WE talk of man being the rational animal; and the traditional intellectualist philosophy has always made a great point of treating the brutes as wholly irrational creatures. Nevertheless, it is by no means easy to decide just what is meant by reason, or how the peculiar thinking process called reasoning differs from other thought-sequences which may lead to similar results.
Much of our thinking consists of trains of images suggested one by another, of a sort of spontaneous revery of which it seems likely enough that the higher brutes should be capable. This sort of thinking leads nevertheless to rational conclusions, both practical and theoretical. The links between the terms are either 'contiguity' or 'similarity,' and with a mixture of both these things we can hardly be very incoherent. As a rule, in this sort of irresponsible thinking, the terms which fall to be coupled together are empirical concretes, not abstractions. A sunset may call up the vessel's deck from which I saw one last summer, the companions of my voyage, my arrival into port, etc.; or, it may make me think of solar myths, of Hercules' and Hector's funeral pyres, of Homer and whether he could write, of the Greek alphabet, etc. If habitual contiguities dominate, we have a prosaic mind; if rare contiguities, similarities, have free play, we call the person fanciful, poetic, or witty. But the thought as a rule is of matters taken in their entirety. Having been thinking of one, we later that we are thinking of another, to which we have I lifted along, we hardly know how. If an abstract quality figures in the procession, it arrests our attention but for a moment, and fades into something else; and is never very abstract. Thus, in thinking of the sun-myths, we may have a gleam of admiration at the gracefulness of the primitive human mind, or a moment of disgust at the narrowness of modern interpreters. But, in the main, we think less of qualities than of whole things, real or possible, just as we may experience them.
The upshot of it may be that we are reminded of some practical duty: we write a letter to a friend abroad, or we take down the lexicon and study our Creek lesson. Our thought is rational, and leads to a rational act, but it can hardly be called reasoning in a strict sense of the term. There are other shorter flights of thought, single couplings of terms which suggest one another by association, which approach more to what would commonly be classed as acts of reasoning proper. Those are where a present sign suggests an unseen, distant, or future reality. Where the sign and what it suggests are both concretes which have been coupled together on previous occasions, the inference is common to both brutes and men, being really nothing more than association by contiguity. A and B, dinner-bell and dinner, have been experienced in immediate succession. Hence A no sooner falls upon the sense than B is anticipated, and steps are taken to meet it. The whole education of our domestic beasts, all the cunning added by age and experience to wild ones, and the greater part of our human knowingness consists in the ability to make a, mass of inferences of this simplest sort. Our 'perceptions,' or recognitions of what objects are before us, are inferences of this kind. 'We feel a patch of color, and we say' a distant house,' a whiff of odor crosses us, and we say 'a skunk,' a faint sound is heard, and we call it 'a railroad train.' Examples are needless; for such inferences of sensations not presented form the staple and tissue of our perceptive life, and our Chapter XIX was full of them, illusory or veracious. They have been called unconscious inferences . Certainly we are commonly unconscious that we are inferring at all. The sign and the signified melt into what seems' to us the object of a single pulse of thought. Immediate inferences would be a good name for these simple acts of reasoning requiring but two terms, 2 were it not that formal logic has already appropriated the expression for a more technical use.
In these first and simplest inferences the conclusion may follow so continuously upon the 'sign' that the latter is not discriminated or attended to as a separate object by the mind. Even now we can seldom define the optical signs which lead us to infer the shapes and distances of the objects which by their aid we so unhesitatingly perceive. The objects, too, when thus inferred, are general objects. The dog crossing a scent thinks of a deer in general, or of another dog in general, not of a particular deer or dog. To these most primitive abstract objects Dr. G. J. Romanes gives the name of recepts or generic ideas, to distinguish them from concepts and general ideas properly so called. 3 They are not analyzed or defined, but only imagined.
"It requires but a slight analysis of our ordinary mental processes to prove that all our simpler ideas are group-arrangements which have been formed spontaneously or without any of that intentionally comparing, sifting, and combining process which is required in the higher departments of ideational activity. The comparing, sifting, and combining is here done, as it were, for the conscious agent, not by him. Recepts are received; it is only concepts that require to be conceived. . . . If I am crossing a street and hear behind me a sudden shout, I do not require to wait in order to predicate to myself that there is probably a hansom-cab just about to ran me down: a cry of this kind, and in those circumstances, is so intimately associated in my mind with its purpose, that the idea which it arouses need not rise above the level of a recept; and the adaptive movements on my part which that idea immediately prompts are performed without any intelligent reflection. Yet, on the other hand, they are neither reflex actions nor instinctive actions; they are what may be termed receptual actions, or actions depending on recepts." 4
How far can this kind of unnamed or non-conceptional ideation extend?" Dr. Romanes asks; and answers by a variety of examples taken from the life of brutes, for which I must refer to his book. One or two of them, however, I Will quote:
"Houzeau writes that while crossing a wide and arid plain in Texas, his two dogs suffered greatly from thirst, and that between thirty and forty times they rushed down the hollows to search for water. The hollows were not valleys, and there were no trees in them, or any other difference in the vegetation; and as they were absolutely dry, there could have been no smell of damp earth. The dogs behaved as if they knew that a dip in the ground offered them the best chance of finding water, and Houzeau has often witnessed the same behavior in other animals. . . .
"Mr. Darwin writes: 'When I say to my terrier in an eager voice (and I have made the trial many times), "Hi! hi! where is it?" she at once takes it as a sign that something is to be hunted, and generally first looks quickly all round, and then rushes into the nearest thicket, to scout for any game, but finding nothing she looks up into any neighboring tree for a squirrel. Now do not these actions clearly show that she had in her mind a general idea, or concept, that some animal is to be discovered and hunted?’" 5
They certainly show this. But the idea in question is of an object about which nothing farther may be articulately known. The thought of it prompts to activity, but to no theoretic consequence. Similarly in the following example:
"Water-fowl adopt a somewhat different mode of alighting upon land, or even upon ice, from that which they adopt when alighting upon water; and those kinds which dive from a height (such as terns and gannets) never do so upon land or upon ice. These facts prove that the animals have one recept answering to a solid surface, and another answering to a fluid. Similarly a man will not dive from a height over hard ground or over ice, nor will he jump into water in the same way as he jumps upon dry land. In other words, like the water-fowl he has two distinct recepts, one of which answers to solid ground, and the other to an unresisting fluid. But unlike the water-fowl he is able to bestow upon each of these recepts a name, and thus to raise them both to the level of concepts. So far as the practical purposes of locomotion are concerned, it is of course immaterial whether or not he thus raises his recepts into concepts; but . . . for many other purposes it is of the highest importance that he is able to do this." 6
The chief of these purposes is predication, a theoretic function which, though it always leads eventually to some kind of action, yet tends as often as not to inhibit the immediate motor response to which the simple inferences of which we have been speaking give rise. In reasoning, I may suggest B; but B, instead of being an idea which is simply obeyed by us, is an idea which suggests the distinct additional idea C. And where the train of suggestion is one of reasoning distinctively so called as contrasted with mere revelry or 'associative’ sequence, the ideas bear certain inward relations to each other which we must proceed to examine with some care.
The result C yielded by a true act of reasoning is apt to be a thing voluntarily sought, such as the means to a proposed end, the ground for an observed effect, or the effect of an assumed cause. All these results may be thought of as concrete things, but they are not suggested immediately by other concrete things, as in the trains of simply associative thought. They are linked to the concretes which precede them by intermediate steps, and these steps are formed by general characters articulately denoted and expressly analyzed out. A thing inferred by reasoning need neither have been an habitual associate of the datum from which we infer it, nor need it be similar to it. It may be a thing entirely unknown to our previous experience, something which no simple association of concretes could ever have evoked. The great difference, in fact, between that simpler kind of rational thinking which consists in the concrete objects of past experience merely suggesting each other, and reasoning distinctively so called, is this, that whilst the empirical thinking is only reproductive, reasoning is productive. An empirical, or 'rule-of-thumb,' thinker can deduce nothing from data with whose behavior and associates in the concrete he is unfamiliar. But put a reasoner amongst a set of concrete objects which he has neither seen nor heard of before, and with a little time, if he is a good reasoner, he will make such inferences from them as will quite atone for his ignorance. Reasoning helps us out of unprecedented situations -- situations for which all our common associative wisdom, all the 'education' which we share in common with the beasts, leaves us without resource.
Let us make this ability to deal with NOVEL data the technical differentia of reasoning . This will sufficiently mark it out from common associative thinking, and will immediately enable us to say just what peculiarity it contains.
It contains analysis and abstraction . Whereas the merely empirical thinker stares at a fact in its entirety, and remains helpless, or gets 'stuck,' if it suggests no concomitant or similar, the reasoner breaks it up and notices some one of its separate attributes. This attribute he takes to be the essential part of the whole fact before him. This attribute has properties or consequences which the fact until then was not known to have, but which, now that it is noticed to contain the attribute, it must have.
Call the fact or concrete datum S;
the essential attribute M;
the attribute's property P.
Then the reasoned inference of P from S cannot be made without M's intermediation. The ‘essence' M is thus that third or middle term in the reasoning which a moment ago was pronounced essential. For his original concrete S the reasoner substitutes its abstract property, M . What is true of M, what is coupled with M, then holds true of S, is coupled with S. As M is properly one of the parts of the entire S, reasoning may then be very well defined as the substitution of parts and their implications or consequences for wholes. And the art of the reasoner will consist of two stages:
First, sagacity, 7 or the ability to discover what part, M, lies embedded in the whole S which is before him;
Second, learning, or the ability to recall promptly M's consequences, concomitants, or implications. 8
If we glance at the ordinary syllogism --
M is P;
S is M;
S is P
-- we see that the second or minor premise, the 'subsumption' as it is sometimes called, is the one requiring the sagacity; the first or major the one requiring the fertility, or fullness of learning. Usually the learning is more apt to be ready than the sagacity, the ability to seize fresh aspects in concrete things, being rarer than the ability to learn old rules; so that, in most actual cases of reasoning, the minor premise, or the way of conceiving the subject, is the one that makes the novel step in thought. This is, to be sure, not always the case; for the fact that M carries P with it may also be unfamiliar and now formulated for the first time.
The perception that S is M is a mode of conceiving S. The statement that M is P is an abstract or general proposition . A word about both is necessary.
When we conceive of S merely as M (of vermilion merely as a mercury-compound, for example), we neglect all the other attributes which it may have, and attend exclusively to this one. We mutilate the fulness of S's reality. Every reality has an infinity of aspects or properties. Even so simple a fact as a line which you trace in the air may be considered in respect to its form, its length, its direction, and its location. When we reach more complex facts, the number of ways in which we may regard them is literally endless. Vermilion is not only a mercury-compound, it is vividly red, heavy, and expensive, it comes from China, and so on, in infinitum . All objects are well-springs of properties, which are only little by little developed to our knowledge, and it is truly said that to know one thing thoroughly would be to know the whole universe. Mediately or immediately, that one thing is related to everything else; and to know all about it, all its relations need be known. But each relation forms one of its attributes, one angle by which some one may conceive it, and while so conceiving it may ignore the rest of it, ii man is such a complex fact. But out of the complexity all that an army commissary picks out as important for his purposes is his property of eating so many pounds a day; the general, of marching so many miles; the chair-maker, of having such a, shape; the orator, of responding to such and such feelings; the theatre-manager, of being willing to pay just such a price, and no more, for an evening's amusement. Each of these persons singles out the particular side of the entire man which has a bearing on his concerns, and not till this side is distinctly and separately conceived can the proper practical conclusions for that reasoner be drawn; and when they are drawn the man's other attributes may be ignored.
All ways of conceiving a concrete fact, if they are true ways at all, are equally true ways. There is no property ABSOLUTELY essential to any one thing . The same property which figures as the essence of a thing on one occasion becomes a very inessential feature upon another. Now that I am writing, it is essential that I conceive my paper as a surface for inscription. If I failed to do that, I should have to stop my work. But if I wished to light a, fire, and no other materials were by the essential way of conceiving the paper would be as combustible material; and I need then have no thought of any of its other destinations. It is really all that it is: a combustible, a writing surface, a thin thing, a hydrocarbonaceous thing, a thing eight inches one way and ten another, a thing just one furlong east of a certain stone in my neighbor's field, an American thing, etc., etc., ad infinitum . Whichever one of these aspects of its being I temporarily class it under, makes me unjust to the other aspects. But tie I always am classing it under one aspect or another, I am always unjust, always partial, always exclusive. My excuse is necessity -- the necessity which my finite and practical nature lays upon me. My thinking is first and last and always for the sake of my doing, and I can only do one thing at a time. A God, who is supposed to drive the whole universe abreast, may also be supposed, without detriment to his activity, to see all parts of it at once and without emphasis. But were our human attention so to disperse itself we should simply stare vacantly at things at large and forfeit our opportunity of doing any particular act. Mr. Warner, in his Adirondack story, shot a beer by aiming, not at his eye or heart, but 'at him gen- erally.' But we cannot aim 'generally' at the universe; or if we do, we miss our game. Our scope is narrow, and we must attack things piecemeal, ignoring the solid fulness in which the elements of Nature exist, and stringing one after another of them together in a serial way, to suit our little interests as they change from hour to hour. In this, the partiality of one moment is partly atoned for by the different sort of partiality of the next. To me now, writing these words, emphasis and selection seem to be the essence of the human mind. In other chapters other qualities have seemed, and will again seem, more important parts of psychology.
Men are so ingrained partial that, for common-sense and scholasticism (which is only common-sense grown articulate), the notion that there is no one quality genuinely, absolutely, and exclusively essential to anything is almost unthinkable. "B thing's essence makes it what it is. Without an exclusive essence it would be nothing in particular, would be quite nameless, we could not say it was this rather than that. What you write on, for example, -- why talk of its being combustible, rectangular, and the like, when you know that these are mere accidents, and that what it really is, and was made to be, is just paper and nothing else?" The reader is pretty sure to make some such comment as this. But he is himself merely insisting on an aspect of the thing which suits his own petty purpose, that of naming the thing; or else on an aspect which suits the manufacturer's purpose, that of producing an article for which there is a vulgar demand. Meanwhile the reality overflows these purposes at every pore. Our usual purpose with it, our commonest title for it, and the properties which this title suggests, have in reality nothing sacramental. They characterize us more than they characterize the thing. But we are so stuck in our prejudices, so petrified intellectually, that to our vulgarest names, with their suggestions, we ascribe an eternal and exclusive worth. The thing must be, essentially, what the vulgarest name connotes; what less usual names connote, it can be only in an 'accidental’ and relatively unreal sense. 9
Locke undermined the fallacy. But none of his successors, so far as I know, have radically escaped it, or seen that the only meaning of essence is teleological, and that classification and conception are purely teleological weapons of the mind . The essence of a thing is that one of its properties which is so important for my interests that in comparison with it I may neglect the rest. Amongst those other things which have this important property I class it, after this property I name it, as a thing endowed with this property I conceive it; and whilst so classing, naming, and conceiving it, all other truth about it becomes to me as naught. 10 The properties which are important vary from man to man and from hour to hour. 11 Hence clivers appellations and conceptions for the same thing. But many objects of daily use -- as paper, ink, butter, horse-car -- have properties of such constant unwavering importance, and have such stereotyped names, that we end by believing that to conceive them in those ways is to conceive them in the only true way. Those are no truer ways of conceiving them than any others; they are only more important ways, more frequently serviceable ways. 12
So much for what is implied, when the reasoner conceives of the fact S before him as a case of which the essence is to be M. One word now as to what is involved in M's having properties, consequences, or implications, and we can go back to the study of the reasoning process again.
M is not a, concrete, or 'self-sufficient,' as Mr. Clay would say. It is an abstract character which may exist, embedded with other characters, in many concretes. Whether it be the character of being a writing surface, of being made in America or China, of being eight inches square, or of being in a certain part of space, this is always true of it. Now we might conceive of this being a world in which all such general characters were independent of each other, so that if any one of them were found in a subject S, we never could be sure what others would be found alongside of it. On one occasion there might be P with M, on another Q, and so on. In such a world there would be no generic sequences or coexistences, and no universal laws. Each grouping would be sui generis; from the experience of the past no future could be predicted; and reasoning, as we shall presently see, would be an impossibility.
But the world we live in is not one of this sort. Though many general characters seem indifferent to each other, there remain a number of them which affect constant habits of mutual concomitance or repugance. They involve or imply each other. One of them is a sign to us that the other will be found. They hunt in couples, as it were; and such a proposition as that M is P, or includes P, or precedes or accompanies P, if it prove to be true in one instance, may very likely be true in every other instance which we meet. This is, in fact, a, world in which general laws obtain, in which universal propositions are true, and in which reasoning is therefore possible. Fortunately for us: for since we cannot handle things as wholes, but only by conceiving them through some general character which for the time we call their essence, it would be a great pity if the matter ended there, and if the general character, once picked out and in our possession, helped us to no farther advance. In Chapter XXVIII we shall have again to consider this harmony between our reasoning faculty and the world in which its lot is cast 13
To revert now to our symbolic representation of the reasoning process:
S is P
S is M
S is P
M is discerned and picked out for the time being to be the essence of the concrete fact, phenomenon, or reality, S. But M in this world of ours is inevitably conjoined with P; so that P is the next thing that we may expect to find conjoined with the fact S. We may conclude or infer P, through the intermediation of the M which our sagacity began by discerning, when S came before it, to be the essence of the ease.
Now note that if P have any value or importance for us, M was a very good character for our sagacity to pounce upon and abstract. If, on the contrary, P were of no importance, some other character than M would have been a better essence for us to conceive of S by. Psychologically, as a rule, P overshadows the process from the start. We are seeking P, or something like P. But the bare totality of S does not yield it to our gaze; and casting about for some point in S to take hold of, which will lead us to P, we hit, if we are sagacious, upon M, because M happens to be just the character which is knit up with P. Had we wished instead of P, and were N a property of S conjoined with Q, we ought to have ignored M, noticed N, and conceived of S as a sort of N exclusively.
Reasoning is always for a subjective interest, to attain some particular conclusion, or to gratify some special curiosity. It not only breaks up the datum placed before it and conceives it abstractly; it must conceive it rightly too; and conceiving it rightly means conceiving it by that one particular abstract character which leads to the one sort of conclusion which it is the reasoner's temporary interest to attain. 14
The results of reasoning may be hit upon by accident. The stereoscope was actually a result of reasoning; it is conceivable, however, that a man playing with pictures and mirrors might accidentally have hit upon it. Cats have been known to open doors by pulling latches, etc. But no cat, if the latch got out of order, could open the door again, unless some new accident of random fumbling taught her to associate some new total movement with the total phenomenon of the closed door. A reasoning man, however, would open the door by first analyzing the hindrance. He would ascertain what particular feature of the door was wrong. The lever, e.g., does not raise the latch sufficiently from-its slot-case of insufficient elevation-raise door bodily on hinges! Or door sticks at top by friction against lintel -- press it bodily down! Now it is obvious that a child or an idiot might without this reasoning learn the rule for opening that particular door. I remember a clock which the maid-servant had discovered would not go unless it were supported so as to tilt slightly forwards. She had stumbled on this method after many weeks of groping. The reason of the stoppage was the friction of the pendulum-bob against the back of the clock-case, a reason which an educated man would have analyzed out in five minutes. I have a student's lamp of which the flame vibrates most unpleasantly unless the collar which bears the chimney be raised about a sixteenth of an inch. I learned the remedy after much torment by accident, and now always keep the collar up with a small wedge. But my procedure is a mere association of two totals, diseased object and remedy. One learned in pneumatics could have named the cause of the disease, and thence inferred the remedy immediately. By many measurements of triangles one might find their area always equal to their height multiplied by half their base, and one might formulate an empirical law to that effect. But a reasoner saves himself all this trouble by seeing that it is the essence ( pro hac vice ) of a triangle to be the half of a parallelogram whose area is tile height into the entire base. To see this he must invent additional lines; and the geometer must often draw such to get at the essential property he may require in a figure. The essence consists in some relation of the figure to the new lines, a relation not obvious at all until they are put in. The geometer's sagacity lies in the invention of the new lines.
First, an extracted character is taken as equivalent to the entire document from which it comes; and,
Second, the character thus taken suggests a certain consequence more obviously than it was suggested by the total datum as it originally came . Take them again, successively.
1. Suppose I say, when offered a piece of cloth, "I won’t buy that; it looks as if it would fade," meaning merely that something about it suggests the idea of fading to my mind, -- my judgment, though possibly correct, is not reasoned, but purely empirical; but, if I can say that into the color there enters a certain dye which I know to be chemically unstable, and that therefore the color will fade, my judgment is reasoned. The notion of the dye which is one of the parts of the cloth, is the connecting link between the latter and the notion of fading. So, again, an uneducated man will expect from past experience to see a piece of ice melt if placed near the fire, and the tip of his finger look coarse if he views it through a, convex glass. In neither of these cases could the result be anticipated without full previous acquaintance with the entire phenomenon. It is not a result of reasoning.
But a man who should conceive heat as a mode of motion, and liquefaction as identical with increased motion of molecules; who should know that curved surfaces bend light-rays in special ways, and that the apparent size of anything is connected with the amount of the 'bend' of its light-rays as they enter the eye, -- such a man would make the right inferences for all these objects, even though he had never in his life had any concrete experience of them; and he would do this because the ideas which we have above supposed him to possess would mediate in his mind between the phenomena he starts with and the conclusions he draws. But these ideas or reasons for his conclusions are all mere extracted portions or circumstances singled out from the mass of characters which make up the entire phenomena. The motions which form heat, the bending of the light-waves, are, it is true, excessively recondite ingredients; the hidden pendulum I spoke of above is less so; and the sticking of a door on its sill in the earlier example would hardly be so at all. But each and all agree in this, that they bear a more evident relation to the conclusion than did the immediate data in their full totality. The difficulty is, in each case, to extract front the immediate data that particular ingredient which shall have this very evident relation to the conclusion. Every phenomenon or so-called 'fact' has an infinity of aspects or properties, as we have seen, amongst which the fool, or man with little sagacity, will inevitably go astray. But no matter for this point now. The first thing is to have seen that every possible case of reasoning involves the extraction of a particular partial aspect of the phenomena thought about, and that whilst Empirical Thought simply associates phenomena in their entirety, Reasoned Thought couples them by the conscious use of this extract.
2. And, now, to prove the second point: Why are the couplings, consequences, and implications of extracts more evident and obvious than those of entire phenomena? For two reasons.
First, the extracted characters are more general than the concretes, and the connections they may have are, therefore, more familiar to us, having been more often met in our experience. Think of heat as motion, and whatever is true of motion will be true of heat; but we have had a hundred experiences of motion for every one of heat. Think of the rays passing through this lens as bending towards the perpendicular, and you substitute for the comparatively unfamiliar lens the very familiar notion of a particular change in direction of a line, of which notion everyday brings us countless examples.
The other reason why the relations of the extracted characters are so evident is that their properties are so few, compared with the properties of the whole, from which we derived them. In every concrete total the characters and their consequences are so inexhaustibly numerous that we may lose our way among them before noticing the particular consequence it behooves us to draw. But, if we are lucky enough to single out the proper character, we take in, as it were, by a single glance all its possible consequences. Thus the character of scraping the sill has very few suggestions, prominent among which is the suggestion that the scraping will cease if we raise the door; whilst the entire refractory door suggests an enormous number of notions to the mind.
Take another example. I am sitting in a railroad-car, waiting for the train to start. It is winter, and the stove fills the car with pungent smoke. The brakeman enters, and my neighbor asks him to "stop that stove smoking." He replies that it will stop entirely as soon as the car begins to move. "Why so?" asks the passenger. "It always does," replies the brakeman. It is evident from this ‘always’ that the connection between car moving and smoke stopping was a purely empirical one in the brake-man's mind, bred of habit. But, if the passenger had been an acute reasoner, he, with no experience of what that stove always did, might have anticipated the brakeman's reply, and spared his own question. Had he singled out of all the numerous points involved in a stove's not smoking the one special point of smoke pouring freely out of the stove-pipe’s mouth, he would, probably, owing to the few associations of that idea, have been immediately reminded of the law that a fluid passes more rapidly out of a pipe's mouth if another fluid be at the saline time streaming over that mouth; and then the rapid draught of air over the stove-pipe's mouth, which is one of the points involved in the car's motion, would immediately have occurred to him. Thus a couple of extracted characters, with a couple of their few and obvious connections, would have formed the reasoned link in the passenger's mind between the phenomena, smoke stopping and car moving, which were only linked as wholes in the brakeman's mind. Such examples may seem trivial, but they contain the essence of the most refined and transcendental theorizing. The reason why physics grows more deductive the more the fundamental properties it assumes are of a mathematical sort, such as molecular mass or wave-length, is that the immediate consequences of these notions are so few that we can survey them all at once, and promptly pick out those which concern us.
To reason, then, we must be able to extract characters, -- not any characters, but the right characters for our conclusion. If we extract the wrong character, it will not lead to that conclusion. Here, then, is the difficulty: How are characters extracted, and why does it require the advent of a genius in many cases before the fitting character is brought to light? Why cannot anybody reason as well as anybody else? Why does it need a Newton to notice tile law of the squares, a Darwin to notice the survival of the fittest? To answer these questions we must begin a new research, and see how our insight into facts naturally grows.
All our knowledge at first is vague. When we say that a thing is vague, we mean that it has no subdivisions ab intra, nor precise limitations ab extra; but still all the forms of thought may apply to it. It may have unity, reality, externality, extent, and what not -- thinghood, in a word, but thinghood only as a, whole. 15 In this vague way, probably, does the room appear to the babe who first begins to be conscious of it as something other than his moving nurse. It has no subdivisions in his mind, unless, perhaps, the window is able to attract his separate notice. In this vague way, certainly, does every entirely new experience appear to the adult. A library, a museum, a machine-shop, are mere confused wholes to the uninstructed, but the machinist, the antiquary, and the bookworm perhaps hardly notice the whole at all, so eager are they to pounce upon the details. Familiarity has in them bred discrimination. Such vague terms as 'grass,' 'mould,' and 'meat' do not exist for the botanist or the anatomist. They know too much about grasses, moulds, and muscles. A certain person said to Charles Kingsley, who was showing him the dissection of a caterpillar, with its exquisite viscera, "Why, thought it was nothing but skin and squash!" A layman present at a shipwreck, a battle, or a fire is helpless. Discrimination has been so little awakened in him by experience that his consciousness leaves no single point of the complex situation accented aud [sic] standing out for him to begin to act upon. But the sailor, the fireman, and the general know directly at what corner to take up the business. They 'see into the situation --that is, they analyze it -- with their first glance. It is full of delicately differenced ingredients which their education has little by little brought to their consciousness, but of which the novice gains no clear idea.
How this power of analysis was brought about we saw in our chapters on Discrimination and Attention. We dissociate the elements of originally vague totals by attending to them or noticing them alternately, of course. But what determines which element we shall attend to first? There are two immediate and obvious answers: first, our practical or instinctive interests; and, second, our æsthetic interests. The dog singles out of any situation its smells, and the horse its sounds, because they may reveal facts of practical moment, and are instinctively exciting to these several creatures. The infant notices the candle-flame or the window, and ignores the rest of the room, because those objects give him a vivid pleasure. So, the country boy dissociates the blackberry, the chestnut, and the wintergreen, from the vague mass of other shrubs and trees, for their practical uses, and the savage is delighted with the beads, the bits of looking-glass, brought by an exploring vessel, and gives no heed to the features of the vessel itself, which is too much beyond his sphere. These æsthetic and practical interests, then, are the weightiest factors in making particular ingredients stand out in high relief. What they lay their accent on, that we notice; but what they are in themselves, we cannot say. We must content ourselves here with simply accepting them as irreducible ultimate factors in determining the way our knowledge grows.
Now, a creature which has few instinctive impulses, or interests, practical or æsthetic, will dissociate few characters, and will, at best, have limited reasoning powers; whilst one whose interests are very varied will reason much better. Man, by his immensely varied instincts, practical wants, and aesthetic feelings, to which every sense contributes, would, by dint of these alone, be sure to dissociate vastly more characters than any other animal; and accordingly we had that the lowest savages reason incomparably better than the highest brutes. The diverse interests lead, too, to a diversification of experiences, whose accumulation becomes a condition for the play of that law of dissociation by varying concomitants of which I treated in a former chapter (see Vol I. p. 506).
The Help given by Association by Similarity.
It is probable, also, that man's superior association by similarity has much to do with those discriminations of character on which his higher flights of reasoning are based. As this latter is an important matter, and as little or nothing was said of it in the chapter on Discrimination, it behooves me to dwell a little upon it here.
That does the reader do when he wishes to see in what the precise likeness or difference of two objects lies? He transfers his attention as rapidly as possible, backwards and forwards, from one to the other. The rapid alteration in consciousness shakes out, as it were, the points of difference or agreement, which would have slumbered forever unnoticed if the consciousness of the objects compared had occurred at widely distant periods of time. What does the scientific man do who searches for the reason or law embedded in a phenomenon? He deliberately accumulates all the instances he can and which have any analogy to that phenomenon; and by simultaneously filling his mind with them all, he frequently succeeds in detaching from the collection the peculiarity which he was unable to formulate in one alone; even though that one had been preceded in his former experience by all of those with which he now at once confronts it. These examples show that the mere general fact of having occurred at some time in one's experience, with varying concomitants, is not by itself a sufficient reason for a character to be dissociated now. We need something more; we need that the varying concomitants should in all their variety be brought into consciousness at once . Not till then will the character in question escape from its adhesion to each and all of them and stand alone. This will immediately be recognized by those who have read Mill's Logic as the ground of Utility in his famous 'four methods of experimental inquiry,' the methods of agreement, of difference, of residues, and of concomitant variations. Each of these gives a list of analogous instances out of the midst of which a sought-for character may roll and strike the mind.
Now it is obvious that any mind in which association by similarity is highly developed is a mind which will spontaneously form lists of instances like this. Take a present case A, with a character m in it. The mind may fail at first to notice this character m at all. But if A calls up C, D, E, and F, -- these being phenomena which resemble A in possessing m, but which may not have entered for months into the experience of the animal who now experiences A, why, plainly, such association performs the part of the reader's deliberately rapid comparison referred to above, and of the systematic consideration of like cases by the scientific investigator, and may lead to the noticing of m in an abstract way. Certainly this is obvious; and no conclusion is left to us but to assert that, after the few most powerful practical and æsthetic interests, our chief help towards noticing those special characters of phenomena, which, when once possessed and named, are used as reasons, class names, essences, or middle terms, is this association by similarity . Without it, indeed, the deliberate procedure of the scientific man would be impossible: he could never collect his analogous instances. But it operates of itself in highly-gifted minds without any deliberation, spontaneously collecting analogous instances, uniting in a moment whet in nature the whole breadth of space and time keeps separate, and so permitting a, perception of identical points in the midst of different circumstances, which minds governed wholly by the law of contiguity could never begin to attain.
Figure 80 shows this. If m, in the present representation A, calls up B, C, D, and E, which are similar to A in possessing it, and calls them up in rapid succession, then m, being associated almost simultaneously with such varying concomitants, will ‘roll out' and attract our separate notice.
If so much is clear to the reader, he will be willing to admit that the mind in which this mode of association most prevails will, from its better opportunity of extricating characters, be the one most prone to reasoned thinking; whilst, on the other hand, a mind in which we do not detect reasoned thinking will probably be one in which association by contiguity holds almost exclusive sway.
Geniuses are, by common consent, considered to differ from ordinary minds by an unusual development of association by similarity. One of Professor Bain's best strokes of work is the exhibition of this truth. 16 It applies to geniuses in the line of reasoning as well as in other lines. And as the genius is to the vulgarian, so the vulgar human mind is to the intelligence of a brute. Compared with men, it is probable that brutes neither attend to abstract characters, nor have associations by similarity. Their thoughts probably pass from one concrete object to its habitual concrete successor far more uniformly than is the case with us. In other words, their associations of ideas are almost exclusively by contiguity. It will clear up still farther our understanding of the reasoning process, if we devote a few pages to
I will first try to show, by taking the best stories I can find of animal sagacity, that the mental process involved may as a rule be perfectly accounted for by mere contiguous association, based on experience. Mr. Darwin, in his ‘Descent of Man,' instances the Arctic dogs, described by Dr. Hayes, who scatter, when drawing a sledge, as soon as the ice begins to crack. This might be called by some an exercise of reason. The test would be, Would the most intelligent Eskimo dogs that ever lived act so when placed upon ice for the first time together? A band of men from the tropics might do so easily. Recognizing cracking to be a sign of breaking, and seizing immediately the partial character that the point of rupture is the point of greatest strain, and that the massing of weight at a given point concentrates there the strain, a, Hindoo might quickly infer that scattering would stop the cracking, and, by crying out to his comrades to disperse, save the party from immersion. But in the dog's case we need only suppose that they have individually experienced wet skins after cracking, that they have often noticed cracking to begin when they were huddled together, and that they have observed it to cease when they scattered. Naturally, therefore, the sound would redintegrate all these former experiences, including that of scattering, which latter they would promptly renew. It would be a case of immediate suggestion or of that 'Logic of Recepts' as Mr. Romanes calls it, of which we spoke above on p. 327.
A friend of the writer gave as a proof of the almost human intelligence of his dog that he took him one day down to his boat on the shore, but found the boat full of dirt and water. He remembered that the sponge was up at the house, a third of at mile distant; but, disliking to go back himself, he made various gestures of wiping out the boat and so forth, saying to his terrier, "Sponge, sponge; go fetch the sponge." But he had little expectation of a result, since the dog had never received the slightest training with the boat or the sponge. Nevertheless, off he trotted to the house, and, to his owner's great surprise and admiration, brought the sponge in his jaws. Sagacious as this was, it required nothing but ordinary contiguous association of ideas. The terrier was only exceptional in the minuteness of his spontaneous observation. Most terriers would have taken no interest in the boat-cleaning operation, nor noticed what the sponge was for. This terrier, in having picked those details out of the crude mass of his best-experience distinctly enough to be reminded of them, was truly enough ahead of his peers on the line which leads to human reason. But his act was not yet an act of reasoning proper. It might fairly have been called so if, unable to find the sponge at the house, he had brought back a dipper or a mop instead. Such a substitution would have shown that, embedded in the very different appearances of these articles, he had been able to discriminate the identical partial attri- bute of capacity to take up water, and had reflected, "For the present purpose they are identical." This, which the dog did not do, any man but the very stupidest could not fail to do.
If the reader will take the trouble to analyze the best dog and elephant stories he knows, he will find that, in most cases, this simple contiguous calling up of one whole by another is quite sufficient to explain the phenomena. Sometimes, it is true, we have to suppose the recognition of a property or character as such, but it is then always a character which the peculiar practical interests of the animal may have singled out. A dog, noticing his master's hat on its peg, may possibly infer that he has not gone out. Intelligent dogs recognize by the tone of the master's voice whether the latter is angry or not. A dog will perceive whether you have kicked him by accident or by design, and behave accordingly. The character inferred by him, the particular mental state in you, however it be represented in his mind -- it is represented probably by a 'recept' (p. 327) or set of practical tendencies, rather than by a definite concept or ideal -- is still a partial character extracted from the totality of your phenomenal being, and is his reason for crouching and skulking, or playing with you. Dogs, moreover, seem to have the feeling of the value of their master’s personal property, or at least a, particular interest in objects which their master uses. A dog left with his master's coat will defend it, though never taught to do so. I know of a dog accustomed to swim after sticks in the water, but who always refused to dive for stones. Nevertheless, when a fish-basket, which he had never been trained to carry, but merely knew as his master's, fell over, he immediately dived after it and brought it up. Dogs thus discern, at any rate so far as to be able to act, this partial character of being valuable, which lies hidden in certain things. 17 Stories are told of dogs carrying coppers to pastry-cooks to get buns, and it is said that a certain dog, if he gave two coppers, would never leave without two buns. This was probably mere contiguous association, but it is possible that the animal noticed the character of duality, and identified it as the same in the coin and the cake. If so, it is the maximum of canine abstract thinking. Another story told to the writer is this a dog was sent to a lumber-camp to fetch a wedge, with which he was known to be acquainted. After half an hour, not returning, he was sought and found biting and tugging at the handle of an axe which was driven deeply into a stump. The wedge could not be found. The teller of the story thought that the dog must have had a, clear perception of the common character of serving to split which was involved in both the instruments, and, from their identity in this respect, inferred their identity for the purposes required.
It cannot be denied that this interpretation is a possible one, but it seems to me far to transcend the limits of ordinary canine abstraction. The property in question was not one which had direct personal interest for the dog, such as that of belonging to his master is in the case of the coat or the basket. If the dog in the sponge story had returned to the boat with a dipper it would have been no more remarkable. It seems more probable, therefore, that this wood-cutter's dog had also been accustomed to carry the axe, and now, excited by the vain hunt for the wedge, had discharged his carrying powers upon the former instrument in a sort of confusion -- just as a man may pick up a sieve to carry water in, in the excitement of putting out a fire. 18
Thus, then, the characters extracted by animals are very few, and always related to their immediate interests or emotions. That dissociation by varying concomitants, which in man is based so largely on association by similarity, hardly seems to take place at all in the mind of brutes. One total thought suggests to them another total thought, and they and themselves acting with propriety, they know not why. The great, the fundamental, defect of their minds seems to be the inability of their groups of ideas to break across in unaccustomed places. They are enslaved to routine, to cut-and-dried thinking; and if the most prosaic of human beings could be transported into his dog's mind, he would be appalled at the utter absence of fancy which reigns there. 19 Thoughts will not be found to call up their similars, but only their habitual successors. Sunsets will not suggest heroes' deaths, but supper-time. This is why man is the only metaphysical animal. To wonder why the universe should be as it is presupposes the notion of its being different, and a brute, which never reduces the actual to fluidity by breaking up its literal sequences in his imagination, can never form such a notion. He takes the world simply for granted, and never wonders at it at all.
Professor Strümpell quotes a dog-story which is probably a type of many others. The feat performed looks like abstract reasoning; but an acquaintance with all the circumstances show it to have been a random trick learned by habit. The story is as follows:
"I have two dogs, a small, long-legged pet dog and a rather large watch-dog. Immediately beyond the house-court is the garden, into which one enters through a low lattice-gate which is closed by a latched on the yard-side. This latch is opened by lifting it. Besides this, moreover, the gate is fastened on the garden-side by a string nailed to the gate-post. Here, as often as one wished, could the following sight be observed. If the little dog was shut in the garden and he wished to get out, he placed himself before the gate and barked. Immediately the large dog in the court would hasten to him and raise the latch with his nose while the little dog on the garden-side leaped up and, catching the string in his teeth, bit it through; whereupon the big one wedged his snout between the gate and the post, pushed the gate open, and the little dog slipped through. Certainty reasoning seems here to prevail. In face of it, however, and although the dogs arrived of themselves, and without human aid, at their solution of the gate question, I am able to point out that the complete action was pieced together out of accidental experiences which the dogs followed, I might say, unconsciously. While the large dog was young, he was allowed, like the little one, to go into the garden, and therefore the gate was usually not latched, but simply closed. Now if he saw anyone go in, he would follow by thrusting his snout between gate and post, and so pushing the gate open. When he was grown I forbade his being taken in, and had the gate kept latched. But he naturally still tried to follow when anyone entered and tried in the old fashion to open it, which he could no longer do. Now it fell out that once, while making the attempt, he raised his nose higher than usual and hit the latch from he low so as to lift it off its hook, and the gate unclosed. From thenceforth he made the same movement of the head when trying to open it, and, of course, with the same result. He now knew how to open the gate when it was latched. "The little dog had been the large one's teacher in many things, especially in the chasing of cats and the catching of mice and moles; so when the little one was heard barking eagerly, the other always hastened to him. If the barking came from the garden, he opened the gate to get inside. But meanwhile the little dog, who wanted to get out the moment the gate opened, slipped out between the big one's legs, and so the appearance of his having come with the intention of letting him out arose. And that it was simply an appearance transpired from the fact that when the little dog did not succeed at once in getting out, the large one ran in and nosed about the garden, plainly showing that he had expected to find something there. In order to stop this opening of the gate I fastened a string on the garden-side which, tightly drawn, held the gate firm against the post, so that if the yard dog raised the latch and let go, it would every time fall back on to the book. And this device was successful for quite a time, until it happened one day that on my return from a walk upon which the little dog had accompanied me I crossed the garden, and in passing through the gate the dog remained behind, and refused to come to my whistle. As it was beginning to rain, and I knew how he disliked to get wet, I closed the gate in order to punish him in this manner. But I had hardly reached the house ere he was before the gate, crying and crying most piteously, for the rain was falling faster and faster. The big dog, to whom the rain was a matter of perfect indifference, was instantly on hand and tried his utmost to open the gate, but naturally without success. Almost in despair the little dog bit at the Rate, at the same time springing into the air in the attempt to jump over it, when he chanced to catch the string in his teeth; it broke, and the gate flew open. Now he knew the secret and thenceforth bit the string whenever he wished to get out, so that I was obliged to change it.
"That the big dog in raising the latch did not in the least know, that the latch closed the gate, that the raising of the same opened it, but that he merely repeated the automatic blow with his snout which had once had such happy consequences, transpires from the following: the gate leading to the barn is fastened with a latch precisely like the one on the garden-gate, only placed a little higher, still easily within the dog’s reach. Here, too, occasionally the little dog is confined, and when he barks the big one makes every possible effort to open the gate, hut it has never occurred to him to push the latch up. The brute cannot draw conclusions, that is, he cannot think." 20
Other classical differentiæ of man besides that of being the only reasoning animal, also seem consequences of his unrivalled powers of similar association. He has, e.g., been called ‘the laughing animal.' But humor has often been defined as the recognition of identities in things different. When the man in Coriolanus says of that hero that "there is no more mercy in him than there is milk in a male tiger," both the invention of the phrase and its enjoyment by the hearer depend on a peculiarly perplexing power to associate ideas by similarity.
Man is known again as 'the talking animal'; and language is assuredly a capital distinction between man and brute. But it may readily be shown how this distinction merely shows from those we have pointed out, easy dissociation of a representation into its ingredients, and association by similarity.
Language is a system of signs, different from the things signified, but able to suggest them.
No doubt brutes have a number of such signs. When a dog yelps in front of a door, and his master, understanding his desire, opens it, the dog may, after a certain number of repetitions, get to repeat in cold blood a yelp which was at first the involuntary interjectional expression of strong emotion. The same dog may be taught to ‘beg' for food, and afterwards come to do so deliberately when hungry. The dog also learns to understand the signs of men, and the word 'rat' uttered to a terrier suggests exciting thoughts of the rat-hunt. If the dog had the varied impulse to vocal utterance which some other animals have, he would probably repeat the word 'rat' whenever he spontaneously happened to think of a rat-hunt-he no doubt does hare it as an auditory image, just as a parrot calls out different words spontaneously from its repertory, and having learned the name of a given dog will utter it on the sight of a different dog. In each of these separate cases the particular sign may be consciously noticed by the animal, as distinct from the particular thing signified, and will thus, so far as it goes, be a true manifestation of language. But when we come to man we find a great difference. He has a deliberate intention to apply a sign to everything . The linguistic impulse is with him generalized and systematic. For things hitherto unnoticed or unfelt, he desires a sign before he has one. Even though the dog should possess his ‘yelp’ for this thing, his 'beg' for that, and his auditory image 'rat' for a third thing, the matter with him rests there. If a fourth thing interests him for which no sign happens already to have been learned, he remains tranquilly without it and goes no further. But the man postulates it, its absence irritates him, and he ends by inventing it. This GENERAL PURPOSE constitutes, I take it, the peculiarity of human speech, and explains its prodigious development.
How, then, does the general purpose arise? It arises as soon as the notion of a sign as such, apart from any particular import, is born; and this notion is born by dissociation from the outstanding portions of a number of concrete cases of signification. The ‘yelp,' the 'beg,' the 'rat,' differ as to their several imports and natures. They agree only in so far as they have the same use -- to be signs, to stand for something more important than themselves. The dog whom this similarity could strike would have grasped the sign per se as such, and would probably thereupon become a general sign-maker, or speaker in the human sense. But how can the similarity strike him? Not without the juxtaposition of the similars (in virtue of the law we have laid down (p. 506), that in order to be segregated an experience must be repeated with varying concomitants) -- not unless the ‘yelp' of the dog at the moment it occurs recalls to him his 'beg,' by the delicate bond of their subtle similarity of use -- not till then can this thought hash through his mind: "Why, yelp and beg, in spite of all their unlikeness, are yet alike in this: that they are actions, signs, which lead to important boons. Other boons, any boons, may then be got by other signs!" This reflection made, the gulf is passed. Animals probably never make it, because the bond of similarity is not delicate enough. Each sign is drowned in its import, and never awakens other signs and other imports in juxtaposition. The rat-hunt idea is too absorbingly interesting in itself to be interrupted by anything so uncontiguous to it as the idea of the 'beg for food,' or of ‘the door-open yelp,' nor in their turn do these awaken the rat-hunt idea.
In the human child, however, these ruptures of contiguous association are very soon made; far off cases of sign-using arise when we make a sign now; and soon language is launched. The child in each case makes the discovery for himself. No one can help him except by furnishing him with the conditions. But as he is constituted, the conditions will sooner or later shoot together into the result. 21
The exceedingly interesting account which Dr, Rowe gives of the education of his various blind-deaf mutes illustrates this point admirably. He began to teach Laura Bridgman by gumming raised letters on various familiar articles. The child was taught by mere contiguity to pick out a certain number of particular articles when made to feel the letters. But this was merely a collection of particular signs, out of the mass of which the general purpose of signification had not yet been extracted by the child's mind. Dr. Howe compares his situation at this moment to that of one lowering a line to the bottom of the deep sea in which Laura's soul lay, and waiting until she should spontaneously take hold of it and be raised into the light. The moment came, 'accompanied by a radiant hash of intelligence and glow of joy'; she seemed suddenly to become aware of the general purpose imbedded in the different details of all these signs, and from that moment her education went on with extreme rapidity.
Another of the great capacities in which man has been said to differ fundamentally from the animal is that of possessing self-consciousness or reflective knowledge of himself as a thinker. But this capacity also flows from our criterion, for (without going into the matter very deeply) we may say that the brute never reflects on himself as a thinker, because he has never clearly dissociated, in the full concrete act of thought, the element of the thing thought of and the operation by which he thinks it. They remain always fused, conglomerated -- just as the interjectional vocal sign of the brute almost invariably merges in his mind with the thing signified, and is not independently attended to in se. 22
Now, the dissociation of these two elements probably occurs first in the child's mind on the occasion of some error or false expectation which would make him experience the shock of difference between merely imagining a thing and getting it. The thought experienced once with the concomitant reality, and then without it or with opposite concomitants, reminds the child of other cases in which the same provoking phenomenon occurred. Thus the general ingredient of error may be dissociated and noticed per se, and from the notion of his error or wrong thought to that of his thought in general the transition is easy. The brute, no doubt, has plenty of instances of error and disappointment in his life, but the similar shock is in him most likely always swallowed up in the accidents of the actual case. An expectation disappointed may breed dubiety as to the realization of that particular thing when the dog next expects it. But that disappointment, that dubiety, while they represent in the mind, will not call up other cases, in which the material details were different, but this feature of possible error was the same. The brute will, therefore, stop short of dissociating the general notion of error per se, and a fortiori will never attain the conception of Thought itself as such.
We may then, we think, consider it proven that the most elementary single difference between the human mind and that of brutes lies in this deficiency on the brute's part to associate ideas by similarity -- characters, the abstraction of which depends on this sort of association, must in the brute always remain drowned, swamped in the total phenomenon which they help constitute, and never used to reason from. If a character stands out alone, it is always some obvious sensible quality like a sound or a smell which is instinctively exciting and lies in the line of the animal's propensities; or it is some obvious sign which experience has habitually coupled with a consequence, such as, for the dog, the sight of his master's hat on and the master's going out.
But, now, since nature never makes a jump, it is evident that we should find the lowest men occupying in this respect an intermediate position between the brutes and the highest men. And so we do. Beyond the analogies which their own minds suggest by breaking up the literal sequence of their experience, there is a whole world of analogies which they can appreciate when imparted to them by their betters, but which they could never excogitate alone. This answers the question why Darwin and Newton had to be waited for so long. The flash of similarity between an apple and the moon, between the rivalry for food in nature and the rivalry for man's selection, was too recondite to have occurred to any but exceptional minds. Genius, then, as has been already said, is identical with the possession of similar association to an extreme degree . Professor Bain says: "This I count the leading fact of genius. I consider it quite impossible to afford any explanation of intellectual originality except on the supposition of unusual energy on this point." Alike in the arts, in literature, in practical affairs, and in science, association by similarity is the prime condition of success.
But as, according to our view, there are two stages in reasoned thought, one where similarity merely operates to call up cognate thoughts, and another farther stage, where the bond of identity between the cognate thoughts is noticed; so minds of genius may be divided into two main sorts, those who notice the bond and those who merely obey it. The first are the abstract reasoners, properly so called, the men of science, and philosophers -- the analysts, in a word; the latter are the poets, the critics -- the artists, in a word, the men of intuitions. These judge rightly, classify cases, characterize them by the most striking analogic epithets, but go no further. At first sight it might seem that the analytic mind represented simply a higher intellectual stage, and that the intuitive mind represented an arrested stage of intellectual development; but the difference is not so simple as this. Professor Bain has said that a man's advance to the scientific stage (the stage of noticing and abstracting the bond of similarity) may often be due to an absence of certain emotional sensibilities. The sense of color, he says, may no less determine a mind away from science than it determines it toward painting There must be a penury in one's interest in the details of particular forms in order to permit the forces of the intellect to be concentrated on what is common to many forms. 23 In other words, supposing a, mind fertile in the suggestion of analogies, but, at the same time, keenly interested in the particulars of each suggested image, that mind would be far less apt to single out the particular character which called up the analogy than one whose interests were less generally lively. A certain richness of the æsthetic nature may, therefore, easily keep one in the intuitive stage. All the poets are examples of this. Take Homer:
" Ulysses, too, spied round the house to see if any man were still alive and hiding, trying to get away from gloomy death. He found them all fallen in the blood and dirt, and in such number as the fish which the fishermen to the low shore, out of the foaming sea, drag with their meshy nets. These all, sick for the ocean water, are strewn around the sands, while the blazing sun takes their life from them. So there the suitors lay strewn round on one another."
"And as when a Mæonian or a Carian woman stains ivory with purple to be a cheek-piece for horses, and it is kept in the chamber, and many horsemen have prayed to bear it off; but it is kept a treasure for a king, both a trapping for his horse and a glory to the driver -- in such wise were thy stout thighs, Menelaos, and legs and fair ankles stained with blood."
A man in whom all the accidents of an analogy rise up as vividly as this, may be excused for not attending to the ground of the analogy. But he need not on that account be deemed intellectually the inferior of a man of drier mind, in whom the ground is not as liable to be eclipsed by the general splendor. Rarely are both sorts of intellect, the splendid and the analytic, found in conjunction. Plate among philosophers, and M. Taine, who cannot quote a child's saying without describing the ' voix chantante, étonnée heureuse ' in which it is uttered, are only exceptions whose strangeness proves the rule.
An often-quoted writer has said that Shakespeare possessed more intellectual power than any one else that ever lived. If by this he meant the power to pass from given premises to right or congruous conclusions, it is no doubt true. The abrupt transitions in Shakespeare's thought astonish the reader by their unexpectedness no less than they delight him by their fitness. Why, for instance, does the death of Othello so stir the spectator's blood and leave him with a sense of reconcilement? Shakespeare himself could very likely not say why; for his invention, though rational, was not ratiocinative. Wishing the curtain to fall upon a reinstated Othello, that speech about the turbaned Turk suddenly simply hashed across him as the right end of all that went before. The dry critic who comes after can, however, point out the subtle bonds of identity that guided Shakespeare's pen through that speech to the death of the Moor. Othello is sunk in ignominy, lapsed from his height from the beginning of the play. What better way to rescue him at last from this abasement than to make him for an instant identify himself in memory with the old Othello of better days, and then execute justice on his present disowned body, as he used then to smite all enemies of the State? But Shakespeare, whose mind supplied these means, could probably not have told why they were so effective. But though this is true, and though it would be absurd in an absolute way to say that a given analytic mind was superior to any intuitional one, yet it is none the less true that the former represents the higher stage. Men, taken historically, reason by analogy long before they have learned to reason by abstract characters. Association by similarity and true reasoning may have identical results. If a philosopher wishes to prove to you why you should do a certain thing, he may do so by using abstract considerations exclusively; a savage will prove the same by reminding you of a similar case in which you notoriously do as he now proposes, and this with no ability to state the point in which the cases are similar. In all primitive literature, in all savage oratory, we find persuasion carried on exclusively by parables and similes, and travellers in savage countries readily adopt the native custom. Take, for example, Dr. Livingstone's argument with the negro conjuror. The missionary was trying to dissuade the savage from his fetichistic [sic] ways of invoking rain. "You see," said he, "that, after all your operations, sometimes it rains and sometimes it does not, exactly as when you have not operated at all." "But," replied the sorcerer, "it is just the same with you doctors; you give your remedies, and sometimes the patient gets well and sometimes he dies, just as when you do nothing at all." To that the pious missionary replied: "The doctor does his duty, after which God performs the cure if it pleases Him." "Well," rejoined the savage, "it is just so with me. I do what is necessary to procure rain, after which God sends it or withholds it according to His pleasure." 24
This is the stage in which proverbial philosophy reigns supreme. "An empty sack can't stand straight" will stand for the reason why a man with debts may lose his honesty; and "a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush" will serve to back up one's exhortations to prudence. Or we answer the question: "Why is snow white?" by saying, "For the same reason that soap-suds or whipped eggs are white" -- in other words, instead of giving the reason for a fact, we give another example of the same fact. This offering a similar instance, instead of a reason, has often been criticised as one of the forms of logical depravity in men. But manifestly it is not a perverse act of thought, but only an incomplete one. Furnishing parallel cases is the necessary first step towards abstracting the reason imbedded in them all.
As it is with reasons, so it is with words. The first words are probably always names of entire things and entire actions, of extensive coherent groups. A new experience in the primitive man can only be talked about by him in terms of the old experiences which have received names. It reminds him of certain ones from among them, but the points in which it agrees with them are neither named nor dissociated. Pure similarity must work before the abstraction can work which is based upon it. The first adjectives will therefore probably be total nouns embodying the striking character. The primeval man will say, not ‘the bread is hard,' but 'the bread is stone'; not ‘the face is round,' but 'the face is moon'; not 'the fruit is sweet,' but 'the fruit is sugar-cane.' The first words are thus neither particular nor general, but vaguely concrete; just as we speak of an 'oval' face, a 'velvet’ skin, or an 'iron' will, without meaning to connote any other attributes of the adjective-noun than those in which it does resemble the noun it is used to qualify. After a while certain of these adjectively-used nouns come only to signify the particular quality for whose sake they are oftenest used; the entire thing which they originally meant receives another name, and they become true abstract and general terms. Oval, for example, with us suggests only shape. The first abstract qualities thus formed are, no doubt, qualities of one and the same sense found indifferent objects --as big, sweet; next analogies between different senses, as 'sharp' of taste, 'high’ of sound, etc.; then analogies of motor combinations, or form of relation, as simple, confused, difficult, reciprocal, relative, spontaneous, etc. The extreme degree of subtlety in analogy is reached in such cases as when we say certain English art critics' writing reminds us of a close room in which pastilles have been burning, or that the mind of certain Frenchmen is like old Roquefort cheese. Here language utterly fails to hit upon the basis of resemblance.
Over immense departments of our thought we are still, all of us, in the savage state. Similarity operates in us, but abstraction has not taken place. We know what the present case is like, we know what it reminds us of, we have an intuition of the right course to take, if it be a practical matter. But analytic thought has made no tracks, and we cannot justify ourselves to others. In ethical, psychological, and æsthetic matters, to give a clear reason for one's judgment is universally recognized as a mark of rare genius. The helplessness of uneducated people to account for their likes and dislikes is often ludicrous. Ask the first Irish girl why she likes this country better or worse than her home, and see how much she can tell you. But if you ask your most educated friend why he prefers Titian to Paul Veronese, you will hardly get more of a reply; and you will probably get absolutely none if you inquire why Beethoven reminds him of Michael Angelo, or how it comes that a bare figure with unduly flexed joints, by the former, can so suggest the moral tragedy of life. His thought obeys a nexus, but cannot name it. And so it is with all those judgments of experts, which even though unnoticed are so valuable. Saturated with experience of a particular class of materials, an expert intuitively feels whether a newly-reported fact is probable or not, whether a proposed hypothesis is worthless or the reverse. He instinctively knows that, in a novel case, this and not that mill be the promising course of action. The well-known story of the old judge advising the new one never to give reasons for his decisions, "the decisions will probably be right, the reasons will surely be wrong," illustrates this. The doctor will feel that the patient is doomed, the dentist will have a premonition that the tooth will break, though neither can articulate a reason for his foreboding. The reason lies imbedded, but not yet laid bare, in all the countless previous cases dimly suggested by the actual one, all calling up the same conclusion, which the adept thus finds himself swept on to, he knows not how or why.
A physiological conclusion remains to be drawn . If the principles laid down in Chapter XIV are true, then it follows that the great cerebral difference between habitual and reasoned thinking must be this: that in the former an entire system of cells vibrating at any one moment discharges in its totality into another entire system, and that the order of the discharges tends to be a constant one in time; whilst in the latter a part of the prior system still keeps vibrating in the midst of the subsequent system, and the order -- which part this shall be, and what shall be its concomitants in the subsequent system -- has little tendency to fixedness in time. This physical selection, so to call it, of one part to vibrate persistently whilst the others rise and subside, we found, in the chapter in question, to be the basis of similar association, (See especially pp. 578-81.) It would seem to be but a minor degree of that still more urgent and importunate localized vibration which we can easiest conceive to underlie the mental fact of interest, attention, or dissociation. In terms of the brain-process, then, all these mental facts resolve themselves into a single peculiarity: that of indeterminateness of connection between the different tracts, and tendency of action to focalize itself, so to speak, in small localities which vary infinitely at different times, and from which irradiation may proceed in countless shifting ways. (Compare figure 80, p. 347.) To discover, or (what more benefits the present stage of nerve-physiology) to adumbrate by some possible guess, on what chemical or molecular-mechanical fact this instable equilibrium of the human brain may depend, should be the next task of the physiologist who ponders over the passage from brute to man. Whatever the physical peculiarity in question may be, it is the cause why a man, whose brain has it, reasons so much, whilst his horse, whose brain lacks it, reasons so little. We can but bequeath the problem to abler hands than our own.
But, meanwhile, this mode of stating the matter suggests a couple of other inferences. The first is brief. If focalization of brain-activity be the fundamental fact of reasonable thought, we see why intense interest or concentrated passion makes us think so much more truly and profoundly. The persistent focalization of motion in certain tracts is the cerebral fact corresponding to the persistent domination inconsciousness of the important feature of the subject. When not 'focalized,' we are scatter-brained; but when thoroughly impassioned, we never wander from the point. None but congruous and relevant images arise. When roused by indignation or moral enthusiasm, how trenchant are our emotions, how smiting are our words! The whole network of petty scruples and by-considerations which, at ordinary languid times, surrounded the matter like a cob-web, holding back our thought, as Gulliver was pinned to the earth by the myriad Lilliputian threads, are dashed through at a blow, and the subject stands with its essential and vital lines revealed.
The last point is relative to the theory that what was acquired habit in the ancestor may become congenital tendency in the offspring. So vast a superstructure is raised upon this principle that the paucity of empirical evidence for it has alike been matter of regret to its adherents, and of triumph to its opponents. In Chapter XXVIII we shall see what we may call the whole beggarly array of proof. In the human race, where our opportunities for observation are the most complete, we seem to have no evidence whatever which would support the hypothesis, unless it possibly be the law that; city-bred children are more apt to be near-sighted than country children. In the mental world we certainly do not observe that the children of great travellers get their geography lessons with unusual ease, or that a baby whose ancestors have spoken German for thirty generations will, on that account, learn Italian any the less easily from its Italian nurse. But If the considerations we have been led to are true, they explain perfectly well why this law should not be verified in the human race, and why, therefore, in looking for evidence on the subject, we should confine ourselves exclusively to lower animals. In them fixed habit is the essential and characteristic law of nervous action. The brain grows to the exact modes in which it has been exercised, and the inheritance of these modes -- then called instincts -- would have in it nothing surprising. But in man the negation of all fixed modes is the essential characteristic. He owes his whole pre-eminence as a reasoner, his whole human quality of intellect, we may say, to the facility with which a given mode of thought in him may suddenly be broken up into elements, which recombine anew. Only at the price of inheriting no settled instinctive tendencies is he able to settle every novel case by the fresh discovery by his reason of novel principles. He is, par excellence, the educable animal. If, then, the law that habits are inherited were found exemplified in him, he would, in so far forth, fall short of his human perfections; and, when we survey the human races, we actually do find that those which are most instinctive at the outset are those which, on the whole, are least educated in the end. An untutored Italian is, to a great extent, a man of the world; he has instinctive perceptions, tendencies to behavior, reactions, in a word, upon his environment, which the untutored German wholly lacks. If the latter be not drilled, he is apt to be a thoroughly loutish personage; but, on the other hand, the mere absence in his brain of definite innate tendencies enables him to advance by the development, through education, of his purely reasoned thinking, into complex regions of consciousness that the Italian may probably never approach.
We observe an identical difference between men as a whole and women as a whole. A young woman of twenty reacts with intuitive promptitude and security in all the usual circumstances in which she may be placed. 25 Her likes and dislikes are formed; her opinions, to a great extent, the same that they will be through life. Her character is, in fact, finished in its essentials. How inferior to her is a boy of twenty in all these respects! His character is still gelatinous, uncertain what shape to assume, 'trying it on' in every direction. Feeling his power, yet ignorant of the manner in which he shall express it, he is, when compared with his sister, a being of no definite contour. But this absence of prompt tendency in his brain to set into particular modes is the very condition which insures that it shall ultimately become so much more efficient than the woman's. The very lack of preappointed trains of thought is the ground on which general principles and heads of classification grow up; and the masculine brain deals with new end complex matter indirectly by means of these, in a manner which the feminine method of direct intuition, admirably and rapidly as it performs within its limits, can vainly hope to core with.
In looking back over the subject of reasoning, one feel show intimately connected it is with conception; and one realizes more than ever the deep reach of that principle of selection on which so much stress was laid towards the close of Chapter IX. As the art of reading (after a certain stage in one's education) is the art of skipping, so the art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook. The first effect on the mind of growing cultivated is that processes once multiple get to be performed by a single act. Lazarus has called this the progressive 'condensation' of thought. But in the psychological sense it is less a condensation than a loss, a genuine dropping out and throwing overboard of conscious content. Steps really sink from sight. An advanced thinker sees the relations of his topics in such masses and so instantaneously that when he comes to explain to younger minds it is often hard to say which grows the more perplexed, he or the pupil. In every university there are admirable investigators who are notoriously bad lecturers. The reason is that they never spontaneously see the subject in the minute articulate way in which the student needs to have it offered to his slow reception. They grope for the links, but the links do not come. Bowditch, who translated and annotated Laplace's Mécanique Céleste, said that whenever his author prefaced a proposition by the words 'it is evident,' he knew that many hours of hard study lay before him.
When two minds of a high order, interested in kindred subjects, come together, their conversation is chiefly remarkable for the summariness of its allusions and the rapidity of its transitions. Before one of them is half through a sentence the other knows his meaning and replies. Such genial play with such massive materials, such an easy hashing of light over far perspectives, such careless indifference to the dust and apparatus that ordinarily surround the subject and seem to pertain to its essence, make these conversations seem true feasts forgoes to a listener who is educated enough to follow them at all. His mental lungs breathe more deeply, in an atmosphere more broad and vast than is their wont. On the other hand, the excessive explicitness and short-windedness of an ordinary man are as wonderful as they are tedious to the man of genius. But we need not go as far as the ways of genius. Ordinary social intercourse will do. There the charm of conversation is in direct proportion to the possibility of abridgment and elision, and in inverse ratio to the need of explicit statement. With old friends a word stands for a whole story or set of opinions. With new-comers everything must be gone over in detail. Some persons have a real mania for completeness, they must express every step. They are the most intolerable of companions, and although their mental energy may in its way be great, they always strike us as weak and second-rate. In short, the essence of plebeianism, that which separates vulgarity from aristocracy, is perhaps less a defect than an excess, the constant need to animadvert upon matters which for the aristocratic temperament do not exist. To ignore, to disdain to consider, to overlook, are the essence of the ‘gentleman.' Often most provokingly so; for the things ignored may be of the deepest moral consequence. But in the very midst of our indignation with the gentleman, we have a consciousness that his preposterous inertia and negativeness in the actual emergency is, somehow or other, allied with his general superiority to ourselves. It is not only that the gentleman ignores considerations relative to conduct, sordid suspicions, fears, calculations, etc., which the vulgarian is fated to entertain; it is that he is silent where the vulgarian talks; that he gives nothing but results where the vulgarian is profuse of reasons; that he does not explain or apologize; that he uses one sentence instead of twenty; and that, in a word, there is an amount of interstitial thinking, so to call it, which it is quite impossible to get him to perform, but which is nearly all that the vulgarian mind performs at all. All this suppression of the secondary leaves the field clear, -- for higher heights, should they choose to come. But even if they never came, what thoughts there were would still manifest the aristocratic type and wear the well-bred form. So great is our sense of harmony and ease in passing from the company of a philistine to that of an aristocratic temperament, that we are almost tempted to deem the falsest views and tastes as held by a man of the world, truer than the truest as held by a common person. In the latter the best ideas are choked, obstructed, and contaminated by the redundancy of their paltry associates. The negative conditions, at least, of an atmosphere and a free outlook are present in the former. I may appear to have strayed from psychological analysis into aesthetic criticism. But the principle of selection is so important that no illustrations seem redundant which may help to show how great is its scope. The upshot of what I say simply is that selection implies rejection as well as choice; and that the function of ignoring, of inattention, is as vital a factor in mental progress as the function of attention itself.
1 The substance of this chapter, and a good many pages of the textually appeared in an article entitled 'Brute and Human Intellect,' in the Journal of Speculative Philosophy for July 1878 (vol. xii. p. 236)
2 I see no need of assuming more than two terms in this sort of reasoning -- first, the sign, and second, the thing inferred from it. Either maybe complex, but essentially it is but A calling up B, and no middle term is involved. M. Binet, in his most intelligent little book, La Psychologie du Rasisonnement, maintains that there are three terms. The present sensation or sign must, according to him, first evoke from the past an image which resembles it and fuses with it, and the things suggested or inferred are always the contiguous associates of this intermediate image, and not of the immediate sensation. The reader of Chapter XIX will see why I do not believe in the 'image' in question as a distinct psychic fact.
3 Mental Evolution in Man (1889), chapters iii and iv. See especially pp. 68-80, and later 353, 396.
4 Loc. Cit . p. 50.
5 P. 52
6 Loc. Cit . p. 74.
7 J. Locke, Essay cone. Humn. Understanding. bk. iv. chap. 11.
8 To be sagacious is to be a good observer. J. S. Mill has a passage which is so much in the spirit of the text that I cannot forbear to quote it. "The observer is not he who merely sees the thing which is before his eyes, but he who sees what parts that thing is composed of. To do this well is a rare talent. One person, from inattention, or attending only in the wrong place, overlooks half of what he sees; another sets down much more than he sees, confounding it with what he imagines, or with what be infers; another takes note of the kind of all the circumstances, but being inexpert in estimating their degree, leaves the quantity of each vague and uncertain; another sees indeed the whole, but makes such an awkward division of it into parts, throwing things into one mass which require to be separated, and separating others which might more conveniently be considered as one, that the result is much the same, sometimes even worse, than if no analysis had been attempted at all. It would be possible to point out what qualities of mind, and modes of mental culture, fit a person for being a good observer: that, however, is a question not of Logic, but of the Theory of Education. in the most enlarged sense of the term. There is not properly an Art of Observing. There may be rules for observing But these, like rules for inventing, are properly instructions for the preparation of one's own mind; for putting it into the state in which it will be most fitted to observe, or most likely to invent. They are, therefore, essentially rules of self-education, which is a different thing from Logic. They do not tenth how to do the thing, but how to make ourselves capable of doing it. They are an art of strengthening the limbs, not an art of using them. The extent and minuteness of observation which may be requisite, and the degree of decomposition to which it may be necessary to tarry the mental analysis, depend on the particular purpose in view. To ascertain the state of the whole universe at any particular moment is impossible, but would also be useless. In making chemical experiments we do not think it necessary to note the position of the planets; because experience has shown, as a very superficial experience is sufficient to show, that in such cases that circumstance is not material to tile result: and accordingly, in the ages when man believed in the occult influences of the heavenly bodies, it might have been unphilosophical to omit ascertaining the precise condition of those bodies at the moment of the experiment." (Logic, bk. iii. chap. vii. § 1. Of. also bk. iv. chap. ii.)332
9 Readers brought up on Popular Science may think that the molecular structure of things is their real essence in so absolute sense, and that water is H-O-H more deeply and truly than it is a solvent of sugar or a slaker of thirst. Not a whit! It is all of these things with equal reality, and the only reason why for the chemist it is H-O-H primarily, and only secondarily the other things, is that for his purpose of deduction and compendious definition the H-O-H aspect of it is the more useful one to bear in mind.
10 "We find that we take for granted irresistibly that each kind [of thing] has some character which distinguishes it from other classes. . . . What is the foundation of this postulate? What is the ground of this assumption that there must exist a definition which we have never seen, and which perhaps no one has seen in a satisfactory form? . . . . I reply that our conviction that there must needs be characteristic marks by which things can be defined in words is founded upon the assumption of the necessary possibility of reasoning ." (VCT. Whewell: Hist. of Scientific Ideas, bk. viii. chapt § 9
11 I may quote a passage from an article entitled 'The Sentiment of rationality.' published in vol. iiv of Mind, 1879: "What is a conception? It is a telelogical instrument. It is a partial aspect of a thing which for our purpose me regard as its essential aspect, as the representative of the entire thing. In comparison with this aspect, whatever other properties and qualities the thing may have are unimportant accidents which we may without blame ignore. But the essence, the ground of conception, varies with the end we have in view. A substance like oil has as many different essences as it has uses to different individuals. One man conceives it as a combustible, another as a lubricator, another as a food; the chemist thinks of it as a hydrocarbon; the furniture-maker as a darkener of wood; the speculator as a commodity whose market-price today is this and tomorrow that. The soap-boiler, the physicist, the clothes-scourer severally ascribe to it other essences in relation to their needs. Ueberweg's doctrine that the essential quality of a thing is the quality of most worth is strictly true; but Ueberweg has failed to note that the worth is wholly relative to the temporary interests of the conceiver. And, even, when his interest is distinctly defined in his own mind, the discrimination of the quality in the object which has the closest connection with it is a thing which no rules can teach. The only a priori advice that can be given to a man embarking on life with a certain purpose is the somewhat barren counsel: Be sure that in the circumstances that meet you, you attend to the right ones for your purpose. To pick out the right ones is the measure of the man. 'Millions,' says Hartmann, 'stare at the phenomenon before a genialer Kompf pounces on the concept.' The genius is simply he to whom, when he opens his eyes upon the world, the 'right 'characters are the prominent ones. The fool is he who, with the same purposes as the genius, infallibly gets his attention tangled amid the accidents."
12 Only if one of our purposes were itself truer than another, could one of our conceptions become the truer conception. To be a truer purpose, however, our purpose must conform more to some absolute standard of purpose in things to which our purposes ought to conform. This shows that the whole doctrine of essential characters is intimately bound up with a teleological view of the world. Materialism becomes self-contradictory when it denies teleology, and yet in the same breath calls atoms, etc., the essential facts. The world contains consciousness as well as atoms -- and the one must he written down as just as essential as the other, in the absence of any declared purpose regarding them on the creator's part or in the absence of any creator. As far as we ourselves go, the atoms are worth more for purposes of deduction, the consciousness for purposes of inspiration. We may fairly write the Universe in either way, thus: ATOMS-producing-consciousness; or CONSCIOUSNESS-produced-by-atoms. Atoms alone, or consciousness alone, are precisely equal mutilations of the truth. If, without believing in a God, I still continue to talk of what the world 'essentially is,' I am just as much entitled to define it as a place in which my nose itches, or as a place where at a certain corner I can get a mess of oysters for twenty cents, as to call it an evolving nebula differentiating and integrating itself. It is hard to say which of the three abstractions is the more rotten or miserable substitute for the world's concrete fulness. To conceive it merely as 'God's work' would be a similar mutilation of it, so long as we said not what God, or what kind of work. The only real truth about the world, apart from particular purposes, is the total truth.
13 Compare Lotze, Metaphysik, §§ 58, 87, for some Instructive remarks on ways in which the world's constitution might differ from what it actually is. Compare also Chapter XXVIII
14 Sometimes, it must be confessed. the conceiver's purpose falls short of reasoning and the only conclusion he cares to reach is the bare naming of the datum. "What is that" is our first question relative to any unknown thing. And the ease with which our curiosity is quenched as soon as we are applied with any sort of a, name to call the object by, is ridiculous enough. To quote from an unpublished essay by a former student of mine, Mr. R. W. Black: "The simplest end which a thing's predicate can serve is the satisfaction of the desire for unity itself, the mere desire that the thing shell be the same with something else. Why, the other day, when I mistook a portrait of Shakespeare for one of Hawthorne, was I not, on psychological principles, as right as if I had correctly named it? -- the two pictures had a common essence, bald forehead, mustache, flowing hair. Simply because the only end that could possibly be served by naming it Hawthorne was my desire to have it so. With reference to any other end that classification of it would not serve. And every unity, every identity, every classification is rightly called fanciful unless it serves some other end than the mere satisfaction, emotion, or inspiration caught by momentarily believing in it.
15 See above, p. 8.
16 See his Study of Chapter, chap. xv; also Senses and Intellect, 'Intellect,' chap. ii, the latter half.
17 Whether the dog has the notion of your being angry or of your property being valuable in any such abstract way as we have these notions is more than doubtful. The conduct is more likely an impulsive result of a conspiracy of outward stimuli; the beast feels like acting so when these stimuli are present, though conscious of no definite reason why. The distinction of recept and concept is useful here. Some breeds of dogs, e.g. collies, seem instinctively to defend their master's property. The case is similar to that of a dog's barking at people after dark, at whom he would not bark in daylight. I have heard this quoted as evidence of the dog’s reasoning power. It is only, as Chapter III has shown us, the impulsive result of a summation of stimuli, and has no connection with reasoning.
In certain stages of the hypnotic trance the subject seems to lapse into the non-analytic state. If a sheet of ruled foolscap paper, or a paper with a one monotonous ornamental pattern printed on it, be shown to the subject, and one of the ruled lines or elements of the pattern be pointed to for an instant, and the paper immediately removed, he will then almost always, when after a short interval the paper is presented to him again, pick out the indicated line or element with infallible correctness. The operator, mean-while, has either to keep his eye fixed upon it, or to make sure of its position by counting, in order not to lose its place. Just so we may remember a friend's house in a street by the single character of its number rather than by its general look. The trance-subject would seem, in these instances, to surrender himself to the general look. He disperses his attention impartially over the sheet. The place of the particular line touched is part of a 'total effect' which he gets in its entirety, and which would be distorted if another line were touched instead. This total effect is lost upon the normal looker-on, bent as he is on concentration, analysis, and emphasis. What wonder, then, that, under these experimental conditions, the trance-subject excels him in touching the right line again? If he has time given him to count the line, he will excel the trance-subject; but if the time be too short to count, he will best succeed by following the trance-method, abstaining from analysis, and being guided by the 'general look' of the line’s place on the sheet. One is surprised at one's success in this the moment one gives up one's habitually analytic state of mind.
Is it too much to say that we have in this dispersion of the attention and subjection to the 'general effect' something like a relapse into the state of mind of brutes? The trance-subject never gives any other reason for his optical discriminations, save that ' it looks so.' So a man, on a road once traversed inattentively before, takes a certain turn for no reason except that he feels as if it must be right. He is guided by a sum of impressions, not one of which is emphatic or distinguished from the rest, not one of which is essential, not one of which is conceived, but all of whish together drive him to a conclusion to which nothing but that sum-total leads. Are not some of the wonderful discriminations of animals explicable in the same way? The cow finds her own stanchions in the long stable, the horse stops at the house he has once stopped at in the monotonous street, because no other stanchions, no other house, yield impartially all the impressions of the previous experience. The man, however, by seeking to make some one impression characteristic and essential, prevents the rest from having their effect. So that, if the (for him) essential feature be forgotten or changed, he is too apt to be thrown off altogether, and then the brute or the trance-subject may seem to outstrip him in sagacity.
Dr. Romanes's already quoted distinction between 'receptual' and ‘'conceptual’ thought (published since the body of my text and my note were written) connotes conveniently the difference which I seek to point out. See also his Mental Evolution in Man, p. 197 ff., for proofs of the fact that in a receptual way brutes cognize the mental states of other brutes and men.
18 This matter of confusion is important and interesting. Since confusion is mistaking the wrong part of the phenomenon for the whole, whilst reasoning is, according to our definition, based on the substitution of the right part for the whole, it might be said that confusion and reasoning are generically the same process. I believe that they are so, and that the only difference between a muddle-head and a, genius is that between extracting wrong characters and right ones. In other words, a muddle-head-person is a genius spoiled in the making. I think it will be admitted that all eminently muddle-heeded persons have the temperament of genius. They are constantly breaking away from the usual consecutions of concretes. A common association by contiguity is too closely tied to routine to get muddle-headed.
19 The horse is a densely stupid animal, as far as everything goes except contiguous association. We reckon him intelligent, partly because he looks so handsome, partly because he has such a wonderful faculty of contiguous association and can be so quickly moulded into a mass of set habits. Had he anything of reasoning intelligence, he would be a less faithful slave than he is.
20 Th Schumann: Journal Daheim, No. 19, 1878. Quoted by Strümpell: Die Geisteskräfte der Menschen verglichen mit denen der Thiere (Leipzig, 1878), p. 39. Cats are notorious for the skill with which they will open latches, locks, etc. Their feats are usually ascribed to their reasoning powers. But Dr. Romanes well remarks (Mental Evolution, etc., p.351, note) that we ought first to be sure that the actions are not due to mere association. A cat is constantly playing with things with her paws; a trick accidentally hit upon may be retained. Romanes notes the fact that the animals most skilled in this way need not be the most generally intelligent, but those which have the best corporeal members for handling things, cat's paws, horse's lips, elephant's trunk, cow's horns. The monkey has both the corporeal and the intellectual superiority. And my deprecatory remarks on animal reasoning in the text apply far less to the quadrumana than to quadrupeds.--On the possible fallacies in interpreting animals’ minds, compare C. L. Morgan in Mind, xi. 174 (1886).
21 There are two other conditions of language in the human being, additional to association by similarity that assist its action, or rather pave the way for it. These are: first, the great natural loquacity; and, second, the great imitativeness of man. The first produces the original reflex interactional sign; the second (as Bleek has well shown) fixes it, stamps it, attends by multiplying the number of determinate specific signs which are requisite preliminary to the general conscious purpose of sign-making, which I have called the characteristic human element in language. The way in which imitativeness fixes the meaning of signs is this: When a primeval man has a given emotion, he utters his natural interjection; or when (to avoid supposing that the reflex sounds are exceedingly determinate by nature) a group of such men experience a common emotion, and one takes the lead in the cry, the others cry like him from sympathy or imitativeness. Now, let one of the group hear another, who is in presence of the experience, utter the cry; he, even without the experience, will repeat the cry from pure imitativeness. But, as he repeats the sign, he will be reminded by it of his own former experience. Thus, first, he has the sign with the emotion; then, without it; then, with it again. It is:' dissociated by change of concomitants "; he feels it as a separate entity and yet as having a connection with the emotion. Immediately it becomes possible for him to couple it deliberately with the emotion, in cases where the latter would either have provoked no interjectional cry or not the same one. In a word, his mental procedure tends to fix this cry on that emotion; and when this occurs, in many instances, he is provided with a stock of signs, like the yelp, beg, rat of the dog, each of which suggests a determinate image. On this stock, then, similarity works in the way above explained.
22 See the 'Evolution of Self-consciousness' in 'Philosophical Discussions,' by Chauncey Wright (New York: Henry Holt & Co., 1877). Dr. Romanes, in the book from which I have already quoted, seeks to show that the ‘consciousness of truth as truth ‘and the deliberate intention to predicate (which are the characteristics of higher human reasoning) presuppose a consciousness of ideas as such, as things distinct from their objects; and that this consciousness depends on our having made signs for them by language. My text seems to me to include Dr. Romanes's facts, and formulates them in what to me is a more elementary way, though the reader who wishes to understand the matter better should go to his clear and patient exposition also.
23 Study of Character, p. 317.
24 Quoted by Renouvier, Critique Philosophique, October 19, 1879.
25 Social and domestic circumstances, that is, not material ones. Perceptions of social relations seem very keen in persons whose dealings with the material world are confined to knowing a few useful objects, principally animals, plants, and weapons. Savages and boors are often as tactful and astute socially as trained diplomatists. In general, it is probable that the consciousness of how one stands with other people occupies a relatively larger and larger part of the mind, the lower one goes in the scale of culture. Woman's intuitions, so fine in the sphere of personal relations, are seldom first-rate in the way of mechanics. All boys teach themselves how a clock goes; few girls. Hence Dr. Whately's jest, "Woman is the unreasoning animal, and pokes the fire from on top."
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