Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

may have come down to us." This is most true. But to show what even an uneducated Sussex labourer (a mere cowherd) may be capable of, I will give the results of my questioning one, to elicit latent philosophical convictions of his, bearing on Idealism :

Myself. Lacey! You often hear Sir Spencer Wilson's clock strike ?

Lacey. Bless you, sir, very often.

M. What do you think that sound is—something in the bell, something in the air, or something in your head?

L. Why, something in the bell, sir, of course ; but the air has got something to do with it too, I think.

M. But when the clapper hits the bell it sets the bell shaking, that sets the air next it shaking, and so on to your ear, where it sets a very thin bit of skin shaking, and so you hear the sound.

L. Yes, sir.

M. Is there anything, then, in the bell altogether the same as your feeling of sound ?

L. Of course not, sir. Can't be.
M. And yet you say the sound is in the bell ?
L. Yes, sir.

M. Suppose every man and animal were dead, and the wind set the bell shaking, with no one to hear it; would there be any sound ?

L. I can't answer that directly, sir; that wants thinking about.

M. What was in the bell when it struck before would be in the bell when it struck now, wouldn't it?

L. Of course it would, sir.

M. You say, then, that the sound is in the bell, yet nothing is there altogether the same as your feeling of sound?

L. That's what I say, sir.

M. You must mean, then, that the cause of the sound is in the bell, and that that cause is like, but not altogether the same as, your feeling of sound ?

L. Yes, sir, that's just it ; but the air has something to do with it too.

It seems to us that this rustic would be recognized by Aristotle as perfectly right in his philosophy of sound, and we consider that he is far ahead of Berkeley, Kant, or any other Idealist,* who has learnt s'egarer avec méthode.

As to the use of onomatopeia, Mr. Romanes very reasonably says that such words may easily become so disguised as to lose all trace of their mode of origin.

Noting facts as to a grandchild of the late Mr. Darwin, he tells us,f “The child, who was just beginning to speak, called a duck ‘quack, and by special association it also called water "quack.'” It next extended the term to birds, insects, and Auids, and ultimately to coins, because it had seen an eagle on a French sou. These latter applications would truly show no trace of onomatopeia, but another remark is also to be noted. If this word “ quack” was found amongst roots, how its real meaning would probably be underestimated! clearly, as Archdeacon Farrar says,* "words are not mere imitations, but subjective echoes and reproductions."

The different onomatopoetic words which are used in different languages to denote the same thing, show

* As to Idealism, see “On Truth,” Section II., and as to Sound and Idealism, see the same, pp. 114-118.

7 p. 283.

M. Noiré's theory as to the origin of speech, so favoured by Prof. Max Müller, is designated † by Mr. Romanes the “Yeo-he-ho' theory ;” but he is ready to accept it as one form of onomatopeia. Yet he by no means assigns the origin of speech to any or all forms of onomatopoeia. “If even,” he says, “civilized children ... will coin a language of their own in which the element of onomatopæia is barely traceable; and if uneducated deaf-mutes will spontaneously devise articulate sounds which are necessarily destitute of any imitative origin," why, he asks, should primitive man be supposed to have been only capable of mimicry? Why, indeed !

As to children of our own day, he truly says, “Even after the child has begun to learn the use of actual words, arbitrary additions are frequently made to its vocabulary which defy any explanation at the hands of onomatopoeia-not only in cases where they are left to themselves, but even where they are in the closest contact with language as spoken by their elders." || When not controlled by their elders, children left much together may develop a newly-devised language, “unintelligible to all but its inventors.”

He declares that, in any case, words were originally due to psychogenesis, which we not only allow but assert.

In his next two chapters Mr. Romanes occupies * p. 286.

p. 290. I p. 291. § p. 292. || He refers to his foot-note on his page 144.

This term was, we believe, originally introduced by ourselves. See “On Truth,” pp. 440, 509, 510, 521 ; also “The Cat" (John Murray), p. 526.

himself with what he calls “The Witness of Philology."* Premising that his opponents place the psychological distinction between man and brute in the faculty of judgment possessed only by the former, he adds, “I have shown that, by universal consent, this faculty is identical with predication.” With good reason we may object to this statement, since he has actually quoted from us, amongst his categories of language, “ Sounds which are rational but not articulate, ejaculations by which we sometimes express assent to or dissent from given propositions ;” also “Gestures which answer to rational conceptions, and are therefore 'external' but not oral manifestations of the verbum mentale."

He also says || that he has been meeting his “opponents on their own assumptions, and one of these assumptions has been that language must always have existed as we now know it—at least to the extent of comprising words which admit of being built up into propositions to express the semiotic intention of the speaker.” But certainly we have never made any assumption of the kind.

“As a matter of fact,” our author dogmatically informs us, “language did not begin with any of our later-day distinctions between nouns, verbs, adjectives, prepositions, and the rest : it began as the undifferentiated protoplasm of speech, out of which all these 'parts of speech' had afterwards to be developed by a prolonged course of gradual evolution."

[ocr errors][merged small]

He quotes Schelling as saying, “Die Sprache ist nicht stückweis oder atomistisch ; sie ist gleich in allen ihren Theilen als Ganzes und demnach organisch entstanden,” adding, “This highly general and most important fact is usually stated as it was, I believe, first stated by the anthropologist Waitz, namely, that 'the unit of language is not the word, but the sentence;' and, therefore, that historically the sentence preceded the word. Or, otherwise and less ambiguously expressed, every word was originally itself a proposition, in the sense that of and by itself it conveyed a statement.”

Now, here, in the first place, we would remark that on Mr. Romanes's Nominalist principles, if a thought is nothing but a word, and if the earliest and “simplest element of language” is a statement or judgment, then obviously the simplest element of thought must be a judgment. It is surely, then, somewhat unreasonable to reproach us with having been guilty of gross and “unpardonable" negligence, for asserting what Mr. Romanes himself not only asserts, but so places it at the root and foundation of his whole system, that to remove it necessarily brings down his own unstable intellectual edifice in utter ruin!

Our position is as follows :

(1) Thought is the root of and primary to language, oral or other.

(2) Language is the external expression of the verbum mentale.

(3) The simplest element of thought is an implicit judgment.

« НазадПродовжити »