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Title: Parallel Paths - A Study in Biology, Ethics, and Art
Author: Rolleston, T. W. (Thomas William)
Language: English
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    PARALLEL PATHS

    _All Rights Reserved_

    PARALLEL PATHS

    A STUDY IN
    BIOLOGY, ETHICS, AND ART

    BY

    T. W. ROLLESTON

    “Il faudrait, en un mot, suivre la grande route si profondément
    creusée ... mais il serait nécessaire aussi de tracer en l’air un
    chemin parallele, une autre route, d’atteindre les en deça et les
    après, de faire, en un mot, un naturalisme spiritualiste; ce serait
    autrement fier, autrement complet, autrement fort.”

                                                        J. K. Huysmans.

    LONDON
    DUCKWORTH & CO.

    3, HENRIETTA STREET, COVENT GARDEN
    1908



PREFACE


In a recent work by an eminent man of science, Dr. J. Reinke, Professor
of Botany at the University of Kiel, there occurs a passage which
I cannot do better than place in the forefront of this book as an
indication of its aim.

    “Physiology,” writes Professor Reinke, “has become the study of
    the movements which, taken together, make up life. There is no
    manner of doubt that nourishment, metabolism,[1] reproduction,
    development, and sensation rest on processes of movement which
    depend on material systems of peculiar molecular conformation. For
    the bodies of plants and of animals are material systems whose
    conformation is of a most intricate character.

    “So far as physiology has at present advanced in the analysis
    of these phenomena of movement, their problems have fallen
    naturally into two groups. The first of these groups of phenomena
    is comparatively transparent, and stands in agreement with the
    general processes of the material world; it can be investigated by
    observation and experiment. We may, therefore, hope to decipher
    it completely, and to reduce it, in the end, to chemico-physical
    processes. Of this kind are the phenomena of nutrition, taking
    that word in its widest sense. But behind these processes there
    stand the facts of development and of reproduction, and here, in
    all investigations, and in spite of every attempt to demonstrate a
    basis of physical energy, research finds itself confronted by an
    _X_, a factor which mocks every effort to explain it by physics
    or chemistry. And this _X_ which lurks in all the phenomena of
    development takes a part in the nutritive processes also; so
    essential a factor does it appear in all the processes of life that
    chemical and physical forces alone would not suffice to keep alive
    even the most rudimentary of organisms, not to mention creating
    such an organism out of non-living chemical constituents.”[2]

If this _X_ force exists and can be established, it will give us the
clue, I believe, to much more than the operations of physical nature.
The following pages are an attempt to establish it, to define its
character, and to indicate the lines on which this unknown factor
in evolution seems to bring into a rational unity the phenomena of
the physical world and the moral and æsthetic faculties of man. The
time appears to have come for such an attempt. The fermentation of
evolution theory is beginning to subside; it is now possible in some
measure to take stock of what has been destroyed, of what has been left
intact, by the immense tidal wave of new thought which then swept over
the world. Some conceptions which were thought to have been submerged
for ever are reappearing in more or less altered shapes, and science
is called on to reconstruct a universe less one-sided, less aridly
simple, than that which Darwinism, as at first understood, appeared
to have left us. The result, so far as it is successful, will be the
establishment of a spiritual view of the universe on a natural basis.
It is an attempt which is at present occupying many minds, and which
will doubtless have to occupy many more before complete success is
attained.

I propose, in the following pages, to take the reader over the most
material and significant part of the ground by which I have myself
travelled towards certain conclusions. Much of this ground lies in
the region of biological science. No doubt to readers acquainted with
that science I shall often seem to delay too long in well-trodden
and familiar paths. But I have had to consider the fact that English
education is still very much specialized. It is either literary or
it is scientific. In the great majority of cases it is literary.
And though scientific problems and theories are understood by every
educated man and woman to be of deep importance and interest, and
though questions like those discussed in the present work are questions
on which all such persons are well entitled, and many feel themselves
bound, to have an opinion, very few, comparatively, have even the
elementary knowledge of science and its terminology necessary to
enable them to take up the discussion at an advanced point. When it
is announced from time to time that some chemist has again succeeded
in forming an organic compound out of inorganic chemical constituents
in his laboratory,[3] how many readers are there out of the small
circle of trained chemists who would not be far more impressed if they
heard that he had made a diamond? It is for these persons—the layman
and the lay-woman in point of science—that I mainly write, and my own
training having been philosophical and literary rather than scientific
I think I understand most of their difficulties. I have, therefore,
tried to ‘begin at the beginning’; and I hope that this book, besides
whatever value its conclusions may have, will prove useful to some
readers by putting them in a position to appreciate the extraordinarily
interesting and fruitful discoveries of biology in recent years.

“The lotus of physics,” as Schopenhauer says, “is rooted in the soil
of metaphysics,” and if these studies pretended to offer a complete
explanation of the riddle of existence, the metaphysical basis for
the speculations contained in them would have to be elaborated at
considerable length. But, after all, the conclusions reached would
only be those which most people are willing to accept as a necessary
assumption, if all thought on the constitution of the universe is
not to be a pure futility. Suffice it to say Man is here regarded
as an organic part of Nature, and his consciousness as Nature’s way
of mirroring herself to herself. Since, like other natural things,
the soul is not a complete and unalterable entity, but is part of
the eternal Becoming, it never can be claimed that its reflection of
the world is absolutely pure and complete, yet some reality, some
significance this reflection must surely have. The fact that man is
not something different from the world, observing it from outside,
but is vitally related to it, would alone entitle us to believe that,
however much his observations may need to be purified and corrected,
and however false may be the argumentative deductions sometimes drawn
from them, he is still capable of a real and fruitful apprehension of
the phenomena by which he is surrounded, and of their relations to
each other and to himself. All sincere thought must therefore tend to
brighten a little the mirror of the human soul. If this book should
do so in any degree, were it merely by provoking other minds to more
successful labours, the writer will thankfully say, like Apollo’s
temple-sweeper in the play of Euripides, Fair is the service of Light.

T. W. ROLLESTON.

Glenealy, Co. Wicklow.

_I have to thank The Macmillan Co. for permission to reproduce two
illustrations (Figs. 1 and 2) from Wilson’s_ The Cell in Development
and Inheritance, _and Mr. Edward Arnold for a similar favour in regard
to Fig. 3 from Weismann’s_ The Evolution Theory.



CONTENTS


    PART I. BIOLOGY


    CHAPTER I

    The Argument from Design

                                                                   PAGE

    Paley and the Watch                                               1

    The Analogy Inapplicable                                          4

    Paley’s Conception of Design                                      8

    The Evolutionary Conception                                      11

    Conquest of Nature by the Evolution Theory                       16

    The Philosophic Basis of Nature-study                            17


    CHAPTER II

    The Wheel of Life

    Continuity of Animal, Vegetable, and Mineral Life                21

    Characters of Organic Life                                       23

    Living Matter: Its Functions                                     24

    Its Substance                                                    27

    Its Structure                                                    28


    CHAPTER III

    De Minimis

    Growth and Development                                           32

    Development a Cell-problem                                       33

    The Mechanical Conception of Life                                34

    The Cell and its Structure                                       38

    Cell-division and Heredity                                       40

    Reproductive Cells and Body-cells                                45

    The Origin of Conjugation                                        46

    The Mechanism of Conjugation                                     51

    Significance of Elementary Vital Processes                       59

    Adaptability, a Fundamental Character of Life                    63


    CHAPTER IV

    The Mechanical Theory of Evolution: the
      Darwin-Lamarck Explanation

    The Fixity of Species, how Maintained                            66

    The Mutability of Species                                        67

    Lamarck’s Explanation of the Origin of Species                   68

    Natural Selection of Innate Variations                           72

    Difficulties of Lamarckism                                       77

    Need of a deeper Explanation                                     89


    CHAPTER V

    The Mechanical Theory of Evolution: the
      Darwin-Weismann Explanation

    Lamarck, or ‘Metaphysics’?                                       91

    Weismann’s Escape                                                93

    The Struggle among the Determinants                              95

    Chance-Variations and Co-adaptation                              97

    Other Difficulties of the Chance-Variation Theory                99

    Natural Selection                                               103

    Impossible before Competition Existed                           104

    Co-operation and Competition                                    104

    Protective Mimicry, Inexplicable by Chance-Variations and
      Natural Selection                                             106

    Innate Capacities of Life                                       109

    Outline of Preceding Arguments                                  111


    CHAPTER VI

    The Directive Theory of Evolution

    Nature’s Power of Response                                       115

    Reinke’s Theory of Dominants                                     120

    Cases of their Action in Evolution                               123

    Law and Directivity                                              128

    Intelligence and Directivity                                     130

    The Analogy of Social Evolution                                  131

    The Analogy of Language                                          133

    Synthetic Movement of the Cosmic Reason                          137

    Objections from Imperfect Adaptations and Regressive Forms
      Stated                                                         143

    Mechanical and Psychic Agencies, how Distinguished               146

    Science versus ‘Mysticism’                                       150

    Reply to Objection from Imperfect Adaptations, etc.              152

    Man, the Growing-point of Earthly Life                           154

    Immanence or Transcendence of the Cosmic Reason?                 155

    Man’s Relations to the Whole                                     157


    PART II. ETHICS


    CHAPTER VII

    Law, Free Will, Personality

    Free Will and Determinism                                       161

    The Determinist Position                                        163

    The Free Will Position                                          164

    Conditions necessary for Free Will                              168

    Has the Will an Ethical Bias?                                   169

    Limitations of Free Will                                        172

    Evolution of the Will                                           174

    Free Will and Monism                                            176

    Free Will and Brain-structure                                   177

    Relations of Mind and Matter                                    186

    Immortality                                                     189


    CHAPTER VIII

    The Ethical Criterion

    The Visible and the Invisible Worlds                            194

    Dualism and Monism                                              195

    Monism and the Moral Law                                        198

    The Hedonistic Basis of Morals                                  200

    The Natural Basis of Morals                                     203


    CHAPTER IX

    The Ethical Sanction

    The Individual and the Whole                                    208

    A Scale of Motives                                              210

    Conscience and its Commands, how respectively Derived           211

    Results of Duty and of Self-indulgence Compared                 212

    The False and the True Asceticism                               214

    Ethics for Life: Implications of this Doctrine                  220

    Is Life Dependent on Matter?                                    222

    The Cosmic Life gives Immortality to the Individual             225

    And Demands his Allegiance                                      226

    Ethics Originates in the Visible Order, but does not
      end there                                                     228

    Hence, Ethics is for Death as well as Life                      229

    The Martyrdoms of Socrates and of Christ                        230

    Outline of the Conclusions arrived at                           233


    PART III. ART


    CHAPTER X

    Art and Life

    Tolstoy’s Account of the Nature of Art                          236

    Of the Standard of Art                                          241

    Of the Purpose of Art                                           241

    Criticism of his Conclusions                                    245

    Art, Man’s expression of Life                                   246

    Art and Beauty                                                  251

    Order and Change as Principles of Life and Art                  253

    Classification of the Arts                                      254

    Examples of the Presentative Arts—(_a_) Architecture            256

      (_b_) Ornament                                                259

      (_c_) Music                                                   261

    The Representative Arts—(_a_) The Plastic Arts                  265

      (_b_) Dancing                                                 270

    The Evocative Art: Literature                                   271

    The Union of Music and Poetry                                   272

    Conclusion                                                      273


    APPENDIX A

    _Sum ergo Cogito_                                               275


    APPENDIX B

    Co-operation and Competition                                    279


    APPENDIX C

    Is Life worth Living?                                           282


    APPENDIX D

    St. Francis the Poet                                            285


    APPENDIX E

    Isabella and Claudio                                            288


    Index                                                           295



PARALLEL PATHS



PART I: BIOLOGY



CHAPTER I

THE ARGUMENT FROM DESIGN

    “The wisdom of the divine rule is apparent not in the perfection
       but in the improvement of the world.”—Lord Acton.


Paley’s Natural Theology though not by any means an epoch-making
may perhaps be called an epoch-marking book. It was the crown of
the endeavour of eighteenth-century religious philosophy to found a
theology on the evidences of external nature. According to such exact
knowledge of Nature’s operations as was then generally available,
Paley’s attempt might well be thought to have succeeded. He opens his
argument with a striking and effective illustration. He imagines a
wayfarer crossing a heath who strikes his foot against a stone, and who
asks himself how it came into being. Paley thinks he might be content
with vaguely supposing that it was there ‘always.’ But suppose that
what he had found at his foot was not a stone but a watch and that he
now saw such an instrument for the first time. He would then certainly
have not been so easily contented with an answer to the riddle of
its existence. He would, if he examined it minutely, have observed
that it was a structure intended for a certain purpose, and having
all its parts arranged for that object, and mutually interdependent
The different substances of which it was composed would be discovered
to have each its special appropriateness for the fulfilling of some
particular function in the economy of the whole. Though unacquainted
with watches he would, if he was a man of sense and cultivation,
infallibly conclude that he had before him an instrument intelligently
constructed with a certain object in view—the object of measuring the
flight of time. He would feel assured of this, even though he should
find that the object of the mechanism were not attained with absolute
accuracy, and even though there were some parts of it whose functions
were not clear to him. The watch would be rightly regarded as a work of
design; and the observer would be justified in arguing from it to the
existence of a designer, endowed with the faculties of intelligence and
conscious purpose, by whom the watch must have been put together.

The rest of Paley’s Natural Theology is an application of this analogy
to the question of the origin of the universe. Ranging over the whole
field of animate and inanimate nature he points to instance after
instance of what appears to be the minute and thoughtful adaptation
of means to ends, the co-ordination of part with part in the interest
of the whole, and he has no difficulty, from this point of view,
in showing the world of nature to be a piece of mechanism far more
wonderfully and ingeniously constructed than any watch, and bearing
_prima facie_ evidence of the most convincing kind of its construction
by a Being possessed of intelligence, purpose and foresight precisely
resembling those attributes as displayed by man, but vastly heightened
and enlarged. As the watch must have been made by man, so a manlike
being, endowed with the necessary powers and faculties, must be
postulated as the maker of the material universe. And thus the
existence of a God made in the image of man appeared to have been
demonstrated to the satisfaction of eighteenth-century theology.

But minds of real philosophic depth have always shrunk from pressing
home deductions of this sort. They have felt that the matter is
probably not quite so simple as it might appear on the surface, and
they have recognised that if one is allowed to argue from the phenomena
of nature to the qualities of the author of nature one cannot draw an
arbitrary line including only those facts which testify to wisdom,
power and goodness, and excluding from view all those which reveal
imperfection of design and execution, or which would convict a man, if
he were their author, of inhumanity and injustice. If the universe is
really analogous to a watch one is entitled to examine it throughout
as one would examine a watch. All watches testify to intelligence and
design, but besides good watches there are bad ones, there are those
which are made of cheap materials, rudely put together, with showy
exteriors and unreliable works. Every watch, if examined by experts in
mechanism, in art, and so forth, would reveal the characteristics of
its designer and maker, and these characteristics would not always be
admirable. They would rarely, in fact, be altogether admirable. If we
apply these methods of inquiry to a universe which contains malarial
mosquitoes, slave-making ants, snakes, earthquakes, and all the pests
which blight and deform life without calling forth any strong or noble
qualities to carry on the contest with them, we shall go where Paley
certainly never intended to lead us, but we shall go there by Paley’s
road. The fact is that these methods are altogether fantastic and
inapplicable. The universe is not made like a watch. When we observe a
human being or one of the higher animals we say, ‘He has such and such
qualities; he is faithful, false, brave, cowardly, diligent, indolent,
strong, weak, beautiful or ugly,’ but we do not think of referring
his qualities back to certain attributes of an unknown maker of his
physical and mental organism. A philosophy worthy of the name has
always tended to regard the world as in some sense a vital organism,
and has asked ‘What is it?’ rather than ‘What does it prove about some
other being?’ “How green must be the maker of all grass” was quite
a legitimate satire on all such attempts to deduce the qualities of
a hypothetical creator from the phenomena of the universe. Thus the
mistake of Paley and his school was fundamental. It was the mistake of
seeking God in fragmentary phenomena—the same mistake, essentially, as
that rebuked by Christ, by which every calamity or material blessing
is regarded as a ‘judgment’ or a reward. His method, if applied with
thorough-going consistency, destroys its own basis, for the One and
the Many, the Whole and the Parts, cannot be apprehended at one and
the same time by one and the same faculty of any human mind. Looking
at phenomena alone, and thinking in that sphere, we cannot say that
God made the world but rather that the world is becoming divine.
Philosophically and religiously, God is all in all—historically, He is
not the beginning, He is rather the end, the end in which the whole
history is resumed.


Paley’s elaborate argument was felt by the orthodox of his time to be
called for, even though at this period his way of thinking was popular.
The conception of the world as a vital organism was as yet, indeed,
very vague, and unsupported by any detailed, scientific scrutiny of the
facts of nature, but it was in the air—it had always been in the air;
it always held the minds of cautious students back from a complete
surrender to the facile but illusory way of thinking typified by
Paley’s famous analogy of the universe and the watch. Bacon knew that
species could be transformed by the action of a new environment.[4]
Goethe had a clear conception of the evolution theory, based on a study
of organic structure. Erasmus Darwin, in 1794, had uttered the great
and final word: “The world has been generated rather than created.”[5]
Lamarck’s Philosophie Zoologique was not published till 1809, nine
years after Paley’s Natural Theology, but his conception of the
development of special characteristics by habitual exercise and their
transmission by inheritance had been freely mooted in Paley’s day, for
Paley frequently takes occasion to combat it. Even the conception of
natural selection as an agency in the formation of types of being may
be traced in a fantastic form as far back as to Empedocles,[6] while
Plato, or whoever composed a striking couplet attributed to him in the
Greek Anthology, had divined the plasticity of natural forms. “Time,”
he wrote, “sways the whole world; time has power in its prolonged
lapse to change the names and shapes, the nature and the destiny of
things.”[7]

Fifty years after the appearance of Paley’s work, the grandson of
Erasmus Darwin wrote ‘No thoroughfare’ on the entrance to Paley’s line
of speculation, and closed it to mankind for ever. He did this in two
ways—first by marshalling from his studies of comparative anatomy and
of embryology an extraordinary volume of convincing evidence for the
_fact_ of the mutability of natural forms, and secondly by his attempt
to establish a plausible _method_ by which the change and development
of organs and types might actually have taken place. The method, summed
up in the phrases ‘natural selection’ and ‘survival of the fittest,’
was what really caught the attention of the world, and gave his
doctrine the wings which carried it into almost every sphere of human
thought. However we take it, it was certainly an immense contribution
to the organization of knowledge, but whether it is really what it
first seemed to be, the basic fact at the bottom of all the phenomena
of evolution, is coming to look more and more doubtful in the light of
later researches.[8]

This question will have to be considered later on in the course of
this study, and in relation to its main inquiry, which is this: What
precisely was the change in philosophic and religious outlook brought
about by the full and final establishment of the doctrine of evolution?
Where has evolution left the argument from design? Must we study nature
as a mass of unrelated phenomena, or can we discern, through these, any
fundamental unity to which they stand in organic relation; and if we
can, what is the nature of this unity?


It will be useful in the first place to have before us a typical
specimen of Paley’s method. I shall choose as an example the case which
he considered so striking that he deemed it almost sufficient in itself
to bear the whole weight of his argument In his ninth chapter, ‘On the
Muscles,’ he writes:—

    “The next circumstance which I shall mention under this head of
    muscular arrangement is so decisive a mark of intention, that it
    always appeared to me to supersede, in some measure, the necessity
    of seeking for any other observation upon the subject; and that
    circumstance is, the tendons which pass from the leg to the foot
    being bound down by a ligament to the ankle. The foot is placed at
    a considerable angle with the leg. It is manifest, therefore, that
    flexible strings, passing along the interior of the angle, if left
    to themselves, would, when stretched, start from it. The obvious
    preventive is to tie them down. And this is done, in fact. Across
    the instep, or rather just above it, the anatomist finds a strong
    ligament, _under_ which the tendons pass to the foot. The effect of
    the ligament as a bandage can be made evident to the senses; for if
    it be cut, the tendons start up. The simplicity, yet the clearness
    of this contrivance, its exact resemblance to established resources
    of art, place it amongst the most indubitable manifestations of
    design with which we are acquainted.

    “There is also a further use to be made of the present example, and
    that is, as it precisely contradicts the opinion that the parts of
    animals may have been formed by what is called _appetency_, _i.e._
    endeavour perpetuated and imperceptibly working its effect through
    an incalculable series of generations. We have here no endeavour
    but the reverse of it—a constant renitency and reluctance. The
    endeavour is all the other way. The pressure of the ligament
    constrains the tendons; the tendons react upon the pressure of the
    ligament. It is impossible that the ligament should ever have been
    generated by the exercise of the tendon, or in the course of that
    exercise, forasmuch as the force of the tendon perpendicularly
    resists the fibre, which confines it, and is constantly
    endeavouring not to form, but to rupture and displace, the threads
    of which the ligament is composed.”

Paley’s account of the function of the annular ligament at the ankle is
correct, and strikingly put. A similar ligament occurs at the wrist,
and navvies who have hard muscular work to do in digging and shovelling
are wont to reinforce this ligament and to keep it from rupture by a
leather strap round the wrist. The strap performs exactly the same
function as the ligament, and from Paley’s point of view one is as
artificial, as much a ‘contrivance,’ as the other. But his point of
view is wrong. He conceives the Creator as having at his disposal
fully formed elements or materials—sinews, bones, ligaments, and the
like—and assembling them into a working mechanism. In fact, however,
none of these things is now what it was originally—time, as Plato says,
has changed its “name and shape.” The annular ligaments are recognized
by modern anatomists as having originated in special thickenings of
the fascial sheaths of the adjoining muscles of the wrist and ankle.
They had a function which was not originally connected with keeping
down the long tendons that run along the interior angle of the leg and
foot. Contractility, as biologists tell us, is a fundamental property
of living protoplasm; and it is easy to imagine that, at the very
beginning of the formation of muscular structure and bone articulation,
two lines of contractile force might cross each other and thus permit
the gradual evolution of the present arrangement, nature continually
visiting with disability and extinction those individuals in whom
the resisting power of the muscles which were eventually to form the
annular ligament was unduly feeble, and giving a better chance of life,
and of the propagation of their kind, to those in whom it was strong.
The instance, in fact, is one of those in which the explanation of
development by natural selection is most obvious and plausible.

In his second paragraph Paley touches on the theory of “appetency,” the
supposed tendency of natural structure to alter and adapt itself on the
lines indicated by the actual exercise of function, and in consequence
of that exercise. This is practically the theory since identified with
the name of Lamarck. Paley scarcely does it justice, for no Lamarckian
would suggest that a muscle could, in the course of its exercise,
develop the ligament whose function is to restrain it. The ligament
would be developed by its own exercise. But as Lamarckism will be
discussed later on, the issue as between these rival theories need not
be debated here.

Let us set beside Paley’s argument on the annular ligament of the
ankle a passage from a modern scientific work, Strasburger’s Text
Book of Botany. It will introduce us, from the side of the strictest
scientific observation and of the fullest acceptance of the evolution
theory, to the same kind of problems as those discussed in Paley’s
Natural Theology, and it will raise in a very distinct and unevadable
fashion the question, what we are to think of the power manifested in
the operations of Nature. In the introduction to his work, in which
Dr. Strasburger had associated with him three other eminent German
botanists, we find the following remarkable passage dealing with
circumstances observed to exist in the ‘phylogenetic’ or tribal (as
opposed to the ‘ontogenetic’ or individual) history of plant species:—

    “Although the great importance of natural selection in the
    development of the organic world has been fully recognised by
    most naturalists, the objection has been raised that it alone is
    not a sufficient explanation of all the different processes in
    the phylogeny of an organism. Attention has been called to such
    organs as would be incapable of exercising their function until
    in an advanced stage of development, and so could not originally
    have been of any advantage in a struggle for existence. How could
    natural selection tend to develop an organ which would be useless
    so long as it was still in a rudimentary condition? This objection
    has led to the supposition of an internal force residing in the
    substance of the organisms themselves and controlling their
    development in certain definite directions. Many naturalists indeed
    have gone so far as to affirm that only the less advantageous
    qualities have been affected by the struggle for existence, while
    the more advantageous have been uninfluenced by it”[9]

One can easily imagine what a modern Paley bent on reconciling
orthodoxy and evolution would say to this. He would cry, Design,
forethought, intelligence—here is the clearest evidence of it!
And indeed there are many modern biologists who do not shrink from
the admission that the processes of nature must ultimately be
interpreted in terms of will or intention, not in terms of chance or
blind mechanism. Thus, to the Darwinian argument that organs can be
and are, demonstrably, formed by gradual adaptation to surrounding
conditions without assuming the necessity of purposeful design, it
is often replied that the very fact of adaptability is itself one of
the strongest evidences if not of design at least of purpose. And J.
v. Uexküll, who describes life as consisting essentially in the fact
that it proceeds according to design (_planmässig_), has the following
remarkable passage in his Experimental Biology[10]:—

    “When we look backwards, every phase in the process of development
    seems to us to have proceeded in a strictly causal manner from
    physico-chemical processes. But when we turn to look forward, it
    is certain that the physico-chemical processes if left to their
    own causality must immediately bring about the destruction of the
    organism. In fact, the clearest definition we can give of dying
    is to say of an organism that its processes now go on no longer
    teleologically (_zweckmässig_) but only causally.”[11]

Yet the modern Paley would be rash in arguing from facts like these
(supposing them fully established) to the conscious, intelligent
contrivance of a single foreseeing Mind. For very few things in this
universe appear to be done as a presiding, conscious intelligence
would do them. Conscious intelligence would not have evolved the
giant armadillo only that the whole species might be destroyed by
the sabre-toothed tiger, and would not have armed the sabre-toothed
tiger for the attack on the armadillo in such a way that when he had
exterminated the victim-species the formation of his teeth rendered
it impossible for him to prey on any other animal.[12] Conscious
intelligence would not have allowed the relic of a disused organ, in
the shape of the vermiform appendix, to be a constant source of danger
and suffering to countless generations of men—danger against which no
exercise of prudence or energy can secure them.

Let us examine a couple of other crucial cases. The embryo of every
mammalian animal is prepared in the womb for the life it is to live
under wholly different conditions. Lungs are formed when there is no
air for them to breathe, eyes when there is no light, a digestive
system when nourishment is derived as yet direct from the mother’s
blood. This capacity for anticipatory development during a period
of gestation or incubation becomes absolutely necessary for the
maintenance of life as soon as animals, ceasing to multiply by merely
dividing in two, become more highly organized and have to devote
special germ-cells to reproductive purposes. Here is certainly purpose,
or, as I should prefer to call it, _directivity_—here we recognize
what Reinke calls the X-factor in nature. But conscious, intelligent
contrivance? We must recollect how many of these embryos are destined
to perish at birth or before attaining any appreciable degree of
independent life. Would not intelligence foresee that, and bring to
birth only what was destined to endure?

Again, there are certain species of butterflies which have put
on a coloration and a form the effect of which is to aid them in
evading the attacks of birds. They were not created so; they have
become so; and the precise manner of the becoming will be fully
discussed in a later chapter. Let us assume for the moment that this
adaptation did not occur by a series of lucky accidents or by any
merely mechanical process. Are we, then, bound to attribute it to
intelligent contrivance? The question will be best answered by simply
putting a case which admits of no doubt. Suppose there were an island
in which there were no birds, except such as prey on fishes or on
each other, but never on insects. The butterflies on this island, if
there were any, would certainly show no trace of protective form or
coloration. But at some time or other insect-eating birds might be
introduced to the island, as the English sparrow has been introduced
in Australia. Then, if the extermination of the butterflies did not
proceed too rapidly, we might expect, in the course of generations, to
see protective adaptations assumed. But could we expect to see them
assumed _in anticipation_ of the advent of the destroyers? We could
not. Naturalists, however much they may differ, as they do differ, upon
the question as to how protective adaptations actually take place,
would all agree that they could not possibly take place in anticipation
of needs not yet present. If they did, we should have a miracle, and
where miracle comes in knowledge goes out. The cases where conscious,
intelligent contrivance would be unmistakably recognizable are just the
cases which never occur. The signal service rendered by the champions
of the evolution theory,

    Quos nec fama Deûm, nec fulmina, nec minitanti
    Murmure compressit Cœlum,

is that they conquered the realm of organic nature for true knowledge,
and gave the drama of its development a new and profound interest,
by showing with an uncompromising courage only equalled by the
extraordinarily minute and patient research which justified it, that
the _apparent_ instances of divine contrivance with which nature teems
must be explained by the responsiveness, the adaptability, of living
protoplasm. Needless to say, this demonstration does not in the least
_disprove_ the existence of God as a supreme, conscious, personal
Intelligence.[13] But it does forbid us to deduce the existence of such
a Being from the observation of natural phenomena. A living, developing
universe has been set in the place of a Divine Mechanician operating on
dead matter.


The question, what conception we are to form of the forces of
evolution, will be more fully discussed in the succeeding chapters on
Biology, as a foundation for views which will afterwards be put forward
in relation to Ethics and to Art.

But first we must clear the ground a little by considering what it
really is that we are to study, and if it be possible to study it at
all. Nature-study if it is to be possible must begin, and if it is to
be fruitful must end, in something which is not strictly the study of
nature, but which we call Philosophy.

One of the most brilliant examples of that union of philosophic
speculation with nature-study which is so marked a feature of the
German thought of our day is H. von Keyserling’s work, The Structure of
the World.[14] Keyserling begins by laying it down as a postulate of
thinking that “The Universe is a rounded, inwardly coherent Whole.”

A postulate of thinking this is indeed, and more than that—it
is a postulate of living. If under all the variety and apparent
discontinuity of the universe there does not lie _One_ all-pervading
and unifying Power, then meditation and action are alike vain, for none
can tell the hour when some incursion of the unknown may not shatter
our cosmos into chaos, or leave us in a new universe with the edifice
of our past experience, the familiar home of the spirit, lying in ruins
around us. Every one assumes, consciously or unconsciously, that there
is such a Power, that the universe is One, that however mysterious,
however little known or understood it may be, it is not essentially
deceptive or incalculable. The savage and the philosopher alike assume
this, and act upon the assumption. It is perhaps possible not merely
to assume but to prove it. For let us try to imagine what would be the
case if it were not true. If the Principle, the ultimate Reality of the
universe, be not one it must be at least dual. There must be not less
than two principles. Now there are only three ways in which these two
principles—and what we say will hold good for any greater number—can
be related to each other. They must either (1) be identical, or (2)
they must be complementary, each possessing something which the other
is lacking in, or (3) they must negate each other and be mutually
contradictory and exclusive. But two absolutely identical principles,
if we can conceive such a thing, are indistinguishable from one. Two
or more complementary principles, again, make up, when taken together,
but a single whole, as in the Christian Trinity. Therefore if the
universe be really dual, its two principles must negate and contradict
each other. Now these two hostile principles must either be equal
in force or one must be more powerful than the other. In the latter
event, seeing that they divide between them the sum total of existence
and thus stand in naked and essential antagonism, with no place for
evasion, and no auxiliary or modifying forces to call in, it follows
of necessity that if one surpassed the other by even the smallest
conceivable excess, it must, in eternity, master it and reduce it to
impotence. So by this road we come back to unity again. If, however, we
suppose our two forces to be co-equal and co-eternal, we have to ask
ourselves what we mean by supposing them to be antagonistic. Antagonism
can only arise when there is action. But two equal forces acting in
direct contradiction to each other must mutually cancel each other, and
the result is zero. On such an hypothesis the universe could never have
come into being. It may also be pointed out that the hypothesis itself
seems to be irrational. For action means the production of a change of
some kind, change in the nature or situation of objects. But if one
of our forces is producing changes of a certain kind and the other
producing changes of another kind, then they are not contradictory
but complementary. The only real antagonism between two ultimate
principles must consist in one of them being identified with action,
change, life, the other with immobility and death. But a principle of
immobility and death, if there could be such a thing, could not also be
a principle of action, not even of destructive action, for to act at
all would be a contradiction of its own nature. It would begin and end
in total _in_action, and the field would be clear for the other Power,
just as if nothing else existed. It follows that, in the living and
moving universe around us, there cannot be any such thing as an active
principle of destruction and death. We are obliged to perceive Being
under the guise of Becoming and Becoming under the guise of Change and
Progression. This is a process taking place in the visible and temporal
order of things and capable, under certain conditions, of partial
arrest or retrogression. But the Whole, regarded as a whole, can be
and can contain nothing but life, and must under all its diversity
(which is an aspect of life) be One. It is this unity which alone can
make intelligible and rational the diversity of which every study of
life must treat. It is my endeavour in the present work to bring into
clear light some important aspects of this unity, as revealed in the
inter-relations of the parts of which, to our eyes, it seems to be
composed.[15]



CHAPTER II

THE WHEEL OF LIFE

    I heard them in their sadness say
    The earth rebukes the thought of God;
    We are but embers wrapped in clay,
    A little nobler than the sod.

    But I have touched the lips of clay;
    Mother, thy rudest sod to me
    Is thrilled with fire of hidden day,
    And haunted by all mystery.—A.E.


It has long been known that no definite line of demarcation can be
drawn between the animal and the vegetable worlds. There are lowly
organisms which cannot be decisively referred either to the one or
to the other. It has been more recently shown that the apparently
more strongly marked line between the living and the non-living also
grows wavering and indistinct in places. Metals are known to respond
to stimuli and to show ‘fatigue’ in a manner commonly attributed only
to the nervous system of animals,[16] while some of the phenomena of
crystallization strongly resemble those of vitality.[17] Le Dantec has
uttered the latest word of physics on this subject, where he insists on
the “absence of all essential difference and all absolute discontinuity
between living and non-living matter.”[18] Indeed, one may say of
nature-study in general, that if, as Plato said, the beginning of
knowledge is in definitions and classification, the end of it lies in
getting rid of them. There is probably no such thing as a universally
applicable definition of any group of natural phenomena. _There is
certainly no condition of matter of which we are entitled to say that
Life is impossible without it._ Still, natural groups have well-marked
central features, even if at their margins they melt into something
else. Now the things which in the ordinary sense of the word we call
Living are marked by these characters: Their chemical constituents
are always compounds of carbon. These compounds are what is called
‘unstable’—they ‘consume’ or disintegrate by combining with oxygen in
air or water. In this process organisms obtain the energy necessary
for assimilation and growth. The above characters (carbon-compounds,
chemical instability, and faculty of assimilation) apply to plants and
animals alike. But we find, in general, that plants are able, from
inorganic mineral constituents such as carbonic acid, water, nitrates,
sulphates, etc.,[19] to build up the organic compounds like proteid,
albumin, the carbohydrates, alcohol, fat; while animals use for their
nourishment not the inorganic substances but only organic compounds
already formed by plants or by other animals. A well-developed
vegetable world must therefore, it would seem, have preceded the
appearance of animal life on the globe.[20] It was long believed that
these organic compounds of carbon could only be formed by the vital
action of living vegetation. One of the epochs in the history of modern
chemistry has been the demonstration (first by Wöhler, in 1828,) that
many of them can be produced in the laboratory from inorganic chemical
constituents. But this is only effected by circuitous and difficult
ways, and—a circumstance often overlooked—it only resembles what is
accomplished in nature if we include under nature the directive agency
represented by the chemist himself, as well as the materials with which
he deals.

The characteristic colour of living vegetation is green. This is also
the rarest of colours among the higher animals.[21] It is due in
vegetables to the presence in their cells of grains of the substance
known as chlorophyll, which very few animals possess or have need
of. It is developed normally under the action of sunlight, and plays
a most important part in the economy of the plant. The usual method
by which any organism obtains the energy necessary for its vital
functions is through the oxidization, _i.e._ the slow burning, of its
substance, by combination with the oxygen of the air. The process is
to all intents the same as the more rapid oxidization, under great
heat, of coal in a steam-engine. If a plant can obtain sugar, which
oxidizes easily in contact with atmospheric oxygen, it has thus a fund
of energy to draw on for all the processes of its life. Now sugar is
composed of carbon and water. Carbon exists in the air, in combination
with oxygen, in the form known as carbonic acid. Chlorophyll, in some
way as yet unexplained, enables plants, when acted upon by light, to
take in carbonic acid from the air and to disintegrate it into its
constituents, carbon and oxygen. The oxygen disappears again in the
air, and the released carbon combines with water in the plant to form
sugar,[22] thus giving the plant its needed store of potential energy.
All it does with this energy is to live, grow, and reproduce its kind;
till at length a time comes when the assimilative energy weakens
relatively to the forces of decay, and the plant dies; it is again
resolved into the chemical constituents from which it was built up;
but not without having passed on the flame of life to burn afresh in
its descendants.

Plants which have no chlorophyll, like certain bacteria and moulds, and
which, therefore, cannot decompose the carbonic acid in the air for
their nourishment, offer an interesting example of the manner in which
Nature contrives to get her way, if not by the normal instruments, then
by the utilization of others. They acquire their first store of energy
sometimes like animals, from other organic compounds, or they take
carbon from acetates and tartrates. The nitro-bacteria appear to depend
on ammonia derived from decaying animal matter, and the moulds draw
their energy from sugar, which (as in our jams, etc.) they find already
formed.

There are other plants, such as the fly-eating _Drosera_, which feed
upon organic substances with the aid of digestive juices, exactly as
animals do; and there are animals, such as _Hydra_ and others, of very
primitive form,[23] which produce chlorophyll and are thereby enabled,
like plants, to feed upon carbonic acid. The distinction therefore
which has been drawn between the two kingdoms as regards their modes of
nourishment must, like other definitions of natural groups, be taken
to apply to central and typical forms and not to constitute a distinct
boundary line. Allowing for these exceptional cases, we may say
broadly that the wheel of life makes its full circle in passing from
inorganic matter through plants to animals and thence back to gases and
minerals again. The process of taking in fresh matter, transforming it
chemically into living tissue, and thus repairing the waste occasioned
by the decomposition of the carbon-compounds of that tissue, is
technically known as Metabolism. This is the typical and characteristic
function of organic life.

Now this function of living matter, or Protoplasm, depends upon two
elements: first, its Substance; secondly, its Structure. As regards
the former, we are in this serious difficulty, that living matter can
never be chemically investigated by any means at present known, for
it dies immediately in presence of any of the reagents which are used
to ascertain its chemical composition. It is known that there are no
_elementary_ substances in living matter which are not also found
in the world of inorganic matter, but it is also known that their
synthetic combination in living is different from that which obtains in
dead tissue,[24] and it is precisely through this factor—that of the
grouping or synthesis of elements—that the most remarkable forms of
energy are developed.

The secret of life, therefore, cannot be stated in terms of chemistry,
because we cannot surprise the secret of its chemical synthesis. Even
if we could do this we should still be unable to say why certain
syntheses should appear in living matter and resolve themselves into
others at death.

We find, however, in the investigation of organic tissue (plant or
animal) by such means as are available, that one substance is common
to all the organic and is never found (as such) in the inorganic
world. This is called Proteid. It is composed of five elements—Carbon,
Hydrogen, Sulphur, Nitrogen, and Oxygen, which are combined in
proportions not at present ascertained. Subject to the limitations just
set forth we may say that proteid is the essential stuff of organic
tissue. The two other usual (though not, like proteid, universal)
constituents of this tissue—the Carbohydrates (sugar, starch, etc.) and
the Fats—are, it is believed, formed partly from the products of the
metabolism of proteid.

When we come to deal with the essential Structure of life we are
in much the same difficulty as that in which we found ourselves in
investigating its chemical Substance. We can observe living cells under
the microscope, but the most powerful microscope has never reached
the limits beyond which we can say that there is no structure. There
is another limitation too. The microscope has revealed the fact that
all living tissue is made up of cells, but the internal structure of
the cell, beyond the fact that it is composed of a fluid substance
within which a darker coloured nucleus is usually embedded, could not
be ascertained until the recent device of staining the object with
aniline dyes had been thought of. Different substances in the cell are
found to take these dyes differently, and thus a world of structure
of the most singular kind has been revealed in what formerly seemed a
simple, semi-transparent fluid. Some parts of this structure hover, as
it were, upon the very edge of perceptibility, the most suitable dyes
for bringing them under observation not having been as yet discovered.
There may be others which no dye can reveal, but which are yet active
and necessary parts of the organism. Moreover, here too the cell is
killed by the means taken to observe it, and the processes in which its
structure is engaged can only as a rule be deduced from the observation
of a great number of cells in which their internal movements are
arrested at different stages of completion.

It has been practically demonstrated that all organic life must
be at least duplex if not multiplex in its constituent elements.
In its simplest known form it consists of Protoplasm and Nucleus.
We know that the carrying-on of all vital functions depends on
peculiar relations existing between these two elements, but what
these relations exactly are is still quite obscure. Both protoplasm
and nucleus are compounds of proteid with other chemical substances
not yet fully determined. Protoplasm is a fluid, and has been shown
by the epoch-making observations of Bütschli[25] to have a structure
resembling that of an exceedingly minute foam. The nucleus usually
exists in the form of a single definite body, but it may be scattered
through the protoplasm of the organism in little granules. In the
lowliest of organisms, the _Amœbæ_, we have simply a speck of
protoplasm containing a nucleus, but with no surrounding wall of the
harder substance which protoplasm builds up for itself in the cells
belonging to higher forms of life. Such amœboid forms are the white
corpuscles in the human blood, whose slow changes of form we can
observe under the microscope, and which play so important a part in our
economy by feeding on the noxious bacteria which produce the various
forms of blood-poisoning and zymotic disease.

A more detailed account of the functions and structure of the cell must
be reserved for the next chapter. In considering these and all other
phenomena of vitality let me again recall the warning expressed in the
taunt of Mephistopheles to the young student: the lines are as true
to-day as they were when Goethe wrote them over a hundred years ago:—

    “If some living thing you would learn about,
    You begin by driving its Spirit out;
    There lie the parts of it, one by one,
    But the binding Spirit, alas, is gone!”



CHAPTER III

DE MINIMIS

    Immense have been the preparations for me,
    Faithful and friendly the arms that have help’d me.
       *       *       *       *       *
    “Before I was born out of my mother generations guided me,
    My embryo has never been torpid, nothing could overlay it.”

                                                Walt Whitman.


There are two functions of organic life which are often confused
together, but which it is well to keep distinct in our thought. These
are Growth and Development. The mark of growth is that an organism, by
assimilation from the outside world, becomes _larger than it was_. But
in development it becomes _different from what it was_. The history of
an embryo in the womb presents a succession of phenomena which, when
one comes to realize them, almost stagger thought; for, while remaining
the _same thing_ all through, it is continually becoming a _different
class of thing_—first two cells, then one cell, then a fish, a
quadruped, ultimately a human being. This is Development. Once born, it
is laid hold of by the principle of Growth which lasts until maturity.
Now in the groups called Species, as well as in individuals, we observe
exactly the same distinction. The members of a species multiply and
increase their numbers. This is Growth. But under certain conditions,
which we have now to investigate, they vary in type and ultimately give
rise to new species differing widely from that from which they sprang.
This we call Development or, in the more popular term for the process
when applied to species, Evolution.

The investigation of this process in all its details has been the
master-impulse of biology ever since the fact of the process was
established by the researches of Darwin.

In Darwin’s time the study of evolution was mainly an affair of
what is called Natural History But it has now been realized that
fully to comprehend the processes involved—so far as they can
ever be comprehended—it is necessary to find out of what kind of
material living beings are composed, and how their fundamental
processes take place. “The ultimate problems of sex, fertilization,
inheritance, and development,” says Wilson, have been now “shown to be
_cell-problems_.”[26] Before going further, therefore, we must give
some account of the leading facts connected with the structure and
vital action of the cell.


Since the publication of the Origin of Species, probably the most
important contribution to biological theory is to be found in the
researches of Dr. A. Weismann, and particularly in his large work, The
Evolution Theory, of which a masterly English translation has recently
appeared.[27] Weismann, on one side, represents an heroic attempt to
bring back to the strictly mechanical principles of Darwinism the tide
of biological speculation, which has been flowing more and more in
the direction of recognizing an essential and not a merely fortuitous
connexion between the goal of the evolution of natural forms and the
means taken by nature to attain it. On another side he has brought the
physiology of the cell into true relation with the natural history of
the organism and of the species, and has become the author, or at least
the first great expounder and systematizer, of a theory of heredity—the
now famous Germ-Plasm theory—much of which seems a solid, permanent,
and deeply important contribution to knowledge. But this theory seems
to lead straight to a non-mechanical or psychic conception of the
driving-force of evolution, and Weismann has therefore supplied the
other part which, in the view of the present writer and of many others
better qualified to judge, seems to be of the nature of a baseless and
improbable hypothesis, devised to find a means of avoiding recourse to
any non-mechanical conception of the ultimate nature of evolutionary
processes.

As we shall be much concerned with Weismann’s views, let us place at
the head of our study of them a couple of passages in which his general
attitude towards the phenomena of vital processes is expressed.

“In our time,” he writes, “the great riddle has been solved—the riddle
of the origin of what is best suited to its purpose without the
co-operation of purposive forces.”[28] “We must certainly assume,” he
declares, “that the mechanical theory of life is correct.”[29]

A longer passage shows us what he understands by ‘mechanical’:—

    “The living machine differs essentially from other machines in the
    fact that it constructs itself; it arises by development from a
    cell, by going through numerous stages of development, but none of
    these stages is a dead thing, each in itself is a living organism
    whose chief function is to give rise to the next stage. Thus
    each stage of the development may be compared to a machine whose
    function consists in producing a similar but more complex machine.
    Each stage is thus composed, just like the complete organism, of
    a number of such ‘constellations’ of elementary substances and
    elementary forces, whose number in the beginnings is relatively
    small, but increases rapidly with each new stage.”[30]

It would have been simpler, but it would not have suited Weismann’s
conception of nature, to say that the “living machine” differs
essentially from other machines in not being a machine at all, or
anything in the least like one. No machine constructs itself. No
machine can do anything but repeat a certain series of movements, each
series exactly similar to the last. What Weismann has described is
_not_ a machine, just because it is a living organism. It is surely as
true in biology as it is in mechanics that in any purely physical chain
of sequences you cannot by any possibility get more out at the end than
you put in at the beginning, unless you take it in upon the way.

“Development,” writes Weismann, “is an expression of life.”[31] But
“life,” again, is merely “a chemico-physical phenomenon.”[32] To say
that development is an expression of a chemico-physical phenomenon does
not seem a very illuminating or helpful generalization. The fact is
that the statement that life is a chemico-physical phenomenon does not
take us further towards an understanding of the subject than when we
say, what is equally true, that chemical and physical phenomena are a
manifestation of life. Life is everywhere. We use it as a convenient
term for the energies associated with ‘living’ protoplasm, because
we observe that when it is present protoplasmic structures act and
react (as in the phenomena of nutrition, for instance) in certain
chemico-physical ways, while, if it be absent, the same protoplasm
acts in other ways, also chemico-physical, but quite different from
the former, and analogous to the ways of minerals and of gases into
which dead protoplasm finally resolves itself. The chemico-physical
actions and reactions appear in a living plant or animal to be under
the direction of a force devoted to the preservation of that particular
organism. The smallest atom of organic life includes not only a
chemical compound but a chemist. In the mineral world we may say
broadly that there is no individuality of parts.[33] With protoplasmic
structure, therefore, a stage is reached in the evolution of life which
we may rightfully call ‘life’ _par excellence_, but there has been no
breach of continuity, and it is highly probable, as Weismann himself
suggests, that far below the limits of microscopic observation the
transformation of ‘dead’ into ‘living’ matter is continually going
forward. When, therefore, we speak of the action of living protoplasm
the distinction is rather between this action and that of a piece of
mechanism than between protoplasm and minerals or gases.

The phenomena of cell-growth, reproduction, and heredity are those
which lie at the basis of all organized protoplasmic life, and in
all the forms of that life, vegetable as well as animal, they are
extraordinarily similar; there is, in fact, nothing which all the
species of living things have so much in common. One of the most
wonderful and fascinating chapters in the whole range of science is
that which contains the account of these processes, and it is only
within the last few years that it has been possible to write it.
Weismann, in a certain section of his Evolution Theory, has brought the
facts together in a manner which, for its lucidity and mastery of the
subject-matter, deserves to be called a classic example of scientific
exposition.[34] To understand the basis of the higher manifestations
of life, these processes, as we have said, must first be understood,
and an account of them, based on Weismann, and accepting his germ-plasm
theory so far as it seems to accord with established facts, will be
given, of course only in the broadest outlines.[35] At the same time
it will be attempted, here and there, to throw some light on the
_rationale_ of the processes described.


All animal and vegetable structure arises from cellular tissue, and in
fact _is_ either cellular tissue or, as in the case of bones, scales,
etc., the mineral deposit formed by the action of cells. The simplest
living forms are composed of single cells, and the most complex and
huge of them were each once nothing more than a single cell, possessed
of the powers of development and growth. In multicellular organisms,
this single originating cell is usually formed by the fusion of two
imperfect cells by what is indifferently called conjugation, sexual
reproduction, or ‘amphimixis.’ All cells, whether they are the product
of conjugation or not, grow, when they do grow, fundamentally in the
same way, and this way must now be described.

The contents of the typical cell are broadly differentiated into (1)
a more or less hardened envelope containing (2) a substance called
cytoplasm (Gk. κύτος, a cell), and (3) a small, rounded, dark-coloured
body called the nucleus. Until recently nothing more than this was
known of the structure of the cell, and nothing at all of the functions
of the nucleus. Now, keener microscopic research and better instruments
have thrown a flood of light on cell-organization, and the nucleus
is revealed as a powerful factor in the vital processes of the cell
and the bearer of its hereditary substance[36]—that which makes it a
cell of some particular organism, plant or animal, and of no other.
This hereditary substance, divined by the botanist Nägeli, and since
observed by Weismann and others, is called ‘chromatin’ (from the fact
that it is observed by means of the stain it takes from the addition of
an aniline dye), or ‘idioplasm’ (Nägeli’s appellation), which might be
rendered the ‘selfhood substance’ of the cell.

Cellular structure begins, as has long been known, by the division
of a cell into two, each of the parts then proceeding to grow by the
assimilative power of protoplasm and in due time to divide in its
turn. A mass of these cells is called ‘cellular tissue.’ The so-called
‘budding’ of a small cell from the side of the parent is, of course,
simply a form of division. The process of division and redivision
goes on, accompanied by a differentiation in the shape and function
of the different cells or groups of cells which are formed, until the
structure of the plant or animal is completed. In these operations
the nucleus plays the principal part. The division of the cell is
essentially the division of the nucleus. A detached portion of a cell
which contains nothing of the nucleus can reproduce itself no more; it
perishes.

[Illustration: Fig. I.

This illustration, which (by permission of The Macmillan Co.) I take
from Wilson’s work, The Cell, is one of remarkable interest, for in it
the microscope has caught, in a piece of actual tissue from the skin
of the salamander, _Amblystoma_, three nuclei in different stages of
mitotic division. Most of the nuclei, which are seen as large, roundish
objects in their respective cells, show the chromatin in its ‘resting’
condition interspersed through the nucleus. The nucleus under _a_ shows
the chromatin gathered into chromosomes. At _b_ the centrosomes with
their astral figures (which can barely be detected) have been formed,
the chromosomes have carried out their longitudinal division, and are
being attracted half towards one centrosome and half towards the other.
A little above this the process has been carried further, and the sides
of the cell are beginning to contract, preparatory to forming two new
ones. In Fig. 2 will be found a clear representation of the astral
figures.

_To face p. 40._]


[Illustration: Fig. 2.

The above illustration from Wilson’s The Cell shows in more or
less diagrammatic form the stage of nuclear division in which the
chromosomes, as yet undivided, have arranged themselves in the centre
of the nucleus. The centrosomes with their astral figures have been
formed, and have taken their places near each pole of the nucleus. The
next stage is represented at _b_ in Fig. 1.]


When a cell is about to divide, an organ of recent discovery, termed
the ‘centrosome,’ comes into play. This appears as the core of a sort
of rayed or star-like figure, and it takes up its position beside the
nucleus. When the cell is resting, the chromatin is dispersed through
the nucleus in a mass of broken lines, forming a kind of network. When
division begins, this broken-up substance forms itself into a series of
small threads, sometimes straight, sometimes looped or curved. These
are called ‘chromosomes.’ There are always a definite and invariable
number of chromosomes for every species of plant or animal—the cell
of a man has so many,[37] of a grasshopper so many, of a lily so
many. The chromosomes range themselves in a belt across the centre of
the nucleus, and the centrosome breaks into two parts, which take up
a position one at each end of the nucleus. Regarding the nucleus as
a tiny globe, we may say that the chromosomes lie in the equatorial
plane, while the two parts of the centrosome move towards the North and
South Poles respectively.

The centrosomes, at the two poles of the nucleus, are surrounded each
with a halo of ray-like processes (the centrosphere), and on the sides
next each other these rays penetrate the nucleus and join, forming a
spindle-shaped figure with a centrosphere at each end. This spindle
figure appears to be the organ by which the division is accomplished,
for each of the chromosomes now splits itself in two longitudinally,
as one cleaves a log of wood, and one half passes over to each
centrosphere, thus making an exact division of the whole chromatin or
hereditary substance. An indentation now appears in the outer wall of
the cell and also in the nucleus—it deepens and deepens, and finally
two cells appear instead of one, each with a nucleus, a centrosome, and
a supply of chromatin, the latter now breaking up into its original
condition of diffusion through the nucleus. In multicellular organisms
the two new cells, of course, do not separate, but a wall is formed
between them. Some plant-cells contain several nuclei; in this case
division of the nucleus is not necessarily followed by that of the
cell.[38]

Throughout the processes of cell division it is apparent that the
utmost care is taken to ensure an exact partition of the chromatin
between the two new cells. This partition has to be qualitative as well
as quantitative; for one chromosome may, and no doubt does, differ in
function and influence from another, and has various elements within
itself. The _longitudinal_ division of each chromosome, in which
the elements are arranged like beads on a rosary, ensures that the
different elements of the whole hereditary substance shall appear in
each new cell in exactly the same relative proportion as in the parent
cell; just as if two persons had to divide between them a dozen apples
of different varieties, and secured perfect equality, not by taking
six apples each, but by dividing every apple in two. _This is the
fundamental cause of the fixity of species_, which means the production
of offspring having the same specific characteristics as their parents.
How, under these conditions, the _mutability_ of species is brought
about must be discussed later. It is first of all necessary to inquire
more closely into the composition of the chromatin, and to study the
special phenomena of cell-growth in connexion with conjugation, where
new and extraordinary features come to light.


A chromosome is not, or is not usually, a simple body. In all but the
very lowest organisms it is composed, as we have said, of a number
of elements. Each of these elements is styled a ‘determinant,’ and
it controls the form, colour, and function of some definite part of
the future plant or animal. Weismann believes the determinants to be
grouped into complex bodies called ‘ids,’ each id containing all the
determinants necessary for a whole being, and each chromosome being
composed of a number of ids. These ids are microscopically visible;
they form the beads on the rosary already referred to; but their
exact composition and potency are largely conjectural at present.
How far the subdivision of determinants may go, it is, of course,
impossible to ascertain. We cannot say, for instance, whether there
is a determinant for every hair of the head, or one for the hirsute
covering in general, or one for each of the different sections of the
scalp. But the division is very minute. Each of the ids may be a very
complex body, as we see by the manner in which, in some families,
small physical signs like a patch of hair differing from the colour of
the rest, or a tiny pit or mole on the skin of a certain part of the
body, may be handed down, in that precise position, for generations.
There may be, and, in fact, in the higher plants and animals there
_must_ be, a number of determinants for each part of the structure,
and the final characteristics of that part must be the resultant of
a blend of all these determinants, the more powerful predominating
in proportion to their vitality and force. The whole body of the
chromosomes may therefore be said to represent one or more complete
beings in diagrammatic form, each part of the complete animal or plant
being represented by some part of a chromosome, though of course not
physically resembling it. And we thus strike on the very curious and
startling fact that, as far as we can see, _every_ cell in every
organism throughout the world of life contains all the elements of the
whole being to which it belongs, and is, potentially, that being.[39]
All the higher organisms possess two kinds of cells—reproductive cells
which have the faculty of fusing together to reproduce their kind,
and ‘somatic’ or body cells, which, although they all originate in a
reproductive cell, multiply only by division, and have the function of
forming the various parts of the bodily structure. Of the nucleus of a
germ cell “we cannot say that it differs in any essential or definite
way from the nucleus of any other cell.”[40] All possess the chromatin
or hereditary substance of the organism, though, according to Boveri,
the germ cells alone receive _all_ the chromatin of the parent cell,
the derived somatic cells having to part with some of it.[41] There may
be some distinction, though on what it may be based it is at present
impossible to say, between cells that are capable of developing into a
complete organized creature and those that are not.

Every somatic cell is doomed to perish, but every reproductive cell
now upon the globe is united, not metaphorically, not by a chain
of successive originations or impulses, but by actual identity of
substance, with the first beginnings of protoplasmic life in the abyss
of time; and it has before it a potential immortality commensurate with
life itself. It is not, as used to be thought, a physiological product
of the organism in which it dwells; it is a part of the original
reproductive cell from which that organism sprang.

To understand these conceptions we must now study the phenomena of
reproduction in the light of recent discoveries.


The lowest form of the reproductive process is, of course, by simple
division and redivision. This is characteristic of many of those
organisms which consist only of a single cell, and it may co-exist,
even in these, with a considerable degree of structural complexity,
as in the ‘trumpet animalcule,’ _Stentor raselii_. But among the
lowest of these unicellular organisms a curious process is sometimes
observed to take place, in which we may doubtless recognize the origin
of sexual reproduction. Two, three, or more _Amœbæ_[42] approach
each other, partially coalesce, and remain united for some time. They
then separate again. No new creatures are formed by this contact;
there are no visible results at all. But that _something_ which is
for the advantage of the organisms takes place during this period of
union is certain, and in the light of what is known of processes in
other organisms we can make a very good guess at what this something
is. Each _Amœba_ parts with some of its chromatin to some other and
receives an equivalent in exchange. The creature is thus reconstituted.
The element of _change_, which always provides so marked a stimulus
to vital processes, has been obtained. The process has actually been
observed in a certain Infusorian, _Noctiluca_. Two _Noctilucas_
coalesce, and then proceed to divide _at right angles to the plane of
contact_. This necessarily has the effect of giving to each of the
two new _Noctilucas_ which result from the division half the nucleus
and chromatin of one parent and half of the other. There is, however,
no actual new birth or multiplication of beings; there are only two
_Noctilucas_ as before.

We can now imagine that if a certain class of unicellular organisms
are in the habit of approaching each other for the purpose of this
interchange of portions of their chromatin, they might occasionally,
under the influence of the approaching conjugation, expel those
portions of chromatin _before_ another cell was in a position to
receive it. What would happen if two cells, each of which had thus got
rid of half its chromatin, were to come into contact? Plainly, they
would fuse together; they would not separate again; they would become a
new organism. Each would have supplied just what the other lacked.

This process, forming the bridge from mere cell division to sexual
reproduction, is a hypothetical one; it has not, I believe, been
actually observed in unicellular organisms, but it is exactly what we
find to be taking place when we reach the stage of sexual reproduction
among multicellulars. Multicellular organisms of more or less elaborate
structure plainly cannot, without breaking up, fuse together like
single cells. How, then, are they, as a species, to gain the advantages
of the temporary union and interchange of elements which we have
observed in the low unicellular organisms? Only in one way—by producing
special cells for this purpose. These cells must represent the whole
parent, they must be capable of shedding half their chromatin, and,
when they have fused, must be capable of growing into a complete
organism like the parent. When these specialized cells have been
formed, the others, the somatic cells, will at the same time have
been specialized for other functions, and will thus naturally lose
the original capacity for interchanging chromatin with other cells,
_i.e._ for conjugation. We see the significance, then, of Weismann’s
remark, “germ cells made their appearance along with the multicellular
body.”[43] They are an instance of that differentiation of structure
and function which takes place in all highly organized life. We
must note also that the benefits of conjugation which are realized
_individually_ by the lowest unicellular forms are only realized _as a
species_ by the multicellulars. A species must, then, be regarded as in
some sense an organic whole, and not as a mere aggregate of individuals.

In some very curious cases which stand on the borderland between
sexual and non-sexual reproduction, the same organism is capable of
employing both methods. Thus, among the lower seaweeds (_Algæ_), the
genus _Pandorina_ consists of a colony of sixteen green cells contained
in a kind of gelatinous matrix which the cells excrete. Each cell is
ordinarily capable of recreating the whole organism by division. But
after this process has gone on for some time, the need of conjugation
is felt, the colony breaks up and cells begin to fuse with each other,
though never with those of the same colony. In _Pandorina_ the two
conjugating cells are similar in appearance, but in the genus _Volvox_
we begin to see a difference in the appearance of the two kinds of
conjugating cells. What may be called the ‘female’ cells (germ cells)
are large and quiescent; the ‘male’ (sperm cells) are smaller and
active. The primary meaning of this is that the larger cells have
stored up a supply of nutriment for the young organism, and are
therefore bulkier and less active, while the others contain only the
bare elements of cell-structure and are therefore able, as they are
obliged, to be active in order to search out their quiescent mates.
A strictly vegetable organism, in this stage, may therefore possess
organs of locomotion, and be as free-moving as a fish. A remarkable
fact has come to light respecting those organisms (like some _Algæ_
among vegetables and Infusorians among animals), which are capable
both of conjugation and of reproduction by division, namely, that the
supply of nutriment often determines which method shall be followed.
If nutriment is abundant, division is practised; if it becomes
scanty, an impulse appears to be given to conjugation. Infusorians,
which ordinarily conjugate at pretty regular intervals, can be kept
indefinitely from doing so, and confined to division, by the simple
process of supplying abundance of nutritive matter in the water in
which they live.

    “As far as we can see from an a priori point of view,” writes
    Dr. E. B. Wilson in his great work on cell structure and cell
    phenomena, “there is no reason why, barring accident, cell-division
    should not follow cell-division in endless succession in the stream
    of life. It is possible, indeed probable, that such may be the
    fact in some of the lower and simpler forms of life where no form
    of sexual reproduction is known to occur. In the vast majority of
    living forms, however, the series of cell-divisions tends to run
    in cycles in each of which the energy of division gradually comes
    to an end and is only restored by an admixture of living matter
    derived from another cell. This operation, known as fertilization,
    or fecundation, is the essence of sexual reproduction, and in it we
    behold a process by which, on the one hand, the energy of division
    is restored, and by which, on the other hand, two independent lines
    of descent are blended into one. Why this dual process should take
    place we are as yet unable to say.”[44]

The actual mechanism of sexual reproduction is essentially the same
wherever it occurs, whether in a seaweed or a human being. Two cells
have to play their part in it, the Germ cell and the Sperm cell, and
these, in the higher orders of organized beings, come to be located
respectively in distinct classes or sexes of individuals. Reproduction
begins by the fusion of a sperm, or male cell with a germ, or female
cell.

These cells originally resemble the other cells of the same species,
containing the same number of chromosomes. If this number was, say,
sixteen, which is believed to be the number in man, then a fusion of
two complete cells, if it were possible, would produce a cell with
thirty-two chromosomes, and that would mean a different species of
animal. What happens is that each of the reproductive cells, male
and female, prepares itself for conjugation by getting rid of half
its chromosomes. Two divisions of the nucleus take place, _not_ as
in the ordinary fashion of cell-division, when the chromosomes split
longitudinally, but in such a way that, in each division, four of
the sixteen chromosomes are bodily expelled from the nucleus and
from the cell, when they either perish or, in some cases, appear to
help in forming an envelope of nutritive matter round the germ cell.
These divisions are called ‘maturation divisions,’ and until they
are accomplished, fecundation is impossible. When a sperm cell after
maturation comes into the neighbourhood of a germ cell, it penetrates
into its substance, using the long _flagellum_, or tail-like process,
with which it is equipped as an organ of locomotion. The two nuclei
come into contact and coalesce, and we have thus a new cell with its
sixteen chromosomes complete. This cell is the origin of the new being.
It divides in two, and each part divides and redivides, different cells
gradually differentiating themselves as muscular tissue, cartilage,
blood-corpuscles, nerves, reproductive cells, and so forth, until the
whole animal is built up and is ready for birth. One point of cardinal
importance must here be noted. The originating cell, as we have seen,
has eight of its sixteen chromosomes from one parent and eight from
another. When division takes place, these chromosomes, as we have seen,
split longitudinally, and the result is that each new cell gets exactly
the same mixture of chromatin as that of the originating cell—half
from each parent. This principle of division is carried on throughout
the whole process of building up the new being—every cell of the
latter, down to the minutest details of its structure, containing an
exactly equal quantity of hereditary elements from each of its parents.

It will be seen from the above account that the old conception of the
germ-cell as a passive body, incapable of a change till ‘fertilized’ by
a male or sperm cell, was altogether wrong. Both male and female cells
prepare themselves for conjugation long before it takes place, and
neither of them can be said to be a more active agent in fertilization
than the other. Not ‘fertilization’ but ‘fusion’ is the keyword of the
process. The mystical conception, as old as Plato, of the male and
female as representing respectively the two halves of a complete being,
turns out to be no poetic metaphor. As regards the essential features
of reproduction, it is a literal fact.

If we now ask why and by what mysterious law all these exact and
elaborate choric movements take place Weismann and his school refer us
to “chemotactic forces,” the nature of which is yet unknown. Chemotaxis
means simply the effect of the _presence_ of certain substances on
vital organisms without specific chemical action. The really essential
fact is that these special chemotactic forces are working _in living
protoplasm_. Life is not the product or the slave of any chemotactic
forces, but their maker and steersman.

The following passage from a work of the late Prof. Geo. Rolleston may
be pertinently quoted here:—

    “There exists, as is well known, a tendency to resolve all
    physiological into physico-chemical phenomena: undoubtedly many
    have been, and some more may still remain to be, so resolved; but
    the public may rest assured that in the kingdom of Biology no
    desire for a rectification of frontiers will ever be called out by
    any such attempts at, or successes in the way of, encroachment; and
    that where physics and chemistry can show that physico-chemical
    agencies are sufficient to account for the phenomena, there their
    claim upon the territory will be acceded to, as in the cases
    we have been glancing at [certain animal poisons], and where
    such claims cannot be established and fail to come up to the
    quantitative requirements of strict science, as in the cases of
    continuous and of discontinuous development or self-multiplication
    of a contagious germ, and in some others, they will be
    disallowed.”[45]

This was written in 1870. A generation later the attempt to reduce
life to a physico-chemical phenomenon had not made much way, as may
be judged by the following passage from Strasburger’s Text Book of
Botany:—[46]

    “Vital phenomena are essentially bound up with the living
    protoplasm. No other substance exhibits a similar series of
    remarkable and varied phenomena, such as we may compare with
    the attributes of life. As both physics and chemistry have been
    restricted to the investigation of lifeless bodies, any attempt to
    explain vital phenomena solely by chemical and physical laws could
    only be induced by a false conception of their real significance,
    and must lead to fruitless results. The physical attributes of
    air, water, and of the glasses and metals made use of in physical
    apparatus, can never explain qualities like nutrition, respiration,
    growth, irritability and reproduction.”

And Wilson concludes his work by the admission that

    “the study of the cell has on the whole seemed to widen rather than
    to narrow the enormous gap that separates even the lowest forms of
    life from the inorganic world.”[47]

“The lowest _observed_ forms of life” would have been a more exact way
of stating the fact.


Many questions of detail will occur to the reader at this point, which
he will find answered in the pages of Weismann or other investigators.
Here we must confine ourselves to what has a distinct bearing on the
objects of this study. One of the points which may be briefly touched
on is the question how it comes that two germ cells, once having
passed through their maturation divisions, cannot fuse and form a
new being; nor can two sperm cells. Were this possible we might have
‘self-fertilization,’ and virginal conception or parthenogenesis,
whenever two germ cells in the ovary of a female animal or in that of
a plant happened to come into contact. But since the object of fusion
is the union of (more or less) _unlike_, and not closely related,
elements, we find that even when a kind of self-fertilization occurs,
as in some plants, the sperm or pollen cells are differentiated
visibly, and probably still more invisibly, from the germ cells. But,
apart from this, the object of preventing the union of reproductive
cells of the same sex is mechanically attained by a very curious
device. The cell-organ by which division is carried out is the
centrosome. But in the course of the two maturation divisions of the
germ cell, that cell _loses its centrosome_, which seems to be absorbed
into the protoplasmic substance of the cell when once its task is
accomplished. No fusion of any number of such cells can therefore lead
to any further change or growth, for growth is based on cell division,
and the centrosome is the organ of division. The sperm cell, on the
other hand, does not lose its centrosome; it retains it to form the
organ of division for the new cell after conjugation. But, reduced
as it is to little more than a bare nucleus without any envelope of
nutritive matter, the sperm cell cannot support the intense vital
activity called for in the initial stages of the life of a new being,
and therefore sperm cells, like the germ cells, though for a different
reason, would be incapable of mutual conjugation, even if the element
of mutual attraction existed among them.

Another point of interest is the question of the determination of sex.
The known facts afford a strong corroboration of the general theory of
reproduction outlined above. It has not been ascertained, nor is it,
perhaps, ascertainable, whether the sperm cells of the male contain in
their chromatin a preponderance of male, while the germ cells provide
chiefly the female determinants.[48] However this may be, it is certain
that determinants which severally control the formation both of male
and of female structure are _always_ present in every combination of
the sperm and germ cells, those which exhibit the greatest energy and
vitality probably prevailing in the determination of the sex of the
future being. This accounts at once not only for the cases (rare in
the higher animals) of actual hermaphroditism, when the sex is really
indistinguishable, but for the universal occurrence in all male animals
of rudimentary female organs (such as mammæ) and in all females of
rudimentary male organs. Both sets of determinants are always present;
the more powerful prevail, but the weaker have a deflecting influence
on the total result. When the primary sexual characters of the embryo
are determined, they appear to communicate a stimulus which starts into
activity the appropriate secondary characters, such as colouring and
other modifications not directly sexual. An extraordinary case, which
I take from Beddard’s Animal Coloration,[49] is that of a chaffinch
which was found to have on the left side of its body the plumage of a
hen bird and on its right that of a cock. On dissection the meaning of
this freak of physiology was revealed. The bird was an hermaphrodite,
having the female organs of generation on the left side of its body and
the male on the right. Hermaphroditism is not in itself a very uncommon
phenomenon in birds (though here it is a monstrosity, not, as in slugs
and snails, a natural and useful condition); but the way in which in
this instance it governed the distribution of colour is most peculiar;
and of course it strongly reinforces Weismann’s conception of distinct
determinants for the various details of bodily structure.[50]

This brings us to the recognition of a _competition among determinants_
which is an important, indeed a cardinal, feature in Weismann’s theory
of evolution. He makes, as I am forced to believe, an illegitimate
and extravagant use of it, but the principle may really exist and
be operative without furnishing the master-word to the riddle of
organized being. The master-word, as I shall try to show, is nature’s
will to live. But before going fully into this argument, let us fix
in our minds the _rationale_ of those processes of elementary organic
life which have been described in this chapter. Protoplasmic life may
be supposed to have originated, and perhaps to be still originating,
in certain molecular combinations of matter. In other words, the
combination, when it took place, developed certain peculiar forces
through which it was enabled to maintain itself and to grow, by the
processes called assimilation and nutrition. These forces, then, were
potentially present in nature before the molecules combined to evoke
them. They are among the latent powers of life. They waited, ready
to be called into action when the required external form should be
arrived at in the play of molecular energy. Life first originated, no
doubt, in unconnected and inconceivably small units of protoplasm.
Between the units thus formed and their combination into the elaborate
structure which we now know a cell to be—packed as full of varied
energies, it has been said, as an ironclad is of machinery—there is
evidently a very wide gap. All we know is that when we have got the
cell, we find it in possession of a complex apparatus for subdivision,
which, taken together with the faculties of nutrition and growth,
enable any one cell to multiply indefinitely by producing replicas of
itself. To _life_ and _growth_, then, has been added the faculty for
_multiplication_. Here we strike on a veritable mystery. Why should
any new movement ever take place? Why should a cell ever divide in
two? We can only say that it is its property to do so.[51] It does
so because it is alive. Did this property first arise as one of a
multitude of aimless movements—the only one which ensured permanence
and multiplicity to the organisms which exhibited it? If so, then
Nature, at the time when life began on the earth, behaved in a manner
most unlike that in which she behaves at present. If we are to
interpret the processes hidden in the remote past by the light of what
we see at present, we shall conclude that, at bottom, the will to live
made molecular action—and the same force incorporated itself in the
combinations which originated protoplasmic life, ordered the structure
of the cell, and gave it the need and the power to multiply. Nature is
for ever changing, for ever straining after new life, after more life.

Having arrived at the cell with its powers of division, the next step
was the power of conjugation between cells with their interchange of
vital substance, bringing about, in Weismann’s words, “a wealth and
diversity of organic architecture which without it would have been
unattainable.” It takes place by means of physical energies, but the
process is entirely inexplicable unless we assume that it exists to
satisfy a need, a _Drang_, for life. And this need, although of course
it displays itself in physical processes, is not in itself a physical
process. At the very beginnings of structural life, if not before it,
we are obliged to pass beyond physics in order to comprehend physical
phenomena. Whenever we find an aggregate of living units, such as a
_Pandorina_ colony, living with a communal life which is other than
the sum-total of the lives of the individual units, we are in presence
at once of the necessity for a metaphysical conception, to render
intelligible the unity in diversity which we perceive.

The response of living protoplasm to the stimuli it receives from the
outside world is normally directed to the maintenance of the life and
form of the organism. The response of what is called ‘lifeless’ matter
is of another nature; not because it is really lifeless, for if it
were it would not respond at all, but because it has no organisms to
protect and foster. We all know the nature of the action of gravity on
Newton’s apple. It was treated as a dead substance, like a stone, and
gravity acted upon it as upon all other ponderable matter. But when
it had fallen to the earth, had decayed, and one of its pips began to
grow, the action of gravity began to be manifested in a quite different
and very peculiar fashion. It has been ascertained by a series of
ingenious experiments that gravity is the force which obliges the roots
of a plant to sink downwards into the earth. This does not, of course,
mean that the roots are drawn downwards by attraction of the earth,
but that the pull of gravitation gives a certain stimulus to the cells
concerned which makes them grow in that direction. Precisely the same
stimulus communicated to the cells of the stem has the very opposite
effect—these it causes to grow upright into the air and light. Thus
the roots are, as it is termed, positively, and the stems negatively,
geotropic. The substance of the root cells and of the stem cells is
the same, the stimulus is the same, but the effects on growth agree
in only one point, that they are respectively what the plant requires
them to be. There is no doubt that if a species of plants were placed
in such a position that it would serve them for the roots to grow
upwards, then upward-growing roots would eventually be evolved; in
fact, this is actually the case in the lateral underground roots of
certain mangroves which rise to the surface and become modified as
breathing organs, and in the aerial roots of various orchids, etc.[52]
When a change of habitat takes place calling for new developments of
structure to meet new conditions, these developments are not, as a
matter of actual observation, found to be mechanically ‘selected’ from
a mass of random movements and modifications of tissue—they reach their
goal, it is true, by a series of _gradual_ approximations, but the
goal is in sight from the beginning. In other words, _adaptability is
a fundamental character of life_. Hence the fact that multicellular
organisms which cannot, as a whole, fuse with others, adapt themselves
to these conditions by the allotment of special cells for that purpose;
while, again, the production of multicellular organisms is itself an
adaptation to Nature’s need for the higher organization of life.

    “The botanist Reinke,” writes Weismann, “has recently called
    attention once again to the fact that machines cannot be directly
    made up of primary physico-chemical forces or energies, but that,
    as Lotze said, forces of a superior order are indispensable, which
    so dispose the fundamental chemico-physical forces that they must
    act in the way aimed at by the purpose of the machine.... Organisms
    also [according to Reinke] are machines which perform a particular
    and purposeful kind of work, and they are only capable of doing
    so because the energies which perform the work are forced into
    definite paths by superior forces; these superior forces are thus
    ‘the steersmen of the energies.’”[53]

Weismann admits that there is “undoubtedly a kernel of truth in this
view,” but he is content with this perfunctory acknowledgment. His
main efforts are devoted to the substitution of fortuitously developed
“constellations” of molecular energy for any force which can be deemed
to have the slightest tincture of intelligence or purpose. “In our
time,” as he writes, “the great riddle has been solved—the riddle
of the origin of what is best suited to its purpose without the
co-operation of purposive forces.” The nature of the proposed solution
can be best described and discussed in another chapter, when we shall
be in a position to consider it in relation to the whole history
of organic development from its origin in protoplasmic life to the
evolution of species in plants and animals.



CHAPTER IV

    THE MECHANICAL THEORY OF EVOLUTION: THE DARWIN-LAMARCK EXPLANATION

    “Quelle est donc cette nature sujette à être effacée? La coutume
    est une seconde nature qui detruit la première. Pourquoi la coutume
    n’est elle pas naturelle? J’ai bien peur que cette nature ne soit
    elle-même qu’une première coutume, comme la coutume est une seconde
    nature.”—Pascal.


We now approach the _arcana_ of Evolution. The processes we have to
deal with in this chapter are not, and probably never will be, the
subjects of direct observation. All we can hope to do is to generalize
from the results which have risen to the surface of life about the
unseen forces from which they spring. The problem is to find (if
possible) a generalization which will cover all the facts relating to
that modification of natural forms, habits, and instincts which, when
it reaches a certain point, means the establishment of a new species.
We know that the thing happens, but we shall not understand _how_ it
happens until either the mechanism of the process is laid bare, or
until it is clear that we are in presence of an agency not entirely
definable in terms of mechanical action.

The fixity of species is maintained by a number of conditions, chief
among which must be reckoned the law of reproduction by conjugation,
with the consequent intermixture of numerous different lines of
descent. From one point of view conjugation, as Weismann so often
insists, greatly favours the adaptability of the organism to new and
varied conditions of life, inasmuch as it results in the mingling
together in each individual of a great number of varied determinants.
But when the conditions are constant, conjugation has also the
obvious effect of constantly reabsorbing, as it were, any heritable
abnormalities which may occur in individuals or the species, and
bringing them back to type. An individual possessing some abnormality
of structure will be most unlikely to find a mate possessing the same
abnormality—the mate will be either an ordinary individual or will
possess, if any, some quite different variation. Their descendants
will, therefore, usually show more resemblance to the normal type
than to the one abnormal parent, and in their descendants again, for
the same reason, the abnormal feature will be still further reduced,
until finally it disappears. It is only by the careful selection of
mates extending over many generations that pigeon-fanciers, to take
one prominent instance, are able to establish a new type. Left to mate
uncontrolled among themselves we should never have had the great
variety of breeds which have been produced by the art of the fancier
from the original rock-pigeon. The small variations which form the
starting points of his operations would, under natural conditions, have
soon been resolved into the normal type. What is it in nature, then,
that sometimes appears to play the part of the intelligent breeder and
to urge the plastic forms of life into new moulds?


The goal of the breeder is some new form which it pleases him
to produce, either for its use, or its beauty, or for its mere
singularity. The goal of nature, at least the apparent and immediate
goal, is the adaptation of each species to the circumstances of its
life. And the first thing that strikes the investigator is the way,
often indeed not perfect, but usually most impressive in its apparent
thoughtfulness and care, in which the organs of plants and animals are
fashioned to secure the most favourable results. But all this is the
result of development. The whale is a creature excellently adapted for
its present mode of life, but we know that it was once a furry land
animal with four legs; the legs are all there still, in modified or
rudimentary form, and the fur appears at a certain stage of embryonic
development. When we ask, How did this extraordinary transformation
come about? what we really mean is, How did the determinants composing
the chromatin in the reproductive cells of the original land animal
so come to alter as to produce the characteristics of the whale? For
new species can only be evolved by means of structural modifications
_capable of being transmitted by inheritance_; and nothing can be
inherited except through the action of the determinants. A modification
which does not affect the reproductive cells has no significance in the
evolution of species.

To this question Darwinism has given us our choice of two answers,
which may be termed respectively the Darwin-Lamarck and the
Darwin-Weismann theories. Lamarck explained the origin of species by
the accumulated effect of the inheritance, through many generations, of
modifications acquired by the exercise, or the disuse, of the modified
organs. Observing that living protoplasm responds to demands upon it
(thus, for instance, a muscle when systematically exercised attracts
more nourishment from the blood and grows stronger, and callosities
form to protect the skin of the hands of a manual worker), he assumed
that modifications so acquired might be transmitted by inheritance.
Each new generation, then, would start with a slightly better equipment
in this particular respect than the former one had when it started;
and so, by slow degrees, a new organ, or one markedly differing from
the original form, might be built up. The world, since protoplasmic
life first appeared upon it, has gone through many changes, and has
always presented a vast variety of climatic and other conditions,
calling for the most varied types of organic structure. As animal
life gradually spread over the earth and sea, the effort to cope with
the different conditions it met with would gradually, by the combined
action of exercise, of disuse, and of heredity, produce multitudes
of different types; and these are what we know as families, orders,
genera, and species. When a species is fairly well adapted to its
surroundings and way of life it may go on indefinitely without change.
But should any members of it be obliged to migrate, from scarcity
of food or any other reason, to some new locality where somewhat
different conditions prevail, structural alterations would soon begin
to appear to suit those new conditions. Thus the giraffe, if we could
trace its ancestry back, would probably be found to have originated in
some animal not differing from the vast majority of quadrupeds in the
relative proportions of its fore and hind quarters. But some members
of this original species—or the whole species, owing to some change
in their surroundings—found themselves obliged to rely largely for
food on leaves growing at a considerable height. They stretched up to
reach them, and a prolongation of the bones of the neck (the giraffe
has only the usual seven cervical vertebræ) and of the fore-legs would
ensue, especially in the young; this prolongation would be handed on
by inheritance, and so by degrees the new type of animal would be
evolved. The horn of the rhinoceros, the antlers of the stag, the
canine teeth of beasts of prey, the flat grinders of ruminants, the
flippers of the whale, the proboscis of the honey-feeding butterfly,
the jaws of the ant or the beetle, and a host of other adaptations
which seem obviously to owe their origin to the exercise of their
functions, occur to the mind in confirmation of this theory.

Besides Adaptation, we have what appears the strikingly confirmatory
case of what is called Co-adaptation, where the variation of one
organ or structure in an animal puts a strain upon other parts, which
accordingly respond by auxiliary adaptations. Such co-adaptations are
numerous in every animal structure, and, as we cannot suppose them to
have all originated simultaneously and by chance, the conclusion drawn
by Lamarckians is that one was produced by use, and, in the course of
its development, produced the others in the same way. A typical case is
that of the Irish elk. The enormous antlers of this beast, sometimes
weighing a hundredweight, must have needed (besides other structural
changes) a cervical ligament of immense size and power to support
them, and from the peculiar structure of the cervical vertebræ it is
demonstrable that such a ligament must have existed. What more natural
than to suppose that the antlers were developed by fighting wild beasts
of prey, combats between male elks, etc., and that then in their
gradual growth, as the species was evolved, the ligament and the bony
structure associated with it responded to the increasing strain. That
is exactly what would happen in an individual. We have only to assume
the heritability of modifications acquired by use to understand how
these co-adaptations became constant characters in a species.

Not less apparent cogency for the argument for modifications by use
have those cases where the modification has been apparently due to
disuse. It is well known that living creatures found in the total
darkness of great limestone caverns, like those at Kentucky, are
blind, through imperfections of one kind or another in the organs of
sight. But the rudimentary structures which remain tell us that these
creatures had ancestors which were once fully equipped in this respect,
and which had wandered into the caverns from the sunlit outer world.
Thus the case of a crab has been noted, in which the stalks on which
a crab’s eyes are set were preserved, while the eyes had disappeared:
it is, as Darwin observes, as if the stand of a telescope had been
retained while the telescope itself had gone. Sometimes the eyes
of cave-fishes are covered with a horny layer, sometimes the whole
structure is atrophied and withered. But never is an animal found
under these conditions which has retained its power of sight. The
conclusion seems obvious. In individuals, a muscle or other organ is
known to strengthen and develop by use and to atrophy by disuse. As use
and disuse appear to be invariably accompanied by precisely the same
effects in the species as in the individual, and as there seems no way
of accounting for this by any known physiological law without assuming
that modifications acquired by the individual are transmitted to its
progeny, the case for the inheritability of such modifications appears,
at first sight, irresistible.[54]

So matters stood when Darwin’s Origin of Species carried the argument
for evolution a long step further. Accepting fully the views of
Lamarck, Darwin attempted, by his doctrine of Natural Selection, first
to reinforce those views, secondly to explain much that they could
not be made to cover. It is plain that _if we assume the existence of
a severe competition for livelihood among the members of a species_,
any favourable variations of structure or instinct which may occur
among certain members of the species will give their type an advantage
over the normal type in the struggle for existence. They will, on the
average, live longer and produce more offspring. Ultimately, as the
struggle for life is always most severe among nearly related organisms,
which seek a living from the same sources, the less perfectly equipped
type will be extinguished, and so on, until a species exhibiting the
most complete form of adaptation has been evolved. The variations
on which Natural Selection has to work are produced, according to
Darwin, not only by the exercise of particular organs as in Lamarck’s
theory, but also and more potently by “innate variations” originating
from unascertained causes in the reproductive cells. Variations, it
is indisputable, are always occurring; probably no two members of
any species exactly resemble each other. Among low and primitive
organisms, such as the _Foraminifera_, Dr. W. B. Carpenter (I quote
from A. R. Wallace’s Darwinism) found, on careful examination, the
range of variation so great that characteristics typical not merely
of species but of genera and even of orders were liable to vary,[55]
while at the other end of evolution, in man, to give only one instance,
Mr. J. Wood is stated by Darwin to have observed no less than five
hundred and fifty-eight variations in the muscular structure of
thirty-six subjects examined.[56] The cause of these variations is
often quite obscure, but it is certain that some kinds of them are
capable of arising as the natural response of the organism to changed
conditions of food or habitat Conditions such as these, affecting
the whole constitution of the organism, have been proved capable of
affecting the reproductive cells, and thus of giving rise to hereditary
characteristics. Natural Selection, then, by preserving and encouraging
the better fitted as opposed to the less fit, acts as a spur to the
Lamarckian principles of development by exercise of function, while
it also lays hold of and intensifies all kinds of other favourable
variations occurring either casually or in consequence of change of
habitat, and weeds out the types in which such variations happen to
be unfavourable. According to Darwin, therefore, given (1) constant
variations of structure arising from use, disuse, or from other known
or unknown causes, (2) the capacity to transmit by inheritance these
variations _whether innate or acquired_, (3) a constant struggle for
existence among organisms both against each others’ competition and
against the general conditions of life[57]—given these simple data,
the secret springs of evolution are laid bare, and the vast complexity
of natural forms upon the globe is adequately accounted for without
calling in the agency of special creations. But variations are
the starting-point in the process: Natural Selection can originate
nothing—it can only act on what is presented to it by some quite
different force. The relative parts played by the various agencies at
work are, with characteristic moderation of statement, thus described
by Darwin:—

    “On the whole I think we may conclude that habit, use, and disuse,
    have, in some cases, played a considerable part in the modification
    of the constitution, and in the structure of various organs; but
    that the effects of use and disuse have often been largely combined
    with, and sometimes overmastered by the natural selection of innate
    variations.”[58]

To explain evolution, then, we must first explain _the occurrence
of appropriate variations_, strong enough and widespread enough
to maintain themselves against the constant reducing influence of
promiscuous intercrossing, and they must be variations _capable of
being transmitted by inheritance_. This, we now see, is the true field
of the inquiry.


The new factors introduced by Darwin into the process of
evolution—Natural Selection and Innate Variations—were destined
in our day to have the whole weight of the argument for evolution
suddenly thrown upon them. The inheritability of variations acquired
by the individual through use and disuse when subjected to fresh
investigation by the younger school of biologists has turned out to be
open to the gravest doubts, both theoretically, on account of the great
difficulty of reconciling it with what has now been ascertained of the
nature of the reproductive mechanism in plants and animals, and also on
the score of a closer consideration of the facts commonly adduced as
evidence for the law. To take these points separately: The reproductive
cells in every living creature are now believed to be formed directly
from the reproductive cells of its parents. They are not a product
of the organism in which they find themselves. They are nourished
by its blood, and are therefore liable to be affected by anything
which produces a broad general effect on the constitution of the
being in whom they are lodged, but it is difficult to see how special
modifications of individual parts of that being could affect them so
as to influence the determinants in the direction of reproducing that
modification. How, for example, could the habit of grubbing for roots
in an animal of the pig tribe so affect its reproductive cells as to
ensure the birth of an offspring with callosities on their snouts?
The physiological mechanism by which such a result could be produced
seems hardly conceivable—at any rate no one has yet offered a plausible
conception of it. Of course if the _fact_ were indisputably proved
one would only have to accept it, and endeavour, if possible, to
discover the why and how. But the fact, which once looked so solidly
established, is taking on a more and more insubstantial appearance in
the light of closer investigation.

The argument against Lamarckism rests on the basis (1) artificial
experiment, (2) of observation of nature under normal conditions.

As to the evidence from experiment, opinions fluctuated for some
time—Darwin was disposed at one time to deny, at another to admit the
alleged proofs it offered. In the present day opinion is overwhelmingly
against the validity of these proofs. The cases where artificially
produced mutilations are said to have been inherited have, when
investigated, turned out to be by no means as clear and trustworthy
as was supposed, nor can one place much reliance on a few cases of
striking coincidence such as are certain to occur from time to time.[59]

The adverse instances are very clear indeed. Chinese girls are never
born with abnormally small feet. Jews are not born circumcised. Among
tribes where tattooing is practised, no traces of this embellishment
are ever found to be inherited. If it is a physiological law that the
disuse of an organ not only atrophies it in the individual but (by
inheritance of the atrophy) eliminates it from the species, there is
no apparent reason why this law should not operate in cases where the
organ is artificially removed. Yet it rarely or never seems to do so.
Experiments upon animals, such as breeding for many generations from
mice whose tails have been cut off, have never resulted in producing a
clear case of inherited mutilation. A strong presumption is therefore
raised that the effects apparently due to use and disuse under natural
conditions (as in the eyeless fishes of the Kentucky caves) must be set
down to some other cause. The queens in colonies of ants and bees have
never exercised the functions of workers for thousands of centuries,
yet they transmit these functions unimpaired.

There is, indeed, a case often referred to in this connexion which
must be here mentioned. Dr. Brown-Séquard found that by injuring or
compressing the sciatic nerve in guinea-pigs epilepsy was produced, and
that the descendants of animals so injured had a marked tendency to
epileptic fits. This is undoubtedly a very significant and important
fact in biology, but it gives no support to the Lamarckian theory.
What is inherited by the guinea-pigs is not the injury to the nerve
but the pathological condition resulting therefrom. It remains to
be discovered how, precisely, this takes place, and the experiment
may end in illuminating a very obscure region in physiology, but on
Lamarckism it has no bearing at all. A better case is that of atrophy
of a toe, which is said to have been inherited in consequence of its
original production by severance of the sciatic nerve, but, again,
what is inherited is not an actual injury but an effect of it. It is
clear, however, that bodily conditions of a large and comprehensive
kind produced naturally or artificially in an individual may have an
effect on the reproductive cells, especially when the nervous system is
affected.

Coming to the observation of what happens under natural conditions,
we are struck at the outset by the fact that the inheritance of
acquired characteristics, if it works at all, must work under some
system of salutary control and not as a blind physiological law. For
if each generation starts with some measure at least of what the
former generation had acquired, and adds to it by its own activity,
then all acquired characteristics would ere long attain a monstrous
development, and the species would perish under them. But nothing of
the kind is observed to happen. The continual use of the muscles in the
labouring classes has not made men stronger than they were thousands
of generations ago. The habit of handling the spade and hoe has never
produced a peasant child born with callosities on its hands. The horn
of the rhinoceros, which on Lamarckian principles we must regard as
developed by the gradual increase of a callosity formed by grubbing for
roots, does not grow beyond a certain size, however the species may go
on grubbing. The Lamarckian law, then, if it has any real effect at
all, can only express half the truth about the action of heredity on
acquired characteristics. As the column of water in a fountain hovers
about a certain height, so the action of heredity in the accumulation
of the effects produced by the use of organs seems to have a limit
beyond which it cannot pass. May it not be that heredity is really as
false an expression for the phenomenon as the popular superstition
about ‘water seeking its own level’ is for the upspringing of a
fountain?

The cases of co-adaptation, where one organ appears to be developed
by use and others by the use of that, as in the case of the Irish
elk referred to above, are met by instances just as striking where
the elements of modification by use cannot come into play. Weismann
mentions the case of the ingenious brush arrangement on the anterior
legs of the bee, which the insect uses for cleansing its antennæ. Two
adaptations are here developed—a little semicircular notch in the leg,
set with small bristles, and a movable projection or flap used for
pressing the antenna into the notch as it is drawn through. The bee, no
doubt, would naturally try to clean its antennæ with its fore-legs, but
how could this process develop the special arrangements referred to in
the hard or scaly covering of its limbs? It is not until the shell of
the insect has grown quite hard and incapable of further vital changes
that the arrangement comes into use. Again, the stridulating noise
produced by the legs of the grasshopper is due to serrations occurring
on different joints of the limb. Serrations on one joint would in
no way tend to develop them on the other, but rather the contrary,
yet there they are, in harmonious co-operation. If Nature can obtain
these effects, as she does in numberless instances, without the aid of
Lamarck’s principle, we cannot help asking whether that principle is
ever operative at all.

The three instances which we shall next consider seem to offer very
serious obstacles to the Lamarckian theory.

A modification of structure caused by the special use of a certain
organ takes place in probably over 90 per cent of the whole human race,
male and female. The records of art, of language, and the evidence
of actual remains, tend to show that the habitude in question, with
the attendant modification, goes back to very ancient, even perhaps
to palæolithic times.[60] I refer to the preferential use of the
right hand and the enlargement of structure thus brought about in
the right hand and arm. Every right-handed adult man and woman shows
this enlargement of bony and muscular structure. The origin of the
habitude does not concern us here. Let us suppose it due, as Dr. D.
J. Cunningham suggests, to “a transmitted functional pre-eminence
of the left brain,”[61] which is larger than the right, and which
governs the movements of the right side of the body. However this may
be, it is clear that if bodily characteristics acquired by exercise
are transmissible by inheritance the new-born child of right-handed
ancestry ought to show some appreciable preponderance in weight and
size of the right over the left limb. There could hardly be a more
crucial test of the validity of the Lamarckian principle. What do the
investigations of the dissecting-room reveal? I shall quote the two
most recent authorities who have studied this interesting question. Dr.
Cunningham, in the lecture already referred to, writes:—

    “Although the matter has not been investigated so fully as to place
    the question outside the region of dispute, the evidence at our
    disposal distinctly favours the view that at birth the two upper
    limbs start upon their individual duties equally endowed in so far
    as strength of muscle and size of bones are concerned. Both in mass
    and weight the two limbs are to all intents and purposes similar at
    birth, and the preponderance in bulk and strength which later on
    distinguishes the right arm is acquired during life, and is caused
    by the greater amount of work it is called upon to perform.”[62]

Dr. T. G. Moorhead, Chief Demonstrator in Anatomy in Trinity College,
Dublin, after giving the results of the researches of various other
inquirers, writes:—

    “From this mass of conflicting evidence I am forced to the
    conclusion that no real differences exist.. .. After weighing as
    a whole the limbs of eight foetuses I was unable to detect any
    constant difference.”[63]

These results appear to conflict most seriously with the theory of the
transmissibility of acquired modifications.

[Illustration: Fig. 3.

_Kallima paralecta_, as it appears at rest, with wings closed.

From Weismann’s The Evolution Theory.

K, the head; B, the limbs.]

Every one is familiar with the fact that species of animals which
are preyed on by others, or which require to be inconspicuous
for the purpose of preying, are very apt to take the colour of
their habitual surroundings. Individuals of the same species will
even differ according to their special habitat. Perhaps the most
marvellous instances of this kind of adaptation are to be found in
certain tropical butterflies, such as the Indian butterfly, _Kallima
paralecta_, here illustrated. We have here, painted on the butterfly’s
wing, the picture of a leaf belonging to a shrub which it frequents—a
picture, when seen under natural conditions, capable of baffling all
but the closest inspection. The different parts—the midrib, the lateral
veinings, the little blotches and spots which represent patches of
mould or drops of water, even the outer contour of the wing itself—all
form an harmonious whole composed of related parts which have
separately no meaning or use. They certainly did not all appear in full
development at the same time. Nor could any one of them, if it appeared
first, have exercised the smallest influence on the appearance of the
others, as the antlers of the elk were supposed to have influenced
the development of the _ligamentum nuchæ_. The early stages must have
been anticipatory of the later ones, but exercise could have had
nothing to do with the result from first to last. The butterfly never
practised looking like a leaf. Nor can any large chemical and elemental
influences have been at work. If nature is capable of producing such
effects as this without the agency of Lamarck’s principle, are there
not excellent grounds for seeking for some other agency which will
cover all the phenomena alike?

Finally let us take the case of the slave-owning ‘Amazon’ ants,
_Polyergus rufescens_. Here we have a case which at the first blush
looks like a perfect picture of an evolutionary process conducted on
the principles of Lamarck’s theory. These ants, it may be supposed,
were originally of the ordinary type of that industrious and
respectable insect, but they were led by the weakness of some of their
neighbours of another species to make occasional attacks on them for
the purpose of carrying off their immature brood, the _pupæ_, as food.
Some of these _pupæ_, near maturity at the period of their capture,
would come out while stored-up in the nest of the conquerors, and when
they did so would immediately set about doing the household work of
the hive as if they were at home. _Polyergus rufescens_ ultimately
became aware that a life of aristocratic leisure awaited him if he
only captured enough _pupæ_ of another species of ant to do his work.
He accordingly confined himself entirely to piratical expeditions of
this nature, and in the course of time underwent a moral and physical
transformation of a most remarkable kind. The ordinary ant instincts
have disappeared in this variety. They do not make their nests, they
do not gather stores, they do not mind their young, they do not even
feed themselves—an Amazon ant will perish of starvation in the presence
of food if there is not a slave ant to put it into his mouth. But
they fight ferociously in their slave-raids, and the form of their
mandible has changed to suit their mode of life. It has become a pair
of sabre-like nippers, excellent for slaying a foe, but ill-adapted
for carrying objects and other industrial occupations. Corresponding
changes have taken place in the head and in the chitinous and muscular
structure.

We have before us, then, what would seem to an uninformed observer,
a striking picture of the acquirement of a certain bodily form and a
certain set of instincts by use, and the total loss of other traits by
disuse, and of the fixing of these characters in a species by heredity.
Yet the picture is altogether an illusion. However we are to explain
the facts—of which more anon—we cannot do so by Lamarckism, for the
simple reason that the peculiar instincts and bodily structure of the
Amazon ants are confined to the so-called ‘worker,’ or in this case
‘soldier,’ caste, which are sexless, and incapable of reproducing their
kind. If these were the individuals which originally started the slave
system among the species, they could not possibly have transmitted the
modifications, moral and physical, which they acquired. The queen-ants,
which normally are the only fertile ants, transmit them, but do not
possess them, and neither do the drones.

The case of these mysterious communities of insects, composed largely
of neuters which do the work of the community but do not reproduce
their kind, was one of the difficulties in the way of Darwin’s theory
of evolution which, he said, staggered him every time he reflected
on it.[64] It is not surprising, therefore, that this difficulty
came to be the battlefield, or a main position thereof, in a most
interesting and illuminating controversy on Natural Selection _versus_
Lamarckism, waged between Mr. Herbert Spencer and Dr. Weismann in the
years 1893-4.[65] Spencer considered the inheritance of acquired
characteristics a factor in evolution of the very first importance;
and so, indeed, from his point of view it is. “Either,” he declared,
“there has been inheritance of acquired characteristics, or there has
been no evolution.” Met by the case, among others, of the slave-making
ants, his explanation is substantially as follows: It was not the
workers (soldiers) which originally acquired military traits, but the
queens, the fully developed females, which lost them. There was once,
as every one admits, a time when all ants, bees, etc. were sexually
mature. There were only males and females. At this stage, possibly, the
Amazon ants were already predatory. It was _then_ that they may have
acquired the military habits and structure, which they were then able
to perpetuate by inheritance.

How, then, did the queens lose these traits? “From the queens,” replies
Spencer, “they have slowly disappeared by inheritance of the effects
of disuse.” The obvious and unanswerable rejoinder made by Weismann
and his followers was that Spencer had only shifted the difficulty
to another ground—from the workers to the queens. If the queens (and
drones) lost the military characteristics by disuse, how do they come
to transmit them unimpaired to the workers? It is the very essence of
Lamarckism that whatever modifications are produced by use or by disuse
shall be transmissible by inheritance.

In this controversy, however, there was another string to the
Lamarckian bow. Worker-ants, bees, etc. are imperfectly developed
females. They have four or five egg-tubes where the queen has two
hundred, but they cannot be fertilized by the drones. It occasionally
happens, however, that these neuter insects do lay a few eggs. These
unfertilized eggs always develop into drones. One of these drones
might, it was suggested, now and then fertilize a genuine queen, and
thus hand on the traits of the worker from which it sprang. But apart
from the fact that an occasional occurrence of this sort would hardly
suffice to maintain the worker-characteristics unimpaired throughout
the ages, there is the decisive answer, as Weismann points out, that
we know at least one species of ant in which the evolution of a
neuter caste is absolutely complete, for the workers of _Tetramorium
caespitum_ possess no egg-tubes at all. Yet the transmission of
characteristics from queens and drones who never exercise them to
workers who cannot pass them on, goes forward in this species of any
ant just as in any other.

Nature, therefore, while doing in the case of these insect communities
exactly what she appears to be doing elsewhere by the accumulation
of acquired characteristics, must, in reality, have been working on
entirely different lines. If we can discover what those lines were,
they will cover the apparently Lamarckian cases as well, but the
Lamarckian principle certainly will not cover these.

In the next chapter we shall review the alternative explanation offered
by Darwinism, the explanation of Weismann; and we shall see whether
Spencer was not as successful in demolishing it as Weismann was in
showing that, if evolution exists at all, some other basis must be
found for it than that on which it was so largely rested by Herbert
Spencer.



CHAPTER V

    THE MECHANICAL THEORY OF EVOLUTION: THE DARWIN-WEISMANN EXPLANATION

    “Chance guides all things: mind and forethought must call it God
    alone!”—Menander.

    “In the end,” writes M. Edmond Perrier, “every imaginable theory of
    evolution must lead up to one or other of two absolute doctrines,
    essentially antagonistic to each other. Either the inheritance
    of acquired characteristics must be admitted in its full scope
    (_dans toute sa généralité_), or else we must believe in the
    predestination of protoplasm, developing by virtue of its own
    internal forces. But in the latter case we pass from the domain of
    pure science to enter that of metaphysics.”[66]


We have now to consider the most conspicuous attempt made in recent
times to escape from this tragic dilemma.

If the acquired and inherited variations of the Lamarckian theory drop
out as a contribution to the explanation of evolution, we are reduced
to two forces only—_innate_, or germinal, variability of offspring,
and natural selection. Indeed it might be said that we are reduced
to variability alone, since natural selection can do nothing until
suitable variations are presented to it. The suitable variations do,
however, turn up, and the question is, what causes them? The real
difficulty for the school of biologists who, like Weismann, “assume
the mechanical theory of the world to be correct,” is how to reconcile
the aptness and apparent purposefulness of these variations with any
mechanical theory.

    “We are justified in inquiring,” writes Weismann, “whether the
    assumption of ‘chance’ germinal variations, which we have hitherto
    made with Darwin and Wallace, affords a sufficient basis for
    selection. Osborn says very neatly in this connection, ‘We see with
    Weismann and Galton the element of chance; but the dice appear to
    be loaded, and in the long run turn “sixes” up. Here arises the
    question, What loads the dice?’”[67]

What loads the dice? There is the great question in which the realms of
biology and of philosophy meet each other! Through that borderland no
definite frontier has ever been traced, for in thought as in matter the
saying is true that natural groupings have nuclei, but no boundaries.
It is all the more essential that men of science should understand
philosophy and its methods, and that philosophers should understand
science. It is to be feared that at present the second of these
desiderata is much more fully realized than the first.

However, we have to see now what Weismann, protagonist among
contemporary biologists of the mechanical theory of the world, has to
answer to the crucial question which he has allowed Osborn to set him.


The problem is to discover how innate, germinal variations can come
about, of such a nature as to adapt an organism with striking accuracy
to its surroundings and way of life, without our assuming either (1)
that the exercise of function had any influence in causing heritable
variations, or (2) that they were caused by any non-mechanical power,
which, so to speak, had in view the objects which they fulfil. For
the variations are to be regarded, on Weismann’s theory of life, as
completely _fortuitous_ in respect of the objects they serve. How,
then, do they come to serve them, in most cases, so admirably well?

The general nature of Weismann’s explanation may be summed up in a
curious illustration given by him in The Evolution Theory.[68] Let
us suppose, he says, a snow-field surrounded by precipices on all
sides, but with a narrow track leading away from it at one point.
Scattered about on the snow-field are a number of persons. A sleigh is
now projected among them from some outside point. Each person, when
the sleigh comes near him, gives it a push, but he has no object in
pushing it anywhere in particular, and simply sends it flying off in
whatever direction he chances to be looking. What will happen under
these circumstances? After more or less bandying about, the sleigh
will, in the vast majority of cases, fall into one of the abysses round
the snow-field and be lost But another is then launched on to the
snow-field, and then another and another without end; and so, at last,
it may happen that a series of pushes will take place which will send
the sleigh over the narrow track to its goal.

The goal is supposed to represent some condition to which the
organism (the sleigh) has to adapt itself. The random pushes which
it receives are the multitude of variations constantly occurring in
the reproductive cells. Most of these variations have no decisive
tendency, favourable or unfavourable. If a series of unfavourable
ones should occur, leading to some development which markedly impairs
the chances of the organism for success in life, it, or its line of
succession, dies out, and the unfavourable variation is, therefore, not
perpetuated. This is illustrated by the sleigh going into the abyss.
But if a favourable variation occurs, and is increased till it reaches
‘selection value,’ _i.e._ till it gives the organisms possessing it
a distinct advantage over others in the battle of life, then this
favoured type will ultimately, by the action of natural selection,
drive out the less favoured, and will establish itself as the sole
representative of the species. Having reached this level, of course the
same process will go on further indefinitely.

Before criticizing this conception of evolutionary processes, we
must inquire into the vital point of how the variations, the random
pushes given to the sleighs, ever rise to such intensity as to
have selection-value, and to make head against the influence of
intercrossing. The explanation is certainly ingenious, but is so purely
hypothetical and has an air so fantastic that it has commended itself
to very few students of biology. Weismann would have us suppose that
the determinants of which the hereditary substance in the reproductive
cells is made up are carrying on with each other an incessant struggle
for nutriment. If one of them succeeds in getting a little more than
its neighbours it thereby grows stronger, and is able to attract
still more nutriment to itself, and to impoverish those around it. It
is thus launched, as it were, on an ascending scale, and will go on
automatically if the variation caused by it proves favourable to the
species. If it proves unfavourable (which _ex hypothesi_ it is just
as likely to do) its career will be put a stop to by the extinction
of the line of descent which inherits this variation. Weismann’s
theory of “Germinal Selection” is therefore simply an application to
the reproductive cell and its contents of the Darwinian principle of
Natural Selection.

The theory is one which plainly makes immense demands upon our
faith. As regards the existence of a continual competition among
the determinants, there may be reason to accept it, but hardly in
the Weismann sense. Suppose two parents to unite, one healthy,
well-nourished, full-blooded, the other starved and weakly, it is
very likely that, in the resulting offspring, other things being
equal, the determinants coming from the well-nourished frame will be
seen to have surpassed in potency those from the weakly one. For the
determinants are living protoplasm—they depend on nourishment derived
from the blood of the organism in which they are lodged, and they
are capable, no doubt, of being well-nourished or ill-nourished or
possibly over-nourished, according to the constitution and history of
that organism. But this is a very different thing from supposing that
one determinant can begin to grow in _the same cell_ at the expense
of another, when both are absolutely embedded in an ocean of the same
nutritive matter. There is not—of course in the nature of things
there cannot be—a particle of evidence for the supposition. It is a
pure imaginative hypothesis, and on the face of it a most improbable
one. It is difficult to believe that it could ever have been adopted
save as a desperate attempt to break through the ever-narrowing ring
of evidence which is forcing investigation more and more towards a
non-mechanical explanation of the processes of life. But even if it
were true, what is gained by it? “Appropriate variational tendencies,”
writes Weismann, “not only _may_ present themselves, they _must_ do so,
if the germ-plasm contains determinants at all by whose fluctuations in
a plus or minus direction the appropriate variation is attainable.”[69]
But why _must_ they? There is no ‘must’ about Chance, unless one
extends its operations to infinity. Why is it so certain that the
inequalities of nutriment, on which hereditary variability is supposed
to depend, must necessarily run the gamut of all possible variations?
There is no ‘must’ in this theory, except that it is the last ditch
of the “mechanical conception of the economy of life.” It ‘must’ be
true—or that conception must quit the field.

Were evolution to depend on the occurrence, by pure chance, of a
few appropriate variations among a vast multitude of indifferent or
disadvantageous ones, is it conceivable that we should find in nature
anything like the infinite wealth of closely and beautifully adapted
structure which is actually present? In particular, how are we to
account for the cases in which a number of parts are so modified as
to work together in harmonious co-adaptation? Each of these parts,
according to Weismann, originates quite independently of the others.
Take the case of the Indian leaf-butterfly already referred to.[70]
The first beginnings of the midrib on Weismann’s theory had nothing to
do with the rest of the rib, nor had any of the veinings with this, or
with one another; and the contour of the leaf, sending out a little
projection like a stalk _exactly where the midrib starts_, originated
quite independently of that marking, and equally so of the leaf it
mimics! To explain co-adaptations like this on Weismann’s theory is
really much the same as to suppose that a picture could be painted by
simply plastering the scrapings of a palette on a canvas, if only one
continued the process long enough. And the marvel in question, the
co-adaptation of various parts, has not been attained once or twice
but, to a greater or less degree, in _every_ organism possessing any
structural complexity.

The difficulty, of course, has not escaped Weismann. His explanation
depends on some conception of the potentialities of conjugation and
intercrossing which I confess I cannot understand. He finds the key to
the mystery in the mingling and constant recombination of determinants
from different individuals produced by promiscuous intercrossing. “It
is only through amphimixis [conjugation] that simultaneous harmonious
adaptation of many parts becomes possible.”[71] But surely this
continual mingling and recombination would, _primâ facie_, be just as
likely to break up co-adaptations already forming as to give rise to
new ones? Amphimixis, as we have seen, is one of the most potent forces
against which the evolution of a new species has to contend. Evolution
has to make head against the constant tendency of intercrossing to
obliterate individual distinctions. True, if parents exhibiting
the same heritable variation unite, their offspring will have that
variation in a strongly marked form, and will transmit it further. But
this, to be of value for evolution, presupposes the same variation
occurring simultaneously in a number of individuals within reach of
each other. Weismann had indeed good reason to ascribe to the action of
intercrossing “a wealth and diversity of organic architecture otherwise
unattainable,” but were it not supplemented by an architectural
instinct of nature, the only architecture attainable would be that of
the child when it empties its bricks on the floor.

Consider the theory of germinal selection in the light of the following
very curious case.[72] Most people have seen an example of the kind
of spectacles having what are called bifocal lenses. Each lens is
divided across the centre, and the focal lengths of the upper and
the lower halves are different. They are intended for persons who see
indistinctly both at near and at far distances—the upper half of the
lens is used for looking at distant objects and the lower for reading,
etc., so as to avoid the inconvenience of having a different pair of
glasses for each requirement. Now there is a fish, named _Anableps_
(the Uplooker), living in estuaries on the east coast of South America
which actually has its eye-lenses constructed on this principle. The
pupil of the eye is divided laterally by prolongations from the iris.
The significance of this extraordinary arrangement is that the fish
is in the habit of swimming near the surface, and often has its eyes
wholly or partly out of water, presumably to look out for attacks from
birds of prey. The upper half of the eye has become adapted for vision
in the air and the lower for vision in the water.

According to Weismann, the habits and needs of the fish could have
had no influence whatever in producing this peculiar adaptation as an
inherited characteristic of a species. Any other fish or mammal would
have been just as likely as _Anableps_ to begin the development of a
bifocal eye. How does it come, then, that from the thousands of species
of eyed animals one, and one only, possesses this bifocal eye, and that
precisely the one which so greatly needs it? Weismann’s answer would
doubtless be that, in the case of other creatures, Natural Selection
would not have acted in protecting the individuals which possessed
the bifocal eye and penalizing those which did not. But can we imagine
that this principle acted very strongly when the bifocal arrangement
in _Anableps_ was in a mere rudimentary stage, as it must at first
have been? And should we not occasionally see at least traces of the
arrangement in the eyes of other creatures, if its full development in
_Anableps_ was merely the result of Natural Selection laying hold of
and perfecting an originally quite fortuitous variation?

A case still more curious and convincing occurs in connexion with
the hermaphroditism exhibited by a whole class of animals belonging
to many different orders, but alike in the one respect that it is
specially desirable for them to have both sexes comprised in the same
individual. These are animals capable only of sluggish movement, the
different sexes of which have therefore some difficulty in finding
each other out. Terrestrial snails and slugs are an example. All these
creatures are double-sexed; any two snails which meet can conjugate,
since each can act either as male or as female at will. Oysters are
another instance, though in this case the two sexes follow each other
at different periods in the life-history of each individual. Clearly,
this faculty gives to snails and slugs twice as many opportunities of
reproducing their kind as if the sexes were distinct. It is certain
from general biological considerations that they were distinct
originally. One can easily understand how, if any small group of the
original species from which all the present tribes are descended,
happened to throw up these bisexual peculiarities, their progeny would
multiply faster than the rest and might ultimately exterminate them
by the operation of natural selection. _But exactly the same might be
said of any other tribe of unisexual animals._ Any of these might,
_a priori_, on the “mechanical conception of the economy of life,”
be just as reasonably expected to develop bisexuality; for no one
supposes that there is any physical connexion between sluggishness
and hermaphroditism, or swiftness and distinction of the sexes; and
the causes which have operated to extend and confirm the type in
sluggish and sedentary animals would have the same effect in swift
ones. Yet this remarkable adaptation occurs just wherever there is
special need for it; there always and there only. What mechanism can
account for such a phenomenon as this? No; the dice are loaded. Nature
gains her end slowly and not without hesitations and failures, but the
phenomena are wholly unlike the results of the play of uncontrolled
and fortuitous forces. Imagine a blindfolded archer shooting arrows
upwards, downwards, and all around him in every direction as it may
take his fancy. There is, unknown to him, a target some distance
off. If he went on long enough it is conceivable, though by no means
necessary, that some arrow would hit the bull’s eye. But the facts
plainly point not to the above analogy, but rather to an aim at a
desired object. Some of the arrows miss, some light near the mark,
others hit it precisely. The flight, on the whole, is in the right
direction, as the immense proportion of complete or partial successes
plainly proves.


The two pillars of Weismann’s theory of evolution are _germinal
variation_ and _natural selection_. The one is supposed to originate
ceaseless changes of structure, the other to eliminate those changes
which are useless[73] or unfavourable and to foster and confirm the
favourable. We have seen, if the foregoing considerations are sound,
that fortuitous variations do not provide the material with which
natural selection can build up a universe of organic life like ours. We
have now to turn our attention to the other prop of the system and to
inquire whether natural selection can play and does play the part which
Darwin and his school assign to it in the economy of nature.

Natural selection is supposed to depend for its efficacy on the
existence of a state of strenuous competition for nourishment, or
for the avoidance of foes, in the type out of which the favourable
variations emerge. But in recent times the fact of any such
competition has been gravely doubted. Let us look back to the
beginnings of animal life in the world. The first primitive animal
organisms found themselves swimming in a boundless sea of nourishment
and had no foes at all! Yet they developed into higher and higher
grades of life. Competition did not aid in the development of these
higher grades—it was they which ultimately created the state of
competition. What Nature then achieved without competition she is
equally able to perform now. Even now when the earth is swarming with
varied life competition plays a much smaller part than was taken for
granted in the first flush of Darwinism. Creatures of the same type but
on different grades of organization, like the hive-bee and the humble
bee, are constantly found side by side, drawing their nourishment
from the same sources, but each holding its own without difficulty.
Facts like these were not unobserved by Darwin, who met them by the
supposition that competition came chiefly into play at exceptional
periods, during a drought, an inundation, a severe winter, or the like,
in which the less fitted members of the race perished wholesale. But,
as Kropotkin, in his interesting work, Mutual Aid among Animals, has
remarked,

    “If the evolution of the animal world were based exclusively, or
    even chiefly, upon the survival of the fittest during periods of
    calamities; if natural selection were limited in its action to
    periods of exceptional drought, or sudden changes of temperature,
    or inundations, retrogression would be the rule in the animal
    world. Those who survive a famine, or a severe epidemic of cholera,
    or small-pox, or diphtheria, such as we see them in uncivilized
    countries, are neither the strongest, nor the healthiest, nor the
    most intelligent. No progress could be based on such survivals—the
    less so as all survivors usually come out of the ordeal with an
    impaired health, like the Transbaikalian horses just mentioned,
    or the Arctic crews, or the garrison of a fortress which has been
    compelled to live for a few months on half rations, and comes out
    of its experience with a broken health, and subsequently shows a
    quite abnormal mortality.”[74]

Kropotkin’s book shows good reason to believe that the principle of
mutual aid and support plays at least as great a part in the animal
world as does that of mutual competition and extermination.

That the competition of organisms, animal and vegetable, for
nourishment and for protection may favour certain types, and depress or
even exterminate others, is of course indisputable. We see it when the
Japanese worker and the Californian meet in industrial rivalry on the
Pacific slopes—we see it when the willows planted by New Zealand rivers
destroy the weed which infested them, by absorbing the nourishment
from the river-bed on which it lived.[75] What we have to consider,
however, is the efficacy of competition in giving predominance and
permanence to a type differing but slightly in the initial stages
from that of the rest of the species, and differing but in a very few
individuals. We have to consider, in fact, whether natural selection is
not a consequence rather than a cause of evolution. On no mechanical
theory of evolution can we suppose that the first leaf-markings of the
butterfly, _Kallima paralecta_, were either at all pronounced in their
mimicry, or that they originated simultaneously in any large group of
the original species from which _Kallima paralecta_ sprang. Therefore,
with very small advantage in the way of protection from enemies, and
with the constant and powerful influence of intercrossing ever tending
to obliterate the distinctive leaf-marks, how could natural selection
alone enable the new, the mimicking type, to assert and develop itself,
as it has done not only in this particular species of butterfly but in
hundreds of species of the _Lepidoptera_ and other insects?

    “A considerable initial resemblance,” writes Mr. Beddard in his
    most valuable though somewhat chaotic work on this subject,[76]
    “may be fairly set down to other causes [than natural selection];
    because it is impossible to believe that a slight move in the
    required direction would be of sufficient importance to serve as
    material for the action of natural elimination.”

The most convinced Darwinian will hardly deny that the problem involved
in this case is a serious one.

Another singular fact to be noted in this connexion is the “conclusion
arrived at by the study of mimetic butterflies in all parts of the
world—that the females are far more liable to assume this method of
defence than the males.”[77] An instance in point, which has been
the subject of much discussion, is that of the yellow and black
swallow-tailed butterfly, _Papilio meriones_, found in Madagascar.
The island is supposed to be the original home of the species, and
here both sexes are much alike. On the mainland of South Africa,
however, while the male has undergone the very slight transformations
represented by the species _P. merope_ and _P. cenea_, the females
imitate closely three different species of the _Danais_ butterfly
which is protected by its disagreeable taste from the usual enemies of
the tribe, and which is altogether unlike in shape and coloration to
the swallow-tail. “The new forms,” writes Mr. Poulton, “have arisen
at so recent a date that many of the intermediate stages can still be
seen, while the parent form has been preserved unchanged in a friendly
land, where the keener struggle of continental areas is unknown.”[78]
The significance of such a fact as this is obvious. If mimicry arose
from fortuitous variations of colouring and of form, males alone
might show it in some species, females alone in others, and both in
yet others, but it is difficult to understand how we could arrive
at the actual condition, and find it either common to both sexes or
practically confined to the female. If, on the other hand, mimicry
and other similar adaptations are ultimately to be interpreted as the
common response of the species to the attack of its foes, it is quite
natural that the female, as the egg-bearer, the most important factor
in the continuance of the species, should be specially protected. It is
probable also that she is most in need of protection, as her functions
may render her rather more exposed than the male to attack. That
natural selection cannot have been the dominant factor in the case we
are considering seems clear; for how could it have acted at all without
a somewhat vigorous weeding out of unprotected forms? And, in that
case, what would have become of the unprotected males of the species?

Difficulties of this kind have, in different cases, been raised again
and again since the publication of the Origin of Species, and have had
to be answered so often that there seems good _prima facie_ ground
for doubting whether they have ever really been answered at all. The
strongest advocates of the pure mechanical theory are obliged, as we
have seen, to admit that the drift of contemporary scientific opinion
is to place little reliance on casual variation and natural selection
and to look for the driving force of evolution in other directions.[79]
In the introduction to Strasburger’s Text Book of Botany[80] we find
this important passage:—

    “The tendency is to assume the existence of a development of
    the organic world due to original, innate capabilities of the
    living substance and not dependent on selection. The origin of
    the large subdivisions of the animal and vegetable kingdoms,
    the ‘Archetypes,’ would be due to this sort of evolution. These
    archetypes have been, and are still, continually influenced by
    the environment, and, by their reaction to external conditions,
    organisms become more or less directly adapted.... The progressive
    evolution of the archetypes, as well as the direct adaptations to
    external conditions shown by them, is independent of selection.
    The latter does, however, exert an influence on the process of
    evolution of the organic world, though to a much more limited
    extent than was formerly supposed.”

It is clear that in these _original innate capabilities of the living
substance_ we have a power which alone _may_ fully account for the
evolution of the organic world, though natural selection can emphasize
and hasten its action. Its nature and limits are still undetermined.
Biologists are very chary of expressing this power save in terms of
chemistry and physics. Men of science are afraid—sometimes I venture to
think even morbidly afraid—of opening any door by which the fantastic
horde of arbitrary dogmas and superstitions which they have cast out
with so much toil and peril might find their way back into the temple
of Knowledge. But philosophy must warn them that in shutting out
all forces that cannot be weighed and measured in a laboratory they
may be shutting out life itself. And those who strenuously insist on
reducing nature to a mechanism often find themselves obliged to let
in the mysterious life-force by some more or less clandestine entry
in order to make their mechanism work. Thus Nägeli, the originator
of the theory of heredity which Weismann has developed, attributes
the phenomena of growth and evolution not to natural selection but
to “internal forces.”[81] He disclaims for these forces any but a
physical and chemical significance; but Professor Eimer, in spite of
all disclaimers, cannot get rid of the suspicion, well justified in
my opinion, that there is in these forces, as conceived by Nägeli,
something purposeful and teleological—admit them, he says in effect,
and who knows what we shall next be asked to believe?[82] Yet for Eimer
himself we find that, as Schopenhauer says, “the lotus of physics
is rooted in metaphysics.” Twice in his work on organic evolution,
he refers with approval to the view of “our profound philosopher,
Oken,”[83] who regarded all existing beings as members or organs of
some vast and transcendental organism whose development conditioned
theirs. Eimer even makes a somewhat daring application of this
principle to a concrete instance in the physical world, one which we
have already referred to, the problem of the inheritance of qualities
in ants, bees, etc., when these qualities are possessed and exercised
only by individuals who cannot transmit them.

    “We must regard,” he writes, “the different forms of bees, queens,
    drones, workers, as _discontinuous organs of one whole_, which have
    been evolved from a single indifferent ancestral form.... Only
    thus can we explain to ourselves the fact that the peculiarities
    of the workers, notwithstanding that they do not reproduce, are
    inherited.”[84]

When we are asked to believe in physico-chemical laws of such a
nature that they enable the habits of life of a worker-ant or bee to
react upon the germ-cells of the queen, just as the exercise of an
organ, on Lamarckian principles, affects the reproductive cells of
the creature to which it belongs, it becomes plain enough that for
modern investigators the so-called mechanical and the so-called psychic
conceptions of the universe are really running out at the same point.
The gulf between these conceptions, which seemed to yawn so widely
after Darwinism, was a mere illusion, arising from a point of view now
left behind.


To resume the argument of the foregoing chapters. We have seen that at
the basis of all theories of evolution lies the fact of the responsive
powers of living protoplasm. _But what does it respond to?_ That is the
question of questions. To put it accurately in relation to the process
of evolution we must ask, To what do the determinants in the germinal
cells of plants and animals respond? To what call did unicellular
organisms respond when they first began to interchange chromatin with
each other? To what, when they began to divide and form new organisms?
To what, when multicellular organisms began to specialize certain cells
for reproduction, and these cells to mature themselves for fusion by
throwing out half their chromosomes? And when the higher plants and
animals came on the scene, reproducing their kind under conditions
which make strongly for the fixity of species, how are we to interpret
the response of protoplasm when we see organs and structures melt away,
and others grow, giving rise to the innumerable types which yield us
the existing world with its overwhelming richness and variety of life?
Weismann tells us that the response is only to differences in the
amount of nutriment obtainable by the various determinants of the germ
cell, and has but a fortuitous connexion with the results attained.
We have seen the inadequacy of this theory, in the light of the many
adaptations such as that of which the fish, _Anableps_, with its
bifocal eyes, and the double sexual organs of terrestrial snails, are
types. Lamarck and Darwin, besides the belief in fortuitous variation,
held that heritable characters arise from exercise of function.
Innumerable cases can be quoted in favour of this explanation, but
we have seen instances in which it is absolutely untenable, and yet
where the required response takes place just the same. The influence
of light and colour tells on the colouring of animals, and impartially
protects them when they are preyed upon, or helps them to secure their
prey; and this influence is frequently explainable by chemical or
electric agencies originating in the environment of the animal, acting
on the blood, and thus influencing pigmentation of the skin,[85] but
chemistry is helpless to account for the manner in which nature shapes
the contour of the wing of a tropical butterfly and paints upon it
the veinings of a leaf, or protects a harmless fly by giving it a
resemblance to a stinging one, or protects a caterpillar by making it
look like a vicious and dangerous reptile. Yet all these protective
arrangements are evidently, at bottom, facts of the same order.
Protoplasm lives and responds not only discretely in the lowest unit
perceptible by the microscope, but collectively in the connected groups
of these units called multicellular organisms, and in the disconnected
groups of these organisms called species. It really responds not to the
exercise of function or to the play of physical forces, but to vital
tendencies of the organism. There seems an expansive force in nature
which, though working strictly under the dominion of physical laws, is
capable of using the combinations brought about by those laws for the
preservation and development of life. It is in love with life, it is
ever pressing toward action and self-realization, and all roads are one
to it if they lead to that end. In it are included the very chemical
and physical agencies which it obeys, and also that something beyond
which eludes the analysis of the laboratory.

How it acts, under what conditions, what limitations, why here in one
way, there in another, are questions of profound interest, the fringe
of which philosophy has hardly begun to touch. Nor is philosophy yet
in a position to do more, for the scientific conception of nature is
but a recent birth of thought; much remains to do in the collection and
organization of the facts with which the framework must be filled in,
and a philosophy which does not keep closely in touch with scientific
fact can have no message for the modern world. But it does seem
possible to discern, and it shall now be our endeavour to set forth,
in broad outline, certain principles of deep significance from which
we may obtain an answer to the question: What can we learn from the
physical universe that has a bearing on the spiritual life of man?



CHAPTER VI

THE DIRECTIVE THEORY OF EVOLUTION

    “Who is there that cannot distinguish between the actual cause
    of a thing and that without which the cause could never be a
    cause?”—Plato, Phædo.


The problem set at the close of our first chapter was to find a fit
explanation of the guiding power apparent in natural phenomena. We
have not been able to interpret this guiding power either in terms of
conscious, intelligent contrivance or in terms of blind, mechanical
law. The investigations which followed have led us up to another
explanation. We have seen that the vivifying, transforming, progressive
power in nature may be conceived as a power of Response. Every particle
of matter, organic and inorganic, has this power. Every particle of
matter can react and respond to some stimulus. The more it can respond
to, the higher it is in the scale of being. And we have found, as I
think, one constant and universal stimulus to which both the fixity of
nature’s laws and the plasticity of her mysterious substance may be
conceived as a response. This stimulus is the call of Life. Stimulus
and response taken together constitute the directive force in obedience
to which the world unfolds itself in the evolutionary process. We have
been led to interpret nature as the concrete expression of the will to
live, a will which for the first time comes into rational consciousness
in man. Having brought this conception, I hope, into clear light, it
is the aim of the present chapter to illustrate and enforce it in more
detail, and thus to gain a secure foundation for the application of
the conception to the more strictly human problems with which we have
ultimately to deal.

It must be confessed that the existence in nature of any directive
power transcending and utilizing the mechanical forces and relations
of matter, call it ‘vital force,’ the ‘hand of Providence,’ the ‘_X_’
of evolution, or what one will, has never readily been admitted by
scientific naturalists. They feel that, if once admitted, it offers a
prompt and facile explanation of every difficulty, and is available as
the cheap resource of all those who study nature with a view to the
grinding of their moral or religious axes, rather than to the discovery
of truth. Those who feel obliged to believe in the existence of some
such power are therefore bound to be more than ordinarily on their
guard against all loose thinking. They must not be content with vague
generalities, but must be prepared to indicate as exactly as possible
the distinction existing between the mechanical and the non-mechanical
or transcendental agencies in nature. It does not follow that one’s
account of the matter will prove to be exactly true in every detail.
One must always speak in such matters with that wise reservation of
Socrates, “If this be not the truth, something of the kind is.” But it
is not allowable to fall back on that “something of the kind” until an
attempt has been made definitely to establish the “kind,” by searching
into the inmost heart of the fact.

The fact here is the responsive power of living protoplasm. It will be
well to examine it first in its operation in an individual organism
before we consider it in relation to the species.

Reaction or response of a chemical and mechanical type takes place
alike in dead matter and in living organisms, but certain stimuli
will induce action in an organism which they could not possibly
induce in a mineral. For in every cell, as Reinke well says, there
are a chemist and an architect who guide its energies, and who have
something quite different from chemistry and physics in view. Consider
the following case. Every tuber of a potato plant is covered with
a light skin composed of a corky substance intended to protect the
internal structure from injury. This skin is produced by the action of
the surface cells of the tuber. Chemically and physically these cells
are just the same as the cells in the interior of the tuber. But the
interior cells do not produce this corky substance, because it would
be injurious to the plant if they did. The cells below the surface
of the tuber, though they are by no means secluded from the chemical
influences of the earth around them, behave quite differently from
those actually in contact with the earth.

Now let us take our tuber, slice it in half, and replace it in the
earth again. If we look at it again in a few days we shall find that
the interior cells, now exposed by the cutting, have done what they
could not or did not do before—they have produced a layer of skin to
cover the exposed surface of the tuber just as if they had been surface
cells from the outset.

This kind of response seems to take us quite out of the region of
chemical and physical action as understood in the case of inorganic
matter. It is a response directed to maintaining as far as possible the
life and form of the organism, a thing which mere chemical action in
mineral substances never does.

It may perhaps, however, be argued that the actual contact with the
earth has a possible chemical stimulus which is not communicable to
cells even a hair’s-breadth below the surface, and that the cells laid
bare by slicing react as they do simply because they are exposed to
this stimulus. Let us take, then, another common and typical case of
response to altered conditions in plant life.

The taproot of a tree, as we have seen,[86] grows straight downwards
towards the centre of the earth in obedience to the stimulus given
by the pull of gravitation. The same stimulus impels the stem to
shoot upwards, and the other roots and the branches to grow more or
less laterally. New growth always takes place at the extreme tip of
the shoot or root. Lay bare the taproot, cut away this growing tip,
and that root can grow no more; no fresh tip charged with vegetative
vitality can form itself over the scar. But mark what happens!
The nearest lateral root, instead of pursuing its normal course,
straightway begins to bend downwards and takes the place of the
mutilated taproot. Similarly if the leading shoot of the stem is nipped
off, the nearest lateral branch will turn upwards. In this case the
lateral root or shoot has not been subjected to any new influences
whatever, or at least to none of a chemical or physical nature. Yet it
responds, not to anything affecting itself, but to the needs of the
organism as a whole.[87]

None of the forces which living organisms have in common with minerals
will account for this kind of response.

How are we to represent to our minds the nature of the forces which
apply to the innumerable cases of which the above is a type? Reinke,
who deals exhaustively with this question, conceives the vitality of
living things, manifested in growth, development, and reproduction,
as lodged in what he calls “Dominants.”[88] These dominants exist
in all parts of the organism, and govern those processes which
ordinary physical laws do not explain, _i.e._ the phenomena which
are specifically vital. They are not themselves chemical or physical
energies, but they guide these energies toward the fulfilment of the
objects of life.

    “Dominants,” he writes,[89] “are those secondary[90] forces in the
    organism whose existence we recognize in their operations, but
    which we cannot further analyse. Thus I understand under this form
    that principle of control which takes effect in every organism and
    which sways whatever energies are available just as men use tools
    and machines. Since this control is manifold in its manifestations,
    one is obliged, when seeking for a technical designation for
    it, to express it in the plural. The dominants are therefore an
    abstraction; a symbol for phenomena, just like the conceptions,
    Force, Matter, the Atom, etc.; the term has been devised in order
    to provide a short explanatory description of certain essential
    processes.

    “I therefore repel the objection, if anyone should make it, that
    the dominants are a fiction, a troop of ghosts with which I have
    peopled the cells and organs of animals and plants. They are, in
    some sense, merely a paraphrase of the description of certain
    phenomena, a personification of forces not to be ranged under the
    conception of energy—the _directive_ impulses in the animal and
    vegetable world.”

To continue Reinke’s explanation: Two different classes of dominants
are to be recognized. These are the operative and the formative. The
former control principally the chemical activities of the organism, as
when a plant turns inorganic substances into sugar, albumen, etc.; the
latter are the invisible architects in the organism who control its
form and structure. Both are heritable, and are capable of modification
within certain limits. Closely bound up with matter and energy, they
are neither matter nor energy. They can be indefinitely multiplied and
(to all appearance) totally destroyed. Their multiplication does not
abstract energy from other known sources, nor does their destruction
restore it; they do not therefore come (visibly) under the law of the
conservation of energy. They operate entirely within the framework of
natural laws, and can only utilize what energies are available for
them at the given time and place. Every cell has its dominants; and as
an organism is a synthesis, not a mere aggregate, of cells, so its
individual dominant is a synthesis of the dominants of its parts. The
evolution of species, like the development of an embryo, is under the
control of dominants. The conditions under which they work for this end
are material and physical; these conditions can, to a great extent, be
ascertained and defined, but the driving force lies beyond scientific
analysis.

Such is the conception of Reinke; and taken as he presents it, that is
to say, merely as a kind of working hypothesis, as a means of making
intelligible a vast and various mass of phenomena, it seems admirably
suited to its purpose. It remains to add, though Reinke himself does
not say so, that this conception of the dominants appears to harmonize
remarkably with what has been put forward in regard to cell-structure
and reproduction. The chromosomes are probably the material vehicles
of the dominants; in fact, Weismann’s determinants seem to be the
same thing under another name, though Weismann conceives them rather
from the point of view of the scientist, and Reinke from that of the
metaphysician.


We have now arrived at an intellectual conception under which to range
the phenomena (not the ultimate nature) of vital response. Let us apply
it to the question of evolution. The following passage from Henslow’s
Origin of Plant Structures[91] may serve to introduce this part of our
discussion:—

    “The question ... resolves itself into this: which probability or
    hypothesis do _the facts_ of the case seem to favour most, viz.
    that _indefinite_ variations arise from some assumed internal
    causes, of which variations only those in harmony with the
    environment survive, and are said, therefore, metaphorically,
    to be selected by it; or is it that the external forces of the
    environment excite the variability which is inherent in plants,
    and call into action the responsive power of the protoplasm in the
    various species of plants, which thus _all_ tend to put on the
    same, or similar, or at least adaptive and _definite_ variations
    of one sort or another, so that there are _no_ indiscriminate or
    wasted variations[92] at all? I know an abundance of facts which
    support the latter contention, but none whatever in illustration of
    the former hypothesis.”

Here is the action of the dominants in evolution placed in the
clearest light. To prove the truth of Professor Henslow’s contention
it is necessary not only to study organisms in situations where they
have been established for many generations or centuries, but to see
how they behave on transportation to a new kind of environment. The
cases which can be adduced are numerous and convincing. Thus Mr. D.
Dewar reported to Mr. Henslow that on introducing at Kew a cress,
_Arabis anachortica_, found in cave-like situations in the Alps, and
having very thin, papery leaves, it turned, when raised from seed,
into a different species, _Arabis alpina_. The change took only three
generations to accomplish.[93]

Bulbous roots have it among their functions to store up moisture
for the plant they belong to. Haeckel has shown that the grass _Poa
bulbosa_, on being cultivated in moist soil, almost lost its bulbous
character. Contrariwise we find that many plants not bulbous elsewhere
are observed to be so when growing on the dry Karoo in South Africa.[94]

Spines on a plant are usual accompaniments of dryness in soil or
atmosphere. _Ononis spinosa_ has an excessively spiny variety, termed
_horrida_, which is found on maritime sands. Grown in very rich moist
situations, it gradually loses its spines and they ultimately disappear
entirely.[95]

In the animal world experimental cultivation is not at all so easy,
but the facts observed all go to support the view that the response to
environment is direct and definite. The small shrimp-like crustacean,
_Artemia salina_ is a case frequently quoted. It lives in salt pools
by the Black Sea, and it has been found that by breeding it in water
of which the salinity is gradually decreased, the creature in a few
generations assumes a type commonly assigned not merely to a different
species but to a different genus—_Branchipus stagnalis_.[96]

Perhaps the most remarkable instance of a transformation produced
by the influence of environment is that of the Mexican water-newt,
Axolotl. When gradually accustomed to live on dry land, this creature
usually throws off its gills, develops lungs, alters the shape of its
tail, and takes on all the characteristics of a terrestrial instead of
an aquatic reptile. This transformation does not take generations to
accomplish—it happens in one individual in the course of a few weeks
or months. When found in the terrestrial form, the Axolotl is called
_Amblystoma tigrinum_, and is classed among the salamanders. Its
progeny are then _Amblystomas_, and they do not naturally revert to the
Axolotl type, although under certain circumstances the steps of this
amazing transformation can be retraced. The Axolotl is not a larva in
the ordinary sense of the word, for it is not an imperfect creature;
it is sexually mature, and in most cases, in nature, probably never
develops into an _Amblystoma_, nor do the progeny of the _Amblystomas_
begin as Axolotls. What we have here is probably, as Weismann plausibly
suggests, a case of a species which has almost reached the stage of
evolution from an aquatic into a terrestrial form, so that a sufficient
impulse from its environment suffices to send it over the border.
Internal forces have evidently prepared the way for the change, and
the process does not in the least resemble the mechanical selection of
suitable characters from a crowd of fortuitous variations.[97]

The case of the Porto Santo rabbit may also be quoted in this
connexion. In the year 1419 the young born of a tame Spanish rabbit
were put ashore on the island of Porto Santo near Madeira. No rabbits
then existed on the island. They have since increased enormously, and
have quite changed their appearance. They have acquired a peculiar
colour, are very small, rat-like in shape, have nocturnal habits, and
are noted for their extreme wildness. They no longer pair with the
European rabbit. The case was observed by Haeckel, who styled the new
species _Lepus Huxleyi_.[98]


Cases like the foregoing show the organism affected during its process
of transformation by large elemental influences, and the response to
these influences is so familiar that often it does not surprise us. We
veil the real mystery of the process by talking of the chemical and
other physical properties of protoplasm which render this response
possible. But when we come to the protective mimicry of stinging
insects by stingless ones, of leaves by butterflies, and so forth,
these physical explanations manifestly fail us. The explanation
which assumes the building up of these extraordinary resemblances
bit by bit, through natural selection working upon a multitude of
fortuitous variations, fails us as completely. It would be difficult
to accept it if only a single species of insect showed these mimetic
markings. The unlikelihood of their production by mere chance in the
case not of one but of hundreds of species of butterflies, flies, and
caterpillars is stupendous, and defies all calculation. It must, we
repeat, always be borne in mind that, if chance variations are all we
can postulate, these variations must at first be confined to one or
few individuals, and that the influence of intercrossing would always
be at work to obliterate individual peculiarities before they could
develop to the point of affording any protection worth mentioning. We
are bound, therefore, so far as I can see, to conclude, first, that
these mimetic markings originate not in individuals but in the species
as a whole, and are an expression of the communal life of the species;
secondly, that they are a real and direct response to the external
conditions of danger from attacks of birds, etc., and of protection
afforded by deceiving these foes through mimicry of something which
they do not care to attack. They can only originate in the dominants
of the reproductive cells, and there, where undoubtedly forces and
affinities of which we have no conception are ever at work, the
initial changes take place. These changes, no doubt, take place by
forming new combinations or modifications of existing dominants. The
directive force must have something to work on. It does not follow
that because some things are possible to it therefore all things are.
It is not to be expected, for instance, that human beings, although it
would be a great advantage to them to fly, could ever develop wings,
like the conventional angels of mediæval art, for that would violate
the essential character of the archetypal form. It is true, however,
that life is ultimately responsible for the material with which it
works as well as the directive agency that breathes through it. This
point is of importance and must be made perfectly clear. The view of
cosmic action here put forward does not contemplate ‘interventions’
in the order of nature from a source outside it. There never was a
moment when, if _law_ prevailed, one result would take place, while
another result actually does occur in obedience to some mysterious
life-force. No; it is the life-impulse which makes the law, obeys it
and utilizes it. One can never say, “Such and such would have happened
if the life-force had not been in action, but, as it was, the event
was so-and-so”; for if it were not in action nothing would ever happen
at all—the Universe would be the Eternal Nothing. One might as well
speculate as to what would happen in a game of whist if nobody held
a trump. The voluntary limitations under which nature works resemble,
in the conception here put forward, the playing of a game, say a game
of ‘Patience,’ where there is only one player, who plays the game with
himself. There are laws to be obeyed, combinations which are necessary,
but a guiding force can take advantage of the conditions as they arise
and lead them to a certain end. If there were no laws and conditions
there would be no game. If, on the other hand, matter were absolutely
plastic life could not realize itself; nature’s game would be finished
ere it was begun. A concrete illustration may, while we are on this
topic, serve to suggest the kind of limitations under which nature
seems to work.[99] During the last century or so the African elephant
has been ruthlessly hunted down for its ivory, and since rifles and
expanding bullets came into play the process of extermination has been
greatly hastened. Elephants are now, I believe, protected by law over
a great part of South Africa, but if it were not for this the species
would at present be in considerable danger of extinction. The case is
very like that of the _Kallima_ butterfly and similar mimetic forms
before they acquired their protective markings. Now, how might we
expect nature to attempt the protection of the elephant? Doubtless by
increased fleetness, cunning, watchfulness, capacity of one kind or
another for concealing itself from hostile observation. But could we
look for any such development as, for example, a deterioration in the
quality of the ivory? Suppose, for example, the interior structure of
the tusk were to become spongy and cellular instead of being dense.
The tusk, if coated with hard enamel, might be almost if not quite as
useful to the elephant, but it would cease to be of any use for most
of the purposes to which it is now applied by man. The protection
would be most effective; yet we know that nothing of this kind can
possibly take place, though intrinsically the process would be far less
remarkable than the painting of the butterfly’s wing. It cannot take
place because it would either imply a supernatural knowledge on the
part of the evolution-dominants of the elephant tribe of the _reasons_
why it is hunted, or a conscious supervising and co-ordinating power
above nature, a manlike Deity, omnipotent and omniscient, such as Paley
assumed; to both of which explanations the actual processes of nature
stand uncompromisingly opposed.


It is much easier to say what the life-impulse is not than what it is.
I cannot, for my own part, conceive it as personal or conscious, in
the sense in which I feel myself a conscious person. If we ask, Has
it or has it not the quality of intelligence? we shall find both the
affirmative and the negative answers equally hard to square with the
facts. Our own intelligences working in a mysterious relation to a
bodily organism are perhaps fundamentally incapable of forming a clear
idea of the nature of the cosmic intelligence which is revealed to
us in the outside world, “like the dim view of a country seen in the
twilight, with forms half extricated from the darkness, with broken
lines, and isolated masses.”[100]

But those who find it difficult to believe that anything having
the nature of intelligence is at work in the physical world might
reflect on the striking analogy which that world offers to a certain
sphere where it is quite certain that the human spirit, including its
intelligence as well as its appetites and instincts, is the governing
power. Social institutions are a product of the human spirit. Yet the
development of these institutions is extraordinarily like that of the
functions and structures of an animal or vegetable organism. The value
of Mr. Herbert Spencer’s philosophic system may be disputed on many
points, but his elaborate analysis of the phenomena of social life and
his exposition of the minute analogies they exhibit to the processes
of evolution in nature must always remain a landmark indicating the
conquest of a great territory of human thought.[101] Here, as in
nature, we find a principle of movement and progress conflicting with
a principle of inertia. We find all grades of development existing at
the same time. We see the gradual progression, by means of all kinds
of by-ways, to a goal which one might have expected intelligence to
attain simply and directly. We see parallels in human societies to
arteries, nerves, to co-ordinating and ruling brain-centres, to the
specialization of different members or organs for different tasks;
and we see all these things growing up slowly, from point to point,
in obedience to immediate and pressing requirements. We find, both
in nature and in society, survivals of past structures, whose use is
gone, carried forward into new stages of development. A particularly
interesting analogy is that of structures which develop to meet one
kind of requirement, and, on the cessation of that, persist into a
further stage and are then modified to meet quite other requirements.
Thus the swim-bladder of the fish became, it is supposed, the lung
of the terrestrial animal. We may compare this with the development
of municipal institutions. Originally intended to enable bodies of
craftsmen and merchants to make head against the aggressions of a
feudal aristocracy they have survived the fall of feudalism, and have
become more important than ever as independent agencies for carrying on
the functions of social administration and education.

Thus, operations in the physical world which certainly do not look as
if they were the work of intelligence, as we understand it, are seen to
be closely paralleled by transactions in the history of man’s social
life. The development of life, in fact, is carried forward when the
plane of human consciousness is reached on just the same lines as those
which prevailed on the vegetable and the animal plane: there is no
breach of continuity in the broad outlines of evolutionary progress. It
is difficult to over-estimate the significance of this fact.

Perhaps nothing that man has evolved is so purely a work of mind as
Language. Here, the analogy with the phenomena of physical evolution is
very close and very illuminating. As in nature, the ultimate origins
are obscure—we can only form hypotheses as to how language came to
arise from the cries of animals, as we can only form hypotheses
how life arose from the play of molecular forces. But when both
are once established on the earth we see in them the same general
features—unity, in a few leading types, branching out into infinite
modifications in subordinate groups. Greek, Erse, German, Russian,
Sanskrit are all Aryan tongues and have all a common ancestry. They
differ widely among each other, but all alike are marked off from
the Semitic or the Mongolian families. So a man, a snake, a bear, a
fish are all vertebrates, and belong to a type essentially distinct
from that of a lobster or a snail. As in nature, we find all stages
of development existing at the same time—some lines of development
show a rapid advance, some a very slow one. Some types have, in both
cases, perished completely—there are fossil languages as there are
fossil species. A new invention, an advance _per saltum_, without
the utilization of existing constituents, is almost as rare in the
evolution of language as in that of species. Just as the lung is
developed from the swim-bladder, so the human mind, in the development
of language, takes hold of whatever existing form will suit its purpose
and transforms it to another end, as when it takes a word for ‘breath’
and makes it ‘spirit.’ There are laws governing the development of
root-forms, linguistic or physical, in various different orders or
species. The same osseous framework yields us in one class of animal a
hand, in another a hoof, in another a paw, in another (as in bats) a
wing. So in language the same root yields us the words, in different
languages, for _shining_, _showing_, _speaking_, _proving_, _a face_,
_a story_, _whiteness_. Another gives us, _young_, a _stepmother_,
a certain _musical string_, a _messenger_.[102] Contrariwise we see
both in nature and in language forms which have grown from entirely
different roots into a close external and functional similarity. What
unlearned observer would suspect that a whale was not a fish, and that
it descends from a furry land animal with four legs, or that the Latin
_Deus_ and the Greek _Theos_ with their perfect identity of meaning and
their almost perfect identity of sound have probably a widely divergent
etymological pedigree?[103]

On the other hand, the etymological identity of such words as _évêque_
and _bishop_ is as obscure on the surface as would probably be the
relationship of a greyhound with a bull-dog to an anatomist who saw
them only in fossil form.

Again we note that languages, like species, when they send out a
migratory colony, are capable of gradual transformation to meet new
conditions, and of marked divergence from the parent stock. Thus
English, as spoken and written in the United States, in spite of
the retaining influence of a common literary tradition, is steadily
diverging from the English of Great Britain.[104] So with the French
of Canada, the Spanish of South America, and the Dutch of the Cape. We
note also in both cases that curious phenomenon, the survival of the
useless relics of earlier structure, e.g. in the silent letters which
reveal the historic origin of innumerable English words, which are
paralleled in nature by the vermiform appendix of man, or the splint
bones in a horse, or the rudimentary legs of the whale or the python.

But analogies of detail like these, interesting as they are, are not
the main thing. The main thing is the _organic likeness_ prevailing
between the work of nature and this work of man—the likeness of growing
and developing structures, with their response to immediate needs,
their development by specialization of function, their lack of a
strict logical scheme, their anomalies and capricious variations, and
their control of these variations within certain archetypal forms. The
substance of language is sound, as the substance of life is protoplasm.
Phonetic laws govern the one as mechanical and chemical laws do the
other. But phonetic laws and the capability of producing sound could
never have made a language. The evolution of language is urged forward
by the constant pressure and expansion of human thought; and on human
thought, in its turn, it reacts, giving the stimulus and the starting
ground for fresh expansion. We have the heart of the analogy before
us now. _As thought acts on language so the pressure and expansion
of the life-impulse acts on the forms of matter._ Let us see whither
the comparison leads us. Language is a product of the human mind, but
not of _a_ mind. When a human mind consciously applies itself to the
fashioning of a language it produces Esperanto. If we were living in
an Esperanto universe, such as Paley makes out this to be, we might
draw Paley’s easy conclusions as to its Maker; but the reality is
very unlike that. On the other hand, if mind has produced the natural
languages which we see, with all their anomalies, imperfections, and
slow organic growth, then the corresponding phenomena in nature, as the
evolution doctrine has brought them out, are evidently no bar to the
belief that mind has had a part in this work also. I should go farther
and say that the facts compel a belief in the existence in nature of
something that can only be described in terms of mind. In other words,
the universe is, at bottom, rational.


It is true that the cosmic Reason acts not as a single personal
being, but more or less independently at a multitude of points. But
it must not be forgotten that it is observed, up to a certain point,
to act through groups as well as through units. Even the life and
structure of a single cell show us distinct parts acting in harmonious
subordination to the interests of the whole. An organism composed of
many of these cells exhibits a series of syntheses or groupings rising
in comprehensiveness and complexity till the individual is complete and
the wheel of development has come full circle, beginning with a single
unit and ending with a complex unit. But the synthetic movement of
cosmic control does not end there,[105] for aggregates of individuals
can be collectively animated by it. The numerous cases of co-operation
among animals of the same species are an instance of this. All animals
which live in communities exhibit this co-operation habitually, and
many others do so occasionally. When Professor Eimer, as we have seen,
reflected on the phenomena of reproduction and heredity in ants and
bees, he was driven, like Oken, to account for them by regarding these
creatures as “discontinuous organs” of one being, having the same
power of affecting each other as have the distinct, though connected,
parts of any single animal or plant.[106] As an illustrative analogy,
helping us to understand the invisible bond of the communal life of a
species, this conception is of service, but I hardly think that we are
in a position at present to affirm it in any exact and literal sense.
Can we, however, trace the analogy, as Oken did, beyond species, and
show anything of the nature of an adaptation of one order of beings
to the use of another? To do so convincingly, it is evident that
the adaptation must be of _no_ use to the creature possessing it;
for, if it were, we might expect to see it evolved, whether it were
incidentally of use to a neighbour species or not. Honey, for instance,
though apparently of no _direct_ use to flowers, is secreted by them
because it attracts insects, and insects fertilize the flowers. If
flowers secreted honey solely for insects’ use, deriving no benefit
from their visits, we should have a case of a synthesis of communal
life wider than that of the species. Are there such cases, or does
every species fight exclusively for its own hand?

    “If,” wrote Darwin, “it could be proved that any part of the
    structure of any one species had been formed for the exclusive good
    of another species, it would annihilate my theory, for such could
    not have been produced through natural selection.”[107]

Certainly it could not, but neither could other adaptations. Natural
selection, as Darwin knew well enough, does not “produce” anything—all
it can do is to depress the less favourable variations presented to
it in favour of the more favourable ones. As Darwin never professed
to have sounded the depths of the problem of variation, it is not
clear why variations favourable to another species than the one in
which they occur should be presumed to be impossible. It is true that
they would not illustrate or come under the operation of natural
selection, but neither would they contradict it—they would simply be
outside it. Individuals unquestionably exhibit modifications intended
not for their own personal benefit, but for that of the species—for
instance, the maternal instincts. The modification of a part in the
interest of the whole to which it belongs may, perhaps, turn out to
have the same essential significance whether the part is an organ
or instinct belonging to the synthesis called an individual, or an
individual belonging to the synthesis called a species, or a species
belonging to some fauna or flora of the globe. In any case, the
question where synthesis is arrested, and where the fight for one’s
own hand begins, is one of great interest and must be here briefly
discussed. Cases such as those of which Darwin rejected the possibility
certainly appear to be rare, if they exist at all. The naturalists of
the older school, of course, saw them everywhere—the rattlesnake’s
rattle was to warn its victims, the colouring of flowers was to give
pleasure to man, and so forth. Most of these cases have been exploded
by modern research. The modern naturalists, however, may not be right
in refusing to see them anywhere. The question demands much special
study and observation. Reverting to the case of flowers and their
secretion of honey, one is struck by the fact that in the _Viola_
family there exist flowers more or less conspicuous, and endowed
with scent and with honey-filled nectaries, which usually do not
play any part at all in fertilization. The process of fertilization
in _Viola_ is carried on by small flowers hidden under the leaves
which never open, and which fertilize themselves. Again, at the base
of the laurel leaf, on each side of the midrib, there are two small
glands filled with honey, and bees may be observed biting into these
in the early part of the year before flower-honey is plentiful.
Nägeli has an ingenious argument to show the existence, not exactly
of disinterested aid among species, but of something which would make
such aid look more possible than it does, of a mutual responsiveness,
namely, between the form of the honey-receptacles of certain flowers
and the probosces of the insects which frequent them. Taking a short
honey-tube as the normal and original condition among plants, and a
short proboscis among insects, he argues that the honey-tube could
not have lengthened without depriving the species in which it did so
of the chances of insect-fertilization unless the insect-proboscis
in certain species lengthened _simultaneously_.[108] Cases also have
been noticed of sea-anemones, which attach themselves to the shells
of hermit crabs and by their poisonous tentacles repel attacks on the
crab.[109] The crab is no doubt useful to its guest by providing it
with the means of locomotion. Still, the case of mutual help between
two such different orders of beings is remarkable. A very peculiar case
is that of the waterfern, _Azolla_, which has certain roomy cavities
on the underside of its leaves. These are always found to be occupied
by a small unicellular organism of the _Alga_ order (_Anabæna_). It
is of no apparent use to the _Azolla_, which provides it a home. The
arrangement must have been of immensely long standing, for it occurs in
all the four species of _Azolla_, one of which is found in America, two
distributed over Australia, Asia, and Africa, and one only in the Nile.
It must, therefore, have arisen before the original species split into
four.[110]

It would be rash to conclude from these and some similar curiosities
that we are really in the presence of the phenomenon of disinterested
aid given by one species to another. The question needs more
investigation. But an important general consideration arises in this
connexion. It is clear that there could be no advance in evolution if
nature consisted solely of a multitude of independent units of life,
fiercely competing against or warring with each other. It is equally
clear that no advance could take place if every organism found an
environment so perfectly adapted to it as to call for the very minimum
of effort and strain in the maintenance of life. Between the chaos of
the first supposition and the lubberland of the second there must be a
condition of nature in which synthetic organization is carried just to
the point at which life will have the maximum power to perfect and to
realize itself. Looking at the conditions of nature as we know them,
and at the majestic expression of material and spiritual life which
those conditions have permitted, we may well be content to believe
that both the synthetic process, as far as it goes, and its _apparent_
suspension at a certain point in the ascending scale, are the outcome
of one and the same motive and have one and the same significance—they
both alike mean and make for the conservation, the development, the
enrichment of life.


Against this view there is an argument which has hitherto only been
glanced at, but which must now be discussed in more detail. It is
represented in a recent work by Prof. Conrad Günther, one of the latest
champions of the theory of chance variations and natural selection
as the sole explanation of evolution, who has assembled a number of
instances to show that the “purposive force” which biologists are now
coming to believe in “often fails in living beings.” Such are, for
example, the fact that an _Amœba_ seeking nourishment will take in a
particle of stone or anything that comes in its way;[111] that the
mutual relations of flowers and insects are often unsuitable; that a
bee will sting a human being just as it will another insect, although
the sting, only meant for the latter kind of use, cannot be withdrawn
from the human skin; that embryos often go astray during development;
that a cricket which tries to escape in the open by burying itself
in the earth will act similarly if you set it on a glass plate; and
so forth. Nature, of course, teems with such cases—one might add the
singular degeneration of the slave-making ants already described in
some detail.[112] “If,” he concludes, “the purposive reaction in
the vital force of animals were independent of the external world,
they would be armed against all contingencies, and that is not the
case.”[113]

Thus, too, Prof. Eimer, who in dealing with cases where the alleged X
factor in Nature has gone wrong, writes:—

    “The zoologist can hardly accept the existence of such a
    dominant inner factor ever pushing toward advance, when he recalls
    the host of regressive structures which he has to see.”[114]


Now when the cause of physico-chemical _versus_ vital agencies comes to
be tried, not in the laboratory but in the study, not by science but
by philosophy, the first question that will be asked is, What, then,
is your distinction between ‘vital’ and ‘physico-chemical’ energies?
How are we to recognize when we are in presence of the one or of the
other? The usual answer to this searching question is that in vital
agency we find a directive, a purposeful, a psychic element, whereas
physico-chemical energies seem to be nothing but the play of a blind,
indifferent mechanism. But, it will be rejoined, how can any one affirm
that physico-chemical energies are not also vital, directive, psychic?
Is there not, in fact, something psychic in the very conception of
energy? To these questions there seems to me no conceivable reply. When
a ‘vital’ energy has been reduced to a ‘physico-chemical,’ we have
evidently explained nothing—we have only exchanged one mystery for
another.

Yet if there is no difference in essential nature between one kind
of energy and another, there does appear a marked difference when
we come to consider them in relation to particular results of their
operation. Let us take an example. We explain that classic instance of
gravitation, the fall of an apple, by reference to the law formulated
by Newton which extends to every particle of matter in the visible
universe. But we also find that the fall of the apple is, for apples,
a necessity of life; if the seed did not fall to the ground when
ripe there would be no more apple trees. Yet gravitation acts quite
indifferently to the life of the apple. Whether the branches overhang
a river, or a street, or a plot of fertile ground, the apple will fall
straight towards the centre of the earth. The fulfilment, therefore,
of the vital needs of the apple is plainly a by-product of the force
of gravitation. In this relation, gravity has no directive or psychic
element. Yet in larger relations, we have to take note of the fact
that if there were no such thing as gravity, there would be no apples
and no earth. Thus the law of gravitation is a condition of life as we
now know it. The fact that it acts mechanically, without selection or
purpose, in relation to particular occurrences is quite consistent with
the view that it, or the conditions of the ether from which it possibly
arises, may be directive and psychic in relation to life as a whole,
or rather to what we recognize as the manifestation of life in the
material universe.

We have now got hold of a valid distinction between mechanical and
directive agencies. We can distinguish them not by their nature but
in relation to the particular phenomenon we are considering. We call
them mechanical where that phenomenon is a by-product of the agency,
and directive where, if the agency were conscious, we should say that
this was its main intent. I can see no more fundamental distinction. It
follows from this that the same action can be at once both mechanical
(physico-chemical) and directive. The old distinction between vital and
mechanical energy disappears. The question resolves itself simply into
that of the number of distinct agencies which are deemed necessary to
account for the universe.

Now the true way of dealing with this problem of the unity or
multiplicity of agencies in nature is, I would suggest, to assume the
existence of a single power which is of course psychic and directive
but which can only be communicated to matter by degrees and under
certain conditions still very obscure. These conditions it itself both
creates and uses. Its development in Time and that of matter go on,
as it were, on parallel paths, eternally apart (to our limited view)
yet eternally inseparable. The key to the course of its development
in nature lies in the word Synthesis.[115] Here we seem to have the
explanation of the apparent difference between the so-called ‘vital’
and the physico-chemical forces. When matter has been so grouped as
to form not a mere aggregate of particles but a synthesis, then that
synthesis is enabled to make use of energy in a manner not open to
its parts. Synthesis is a condition of the discovery of liberation
of unsuspected forces. Thus a synthesis of molecules produces the
stage for Life, a synthesis of living particles produces the Cell,
a synthesis of cells produces an organism, a synthesis of organisms
is a species—for the evidence (most notably that derived from the
consideration of bee and ant communities) seems to show that material
discontinuity in the members does not preclude the existence of a true
synthetic union.[116] The characteristic power gained by a species
is that of evolutionary development working in the obscure region of
germinal combination and variation. Of course, I am aware that all this
is merely a way of representing facts so as to make them intelligible
to and manageable by the mind. If any one should object that we do not
know what kind of grouping a synthesis is, except precisely through
that very organic activity which I have described as its product or
accompaniment, I entirely agree. All these terms are intellectual
forms—like atoms, molecules, and other concepts of physics. They do
not reveal anything; they merely help us to comprehend. In the region
of the controversy of Vitalism _versus_ Mechanism, the conceptions
which I have been trying to explain enable us, without introducing
a multiplicity of different energies, to understand how an organism
synthetized by life may exhibit directive action which looks entirely
different from any action possible in dead matter. Yet it works under
laws of its own, and no doubt the particles of such an organism, if
they were conscious, would be unaware that any but physico-chemical
processes were in operation; in fact, I should have no hesitation in
agreeing with the statement with which the great physiologist, Verworn,
concludes an exhaustive analysis of this obscure subject: “The general
fact must be regarded as established, that all the work of the organism
is based finally upon chemical energy.”[117] But what directs the
chemical energy? Something which is not itself a chemical energy and
which is associated with the organic synthesis which that energy serves
to maintain. Verworn’s statement, it must be borne in mind, is as true
of the composition of the Iliad as it is of the digestive process of an
animalcule.

The explanations above suggested are purely tentative; but so, it must
be remembered, are the theories which they combat. No one pretends
that the mechanical explanation of the universe, including the
phenomena of organic life, is at present made out so as to cover the
known facts, or even that expert opinion is at all unanimous in the
belief that it can ever do so.

I know no single work in which the present position of the controversy
is so well set forth as in Professor V. L. Kellogg’s Darwinism
To-day.[118] A great array of scientific authorities will there be
found mustered, and the verdict of Professor Kellogg (reluctantly
given, for he clings to the mechanical explanation of the universe)
is that evolution is not explained by any mechanical force at
present known to science. “With Osborn,” he concludes, “let us join
the believers in the unknown factors in evolution.”[119] He does
not, however, contemplate their remaining unknown—we have to say
_Ignoramus_, not _Ignorabimus_; and by ‘known’ he means apparently,
reducible to a mechanical process. He will have nothing to say to
any internal force directing the energies of matter, such as the
_Vervollkomnungsbewegung_ of Nägeli.[120]

    “Such an assumption,” he writes, “of a mystic, essentially
    teleologic force, wholly independent of and dominating all the
    physico-chemical forces and influences that we do know, and the
    reactions and behaviour of living matter to their influences
    which we are beginning to recognize and understand with some
    clearness and fulness—such a surrender of all our hardly won actual
    scientific knowledge in favour of an unknown, unproved, mystic,
    vital force we are not prepared to make.”[121]

The above passage is very well fitted to be the pivot of the whole
controversy. We shall examine it therefore in some detail.

It is, in the first place, hardly correct to say that the _X_
factor in life and evolution is supposed by thinkers like Driesch,
Reinke, and Nägeli to be ‘wholly independent of’ and to ‘dominate’
all the physico-chemical forces that we do scientifically know.
Man, for example, cannot be said to be ‘wholly independent’ of the
physico-chemical energies of which he makes use for a multitude of
objects. He is very dependent, both on those outside him and those
in his own organism. He cannot _originate_ the smallest quantum of
physical energy. Yet he is unquestionably capable of directive action
upon matter.

In the second place it must be pointed out that the _X_ factor,
conceived as it is in this book, though Prof. Kellogg may call it
‘mystic’ if he likes, is certainly anything but ‘unknown.’ There is
nothing more mystic than the human spirit—does not mysticism mean the
attribution of spiritual significance to material things?—but there
is nothing more real and certain. The very act of knowing, however
material or mechanical may be the object of knowledge, is an act of the
spirit, and we know the spirit itself better than anything else. How
did this spirit come into active being? There are only two conceivable
ways. Either it was at a certain moment projected into the universe
from without by a Supreme Spirit, or it was, like everything else,
evolved. If we accept the former view we may say good-bye to science.
Miraculous interventions will explain anything, and if we admit them in
one case they may be valid everywhere. But if we take the second view,
as do practically all men of science, we are bound to admit that spirit
had from the beginning some constant and natural relation to matter,
for evolution does not work miracles—it cannot make something out of
nothing. If, then, we regard Man not as an outside observer of the
universe but as an organic part of it—and I believe no thinking about
nature can be of any value until we have grasped and fully realized
that position—then there can be nothing to surprise us if we find
traces of a directive control in the elementary processes of life and
development. It would be more surprising if we did not. If we reduce
the whole universe, apart from the human spirit, to physico-chemical
processes we are at once confronted with the problem of evolving the
human spirit out of such processes; and that, on the face of it, is a
sheer impossibility. All physical and all chemical phenomena as such
are reducible to the movements and groupings of atoms and molecules.
These movements and groupings can affect the spirit which finds itself
mysteriously implicated in their activity, and the spirit can affect
them. But that molecular movements can _create_ spirit is unthinkable
by any one who realizes what spirit is and what movement. Rather should
we say that in the power of movement, in action, change of any kind, we
are to see the evidences of spirit.

We are now in a position to discuss the difficulty raised by Eimer and
by Günther, when they point to instances where the supposed psychic
force in nature has failed to achieve its end. It fails because,
on its mechanical side, it sometimes encounters obstacles which on
the psychic side were not provided for. The law of gravitation is a
condition of life, but it will kill a man who falls over a precipice.
The adaptability of protoplasm is a necessary condition of evolution,
but circumstances will occur in which the adaptation means degeneracy
for the organism as a whole. Eimer’s argument is good, indeed,
against the mythological conception of a supreme Creator, perfect in
prescience and in power, who orders the goings-on of the universe
from his throne above and outside it. But we seek for no such being
in natural phenomena. Perfection is no attribute of anything that
operates in Time, and so far as we regard the divine life as working
in Time we must regard it as becoming, not as being, perfect. Again,
Eimer’s objection shows that he conceives the psychic force against
which he is arguing as in itself something mechanical, a mechanized
kind of vitality, which ought to achieve its end with a flawless
exactitude. Of this, also, nature knows nothing. The universe is what
it is precisely because the Power behind its phenomena is neither blind
Chance on the one hand nor rigid determination on the other—because it
is vital, progressive, and free. This power is certainly capable of
making imperfect adaptations and of diverging into false side-tracks
of development. That is a fact of much significance, but it is no
argument against the existence of such a power—it merely reveals its
character. A special study of regressive structures and of the laws and
principles which lead to them would have extreme interest, both for
biology and for philosophy. But it could not affect the significance of
the broad fact that, in a world where the highest living being was once
a particle of shapeless protoplasm, we have now Man, a being lamentably
unfit, indeed, to be the last birth of Time, but uniquely great by his
very consciousness of that unfitness.

In contemplating this wonderful ascending movement let us not forget
that the warrant for its continuance rests in ourselves. The false
tracks, the regressive forms, which meet us in nature prove at least
this: that the line of development which we observe on earth may
conceivably end in a disaster which would bear to the course of Life
in general just such a relation as the degeneration of the Amazon
ants does to life on this globe. We are by no means entitled to sit
still and expect that the current of evolution will bear mankind along
irresistibly to its goal. With the development of the conscious will
_we_ are made responsible for the advance of life in the only sphere
which we know and which our actions can affect. Man is, as it were,
the growing-point of that progressive life. If his strange passion
for the perfection which he has never seen should be smothered in the
struggle for mere existence, or corrupted by brutal luxury, then growth
will be at an end, atrophy or degeneration will set in. The vision of
a nobler, freer, more humane life than is anywhere widely possible on
earth at present cannot be realized without the strenuous help of men
and women who have learned to subdue the Ego with its fierce egotisms
into harmony with the purposes of the divine Whole. But this much we
may say—that they will not fight alone. No one ever pursued a high and
worthy aim without finding that he had drawn to himself those ‘great
allies’ of whom Wordsworth has written so greatly; powers implicit
in the nature of the world, and always waiting to be unlocked by the
heroic Will.


The Power, some of whose workings it has been attempted to trace in the
foregoing pages, is a controlling and directive force, making, through
countless varieties of being, for one clear and definable end—the
realization of life. It may be asked, Are we to regard this divine
Power as wholly immanent in matter or as partly transcending it and
governing it from without?

The nature of the divine principle, so far as we are able to discern
it, cannot be fully discussed until we come to consider it in the
highest sphere of manifestation yet known to us, that of the human
soul. But with the question which has just been raised we are now in
some measure able to deal, and the consideration of it may bring this
section of our study to a close.

In the world of inorganic matter, the tendency of units to form
themselves into groups having relation to other groups is already
visible. A force immanent in the atom clearly becomes transcendent _in
relation to the atom_ when atoms group themselves into molecules. And
when molecular affinities come into play, and obey definite laws of
form, as in the wonderful phenomena of crystallization, we see that
the force immanent in each molecule becomes transcendent, as regards
the molecules taken separately, when we look at them from the point
of view of the completed group. Crystallization is a process which
trembles on the very verge of vital action. And in vital action the
alternation of immanence and transcendence in an ever-ascending scale
becomes still clearer and more significant. Every cell is a collection
of forces controlled by a power which transcends each one of them, or
any number of them below the whole. Every cell colony, like the _Alga_
described in an earlier chapter,[122] has a life which is immanent in
the colony but transcendent as regards its component members. Definite
groups of cells make up the structure of the highly organized plant
or animal, and exhibit the same combination of forces immanent in the
parts and transcendent, as regards those parts, in the whole. Again,
each whole, each individual, is moved by life-impulses immanent in
itself but transcendent in so far as they represent the communal life
of the species to which it belongs. This communal life of the species
becomes immanent again when we regard it as embraced in the life of
the totality of beings on the globe. The thought must at once occur,
as the ascending series passes out of reach of man’s intelligence:
Whither, then, does it lead us in the end? Is there any end? And is our
knowledge of Being absolutely limited to those parts of it which lie
_beneath_ us?

We are, I think, able, without going beyond the limits of observation
and experience, to frame a synthesis of all physical nature, and to
express its character in terms of Life and Response. But at the next
step we have to embrace man with his moral nature, his intelligence,
his personal consciousness, and there may for aught we know be beings
far higher than man who must also be included. Now here we are not only
_in_ the synthesis and therefore unable to grasp and survey it, but we
are also quite unaware of its contents and limits. We ask, Is the All
of Things personal? is It conscious? has It a manlike intelligence? and
so forth, and I confess I see no way of answering these questions with
our present capacities. We can only say—but this is much—that as the
universe is one, the part of it which we do not see cannot stand in any
essential contradiction to that which we do.

Furthermore we must remember that since, in that aspect of us which
observes and studies, we are distinct personalities, we are obliged, in
so observing and studying, to regard things as outside of ourselves.
This is the core of the whole difficulty. At bottom, the relativity
of human knowledge does not depend on the fact that time, space, and
causality are, as Kant has taught us, modes of thought imposed upon
our ‘I,’ with nothing external answering to them; it goes deeper,
it depends on the ultimate fact that I _am_ an ‘I,’ and _therefore_
separate (as such) from what I observe, and _therefore_ only capable
of studying my own states as affected by external things, not the very
things themselves. Real knowledge, then, must consist in getting out
of this prison of ‘I’-hood and entering into actual union with what we
observe. Could we do that, we should at once live not in our ‘selves’
but in the Whole. The question then is, whether it is ever possible so
to escape, and how?

We must note, however, that no one who has done this could ever tell
us precisely what he has done. For the moment he begins to put his
experiences into an intellectual form, the laws of the mind reassert
themselves, things externalize themselves again, the ‘I’ reappears, the
gulf yawns again between subject and object.

And yet the instinctive language of man shows that he does regard
it as possible to _lose himself_ in the contemplation of something
transcending his powers of ordinary intellectual apprehension. Why
should he not? If a transcendent Reality exists, as it must, then the
faculty of entering into conscious relation with it is one which Time
would surely some day bring to birth.

And although no man, as I have said, can ever express to other minds in
terms of the intellect the reality he has thus witnessed, he has found
means to do better than this—he can help them to share his vision.
These means we call Poetry, Art, and Religion which is the poetry of
Ethics. Through these it is that man most truly lives, because united
in spirit with a larger life than his ‘self’ and his senses are aware
of. Through them it is that while the eye sees the sunrise, the spirit
sees the glory, that while the intellect apprehends Truth, the soul
is ready to die for it, that while self-interest bands men together
in communities for mutual service, Love prompts to the services that
will never be recompensed. We are not then, it seems, absolutely
imprisoned in our ‘I,’ strait as the bonds may seem. But this must be
added, that they will never seem so strait as when we fancy that we can
get out of them by any purely intellectual conception of the Ultimate
Reality. “God,” says Æschylus most nobly, “is the Air, God is the
Earth, God is the Heavens; yea, God is all things, and That which is
above them.”[123] There is always a ‘beyond’ for the explorations of
the intellect. The function of the intellect is to combine and reduce
to order the experiences of sense, thus guiding us with definite aim
through the bewildering wonders of life. But let us not dream that
it can ever guide us to any goal or terminus. The goal is at once
infinitely distant and nearer than our breath and blood. The search
for it will last as long as Time. It is of the essence of the view of
the universe here put forward that the intellect can never embrace it
in any closed system of thought. Turn as we may to one after another
of these closed systems as each grows out of harmony with advancing
knowledge and insight, the true conclusion, at least for readers who
have followed these pages with assent, will be to stand cheerfully
ready to renounce all systems, trusting in the last resort to no
formulas, but to the play of eternal Powers on the imagination, the
heart, the will:—

    “They bring none to his or her terminus or to be content and full,
    Whom they take they take into space to behold the birth of stars,
      to learn one of the meanings,
    To launch off with absolute faith, to sweep through the ceaseless
      rings and never be quiet again.”[124]



PART II: ETHICS



CHAPTER VII

LAW, FREE WILL, PERSONALITY

    “——And this main miracle that thou art thou,
    With power on thine own act and on the world.”

                                        Tennyson.


There is, according to Mr. Herbert Spencer, a question lying at the
root of all ethics, a question which must be “definitely raised and
answered before entering on any ethical discussion.”[125] This is “the
question of late much agitated, Is life worth living?”[126] I confess
that this question does not seem to me at all a radical or pressing one
in comparison with another of which Mr. Spencer, in his Data of Ethics,
takes no account whatever—the question whether we have any real choice
in the way we ought to live so as to make life of value, or in other
words whether there is an ‘ought’ in the business at all. Can any man
regulate his own living? Is he not, even while he lives and thinks,

    Rolled round in Earth’s diurnal course
      With rocks and stones and trees,

as much a helpless victim of external forces as they are? Does the
realm of natural _law_ extend to human actions and volitions; and if
so, must it not be an illusion to suppose that these can possess any
ethical quality whatever?

A great deal of the perplexity attaching to the old problem, how to
reconcile human free will with divine predestination and omniscience,
has, it seems to me, been carried forward quite needlessly into the new
problem of the reconciliation of free will with the reign of natural
law. The problem in the old form which occupied Milton’s rebel angels
has scarcely any meaning for modern thought. Human actions are a part
of the world of phenomena, existing in time and space. When we think
in that sphere of things we conceive the Deity as the synthesis of
all things, and as the intellect can never arrive at this synthesis,
it follows that we can never represent the Deity in terms of the
intellect. An infinitely wise, infinitely good and powerful Being _has
no definable relation to the phenomenal world at all_. Therefore there
can be no question either of reconcilement or of opposition between
the attributes of each. God has not planned beforehand the course of
the world because (speaking in this sphere) God _is_ the world—past,
present, and to come; and His being is in process of completion by
the world’s development. In another sphere, behind the veils of space
and time, of causality and of sense, resides the Eternal Beauty, the
Eternal Wisdom, the Eternal Love, approachable indeed by those who
come to it “as a little child,” but evading the questionings of the
intellect.

But the modern problem of Determinism and Free Will has meaning enough
for us all, without bringing any transcendental relation into the
question. Let us state briefly the position of the Determinists. It
is held by them that every human thought—in fact, every mental change
whether of the nature of volition, thought, or emotion—is a necessary
effect of certain antecedent causes, just like every change in the
material world. Every act of will is, on this view, the mechanically
accurate resultant of two forces: (_a_) the particular nature of the
man who wills; (_b_) the circumstances which supplied the occasion for
the volition. It would seem to follow from this that no man can be held
morally accountable for his actions. Were we sufficiently acquainted
with his nature and with the course of external circumstances, we could
predict his action throughout his whole lifetime as surely as we can
foretell an eclipse. He is what he has been made by the circumstances
of his life acting on the whole mental and temperamental make-up which
he inherited from his parents. He does good or ill as a tree bears
good fruit or bad according to its nature and to the treatment it has
received.

The old theory of Free Will, which was content to declare that each
man’s choice in any ethical situation presented to him by life was not
imposed on him by the will of a Deity but was _his own_ choice, thus
making him responsible to God and man for his acts, evidently requires
to be restated in view of the conception of scientific Determinism
just described, which does not seek to impose on man the will of any
other personal being. But when we come to restate it, the distinction
between Free Will and Determinism appears to be by no means so clear
and intelligible as it seemed at first sight. The essence of the
Determinist theory is simply that the same man will always, under the
same set of external circumstances, act in exactly the same way. But
how far does the advocate of Free Will really deny this? Imagine a man
whom we regard as a type of honour and integrity, a General Gordon, for
instance, in the position of being offered a bribe to betray a trust
reposed in him. We are quite assured that he would reject it, and that
he would reject it again and again to the end of the chapter. So long
as his mind and character remained unchanged, his action would never
vary. Was his will therefore not free? And if so, how do we distinguish
its freedom from scientific Determinism?

We shall find that while the statement of the Determinist position is
quite easy and simple, the statement of Free Will, the explanation of
what we really mean when we talk of the will being ‘free,’ is, when we
look closely into it, a matter of much intricacy. Believers in Free
Will, says J. S. Mill in his essay ‘On Social Freedom,’ are those who
“believe, in fact, that they themselves can, within certain limits,
do what they please.”[127] This is, indeed, the answer which comes at
once to the lips of the average man when Socratically interrogated as
to what he means by Free Will. But the nature of the limits is just
the critical part of the question. I cannot fly because I please. I
cannot write a line of poetry because I please. Can I live a saintly
life because I please? Perhaps not, it may be replied; but after all
Free Will does not essentially mean the external fact of doing, it
means the internal act of choosing—let us substitute the word ‘choose’
for the word ‘do’ and see what we arrive at. Very well, then; I can
choose what I please: let us try this formula. But at once we perceive
that this is a tautological expression, for what I ‘please’ to do is
simply what I choose. So the formula is finally stripped to this bare
expression, ‘I can choose.’ But now the Determinist will say, ‘Who
denies it?’ The psychological process known as ‘choosing’ is within
every one’s experience. The question as to what governs the choice
remains untouched. The core of the problem, then, has been found to
lie not in the word ‘do,’ not in the word ‘please,’ not in the word
‘choose.’ Where is it then? It is not in ‘can,’ for ‘I can choose’ adds
nothing philosophically to the contents of ‘I choose.’

_The core of the problem is the word ‘I.’_ And until we have settled
what ‘I’ am, we shall not reach a clear issue between Free Will and
Determinism.

So the test which we have applied to human actions with a view to
finding out whether they conform to law as do physical phenomena or
not—the test, namely, whether they always come out the same under the
same circumstances or not—breaks down. The ‘circumstances’ include the
man himself, and the question ‘What is a man?’ turns out to be the real
point at issue.

The Determinist usually belongs to a school which has a clear and
simple answer to this question. Man, for him, is a complex of vessels,
nerves, ganglia, and molecular configurations of brain matter
responding to external stimuli as uniformly and inevitably as a plant.
Consciousness is merely a sort of by-product of this mechanism, which
would go on just the same without it.[128]

But this view is in direct contradiction to the deepest and clearest
deliverance of human consciousness, which affirms that I am a
deliberative and ruling Mind, and bids me regard my Will as Reason in
action. I seem to know this so intimately and profoundly that if it
is an illusion there appears to be nothing else in the world of which
I can ever venture to feel sure. We know the outside world only at two
removes. The external object has first to impress itself in some as yet
unexplained manner on our physical organism, and the latter has then
in a manner equally mysterious to produce a state of consciousness in
the observer. But consciousness, in Man, can turn upon and interrogate
itself; it is subject and object in one; and its deliverances, so far
as they go, so far as they are pure deliverances of consciousness with
no argumentative deduction subtly mingled with them, are the truest
things we know or ever can know. I do not see how they can possibly be
brought to the test by any other kind of knowledge: _they_ are the test
of everything.

We find, then, that when we talk of ‘free’ choice as the prerogative
of man what we mean at bottom is the choice of a self-determining
Mind. We find, also, that while for every event in the physical world
we are obliged to assume an antecedent cause, we are under no such
obligation as regards Mind. When we have traced any sequence of causes
and effects up to a Mind, we require to go no further. We can conceive
a self-determining Mind. If man is such, or so far as he is such, his
will is what we call free.

But to say that we are profoundly conscious of the existence of our
will does not by any means get rid of the difficulties connected with
this belief, and it is incumbent on us either to attempt a solution of
them or frankly to dismiss them as, for the present, insoluble.


If possible, to begin with, we must obtain a clear idea of the
difference of the will from other forms of vital action.

At one end of the ascending scale of organic life we see an animalcule
swimming in the direction in which it is attracted by food. At the
other end, we find a man in the full flush of conscious life going
deliberately to a shocking death rather than deny his faith or break
a trust. What is the essential difference between the action of
the animalcule and that of the martyr? To the Determinist there is
none. Both are alike the inevitable response to certain stimuli from
the outside world acting on a certain nervous system. But there is
one difference in the _circumstances_ of the action which will be
admitted by all. The animalcule has no _choice_. The martyr has. The
animalcule-consciousness has not been developed to the point at which
it can take in alternative courses of action and compare them with
one another. It is doubtful to me whether any of the lower animals or
even of the lower races of man can really do this. At any rate there
can clearly be no Will where there is no distinct consciousness of
at least two possible courses of action. The Will, therefore, must
be regarded as coming for the first time into action when a certain
stage in the development of consciousness has been reached, the stage
at which man is fully conscious of more than one motive. Furthermore,
even when the consciousness has been developed to this point we cannot
recognize a true act of will unless, _on that particular occasion_,
two or more motives were fully present. For instance, a lad brought
up in a thieves’ kitchen, when he sees an opportunity for stealing a
purse, cannot properly be said to have any counter-motive to the theft.
And common sense, without having philosophically analyzed the matter,
quite recognizes this position of affairs and graduates the moral
responsibility of every criminal action roughly in accordance with the
facilities which the subject has had for ‘knowing better.’

Two or more motives, then, fully present to consciousness, form the
conditions under which alone the Will can be said to act. This is in
accord with the whole scheme of evolution. The presence of certain
conditions gradually evokes the faculty or organ which deals with them.
But here an important question arises. When these motives differ from
each other morally, can the Will be said ever to choose the evil one?
Has it any moral bent? And if not, what is the use of it?

There is no doubt that the ascription to the Will of a certain moral
character, and that a very lofty one, is characteristic of nearly
all thinkers who accept its existence at all. “Ill for him,” writes
Tennyson in lines of Sophoclean dignity,

            “Who, bettering not with time
    Corrupts the strength of heaven-descended Will,”

as though evil came from the corruption and slackness of Will, not from
its wrong direction.

In the ethics of Plato it was a cardinal principle that men did evil
only through ignorance. Make the soul conscious of goodness, and
it could not fail to follow it. Yet it seems that this doctrine,
strongly as it appeals to the moral sense of man, would, if held with
philosophic rigour, really make the Will unfree. No man can truly
choose the good who is unable to choose the evil. The Platonic doctrine
may, however, be fully accounted for, and even put in a form in which
it can, to a great extent, be justified, if we give weight to the
following considerations. Moral action is usually recognized in the
renunciation of a strong personal gratification for the sake of some
social or other altruistic end. Now in such cases we are always sure
that the two motives have been duly present, the moral motive, for
otherwise it would not have been followed, and the personal motive,
for these are common to all living things, they are at the base of our
being, and our own experience tells us only too well how insistent
and powerful such motives are. The volitional character of such an
act is therefore manifest. But if the lower motive be followed, the
significance of the event is more obscure. For we all understand these
lower motives,[129] and they are fairly uniform over the whole of
humanity. We can always take for granted that they are present in full
force. The martyr undoubtedly hates the idea of being burnt. But we are
not so sure of the other class of motives. We cannot in every case feel
certain (unless the event has verified it) that _they_ were distinctly
in view, for man’s moral nature is still only at the beginning of its
development, we are still far from having evolved anything like a
universal moral code, not to speak of the instincts for obeying it. We
are inclined to assume, therefore, and I think we are perfectly right
in assuming, that when the Will appears in human action it is far more
often to good purpose than to evil. In order that it may be free to act
on any ethical question, there must be a sufficient degree of ethical
development; the character of moral worth must have been impressed upon
the spirit. In the strength and stay which it affords to such a spirit,
the faculty of Will is most clearly recognized and honoured.

We are now in a position to meet one of the gravest of the objections
which have been brought against the doctrine of Free Will. If
temperament and circumstance, it is urged, determine human action,
there is, of course, no place for the Will—it is a mere illusion.
But if Will is present and is supreme, how can temperament and
circumstance play the part they manifestly do—how does the history of
man come to present, as we have seen, an aspect so strikingly similar
to that of the orderly evolution of physical organisms under natural
law? If you bring in Will at all as an arbiter of human action, do you
not thereby drive out everything else?

The answer will be clear to those who accept the foregoing analysis of
the elements of choice. The Will is neither a faculty of perception
nor a faculty of judgment, but a power of free choice. Free as it
is, _it can only act on what is presented to it_; and here, beyond
question, it is subject to serious limitations. Every man has round
his soul, as it were, a refracting medium, through which the external
objects that excite the Will to action must normally pass before they
reach the centres of decision and control. And this medium is probably
never quite the same in any two individuals. Often it is very widely
different. The sight of an unguarded heap of treasure may appear to
one man simply in the aspect of a perfectly legitimate opportunity for
enriching himself. To another man it may come as a violent temptation
to do what he knows in his soul to be wrong. A third, equally needy,
equally capable of enjoying all that wealth represents, may never have
a thought on the subject except that of protecting the treasure for its
true owner. The object is the same, the physical perception of it is
the same, but the ‘apperception’ in each case is as different as Peter
Bell’s perception of the “primrose by the river’s brim” was from that
of Wordsworth. This difference is caused by the modifying influence
of temperament, training, all that forms a man’s disposition, whether
acquired or inherited. It is as though each man moved in an atmosphere,
an _aura_ of his own which colours all the objects of his thought.
Whether _every_ invitation to action that can be presented to the Will
must necessarily pass through this _aura_ is a very obscure question
and one on which I do not at present wish to dogmatize. But it is
certain that the great majority pass through it.

Thus on every occasion where the Will is exercised, it has to act not
only on the facts which are perceived but _as_ they are perceived. Now
so far as the influence of what is called apperception is concerned
we are in the realm of natural law. Each man, to that extent, is
unquestionably under the dominion of his environment, that is to say of
geographic, historic, social, and other influences which affect whole
communities, and which vary but slowly when they vary at all. The Will,
in fact, acts within the framework of nature and its laws exactly as
does that directive agency to which, in the view of the writer, is to
be attributed the phenomenon of progressive evolution from lower forms
of life to higher forms, that is, from forms which admit of less life
to those which admit of more. The Will is really this directive agency
coming into consciousness in Mind.

In all life, whether human, animal, or material, there is an element
of change and an element of constancy. Between these poles it moves
and has its being, nor could life, as we know it, exist for a moment
if either of these two opposing but complementary principles were
withdrawn. We have now seen that with a full belief in the innovating
and incalculable quality of the Will, with the infinite vistas which
that belief opens up to human hope and effort, there is yet ample room
for the opposing and equally necessary element in life, the element
of constancy, uniformity, law. Human Will does not come into nature
as a catastrophic force—it develops _pari passu_ with the development
of consciousness; and it will naturally be found in its highest
development where the whole nature is most wholesomely attuned to the
purposes of the cosmic Will.


We have now to notice certain grave objections which every student
of modern science and philosophy will expect to see dealt with by a
defender of the principle of Free Will.

It has been objected from the evolutionist standpoint that, as no
one attributes Free Will to the lower forms of animal life, it is
impossible to conceive it as having arisen in man except by a miracle.
At what point, it is asked, did it first appear? And if one cannot
fix the point, the presumption is supposed to be that it has never
appeared at all. It will be remembered that some scientific thinkers
such as Mr. A. R. Wallace, and one may add Prof. Reinke, have been so
much impressed by the mental difference between man and the beasts that
they have assumed the gulf to have been bridged by a catastrophic or
miraculous act and not by any evolutionary process.

Now I quite admit that one cannot conceive mind being evolved from
not-mind. But neither can I conceive life being evolved from not-life,
nor, in fact, when one looks into the process minutely, can I believe
in anything whatever, physical or spiritual, turning into something
else. I conceive the evolutionary process strictly as the ‘unfolding’
of latent capacities, faculties, organs, by means of psychic agencies
acting within the framework of the fixed relations which we call
natural law. The fact that one cannot lay one’s finger on the exact
point in the history of nature where mind and will began to be is not
relevant to the question whether they are now present or not. As well
might one be challenged to fix the moment when the embryo becomes a
man. There are _no_ such exact points in nature. If there were, nature
would be discontinuous, and the smallest real discontinuity in nature
would be enough to shatter the frame of the universe.

From another side it has been urged that the conception of the
continuity or oneness of the universe is fatal to Free Will. The
Monist, according to that brilliant champion of chaos, Mr. William
James,[130] must believe in a universe fixed like cast-iron in all its
parts, for, being all interrelated, not one of them can be different
without altering the whole structure of things.

But does not Mr. James here overlook the fact that essential oneness
is not incompatible with temporal incompleteness? The universe is one,
true—but this one universe comprises not only all that has been and
that is, but all that will be. It is to be conceived at present as
a growing organism; it will not be a fixed and completed whole till
time is at an end. On this basis I see no difficulty in fitting into a
Monistic scheme of thought Mr. James’s admirable statement of the Free
Will position:—

    “Our acts, our turning-places, where we seem to ourselves to make
    ourselves and grow, are the parts of the world to which we are
    closest, the parts of which our knowledge is most intimate and
    complete. Why should we not take them at their face-value? Why may
    they not be the actual turning-places and growing-places _of the
    world_—why not the workshop of being where we catch _fact_ in the
    making?”[131]

The next and last objection I propose to deal with cuts closer to
the heart of the question and will have to occupy us, I hope not
unfruitfully, for some time.

I instanced some time ago the case of martyrdom as one in which every
one would recognize the action of the Will, if it can be recognized
anywhere. Let me recall that extremest form of martyrdom which John
Stuart Mill once declared himself ready to face rather than outrage
his moral sense. Speaking in his Examination of Sir William Hamilton’s
Philosophy of what passed in his day for the ‘orthodox’ conception of
the Supreme Being he wrote:—

    “Whatever power such a being may have over me, there is one thing
    which he shall not do: he shall not compel me to worship him. I
    will call no being good, who is not what I mean when I apply that
    epithet to my fellow creatures; and if such a being can sentence me
    to hell for not so calling him, to hell I will go.”[132]

Mill, as we see, relied on his personal freedom of Will to stiffen
his neck against any homage to a Power whom his moral sense declared
unworthy of reverence. But a modern physiologist would tell him—and
even if the fact be not fully demonstrated at present, it would,
I think, be very rash for any psychologist to deny it—that by a
slight change in the molecular configuration of the brain cells the
heroic recusant could have been turned into a devout worshipper of
any being who was able to exhibit the credentials of superior force.
Such a change would certainly not be beyond the powers of a being who
had heaven and hell at his disposal; even a skilful surgeon might
accomplish it. What, then, is the freedom of the Will worth (it may
be asked) if the direction it takes is at the mercy of the physical
configuration of our brain-matter? And the ‘I’ which, we say, wills—if
material changes can thus profoundly alter its character, how can we
attribute to it any kind of real and independent existence? Must not
the complete dispersal of the molecules of the brain at death cause
the ‘I’ to vanish altogether like a blown-out flame? Must it not be at
their mercy during the brief illusion of existence?

Our discussion has thus plunged us into the intricate question of the
relations of mind and matter, and we must pause to dwell on it for a
while.

What is matter? Nobody can tell. It is that which resists when we
push against it—a tactile or muscular sensation. It is that of which
two portions cannot occupy the same space at the same time—a visual
sensation. It is the source of certain sensations; and the most recent
physical investigations points to its being composed of innumerable
centres of _force_. But force manifesting itself in orderly and
harmonious fashion is Reason. If, then, Reason is at the base of
things, Matter ceases to be a bogey.

Still the fact remains that it is not I and it is not You, and the real
cogency of the physiological argument against Free Will and the soul
(which, as we saw, must stand or fall together) is that something done,
perhaps by mere accident, to this Not-me, can, it appears, powerfully
influence and change the Me in spite of all the will I can exert to the
contrary. The fact that I, the innermost I, can be got at through my
brain, means philosophically exactly the same as the old superstition
according to which I can be got at by an enemy who sticks a waxen image
of me full of pins and dissolves it before a fire. And _normally_
(there seem to me good reasons for not going further than that),
_normally_, it is _only_ through Matter that the Me can be reached and
influenced at all, even by the other Me’s in the universe. Now Matter,
whatever else we may say about it, is certainly under the law of
causation.

From the other, the spiritualistic, side of the argument, it has been
sought to meet the above considerations by an interesting analogy.
Matter (the brain in this case) may, it is urged, be regarded as the
instrument by which, under present conditions, Thought manifests itself
and acts. You can take a piano and put it out of tune or otherwise
damage it, so as to render it incapable of conveying the real mind of
the performer, who, nevertheless, remains quite unaffected. The soul
is the invisible performer. You can damage the brain so that the soul
_can no longer express itself_ under the conditions of our present
existence, but it is an entirely unwarrantable inference to say that
you have thereby damaged or destroyed the soul itself. The analogy of
physical energy will make this clear. You can make an engine work by
the oxidization of coal, but this process can only loosely be described
as the source of the energy which is manifested by the engine. All that
one does by burning the coal is to turn potential energy into active or
kinetic energy. When the engine goes to pieces, or the coal burns out,
not a particle of energy is lost; it merely goes back into the shape of
potential energy again.

I think this reply is substantially a sound and effective one. At the
same time it must be allowed that the physiological argument is more
subtle than is usually recognized by those who try to meet it as above.
You may so damage a piano as to render it incapable of being properly
played on—you may get from it the incoherent janglings of insanity,
without affecting our belief in the existence of a real musician
behind these unintelligible manifestations. But how if it can be shown
that certain mechanical alterations will result, not in nonsense but,
let us say, in bringing out mere Offenbach when the performer has
always hitherto been wont to play Beethoven? A simple injury to the
instrument, it may justly be argued, has no such vital significance as
this change in the nature of the thing expressed. Shall we not have to
conclude that the man really _is_ the instrument, that the mind is a
phenomenon accompanying the temporary combination of certain material
constituents, lasting only as long as that combination shall endure and
varying _pro tanto_ with everything that causes it to vary?

Now, for my own part, I must confess that if mind with all its nobler
manifestations such as Will, Love, Duty, and so forth, be a mere
rainbow hovering above the cataract of material force, it does not seem
to me worth while to discuss anything, for we, mere particles that
glimmer for a moment, can never affect anything, and must soon be where
nothing can any longer affect us. It is happily quite true as Santayana
says in his Reason in Science,[133] that people who do not think about
these matters at all may “know how to live cheerily and virtuously for
life’s own sake” on the strength of the normal source of vitality which
has made for its own ends from the beginning of things without the aid
of our consciousness or criticism. But this consciousness, turning
inward as well as outward, this questioning and speculative spirit,
are themselves forms of vitality, phases in the gradual conquest of
Nothingness (_i.e._ undifferentiated Being) by Life. We stunt and maim
ourselves if we try to keep them aloof. It is true that in encouraging
them we may often seem to be turning the terrible, two-edged weapon
of Analysis against our own higher life. Be it so! We have taken that
sword in hand; we have cut down with it a hundred forms of superstition
and wrong; and the time to sheath it is not yet. Whatever dangers there
may be in it, we must face those dangers; and though it may be left to
another generation completely to overcome them, let that generation,
at least, say of us that we did not drop our weapons on the field of
battle, even if our own life-blood sometimes flowed upon the blade.[134]

Let us now return to that analogy of the piano and the unseen player
and see if we can get some more light from it than has yet appeared. In
view of the last considerations which were urged in this connexion—the
possibility of effecting not merely the ruin of the instrument but
the more vital change of the character of the music it will perform,
we must slightly alter one of the terms of the comparison. The analogy
will be a strikingly close and suggestive one if we bring into view
the latest development in musical mechanism, the pianola. Suppose that
the music-rolls of a pianola were made of different sizes and shapes
according to the different classes of music. There would then, let
us say, be one kind of roll for classical music, another for Italian
opera, another for Palestrinian polyphony, another for music-hall
ditties, and subvarieties of all these. Now let us suppose that
each pianola were so constructed as to take some particular type of
music easily, other types with more difficulty, and others, again,
not at all, and let us assume that all these types are continually
being presented for performance. The construction of the pianola
will then correspond to the physical constitution of the brain.
This constitution, in each case, is the material equivalent of the
dominance of a particular kind of personality, or what we have called
above _aura_. But the records which have lately been so much studied
of cases of what is called ‘multiple personality’ tend to show that
in each of us there _are_ several distinct personalities—or if that
word seems to beg an important question as to the unitary character of
personality, let us say streams of consciousness—which are pressing
for manifestation. The brain selects automatically among these,
and normally keeps one particular type to the front. But just as a
mechanical alteration in our hypothetical pianola might entirely change
the type of music it would play, so a lesion or shock of any kind might
change, more or less, the type of personality which a particular brain
was fitted to express; and such cases are, of course, well known to
occur.

But now we come to a fact than which none is better known, none
more absolutely verifiable in experience, but to which there is
nothing in the least analogous in the pianola or any other piece of
mechanism taken by itself. I can, with time and toil, with patience
and resolution, _change the structure of my brain_ and make easy
for it that which before was difficult or impossible. Within limits
which cannot be defined (because human life is too short), I can even
adapt it to the expression of a new type of personality. No musical
instrument can do that to itself. One would have to call in for that
purpose the initiating and controlling force of the man who made
it.[135]

A conscious pianola, even if we supposed it to possess the endowment of
memory, would only recognize itself as a succession of sensations. The
hegemonic faculty, the sense of command and control, which Plato[136]
laid his finger on, as indicating the difference between a human
personality and a musical mechanism, and which Hermann Lotze,[137] in
the full light of modern science, still thought valid for the same
purpose, would be wanting. Man does not live in the moment. As Goethe
wrote in some of his greatest lines—lines that read like hammer-strokes
nailing up the charter of human right:—

    Nur allein der Mensch
    Vermag das Unmögliche;
    Er unterscheidet,
    Wählet und richtet;
    Er kann dem Augenblick
    Dauer verleihn.[138]

Behind the mechanism of the pianola, behind the mechanism of the brain,
there stands this living directive force of which we can give no
scientific account whatever—we can only say that it is there. Indeed,
it is just at this point that all comparison between mechanism, as
usually understood, and vital action of any kind must break down. But
the fact is that mechanism is usually not understood at all. I spoke
above of a piece of mechanism taken by itself. But in truth we cannot
take it by itself. Nothing in nature can be truly isolated, it only
exists in relation to other things. Every machine has a soul, the soul
of the man who made or who works it. Without that it would be merely
scrap-iron; and even as scrap-iron it has relations with things about
it—air, water, acids, and the like. In these relations we detect the
soul of nature. Nothing exists by itself—nor even, permanently, _as_
itself. The living universe of our experience is not a Being but an
Acting and a Becoming. It is precisely this fact which, on the one
hand, imposes a mysterious limit on the intellect, and, on the other,
opens a boundless horizon before the will.


The human brain, the most highly organized form of protoplasm known to
us, may be called in one sense a machine through which the personal
will, the moral emotions, the æsthetic sense, the faculties of
reasoning, have to assert themselves in action. But to say that they
would never have existed but for this special form of protoplasm is to
say that they were created by it out of nothing. And, no doubt, one
can say that, one can _say_ anything; but one cannot think it. I do
not see how to represent the matter to our thought except by supposing
that every stage in physical evolution is accompanied by what has been
called ‘involution,’ a drawing in, from the potentialities of Being,
of powers and faculties of living for which the opportunity to become
actual had ripened.

An image may make clearer what I mean, and I offer it only for this
purpose, well knowing that “the best in this kind are but shadows.”
Suppose that a man were enclosed in a sheath composed of metal having
certain peculiar properties: it is opaque when cold, but when heated
it becomes transparent, and the hotter it is the more transparent it
grows. Such a substance might easily exist, at any rate it is entirely
conceivable. We must assume in addition that the heat is not such as
to be injurious to the occupant. Now a man enclosed in such a sheath
would, when it was at the proper temperature, see what was going on
around him; he could also be seen, he could hold communication with
other men, and direct operations which he wished carried out. If the
sheath, in addition to being transparent at the right temperature,
were also, under the same conditions, flexible, and fitted him like a
skin, he could do things himself. If it got cold, however, and thereby
became, in the measure of its coolness, opaque and rigid, the man
would be shut off from all communication or interaction with the world
outside, he would be what we call dead.

I suggest that Consciousness with all its attendant phenomena is
represented by the man, the sheath is Matter, the heat is Life. Matter,
historically, precedes the manifestation of consciousness, but as it is
never without a certain degree of life, so, even in the nebular form in
which it exists before it has cohered into worlds and systems, it is
not without the element of directivity, of harmonious inter-relation
and interaction. A higher organization of life makes possible the
subtler sensitiveness of the vegetable kingdom. The most vital, the
most highly organized form of matter we know is the human brain and
nervous system. Here the sheath has assumed a considerable degree of
transparency and flexibility. But doubtless a far higher degree of
organization is possible, and when this is reached the capacities of
consciousness will have developed to an extent altogether inconceivable
to us at present, though every now and then some exceptionally
constituted individual gives us a hint of stages of development as yet
far beyond the capacities of the race in general.

We may conceive matter, then, as being constantly fanned up into the
heat of life, _i.e._ as elaborating forms into which consciousness can
enter and through which it can act. And we observe that consciousness,
when it has found a suitable form, can act on it and improve it. Two
questions now arise. The first is: Why should consciousness have need
of these forms at all? And the second is: If it has this need, what
becomes of the individual consciousness when the form has grown
finally cold in death and is resolved into its inorganic elements?

To the first question I cannot suggest any answer, except the obvious
one that an individual consciousness must have some forms through
which it can have relations with things not itself. In the world, as
we have it, it is _generally_ true—it would be unwise to venture any
absolute statement on the subject—that consciousness only enters into
relation with another consciousness, or with matter, by means of the
peculiarly organized form of matter which we call a brain. I must leave
the question there. Thought and research, and the advance in physical
organization which I have referred to, may, in the near or distant
future, throw further light upon it. It is not a difficulty, but it is
certainly a mystery.

As regards the second question, that of personal immortality, all
we are justified in concluding on the negative side is that when a
certain body and brain have perished, consciousness can express itself
through _that_ form no more. But consciousness itself cannot be less
indestructible than everything else that exists. We may, so far as I
can see, either conceive an individual consciousness at death as being
resolved into the general consciousness from which it sprang, even
as the matter composing any organic being is resolved into inorganic
matter, or we may suppose that, having won and consolidated its
selfhood by what it has done and what it has endured in the flesh, the
selfhood is thenceforth capable of an independent existence under forms
at present beyond our ken.

Either of these conceptions implies what we call the ‘immortality’ of
the soul, the real and permanent significance of the experiences of the
soul. Here a little further elucidation may be desirable. I have spoken
of the possibility of the soul or self being resolved into something
which one can only describe as a general spiritual substance related
to individual souls as matter in general is related to particular
material organisms. But the parallel with matter must not be pushed
too far. A material organism, being composed of different substances,
can be disintegrated. But consciousness cannot, strictly speaking,
suffer disintegration, for it has no different substances into which
to disintegrate. It can, however, as we see, appear in the form of
a number of different personalities; and this, the normal existing
condition, is the psychical analogue to physical disintegration.
If these personalities are again to merge into one impersonal
consciousness, the process would not be comparable to disintegration;
it would be the very reverse; it would be reintegration; and the
process, therefore, implies nothing resembling the loss or dissipation
of any form of psychic being.

Further, we have to observe that when a material organism perishes
and is disintegrated, there is, so far as we can see, an utter and
complete end of it. The human brain, for example, quite apart from its
association with a consciousness, has in the course of its development
and activity gone through a marvellous chain of processes, in which
electric and molecular force, undulations, radiations, and probably
other physical factors of which we have no conception at present,
have played a part. Yet when the brain dies and is resolved into so
much ammonia, phosphorus, carbon, gases, and what not, these elements
differ in no whit from other ammonia, phosphorus, and carbon in the
world. For any ulterior purpose they are neither better nor worse;
they are wholly unchanged, by all the extraordinary history which
they have passed through under the spell of life. This is equally
true of the elements, nervous and other, of any living being. But the
physical system of every living being below man is organized for two
ends only: (1) the upkeep, during its lifetime, of its own physical
powers; (2) the reproduction and multiplication of its kind.[139]
When an organism has fulfilled these functions, it is justified; the
object of life has been attained. These functions, of course, persist
in man, but he has added to them many others; his brain has to serve
him for ethics, art, philosophy, religion, and is therefore organized
with a subtlety quite unknown in the animal world. Here, then, is a
kind of organic action which has no significance whatever _except in
relation to consciousness_. If it have none there it has none at all,
it is absolutely irrational and futile. Now the molecular and other
action of a beast’s brain has reference to its physical life, and it
passes on this physical life to its descendants. But the action, or
a great part of the action, of a man’s brain has reference to his
consciousness, and of this he passes on at most the potentiality. A
lion’s cub is a lion; a philosopher’s child is not necessarily or even
probably a philosopher. That path of development, whatever we may say
about the lion, must have its goal elsewhere. We must, if the universe
is not irrational, believe that in some way consciousness, whether
after the death of the body it persists in individual form or not,
_carries forward into the new state the results of its experiences,
its acquisitions, its losses, in the bodily relation_. These are not
transitory, not indifferent; “great or small they furnish their parts
toward the soul.”


The reader will have probably noticed that one consideration of the
greatest moment has been left untouched. I have spoken of matter and
consciousness as of two separate things, and of the former as prior to
the latter. This is a form of thought imposed upon us by the space and
time relations by which our being is conditioned. But it is evident
that the interaction of the two cannot be fortuitous. We cannot suppose
that matter pursued its long course of evolution, refining and
subtilizing at every stage to admit more and more of the activity of
consciousness, in total disconnexion with that consciousness. The two
must be co-ordinated in some higher synthesis. Could we escape from the
limitations of our thought we should see them, therefore, not as two,
but one, and we should see that the meanest form of being has an aspect
in which it belongs to eternity.



CHAPTER VIII

THE ETHICAL CRITERION

    “Things have life—God is life.”—Spinoza.

    “I am come that they may have life, and that they may have it more
    abundantly.”—Rabbi Bar-elahin.


The view of the meaning and purpose of cosmic development set forth in
the preceding chapters must clearly have a bearing on the principles
of human conduct. Men above a certain stage of culture do not live
by blind instinct. They endeavour to harmonize their lives with
some conception of the _ratio essendi_ of the world in which they
find themselves, and in so doing they are most truly men. The Stoic
expressed this attempt in the simple formula, ‘Live according to
Nature.’ But nature is not simple, and the endeavour to interpret
nature has led to some very divergent ideals of human conduct.

Every one who has meditated on the subject at all has become
aware that the world which we see and hear and feel, the world of
sense-perception, is not all that we have to do with. Behind the
visible and material world there lies the invisible, the _X_ world,
which we cannot weigh and analyze, but the existence and potency
of which we are compelled to assume. It is the literal truth to say
that no man can take a single step even in the most mundane and
practical affairs of life without a belief, implicit or explicit, in
the spiritual unity and reality underlying the fleeting panorama of
sense-impressions. Nothing else can give him any assurance of the
constancy, the orderly inter-relation, of the phenomena with which he
has to deal, and with which he could not deal intelligently did not
this constancy exist. Now when man begins to be aware that there is
something more in the world than is immediately apparent to sense,
his thinking on the subject may take several different lines, but it
is probable that all of them may be referred to one or other of two
main divisions, the Dualistic and the Monistic.[140] The Dualist will
regard the world of sense-perception, whether originally produced and
organized by the invisible or not, as now more or less independent of
the latter, or even hostile to it, and he will generally interpret
his own being as something properly belonging to the invisible world
but for a time mysteriously and unhappily entangled, through the
flesh, with the other. This is Platonic theology, carried by Paul into
Christianity, and it eventuates, when driven to its conclusion by a
rigorous and inhuman logic, in Asceticism. Instead of the Stoic, ‘Live
according to Nature’ (a formula in complete harmony, it may be noted,
with the Stoic Pantheism), we get, as the formula for ideal conduct,
‘Deny Nature, think the flesh a burden and a shame, fit yourself for
the time when your real self will cast it off as a filthy garment.’

On the other hand the Monistic view represented in ancient Europe by
the great Stoic school, and in modern times by names such as those of
Spinoza, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Lotze, Walt Whitman, refuses to separate
the visible and the invisible worlds. The former _is_ the latter, made
partially accessible to our minds. Man is a part of nature, bound
up in all his being with the framework of the Universe. The flesh
is not a bond on the spirit but an instrument of life, and what we
acquire through it is just as valuable and as eternal as anything
else. “Objects gross and the unseen soul are one,” says Whitman—the
distinction between subject and object, the perceiver and the
perceived, as Schopenhauer argues, is but a mode of cognition.

That the human mind can rest only in some kind of Monism, that Dualism
must be regarded as a natural but a passing phase of thought, based on
a hasty interpretation of certain aspects of man’s moral experience,
would seem to follow from what has been urged previously from the _a
priori_ side of the question.[141] Indeed, it may be doubted whether
there are any thinkers who seriously maintain the Dualistic view as
a philosophic doctrine. Many, however, including the whole school of
Catholic theology, with its ascetic ideal and its doctrine of eternal
hell, turn practically Dualist in the sphere of ethics, while they
would be horrified at a suspicion of anything but the purest Monism in
their conception of the ultimate reality of being. The cause of this
inconsistency is evident. We feel instinctively that no distinction in
the world of our present experience goes deeper than the distinction
between moral good and moral evil. We feel the danger of obliterating
this distinction, and setting loose the greedy and violent passions of
man to work their will unchecked by any sense of right and wrong. And
undoubtedly the Monistic principle might, by a shallow interpretation
of it, be held to obliterate the distinction. If God is One, it
might be argued, and God is All, then evil is justified in the world
equally with goodness, and the sense of duty is, what shall we say? an
illusion, a superstition, a relic of fetishism. Hence the practical
Dualism on the ethical and eschatological side which has found its
way into Monistic thought. It is brought in to save morality. But
inconsistencies like this do not last for ever; they can only persist
where thought has become atrophied, and Dualism is now rapidly
disappearing from the religious thought of Europe. What is to take its
place? The problem before us is to discover a basis for ethics on the
Monistic hypothesis without the slightest acceptance of the facile
solutions offered by Dualism. If we succeed in that, and establish a
real Monistic meaning for the terms _right_ and _wrong_, we shall next
have to deal with the sanction of the law of righteousness, and to show
_why_ it should be obeyed even, if necessary, at the cost of pain and
death.


And first, let us unreservedly admit that on the Monistic view the
distinction between right and wrong, moral good and moral evil, is not
fundamental. Both must be regarded as moving towards comprehension in
some unity as yet unimaginable by man. Without renouncing his faith,
the Monist can never escape from that position, and he must be true
to the light whatever the apparent consequences may be. A greater
Power than he will look after the consequences: ταῦτα τῷ θεῷ μελήσει.

But, on the other hand, this distinction may be just as real and vital
as any other in the world of experience. Nobody thinks that pleasure
and pain are indifferent because they are both necessary forms of
active life, or that beauty and ugliness are indifferent, or that
success and failure are indifferent. How we strain for success in a
game, for instance, although we are perfectly well aware that the game
is the real object, not the triumph! Yet without the possibilities of
triumph or defeat, there would be no game. The problem is really part
of the primal mystery of the origin of cosmic life. If we assume at
the beginning of things (so far as we can conceive a beginning) one
infinite, homogeneous, absolutely undifferentiated Existence, and then
conceive this Existence as impelled to act, and to become conscious of
itself, it is plain that to do so it must differentiate itself. There
must arise within it the relations of subject and object, simple and
complex, better and worse, and all that is involved in change, variety,
progression. And this applies as much to the moral life as to the
life of the senses. It has often been pointed out that if there were
no Wrong to strive with there would be no visible and active Right.
Were there no hate, love would be incapable of the noblest part of its
ministry. Were there no weakness, strength could never have been called
on for the strain by which it is developed. And if good should ever
overcome and absorb evil the stage thus attained will assuredly reveal
some new contrast of pursuit and avoidance perhaps as strange to us now
as moral distinctions would be to the lower animals.

The Monist will also urge that nature, as we behold it, is not a
fixed and rounded entity, but is something in process of completion.
We must therefore interpret nature not alone by its contents at any
given moment, but by its drift and tendency. This is precisely the
consideration which separates Pantheism as enlightened by science from
the Pantheism of a primitive nature-worship. In it, the Greek and the
Hebrew ideals are blended and reconciled.

But what, for ethical purposes, _is_ this drift and tendency? What
significance do I mean to attach to the terms moral good and moral
evil? It is hardly necessary to say that I do not propose in a couple
of chapters of one short book to elaborate an ethical system with all
its groundwork, and with details ramifying into every branch of ethical
action, as Mr. Herbert Spencer has essayed to do in his Data of Ethics.
All I can do here, or in any section of this book, is to indicate a
_way_ of looking at things—at nature, at human life, at art—in which
the meaning of the universe has seemed to become intelligible and
satisfying to my own thought. Having found the way, every one must use
it for himself or herself. I can, in the present work, go no further
into detail than is necessary to make my meaning clear; to set whatever
readers I may find at my point of view. If I can at all succeed in
doing this, let them use their own eyes: they will find a wonderful
landscape, vital, fresh and boundless, opening before them.

The conception of ethical law which I wish to put forward differs
from what is commonly understood as evolutionary or scientific ethics
at the present day. This system appears ultimately to rest on Jeremy
Bentham as its founder, but Bentham’s later disciples have modified
his doctrine at various points by a deeper appreciation of the
difficulties of the position. They have approximated more closely to
what I consider to be the truth, but they have never shaken off the
entanglement of the original false position of the modern founder
of the school. Bentham, who pursued “the greatest happiness of the
greatest number” through the medium of the most depressing system of
philosophy which the world has ever known, made Pleasure the ultimate
criterion of moral action and declared for the summary striking out
of the word ‘ought’ from the language of morals, as corresponding to
an idea which, so far as it rested on any reality, was merely a relic
of primitive superstition.[142] But J. S. Mill saw that the sentiment
of duty and moral obligation was based on something deeper and more
instinctive than a word misunderstood, and that it often survived in
persons singularly free from superstition. He sought its origin in the
psychology and physiology of man, and interpreted it, on the principle
of association of ideas, as a survival of the deep impression made by
punishments and rewards attached respectively to different classes
of actions in each man’s early life.[143] The position was a more
rational and scientific one than that of Bentham, but it still failed
to account for the _a priori_ character of the moral sense, the ready
responsiveness with which early training evokes in man the sentiment of
duty.

It seemed, as it were, to have been somehow _prepared beforehand_ and
to lie latent awaiting only the right touch to spring into action.
Finally, Herbert Spencer, who may be said to have brought all this
line of thinking to its climax, seized on the evolution doctrine as
explaining this intuitive and innate quality of ethical feeling. It
_was_ prepared beforehand, far back in the ancestry of the race. Not
the punishments and rewards applied to the modern individual in his own
person, but those which affected his near and remote progenitors, had,
in the course of countless generations, built up “moral perceptions”
resulting from “inherited modifications caused by accumulated
experiences.”[144] The moral sense, therefore, is _now_ really innate
because inherited, but was once acquired by the operation of pleasures
and pains arising from man’s intercourse with nature and with his
fellows. And the ultimate moral criterion in the present day remains
simply the striking of a balance between pleasure and pain.[145]

It is clear that if the Lamarckian doctrine of the inheritance of
acquired characteristics is a delusion, the bottom is at once knocked
out of the Spencerian system of ethics. But apart from this, that
system, on the historical side at least, is vitiated by the cardinal
defect in Mr. Spencer’s mind—his failure to appreciate the true nature
of the data with which he had to deal. The philosophic mind is not
a mere logic-machine. It must include the faculty of vision, the
vital perception of the objects of thought, as well as the faculty
of observing and of generalizing about their action and reaction on
each other, and from this point of view Mr. Spencer’s deficiency as a
philosopher is enormous. A vital perception of the object in this case
makes us at once aware that you cannot evolve a sense of Duty, “stern
daughter of the voice of God,” out of pleasures and pains. Pleasures
and pains _per se_ will yield nothing to the end of the chapter but the
sense or the recollection of pleasure and of pain. It is as impossible
in psychology as it is in mechanics to juggle more power out of the end
of a sequence of causes and effects than you put in at the beginning.

But what has a natural ethics to put in the place of pleasure as the
goal of right action? The question is answered when we ask, What does
Nature herself put? Nature is said to have no morals, yet a mother bird
will imperil and often lose its life for the sake of its young. Is it
seeking pleasure then? Certainly not—it is protecting and fostering
life, the life of the race. And here, as we have insisted so often,
is the master-impulse of nature. We are taking a false and contracted
view when we assume that a living thing can have no other goal of
action except pleasure. Far earlier than the appearance of man in
the world is the appearance of the social instinct which prompts the
individual to live, and if necessary to die, for the larger life of
the race. What really begins in man is the power to think of himself,
to choose, to analyze, the power to say, Why? To this question the
science of ethics must provide an answer if it can—that, in fact, is
its origin and function. But if it binds itself to provide an answer
in terms of pleasure, it is entering the lists with naked Egotism at
a fatal disadvantage. On that ground, it seems to me, Egotism must
always win. But it is not the only ground. Nature knows a whole world
of impulse and effort which has nothing to do with pleasure. _Nature
does not directly want pleasure at all, but is resolved, at the cost
of pleasure and everything else, to have life._ Now life is maintained
at its highest point by _harmony_—a harmony of the faculties with
each other and, as a whole, with the mighty life outside them. And,
as Santayana admirably says, “harmony when made to rule in life gives
reason a noble satisfaction which we call happiness. Happiness is
impossible and even inconceivable to a mind without scope and without
pause, a mind driven by craving, pleasure, and fear.”[146] In this
sense we may say that happiness is organically connected with right
action.[147] But right action in itself is simply the action which best
subserves the central purpose of nature. If that purpose is summed up
in the one word Life, we must think of the moral sense, if we would
not go astray and be bewildered, in terms of living and not in terms
of enjoying. To take the greatest of exemplars, who can venture to
affirm that Christ had more pleasure living as he did and uttering to
the last syllable the message that was given him to deliver, than if
he had prudently restrained himself and led the life of a decent and
respectable artisan in his Syrian village? Indeed, even if we take very
long views, who can affirm that, on the whole, he has by his life and
death increased the sum of pleasure in the world? I doubt it very much.
No one can deny that it is most questionable. To think of the matter in
terms of pleasure seems to lead to nothing but perplexity and doubt.
But there can be no doubt whatever that he lived to the full the life
that it was in him to live, and that he immensely deepened and enriched
the spiritual life of man. When we fix our minds on life as the goal
and depth and fulness of life as the criterion, we come out at once
into the clear light where high inspirations are born and justified.
But it is not only the conception of life as existing for pleasure that
I think a true ethics will repudiate. We must clear our minds of the
idea that life has any goal outside itself—pleasure, moral discipline,
or what not. We must fully realize the conception of life as its own
goal, its own complete satisfaction and justification. Whoever has done
this will feel as if he had escaped from a jungle of contradiction
and gloom, where man can only live at all by clearing some little
space for his church and his homestead, and giving up the rest to the
powers of darkness. Yet a step brings him to a point of view from which
the physical, the animal and the human features of the world’s vast
landscape seem to flow into a happy and organic union, where every part
becomes luminous with meaning and charged with divine purpose.

Moral action then, I conceive, as a _certain kind_ of life-promoting
action. It is action which promotes life in the whole as opposed to the
part, which sacrifices the lower, narrower, more immediate life for the
fuller, nobler, more permanent life, whenever they are found to clash.
It does not differ in kind from other wholesome vital action, but it
differs in the heightening, the saliency, the intention conferred upon
it by the circumstances under which it is taken. And if we ask how it
was evolved in man, the answer is that it was there already in the
instincts of the lower animals, which are never, as man often so sadly
is, at odds with their true functions and duties. It is not morality
which has been evolved in man, but the capacity for immorality, due to
his personal self-consciousness.

The ultimate question, then, as regards the abstract morality of any
act or class of acts must be, Does it make for life? Does it tend to
help man towards the maximum development _of all his faculties and
capacities_? These faculties and capacities are what the universe
has now evolved at the highest level of which we have any knowledge.
None of them is evil, except in so far as it may thwart and stunt the
development of others. In the harmony of the whole range of man’s
powers of sense and spirit lies the golden ideal which none of us
may realize, but for which each of us may strive; or—for such is the
supreme and fatal prerogative of man—which he may set himself to
dishonour and deny.



CHAPTER IX

THE ETHICAL SANCTION

    “Far, far, how far? from o’er the gates of Birth,
    The faint horizons, all the bounds of earth.”

                                             Tennyson.


Ethical philosophy centres on two main points—the ethical criterion
and the ethical sanction. We have to ask ourselves, What kind of life
ought I to live, and secondly, Why ought I to live it? The first of
these questions we have answered simply thus: Life is self-justified;
in merely living we fulfil the whole purpose of nature; and as life
is a thing admitting of degrees it follows that that life is best in
which there is most of life. But this does not mean apparent life for
the individual at the present moment. It means most life for the Whole,
so far as the individual acts upon the Whole. And he acts on it in two
ways—first (one which is often overlooked) by _living his own life_
which is equally a part of that Whole whether he lives on a desert
island or in the heart of a city; and secondly by the influence he
radiates on other lives with which his own is socially related.

This, it is clear, is quite the same thing as to say that the right
life for any man is that in which _for him_ there is most of life—the
richest and the fullest life—_if he were to go on living indefinitely_.
For whatever depresses or exalts life in the Whole must ultimately
depress or exalt it in the individual also; the two interests are
clearly identical _in the long run_. This ‘long run’ or universal
point of view, which makes identical the interests of the Whole
and the interests of the individual, gives to a natural ethics the
criterion for all human action. It gives the contents, though not the
cogency—with this we have to deal in the present chapter—of the word
‘ought.’

By the mere fact of his social relations with other men each individual
is continually being trained to take this view, to harmonize together
his egoistic and his altruistic instincts; and is continually amassing
a store of social experiences out of which a universal moral code is
gradually shaping itself. “Life,” it has been well said, “has saved up
much wisdom.” Ethical wisdom, in this regard, will clearly involve such
kind of action, of organization, as will afford to each individual the
fullest opportunities for vital development in mind and body.

The life in which there is most of life! By holding fast to this clue
we shall, I think, see our way through many of the obscurities in
which, partly by the search for an extra-natural basis of morality,
partly by the reactionary attempt to base morality simply on the
striking of a balance between pleasures and pains, the philosophy
of right and wrong has been involved. We get a natural basis for
establishing a scale in human action, a distinction between ‘higher’
and ‘lower,’ without which a philosophic ethics is clearly impossible.
I do not, of course, mean to say that it is possible to apply a
mechanical rule and measure to moral action in the manner of Catholic
casuistry, according to which it is a venial sin to steal 19s. 6d. but
a mortal sin to steal £1.[148] Still, the existence of a natural scale
is evident at once when we consider the fact that man is constantly
being placed in positions in which his action may either thwart and
depress life, or simply maintain it, or markedly enrich and extend
it. The ethical quality of his action appears to arise from the fact
that it is possible for him, under the impulse of immediate personal
gratification, to do things which if commonly done by men would destroy
the beauty and order of human life. The interests of the whole and of
the individual may be identical, as we have said, in the long run, but
at the moment they are often in violent conflict. Allowing for the
fact that it is never possible in nature to draw a sharp dividing
line between different classes of being, and to say absolutely that
things are _thus_ on one side of it and _thus_ on the other, we may
repeat that this opposition between the long-run or universal and the
momentary or personal interest is a characteristic of human life as
opposed to that of the lower animals. It arises from the strong sense
of individuality, of selfhood, which emerges in man and of which the
animals know little or nothing. In itself it is a new and noble power
of life, but it has its fatal and mischievous aspect. Without it we
should know neither good nor evil. Personality is at once man’s pride
and his fall.

With this sense of selfhood there have grown up in humanity the
faculties of Conscience and of Will. Conscience I interpret as the
sense of what is due to the Whole, to the nobler and more permanent
self. Inasmuch as man is only gradually discovering what it really
is that the Whole demands of us, it follows that the utterances of
conscience may be misdirected, and that they need to be corrected and
purified by intelligence and experience. We see here an example of
that principle of the combination of evolution and involution which
alone seems to make intelligible the development of life. Never, by
organizing into a social system a multitude of individual appetencies,
can one produce a moral sense, a conscience. But neither is conscience
concerned to give the true laws of that organization. It adds its
peculiar _numen_, its sanctity, to every effort to Set up a mark of
everlasting light Above the howling senses’ ebb and flow, and though
the mark itself may, indeed must, shift and be transformed with the
ripening insight of man, yet, as between it and the temptations of
sense, conscience must always be obeyed. Now as nature is organically
one, we should expect to find this truth not dependent merely on an
intuitive perception but written in the experiences of life. And is
not this exactly what we do find? The ethical ideals of Judaism, of
Hinduism, and of Roman Catholicism, with their extreme reliance on
external observance and ritual, are lower, no doubt, than those of
Christianity as conceived, say, by St. Paul. Yet let a Jew or a Hindu
turn Christian, or a Catholic turn Protestant or Freethinker, for the
mere sake of material advantages or an easier way of living, and a
general moral deterioration seems at once to set in.[149] Whenever a
man allows his sense of personal ease and gratification to overpower
his sense of what is due to his fellow man, to his own higher self,
to his God, he weakens his will and his capacity for living the nobler
life. Ultimately he destroys the capacity altogether, and with it
vanishes even that for which he sinned, the capacity for pleasure
itself. The poison of self-indulgence will slacken and corrupt
every fibre of his moral and physical being. To grasp at pleasure
indiscriminately, recklessly, greedily is a way that makes not for
life but death. On the other hand, the capacity for renunciation and
self-control, the following of the law of love, the passion for justice
and equality, not only grow strong by exercise but, far from injuring
the other capacities which it may, on occasion, be right to suppress
for their sake, they rather intensify these. As self-indulgence
corrupts and fatigues the whole man, even on the self-indulgent side,
so duty and righteousness vitalize and brace the whole man, both on
their own side and the other. For Nature is one—sweet and mighty are
the powers which conspire to create the harmony she loves in the
spirits faithful to her world-wide revelation.

Now since the moral faculties bear this common stamp upon them,
that they are those which oppose to the temptations of personal
gratification the sense of duty to something outside ourselves, and
since, when these two clash, the claim of the moral law is always to
be obeyed, it is inevitable that men will sometimes take the denial of
personal gratification for an end _per se_ and attach to it a notion
of peculiar holiness and purity. And this error will be intensified by
the ancient and inveterate habit of regarding the Supreme Being as a
malignant Power, to be propitiated by suffering. Thus we get the false
sanction with its Ascetic ideal which has appeared so often in history.
It is the other extreme to licence, and rests equally on disregard
for the rational ideal of Sophrosyne or Temperance which lies between
them. Yet it may truly be said that asceticism has its due place in
the world. The ascetic life cannot indeed be the ideal life for any
one who holds that plenitude of life is the true ideal. But it may be
the best life for this or that individual. A nature maimed or scathed
from birth, or by unhappy fortune, may best be able to realize itself
in complete withdrawal from the interests of ordinary social life. Such
withdrawal may also be necessary for the pioneer or leader of a cause,
for a great reformer, for a teacher absorbed in his mission.

Philosophy, in fact, has its saints and ascetics as well as any
religion that rests on extra-natural sanctions. But in each case the
ascetic ideal rests on quite a different basis.

Looking broadly at the part which religious Orders have played in the
religious and intellectual history of Europe, it may well be doubted
whether even the most gracious and human figure in the history of
asceticism, Francis of Assisi, would not have better served his time
and land by the natural development, in secular life and activity, of
the beautiful if sometimes wildly ebullient character portrayed in the
records of his youth, than by cutting away half his life in order to
force the other half into a distorted rarity. In recognizing the beauty
and sweetness of his nature let us not be misled into attributing it
in any degree to the influence of that fatal miasma from a faith more
ancient than any religion which has a name and place on earth to-day,
the dim terror of the unseen which has embodied itself for ages in
expiatory sacrifices and rites of blood and pain.

Had Francis not been a saint he would certainly have been one of his
country’s greatest poets.[150] Different minds will probably estimate
differently the loss and gain. As a poet he produced the ‘Canticle of
the Sun’; as an ascetic, the Franciscan Order. Now it is fair to point
out that this, like other Orders of his church, must not be judged
by what it is like in times when it is surrounded by watchful and
by no means adorant eyes. A Catholic religious Order in a Catholic
country naturally lives and moves in an atmosphere of veneration.
To preserve this atmosphere pure from the sceptical thought which,
from the monastic point of view, would vitiate it so dangerously,
is naturally a prime object of every religious community; hence the
bigotries, superstitions, and tyrannies of which these communities
have so often been the sources or agents, from the days of Hypatia to
the days of Dreyfus. Such communities, developing themselves under
such circumstances, cannot attract many men of intellect and character
to join them. They rapidly deteriorate, and European literature from
Boccaccio and Chaucer to Erasmus shows us the repute in which they
come to be held by the uncloistered intellect. A false ideal may
stimulate, but it poisons. St. Francis, dreaming that he serves God
by making himself blind to God’s world through a course of pitiless
austerities,[151] produces an Order whose licence in one generation
after his death has become a scandal to Christendom.[152]

Let us turn now to the theory of asceticism as conceived by the
humane and rational spirit of Stoic philosophy. Epictetus—to my mind
the greatest ethical thinker of antiquity—has a valuable and carefully
reasoned chapter on the subject in his Dissertations. In reading this
after, let us say, The Little Flowers of St. Francis, one seems to
pass from the drugged atmosphere of a mediæval church to the free air
and sunlight of the world. The ascetic, or Cynic as he was called in
Stoic phraseology, is painted for us as a man who adventures himself to
the extreme limit of abnegation, not from any mystic sentiment of the
holiness of pain and poverty, but simply to help himself and others to
realize the soul’s independence of external things. It was a cardinal
doctrine of Stoicism (as it was of the Christianity of Christ) that the
things which a man wrought and thought, the things under the control
of his will, were the only things that really mattered. What happened
to a man from outside was, indeed, of great importance in regard to
how he dealt with it; in itself it was of none; it was like a ball
in a game which you have to do your best to catch, knowing well that
you do so not for the sake of the ball but of the game. Such was the
Stoic view of life, and the Cynic represented not the perfected Stoic,
not an ideal towards which all should tend—for the ideal was that of
citizenship and well-ordered social life—but simply the method of
verification which consists in taking an extreme case and showing that
one’s theory will fit in with it. And so Diogenes lived in a barrel
instead of a house, and asked nothing of Alexander except to stand out
of his light. It is not more pleasing to God, not better in any way,
that a man should live in a barrel rather than in a house, that he
should be single rather than married, poor rather than rich; yet in the
chances and changes of this mortal life all these things may happen to
a man, will he, nill he, and the point is to show that he may still
be confident and cheerful, knowing that his true self is untouched by
these calamities. And while St. Francis and the more devoted of his
followers so tortured and wrecked the body which St. Paul had called
the temple of the Holy Spirit that many of them perished or had to
linger out their lives in the infirmary,[153] with the Cynic the
cultivation of the body and its faculties was a part of his discipline.

    “For,” says Epictetus,[154] “if he shall appear consumptive, meagre
    and pale, his witness hath not the same emphasis. Not only by
    showing forth the things of the spirit must he convince foolish
    men that it is possible, without the things that are admired of
    them, to be good and wise, but also in his body must he show that
    plain and simple and open-air living are not mischievous even to
    the body: ‘Behold, even of this I am a witness, I and my body.’ So
    Diogenes was wont to do, for he went about radiant with health, and
    with his very body he turned many to good. But a Cynic that men
    pity seems to be a beggar—all men turn away from him, all stumble
    at him. For he must not appear squalid; so that neither in this
    respect shall he scare men away; but his very austerity should be
    cleanly and pleasing.”

How sane and wholesome, how wisely adapted to the fundamental facts of
life, is the Stoic ideal as compared with the monastic! In it we see
that there is a place in a natural ethics for a rational asceticism.
Of such there will always be need—we must admit, whatever we may think
of the ‘spirituality’ of self-destruction, that there are, and are
always likely to be, many more men and women who deteriorate in soul
and body through petty acts of self-indulgence than who do so by an
excess of austerity. And this makes it all the more necessary that the
matter should be conceived rightly, reasonably, from the side of a
reverence for life and its manifestations, not from that of disdain and
repulsion; that we should take hold of it (to quote Epictetus again)
by the handle by which it can be carried, not that by which theory and
experience alike have shown that it never can. When Tennyson wrote
“Move upward, working out the beast,” he was not so well inspired as
in some of his other appreciations of modern science. The religious
ascetic aims at working out the beast—not so Nature, who does not
progress by substituting one form of living for another, but by growing
from a central core and continually harmonizing the old radical
elements of being with the new assimilations. One _can_, perhaps,
work out the beast—what cannot the will achieve? But the beast surely
avenges himself, and often in terrible fashion.


When, however, we have recognized the false sanction and the false
ideal associated with it, we have still the more difficult problem of
establishing the true. If Righteousness—to use that term for all kinds
of action ethically right—is to be followed in the interests of life,
how can it ever be required that much suffering, and even death itself
may have to be faced for its sake? Man is a part of a Whole—in the
effective realization of that conception all ethics is summed up—but he
is also an individual. Why should the individual give way to the Whole
if their interests seem to clash? In other words, though we have the
contents, the static significance of the word ‘ought,’ we have still to
find its dynamic significance, its cogency.

Every beast does what it ‘ought’ without any question, and this
constantly involves acts of co-operation or self-sacrifice for the
interests of the race. In man, ethical action has a greater value for
life, simply because, unlike the beast, he is able to question its
grounds and to forgo it if he chooses. He observes, as we have said,
that the ‘long run’ or universal point of view is often in conflict
with the individual point of view. “Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow
we die” is the extreme expression of the individual point of view. It
has been called a ‘pig-philosophy,’ and if the expression is just, it
is not because the pig will die to-morrow, for it will probably live as
long as anything else, but because no matter how long it lives it is,
_qua_ pig, incapable of any other form of life.

But a man is capable of other forms of life, and to realize these he
must keep the pig-life in check, not despising or disowning it, but
restraining it, lest it should throw him out of harmony. Unchecked, it
will do that in the long run; but what if he is to have no long run?
Where the lower life can yield an hour of delight, why deny it for the
sake of a higher life, if in the next hour both must end together?

I confess that I see no escape from the implied conclusion if the
premiss is true. But if the view of life outlined in these pages be
true, then this premiss is palpably false. Neither the higher nor the
lower life can ever have any end, though no doubt they may pass into
forms outside the category of Time, in which the terms beginning and
end have no longer any meaning. Life is not dependent on its visible
and tangible forms. The question here involved is one on which the
drift of certain modern speculations in physics obliges us to dwell for
a little.

The question of the present inhabitability of Mars or other planets has
been much debated of late, pro and con. Opinions differ on this point;
but there is a very general agreement among physicists that the state
of the moon, cold, dead, and barren as a burnt-out cinder, must, by the
equalization of energy, be sooner or later the necessary fate of every
planet and of every sun in the universe. Science has thus apparently
come to justify by its solemn verdict that cry of the Latin poet, more
charged with the pathos of eternal death than perhaps any other human
utterance:—

    “Soles occidere et redire possunt:
    Nobis, cum semel occidit brevis lux,
    Nox est perpetua una dormienda.”[155]

The conditions under which life is possible will then no longer exist.
One nothingness awaits the saint, the sage, the ox, the oak tree, and
the fungus. “Life,” says Le Dantec, “has not always existed on the
earth”; we are to regard it as merely “a surface accident in the
history of the thermic evolution of the globe.”[156]

This remark, which is one that a thermometer might be expected to make
if it could talk, is in Le Dantec’s mouth probably no more than a
little rhetorical fling at orthodoxy, for it is really answered by his
whole book. His main thesis is “the absence of all essential difference
and all absolute discontinuity between living and not-living matter.”
“A surface accident” can hardly be a reasonable description of a
development thus prepared for in the essential nature of the substance
of the world. But other physicists have lately cut deeper, and will not
allow the suns of Catullus, even when cold, to set and rise again for
ever. According to the very interesting and apparently well-supported
speculations of Gustave Le Bon,[157] all matter is at present engaged
in that process of disintegration of which radium offers the most
conspicuous example. The energy which produces life and response of all
kinds is explained as simply the result of this long, disintegrating
process, and may be compared to the action of a released spring,
seeking its state of quiescence and immobility.[158] When the process
is complete, matter will be resolved into the primordial Something
from which it somehow originated. And where will the saint and the
sage, or anything that we can recognize as life, be then?

The answer to all this rises to the mind at once when we abandon
the point of view of the thermometer and place ourselves at that of
rational Man. This Matter, on whose states life is supposed to be
dependent, is, after all, known to us only through the fact that we
are living to observe it. If it disappeared, no doubt we should cease
to see it, and if it were transformed we should see it otherwise, but
to make the life which sees dependent on our seeing anything exactly
as it appears now on this globe is surely the wildest of assumptions.
We observe that life makes use of certain conditions of matter—a
certain range of temperature, the presence of certain minerals and
gases—in order to express itself. We regard these conditions as the
product of a Power which desires life and has produced them to obtain
it. But there may be many other conditions too. All we can tell is
that beyond certain physical limits our senses cannot perceive life
or get responses from it. M. Le Dantec would, no doubt, treat as an
illusion the belief that man can communicate with and be responded to
by a Power, a Life, transcending that of which the senses inform us. I
am, with the multitude of men, profoundly convinced that we can. But
leaving this entirely aside, is it not evident that, even as there are
invisible rays in the spectrum which are now and then discovered by
some unexpected chemical or electrical action, so there may be modes
of living of which none of our present senses can give us the faintest
conception? Whoever may deny this possibility, and on whatever grounds,
it certainly cannot be denied on any grounds that physics or biology
are aware of. And to those who believe that life is the central thing,
and that matter exists only for it, the possibility is a certainty,
for life must have been when as yet matter was not—life set it going.
To convey the idea that everything that exists, however it may be
transformed, is part of a divine Whole which cannot die because it is
essential Life, we say that it is ‘immortal,’ and conceive ourselves
as existing after death in a spiritual form just as the body exists
after the bodily death in other bodily forms. Whether time and space,
or even personality, will exist for us after death we dare not say;
we are totally unable to imagine the conditions of such an existence.
But we can perfectly grasp the broad fact that whatever we do and are,
whatever we think, whatever transacts itself even in the unconscious
sphere of our existence, must have eternal endurance and significance
because it is knit with the eternal Whole.

    “To the foot,” says Epictetus, “I shall say that it is according to
    Nature that it be clean; but if you take it as a foot, and not as a
    solitary thing, it shall beseem it to go into the mud, and to tread
    on thorns, and perchance to be cut off, for the sake of the whole;
    otherwise it is no longer a foot.

    “And some such thing we should suppose about ourselves also. What
    art thou? A man. Look at thyself as a solitary creature, and it is
    according to Nature for thee to live to old age, to grow rich, and
    to keep good health. But if thou look upon thyself as a man, and as
    a part of a certain whole, for the sake of that whole it may become
    thee now to have sickness, now to sail the seas, and run into
    peril, now to suffer need, and perchance to die before thy time.

    “Why, then, dost thou bear it hard? Knowest thou not that, as the
    foot, alone, is not a foot, _so thou, alone, art not a man_.”[159]

The broad fact on which a system of natural ethics must be based, if
it is to have any ethical quality at all, is that _the individual
life finds its goal in the cosmic life_, not in pleasure, or any
other term by which we may choose to express a sensation of personal
enjoyment. The distinction between the _bonum honestum_ and the _bonum
delectabile_ is really a valid one—it is no invention of moralists
“suckled in a creed outworn,” but is revealed by a study of life and
its manifestations to have been deeply rooted in nature from a period
far anterior to the advent of man upon the earth. In man, the _bonum
honestum_ takes the form mainly of what Epictetus calls the sense of
“natural fellowship” among men, and what Christ expressed in the
word which gave to the ideas of Stoicism the penetrating power they
had lacked, the great and divine word, Love. But we must never forget
that even this word will not take us to our end and sum up a system of
ethical thought unless we rightly conceive the ultimate object to which
it is directed. This is not the visible community of men, nor even that
of all nature, now existing or to exist in the future. It is the ideal,
eternal community, of which every man remains equally an organic part,
whether he has any means of physical communication with his fellows or
not. It is that without which the visible community, with all its laws
and inter-relations, would never have come into being. It is the “city
of God,” builded without hands, the Universal Polity whose “troubled
image,” as Plato says, we discern in the polity we know.

When Socrates, after his sentence, lay in prison awaiting the summons
to die, his friends gathered round him entreating him to make his
escape, and explaining to him the safe and easy means they had provided
for that end. Freely and cheerfully as was his wont, delighting in the
play of dialectical fence, he debated the matter with them. Then he
laid dialectics aside, and spoke to them from the heights of vision.
Rightly or wrongly, he declared, the laws of his mother-city, to
which he owed all he had and all he was, had bidden him die. Whatever
happened now, there could be no escape in the end. Some day he must
face death, and stand before the Laws of the Underworld. What answer
should he make to Them when they demanded how he had dealt in life by
their brethren in the world above?

This grand impersonation of the eternal Laws in their kinship with
the laws of the visible world illumines a whole region of thought,
extending far beyond the limits of the particular moral question which
evoked it. It strikes the note of all high thinking on man’s duty to
man. The laws, written or unwritten, that govern societies of men can
claim no reverence from the individual who does not feel that they are
the shadows or copies of laws belonging to the sphere of the eternal.

It is one thing to admit that the social relations of mankind give the
start to ethical feeling, provide it with a wide and varied field of
action, and with a criterion as to what is right and what is not. It is
quite another to argue that this ethical feeling is merely a product of
these relations, and has, apart from them, no meaning or purpose. This
is another case of the principle which I have described before[160] in
speaking of Evolution and Involution. Without both of these I cannot
see how any movement from one state of being to another is to be
accounted for. People, or even animals, living in communities find that
mutual aid is useful to them, and they practise it. The utilitarian
school think, when they have demonstrated this, that the whole ethical
question is solved. But in reality they have not even approached it.
Mutual aid is useful? Well, then, it is useful. How are we going to
get any further? How are we going to account for love, duty, fidelity,
self-sacrifice? Because certain things appear in the world under
certain conditions we have, many of us, got into a slipshod way of
saying that they are the product of these conditions, but a strict
examination of the terms will frequently show that they are nothing
of the kind. There is no valid reason why social life and mutual aid
should not go on for ever without producing anything higher than the
sense of mutual advantage. The nobler passions do indeed come into life
when the proper stage of social evolution has been reached, but their
source is not within the bounds of the visible order, nor do I see how
they can ever justify themselves with reference to it alone. Neither,
on the other hand, can they be realized without it. The divine air
which we breathe on the mountain height is not made by the mountain,
but we must climb the mountain to breathe it. Every step we take
upwards in the visible order is, as it were, the discovery of something
in that invisible order which is its spiritual counterpart and gives it
its spiritual significance.


I have said that ethics is for life; but to the individual it must
sometimes appear to be rather for death than for life, unless he knows
that there is a life beyond the visible life. In this faith only—in
whatever varied forms the intellect of man has embodied and expressed
it—are martyrdoms possible. And martyrdoms have been so often the great
turning-points and inspirations of human history that an ethics which
cannot justify them would seem to be an ethics at odds with nature.
Consider from our point of view the significance of the two martyrdoms
of history which have most deeply impressed and influenced the minds of
men.

Socrates had no gospel, no new truth to proclaim. He dissociated
himself from the ‘rationalistic’ theories of his time, not indeed
because he was particularly attached to ancient ideas in religion, but
because theorizing on these subjects had no interest for him.[161] On
his trial he expressly disclaimed heretical views on religion. It is
clear that these were only charged against him because the real offence
was no crime in Athenian or any other law. The real offence was that
Socrates was a relentless critic, within reach of whose tongue no
patriotic rhetorician could feel himself confident and comfortable.
It was a time of rhetorical patriotism in Athens. From the bitter
humiliation of the Peloponnesian War had arisen an impulse towards
national regeneration, a genuine and worthy impulse in itself, but
one which unfortunately took shape not in a manly facing of facts, a
courageous march forward to the future, but rather in a panic-stricken
retreat to old conservative formulas and bigotries, to the abandonment
of which by cultivated Athenians was ascribed all the evil that had
fallen on the city. Socrates, however, delighted in taking popular
convictions and reducing them by a series of ingenious interrogations
to their verifiable residuum of truth, if there happened to be any.
They commonly emerged from the ordeal in a dilapidated condition. At a
time when the whole city was high strung with patriotic fervour while
inwardly very uncertain about its principles of action, the presence of
a thinker like Socrates, with his pitiless arraignment of every gaudy
fallacy before the bar of Reason, was a continual scandal and offence,
and was easily interpreted as a public danger. Had he consented to
keep silent, and affected to fall in with the general trend of public
sentiment, he would, as he well knew, have been safe. But he refused
all compliance and compromise, and declared with absolute truth that
Athens would do better to reward him for stinging it into a perception
of realities than to punish him for the wholesome pain of the process.
So he went with clear-sighted deliberation to his death, and that
death, so wonderfully recorded for us by the greatest prose writer
of all time, has ennobled all criticism, all sceptical thought,
thenceforward. None can think lightly of what Socrates thought it worth
his while to die for.

Turn to the death of Christ, and into how different an atmosphere
we seem to pass! No philosopher has here recorded for us the death
of a philosopher. Myth and legend have clustered round the great
event—the Jewish conception of an expiatory sacrifice—the truer and
profounder myth of a slain and re-arisen God—and these have wrapped
the Crucifixion in such a cloud of mystical light and colour that the
outlines of the historical fact are lost to view. When this cloud is
pierced, however, an intelligible human transaction remains. In Christ
the luminous purity of Greek reason was so blended with the religious
fervour of the Eastern mind that he may justly be called the ideal
man, the Son of Man and of God, the incarnation of the divine thought.
Unlike Socrates, he was distinctly a heretic in his place and time.
He appeared among a people deeply religious but one in whom religion
had taken the form of an immense fabric of ceremonial and observance,
guarded and administered by a special caste who conceived themselves as
the appointed vehicle of the will of God for the untaught multitude.
To this multitude Christ went direct. He led them straight to the
ancient founts of light and life, disregarding the narrow channels
hewn by Pharisaic formalism. He bade them open their eyes and see for
themselves; he taught them that the truth was for all men; beside the
conceptions of the authorized religion he set new conceptions which
made the old seem barren or ludicrous. The people heard him gladly,
and the great fabric of Pharisaism was manifestly tottering. The fury
of a monopolist caste was aroused. There is no more merciless anger
than the anger of the religious monopolist who sees his monopoly
threatened, and to this anger Christ fell a victim. As Socrates died
for the right to disbelieve, so Christ died for the right to believe,
and whatever the churches have made of him he has inspired every
revolt against priestcraft and authority ever since. No creed is worth
living for which is not worth dying for. Christ’s death and spiritual
resurrection[162] set the seal on this truth and gave the world the
most signal instance in history of triumph arising out of defeat and
death.

Volumes of argument and analysis could not confute an ethical system so
effectually and so severely as the bare fact that it looked paltry or
incongruous beside such lives and deaths as these.


The conclusions we have reached in this discussion of the basis of a
natural ethics may now be summed up. We have interpreted the object of
phenomenal Being as Life.

The ethical quality of life lies in its conscious and active harmony
with the Whole.

The motive for ethical action lies in the fact that we are a part of
that Whole. The sense of this relation is as deep a part of man’s
nature as the sense of his selfhood, or deeper.

To live for Others, then, is no more the true epitome of a natural
ethics than is, to live for Self. The true epitome is, Live for the
Whole—the Whole which includes both others and yourself, which is
greater than all humanity, yet is capable of being faithfully served in
the silence of one human breast.

We have now before us, therefore, a clear conception of the criterion
and the sanction of ethical action. The criterion is applied when we
ask of anything done by man, “Does it further life in the Whole?” The
sanction is found in the fact that each of us is an organic part of
that Whole. The richest and fullest life is evidently to be won by the
most complete development of all our faculties which is allowed us by
our opportunities. Ethics, therefore, exists for life, not life for
ethics. This simple proposition arises inevitably from the scientific
conception of the world. The greatest of fallacies is to conceive life
as existing for any other object whatsoever, or to define its aim as
something more or less remote from our present existence. Our ‘eternal
life’ is not something to come—we are living it here and now. This is
not a pilgrimage or a place of preparation; it leads us to no heaven,
no hell, no distant judgment seat. We are before that judgment seat
every hour; the heaven and the hell which it dispenses are the daily
experiences through which we move; and the saints and prophets of this
faith are those who have felt most deeply and revealed most profoundly
the great realities of existence, hidden from us not so much by the
darkness of the grave as by the impalpable veils of use and wont. The
grave has mystery indeed but no terror of gloom for those who realize
that the universe is but an eddy on the stream of life. By that eddy we
see the stream, we feel its power and movement; and we know that the
substance of which it is made is the stuff of life itself.



PART III: ART



CHAPTER X

ART AND LIFE

    “Like a living thing, one and whole.”—Aristotle.[163]


The third chapter of Tolstoy’s book, What is Art? contains a summary
of the opinions of some sixty modern writers (taken chiefly from
Schasler’s Kritische Geschichte der Aesthetik) on the essential meaning
of the terms Art and Beauty. All these opinions, after having been
duly paraded across the stage, are dismissed by Tolstoy as a mass of
“enchanted confusion and contradictoriness,” and he then proceeds to
build up his own theory of art. As the latest critical treatment of
the subject on a large scale by a thinker and an artist who has made a
deep impression on the minds of men, his conclusions deserve careful
attention on the part of any later writer who desires to deal with the
perennially attractive but very obscure problems of æsthetics. Let me
begin by quoting the passage with which Tolstoy closes the fourth
chapter of his work:—

    “To the question What is this Art, to which is offered up the
    labour of millions, the very lives of men, and even morality
    itself? we have extracted replies from the existing æsthetics
    which amount to this—that the aim of art is beauty, that beauty is
    recognized by the enjoyment it gives, and that artistic enjoyment
    is a good and important thing because it _is_ enjoyment. In a
    word, that enjoyment is good because it is enjoyment. Thus, what
    is considered the definition of art is no definition at all, but
    only a shuffle to justify existing art. Therefore, however strange
    it may seem to say so, in spite of the mountains of books written
    about art, no exact definition of art has been constructed. And the
    reason of this is that the conception of art has been based on the
    conception of beauty.”[164]

Now in one point at least, that which is embodied in the last sentence,
these words of Tolstoy’s appear to me to go straight to the mark.
Art can no more be founded on beauty than morality can be founded on
pleasure. A greater than Tolstoy has spoken the same truth in a couple
of his mighty lines. The great masters, says Whitman,

    ... do not seek beauty, they are sought,
    Forever touching them or close upon them follows beauty,
      longing, fain, love-sick.

But let us see what Tolstoy would set up in place of what he throws
down. Art, he tells us, is “one of the means of intercourse between
man and man.” “By words a man transmits his thoughts to another, by
means of art he transmits his feelings.” But the transmission must, if
it is art, be intentional, premeditated. “Art begins when one person
with the object of joining another or others to himself in one and the
same feeling expresses that feeling by certain external indications.”
The “indications” may, of course, be a certain kind of language, or
gesture, or plastic representation, or sound. If, by such means, a man
has succeeded in making his own feeling _infectious_, and affecting
others by it, he has, to that extent achieved art. Art is therefore “a
means of union among men, joining them together in the same feelings,
and is indispensable for the life and progress towards well-being of
individuals and of humanity.”[165]

Certainly one cannot but admire the strong clear-headedness and common
sense with which Tolstoy blows away the mists into which he had plunged
us in his third chapter, and brings us into a region of daylight
realities, with firm earth under our feet. Undoubtedly if man does
want to get into real contact with his fellow-men he must not merely
tell them what he feels, he must make them feel the same thing. And
art, produced with “individuality, clearness and sincerity” has this
property, to use Tolstoy’s own term, of infectiousness. Moreover it
is of enormous antiquity and has exceedingly primitive forms. There
may have been art before there was speech—there was certainly art
before there was writing, before there was anything remotely resembling
intellectual culture or religion. The metaphysical definitions of
Hegel, “The Idea shining through Matter,” or of Knight, “The union of
object and subject, the drawing forth from nature of that which is
cognate to man,” and of the rest of the sixty and odd philosophers,
do, I think, look a little irrelevant when we think of the cave-man
scratching his bit of mammoth ivory. But Tolstoy’s account of the
matter glows with reality. The cave-artist was struck with something in
nature—the reindeer drinking at a pool, the mammoth swinging through
the jungle—he longed to express it, to make others see. It can hardly
be doubted that this was the origin of art _as art_.[166] I think it
is its fundamental quality even now, though we must include among the
objects rendered things not in external nature but in the artist’s own
imagination.

The questions then arise, What is it that the artist is trying to
infect other people with? Is art quite indifferent to the nature of the
feeling communicated? Is there any common feeling expressed by things
apparently so diverse as a strain of music, a piece of pottery, a
cathedral, a lyric, a statue, and a landscape painting?

Tolstoy does not overlook these questions; he has, in fact, a great
deal to say about them. But here, in his analysis of the æsthetic
faculty, the obsession with the exclusively ethical view of things
which has so much impaired his own art seems to have led him on a false
track. Having decided that infectiousness is the common quality of all
art, he is struck with the fact that this quality varies very much in
different works, and he uses it to obtain a scale of merit:—

    “Not only,” he writes, “is infection a sure sign of art, but the
    degree of infectiousness is also the sole measure of excellence
    in art. The stronger the infection the better is the art, as art,
    speaking now apart from its subject matter, _i.e._ not considering
    the quality of the feelings it transmits.”[167]

This statement is obviously meaningless unless you define the nature
of the person who is to be infected. Infection is as much a matter of
the mind infected as of the agent which infects. “The stronger the
infection for such and such an audience ...” is what we shall have to
read. The audience must be a constant element if the definition is to
convey any distinct meaning. Perceiving this, as so acute a mind could
not fail to do, Tolstoy falls back on exactly the same criterion as
that of Bishop Butler when he endeavoured to get a universal standard
of right and wrong. Butler set up as final judge in these matters the
“plain honest man.”[168] You were to appeal to the unsophisticated
conscience of this ideal being, and that ended the matter. So, with
Tolstoy, you are to get the “unperverted” man who, like an animal,
“unerringly finds what he needs.”[169] Most people in our society,
says Tolstoy, “are quite unable to distinguish a work of art from the
grossest counterfeit.” They like, or pretend to like, Beethoven better
than a peasant folk-song! But the peasant’s, _i.e._ the untaught,
appreciation, which is merely bewildered by Beethoven, is right.[170]
This, we ultimately find, simply means that the “plain honest man,” as
conceived by Tolstoy, is one who appreciates the _moral_ contents of a
work of art, provided that it has any, and that it has infection enough
to get them into his mind. And Tolstoy (the art-critic) does not care
about anything except these moral contents.

This is clear when he comes to deal with the element which he mentions
above as having been omitted from his consideration of the comparative
value of art-work, namely the quality of the feeling transmitted by
the medium of art. Here he lays it down that the object of all art is
to unite mankind, and to make them feel at one with God and with each
other.[171] This may pass very well if by uniting is meant enabling
us to enter with sympathy into the life of man, and even of things
that are not man. Even so a drawing by Nettleship can make us feel
at one with a python or a tigress. But Tolstoy does not mean that.
His uniting is a moral and practical idea based on the doctrine that
combat, and everything that could lead to combat, is wrong. Ancient
religious perceptions, he argues, confined the sense of unity to the
tribe or nation, and art had to glorify solely the might or greatness
of the people who produced it. Modern religion, on the contrary, takes
account of all humanity without exception. “And therefore the feelings
transmitted by the art of our time not only cannot coincide with the
feelings transmitted by former art, but must run counter to them.”[172]
Only two kinds of art, according to Tolstoy, “can be considered good
art in our time.” These are first, “art transmitting feelings flowing
from a religious perception of man’s position in the world in relation
to God and to his neighbours,” and secondly, “art transmitting the
simplest feelings of common life, but such, always, as are accessible
to all men in the whole world—the art of common life—the art of a
people—universal art.”[173] As instances of these types of good modern
art, Tolstoy gives his amazing list—Schiller’s Robbers, Les Misérables,
Dickens’s and Dostoievsky’s novels, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and Adam Bede.
In painting we are to take as types of excellence “the drawing by
Kramskoy (worth many of his finished pictures), showing a drawing-room
with a balcony past which troops are marching in triumph on their
return from the war. On the balcony stands a wet-nurse holding a baby
and a boy. They are admiring the procession of the troops, but the
mother, covering her face with a handkerchief, has fallen back on the
sofa, sobbing.” Or one may turn to “a picture by the French artist,
Morlon, depicting a lifeboat hastening in a heavy storm to the relief
of a steamer that is being wrecked.”[174]

It is easy to make fun of this headlong descent to the level of the
parish magazine, but it is not so easy to challenge the position from
which Tolstoy deduces his criticisms of individual works, or to deny
that he has again and again struck home with incomparable force against
the factitious art so current in the present day. His book is a piece
of genuine thinking, and in this it has few rivals among contemporary
works of æsthetic criticism, especially in English. Most of these works
are either pæans of praise for what the critic finds attractive and
stimulating to his own temperament, or attacks conducted with every
resource of satire and ridicule on what he does not understand or care
for. But a serious attempt like that of Tolstoy to discover and to
apply a true principle of art criticism is very much to seek; and I
venture to think that many critics who are horrified at the notion of
putting Uncle Tom’s Cabin above King Lear would find it by no means so
easy as they suppose to give a rational account of the faith that is in
them. Tolstoy’s conclusions, like those of Plato in The Republic (which
they very much resemble), are wrong-headed, but his manner of thinking
is that of a massive and nobly ordered intellect, and is well worthy of
respectful imitation at whatever distance lesser powers can contrive to
follow it.

I know nothing whatever (I regret to say) about the art of Kramskoy or
of Morlon, but one imagines, from Tolstoy’s way of talking about the
works referred to, that they are attempts to capture admiration for a
work of art by the aid of something which is not art, but sentiment.
At any rate, that is just what Tolstoy desires them to do. Is art,
then, entirely indifferent to subject, as some of the philosophers of
the Impressionist school contend? Not at all—so long as the subject
is something _in the picture_, and capable of being expressed in the
medium of that branch of art. A crew of men pulling a boat through a
heavy sea may be a good subject for a painting, but to the artist it
does not matter a pin’s point whether they are going to rescue life or
to board an enemy or to catch lobsters. Under the circumstances they
will all look just the same. The wreck in the offing has its value
in the design of the picture, no more and no less. And those who are
always on the look out for false values, sentimental values, will never
learn what art really has to teach them, what art alone can teach. What
is this?


The master key with which we have tried to open certain doors in
biology and in ethics will, I hope, serve us also in discovering the
principles of art. I accept fully Tolstoy’s postulate of infectiousness
as a primary quality of art. There can be no art which does not
communicate to others the feeling of the artist. This implies that the
artist must have a distinct and sincere feeling to communicate. But
it does not at all imply that the finest art is that which is most
widely or powerfully communicable at its first appearance or at any
given period in history. To say that infectiousness is an essential
characteristic of art is not the same thing as to say that the more
it infects, either extensively or intensively, the better art it is.
One might as well say that if, as has been done, you define man as ‘a
political animal,’ it would follow that the more strenuously political
he was the more he fulfilled the purpose of his being as a man. But
politics and art are both of them simply ways in which man endeavours
to remould his universe “nearer to the heart’s desire.” How does he
make use of political methods _for his true purpose_? How does he make
use of art and its infectiousness _for his true purpose_? These are the
real, the decisive questions.

What is the essential thing communicated in art? The question is
answered at once if we reflect that as life can have no ulterior
object beyond life, and is satisfied when the maximum of living is
attained,[175] so life must be the ultimate object of art also. It is
the _quality_ of art to communicate feeling; it is the _object_ of
art to communicate a feeling for life. _Art is man’s expression of
life_; and he delights in art precisely because and in so far as he
delights in life. But if this be all, it may be objected, why, with
life in full glow and activity all around him, should man turn to this
reflection or rendering of it which he calls art? What place does the
reality leave for the enjoyment of the shadow? This was substantially
Plato’s indictment of art in the last book of The Republic. All things
exist, according to his well-known doctrine of ideas, in an ideal
or archetypal form, a “pattern laid up in heaven.” There is such a
pattern, let us say, of a Bed, and this is the real, the archetypal
Bed. Copying some reflection of this in his own mind, the carpenter
makes a material, individual bed.

Then comes in the painter, who copies the bed of the carpenter, and who
is thus at two removes from Reality; art, in Plato’s view, being simply
imitation, and therefore somewhat despicable.[176]

There are some minor, yet by no means trivial, reasons which might be
given in answer to this objection; as, for instance, that art enables
one to assemble together in small compass the expressions of a great
variety of life not to be directly enjoyed, save at wide intervals of
time and place. But the primary and fundamental reasons are our main
concern here.

In the first place, the material world around us, or such portion of
it as we are able to perceive, is not, as it stands, a pure expression
of life. Holding as we do with Cleanthes in his majestic Hymn to Zeus
that all things redundant have their place in the Whole, and that in
it all things ugly have their beauty and all things hateful their share
of love,[177] it is still true that the world as we see it presents
us with a pell-mell of varied forms—some mature and beautiful, some
in process of transition, some in decay, some stationary, unchanging,
dead. The inner harmony which holds them together is rarely perceptible
in any one fragment of actual life. But the artist adds this harmony,
this completeness; his work, within its own limits, is a whole. He
gives us something which nature cannot give. Taking some aspect of
life which he wishes to convey by means of line, colour, or tone, he
suppresses, alters, composes, emphasizes, till he has expressed his
feeling in its purity, with everything immaterial left out and with
the things essential to his conception lifted clearly into view. His
work is therefore greater and more vital than nature, that is to say
than any fragment of nature, for he is looking at the part he renders
_sub specie aeternitatis_, in the light of the Whole. And living in the
conception of a great work of art, we live in the Whole; the individual
has sunk from view.

Zola has finely said, “Art is a bit of Nature seen through the medium
of a temperament.” This temperament means the artist’s personal way of
seeing life; it means all that makes his art different from a mere
record. And the audience who see or hear his work become acquainted
with this temperament—there is no other way in which the artist can
express it so well. The artist, then, is giving us himself along with
his subject, and this is the greatest thing he can give. Whether the
wars of Troy ever happened is of very little consequence compared with
Homer’s way of imagining them. And when we have learned Homer’s way we
can and do apply it for ourselves, for has he not ‘infected’ us with
it? The artist opens our eyes, and leaves us in a world infinitely
more significant and beautiful than without his aid we should ever
have known it to be. His function is thus the liberation within us of
faculties, of powers of living, which otherwise might never have risen
into consciousness. We commonly call this ‘idealizing the facts of
life.’ It would be nearer the mark to say that it makes them real. Art
turns our formal, sensible, external perceptions of things into real
and vital perceptions, and thus enormously increases the range and
volume of life of which those who apprehend it are capable. The glory
of light, the music of winds and waters, the dignity of man’s common
occupations, the wonder and sweetness of the love of men and women, all
these have been revealed to us by the artist, “a man speaking to men
... pleased with his own passions and volitions, who rejoices more than
other men in the spirit of life that is within him.”[178]

The essential purpose of any art-work, then, is to be _expressive of
life_—more expressive than the raw facts of life ever can be. The
practical problem for every artist in every kind of material is how
to make his work expressive; only thus can it be what Tolstoy calls
“infectious.” To do this, besides the acquirement of technique, he
must clearly have something to express. Let us not imagine, however,
as the “plain honest man” is apt to do, that this must necessarily be
something capable of being put into terms of the intellect—a fact,
a story, a “criticism of life.” Art is rather an exploration than a
criticism of life.[179] And life is very great and manifold. Primarily
the painter is a man who likes to apprehend life in colour, the
sculptor one who apprehends it in the form of masses, the musician in
sound, the poet in actions, emotions, ideas. Each may, and probably
must, have some of the gifts and faculties of the others, but as
painter, musician, or whatever he may be, he thinks and feels in the
material of his own art, and he uses that material to express its own
virtues, not to imitate those of another.


The question of the relation of art to beauty, and the meaning of
beauty itself, may now be considered. What is this mysterious element
about the nature of which such a torrent of opinion has been poured out
since man first began to reflect on his own states of mind? Between
the view which holds it to be an absolute and ultimate principle,
recognized in, rather than arising from, experience, and that which
denies it any right to be called a principle at all, referring it
simply to the effect of habit, and refusing to see any essential
difference between the Hottentot conception of beauty and the Greek,
we can find, I think, a position in strict accordance both with the
historical facts of the evolution of the conception and with the claims
of the Idealists.

Let us look back a moment to the analysis of moral action which we
made in the preceding chapters. We found then that while all healthy
action tends to maintain and promote life, there are circumstances
under which this life-promoting quality comes more saliently into view
than is usual. This happens in general when mere personal desires are
subjected to the larger life of the Whole, or when a lower form of
living is subjected to a higher. This heightening and intensification
of life-promoting action we called moral action. And we drew no sharp
and distinct line between it and ordinary healthy action, for nature
knows no such distinctions, and the philosophy which tries to establish
them is stamped with unreality.

In regard to Beauty we have only to take up the same point of view as
we did in regard to Ethics, and the mystery lies clear before us at
once. All nature is in some sense expressive of life, even when it
seems most desolate or most degraded; for life as we know it means
change, variety, contrast, and, under the conditions of space and time,
one can no more have life without death and decay than one can have
height without depth. But all nature does not equally express life,
and much of it, as we have seen, does not express it at all to our
perceptions. Beauty arises, then, when we find a certain heightening,
a saliency, an intensity in the expression or vitality, whether by
external nature or, in art, by man. Thus Life, not Beauty, is the mark
of art, but beauty is the signal that the mark has been hit.

As with the moral, so with the æsthetic sense—we find it in all stages
of development. A man or a race whose range of life is contracted
to a few physical enjoyments and pains will set the idea of beauty
in whatever expresses or is associated with these enjoyments.
A wider, loftier, subtler conception of life will bring forth a
nobler beauty. We are not, on this theory, abandoned to a mere
subjective and arbitrary preference, according as we are trained and
accustomed to this type or to that. There is a perfectly valid and
objective criterion in the question, Which represents the fullest and
strongest life? The Greek ideal surpasses the Hottentot—to take two
extremes—because the Greek is capable of all that the Hottentot can
do or feel—he takes it all up into his larger life; but the Hottentot
can only live in a small sector of the sphere occupied by the Greek.
Instead, therefore, of the two opposing battlecries of ‘Art for Morals’
and ‘Art for Art,’ let us set that of ‘Art for Life.’ For Life is
greater than either art or morals; it includes and justifies them both.

The characteristics of Beauty will be further discussed in connexion
with some of the individual arts, which we have now to range under our
general principle.


The more deeply life is studied and felt, the more strongly do two
great and cardinal principles of it come into view. These are opposed
to each other, but complementary; and thus life in general appears to
exhibit that singular quality of polarity which seems so intimately
to pervade all its separate manifestations; everything which lives
and moves appearing to do so by virtue of the action of two opposing
forces. These two poles of the axis of life are, on the one hand, what
we call Order, Continuity, Rhythm; and on the other, Change, Variety,
Contrast. If Order were not, Change would become chaos. If Change
were not, Order would become death. In neither case would growth and
development be possible.

An art, therefore, however abstract, like Music or like the decorative
pattern in a Celtic MS., which expressed the union of these two
principles might be profoundly expressive of life. It need not set
before us any definite living thing provided it expresses the cardinal
principles of all life. It will do this the better the more intimately
these principles are blended, as in nature, into a vital unity.

On the other hand, art does, of course, frequently represent individual
objects, and probably had its first distinguishable beginnings in so
doing.[180] We may, then, get a broad classification of the arts by
placing on one side those which deal with objects of sense, and on
the other those which convey life under forms devised by the artist
himself, and not found in the external world. One is tempted to call
these respectively Imitative and Creative. But, after all, what is
essentially artistic in the first category is just the fact that it is
_not_ purely imitative, for, as Mr.

Whistler observed, to suppose that you can get art by copying nature is
equivalent to thinking that you can get music by sitting on the piano.
On the other hand, it does not seem fitting to use so exalted a word
as creation with reference to the pattern which a Zuñi Indian draws on
a piece of pottery, while denying it to a painting by Titian. Instead,
therefore, of using the words Creative and Imitative—now that we know
what we mean by them—we shall contrast those arts which are directly
Presentative with those which are Representative. In the one case the
artist presents us with the whole artistic product, form and substance,
as devised by himself. In the other, he represents to us forms already
presented by nature, but re-composed, re-presented, and harmonized by
him for an æsthetic purpose.


The Presentative arts fall into two classes. In one of these Music
stands alone. Here the artistic purpose is not only dominant but (I
speak, of course, of music in its highest and most characteristic
development) there is no other purpose whatever. The forms elaborated
by combinations and sequences of sound have no object except that of
art and mean nothing apart from that. Hence Music has been called ‘pure
style.’ We shall recur to this subject when we have dealt with the
other class, that of the Decorative arts, the essence of which it is
to add an expression of rhythm, of world-harmony, to objects whose
primary purpose is something different—a building, a vase, a piece of
furniture, or a hanging. This class, again, can be subdivided into arts
which attain this effect by the structure of the object, and those
which do so by the application of ornament to its surface; both being,
of course, often combined in the same object.

In structure the expression of life is gained by so arranging the
lines and masses as to give an impression that power is at work—that
something is being done—done triumphantly yet not without strain and
effort. Every object of utility does something—art shows it to us in
the act. An example may help to make clear what I mean, and may show
how the principle can be applied to any kind of object which may be the
subject of artistic treatment.

A Greek temple in its simplest external aspect consists of a
quadrilateral group of columns surrounding a walled shrine and
supporting a low-pitched roof. Nothing could well be simpler than the
structural conditions thus expressed. But the artistic expression of
them is not so simple. This depends in the main upon the proportion
observed between the pillars and the weight, or apparent weight, above
them. If the pillars are too massive or too numerous there will be no
sense of strain, and if they are too slender or too few there will be
no sense of security. In either case the expression of vital energy in
the structure will be imperfect, and beauty, which waits on the golden
moment of the perfect adaptation of means to ends, will not dwell in
that structure. There is nothing more inartistic than superfluity;
and there is no lesson more emphatically taught by nature than this.
The avoidance of insufficiency is generally enforced in practice on
utilitarian grounds, but its artistic justification is equally evident.
The golden mean is what we call Just Proportion.

The kind of vitality expressed in Greek architecture is quite different
from that expressed in Gothic, but the æsthetic basis of both styles is
the same; the principle we have in view will justify any art in which
there is the spirit of life. A Greek temple shows us power, braced and
conscious, but in repose. There is nothing daring or sensational in its
construction. Stress and thrust answer each other directly, simply,
massively. The stately calm of such a structure might easily become
dull and monotonous were it not for the delicate sense of proportion
governing the relations of the parts, for the introduction of slight
deviations from strict rectangularity and symmetry,[181] and for the
beautiful decoration in form and colour on frieze, pediment, and
capital.

The principle of the arch was known in very early times to Pelasgians
in Greece and to Etruscans in Italy, both of whom, no doubt, derived
it from the East. But it was valued more for its utility in certain
constructions than for its artistic quality, and Greek classical
architecture knows nothing of it. It was freely used in Rome, and here
its extraordinary effect of vital energy as a supporter of weight first
began to be perceived. When Romanesque and Gothic architecture seized
on this principle, the strength of stonework, heretofore essentially
placid, leapt into vehement life and action. A Gothic cathedral is the
expression of a war of mighty forces held in equilibrium by their own
antagonism. Every part seems to threaten destruction to some other.
There is, of course, a war of forces in a Greek temple also, but there
the weight and thrust answer each other, as we have said, directly; a
vertical column supports a horizontal architrave, and _must_ support
it, for nothing can give way without crumbling to pieces. In Gothic
building the counter-stresses meet indirectly, a dead weight or a
thrust is met by the springing curve of an arch; the whole structure
would fall to ruin were it not for something in the stone which is not
mere solidity, which arises from something vital and energetic in the
scheme of the structure. The expression of conflict, therefore, as
compared with Greek architecture, is greatly intensified; the serenity
of power has given place to the play of forces rushing into eager and
often tempestuous action, and saved from being mutually destructive by
the control of a far-seeing design.[182]

To treat fully the various ways in which structure may be made
expressive of life would need a volume rather than a chapter. Enough
has however been said to indicate the principle and to suggest a
criterion by which good and bad structure may be judged. Let us turn
to the question of ornament. In European art it is very common for
ornament to be used as a kind of adjunct to structure; it follows the
lines of structure and accentuates them. In Japanese art, however,
the contours of an object often appear to determine the ornament
applied to it as little as a window-frame determines the landscape
we see through it. The apparent insouciance of Japanese ornament is,
however, carefully calculated in relation to the field which is to be
covered. In either case ornament as such—that is to say, apart from
whatever charm of colour and rhythm its individual forms may have—is
to be interpreted as an attempt to give life by introducing what is
so characteristic of life—the element of change and variety. Popular
language has hit the mark when it talks of a ‘dead’ wall, meaning
thereby a wall whose surface is unbroken by openings or ornament.
Ruskin has somewhere spoken of the magnificent work of Ghiberti on the
bronze doors of the Baptistery in Florence as having been primarily
designed to produce “a pleasant bossiness of surface.” The breaking up
of the surface will not, however, be pleasant unless the forms of the
decoration are in themselves good and instinct with life.

The beauty which so often arises from the effects of use and exposure
may perhaps seem in some cases hard to reconcile with the principle
which it is here sought to establish. If aptness for use, it may be
asked, is an element in the beauty of an object of use, how are we
to account for the strong appeal which the ruin of a noble building
certainly makes to the sense of beauty? For my own part I am inclined
to think that the taste for ruins is often a sign of a want of taste
for art. A beautiful thing is better whole and sound than in decay.
Yet the spectacle of the silent struggle of strength and grace with
destructive forces has in it a sense of action, of drama, to which
beauty cannot be denied. Apart from the question of actual decay, every
one feels the æsthetic gain which has been made when a thing ceases
to be blankly new. A natural adornment has then been added to it. A
room that has been lived in, a piece of silver that has been rubbed
and handled for a lifetime, the steps of an ancient building worn
by thousands of passing feet, a wall whose angles are softened and
whose surface is stained by having fronted the sun and rain for many
years—all these have the natural and inimitable charm produced by the
touch of life—they no longer stand in crude isolation, they are related
to the goings-on of the world.


Of all the arts there is none which seems to evade analysis so much
as Music; none whose power is at once so mighty and so mysterious.
Saying nothing it seems to mean everything. We can think of nothing in
the world so lofty, so sweet, so profound as to be the fit embodiment
of what Music conveys to us. Closely analogous in its outward form to
what in line and colour is called Pattern, we are yet evidently far
short of expressing the whole character of Music when we say, what in
itself is quite true, that it is beautiful pattern in sound. It has
more of humanity about it than pattern can have. It neither gives us
representations of objects of sense, nor even definite emotions, but
it has a unique power over the moods of the soul. This power seems to
arise first from its complete control over the resources of movement
and rhythm, secondly from the fact that by virtue of certain acoustic
laws it can excite the sense of fulfilment, of suspense, of unexpected
sweetness, unexpected failure and depression, in a way open to no
other art which appeals directly to the senses. But rhythm and movement
are the main things in Music, and the nature of the power which it
exercises by means of them must now be considered.

Rhythm and movement are closely related to each other, but they are not
quite the same thing. The term rhythm is given to any kind of movement
which is marked by the regular recurrence of stresses, undulations,
beats. This is the essential character of the movement of life. Action
and reaction, systole and diastole, the vibrations of the atom, the
breaking of sea-waves, the changes of day and night, the alternations
of the seasons—wherever we look, into things great or small, we
find the same principle of rhythmic movement pervading all. Man has
found out how to turn this principle to account in his mechanical
contrivances, indeed in all ways in which he endeavours to exercise
force on matter. Once get your force to work rhythmically, and it will
do ten times the work it is capable of when evenly continuous. Our own
bodies and nervous systems are attuned to the same law. Under the spell
of rhythm the mind is capable of moods and emotions which without it
could never have been evoked into consciousness. And that makes the
difference between telling a thing in verse and in prose. Verse arouses
the mood in which the subject has emotional value and significance.
Even prose always becomes more or less rhythmic when impassioned.

Now Music has a control unrivalled among the arts over this element of
rhythm. Other arts can suggest rhythm, Music actually _is_ rhythm—it
is the very pulse of life. It can produce rhythm, moreover, in a
great variety of ways. The mere succession of sounds is rhythm, but
music also has at command the varying stresses or accents of notes,
alternations in volume of sound, alternations in pitch and quality of
sound. And since a sequence of notes will cling to the memory, Music
can put into rhythmical relations, not only single notes, but groups of
notes, _i.e._ musical phrases, and chords, which are musical phrases
played all at once. Music can therefore not only thunder upon the brain
with mighty shocks of sound, but can enchant it with the most delicate
complexities. The range of its power over rhythm is incomparably
greater and subtler than that of the only two other arts in which
rhythm works directly on the senses—dancing and metrical verse.

The element of beauty in a rhythmical phrase seems to depend mainly
on the kind of mood it awakens. There are moods of meditation,
moods of tenderness, moods of ardour, moods of yearning, moods of
gaiety—all these and many more are under the control of rhythmic
phrases. And there are common-place, self-assertive, bouncing rhythms
which produce corresponding moods, and which may therefore be called
ugly. The precise connexion of certain phrases with certain moods
depending, as it does, on a world of dim associations stretching
far beyond our personal, conscious life, is probably incapable of
scientific statement. In the last result I think we should find
that the characters of different rhythms are associated with bodily
movements, attitudes, gestures, in short with dancing; but a host of
other associations, branching out from this in many directions, have
introduced a complexity of meaning which defies analysis.

To turn to the consideration of Movement in art, we find that the
power of rendering this characteristic of life is shared by Music only
with Dancing and with Literature. By movement in an art-work I mean
movement whose sequences have proportion and design, progressing by
stages linked to each other through natural and organic associations
towards a significant conclusion. In nature, movement can be immensely
varied in character. It can be slow or swift, rough and laboured or
smooth and fluent, massive and voluminous or arrowy and intense; it
can leap or undulate, march or dance, soar or swoop, and each of these
kinds of movement means something to the spirit of man. All these Music
controls, and can order and harmonize at will. It can represent that
in the movement of nature which goes beyond and overmasters Rhythm;
for Rhythm in itself does not involve Progression; in fact, a perfect
rhythm would forbid it. If Action and Reaction were always precisely
equal, we should have a universe as stationary as a spinning top—it
might be in vehement action, but it would never develop into something
new.[183] Music by its complete command of the phases of movement can
illustrate the progressive force, the life-impulse in nature, and this
not merely by symbols and intellectual forms, but by playing directly
on the nervous system as a harp-player on the strings of his instrument.

No art is more sensuous than Music, and none more abstract, more
removed from what are called realities, in the substance of what it
conveys. Its entire independence of objects of sense as given in
experience, combined with its mastery of the inner law, the spiritual
significance, of life has led to its being ranked by some as the
highest of the arts. I doubt if such comparisons are profitable, but it
is easy to recognize a sense in which Schopenhauer speaks truth when he
says that the other arts deal with the shadows of life, Music, however,
with its essence.[184]


Let us now consider the Representative Arts in the light of the
principle which we are trying to establish. Since they depend on the
portrayal of objects actually found in nature and not created by the
artist, their relation to life is obvious. There are, however, some
minor problems of great interest and intricacy connected with them, and
these we must briefly touch on.

A great school of artists and art critics has in recent times
maintained that Painting is concerned with nothing except harmonies of
light and colour, and that subject is therefore completely indifferent
to it save in so far as it affords opportunity for the rendering of
surfaces variously illuminated and composed. The sun falling on a heap
of refuse is on this theory as much to the artist as when it lights up
the features of Cordelia under her tragic fate. A champion of this,
as it is called, Impressionist school has explained its particular
point of view by suggesting the manner in which two painters, one of
the older type and one an Impressionist, would treat such a subject
as the death of Agamemnon. The former would think of the magnitude of
the event and the greatness of the characters of those concerned in
it—the Impressionist would probably try to fix the attention of the
spectator on some note of colour such as the red robe which a character
in the scene might be wearing.[185] Can we judge between these rival
conceptions of the function of the representative arts?

Let us revert to our formula—Art is the expression of Life. In the
Representative Arts it is the expression of visible life. If one wishes
to paint the death of Agamemnon it will not do to rely for one’s
effect upon the spectator’s knowledge of that bit of Greek history and
to make one’s art impressive simply because its allusions are freely
recognizable. So far undoubtedly the Impressionists are right. But on
the other hand, the assassination of a great man is a bit of life and
a very notable and memorable one. The visible world is, after all, not
entirely summed up in the texture of surfaces under light. Character
and spirit have also their visible manifestations, and the painter who
can render them, as well as the aspects of physical life by which they
are accompanied, is surely cutting a wider swathe of life than he who
thinks only of the red robe of the actor in a tragic scene. Goethe
satirized a whole false theory of art when he remarked in a well-known
epigram that “pictures which work miracles are mostly very poor
paintings.” Yet one is reminded of his own feeling before the painting
of St. Agatha, by Raphael, which he saw on his first Italian journey
at Bologna. “I have marked this figure well,” he writes. “I shall one
day read my Iphigenia before her in spirit, and shall put no words
in the mouth of my heroine which might not have been spoken by this
saint.” Was there not something here for Goethe, for all of us, beyond
painting for the sake of light and colour?

In considering the plastic arts in relation to subject, the large
question of their function as illustration comes into view. An immense
range of art, from that which deals with religion and history down
to the drawings in our comic journals, evidently presupposes in the
spectator’s mind a background of information with which the work of
art itself does not and cannot furnish him. A work of this kind must
certainly be said to rely for part of its interest upon something
which is not in the picture. It is therefore not a pure art product;
it is a complex of artistic with historical or religious or critical
interest; but so long as we do not confuse the different elements it
would be absurd to say that they may not be legitimately united. Still,
the subject of a picture, as a picture, remains always something which
is in the picture. It would therefore be a contradiction in terms to
speak of a poor picture on a great subject. If the painting be poor,
the subject is poor—the painter’s intention may have been great, but
he has not expressed it. A reference to portraiture may help to make
the matter clear. An indifferent portrait of a person held in special
love or veneration by me would, if it were not so bad as to belie him,
have an interest and value for me which it would entirely lack in the
case of one who knew or cared nothing for the person represented. This
superadded interest, the interest which travels through the painting
to some concrete person or thing behind it, must be thought away before
a work of art can be judged as a work of art. The application to
religious or historical art is obvious. Here is a painting in which an
uninformed observer sees a woman and an angel. What is he to make of
it? The painter is evidently representing a moment of great exaltation
and significance. The woman is receiving a message; and the painter can
tell us, within the limits of his art, not what the message is, but of
what kind it is—sad, or solemn, or joyful, or tragic. He can make all
the accessories of the theme, the lighting, colour, etc., reinforce
his conception, and the observer can discern, if he has intelligence
in such things, that the painter is putting before us his conception
of the way in which a soul conceives a mighty destiny. _That is the
subject_; the universal idea, although the label on the frame be ‘The
Annunciation.’

I hope it will not be thought that I am in any degree seeking to
disparage the beautiful art of the Impressionists in maintaining that
the highest art is that in which there is most of life. Life is so
abundant and rich that one can find it almost anywhere in sufficient
measure to delight and to enchant. Moreover, the great laws by which
life acts and endures, the laws of rhythm, contrast, harmony, can be
amply suggested in the plastic arts even when dealing with the most
familiar things of earth, and these exalt and glorify any theme.

I remember to have heard once of a visitor to an exhibition of
paintings by—I need not name him—a certain well-known purveyor of
sensuous religiosities, a kind of nineteenth-century Carlo Dolci. On
entering he met two ladies passing out through the ante-room, which
happened to be hung with landscapes by an artist whom I need not
hesitate to name, Mr. Mark Fisher. One of them wished to pause over
these. The other, who walked with wet eyes and flushed cheek, cried,
“Trees, trees! Do you want me to look at trees after having had my soul
uplifted?” This little anecdote will bear some thinking over. Can we
call an art bad which has power to uplift the soul? But we have to ask,
Was it really the art which did so, or the allusions in the art? And
again, as in the case of Tolstoy and his canon of infectiousness, we
must ask, What soul? It is difficult to imagine that the soul capable
of being uplifted by the art of the painter in question would be very
quick to recognize the signs of nobility and heroic passion in real
life. To recognize that the trees of Mr. Mark Fisher might be worth
many Martyrdoms would be at least a sound beginning of an artistic
education.


Dancing, so far as it is an art, must be classed under the
Representative Arts. Unlike most of these it can render movement;
and its art is to display movements in a progressive and a rhythmic
sequence. It is sculpture in motion. Unless when combined with Music,
however, its range of artistic expression is not great, beautiful
effects are not under strict control, and in their rapid change the
eye cannot properly take them in. The impression left by a succession
of attitudes seems more confused and more transitory than that of a
musical phrase.


The question of the place of Literature in the scheme is one of some
difficulty. Unlike all the other arts, its subject matter is not
brought directly before the senses, but evoked by conventional symbols
which have in themselves no æsthetic value whatever. Thus in one sense
it may be called the only strictly national art in existence. The most
beautiful poem in the world, though it were graven in Egyptian basalt,
would be a collection of meaningless scratches if the language in
which it was written were lost. If, however, the language be known,
Literature has not only the power of evoking the conceptions desired
by the maker, but also that of working directly on the senses by means
of the rhythmic qualities of speech. Still the range of rhythmic
expression in language is so limited that in itself (_i.e._ as we might
feel it if spoken in an unknown tongue) it may be regarded as quite
subordinate to the matter conveyed. Strictly, therefore, we ought
perhaps to call Literature neither a Presentative nor a Representative,
but an Evocative art. Within its own circle, however, it falls
naturally into classes corresponding to those of the other arts, for
narrative literature and drama, which deal with actions and images
taken from external life, are clearly Representative in character,
while lyrical and meditative poetry, which place the maker’s mind,
mood, or passion directly before us, are Presentative.

Literature has one great superiority over the plastic arts. Like
Music, it can render the movement of life. In the dramatic form this
movement can be brought to bear directly upon the senses. It resembles
Painting and Sculpture in being able to deal with concrete objects of
sense, though, as we have seen, its method of dealing with them is not
strictly representative. It stands absolutely alone in the fact that it
can render thoughts[186] as well as passions or moods. I should, then,
be inclined to reckon Drama as the greatest of all the arts in its
range of expression, while at the same time it cannot be claimed for it
that it approaches Music in the control of moods or in the intensity
of effect which audible rhythm alone seems to command. The conclusion
drawn by Wagner, that the supreme art must be sought in a combination
of Music and Drama, is a tempting one, but I doubt its validity. The
question arises whether in this combination one or other of the united
arts does not surrender much of its own special power. So at least
one great poet seems to have felt. “C’est defendu,” announced Victor
Hugo about his dramas, “de mettre des notes de musique le long de ces
vers.” The poetic use of language has its own conventions and laws,
and these, when used by a master, are so subtle and so powerful that
to set his words to music is often to produce an effect of distortion.
What is most truly poetic in the language is turned into an empty mask
by withdrawing the underlying substance to place it under the control
of another convention, another law. One can, no doubt, as in the case
of a Greek chorus, set great poetry to the measure of a simple chant,
or one can unite rhythmic diction of a broad and simple character with
great music, but the highest poetry and the highest music do not seem
to combine to good purpose.


In this rapid survey of the arts there are, of course, large and
attractive fields of exploration which have not been even glanced at.
It has been sought on the present occasion merely to give the clue
by which the arts may be related to the main thesis of this book.
Ethics and Art constitute the two great fields of what we may call the
disinterested activity of man. They engage his highest powers, they set
him on fire with ardour and sympathy, yet they do nothing, directly
at least, towards satisfying the primary and personal needs of his
nature. Our problem has been to relate them to life, and to give them
a place in a scheme of organic unity. Both have been seen to have that
place only by reference to something which in one sense is immanent in
nature, and clearly perceptible there, but which in another aspect is
outside “the realm of clock-time and measuring rod,” the transcendent
Whole. All spiritual ethics, all art which is not of the nature of a
mere record, must in the last resort rely on this wholeness of things
for their justification. But in the earlier parts of this study we have
tried to show that even the physical organization of nature must rely
on it too; for the driving force of evolution, as well as the framework
of law in which it works, have been both interpreted as a manifestation
of the Will to live, to act; of the impulse towards the richest and
fullest development of the material, animal, and spiritual life. It is
in this life-impulse that God reveals Himself in the world of time and
space. This is the visible aspect of His all-embracing unity; this is
His essential relation to earthly things; and this is the clue to their
rational interpretation as parts of a divine cosmic Order. To learn
to apprehend the vast Purpose with conscious intelligence, to further
it with conscious will and with deliberate faith, is the sweet and
wholesome gospel which Nature preaches to all who have ears to hear.



APPENDIX A

SUM ERGO COGITO


Not to encumber the text with too much abstruse metaphysics, I place
here what seem to me some important corollaries of the position stated
at the close of Chapter I.

If the Universe is not a mere aggregate but a coherent Whole, then
it follows of necessity that the units which compose it will have
relations not only with each other but also with the Whole. When any
of these units reaches the stage of consciousness it may be expected
that it will become conscious of these relations, and that this
consciousness will, like other things, develop in time to greater and
greater fulness.

But here, from the analytic side of the Kantian philosophy, comes the
warning which tells us that all we can really know is the stream of
sensation which passes through our mind and which derives the order
and coherence it seems to possess from the laws of that mind. How can
we transcend this apprehension of fleeting appearances, and attain
knowledge of the One, the Real, and of our relations with It?

To answer this question we must look a little deeper into the basis of
this doctrine of the subjectivity of human knowledge.

This subjectivity, when we examine it closely, does not (as it is
often, I think, supposed) appear to be a special and inexplicable
condition imposed in some external way on human consciousness. It is
a condition absolutely bound up with the state of existence implied
in being a Person, an ‘I.’ The moment the mind is able to turn inward
upon itself and to separate the thing known or felt from that which
knows and feels, in that moment the Thing stands a whole infinity away
from the ‘I’; they are separated by the analytic faculty of the Ego and
they can never _by that faculty_ be reunited. The state of being an
‘I’ is essentially a state of analytic consciousness. The intuitions
of space and time are simply the instruments by which the analytic
faculty works, for it is only by their relations in space and time that
things in the world can be divided and distinguished by the intellect.
This analytic faculty has, it must be noted, an unbounded power of
disintegration. It does not spare even the Ego itself, which it reduces
to a mere flux of sensations. There is no answer to its destructive
logic except the sufficient one, that this boundless power of analysis
in both directions, inward and outward, is simply a function inevitably
bound up with being an ‘I’ at all—it is because of that function that
I am an ‘I.’ Every being possessing ‘I’-hood must, _eo ipso_, be
capable of reducing all external things to its own sensations, and of
externalizing its own self. One cannot be an ‘I’ on any other terms.

Now let us suppose that this analytic faculty did not exist, and that
consciousness went on, as perhaps it does in beasts, by acts of pure
intuition, without ever turning inward to regard itself, without ever
making distinctions between external objects, save as a matter of
unreasoned sense-responsiveness; what would the consequences be then?

Clearly in that case object and subject would be one, and knowledge,
_so far as it went_, would be absolute knowledge. But it would neither
be true nor false, since without analysis and comparison there could
be no criterion of truth and falsity. Nor, similarly, could the
actions springing from this state of what may be called Impersonal
Consciousness be either ethically good or bad in relation to the
creature which performed them. In this state, things in space and time
would be seen simply as they really are—as moments in the life of the
Spirit.

Our relations with the Whole, then, must be sought in this region of
pure impersonal consciousness, which implies entire forgetfulness of
Self, entire surrender to the life-movement of the universe. We can
understand now why man has always had yearnings for this state, and has
so often sought to attain it by false means, by the trance or ecstasy
produced through self-hypnotism, drugs, etc.; means ultimately and
necessarily destructive of their object since a self-regarding motive
lies at the root of them.

If there are illegitimate ways of attaining this state what, it may be
asked, are the legitimate ones? The difficulty of this question lies
in the fact that the state of impersonal consciousness disappears the
moment we begin to think about it. We live in it, in fact, a great deal
more than, in our states of analytic self-consciousness, we have any
idea of. But as a rule we only live in it with a part of our nature—the
instinctive, animal part. To enter it with our whole nature, to live
in it as Man, two ways have been found and these we call the way of
Religion and the way of Art; or, if we describe them by the faculties
respectively dominant in each, as the way of Love and the way of
Beauty. Through these essentially harmonizing and synthesizing powers
Man can for a while merge himself in the vast ocean of Being, and
return from it, renewed and purified, to the narrow confines of his
selfhood.

But return he must; for selfhood is not an accident or a deformity,
not a thing to be despised and shuffled off the moment we can get rid
of it. It, also, is a power of life, and through it we are enabled to
harvest an immense store of experiences. Through the Ego, no doubt,
with its rapacious egotisms, come sin and wrong into the world; but,
as Heracleitus finely says, “Men would not have known the name of
Justice if these things had not been.” Moreover, man has to act as
well as to be and to feel. For all complex action, regarding distant
ends and involving choice and discrimination, the faculty of analysis,
with which selfhood is bound up, is absolutely essential. Man is not
to be raised in the scale of being by cutting away any part of his
nature, but by developing the whole harmoniously; and the analytic
self-consciousness is harmonized with the impersonal consciousness when
the one is used to translate into its own sphere the experiences of the
other—to fashion in the visible and material life some counterpart of
the realities known in the spirit.



APPENDIX B

CO-OPERATION AND COMPETITION


In Kropotkin’s Mutual Aid: A Factor in Evolution, it seems to me (for
all that it finds little favour with some men of science) that real
light has been thrown on certain principles of cardinal importance
which had been obscured in the too exclusive contemplation of the
Darwinian principle of the survival of the fittest in the struggle for
life. Ample proof is given by Kropotkin of the truth of the following
passage:—

    “As soon as we study animals—not in laboratories and museums
    only, but in the forest and the prairie, in the steppe and the
    mountains—we at once perceive that though there is an immense
    amount of warfare and extermination going on amidst various
    species, and especially among various classes of animals, there is,
    at the same time, as much, or perhaps even more, of mutual support,
    mutual aid, and mutual defence amidst animals belonging to the same
    species, or, at least, to the same society. Sociability is as much
    a law of nature as mutual struggle. Of course it would be extremely
    difficult to estimate, however roughly, the relative numerical
    importance of both these series of facts. But if we resort to an
    indirect test, and ask Nature: ‘Who are the fittest: those who
    are continually at war with each other, or those who support one
    another?’ we at once see that those animals which acquire habits
    of mutual aid are undoubtedly the fittest. They have more chances
    to survive, and they attain, in their respective classes, the
    highest development of intelligence and bodily organization. If
    the numberless facts which can be brought forward to support this
    view are taken into account, we may safely say that mutual aid is
    as much a law of animal life as mutual struggle, but that, as a
    factor of evolution, it most probably has a far greater importance,
    inasmuch as it favours the development of such habits and
    characters as ensure the maintenance and further development of the
    species, together with the greatest amount of welfare and enjoyment
    of life for the individual, with the least waste of energy” (pp. 5,
    6. 1903).

From the mass of facts which Kropotkin has adduced in support of the
above-quoted view, I cannot forbear quoting one, an observation of his
own, relating to a creature of by no means high organization:—

    “As to the big Molucca crab (_Limulus_), I was struck (in 1882, at
    the Brighton Aquarium) with the extent of mutual assistance which
    these clumsy animals are capable of bestowing upon a comrade in
    case of need. One of them had fallen upon its back in a corner of
    the tank, and its heavy, saucepan-like carapace prevented it from
    returning to its natural position, the more so as there was in the
    corner an iron bar which rendered the task still more difficult.
    Its comrades came to the rescue, and for one hour’s time I watched
    how they endeavoured to help their fellow-prisoner. They came two
    at once, pushed their friend from beneath, and after strenuous
    efforts succeeded in lifting it upright; but then the iron bar
    would prevent them from achieving the work of rescue, and the crab
    would again fall heavily upon its back. After many attempts, one
    of the helpers would go in the depth of the tank and bring two
    other crabs, which would begin with fresh forces the same pushing
    and lifting of their helpless comrade. We stayed in the Aquarium
    for more than two hours, and, when leaving, we again came to cast a
    glance upon the tank: the work of rescue still continued! Since I
    saw that, I cannot refuse credit to the observation quoted by Dr.
    Erasmus Darwin, namely, that ‘the common crab during the moulting
    season stations as sentinel an unmoulted or hard-shelled individual
    to prevent marine enemies from injuring moulted individuals in
    their unprotected state’” (pp. 10, 12). #/



APPENDIX C

IS LIFE WORTH LIVING?


This grave question is, according to Mr. Herbert Spencer, one which
must be “definitely raised and answered before entering on any ethical
discussion” (Data of Ethics, § 9). He goes on to restate it in the
form: Does life yield “a surplus of pleasurable feeling over painful
feeling?” and he argues that “goodness or badness can be ascribed to
acts which subserve life or hinder life only on this supposition” (§
10). But can one really strike a balance between pleasures and pains in
human life? Mr. Spencer himself admits, later on, that pleasures and
pains, “unlike in their kinds, intensities and times of occurrence,
are incommensurable” (§ 57). Moreover, the maintenance of life in the
present day means passing it on for countless generations ahead, and
how can we feel satisfied that the conditions then existing will make
more for pleasure than for pain, even assuming that they do so now?
The question, then, whether it is good to maintain life does not seem
capable of philosophic decision on this ground.

Mr. Spencer’s sense of logic, however, seems to me to be here at fault
as well as his fundamental conception of ethics. The question which
he begins by asking is not the question which he ends by answering.
In the original question, Is life worth living? a comparison is set
up between living and not-living. But we find this merging, in Mr.
Spencer’s mind, into the quite different comparison of one _kind_ of
living with another kind of living—the pleasurable and the painful.
Let us translate the original question into the language of Mr.
Spencer’s ethical system. In that system “the good is universally the
pleasurable” (§ 10). The word ‘worth,’ then, connotes pleasure, and the
question resolves itself simply into this, Is it more pleasurable to
live than not to live? Seeing that in not-living there is no pleasure
at all, the only possible answer is an affirmative—the question answers
itself. And in fact this must always be the case whatever connotation
we attach to the word ‘worth,’ for life has at any rate possibilities,
whereas not-living has none. The question, then, “of late so much
agitated,” is really a nonsense question, and the reason why it is
necessarily devoid of meaning will appear at once when we analyze the
terms. For ‘worth,’ ‘goodness,’ ‘blessedness,’ ‘pleasure,’ and so
forth, are simply _terms of life_ and have no significance whatever
apart from it. So the question, Is it better to live than not to live?
is merely the same thing as to ask, Is there more life in living than
in not living? Instead, therefore, of the unverifiable assumption on
which Spencer bases his system of ethics, that life yields on the whole
a surplus of pleasure over pain, we merely affirm the indubitable
proposition that it yields a surplus of life.

From another side than that of the Spencerian ethics, however, it may
be argued, against the conception which we are trying to substitute
for it, that, if Life is something more than the physical phenomena
attending it on earth, if, in fact, it is what we call ‘immortal,’ we
need be at no pains to preserve it for ourselves or others in the form
in which we find it going on here, since death can merely have the
effect of translating it into another form.

True; but suppose us to hold as lightly by _that_ form as we are urged
to do by this—suppose us to show no persistence in _any_ of the forms
of being into which our life may pass, what kind of life would be
realizable under such conditions of eternal volatility? Could life
ever have risen above the stage of the _Amœba_ if the _Amœba_ had not
the instinct to maintain itself on earth? Can Man ever hope to rise to
anything higher without a strong element of continuity, of fixity, of
‘fighting it out on these lines’ in his feeling about the form of life
in which he actually finds himself? It is through the thousand ties of
duty and service, love and joy, which we form with the visible world
around us that we realize the highest life of which we are at present
capable. A light-minded readiness to snap those ties would imply an
incapacity for forming them. Here, as always, we find that Nature tells
us nothing to any good purpose unless we look at her as an organic
whole. One cannot live by any isolated principle or factor, however
great and true.



APPENDIX D

ST. FRANCIS THE POET


No one can read St. Francis’s one poem, the _Canticle of the Sun_,
without feeling that had poetry claimed and won him in time, his might
have been one of the greatest and sweetest of Italian voices. The story
of its composition has a touching beauty. Towards the end of his life,
when in the deepest dejection over the failure of his Order to live
the life of joyful humility, unworldliness, and poverty to which he
had pledged it, he came, blind and ill, to S. Clare’s Convent at St.
Damien, on his way to Rieti, where his malady was to be treated. In
this darkest hour of his life the untroubled faith and loving sympathy
of his old friend brought consolation and peace to his torn spirit. She
made him, it is said, a cell of reeds in the convent garden, where he
could be free to come and go as he wished. “Little by little,” writes
Paul Sabatier in his Vie de S. François, “the man of ancient days
revived in him, and at times the Sisters heard the echo of strange
chants, which mingled with the murmuring of the pines and olives, and
which seemed to come from the cell of reeds.” One day, after a long
conversation with Clare, he had sat down at the monastery table for
refection. Scarcely had he begun to eat when he fell into a kind of
trance. “Praise be to God!” he cried, on coming to himself. He had
completed the _Canticle of the Sun_.

It is said that for a week afterwards he forgot his breviary, and
passed his days in repeating to himself the strophes of his wonderful
poem—a work in which, for all its religious ardour, the note of
asceticism is little apparent; unless one sees it in his usual quaint
adoption of the things of creation into a religious community! I append
a literal translation, omitting two later verses composed for special
occasions and not belonging to the first pure inspiration. It is
written in unrhymed irregular stanzas:—

CANTICLE OF THE SUN

    Most high, all-powerful, good Lord,
        thine are praises, glory, honour and all benediction.
        To Thee alone, Most high, they are due,
        and no man is worthy to name Thee.

    Have praise, Lord, with all Thy creatures,
        especially Brother my Lord the Sun.
        He gives the day, and by him Thou showest light,
        and he is beautiful and radiant, with great splendour.
        Of Thee, Most High, he is the symbol.

    Have praise, Lord, for Sister Moon and for the Stars;
        in the sky Thou hast formed them, bright, precious and beautiful.

    Have praise, Lord, for Brother Wind,
        and for the Air and the Clouds, and for the clear sky, and for
          every kind of weather,
        by which Thou givest sustenance to all Thy creatures.

    Have praise, Lord, for Sister Water
        who is so serviceable and humble and precious and chaste.

    Have praise, Lord, for Brother Fire,
        by whom Thou dost illuminate the night.
        He is handsome and gay, bold and strong.

    Have praise, Lord, for Sister our Mother, the Earth,
        who nourishes and takes care of us,
        and brings forth divers fruits with coloured flowers,
          and the grass.

    Praise ye and bless the Lord and render thanks to Him,
        and serve Him with great humility!



APPENDIX E

ISABELLA AND CLAUDIO


The ethics of sex-relations has always formed a crucial question in
ethical systems. Let me recall a remarkable debate upon it which
took place recently between a champion of the Spencerian system, Dr.
Saleeby, and Mr. W. S. Lilly, who represented, of course, the view of
Catholic orthodoxy.

Mr. Lilly, in an article on Shakespere’s Religion contributed to
the _Fortnightly Review_ for June, 1904, was led to dwell on “the
strikingly Catholic ethos of the play Measure for Measure, informed
as it is by the idea, quite alien from the Protestant mind, of the
surpassing excellence and sacrosanct character of virginal chastity.”
Hazlitt, whom Mr. Lilly takes to represent the typical Protestant view,
had declared himself “not greatly enamoured” of Isabella’s inflexible
purity, and had expressed his want of “confidence in the virtue that is
sublimely good at another’s expense.” Mr. Lilly added that Spencer’s
teaching would have countenanced Hazlitt’s judgment and enjoined upon
Isabella compliance with Angelo’s desire. Dr. Saleeby having denounced
this as an “outrageous” perversion of Spencer’s meaning, Mr. Lilly
vindicates himself in a letter to the _Fortnightly_ as follows:—

    “I pointed, in a letter appearing in your July number, to Mr.
    Spencer’s express declaration, in the _Data of Ethics_, that the
    elements out of which the conceptions of right and wrong are
    framed are pleasures and pains, and that ‘conduct is considered
    by us as good or bad, according as its aggregate results to self
    or others, or both, are pleasurable or painful.’ I concluded,
    therefore, that if we are to go by Mr. Spencer’s ‘scientific
    ethics,’ Isabella ought to have been willing to make the sacrifice
    of her virginity in order to prevent the disagreeable feeling
    which would be caused to herself through the loss of a beloved
    brother, to Claudio through the process of decapitation, and to
    Angelo through disappointed desire, and thus to have procured, as
    ‘aggregate results,’ a great balance of pleasure over pain to all
    concerned” (_Fortnightly Review_, September, 1906).

Dr. Saleeby’s answer to this is the obvious one that the Spencerian
ethics do not contemplate immediate personal pleasures and pains, but
rather ultimate utility to the race at large, and that “Isabella’s
virtue, if merely by example alone, would make for the strengthening
of the society in which she found herself.” Mr. Lilly then practically
surrenders his first position—he admits that Spencer’s “scientific
ethics” are intended to have little or no concern with the immediate
sensations of Isabella, Claudio, and Angelo, but he turns to confront
Dr. Saleeby and Spencer from a new and much stronger position. What
claim, he asks, have “scientific ethics” on the individual? Ultimate
utility for the race might (if one could estimate it correctly) be
taken as giving us the _what_ of moral action, but can it ever give
us the _why_? Isabella was not thinking of “ultimate utility” in
her refusal, but of the laws that Sophocles wrote of so memorably,
“unwritten and invincible laws which ever live, and no man knows their
birthplace.” She was not thinking of the effect of her example—her
action would have been, and ought to have been, just the same though
she had had the most complete assurance that none but Angelo and
herself would ever know the reason for Claudio’s pardon. The motive
which constrained her was derived from the system of ethics which
Spencer’s was constructed to replace. This new system has never
succeeded in supplying an answer to the demand of the individual man or
woman, ‘What is the advantage of the race to me that I should sacrifice
the least of my inclinations for its sake?’ But till that piercing
question is answered, all hedonistic systems, however elaborate and
perfect their fabric, are building on “wood, hay, stubble.” Touch their
foundations with the pitiless edge of that question, and in a moment
they are in the dust. So far, in effect, Mr. Lilly.

Before we go on to deal with these conflicting views of the ethical
problem in Measure for Measure, let us take a parallel presentation in
literature of the same problem, in which the implied judgment of the
dramatist appears entirely different. Maeterlinck, in his Monna Vanna,
shows us a beautiful and high-souled woman, the loving and faithful
wife of the commandant of the city of Pisa. The city is beleaguered
by foes, its power of defence is at an end, an assault is imminent,
and the inhabitants will be exposed to all the havoc and outrage which
attended warfare in the days when the conceptions so much prized by Mr.
Lilly held undisputed sway. The captain of the besieging Florentine
forces, a great soldier of fortune named Prinzivalle, had been an
ancient playmate of Monna Vanna, and, unknown to her, had been her
ardent lover. Being entreated for mercy, he sends an ultimatum. Let
Monna Vanna spend a night in his tent, and he will provision the city
and withdraw his army next day. Amid the indignation and distraction
which the cruel dilemma causes in the household of the prince, Monna
Vanna’s resolve shapes and hardens itself. She decides to sacrifice
herself for the city. But Prinzivalle finds her a woman of marble.
Her soul is so high-strung with heroic devotion that she regards her
body as little as a cast-off rag—she is become as incapable of fear
or shrinking as she is of base desire. His passion is chilled by the
icy completeness of her self-surrender, while all that is noble in him
responds to her nobility, and the city is saved without the terrible
sacrifice which she was ready to perform.

Such is the tale of Monna Vanna, so far as it concerns our present
discussion. In reading it, it is impossible not to feel that she was
right, just as in reading Measure for Measure it is impossible not to
feel that Isabella was right. What has a system of natural ethics, a
system based on the conception of life and nature put forward in this
book, to say upon the searching ethical question involved in these two
great dramas? It is not an easy nor a pleasant question to subject to
philosophic analysis, but it is a very important and critical one.

In the first place neither science nor sense will, I think, agree with
Mr. Lilly’s estimate of “the surpassing excellence and sacrosanct
character of virginal chastity.” Virginity, _in itself_ and apart
from all qualifying circumstances, is the reverse of excellent and
admirable. It means death, not life; it violates nature. What is really
sound doctrine in this connexion is not the sanctity and excellence
of virginity, but the deep degradation of making sexual relations a
subject of barter. Wherever this prevails, whatever the church and the
law may or may not have had to do with the transaction, the beauty and
romance of life is blighted and destroyed. There is no conquest of
culture which should be guarded more devotedly than the dignity and
sweetness which are brought into the relations of man and woman by
love, as the great poets have understood that word, love moving in its
guarded circle of mutual trust and intimacy. A life is well lost in
defence of this most sacred treasure of the spirit.

Isabella and Monna Vanna both felt this truth in the depths of their
nature as all good women do. Yet absolute laws of action can rarely,
if ever, be laid down to cover every individual case. One can conceive
either of them deciding as Monna Vanna actually did. But in the realm
of high tragedy which we are now dealing with, where principles and
actions have a simplicity and integrity rarely found in common life,
it must be felt that neither of them could have taken up life again as
if nothing had happened. Had they recognized that there were higher
reasons stringent enough to compel them to tread the way to that
sacrifice, they would, I think, like the Roman Lucretia, have solemnly
marked it with their life-blood as an expiation, and as a warning, were
it only to Prinzivalle or Angelo, that such a thing must not be done
save at the most terrible cost that man can pay. For Isabella, then,
the problem would practically resolve itself into the question whether
she should surrender her own life for that of a single worthless
relative. There was no moral obligation on her to do that. Had she
loved him so intensely as to go willingly to her doom for his sake, no
one could have blamed her; no one could blame her if she refused, and
bade him summon up his manhood to die for his own sin.

But in Monna Vanna’s case it was not a single life that was at stake,
but the life and honour of a multitude of men and women with whose
protection, moreover, she was, in part, charged by the high position
she held in their midst. If right and wrong are to be interpreted as
Mr. Lilly would interpret them, solely with regard to the arbitrary
commands of a supernatural Power, then the _extent_ to which a given
action may influence life can hardly be a matter of any moment. On the
other hand, in Spencer’s scheme, with its criterion of the greatest
ultimate pleasure of the greatest number, hardly anything else can
matter except precisely this question of the extent or area affected
by our action. In the scheme of natural ethics which I am trying
to commend, and which, if I am right, grows logically out of the
conception of a living universe, the element of _extent_ has its due
place in determining action, but none in fixing the character of the
action. And this, it may be observed, is just what the good sense of
humanity has practically arrived at in its daily judgments and doings.
No ordinary man would be required by any ethical law to lay down his
life as a substitute for another who had no claim on him. But for a
community, or a man such as a sovran, who for the time represents a
community and embodies its interests, it would be thought base not to
die if occasion demanded it. And so Monna Vanna might rightly feel
herself constrained to do for her city what Isabella was in no way
required to do for a brother, but the quality of the action would
remain in each case the same, and the tragedy could have ended nobly
only in the one stern way.

On the general question of the ordering of sex-relations, it needs no
argument to show that the conditions fixed by nature forbid them, in
the interests of life, to be casual and fleeting. On the other hand
to require that, when these relations have once been entered into, no
vices, no cruelty, no variance of any kind on either side would justify
the dissolution of the connexion and the formation of a new one, is
surely a superstitious exaggeration of a principle in itself right and
sound. Probably the law and practice in England at the present day
are as good a rough approximation to a sound marriage system as man
has yet devised; with, however, this large qualification, that cases
of divorce when they come before the law should be heard _in camera_.
The Anglo-Saxon has not yet got rid of all his superstitions, and his
belief in salvation by publicity is distinctly one of them.



FOOTNOTES:


[1] Metabolism: see p. 27.

[2] J. Reinke. Die Welt als Tat, p. 173. The term ‘development’
(_Entwicklung_) includes both what we commonly understand by that term
(as, the transformation of an embryo into a complete animal) and also
what we call Evolution, the development of one species into another.

[3] See p. 24.

[4] Sylva Sylvarum, Century VI.

[5] Zoonomia, Vol. II, p. 247, third edition, 1801. Darwin is here
adopting David Hume’s conjecture, which is worked out in some detail in
the Zoonomia, the conclusion being that probably “one and the same kind
of living filaments is and has been the cause of all organic life” (p.
244). He attributed evolution to internal forces impressed on living
matter by the Creator.

[6] He taught that nature had produced a multitude of disconnected
parts which afterwards combined and recombined at random until the
appropriate parts had come together and remained stable.

[7]
       Αἰὼν πάντα φέρει. δολιχὸς χρόνος οἶδεν ἀμείβειν
       Οὔνομα καὶ μορφὴν καὶ φύσιν ἠδὲ τύχην.
                                   Jac. Anth., II, 20.

[8] “It has lately become the fashion, at least among the younger
school of biologists, to attach small value to natural selection, if
not, indeed, to regard it as a superseded formula.” (A. Weismann, The
Evolution Theory, Engl. trans., II, 391.)

[9] Text Book of Botany, p. 3. English translation by Dr. H. C. Porter,
1898. In the fifth German edition, which served as the basis of a
revised English translation (1903), another passage (taking note of De
Vries’ Mutations Theory) is substituted for the above quoted, but the
essential meaning is the same.

[10] Leitfaden in das Studium der experimentellen Biologie der
Wassertiere, p. 67. The subject is ably treated by Keyserling, Das
Gefüge der Welt, p. 190.

[11] For instance, the development of an embryo in the womb takes place
in strict accordance with physico-chemical laws. But withdraw the
element which we call _life_ and how different a set of processes would
at once supervene! Yet the physical energies in the embryo would remain
in amount exactly what they were before.

[12] See Weismann, The Evolution Theory, II, 358.

[13] For my own part, I may say I have a difficulty in conceiving the
Divine under the human and limited category of intelligent personality.

[14] Das Gefüge der Welt, Hermann Graf v. Keyserling, 1906.

[15] See Appendix A.

[16] See Jagadis Chunder Bose, Response in the Living and the
Non-Living, _passim_. The following passage sums up the results of
many delicate experiments in the response to electrical stimulus.
“We have seen,” writes the Indian physicist, “that the criterion by
which vital response is differentiated is its abolition by the action
of certain reagents—the so-called poisons. We find, however, that
‘poisons’ also abolish the response in plants and metals. Just as
animal tissues pass from a state of responsiveness while living to
a state of irresponsiveness when killed by poisons, so also we find
metals transformed from a responsive to an irresponsive condition by
the action of similar poisonous reagents” (p. 188).

[17] At a meeting of the British Association in 1905, Professor H.
A. Miers, in a lecture on ‘The Growth of a Crystal,’ is reported to
have said, The most wonderful feature of crystals was the manner
in which they grew, just as though they were living things. Two
features deserved special attention. The first was the remarkable
power crystals possessed of healing themselves when mutilated. If a
growing crystal were removed from a solution, broken at one of its
corners, and re-immersed in the solution, it would continue to grow,
and as it grew would restore the missing part, and become once more a
completely symmetrical figure. This power of continuing to grow was
possessed by a crystal even after countless ages, so soon as it was
immersed into the appropriate solution. In this sense the crystal was
immortal, for it never lost its vitality, or power of growing. The
other remarkable feature was the growth of crystals in over-saturated
solutions. In solutions only slightly over-saturated, no spontaneous
generation of crystals was possible. It was true that a solution only
slightly over-saturated would often begin to crystallize, apparently
spontaneously, when exposed to the air, but this was because there were
minute crystal fragments of the dissolved substance floating about in
the air which got into the solution with the dust and so inoculated
the solution with crystal germs, just as the human body might be
inoculated with disease by a disease germ. If these germs were kept
out, the solution would not crystallize until it was very strongly
over-saturated, and then, at a certain strength, it would suddenly
begin to crystallize spontaneously and with great rapidity.—_Times_,
August 5, 1907.

[18] The Nature and Origin of Life (Eng. trans.), p. 250.

[19] It is not to be assumed, however, that these substances are merely
passive objects in the process. The life which is in them has doubtless
as much to do with the result as the life which is in the plant. This
is a side of the question which calls for further investigation.

[20] It is however suggested by Professor E. Ray Lankester, in his
article, ‘Protozoa,’ in the Encyclopædia Britannica, that the most
primitive forms of organic life did not possess chlorophyll but fed on
albuminoids, etc., which constituted the earliest steps in their own
evolution.

[21] In Beddard’s Animal Coloration note is taken of the green fur of
the sloth as a most uncommon if not unique phenomenon. It has been
ascertained that the sloth has grooved or fluted hairs, which form the
habitat of a minute green fungus to which the colour is due.

[22] Or starch, which easily decomposes into sugar, and which is
composed of the same elements.

[23] Ray Lankester, _op. cit._

[24] Verworn, General Physiology, pp. 102, 478: “Physiological
chemistry has shown that between the two kinds of substance very
essential chemical differences exist, which prove that living substance
experiences in dying pronounced chemical changes. A widespread
difference between the two consists in their reaction. The reaction
of living substance is almost without exception alkaline or neutral,
and with death changes usually to acid.... Physiological chemistry has
shown similar changes in death in great number. All these facts prove
that in the death of living cell-substance certain chemical compounds
undergo transformations; hence substances exist in it which are not to
be found in dead cell-substance.”

[25] In 1892. An English translation of Bütschli’s work on Microscopic
Foams and Protoplasm, by E. A. Minchin, appeared in 1894. The nucleus
is really a form of protoplasm, chiefly differentiated from the
‘cytoplasm,’ or protoplasm of the cell, by containing a large amount of
phosphorus.

[26] The Cell in Development and Inheritance, 2nd edition, p. 9.

[27] By J. A. and M. R. Thomson, 1904.

[28] The Evolution Theory, II, p. 391.

[29] _Ibid._, I, p. 368.

[30] _Ibid._, I, p. 404.

[31] The Evolution Theory, I, p. 353.

[32] _Ibid._, II, p. 52.

[33] But note the transition stage exemplified in the natural history
of crystals (_vide_ p. 22).

[34] “It has been Weismann’s great service to place the keystone
between the work of the evolutionists and that of the cytologists, and
thus to bring the cell-theory and the evolution-theory into organic
connexion” (E. B. Wilson, The Cell, p. 13).

[35] Prof. Wilson’s work on the cell (see note on p. 33) may be
referred to for a comprehensive and detailed statement of all that is
known at present on this subject.

[36] According to Wilson (_op. cit._) this was guessed by Haeckel in
1866, and confirmed in 1884-5 by the almost simultaneous discoveries of
O. Hertwig, Strasburger, Kölliker, and Weismann.

[37] Sixteen have been counted in the human cell. A grasshopper has
twelve, a lily twenty-four. The number is almost always an even one,
but as with everything in Nature there are exceptions to the rule.

[38] The process briefly described above is that of ‘mitotic’ division
(μίτος, a thread, from the appearance of the chromosomes). Amitotic
division, in which the cell and nucleus simply divide in two without
the formation of chromosomes, also occurs under certain conditions, but
is usually an abnormal or degenerative process (cf. Wilson, The Cell,
pp. 116-119).

[39] “Every animal appears as a sum of vital entities, each of
which bears within itself the complete character of life” (Virchow,
Cellular-pathologie, p. 12, 1858).

[40] Weismann, The Evolution Theory, I, 251.

[41] It is cast out into the cytoplasm—the substance surrounding the
nucleus—where it degenerates (see Wilson, The Cell, p. 147).

[42] _Amœbæ._ See p. 30.

[43] The Evolution Theory, I, 265.

[44] The Cell, p. 178.

[45] Scientific Papers and Addresses, II, pp. 862-3.

[46] English trans., 2nd edition (1903), p. 159.

[47] The Cell, p. 434.

[48] Against this view might be quoted the fact that the unfertilized
eggs sometimes laid by the workers (imperfect females) of bee and ant
communities always develop into drones.

[49] Pp. 262-3. The bird was examined by Prof. Max Weber, of Amsterdam,
and Mr. Beddard refers to the _Zoologischer Anzeiger_ for 1890, p. 508,
for Weber’s account of the case.

[50] The now famous Mendelian Law of Inheritance, first discovered in
1865 by Mendel, an Augustinian monk and Abbott of Brünn, and completely
ignored till the year 1900, when it was rediscovered by De Vries and
others, is also strongly confirmatory of Weismann’s analysis of the
principle of heredity. According to this law it is possible, as it
were, to isolate any particular characteristic of a species or even
(if heritable) of an individual, and by a definite system of crossing
to attach this characteristic _alone_ to any other variety capable
of crossing with the first. This means that inheritance is governed
by separable units of formative energy. These units are Weismann’s
determinants. The discovery of the methods of turning this principle
to practical account is obviously of great importance for agriculture
and stockbreeding. The law has some inexplicable limitations which are
now closely engaging the attention of biologists. It is impossible to
enter upon the subject more fully here, but a good account of it will
be found in Lock’s Recent Progress in the Study of Variation, and in a
brochure, An Address on Mendelian Heredity, by W. Bateson, reprinted
from _Brain_, pt. cxiv, 1906.

[51] The actual stimulus which prompts the division is probably to be
found in the disturbance of equilibrium which arises when the cell is
taking in more nutriment than its digestive system can deal with. This,
of course, does not explain why it should divide instead of dying of
indigestion.

[52] See Strasburger, _loc. cit._

[53] The Evolution Theory, I, 402-3.

[54] The subject of degenerated and lost organs is very fully treated
by M. Edmond Perrier in his Traité de Zoologie, pp. 325 _sqq._ It may
be noted that animals which are _fixed_ usually lack eyes, even in
light. In the depths of the sea, where total darkness reigns except
for the phosphorescence emitted by certain animals, it is found that
some creatures have completely lost their organs of sight, while others
have them extraordinarily developed. Those which have lost them are the
walkers (_Crustaceæ_); those which show an exceptional development are
the swimmers. This goes to show that the needs of the animal, rather
than the external conditions, are the determining cause.

Cave fishes are all extremely sensitive to light, which affects them
disagreeably, even when the optic nerve is wholly destroyed. See Armand
Viré, La Faune Actuelle des Cavernes, _Revue des Idées_, March 15,
1905, and La Faune Souterraine de France, 1900.

[55] A. R. Wallace, Darwinism, chapters III. and XV.

[56] Origin of Species, chapter II.

[57] Sexual selection—the competition of males and females for their
mates—is merely a form of natural selection, and need not be specially
dealt with here.

[58] Origin of Species, chapter V.

[59] See Eimer, Organic Evolution (Eng. trans.), pp. 173-184, for a
full discussion of the question from the Lamarckian standpoint.

[60] ‘Right-handedness and Left-brainedness’ by D. J. Cunningham: the
Huxley Lecture for 1902. Printed in the _Journal of the Anthropological
Institute_, Vol. XXXII, pp. 273-95. I may refer also to a brochure
by Dr. Geo. Sigerson, F.R.U.I., Consideration of the Structural and
Acquisitional Elements in Dextral Pre-eminence, Dublin, 1884. Dr.
Sigerson believes that primitive man was ambidextrous, and that
‘dexterity’ is a case of specialization of function, and has supported
this view by a novel and interesting line of pathological observation.

[61] _Op. cit._, p. 285.

[62] _Ibid._, pp. 284-5.

[63] _Journal of Anatomy and Physiology_, Vol. XXXVI, p. 401. ‘On the
relative weights of the right and left sides of the body in the foetus.’

[64] Origin of Species, chap. VI.

[65] ‘The Inadequacy of Natural Selection,’ Herbert Spencer.
_Contemporary Review_, February and March, 1893.

‘Prof. Weismann’s Theories,’ Herbert Spencer. _Contemporary Review_,
May, 1893.

‘The All-Sufficiency of Natural Selection,’ Aug. Weismann.
_Contemporary Review_, September, 1893.

‘A Rejoinder to Prof. Weismann,’ Herbert Spencer. _Contemporary
Review_, December, 1893.

The Romanes Lecture for 1894, by Aug. Weismann (Frowde).

[66] ‘Lamarck et le Transformisme actuel’: Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle,
Centenaire; Vol. Commemoratif, 1903, p. 508. M. Perrier adds that
the metaphysical alternative “est, en effet, à quoi le professeur A.
Weismann, de Fribourg, a été conduit.” This, I think, can only be M.
Perrier’s way of saying that he finds Weismann unintelligible, for
Weismann’s ostensible object is certainly to steer between the Scylla
of Lamarckism and the Charybdis of ‘metaphysics.’ With what success he
attempts this feat we shall see.

[67] The Evolution Theory, II, p. 78.

[68] II, p. 330 _sqq._

[69] The Evolution Theory, II., 346.

[70] See p. 83.

[71] The Evolution Theory, II, 264.

[72] I take this from J. T. Cunningham’s Sexual Dimorphism, p. 16.

[73] Useless structures and organs are regarded by Weismann, and I
think with justice, as in some degree unfavourable. They make demands
on the organism for nourishment, and are thus in the position of
non-productive members of a working family.

[74] _Op. cit._, p. 73. See Appendix B.

[75] Wallace, Darwinism, p. 24.

[76] Animal Coloration, p. 252.

[77] Poulton, The Colours of Animals, p. 238.

[78] _Ibid._, p. 237.

[79] See p. 7, note 2.

[80] Eng. trans. revised from fifth German edition, 1903, p. 3.

[81] Mechanisch-physiologische Theorie der Abstammungslehre. 1884.

[82] See especially Organic Evolution, pp. 52, 3.

[83] Organic Evolution, pp. 225, 433. Eimer is a believer in the
inheritance of acquired characteristics; hence Oken’s conception,
_taken literally_, offers him a ready method of disposing of the
ant-problem dealt with on p. 85, _sqq._

[84] Organic Evolution, p. 268.

[85] See Eimer, Organic Evolution, p. 135 _sqq._

[86] p. 62.

[87] “It is,” writes Wilson, “becoming more and more clearly apparent
... that Schwann went too far in denying the influence of the totality
of the organism upon the local activities of the cells. It would
of course be absurd to maintain that the whole can consist of more
than the sum of its parts. Yet, as far as growth and development are
concerned, it has now been clearly demonstrated that only in a limited
sense can the cells be regarded as co-operating units. They are rather
local centres of a formative power pervading the growing mass as a
whole” (The Cell, pp. 58, 9).

What Prof. Wilson, absorbed like most scientists in the consideration
of ponderable and visible masses, assumes to be “absurd” is of course
the very thing which he is proving to be a fact The whole can be not
merely the “sum” but the synthesis of its parts.

[88] Die Welt als That., chap. XXIV.

[89] _Loc. cit._

[90] Kräfte zweiter Hand. The primary forces are the chemical and
mechanical forces, the secondary are those which control and guide
these for certain ends.

[91] Pp. 9, 10. The italics are Prof. Henslow’s.

[92] This statement taken literally is, of course, quite too sweeping.
Professor Henslow clearly means here by “variations” those alone which
are important enough to have selection-value, favourable or otherwise.
Insignificant variations are always occurring.

[93] Henslow, Origin, etc., p. 102.

[94] _Ibid._, p. 80.

[95] _Ibid._, p. 40.

[96] A. R. Wallace, Darwinism (1890), p. 427.

[97] Marie v. Chauvin, ‘Ueber die Verwandlungsfähigkeit des
mexikanischen Axolotl.’ _Zeitschrift für wissenschaftliche Zoologie_,
XLI, p. 385. See also The Cambridge Natural History, _sub voce_.

[98] Haeckel, History of Creation (English trans.), I, p. 150.

[99] See also pp. 15, 16.

[100] J. H. Newman.

[101] See Principles of Sociology, Part II.

[102] See Curtius, Griechische Etymologie, s.v., φημή, νέος.

[103] _Deus_ descends from a root meaning ‘to shine,’ hence the Day,
the Sun, God; θεός is referred by Curtius to a root θες, to desire,
pray—God is “der Angeflehte.”

[104] Are there many Englishmen who would understand the following
sentence which I lately came across in a St. Louis paper? “This graft
was one of the scrap-head variety, and it was hard therefore to get the
boodlers good.”

[105] The ‘wheel’ is really a spiral—the line of all natural growth.

[106] See p. 111.

[107] Origin of Species, chapter VI.

[108] Mechanisch-Physiologische Theorie der Abstammungslehre, p. 150.

[109] Weismann, The Evolution Theory, I, p. 162.

[110] _Ibid._, I, p. 177.

[111] So the cogwheels of a machine designed for some useful purpose
will lacerate the hand of a man who gets in their way.

[112] See p. 85.

[113] Darwinism and the Problems of Life, 1904. Eng. transl. by J.
McCabe, 1905, pp. 354 _sqq._

[114] Orthogenesis der Schmetterlinge (1897). The passage will be found
in Kellogg’s Darwinism To-day, p. 285. Instances of ‘regression,’ etc.,
are given by Kellogg, _op. cit._, p. 227.

[115] When Heracleitus wrote “The One arises from the All and the
All from the One” (Frag. LIX. Bywater) he was stating with his usual
pregnant brevity a position of deep significance for modern scientific
thought.

[116] It must be borne in mind that strict physical continuity does not
exist in nature. Sir Oliver Lodge has somewhere remarked that science
is entirely at a loss to explain how it comes that when one picks up a
stick by one end the rest of the stick comes up with it.

[117] General Physiology, p. 550.

[118] Published by Bell & Son, 1907.

[119] Darwinism To-day, p. 377, quoting H. F. Osborn’s The Unknown
Factors of Evolution. Osborn, like the writer (see p. 90), holds
Spencer and Weismann to be mutually destructive. “If acquired
variations are transmitted there must be therefore some unknown
principle in heredity; if they are not transmitted there must be some
unknown factor in evolution.”

[120] Mechanisch-Physiologische Theorie der Abstammungslehre. See
especially pp. 132, and 340 _sqq._

[121] Darwinism To-day, p. 278.

[122] p. 49.

[123]
         Ζεύς ἐστιν αἰθὴρ, Ζεὺς δὲ γῆ, Ζεὺς δ’ οὐρανὸς,
         Ζεύς τοι τὰ πάντα, χὥτι τῶνδ' ὑπέρτερον.
                                         Frag., 295.

[124] Walt Whitman, ‘The Answerer.’

[125] Data of Ethics, 29.

[126] See Appendix C.

[127] _Oxford and Cambridge Review_, June, 1907. _Sic_ also Bishop
Berkeley, Alciphron, Dial. VII, 19, “A man is said to be free, so far
forth as he can do what he will.” Berkeley’s analysis of this statement
is substantially the same as that in the text.

[128] Herbert Spencer, translating these physical terms into their
psychic equivalents, declares that the illusion of Free Will “consists
in supposing that at each moment the _ego_ is something more than
the aggregate of feelings and ideas, actual and nascent, which then
exists” (Psychology, I, p. 500). The pivot of the doctrine is the word
_aggregate_. We have seen that the most primitive living organism is
something more than that. _Cf._ p. 119 _note_.

[129] Of course they are only relatively lower—there are no essentially
‘low’ motives in life at all.

[130] The Will to Believe—‘The Dilemma of Determinism,’ p. 145 _sqq._

[131] Pragmatism, pp. 287-8. Compare Bishop Berkeley. “To me it
seems, that if we begin from Things particular and concrete, and
thence proceed to general Notions and Conclusions, there will be no
Difficulty in this Matter. But if we begin with Generalities, and lay
our Foundation in abstract Ideas, we shall find ourselves entangled
and lost in a Labyrinth of our own making.” Alciphron, Dial. vii. 20.
Berkeley had fully apprehended the Determinist position; see vii. 16.

[132] p. 129, 5th edition, 1878. There is an evident fallacy in Mill’s
position. The Deity who could make a hell and sentence men to it for
not worshipping him could not also have created the conscience which
would resist him. The authorship of the moral sense and of hell are not
to be combined in our conception of the divine. But Mill, of course, in
this flash of rhetoric, was merely taking popular religious conceptions
as he found them.

[133] p. 298.

[134] Plato, in that great dialogue, the Phaedo, has a noteworthy
passage on those who when once betrayed by Reason are apt to fall into
unbelief or superstition, just as those who, when they have found bad
faith among men, may fall into cynicism:—

“Would it not, Phaedo,” said Socrates, “be a lamentable condition, when
a certain thesis is true, firm, and intelligible, if a man supporting
something of the kind should find arguments which seemed true at one
time to be false at another, and in the end, instead of blaming himself
or his own want of skill, should, in his ill-temper, make haste to
shuffle off the blame from his own shoulders to Reason itself, and
spend the rest of his life in hating and slandering it, being deprived
of the truth and science of things?”

“By Zeus,” said I, “it would be lamentable.”

“Let us take heed then, before all else, that we never admit into our
minds the idea that there can be no soundness in reasonings, but rather
believe that we ourselves are not yet sound, and study manfully and
with a will how to be so” (§ xxxix).

[135] Every mental acquisition, such as the knowledge of a new
language, results in a definite alteration in a certain locality of
the brain. The human brain, as an instrument of thought and knowledge,
is, in fact, built up by a long series of purposeful efforts beginning
in early infancy. These efforts do not, of course, originate in the
matter of the brain itself, nor can the different nerves, which bring
it messages from the outside world, carry with them anything of the
nature of conscious purpose and will. These arise from Personality. I
may refer for a full and very interesting treatment of this subject to
Dr. W. H. Thomson’s work, Brain and Personality (1907).

[136] In the Phaedo, xliii.

[137] Microcosmus, Bk. II, Chaps. II and V.

[138]
         Man, and man only
         Can do the impossible;
         He can Distinguish,
         Choose, and give Judgment;
         He to the moment lends
         Power to endure.


[139] This includes the nourishment and protection of its young while
helpless.

[140] This word is, I believe, used by Prof. Haeckel to describe his
system of philosophy. I am very imperfectly acquainted with that
system, and therefore think it well to note here that the term must not
be taken with any special implications which Haeckel may have attached
to it.

[141] See pp. 17-20.

[142] Deontology, I, p. 32.

[143] Examination of Hamilton, pp. 586 _sqq._

[144] Data of Ethics, §20.

[145] “I conceive it to be the business of moral science to deduce,
from the laws of life and the conditions of existence, what kinds of
action necessarily tend to produce happiness, and what kinds to produce
unhappiness” (Data of Ethics, §21). Happiness is always taken by
Spencer as equivalent to pleasurable feeling.

[146] Reason in Science, p. 252.

[147] See Data of Ethics, p. 36. It has been proved by exact
physiological experiment that happiness promotes healthy vital action
in the living organism, and that sorrow and pain depress it. But of
course human life is not conducted solely on the physiological plane.

[148] _Sic_, Fr. Slater, S.J., in the _Irish Ecclesiastical Record_,
February, 1905. “If such a sum [£l] could be stolen without grave sin,
its amount would prove too great a temptation for the virtue of large
numbers of people who wish to save their souls, but make little of
venial sins” (p. 109). But Fr. Ojetti is much more liberal to persons
of the class described, and gives them up to £4 (p. 100).

[149] I may draw attention in this connexion to a striking and valuable
study of the effect of American democracy on Jewish immigrants
published in the _Times_ of January 4, 1908. As regards Catholicism, it
appears from a comparison of the statistics of emigration from Ireland
with those of Catholicism in the U.S.A. that about 50 per cent of the
Irish Catholics abandon their religion in the New World. The Irish
are also shown by the criminal statistics of the States as well as by
the observation of students of the criminal classes like Mr. Josiah
Flynt, to furnish a far greater proportion of criminals in that country
than obtains in the case of any other nationality contributing to its
population. Yet they also give to American life some of its very best
elements, and they are notoriously the most crimeless of people at
home. The degradation of character commonly produced by Christianizing
the Hindu is so uniformly attested by residents in India that it
cannot be discredited. See, in this reference, an article entitled
‘The Failure of Christian Missions in India,’ by Dr. Josiah Oldfield,
_Hibbert Journal_, April, 1903. Of course it may be said that the
original error lies in the identification of ritual and observance with
religion and morality.

[150] See Appendix D.

[151] “Per l’ asprezza della penitenza e continuo piagnere, era
diventato quasi cieco, e poco vedea.”—Fioretti, III. He had “wholly
shattered his body,” says Thomas of Celano (Second Life of St. F., Ch.
CLX.).

[152] A discussion of the subject, with special reference to the
rapid decay of the Franciscan Order, will be found in Mr. G. G.
Coulton’s paper ‘The Failure of the Friars,’ in the _Hibbert Journal_
for January, 1907. See also criticisms on this paper by two English
Franciscans, Friar Cuthbert and Friar Stanilaus, in the same journal
for April, 1907, and Mr. Coulton’s rejoinder, July, 1907.

[153] When the ascetic ideal is regarded as admirable in a saint, it
naturally leads to still more lamentable perversions by being practised
by persons who have never withdrawn themselves from ordinary social
relations. Thus a Catholic priest has lately given as an instance of
the “spiritual tendency and unworldliness of the Irish peasant” the
case of a farmer’s wife, the mother of a large family, who, by a long
course of secret austerities, brought herself “to an untimely grave,
and, no doubt,” adds the reverend author, “a martyr’s crown.” To keep
herself in health and do her duty to her husband and children would,
it appears, have been “worldliness.” Such cases, we are told, are not
uncommon. (Scenes and Sketches in an Irish Parish, by the Rev. J.
Guinan, C.C., 4th ed., 1906, p. 87.)

[154] The Teaching of Epictetus, by T. W. Rolleston, p. 36.
Dissertations, III, xxii.

[155]
         Suns that have set return as bright,
         But we, when sets our little light,
         Sleep on through one eternal night.—Catullus, V.

[156] The Nature and Origin of Life, by Felix Le Dantec, p. 22 (Engl.
trans., 1907).

[157] The Evolution of Matter.

[158] Of course the question remains, What compressed the spring? If
Matter and Motion are continually wasting, it follows that they must
at some time have been originated, and that the power which originated
them is not dependent on them.

[159] The Teaching of Epictetus, p. 103. Dissertations, II, v, 24, etc.

[160] See pp. 186, 187.

[161] See, _e.g._, the opening of the Phædrus.

[162] For a discussion of this subject I may refer the reader to an
article by the writer in the _Hibbert Journal_ for April, 1906: ‘The
Resurrection: A Layman’s Dialogue.’

[163] ὥσπερ ζῷον ἓν ὅλον. Poetics, XXIII, 1. He is speaking
of the design of a narrative poem.

[164] What is Art?, by Leo Tolstoy. English translation by Aylmer
Maude, pp. 44-5.

[165] What is Art?, chap. v.

[166] I do not mean to exclude the possibility that man may have first
learned his _capacity_ for art by making signs intended for quite other
purposes, such as identification of tribehood, etc.

[167] What is Art?, p. 153.

[168] Fifteen Sermons, III.

[169] What is Art?, p. 146.

[170] _Ibid._, p. 148.

[171] What is Art?, p. 163.

[172] _Ibid._, p. 161. How wide of the mark all this is becomes clear
when we think, for instance, of the sympathetic treatment of the
Trojans in Homer, or the nobility of feeling about the Moors which
runs through The Cid. A great art may glorify battle, but cant and
fanaticism are hateful to it.

[173] What is Art?, p. 166.

[174] _Ibid._, p. 167.

[175] As, of course, it never can be in Time.

[176] It is very hard to understand why, when Athens was producing
some of the greatest art of the world and the profoundest philosophic
thought, the attempt to develop a philosophy of the arts should not
have succeeded better than it did. Plato felt instinctively that he
had entangled himself in a chain of false logic, and he appeals to
Art to vindicate its truth, if it can. He would yield himself to its
“enchantment” only too gladly were it not “a sin to betray what seems
to us the cause of truth.” But it never occurs to him that what the
painter is really copying is not the carpenter’s bed, but the heavenly.
Aristotle, on the other hand, well knew that there is something
creative about art. Witness his famous saying that “Poetry is both a
more philosophic and a higher thing than History, since Poetry looks at
things in a universal, History only in a particular aspect” (Poetics,
IX, 3). He was, however, still too much under the control of the
popular view of Art as Imitation to be able to see the full scope of
his own principle. Thus, he excluded Architecture from the realm of Art
because it did not imitate anything in nature.

[177]
         ἀλλὰ Σὺ καὶ τὰ περισσὰ ἐπίστασαι ἄρτια θεῖναι,
         καὶ κοσμεῖς τὰ ἄκοσμα, καὶ οὐ φίλα Σοι φίλα ἐστίν.

[178] Preface to Wordsworth’s Lyrical Ballads.

[179] “I have not been afraid of the charge of obscurity,” says Walt
Whitman, “in either of my two volumes, because human thought, poetry
or melody, must leave dim escapes and outlets—must possess a certain
fluid, aerial character, akin to Space itself, obscure to those of
little or no imagination, but indispensable to the highest purposes.
Poetic style, when address’d to the Soul, is less definite form,
outline, sculpture, and becomes vista, music, half-tints, and even less
than half-tints. True, it may be architecture; but again it may be the
forest wild-wood, or the best effects thereof, at twilight, the waving
oaks and cedars in the wind, and the impalpable odour” (Preface to Two
Rivulets, p. 13).

Let me set beside this a passage from that singularly beautiful book,
Kakasu Okakura’s Ideals of the East: “Shakaku in the fifth century lays
down six canons of pictorial art, in which the idea of the depicting
of Nature falls into a third place, subservient to two other main
principles. The first of these is ‘the Life-movement of the Spirit
through the Rhythm of Things.’ For art is to him the great Mood of
the Universe, moving hither and thither amidst those harmonic laws of
matter which are Rhythm” (p. 52).

[180] I may refer in passing to the researches of A. C. Haddon and
Henry Balfour, who have made it seem at least highly probable that all
decorative forms originated in the copying of natural objects.

[181] F. C. Penrose showed in 1851 that all the quasi-horizontal lines
in the Parthenon are really arcs of circles, that the ‘entasis’ or
swelling of every pillar is the true arc of an hyperbola, and that
there is not a true right-angle nor a strictly vertical column in the
building. All good Greek buildings are similarly full of “curves,
leaning faces, irregular spacings, and other optical refinements”
(Investig. of the Princs. of Athenian Architecture). This principle,
called by Ruskin ‘life’ (Seven Lamps) and by some ‘symmetrophobia,’ was
most daringly applied in mediæval building. A very striking and well
illustrated series of articles on the subject was contributed by Mr. W.
H. Goodyear to the _Architectural Record_, Vol. VI, 1896-7.

[182] I am indebted in connexion with these remarks on Gothic
architecture to a very interesting paper by Mr. L. March Phillipps in
the _Contemporary Review_ for September, 1907.

[183] For example, when molecules first grouped themselves (supposing
that was how it came about) into the form which resulted in living
protoplasm, their action was one of a chemico-physical nature, but the
response is not expressible in purely chemico-physical terms. Similarly
when sensation first appeared in protoplasm.

[184] Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung, Drittes Buch, _Die
Platonische Idee das Objekt der Kunst_.

[185] Camille Mauclair, French Impressionists. “Light,” writes M.
Mauclair, “becomes the sole subject of the picture; the interest of
the object upon which it plays is secondary. Painting thus conceived
becomes a purely optic art” (p. 32). “The principal person in a
picture,” said Manet, “is the light” (p. 42).

[186] No one who has seen “Le Penseur,” by Rodin, will doubt that
plastic art can render Thought. But literature alone could tell us what
he is thinking.



INDEX

_When a subject is treated on more than one consecutive page, reference
is usually made to the first page only._


  Action and Reaction, 264

  Adaptability, 13, 63

  Adaptation, in nature, how regarded by Paley, 3;
    argument from imperfect adaptations, 4, 14, 136, 143, 152;
    how conceived by evolution theory, 10, 12;
    Lamarck’s theory of, 68;
    Weismann’s theory, 93 _sqq._;
    Darwin’s explanation, 72;
    directive theory, 115 _sqq._;
    effects of new environment, 123 _sqq._
    See Co-adaptation

  Æschylus, 159

  _Amblystoma_, 40 (illustration facing), 125

  _Amœba_, 30, 47, 143

  Amphimixis, 39, 98

  _Anabæna_, 141

  _Anableps_, 100, 112

  Ants, 78, 85, 89, 111, 154

  Apperception and Free-will, 172

  Arch, effect of, in architecture, 258

  Aristotle, 247 _note_

  Art, 158;
    and Beauty, 237, 251;
    origin of, 239;
    question of subject in, 244, 268;
    an expression of life, 246, 250;
    Greek and Hottentot ideals of, 253;
    classification of the arts, 254;
    art in structure, 256;
    in ornament, 259;
    artistic effect of use and service, 260.
    See Music, Dancing, Literature, etc.

  Asceticism, 214 _sqq._, 218 _note_

  Axolotl, 125

  _Azolla_ fern, 141


  Bacon, F., 6

  Becoming, the universe a, 20, 186;
    Deity conceived as ‘becoming,’ 5

  Beddard, F. E., 24 _note_, 58, 106

  Bentham, J., 200

  Berkeley, Bp., 165 _note_, 176 _note_

  Bifocal eyes in fish, 99

  Bisexuality, significance of, in _Mollusca_, 101

  Bose, J. C., 21 _note_

  Brain-structure and Will, 178, 184

  Brown-Séquard, 78

  Butler, Bp., 241

  Bütschli, O., 30

  Butterflies, protective colouring of, 15, 83, 98, 106, 113, 127


  Catullus, 222

  Cave-animals, 71, 72 _note_, 78

  Cell, the, 29, 38;
    division of, 40 _sqq._;
    germ and sperm
    cells, 45, 51;
    fusion of, in reproduction, 53

  Chaffinch, case of hermaphrodite, 58

  Chlorophyll, 24;
    in animals, 26

  Christ, 205;
    martyrdom of, 232

  Chromatin, 39 _sqq._

  Cleanthes, 247

  Co-adaptation, 70, 80, 98, 138

  Competition, 58, 105

  Conjugation, 47

  Conscience, 211

  Co-operation among animals, 104, _Appendix B_;
    among species, 138

  Crabs, hermit, 141;
    Molucca, 280

  Crystallization, 22 _note_, 156


  Dancing, 270

  Darwin, Erasmus, 6, 281

  Darwin, Francis, 7, 33, 72, 87, 138

  Death, significance of, for the spirit, 190, 235

  Deity, the end, not beginning of nature, 5;
    personality of, 14, 17;
    immanent or transcendent? 155;
    defined by Æschylus, 159;
    an infinite, not related to phenomena, 162;
    how approached by man, 159, 162, _Appendix A_

  Determinants, 44;
    competition among, 98;
    significance of, in evolution, 68, 96

  Determinism, doctrine of, 163 _sqq._

  Development contrasted with growth, 32

  Dice, of nature loaded, 92, 102

  Dominants. See Reinke

  Drama, 272

  Dualism, 195

  Duty, sense of, not created by pleasures and pains, 203;
    effects of, compared with those of self-indulgence, 212


  Ego, the, 157, 207, _Appendix A_

  Eimer, G., 77 _note_, 110, 113 _note_, 137, 143, 152

  Elk, the Irish, 70

  Energy, how obtained by plants, 25;
    developed by synthesis, 27, 147;
    vital and mechanical, how distinguished, 144, 146, 148;
    supposed effects of the equal distribution of, 222

  Epictetus, 218, 226

  Ethics, how affected by determinism, 162-3;
    ethical development a condition of Free-will, 171;
    the problem of evil, 199, 207;
    utilitarian systems of, 201;
    goal of ethical action, 203 _sqq._;
    sanction of ethical action, 234;
    ethics epitomized, 234;
    ethics of sex relations, _Appendix E_

  Evolution, change in point of view produced by, 7, 8, 16, 17;
    produced competition, 104;
    unknown factors in, 149;
    evolution and involution, 186, 228.
    See Adaptation, species


  Fisher, M., 270

  Francis of Assisi, 215, _Appendix D_

  Free-will, position stated, 164 _sqq._;
    reason in action, 166;
    Spencer on, 166 _note_;
    conditions of, 169;
    moral bias of, 169 _sqq._;
    limitations of, 171 _sqq._;
    how evolved, 174;
    can it be reconciled with Monism? 175;
    will and brain, 177 _sqq._


  Germinal Selection, 93, 96

  Goethe, 6, 31, 185, 267

  Goodyear, W. H., 258 _note_

  Gravity, action of, on plants, 62, 145

  Guinan, Rev. J., 218 _note_

  Günther, C., 142, 152


  Haeckel, E., 39 _note_, 124, 126, 196, 239

  Henslow, G., 123

  Heracleitus, 146 _note_, 278

  Hermaphroditism, 58, 101

  Hugo, V., 273

  Hume, D., 6 _note_

  _Hydra_, 26


  Ids, 44

  Immortality, 189, 225, 283

  Imperfections in nature, 4, 14, 143, 152

  Impressionist school, 266

  Intelligence in nature, 14, 16, 130, 157

  Irish, the, in the U.S.A., 212 _note_

  Isabella and Claudio, problem of, _Appendix E_


  James, W., on Free-will, 176


  Kakasu Okakura, 250 _note_

  _Kallima paralecta_, 83, 129

  Kellogg, V. L., 144 _note_, 149

  Keyserling, H. v., 13 _note_, 17

  Knight, W., 239

  Kramskoy, 243

  Kropotkin, P., 104, _Appendix B_


  Lamarck, J. B., 6, 68;
    arguments against his theory, 75, 112, 202;
    Lamarckism the only alternative to ‘metaphysics,’ 91

  Language, evolution of, 133

  Lankester, Ray, 24 _note_

  Le Bon, G., 223

  Le Dantec, F., 22, 222

  _Lepus Huxleyi_, 126

  Life, universality of, 21;
    characteristics of organic, 23;
    mechanical conception of, 35, 92, 97;
    continually being produced, 37;
    innate capabilities of, 109;
    final cause of, 206, 208;
    the individual and the cosmic, 226;
    the goal of nature, 114, 246;
    polarity of, 253

  Literature, 271

  Lodge, O., 147 _note_

  Lotze, H., 185, 196


  Maeterlinck, M., 290

  Manet, E., 266 _note_

  Man, the growing-point of life, 154

  Martyrdoms, significance of, for ethics, 230, 233;
    of Socrates, 230;
    of Christ, 232

  Matter, its nature unknown, 178;
    transmitter of consciousness, 188;
    relation with consciousness not fortuitous, 192;
    known only through life, 224

  Mauclair, C., 266 _note_

  Mendel, Abbott, 58 _note_

  Metabolism, 27

  Metaphysics, physics rooted in, 110

  Miers, H. A., 22

  Mill, J. S., 164, 177, 201

  Mind, 137, 167.
    See Spirit, Intelligence

  Mitosis, 42 _note_

  Monism, 17 _sqq._;
    compatible with Free-will, 176;
    dualism and, 195

  Moorhead, T. G., 83

  Morlon, 243

  Movement, in music, 262, 264;
    in literature, 272

  Music, 261 _sqq._, 272

  Mysticism, 150


  Nägeli, C. v., 39, 110, 140, 149

  Natural Selection, a ‘superseded formula,’ 7 _note_;
    meaning of, 72;
    originates nothing, 75;
    a pillar of Weismann’s theory, 103;
    effect, not cause, of evolution, 104;
    a real though not the main force, 105, 109;
    in relation to mimetic markings, 106 _sqq._;
    and to mutual aid among species, 138

  Neuter insects. See Ants

  _Noctiluca_, 47

  Nucleus, of cell, 30, 39.


  Ojetti, Fr., 210 _note_

  Oken, L., 110, 137

  Oldfield, J., 213 _note_

  Osborn, H. F., 149 _note_

  ‘Ought,’ Bentham on the word, 201;
    contents of the word, 209

  Oysters, bisexuality in, 101


  Paley, W., his analogy of the watch, 1 _sqq._;
    on the annular ligament, 8;
    his conception of an ‘Esperanto’ universe, 136

  _Pandorina_, 49, 61, 156

  _Papilio meriones_, 107

  Parthenogenesis, 55

  Penrose, F. C., 257 _note_

  Perrier, E., 72 _note_, 91

  Personality, 157, 166, 207, 211, _Appendix A_

  Pianola, analogy of, 183

  ‘Pig-philosophy,’ 221

  Plato, 6, 170, 182 _note_, 185, 195, 227, 244, 246

  Poetry, 158.
    See Literature

  Porto Santo rabbit, 126

  Potato, response to mutilation, 117

  Poulton, E. B., 107

  Proteid, 23, 28

  Protoplasm, the substance of life, 27;
    structure of, 30;
    distinguished from minerals, 37;
    response in, 61, 112, 113, 117, 119 _note_, 144;
    a synthesis of molecules, 147


  Reinke, J., on the _X_ factor in life, 1, 63, 117;
    his theory of dominants, 120, 175

  Religion, 159, 212, 277

  Reproduction, 39, 46;
    in multicellular organisms, 48;
    sexual, 51

  Response, 61, 112, 115.
    See, Life, Protoplasm

  Rhythm, 254, 262

  Right-handedness, 81

  Rolleston, Geo., 54

  Ruskin, J., 258 _note_


  Saleeby, C. W., 288

  Sanction, ethical, 214, 220, 226 _sqq._, 234

  Santayana, G., 181, 204

  Schopenhauer, A., 110, 196, 265

  Selection. See Natural Selection, Germinal Selection

  Sex, determination of, 57;
    ethical problems connected with, _Appendix E_

  Sigerson, G., 81 _note_

  Sins, mortal and venial, 210 _note_

  Slater, Fr., 210 _note_

  Sloth, green fur of, 24 _note_

  Snails, bisexuality in, 101

  Species, fixity of, 43, 66;
    mutability of, 67;
    origin of, not modification of structure by use, ch. IV.;
    not chance variations, ch. V.;
    due to directive or psychic factor, ch. VI.;
    species an organic whole, 49, 138, 147.
    See Adaptation, Evolution

  Spencer, H., controversy with Weismann, 87, 149 _note_;
    on social institutions, 131;
    on Free-will, 166 _note_;
    his ethical system, 202, _App. C & E_

  Spinoza, B., 196

  Spirit, the human, how accounted for, 151, 175;
    relations to Matter, 178;
    death not a disintegration of, 190

  Socrates, 227, 230

  Stoicism, ethical formula of, 194;
    conception of Asceticism, 217;
    what Stoicism lacked, 227

  Strasburger, E., 11, 54, 109

  Synthesis, principle of, in nature, 119 _note_, 137, 142, 146, 157


  Tennyson, A., 170, 219

  Thomson, W. H., 184

  Tolstoy, L., on Art, 236 _sqq._

  Tree, response of roots and shoots to mutilation in, 119


  Uexküll, J. v., 13

  Unity of nature, 17, 157

  Useless structures, 103 _note_

  Utilitarian school of ethics, 200, 229, _Appendices C & E_


  Variations, in reproduction cells, 73, 75;
    do chance variations afford basis for selection? 92, 94 _sqq._

  Verworn, Max, 27 _note_, 148

  _Viola_, 140

  Virchow, R., 45 _note_

  Viré, A., 72 _note_

  _Volvox_, 49


  Wagner, R., 272

  Wallace, A. R., 105, 125 _note_, 175

  Watch, Paley’s analogy of, 1 _sqq._

  Weed, in New Zealand, destroyed by willows, 105

  Weismann, A., 7 _note_, 34, 48, 61, 63;
    controversy with Spencer, 87;
    his alternative to Lamarckism, 93;
    his determinants equivalent to Reinke’s dominants, 122

  Whale, evolution of, 67

  Whitman, Walt, 160, 196, 237, 250 _note_

  Whole, the, its demands on the individual, 220;
    what it gives to the individual, 225;
    the universe a, 17;
    a whole more than the sum of its parts, 119 _note_;
    consciousness, etc., of the, 157

  Wilson, E. B., 33, 38 _notes_, 41, 50, 55, 119 _note_

  Wöhler, 24

  Wordsworth, W., 249


  _X_ factor in life, 1;
    directive character of, 63, 113, 116, 128.
    See Adaptation, Intelligence, Language


  Zola, E., 248


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