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Proceeding, then, on the maxim now mentioned, we must allow to the brutes the powers of sensation, perception, and memery. Whether they possess the power of recollection, is more doubtful. If some of the more sagacious of them do, it is certainly in a very inconsiderable degree. That they are not wholly destitute of the faculty of conception, we may infer from this that some of them appear to dream, and to be affected with absent objects as if they were present. And that something very analogous to the associating principle takes place in their minds, is evinced by numberless phenomena. Among these it is sufficient to mention the means which are employed in teaching bears to dance, by making them move on heated floors to the sound of musical instruments; and in training horses to military service, by combining the idea of their food with the noise of the drum. We must too, in my opinion, allow them some degree of art, or a capacity of employing simple combinations of means to accomplish particular ends. This, indeed, will be disputed by some theorists; but, in the present argument, I am rather disposed to ascribe to them too much than too little; for granting all that has ever been claimed in their favour, we shall still find a boundary distinctly and strongly drawn between the animal and the rational na
This boundary is drawn by the capacity of artificial language, which none of the brutes possess even in the lowest degree. They possess, indeed, natural signs, and the power of understanding their meaning, when employed by their own species; but they discover no marks whatever of a capacity to employ arbitrary signs, so as to carry on reasonings by means of them. Allowing that they possessed all our other faculties, this defect alone would render them totally incapable of forming any general conclusions, and would confine their knowledge entirely to particular objects, and particular events.† Nor is this all. The same defect would necessarily confine to each individual his personal acquisitions, and would prevent the possibility of any improvements resulting from the mutual communication of ideas, or from a transmission of knowledge from one generation to another.
The facts collected by Darwin to prove the reasoning powers of animals only show that they are possessed of some small degree of mechanical art. Such, for instance, is the fact he
ing reason in the one case no less than in the other. In whatever way the fact was to be accounted for, Laplace seems never to have suspected that the ingenuity of the contrivance was to be referred to the animal.
* See Note (H.)
Philosophy of the Human Mind, Vol. I. chap. iv. section v.
mentions with respect to an old monkey at Exeter Change, London, "who, having lost his teeth, when nuts are given "him, takes a stone in his hand, and cracks them with it, one "by one, thus using tools to effect his purpose like mankind."
In the First Volume of this work, (p. 207, Sixth Edition,) I have quoted a still more extraordinary fact concerning the sagacity of a monkey, related by M. Bailly in his Lettre sur les Animaux; and I have subjoined to the narrative the following remark: "Admitting this anecdote to be correct in all its cir"cumstances, it still leaves an essential distinction between "man and brutes; inasmuch, as in none of the contrivances "here detailed, is there any thing analogous to those intel"lectual processes which lead the mind to general conclusions, "and which, consequently, imply the use of general terms. "Those powers, therefore, which enable us to classify objects, "and to employ signs as an instrument of thought, are, as far "as we can judge, peculiar to the human species."*
To what this incapacity of language is owing, is a question of more difficult discussion. Locke ascribes it, (and, I think, with great probability,) to a want of the faculty of abstraction, of which none of the brutes discover the faintest traces.t
An artifice, not less refined than that employed by the monkey mentioned in the above anecdote, was daily put in practice by the female elephant which was lately exhibited at Exeter Change. When the keeper put a shilling near the boards separating the room from the staircase, and ordered her to pick it up, she immediately extended her trunk towards it; and, finding it placed beyond the reach of that instrument, she began to blow hard against the boards, so that the blast might move the shilling within her grasp. No spectator, surely, of common observation, who saw this elephant, could help suspecting that this feat, like all her other performances, was entirely the result of the instruction and discipline of the keeper. Without meaning to impeach, in the slightest degree, the veracity, either of M. Bailly or of his friend, I may be permitted to express my doubts, whether the apparent sagacity of their monkey might not, if his history had been equally well-known, have been accounted for in a similar way; more particularly, when we consider how much the education of this animal is facilitated by those imitative powers which he possesses in so uncommon a degree.
"This, I think, I may be positive in, that the power of abstracting is not at "all in beasts; and that the having of general ideas is that which puts a perfect "distinction between man and brutes, and is an excellency which the faculties of "brutes do by no means attain to," &c. &c. (Locke's Essay, Book II. chap. xi. section 10.) The objection stated to this opinion by Darwin, will perhaps appear to the well-informed reader too frivolous to deserve a serious answer; but some reply is called for by the number and presumption of his half-educated, though, in some instances, ingenious disciples. "Mr. Locke" (says he)" published an opin❝ion that other animals possessed no abstract or general ideas, and thought this "circumstance was the barrier between the brute and the human world. But "these abstracted ideas have been since demonstrated by Bishop Berkeley, and "allowed by Mr. Hume, to have no existence in nature, not even in the mind of "their inventor, and we are hence necessitated to look for some other mark of "distinction."-Zoonomia, Vol. I. p. 264. Third Edition.
To those who know any thing of the controversy here alluded to, it must ap
This supposition, it is evident from what I already said on the subject, is perfectly sufficient to account for the phenomena; for it is in consequence of abstraction that we are enabled to classify objests, and to carry on reasonings by means of general terms. And, perhaps, in an inquiry of this sort, this is as strong a presumption as can be brought in support of any particular conclusion.
To the question, then, that is commonly asked, whether the brutes are capable of reasoning? we may answer, That, if by reasoning be meant a capacity of employing mechanical means to accomplish a particular end, some of the more sagacious tribes do exhibit phenomena which can only be ascribed to this faculty. But if the word reasoning be restricted in its meaning to the capacity of carrying on processes of thought by the help of artificial signs, and of thus arriving at general or scientific conclusions, we may venture to affirm, that no symptom of such a power is to be observed in any animal excepting man alone. *
pear evident that Darwin has completely misapprehended the point in dispute. When Berkeley and Hume denied the existence of abstract or general ideas, (which two epithets Darwin plainly considered as synonymous) they never meant to deny the power of the Human Mind to carry on general reasonings, so as to arrive at general conclusions. The only difference between them and their antagonists related to the manner in which these reasonings were conducted; the one attempting to explain it by the supposition of abstract general ideas; the other, by the power which the rational mind possesses to employ words or signs in a generic sense, as the algebraist employs letters of the alphabet, in order to arrive at general theorems. The doctrine of Locke, therefore, in point of substance, amounts to nothing more than this, that the brutes are incapable of those mental processes (whatever they may be) on which the power of forming general conclusions depends; and, consequently, is not in the least affected by the issue of the controversy between the Realists and their opponents.
It is quite astonishing that a man of Darwin's sagacity should have imagined, after all that has been written on the subject, that one of the circumstances which distinguishes the philosopher from the vulgar is, that he has acquired the power of reasoning without the instrumentality of words; while the fact is, that without the use of words (or of some other species of artificial signs) the power of general reasoning would be impossible. Mr. Horne Tooke has shown," (I quote Darwin's own words)" that what were called general ideas, are in reality only
general terms: Whence arises much error in our verbal reasonings: And "hence those who can reason without words reason more accurately than those "who only compare the ideas suggested by words: a rare faculty, which distinguishes the writers of philosophy from those of sophistry."-Zoonomia, Vol. I. p. 178. Third Edition. 1801.
* Charron, and various other writers since his time, have been led to adopt a different opinion, from a want of attention to an important distinction which I pointed out in a former volume of this work, (Vol. II. pp. 244, 245. Third Edition. -between the assimilation or confounding of objects, which is the consequence of gross and undistinguishing perception, and that scientific classification which is founded on an examination and comparison of individuals. "Les bestes des " singuliers concluent les universels, du regard d'un homme seul cognoissent tous hommes," &c.-De la Sagesse, Liv. I. Chap. 8.
If, however, any doubts should be entertained about this particular hypothesis, it must still be remembered that the facts which it has been brought to explain do not admit of dispute. Can a single instance be alleged in which any one tribe of animals has improved its condition since the earliest accounts given of them by Natural Historians? Are bees advanced a single step since the time of Virgil? Till some authentic instances of this kind are produced, all the extraordinary stories collected by Darwin and others (even admitting the very doubtful
"In proportion as a country is more savage," (says Humboldt in his Travels through the Equinoctial Region of the new Continent) "the instinct of the do"mestic animals improves in address and sagacity. When the mules feel them"selves danger, they stop, turning their heads to the right and to the left; the "motion of their ears seems to indicate that they reflect on the decision they ** ought to take. Their resolution is slow, but always just, if it be free, that is to "say if it be not crossed or hastened by the imprudence of the traveller. It is "on the frightful roads of the Andes, during journeys of six or seven months "across mountains furrowed by torrents, that the intelligence of horses and beasts "of burden displays itself in an astonishing manner. Thus the mountaineers are "heard to say, I will not give you the mule, whose step is the easiest, but him "who reasons best; la mas racional.' This popular expression, dictated by long "experience, combats the system of animated machines better perhaps than all "the arguments of speculative philosophy."-Personal Narrative, &c. Vol. III. p. 105.
The language of the American mountaineers on this occasion appears to me quite correct. The most accurate use of words authorizes the application of the word reasoning to every exertion of mechanical ingenuity, to accomplish a particular end, no less than to the most skilful use of abstract terms, in order to obtain a general conclusion or theorem. But still these two intellectual processes are essentially different in their effects; and we may allow to the brutes a capacity of carrying on the one, while we deny them altogether a power of carrying on the other.
In an article upon Instinct, written, if I am not mistaken, by that eminent naturalist, the Chev. de Lamarck, (See the Nouveaux Dictionnaire d'Histoire Naturelle, Tom. xvi. à Paris, 1817.) I find the following sentence: "M. Fred. "Cuvier, qui a fort bien examiné le jeune Orang Outang apporté vivant en Eu"rope, établit qu'il est capable de generaliser ses idées, et de les abstraire par "force du raisonnement." When this Memoir of M. Fred. Cuvier first appeared in the Annals of the Museum of Natural History, I remember to have read it with much pleasure and instruction; but I was far from being satisfied that the facts he produces establish his proposition, that the animal in question possessed the pow ers of abstraction and generalization. On the contrary, it appeared to me (as far as I can now recollect) that all the phenomena he describes may be easily account. ed for by attending to the distinction referred to in the beginning of this note. It appeared to me farther, that due allowances were not made for that strong instinctive propensity to Imitation so characteristic of this tribe of animals; in consequence of which they may be expected to copy blindly many of those actions which in man must be referred to the rational principles of his nature. The instinctive propensity to the action of climbing, for which their bodies are so admirably adapted, ought also to have been taken into account. Perhaps some may be disposed to think that M. F. Cuvier's argument proves rather too much; as it would follow from it that his Orang Outang, (who, at the time of his death, was only fifteen or sixteen months old,) abstracted, generalized, and reasoned, at a period of life much earlier than any traces of these powers appear in the most precocious infants of our own species.
evidence on which many of them rest to remain uncontroverted) will never be of any weight in establishing the conclusion at which these authors seem to aim. We may err in the particular faculties we assign as the distinguishing attributes of man, but some distinguishing faculties there must be, to which he owes the progressive improvement of which he alone is capable among the various inhabitants of this globe. It is with a similar remark that Rousseau cuts short the logical controversies about the distinction between man and brutes. "Quand "les difficultés qui environnent toutes ces questions, laisseroi"ent quelque lieu de disputer sur cette différence de l'homme "et de l'animal, il y a un autre qualité spécifique qui les dis"tingue, et sur laquelle il ne peut y avoir de contestation, "c'est la faculté de se perfectionner; faculté qui, à l'aide des "circonstances, développe successivement toutes les autres, et "réside parmi nous tant dans l'espèce que dans l'individu au "lieu qu'un animal est, au bout de quelques mois, ce qu'il sera "toute sa vie ; et son espèce, au bout de mille ans, ce qu'elle "étoit la première année de ces mille ans."
I subjoin, with much pleasure, the eloquent and philosophical reflections of Buffon on the same subject.
"Il faut distinguer deux genres de perfectibilité, l'un stérile "et qui se borne à l'éducation de l'individu, et l'autre fécond "qui s'étend sur toute l'espèce, et qui s'étend autant qu'on le "cultive par les institutions de la société. Aucun des animaux "n'est susceptible de cette perfectibilité d'espèce; ils ne sont "aujourd'hui que ce qu'ils ont été, que ce qu'ils seront tou"jours, et jamais rien de plus, parce que leur éducation étant "" purement individuelle, ils ne peuvent transmettre à leurs pe"tits que ce qu'ils ont eux-mêmes reçu de leurs père et mère: "Au lieu que l'homme reçoit l'éducation de tous les siècles, "recueille toutes les institutions des autres hommes, et peut,
par un sage emploi du temps, profiter de tous les instans de "la durée de son espèce pour la perfectionner tous les jours "de plus en plus. Aussi quel regret ne devons nous pas avoir "à ces ages funestes ou la barbarie a non seulement arrêté "C nos progrès, mais nous a fait reculer au point d'imperfection "d'ou nous étions partis! Sans ces malheureuses vicissitudes, "l'espèce humaineût marché, et marcheroit encore constam"ment vers cette perfection glorieuse, qui est le plus beau ti"tre de sa supériorité, et qui seule peut faire son bonheur."
From the want of abstraction various other defects might be traced. I formerly showed, that imagination (understanding, by that term, creative imagination,) implies abstraction; and, therefore, we must consider imagination, in this sense, as a fa