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This position we believe to be at one and the same time a dictate of the highest science and of the simplest common sense. We know that our infants grow into rational beings, but we have no reason to suppose that they undergo, while under our care, a profound transformation of nature. Common sense therefore concludes that they are essentially “rational” from the first. On the other hand, no race of men has anywhere been found destitute of speech or incapable of plainly showing by gestures that they have a meaning they desire to convey, and that, by their gestures, they intentionally seek to depict their ideas and to converse by signs. At the same time, no race of animals has anywhere been found possessed of speech or capable of plainly showing by gesture that they have a meaning they desire to convey, and that, by their gestures they intentionally seek to depict their ideas and to converse by signs. Common sense, therefore, concludes that man has, but that animals have not, a nature capable of rational language, expressed orally or by gesture.
No facts brought forward by Mr. Romanes contradict these dicta of common sense, nor what we believe to be the dicta of the most developed science. Nevertheless, there is a widely diffused prejudice amongst both leaders and followers of physical science, which indisposes them to assert the existence of such a fundamental difference of nature. We are persuaded that this prejudice is largely due to a merely imaginary cause. Many men feel strongly the difficulty of imagining the first advent of man upon this planet, or how either a new crcature could have been suddenly
a new creatur
formed, or a new nature infused into one which already existed. Now, we should be the last to deny the difficulty of “imagining " such things ; since we uncompromisingly assert that it is simply impossible to imagine them. For who even pretends to have witnessed the formation of a new creature, or the infusion of a new nature? While what we have never experienced, we can never imagine. But whenever we are convinced we have really good reasons for accepting as true the occurrence of something whereof we have had no experience whatever, surely the rational thing to do is, to say that we assent to its truth, while affirming the impossibility of our imagining it.* The besetting sin of our day—the sin which leads to the degradation of art and science alike-is “sensationalism." This it is that would reduce painting and sculpture to an exclusive reproduction of what the mere eye sees, neglecting what the refined and cultivated intellect may apprehend. This it is, again, which has made possible novels like those of Zola, or poems like those of Richepin—not to refer to yet more nefarious productions. In physical science, also, we again encounter this besetting tendency to exaggerate the value of the sensuous imagination at the expense of the intellect; resulting in an avidity for mechanical explanations, because those are the explanations most welcome to our lower faculties, as we have already pointed out.
* As to Imagination and Conception, see “On Truth,” pp. IU, 112.
† See above, p. 30.
If the reader of these concluding remarks will calmly consider the dictates of his own reason, he will, we are persuaded, clearly see there is no evidence for him that a break cannot take place in nature of a kind and in a mode he is unable to imagine : while he must admit that, as regards the first introduction of life and sensitivity,* such a breach of continuity must have taken place. His reason will further tell him that he is impotent to imagine the first introduction of either life or sensitivity, or to picture to himself the mode in which a creature that did not possess the faculty of feeling, could have been endowed with that wonderful and unprecedented power. With a mind informed and strengthened by a free inquiry of this kind as to what reason declares, let him ask himself whether he has evidence that, in a world in which at least two breaches of continuity have certainly occurred, and two novel natures (the living and the sensitive), essentially different in kind, have somehow come to be,-let him ask himself whether, under these circumstances, a third breach of continuity and the uprising † of a third new nature--a rational nature is a thing impossible or even improbable? With a mind thus freed from the mists of imaginary prejudice, let the reader next consider the arguments in favour of a difference of kind between man and brute—the presence in the former and the absence in the latter of intellect, as manifested by language, and, above all, by language expressing moral
* See above, p. 10.
judgments and asserting merit and demerit.* We are strongly persuaded that he will then clearly see that language is the “rubicon of mind,” and that it is so simply because it is the index of that intellectual power, the presence of which makes a true and necessary “limit to evolution," in the ascending series of organic transformations. It is our hope that in the preceding pages we have made it clear that there can be no such things as real signs without intentional meaning, and that unmeant signs are not language : also that there is no meaning without mental conception, and no perception without implicit judgment. Thus, as we have said, the impressions made by the objects of nature on sensitive organisms are different according to the nature of such organisms, each being affected according to its nature and innate powers. In the vital organization of the animal they excite those sensations and more and more complex feelings, imaginations, and emotions which correspond with our own lower mental powers. In the living organism, man, they call forth not only such feelings, but also, by and through them, truly intellectual perceptions spontaneously start forth, containing within them implicitly the very highest abstract ideas, even that of “being.” That the prattle of the infant is the outcome of consciousness, and that self-perception and the predication of the copula not only may, but must be present in the rudest forms of language known to us, we have also, we trust, not urged in vain. The ideal portrait of primitive man sketched for us by the author
* See Ibid., pp. 243-254, 274, 275, 282-286.
we have criticized, hardly, as he himself admits, demands or can well receive a grave and serious examination, and our brief criticism of it is, we think, amply sufficient for the purpose of this work.
. We desire, finally, to take leave of Mr. Romanes with gratitude and sympathy : gratitude for his honest labour, the pains he has taken, and his studious endeavour to be just and fair to us personally. We takė leave of him with sympathy, for we cannot regard otherwise than with kindly regret the thankless, the impossible, task he has gratuitously 'taken upon himself, and which has wasted so many wellmeant efforts. Heartily do we wish that he would consent for a time to put physical science on one side, and devote his very considerable energy and ability to the study of science properly so-called. Would he only consent so to do, we feel a strong conviction that unmixed good to himself and others would be the by no means distant result. We are persuaded that a patient study of philosophy would, in a mind so candid and open to conviction as we believe his to be, lead to a permanent reconciliation between the author of “Mental Evolution in Man" and the thesis he at present opposes, as well as to a prolific union between the declarations of objective Reason and the subjective psychological conceptions of Mr. Romanes himself. We have selected his work for careful examination because in it may be found an exposition of all the most recent hypotheses in favour of the evolution of intellect from mere sentience. In examining it, we have examined these