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pressed, thus : “If Mr. Darwin rejects And if, according to the latest theories, the notion of creative power acting after man is himself a product of evolution, human fashion, it certainly is not be- and is therefore, in erery atom of his cause he is unacquainted with the num- body and in every function of his mind, berless exquisite adaptations on which' a part and a child of nature, is it not in the notions of a supernatural artificer is the highest degree illogical so to sepafounded.' Here we see that the idea rate him from it as to condemn him for of “acting after human fashion” is seeing in it some image of himself ? If treated as synonymous with the idea of he is its product and its child, it is not a supernatural artificer; and the same certain that he is right when he sees and identification may be observed running feels the indissoluble bonds of unity throughout the language which is com- which unite him to the great system of monly employed to condemn anthropo- things in which he lives? morphism and the supernatural.
This fundamental inconsistency in the The two propositions, therefore, Agnostic philosophy becomes all the which are really involved in the thor- more remarkable when we find that the ough-going denial of anthropomorphism very men who tell us we are not one and the Supernatural are the follow- with anything above us, are the same ing: ist, that there is nothing above or who insist that we are one with everyoutside of nature as we see and know it ; thing beneath us. Whatever there is in 2d, that in the system of nature, as us or about us which is purely animal thus seen and known, there is no mind we may see everywhere ; but whatever having analogies with our own.
there is in us purely intellectual and Surely these propositions have been moral, we delude ourselves if we think refuted the moment the definition of we see it anywhere. There are abunthem has been attained. We have only dant homologies between our bodies and to observe, in the first place, the strange the bodies of the beasts, but there are and anomalous position in which it places no homologies between our minds and man. As regards at least the higher fac- any Mind which lives or manifests itself ulties of his mind, he is allowed no in nature. Our livers and our lungs, place in nature, and no fellowship with our vertebræ and our nervous systems, any other thing or any other being out- are identical in origin and in function side of nature. He is absolutely alone with those of the living creatures round -out of all relation with the universe us; but there is nothing in nature or around him, and under a complete de- above it which corresponds to our forelusion when he sees in any part of it any thought, or design, or purpose-to our mental homologies with his own intelli- love of the good or our admiration of gence, or with his own will, or with his the beautiful-to our indignation with own affections. Does this absolute soli- the wicked, or to our pity for the suffertariness of position as regards the higher ing and the fallen. I venture to think attributes of inan--does it sound reason- that no system of philosophy that has able, or possible, or consistent with ever been taught on earth lies under such some of the most fundamental concep- a weight of antecedent improbability ; tions of science? How, for example, and this improbability increases in direct does it accord with that great concep- proportion to the success of science in tion whose truth and sweep become tracing the unity of nature, and in showevery day more apparent—the unity of ing step by step how its laws and their nature ?
results can be brought more and more How can it be true that man is so into direct relation with the mind and outside of that unity that the very intellect of man. notion of seeing anything like himself in Let us test this philosophy from it is the greatest of all philosophical another point of view, and see how far it heresies? Does not the very possibility is consistent with our advancing knowlof science consist in the possibility of re- edge of those combinations of natural ducing all natural phenomena to purely force by which the system of the physimental conceptions, which must be re- cal universe appears to be sustained. lated to the intellect of man when they We may often see in the writings of are worked out and apprehended by it? our great physical teachers of the present day reference made to a celebrated gives habitually its coloring to their phrase of the old and abandoned school thoughts and its spirit to their language. . of Aristotelian physics-a phrase in- Let me explain what I mean by some vented by that old school to express a examples. I will take, first, the theory familiar fact—that it is extremely diffi- of development, or the derivative hycult, if not absolutely impossible, to pothesis, which, as applied to the history produce a perfect vacuum, that is to of animal life, is now accepted by a say, a space which shall be absolutely large number of scientific men, if not as empty. The phrase was this : " Nature certainly true, at least as an hypothesis abhors a vacuum.” It is now contin- which comes nearer than any other to ually held up as a perfect example and the truth. Whether that theory be true type of the habit of thought which viti- or not, it is a theory saturated throughates all true physical reasoning. Now out with the ideas of utility and fitness, let us observe what this error is. As a and of adaptation, as the governing forcible and picturesque way of express- principles and causes of the harmony of ing a physical truth-that the difficulty nature. Its central conception is that in of producing a vacuum is extreme, that the history of organic life changes have
a nature sets, as it were, her face against somehow always come about exactly in her doing it, the phrase is a good one, proportion as the need of them arose. and conveys an excellent idea of the gen- But how is it that the laws of growth eral fact, Sir W. Grove says of it, that are so correlated with utility that they it is “an aphorism, which, though cav- should in this manner work together? illed at and ridiculed by the self-suffi- Why should varied and increasing utiliciency of some modern philosophers, ty operate in the requisite direction of contains in a terse though somewhat varied and increasing developments ? metaphorical form the expression of a The connection is not one of logical necomprehensive truth.” But there is this cessity. Not only can we conceive it error in the phrase (if indeed it was or otherwise, but we know that it is otherever could be literally understood), that wise beyond certain bounds and limits. it gives for the general fact a wrong It is not an universal law that organic cause, inasmuch as it ascribes to the ma- growths arise in proportion to all needs, terial and inanimate forces of nature, or are strengthened by all exertion. It whose simple pressures are concerned in is a law prevailing only within certain the result, certain dispositions that are limits; and it is not possible to describe known to us as affections of mind alone. the facts concerning it without employIn short, it ascribes to the mere element- ing the language which is expressive of ary forces of matter-not to a living
mental purpose. agency using these as tools, but to mere Accordingly, Mr. Darwin hinıself does material force—the attributes of mind. use this language perpetually, and to
Now it is well worthy of remark that, an extent far exceeding that in which so far as this error is concerned, the lan- it is used by almost any other natural guage of physical science is full of it- philosopher. He does not use it with steeped in it; and that in this sense it is any theological purpose nor in connecchargeable with a kind of anthropomor- tion with any metaphysical speculation. phism which is really open to the gravest He uses it simply and naturally for no objection. To see mind in nature, or, other reason than that he cannot help it. according as nature may be defined, to The correlation of natural forces, so adsee mind outside of nature, acknowledg. justed as to work together for the proing it to be mind, and treating it as such duction of use in the functions—for the -this is one thing—and this is the true enjoyments and for the beauty-of life, , and legitimate anthropomorphism which this is the central idea of his system ; some physicists denounce. But to see and it is an idea which cannot be mind in material forces alone, and to as- worked out in detail without habitual cribe its attributes to them—this is use of the language which is moulded on equally anthropomorphism, but a form our own consciousness of the mental of it which is indeed open to all the ob- powers by which all our
own adjustjections they express. This, neverthe- ments are achieved. This is what, perless, is the anthropomorphism which haps, the greatest observer that has ever lived cannot help observing in nature; using the most intensely anthropomorand so his language is thoroughly an- phic language : “ The continued effort thropomorphic. Seeing in the methods of animated nature is to improve its conpursued in nature a constant embodi- ditions and raise itself to a loftier level." ment of his own intellectual conceptions, Again, I say, it is quite right to use and a close analogy with the methods this language, provided its ultimate ref
a which his own mind recognizes as erence to mind be admitted and not re
contrivance, he rightly uses the pudiated. But if this language be performs of expression which convey the sistently applied and philosophically de. work of mind. “Rightly,” I say, pro
* Rightly," I say, pro- fended as applicable to material force, vided the full scope and meaning of this otherwise than as the instrument and language be not repudiated. I do not tool of mind, then it is language involvmean that naturalists should be always ing far more than the absurdity of the following up their language to theologi- old mediæval phrase that “nature abhors cal conclusions, or that any fault should a vacuum.” It ceases to be a mere picbe found with them when they stopturesque expression, and becomes a defiwhere the sphere of mere physical ob- nite ascription to matter of the highest servation terminates. But those who attributes of mind. If nature cannot seek to remodel philosophy upon the re- feel abhorrence, neither can it cherish sults of that observation cannot consist- aspirations. If it cannot hate, neither ently borrow all the advantage of an- can it love, nor contrive, nor adjust, nor thropomorphic language, and then de- look to the future, nor think about nounce it when it carries them beyond “ loftier levels” there. the point at which they desire to stop. Professor Tyndall in the same address If in the words which we recognize as has given us an interesting anecdote of best describing the facts of nature there a very celebrated man whom the world be elements of meaning to which their has lately lost. He tells us that he whole force and descriptive power is heard the great Swiss naturalist Agassiz due, then these elements of meaning express an almost sad surprise that the must be admitted as essential to a just Darwinian theory should have been so conception and to a true interpretation extensively accepted by the best intelof what we see. The analogies which lects of our time. And this surprise help us to understand the works of na- seems again in some measure to have ture are not, as it were, foreign mate- surprised Professor Tyndall. Now it so rial imported into the facts, but are part happens that I have perhaps the means of these facts, and constitute the light of explaining the real difficulty felt by which shines from them upon the intel- Agassiz in accepting the modern theory lect of man. In exact proportion as we of evolution. I had not seen that disbelieve that intellect to be a product of tinguished man for nearly five-and-thirty nature, and to be united to it by indis- years. But he was one of those gifted soluble ties of birth, of structure, and of beings who stamp an indelible impresfunction, in the same proportion may sion on the memory; and in 1842 he we be sure that its organs of vision are had left an enthusiastic letter on my adjusted to the realities of the world, father's table at Inverary on finding it and that its innate perceptions of anal- largely occupied by scientific works. ogy and resemblance have a close rela- Across that long interval of tinie I vention to the truth. The theory of de- tured lately to seek a renewal of acvelopment is not only consistent with quaintance, and during the year which teleological explanation, but it is founded proved to be the last of his life I asked on teleology, and on nothing else. It him some questions on his own views on sees in everything the results of a sys- the history and origin of organic forms. tem which is ever acting for the best, al- In his reply Agassiz sums up in the folways producing something more perfect lowing words his objection to the theory or more beautiful than before, and in- of natural selection as affording any cessantly eliminating whatever is faulty satisfying explanation of the facts for or less perfectly adapted to every new which it professes to account : “ The condition. Professor Tyndall himself truth is, that life has all the wealth of cannot describe this system without endowment of the most comprehensive .mental manifestations, and none of the it because they feel it to be a help in the simplicity of physical phenomena. understanding of the facts. When, for
Here we have the testimony of an example, we are told that fowers are other among the very greatest of modo constructed in a peculiar manner“ in ern observers that wealth-immense and order that they may catch the probosimmeasurable wealth-of mind is the ces of moths or the backs of bees, and one fact above all others observable in that this adaptation again is necessary nature, and especially in the adaptations "in order that" these insects should of organic life. It was because he could carry the fertilizing pollen from flower see no adequate place or room reserved to flower, nothing more may be immefor this fact in the theory of develop- diately intended by the writer than that ment that Agassiz rejected it as not sat all this elaborate mechanism does as a isfying the conditions of the problem to matter of fact attain this end, and that be solved. Possibly this may be the it may be fitly described " as if"' it had fault of the forms in which it has been been arranged "in order that” these propounded, and of the strenuous en- things might happen. But this use of deavors of many of its supporters to shut language is none the less an acknowledgout all interpretations of a higher kind. ment of the truth that the facts of naBut of this we may be sure, that if men ture are best brought home and exshould indeed ultimately become con- plained to the understanding by stating vinced that species have been all born them in terms of the relation which they just as individuals are now all born, obviously bear to the familiar operations and that such has been the universal of our own mind and spirit. method of creation, this conviction will And this is the invariable result of all not only be found to be soluble, so to physical inquiry. In this sense nature speak, in the old beliefs respecting a is essentially anthropomorphic. Man creative mind, but it will be unintelligi- sees his own mind reflected in it-his ble and inconceivable without them, so own, not in quantity but in quality-his that men in describing the history and own fundamental attributes of intellect, aim and direction of evolution, will be and, to a wonderful and mysterious decompelled to use substantially the same gree, even his own methods of operalanguage in which they have hitherto tion. spoken of the history of creation.
It is really curious and instructive to Mr. Mivart has indeed remarked in a observe how even those who struggle very able work,* that the teleological hardest to avoid the language of anthrolanguage used so freely by Mr. Darwin pomorphism in the interpretations of naand others is purely metaphorical. But ture are compelled to make use of the for what purpose are metaphors used ? analogies of our own mental operations, Is it not as a means of making plain to as the only possible exponents of what our own understandings the principle of we see. Let us look, for example, at the things, and of tracing amid the varieties definition of life given by Mr. Herbert of phenomena the essential unities of Spencer. It is a very old endeavor to nature ? In this sense all language is construct such definitions, and not a full of metaphor, being indeed composed very profitable one : inasmuch as life is of little else. That is to say, the whole only known to us as itself, and all atstructure and architecture of language tempts to reduce it to other conceptions consists of words which transfer and are generally mere playing with empty apply to one sphere of investigation words. But it is not without instrucideas which have been derived from tion to observe that Mr. Spencer's laanother, because there also the same borious analysis comes to this : “ Life ideas are seen to be expressed, only is the continuous adjustinent of internal under some difference of form. Accord- relations to external relations." Bare, ingly when naturalists, describing plants abstract, and evasive of characteristic or animals, use metaphorically the lan- facts as this formula is, it does contain guage of contrivance to describe the at least one definite idea as to how life adaptations of function, they must use comes to be. Life is an adjustment.
This is a purely anthropomorphic con* “Genesis of Species."
ception, conveying the idea of that kind
of co-ordination between different pow- more unreasonable, it must be the further ers or elements which is the result of attempt to reach this result through sciconstructive purpose. I have already ence-science, the very possibility of pointed out in a former chapter that all which depends upon and consists in the combinations are not adjustments. The possibility of reducing all natural phewhole force and meaning of the word nomena within the terms of human consists in its reference to intentional thought, so that its highest generalizaarrangement. No combination tions are always the most abstract intelproperly be called an adjustment if it be lectual conceptions. Science is the syspurely accidental. When, therefore, life tematic knowledge of relations. But is represented as an adjustment, this is that which perceives relations must be the mental image which is reproduced ; itself related. All explanation conand in so far as it does reproduce this sists in nothing else than in establishing idea, and does consciously express it, the relation which some order of exterthe formula has at least some intelligi- nal facts bears to some corresponding ble meaning. If, indeed, it has any order of thought ; and it follows from plausibility or approach to truth at all, this truth, that the highest explanations this is the element in it from which this of phenomena must always be those plausibility is derived.
which establish such relations with the We may take another case. Mr. Mat- highest faculties of our nature. Profes thew Arnold has invented a new phrase sor Tyndall, in another part of his Belfor that conception of a Divine Being fast address, like many other writers of which alone, he thinks, can be justified the present day, goes the length of sayby such evidence as we possess. And ing that the great test of physical truth what is that phrase ? The Eternal, not is what may be called its representaourselves, which makes for righteous- bility”-that is to say, the degree in ness.''
Surely whatever meaning there which a given physical conception can, may be in this artificial and cumbrous from the analogies of experience, be rephrase is entirely derived from its presented in thought. But if our power anthropomorphism. An agency which .
of picturing a physical fact distinctly be “makes for something—that some- indeed an indication of a true physical thing, too, being in the future, and analogy, how much more distinctly than being also in itself an abstract, moral, any physical fact can we picture the and intellectual conception-what can characteristic workings of our own mensuch an agency be conceived to be ? tal constitution. Yet these are the con“ Making for' an object of any kind is ceptions which, we are told, we are not a purely human image-an image, too, to cherish, because they are anthropoderived primarily not from the highest morphic, or, in other words, because of efforts of human will, but from those the very fact that they are so familiar to which are represented in the exercises us, and their mental representability is of the body, and the skill with which, so complete. in athletic contentions, some distant goal Some, indeed, of our physical teachmay be reached and won. Such is the ers, conscious of this necessary and inattempt of a very eminent man to in- voluntary anthropomorphism of human struct us how we are to think of God thought and speech, struggle hard to exwithout seeing in him or in his world pel it by inventing phrases which shall as anything analogous to our own thought far as possible avoid it. But it is well and work.
worthy of observation, that in exact proNor is it wonderful that this attempt portion as these phrases do avoid it, should fail, when we consider what it is they become incompetent to describe an attempt to do-to establish an abso- fully the facts of science. For example, lute separation between man and na- take those incipient changes in the subture ; to set up man as something above stance of an egg by which the organs of nature, and outside of it ; and yet to the future animal are successively laid affirm that there is no other Being, and down-changes which have all reference no other Intelligence in a like position. to a purely purposive adaptation of that And if anything can render this attempt substance to the future discharge of sepa