molecular realm, rather than in any possible order of 'outer relations.'

[4] Mr. Grant Allen, in a brilliant article entitled Idiosyncrasy (Mind, VIII. 493), seeks to show that accidental morphological changes in the brain cannot possibly be imagined to result in any mental change of a sort which would fit the animal to its environment. If spontaneous variation ever works on the brain, its product, says Mr. Allen, ought to be an idiot or a raving madman, not a minister and interpreter of Nature. Only the environment can change us in the direction of accommodation to itself. But I think we ought to know a little better just what the molecular changes in the brain are on which thought depends, before we talk so confidently about what the effect can be of their possible variations. Mr. Allen, it should be said, has made a laudable effort to conceive them distinctly. To me his conception remains too purely anatomical. Meanwhile this essay and another by the same author in the Atlantic Monthly are probably as serious attempts as any that have been made towards applying the Spencerian theory in a radical way to the facts of human history.

[5] In my own previous chapters on habit, memory, association, and perception, justice has been done to all these facts.

[6] "The order of nature, as perceived at a first glance, presents at every instant a chaos followed by another chaos. We must decompose each chaos into single facts. We must learn to see in the chaotic antecedent a multitude of distinct antecedents, in the chaotic consequent la multitude of distinct consequents. This, supposing it done, will not of itself tell us on which of the antecedents each consequent is invariably attendant. To determine that point, we must endeavor to effect a separation of the facts from one another, not in our minds only, but in nature. The mental analysis, however, must take place first. And every one knows that in the mode of performing it, one intellect differs immensely from another." (J. S. Mill, Logic, bk. III. chap. VII. § 1.)

[7] I quote from an address entitled 'Reflex Action and Theism,' published in the 'Unitarian Review' for November 1881, and translated in the Critique Philosophique for January and February 1882. "The conceiving or theorizing faculty works exclusively for the sake of ends that do not exist at all in the world of the impressions received by way of our senses, but are set by our emotional and practical subjectivity. It is a transformer of the world of our impressions into a totally different world, the world of our conception; and the transformation is effected in the interests of our volitional nature, and for no other purpose whatsoever. Destroy the volitional nature, the definite subjective purposes, preferences, fondnesses for certain effects, forms, orders, and not the slightest motive would remain for the brute order of our experience to be remodelled at all. But, as we have the elaborate volitional constitution we do have, the remodelling must be effected, there is no escape. The world's contents are given to each of us in an order so foreign to our subjective interests that we can hardly by an effort of the imagination picture to ourselves what it is like. We have to break that order altogether, and by picking out from it the items that concern us, and connecting them with others far away, which we say 'belong' with them, we are able to make out definite threads of sequence and tendency, to foresee particular liabilities and get ready for them, to enjoy simplicity and harmony in the place of what was chaos. Is not the sum of your actual experience taken at this moment and impartially added together an utter chaos? The strains of my voice, the lights and shades inside the room and out, the murmur of the wind, the ticking of the clock, the various organic feelings you may happen individually to possess, do these make a whole at all? Is it not the only condition of your mental sanity in the midst of them that most of them should become non-existent for you, and that a few others -- the sounds, I hope, which I am uttering -- should evoke from places in your memory, that have nothing to do with this scene, associates fitted to combine with them in what we call a rational train of thought? -- rational because it leads to a conclusion we have some organ to appreciate. We have no organ or faculty to appreciate the simply given order. The real world as it is given at this moment is the sum total of all its beings and events now. But can we think of such a sum? Can we realize for an instant what a cross-section of all existence at a definite point of time would be? While I talk and the flies buzz, a sea gull catches a fish at the mouth of the Amazon, a tree falls in the Adirondack wilderness, a man sneezes in Germany, a horse dies in Tartary, and twins are born in France. What does that mean? Does the contemporaneity of these events with each other and with a million more as disjointed as they form a rational bond between them, and unite them into anything that means for us a world? Yet just such a collateral contemporaneity, and nothing else, is the real order of the world. It is an order with which we have nothing to do but to get away from it as fast as possible. As I said, we break it: we break it into histories, and we break it into arts, and we break it into sciences; and then we begin to feel at home. We make ten thousand separate serial orders of it. On any one of these, we may react as if the rest did not exist. We discover among its parts regulations that were never given to sense at all, --mathematical relations, tangents, squares, and roots and logarithmic functions, -- and out of an infinite number of these we call certain ones essential and lawgiving, and ignore the rest. Essential these relations are, but only for our purpose, the other relations being just as real and present as they; and our purpose is to conceive simply and to foresee. Are not simple conception and prevision subjective ends, pure and simple? They are the ends of what we call science; and the miracle of miracles, a miracle not yet exhaustively cleared up by any philosophy, is that the given order lends itself to the remodelling. It shows itself plastic to many of our scientific, to many of our æsthetic, to many of our practical purposes and ends." Cf. also Hodgson: Philos. of Refl., ch. V; Lotze: Logik, §§ 342-351; Sigwart: Logik, §§ 60-63, 105.

[8] In an article entitled 'Great Men, Great Thoughts, and the Environment,' published in the Atlantic Monthly for October 1880, the reader will find some ampler illustrations of these remarks. I have there tried to show that both mental and social evolution are to be conceived after the Darwinian fashion, and that the function of the environment properly so called is much more that of selecting forms, produced by invisible forces, than producing of such forms, -- producing being the only function thought of by the pre-Darwinian evolutionists, and the only one on which stress is laid by such contemporary ones as Mr. Spencer and Mr. Allen.

[9] "It is perfectly true that our world of experience begins with such associations as lead us to expect that what has happened to us will happen again. These associations lead the babe to look for milk from its nurse and not from its father, the child to believe that the apple he sees will taste good; and whilst they make him wish for it, they make him fear the bottle which contains his bitter medicine. But whereas a part of these associations grows confirmed by frequent repetition, another part is destroyed by contradictory experiences; and the world becomes divided for us into two provinces, one in which we are at home and anticipate with confidence always the same sequences; another filled with alternating, variable, accidental occurrences.

". . . Accident is, in a wide sphere, such an every-day matter that we need not be surprised if it sometimes invades the territory where order is the rule. And one personification or another of the capricious power of chance easily helps us over the difficulties which further reflection might find in the exceptions. Yes, indeed, Exception has a peculiar fascination; it is a subject of astonishment, a q a u m a , and the credulity with which in this first stage of pure association we adopt our supposed rules is matched by the equal credulity with which we adopt the miracles that interfere with them.

"The whole history of popular beliefs about nature refutes the notion that the thought of an universal physical order can possibly have arisen through the purely passive reception and association of particular perceptions. Indubitable as it is that all men infer from known cases to unknown, it is equally certain that this procedure, if restricted to the phenomenal materials that spontaneously offer themselves, would never have led to the belief in a general uniformity, but only to the belief that law and lawlessness rule the world in motley alternation. From the point of view of strict empiricism nothing exists but the sum of particular perceptions with their coincidences on the one hand, their contradictions on the other.

"That there is more order in the world than appears at first sight is not discovered till the order is looked for. The first impulse to look for it proceeds from practical needs: where ends must be attained, we must know trustworthy means which infallibly possess a property or produce a result. But the practical need is only the first occasion for our reflection on the conditions of a true knowledge; even were there no such need, motives would still be present to carry us beyond the stage of mere association. For not with an equal interest, or rather with an equal lack of interest, does man contemplate those natural processes in which like is joined to like, and those in which like and unlike are joined; the former processes harmonize with the conditions of his thinking, the latter do not; in the former his concepts, judgments, inferences apply to realities, in the latter they have no such application. And thus the intellectual satisfaction which at first comes to him without reflection, at last excites in him the conscious wish to find realized throughout the entire phenomenal world those rational continuities, uniformities, and necessities which are the fundamental element and guiding principle of his own thought." (C. Sigwart: Logik, II. 380-2.)

[10] Cf. Hodgson: Philosophy of Reflection, book II, chap. V.

[11] The aspiration to be 'scientific' is such an idol of the tribe to the present generation, is so sucked in with his mother's milk by every one of us, that we find it hard to conceive of a creature who should not feel it, and harder still to treat it freely as the altogether peculiar and one-sided subjective interest which it is. But as a matter of fact, few even of the cultivated members of the race have shared it; it was invented but a generation or two ago. In the middle ages it meant only impious magic; and the way in which it even now strikes orientals is charmingly shown in the letter of a Turkish cadi to an English traveller asking him for statistical information, which Sir A. Layard prints at the end of his 'Nineveh and Babylon.' The document is too full of edification not to be given in full.

It runs thus:

"My Illustrious Friend, and Joy of my Liver!

"The thing you ask of me is both difficult and useless. Although I have passed all my days in this place, I have neither counted the houses nor inquired into the number of the inhabitants; and as to what one person loads on his mules and the other stows away in the bottom of his ship, that is no business of mine. But, above all, as to the previous history of this city, God only knows the amount of dirt and confusion that the infidels may have eaten before the coming of the sword of Islam. It were unprofitable for us to inquire into it.

"O my soul! O my lamb! seek not after the things which concern thee not. Thou camest unto us and we welcomed thee: go in peace.

"Of a truth thou hast spoken many words and there is no harm done, for the speaker is one and the listener is another. After the fashion of thy people thou hast wandered from one place to another, until thou art happy and content in none. We (praise be to God) were born here, and never desire to quit it. Is it possible, then, that the idea of a general intercourse between mankind should make any impression on our understandings?

God forbid!

"Listen, O my son! There is no wisdom equal unto the belief in God! He created the world, and shall we liken ourselves unto Him in seeking to penetrate into the mysteries of His creation? Shall we say, Behold this star spinneth round that star, and this other star with a tail goeth and cometh in so many years! Let it go! He from whose hand it came will guide and direct it.

"But thou wilt say unto me, Stand aside, O man, for I am more learned than thou art, and have seen more things. If thou thinkest that thou art in this respect better than I am, thou art welcome. I praise God that I seek not that which I require not. Thou art learned in the things I care not for; and as for that which thou has seen, I spit upon it. Will much knowledge create thee a double belly, or wilt thou seek Paradise with thine eyes?

"O my friend! if thou wilt be happy, say, There is no God but God! Do no evil, and thus wilt thou fear neither man nor death; for surely thine hour will come!

"The meek in spirit (El Fakir)

[12] "Though a man in a fever should from sugar have a bitter taste which at another time would produce a sweet one, yet the idea of bitter in that man's mind would be as clear and distinct from the idea of sweet as if he had tasted only gall. Nor does it make any more confusion between the two ideas of sweet and bitter that the same sort of body produces at one time one and at another time another idea by the taste, than it makes a confusion in two ideas of white and sweet, or white and round, that the same piece of sugar produces them both in the mind at the same time." Locke's Essay, bk. II. ch. XI. § 3.

[13] Cf. Bradley, Logic, p. 226.

[14] This apprehension of them as forming a single system is what Mr. Bradley means by the act of construction which underlies all reasoning. The awareness, which then supervenes, of the additional relation of which I speak in the next paragraph of my text, is what this author calls the act of inspection. Cf. Principles of Logic, bk. II. pt. I. chap. III.

[15] Realities fall under this only so far as they prove to be the same. So far as they cannot be substituted for each other, for the purpose in hand, so far they are not the same; though for other purposes and in other respects they might be substituted, and then be treated as the same. Apart from purpose, of course; no realities ever are absolutely and exactly the same.

[16] A mind, in other words, which has got beyond the merely dichotomic style of thought which Wundt alleges to be the essential form of human thinking (Physiol. Psych., II. 312).

[17] Said to be expressed by Grassman in the fundamental Axiom of Arithmetic (a + b) + 1 = a + ( b + 1).

[18] Compare Helmholtz's more technically expressed Essay 'Zählen u. Messen,' in the Philosophische Aufsätze, Ed. Zeller gewidmet (Leipzig, 1887), p. 17.

[19] For the original statements, cf. J. S. Mill's Logic, bk. II. chap, VI. §§ 2, 3; and bk. III. chap. XXIV. § 5.

[20] The subdivision itself consumes none of the space. In all practical experience our subdivisions do consume space. They consume it in our geometrical figures. But for simplicity's sake, in geometry we postulate subdivisions which violate experience and consume none of it.

[21] Cf. A. de Morgan: Syllabus of a proposed System of Logic (1860), pp. 46-56.

[22] Cf. Locke's Essay, bk. II. chap. XVII § 6.

[23] Some readers may expect me to plunge into the old debate as to whether the a priori truths are 'analytic' or 'synthetic.' It seems to me that the distinction is one of Kant's most unhappy legacies, for the reason that it is impossible to make it sharp. No one will say that such analytic judgments as "equidistant lines can nowhere meet " are pure tautologies. The predicate is a somewhat new way of conceiving as well as of naming the subject. There is something 'ampliative' in our greatest truisms, our state of mind is richer after than before we have uttered them. This being the case, the question ''at what point does the new state of mind cease to be implicit in the old?" is too vague to be answered. The only sharp way of defining synthetic propositions would be to say that they express a relation between two data at least. But it is hard to find any proposition which cannot be construed as doing this. Even verbal definitions do it. Such painstaking attempts as that latest one by Mr. D. G. Thompson to prove all necessary judgments to be analytic (System of Psychology, II. pp. 232 ff.) seem accordingly but nugœ difficiles, and little better than wastes of ink and paper. All philosophic interest vanishes from the question, the moment one ceases to ascribe to any a priori truths (whether analytic or synthetic) that "legislative character for all possible experience" which Kant believed in. We ourselves have denied such legislative character, and contended that it was for experience itself to prove whether its data can or cannot be assimilated to those ideal terms between which a priori relations obtain. The analytic-synthetic debate is thus for us devoid of all significance. On the whole, the best recent treatment of the question known to me is in one of A. Spir's works, his Denken und Wirklichkeit, I think, but I cannot now find the page.

[24] Book IV. chaps, IX. §1; VII. 14.

[25] Chap. V. §§ 6, 8.

[26] Kant, by the way, made a strange tactical blunder in his way of showing that the forms of our necessary thought are underived from experience. He insisted on thought- forms with which experience largely agrees, forgetting that the only forms which could not by any possibility be the results of experience would be such as experience violated. The first thing a Kantian ought to do is to discover forms of judgment to which no order in 'things' runs parallel. These would indeed be features native to the mind. I owe this remark to Herr A. Spir, in whose 'Denken und Wirklichkeit' it is somewhere contained. I have myself already to some extent proceeded, and in the pages which follow shall proceed still farther, to show the originality of the mind's structure in this way.

[27] Yet even so late as Berkeley's time one could write: "As in reading other books a wise man will choose to fix his thoughts on the sense and apply it to use, rather than lay them out in grammatical remarks on the language: so in perusing the volume of nature methinks it is beneath the dignity of the mind to affect an exactness in reducing each particular phenomenon to general rules, or showing how it follows from them. We should propose to ourselves nobler views, namely, to recreate and exalt the mind with a prospect of the beauty, order, extent, and variety of natural things: hence, by proper inferences, to enlarge our notions of the grandeur, wisdom, and beneficence of the Creator," etc.,etc., etc. (Principles of Human Knowledge, § 109.)

[28] Die Erhaltung der Kraft (1847), pp. 2-6.

[29] Perhaps the most influential of all these postulates is that the nature of the world must be such that sweeping statements may be made about it.

[30] Consider, e.g., the use of the axioms 'nemo potest supra seipsum,' and 'nemo dat quod non habet,' in this refutation of 'Darwinism,' which I take from the much-used scholastic compendium of Logic and Metaphysics of Liberatore, 3d ed. (Rome, 1880): "Hæc hypothesis . . . aperte contradicit principiis Metaphysicæ, quæ docent essentias rerum esse immutabiles, et effectum non posse superare causam. Et sane, quando, juxta Darwin, species inferior se evolvit in superiorem, unde trahit maiorem illam nobilitatem? Ex ejus carentia. At nihil dat quod non habet; et minus gignere nequit plus, aut negatio positionem. Præterea in transformatione quæ fingitur, natura prioris speciei, servatur aut destruitur? Si primum, mutatio erit tantum accidentalis, qualem reapse videmus in diversis stirpibus animantium. Sin alterum asseritur, ut reapse fert hypothesis darwiniana, res tenderet ad seipsam destruendam; cum contra omnia naturaliter tendant ad sui conservationem, et nonnisi per actionem contrarii agentis corruant." It is merely a question of fact whether these ideally proper relations do or do not obtain between animal and vegetable ancestors and descendants. If they do not, what happens? simply this, that we cannot continue to class animal and vegetal facts under the kinds between which those ideal relations obtain. Thus, we can no longer call animal breeds by the name of 'species'; cannot call generating a kind of 'giving,' or treat a descendant as an 'effect' of his ancestor. The ideal scheme of terms and relations can remain, if you like; but it must remain purely mental, and without application to life, which 'gangs its ain gait' regardless of ideal schemes. Most of us, however, would prefer to doubt whether such abstract axioms as that 'a thing cannot tend to its own destruction' express ideal relations of an important sort at all.

[31] Compare A. Riehl: Der Philosophische Kriticismus, Bd. II. Thl. I. Abschn. I. Cap. III. § 6.

[32] As one example out of a thousand of exceptionally delicate idiosyncrasy in this regard, take this: "I must quit society. I would rather undergo twice the danger from beasts and ten times the danger from rocks. It is not pain, it is not death, that I dread, -- it is the hatred of a man; there is something in it so shocking that I would rather submit to any injury than incur or increase the hatred of a man by revenging it. . . . Another sufficient reason for suicide is that I was this morning out of temper with Mrs. Douglas (for no fault of hers). I did not betray myself in the least, but I reflected that to be exposed to the possibility of such an event once a year, was evil enough to render life intolerable. The disgrace of using an impatient word is to me overpowering." (Elton Hammond, quoted in Henry Crabb Robinson's Diary, vol. I. p. 424.)

[33] Compare H. Sidgwick, Methods of Ethics, bk. III. chap. XIII. § 3.

[34] A gentleman told me that he had a conclusive argument for opening the Harvard Medical School to women. It was this: "Are not women human?" -- which major premise of course had to be granted. "Then are they not entitled to all the rights of humanity?" My friend said that he had never met anyone who could successfully meet this reasoning.

[35] You reach the Mephistophelian point of view as well as the point of view of justice by treating cases as if they belonged rigorously to abstract classes. Pure rationalism, complete immunity from prejudice, consists in refusing to see that the case before one is absolutely unique. It is always possible to treat the country of one's nativity, the house of one's fathers, the bed in which one's mother died, nay, the mother herself if need be, on a naked equality with all other specimens of so many respective genera. It shows the world in a clear frosty light from which all fuliginous mists of affection, all swamp-lights of sentimentality, are absent. Straight and immediate action becomes easy then -- witness a Napoleon's or a Frederick's career. But the question always remains, "Are not the mists and vapors worth retaining?" The illogical refusal to treat certain concretes by the mere law of their genus has made the drama of human history. The obstinate insisting that tweedledum is not tweedledee is the bone and marrow of life. Look at the Jews and the Scots, with their miserable factions and sectarian disputes, their loyalties and patriotisms and exclusions, -- their annals now become a classic heritage, because men of genius took part and sang in them. A thing is important if any one think it important. The process of history consists in certain folks becoming possessed of the mania that certain special things are important infinitely, whilst other folks cannot agree in the belief. The Shah of Persia refused to be taken to the Derby Day, saying "It is already known to me that one horse can run faster than another." He made the question "which horse?" immaterial. Any question can be made immaterial by subsuming all its answers under a common head. Imagine what college ball-games and races would be if the teams were to forget the absolute distinctness of Harvard from Yale and think of both as One in the higher genus College. The sovereign road to indifference, whether to evils or to goods, lies in the thought of the higher genus. "When we have meat before us," says Marcus Aurelius, seeking indifference to that kind of good, "we must receive the impression that this is the dead body of a fish, and this is the dead body of a bird or of a pig; and again that this Falernian is only a little grape-juice, and this purple robe some sheep's wool dyed with the blood of a shell-fish. Such, then, are these impressions, and they reach the things themselves and penetrate them, and we see what kind of things they are. Just in the same way ought we to act through life, and where there are things which appear most worthy of our approbation, me ought to lay them bare and look at their worthlessness and strip them of all the words by which they are exalted." (Long's Translation, VI. 13.)

[36] "An sich, in seinem eignen Wesen, ist jedes reale Object mit sich selbst identisch und unbedingt " -- that is, the "allgemeinste Einsicht a priori," and the "allgemeinste aus Erfahrung" is "Alles erkennbare ist bedingt." (A. Spir: Denken und Wirklichkeit. Compare also Herbart and Hegel.)

[37] Philosophie Zoölogique, 3me partie, chap. v., 'de l'Instinct.'

[38] It should be said that Mr. Spencer's most formal utterance about instinct is in his Principles of Psychology, in the chapter under that name. Dr. Romanes has reformulated and criticised the doctrine of this chapter in his Mental Evolution in Animals, chapter XVII. I must confess my inability to state its vagueness in intelligible terms. It treats instincts as a further development of reflex actions, and as forerunners of intelligence, -- which is probably true of many. But when it ascribes their formation to the mere 'multiplication of experiences,' which, at first simple, mould the nervous system to 'correspond to outer relations' by simple reflex actions, and, afterwards complex, make it 'correspond' by 'compound reflex actions,' it becomes too mysterious to follow without more of a key than is given. The whole thing becomes perfectly simple if we suppose the reflex actions to be accidental inborn idiosyncrasies preserved.

[39] "This account of acquisitiveness differs from our own. Without denying the associationist account to be a true description of a great deal of our proprietary feeling, we admitted in addition an entirely primitive form of desire. (See above, p. 420 ff.) The reader must decide as to the plausibilities of the case. Certainly appearances are in favor of there being in us some cupidities quite disconnected with the ulterior uses of the things appropriated. The source of their fascination lies in their appeal to our æsthetic sense, and we wish thereupon simply to own them. Glittering, hard, metallic, odd, pretty things; curious things especially; natural objects that look as if they were artificial, or that mimic other objects, -- these form a class of things which human beings snatch at as magpies snatch rags. They simply fascinate us. What house does not contain some drawer or cupboard full of senseless odds and ends of this sort, with which nobody knows what to do, but which a blind instinct saves from the ash-barrel? Witness people returning from a walk on the sea-shore or in the woods, each carrying some lusus naturœ in the shape of stone or shell, or strip of bark or odd-shaped fungus, which litter the house and grow daily more unsightly, until at last reason triumphs over blind propensity and sweeps them away.

[40] Review of Bain in H. Spencer: Illustrations of Universal Progress (New York 1864), pp. 311, 315.

[41] Ribot: De 1'Hérédité, 2me éd. p. 26.

[42] Quoted (without reference) in Spencer's Biology, vol. I. p. 247.

[43] Expression of Emotions (N. Y.), p. 287.

[44] 'Adaptive' changes are those produced by the direct effect of outward conditions on an organ or organism. Sunburned complexion, horny hands, muscular toughness, are illustrations.

[45] For these and other facts cf. Th. Ribot: De l'Hérédité; W. B. Carpenter: Contemporary Review, vol. 21, p. 295, 779, 867; H. Spencer: Princ. of Biol. pt, II. ch. V, VIII, IX, X; pt. III. ch. XI, XII; C. Darwin: Animals and Plants under Domestication, ch. XII, XIII, XIV; Sam'l Butler: Life and Habit; T. A. Knight: Philos. Trans. 1837; E. Dupuy: Popular Science Monthly, vol. XI. p. 332; F. Papillon: Nature and Life, p. 330; Crothers, in Pop. Sci. M., Jan. (or Feb.) 1889.

[46] [Because, being exhibited by neuter insects, the effects of mere practice cannot accumulate from one generation to another.-- W. J.]

[47] Origin of Species, chap. VII.

[48] Princ. of Psychol., II. 561.

[49] Ibid. p. 623.

[50] Ueber die Vererbung (Jena, 1883). Prof. Weismann's Essays on Heredity have recently (1889) been published in English in a collected form.

[51] Best expressed in the Essay on the Continuitat des Keimplasmas (1855).