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know that human idiots, devoid of consciousness, learn movements in the same way. But we also know that fully conscious men and women often adopt through distinct agreement (it may be tacitly) certain special movements as “signs." These latter are, of course, truly conventional signs, but not the former, which-as having been nevertheless acquired - may be distinguished as "acquisitional” signs.
Mr. Romanes continues : * "The subdivision of conventional signs may further be split into those which are due to past associations, and those which are due to inferences from present experience. A dog which 'begs 'for food, or a parrot which puts down its head to be scratched, may do so merely because past experience has taught the animal that by so doing it receives the gratification it desires; here is no need for reasoni.e. inference-to come into play. But if the animal has had no such previous experience, and therefore could not know by special association that such a particular gesture, or sign, would lead to such a particular consequence, and if under such circumstances a dog should see another dog beg, and should imitate the gesture on observing the result to which it led; or if under such analogous circumstances a parrot should spontaneously depress its head for the purpose of making an expressive gesture, then the sign might strictly be termed a rational one."
Now, there is, proverbially, great virtue in an “if,” and much unequivocal evidence would be needed to show that such acts ever occur in animals. Granting,
* p. 86.
however, that they do occur—even every day—that tendency to imitation which we know many animals and human idiots possess, would amply account for them without the intervention of “inference.” They may, therefore, be distinguished as “ imitational" actions. Animals, by the association of sensations, often, as everybody knows, perform actions which serve as means to a practical end, without either “ends” or “means” being apprehended as such. “Imitational” actions of the kind may well take their place in this category. If animals had a true power of inference, they would not perform the very unreasonable actions * they often doe.g., building a nest in a house in full course of being taken down, or in a water-pipe, etc.
In a note f Mr. Romanes observes : “In the higher region of recepts both the man and the brute attain in no small degree to a perception of analogies or relations : this is inference or ratiocination in its most direct form, and differs from the process as it takes place in the sphere of conceptual thought, only in that it is not itself the object of knowledge. But, considered as a process of inference or ratiocination, I do not see that it should make any difference in our terminology whether or not it happens itself to be an object of knowledge.”
We have already given—we trust sufficient-reasons for denying to brutes any real power of intellectual perception, while if man has, as we affirm, an intellectual nature distinct in kind, such a difference of nature may well hinder even his recepts from being absolutely the * See “ On Truth,” p. 355.
same as those of any brute.* We have also pointed out the essential nature of ratiocination and its distinctness from mere sensuous inference, as also that to suppose a reflex act necessary in order that a mental act should be conceptual and truly intellectual, is a mistake. Nothing more is needed for mental conception than direct consciousness, such, e.g., as that we have of our own existence when least adverting to the fact of our existence. We are therefore far indeed from affirming that the nature of a psychical process is altered by becoming known. That it is so altered is one of those things which Mr. Romanes has to prove.† Nevertheless, the presence or absence of a power to know a psychical process performed, serves as an indication of a difference in nature and kind between the being that has, and one that has not, such a power.
Mr. Romanes next presents us $ with a scheme to show, in diagrammatic form, the classification which he has himself “ arrived at, and which,” he tells us, “ follows closely the one given by” ourselves. “Indeed,” he adds, "there is no difference at all between the two, save that I have endeavoured to express the distinction between signs as intentional, unintentional, natural, conventional, emotional, and intellectual.” This shows how Mr. Romanes has failed to appreciate our position. There is a great and fundamental distinction “ between the two ;” and this I will endeavour also to express in diagrammatic form.
* See above, p. 94.
† Since he says that a recept is changed into a concept by becoming known.
# pp. 88, 89.