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being is presented in the subject, cannot, any more than the conditional form in which being is presented in the object, be the unconditional being 'common to the two.


Two fundamental ideas rule the psychology of Mr. Herbert Spencer : that of the continuity of psychological phenomena ; that of the intimate relation between the being and its medium. These two points virtually contain his doctrine. We have seen that the idea of progress, evolution, development tends to prevail in modern sciences. In nature, as in history, nothing is isolated ; everything is linked to something else, and forms a series ; each phenomenon proceeds from those which precede, and contains the germ of those which are about to follow it. But the human mind is so constructed, that it cannot lay hold of objects except when they offer themselves to it under defined, discontinued forms, when they present sufficiently marked characteristics. Every science must settle the boundaries of its object; it is only possible on this condition ; but that settlement is frequently arbitrary, and phenomena do not allow themselves to be imprisoned within our conventional divisions. Thus mental life comes out of physiological life, in virtue of this law of continuous progress slowly step by step, by infinitesimal transformations, and without our being able to say,—There is its place of birth.

• Though we commonly regard mental and bodily life as distinct, it needs only to ascend somewhat above the ordinary point of view, to see that they are but sub-divisions of life in general ; and that no line of demarcation can be drawn between then otherwise than arbitrarily. Doubtless, to those who persist, after the popular fashion, in contemplating only the extreme forms of the two, this assertion will appear incredible. ... It is not more certain that, from the simple reflection by which the infant sucks, up to the elaborate reasonings of the adult man, the progress is by daily infinitesimal steps, than it is certain that between the automatic actions of the lowest creatures, and the highest conscious actions of the human race, a series of actions displayed by the various tribes of the animal kingdom may be so placed as to render it

impossible to say of any one step in the series, Here intelligence begins.' 1

If, from the savant who pursues his researches with the full consciousness of the processes of reasoning and induction which he employs, we descend to the man of ordinary education, who reasons well and intelligently, but without knowing how; if from him we descend to the villager, whose highest generalizations do not go beyond local facts ; if from thence we go to the inferior human races, whom we cannot regard as thinking creatures, whose numerical conceptions hardly go beyond those of the dog ; if we put aside the most elevated in the race of quadrumanes whose actions are as reasonable as those of a little schoolboy, if from them we reach the domestic animals, and thence pass on from the more to the less sagacious quadrupeds ; that is to say, those which cannot modify their actions according to circumstances, but are guided by an immutable instinct; then, if we remark that instinct, which at first consisted of a complicated combination of motions produced by a complicated combination of stimulus, takes lower forms in which stimulus and motions become less and less complex ; if from thence we come to reflex action, and “if we descend from the animals in whom this action implies the irritation of a nerve and the contraction of a muscle, to the animals unprovided with a nervous and muscular system, and that we discover that in them too, it is the same tissue which manifests irritation and contractibility, which tissue likewise fulfils the functions of assimilation, secretion, respiration, and reproduction ; and if, finally, we remark that each of the phases of intelligences enumerated here is founded upon the neighbouring one by modifications too numerous to be specifically distinguished, and too imperceptible to be described, we shall have to some extent shown the reality of this fact, that no precise separation can be effected between the phenomena of intelligence and those of life in general.'?

The other basis of the doctrine is the necessary correlation of being and its medium, which the author expresses by saying that life is a correspondence,'a continuous adjustment of internal to external relations.' The living being, whatever he may be, tree, infusoria, or man, cannot subsist if there be not harmony. between his organism and his medium; and, if to physical life be added psychical life, the adjustment becomes more complex. In order that the game may escape the falcon, there must be inside of it certain modifications which correspond to the modifications outside of it, there must be correspondence between its flight and the pursuit of its enemy. And so, when Newton conceives the system of the world, it is necessary that the nature and the sequence of his ideas should correspond with the nature and the concatenation of the real phenomena ; that which is within him must be adjusted to that which is without him. Life is then truly a correspondence, under both the highest and the lowest forms. Thus the degree of life varies, like the degree of correspondence. Life is rich or poor according as it reflects the universe, or the simple mechanical modifications of some neighbouring molecule. From the entozoa, confined in a tissue, to the thought of Shakespeare or of Newton, which reproduces the concrete or abstract reality of the world, there is room for every possible degree of correspondence; but parallelism always exists between the being and its medium. The author retraces for us the various stages of this progress, which is nothing else than the history of the passage from physical to psychical life. We see the latter, feeble at the commencement, becoming firm and strong by degrees. Let us follow him step by step in this synthetical exposition.

1 Spencer, Principles of Psychology, p. 349.

2 General Synthesis, chap. ii.

At the lowest step, the correspondence between the living being and its medium is direct and homogeneous. As the highest life is to be found in the most complicated medium, so the lowest is only to be found in the simplest. Such are the germ of yeast, the mushroom called protococcus novilis, the parasite cellule which causes smallpox, the gregarina, a monocellular animal which lives in the intestines of certain insects, is moistened by the nutritive fluid which it assimilates, which is kept at an almost constantly equal temperature, and can only continue to exist as long as its special medium exists. Here there are few changes, and they relate only to a homogeneous medium,

Above this is direct but heterogeneous correspondence, of which the zoophyte offers us an example, when its tentacles are extended


and touched. To a relation of co-existence between the properties, tangible and otherwise, presented by the surrounding medium, there corresponds in the organism a relation of sequence between certain tactile impressions, and certain contractions. But correspondence between distant internal and external relations is absent in all these forms of life.

Let us now see how correspondence extends itself in space. The special senses are constituted and gradually developed by a continuous progress. Take, for example, sight. In the zoophyte, where the entire tissue has the property of responding to the marked changes in the quantity of light which falls upon it, there is, as it were, a stretch of the visual faculty and of the correspondences which result from it.

* The rudimentary eye, consisting, as in the Planaria, of a few pigment grains beneath the integument, may be considered as simply a part of the surface more irritable by light than the rest. We may form some idea of the impression it is probably fitted to receive, by turning our closed eyes towards the light, and passing the hand backwards and forwards before them.' 1

Nevertheless, even this little specialization of function implies a progress in correspondence. If, from the polyp, which stirs only when it is touched, we go on and up to the articulated mollusca, to the vertebrates which inhabit the water, and thence to the more elevated animals which dwell in a more rarefied medium, we shall find, under varied forms and modifications, a more complex visual apparatus, and an increasing distance in the extension of the correspondence. We cannot in this place follow the details of this progress which leads to such astonishing results in the case of civilized man.

A ship guided by compass and stars and chronometer brings him from the other side of the Atlantic information by which his purchases here are adapted to the prices there. An examination of the surface-strata, from which he infers the presence of coal below, enables him to bring his actions into correspondence with the co-existences a thousand feet underneath. Nor is the range of environment through which his correspondences reach con

1 Spencer's Principles of Psychology, p. 406.


fined to the surface and the substance of the earth. It stretches into the surrounding sphere of infinity. It was extended to the moon when the Chaldeans discovered how to predict eclipses ; to the sun and nearer planets when the Copernican system was established; to the remoter planets when an improved telescope disclosed one and calculation fixed the position of the other ; to the stars when their parallax and proper motion were measured ; and, in a vague way, even to the nebulæ when their composition and forms of structure were ascertained.'1

To correspondence in space, correspondence in time adds itself. The living being at first seizes upon the simplest and shortest mechanical sequences, then by successive conquests, he adjusts himself to longer and longer periods; he takes possession of the suture; he foresees future events, like the dog who hides a bone for the time when he shall be hungry.

“This higher order of correspondence in time, which, for the reasons assigned, is impossible to creatures of inferior type, which is but vaguely discernible in the higher animals, and which is definitely exhibited only when we arrive at the human race, has made marked progress in the course of civilisation. Among the lowest tribes of men, who are without habitations, and who wander from place to place as the varying supplies of wild animals, roots, and insects dictate, a year is the longest period to which their conduct is adapted. Hardly yet worthy to be defined as creatures “looking before and after,” they show by their utter improvidence and their apparent incapacity to realize future consequences, that it is only to the conspicuous and often-recurring phenomena of the seasons that their actions respond. But in the succeeding stages of progress, we see, in the building of huts, the breeding and accumulation of cattle, and the storing of commodities, that longer sequences are recognised and measures taken to meet them. And gradually, as we advance to higher social states, men show, by planting trees that will not bear fruit for a generation, by the elaborate education they give their children, by building houses that will last for centuries, by insuring their lives, by all those struggles for future wealth or fame, which

1 Spencer's Principles of Psychology, p. 409.

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