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The problem which of late years has Owing to the great development, howmost deeply stirred the philosophic mind ever, of the study of nature in this cenof Europe is the problem of creation. No tury, and the wide diffusion of physical doubt that problem is as old as the world, knowledge among all classes of society, or at least as old as the first questionings the problem of creation has lately risen to of the human mind; and the solutions the surface again. New facts challenge which it has received, both from poets new thoughts, and the mass of new facts, and philosophers, are innumerable. Out throwing light on the earliest history of of many solutions one, which best satisfies the world, has become so large that we the enquiring intellect of the time, gene. need not wonder if philosophers felt inrally prevails. In ancient times one or spired with fresh courage, and by elabothe other solution has even been invested rating a new theory of creation, which with a kind of sacred authority; and, as should not outrage the convictions of men the subject is one on which real knowledge of science and friends of truth, tried to is impossible, it is hardly to be wondered wrest a new province from the land of at, that, with us too, the prevailing con- the Unknowable. ception of creation should have continued, The approaches were made from three up to the nineteenth century, very much points. First of all, there were the ancient the same as what it was at the time of vestiges of creation discovered in the Moses.
strata of the earth; secondly, there was New Series.—Vol. XVIII., No. 3
the living history of creation to be studied the primary elements of all living organin the minute stages of embryonic deve- isms are the simple cells, so that the prolopment; and thirdly, there was the com- blem of creation has assumed a new form, parative method of anatomy, laying bare and has become the problem of the origin essential coincidences in the structures of and nature of these cells. living beings, even of such as had never The same in the Science of Language. before displayed the slightest traces of re- The most important result which has been lationship
obtained by a truly scientific study of lanThe zealous and successful pursuit of guages is this, that, after accounting for these three branches of physical study, all that is purely formal as the result of now generally spoken of as Palæontology, juxtaposition, agglutination, and inflection, Embryology,* and Comparative Anatomy, there remain in the end certain simple has produced the same effect with regard elements of human speech--phonetic cells to the problem of creation which our own -commonly called roots. In place, therelinguistic studies have produced with re- fore, of the old question of the origin of gard to the problem of the origin of lan- language, we have here, too, to deal with guage and thought.
the new question of the origin of roots. As long as the question of the origin of Here, however, the analogy between language was asked in a general and in- the two sciences, in their solution of the definite way, the answers were mostly as highest problems, comes to an end. There general and as unsatisfactory as the ques- are, indeed, two schools of physiologists, tions themselves. In fact, the crude ques- the polygenetic and the monogenetic, the tion, How was human language made, or former admitting from the beginning a how did it arise ? admitted of no scientific variety of primitive cells, the latter postuanswer, and the best that could be said
lating but one cell, as the source of all on the subject was, that, like the begin-being. But it is clear, that the monogenings of all things, the beginning of lan- netic school is becoming more and more guage, too, transcends the powers of the powerful. Mr. Darwin, as we saw, was human understanding. But, when what satisfied with admitting four or five beginwe may call palæontological studies had nings for plants, and the same number for placed before us the earliest vestiges of animals. But his position has become alhuman speech in the most ancient inscrip- most untenable, and his most ardent distions and literatures of the world ; when, ciple, Professor Haeckel, treats his massecondly, a study of living languages had ter's hesitation on this point with ill-disdisclosed to us the minute stages of dia- guised contempt. One little cell is all lectic growth and phonetic decay, through that he wants to explain the Universe, which all languages are constantly passing and he boldly claims for his primordial in their passage from life to death and Moneres, the ancestor of plants and anifrom death to life; and when, lastly, the mals and men, a self-generating power, comparative method had disclosed to us the so-called generatio spontanea or aquithe essential coincidences in languages, voca. the relationship of which had never been Professor Haeckel is very anxious to suspected before, then the question of the convince his readers that the difference origin of language started up again, and between these two schools, the monogenetic called for a new and more definite an- and polygenetic, is of small importance.
The differences, he says, between the vaThe analogy between the researches rious Moneres, whose bodies consist of carried on by the students of physical sci- simple matter without form or structure, ence and by the students of language goes and which are in fact no more than a comstill farther. Whatever difference of opin- bination of carbon in the form of white of ion there may be between the different eggs, are of a chemical nature only; and schools of physiologists, this one result the differences of mixture in the endless seems to be permanently established, that varieties of combination of white of eggs
are so fine as to be, for the present, be
yond the powers of human perception.* * It is impossible to use Ontology in the sense
But if this is so, surely the rule of all scienof Embryology, for Ontology has its own techni. cal meaning, and to use it in a new sense would give rise to endless confusion.
* Haeckel, Vorlesungen, p. 372.
tific research would be, that we should the same language, or in the same cluster wait before definitely deciding in favor of of languages, there are roots of exactly one primordial cell, and thus creating new the same sound, but different in their later trammels in the progress of free enquiries. development, a separate existence and an Whatever the physiologist may say to the independent origin are allowed to each. contrary, it does make a very great diffe- There is, for instance, in the Aryan family, rence to the philosopher, whether the be- the well-known root DA. From it we ginning of organic life has happened once, have Sk. dádāmi, I give; Greek did; or may be supposed to have happened Lat. do ; Slavonic, da-mi; Lithuanian, durepeatedly; and though I do not grudge mi;* and an endless variety of derivatives, to the Bathybios of Haeckel the dignity of such as donum, a gift; French, donner, to a new Adam, I cannot help feeling that in give, pardonner, to forgive; Latin, trado, this small speck of slime, dredged up from to give over; Greek, Tiposiswi, to surrenthe bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, there der; then Italian, tradire; French, trahir, is too much lest of the old Adam, too trahison; English, treason; Latin, reddo, much of what I call mythology, too much to give back; the French, rendre, with all of human ignorance, concealed under the its derivatives, extending as far as rente veil of positive knowledge.
and rentier. Another derivative of DA, The students of language have given to to give, is dös, dotis, a giver, in which the problem of the origin of language a sense it occurs at the end of sacer-dos ; far more exact and scientific form. As and dos, dotis, what is given to the bride, long as they deal with what may be called the English dower (the French douaire), the Biology of language, as long as they which comes from the French douer, dosimply wish to explain the actual pheno- tare, to endow; a dowager being a widow mena of spoken dialects all over the possessed of a dowry. world, they are satisfied with treating the I might go on for hours before I could variety of living cells, or the significant exhaust the list of words derived from this roots of language, as ultimate facts. These one root, DA, to give. But what I wish roots are what remains in the crucible to show you is this, that by the side of after the most careful analysis of human this root DA there is another root DA, language, and there is nothing to lead us exactly the same in all outward appearon to search for one primordial root, or ance, consisting of D+Ā, and yet totally for a small number of uniform roots, ex- distinct from the former. While from the cept the mediæval idea that Nature loves former we have, in Sanskrit, dā-trám, a simplicity. There was a time when scho- gift, we have from the latter dā'-tram, a lars imagined they could derive a lan- sickle. The meaning of the second root guage from nine roots, or even from one; is to cut, to carve; from it Greek daw, but these attempts were purely ephemeral.* and δαίομαι, δαιτρός, a man who carves. At present we know that, though the num- The accent remains, in Sanskrit, on the ber of roots is unlimited, the number of radical syllable in da'-tram, i.e. the cutting those which remain as the actual feeders (active) ; whilst it leaves the radical syllaof each single language amounts to about ble in dātrám, i.e. what is given (passive). one thousand.
There are still other roots, in outward Some of these roots are, no doubt, sec- appearance identical with these two, yet ondary and tertiary formations, and may totally distinct in their potential character; be reduced to a smaller number of pri- meaning, neither to give, nor to cut, but mary forms. ,
But here, too, philological to bind (for instance, in Sládna, diadem, research seems to me to show far more what is bound through the hair; deua, a deference to the commandments of true band or bundle, κρήδεμνων (κράς, δέμα) philosophy than the prevalent physiological head-dress; and another, meaning to teach, speculations. While the leading physio- and to know, preserved in Sidiokw, Aor. logists are striving to reduce all variety to Pass, 6-84-nv, &c. uniformity, the student of language, in his We have the root GAR, meaning to treatment of roots, distinguishes where, swallow, which yields us the Sanskrit to all outward appearance, there is no girati, he swallows, the Greek Bußpú-okal, perceptible difference whatsoever. If in
* Pott, Etymologische Forschungen 2nd edit. * Lectures on the Science of Language, I. p. 44. 1867, p. 105.
the Latin vorat. We have, secondly, a produce two totally distinct families of root GAR, meaning to make a noise, to words, we conclude that, though outwardcall, which yields us gar-ate in Sanskrit, ly alike, they are different roots. And if γαργαρίζειν, βαρβαρίζειν, and βορβορύζειν we applied this reasoning to living germs, in Greek, and both garrire and gingrire we should say that, if two germs, though in Latin. It is conceivable that these two apparently alike, grow, under all circumroots may have been originally one and stances, the one always into an ape, and the same, and that GAR from meaning never beyond, the other always into a to swallow may have come to mean the man, and never below, then the two germs, indistinct and disagreeable noise which though indistinguishable at first, and even now is called swallowing the letters, though following for a time the same line in Sanskrit grāsa, the German Verschluck- of embryonic development, are different en. But a third root GAR, meaning from the beginning, whatêver their beto wake, the Greek, dyeipw, perf. yonyopa, ginning may have been. can hardly be traced back to the same There is another point of difference besource, but has a right to be treated as a tween the treatment of cells by physiololegitimate and independent companion of gists, and the treatment of roots by philothe other root GAR.
logists, which requires careful attention. Many more instances might be given, The physiologist is not satisfied with the more than sufficient to establish the prin- admission of his uniform cells, but, by subciple, that even in the same language two jecting these organic bodies to a new or more roots may be discovered, identi- chemical analysis, he arrives in the end at cal in all outward appearance, yet totally the ordinary chemical substances (the different from each other in meaning and tpūta Otoixeia of nature), and looks upon origin.
these, not simply as ruins, or as the residue Then, why, it may be asked, do stu- of a violent dissolution, but as the elements dents of language distinguish, where stu- out of which everything that exists, whedents of nature do not? Why are phy. ther lifeless or living, was really built up. siologists so anxious to establish the ex- He maintains, in fact, the possibility of inistence of cells, uniform from their be- organic substances combining, under favorginning, yet — Í quote from Professor able circumstances, so as to form organic Haeckel-capable of producing by the substances, and he sees in the lowest Moprocesses of monogony, gemmation, poly- neres the living proof of an independent sporogony, and amphigony, the endless beginning of life. * variety of living creatures ?* Students In the Science of Language we abstain of language, too, might say, like the phy- from such experiments, and we do so on siologists, that, in such cases as the root principle. We do not expect to discover DĀ, the difference of mixture in the end- the origin of living roots by dissolving them less varieties of consonants and vowels into their inorganic or purely phonetic eleare so fine as to be, for the present at ments; for, although every root may be least, beyond the powers of human per- reduced to at least one consonant and one ception.' If they do not follow that Si vowel, these consonants and vowels are ren voice, it is because they hold to a fun- simply the materials, but not the elements of damental principle of reasoning, which language; they have, in fact, no real indethe evolutionist philosopher abhors, viz., pendent existence, they are nothing but that if two things, be they roots or cells or the invention of grammarians, and their anything else, which appear to be alike, become different by evolution, their difference need not always be due to outward circum
* A further distinction is made between Autostances (commonly called environment), ion of the most simple organic individuals from combination would only give rise to mean- thetical subjects in a hypothetical manner, ingless sounds, never to significant roots. there is nothing mysterious or irrational in While the physiologist still entertains a lin- the origin of roots. Only let us not forget gering hope that, with the progress of that roots are not merely sounds, but chemical science, it may be possible to pro- sounds full of meaning. To take the roots duce a living cell out of given materials, gā, to sing, dā, to give, vā, to blow, and to we know that roots are simple, that they ask why the three different consonants, g, cannot and should not be decomposed, d, v, should produce such difference of and that consonants and vowels are lifeless meaning, is absurd, and can never lead to and meaningless materials, out of which no any results. These consonants, though, real root ever arose, and out of which cer- when we learn our A B C, they look so tainly, nothing like a root can ever be re- very real, are nothing by themselves; they constructed. The root DA, for instance, can, therefore, possess no meaning by means, as we saw, to give; dissolve it into themselves; or produce by themselves any D and A, and you have meaningless slag effect whatsoever. All scholars, from Plato and scum. Recompose D and A, and you down to Humboldt, who imagine that they have indeed the same sound, but its life can discover certain meanings in certain and meaning are gone, and no language consonants, have forgotten that neither could, by its own free choice, accept such consonants nor vowels are more than aban artificial compound into its grammar or stractions; and if there is any truth in their dictionary
and Plasmogony. The former is the genera. but may be due to latent dispositions an inorganic formative fluid, a fluid which contains which, in their undeveloped form, are be- the requisite elements for the composition of an yond the powers of human perception.
organism, dissolved in simple and firm combina
tions, e.g. carbonic acid, ammoniac, binary salts, If two roots of exactly the same sound
&c. The latter is the generation of an organism from an organic formative fluid, a fluid which con
tains the requisite elements dissolved in compli* Haeckel, Natürliche Schöpfungsgeschichte, achte cated and loose combination of compounds of car. Vorlesung; Strauss, Alter und Neuer Glaube, p. bon, e.g., white of eggs, fat, &c. (Haeckel, Vorle169.
sungen, p. 302.)
observations, as there undoubtedly is, we Such are some of the coincidences and shall see that this must be explained in a some of the differences between Biology different way. A root, on the contrary, is and Philology in their attempts to solve the not, as is sometimes supposed, a mere abproblems of the origin of life and the origin straction or invention of grammarians. of language; and the question does now We have in many languages to discover arise, Are we, in the Science of Language, them by analysis, no doubt; but no one driven admit that roots, because they who has ever disentangled a cluster of yield to no further analysis, are therefore to words can fail to see that, without granting be accepted as unintelligible in their origin, to roots an independent, and really historias miraculously implanted in man, but not cal existence, the whole evolution of lanin animals; or may we hope to be able to guage would become an impossibility. go beyond this limit, and discover some- There are languages, however, such as anthing which, while it makes the origin of cient Chinese, in which almost every word roots perfectly intelligible in man, explains is still a root, and even in so modern a lanto us, at the same time, why they should guage as Sanskrit, there are still many never have arisen in any other aninial? words which, in outward appearance, are
Now I say, without hesitation, that roots, identical with roots. though they must be accepted as ultimate As roots therefore have two sides, an facts in the Science of Language, are not outside, their sound, and an inside, their ultimate facts in the Science of Thought. meaning, it is quite clear we shall never The scholar naturally shrinks from a sub- arrive at a proper understanding of their ject which does not directly concern him, nature, unless we pay as much attention to and which, according to its very nature, their soul as to their body. We must, bedoes not admit of that exact treatment to fore all things, have a clear insight into which he is accustomed; but the philoso- the mechanism of the human mind, if we pher must accept facts as they are, and his want to understand the origin of roots ; interests are with the Chaos as well as with and by placing before you the simplest out the Kosmos. As the medical man, who line of the mind in the act of knowing, (withhas to study the marvellously arranged net- out considering what concerns emotion work of the nerves, shrinks instinctively and will), I believe I shall be able to lay from hypothetical explanations of the first bare the exact point where the origin of formation of nervous channels, and centres, of roots becomes, not only intelligible, but and ganglia, and plexuses, the scholar, too, inevitable. is frightened by the chaotic proceedings It is difficult, at the present moment, to which are inevitable when we come to ask, speak of the human mind in any technical how roots came to be what they are. But language whatsoever without being called to those who are ready to deal with hypo- to order by some philosopher or other.