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Title: Essays: Scientific, Political, and Speculative; Vol. II of Three - Library Edition (1891), Containing Seven Essays not before - Republished, and Various other Additions.
Author: Spencer, Herbert
Language: English
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*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Essays: Scientific, Political, and Speculative; Vol. II of Three - Library Edition (1891), Containing Seven Essays not before - Republished, and Various other Additions." ***

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 (otherwise fifth thousand,)

 _Containing Seven Essays not before Republished,_
 _and various other additions_.






 THE GENESIS OF SCIENCE                                                1

 THE CLASSIFICATION OF THE SCIENCES                                   74



 THE VALUATION OF EVIDENCE                                           161

 WHAT IS ELECTRICITY?                                                168

 MILL _versus_ HAMILTON—THE TEST OF TRUTH                            188

 REPLIES TO CRITICISMS                                               218

 PROF. GREEN’S EXPLANATIONS                                          321

 THE PHILOSOPHY OF STYLE                                             333

 USE AND BEAUTY                                                      370

 THE SOURCES OF ARCHITECTURAL TYPES                                  375

 GRACEFULNESS                                                        381

 PERSONAL BEAUTY                                                     387

 THE ORIGIN AND FUNCTION OF MUSIC                                    400

 THE PHYSIOLOGY OF LAUGHTER                                          452

                  (_For Index, see Volume III._)



[_First published in_ The British Quarterly Review _for July 1854_.]

There still prevails among men a vague notion that scientific knowledge
differs in nature from ordinary knowledge. By the Greeks, with whom
Mathematics—literally _things learnt_—was alone considered as knowledge
proper, the distinction must have been strongly felt; and it has ever
since maintained itself in the general mind. Though, considering
the contrast between the achievements of science and those of daily
unmethodic thinking, it is not surprising that such a distinction
has been assumed; yet it needs but to rise a little above the common
point of view, to see that it is but a superficial distinction. The
same faculties are employed in both cases; and in both cases their
mode of operation is fundamentally the same. If we say that science
is organized knowledge, we are met by the truth that all knowledge is
organized in a greater or less degree—that the commonest actions of
the household and the field presuppose facts colligated, inferences
drawn, results expected; and that the general success of these actions
proves the data by which they were guided to have been correctly put
together. If, again, we say that science is prevision—is a seeing
beforehand—is a knowing in what {2} times, places, combinations,
or sequences, specified phenomena will be found; we are obliged to
confess that the definition includes much that is foreign to science
in its ordinary acceptation: for example, a child’s knowledge of an
apple. This, as far as it goes, consists in previsions. When a child
sees a certain form and colours, it knows that if it puts out its
hand it will have certain impressions of resistance, and roundness,
and smoothness; and if it bites, a certain taste. And manifestly its
general acquaintance with surrounding objects is of like nature—is
made up of facts concerning them, grouped so that any part of a group
being perceived, the existence of the other facts included in it is
foreseen. If, once more, we say that science is _exact_ prevision,
we still fail to establish the supposed difference. Not only do we
find that much of what we call science is not exact, and that some of
it, as physiology, can never become exact; but we find further, that
many of the previsions constituting the common stock alike of wise
and foolish, _are_ exact. That an unsupported body will fall; that a
lighted candle will go out when immersed in water; that ice will melt
when thrown on the fire—these, and many like predictions relating to
the familiar properties of things, have as high a degree of accuracy as
predictions are capable of. It is true that the results foreseen are of
a very general character; but it is none the less true that they are
correct as far as they go: and this is all that is requisite to fulfil
the definition. There is perfect accordance between the anticipated
phenomena and the actual ones; and no more than this can be said of the
highest achievements of the sciences specially characterized as exact.

Seeing thus that the assumed distinction between scientific knowledge
and common knowledge cannot be sustained; and yet feeling, as we must,
that however impossible it may be to draw a line between them, the two
are not practically identical; there arises the question—What is the
relationship {3} between them? A partial answer to this question may
be drawn from the illustrations just given. On reconsidering them, it
will be observed that those portions of ordinary knowledge which are
identical in character with scientific knowledge, comprehend only such
combinations of phenomena as are directly cognizable by the senses,
and are of simple, invariable nature. That the smoke from a fire which
she is lighting will ascend, and that the fire will presently boil
the water placed over it, are previsions which the servant-girl makes
equally well with the most learned physicist; but they are previsions
concerning phenomena in constant and direct relation—phenomena that
follow visibly and immediately after their antecedents—phenomena of
which the causation is neither remote nor obscure—phenomena which may
be predicted by the simplest possible act of reasoning. If, now, we
pass to the previsions constituting science—that an eclipse of the
moon will happen at a specified time; that when a barometer is taken
to the top of a mountain of known height, the mercurial column will
descend a stated number of inches; that the poles of a galvanic battery
immersed in water will give off, the one an inflammable and the other
an inflaming gas, in definite ratio—we perceive that the relations
involved are not of a kind habitually presented to our senses. They
depend, some of them, on special combinations of causes; and in some of
them the connexion between antecedents and consequents is established
only by an elaborate series of inferences. A broad distinction,
therefore, between scientific knowledge and common knowledge is its
remoteness from perception. If we regard the cases in their most
general aspect, we see that the labourer who, on hearing certain notes
in the adjacent hedge, can describe the particular form and colours
of the bird making them, and the astronomer who, having calculated a
transit of Venus, can delineate the black spot entering on the sun’s
disc, as it will appear through the telescope, at a specified hour,
do {4} essentially the same thing. Each knows that on fulfilling the
requisite conditions, he shall have a preconceived impression—that
after a definite series of actions will come a group of sensations of
a foreknown kind. The difference, then, is neither in the fundamental
character of the mental acts; nor in the correctness of the previsions
accomplished by them; but in the complexity of the processes required
to achieve the previsions. Much of our common knowledge is, as far
as it goes, precise. Science does not increase its precision. What
then does it do? It reduces other knowledge to the same degree of
precision. That certainty which direct perception gives us respecting
coexistences and sequences of the simplest and most accessible kind,
science gives us respecting coexistences and sequences, complex in
their dependencies, or inaccessible to immediate observation. In brief,
regarded from this point of view, science may be called _an extension
of the perceptions by means of reasoning_.

On further considering the matter, however, it will perhaps be felt
that this definition does not express the whole fact—that inseparable
as science may be from common knowledge, and completely as we may fill
up the gap between the simplest previsions of the child and the most
recondite ones of the physicist, by interposing a series of previsions
in which the complexity of reasoning involved is greater and greater,
there is yet a difference between the two beyond that above described.
And this is true. But the difference is still not such as enables us to
draw the assumed line of demarcation. It is a difference not between
common knowledge and scientific knowledge; but between the successive
phases of science itself, or knowledge itself—whichever we choose to
call it. In its earlier phases science attains only to _certainty_ of
foresight; in its later phases it further attains to _completeness_.
We begin by discovering _a_ relation; we end by discovering _the_
relation. Our first achievement is to foretell the _kind_ {5} of
phenomenon which will occur under specified conditions; our last
achievement is to foretell not only the kind but the _amount_. Or, to
reduce the proposition to its most definite form—undeveloped science is
_qualitative_ prevision; developed science is _quantitative_ prevision.

This will at once be perceived to express the remaining distinction
between the lower and the higher stages of positive knowledge. The
prediction that a piece of lead will take more force to lift it
than a piece of wood of equal size, exhibits certainty, but not
completeness, of foresight. The kind of effect in which the one body
will exceed the other is foreseen; but not the amount by which it will
exceed. There is qualitative prevision only. On the other hand, the
predictions that at a stated time two particular planets will be in
conjunction; that by means of a lever having arms in a given ratio, a
known force will raise just so many pounds; that to decompose a given
quantity of sulphate of iron by carbonate of soda will require so many
grains—these predictions show foreknowledge, not only of the nature of
the effects to be produced, but of the magnitude, either of the effects
themselves, of the agencies producing them, or of the distance in time
or space at which they will be produced. There is both qualitative
provision and quantitative prevision. And this is the unexpressed
difference which leads us to consider certain orders of knowledge as
especially scientific when contrasted with knowledge in general. Are
the phenomena _measurable_? is the test which we unconsciously employ.
Space is measurable: hence Geometry. Force and space are measurable:
hence Statics. Time, force, and space are measurable: hence Dynamics.
The invention of the barometer enabled men to extend the principles
of mechanics to the atmosphere; and Aerostatics existed. When a
thermometer was devised there arose a science of heat, which was before
impossible. Of such external agents as we have found no measures
but our sensations {6} we have no sciences. We have no science of
smells; nor have we one of tastes. We have a science of the relations
of sounds differing in pitch, because we have discovered a way to
measure these relations; but we have no science of sounds in respect to
their loudness or their _timbre_, because we have got no measures of
loudness and _timbre_. Obviously it is this reduction of the sensible
phenomena it presents, to relations of magnitude, which gives to any
division of knowledge its specially scientific character. Originally
men’s knowledge of weights and forces was like their present knowledge
of smells and tastes—a knowledge not extending beyond that given by
the unaided sensations; and it remained so until weighing instruments
and dynamometers were invented. Before there were hour-glasses and
clepsydras, most phenomena could be estimated as to their durations
and intervals, with no greater precision than degrees of hardness can
be estimated by the fingers. Until a thermometric scale was contrived,
men’s judgments respecting relative amounts of heat stood on the same
footing with their present judgments respecting relative amounts of
sound. And as in these initial stages, with no aids to observation,
only the roughest comparisons of cases could be made, and only the most
marked differences perceived, it resulted that only the most simple
laws of dependence could be ascertained—only those laws which, being
uncomplicated with others, and not disturbed in their manifestations,
required no niceties of observation to disentangle them. Whence it
appears not only that in proportion as knowledge becomes quantitative
do its previsions become complete as well as certain, but that until
its assumption of a quantitative character it is necessarily confined
to the most elementary relations.

Moreover it is to be remarked that while, on the one hand, we
can discover the laws of the greater part of phenomena only by
investigating them quantitatively; on the other hand we can extend
the range of our quantitative {7} previsions only as fast as we
detect the laws of the results we predict. For clearly the ability to
specify the magnitude of a result inaccessible to direct measurement,
implies knowledge of its mode of dependence on something which can be
measured—implies that we know the particular fact dealt with to be
an instance of some more general fact. Thus the extent to which our
quantitative previsions have been carried in any direction, indicates
the depth to which our knowledge reaches in that direction. And here,
as another aspect of the same fact, it may be observed that as we pass
from qualitative to quantitative prevision, we pass from inductive
science to deductive science. Science while purely inductive is purely
qualitative; when inaccurately quantitative it usually consists of
part induction, part deduction; and it becomes accurately quantitative
only when wholly deductive. We do not mean that the deductive and the
quantitative are coextensive; for there is manifestly much deduction
that is qualitative only. We mean that all quantitative prevision is
reached deductively; and that induction can achieve only qualitative

Still, however, it must not be supposed that these distinctions enable
us to separate ordinary knowledge from science; much as they seem to
do so. While they show in what consists the broad contrast between
the extreme forms of the two, they yet lead us to recognize their
essential identity, and once more prove the difference to be one of
degree only. For, on the one hand, much of our common knowledge is
to some extent quantitative; seeing that the amount of the foreseen
result is known within certain wide limits. And, on the other hand,
the highest quantitative prevision does not reach the exact truth, but
only a near approach to it. Without clocks the savage knows that the
day is longer in the summer than in the winter; without scales he knows
that stone is heavier than flesh; that is, he can foresee respecting
certain results that their amounts will exceed these, and be less than
{8} those—he knows _about_ what they will be. And, with his most
delicate instruments and most elaborate calculations, all that the man
of science can do, is to reduce the difference between the foreseen and
the actual results to an unimportant quantity. Moreover, it must be
borne in mind not only that all the sciences are qualitative in their
first stages,—not only that some of them, as Chemistry, have but lately
reached the quantitative stage—but that the most advanced sciences
have attained to their present power of determining quantities not
present to the senses, or not directly measurable, by a slow process
of improvement extending through thousands of years. So that science
and the knowledge of the uncultured are alike in the nature of their
previsions, widely as they differ in range; they possess a common
imperfection, though this is immensely greater in the last than in the
first; and the transition from the one to the other has been through a
series of steps by which the imperfection has been rendered continually
less, and the range continually wider.

These facts, that science and ordinary knowledge are allied in
nature, and that the one is but a perfected and extended form of the
other, must necessarily underlie the whole theory of science, its
progress, and the relations of its parts to each other. There must be
incompleteness in any history of the sciences, which, leaving out of
view the first steps of their genesis, commences with them only when
they assume definite forms. There must be grave defects, if not a
general untruth, in a philosophy of the sciences considered in their
interdependence and development, which neglects the inquiry how they
came to be distinct sciences, and how they were severally evolved
out of the chaos of primitive ideas. Not only a direct consideration
of the matter, but all analogy, goes to show that in the earlier and
simpler stages must be sought the key to all subsequent intricacies.
The time was when the anatomy and physiology of the human being were
studied {9} by themselves—when the adult man was analyzed and the
relations of parts and of functions investigated, without reference
either to the relations exhibited in the embryo or to the homologous
relations existing in other creatures. Now, however, it has become
manifest that no true conceptions are possible under such conditions.
Anatomists and physiologists find that the real natures of organs and
tissues can be ascertained only by tracing their early evolution; and
that the affinities between existing genera can be satisfactorily made
out only by examining the fossil genera to which they are akin. Well,
is it not clear that the like must be true concerning all things that
undergo development? Is not science a growth? Has not science, too,
its embryology? And must not the neglect of its embryology lead to a
misunderstanding of the principles of its evolution and of its existing

There are _à priori_ reasons, therefore, for doubting the truth of all
philosophies of the sciences which tacitly proceed upon the common
notion that scientific knowledge and ordinary knowledge are separate;
instead of commencing, as they should, by affiliating the one upon the
other, and showing how it gradually came to be distinguishable from
the other. We may expect to find their generalizations essentially
artificial; and we shall not be deceived. Some illustrations of this
may here be fitly introduced, by way of preliminary to a brief sketch
of the genesis of science from the point of view indicated. And we
cannot more readily find such illustrations than by glancing at a few
of the various _classifications_ of the sciences that have from time to
time been proposed. To consider all of them would take too much space:
we must content ourselves with some of the latest.

       *       *       *       *       *

Commencing with those which may be soonest disposed of, let us notice,
first, the arrangement propounded by Oken. An abstract of it runs thus:―

 Part I. MATHESIS.—_Pneumatogeny_: Primary Act, Primary
 Consciousness, {10} God, Primary Rest, Time, Polarity, Motion, Man,
 Space, Point, Line, Surface, Globe, Rotation.—_Hylogeny_: Gravity,
 Matter, Ether, Heavenly Bodies, Light, Heat, Fire.

   (He explains that MATHESIS is the doctrine of the whole;
   _Pneumatogeny_ being the doctrine of immaterial totalities, and
   _Hylogeny_ that of material totalities.)

 Part II. ONTOLOGY.—_Cosmogeny_: Rest, Centre, Motion, Line,
 Planets, Form, Planetary System, Comets.—_Stöchiogeny_: Condensation,
 Simple Matter, Elements, Air, Water, Earth.—_Stöchiology_: Functions
 of the Elements, &c. &c.—_Kingdoms of Nature_: Individuals.

   (He says in explanation that ‘ONTOLOGY teaches
   us the phenomena of matter. The first of these are the
   heavenly bodies comprehended by _Cosmogeny_. These divide
   into elements.—_Stöchiogeny._ The earth element divides
   into minerals—_Mineralogy_. These unite into one collective
   body—_Geogeny_. The whole in singulars is the living, or _Organic_,
   which again divides into plants and animals. _Biology_, therefore,
   divides into _Organogeny_, _Phytosophy_, _Zoosophy_.’)


 Part III. BIOLOGY.—_Organosophy_, _Phytogeny_,
 _Phyto-physiology_, _Phytology_, _Zoogeny_, _Physiology_, _Zoology_,

A glance over this confused scheme shows that it is an attempt to
classify knowledge, not after the order in which it has been, or may
be, built up in the human consciousness; but after an assumed order
of creation. It is a pseudo-scientific cosmogony, akin to those which
men have enunciated from the earliest times downwards; and only a
little more respectable. As such it will not be thought worthy of much
consideration by those who, like ourselves, hold that experience is
the sole origin of knowledge. Otherwise, it might have been needful to
dwell on the incongruities of the arrangement—to ask how motion can be
treated of before space? how there can be rotation without matter to
rotate? how polarity can be dealt with without involving points and
lines? But it will serve our present purpose just to indicate a few of
the absurdities resulting from the doctrine which Oken seems to hold in
common with Hegel, that “to philosophize on Nature is to re-think the
great thought of Creation.” Here is a sample:―

“Mathematics is the universal science; so also is {11}
Physio-philosophy, although it is only a part, or rather but a
condition of the universe; both are one, or mutually congruent.

“Mathematics is, however, a science of mere forms without substance.
Physio-philosophy is, therefore, _mathematics endowed with substance_.”

From the English point of view it is sufficiently amusing to find such
a dogma not only gravely stated, but stated as an unquestionable truth.
Here we see the experiences of quantitative relations which men have
gathered from surrounding bodies and generalized (experiences which
had been scarcely at all generalized at the beginning of the historic
period)—we find these generalized experiences, these intellectual
abstractions, elevated into concrete actualities, projected back
into Nature, and considered as the internal frame-work of things—the
skeleton by which matter is sustained. But this new form of the old
realism, is by no means the most startling of the physio-philosophic
principles. We presently read that,

“The highest mathematical idea, or the fundamental principle of all
mathematics is the zero = 0.” * * *

“Zero is in itself nothing. Mathematics is based upon nothing, and,
_consequently_, arises out of nothing.

“Out of nothing, _therefore_, it is possible for something to arise;
for mathematics, consisting of propositions, is a something in relation
to 0.”

By such “consequentlys” and “therefores” it is, that men philosophize
when they “re-think the great thought of creation.” By dogmas that
pretend to be reasons, nothing is made to generate mathematics; and by
clothing mathematics with matter, we have the universe! If now we deny,
as we _do_ deny, that the highest mathematical idea is the zero—if,
on the other hand, we assert, as we _do_ assert, that the fundamental
idea underlying all mathematics, is that of equality; the whole of
Oken’s cosmogony disappears. And here, indeed, we may see illustrated,
the distinctive peculiarity of the German method of procedure in these
{12} matters—the bastard _à priori_ method, as it may be termed. The
legitimate _à priori_ method sets out with propositions of which the
negation is inconceivable; the _à priori_ method as illegitimately
applied, sets out either with propositions of which the negation is
_not_ inconceivable, or with propositions like Oken’s, of which the
_affirmation_ is inconceivable.

It is needless to proceed further with the analysis; else might we
detail the steps by which Oken arrives at the conclusions that “the
planets are coagulated colours, for they are coagulated light”; that
“the sphere is the expanded nothing;” that gravity is “a weighty
nothing, a heavy essence, striving towards a centre;” that “the earth
is the identical, water the indifferent, air the different; or the
first the centre, the second the radius, the last the periphery of the
general globe or of fire.” To comment on them would be nearly as absurd
as are the propositions themselves. Let us pass on to another of the
German systems of knowledge—that of Hegel.

The simple fact that Hegel puts Jacob Bœhme on a par with Bacon,
suffices alone to show that his stand-point is far remote from the one
usually regarded as scientific: so far remote, indeed, that it is not
easy to find any common basis on which to found a criticism. Those who
hold that the mind is moulded into conformity with surrounding things
by the agency of surrounding things, are necessarily at a loss how to
deal with those who, like Schelling and Hegel, assert that surrounding
things are solidified mind—that Nature is “petrified intelligence.”
However, let us briefly glance at Hegel’s classification. He divides
philosophy into three parts:―

1. _Logic_, or the science of the idea in itself, the pure idea.

2. _The Philosophy of Nature_, or the science of the idea considered
under its other form—of the idea as Nature.

3. _The Philosophy of the Mind_, or the science of the idea in its
return to itself.

Of these, the second is divided into the natural sciences, {13}
commonly so-called; so that in its more detailed form the series runs
thus:—Logic, Mechanics, Physics, Organic Physics, Psychology.

Now, if we believe with Hegel, first, that thought is the true essence
of man; second, that thought is the essence of the world; and that,
therefore, there is nothing but thought; his classification, beginning
with the science of pure thought, may be acceptable. But otherwise, it
is an obvious objection to his arrangement, that thought implies things
thought of—that there can be no logical forms without the substance of
experience—that the science of ideas and the science of things must
have a simultaneous origin. Hegel, however, anticipates this objection,
and, in his obstinate idealism, replies, that the contrary is true. He
affirms that all contained in the forms, to become something, requires
to be thought; and that logical forms are the foundations of all things.

It is not surprising that, starting from such premises, and reasoning
after this fashion, Hegel finds his way to strange conclusions. Out
of _space_ and _time_ he proceeds to build up _motion_, _matter_,
_repulsion_, _attraction_, _weight_, and _inertia_. He then goes on to
logically evolve the solar system. In doing this he widely diverges
from the Newtonian theory; reaches by syllogism the conviction that
the planets are the most perfect celestial bodies; and, not being able
to bring the stars within his theory, says that they are mere formal
existences and not living matter, and that as compared with the solar
system they are as little admirable as a cutaneous eruption or a swarm
of flies.[1] Results so absurd might be left as self-disproved, were
it not that speculators of this class are not alarmed by any amount
of incongruity with established beliefs. The only efficient mode of
treating systems like this of {14} Hegel, is to show that they are
self-destructive—that by their first steps they ignore that authority
on which all their subsequent steps depend. If Hegel professes, as he
manifestly does, to develop his scheme by reasoning—if he presents
successive inferences as _necessarily following_ from certain premises;
he implies the postulate that a belief which necessarily follows after
certain antecedents is a true belief; and did an opponent reply to one
of his inferences that, though it was impossible to think the opposite,
yet the opposite was true, he would consider the reply irrational. The
procedure, however, which he would thus condemn as destructive of all
thinking whatever, is just the procedure exhibited in the enunciation
of his own first principles. Mankind find themselves unable to conceive
that there can be thought without things thought of. Hegel, however,
asserts that there _can_ be thought without things thought of. That
ultimate test of a true proposition—the inability of the human mind
to conceive the negation of it—which in all the successive steps of
his arguments he considers valid, he considers invalid where it suits
his convenience to do so; and yet at the same time denies the right
of an opponent to follow his example. If it is competent for him to
posit dogmas which are the direct negations of what human consciousness
recognizes; then is it also competent for his antagonists to stop him
at any moment by saying, that though the particular inference he is
drawing seems to his mind, and to all minds, necessarily to follow
from the premises, yet it is not true, but the contrary inference is
true. Or, to state the dilemma in another form:—If he sets out with
inconceivable propositions, then may he with equal propriety make
all his succeeding propositions inconceivable ones—may at every step
throughout his reasoning draw the opposite conclusion to that which
seems involved.

Hegel’s mode of procedure being thus essentially suicidal, the Hegelian
classification which depends upon {15} it, falls to the ground. Let us
consider next that of M. Comte.

As all his readers must admit, M. Comte presents us with a scheme of
the sciences which, unlike the foregoing ones, demands respectful
consideration. Widely as we differ from him, we cheerfully bear witness
to the largeness of his views, the clearness of his reasoning, and the
value of his speculations as contributing to intellectual progress.
Did we believe a serial arrangement of the sciences to be possible,
that of M. Comte would certainly be the one we should adopt. His
fundamental propositions are thoroughly intelligible; and, if not true,
have a great semblance of truth. His successive steps are logically
co-ordinated; and he supports his conclusions by a considerable amount
of evidence—evidence which, so long as it is not critically examined,
or not met by counter evidence, seems to substantiate his positions.
But it only needs to assume that antagonistic attitude which _ought_
to be assumed towards new doctrines, in the belief that, if true, they
will prosper by conquering objectors—it needs but to test his leading
doctrines either by other facts than those he cites, or by his own
facts differently applied, to show that they will not stand. We will
proceed thus to deal with the general principle on which he bases his
hierarchy of the sciences.

In the condensed translation of the _Positive Philosophy_, by Miss
Martineau, M. Comte says:—“Our problem is, then, to find the one
_rational_ order, amongst a host of possible systems.” . . “This order
is determined by the degree of simplicity, or, what comes to the same
thing, of generality of their phenomena.” And the arrangement he
deduces runs thus:—_Mathematics_, _Astronomy_, _Physics_, _Chemistry_,
_Physiology_, _Social Physics_. This he asserts to be “the true
_filiation_ of the sciences.” He asserts further, that the principle
of progression from a greater to a less degree of generality, “which
gives this order to the whole body of science, arranges the parts of
each science.” And, {16} finally, he asserts that the gradations
thus established _à priori_ among the sciences and the parts of
each science, “is in essential conformity with the order which has
spontaneously taken place among the branches of natural philosophy;”
or, in other words—corresponds with the order of historic development.

Let us compare these assertions with the facts. That there may be
perfect fairness, let us make no choice, but take as the field
for our comparison, the succeeding section treating of the first
science—Mathematics; and let us use none but M. Comte’s own facts,
and his own admissions. Confining ourselves to this one science, we
are limited to comparisons between its several parts. M. Comte says,
that the parts of each science must be arranged in the order of their
decreasing generality; and that this order of decreasing generality
agrees with the order of historic development. Our inquiry will be,
then, whether the history of mathematics confirms this statement.

Carrying out his principle, M. Comte divides Mathematics into “Abstract
Mathematics, or the Calculus (taking the word in its most extended
sense) and Concrete Mathematics, which is composed of General Geometry
and of Rational Mechanics.” The subject-matter of the first of these is
_number_; the subject-matter of the second includes _space_, _time_,
_motion_, _force_. The one possesses the highest possible degree of
generality; for all things whatever admit of enumeration. The others
are less general; seeing that there are endless phenomena that are
not cognizable either by general geometry or rational mechanics. In
conformity with the alleged law, therefore, the evolution of the
calculus must throughout have preceded the evolution of the concrete
sub-sciences. Now somewhat awkwardly for him, the first remark M. Comte
makes bearing on this point is, that “from an historical point of view,
mathematical analysis _appears to have arisen out of_ the contemplation
of geometrical and mechanical facts.” True, he goes {17} on to say
that, “it is not the less independent of these sciences logically
speaking;” for that “analytical ideas are, above all others, universal,
abstract, and simple; and geometrical conceptions are necessarily
founded on them.” We will not take advantage of this last passage to
charge M. Comte with teaching, after the fashion of Hegel, that there
can be thought without things thought of. We are content simply to
compare the assertion, that analysis arose out of the contemplation of
geometrical and mechanical facts, with the assertion that geometrical
conceptions are founded upon analytical ones. Literally interpreted
they exactly cancel each other. Interpreted, however, in a liberal
sense, they imply, what we believe to be demonstrable, that the two
had _a simultaneous origin_. The passage is either nonsense, or it is
an admission that abstract and concrete mathematics are coeval. Thus,
at the very first step, the alleged congruity between the order of
generality and the order of evolution, does not hold good.

But may it not be that though abstract and concrete mathematics took
their rise at the same time, the one afterwards developed more rapidly
than the other; and has ever since remained in advance of it? No: and
again we call M. Comte himself as witness. Fortunately for his argument
he has said nothing respecting the early stages of the concrete and
abstract divisions after their divergence from a common root; otherwise
the advent of Algebra long after the Greek geometry had reached a high
development, would have been an inconvenient fact for him to deal with.
But passing over this, and limiting ourselves to his own statements,
we find, at the opening of the next chapter, the admission, that “the
historical development of the abstract portion of mathematical science
has, since the time of Descartes, been for the most part _determined_
by that of the concrete.” Further on we read respecting algebraic
functions that “most functions were concrete in their origin—even
those which are at present the most purely {18} abstract; and the
ancients discovered only through geometrical definitions elementary
algebraic properties of functions to which a numerical value was not
attached till long afterwards, rendering abstract to us what was
concrete to the old geometers.” How do these statements tally with
his doctrine? Again, having divided the calculus into algebraic and
arithmetical, M. Comte admits, as perforce he must, that the algebraic
is more general than the arithmetical; yet he will not say that algebra
preceded arithmetic in point of time. And again, having divided the
calculus of functions into the calculus of direct functions (common
algebra) and the calculus of indirect functions (transcendental
analysis), he is obliged to speak of this last as possessing a higher
generality than the first; yet it is far more modern. Indeed, by
implication, M. Comte himself confesses this incongruity; for he
says:—“It might seem that the transcendental analysis ought to be
studied before the ordinary, as it provides the equations which the
other has to resolve. But though the transcendental _is logically
independent of the ordinary_, it is best to follow the usual method of
study, taking the ordinary first.” In all these cases, then, as well as
at the close of the section where he predicts that mathematicians will
in time “create procedures of a _wider generality_,” M. Comte makes
admissions that are diametrically opposed to the alleged law.

In the succeeding chapters treating of the concrete department of
mathematics, we find similar contradictions. M. Comte himself names the
geometry of the ancients _special_ geometry and that of the moderns
_general_ geometry. He admits that while “the ancients studied geometry
with reference to the _bodies_ under notice, or specially; the moderns
study it with reference to the _phenomena_ to be considered, or
generally.” He admits that while “the ancients extracted all they could
out of one line or surface before passing to another,” “the moderns,
since Descartes, employ themselves on questions {19} which relate to
any figure whatever.” These facts are the reverse of what, according
to his theory, they should be. So, too, in mechanics. Before dividing
it into statics and dynamics, M. Comte treats of the three laws of
_motion_, and is obliged to do so; for statics, the more _general_ of
the two divisions, though it does not involve motion, is impossible
as a science until the laws of motion are ascertained. Yet the laws
of motion pertain to dynamics, the more _special_ of the divisions.
Further on he points out that after Archimedes, who discovered the
law of equilibrium of the lever, statics made no progress until the
establishment of dynamics enabled us to seek “the conditions of
equilibrium through the laws of the composition of forces.” And he
adds—“At this day _this is the method universally employed_. At the
first glance it does not appear the most rational—dynamics being
more complicated than statics, and precedence being natural to the
simpler. It would, in fact, be more philosophical to refer dynamics to
statics, as has since been done.” Sundry discoveries are afterwards
detailed, showing how completely the development of statics has been
achieved by considering its problems dynamically; and before the close
of the section M. Comte remarks that “before hydrostatics could be
comprehended under statics, it was necessary that the abstract theory
of equilibrium should be made so general as to apply directly to fluids
as well as solids. This was accomplished when Lagrange supplied, as
the basis of the whole of rational mechanics, the single principle of
virtual velocities.” In which statement we have two facts directly at
variance with M. Comte’s doctrine;—first, that the simpler science,
statics, reached its present development only by the aid of the
principle of virtual velocities, which belongs to the more complex
science, dynamics; and that this “single principle” underlying all
rational mechanics—this _most general form_ which includes alike the
relations of statical, {20} hydrostatical, and dynamical forces—was
reached so late as the time of Lagrange.

Thus it is _not_ true that the historical succession of the divisions
of mathematics has corresponded with the order of decreasing
generality. It is _not_ true that abstract mathematics was evolved
antecedently to, and independently of, concrete mathematics. It is
_not_ true that of the subdivisions of abstract mathematics, the
more general came before the more special. And it is _not_ true that
concrete mathematics, in either of its two sections, began with the
most abstract and advanced to the less abstract truths.

It may be well to mention, parenthetically, that, in defending his
alleged law of progression from the general to the special, M. Comte
somewhere comments upon the two meanings of the word _general_, and
the resulting liability to confusion. Without now discussing whether
the asserted distinction exists in other cases, it is manifest that
it does not exist here. In sundry of the instances above quoted, the
endeavours made by M. Comte himself to disguise, or to explain away,
the precedence of the special over the general, clearly indicate that
the generality spoken of is of the kind meant by his formula. And it
needs but a brief consideration of the matter to show that, even did he
attempt it, he could not distinguish this generality which, as above
proved, frequently comes last, from the generality which he says always
comes first. For what is the nature of that mental process by which
objects, dimensions, weights, times, and the rest, are found capable
of having their relations expressed numerically? It is the formation
of certain abstract conceptions of unity, duality, and multiplicity,
which are applicable to all things alike. It is the invention of
general symbols serving to express the numerical relations of entities,
whatever be their special characters. And what is the nature of the
mental process by which numbers are found capable of having their
relations expressed algebraically? It is the same. {21} It is the
formation of certain abstract conceptions of numerical functions which
are constant whatever be the magnitudes of the numbers. It is the
invention of general symbols serving to express the relations between
numbers, as numbers express the relations between things. Just as
arithmetic deals with the common properties of lines, areas, bulks,
forces, periods; so does algebra deal with the common properties of the
numbers which arithmetic presents.

Having shown that M. Comte’s alleged law of progression does not hold
among the several parts of the same science, let us see how it agrees
with the facts when applied to the separate sciences. “Astronomy,”
says M. Comte (_Positive Philosophy_, Book III.), “was a positive
science, in its geometrical aspect, from the earliest days of the
school of Alexandria; but Physics, which we are now to consider, had
no positive character at all till Galileo made his great discoveries
on the fall of heavy bodies.” On this, our comment is simply that
it is a misrepresentation based upon an arbitrary misuse of words—a
mere verbal artifice. By choosing to exclude from terrestrial physics
those laws of magnitude, motion, and position, which he includes in
celestial physics, M. Comte makes it appear that the last owes nothing
to the first. Not only is this unwarrantable, but it is radically
inconsistent with his own scheme of divisions. At the outset he
says—and as the point is important we quote from the original—“Pour
la _physique inorganique_ nous voyons d’abord, en nous conformant
toujours à l’ordre de généralité et de dépendance des phénomènes,
qu’elle doit être partagée en deux sections distinctes, suivant qu’elle
considère les phénomènes généraux de l’univers, ou, en particulier,
ceux que présentent les corps terrestres. D’où la physique céleste,
ou l’astronomie, soit géométrique, soit mechanique; et la physique
terrestre.” Here then we have _inorganic physics_ clearly divided into
_celestial physics_ and _terrestrial physics_—the phenomena presented
by the universe, and the {22} phenomena presented by earthly bodies.
If now celestial bodies and terrestrial bodies exhibit sundry leading
phenomena in common, as they do, how can the generalization of these
common phenomena be considered as pertaining to the one class rather
than to the other? If inorganic physics includes geometry (which M.
Comte has made it do by comprehending _geometrical_ astronomy in
its sub-section, celestial physics); and if its other sub-section,
terrestrial physics, treats of things having geometrical properties;
how can the laws of geometrical relations be excluded from terrestrial
physics? Clearly if celestial physics includes the geometry of
objects in the heavens, terrestrial physics includes the geometry of
objects on the earth. And if terrestrial physics includes terrestrial
geometry, while celestial physics includes celestial geometry, then
the geometrical part of terrestrial physics precedes the geometrical
part of celestial physics; seeing that geometry gained its first
ideas from surrounding objects. Until men had learnt geometrical
relations from bodies on the earth, it was impossible for them to
understand the geometrical relations of bodies in the heavens. So,
too, with celestial mechanics, which had terrestrial mechanics for its
parent. The very conception of _force_, which underlies the whole of
mechanical astronomy, is borrowed from our earthly experiences; and
the leading laws of mechanical action as exhibited in scales, levers,
projectiles, &c., had to be ascertained before the dynamics of the
Solar System could be entered upon. What were the laws made use of by
Newton in working out his grand discovery? The law of falling bodies
disclosed by Galileo; that of the composition of forces also disclosed
by Galileo; and that of centrifugal force found out by Huyghens—all
of them generalizations of terrestrial physics. Yet, with facts like
these before him, M. Comte places astronomy before physics in order
of evolution! He does not compare the geometrical parts of the two
together, and the mechanical parts of the two {23} together; for this
would by no means suit his hypothesis. But he compares the geometrical
part of the one with the mechanical part of the other, and so gives
a semblance of truth to his position. He is led away by a verbal
illusion. Had he confined his attention to the things and disregarded
the words, he would have seen that before mankind scientifically
co-ordinated _any one class of phenomena_ displayed in the heavens,
they had previously co-ordinated _a parallel class of phenomena_
displayed on the surface of the earth.

Were it needful we could fill a score pages with the incongruities
of M. Comte’s scheme. But the foregoing samples will suffice. So far
is his law of evolution of the sciences from being tenable, that, by
following his example, and arbitrarily ignoring one class of facts,
it would be possible to present, with great plausibility, just the
opposite generalization to that which he enunciates. While he asserts
that the rational order of the sciences, like the order of their
historic development, “is determined by the degree of simplicity, or,
what comes to the same thing, of generality of their phenomena;” it
might contrariwise be asserted that, commencing with the complex and
the special, mankind have progressed step by step to a knowledge of
greater simplicity and wider generality. So much evidence is there of
this as to have drawn from Whewell, in his _History of the Inductive
Sciences_, the remark that “the reader has already seen repeatedly
in the course of this history, complex and derivative principles
presenting themselves to men’s minds before simple and elementary
ones.” Even from M. Comte’s own work, numerous facts, admissions, and
arguments, might be picked out, tending to show this. We have already
quoted his words in proof that both abstract and concrete mathematics
have progressed towards a higher degree of generality, and that he
looks forward to a higher generality still. Just to strengthen this
adverse hypothesis, let us take a further instance. {24} From the
_particular_ case of the scales, the law of equilibrium of which was
familiar to the earliest nations known, Archimedes advanced to the
more _general_ case of the lever of which the arms may or may not be
equal; the law of equilibrium of which _includes_ that of the scales.
By the help of Galileo’s discovery concerning the composition of
forces, D’Alembert “established, for the first time, the equations
of equilibrium of _any_ system of forces applied to the different
points of a solid body”—equations which include all cases of levers
and an infinity of cases besides. Clearly this is progress towards
a higher generality—towards a knowledge more independent of special
circumstances—towards a study of phenomena “the most disengaged from
the incidents of particular cases;” which is M. Comte’s definition
of “the most simple phenomena.” Does it not indeed follow from the
admitted fact, that mental advance is from the concrete to the
abstract, from the particular to the general, that the universal and
therefore most simple truths are the last to be discovered? Should we
ever succeed in reducing all orders of phenomena to some single law—say
of atomic action, as M. Comte suggests—must not that law answer to his
test of being _independent_ of all others, and therefore most simple?
And would not such a law generalize the phenomena of gravity, cohesion,
atomic affinity, and electric repulsion, just as the laws of number
generalize the quantitative phenomena of space, time and force?

The possibility of saying so much in support of an hypothesis the very
reverse of M. Comte’s, at once proves that his generalization is only a
half-truth. The fact is that neither proposition is correct by itself;
and the actuality is expressed only by putting the two together. The
progress of science is duplex. It is at once from the special to the
general, and from the general to the special. It is analytical and
synthetical at the same time.

M. Comte himself observes that the evolution of science {25} has been
accomplished by the division of labour; but he quite misstates the
mode in which this division of labour has operated. As he describes
it, it has been simply an arrangement of phenomena into classes, and
the study of each class by itself. He does not recognize the effect of
progress in each class upon _all_ other classes: he recognizes only
the effect on the class succeeding it in his hierarchical scale. Or if
he occasionally admits collateral influences and intercommunications,
he does it so grudgingly, and so quickly puts the admissions out of
sight and forgets them, as to leave the impression that, with but
trifling exceptions, the sciences aid one another only in the order
of their alleged succession. The fact is, however, that the division
of labour in science, like the division of labour in society, and
like the “physiological division of labour” in individual organisms,
has been not only a specialization of functions, but a continuous
helping of each division by all the others, and of all by each. Every
particular class of inquirers has, as it were, secreted its own
particular order of truths from the general mass of material which
observation accumulates; and all other classes of inquirers have made
use of these truths as fast as they were elaborated, with the effect
of enabling them the better to elaborate each its own order of truths.
It was thus in sundry of the cases we have quoted as at variance with
M. Comte’s doctrine. It was thus with the application of Huyghens’s
optical discovery to astronomical observation by Galileo. It was thus
with the application of the isochronism of the pendulum to the making
of instruments for measuring intervals, astronomical and other. It was
thus when the discovery that the refraction and dispersion of light
did not follow the same law of variation, affected both astronomy and
physiology by giving us achromatic telescopes and microscopes. It
was thus when Bradley’s discovery of the aberration of light enabled
him to make the first step towards ascertaining the motions of the
stars. {26} It was thus when Cavendish’s torsion-balance experiment
determined the specific gravity of the Earth, and so gave a datum for
calculating the specific gravities of the Sun and Planets. It was
thus when tables of atmospheric refraction enabled observers to write
down the real places of the heavenly bodies instead of their apparent
places. It was thus when the discovery of the different expansibilities
of metals by heat, gave us the means of correcting our chronometrical
measurements of astronomical periods. It was thus when the lines of
the prismatic spectrum were used to distinguish the heavenly bodies
that are of like nature with the sun from those which are not. It was
thus when, as recently, an electro-telegraphic instrument was invented
for the more accurate registration of meridional transits. It was
thus when the difference in the rates of a clock at the equator, and
nearer the poles, gave data for calculating the oblateness of the
earth, and accounting for the precession of the equinoxes. It was
thus—but it is needless to continue. Here, within our own limited
knowledge of its history, we have named ten additional cases in which
the single science of astronomy has owed its advance to sciences
coming _after_ it in M. Comte’s series. Not only its minor changes,
but its greatest revolutions have been thus determined. Kepler could
not have discovered his celebrated laws had it not been for Tycho
Brahe’s accurate observations; and it was only after some progress
in physical and chemical science that the improved instruments with
which those observations were made, became possible. The heliocentric
theory of the Solar System had to wait until the invention of the
telescope before it could be finally established. Nay, even the grand
discovery of all—the law of gravitation—depended for its proof upon
an operation of physical science, the measurement of a degree on the
Earth’s surface. So completely, indeed, did it thus depend, that Newton
_had actually abandoned his hypothesis_ because the {27} length of
a degree, as then stated, brought out wrong results; and it was only
after Picart’s more exact measurement was published, that he returned
to his calculations and proved his great generalization. Now this
constant intercommunion which, for brevity’s sake, we have illustrated
in the case of one science only, has been taking place with all the
sciences. Throughout the whole course of their evolution there has been
a continuous _consensus_ of the sciences—a _consensus_ exhibiting a
general correspondence with the _consensus_ of the faculties in each
phase of mental development; the one being an objective registry of the
subjective state of the other.

       *       *       *       *       *

From our present point of view, then, it becomes obvious that the
conception of a _serial_ arrangement of the sciences is a vicious one.
It is not simply that, as M. Comte admits, such a classification “will
always involve something, if not arbitrary, at least artificial;” it is
not, as he would have us believe, that, neglecting minor imperfections
such a classification may be substantially true; but it is that any
grouping of the sciences in a succession gives a radically erroneous
idea of their genesis and their dependencies. There is no “one
_rational_ order among a host of possible systems.” There is no “true
_filiation_ of the sciences.” The whole hypothesis is fundamentally
false. Indeed, it needs but a glance at its origin to see at once how
baseless it is. Why a _series_? What reason have we to suppose that
the sciences admit of a _linear_ arrangement? Where is our warrant
for assuming that there is some _succession_ in which they can be
placed? There is no reason; no warrant. Whence then has arisen the
supposition? To use M. Comte’s own phraseology, we should say, it is
a metaphysical conception. It adds another to the cases constantly
occurring, of the human mind being made the measure of Nature. We are
obliged to think in sequence; it is a law of our minds that we must
consider subjects separately, one after another: _therefore_ {28}
Nature must be serial—_therefore_ the sciences must be classifiable in
a succession. See here the birth of the notion, and the sole evidence
of its truth. Men have been obliged when arranging in books their
schemes of education and systems of knowledge, to choose _some_ order
or other. And from inquiring what is the best order, have fallen into
the belief that there is an order which truly represents the facts—have
persevered in seeking such an order; quite overlooking the previous
question whether it is likely that Nature has consulted the convenience
of book-making. For German philosophers, who hold that Nature is
“petrified intelligence,” and that logical forms are the foundations of
all things, it is a consistent hypothesis that as thought is serial,
Nature is serial; but that M. Comte, who is so bitter an opponent
of all anthropomorphism, even in its most evanescent shapes, should
have committed the mistake of imposing upon the external world an
arrangement which so obviously springs from a limitation of the human
consciousness, is somewhat strange. And it is the more strange when
we call to mind how, at the outset, M. Comte remarks that in the
beginning “_toutes les sciences sont cultivées simultanément par les
mêmes esprits_;” that this is “_inevitable et même indispensable_;”
and how he further remarks that the different sciences are “_comme les
diverses branches d’un tronc unique_.” Were it not accounted for by the
distorting influence of a cherished hypothesis, it would be scarcely
possible to understand how, after recognizing truths like these, M.
Comte should have persisted in attempting to construct “_une échelle

The metaphor which M. Comte has here so inconsistently used to express
the relations of the sciences—branches of one trunk—is an approximation
to the truth, though not the truth itself. It suggests the facts that
the sciences had a common origin; that they have been developing
simultaneously; and that they have been from time to time dividing
and sub-dividing. But it fails to suggest the fact, that the {29}
divisions and sub-divisions thus arising do not remain separate, but
now and again re-unite in direct and indirect ways. They inosculate;
they severally send off and receive connecting growths; and the
intercommunion has been ever becoming more frequent, more intricate,
more widely ramified. There has all along been higher specialization,
that there might be a larger generalization; and a deeper analysis,
that there might be a better synthesis. Each larger generalization has
lifted sundry specializations still higher; and each better synthesis
has prepared the way for still deeper analysis.

And here we may fitly enter upon the task awhile since indicated—a
sketch of the Genesis of Science, regarded as a gradual outgrowth
from common knowledge—an extension of the perceptions by the aid
of the reason. We propose to treat it as a psychological process
historically displayed; tracing at the same time the advance from
qualitative to quantitative prevision; the progress from concrete facts
to abstract facts, and the application of such abstract facts to the
analysis of new orders of concrete facts; the simultaneous advance
in generalization and specialization; the continually increasing
subdivision and reunion of the sciences; and their constantly improving

       *       *       *       *       *

To trace out scientific evolution from its deepest roots would, of
course, involve a complete analysis of the mind. For as science is a
development of that common knowledge acquired by the unaided senses and
uncultured reason, so is that common knowledge itself gradually built
up out of the simplest perceptions. We must, therefore, begin somewhere
abruptly; and the most appropriate stage to take for our point of
departure will be the adult mind of the savage.

Commencing thus, without a proper preliminary analysis, we are
naturally somewhat at a loss how to present, in a satisfactory manner,
those fundamental processes of thought out of which science originates.
Perhaps our argument may {30} be best initiated by the proposition,
that all intelligent action whatever depends upon the discerning of
distinctions among surrounding things. The condition under which only
it is possible for any creature to obtain food and avoid danger, is,
that it shall be differently affected by different objects—that it
shall be led to act in one way by one object, and in another way by
another. In the lower orders of creatures this condition is fulfilled
by means of an apparatus which acts automatically. In the higher
orders the actions are partly automatic, partly conscious. And in man
they are almost wholly conscious. Throughout, however, there must
necessarily exist a certain classification of things according to their
properties—a classification which is either organically registered in
the system, as in the inferior creation, or is formed by conscious
experience, as in ourselves. And it may be further remarked, that the
extent to which this classification is carried, roughly indicates the
height of intelligence—that, while the lowest organisms are able to
do little more than discriminate organic from inorganic matter; while
the generality of animals carry their classifications no further than
to a limited number of plants or creatures serving for food, a limited
number of beasts of prey, and a limited number of places and materials;
the most degraded of the human race possess a knowledge of the
distinctive natures of a great variety of substances, plants, animals,
tools, persons, &c.; not only as classes but as individuals.

What now is the mental process by which classification is effected?
Manifestly it is a recognition of the _likeness_ or _unlikeness_ of
things, either in respect of their sizes, colours, forms, weights,
textures, tastes, &c., or in respect of their modes of action. By
some special mark, sound, or motion, the savage identifies a certain
four-legged creature he sees, as one that is good for food, and to
be caught in a particular way; or as one that is dangerous; and acts
accordingly. He has classed together all the creatures that are
_alike_ in {31} this particular. And manifestly in choosing the wood
out of which to form his bow, the plant with which to poison his
arrows, the bone from which to make his fish-hooks, he identifies them
through their chief sensible properties as belonging to the general
classes, wood, plant, and bone, but distinguishes them as belonging to
sub-classes by virtue of certain properties in which they are _unlike_
the rest of the general classes they belong to; and so forms genera and

And here it becomes manifest that not only is classification carried
on by grouping together in the mind things that are _like_; but
that classes and sub-classes are formed and arranged according to
the _degrees of unlikeness_. Things strongly contrasted are alone
distinguished in the lower stages of mental evolution; as may be
any day observed in an infant. And gradually as the powers of
discrimination increase, the strongly-contrasted classes at first
distinguished, come to be each divided into sub-classes, differing
from each other less than the classes differ; and these sub-classes
are again divided after the same manner. By the continuance of which
process, things are gradually arranged into groups, the members of
which are less and less _unlike_; ending, finally, in groups whose
members differ only as individuals, and not specifically. And thus
there tends ultimately to arise the notion of _complete likeness_.
For manifestly, it is impossible that groups should continue to be
subdivided in virtue of smaller and smaller differences, without there
being a simultaneous approximation to the notion of _no difference_.

Let us next notice that the recognition of likeness and unlikeness,
which underlies classification, and out of which continued
classification evolves the idea of complete likeness—let us next notice
that it also underlies the process of _naming_, and by consequence
_language_. For all language consists, at the outset, of symbols
which are as _like_ to the things symbolized as it is practicable to
make them. The {32} language of signs is a means of conveying ideas
by mimicking the actions or peculiarities of the things referred to.
Verbal language also, in its first stage, is a mode of suggesting
objects or acts by imitating the sounds which the objects make, or
with which the acts are accompanied. Originally these two languages
were used simultaneously. It needs but to watch the gesticulations
with which the savage accompanies his speech—to see a Bushman
dramatizing before an audience his mode of catching game—or to note
the extreme paucity of words in primitive vocabularies; to infer that
in the beginning, attitudes, gestures, and sounds, were all combined
to produce as good a _likeness_ as possible of the things, animals,
persons, or events described; and that as the sounds came to be
understood by themselves the gestures fell into disuse: leaving traces,
however, in the manners of the more excitable civilized races. But be
this as it may, it suffices simply to observe, how many of the words
current among barbarous peoples are like the sounds appertaining to the
things signified; how many of our own oldest and simplest words have
the same peculiarity; how children habitually invent imitative words;
and how the sign-language spontaneously formed by deaf mutes is based
on imitative actions—to be convinced that the notion of _likeness_
is that from which the nomenclature of objects takes its rise. Were
there space we might go on to point out how this law of likeness is
traceable, not only in the origin but in the development of language;
how in primitive tongues the plural is made by a duplication of the
singular, which is a multiplication of the word to make it _like_ the
multiplicity of the things; how the use of metaphor—that prolific
source of new words—is a suggesting of ideas which are _like_ the ideas
to be conveyed in some respect or other; and how, in the copious use
of simile, fable, and allegory among uncivilized races, we see that
complex conceptions which there is no direct language for, are {33}
rendered, by presenting known conceptions more or less _like_ them.

This view is confirmed, and the predominance of this notion of likeness
in primitive thought further illustrated, by the fact that our system
of presenting ideas to the eye originated after the same fashion.
Writing and printing have descended from picture-language. The earliest
mode of permanently registering a fact was by depicting it on a skin
and afterwards on a wall; that is—by exhibiting something as _like_
to the thing to be remembered as it could be made. Gradually as the
practice grew habitual and extensive, the most frequently repeated
forms became fixed, and presently abbreviated; and, passing through
the hieroglyphic and ideographic phases, the symbols lost all apparent
relation to the things signified: just as the majority of our spoken
words have done.

Observe, again, that the same thing is true respecting the genesis of
reasoning. The _likeness_ which is perceived to exist between cases,
is the essence of all early reasoning and of much of our present
reasoning. The savage, having by experience discovered a relation
between a certain object and a certain act, infers that the _like_
relation will be found in future. And the expressions we use in our
arguments—“_analogy_ implies,” “the cases are not _parallel_,” “by
_parity_ of reasoning,” “there is no _similarity_,”—show how constantly
the idea of likeness underlies our ratiocinative processes. Still
more clearly will this be seen on recognizing the fact that there is
a close connexion between reasoning and classification; that the two
have a common root; and that neither can go on without the other. For
on the one hand, it is a familiar truth that the attributing to a body
in consequence of some of its properties, all those other properties
in virtue of which it is referred to a particular class, is an act of
inference. And, on the other hand, the forming of a generalization
is the putting together in one class, all those {34} cases which
present like relations; while the drawing a deduction is essentially
the perception that a particular case belongs to a certain class of
cases previously generalized. So that as classification is a grouping
together of _like things_; reasoning is a grouping together of _like
relations_ among things. Add to which, that while the perfection
gradually achieved in classification consists in the formation of
groups of _objects_ which are _completely alike_; the perfection
gradually achieved in reasoning consists in the formation of groups of
_cases_ which are _completely alike_.

Once more we may contemplate this dominant idea of likeness as
exhibited in art. All art, civilized as well as savage, consists
almost wholly in the making of objects _like_ other objects; either
as found in Nature, or as produced by previous art. If we trace back
the varied art-products now existing, we find that at each stage the
divergence from previous patterns is but small when compared with the
agreement; and in the earliest art the persistency of imitation is yet
more conspicuous. The old forms and ornaments and symbols were held
sacred, and perpetually copied. Indeed, the strong imitative tendency
notoriously displayed by the lowest human races—often seeming to be
half automatic, ensures among them a constant reproducing of likenesses
of things, forms, signs, sounds, actions and whatever else is imitable;
and we may even suspect that this aboriginal peculiarity is in some way
connected with the culture and development of this general conception,
which we have found so deep and wide-spread in its applications.

And now let us go on to consider how, by a further unfolding of this
same fundamental notion, there is a gradual formation of the first
germs of science. This idea of likeness which underlies classification,
nomenclature, language spoken and written, reasoning, and art; and
which plays so important a part because all acts of intelligence are
made {35} possible only by distinguishing among surrounding things, or
grouping them into like and unlike;—this idea we shall find to be the
one of which science is the especial product. Already during the stage
we have been describing, there has existed _qualitative_ prevision in
respect to the commoner phenomena with which savage life is familiar;
and we have now to inquire how the elements of _quantitative_ prevision
are evolved. We shall find that they originate by the perfecting of
this same idea of likeness—that they have their rise in that conception
of _complete likeness_ which, as we have seen, necessarily results from
the continued process of classification.

For when the process of classification has been carried as far as it
is possible for the uncivilized to carry it—when the animal kingdom
has been grouped not merely into quadrupeds, birds, fishes, and
insects, but each of these divided into kinds—when there come to be
classes, in each of which the members differ only as individuals,
and not specifically; it is clear that there must frequently
occur an observation of objects which differ so little as to be
indistinguishable. Among several creatures which the savage has killed
and carried home, it must often happen that some one, which he wished
to identify, is so exactly like another that he cannot tell which is
which. Thus, then, there originates the notion of _equality_. The
things which among ourselves are called _equal_—whether lines, angles,
weights, temperatures, sounds or colours—are things which produce in us
sensations which cannot be distinguished from each other. It is true
that we now apply the word _equal_ chiefly to the separate traits or
relations which objects exhibit, and not to those combinations of them
constituting our conceptions of the objects; but this limitation of
the idea has evidently arisen by analysis. That the notion of equality
originated as alleged, will, we think, become obvious on remembering
that as there were no artificial objects from which it could have been
{36} abstracted, it must have been abstracted from natural objects;
and that the various families of the animal kingdom chiefly furnish
those natural objects which display the requisite exactitude of

The experiences out of which this general idea of equality is evolved,
give birth at the same time to a more complex idea of equality; or,
rather, the process just described generates an idea of equality which
further experience separates into two ideas—_equality of things_ and
_equality of relations_. While organic forms occasionally exhibit this
perfection of likeness out of which the notion of simple equality
arises, they more frequently exhibit only that kind of likeness which
we call _similarity_; and which is really compound equality. For the
similarity of two creatures of the same species but of different sizes,
is of the same nature as the similarity of two geometrical figures.
In either case, any two parts of the one bear the same ratio to one
another, as the homologous parts of the other. Given in a species, the
proportions found to exist among the bones, and we may, and zoologists
do, predict from any one, the dimensions of the rest; just as, when
knowing the proportions subsisting among the parts of a geometrical
figure, we may, from the length of one, calculate the others. And
if, in the case of similar geometrical figures, the similarity can
be established only by proving exactness of proportion among the
homologous parts—if we express this relation between two parts in the
one, and the corresponding parts in the other, by the formula A is
to B as _a_ is to _b_; if we otherwise write this, A to B = _a_ to
_b_; if, consequently, the fact we prove is that the relation of A to
B _equals_ the relation of _a_ to _b_; then it is manifest that the
fundamental conception of similarity is _equality of relations_. With
this explanation we shall be understood when we say that the notion
of equality of relations is the basis of all exact reasoning. Already
it has been shown that reasoning in general is a recognition {37} of
_likeness_ of relations; and here we further find that while the notion
of likeness of things ultimately evolves the idea of simple equality,
the notion of likeness of relations evolves the idea of equality of
relations: of which the one is the concrete germ of exact science,
while the other is its abstract germ. Those who cannot understand
how the recognition of similarity in creatures of the same kind,
can have any alliance with reasoning, will get over the difficulty
on remembering that the phenomena among which equality of relations
is thus perceived, are phenomena of the same order and are present
to the senses at the same time; while those among which developed
reason perceives relations, are generally neither of the same order,
nor simultaneously present. And if, further, they will call to mind
how Cuvier and Owen, from a single part of a creature, as a tooth,
construct the rest by a process of reasoning based on this equality of
relations, they will see that the two things are intimately connected,
remote as they at first seem. But we anticipate. What it concerns us
here to observe is, that from familiarity with organic forms there
simultaneously arose the ideas of _simple equality_, and _equality of

At the same time, too, and out of the same mental processes, came
the first distinct ideas of _number_. In the earliest stages, the
presentation of several like objects produced merely an indefinite
conception of multiplicity; as it still does among Australians, and
Bushmen, and Damaras, when the number presented exceeds three or four.
With such a fact before us we may safely infer that the first clear
numerical conception was that of duality as contrasted with unity. And
this notion of duality must necessarily have grown up side by side
with those of likeness and equality; seeing that it is impossible to
recognize the likeness of two things without also perceiving that
there are two. From the very beginning the conception of number must
have been, as it is still, associated with {38} likeness or equality
of the things numbered; and for the purposes of calculation, an ideal
equality of the things is assumed. Before any _absolutely true_
numerical results can be reached, it is requisite that the units be
_absolutely equal_. The only way in which we can establish a numerical
relationship between things that do not yield us like impressions, is
to divide them into parts that _do_ yield us like impressions. Two
unlike magnitudes of extension, force, time, weight, or what not, can
have their relative amounts estimated, only by means of some small unit
that is contained many times in both; and even if we finally write down
the greater one as a unit and the other as a fraction of it, we state,
in the denominator of the fraction, the number of parts into which
the unit must be divided to be comparable with the fraction. It is,
indeed, true, that by a modern process of abstraction, we occasionally
apply numbers to unequal units, as the furniture at a sale or the
various animals on a farm, simply as so many separate entities; but
no exact quantitative result can be brought out by calculation with
units of this order. And, indeed, it is the distinctive peculiarity
of the calculus in general, that it proceeds on the hypothesis of
that absolute equality of its abstract units, which no real units
possess; and that the exactness of its results holds only in virtue of
this hypothesis. The first ideas of number must necessarily then have
been derived from like or equal magnitudes as seen chiefly in organic
objects; and as the like magnitudes most frequently observed were
magnitudes of extension, it follows that geometry and arithmetic had a
simultaneous origin.

Not only are the first distinct ideas of number co-ordinate with ideas
of likeness and equality, but the first efforts at numeration display
the same relationship. On reading accounts of savage tribes, we find
that the method of counting by the fingers, still followed by many
children, is the aboriginal method. Neglecting the several cases {39}
in which the ability to enumerate does not reach even to the number
of fingers on one hand, there are many cases in which it does not
extend beyond ten—the limit of the simple finger notation. The fact
that in so many instances, remote, and seemingly unrelated nations,
have adopted _ten_ as their basic number; together with the fact that
in the remaining instances the basic number is either _five_ (the
fingers of one hand) or _twenty_ (the fingers and toes); of themselves
show that the fingers were the original units of numeration. The still
surviving use of the word _digit_, as the general name for a figure in
arithmetic, is significant; and it is even said that our word _ten_
(Sax. tyn; Dutch, tien; German, zehn) means in its primitive expanded
form _two hands_. So that, originally, to say there were ten things,
was to say there were two hands of them. From all which evidence it
is tolerably clear that the earliest mode of conveying the idea of
a number of things, was by holding up as many fingers as there were
things; that is, by using a symbol which was _equal_, in respect of
multiplicity, to the group symbolized. For which inference there is,
indeed, strong confirmation in the statement that our own soldiers
spontaneously adopted this device in their dealings with the Turks
during the Crimean war. And here it should be remarked that in this
re-combination of the notion of equality with that of multiplicity, by
which the first steps in numeration are effected, we may see one of
the earliest of those inosculations between the diverging branches of
science, which are afterwards of perpetual occurrence.

As this observation suggests, it will be well, before tracing the
mode in which exact science emerges from the inexact judgments of the
senses, and showing the non-serial evolution of its divisions, to note
the non-serial character of those preliminary processes of which all
after development is a continuation. On re-considering them it will
be seen that not only are they divergent branches {40} from a common
root,—not only are they simultaneous in their growth; but that they
are mutual aids; and that none can advance without the rest. That
progress of classification for which the unfolding of the perceptions
paves the way, is impossible without a corresponding progress in
language, by which greater varieties of objects are thinkable and
expressible. On the one hand classification cannot be carried far
without names by which to designate the classes; and on the other hand
language cannot be made faster than things are classified. Again,
the multiplication of classes and the consequent narrowing of each
class, itself involves a greater likeness among the things classed
together; and the consequent approach towards the notion of complete
likeness itself allows classification to be carried higher. Moreover,
classification necessarily advances _pari passu_ with rationality—the
classification of _things_ with the classification of _relations_.
For things that belong to the same class are, by implication, things
of which the properties and modes of behaviour—the co-existences and
sequences—are more or less the same; and the recognition of this
sameness of co-existences and sequences is reasoning. Whence it follows
that the advance of classification is necessarily proportionate to the
advance of generalizations. Yet further, the notion of _likeness_,
both in things and relations, simultaneously evolves by one process of
culture the ideas of _equality_ of things and _equality_ of relations;
which are the respective bases of exact concrete reasoning and exact
abstract reasoning—Mathematics and Logic. And once more, this idea of
equality, in the very process of being formed, necessarily gives origin
to two series of relations—those of magnitude and those of number; from
which arise geometry and the calculus. Thus the process throughout
is one of perpetual subdivision and perpetual intercommunication of
the divisions. From the very first there has been that _consensus_ of
different kinds of knowledge, {41} answering to the _consensus_ of the
intellectual faculties, which, as already said, must exist among the

Let us now go on to observe how, out of the notions of _equality_ and
_number_, as arrived at in the manner described, there gradually arose
the elements of quantitative prevision.

Equality, once having come to be definitely conceived, was recognizable
among other phenomena than those of magnitude. Being predicable of
all things producing indistinguishable impressions, there naturally
grew up ideas of equality in weights, sounds, colours, &c.; and,
indeed, it can scarcely be doubted that the occasional experience of
equal weights, sounds, and colours, had a share in developing the
abstract conception of equality—that the ideas of equality in sizes,
relations, forces, resistances, and sensible properties in general,
were evolved during the same stage of mental development. But however
this may be, it is clear that as fast as the notion of equality gained
definiteness, so fast did that lowest kind of quantitative prevision
which is achieved without any instrumental aid, become possible. The
ability to estimate, however roughly, the amount of a foreseen result,
implies the conception that it will be _equal_ to a certain imagined
quantity; and the correctness of the estimate will manifestly depend on
the precision which the perceptions of sensible equality have reached.
A savage with a piece of stone in his hand, and another piece lying
before him of greater bulk but of the same kind (sameness of kind
being inferred from the _equality_ of the two in colour and texture)
knows about what effort he must put forth to raise this other piece;
and he judges accurately in proportion to the accuracy with which he
perceives that the one is twice, three times, four times, &c. as large
as the other; that is—in proportion to the precision of his ideas of
equality and number. And here let us not omit to notice that even in
these vaguest of quantitative previsions, the conception of _equality
of relations_ is also involved. For it is only in {42} virtue of an
undefined consciousness that the relation between bulk and weight in
the one stone is _equal_ to the relation between bulk and weight in the
other, that even the roughest approximation can be made.

But how came the transition from those uncertain perceptions of
equality which the unaided senses give, to the certain ones with which
science deals? It came by placing the things compared in juxtaposition.
Equality being asserted of things which give us indistinguishable
impressions, and no distinct comparison of impressions being possible
unless they occur in immediate succession, it results that exactness
of equality is ascertainable in proportion to the closeness of the
compared things. Hence the fact that when we wish to judge of two
shades of colour whether they are alike or not, we place them side by
side; hence the fact that we cannot, with any precision, say which
of two allied sounds is the louder, or the higher in pitch, unless
we hear the one immediately after the other; hence the fact that to
estimate the ratio of weights, we take one in each hand, that we may
compare their pressures by rapidly alternating in thought from the
one to the other; hence the fact, that in a piece of music, we can
continue to make equal beats when the first beat has been given, but
cannot ensure commencing with the same length of beat on a future
occasion; and hence, lastly, the fact, that of all magnitudes, those of
_linear extension_ are those of which the equality is most precisely
ascertainable, and those to which, by consequence, all others have
to be reduced. For it is the peculiarity of linear extension that it
alone allows its magnitudes to be placed in _absolute_ juxtaposition,
or, rather, in coincident position; it alone can test the equality of
two magnitudes by observing whether they will coalesce, as two equal
mathematical lines do, when placed between the same points; it alone
can test _equality_ by trying whether it will become _identity_.
Hence, then, the fact, that all exact science is reducible, {43} by
an ultimate analysis, to results measured in equal units of linear

Still it remains to be noticed in what manner this determination
of equality by comparison of linear magnitudes originated. Once
more may we perceive that surrounding natural objects supplied the
needful lessons. From the beginning there must have been a constant
experience of like things placed side by side—men standing and walking
together; animals from the same herd; fish from the same shoal. And the
ceaseless repetition of these experiences could not fail to suggest
the observation, that the nearer together any objects were, the more
visible became any inequality between them. Hence the obvious device
of putting in apposition, things of which it was desired to ascertain
the relative magnitudes. Hence the idea of _measure_. And here we
suddenly come upon a group of facts which afford a solid basis to the
remainder of our argument; while they also furnish strong evidence in
support of the foregoing speculations. Those who look sceptically on
this attempted rehabilitation of early mental development, and who
think that the derivation of so many primary notions from organic
forms is somewhat strained, will perhaps see more probability in the
hypotheses which have been ventured, on discovering that all measures
of _extension_ and _force_ originated from the lengths and weights of
organic bodies, and all measures of _time_ from the periodic phenomena
of either organic or inorganic bodies.

Thus, among linear measures, the cubit of the Hebrews was the _length
of the forearm_ from the elbow to the end of the middle finger; and
the smaller scriptural dimensions are expressed in _hand-breadths_ and
_spans_. The Egyptian cubit, which was similarly derived, was divided
into digits, which were _finger-breadths_; and each finger-breadth was
more definitely expressed as being equal to four _grains of barley_
placed breadthwise. Other ancient measures were {44} the orgyia or
_stretch of the arms_, the _pace_, and the _palm_. So persistent has
been the use of these natural units of length in the East, that even
now some Arabs mete out cloth by the forearm. So, too, is it with
European measures. The _foot_ prevails as a dimension throughout
Europe, and has done so since the time of the Romans, by whom, also, it
was used: its lengths in different places varying not much more than
men’s feet vary. The heights of horses are still expressed in _hands_.
The inch is the length of the terminal joint of _the thumb_; as is
clearly shown in France, where _pouce_ means both thumb and inch. Then
we have the inch divided into three _barley-corns_. So completely,
indeed, have these organic dimensions served as the substrata of
mensuration, that it is only by means of them that we can form any
estimate of some of the ancient distances. For example, the length
of a degree on the Earth’s surface, as determined by the Arabian
astronomers shortly after the death of Haroun-al-Raschid, was fifty-six
of their miles. We know nothing of their mile further than that it was
4000 cubits; and whether these were sacred cubits or common cubits,
would remain doubtful, but that the length of the cubit is given as
twenty-seven inches, and each inch defined as the thickness of six
barley-grains. Thus one of the earliest measurements of a degree comes
down to us in barley-grains. Not only did organic lengths furnish those
approximate measures which satisfied men’s needs in ruder ages, but
they furnished also the standard measures required in later times. One
instance occurs in our own history. To remedy the irregularities then
prevailing, Henry I. commanded that the ulna, or ancient ell, which
answers to the modern yard, should be made of the exact length of _his
own arm_.

Measures of weight had a kindred derivation. Seeds seem commonly to
have supplied the units. The original of the carat used for weighing in
India is _a small bean_. Our own systems, both troy and avoirdupois,
are derived {45} primarily from wheat-corns. Our smallest weight,
the grain is _a grain of wheat_. This is not a speculation; it is an
historically-registered fact. Henry III. enacted that an ounce should
be the weight of 640 dry grains of wheat from the middle of the ear.
And as all the other weights are multiples or sub-multiples of this, it
follows that the grain of wheat is the basis of our scale. So natural
is it to use organic bodies as weights, before artificial weights have
been established, or where they are not to be had, that in some of the
remoter parts of Ireland the people are said to be in the habit, even
now, of putting a man into the scales to serve as a measure for heavy

Similarly with time. Astronomical periodicity, and the periodicity of
animal and vegetable life, are simultaneously used in the first stages
of progress for estimating epochs. The simplest unit of time, the day,
nature supplies ready made. The next simplest period, the moneth or
month, is also thrust upon men’s notice by the conspicuous changes
constituting a lunation. For larger divisions than these, the phenomena
of the seasons, and the chief events from time to time occurring, have
been used by early and uncivilized races. Among the Egyptians the
rising of the Nile served as a mark. The New Zealanders were found to
begin their year from the reappearance of the Pleiades above the sea.
One of the uses ascribed to birds, by the Greeks, was to indicate the
seasons by their migrations. Barrow describes the aboriginal Hottentot
as expressing dates by the number of moons before or after the ripening
of one of his chief articles of food. He further states that the
Kaffir chronology is kept by the moon, and is registered by notches on
sticks—the death of a favourite chief, or the gaining of a victory,
serving for a new era. By which last fact, we are at once reminded
that in early history, events are commonly recorded as occurring in
certain reigns, and in certain years of certain reigns: a proceeding
which made a king’s reign {46} a rude measure of duration. And, as
further illustrating the tendency to divide time by natural phenomena
and natural events, it may be noticed that even by our own peasantry
the definite divisions of months and years are but little used; and
that they habitually refer to occurrences as “before sheep-shearing,”
or “after harvest,” or “about the time when the squire died.” It is
manifest, therefore, that the approximately equal periods perceived
in Nature gave the first units of measure for time; as did Nature’s
approximately equal lengths and weights give the first units of measure
for space and force.

It remains only to observe, that measures of value were similarly
derived. Barter, in one form or other, is found among all but the
very lowest human races. It is obviously based upon the notion of
_equality of worth_. And as it gradually merges into trade by the
introduction of some kind of currency, we find that the _measures of
worth_, constituting this currency, are organic bodies; in some cases
_cowries_, in others _cocoa-nuts_, in others _cattle_, in others
_pigs_; among the American Indians peltry or _skins_, and in Iceland
_dried fish_.

Notions of exact equality and of measure having been reached, there
arose definite ideas of magnitudes as being multiples one of another;
whence the practice of measurement by direct apposition of a measure.
The determination of linear extensions by this process can scarcely be
called science, though it is a step towards it; but the determination
of lengths of time by an analogous process may be considered as one
of the earliest samples of quantitative prevision. For when it is
first ascertained that the moon completes the cycle of her changes
in about thirty days—a fact known to most uncivilized tribes that
can count beyond the number of their fingers—it is manifest that it
becomes possible to say in what number of days any specified phase of
the moon will recur; and it is also manifest that this prevision is
effected by an apposition of two times, after the same manner {47}
that linear space is measured by the apposition of two lines. For to
express the moon’s period in days, is to say how many of these units
of measure are contained in the period to be measured—is to ascertain
the distance between two points in time by means of a _scale of days_,
just as we ascertain the distance between two points in space by a
scale of feet or inches; and in each case the scale coincides with the
thing measured—mentally in the one, visibly in the other. So that in
this simplest, and perhaps earliest case of quantitative prevision,
the phenomena are not only thrust daily upon men’s notice, but Nature
is, as it were, perpetually repeating that process of measurement by
observing which the prevision is effected.

This fact, that in very early stages of social progress it is known
that the moon goes through her changes in nearly thirty days, and
that in rather more than twelve moons the seasons return—this fact
that chronological astronomy assumes a certain scientific character
even before geometry does; while it is partly due to the circumstance
that the astronomical divisions, day, month, and year, are ready made
for us, is partly due to the further circumstances that agricultural
and other operations were at first regulated astronomically, and that
from the supposed divine nature of the heavenly bodies their motions
determined the periodical religious festivals. As instances of the
one we have the observation of the Egyptians, that the rising of the
Nile corresponded with the heliacal rising of Sirius; the directions
given by Hesiod for reaping and ploughing, according to the positions
of the Pleiades; and his maxim that “fifty days after the turning of
the sun is a seasonable time for beginning a voyage.” As instances of
the other, we have the naming of the days after the sun, moon, and
planets; the early attempts among Eastern nations to regulate the
calendar so that the gods might not be offended by the displacement
of their sacrifices; and the fixing of the great annual festival of
the Peruvians by the position of the sun. {48} In all which facts we
see that, at first, science was simply an appliance of religion and

After the discoveries that a lunation occupies nearly thirty days, and
that some twelve lunations occupy a year—discoveries which we may infer
were the earliest, from the fact that existing uncivilized races have
made them—we come to the first known astronomical records, which are
those of eclipses. The Chaldeans were able to predict these. “This they
did, probably,” says Dr. Whewell in his useful history, from which most
of the materials we are about to use will be drawn, “by means of their
cycle of 223 months, or about eighteen years; for, at the end of this
time, the eclipses of the moon begin to return, at the same intervals
and in the same order as at the beginning.” Now this method of
calculating eclipses by means of a recurring cycle,—the _Saros_ as they
called it—is a more complex case of prevision by means of coincidence
of measures. For by what observations must the Chaldeans have
discovered this cycle? Obviously, as Delambre infers, by inspecting
their registers; by comparing the successive intervals; by finding that
some of the intervals were alike; by seeing that these equal intervals
were eighteen years apart; by discovering that _all_ the intervals
that were eighteen years apart were equal; by ascertaining that the
intervals formed a series which repeated itself, so that if one of the
cycles of intervals were superposed on another the divisions would fit.
And this being once perceived, it became possible to use the cycle as
a scale of time by which to measure out future periods of recurrence.
Seeing thus that the process of so predicting eclipses, is in essence
the same as that of predicting the moon’s monthly changes by observing
the number of days after which they repeat—seeing that the two differ
only in the extent and irregularity of the intervals; it is not
difficult to understand how such an amount of knowledge should so early
have been reached. And we shall be the less surprised on remembering
that the only things involved in these {49} previsions were _time_ and
_number_; and that the time was in a manner self-numbered.

Still, the ability to predict events recurring only after so long
a period as eighteen years, implies a considerable advance in
civilization—a considerable development of general knowledge; and we
have now to inquire what progress in other sciences accompanied, and
was necessary to, these astronomical previsions. In the first place,
there must have been a tolerably efficient system of calculation. Mere
finger-counting, mere head-reckoning, even with the aid of a decimal
notation, could not have sufficed for numbering the days in a year;
much less the years, months, and days between eclipses. Consequently
there must have been a mode of registering numbers; probably even a
system of numerals. The earliest numerical records, if we may judge by
the practices of the less civilized races now existing, were probably
kept by notches cut on sticks, or strokes marked on walls; much as
public-house scores are kept now. And there is reason to think that
the first numerals used were simply groups of straight strokes, as
some of the still-extant Roman ones are; leading us to suspect that
these groups of strokes were used to represent groups of fingers, as
the groups of fingers had been used to represent groups of objects—a
supposition harmonizing with the aboriginal practice of picture
writing. Be this so or not, however, it is manifest that before the
Chaldeans discovered their _Saros_, they must have had both a set of
written symbols serving for an extensive numeration, and a familiarity
with the simpler rules of arithmetic.

Not only must abstract mathematics have made some progress, but
concrete mathematics also. It is scarcely possible that the buildings
belonging to this era should have been laid out and erected without
any knowledge of geometry. At any rate, there must have existed that
elementary geometry which deals with direct {50} measurement—with the
apposition of lines; and it seems that only after the discovery of
those simple proceedings, by which right angles are drawn, and relative
positions fixed, could so regular an architecture be executed. In the
case of the other division of concrete mathematics—mechanics, we have
definite evidence of progress. We know that the lever and the inclined
plane were employed during this period: implying that there was a
qualitative prevision of their effects, if not a quantitative one.
But we know more. We read of weights in the earliest records; and we
find weights in ruins of the highest antiquity. Weights imply scales,
of which we have also mention; and scales involve the primary theorem
of mechanics in its least complicated form—involve not a qualitative
but a quantitative prevision of mechanical effects. And here we may
notice how mechanics, in common with the other exact sciences, took
its rise from the simplest application of the idea of _equality_. For
the mechanical proposition which the scales involve, is, that if a
lever with _equal_ arms, have _equal_ weights suspended from them, the
weights will remain at _equal_ altitudes. And we may further notice
how, in this first step of rational mechanics, we see illustrated the
truth awhile since named, that as magnitudes of linear extension are
the only ones of which the equality is exactly ascertainable, the
equalities of other magnitudes have at the outset to be determined by
means of them. For the equality of the weights which balance each other
in scales, depends on the equality of the arms: we can know that the
weights are equal only by proving that the arms are equal. And when
by this means we have obtained a system of weights,—a set of equal
units of force and definite multiples of them, then does a science of
mechanics become possible. Whence, indeed, it follows, that rational
mechanics could not possibly have any other starting-point than the

Let us further remember that during this same period {51} there was
some knowledge of chemistry. Sundry of the arts which we know to have
been carried on, were made possible only by a generalized experience
of the modes in which certain bodies affect each other under special
conditions. In metallurgy, which was extensively practised, this is
abundantly illustrated. And we even have evidence that in some cases
the knowledge possessed was, in a sense, quantitative. For, as we find
by analysis that the hard alloy of which the Egyptians made their
cutting tools, was composed of copper and tin in fixed proportions,
there must have been an established prevision that such an alloy
was to be obtained only by mixing them in these proportions. It is
true, this was but a simple empirical generalization; but so was the
generalization respecting the recurrence of eclipses; so are the first
generalizations of every science.

Respecting the simultaneous advance of the sciences during this early
epoch, it remains to point out that even the most complex of them
must have made some progress. For under what conditions only were
the foregoing developments possible? The conditions furnished by an
established and organized social system. A long continued registry of
eclipses; the building of palaces; the use of scales; the practice of
metallurgy—alike imply a settled and populous nation. The existence
of such a nation not only presupposes laws and some administration of
justice, which we know existed, but it presupposes successful laws—laws
conforming in some degree to the conditions of social stability—laws
enacted because it was found that the actions forbidden by them were
dangerous to the State. We do not by any means say that all, or even
the greater part, of the laws were of this nature; but we do say,
that the fundamental ones were. It cannot be denied that the laws
affecting life and property were such. It cannot be denied that,
however little these were enforced between class and class, they were
to a considerable extent {52} enforced between members of the same
class. It can scarcely be questioned, that the administration of them
between members of the same class was seen by rulers to be necessary
for keeping society together. But supposition aside, it is clear that
the habitual recognition of these claims in their laws, implied some
prevision of social phenomena. That same idea of _equality_, which,
as we have seen, underlies other science, underlies also morals and
sociology. The conception of justice, which is the primary one in
morals; and the administration of justice, which is the vital condition
to social existence; are impossible without the recognition of a
certain likeness in men’s claims, in virtue of their common humanity.
_Equity_ literally means _equalness_; and if it be admitted that there
were even the vaguest ideas of equity in these primitive eras, it must
be admitted that there was some appreciation of the equalness of men’s
liberties to pursue the objects of life—some appreciation, therefore,
of the essential principle of national equilibrium.

Thus in this initial stage of the positive sciences, before geometry
had yet done more than evolve a few empirical rules—before mechanics
had passed beyond its first theorem—before astronomy had advanced
from its merely chronological phase into the geometrical; the most
involved of the sciences had reached a certain degree of development—a
development without which no progress in other sciences was possible.

Only noting as we pass, how, thus early, we may see that the progress
of exact science was not only towards an increasing number of
previsions, but towards previsions more accurately quantitative—how,
in astronomy, the recurring period of the moon’s motions was by and
by more correctly ascertained to be two hundred and thirty-five
lunations; how Callipus further corrected this Metonic cycle, by
leaving out a day at the end of every seventy-six years; and how
these successive advances implied a {53} longer continued registry
of observations, and the co-ordination of a greater number of facts;
let us go on to inquire how geometrical astronomy took its rise. The
first astronomical instrument was the gnomon. This was not only early
in use in the East, but it was found among the Mexicans; the sole
astronomical observations of the Peruvians were made by it; and we
read that 1100 B.C., the Chinese observed that, at a certain place,
the length of the sun’s shadow, at the summer solstice, was to the
height of the gnomon, as one and a half to eight. Here again it is
observable, both that the instrument is found ready made, and that
Nature is perpetually performing the process of measurement. Any fixed,
erect object—a column, a pole, the angle of a building—serves for a
gnomon; and it needs but to notice the changing position of the shadow
it daily throws, to make the first step in geometrical astronomy. How
small this first step was, may be seen in the fact that the only things
ascertained at the outset were the periods of the summer and winter
solstices, which corresponded with the least and greatest lengths of
the mid-day shadow; and to fix which, it was needful merely to mark
the point to which each day’s shadow reached. And now let it not be
overlooked that in the observing at what time during the next year this
extreme limit of the shadow was again reached, and in the inference
that the sun had then arrived at the same turning point in his annual
course, we have one of the simplest instances of that combined use of
_equal magnitudes_ and _equal relations_, by which all exact science,
all quantitative prevision, is reached. For the relation observed
was between the length of the gnomon’s shadow and the sun’s position
in the heavens; and the inference drawn was that when, next year,
the extremity of the shadow came to the same point, he occupied the
same place. That is, the ideas involved were, the equality of the
shadows, and the equality of the relations between {54} shadow and
sun in successive years. As in the case of the scales, the equality of
relations here recognized is of the simplest order. It is not as those
habitually dealt with in the higher kinds of scientific reasoning,
which answer to the general type—the relation between two and three
equals the relation between six and nine; but it follows the type—the
relation between two and three equals the relation between two and
three: it is a case of not simply _equal_ relations, but _coinciding_
relations. And here, indeed, we may see beautifully illustrated how
the idea of equal relations takes its rise after the same manner that
that of equal magnitudes does. As already shown, the idea of equal
magnitudes arose from the observed coincidence of two lengths placed
together; and in this case we have not only two coincident lengths of
shadows, but two coincident relations between sun and shadows.

From the use of the gnomon there naturally grew up the conception of
angular measurements; and with the advance of geometrical conceptions
came the hemisphere of Berosus, the equinoctial armil, the solstitial
armil, and the quadrant of Ptolemy—all of them employing shadows
as indices of the sun’s position, but in combination with angular
divisions. It is out of the question for us here to trace these details
of progress. It must suffice to remark that in all of them we may see
that notion of equality of relations of a more complex kind, which
is best illustrated in the astrolabe, an instrument which consisted
“of circular rims, moveable one within the other, or about poles, and
contained circles which were to be brought into the position of the
ecliptic, and of a plane passing through the sun and the poles of the
ecliptic”—an instrument, therefore, which represented, as by a model,
the relative positions of certain imaginary lines and planes in the
heavens; which was adjusted by putting these representative lines and
planes into parallelism with the celestial ones; and which depended
for its use on the perception that the relations among these {55}
representative lines and planes were _equal_ to the relations among
those represented. We might go on to point out how the conception
of the heavens as a revolving hollow sphere, the explanation of the
moon’s phases, and indeed all the successive steps taken, involved
this same mental process. But we must content ourselves with referring
to the theory of eccentrics and epicycles, as a further marked
illustration of it. As first suggested, and as proved by Hipparchus to
afford an explanation of the leading irregularities in the celestial
motions, this theory involved the perception that the progressions,
retrogressions, and variations of velocity seen in the heavenly bodies,
might be reconciled with their assumed uniform movements in circles, by
supposing that the earth was not in the centre of their orbits; or by
supposing that they revolved in circles whose centres revolved round
the earth; or by both. The discovery that this would account for the
appearances, was the discovery that in certain geometrical diagrams the
relations were such, that the uniform motion of points along curves
conditioned in specified ways, would, when looked at from a particular
position, present analogous irregularities; and the calculations of
Hipparchus involved the belief that the relations subsisting among
these geometrical curves were _equal_ to the relations subsisting among
the celestial orbits.

Leaving here these details of astronomical progress, and the
philosophy of it, let us observe how the relatively concrete science
of geometrical astronomy, having been thus far helped forward by
the development of geometry in general, reacted upon geometry,
caused it also to advance, and was again assisted by it. Hipparchus,
before making his solar and lunar tables, had to discover rules
for calculating the relations between the sides and angles of
triangles—_trigonometry_, a subdivision of pure mathematics. Further,
the reduction of the doctrine of the sphere to a quantitative form
needed for astronomical purposes, required the formation of a
_spherical trigonometry_, which {56} was also achieved by Hipparchus.
Thus both plane and spherical trigonometry, which are parts of the
highly abstract and simple science of extension, remained undeveloped
until the less abstract and more complex science of the celestial
motions had need of them. The fact admitted by M. Comte, that since
Descartes the progress of the abstract division of mathematics has
been determined by that of the concrete division, is paralleled by
the still more significant fact that even thus early the progress of
mathematics was determined by that of astronomy. And here, indeed, we
see exemplified the truth, which the subsequent history of science
frequently illustrates, that before any more abstract division makes a
further advance, some more concrete division suggests the necessity for
that advance—presents the new order of questions to be solved. Before
astronomy put before Hipparchus the problem of solar tables, there
was nothing to raise the question of the relations between lines and
angles: the subject-matter of trigonometry had not been conceived.

Just incidentally noticing the circumstance that the epoch we are
describing witnessed the evolution of algebra, a comparatively abstract
division of mathematics, by the union of its less abstract divisions,
geometry and arithmetic (a fact proved by the earliest extant samples
of algebra, which are half algebraic, half geometric) we go on to
observe that during the era in which mathematics and astronomy were
thus advancing, rational mechanics made its second step; and something
was done towards giving a quantitative form to hydrostatics, optics,
and acoustics. In each case we shall see how the idea of equality
underlies all quantitative prevision; and in what simple forms this
idea is first applied.

As already shown, the first theorem established in mechanics was, that
equal weights suspended from a lever with equal arms would remain in
equilibrium. Archimedes discovered that a lever with unequal arms was
in {57} equilibrium when one weight was to its arm as the other arm to
its weight; that is—when the numerical relation between one weight and
its arm was _equal_ to the numerical relation between the other arm and
its weight.

The first advance made in hydrostatics, which we also owe to
Archimedes, was the discovery that fluids press _equally_ in all
directions; and from this followed the solution of the problem of
floating bodies; namely, that they are in equilibrium when the upward
and downward pressures are _equal_.

In optics, again, the Greeks found that the angle of incidence is
_equal_ to the angle of reflection; and their knowledge reached no
further than to such simple deductions from this as their geometry
sufficed for. In acoustics they ascertained the fact that three strings
of _equal_ lengths would yield the octave, fifth and fourth, when
strained by weights having certain definite ratios; and they did not
progress much beyond this. In the one of which cases we see geometry
used in elucidation of the laws of light; and in the other, geometry
and arithmetic made to measure certain phenomena of sound.

While sundry sciences had thus reached the first stages of quantitative
prevision, others were progressing in qualitative prevision. It
must suffice just to note that some small generalizations were made
respecting evaporation, and heat, and electricity, and magnetism,
which, empirical as they were, did not in that respect differ from
the first generalizations of every science; that the Greek physicians
had made advances in physiology and pathology, which, considering
the great imperfection of our present knowledge, are by no means to
be despised; that zoology had been so far systematized by Aristotle,
as, to some extent, enabled him from the presence of certain organs
to predict the presence of others; that in Aristotle’s _Politics_, is
shown progress towards a scientific conception of social phenomena,
and sundry previsions respecting {58} them; and that in the state of
the Greek societies, as well as in the writings of Greek philosophers,
we may recognize both an increasing clearness in the conception of
equity and some appreciation of the fact that social stability depends
on the maintenance of equitable relations. Space permitting, we might
dwell on the causes which retarded the development of some of the
sciences, as for example, chemistry; showing that relative complexity
had nothing to do with it—that the oxidation of a piece of iron is a
simpler phenomenon than the recurrence of eclipses, and the discovery
of carbonic acid less difficult than that of the precession of the
equinoxes. The relatively slow advance of chemical knowledge might be
shown to be due, partly to the fact that its phenomena were not daily
thrust on men’s notice as those of astronomy were; partly to the fact
that Nature does not habitually supply the means, and suggest the modes
of investigation, as in the sciences dealing with time, extension, and
force; partly to the fact that the great majority of the materials with
which chemistry deals, instead of being ready to hand, are made known
only by the arts in their slow growth; and partly to the fact that even
when known, their chemical properties are not self-exhibited, but have
to be sought out by experiment.

Merely indicating these considerations, however, let us go on to
contemplate the progress and mutual influence of the sciences in
modern days; only parenthetically noticing how, on the revival of the
scientific spirit, the successive stages achieved exhibit the dominance
of the law hitherto traced—how the primary idea in dynamics, a uniform
force, was defined by Galileo to be a force which generates _equal_
velocities in _equal_ successive times—how the uniform action of
gravity was first experimentally determined by showing that the time
elapsing before a body thrown up, stopped, was _equal_ to the time it
took to fall—how the first fact in compound motion which Galileo {59}
ascertained was, that a body projected horizontally, will describe
_equal_ horizontal spaces in _equal_ times, compounded vertical spaces
described which increase by equal increments in _equal_ times—how his
discovery respecting the pendulum was, that its oscillations occupy
_equal_ intervals of time whatever their lengths—how the law which he
established that in any machine the weights that balance each other,
are reciprocally as their virtual velocities implies that the relation
of one set of weights to their velocities _equals_ the relation
of the other set of velocities to their weights;—and how thus his
achievements consisted in showing the equalities of certain magnitudes
and relations, whose equalities had not been previously recognized.

And now, but only now, physical astronomy became possible. The
simple laws of force had been disentangled from those of friction
and atmospheric resistance by which all their earthly manifestations
are disguised. Progressing knowledge of _terrestrial physics_ had
given a due insight into these disturbing causes; and, by an effort
of abstraction, it was perceived that all motion would be uniform
and rectilinear unless interfered with by external forces. Geometry
and mechanics having diverged from a common root in men’s sensible
experiences, and having, with occasional inosculations, been separately
developed, the one partly in connexion with astronomy, the other solely
by analyzing terrestrial movements, now join in the investigations
of Newton to create a true theory of the celestial motions. And
here, also, we have to notice the important fact that, in the very
process of being brought jointly to bear upon astronomical problems,
they are themselves raised to a higher phase of development. For it
was in dealing with the questions raised by celestial dynamics that
the then incipient infinitesimal calculus was unfolded by Newton
and his continental successors; and it was from inquiries into the
mechanics of the solar system that the general theorems of mechanics
contained in the {60} _Principia_—many of them of purely terrestrial
application—took their rise. Thus, as in the case of Hipparchus, the
presentation of a new order of concrete facts to be analyzed, led to
the discovery of new abstract facts; and these abstract facts then
became instruments of access to endless groups of concrete facts
previously beyond quantitative treatment.

Meanwhile, physics had been carrying further that progress without
which, as just shown, rational mechanics could not be disentangled.
In hydrostatics, Stevinus had extended and applied the discovery of
Archimedes. Torricelli had proved atmospheric pressure, “by showing
that this pressure sustained different liquids at heights inversely
proportional to their densities;” and Pascal “established the necessary
diminution of this pressure at increasing heights in the atmosphere”:
discoveries which in part reduced this branch of science to a
quantitative form. Something had been done by Daniel Bernouilli towards
the dynamics of fluids. The thermometer had been invented; and sundry
small generalizations reached by it. Huyghens and Newton had made
considerable progress in optics; Newton had approximately calculated
the rate of transmission of sound; and the continental mathematicians
had ascertained some of the laws of sonorous vibrations. Magnetism and
electricity had been considerably advanced by Gilbert. Chemistry had
got as far as the mutual neutralization of acids and alkalies. And
Leonardo da Vinci had advanced in geology to the conclusion that the
deposition of animal remains in marine strata is the origin of fossils.
Our present purpose does not require that we should give particulars.
Here it only concerns us to illustrate the _consensus_ subsisting in
this stage of growth, and afterwards. Let us look at a few cases.

The theoretic law of the velocity of sound deduced by Newton from
purely mechanical data, was found wrong by one-sixth. The error
remained unaccounted for until the {61} time of Laplace, who,
suspecting that the heat disengaged by the compression of the
undulating strata of the air, gave additional elasticity, and so
produced the difference, made the needful calculations and found he
was right. Thus acoustics was arrested until thermology overtook and
aided it. When Boyle and Marriot had discovered the relation between
the densities of gases and the pressures they are subject to; and when
it thus became possible to calculate the rate of decreasing density
in the upper parts of the atmosphere; it also became possible to make
approximate tables of the atmospheric refraction of light. Thus optics,
and with it astronomy, advanced with barology. After the discovery of
atmospheric pressure had led to the invention of the air-pump by Otto
Guericke; and after it had become known that evaporation increases in
rapidity as atmospheric pressure decreases; it became possible for
Leslie, by evaporation in a vacuum, to produce the greatest cold known;
and so to extend our knowledge of thermology by showing that there is
no zero within reach of our researches. When Fourier had determined the
laws of conduction of heat, and when the Earth’s temperature had been
found to increase below the surface one degree in every forty yards,
there were data for inferring the past condition of our globe; the
vast period it has taken to cool down to its present state; and the
immense age of the solar system—a purely astronomical consideration.
Chemistry having advanced sufficiently to supply the needful materials,
and a physiological experiment having furnished the requisite hint,
there came the discovery of galvanic electricity. Galvanism reacting
on chemistry disclosed the metallic bases of the alkalies and earths,
and inaugurated the electro-chemical theory; in the hands of Oersted
and Ampère it led to the laws of magnetic action; and by its aid
Faraday has detected significant facts relative to the constitution of
light. Brewster’s discoveries respecting double refraction and {62}
dipolarization proved the essential truth of the classification of
crystalline forms according to the number of axes, by showing that
the molecular constitution depends on the axes. Now in these and in
numerous other cases, the mutual influence of the sciences has been
quite independent of any supposed hierarchical order. Often, too, their
inter-actions are more complex than as thus instanced—involve more
sciences than two. One illustration of this must suffice. We quote it
in full from the _History of the Inductive Sciences_. In Book XI.,
chap. II., on “The Progress of the Electrical Theory,” Dr. Whewell

 “Thus at that period, mathematics was behind experiment, and a problem
 was proposed, in which theoretical numerical results were wanted for
 comparison with observation, but could not be accurately obtained;
 as was the case in astronomy also, till the time of the approximate
 solution of the problem of three bodies, and the consequent formation
 of the tables of the moon and planets, on the theory of universal
 gravitation. After some time, electrical theory was relieved from
 this reproach, mainly in consequence of the progress which astronomy
 had occasioned in pure mathematics. About 1801 there appeared in the
 _Bulletin des Sciences_, an exact solution of the problem of the
 distribution of electric fluid on a spheroid, obtained by Biot, by the
 application of the peculiar methods which Laplace had invented for
 the problem of the figure of the planets. And, in 1811, M. Poisson
 applied Laplace’s artifices to the case of two spheres acting upon
 one another in contact, a case to which many of Coulomb’s experiments
 were referrible; and the agreement of the results of theory and
 observation, thus extricated from Coulomb’s numbers obtained above
 forty years previously, was very striking and convincing.”

Not only do the sciences affect each other after this direct manner,
but they affect each other indirectly. Where there is no dependence,
there is yet analogy—_likeness of relations_; and the discovery of the
relations subsisting among one set of phenomena, constantly suggests a
search for similar relations among another set. Thus the established
fact that the force of gravitation varies inversely as the square
of the distance, being recognized as a necessary characteristic of
all influences proceeding from a centre, raised the suspicion that
heat and light follow the same law; which proved to be the case—a
suspicion and a {63} confirmation which were repeated in respect to
the electric and magnetic forces. Thus, again, the discovery of the
polarization of light led to experiments which ended in the discovery
of the polarization of heat—a discovery that could never have been
made without the antecedent one. Thus, too, the known refrangibility
of light and heat lately produced the inquiry whether sound also is
not refrangible; which on trial it turns out to be. In some cases,
indeed, it is only by the aid of conceptions derived from one class of
phenomena that hypotheses respecting other classes can be formed. The
theory, at one time favoured, that evaporation is a solution of water
in air, assumed that the relation between water and air is _like_ the
relation between water and a dissolved solid; and could never have been
conceived if relations like that between salt and water had not been
previously known. Similarly the received theory of evaporation—that
it is a diffusion of the particles of the evaporating fluid in virtue
of their atomic repulsion—could not have been entertained without a
foregoing experience of magnetic and electric repulsions. So complete
in recent days has become this _consensus_ among the sciences,
caused either by the natural entanglement of their phenomena, or by
analogies between the relations of their phenomena, that scarcely any
considerable discovery concerning one order of facts now takes place,
without shortly leading to discoveries concerning other orders.

To produce a complete conception of this process of scientific
evolution it would be needful to go back to the beginning, and trace
in detail the growth of classifications and nomenclatures; and to
show how, as subsidiary to science, they have acted upon it while it
has reacted upon them. We can only now remark that, on the one hand,
classifications and nomenclatures have aided science by subdividing
the subject-matter of research, and giving fixity and diffusion to
the truths disclosed; and that on the other hand, they have caught
from it that increasing {64} quantitativeness, and that progress from
considerations touching single phenomena to considerations touching the
relations among many phenomena, which we have been describing. Of this
last influence a few illustrations must be given. In chemistry it is
seen in the facts that the dividing of matter into the four elements
was ostensibly based on the single property of weight, that the
first truly chemical division into acid and alkaline bodies, grouped
together bodies which had not simply one property in common but in
which one property was constantly related to many others, and that the
classification now current, places together in the groups _supporters
of combustion_, _metallic and non-metallic bases_, _acids_, _salts_,
&c., bodies which are often quite unlike in sensible qualities, but
which are like in the majority of their _relations_ to other bodies. In
mineralogy again, the first classifications were based on differences
in aspect, texture, and other physical attributes. Berzelius made two
attempts at a classification based solely on chemical constitution.
That now current recognizes, as far as possible, the _relations_
between physical and chemical characters. In botany the earliest
classes formed were _trees_, _shrubs_, and _herbs_: magnitude being the
basis of distinction. Dioscorides divided vegetables into _aromatic_,
_alimentary_, _medicinal_, and _vinous_: a division of chemical
character. Cæsalpinus classified them by the seeds and seed-vessels,
which he preferred because of the _relations_ found to subsist between
the character of the fructification and the general character of the
other parts. While the “natural system” since developed, carrying out
the doctrine of Linnæus, that “the natural orders must be formed by
attention not to one or two, but to _all_ the parts of plants,” bases
its divisions on like peculiarities which are found to be _constantly
related_ to the greatest number of other like peculiarities. And
similarly in zoology, the successive classifications, from having
been originally determined by external and often {65} subordinate
characters not indicative of the essential nature, have been more and
more determined by those internal and fundamental differences, which
have uniform _relations_ to the greatest number of other differences.
Nor shall we be surprised at this analogy between the modes of progress
of positive science and classification, when we bear in mind that
both proceed by making generalizations; that both enable us to make
previsions, differing only in their precision; and that while the one
deals with equal properties, magnitudes, and relations, the other deals
with properties and relations which approximate towards equality in
various degrees.

Without further argument it will, we think, be admitted that the
sciences are none of them separately evolved—are none of them
independent either logically or historically; but that all of them
have, in a greater or less degree, required aid and reciprocated it.
Indeed, it needs but to throw aside hypotheses, and contemplate the
mixed character of surrounding phenomena, to see at once that these
notions of division and succession in the kinds of knowledge are simply
scientific fictions: good, if regarded merely as aids to study; bad,
if regarded as representing realities in Nature. No facts whatever are
presented to our senses uncombined with other facts—no facts whatever
but are in some degree disguised by accompanying facts: disguised in
such a manner that all must be partially understood before any one
can be understood. If it be said, as by M. Comte, that gravitating
force should be treated of before other forces, seeing that all things
are subject to it, it may on like grounds be said that heat should
be first dealt with; seeing that thermal forces are everywhere in
action. Nay more, it may be urged that the ability of any portion of
matter to manifest visible gravitative phenomena depends on its state
of aggregation, which is determined by heat; that only by the aid
of thermology can we explain those apparent exceptions to {66} the
gravitating tendency which are presented by steam and smoke, and so
establish its universality; and that, indeed, the very existence of
the Solar System in a solid form is just as much a question of heat as
it is one of gravitation. Take other cases:—All phenomena recognized
by the eyes, through which only are the data of exact science
ascertainable, are complicated with optical phenomena, and cannot be
exhaustively known until optical principles are known. The burning of
a candle cannot be explained without involving chemistry, mechanics,
thermology. Every wind that blows is determined by influences partly
solar, partly lunar, partly hygrometric; and implies considerations
of fluid equilibrium and physical geography. The direction, dip, and
variations of the magnetic needle, are facts half terrestrial, half
celestial—are caused by earthly forces which have cycles of change
corresponding with astronomical periods. The flowing of the gulf-stream
and the annual migration of icebergs towards the equator, involve in
their explanation the Earth’s rotation and spheroidal form, the laws of
hydrostatics, the relative densities of cold and warm water, and the
doctrines of evaporation. It is no doubt true, as M. Comte says, that
“our position in the Solar System, and the motions, form, size, and
equilibrium of the mass of our world among the planets, must be known
before we can understand the phenomena going on at its surface.” But,
fatally for his hypothesis, it is also true that we must understand
a great part of the phenomena going on at its surface before we can
know its position, &c., in the Solar System. It is not simply that, as
already shown, those geometrical and mechanical principles by which
celestial appearances are explained, were first generalized from
terrestrial experiences; but it is that even the obtainment of correct
data on which to base astronomical generalizations, implies advanced
terrestrial physics. Until after optics had made considerable advance,
the Copernican {67} system remained but a speculation. A single modern
observation on a star has to undergo a careful analysis by the combined
aid of various sciences—has to _be digested by the organism of the
sciences_; which have severally to assimilate their respective parts
of the observation, before the essential fact it contains is available
for the further development of astronomy. It has to be corrected
not only for nutation of the Earth’s axis and for precession of the
equinoxes, but for aberration and for refraction; and the formation of
the tables by which refraction is calculated, presupposes knowledge
of the law of decreasing density in the upper atmospheric strata, of
the law of decreasing temperature and the influence of this on the
density, and of hygrometric laws as also affecting density. So that,
to get materials for further advance, astronomy requires not only the
indirect aid of the sciences which have presided over the making of
its improved instruments, but the direct aid of an advanced optics,
of barology, of thermology, of hygrometry; and if we remember that
these delicate observations are in some cases registered electrically,
and that they are further corrected for the “personal equation”—the
time elapsing between seeing and registering, which differs with
different observers—we may even add electricity and psychology. And
here, before leaving these illustrations, and especially this last
one, let us not omit to notice how well they exhibit that increasingly
active _consensus_ of the sciences which characterizes their advancing
development. Besides finding that in these later times a discovery in
one science commonly causes progress in others; besides finding that
a great part of the questions with which modern science deals are
so mixed as to require the co-operation of many sciences for their
solution; we find that, to make a single good observation in the purest
of the natural sciences, requires the combined aid of half a dozen
other sciences.

Perhaps the clearest comprehension of the interconnected {68} growth
of the sciences may be obtained by contemplating that of the arts,
to which it is strictly analogous, and with which it is bound up.
Most intelligent persons must have been occasionally struck with
the numerous antecedents pre-supposed by one of our processes of
manufacture. Let him trace the production of a printed cotton, and
consider all that is implied by it. There are the many successive
improvements through which the power-looms reached their present
perfection; there is the steam-engine that drives them, having its
long history from Papin downwards; there are the lathes in which its
cylinder was bored, and the string of ancestral lathes from which those
lathes proceeded; there is the steam-hammer under which its crank shaft
was welded; there are the puddling furnaces, the blast-furnaces, the
coal-mines and the iron-mines needful for producing the raw material;
there are the slowly improved appliances by which the factory was
built, and lighted, and ventilated; there are the printing engine,
and the dye-house, and the colour-laboratory with its stock of
materials from all parts of the world, implying cochineal-culture,
logwood-cutting, indigo-growing; there are the implements used by the
producers of cotton, the gins by which it is cleaned, the elaborate
machines by which it is spun; there are the vessels in which cotton
is imported, with the building-slips, the rope-yards, the sail-cloth
factories, the anchor-forges, needful for making them; and besides
all these directly necessary antecedents, each of them involving many
others, there are the institutions which have developed the requisite
intelligence, the printing and publishing arrangements which have
spread the necessary information, the social organization which has
rendered possible such a complex co-operation of agencies. Further
analysis would show that the many arts thus concerned in the economical
production of a child’s frock, have each been brought to its present
efficiency by slow steps which the other arts have aided; and that from
the beginning this reciprocity has been on {69} the increase. It needs
but on the one hand to consider how impossible it is for the savage,
even with ore and coal ready, to produce so simple a thing as an iron
hatchet; and then to consider, on the other hand, that it would have
been impracticable among ourselves, even a century ago, to raise the
tubes of the Britannia bridge from lack of the hydraulic press; to see
how mutually dependent are the arts, and how all must advance that each
may advance. Well, the sciences are involved with each other in just
the same manner. They are, in fact, inextricably woven into this same
complex web of the arts; and are only conventionally independent of
it. Originally the two were one. How to fix the religious festivals;
when to sow; how to weigh commodities; and in what manner to measure
ground; were the purely practical questions out of which arose
astronomy, mechanics, geometry. Since then there has been a perpetual
inosculation of the sciences and the arts. Science has been supplying
art with truer generalizations and more completely quantitative
previsions. Art has been supplying science with better materials, and
more perfect instruments. And all along the interdependence has been
growing closer, not only between art and science, but among the arts
themselves, and among the sciences themselves. How completely the
analogy holds throughout, becomes yet clearer when we recognize the
fact that _the sciences are arts to one another_. If, as occurs in
almost every case, the fact to be analyzed by any science, has first
to be prepared—to be disentangled from disturbing facts by the afore
discovered methods of other sciences; the other sciences so used,
stand in the position of arts. If, in solving a dynamical problem,
a parallelogram is drawn, of which the sides and diagonal represent
forces, and by putting magnitudes of extension for magnitudes of force
a measurable relation is established between quantities not else to be
dealt with; it may be fairly said that geometry plays towards mechanics
much the same part that the fire of the founder plays towards the
metal he is going to cast. {70} If, in analyzing the phenomena of the
coloured rings surrounding the point of contact between two lenses,
a Newton ascertains by calculation the amount of certain interposed
spaces, far too minute for actual measurement; he employs the science
of number for essentially the same purpose as that for which the
watchmaker employs tools. If, before calculating the orbit of a comet
from its observed position, the astronomer has to separate all the
errors of observation, it is manifest that the refraction-tables, and
logarithm-books, and formulæ, which he successively uses, serve him
much as retorts, and filters, and cupels serve the assayer who wishes
to separate the pure gold from all accompanying ingredients. So close,
indeed, is the relationship, that it is impossible to say where science
begins and art ends. All the instruments of the natural philosopher
are the products of art; the adjusting one of them for use is an art;
there is art in making an observation with one of them; it requires
art properly to treat the facts ascertained; nay, even the employing
established generalizations to open the way to new generalizations,
may be considered as art. In each of these cases previously organized
knowledge becomes the implement by which new knowledge is got at:
and whether that previously organized knowledge is embodied in a
tangible apparatus or in a formula, matters not in so far as its
essential relation to the new knowledge is concerned. If art is applied
knowledge, then such portion of a scientific investigation as consists
of applied knowledge is art. Hence we may even say that as soon as any
prevision in science passes out of its originally passive state, and
is employed for reaching other previsions, it passes from theory into
practice—becomes science in action—becomes art. And after contemplating
these facts, we shall the more clearly perceive that as the connexion
of the arts with each other has been becoming more intimate; as the
help given by sciences to arts and by arts to sciences, has been age by
age increasing; so the interdependence of the sciences {71} themselves
has been ever growing greater, their relations more involved, their
_consensus_ more active.

       *       *       *       *       *

In here ending our sketch of the Genesis of Science, we are conscious
of having done the subject but scant justice. Two difficulties
have stood in our way: one, the having to touch on so many points
in such small space; the other, the necessity of treating in
serial arrangement a process which is not serial. Nevertheless, we
believe the evidence assigned suffices to substantiate the leading
propositions with which we set out. Inquiry into the first stages
of science confirms the conclusion drawn from analysis of science
as now existing, that it is not distinct from common knowledge, but
an outgrowth from it—an extension of perception by means of reason.
That more specific characteristic of scientific previsions, which
was analytically shown to distinguish them from the previsions of
uncultured intelligence—their quantitativeness—we also see to have been
the characteristic alike of the initial steps in science, and of all
the steps succeeding them. The facts and admissions cited in disproof
of the assertion that the sciences follow one another, both logically
and historically, in the order of their decreasing generality, have
been enforced by the instances we have met with, showing that a more
general science as much owes its progress to the presentation of new
problems by a more special science, as the more special science owes
its progress to the solutions which the more general science is thus
led to attempt—instances, therefore, illustrating the position that
scientific advance is as much from the special to the general as from
the general to the special. Quite in harmony with this position we
find to be the admissions that the sciences are as branches of one
trunk, and that they were at first cultivated simultaneously. This
harmony becomes the more marked on finding, as we have done, not
only that the sciences have a common root, but that science in {72}
general has a common root with language, classification, reasoning,
art; that throughout civilization these have advanced together, acting
and reacting upon each other just as the separate sciences have done;
and that thus the development of intelligence in all its divisions
and sub-divisions has conformed to this same law which we have shown
that the sciences conform to. From all which we may perceive that the
sciences can with no greater propriety be arranged in a succession,
than language, classification, reasoning, art, and science, can be
arranged in a succession; that, however needful a succession may be
for the convenience of books and catalogues, it must be recognized as
merely a convention; and that so far from its being the function of a
philosophy of the sciences to establish a hierarchy, it is its function
to show that the linear arrangements required for literary purposes,
have none of them any basis either in Nature or History.

There is one further remark we must not omit—a remark touching the
importance of the question that has been discussed. Topics of this
abstract nature are commonly slighted as of no practical moment;
and, doubtless, many will think it of little consequence what theory
respecting the genesis of science may be entertained. But the value of
truths is often great, in proportion as their generality is wide. And
it must be so here. A correct theory of the development of the sciences
must have an important effect on education; and, through education, on
civilization. Much as we differ from him in other respects, we agree
with M. Comte in the belief that, rightly conducted, the education of
the individual must have a certain correspondence with the evolution
of the race. No one can contemplate the facts we have cited in
illustration of the early stages of science, without recognizing the
_necessity_ of the processes through which those stages were reached—a
necessity which, in respect to the leading truths, may likewise be
traced in all after stages. This necessity, {73} originating in the
very nature of the phenomena to be analyzed and the faculties to be
employed, partially applies to the mind of the child as to that of the
savage. We say partially, because the correspondence is not special
but general only. Were the _environment_ the same in both cases, the
correspondence would be complete. But though the surrounding material
out of which science is to be organized, is, in many cases, the same
to the juvenile mind and the aboriginal mind, it is not so throughout;
as, for instance, in the case of chemistry, the phenomena of which
are accessible to the one but were inaccessible to the other. Hence,
in proportion as the environment differs, the course of evolution
must differ. After admitting exceptions, however, there remains a
substantial parallelism; and, if so, it is of moment to ascertain what
really has been the process of scientific evolution. The establishment
of an erroneous theory must be disastrous in its educational results;
while the establishment of a true one must be fertile in school-reforms
and consequent social benefits.


[1] It is curious that the author of “The Plurality of Worlds,”
with quite other aims, should have persuaded himself into similar



[_First published as a brochure in April 1864. The preface to the
second edition, published in April 1869, I reproduce because of certain
facts contained in it which are not without interest._]

The first edition of this Essay is not yet out of print. But a proposal
to translate it into French having been made by Professor Réthoré, I
have decided to prepare a new edition free from the imperfections which
criticism and further thought have disclosed, rather than allow these
imperfections to be reproduced.

The occasion has almost tempted me into some amplification. Further
arguments against the classification of M. Comte, and further arguments
in support of the classification here set forth, have pleaded for
utterance. But reconsideration has convinced me that it is both
needless and useless to say more—needless because those who are not
committed will think the case sufficiently strong as it stands; and
useless because to those who are committed, additional reasons will
seem as inadequate as the original ones. [In the preface to the third
edition, however, a reason is given for a change of decision on
this point at that time made (February 1871): the reason being “the
publication of several objections by Prof. Bain in his Logic.”]

This last conclusion is thrust on me by seeing how little M. Littré,
the leading expositor of M. Comte, is influenced by fundamental
objections the force of which he admits. After quoting one of these,
he says, with a candour equally {75} rare and admirable, that he
has vainly searched M. Comte’s works and his own mind for an answer.
Nevertheless, he adds—“j’ai réussi, je crois, à écarter l’attaque de M.
Herbert Spencer, et à sauver le fond par des sacrifices indispensables
mais accessoires.” The sacrifices are these. He abandons M. Comte’s
division of Inorganic Science into Celestial Physics and Terrestrial
Physics—a division which, in M. Comte’s scheme, takes precedence of
all the rest; and he admits that neither logically nor historically
does Astronomy come before Physics, as M. Comte alleges. After making
these sacrifices, which most will think too lightly described as
“sacrifices indispensables mais accessoires,” M. Littré proceeds to
rehabilitate the Comtean classification in a way which he considers
satisfactory, but which I do not understand. In short, the proof of
these incongruities affects his faith in the Positivist theory of the
sciences, no more than the faith of a Christian is affected by proof
that the Gospels contradict one another.

Here in England I have seen no attempt to meet the criticisms with
which M. Littré thus deals. There has been no reply to the allegation,
based on examples, that the several sciences do not develop in the
order of their decreasing generality; nor to the allegation, based
on M. Comte’s own admissions, that within each science the progress
is not, as he says it is, from the general to the special; nor to
the allegation that the seeming historical precedence of Astronomy
over Physics in M. Comte’s pages, is based on a verbal ambiguity—a
mere sleight of words; nor to the allegation, abundantly illustrated,
that a progression in an order the reverse of that asserted by M.
Comte may be as well substantiated; nor to various minor allegations
equally irreconcileable with his scheme. I have met with nothing
more than iteration of the statement that the sciences _do_ conform,
logically and historically, to the order in which M. Comte places them;
regardless of the assigned evidence that they _do not_.

Under these circumstances it is unnecessary for me to {76} say more;
and I think I am warranted in continuing to hold that the Comtean
classification of the sciences is demonstrably untenable.

       *       *       *       *       *

In an essay on “The Genesis of Science,” originally published in 1854,
I endeavoured to show that the Sciences cannot be rationally arranged
in serial order. Proof was given that neither the succession in which
the Sciences are placed by M. Comte (to a criticism of whose scheme
the essay was in part devoted), nor any other succession in which the
Sciences can be placed, represents either their logical dependence or
their historical dependence. To the question—How may their relations be
rightly expressed? I did not then attempt any answer. This question I
propose now to consider.

A true classification includes in each class, those objects which have
more characteristics in common with one another, than any of them
have in common with any objects excluded from the class. Further,
the characteristics possessed in common by the colligated objects,
and not possessed by other objects, involve more numerous dependent
characteristics. These are two sides of the same definition. For things
possessing the greatest number of attributes in common, are things that
possess in common those essential attributes on which the rest depend;
and, conversely, the possession in common of the essential attributes,
implies the possession in common of the greatest number of attributes.
Hence, either test may be used as convenience dictates.

If, then, the Sciences admit of classification at all, it must be by
grouping together the like and separating the unlike, as thus defined.
Let us proceed to do this.

       *       *       *       *       *

The broadest natural division among the Sciences, is the division
between those which deal with the abstract relations {77} under which
phenomena are presented to us, and those which deal with the phenomena
themselves. Relations of whatever orders, are nearer akin to one
another than they are to any objects. Objects of whatever orders, are
nearer akin to one another than they are to any relations. Whether,
as some hold, Space and Time are nothing but forms of Thought[2];
or whether, as I hold myself, they are forms of Things, that have
generated forms of Thought through organized and inherited experience
of Things; it is equally true that Space and Time are contrasted
absolutely with the existences disclosed to us in Space and Time; and
hence the Sciences which deal exclusively with Space and Time, are
separated by the profoundest of all distinctions from the Sciences
which deal with the existences contained in Space and Time. Space is
the abstract of all relations of co-existence. Time is the abstract
of all relations of sequence. And dealing as they do entirely with
relations of co-existence and sequence, in their general or special
forms, Logic and Mathematics form a class of the Sciences more widely
unlike the rest, than any of the rest are from one another.

The Sciences which deal with existences themselves, instead of the
blank forms in which existences are presented to us, admit of a
sub-division less profound than the division above made, but more
profound than any of the divisions among the Sciences individually
considered. They {78} fall into two classes, having quite different
aspects, aims, and methods. Every phenomenon is more or less
composite—is a manifestation of force under several distinct modes.
Hence result two objects of inquiry. We may study the component
modes of force separately; or we may study them as co-operating to
generate in this composite phenomenon. On the one hand, neglecting
all the incidents of particular cases, we may aim to educe the laws
of each mode of force, when it is uninterfered with. On the other
hand, the incidents of the particular case being given, we may seek to
interpret the entire phenomenon, as a product of the several forces
simultaneously in action. The truths reached through the first kind
of inquiry, though concrete inasmuch as they have actual existences
for their subject-matters, are abstract inasmuch as they refer to the
modes of existence apart from one another; while the truths reached
by the second kind of inquiry are properly concrete, inasmuch as they
formulate the facts in their combined order, as they occur in Nature.

The Sciences, then, in their main divisions, stand thus:―


   that which treats of the forms
   in which phenomona are known to us;   ABSTRACT SCIENCE
                                         (Logic and Mathematics)

  that which treats of the phenomena themselves

    in their elements           ABSTRACT-CONCRETE SCIENCE
                                (Mechanics, Physics, Chemistry, etc.)

    in their totalities         CONCRETE SCIENCE
                                (Astronomy, Geology, Biology, Psychology,
                                 Sociology, etc.)

It is needful to define the words _abstract_ and _concrete_ as thus
used; since they are sometimes used with other {79} meanings. M.
Comte divides Science into abstract and concrete; but the divisions
which he distinguishes by these names are quite unlike those above
made. Instead of regarding some Sciences as wholly abstract, and
others as wholly concrete, he regards each Science as having an
abstract part, and a concrete part. There is, according to him, an
abstract mathematics and a concrete mathematics—an abstract biology
and concrete biology. He says:—“Il faut distinguer, par rapport à
tous les ordres de phénomènes, deux genres de sciences naturelles:
les unes abstraites, générales, ont pour objet la découverte des lois
qui régissent les diverses classes de phénomènes, en considérant tous
les cas qu’on peut concevoir; les autres concrètes, particulières,
descriptives, et qu’on désigne quelquefois sous le nom de sciences
naturelles proprement dites, consistent dans l’application de ces
lois a l’histoire effective des différens êtres existans.” And to
illustrate the distinction, he names general physiology as abstract,
and zoology and botany as concrete. Here it is manifest that the words
_abstract_ and _general_ are used as synonymous. They have, however,
different meanings; and confusion results from not distinguishing
their meanings. Abstractness means _detachment from_ the incidents of
particular cases. Generality means _manifestation in_ numerous cases.
On the one hand, the essential nature of some phenomenon is considered,
apart from disguising phenomena. On the other hand, the frequency of
the phenomenon, with or without disguising phenomena, is the thing
considered. Among the phenomena presented by numbers, which are purely
ideal, the two coincide; but excluding these, an abstract truth is not
realizable to perception in any case of which it is asserted, whereas
a general truth is realizable to perception in every case of which it
is asserted. Some illustrations will make the distinction clear. Thus
it is an abstract truth that the angle contained in a semi-circle is
a right angle—abstract in the sense that though it does not hold of
{80} actually-constructed semi-circles and angles, which are always
inexact, it holds of the ideal semi-circles and angles abstracted
from real ones; but this is not a general truth, either in the sense
that it is commonly manifested in Nature, or in the sense that it is
a space-relation that comprehends many minor space-relations: it is
a quite special space-relation. Again, that the momentum of a body
causes it to move in a straight line at a uniform velocity, is an
abstract-concrete truth—a truth abstracted from certain experiences of
concrete phenomena; but it is by no means a general truth: so little
generality has it, that no one fact in Nature displays it. Conversely,
surrounding things supply us with hosts of general truths that are not
in the least abstract. It is a general truth that the planets go round
the Sun from West to East—a truth which holds good in several hundred
cases (including the cases of the planetoids); but this truth is not
at all abstract, since it is perfectly realized as a concrete fact
in every one of these cases. Every vertebrate animal whatever, has a
double nervous system; all birds and all mammals are warm-blooded—these
are general truths, but they are concrete truths: that is to say, every
vertebrate animal individually presents an entire and unqualified
manifestation of this duality of the nervous system; every living bird
exemplifies absolutely or completely the warm-bloodedness of birds.
What we here call, and rightly call, a general truth, is simply a
proposition which _sums up_ a number of our actual experiences; and
not the expression of a truth _drawn from_ our actual experiences, but
never presented to us in any of them. In other words, a general truth
colligates a number of particular truths; while an abstract truth
colligates no particular truths, but formulates a truth which certain
phenomena all involve, though it is actually seen in none of them.

Limiting the words to their proper meanings as thus defined, it becomes
manifest that the three classes of {81} Sciences above separated,
are not distinguishable at all by differences in their degrees of
generality. They are all equally general; or rather they are all,
considered as groups, universal. Every object whatever presents at once
the subject-matter for each of them. In every fragment of substance
we have simultaneously illustrated the abstract truths of relation in
Time and Space; the abstract-concrete truths in conformity with which
the fragment manifests its several modes of force; and the concrete
truths resulting from the joint manifestation of these modes of force,
and which give to the fragment the characters by which it is known as
such or such. Thus these three classes of Sciences severally formulate
different, but co-extensive, classes of facts. Within each group there
are truths of greater and less generality: there are general abstract
truths, and special abstract truths; general abstract-concrete truths,
and special abstract-concrete truths; general concrete truths, and
special concrete truths. But while within each class there are groups
and sub-groups and sub-sub-groups which differ in their degrees of
generality, the classes themselves differ only in their degrees of

       *       *       *       *       *

Let us pass to the sub-divisions of these classes. The first class is
separable into two parts—the one containing universal truths, the other
non-universal truths. Dealing {82} wholly with relations apart from
related things, Abstract Science considers first, that which is common
to all relations whatever; and, second, that which is common to each
order of relations. Besides the indefinite and variable connexions
which exist among phenomena, as occurring together in Space and Time,
we find that there are also definite and invariable connexions—that
between each kind of phenomenon and certain other kinds of phenomena,
there exist uniform relations. This is a universal abstract truth—that
there is an unchanging order, or fixity of law, in Space and Time.
We come next to the several kinds of unchanging order, which, taken
together, form the subjects of the {83} second division of Abstract
Science. Of this second division, the most general sub-division is
that which deals with the natures of the connexions in Space and Time,
irrespective of the terms connected. The conditions under which we may
predicate a relation of coincidence or proximity in Space and Time (or
of non-coincidence or non-proximity) from the subject-matter of Logic.
Here the natures and amounts of the terms between which the relations
are {84} asserted (or denied) are of no moment: the propositions
of Logic are independent of any qualitative or quantitative
specification of the related things. The other sub-division has for
its subject-matter, the relations between terms which are specified
quantitatively but not qualitatively. The amounts of the related terms,
irrespective of their natures, are here dealt with; and Mathematics
is a statement of the laws of quantity considered apart from reality.
Quantity considered apart from reality, is occupancy of Space or Time;
and occupancy of Space or Time is measured by units of one or other
order, but of which the ultimate ones are simply separate places in
consciousness, either coexistent or sequent. Among units that are
unspecified in their natures (extensive, protensive, or intensive), but
are ideally endowed with existence considered apart from attributes,
the quantitative relations that arise, are those most general relations
expressed by numbers. Such relations fall into either of two orders,
according as the units are considered simply as capable of filling
separate places in consciousness, or according as they are considered
as filling places that are not only separate, but equal. In the one
case, we have that indefinite calculus by which numbers of abstract
existences, but not sums of abstract existence, are predicable. In the
other case, we have that definite calculus by which both numbers of
abstract existences and sums of abstract existence are predicable. Next
comes that division of Mathematics which deals with the quantitative
relations of magnitudes (or aggregates of units) considered as
coexistent, or as occupying Space—the division called Geometry. And
then we arrive at relations, the terms of which include both quantities
of Time and quantities of Space—those in which times are estimated by
the units of space traversed at a uniform velocity, and those in which
equal units of time being given, the spaces traversed with uniform or
variable velocities are estimated. {85} These Abstract Sciences,
which are concerned exclusively with relations and with the relations
of relations, may be grouped as shown in Table I.

       *       *       *       *       *



   Universal law of relation—an expression of the truth that
   uniformities of connexion obtain among modes of Being, irrespective
   of any specification of the natures of the uniformities of connexion.

   Laws of relations

     that are qualitative; or that are specified in their natures as
     relations of coincidence or proximity in Time and Space, but not
     necessarily in their terms the natures and amount of which are
     indifferent. (LOGIC.)[4]

     that are quantitative (MATHEMATICS)

       negatively: the terms of the relations being definitely-related
       sets of positions in space; and the facts predicated being the
       absences of certain quantities. (_Geometry of Position._[5])

       positively: the terms being magnitudes composed of

         units that are equal only as having independent existences.
         (_Indefinite Calculus._[6])

         equal units

           the equality of which is not defined as extensive,
           protensive, or intensive (_Definite Calculus_)

             when their numbers are completely specified (_Arithmetic._)

             when their numbers are specified only

               in their relations (_Algebra._)

               in the relations of their relations. (_Calculus of_

           the equality of which is that of extension

             considered in their relations of coexistence. (_Geometry._)

             considered as traversed in Time

               that is wholly indefinite. (_Kinematics._)

               that is divided into equal units (_Geometry of Motion._[7])

Passing from the Sciences concerned with the ideal or unoccupied
forms of relations, and turning to the Sciences concerned with
real relations, or the relations among realities, we come first to
those Sciences which treat of realities, not as they are habitually
manifested, but with realities as manifested in their different
modes, when these are artificially separated from one another.
While the Abstract Sciences are wholly ideal, relatively to the
Abstract-Concrete and Concrete Sciences; the Abstract-Concrete Sciences
are partially ideal, relatively to the Concrete Sciences. Just as
Logic and Mathematics generalize the laws of relation, qualitative
and quantitative, apart from related things; so, Mechanics, Physics,
Chemistry generalize the laws of relation which different modes
of Matter and Motion conform to, when severally disentangled from
those actual phenomena in which they are mutually modified. Just as
the geometrician formulates the properties of lines and surfaces,
independently of the irregularities and thicknesses of lines and
surfaces as they really exist; so the physicist and the chemist
formulate the manifestations of each mode of force, independently of
the disturbances in its manifestations which other modes of force cause
in every actual case. In works on Mechanics, the laws of motion are
expressed without reference to friction and resistance of the medium.
Not what motion ever really is, but what it would be if retarding
forces were absent, is asserted. If afterwards any retarding force is
taken into account, then the effect of this retarding force is dealt
with by itself: neglecting the other retarding forces. Consider, again,
the generalizations of the physicist respecting molecular motion. The
law that light varies inversely as the square of the distance, is
absolutely true only when the radiation {86} goes on from a point
without dimensions, which it never does; and it also assumes that
the rays are perfectly straight, which they cannot be unless the
medium differs from all actual media in being perfectly homogeneous.
If the disturbing effects of changes of media are investigated, the
formulæ expressing the refractions take for granted that the new media
entered are homogeneous; which they never really are. Even when a
compound disturbance is allowed for, as when the refraction undergone
by light in traversing a medium of increasing density, like the
atmosphere, is calculated, the calculation still supposes conditions
that are unnaturally simple—it supposes that the atmosphere is not
pervaded by heterogeneous currents, which it always is. Similarly
with the inquiries of the chemist. He does not take his substances as
Nature supplies them. Before he proceeds to specify their respective
properties, he purifies them—separates from each all trace of every
other. Before ascertaining the specific gravity of a gas, he has to
free this gas from the vapour of water, usually mixed with it. Before
describing the properties of a salt, he guards against any error that
may arise from the presence of an uncombined portion of the acid or
base. And when he alleges of any element that it has a certain atomic
weight, and unites with such and such equivalents of other elements,
he does not mean that the results thus expressed are exactly the
results of any one experiment; but that they are the results which,
after averaging many trials, he concludes would be realized if absolute
purity could be obtained, and if the experiments could be conducted
without loss. His problem is to ascertain the laws of combination of
molecules, not as they are actually displayed, but as they would be
displayed in the absence of those minute interferences which cannot
be altogether avoided. Thus all Abstract-Concrete Sciences have for
their object, _analytical interpretation_. In every case it is the
aim to decompose the phenomenon, and formulate its {87} components
apart from one another; or some two or three apart from the rest.
Wherever, throughout these Sciences, synthesis is employed, it is for
the verification of analysis.[8] The truths elaborated are severally
asserted, not as truths exhibited by this or that particular object;
but as truths universally holding of Matter and Motion in their more
general or more special forms, considered apart from particular
objects, and particular places in space.

The sub-divisions of this group of Sciences, may be drawn on the
same principle as that on which the sub-divisions of the preceding
group were drawn. Phenomena, considered as more or less involved
manifestations of force, yield on analysis, certain laws of
manifestation which are universal, and other laws of manifestation,
which, being dependent on conditions, are not universal. Hence the
Abstract-Concrete Sciences are primarily divisible into—the laws of
force considered apart from its separate modes, and laws of force
considered under each of its separate modes. And this second division
of the Abstract-Concrete group, is sub-divisible after a manner
essentially analogous. It is needless to occupy space by defining
these several {88} orders and genera of Sciences. Table II. will
sufficiently explain their relations.

       *       *       *       *       *



    Universal laws of forces (tensions and pressures), as deducible from
    the persistence of force: the theorems of resolution and composition
    of forces.

    Laws of forces as manifested by matter

      in masses (MECHANICS)

        that are in equilibrium relatively to other masses

          and are solid. (_Statics._)

          and are fluid. (_Hydrostatics._)

        that are not in equilibrium relatively to other masses

          and are solid. (_Dynamics._)

          and are fluid. (_Hydrodynamics._)

      in molecules (MOLECULAR MECHANICS)

        when in equilibrium: (_Molecular Statics_)

          giving statical properties of matter

            general, as impenetrability or space-occupancy.

            special, as the forms resulting from molecular equilibrium.

          giving statico-dynamical properties of matter (cohesion,
          elasticity, etc.)

            when solid.

            when liquid.

            when gaseous.

        when not in equilibrium: (_Molecular Dynamics_)

          as resulting in a changed distribution of molecules

            which alters their relative positions homogeneously

              causing increase of volume (expansion, liquefaction,

              causing decrease of volume (condensation, solidification,

            which alters their relative positions heterogeneously

              producing new relations of molecules (new compounds).

              producing new relations of forces (new affinities).

          as resulting in a changed distribution of molecular motion,

            which, by integration, generates sensible motion.

            which, by disintegration, generates insensible motion, under
            the forms of {_Heat._ _Light._ _Electricity._ _Magnetism._}

Wecome now to the third great group. We have done with the Sciences which
are concerned only with the blank forms of relations under which Being
is manifested to us. We have left behind the Sciences which, dealing
with Being under its universal mode, and its several non-universal
modes regarded as independent, treat the terms of its relations as
simple and homogeneous; which they never are in Nature. There remain
the Sciences which, taking these modes of Being as they are habitually
connected with one another, have for the terms of their relations,
those heterogeneous combinations of forces that constitute actual
phenomena. The subject-matter of these Concrete-Sciences is the real,
as contrasted with the wholly or partially ideal. It is their aim,
not to separate and generalize apart the components of all phenomena,
but to explain each phenomenon as a product of these components.
Their relations are not, like those of the simplest Abstract-Concrete
Sciences, relations between one antecedent and one consequent; nor
are they, like those of the more involved Abstract-Concrete Sciences,
relations between some few antecedents cut off in imagination from
all others, and some few consequents similarly cut off; but they
are relations each of which has for its terms a complete plexus of
antecedents and a complete plexus of consequents. This is manifest in
the least involved Concrete Sciences. The astronomer seeks to explain
the Solar System. He does not stop short after generalizing the laws
of planetary movement, such as planetary movement would be did only
a single planet exist; but he solves this abstract-concrete problem,
as a step towards solving the concrete problem of the planetary
movements as affecting one another. In astronomical language, “the
theory of the Moon” means an interpretation of the Moon’s motions, not
as determined simply by centripetal {89} and centrifugal forces, but
as perpetually modified by gravitation towards the Earth’s equatorial
protuberance, towards the Sun, and even towards Venus: forces daily
varying in their amounts and combinations. Nor does the astronomer
leave off when he has calculated what will be the position of a given
body at a given time, allowing for all perturbations; but he goes on to
consider the effects produced by reactions on the perturbing masses.
And he further goes on to consider how the mutual perturbations of
the planets cause, during a long period, increasing deviations from a
mean state; and then how compensating perturbations cause continuous
decrease of the deviations. That is, the goal towards which he ever
strives, is a complete explanation of these complex planetary motions
in their totality. Similarly with the geologist. He does not take for
his problem only those irregularities of the Earth’s crust that are
worked by denudation; or only those which igneous action causes. He
does not seek simply to understand how sedimentary strata were formed;
or how faults were produced; or how moraines originated; or how the
beds of Alpine lakes were scooped out. But taking into account all
agencies co-operating in endless and ever-varying combinations, he
aims to interpret the entire structure of the Earth’s crust. If he
studies separately the actions of rain, rivers, glaciers, icebergs,
tides, waves, volcanoes, earthquakes, etc.; he does so that he may be
better able to comprehend their joint actions as factors in geological
phenomena: the object of his science being to generalize these
phenomena in all their intricate connexions, as parts of one whole. In
like manner Biology is the elaboration of a complete theory of Life, in
each and all of its involved manifestations. If different aspects of
its phenomena are investigated apart—if one observer busies himself in
classing organisms, another in dissecting them, another in ascertaining
their chemical compositions, another in studying functions, another
in tracing laws of modification; they are {90} all, consciously or
unconsciously, helping to work out a solution of vital phenomena in
their entirety, both as displayed by individual organisms and by
organisms at large. Thus, in these Concrete Sciences, the object is
the converse of that which the Abstract-Concrete Sciences propose to
themselves. In the one case we have _analytical interpretation_; while
in the other case we have _synthetical interpretation_. Instead of
synthesis being used merely to verify analysis; analysis is here used
only to aid synthesis. Not to formulate the factors of phenomena is
now the object; but to formulate the phenomena resulting from these
factors, under the various conditions which the Universe presents.

This third class of Sciences, like the other classes, is divisible
into the universal and the non-universal. As there are truths which
hold of all phenomena in their elements; so there are truths which
hold of all phenomena in their totalities. As force has certain
ultimate laws common to its separate modes of manifestation, so in
those combinations of its modes which constitute actual phenomena, we
find certain ultimate laws that are conformed to in every case. These
are the laws of the re-distribution of force. Since we can become
conscious of a phenomenon only by some change wrought in us, every
phenomenon necessarily implies re-distribution of force—change in
the arrangements of matter and motion. Alike in molecular movements
and the movements of masses, one great uniformity may be traced.
A decreasing quantity of motion, sensible or insensible, always
has for its concomitant an increasing aggregation of matter; and,
conversely, an increasing quantity of motion, sensible or insensible,
has for its concomitant a decreasing aggregation of matter. Give to
the molecules of any mass, more of that insensible motion which we
call heat, and the parts of the mass become somewhat less closely
aggregated. Add a further quantity of insensible motion, and the
mass so far disintegrates as to become {91} liquid. Add still more
insensible motion, and the mass disintegrates so completely as to
become gas; which occupies a greater space with every extra quantity
of insensible motion given to it. On the other hand, every loss of
insensible motion by a mass, gaseous, liquid, or solid, is accompanied
by a progressing integration of the mass. Similarly with sensible
motions, be the bodies moved large or small. Augment the velocities
of the planets, and their orbits will enlarge—the Solar System will
occupy a wider space. Diminish their velocities, and their orbits will
lessen—the Solar System will contract, or become more integrated.
And in like manner we see that sensible motions given to bodies on
the Earth’s surface involve partial disintegrations of the bodies
from the Earth; while the loss of their motions are accompanied by
their re-integration with the Earth. In all changes we have either an
integration of matter and concomitant dissipation of motion; or an
absorption of motion and concomitant disintegration of matter. And
where, as in living bodies, these processes go on simultaneously, there
is an integration of matter proportioned to the dissipation of motion,
and an absorption of motion proportioned to the disintegration of
matter. Such, then, are the universal laws of that re-distribution of
matter and motion everywhere going on—a re-distribution which results
in Evolution so long as the aggregation of matter and dispersion of
motion predominate; but which results in Dissolution where there is
a predominant aggregation of motion and dispersion of matter. Hence
we have a division of Concrete Science which bears towards the other
Concrete Sciences, a relation like that which the Universal Law of
Relation bears to Mathematics, and like that which Universal Mechanics
(composition and resolution of forces) bears to Physics. We have a
division of Concrete Science which generalizes those concomitants
of this re-distribution that hold good among all orders of concrete
objects—a division which explains why, along with a {92} predominating
integration of matter and dissipation of motion, there goes a change
from an indefinite, incoherent homogeneity, to a definite, coherent
heterogeneity; and why a reverse re-distribution of matter and motion,
is accompanied by a reverse structural change. Passing from this
universal Concrete Science, to the non-universal Concrete Sciences; we
find that these are primarily divisible into the science which deals
with the re-distributions of matter and motion among masses in space,
consequent on their mutual actions as wholes; and the science which
deals with the re-distributions of matter and motion consequent on the
mutual actions of the parts of each mass. And of these equally general
Sciences, this last is re-divisible into the Science which is limited
to the concomitants of re-distribution among the parts of each mass
when regarded as independent, and the Science which takes into account
the molecular motion received by radiation from other masses. But these
sub-divisions, and their sub-sub-divisions, will be best seen in the
annexed Table III.

       *       *       *       *       *



   Universal laws of the continuous re-distribution of Matter and
   Motion; which results in Evolution where there is a predominant
   integration of Matter and dissipation of Motion, and which results
   in Dissolution where there is a predominant absorption of Motion and
   disintegration of Matter.

   Laws of the redistributions of Matter and Motion actually going on

     among the celestial bodies in their relations to one another as
     masses: comprehending (ASTRONOMY)

       the dynamics of our solar system. (_Planetary Astronomy._)

       the dynamics of our stellar universe. (_Sidereal Astronomy._)

     among the molecules of any celestial mass; as caused by

       the actions of these molecules on one another

         resulting in the formation of compound molecules. (_Solar_

         resulting in molecular motions and genesis of radiant

         resulting in movements of gases and liquids. (_Solar_

       the actions of these molecules on one another, joined with the
       actions on them of forces radiated by the molecules of other
       masses: (GEOGENY)

         as exhibited in the planets generally.

         as exhibited in the Earth

           causing composition and of decomposition of inorganic
           matters. (_Mineralogy._)

           causing re-distributions of gases and liquids.

           causing re-distributions of solids. (_Geology._)

           causing organic phenomena; which are (_Biology_)

             those of structure (_Morphology_)



             those of function

               in their internal relations (_Physiology_)



               in their external relations (_Psychology_)




                   combined. (_Sociology._[11])

That these great groups of Sciences and their respective sub-groups,
fulfil the definition of a true classification given at the outset, is,
I think, tolerably manifest. The subjects of inquiry included in each
primary division, have essential attributes in common with one another,
which they have not in common with any of the subjects contained in
the other primary divisions; and they have, by consequence, a greater
number of attributes in which they are severally like the subjects
they are grouped with, and unlike the subjects otherwise grouped.
Between Sciences which deal with relations apart from realities, and
Sciences which deal with realities, the distinction is the widest
possible; since Being, in some or all of its attributes, is common to
all Sciences of the second class, and excluded from all Sciences of the
first class. And when we divide the Sciences which treat of realities,
into those which deal {93} with their component phenomena considered in
ideal separation and those which deal with their component phenomena
as actually united, we make a profounder distinction than can exist
between the Sciences which deal with one or other order of the
components, or than can exist between the Sciences which deal with one
or other order of the things composed. The three groups of Sciences
may be briefly defined as—laws of the _forms_; laws of the _factors_;
laws of the _products_. When thus defined, it becomes manifest that
the groups are so radically unlike in their natures, that there can
be no transitions between them; and that any Science belonging to one
of the groups must be quite incongruous with the Sciences belonging
to either of the other groups, if transferred. How fundamental are
the differences between them, will be further seen on considering
their functions. The first, or abstract group, is _instrumental_ with
respect to both the others; and the second, or abstract-concrete group
is _instrumental_ with respect to the third or concrete group. An
endeavour to invert these functions will at once show how essential
is the difference of character. The second and third groups supply
subject-matter to the first, and the third supplies subject-matter to
the second; but none of the truths which constitute the third group are
of any use as solvents of the problems presented by the second group;
and none of the truths which the second group formulates can act as
solvents of problems contained in the first group.

Concerning the sub-divisions of these great groups, little remains
to be added. That each of the groups, being co-extensive with all
phenomena, contains truths that are universal and others that are not
universal, and that these must be classed apart, is obvious. And that
the sub-divisions of the non-universal truths, are to be made according
to their decreasing generality in something like the manner shown in
the Tables, is proved by the fact that {94} when the descriptive
words are read from the root to the extremity of any branch, they form
a definition of the Science constituting that branch. That the minor
divisions might be otherwise arranged, and that better definitions of
them might be given, is highly probable. They are here set down merely
for the purpose of showing how this method of classification works out.

I will only further remark that the relations of the Sciences as
thus represented, are still but imperfectly represented: their
relations cannot be truly shown on a plane, but only in space of three
dimensions. The three groups cannot rightly be put in linear order as
they have here been. Since the first stands related to the third, not
only indirectly through the second, but also directly—it is directly
instrumental with respect to the third, and the third supplies it
directly with subject-matter. Their relations can thus only be truly
shown by branches diverging from a common root on different sides,
in such a way that each stands in juxta-position to the other two.
And only by a like mode of arrangement, can the relations among the
sub-divisions of each group be correctly represented.

       *       *       *       *       *

The foregoing exposition, highly abstract as it is, will by some
readers be less readily followed than a more concrete one. With the
view of carrying conviction to such I will re-state the case in two
ways: the first of them adapted only to those who accept the doctrine
of Evolution in its most general form.

We set out with concentrating nebulous matter. Tracing the
re-distributions of this, as the rotating contracting spheroid leaves
behind successive annuli and as these severally form secondary rotating
spheroids, we come at length to planets in their early stages. Thus
far we consider the phenomena dealt with purely astronomical; and so
long as our Earth, regarded as one of these spheroids, {95} was made
up of gaseous and molten matters only, it presented no data for any
more complex Concrete Science. In the lapse of cosmical time a solid
film forms, which, in the course of millions of years, thickens, and,
in the course of further millions of years, becomes cool enough to
permit the precipitation, first of various other gaseous compounds,
and finally of water. Presently, the varying exposure of different
parts of the spheroid to the Sun’s rays, begins to produce appreciable
effects; until at length there have arisen meteorological actions, and
consequent geological actions, such as those we now know: determined
partly by the Sun’s heat, partly by the still-retained internal heat
of the Earth, and partly by the action of the Moon on the ocean? How
have we reached these geological phenomena? When did the astronomical
changes end and the geological changes begin? It needs but to ask this
question to see that there is no real division between the two. Putting
pre-conceptions aside, we find nothing more than a group of phenomena
continually complicating under the influence of the same original
factors; and we see that our conventional division is defensible only
on grounds of convenience. Let us advance a stage. As the Earth’s
surface continues to cool, passing through all degrees of temperature
by infinitesimal gradations, the formation of more and more complex
inorganic compounds becomes possible. Later, its surface sinks to that
heat at which the less complex compounds of the kinds called organic
can exist; and, finally, the formation of the more complex organic
compounds takes place. Chemists now show us that these compounds may
be built up synthetically in the laboratory—each stage in ascending
complexity making possible the next higher stage. Hence it is inferable
that, in the myriads of laboratories, endlessly diversified in their
materials and conditions, which the Earth’s surface furnished during
the myriads of years occupied in passing through these stages of
temperature, such successive {96} syntheses were effected; and that
the highly complex unstable substance out of which all organisms are
composed, was eventually formed in microscopic portions: from which,
by continuous integrations and differentiations, the evolution of all
organisms has proceeded. Where then shall we draw the line between
Geology and Biology? The synthesis of this most complex compound, is
but a continuation of the syntheses by which all simpler compounds were
formed. The same primary factors have been co-operating with those
secondary factors, meteorologic and geologic, previously derived from
them. Nowhere do we find a break in the ever-complicating series; for
there is a manifest connexion between those movements which various
complex compounds undergo during their isomeric transformations,
and those changes of form undergone by the protoplasm which we
distinguish as living. Strongly contrasted as they eventually
become, biological phenomena are at their root inseparable from
geological phenomena—inseparable from the aggregate of transformations
continually wrought in the matters forming the Earth’s surface by the
physical forces to which they are exposed. Further stages I need not
particularize. The gradual development out of the biological group of
phenomena, of the more specialized group we class as psychological,
needs no illustration. And when we come to the highest psychological
phenomena, it is clear that since aggregations of human beings may be
traced upwards from single wandering families to tribes and nations of
all sizes and complexities, we pass insensibly from the phenomena of
individual human action to those of corporate human action. To resume,
then, is it not manifest that in the group of sciences—Astronomy,
Geology, Biology, Psychology, Sociology, we have a natural group
that admits neither of disruption nor change of order? Here there is
both a genetic dependence, and a dependence of interpretations. The
phenomena have arisen in this succession in cosmical {97} time; and
complete scientific interpretation of each group depends on scientific
interpretation of the preceding groups. No other science can be thrust
in anywhere without destroying the continuity. To insert Physics
between Astronomy and Geology, would be to make a break in the history
of a continuous series of changes; and a like break would be produced
by inserting Chemistry between Geology and Biology. It is true that
Physics and Chemistry are needful as interpreters of these successive
assemblages of facts; but it does not therefore follow that they are
themselves to be placed among these assemblages.

Concrete Science, made up of these five concrete sub-sciences, being
thus coherent within itself, and separated from all other science,
there comes the question—Is all other science similarly coherent within
itself? or is it traversed by some second division that is equally
decided? It is thus traversed. A statical or dynamical theorem, however
simple, has always for its subject-matter something that is conceived
as extended, and as displaying force or forces—as being a seat of
resistance, or of tension, or of both, and as capable of possessing
more or less of _vis viva_. If we examine the simplest proposition of
Statics, we see that the conception of Force must be joined with the
conception of Space, before the proposition can be framed in thought;
and if we similarly examine the simplest proposition in Dynamics,
we see that Force, Space, and Time, are its essential elements. The
amounts of the terms are indifferent; and, by reduction of its terms
beyond the limits of perception, they are applied to molecules: Molar
Mechanics and Molecular Mechanics are continuous. From questions
concerning the relative motions of two or more molecules, Molecular
Mechanics passes to changes of aggregation among many molecules, to
changes in the amounts and kinds of the motions possessed by them as
members of an aggregate, and to changes of the motions transferred
through aggregates of them, as those constituting light. {98} Daily
extending its range of interpretations, it is coming to deal even
with the components of each compound molecule on the same principles.
And the unions and disunions of such more or less compound molecules,
which constitute the phenomena of Chemistry, are also being conceived
as resultant phenomena of essentially kindred natures—the affinities
of molecules for one another, and their reactions in relation to
light, heat, and other modes of force, being regarded as consequent
on the combinations of the various mechanically-determined motions of
their various components. Without at all out-running, however, this
progress in the mechanical interpretation of molecular phenomena, it
suffices to point out that the indispensable elements in any chemical
conception are units occupying places in space, and exerting forces on
one another. This, then, is the common character of all these sciences
which we at present group under the names of Mechanics, Physics,
Chemistry. Leaving undiscussed the question whether it is possible to
conceive of force apart from extended somethings exerting it, we may
assert, as beyond dispute, that if the conception of force be expelled,
no science of Mechanics, Physics, or Chemistry remains. Made coherent,
as these sciences are, by this bond of union, it is impossible to
thrust among them any other science without breaking their continuity.
We cannot place Logic between Molar Mechanics and Molecular Mechanics.
We cannot place Mathematics between the group of propositions
concerning the behaviour of homogeneous molecules to one another, and
the group of propositions concerning the behaviour of heterogeneous
molecules to one another (which we call Chemistry). Clearly these two
sciences lie outside the coherent whole we have contemplated; separated
from it in some radical way.

By what are they radically separated? By the absence of the conception
of force through which alone we know objects as existing or acting.
However true it may be {99} that so long as Logic and Mathematics have
any terms at all, these must be capable of affecting consciousness,
and, by implication, of exerting force; yet it is the distinctive trait
of these sciences that not only do their propositions make no reference
to such force, but, as far as possible, they deliberately ignore it.
Instead of being, as in all the other sciences, an element that is
not only recognized but vital; in Mathematics and Logic, force is an
element that is not only not vital, but is studiously not recognized.
The terms in which Logic expresses its propositions, are symbols that
do not profess to represent things, properties, or powers, of one
kind more than another; and may equally well stand for the attributes
belonging to members of some connected series of ideal curves which
have never been drawn, as for so many real objects. And the theorems of
Geometry, so far from contemplating perceptible lines and surfaces as
elements in the truths enunciated, consider these truths as becoming
absolute only when such lines and surfaces become ideal—only when the
conception of something exercising force is extruded.

       *       *       *       *       *

Let me now make a second re-statement, not implying acceptance of the
doctrine of Evolution, but exhibiting with a clearness almost if not
quite as great, these fundamental distinctions.

The concrete sciences, taken together or separately, contemplate as
their subject-matters, _aggregates_—either the entire aggregate of
sensible existences, or some secondary aggregate separable from this
entire aggregate, or some tertiary aggregate separable from this, and
so on. Sidereal Astronomy occupies itself with the totality of visible
masses distributed through space; which it deals with as made up of
identifiable individuals occupying specified places, and severally
standing towards one another, towards sub-groups, and towards the
entire group, in defined ways. Planetary Astronomy, cutting out of this
all-including aggregate that {100} relatively minute part constituting
the Solar System, deals with this as a whole—observes, measures, and
calculates the sizes, shapes, distances, motions, of its primary,
secondary, and tertiary members; and, taking for its larger inquiries
the mutual actions of all these members as parts of a coordinated
assemblage, takes for its smaller inquiries the actions of each member
considered as an individual, having a set of intrinsic activities that
are modified by a set of extrinsic activities. Restricting itself to
one of these aggregates, which admits of close examination, Geology
(using this word in its comprehensive meaning) gives an account of
terrestrial actions and terrestrial structures, past and present; and,
taking for its narrower problems local formations and the agencies
to which they are due, takes for its larger problems the serial
transformations undergone by the entire Earth. The geologist being
occupied with this cosmically small, but otherwise vast, aggregate,
the biologist occupies himself with small aggregates formed out of
parts of the Earth’s superficial substance, and treats each of these
as a coordinated whole in its structures and functions; or, when he
treats of any particular organ, considers this as a whole made up of
parts held in a sub-coordination that refers to the coordination of
the entire organism. To the psychologist he leaves those specialized
aggregates of functions which adjust the actions of organisms to the
complex activities surrounding them: doing this, not simply because
they are a stage higher in speciality, but because they are the
counterparts of those aggregated states of consciousness dealt with by
the science of Subjective Psychology, which stands entirely apart from
all other sciences. Finally, the sociologist considers each tribe and
nation as an aggregate presenting multitudinous phenomena, simultaneous
and successive, that are held together as parts of one combination.
Thus, in every case, a concrete science deals with a real aggregate
(or a plurality of real aggregates); and it includes as its {101}
subject-matter whatever is to be known of this aggregate in respect
of its size, shape, motions, density, texture, general arrangement
of parts, minute structure, chemical composition, temperature, etc.,
together with all the multitudinous changes, material and dynamical,
gone through by it from the time it begins to exist as an aggregate to
the time it ceases to exist as an aggregate.

No abstract-concrete science makes the remotest attempt to do anything
of this sort. Taken together, the abstract-concrete sciences give
an account of the various kinds of _properties_ which aggregates
display; and each abstract-concrete science concerns itself with a
certain order of these properties. By this, the properties common to
all aggregates are studied and formulated; by that, the properties of
aggregates having special forms, special states of aggregation, etc.;
and by others, the properties of particular components of aggregates
when dissociated from other components. But by all these sciences the
aggregate, considered as an individual object, is tacitly ignored; and
a property, or a connected set of properties, exclusively occupies
attention. It matters not to Mechanics whether the moving mass it
considers is a planet or a molecule, a dead stick thrown into the river
or the living dog that leaps after it: in any case the curve described
by the moving mass conforms to the same laws. Similarly when the
physicist takes for his subject the relation between the changing bulk
of matter and the changing quantity of molecular motion it contains.
Dealing with the subject generally, he leaves out of consideration the
kind of matter; and dealing with the subject specially in relation to
this or that kind of matter, he ignores the attributes of size and
form: save in the still more special cases where the effect on form
is considered, and even then size is ignored. So, too, is it with the
chemist. A substance he is investigating, never thought of by him
as distinguished in extension or amount, is not even required to be
perceptible. A portion of carbon on {102} which he is experimenting,
may or may not have been visible under its forms of diamond or
graphite or charcoal—this is indifferent. He traces it through various
disguises and various combinations—now as united with oxygen to form
an invisible gas; now as hidden with other elements in such more
complex compounds as ether, and sugar, and oil. By sulphuric acid or
other agent he precipitates it from these as a coherent cinder, or as
a diffused impalpable powder; and again, by applying heat, forces it
to disclose itself as an element of animal tissue. Evidently, while
thus ascertaining the affinities and atomic equivalence of carbon, the
chemist has nothing to do with any aggregate. He deals with carbon
in the abstract, as something considered apart from quantity, form,
appearance, or temporary state of combination; and conceives it as the
possessor of powers or properties, whence the special phenomena he
describes result: the ascertaining of all these powers or properties
being his sole aim.

Finally, the Abstract Sciences ignore alike aggregates and the powers
which aggregates or their components possess; and occupy themselves
with _relations_—either with the relations among aggregates, or among
their parts, or the relations among aggregates and properties, or the
relations among properties, or the relations among relations. The
same logical formula applies equally well, whether its terms are men
and their deaths, crystals and their planes of cleavage, or plants
and their seeds. And how entirely Mathematics concerns itself with
relations, we see on remembering that it has just the same expression
for the characters of an infinitesimal triangle, as for those of the
triangle which has Sirius for its apex and the diameter of the Earth’s
orbit for its base.

I cannot see how these definitions of these groups of sciences can
be questioned. It is undeniable that every Concrete Science gives
an account of an aggregate or of aggregates, inorganic, organic, or
super-organic (a society); {103} and that, not concerning itself
with properties of this or that order, it concerns itself with the
co-ordination of the assembled properties of all orders. It seems to
me no less certain that an Abstract-Concrete Science gives an account
of some order of properties, general or special; not caring about the
other traits of an aggregate displaying them, and not recognizing
aggregates at all further than is implied by discussion of the
particular order of properties. And I think it is equally clear that
an Abstract Science, freeing its propositions, so far as the nature
of thought permits, from aggregates and properties, occupies itself
with relations of co-existence and sequence, as disentangled from
all particular forms of being and action. If then these three groups
of sciences are, respectively, accounts of _aggregates_, accounts
of _properties_, accounts of _relations_, it is manifest that the
divisions between them are not simply perfectly clear, but that the
chasms between them are absolute.

       *       *       *       *       *

Here, perhaps more clearly than before, will be seen the untenability
of the classification made by M. Comte. Already, after setting forth
in a general way these fundamental distinctions, I have pointed out
the incongruities that arise when the sciences, conceived as Abstract,
Abstract-Concrete, and Concrete, are arranged in the order proposed
by him. Such incongruities become still more conspicuous if for these
general names of the groups we substitute the definitions given above.
The series will then stand thus:―

 MATHEMATICS  An account of _relations_
                         (including, under Mechanics,
                         an account of _properties_).
 ASTRONOMY    An account of _aggregates_.
 PHYSICS      An account of _properties_.
 CHEMISTRY    An account of _properties_.
 BIOLOGY      An account of _aggregates_.
 SOCIOLOGY    An account of _aggregates_.

That those who espouse opposite views see clearly the {104} defects
in the propositions of their opponents and not those in their own,
is a trite remark that holds in philosophical discussions as in all
others: the parable of the mote and the beam applies as well to men’s
appreciations of one another’s opinions as to their appreciations of
one another’s natures. Possibly to my positivist friends I exemplify
this truth,—just as they exemplify it to me. Those uncommitted to
either view must decide where the mote exists and where the beam.
Meanwhile it is clear that one or other of the two views is essentially
erroneous; and that no qualifications can bring them into harmony.
Either the sciences admit of no such grouping as that which I have
described, or they admit of no such serial order as that given by M.


Among objections made to any doctrine, those which come from avowed
supporters of an adverse doctrine must be considered, other things
equal, as of less weight than those which come from men uncommitted
to an adverse doctrine, or but partially committed to it. The element
of prepossession, distinctly present in the one case and in the other
case mainly or quite absent, is a well-recognized cause of difference
in the values of the judgments: supposing the judgments to be otherwise
fairly comparable. Hence, when it is needful to bring the replies
within a restricted space, a fit course is that of dealing rather with
independent criticisms than with criticisms which are really indirect
arguments for an opposite view, previously espoused.

For this reason I propose here to confine myself substantially,
though not absolutely, to the demurrers entered against the foregoing
classification by Prof. Bain, in his recent work on Logic. Before
dealing with the more {105} important of these, let me clear the
ground by disposing of the less important.

       *       *       *       *       *

Incidentally, while commenting on the view I take respecting the
position of Logic, Prof. Bain points out that this, which is the most
abstract of the sciences, owes much to Psychology, which I place among
the Concrete Sciences; and he alleges an incongruity between this
fact and my statement that the Concrete Sciences are not instrumental
in disclosing the truths of the Abstract Sciences. Subsequently he
re-raises this apparent anomaly when saying―

 “Nor is it possible to justify the placing of Psychology wholly among
 Concrete Sciences. It is a highly analytic science, as Mr. Spencer
 thoroughly knows.”

For a full reply, given by implication, I must refer Prof. Bain to
§ 56 of _The Principles of Psychology_, where I have contended that
“while, under its objective aspect, Psychology is to be classed as one
of the Concrete Sciences which successively decrease in scope as they
increase in speciality; under its subjective aspect, Psychology is a
totally unique science, independent of, and antithetically opposed to,
all other sciences whatever.” A pure idealist will not, I suppose,
recognize this distinction; but to every one else it must, I should
think, be obvious that the science of subjective existences is the
correlative of all the sciences of objective existences; and is as
absolutely marked off from them as subject is from object. Objective
Psychology, which I class among the Concrete Sciences, is purely
synthetic, so long as it is limited, like the other sciences, to
objective data; though great aid in the interpretation of these data
is derived from the observed correspondence between the phenomena of
Objective Psychology as presented in other beings and the phenomena of
Subjective Psychology as presented in one’s own consciousness. Now it
is Subjective Psychology only which is analytic, and which affords aid
in the {106} development of Logic. This being explained, the apparent
incongruity disappears.

A difficulty raised respecting the manner in which I have expressed the
nature of Mathematics, may next be dealt with. Prof. Bain writes:―

 “In the first place, objection may be taken to his language, in
 discussing the extreme Abstract Sciences, when he speaks of the _empty_
 _forms_ therein considered. To call Space and Time empty forms, must
 mean that they can be thought of without any concrete embodiment
 whatsoever; that one can think of Time, as a pure abstraction, without
 having in one’s mind any concrete succession. Now, this doctrine is in
 the last degree questionable.”

I quite agree with Prof. Bain that “this doctrine is in the last
degree questionable;” but I do not admit that this doctrine is implied
by the definition of Abstract Science which I have given. I speak
of Space and Time as they are dealt with by mathematicians, and as
it is alone possible for pure Mathematics to deal with them. While
Mathematics habitually uses in its points, lines, and surfaces, certain
existences, it habitually deals with these as representing points,
lines, and surfaces that are ideal; and _its conclusions are true only
on condition that it does this_. Points having dimensions, lines having
breadths, planes having thicknesses, are negatived by its definitions.
Using, though it does, material representatives of extension, linear,
superficial, or solid, Geometry deliberately ignores their materiality;
and attends only to the truths of relation they present. Holding with
Prof. Bain, as I do, that our consciousness of Space is disclosed by
our experiences of Matter—arguing, as I have done in _The Principles
of Psychology_, that it is a consolidated aggregate of all relations
of co-existence that have been severally presented by Matter; I
nevertheless contend that it is possible to dissociate these relations
from Matter to the extent required for formulating them as abstract
truths. I contend, too, that this separation is of the kind habitually
made in other cases; as, for instance, when the general laws of motion
are formulated (as M. Comte’s system, among {107} others, formulates
them) in such way as to ignore all properties of the bodies dealt
with save their powers of taking up, and retaining, and giving out,
quantities of motion; though these powers are inconceivable apart from
the attribute of extension, which is intentionally disregarded.

Taking other of Prof. Bain’s objections, not in the order in which they
stand but in the order in which they may be most conveniently dealt
with, I quote as follows:―

 “The law of the radiation of light (the inverse square of the
 distance) is said by Mr. Spencer to be Abstract-Concrete, while the
 disturbing changes in the medium are not to be mentioned except in a
 Concrete Science of Optics. We need not remark that such a separate
 handling is unknown to science.”

It is perfectly true that “such a separate handling is unknown to
science.” But, unfortunately for the objection, it is also perfectly
true that no such separate handling is proposed by me, or is implied by
my classification. How Prof. Bain can have so missed the meaning of the
word “concrete,” as I have used it, I do not understand. After pointing
out that “no one ever drew the line,” between the Abstract-Concrete
and the Concrete Sciences, “as I have done it,” he alleges an anomaly
which exists only supposing that I have drawn it where it is ordinarily
drawn. He appears inadvertently to have carried with him M. Comte’s
conception of Optics as a Concrete Science, and, importing it into my
classification, debits me with the incongruity. If he will re-read
the definition of the Abstract-Concrete Sciences, or study their
sub-divisions as shown in Table II., he will, I think, see that the
most special laws of the redistribution of light, equally with its most
general laws, are included. And if he will pass to the definition and
the tabulation of the Concrete Sciences, he will, I think, see no less
clearly that Optics cannot be included among them.

Prof. Bain considers that I am not justified in classing Chemistry as
an Abstract-Concrete Science, and excluding from it all consideration
of the crude forms of the various {108} substances dealt with; and
he enforces his dissent by saying that chemists habitually describe
the ores and impure mixtures in which the elements, etc., are
naturally found. Undoubtedly chemists do this. But do they therefore
intend to include an account of the ores of a substance, _as a part
of the science_ which formulates its molecular constitution and the
constitutions of all the definite compounds it enters into? I shall be
very much surprised if I find that they do. Chemists habitually prefix
to their works a division treating of Molecular Physics; but they do
not therefore claim Molecular Physics as a part of Chemistry. If they
similarly prefix to the chemistry of each substance an outline of its
mineralogy, I do not think they therefore mean to assert that the
last belongs to the first. Chemistry proper, embraces nothing beyond
an account of the constitutions and modes of action and combining
proportions of substances that are taken as absolutely pure; and its
truths no more recognize impure substances than the truths of Geometry
recognize crooked lines.

Immediately after, in criticizing the fundamental distinction I have
made between Chemistry and Biology, as Abstract-Concrete and Concrete
respectively, Prof. Bain says:―

 “But the objects of Chemistry and the objects of Biology are equally
 concrete, so far as they go; the simple bodies of chemistry, and their
 several compounds, are viewed by the Chemist as concrete wholes, and
 are described by him, not with reference to one factor, but to all
 their factors.”

Issue is here raised in a form convenient for elucidation of the
general question. It is true that, _for purposes of identification_, a
chemist gives an account of all the sensible characters of a substance.
He sets down its crystalline form, its specific gravity, its power
of refracting light, its behaviour as magnetic or diamagnetic. But
does he thereby include these phenomena as part of the Science of
Chemistry? It seems to me that the relation between the weight {109}
of any portion of matter and its bulk, which is ascertained on
measuring its specific gravity, is a physical and not a chemical fact.
I think, too, that the physicist will claim, as part of his science,
all investigations touching the refraction of light: be the substance
producing this refraction what it may. And the circumstance that the
chemist may test the magnetic or diamagnetic property of a body, as
a means of ascertaining what it is, or as a means of helping other
chemists to determine whether they have got before them the same body,
will neither be held by the chemist, nor allowed by the physicist, to
imply a transfer of magnetic phenomena from the domain of the one to
that of the other. In brief, though the chemist, in his account of an
element or a compound, may refer to certain physical traits associated
with its molecular constitution and affinities, he does not by so
doing change these into chemical traits. Whatever chemists may put
into their books, Chemistry, considered as a science, includes only
the phenomena of molecular structures and changes—of compositions and
decompositions.[12] I contend, then, that Chemistry does _not_ give an
account of anything as a concrete whole, in the same way that Biology
gives an account of an organism as a concrete whole. This will become
even more manifest on observing the character of {110} the biological
account. All the attributes of an organism are comprehended, from
the most general to the most special—from its conspicuous structural
traits to its hidden and faint ones; from its outer actions that thrust
themselves on the attention, to the minutest sub-divisions of its
multitudinous internal functions; from its character as a germ, through
the many changes of size, form, organization, and habit, it goes
through until death; from the physical characters of it as a whole,
to the physical characters of its microscopic cells, and vessels, and
fibres; from the chemical characters of its substance in general to
the chemical characters of each tissue and each secretion—all these,
with many others. And not only so, but there is comprehended as the
ideal goal of the science, the _consensus_ of all these phenomena
in their co-existences and successions, as constituting a coherent
individualized group definitely combined in space and in time. It is
this recognition of _individuality_ in its subject-matter, that gives
its concreteness to Biology, as to every other Concrete Science. As
Astronomy deals with bodies that have their several proper names, or
(as with the smaller stars) are registered by their positions, and
considers each of them as a distinct individual—as Geology, while dimly
perceiving in the Moon and nearest planets other groups of geological
phenomena (which it would deal with as independent wholes, did not
distance forbid), occupies itself with that individualized group
presented by the Earth; so Biology treats either of an individual
distinguished from all others, or of parts or products belonging to
such an individual, or of structural or functional traits common to
many such individuals that have been observed, and supposed to be
common to others that are like them in most or all of their attributes.
Every biological truth connotes a specifically individualized object,
or a number of specifically individualized objects of the same kind,
or numbers of different kinds that are severally specific. See, then,
the contrast. {111} The truths of the Abstract-Concrete Sciences do
not imply specific individuality. Neither Molar Physics, nor Molecular
Physics, nor Chemistry, concerns itself with this. The laws of motion
are expressed without any reference whatever to the sizes or shapes
of the moving masses; which may be taken indifferently to be suns or
atoms. The relations between contraction and the escape of molecular
motion, and between expansion and the absorption of molecular motion,
are expressed in their general forms without reference to the kind
of matter; and, if the degree of either that occurs in a particular
kind of matter is formulated, no note is taken of the quantity of that
matter, much less of its individuality. Similarly with Chemistry.
When it inquires into the atomic weight, the molecular structure, the
atomicity, the combining proportions, etc., of a substance, it is
indifferent whether a grain or a ton be thought of—the conception of
amount is absolutely irrelevant. And so with more special attributes.
Sulphur, considered chemically, is not sulphur under its crystalline
form, or under its allotropic viscid form, or as a liquid, or as a gas;
but it is sulphur considered apart from those attributes of quantity,
and shape, and state, that give individuality.

Prof. Bain objects to the division I have drawn between the Concrete
Science of Astronomy and that Abstract-Concrete Science which deals
with the mutually-modified motions of hypothetical masses in space, as
“not a little arbitrary.” He says:―

  “We can suppose a science to confine itself _solely_ to the
 ‘factors,’ or the separated elements, and never, on any occasion, to
 combine two into a composite third. This position is intelligible,
 and possibly defensible. For example, in Astronomy, the Law of
 Persistence of Motion in a straight line might be discussed in pure
 ideal separation; and so, the Law of Gravity might be discussed in
 equally pure separation—both under the Abstract-Concrete department
 of Mechanics. It might then be reserved to a _concrete_ department to
 unite these in the explanation of a projectile or of a planet. Such,
 however, is not Mr. Spencer’s boundary line. He allows Theoretical
 Mechanics to make this particular combination, and to arrive at the
 laws of {112} planetary movement, _in the case of a single planet_.
 What he does not allow is, to proceed to the case of two planets,
 mutually disturbing one another, or a planet and a satellite, commonly
 called the ‘problem of the Three Bodies.’”

If I held what Prof. Bain supposes me to hold, my position would be
an absurd one; but he misapprehends me. The misapprehension results
in part from his having here, as before, used the word “concrete”
with the Comtean meaning, as though it were my meaning; and in part
from the inadequacy of my explanation. I did not in the least mean to
imply that the Abstract-Concrete Science of Mechanics, when dealing
with the motions of bodies in space, is limited to the interpretation
of planetary movement such as it would be did only a single planet
exist. It never occurred to me that my words might be so construed.
Abstract-Concrete problems admit, in fact, of being complicated
indefinitely, without going in the least beyond the definition. I do
not draw the line, as Prof. Bain alleges, between the combination of
two factors and the combination of three, or between the combination
of any number and any greater number. I draw the line between the
science which deals with the theory of the factors, taken singly and
in combinations of two, three, four, or more, and the science which,
_giving to these factors the values derived from observations of actual
objects, uses the theory to explain actual phenomena_.

It is true that, in these departments of science, no radical
distinction is consistently recognized between theory and the
applications of theory. As Prof. Bain says:―

 “Newton, in the First Book of the Principia, took up the problem of
 the Three Bodies, as applied to the Moon, and worked it to exhaustion.
 So writers on Theoretical Mechanics continue to include the Three
 Bodies, Precession, and the Tides.”

But, supreme though the authority of Newton may be as a mathematician
and astronomer, and weighty as are the names of Laplace and Herschel,
who in their works have similarly mingled theorems and the explanations
yielded by them, it does not seem to me that these facts go for
much; {113} unless it can be shown that these writers intended thus
to enunciate the views at which they had arrived respecting the
classification of the sciences. Such a union as that presented in
their works, adopted merely for the sake of convenience, is, in fact,
the indication of incomplete development; and has been paralleled in
simpler sciences which have afterwards outgrown it. Two conclusive
illustrations are at hand. The name Geometry, utterly inapplicable by
its meaning to the science as it now exists, was applicable in that
first stage during which its few truths were taught in preparation
for land-measuring and the setting-out of buildings; but, at a
comparatively early date, these comparatively simple truths became
separated from their applications, and were embodied by the Greek
geometers into systems of theory.[13] A like purification is now
taking place in another division of the science. In the _Géométrie
Descriptive_ of Monge, theorems were mixed with their applications
to projection and plan-drawing. But, since his time, the science and
the art have been segregating; and Descriptive Geometry, or, as it
may be better termed, the Geometry of Position, is now recognized by
mathematicians as a far-reaching system of truths, parts of which
are already embodied in books that make no reference to derived
methods available by the architect or the engineer. To meet a
counter-illustration that will be cited, I may remark that though, in
works on Algebra intended for beginners, the theories of quantitative
relations, as treated algebraically, are accompanied by groups of
problems to be solved, the subject-matters of these problems are not
thereby made parts of the Science of Algebra. To say that they are,
is to say that Algebra includes the conceptions of distances and
relative speeds and times, or of weights and bulks and {114} specific
gravities, or of areas ploughed and days and wages; since these, and
endless others, may be the terms of its equations. And just in the
same way that these concrete problems, solved by its aid, cannot be
incorporated with the Abstract Science of Algebra; so I contend that
the concrete problems of Astronomy, cannot be incorporated with that
division of Abstract-Concrete Science which develops the theory of the
inter-actions of free bodies that attract one another.

On this point I find myself at issue, not only with Prof. Bain, but
also with Mr. Mill, who contends that:―

 “There _is_ an abstract science of astronomy, namely, the theory of
 gravitation, which would equally agree with and explain the facts of a
 totally different solar system from the one of which our earth forms a
 part. The actual facts of our own system, the dimensions, distances,
 velocities, temperatures, physical constitution, etc., of the sun,
 earth, and planets, are properly the subject of a concrete science,
 similar to natural history; but the concrete is more inseparably
 united to the abstract science than in any other case, since the
 few celestial facts really accessible to us are nearly all required
 for discovering and proving the law of gravitation as an universal
 property of bodies, and have therefore an indispensable place in
 the abstract science as its fundamental data.”—_Auguste Comte and_
 _Positivism_, p. 43.

In this explanation, Mr. Mill recognizes the fundamental distinction
between the Concrete Science of Astronomy, dealing with the bodies
actually distributed in space, and a science dealing with hypothetical
bodies hypothetically distributed in space. Nevertheless, he regards
these sciences as not separable; because the second derives from
the first the data whence the law of inter-action is derived. But
the truth of this premiss, and the legitimacy of this inference,
may alike be questioned. The discovery of the law of inter-action
was not due primarily, but only secondarily, to observation of the
heavenly bodies. The conception of an inter-acting force that varies
inversely as the square of the distance, is an _à priori_ conception
rationally deducible from mechanical and geometrical considerations.
Though unlike in derivation to the many empirical hypotheses of Kepler
respecting planetary orbits and planetary motions, yet it was {115}
like the successful among these in its relation to astronomical
phenomena: it was one of many possible hypotheses, which admitted of
having their consequences worked out and tested; and one which, on
having its implications compared with the results of observation,
was found to explain them. In short, the theory of gravitation grew
out of experiences of terrestrial phenomena; but the verification
of it was reached through experiences of celestial phenomena.
Passing now from premiss to inference, I do not see that, even
were the alleged parentage substantiated, it would necessitate the
supposed inseparability; any more than the descent of Geometry from
land-measuring necessitates a persistent union of the two. In the case
of Algebra, as above indicated, the disclosed laws of quantitative
relations hold throughout multitudinous orders of phenomena that are
extremely heterogeneous; and this makes conspicuous the distinction
between the theory and its applications. Here the laws of quantitative
relations among masses, distances, velocities, and momenta, being
applied mainly (though not exclusively) to the concrete cases presented
by Astronomy, the distinction between the theory and its applications
is less conspicuous. But, intrinsically, it is as great in the one case
as in the other.

How great it is, we shall see on taking an analogy. This is a living
man, of whom we may know little more than that he is a visible,
tangible person; or of whom we may know enough to form a voluminous
biography. Again, this book tells of a fictitious hero, who, like the
heroes of old romance, may be an impersonated virtue or vice, or,
like a modern hero, one of mixed nature, whose various motives and
consequent actions are elaborated into a semblance of reality. But
no accuracy and completeness of the picture makes this fictitious
personage an actual personage, or brings him any nearer to one. Nor
does any meagreness in our knowledge of a real man reduce him any
nearer to the imaginary being of a novel. To the {116} last, the
division between fiction and biography remains an impassable gulf.
So, too, remains the division between the Science dealing with the
inter-actions of hypothetical bodies in space, and the Science dealing
with the inter-actions of existing bodies in space. We may elaborate
the first to any degree whatever by the introduction of three, four, or
any greater number of factors under any number of assumed conditions,
until we symbolize a solar system; but to the last an account of our
symbolic solar system is as far from an account of the actual solar
system as fiction is from biography.

Even more obvious, if it be possible, does the radical character
of this distinction become, on observing that from the simplest
proposition of General Mechanics we may pass to the most complex
proposition of Celestial Mechanics, without a break. We take a body
moving at a uniform velocity, and commence with the proposition that
it will continue so to move for ever. Next, we state the law of its
accelerated motion in the same line, when subject to a uniform force.
We further complicate the proposition by supposing the force to
increase in consequence of approach towards an attracting body; and we
may formulate a series of laws of acceleration, resulting from so many
assumed laws of increasing attraction (of which the law of gravitation
is one). Another factor may now be added by supposing the body to have
motion in a direction other than that of the attracting body; and we
may determine, according to the ratios of the supposed forces, whether
its course will be hyperbolic, parabolic, elliptical, or circular—we
may begin with this hypothetical additional force as infinitesimal, and
formulate the varying results as it is little by little increased. The
problem is complicated a degree more by taking into account the effects
of a third force, acting in some other direction; and beginning with an
infinitesimal amount of this force we may reach any amount. Similarly,
by introducing factor after factor, {117} each at first insensible in
proportion to the rest, we arrive, through an infinity of gradations,
at a combination of any complexity.

Thus, then, the Science which deals with the inter-action of
hypothetical bodies in space, is _absolutely continuous_ with General
Mechanics. We have already seen that it is _absolutely discontinuous_
with that account of the heavenly bodies which has been called
Astronomy from the beginning. When these facts are recognized, it seems
to me that there cannot remain a doubt respecting its true place in a
classification of the Sciences.


[2] I have been charged with misrepresenting Kant and misunderstanding
him, because I have used the expression “forms of Thought” instead of
“forms of Intuition.” Elsewhere I have shown that my argument against
him remains equally valid when the phrase “forms of Intuition” is used.
Here I may in the first place add that I did but follow some Kantists
in saying “forms of Thought,” and I may add in the second place that
the objection is superficial and quite irrelevant to the issue. Thought
when broadly used as antithetical to Things includes Intuition: it
comprehends in this sense all that is subjective as distinguished from
all that is objective, and in so doing comprehends Intuition. Nor is
this all. There cannot be Intuition without Thought: every act of
intuition implies an act of classing without which the thing intuited
is not known as such or such; and every act of classing is an act of

[3] Some propositions laid down by M. Littré, in his book—_Auguste
Comte et la Philosophie Positive_ (published in 1863), may fitly be
dealt with here. In the candid and courteous reply he makes to my
strictures on the Comtean classification in “The Genesis of Science,”
he endeavours to clear up some of the inconsistencies I pointed out;
and he does this by drawing a distinction between objective generality
and subjective generality. He says—“qu’il existe deux ordres de
généralité, l’une objective et dans les choses, l’autre subjective,
abstraite et dans l’esprit.” This sentence, in which M. Littré makes
subjective generality synonymous with abstractness, led me at first
to conclude that he had in view the same distinction as that which
I have above explained between generality and abstractness. On
re-reading the paragraph, however, I found this was not the case. In
a previous sentence he says—“La biologie a passé de la considération
des organes à celles des tissus, plus généraux que les organes, et
de la considération des tissus à celle des éléments anatomiques,
plus généraux que les tissus. Mais cette généralité croissante est
subjective non objective, abstraite non concrète.” Here it is manifest
that abstract and concrete, are used in senses analogous to those in
which they are used by M. Comte; who, as we have seen, regards general
physiology as abstract and zoology and botany as concrete. And it is
further manifest that the word abstract, as thus used, is not used
in its proper sense. For, as above shown, no such facts as those of
anatomical structure can be abstract facts; but can only be more or
less general facts. Nor do I understand M. Littré’s point of view
when he regards these more general facts of anatomical structure, as
_subjectively_ general and not _objectively_ general. The structural
phenomena presented by any tissue, such as mucous membrane, are more
general than the phenomena presented by any of the organs which mucous
membrane goes to form, simply in the sense that the phenomena peculiar
to the membrane are repeated in a greater number of instances than
the phenomena peculiar to any organ into the composition of which the
membrane enters. And, similarly, such facts as have been established
respecting the anatomical elements of tissues, are more general than
the facts established respecting any particular tissue, in the sense
that they are facts which the various parts of organized bodies exhibit
in a greater number of cases—they are _objectively_ more general; and
they can be called _subjectively_ more general only in the sense that
the conception corresponds with the phenomena.

Let me endeavour to clear up this point:—There is, as M. Littré
truly says, a decreasing generality that is objective. If we omit
the phenomena of Dissolution, which are changes from the special to
the general, all changes which matter undergoes are from the general
to the special—are changes involving a decreasing generality in the
united groups of attributes. This is the progress of _things_. The
progress of _thought_, is not only in the same direction, but also
in the opposite direction. The investigation of Nature discloses an
increasing number of specialities; but it simultaneously discloses more
and more the generalities within which these specialities fall. Take a
case. Zoology, while it goes on multiplying the number of its species,
and getting a more complete knowledge of each species (decreasing
generality); also goes on discovering the common characters by which
species are united into larger groups (increasing generality). Both
these are subjective processes; and in this case, both orders of truth
reached are concrete—formulate the phenomena as actually manifested.
The truth that mammals of all kinds have seven cervical vertebræ (I
believe there is one exception) is a generalization—a general relation
in thought answering to a general relation in things. As the existence
of seven cervical vertebræ in each mammal is a concrete fact, the
statement of it is a concrete truth, and the statement colligating such
truths is not made other than concrete by holding of case after case.

M. Littré, recognizing the necessity for some modification of the
hierarchy of the Sciences, as enunciated by M. Comte, still regards it
as substantially true; and for proof of its validity, he appeals mainly
to the essential _constitutions_ of the Sciences. It is unnecessary
for me here to meet, in detail, the arguments by which he supports
the proposition, that the essential constitutions of the Sciences,
justify the order in which M. Comte places them. It will suffice to
refer to the foregoing pages, and to the pages which are to follow, as
containing the definitions of those fundamental characteristics which
demand the grouping of the Sciences in the way I have pointed out. As
already shown, and as will be shown still more clearly by and bye, the
radical differences of constitution among the Sciences, necessitate the
colligation of them into the three classes—Abstract, Abstract-Concrete,
and Concrete. How irreconcilable is M. Comte’s classification with
these groups, will be at once apparent on inspection. It stands thus:―

  (including rational Mechanics),    partly Abstract, partly
 Astronomy                           Concrete.
 Physics                             Abstract-Concrete.
 Chemistry                           Abstract-Concrete.
 Biology                             Concrete.
 Sociology                           Concrete.

[4] This definition includes the laws of relations called necessary,
but not those of relations called contingent. These last, in which the
probability of an inferred connexion varies with the number of times
such connexion has occurred in experience, are rightly dealt with

[5] Here, by way of explanation of the term negatively-quantitative,
it will suffice to instance the proposition that certain three lines
will meet in a point, as a negatively-quantitative proposition;
since it asserts the absence of any quantity of space between their
intersections. Similarly, the assertion that certain three points will
always fall in a straight line, is negatively-quantitative; since the
conception of a straight line implies the negation of any lateral
quantity, or deviation.

[6] Lest the meaning of this division should not be understood, it may
be well to name, in illustration, the estimates of the statistician.
Calculations respecting population, crime, disease, etc., have
results which are correct only numerically, and not in respect of the
totalities of being or action represented by the numbers.

[7] Perhaps it will be asked—how can there be a Geometry of Motion into
which the conception of Force does not enter? The reply is, that the
time-relations and space-relations of Motion may be considered apart
from those of Force, in the same way that the space-relations of Matter
may be considered apart from Matter.

[8] I am indebted to Prof. Frankland for reminding me of an objection
that may be made to this statement. The production of new compounds
by synthesis, has of late become an important branch of chemistry.
According to certain known laws of composition, complex substances,
which never before existed, are formed, and fulfil anticipations both
as to their general properties and as to the proportions of their
constituents—as proved by analysis. Here it may be said with truth,
that analysis is used to verify synthesis. Nevertheless, the exception
to the above statement is apparent only,—not real. In so far as the
production of new compounds is carried on merely for the obtainment
of such new compounds, it is not Science but Art—the application of
pre-established knowledge to the achievement of ends. The proceeding
is a part of Science, only in so far as it is a means to the better
interpretation of the order of Nature. And how does it aid the
interpretation? It does it only by verifying the pre-established
conclusions respecting the laws of molecular combination; or by serving
further to explain them. That is to say, these syntheses, considered
on their scientific side, have simply the purpose of _forwarding the
analysis of the laws of chemical combination_.

[9] This must not be supposed to mean chemically-produced forces. The
molecular motion here referred to as dissipated in radiations, is the
equivalent of that sensible motion lost during the integration of the
mass of molecules, consequent on their mutual gravitation.

[10] Embracing the interpretation of such phenomena as the solar spots,
the faculæ and the coronal flames.

[11] Want of space prevents anything beyond the briefest indication of
these subdivisions.

[12] Perhaps some will say that such incidental phenomena as those of
the heat and light evolved during chemical changes, are to be included
among chemical phenomena. I think, however, the physicist will hold
that all phenomena of re-distributed molecular motion, no matter how
arising, come within the range of Physics. But whatever difficulty
there may be in drawing the line between Physics and Chemistry (and,
as I have incidentally pointed out in _The Principles of Psychology_,
§ 55, the two are closely linked by the phenomena of allotropy and
isomerism), applies equally to the Comtean classification, or to any
other. And I may further point out that no obstacle hence arises to the
classification I am defending. Physics and Chemistry being both grouped
by me as Abstract-Concrete Sciences, no difficulty in satisfactorily
dividing them in the least affects the satisfactoriness of the division
of the great group to which they both belong, from the other two great

[13] It may be said that the mingling of problems and theorems in
Euclid is not quite consistent with this statement; and it is true that
we have, in this mingling, a trace of the earlier form of the science.
But it is to be remarked that these problems are all purely abstract,
and, further, that each of them admits of being expressed as a theorem.



[_Originally published in April 1864 as an appendix to the foregoing

While the preceding pages were passing through the press, there
appeared in the _Revue des Deux Mondes_ for February 15th, 1864, an
article on a late work of mine—_First Principles_. To M. Auguste
Laugel, the writer of the article, I am much indebted for the careful
exposition he has made of some of the leading views set forth in that
work; and for the catholic and sympathetic spirit in which he has dealt
with them. In one respect, however, M. Laugel conveys to his readers
an erroneous impression—an impression doubtless derived from what
appears to him adequate evidence, and doubtless expressed in perfect
sincerity. M. Laugel describes me as being, in part, a follower of
M. Comte. After describing the influence of M. Comte as traceable in
the works of some other English writers, naming especially Mr. Mill
and Mr. Buckle, he goes on to say that this influence, though not
avowed, is easily recognizable in the work he is about to make known;
and in several places throughout his review, there are remarks having
the same implication. I greatly regret having to take exception to
anything said by a critic so candid and so able. But the _Revue des
Deux Mondes_ {119} circulates widely in England, as well as elsewhere;
and finding that there exists in some minds, both here and in America,
an impression similar to that entertained by M. Laugel—an impression
likely to be confirmed by his statement—it appears to me needful to
meet it.

Two causes of quite different kinds, have conspired to diffuse the
erroneous belief that M. Comte is an accepted exponent of scientific
opinion. His bitterest foes and his closest friends, have unconsciously
joined in propagating it. On the one hand, M. Comte having designated
by the term “Positive Philosophy” all that definitely-established
knowledge which men of science have been gradually organizing into
a coherent body of doctrine; and having habitually placed this in
opposition to the incoherent body of doctrine defended by theologians;
it has become the habit of the theological party to think of the
antagonist scientific party, under the title of “positivists.” And
thus, from the habit of calling them “positivists,” there has grown
up the assumption that they call themselves “positivists,” and that
they are disciples of M. Comte. On the other hand, those who have
accepted M. Comte’s system, and believe it to be the philosophy of the
future, have naturally been prone to see everywhere the signs of its
progress; and wherever they have found opinions in harmony with it,
have ascribed these opinions to the influence of its originator. It
is always the tendency of discipleship to magnify the effects of the
master’s teachings; and to credit the master with all the doctrines he
teaches. In the minds of his followers, M. Comte’s name is associated
with scientific thinking, which, in many cases, they first understood
from his exposition of it. Influenced as they inevitably are by this
association of ideas, they are reminded of M. Comte wherever they meet
with thinking which corresponds, in some marked way, to M. Comte’s
description of scientific thinking; and hence are apt to imagine him
as introducing into other minds, the {120} conceptions which he
introduced into their minds. Such impressions are, however, in most
cases quite unwarranted. That M. Comte has given a general exposition
of the doctrine and method elaborated by Science, is true. But it
is not true that the holders of this doctrine and followers of this
method, are disciples of M. Comte. Neither their modes of inquiry
nor their views concerning human knowledge in its nature and limits,
are appreciably different from what they were before. If they are
“positivists,” it is in the sense that all men of science have been
more or less consistently “positivists;” and the applicability of M.
Comte’s title to them, no more makes them his disciples, than does its
applicability to men of science who lived and died before M. Comte
wrote, make these his disciples. M. Comte himself by no means claims
that which some of his adherents are apt, by implication, to claim
for him. He says:—“Il y a, sans doute, beaucoup d’analogie entre ma
_philosophie positive_ et ce que les savans anglais entendent, depuis
Newton surtout, par _philosophie naturelle_;” (see _Avertissement_) and
further on he indicates the “grand mouvement imprimé à l’esprit humain,
il y a deux siècles, par l’action combinée des préceptes de Bacon,
des conceptions de Descartes, et des découvertes de Galilée, comme le
moment où l’esprit de la philosophie positive a commencé à se prononcer
dans le monde.” That is to say, the general mode of thought and way of
interpreting phenomena, which M. Comte calls “Positive Philosophy,” he
recognizes as having been growing for two centuries; as having reached,
when he wrote, a marked development; and as being the heritage of all
men of science.

That which M. Comte proposed to do, was to give scientific thought
and method a more definite embodiment and organization; and to apply
it to the interpretation of classes of phenomena not previously dealt
with in a scientific manner. The conception was a great one; and the
endeavour to work it out was worthy of sympathy and {121} applause.
Some such conception was entertained by Bacon. He, too, aimed at the
organization of the sciences; he, too, held that “Physics is the mother
of all the sciences;” he, too, held that the sciences can be advanced
only by combining them, and saw the nature of the required combination;
he, too, held that moral and civil philosophy could not flourish when
separated from their roots in natural philosophy; and thus he, too,
had some idea of a social science growing out of physical science.
But the state of knowledge in his day prevented any advance beyond
the general conception: indeed, it was marvellous that he should have
advanced so far. Instead of a vague, undefined conception, M. Comte has
presented the world with a defined and highly-elaborated conception.
In working out this conception he has shown remarkable breadth of
view, great originality, immense fertility of thought, unusual powers
of generalization. Considered apart from the question of its truth,
his system of Positive Philosophy is a vast achievement. But after
according to M. Comte high admiration for his conception, for his
effort to realize it, and for the faculty he has shown in the effort to
realize it, there remains the inquiry—Has he succeeded? A thinker who
re-organizes the scientific method and knowledge of his age, and whose
re-organization is accepted by his successors, may rightly be said
to have such successors for his disciples. But successors who accept
this method and knowledge of his age, _minus_ his re-organization,
are certainly not his disciples. How then stands the case with M.
Comte? There are some few who receive his doctrines with but little
reservation; and these are his disciples truly so called. There are
others who regard with approval certain of his leading doctrines,
but not the rest: these we may distinguish as partial adherents.
There are others who reject all his distinctive doctrines; and these
must be classed as his antagonists. The members of this class stand
substantially in the same position as they would {122} have done had
he not written. Declining his re-organization of scientific doctrine,
they possess this scientific doctrine in its pre-existing state, as
the common heritage bequeathed by the past to the present; and their
adhesion to this scientific doctrine in no sense implicates them with
M. Comte. In this class stand the great body of men of science. And in
this class I stand myself.

       *       *       *       *       *

Coming thus to the personal part of the question, let me first specify
those great general principles on which M. Comte is at one with
preceding thinkers; and on which I am at one with M. Comte.

All knowledge is from experience, holds M. Comte; and this I also
hold—hold it, indeed, in a wider sense than M. Comte; since, not
only do I believe that all the ideas acquired by individuals, and
consequently all the ideas transmitted by past generations, are thus
derived; but I also contend that the very faculties by which they are
acquired, are the products of accumulated and organized experiences
received by ancestral races of beings (see _Principles of Psychology_).
But the doctrine that all knowledge is from experience, is not
originated by M. Comte; nor is it claimed by him. He himself says—“Tous
les bons esprits répètent, depuis Bacon, qu’il n’y a de connaissances
réelles que celles qui reposent sur des faits observés.” And the
elaboration and definite establishment of this doctrine, has been the
special characteristic of the English school of Psychology. Nor am I
aware that M. Comte, accepting this doctrine, has done anything to
make it more certain, or give it greater definiteness. Indeed it was
impossible for him to do so; since he repudiates that part of mental
science by which alone this doctrine can be proved.

It is a further belief of M. Comte, that all knowledge is phenomenal
or relative; and in this belief I entirely agree. But no one alleges
that the relativity of all knowledge was first enunciated by M. Comte.
Among others who have {123} more or less consistently held this truth,
Sir William Hamilton enumerates, Protagoras, Aristotle, St. Augustin,
Boethius, Averroes, Albertus Magnus, Gerson, Leo Hebræus, Melancthon,
Scaliger, Francis Piccolomini, Giordano Bruno, Campanella, Bacon,
Spinoza, Newton, Kant. And Sir William Hamilton, in his “Philosophy of
the Unconditioned,” first published in 1829, has given a scientific
demonstration of this belief. Receiving it in common with other
thinkers, from preceding thinkers, M. Comte has not, to my knowledge,
advanced this belief. Nor indeed could he advance it, for the reason
already given—he denies the possibility of that analysis of thought
which discloses the relativity of all cognition.

M. Comte reprobates the interpretation of different classes of
phenomena by assigning metaphysical entities as their causes; and I
coincide in the opinion that the assumption of such separate entities,
though convenient, if not indeed necessary, for purposes of thought,
is, scientifically considered, illegitimate. This opinion is, in fact,
a corollary from the last; and must stand or fall with it. But like the
last it has been held with more or less consistency for generations. M.
Comte himself quotes Newton’s favorite saying—“O! Physics, beware of
Metaphysics!” Neither to this doctrine, any more than to the preceding
doctrines, has M. Comte given a firmer basis. He has simply reasserted
it; and it was out of the question for him to do more. In this case, as
in the others, his denial of subjective psychology debarred him from
proving that these metaphysical entities are mere symbolic conceptions
which do not admit of verification.

Lastly, M. Comte believes in invariable natural laws—absolute
uniformities of relation among phenomena. But very many before him
have believed in them too. Long familiar even beyond the bounds of the
scientific world, the proposition that there is an unchanging order in
things, has, within the scientific world, held, for generations, the
{124} position of an established postulate: by some men of science
recognized only as holding of inorganic phenomena; but recognized
by other men of science, as universal. And M. Comte, accepting this
doctrine from the past, has left it substantially as it was. Though
he has asserted new uniformities, I do not think scientific men will
admit that he has so demonstrated them, as to make the induction
more certain; nor has he deductively established the doctrine, by
showing that uniformity of relation is a necessary corollary from the
persistence of force, as may readily be shown.

These, then, are the pre-established general truths with which M.
Comte sets out—truths which cannot be regarded as distinctive of his
philosophy. “But why,” it will perhaps be asked, “is it needful to
point out this; seeing that no instructed reader supposes these truths
to be peculiar to M. Comte?” I reply that though no disciple of M.
Comte would deliberately claim them for him; and though no theological
antagonist at all familiar with science and philosophy, supposes M.
Comte to be the first propounder of them; yet there is so strong a
tendency to associate any doctrines with the name of a conspicuous
recent exponent of them, that false impressions are produced, even in
spite of better knowledge. Of the need for making this reclamation,
definite proof is at hand. In the No. of the _Revue des Deux Mondes_
named at the commencement, may be found, on p. 936, the words—“Toute
religion, comme toute philosophie, a la prétention de donner une
explication de l’univers. La philosophie qui s’appelle _positive_ se
distingue de toutes les philosophies et de toutes les religions en
ce qu’elle a renoncé à cette ambition de l’esprit humain;” and the
remainder of the paragraph is devoted to explaining the doctrine of the
relativity of knowledge. The next paragraph begins—“Tout imbu de ces
idées, que nous exposons sans les discuter pour le moment, M. Spencer
divise, etc.” Now this is one of those collocations of ideas {125}
which tends to create, or to strengthen, the erroneous impression I
would dissipate. I do not for a moment suppose that M. Laugel intended
to say that these ideas which he describes as ideas of the “Positive
Philosophy,” are peculiarly the ideas of M. Comte. But little as he
probably intended it, his expressions suggest this conception. In the
minds of both disciples and antagonists, “the Positive Philosophy”
means the philosophy of M. Comte; and to be imbued with the ideas
of “the Positive Philosophy” means to be imbued with the ideas of
M. Comte—to have received these ideas from M. Comte. After what has
been said above, I need scarcely repeat that the conception thus
inadvertently suggested, is a wrong one. M. Comte’s brief enunciations
of these general truths, gave me no clearer apprehensions of them than
I had before. Such clarifications of ideas on these ultimate questions,
as I can trace to any particular teacher, I owe to Sir William Hamilton.

       *       *       *       *       *

From the principles which M. Comte held in common with many preceding
and contemporary thinkers, let us pass now to the principles that are
distinctive of his system. Just as entirely as I agree with M. Comte
on those cardinal doctrines which we jointly inherit; so entirely do I
disagree with him on those cardinal doctrines which he propounds, and
which determine the organization of his philosophy. The best way of
showing this will be to compare, side by side, the―

 _Propositions held by M. Comte._     _Propositions which I hold._

 “. . . chacune de nos conceptions    The progress of our conceptions,
 principales, chaque branche          and of each branch of knowledge,
 de nos connaissances, passe          is from beginning to end
 successivement par trois états       intrinsically alike. There are not
 théoriques différens: l’état         three methods of philosophizing
 théologique, ou fictif; l’état       radically opposed; but one method
 métaphysique, ou abstrait;           of philosophizing which remains,
 l’état scientifique, ou positif.     in essence, the same. At first,
 En d’autres termes, l’esprit         and to the last, the conceived
 humain, par sa nature, emploie       causal agencies of phenomena,
 successivement dans chacune de       have a degree of generality
 ses recherches trois méthodes de     corresponding {126} to the width
 philosopher, dont le caractère       of the generalizations which
 est essentiellement différent et     experiences have determined; and
 même radicalement opposé: d’abord    they change just as gradually
 la méthode théologique, ensuite      as experiences accumulate. The
 la méthode métaphysique, et enfin    integration of causal agencies,
 la méthode positive.” _Cours de_      originally thought of as
 _Philosophie Positive_, 1830, Vol.    multitudinous and local, but
 i. p. 3.                             finally believed to be one and
                                      universal, is a process which
                                      involves the passing through all
                                      intermediate steps between these
                                      extremes; and any appearance of
                                      stages can be but superficial.
                                      Supposed concrete and individual
                                      causal agencies, coalesce in
                                      the mind as fast as groups of
                                      phenomena are assimilated, or seen
                                      to be similarly caused. Along
                                      with their coalescence, comes
                                      a greater extension of their
                                      individualities, and a concomitant
                                      loss of distinctness in their
                                      individualities. Gradually, by
                                      continuance of such coalescences,
                                      causal agencies become, in
                                      thought, diffused and indefinite.
                                      And eventually, without any change
                                      in the nature of the process,
                                      there is reached the consciousness
                                      of a universal causal agency,
                                      which cannot be conceived.[14]

 “Le système théologique est          As the progress of thought is
 parvenu à la plus haute perfection   one, so is the end one. There
 dont il soit susceptible,            are not three possible terminal
 quand il a substitué l’action        conceptions; but only a single
 providentielle d’un être unique au   terminal conception. When
 jeu varié des nombreuses divinités   the theological idea of the
 indépendantes qui avaient été        providential action of one being,
 imaginées primitivement. De même,    is developed to its ultimate
 le dernier terme du système          form, by the absorption of all
 metaphysique consiste à concevoir,   independent secondary agencies,
 au lieu des différentes entités      it becomes the conception of a
 particulières, une seule grande      being immanent in all phenomena;
 entité générale, la _nature_,        and the reduction of it to
 envisagée comme la source            this {127} state, implies the
 unique de tous les phénomènes.       fading-away, in thought, of all
 Pareillement, la perfection du       those anthropomorphic attributes
 système positif, vers laquelle       by which the aboriginal idea
 il tend sans cesse, quoiqu’il        was distinguished. The alleged
 soit très-probable qu’il ne doive    last term of the metaphysical
 jamais l’atteindre, serait de        system—the conception of a
 pouvoir se représenter tous les      single great general entity,
 divers phénomènes observables        _nature_, as the source of all
 comme des cas particuliers d’un      phenomena—is a conception
 seul fait général, tel que celui     identical with the previous one:
 de la gravitation, par exemple.”     the consciousness of a single
 p. 5.                                source which, in coming to be
                                      regarded as universal, ceases
                                      to be regarded as conceivable,
                                      differs in nothing but name from
                                      the consciousness of one being,
                                      manifested in all phenomena. And
                                      similarly, that which is described
                                      as the ideal state of science—the
                                      power to represent all observable
                                      phenomena as particular cases
                                      of a single general fact,
                                      implies the postulating of some
                                      ultimate existence of which this
                                      single fact is alleged; and the
                                      postulating of this ultimate
                                      existence, involves a state of
                                      consciousness indistinguishable
                                      from the other two.

 “. . . la perfection du système      Though along with the extension
 positif, vers laquelle il tend       of generalizations, and
 sans cesse, quoiqu’il soit           concomitant integration of
 très-probable, qu’il ne doive        conceived causal agencies, the
 jamais l’atteindre, serait de        conceptions of causal agencies
 pouvoir se représenter tous les      grow more indefinite; and though
 divers phénomènes observables        as they gradually coalesce into
 comme des cas particuliers d’un      a universal causal agency,
 seul fait general, p. 5. . . . . .   they cease to be representable
 considérant comme absolument         in thought, and are no longer
 inaccessible, et vide de sens        supposed to be comprehensible;
 pour nous la recherche de ce         yet the consciousness of _cause_
 qu’on appelle les _causes_, soit     remains as dominant to the last
 premières, soit finales.” p. 14.     as it was at first; and can never
                                      be got rid of. The consciousness
                                      of cause can be abolished only
                                      by abolishing consciousness
                                      itself.[15] (_First Principles_, §
                                      26.) {128}

 “Ce n’est pas aux lecteurs de cet    Ideas do not govern and
 ouvrage que je croirai jamais        overthrow the world: the world
 devoir prouver que les idées         is governed or overthrown by
 gouvernent et bouleversent le        feelings, to which ideas serve
 monde, ou, en d’autres termes, que   only as guides. The social
 tout le mécanisme social repose      mechanism does not rest finally
 finalement sur des opinions. Ils     on opinions; but almost wholly
 savent surtout que la grande         on character. Not intellectual
 crise politique et morale des        anarchy, but moral antagonism, is
 sociétés actuelles tient, en         the cause of political crises.
 dernière analyse, à l’anarchie       All social phenomena are produced
 intellectuelle.” p. 48.[16]           by the totality of human emotions
                                      and beliefs; of which the emotions
                                      are mainly pre-determined,
                                      while the beliefs are mainly
                                      post-determined. Men’s desires
                                      are chiefly inherited; but their
                                      beliefs are chiefly acquired,
                                      and depend on surrounding
                                      conditions; and the most important
                                      surrounding conditions depend
                                      on the social state which the
                                      prevalent desires have produced.
                                      The social state at any time
                                      existing, is the resultant of all
                                      the ambitions, self-interests,
                                      fears, reverences, indignations,
                                      sympathies, etc., of ancestral
                                      citizens and existing citizens.
                                      The ideas current in this social
                                      state, must, on the average, be
                                      congruous with the feelings of
                                      citizens; and therefore, on the
                                      average, with the social state
                                      these feelings have produced.
                                      Ideas wholly foreign to this
                                      social state {129} cannot be
                                      evolved, and if introduced from
                                      without, cannot get accepted—or,
                                      if accepted, die out when the
                                      temporary phase of feeling which
                                      caused their acceptance, ends.
                                      Hence, though advanced ideas when
                                      once established, act on society
                                      and aid its further advance;
                                      yet the establishment of such
                                      ideas depends on the fitness of
                                      the society for receiving them.
                                      Practically, the popular character
                                      and the social state, determine
                                      what ideas shall be current;
                                      instead of the current ideas
                                      determining the social state and
                                      the character. The modification
                                      of men’s moral natures, caused
                                      by the continuous discipline of
                                      social life, which adapts them
                                      more and more to social relations,
                                      is therefore the chief proximate
                                      cause of social progress. (_Social_
                                      _Statics_, chap. xxx.)

 “. . . je ne dois pas négliger       The order in which the
 d’indiquer d’avance, comme une       generalizations of science are
 propriété essentielle de l’échelle   established, is determined by
 encyclopédique que je vais           the frequency and impressiveness
 proposer, sa conformité générale     with which different classes
 avec l’ensemble de l’histoire        of relations are repeated in
 scientifique; en ce sens, que,       conscious experience; and this
 malgré la simultanéité réelle et     depends, partly on _the directness_
 continue du développement des        _with which personal welfare_
 différentes sciences, celles qui     _is affected_; partly on _the_
 seront classées comme antérieures    _conspicuousness of one or both the_
 seront, en effet, plus anciennes     _phenomena between which a relation_
 et constamment plus avancées         _is to be perceived_; partly on
 que celles présentées comme          _the absolute frequency with which_
 postérieures.” p. 84. . .            _the relations occur_; partly on
  . . . . . . “Cet ordre est          their _relative frequency of_
 déterminé par le degré de            _occurrence_; partly on their
 simplicité, ou, ce qui revient au    _degree of simplicity_; and partly
 même, par le degré de généralité     on their _degree of abstractness_.
 des phénomènes.” p. 87.              (_First Principles_, 1st ed., §
                                      36; or otherwise see “_Essay on_
                                      _Laws in General and the Order of_
                                      _their Discovery_.”)

 “En résultat définitif, la           The sciences as arranged in this
 mathématique, l’astronomie,          succession specified by M. Comte,
 la physique, la chimie, la           _do not_ logically conform to the
 physiologie, et la physique          natural and invariable hierarchy
 sociale; telle est la formule        of phenomena; and {130} there
 encyclopédique qui, parmi            is no serial order whatever in
 le très-grand nombre de              which they can be placed, which
 classifications que comportent les   represents either their logical
 six sciences fondamentales, est      dependence or the dependence
 seule logiquement conforme à la      of phenomena. (See _Genesis of
 hiérarchie naturelle et invariable   Science_, and foregoing Essay.)
 des phénomènes.”[17] p. 115.

 “On conçoit, en effet, que l’étude   The historical development of
 rationelle de chaque science         the sciences _has not_ taken
 fondamentale exigeant la culture     place in this serial order; nor
 préalable de toutes celles qui la    in any other serial order. There
 précèdent dans notre hiérarchie      is no “true _filiation_ of the
 encyclopédique, n’a pu faire de      sciences.” From the beginning,
 progrès réels et prendre son         the abstract sciences, the
 véritable caractère, qu’ après un    abstract-concrete sciences, and
 grand développement des sciences     the concrete sciences, have
 antérieures relatives à des          progressed together: the first
 phénomènes plus généraux, plus       solving problems which the second
 abstraits, moins compliqués, et      and third presented, and growing
 indépendans des autres. C’est done   only by the solution of the
 dans cet ordre que la progression,   problems; and the second similarly
 quoique simultanée, a dû avoir       growing by joining the first
 lieu.” p. 100.                       in solving the problems of the
                                      third. All along there has been
                                      a continuous action and reaction
                                      between the three great classes
                                      of sciences—an advance from
                                      concrete facts to abstract facts,
                                      and then an application of such
                                      abstract facts to the analysis of
                                      new orders of concrete facts. (See
                                      _Genesis of Science_.)

Such then are the organizing principles of M. Comte’s philosophy and
my reasons for rejecting them. Leaving out of his “_Exposition_” those
pre-established general {131} doctrines which are the common property
of modern thinkers; these are the general doctrines which remain—these
are the doctrines which fundamentally distinguish his system. From
every one of them I dissent. To each proposition I oppose either a
widely-different proposition, or a direct negation; and I not only
do it now, but have done it from the time when I became acquainted
with his writings. The rejection of his cardinal principles should, I
think, alone suffice; but there are sundry other views of his, some of
them largely characterizing his system, which I equally reject. Let us
glance at them.

 How organic beings have              This inquiry, I believe, admits
 originated, is an inquiry which      of answer, and will be answered.
 M. Comte deprecates as a useless     That division of Biology which
 speculation: asserting, as he        concerns itself with the origin of
 does, that species are immutable.    species, I hold to be the supreme
                                      division, to which all others are
                                      subsidiary. For on the verdict
                                      of Biology on this matter, must
                                      wholly depend our conception of
                                      human nature, past, present, and
                                      future; our theory of the mind;
                                      and our theory of society.

 M. Comte contends that of what is    I have very emphatically expressed
 commonly known as mental science,    my belief in a subjective science
 all that most important part         of the mind, by writing a
 which consists of the subjective     _Principles of Psychology_, one
 analysis of our ideas, is an         half of which is subjective.

 M. Comte’s ideal of society          That form of society towards which
 is one in which _government_         we is are progressing, I hold
 developed to the greatest            to be one in which _government_
 extent—in which class-functions     will be reduced to the smallest
 are far more under conscious         amount possible, and _freedom_
 public regulation than now—in       increased to the greatest amount
 which hierarchical organization      possible—one in which human
 with unquestioned authority          nature will have become so moulded
 shall guide everything—in which     by social discipline into fitness
 the individual life shall be         for the social state, that it will
 subordinated in the greatest         need little external restraint,
 degree to the social life.           but will be self-restrained—one
                                      in which the citizen will tolerate
                                      no interference with his freedom,
                                      save that which maintains the
                                      equal freedom of others—one in
                                      which the spontaneous {132}
                                      co-operation which has developed
                                      our industrial system, and is now
                                      developing it with increasing
                                      rapidity, will produce agencies
                                      for the discharge of nearly all
                                      social functions, and will leave
                                      to the primary governmental agency
                                      nothing beyond the function of
                                      maintaining those conditions
                                      to free action, which make
                                      such spontaneous co-operation
                                      possible—one in which individual
                                      life will thus be pushed to the
                                      greatest extent consistent with
                                      social life; and in which social
                                      life will have no other end than
                                      to maintain the completest sphere
                                      for individual life.

 M. Comte, not including in his       I conceive, on the other hand,
 philosophy the consciousness of      that the object of religious
 a cause manifested to us in all      sentiment will ever continue
 phenomena, and yet holding that      to be, that which it has ever
 there must be a religion, which      been—the unknown source of
 must have an object, takes for his   things. While the _forms_ under
 object—Humanity. “This Collective    which men are conscious of the
 Life (of Society) is in Comte’s      unknown source of things, may
 system the _Être Suprême_; the       fade away, the _substance_ of
 only one we can _know_ therefore     the consciousness is permanent.
 the only one we can worship.”        Beginning with causal agents
                                      conceived as imperfectly known;
                                      progressing to causal agents
                                      conceived as less known and less
                                      knowable; and coming at last to
                                      a universal causal agent posited
                                      as not to be known at all; the
                                      religious sentiment must ever
                                      continue to occupy itself with
                                      this universal causal agent.
                                      Having in the course of evolution
                                      come to have for its object
                                      of contemplation the Infinite
                                      Unknowable, the religious
                                      sentiment can never again (unless
                                      by retrogression) take a Finite
                                      Knowable, like Humanity, for its
                                      object of contemplation.

Here, then, are sundry other points, all of them important, and the
last two supremely important, on which I am diametrically opposed to
M. Comte; and did space permit, I could add many others. Radically
differing from him as I thus do, in everything distinctive of his
philosophy; and having invariably expressed my dissent, {133} publicly
and privately, from the time I became acquainted with his writings;
it may be imagined that I have been not a little startled to find
myself classed as one of the same school. That any who are acquainted
with my writings, should suppose I have any general sympathy with M.
Comte, save that implied by preferring proved facts to superstitions,
astonishes me.

It is true that, disagreeing with M. Comte, though I do, in all those
fundamental views that are peculiar to him, I agree with him in
sundry minor views. The doctrine that the education of the individual
should accord in mode and arrangement with the education of mankind,
considered historically, I have cited from him; and have endeavoured to
enforce it. I entirely concur in his opinion that there requires a new
order of scientific men, whose function shall be that of co-ordinating
the results arrived at by the rest. To him, I believe, I am indebted
for the conception of a social _consensus_; and when the time comes for
dealing with this conception, I shall state my indebtedness. And I also
adopt his word, Sociology. There are, I believe, in the part of his
writings which I have read, various incidental thoughts of great depth
and value; and I doubt not that were I to read more of his writings, I
should find others.[18] It is very probable, too, that I have said (as
I am told I have) some things which M. Comte had already said. It would
be difficult, I believe, to find two men who had no opinions in common.
And it would be extremely strange if two men, starting from the same
general doctrines established by modern science, should traverse some
of the same fields of inquiry, without their lines of thought having
any points of intersection. But {134} none of these minor agreements
can be of much weight in comparison with the fundamental disagreements
above specified. Leaving out of view that general community which we
both have with the scientific thought of the age, the differences
between us are essential, while the correspondences are non-essential.
And I venture to think that kinship must be determined by essentials,
and not by non-essentials.[19]

       *       *       *       *       *

Joined with the ambiguous use of the phrase “Positive Philosophy,”
which has led to a classing with M. Comte of many men who either ignore
or reject his distinctive principles, there has been one special
circumstance that has tended to originate and maintain this classing in
my own case. The assumption of some relationship between M. Comte and
myself, was unavoidably raised by the title of my first book—_Social
Statics_. When that book was published, I was unaware that this title
had been before used: had I known the fact, I should certainly have
adopted an alternative title which I had in view.[20] If, however,
instead of {135} the title, the work itself be considered, its
irrelation to the philosophy of M. Comte becomes abundantly manifest.
There is decisive testimony on this point. In the _North British
Review_ for August, 1851, a reviewer of _Social Statics_ says―

 “The title of this work, however, is a complete misnomer. According to
 all analogy, the phrase “Social Statics” should be used only in some
 such sense as that in which, as we have already explained, it is used
 by Comte, namely as designating a branch of inquiry whose end it is to
 ascertain the laws of social equilibrium or order, as distinct ideally
 from those of social movement or progress. Of this Mr. Spencer does
 not seem to have had the slightest notion, but to have chosen the name
 for his work only as a means of indicating vaguely that it proposed to
 treat of social concerns in a scientific manner.”—p. 321.

Respecting M. Comte’s application of the words _statics_ and _dynamics_
to social phenomena, now that I know what it is, I will only say
that while I perfectly understand how, by a defensible extension
of their mathematical meanings, the one may be used to indicate
social _functions in balance_, and the other social _functions out
of balance_, I am quite at a loss to understand how the phenomena of
_structure_ can be included in the one any more than in the other. But
the two things which here concern me, are, first, to point out that I
had not “the slightest notion” of giving Social Statics the meaning
which M. Comte gave it; and, second, to explain the meaning which I
did give it. The units of any aggregate of matter, are in equilibrium
when they severally act and re-act on one another on all sides with
equal forces. A state of change among them implies that there are
forces exercised by some that are not counterbalanced by like forces
exercised by others; and a state of rest implies the absence of such
uncounterbalanced {136} forces—implies, if the units are homogeneous,
equal distances among them—implies a maintenance of their respective
spheres of molecular motion. Similarly among the units of a society,
the fundamental condition to equilibrium, is, that the restraining
forces which the units exercise on each other, shall be balanced. If
the spheres of action of some units are diminished by extension of the
spheres of action of others, there necessarily results an unbalanced
force which tends to produce political change in the relations
of individuals; and the tendency to change can cease, only when
individuals cease to aggress on each other’s spheres of action—only
when there is maintained that law of equal freedom, which it was
the purpose of _Social Statics_ to enforce in all its consequences.
Besides this totally-unlike conception of what constitutes Social
Statics, the work to which I applied that title, is fundamentally at
variance with M. Comte’s teachings in almost everything. So far from
alleging, as M. Comte does, that society is to be re-organized by
philosophy; it alleges that society is to be re-organized only by the
accumulated effects of habit on character. Its aim is not the increase
of authoritative control over citizens, but the decrease of it. A more
pronounced individualism, instead of a more pronounced nationalism, is
its ideal. So profoundly is my political creed at variance with the
creed of M. Comte, that, unless I am misinformed, it has been instanced
by a leading English disciple of M. Comte as the creed to which he
has the greatest aversion. One point of coincidence, however, is
recognizable. The analogy between an individual organism and a social
organism, which was held by Plato and by Hobbes, is asserted in _Social
Statics,_ as it is in the _Sociology_ of M. Comte. Very rightly, M.
Comte has made this analogy the cardinal idea of this division of
his philosophy. In _Social Statics_, the aim of which is essentially
ethical, this analogy is pointed out incidentally, to enforce certain
ethical considerations; and is there obviously suggested partly by the
definition of life which {137} Coleridge derived from Schelling, and
partly by the generalizations of physiologists there referred to (chap.
xxx. §§. 12, 13, 16). Excepting this incidental agreement, however,
the contents of _Social Statics_ are so entirely antagonistic to the
philosophy of M. Comte, that, but for the title, the work would never,
I think, have raised the remembrance of him—unless, indeed, by the
association of opposites.[21]

And now let me point out that which really _has_ exercised a profound
influence over my course of thought. The truth which Harvey’s
embryological inquiries first dimly indicated, which was afterwards
more clearly perceived by Wolff, and which was put into a definite
shape by Von Baer—the truth that all organic development is a change
from a state of homogeneity to a state of heterogeneity—this it is from
which very many of the conclusions which I now hold, have indirectly
resulted. In _Social Statics_, there is everywhere manifested a
dominant belief in the evolution of man and of society. There is also
manifested the belief that this evolution is in both cases determined
by the incidence of conditions—the actions of circumstances. And
there is further, in the sections already referred to, a recognition
of the fact that organic and social evolutions, conform to the same
law. Falling amid beliefs in evolutions of various orders, everywhere
determined by natural causes (beliefs {138} again displayed in the
_Theory of Population_ and in the _Principles of Psychology_); the
formula of Von Baer set up a process of organization. The extension
of it to other kinds of phenomena than those of individual and social
bodies, is traceable through successive stages. It may be seen in the
last paragraph of an essay on “The Philosophy of Style,” published in
October, 1852; again in an essay on “Manners and Fashion,” published
in April, 1854; and then, in a comparatively advanced form, in an
essay on “Progress: its Law and Cause,” published in April, 1857.
Afterwards, there came the recognition of the need for modifying Von
Baer’s formula by including the trait of increasing definiteness; next
the inquiry into those general laws of force from which this universal
transformation necessarily results; next the deduction of these from
the ultimate law of the persistence of force; next the perception that
there is everywhere a process of Dissolution complementary to that of
Evolution; and, finally, the determination of the conditions (specified
in the foregoing essay) under which Evolution and Dissolution
respectively occur. The filiation of these results is, I think,
tolerably manifest. The process has been one of continuous development,
set up by the addition of Von Baer’s law to a number of ideas that were
in harmony with it. And I am not conscious of any other influences by
which the process has been affected.

It is possible, however, that there may have been influences of which
I am not conscious; and my opposition to M. Comte’s system may have
been one of them. The presentation of antagonistic thoughts, often
produces greater definiteness and development of one’s own thoughts. It
is probable that the doctrines set forth in the essay on “The Genesis
of Science,” might never have been reached, had not my dissent from M.
Comte’s conception, led me to work them out; and but for this, I might
not have arrived at the classification of the sciences exhibited in the
foregoing essay. Possibly there are other cases in which the stimulus
of {139} repugnance to M. Comte’s views, may have aided in elaborating
my own views; though I cannot call to mind any other cases.

Let it by no means be supposed from all I have said, that I do not
regard M. Comte’s speculations as of value. True or untrue, his system
as a whole, has doubtless produced important and salutary revolutions
of thought in many minds; and will doubtless do so in many more.
Doubtless, too, not a few of those who dissent from his general
views, have been healthfully stimulated by consideration of them. The
presentation of scientific knowledge and method as a whole, whether
rightly or wrongly co-ordinated, cannot have failed greatly to widen
the conceptions of most of his readers. And he has done especial
service by familiarizing men with the idea of a social science, based
on the other sciences. Beyond which benefits resulting from the general
character and scope of his philosophy, I believe that there are
scattered through his pages many large ideas that are valuable not only
as stimuli, but for their actual truth.

It has been by no means an agreeable task to make these personal
explanations; but it has seemed to me a task not to be avoided.
Differing so profoundly as I do from M. Comte on all fundamental
doctrines, save those which we inherit in common from the past; it
has become needful to dissipate the impression that I agree with
him—needful to show that a large part of what is currently known as
“positive philosophy,” is not “positive philosophy” in the sense of
being peculiarly M. Comte’s philosophy; and to show that beyond that
portion of the so-called “positive philosophy” which is not peculiar to
him, I dissent from it.

And now at the close, as at the outset, let me express my great regret
that these explanations should have been called forth by the statements
of a critic who has treated me so liberally. Nothing will, I fear,
prevent the foregoing pages from appearing like a very ungracious
response to M. Laugel’s sympathetically-written review. I can only
hope that the gravity of the question at issue, in so far as it {140}
concerns myself, may be taken in mitigation, if not as a sufficient


 _The preceding pages originally formed the second portion of a_
 _pamphlet entitled_ The Classification of the Sciences: to which are
 added Reasons for dissenting from the Philosophy of M. Comte, _which
 was first published in 1864. For some time past this pamphlet has been
 included in the third volume of my_ Essays, &c., _and has been no
 longer accessible in a separate form. There has recently been diffused
 afresh, the misconception which originally led me to exhibit my entire
 rejection of those views of M. Comte, which essentially distinguish
 his system from other systems; and the motives which then prompted me
 to publish the reasons for this rejection, now prompt me to put them
 within the reach of all who care to inquire about the matter. The
 Appendix, presenting an outline of the leading propositions of the
 Synthetic Philosophy, will further aid the reader in forming a correct

 _Oct. 7, 1884._


Some fourteen or more years ago, an American friend requested me, with
a view to a certain use which he named, to furnish him with a succinct
statement of the cardinal principles developed in the successive works
I had published and in those I was intending to publish. This statement
I here reproduce. Having been written solely for an expository purpose,
and without thought of M. Comte and his system, it will serve better
than a statement now drawn up since it is not open to the suspicion of
being adapted to the occasion.[22]

 “1. Throughout the universe in general and in detail, there is an
 unceasing redistribution of matter and motion.

 “2. This redistribution constitutes evolution where there is a {141}
 predominant integration of matter and dissipation of motion, and
 constitutes dissolution where there is a predominant absorption of
 motion and disintegration of matter.

 “3. Evolution is simple when the process of integration, or the
 formation of a coherent aggregate, proceeds uncomplicated by other

 “4. Evolution is compound when, along with this primary change from
 an incoherent to a coherent state, there go on secondary changes due
 to differences in the circumstances of the different parts of the

 “5. These secondary changes constitute a transformation of the
 homogeneous into the heterogeneous—a transformation which, like the
 first, is exhibited in the universe as a whole and in all (or nearly
 all) its details: in the aggregate of stars and nebulae; in the
 planetary system; in the earth as an inorganic mass; in each organism,
 vegetal or animal (Von Baer’s law); in the aggregate of organisms
 throughout geologic time; in the mind; in society; in all products of
 social activity.

 “6. The process of integration, acting locally as well as generally,
 combines with the process of differentiation to render this change
 not simply from homogeneity to heterogeneity, but from an indefinite
 homogeneity to a definite heterogeneity; and this trait of increasing
 definiteness, which accompanies the trait of increasing heterogeneity,
 is, like it, exhibited in the totality of things and in all its
 divisions and sub-divisions down to the minutest.

 “7. Along with this redistribution of the matter composing any
 evolving aggregate, there goes on a redistribution of the retained
 motion of its components in relation to one another: this also
 becomes, step by step, more definitely heterogeneous.

 “8. In the absence of a homogeneity that is infinite and absolute,
 that redistribution of which evolution is one phase, is inevitable.
 The causes which necessitate it are these:―

 “9. The instability of the homogeneous, which is consequent upon the
 different exposures of the different parts of any limited aggregate to
 incident forces. The transformations hence resulting are complicated

 “10. The multiplication of effects. Every mass and part of a mass
 on which a force falls, sub-divides and differentiates that force,
 which thereupon proceeds to work a variety of changes; and each
 of these becomes the parent of similarly-multiplying changes: the
 multiplication of them becoming greater in proportion as the aggregate
 becomes more heterogeneous. And these two causes of increasing
 differentiations are furthered by―

 “11. Segregation, which is a process tending ever to separate unlike
 units and to bring together like units—so serving continually to
 sharpen, or make definite, differentiations otherwise caused.

 “12. Equilibration is the final result of these transformations which
 an evolving aggregate undergoes. The changes go on until there is
 reached an equilibrium between the forces which all parts of the
 aggregate are exposed to and the forces these parts oppose to them.
 Equilibration may pass through a transition stage of balanced motions
 (as in a planetary system) or of {142} balanced functions (as in a
 living body) on the way to ultimate equilibrium; but the state of rest
 in inorganic bodies, or death in organic bodies, is the necessary
 limit of the changes constituting evolution.

 “13. Dissolution is the counter-change which sooner or later every
 evolved aggregate undergoes. Remaining exposed to surrounding
 forces that are unequilibrated, each aggregate is ever liable to
 be dissipated by the increase, gradual or sudden, of its contained
 motion; and its dissipation, quickly undergone by bodies lately
 animate and slowly undergone by inanimate masses, remains to be
 undergone at an indefinitely remote period by each planetary and
 stellar mass, which, since an indefinitely distant period in the past,
 has been slowly evolving: the cycle of its transformations being thus

 “14. This rhythm of evolution and dissolution, completing itself
 during short periods in small aggregates, and in the vast aggregates
 distributed through space completing itself in periods which are
 immeasurable by human thought, is, so far as we can see, universal and
 eternal—each alternating phase of the process predominating now in
 this region of space and now in that, as local conditions determine.

 “15. All these phenomena, from their great features down to their
 minutest details, are necessary results of the persistence of force,
 under its forms of matter and motion. Given these as distributed
 through space, and their quantities being unchangeable, either
 by increase or decrease, there inevitably result the continuous
 redistributions distinguishable as evolution and dissolution, as well
 as all those special traits above enumerated.

 “16. That which persists unchanging in quantity but ever changing in
 form, under these sensible appearances which the universe presents
 to us, transcends human knowledge and conception—is an unknown and
 unknowable power, which we are obliged to recognize as without limit
 in space and without beginning or end in time.”

These successive paragraphs set forth in the most abstract way, that
process of transformation going on throughout the Cosmos as a whole,
and in each larger or smaller portion of it. In _First Principles_ the
statements contained in these paragraphs are elaborated, explained, and
illustrated; and in subsequent volumes of the series, the purpose has
been to interpret the several great groups of phenomena, Astronomical,
Geological (both postponed), Biological, Psychological, Sociological,
and Ethical, in conformity with these general laws of Evolution which
_First Principles_ enunciates.

       *       *       *       *       *

If it can be shown that any one of the above propositions has been
adopted from, or has been suggested by, the {143} Positive Philosophy,
there will be evidence that the Synthetic Philosophy is to that extent
indebted to it. Or if there can be quoted any expressed conviction of
M. Comte, that the factors producing changes of all kinds, inorganic
and organic, co-operate everywhere throughout the Cosmos in the
same general way, and everywhere work metamorphoses having the same
essential traits, a much more decided indebtedness may reasonably be

So far as I know it, however, the Positive Philosophy contains none of
the special ideas above enumerated, nor any of the more general ideas
they involve.


On pp. 119 and 120, I have pointed out that the followers of M. Comte,
swayed by the spirit of discipleship, habitually ascribe to him a great
deal which was the common inheritance of the scientific world before
he wrote, and to which he himself laid no claim. Kindred remarks have
since been made by others, both in England and in France—the one by Mr.
Mill, and the other by M. Fouillée. Mr. Mill says:―

 “The foundation of M. Comte’s philosophy is thus in no way peculiar
 to him, but the general property of the age, however far as yet from
 being universally accepted even by thoughtful minds. The philosophy
 called Positive is not a recent invention of M. Comte, but a simple
 adherence to the traditions of all the great scientific minds whose
 discoveries have made the human race what it is. M. Comte has never
 presented it in any other light. But he has made the doctrine his own
 by his manner of treating it.”—_Auguste Comte and Positivism_, pp. 8,

In his _Histoire de la Philosophie_, 1875, M. Alfred Fouillée writes:―

 “Saint-Simon voulut successivement organiser la société à l’aide de
 la science (prétention d’où sortit le positivisme) puis à l’aide de
 l’industrie, et enfin à l’aide d’une religion nouvelle, capable de
 ‘forcer chacun de ses membres à suivre le précepte de l’amour du
 prochain.’”—p. 428.

 “Les doctrines sociales de Saint-Simon, jointes au naturalisme
 de Cabanis et de Broussais, donnèrent naissance au ‘positivisme’
 d’Auguste Comte. {144} Ce dernier, comme Saint-Simon, voit dans la
 science sociale ou ‘sociologie’ le terme et le but de toutes les
 recherches scientifiques.”—p. 422.

 “A cette méthode Auguste Comte ajouta des vues historiques, qu’il
 croyait entièrement originales, sur les trois états par où passe
 nécessairement selon lui la connaissance humaine: état théologique,
 état métaphysique, et état scientifique. Le germe de cette théorie
 était déjà dans Turgot.”—p. 424.

 “En somme, Auguste Comte a eu le mérite d’insister sur les méthodes
 qui conviennent aux sciences de la nature; mais il faut avouer que ces
 méthodes étaient connues bien avant lui.”—p. 425.


[14] A clear illustration of this process, is furnished by the
recent mental integration of Heat, Light, Electricity, etc., as
modes of molecular motion. If we go a step back, we see that the
modern conception of Electricity, resulted from the integration in
consciousness, of the two forms of it involved in the galvanic battery
and in the electric-machine. And going back to a still earlier stage,
we see how the conception of statical electricity, arose by the
coalescence in thought, of the previously-separate forces manifested
in rubbed amber, in rubbed glass, and in lightning. With such
illustrations before him, no one can, I think, doubt that the process
has been the same from the beginning.

[15] Possibly it will be said that M. Comte himself admits that what
he calls the perfection of the positive system, will probably never be
reached; and that what he condemns is the inquiry into the _natures_ of
causes and not the general recognition of cause. To the first of these
allegations I reply that, as I understand M. Comte, the obstacle to the
perfect realization of the positive philosophy is the impossibility
of carrying generalization so far as to reduce all particular facts
to cases of one general fact—not the impossibility of excluding the
consciousness of cause. And to the second allegation I reply that the
essential principle of his philosophy is an avowed ignoring of cause
altogether. For if it is not, _what becomes of his alleged distinction
between the perfection of the positive system and the perfection of
the metaphysical system_? And here let me point out that, by affirming
exactly the opposite to that which M. Comte thus affirms, I am excluded
from the positive school. If his own definition of positivism is to
be taken, then, as I hold that what he defines as positivism is an
absolute impossibility, it is clear that I cannot be what he calls a

[16] A friendly critic alleges that M. Comte is not fairly represented
by this quotation, and that he is blamed by his biographer, M. Littré,
for his too-great insistance on feeling as a motor of humanity. If in
his “Positive Politics,” which I presume is here referred to, M. Comte
abandons his original position, so much the better. But I am here
dealing with what is known as “the Positive Philosophy;” and that the
passage above quoted does not misrepresent it, is proved by the fact
that this doctrine is re-asserted at the commencement of the Sociology.

[17] In 1885, during a controversy with one of M. Comte’s English
disciples, I was blamed for speaking “of Comte as making six sciences,”
and was told that “in all Comte’s works, except the first, he makes
seven sciences.” As I was dealing with The Positive Philosophy, I
thought I could not do better than give the foregoing extract from the
_Cours de Philosophie Positive_; and it did not occur to me that I was
called upon to see whether, in any of his later voluminous works, M.
Comte had made a different statement. My opponent, however, enlarged
on this “blunder,” as he politely called it: apparently oblivious of
the fact that if it was a blunder on my part to speak of Comte as
recognizing six sciences when in his later days he recognized seven, it
was a much more serious blunder on the part of Comte himself to have
long overlooked the seventh.

[18] M. Comte’s “Exposition” I read in the original in 1852; and in two
or three other places have referred to the original to get his exact
words. The Inorganic Physics, and the first chapter of the Biology, I
read in Miss Martineau’s condensed translation, when it appeared. The
rest of M. Comte’s views I know only through Mr. Lewes’s outline, and
through incidental references.

[19] In his work, _Auguste Comte et la Philosophie Positive_ (1863),
M. Littré defending the Comtean classification of the sciences from
the criticism I made upon it in the “Genesis of Science,” deals with
me wholly as an antagonist. The chapter he devotes to his reply, opens
by placing me in direct opposition to the English adherents of Comte,
named in the preceding chapter.

[20] I believed at the time, and have never doubted until now, that the
choice of this title was absolutely independent of its previous use by
M. Comte. While writing these pages, I have found reason to think the
contrary. On referring to _Social Statics_, to see what were my views
of social evolution in 1850, when M. Comte was to me but a name, I met
with the following sentence:—“Social philosophy may be aptly divided
(as political economy has been) into statics and dynamics” (ch. xxx. §
1). This I remembered to be a reference to a division which I had seen
in the Political Economy of Mr. Mill. But why had I not mentioned Mr.
Mill’s name? On referring to the first edition of his work, I found,
at the opening of Book iv., this sentence:—“The three preceding parts
include as detailed a view as the limits of this treatise permit, of
what, by a happy generalization of a mathematical phrase, has been
called the Statics of the subject.” Here was the solution of the
question. The division had not been made by Mr. Mill, but by some
writer (on Political Economy I supposed) who was not named by him; and
whom I did not know. It is now manifest, however, that while I supposed
I was giving a more extended use to this division, I was but returning
to the original use which Mr. Mill had limited to his special topic.
Another thing is, I think, tolerably manifest. As I evidently wished
to point out my obligation to some unknown political economist, whose
division I thought I was extending, I should have named him had I known
who he was. And in that case should not have put this extension of the
division as though it were new.

[21] Let me add that the conception developed in _Social Statics_,
dates back to a series of letters on the “Proper Sphere of Government,”
published in the _Nonconformist_ newspaper in the latter half of
1842, and republished as a pamphlet in 1843. In these letters will
be found, along with many crude ideas, the same belief in the
conformity of social phenomena to unvariable laws; the same belief
in human progression as determined by such laws; the same belief in
the moral modification of men as caused by social discipline; the
same belief in the tendency of social arrangements “of themselves to
assume a condition of _stable_ equilibrium;” the same repudiation
of state-control over various departments of social life; the
same limitation of state-action to the maintenance of equitable
relations among citizens. The writing of _Social Statics_ arose from
a dissatisfaction with the basis on which the doctrines set forth
in those letters were placed: the second half of that work is an
elaboration of these doctrines; and the first half a statement of the
principles from which they are deducible.

[22] Published many years since in America, this statement was
republished in England eight years since. See _Athenæum_ for July 22nd,



[_The following was contained in the first edition of_ First
Principles. _I omitted it from the re-organized second edition,
because it did not form an essential part of the new structure. As it
is referred to in the foregoing pages, and as its general argument is
germane to the contents of those pages, I have thought well to insert
it here. Moreover, though I hope eventually to incorporate it in that
division of the_ Principles of Sociology _which treats of Intellectual
Progress, yet as it must be long before it can thus re-appear in its
permanent place, and as, should I not get so far in the execution of
my undertaking, it may never thus re-appear at all, it seems proper
to make it more accessible than it is at present. The first and last
sections, which served to link it into the argument of the work to
which it originally belonged, are omitted. The rest has been carefully
revised, and in some parts considerably altered._]

The recognition of Law being the recognition of uniformity of relations
among phenomena, it follows that the order in which different groups
of phenomena are reduced to law, must depend on the frequency with
which the uniform relations they severally display are distinctly
experienced. At any given stage of progress, those {146} uniformities
will be best known with which men’s minds have been oftenest and
most strongly impressed. In proportion partly to the number of times
a relation has been presented to consciousness (not merely to the
senses), and in proportion partly to the vividness with which the terms
of the relation have been cognized, will be the degree in which the
constancy of connexion is perceived.

The succession in which relations are generalized being thus
determined, there result certain derivative principles to which this
succession must more immediately and obviously conform.    The first
is _the directness with which personal welfare is affected_. While,
among surrounding things, many do not appreciably influence us in any
way, some produce pleasures and some pains, in various degrees; and
manifestly, those things of which the actions on the organism for
good or evil are most decided, will, _cæteris paribus_, be those of
which the laws of action are earliest observed.    Second comes _the
conspicuousness of one or both phenomena between which a relation is
to be perceived_. On every side are phenomena so concealed as to be
detected only by close observation; others not obtrusive enough to
attract notice; others which moderately solicit the attention; others
so imposing or vivid as to force themselves on consciousness; and,
supposing conditions to be the same, these last will of course be
among the first to have their relations generalized.    In the third
place, we have _the absolute frequency with which the relations occur_.
There are coexistences and sequences of all degrees of commonness,
from those which are ever present to those which are extremely rare;
and manifestly, the rare coexistences and sequences, as well as the
sequences which are very long in taking place, will not be reduced to
law so soon as those which are familiar and rapid.    Fourthly has
to be added _the relative frequency of occurrence_. Many events and
appearances are limited to certain times or certain places, or both;
{147} and, as a relation which does not exist within the environment
of an observer cannot be perceived by him, however common it may be
elsewhere or in another age, we have to take account of the surrounding
physical circumstances, as well as of the state of society, of the
arts, and of the sciences—all of which affect the frequency with which
certain groups of facts are observable.    The fifth corollary to be
noticed is, that the succession in which different classes of relations
are reduced to law, depends in part on their _simplicity_. Phenomena
presenting great composition of causes or conditions, have their
essential relations so masked, that it requires accumulated experiences
to impress upon consciousness the true connexions of antecedents and
consequents they involve. Hence, other things equal, the progress of
generalization will be from the simple to the complex; and this it is
which M. Comte has wrongly asserted to be the sole regulative principle
of the progress.    Sixth comes _the degree of concreteness, or absence
of abstractness_. Concrete relations are the earliest acquisitions.
Such analyses of them as separate the essential connexions from their
disguising accompaniments, necessarily come later. The analyses of the
connexions, always more or less compound, into their elements then
becomes possible. And so on continually, until the highest and most
abstract truths have been reached.

These, then, are the several derivative principles. The frequency
and vividness with which uniform relations are repeated in conscious
experience, determining the recognition of their uniformity, and this
frequency and vividness depending on the above conditions, it follows
that the order in which different classes of facts are generalized,
must depend on the extent to which the above conditions are fulfilled
in each class. Let us mark how the facts harmonize with this
conclusion: taking first a few that elucidate the general truth, and
afterwards some that {148} exemplify the special truths which we here
see follow from it.

       *       *       *       *       *

The relations earliest known as uniformities, are those subsisting
among the common properties of matter—tangibility, visibility,
cohesion, weight, etc. We have no trace of a time when the resistance
offered by an object was regarded as caused by the will of the object;
or when the pressure of a body on the hand holding it, was ascribed to
the agency of a living being. And accordingly, these are the relations
of which we are oftenest conscious: being, as they are, objectively
frequent, conspicuous, simple, concrete, and of immediate personal

Similarly with the ordinary phenomena of motion. The fall of a mass on
the withdrawal of its support, is a sequence which directly affects
bodily welfare, is conspicuous, simple, concrete, and very often
repeated. Hence it is one of the uniformities recognized before the
dawn of tradition. We know of no era when ordinary movements due to
terrestrial gravitation were attributed to volition. Only when the
relation is obscured, as where the withdrawal of a support is not
obvious, or, as in the case of an aërolite, where the antecedent of
the descent is unperceived, do we find the conception of personal
agency.    On the other hand, motions of intrinsically the same order
as that of a falling stone—those of the heavenly bodies—long remain
ungeneralized; and until their uniformity is seen, and indeed for a
long time after, are construed as results of will. This difference
is clearly not dependent on comparative complexity or abstractness,
since the motion of a planet in an ellipse of slight eccentricity,
is as simple and concrete a phenomenon as the motion of a projected
arrow in an ellipse of extreme eccentricity indistinguishable from a
parabola. But the antecedents are not conspicuous; the sequences are
of long duration; and they are not often repeated. And that these are
the causes of their slow {149} reduction to law, we see in the fact
that they are severally generalized in the order of their frequency and
conspicuousness—the moon’s monthly cycle, the sun’s annual change, the
periods of the inferior planets, the periods of the superior planets.

While astronomical sequences were still ascribed to volition,
certain terrestrial sequences of a different kind, but some of them
equally without complication, were interpreted in like manner. The
solidification of water at a low temperature, is a phenomenon that is
simple, concrete, and of much personal concern. But it is neither so
frequent as those which we see are earliest generalized, nor is the
presence of the antecedent so manifest. Though in all but tropical
climates, mid-winter displays the relation between cold and freezing
with tolerable constancy; yet, during the spring and autumn, the
occasional appearance of ice in the mornings has no very obvious
connexion with coldness of the weather. Sensation being so inaccurate a
measure, it is not possible for the savage to experience the definite
relation between a temperature of 32° and the congealing of water;
and hence the long continued belief in personal agency. Similarly,
but still more clearly, with the winds. The absence of regularity and
the inconspicuousness of the antecedents, allowed the mythological
explanation to survive for a great period.

During the era in which the uniformity of many quite simple inorganic
relations was still unrecognized, certain organic relations,
intrinsically very complex and special, were generalized. The
constant coexistence of feathers and a beak, of four legs with an
internal bony framework, are facts which were, and are, familiar
to every savage. Did a savage find a bird with teeth, or a mammal
clothed with feathers, he would be as much surprised as an instructed
naturalist. Now these uniformities of organic structure thus early
perceived, are of exactly the same kind as those more numerous ones
later established by biology. The constant {150} coexistence of
mammary glands with two occipital condyles to the skull, of vertebræ
with teeth lodged in sockets, of frontal horns with the habit of
rumination, are generalizations as purely empirical as those known to
the aboriginal hunter. The botanist cannot in the least understand
the complex relation between papilionaceous flowers and seeds borne
in flattened pods: he knows these and like connexions simply in the
same way that the barbarian knows the connexions between particular
leaves and particular kinds of wood. But the fact that sundry of the
uniform relations which chiefly make up the organic sciences, were
very early recognized, is due to the high degrees of vividness and
frequency with which they were presented to consciousness. Though the
connexion between the sounds characteristic of a certain bird, and the
possession of edible flesh, is extremely involved, yet the two terms
of the relation are conspicuous, often recur in experience, and a
knowledge of their connexion has a direct bearing on personal welfare.
Meanwhile innumerable relations of the same order, which are displayed
with even greater frequency by surrounding plants and animals, remain
for thousands of years unrecognized, if they are unobtrusive or of no
apparent moment.

When, passing from this primitive stage to a more advanced stage, we
trace the discovery of those less familiar uniformities which mainly
constitute what is distinguished as Science, we find the succession
in which knowledge of them is reached, to be still determined in the
same manner. This will become obvious on contemplating separately the
influence of each derivative condition.

       *       *       *       *       *

How relations that have immediate bearings on the maintenance of life,
are, other things equal, fixed in the mind before those which have no
immediate bearings, the history of Science abundantly illustrates. The
habits of existing uncivilized races, who fix times by moons and barter
so many of one article for so many of another, show {151} us that
conceptions of equality and number, which are the germs of mathematical
science, were developed under the immediate pressure of personal
wants; and it can scarcely be doubted that those laws of numerical
relations which are embodied in the rules of arithmetic, were first
brought to light through the practice of mercantile exchange. Similarly
with geometry. The derivation of the word shows us that it originally
included only certain methods of partitioning ground and laying out
buildings. The properties of the scales and the lever, involving the
first principle in mechanics, were early generalized under the stimulus
of commercial and architectural needs. To fix the times of religious
festivals and agricultural operations, were the motives which led
to the establishment of the simpler astronomic periods. Such small
knowledge of chemical relations as was involved in ancient metallurgy,
was manifestly obtained in seeking how to improve tools and weapons.
In the alchemy of later times, we see how greatly an intense hope of
private benefit contributed to the disclosure of a certain class of
uniformities. Nor is our own age barren of illustrations. “Here,” says
Humboldt, when in Guiana, “as in many parts in Europe, the sciences
are thought worthy to occupy the mind, only so far as they confer some
immediate and practical benefit on society.” “How is it possible to
believe,” said a missionary to him, “that you have left your country
to come to be devoured by mosquitoes on this river, and to measure
lands that are not your own?” Our coasts furnish like instances.
Every sea-side naturalist knows how great is the contempt with which
fishermen regard the collection of objects for the microscope or
aquarium. Their incredulity as to the possible value of such things is
so great, that they can scarcely be induced even by bribes to preserve
the refuse of their nets. Nay, we need not go for evidence beyond daily
table-talk. The demand for “practical science”—for a knowledge that
can be brought to bear on the business of {152} life—joined to the
ridicule commonly vented on scientific pursuits having no obvious uses,
suffice to show that the order in which laws are discovered greatly
depends on the directness with which knowledge of them affects our

That, when all other conditions are the same, obtrusive relations
will be generalized before unobtrusive ones, is so nearly a truism
that examples appear almost superfluous. If it be admitted that by
the aboriginal man, as by the child, the co-existent properties of
large surrounding objects are noticed before those of minute objects,
and that the external relations which bodies present are generalized
before their internal relations, it must be admitted that in subsequent
stages of progress, the comparative conspicuousness of relations
has greatly affected the order in which they were recognized as
uniform. Hence it happened that after the establishment of those very
manifest sequences constituting a lunation, and those less manifest
ones marking a year, and those still less manifest ones marking the
planetary periods, astronomy occupied itself with such inconspicuous
sequences as those displayed in the repeating cycle of lunar eclipses,
and those which suggested the theory of epicycles and eccentrics;
while modern astronomy deals with still more inconspicuous sequences,
some of which, as the planetary rotations, are nevertheless the
simplest which the heavens present. In physics, the early use of
canoes implied an empirical knowledge of certain hydrostatic relations
that are intrinsically more complex than sundry static relations
not empirically known; but these hydrostatic relations were thrust
upon observation. Or, if we compare the solution of the problem of
specific gravity by Archimedes with the discovery of atmospheric
pressure by Torricelli (the two involving mechanical relations of
the same class), we perceive that the much earlier occurrence of the
first than the last was determined, neither by a difference in their
bearings on personal welfare, nor by a difference in the frequency
with {153} which illustrations of them came under observation, nor
by relative simplicity; but by the greater obtrusiveness of the
connexion between antecedent and consequent in the one case than in
the other. Among miscellaneous illustrations, it may be pointed out
that the connexions between lightning and thunder, and between rain and
clouds, were recognized long before others of the same order, simply
because they thrust themselves on the attention. Or the long-delayed
discovery of the microscopic forms of life, with all the phenomena
they present, may be named as very clearly showing how certain groups
of relations not ordinarily perceptible, though in other respects
like long-familiar relations, have to wait until changed conditions
render them perceptible. But, without further details, it needs only to
consider the inquiries which now occupy the electrician, the chemist,
the physiologist, to see that science has advanced, and is advancing,
from the more conspicuous phenomena to the less conspicuous ones.

How the degree of absolute frequency of a relation affects the
recognition of its uniformity, we see in contrasting certain biological
facts. The connexion between death and bodily injury, constantly
displayed not only in men but in all inferior creatures, came to be
recognized as an instance of natural causation while yet deaths from
diseases or from some of them continued to be thought supernatural.
Among diseases themselves, it is observable that unusual ones were
regarded as of demoniacal origin during ages when the more frequent
were ascribed to ordinary causes: a truth paralleled among our own
peasantry, who by the use of charms show a lingering superstition with
respect to rare disorders, which they do not show with respect to
common ones, such as colds. Passing to physical illustrations, we may
note that within the historic period whirlpools were accounted for by
the agency of water-spirits; but we do not find that within the same
period the disappearance of water on exposure either to the sun or to
artificial heat was {154} interpreted in an analogous way: though a
more marvellous occurrence, and a more complex one, its great frequency
led to the early recognition of it as a natural uniformity. Rainbows
and comets do not differ much in conspicuousness, and a rainbow is
intrinsically the more involved phenomenon; but chiefly because of
their far greater commonness, rainbows were perceived to have a direct
dependence on sun and rain while yet comets were regarded as signs of
divine wrath.

That races living inland must long have remained ignorant of the daily
and monthly sequences of the tides, and that tropical races could
not early have comprehended the phenomena of northern winters, are
extreme illustrations of the influence which relative frequency has
on the recognition of uniformities. Animals which, where they are
indigenous, call forth no surprise by their structures or habits,
because these are so familiar, when taken to countries where they
have never been seen, are looked at with an astonishment approaching
to awe—are even thought supernatural: a fact which will suggest
numerous others that show how the localization of phenomena shares
in controlling the order in which they are reduced to law. Not only
however does their localization in space affect the progression,
but also their localization in time. Facts which are rarely if ever
manifested in one era, are rendered very frequent in another, simply
through the changes wrought by civilization. The lever, of which
the properties are illustrated in the use of sticks and weapons, is
vaguely understood by every savage—on applying it in a certain way he
rightly anticipates certain effects; but the wheel-and-axle, pulley,
and screw, cannot have their powers either empirically or rationally
known till the advance of the arts has more or less familiarized them.
Through those various means of exploration which we have inherited
and added to, we have become acquainted with a vast range of chemical
relations that were relatively {155} non-existent to the primitive
man. To highly-developed industries we owe both the substances and
the appliances that have disclosed to us countless uniformities which
our ancestors had no opportunity of seeing. These and like instances,
show that the accumulated materials, and processes, and products,
which characterize the environments of complex societies, greatly
increase the accessibility of various classes of relations; and by
thus multiplying the experiences of them, or making them relatively
frequent, facilitate the generalization of them. Moreover, various
classes of phenomena presented by society itself, as for instance
those which political economy formulates, become relatively frequent,
and therefore recognizable, in advanced social states; while in less
advanced ones they are either too rarely displayed to have their
relations perceived, or, as in the least advanced ones, are not
displayed at all.

That, where no other circumstances interfere, the order in which
different uniformities are established varies as their complexity, is
manifest. The geometry of straight lines was understood before the
geometry of curved lines; the properties of the circle before the
properties of the ellipse, parabola, and hyperbola; and the equations
of curves of single curvature were ascertained before those of curves
of double curvature. Plane trigonometry comes in order of time and
simplicity before spherical trigonometry; and the mensuration of
plane surfaces and solids before the mensuration of curved surfaces
and solids. Similarly with mechanics: the laws of simple motion were
generalized before those of compound motion; and those of rectilinear
motion before those of curvilinear motion. The properties of
equal-armed levers or scales, were understood before those of levers
with unequal arms; and the law of the inclined plane was formulated
earlier than that of the screw, which involves it. In chemistry the
progress has been from the simple inorganic compounds to the more
involved or organic compounds. And where, as in the higher sciences,
the conditions of the exploration are {156} more complicated, we still
may trace relative complexity as determining the order of discovery
where other things are equal.

The progression from concrete relations to abstract relations, and from
the less abstract to the more abstract, is equally obvious. Numeration,
which in its primary form concerned itself only with groups of actual
objects, came earlier than simple arithmetic; the rules of which deal
with numbers apart from objects. Arithmetic, limited in its sphere
to concrete numerical relations, is alike earlier and less abstract
than Algebra, which deals with the relations of these relations. And
in like manner, the Calculus of Operations comes after Algebra, both
in order of evolution and in order of abstractness. In Mechanics, the
more concrete relations of forces exhibited in the lever, inclined
plane, etc., were understood before the more abstract relations
expressed in the laws of resolution and composition of forces; and
later than the three abstract laws of motion as formulated by Newton
came the still more abstract law of inertia. Similarly with Physics and
Chemistry, there has been an advance from truths entangled in all the
specialities of particular facts and particular classes of facts, to
truths disentangled from the disguising incidents under which they are
manifested—to truths of a higher abstractness.

Brief and rude as is this sketch of a mental development which has been
long and complicated, I venture to think it shows inductively what
was deductively inferred, that the order in which separate groups of
uniformities are recognized, depends not on one circumstance but on
several circumstances. The various classes of relations are generalized
in a certain succession, not solely because of one particular kind
of difference in their natures; but also because they are variously
placed in time and in space, variously open to observation, and
variously related to our own constitutions: our perception of them
being influenced by all these conditions in endless combinations. The
comparative degrees {157} of importance, of obtrusiveness, of absolute
frequency, of relative frequency, of simplicity, of concreteness, are
every one of them factors; and from their unions in proportions that
are never twice alike, there results a highly complex process of mental
evolution. But while it is thus manifest that the proximate causes of
the succession in which relations are reduced to law, are numerous and
involved; it is also manifest that there is one ultimate cause to which
these proximate causes are subordinate. As the several circumstances
that determine the early or late recognition of uniformities are
circumstances that determine the number and strength of the impressions
which these uniformities make on the mind, it follows that the
progression conforms to a certain fundamental principle of psychology.
We see _a posteriori_, what we concluded _à priori_, that the order
in which relations are generalized, depends on the frequency and
impressiveness with which they are repeated in conscious experience.

       *       *       *       *       *

Having roughly analyzed the progress of the past, let us take advantage
of the light thus thrown on the present, and consider what is implied
respecting the future.

Note, first, that the likelihood of the universality of Law has
been ever growing greater. Out of the countless coexistences and
sequences with which mankind are environed, they have been continually
transferring some from the group whose order was supposed to be
arbitrary, to the group whose order is known to be uniform. And
manifestly, as fast as the relations which are unreduced to law become
fewer, the probability that among them there are some which do not
conform to law, becomes less. To put the argument numerically—It is
clear that when out of surrounding phenomena a hundred of several kinds
have been found to occur in constant connexions, there arises a slight
presumption that all phenomena occur in constant connexions. When
uniformity has been established in a thousand cases, more varied {158}
in their kinds, the presumption gains strength. And when the known
cases of uniformity amount to millions, including many of each variety,
it becomes an ordinary induction that uniformity exists everywhere.

Silently and insensibly their experiences have been pressing men on
towards the conclusion thus drawn. Not out of a conscious regard
for these reasons, but from a habit of thought which these reasons
formulate and justify, all minds have been advancing towards a belief
in the constancy of surrounding coexistences and sequences. Familiarity
with concrete uniformities has generated the abstract conception of
uniformity—the idea of _Law_; and this idea has been in successive
generations slowly gaining fixity and clearness. Especially has it
been thus among those whose knowledge of natural phenomena is the
most extensive—men of science. The mathematician, the physicist,
the astronomer, the chemist, severally acquainted with the vast
accumulations of uniformities established by their predecessors, and
themselves daily adding new ones as well as verifying the old, acquire
a far stronger faith in law than is ordinarily possessed. With them
this faith, ceasing to be merely passive, becomes an active stimulus
to inquiry. Wherever there exist phenomena of which the dependence
is not yet ascertained, these most cultivated intellects, impelled
by the conviction that here too there is some invariable connexion,
proceed to observe, compare, and experiment; and when they discover
the law to which the phenomena conform, as they eventually do, their
general belief in the universality of law is further strengthened. So
overwhelming is the evidence, and such the effect of this discipline,
that to the advanced student of Nature, the proposition that there
are lawless phenomena has become not only incredible but almost

This habitual recognition of law which already distinguishes modern
thought from ancient thought, must spread among men at large. The
fulfilment of fresh predictions that are made possible by every new
step, and the further {159} command gained over Nature’s forces, prove
to the uninitiated the validity of scientific generalizations and the
doctrine they illustrate. Widening education is daily diffusing among
the mass of men that knowledge of these generalizations which has been
hitherto confined to the few. And as fast as this diffusion goes on,
the belief of the scientific must become the belief of the world at

       *       *       *       *       *

That law is universal, will become an irresistible conclusion when
it is perceived that _the progress in the discovery of laws itself
conforms to law_; and when this perception makes it clear why certain
groups of phenomena have been reduced to law, while other groups are
still unreduced. When it is seen that the order in which uniformities
are recognized, must depend on the frequency and vividness with
which they are repeated in conscious experience; when it is seen
that, as a matter of fact, the most common, important, conspicuous,
concrete, and simple, uniformities were the earliest recognized,
because they were experienced oftenest and most distinctly; it will
by implication be seen that long after the great mass of phenomena
have been generalized, there must remain phenomena which, from their
rareness, or unobtrusiveness, or seeming unimportance, or complexity,
or abstractness, are still ungeneralized.    Thus will be furnished a
solution to a difficulty sometimes raised. When it is asked why the
universality of law is not already fully established, there will be the
answer that the directions in which it is not yet established are those
in which its establishment must necessarily be latest. That state of
things which is inferable beforehand, is just the state which we find
to exist. If such coexistences and sequences as those of Biology and
Sociology are not yet reduced to law, the presumption is, not that they
are irreducible to law, but that their laws elude our present means
of exploration. Having long ago proved uniformity throughout all the
lower classes of relations, and having been step by step proving {160}
uniformity throughout classes of relations successively higher and
higher, if we have not yet succeeded with the highest classes, it may
be fairly concluded that our powers are at fault, rather than that the
uniformity does not exist. And unless we make the absurd assumption
that the process of generalization, now going on with unexampled
rapidity, has reached its limit, and will suddenly cease, we must infer
that ultimately mankind will discover a constant order even among the
most involved and obscure phenomena.



[_First published in_ The Leader _for June 25, 1853._]

With Spirit-rappings and Table-movings still the rage, and with the
belief in Spontaneous Combustion still unextinguished, it seems
desirable that something should be said in justification of that
general scepticism with which the philosophical meet the alleged
wonders that periodically turn the heads of the nation. Nothing less
than a bulky octavo would be needed to contain all that might be
written on the matter; and unfortunately such an octavo, when written,
would be little read by those most requiring it. A brief hint or two,
however, may find listeners among them.

“I tell you I saw it myself,” is the so-thought conclusive assertion
with which many a controversy is abruptly ended. Commonly those who
make this assertion think that after it nothing remains to be urged;
and they are astonished at the unreasonableness of those who still
withhold their belief. Though they reject many tales of witchcraft,
many ghost stories whose marvels were attested by eye-witnesses—though
they have repeatedly seen stage-conjurors seem to do things which they
do not believe were really done—though they have heard of the Automaton
Chess-player and the Invisible Girl, and have perhaps seen explanations
of the modes in which the public were deluded by {162} them—though in
all these cases they know that the facts were other than the spectators
supposed them to be; yet they cannot imagine that their own perceptions
have been vitiated by influences like those which vitiated the
perceptions of others. Or, to put the thing more charitably and perhaps
more truly, they forget that such vitiations are constantly occurring.

To observe correctly, though commonly thought very easy, every man
of science knows to be difficult. Our faculties are liable to report
falsely from two opposite causes—the presence of hypothesis, and the
absence of hypothesis. To the dangers arising from one or other of
these, every observation we make is exposed; and between the two it is
hard to see any fact _quite_ truly. A few illustrations of the extreme
distortions arising from the one cause, and the extreme inaccuracy
consequent on the other, will justify this seeming paradox.

Nearly every one is familiar with the myth prevalent on our sea-coasts,
respecting the Barnacle Goose. The popular belief was, and indeed is
still in some places, that the fruits on branches which hang into the
sea become changed into shell-covered creatures called barnacles, found
incrusting these submerged branches; and further, that these barnacles
are in process of time transformed into the birds known as barnacle
geese. This belief was not confined to the vulgar; it was received
among naturalists. Nor was it with them simply an adopted rumour. It
was based on observations which were recorded and approved by the
highest scientific authorities, and published with their countenance.
In a paper contained in the _Philosophical Transactions_, Sir Robert
Moray says:—“In every shell that I opened . . . there appeared nothing
wanting, as to the external parts, for making up a perfect sea-fowl;
the little bill like that of a goose, the eyes marked, the head, neck,
breast, wings, tail, and feet formed, the feathers everywhere perfectly
shaped and blackish coloured, and the feet like those of other {163}
waterfowl, to my best remembrance.” Now this myth respecting the
barnacle goose has been exploded for some century and a half. To a
modern zoologist who examines one of these cirrhipeds, as the barnacles
are called, it seems scarcely credible that it could ever have been
thought a chick; and what Sir Robert Moray could have taken for “head,
neck, breast, wings, tail, feet, and feathers,” he cannot imagine.
Under the influence of a pre-conception, here is a man of education
describing as “a perfect sea-fowl” what is now known to be a modified
crustacean—a creature belonging to a remote part of the animal kingdom.

A still more remarkable instance of perverted observation exists
in an old book entitled _Metamorphosis Naturalis_, &c., published
at Middleburgh in 1662. This work, in which is attempted for the
first time a detailed account of insect-transformations, contains
numerous illustrative plates, in which are represented the various
stages of evolution—larva, pupa, and imago. Those who have any
knowledge of Entomology will recollect that the chrysalises of all our
common butterflies exhibit at the anterior end a number of pointed
projections, producing an irregular outline. Have they ever observed
in this outline a resemblance to a man’s face? For myself, I can say
that though in early days I kept brood after brood of butterfly larvæ
through all their changes, I never perceived any such likeness; nor
can I see it now. Nevertheless, in the plates of this _Metamorphosis
Naturalis_, each chrysalis has its projections so modified as to
represent a burlesque human head—the respective species having
different profiles given them. Whether the author was a believer
in metempsychosis, and thought he saw in the chrysalis a disguised
humanity; or whether, swayed by the false analogy which Butler makes
so much of, between the change from chrysalis to butterfly and that
from mortality to immortality, he considered the chrysalis as typical
of man; does not appear. Here, however, is the fact, that influenced
by some {164} pre-conception or other, he has made his drawings quite
different from the actual forms. It is not that he simply thinks this
resemblance exists—it is not that he merely says he can see it; but his
preconception so possesses him as to swerve his pencil, and make him
produce representations laughably unlike the realities.

These, which are extreme cases of distorted perceptions, differ only
in degree from the distorted perceptions of daily life; and so strong
is the distorting influence that even the man of science cannot escape
its effects. Every microscopist knows that if they have conflicting
theories respecting its nature, two observers shall look through
the same instrument at the same object, and give quite different
descriptions of its appearance.

From the dangers of hypothesis let us now turn to the dangers of no
hypothesis. Little recognized as is the fact, it is nevertheless
true that we cannot make the commonest observation correctly without
beforehand having some notion of what we are to observe. You are asked
to listen to a faint sound, and you find that without a pre-conception
of the _kind_ of sound you are to hear, you cannot hear it. Provided
that it is not strong, an unusual flavour in your food may pass quite
unperceived, unless some one draws attention to it, when you taste it
distinctly. After knowing him for years, you shall suddenly discover
that your friend’s nose is slightly awry, and wonder that you never
remarked it before. Still more striking becomes this inability when
the facts to be observed are complex. Of a hundred people who listen
to the dying vibrations of a church bell, almost all fail to perceive
the harmonics, and assert the sound to be simple. Scarcely any one
who has not practised drawing, sees, when in the street, that all
the horizontal lines in the walls, windows, shutters, roofs, seem
to converge to one point in the distance: a fact which, after a few
lessons in perspective, becomes visible enough.

Perhaps I cannot more clearly illustrate this necessity for {165}
hypothesis as a condition to accurate perception, than by narrating a
portion of my own experience relative to the colours of shadows.

Indian ink was the pigment which, during boyhood, I invariably
used for shading. Ask any one who has received no culture in art,
or who has given no thought to it, of what colour a shadow is, and
the unhesitating reply will be—black. This is uniformly the creed
of the uninitiated; and in this creed I undoubtingly remained till
about eighteen. Happening, at that age, to come much in contact with
an amateur artist, I was told, to my great surprise, that shadows
are not black but of a neutral tint. This, to me, novel doctrine, I
strenuously resisted. I have a pretty distinct recollection of denying
it point blank, and quoting all my experience in support of the denial.
I remember, too, that the controversy lasted over a considerable
period; and that it was only after my friend had repeatedly drawn my
attention to instances in Nature, that I finally gave in. Though I must
previously have seen myriads of shadows, yet in consequence of the fact
that very generally the tint approaches to black, I had been unable,
in the absence of hypothesis, to perceive that in many cases it is
distinctly not black.

I continued to hold this amended doctrine for some years. It is true
that from time to time I observed that the tone of the neutral tint
varied considerably in different shadows; but still the divergencies
were not such as to shake my faith in the dogma. By-and-bye, however,
in a popular work on Optics, I met with the statement that the colour
of a shadow is always the complement of the colour of the light casting
it. Not seeing the wherefore of this alleged law, which seemed moreover
to conflict with my established belief, I was led to study the matter
as a question of causation. _Why_ are shadows coloured? and what
determines the colour? were the queries that suggested themselves. In
seeking answers, it soon became manifest {166} that as a space in
shadow is a space from which the _direct_ light alone is excluded, and
into which the _indirect_ light (namely, that reflected by surrounding
objects, by the clouds and by the sky) continues to fall, the colour
of a shadow must partake of the colour of everything that can either
radiate or reflect light into it. Hence, the colour of a shadow must
be _the average colour of the diffused light;_ and must vary, as that
varies, with the colours of all surrounding things. Thus was at once
explained the inconstancy I had already noticed; and I presently
recognized in Nature that which the theory implies—namely, that a
shadow may have any colour whatever, according to circumstances. Under
a clear sky, and with no trees, hedges, houses, or other objects at
hand, shadows are of a pure blue. During a red sunset, mixture of the
yellow light from the upper part of the western sky with the blue light
from the eastern sky, produces green shadows. Go near to a gas-lamp on
a moonlight night, and a pencil-case placed at right angles to a piece
of paper will be found to cast a purple-blue shadow and a yellow-grey
shadow, produced by the gas and the moon respectively. And there are
conditions it would take too long here to describe, under which two
parts of the same shadow are differently coloured. All which facts
became obvious to me as soon as I knew that they must exist.

Here, then, respecting certain simple phenomena that are hourly
visible, are three successive convictions; each of them based on years
of observation; each of them held with unhesitating confidence; and
yet only one—as I now believe—true. But for the help of an hypothesis,
I should probably have remained in the common belief that shadows are
black. And but for the help of another hypothesis, I should probably
have remained in the half-true belief that they are neutral tint.

Is it not clear, therefore, that to observe correctly is by no means
easy? On the one hand, a pre-conception, makes {167} us liable to
see things not quite as they are, but as we think them. On the other
hand, in the absence of a pre-conception, we are liable to pass over
much that we ought to see. Yet we must have either a pre-conception
or no pre-conception. Evidently, then, all our observations, save
those guided by true theories already reached, are in danger of either
distortion or incompleteness.

It remains but to remark, that if our observations are imperfect in
cases like the foregoing, where the things seen are persistent, and
may be again and again looked at or continuously contemplated; how
much more imperfect must they be where the things seen are complex
processes, changes, or actions, each presenting successive phases,
which, if not truly observed at the moments they severally occur,
can never be truly observed at all! Here the chances of error become
immensely multiplied. And when, in addition, there exists some moral
excitement,—when, as in these Spirit-rapping and Table-turning
experiments, the intellect is partially paralysed by fear or wonder
correct observation becomes next to an impossibility.



[_First published in_ The Reader _for November 19, 1864._]

Probably few, if any, competent physicists have, of late years, used
the term “electric fluid” in any other than a conventional sense.
When distinguishing electricity into the two kinds, “positive” and
“negative,” or “vitreous” and “resinous,” they have used the ideas
suggested by these names merely as convenient symbols, and not as
representatives of different entities. And, now that heat and light are
proved to be modes of motion, it has become obvious that all the allied
manifestations of force must be modes of motion.

What is the particular mode of motion which constitutes electricity,
thus becomes the question. That it is some kind of molecular vibration,
different from the molecular vibrations which luminous bodies give off,
is, I presume, taken for granted by all who bring to the consideration
of the matter a knowledge of recent discoveries. Beyond those simple
oscillations of molecules from which light and heat result, may we not
suspect that there will, in some cases, arise compound oscillations?
Let us consider whether the conditions under which electricity arises
are not such as to generate compound oscillations; and whether the
phenomena of electricity are not such as must result from compound

The universal antecedent to the production of electricity {169} is the
immediate or mediate contact of heterogeneous substances—substances
that are heterogeneous either in their molecular constitutions, or in
their molecular states. If, then, electricity is some mode of molecular
motion, and if, whenever it is produced, the contact of substances
having unlike molecules or molecules in unlike states, is the
antecedent, there seems thrust upon us the conclusion that electricity
results from some mutual action of molecules whose motions are unlike.

What must be that mutual action of molecules having unlike motions,
which, as we see, is the universal antecedent of electrical
disturbance? The answer to this question does not seem difficult to
reach, if we take the simplest case—the case of contact-electricity.
When two pieces of metal of the same kind, and at the same temperature,
are applied to one another, there is no electrical excitation; but, if
the metals applied to one another be of different kinds, there is a
genesis of electricity. This, which has been regarded as an anomalous
fact—a fact so anomalous that it has been much disputed because
apparently at variance with every hypothesis—is a fact to which an
interpretation is at once supplied by the hypothesis that electricity
results from the mutual disturbances of unlike molecular motions.
For if, on the one hand, we have homogeneous metals in contact,
their respective molecules, oscillating synchronously, will give and
take any forces which they impress on one another without producing
oscillations of new orders. But if, on the other hand, the molecules
of the one mass have periods of oscillation different from those of
the other mass, their mutual impacts will not agree with the period
of oscillation of either, but will generate a new rhythm, differing
from, and much slower than, that of either. The production of what
are called “beats” in acoustics, will best illustrate this. It is a
familiar fact that two strings vibrating at different rates, from
time to time concur in sending off aërial waves in the {170} same
direction at the same instant: that then, their vibrations getting
more and more out of correspondence, they send off their aërial waves
in the same direction at exactly intermediate instants; and presently,
coming once more into correspondence, they again generate coinciding
waves. So that when their periods of vibration differ but little,
and when consequently it takes an appreciable time to complete their
alternations of agreement and disagreement, there results an audible
alternation in the sound—a succession of pulses of louder and feebler
sound. In other words, besides the primary, simple, and rapid series
of waves, constituting the two sounds themselves, there is a series
of slow compound waves, resulting from their repeated conflicts and
concurrences. Now if, instead of the two strings communicating their
vibrations to the air, each communicated its vibrations to the other,
we should have just the same alternation of concurrent and conflicting
pulses. And if each of the two strings was combined with an aggregate
of others like itself, in such way that it communicated to its
neighbours both its normal and its abnormal vibrations, it is clear
that through each aggregate of strings there would be propagated one of
these compound waves of oscillation, in addition to their simple rapid
oscillations. This illustration will, I think, make it manifest that
when a mass of molecules which have a certain period of vibration, is
placed in contact with a mass of molecules which have another period
of vibration, there must result an alternation of coincidences and
antagonisms in the molecular motions, such as will make the molecules
alternately increase and decrease one another’s motions. There will
be instants at which they are moving in the same direction, and
intervening instants at which they are moving in opposite directions;
whence will arise periods of greatest and least deviations from their
ordinary motions. And these greatest and least deviations, being
communicated to neighbouring molecules, and passed on by them {171} to
the next, will result in waves of perturbation propagated throughout
each mass.

Let us now ask what will be the mutual relations of these waves. Action
and reaction being equal and opposite, it must happen that whatever
effect a molecule of the mass A produces upon an adjacent molecule of
the mass B, must be accompanied by an equivalent reverse effect upon
itself. If a molecule of the mass A is at any instant moving in such
way as to impress on a molecule of the mass B an additional momentum
in any given direction, then the momentum of the molecule of A, in
that direction, will be diminished to an equal amount. That is to say,
to any wave of increased motion propagated through the molecules of
B, there must be a reactive wave of decreased motion propagated in
the opposite direction through the molecules of A. See, then, the two
significant facts. Any _addition_ of motion, which at one of these
alternate periods is given by the molecules of A to the molecules of
B, must be propagated through the molecules of B in a direction _away
from_ A; and simultaneously there must be a _subtraction_ from the
motion of the molecules of A, which will be propagated through them
in a direction _away from_ B. To every wave of _excess_ sent through
the one mass, there will be a corresponding wave of _defect_ sent
through the other; and these _positive_ and _negative_ waves will be
exactly coincident in their times, and exactly equal in their amounts.
Whence it follows that if these waves, proceeding from the surface of
contact through the two masses in contrary directions, are brought into
relation, they will neutralize each other. Action and reaction being
equal and opposite, these _plus_ and _minus_ molecular motions will
cancel if they are added together; and there will be a restoration of

These positive and negative waves of perturbation will travel
through the two masses of molecules with great facility. It is now
an established truth that molecules {172} absorb, in the increase
of their own vibrations, those rhythmical impulses or waves which
have periodic times the same as their own; but that they cannot thus
absorb successive impulses that have periodic times different from
their own. Hence these differential undulations, being very long
undulations in comparison with those of the molecules themselves, will
readily pass through the masses of molecules, or be _conducted_ by
them. Further observe that, if the two masses of molecules continue
joined, these positive and negative differential waves travelling away
from the surface of contact in opposite directions, and severally
arriving at the outer surfaces of the two masses, will be reflected
from these; and, travelling back again toward the surface of contact,
will there meet and neutralize one another. Hence no current will be
produced along a wire joining the outer surfaces of the masses; since
neutralization will be more readily effected by this return of the
waves through the masses themselves. But, though no external current
arises, the masses will continue in what we call opposite electric
states; as a delicate electrometer shows that they do. And further,
if they are parted, the positive and negative waves which have the
instant before been propagated through them respectively, remaining
unneutralized, the masses will display their opposite electric states
in a more conspicuous way. The residual positive and negative waves
will then neutralize each other along any conductor that is placed
between them, seeing that the _plus_ waves communicated from the one
mass to the conductor, meeting with the _minus_ waves communicated from
the other, and being mutually cancelled as they meet, the conductor
will become a line of least resistance to the waves of each mass.

Let us pass now to the allied phenomena of thermo-electricity. Suppose
these two masses of metal to be heated at their surfaces of contact:
the forms of the {173} masses being such that their surfaces of
contact can be considerably heated without their remoter parts being
much heated. What will happen? Prof. Tyndall has shown, in the cases
of various gases and liquids, that, other things equal, when molecules
have given to them more of the insensible motion which we call heat,
there is no alteration in their periods of oscillation, but an
increase in the amplitudes of their oscillations: the molecules make
wider excursions in the same times. Assuming that it is the same in
solids, it will follow that, when the two metals are heated at their
surfaces of contact, the result will be the same as before in respect
of the natures and intervals of the differential waves. There will be
a change, however, in the strengths of these waves. For, if the two
orders of molecules have severally given to them increased quantities
of motion, the perturbations which they impress on each other will
also be increased. These stronger positive and negative waves of
differential motion will, as before, travel through either mass away
from the surfaces of contact—that is, toward the cold extremities of
the masses. From these cold extremities they will, as before, rebound
toward the surfaces of contact; and, as before, will tend thus to
equilibriate each other. But they will meet with resistance in thus
travelling back. It is a well-ascertained fact that raising the
temperatures of metals decreases their conducting powers. Hence, if
the two cold ends of the masses be connected by some other mass whose
molecules can take on with facility these differential undulations—that
is, if the two ends be joined by a conductor, the positive and negative
waves will meet and neutralize one another along this conductor,
instead of being reflected back to the surfaces of contact. In other
words, there will be established a current along the wire joining the
two cold ends of the metallic masses.

Carried a step further, this reasoning affords us an explanation of the
thermo-electric pile. If a number of {174} these bars of different
metals, as antimony and bismuth, are soldered together, end to end,
in alternate order, AB, AB, AB, etc., then, so long as they remain
cold, there is no manifestation of an electric current; or, if all the
joints are equally heated, there is no manifestation of an electric
current beyond that which would arise from any relative coolness of
the two ends of the compound bar. But if alternate joints are heated,
an electric current is produced in a wire joining the two ends of the
compound bar—a current that is intense in proportion to the number of
pairs. What is the cause of this? Clearly, so long as all the joints
are of the same temperature, the differential waves propagated from
each joint toward the two adjacent joints will be equal and opposite to
those from the adjacent joints, and no disturbance will be shown. But
if alternate joints are heated, the positive and negative differential
waves propagated away from them will be stronger than those propagated
from the other joints. Hence, if the joint of bar A with bar B be
heated, the other end of the bar B, which is joined to A2, not being
heated, will receive a stronger differential wave than it sends back.
In addition to the wave which its molecules would otherwise induce in
the molecules of A2, there is an effect which it conducts from A1;
and this extra impulse propagated to the other end of B2 is added to
the impulse which its heated molecules would otherwise give to the
molecules of A3; and so on throughout the series. The waves being added
together, become more violent, and the current through the wire joining
the extremities of the series, more intense.

This interpretation of the facts of thermo-electricity will probably
be met by the objection that there are, in some cases, thermo-electric
currents developed between masses of metal of the same kind, and even
between different parts of the same mass. It may be urged that, if
unlikeness between the rates of vibration of molecules in contact
{175} is the cause of these electric disturbances; then, heat ought
not to produce any electric disturbances when the molecules are of the
same kind; since heat does not change the periodic times of molecular
vibrations. This objection, which seems at first sight a serious one,
introduces us to a confirmation. For where the masses of molecules
are homogeneous in all other respects, difference of temperature
does _not_ generate any thermo-electric current. The junction of hot
with cold mercury sets up no electric excitement. In all cases where
thermo-electricity is generated between metals of the same kind, there
is evidence of heterogeneity in their molecular structures—either one
has been hammered and the other not, or one is annealed and the other
unannealed. And where the current is between different parts of the
same mass, there are differences in the crystalline states of the
parts, or differences between the ways in which the parts have cooled
after being cast. That is to say, there is proof that the molecules in
the two masses, or in different parts of the same mass, are in unlike
relations to their neighbours—are in unlike states of tension. Now,
however true it may be that molecules of the same kind vibrate at the
same rate, whatever may be their temperature, it is obviously true so
long only as their motions are not modified by restraining forces. If
molecules of the same kind are in one mass arranged into that state
which constitutes crystallization, while in another mass they are not
thus bound together; or if in the one their molecular relations have
been modified by hammering, and in the other not; the differences
in the restraints under which they respectively vibrate will affect
their rates of vibration. And if their rates of vibration are rendered
unequal, then the alleged cause of electrical disturbance comes into

To sum up, may it not be said that by some such action alone can the
phenomena of electricity be explained; {176} and that some such
action must inevitably arise under the conditions? On the one hand
electricity, being a mode of motion, implies the transformation of some
preëxisting motion—implies, also, a transformation such that there are
two new kinds of motion simultaneously generated, equal and opposite in
their directions—implies, further, that these differ in being _plus_
and _minus_, and being therefore capable of neutralizing each other.
On the other hand, in the above cases, molecular motion is the only
source of motion that can be assigned; and this molecular motion seems
calculated, under the circumstances, to produce effects like those
witnessed. Molecules vibrating at different rates cannot be brought in
juxtaposition without affecting one another’s motions. They must affect
one another’s motions by periodically adding to, or deducting from one
another’s motions; and any excess of motion which those of the one
order receive, must be accompanied by an equivalent defect of motion in
those of the other order. When such molecules are units of aggregates
placed in contact, they must pass on these perturbations to their
neighbours. And so, from the surface of contact, there must be waves of
excessive and defective molecular motion, equal in their amounts, and
opposite in their directions—waves which must exactly compensate one
another when brought into relation.

I have here dealt only with electrical phenomena of the simplest
kind. Hereafter I may possibly endeavour to show how this hypothesis
furnishes interpretations of other forms of Electricity.

       *       *       *       *       *

POSTSCRIPT (1873).—During the nine years which have elapsed since the
foregoing essay was published, I have found myself no nearer to such
allied interpretations of other forms of Electricity. Though, from time
to time, I have recurred to the subject, in the hope of fulfilling the
{177} expectation raised by the closing sentence, yet no clue has
encouraged me to pursue the speculation. Only now, when republication
of the essay in a permanent form once more brings the question before
me, does there occur a thought which appears worth setting down.

The union of two different ideas, not before placed side by side, has
generated this thought. In the first number of the _Principles of
Biology_, issued in January 1863, and dealing, among other “Data of
Biology,” with organic matter and the effects of forces upon it, I
ventured to speculate about the molecular actions concerned in organic
changes, and, among others, those by which light enables plants to take
the carbon from carbonic acid (§ 13). Pointing out that the ability
of heat to decompose compound molecules, is generally proportionate
to the difference between the atomic weights of their component
elements, and assuming that components having widely-unlike atomic
weights, have widely-unlike motions, and are therefore affected by
widely-unlike undulations; the inference drawn was, that in proportion
as the rhythms of its components differ, a compound molecule will
be unstable in presence of strong etherial undulations acting upon
one component more than on the other or others: their movements thus
being rendered so incongruous that they can no longer hold together.
It was argued, further, that a tolerably-stable compound molecule
may, if exposed to strong etherial undulations especially disturbing
one of its components, be decomposed when in presence of some unlike
molecule having components whose times of oscillation differ less from
those of this disturbed component. And a parallel was drawn between
the de-oxidation of metals by carbon when exposed to the longer
undulations in a furnace, and the de-carbonization of carbonic acid by
hydrogen, &c., when exposed to the shorter undulations in a plant’s
leaves. These ideas I recall chiefly for the purpose of presenting
clearly the conception of a compound molecule as containing {178}
diversely-moving components—components having independent and unlike
oscillations, in addition to the oscillation of the whole molecule
formed by them. The legitimacy of this conception may, I suppose, be
assumed. The beautiful experiments by which Prof. Tyndall has proved
that light decomposes the vapours of certain compounds, illustrates
this ability which the elements of a compound molecule have, severally
to take up etherial undulations corresponding to their own; and thus
to have their individual movements so increased as to cause disruption
of the compound molecule. This, at least, is the interpretation
which Prof. Tyndall puts on the facts; and I presume that he puts a
kindred interpretation upon the facts he has disclosed respecting the
marvellous power possessed by complex-moleculed vapours to absorb
heat—the interpretation, namely, that the thermal undulations are,
in such vapours, taken up in augmenting the movements within each
molecule, rather than in augmenting the movements of the molecules as

But now, assuming this to be a true conception of compound molecules
and the effects produced on them by etherial undulations, there
presents itself the question—What will be the effects produced by
compound molecules on one another? How will the elements of one
compound molecule have their rhythmical motions affected by proximity
to the elements of an unlike compound molecule? May we not suspect
that effects will be produced on one another, not only by the unlike
molecules as wholes, but also certain other, and partially-independent,
effects by their components on one another; and that there will so
be generated some specialized form of molecular motion? Throughout
the speculation set forth in the foregoing essay, the supposition is
that the molecules are those of juxtaposed metals—molecules which,
whether absolutely simple or not, are relatively simple; and these
are regarded as producing on one another’s movements perturbations
of a relatively-simple kind, which admit of being transferred from
molecule {179} to molecule throughout each mass. In trying to carry
further this interpretation, it had not occurred to me until now,
to consider the perturbations produced on one another by compound
molecules: taking into consideration, not merely the capacity each
has for affecting the other as a whole, but the capacity which the
constituents of each individually have for affecting the individual
constituents of the other. If an individual constituent of a compound
molecule can, by the successive impacts of etherial undulations, have
the amplitudes of its oscillations so increased as to detach it; we can
scarcely doubt that an individual constituent of a compound molecule
may affect an individual constituent of an unlike compound molecule
near it: their respective oscillations perturbing one another apart
from the perturbation produced on one another by the compound molecules
as wholes. And it seems inferable that the secondary perturbation thus
arising, will, like the primary perturbation, be such that the action
and reaction, equal and opposite in their amounts, will produce equal
and opposite deviations in the molecular movements. From this there
appear to be several corollaries.

If a compound molecule, having a slow rhythm as a whole in addition
to the more rapid rhythms of its members, has the power of taking
up much of that motion we call heat in the increase of its internal
movements, and to a corresponding degree takes up less in the increase
of its movements as a whole; then may we not infer that the like will
hold when other kinds of forces are brought to bear on it? May we
not anticipate that when a mass of compound molecules of one kind is
made to act upon a mass of compound molecules of another kind (say by
friction), the molecular effects mutually produced, partly in agitating
the molecules as wholes, and partly in agitating their components
relatively to one another, will become less of the first and more of
the last, in proportion as the molecules progress in compositeness?

A further implication suggests itself. While much of the {180} force
mutually exercised will thus go to increase the motion within each
of the compound molecules that immediately act on one another, it
appears inferable that relatively little of this intestinal motion
will be communicated to other molecules. The excesses of oscillation
given to individual members of a large cluster, will not be readily
passed on to homologous members of adjacent large clusters; since they
must be relatively far apart. Whatever motion is transferred, must be
transferred by waves of the intervening etherial medium; and the power
of these must decrease rapidly as the distance increases. Obviously
such difficulty of transfer must, for this reason, become great when
the molecules become highly compounded.

At the same time will it not follow that such augmentations of
movement caused in individual members of a cluster, not being readily
transmissible to homologous members of adjacent clusters, will
accumulate? The more composite molecules become, the more possible
will it be for individual components of them to be violently affected
by individual components of different composite molecules near
them—the more possible will it be for their mutual perturbations to
progressively increase?

And now let us consider how these inferences bear on the interpretation
of Statical Electricity—the form of Electricity most unlike the form
above dealt with.

The substances which exhibit most conspicuously the phenomena of
statical electricity are distinguished either by the chemical
complexity of their molecules, or else by the compositeness of their
molecules produced allotropically or isomerically, or else by both.
The simple substances electrically excited by friction, as carbon and
sulphur, are those having several allotropic states—those capable of
forming multiple molecules. The conchoidal fracture of the diamond and
of roll-sulphur, suggest some colloidal form of aggregation, regarded
by Prof. Graham as a form in which the molecules are united into {181}
relatively-large groups.[23] In such compound inorganic substances as
glass, we have, besides the chemical complexity, this same conchoidal
fracture which, along with other evidence, shows glass to be a colloid;
and the colloidal form of molecule is to be similarly inferred as
characterizing resin, amber, &c. That dry animal substances, such as
silk and hair, are formed of extremely-large molecules, we have clear
proof; since these, chemically complex in a high degree, also have
their components united in high multiples. It needs but to name the
fact that non-electric and conducting substances, such as the metals,
acids, water, &c., have relatively-simple molecules, to make it clear
that the capacity for developing statical electricity depends in some
way upon the presence of molecules of highly composite kinds. And
there is even still more conclusive proof than that yielded by the
contrast between these groups—the proof furnished by the fact that
the same substance may be a conductor or a non-conductor, according
to its form of molecular aggregation. Thus selenium when crystalline
is a conductor, but when in that allotropic state called amorphous,
or non-crystalline, it is a good non-conductor. That is, accepting
Prof. Graham’s interpretation of these states, when its molecules are
arranged simply, it is a conductor, but when they are compounded into
large groups it is a non-conductor, and, by implication, an electric.

So far, then, the _à priori_ inference that a peculiar form of
molecular perturbation will result when two unlike substances, one of
which or each of which consists of {182} highly-compounded molecules,
are made to act on one another, is justified _a posteriori_. And now,
instead of asking generally what will happen, let us ask what may
be inferred to happen in a special case. A piece of glass is rubbed
by silk. The large colloidal molecules forming the surface of each,
are made to disturb one another. This is an inference about which
there will, I suppose, be no dispute; since it is that assumed in
the now-established doctrine of the correlation of heat and motion.
Besides the effect which, as wholes the molecules mutually produce,
there is the effect produced on one another by certain of their
components. Such of these as have times of oscillation which differ,
but not very widely, generate mutual perturbations that are equal and
opposite. Could these perturbations be readily propagated away from
the surface of contact through either mass, the effect would quickly
dissipate, as in the case of metals; but, for the reason given above,
these perturbations cannot be transferred with ease to the homologous
members of the compound molecules behind. Hence the mechanical force
of the friction, transformed into the molecular movements of these
superficial constituent molecules, exists in them as _intense_ mutual
perturbations, which, unable to diffuse, are limited to the surfaces,
and, indeed, to those parts of the surfaces that have acted on one
another. In other words, the two surfaces become charged with two equal
and opposite molecular perturbations—perturbations which, cancelling
one another if the surfaces are kept in contact, cannot do this if
the surfaces are parted; but can then cancel one another only if a
conductor is interposed.

Let me briefly point out some apparent agreements between the
corollaries from this hypothesis, and the observed phenomena.

We have, first, an interpretation of the fact, otherwise seeming so
anomalous, that this form of electrical excitement is _superficial_.
That there should be a mode of {183} activity limited to the surface
of a substance, is difficult to understand in the absence of some
conception of the kind suggested.

We have an explanation of the truth, insisted on by Faraday, that
there can be no charge of one kind of electricity obtained, without
a corresponding charge of the opposite kind. For it is a necessary
implication of the hypothesis above set forth, that no molecular
perturbation of the nature described, can be produced, without there
being simultaneously produced a counter-perturbation exactly equal to

May we not also say that some insight is afforded into the phenomena
of induction? In the cases thus far considered, the two surfaces
electrified by the mutual perturbations of their molecules, are
supposed to be in contact. Since, however, apparent contact is not
actual contact, we must, even in this case, assume that the mutual
perturbation is effected through an intervening stratum of ether. To
interpret induction, then, we have first to conceive this stratum
of ether to be greatly increased in thickness; and then to ask what
will happen if the molecules of one surface, in this state of extreme
internal perturbation, act on the molecules of a surface near it.
Whether the stratum of ether is so thin as to be inappreciable to our
senses, or whether it is wide enough to be conspicuous, it must still
happen that if through it the mutual perturbations are conveyed in the
one case, they will be conveyed in the other; and hence a surface which
is already the seat of these molecular perturbations of one order, will
induce perturbations of a counter order in the molecules of an adjacent

In additional justification of the hypothesis, I will only point out
that voltaic electricity seems to admit of a kindred interpretation.
For any molecular re-arrangement, such as occurs in a chemical
decomposition and recombination, implies that the movements of
the {184} molecules concerned are mutually perturbed; and their
perturbations must conform to the general law already described: the
molecules must derange one another’s motions in equal and opposite
ways, and so must generate _plus_ and _minus_ derangements that cancel
when brought into relation.

Of course I suggest this view simply as one occurring to an outsider.
Unquestionably it presents difficulties; as, for instance, that no
manifest explanation is yielded by it of electric attractions and
repulsions. And there are doubtless objections not obvious to me that
will at once strike those to whom the facts are more familiar. The
hypothesis must be regarded as speculative; and as set down on the
chance that it may be worth consideration.

       *       *       *       *       *

Since the foregoing postscript was put in type, I have received
criticisms upon it, oral and written, from several leading electricians
and physicists; and I have profited by them to amend parts of the
exposition. While I have remained without endorsements of the
hypothesis, the objections raised have not been such as to make clear
its untenability.

On one point an addition seems needful to exclude a misconstruction
apt to arise. The description of the mutually-produced molecular
perturbations, opposite in their kinds, as resulting in waves that are
propagated away from the place of disturbance, and that cancel when
brought into relation, is met by the criticism that waves, proceeding
in opposite directions and meeting, do not mutually cancel, but,
passing one another, proceed onwards. There are, however, two respects
in which the parallelism does not hold, between the waves referred
to and the waves I have described, which perhaps cannot rightly be
called waves. The waves referred to, as those on the surface of a
liquid, {185} are such that each consists of two opposite deviations
from a mean state. Each shows excess and defect. A series of them is
a series of _plus_ and _minus_ divergences; and if two such series
meet one another, they do not cancel. But there is no analogy between
this case and a case in which the whole effect propagated in one
direction is a _plus_ motion, and the whole effect propagated in the
opposite direction is a _minus_ motion—that is, _plus_ and _minus_
changes in other motions. These, if equal in amount, will cancel when
they meet. If one is a continual addition to motion in a certain
direction, and the other a corresponding subtraction from motion in
that direction, the two, when added together, must produce zero. From
another point of view the absence of parallelism between the two
cases may be equally well seen. Waves of the kinds instanced as not
cancelling one another, are waves produced by some force foreign to
the medium exhibiting them—an extrinsic force. Hence, proceeding from
the place of initiation, they are necessarily, considered in their
totalities, _positive_ in whatever directions they travel; and hence,
too, when conducted round so as to meet, an exaggerated perturbation
will result. But in the simplest of the cases here dealt with (that
of contact-electricity) the perturbation is not of extrinsic origin,
but of intrinsic origin. There is no external activity at the expense
of which the quantity of motion in the disturbed matter is positively
increased. The activity, being such only as is internally possessed,
can generate no more motion than already exists; and therefore whatever
gain of motion arises anywhere in the molecules must be at the cost of
an equal loss elsewhere. Here perturbation cannot be a _plus_ motion
in all directions from the place of initiation; but any _plus_ motion
continually generated can result only from an equal and opposite
_minus_ motion continually generated; and the mutual cancelling becomes
a corollary from the mutual genesis.

In the course of the discussions which I have had, the {186} following
way of presenting the argument has occurred to me.

1. Two homogeneous bodies are rubbed together and there results heat:
the interpretation being that the molar motion is transformed into
molecular motion. Here motion produces motion—the _form_ only being

2. Now of the two bodies one is replaced by a body unlike in nature to
the other, and they are again rubbed. Again a certain amount of heat
is produced: some of the molar motion is, as before, transformed into
molecular motion. But, at the same time, another part of the molar
motion is changed into—what? Surely not a fluid, a substance, a thing.
It cannot be that what in the first case produces a change of _state_,
in the second case produces an _entity_. And in the second case itself,
it cannot be that while part of the original motion becomes changed
into another species of motion, part of it becomes changed into a
species of matter.

3. Must we not say, then, that if, when the two bodies rubbed are
homogeneous, sensible motion is transformed into insensible motion,
when they are heterogeneous, sensible motion must still be transformed
into insensible motion: such difference of nature as this insensible
motion has, being consequent on the difference of nature between the
two kinds of molecules acting on one another?

4. If, when the two masses are homogeneous, those molecules which
compose the two rubbed surfaces disturb one another, and increase one
another’s oscillations; then, when the two masses are heterogeneous,
those molecules forming the two rubbed surfaces must also disturb one
another in some way—increase one another’s agitations.

5. If, when the two sets of molecules are alike in kind, the mutual
disturbance is such that they simply increase the amplitudes of one
another’s oscillations, and do this because their times correspond;
then, must it not be {187} that when they are unlike in kind, the
mutual disturbance will involve a differential action consequent on the
unlikeness of their motions? Must not the discord of the oscillations
produce a result which cannot be produced when the oscillations are
concordant—a compound form of molecular motion?

6. If masses of relatively-simple molecules, placed in apposition
and made to act on one another, cause such effects; then must we not
say that effects of the same class, but of a different order, will
be caused by the mutual actions, not of the molecules as wholes,
but of their constituents? If the rubbed surfaces severally consist
of highly-compounded molecules—each containing, it may be, several
hundreds of minor molecules, united into a definitely-arranged cluster;
then, while the molecules as wholes affect one another’s motions,
must we not infer that the constituents of the one class will affect
the constituents of the other class in their motions? While the
molecules as wholes increase one another’s oscillations, or derange one
another’s oscillations, or both, the components of them cannot be so
stably arranged that members of the one group are wholly inoperative
on members of the other group. And if they are operative, then there
must be a compound form of molecular motion which arises when masses
of highly-compounded molecules of unlike kinds, are made to act on one

With this series of propositions and questions, I leave the suggestion
to its fate; merely remarking that, setting out with the principles
of molecular physics now accepted, it seems difficult to avoid the
implication that some actions of the kinds described take place, and
that there result from them some classes of phenomena—phenomena which,
if not those we call electrical, remain to be identified.


[23] Though conchoidal fracture may not be conclusive proof of
colloidality, yet colloidal substances hard enough for fracture always
display it. Respecting roll-sulphur I may say that though in a few
days after it is made, it changes from its original state to a state
in which it consists of minute crystals of another kind irregularly
massed, yet there is reason for suspecting that these have a matrix
of amorphous sulphur. I learn from Dr. Frankland that, when sublimed,
sulphur aggregates partly into minute crystals and partly into an
amorphous powder distinguished by insolubility.



[_First published in_ The Fortnightly Review _for July 1865._]

British speculation, to which, the chief initial ideas and established
truths of Modern Philosophy are due, is no longer dormant. By his
_System of Logic_, Mr. Mill probably did more than any other writer to
re-awaken it. And to the great service he thus rendered some twenty
years ago, he now adds by his _Examination of Sir William Hamilton’s
Philosophy_—a work which, taking the views of Sir William Hamilton
as texts, reconsiders sundry ultimate questions that still remain

Among these questions is one of much importance which has already
been the subject of controversy between Mr. Mill and others; and this
question I propose to discuss afresh. Before doing so, however, it will
be desirable to glance at two cardinal doctrines of the Hamiltonian
philosophy from which Mr. Mill shows reasons for dissenting—desirable,
because comment on them will elucidate what is to follow.

In his fifth chapter, Mr. Mill points out that “what is rejected as
knowledge by Sir William Hamilton,” is “brought back by him under the
name of belief.” The quotations justify this description of Sir W.
Hamilton’s position, and warrant the assertion that the relativity
of {189} knowledge was held by him but nominally. His inconsistency
may, I think, be traced to the use of the word “belief” in two quite
different senses. We commonly say we “believe” a thing for which
we can assign preponderating evidence, or concerning which we have
received some indefinable impression. We _believe_ that the next
House of Commons will not abolish Church-rates; or we _believe_ that
a person on whose face we look is good-natured. That is, when we can
give confessedly-inadequate proofs or no proofs at all for the things
we think, we call them “beliefs.” And it is the peculiarity of these
beliefs, as contrasted with cognitions, that their connexions with
antecedent states of consciousness may be easily severed, instead of
being difficult to sever. But, unhappily, the word “belief” is also
applied to each of those temporarily or permanently indissoluble
connexions in consciousness, for the acceptance of which the only
warrant is that it cannot be got rid of. Saying that I feel a pain,
or hear a sound, or see one line to be longer than another, is saying
that there has occurred in me a certain change of state; and it is
impossible for me to give a stronger evidence of this fact than that
it is present to my mind. Every argument, too, is resolvable into
successive affections of consciousness which have no warrants beyond
themselves. When asked why I assert some mediately known truth, as
that the three angles of a triangle are equal to two right angles, I
find that the proof may be decomposed into steps, each of which is an
immediate consciousness that certain two quantities or two relations
are equal or unequal—a consciousness for which no further evidence is
assignable than that it exists in me. Nor, on finally getting down to
some axiom underlying the whole fabric of demonstration, can I say
more than that it is a truth of which I am immediately conscious.
But now observe the confusion that has arisen. The immense majority
of truths which we accept as beyond doubt, and from which our notion
of unquestionable truth is abstracted, {190} have this other trait
in common—they are severally established by affiliation on deeper
truths. These two characters have become so associated, that one
seems to imply the other. For each truth of geometry we are able
to assign some wider truth in which it is involved; for that wider
truth we are able, if required, to assign some still wider; and so
on. This being the general nature of the demonstration by which exact
knowledge is established, there has arisen the illusion that knowledge
so established is knowledge of higher validity than that immediate
knowledge which has nothing deeper to rest on. The habit of asking for
proof, and having proof given, in all these multitudinous cases, has
produced the implication that proof may be asked for those ultimate
dicta of consciousness into which all proof is resolvable. And then,
because no proof of these can be given, there arises the vague feeling
that they are akin to other things of which no proof can be given—that
they are uncertain—that they have unsatisfactory bases. This feeling
is strengthened by the accompanying misuse of words. “Belief” having,
as above pointed out, become the name of an impression for which we
can give only a confessedly-inadequate reason, or no reason at all; it
happens that when pushed hard respecting the warrant for any ultimate
dictum of consciousness, we say, in the absence of all assignable
reason, that we _believe_ it. Thus the two opposite poles of knowledge
go under the same name; and by the reverse connotations of this name,
as used for the most coherent and least coherent relations of thought,
profound misconceptions have been generated. Here, it seems to me, is
the source of Sir William Hamilton’s error. Classing as “beliefs” those
direct, undecomposable dicta of consciousness which transcend proof,
he asserts that these are of higher authority than knowledge (meaning
by knowledge that for which reasons can be given); and in asserting
this he is fully justified. But when he claims equal authority for
those affections of consciousness which {191} go under the same name
of “beliefs,” but differ in being extremely-indirect affections of
consciousness, or not definite affections of consciousness at all, the
claim cannot be admitted. By his own showing, no positive cognition
answering to the word “infinite” exists; while, contrariwise, those
cognitions which he rightly holds to be above question, are not only
positive, but have the peculiarity that they cannot be suppressed. How,
then, can the two be grouped together as of like degrees of validity?

Nearly allied in nature to this, is another Hamiltonian doctrine, which
Mr. Mill effectively combats. I refer to the corollary respecting
noumenal existence which Sir William Hamilton draws from the law of
the Excluded Middle, or, as it might be more intelligibly called, the
law of the Alternative Necessity. A thing must either exist or not
exist—must have a certain attribute or not have it: there is no third
possibility. This is a postulate of all thought; and in so far as it is
alleged of phenomenal existence, no one calls it in question. But Sir
William Hamilton, applying the formula beyond the limits of thought,
draws from it certain conclusions respecting things as they are, apart
from our consciousness. He says, for example, that though we cannot
conceive Space as infinite or as finite, yet, “on the principle of the
Excluded Middle, one or other must be admitted.” This inference Mr.
Mill shows good reason for rejecting. His argument may be supplemented
by another, which at once suggests itself if from the words of Sir
William Hamilton’s propositions we pass to the thoughts for which
they are supposed to stand. When remembering a certain thing as in
a certain place, the place and the thing are mentally represented
together; while to think of the non-existence of the thing in that
place, implies a consciousness in which the place is represented but
not the thing. Similarly, if, instead of thinking of an object as
colourless, we think of it as having colour, the change consists in the
addition to the {192} concept of an element that was before absent
from it—the object cannot be thought of first as red and then as not
red, without one component of the thought being expelled from the
mind by another. The doctrine of the Excluded Middle, then, is simply
a generalization of the universal experience that some mental states
are directly destructive of other states. It formulates a certain
absolutely-constant law, that no positive mode of consciousness can
occur without excluding a correlative negative mode; and that the
negative mode cannot occur without excluding the correlative positive
mode: the antithesis of positive and negative, being, indeed, merely an
expression of this experience. Hence it follows that if consciousness
is not in one of the two modes, it must be in the other. But now,
under what conditions only can this law of consciousness hold? It can
hold only so long as there are positive states of consciousness which
can exclude the negative states, and which the negative states can in
their turn exclude. If we are not concerned with positive states of
consciousness at all, no such mutual exclusion takes place, and the
law of the Alternative Necessity does not apply. Here, then, is the
flaw in Sir William Hamilton’s proposition. That Space must be infinite
or finite, are alternatives of which we are not obliged to regard one
as necessary; seeing that we have no state of consciousness answering
to either of these words as applied to the totality of Space, and
therefore no exclusion of two antagonist states of consciousness by one
another. Both alternatives being unthinkable, the proposition should be
put thus: Space is either        or is        ; neither of which can
be conceived, but one of which must be true. In this, as in some other
cases, Sir William Hamilton continues to work out the forms of thought
when they no longer contain any substance; and, of course, reaches
nothing more than verbal conclusions.

Ending here these comments on doctrines of Sir William {193} Hamilton,
which Mr. Mill rejects on grounds that will be generally recognized
as valid, let me now pass to a doctrine, partly held by Sir William
Hamilton, and held by others in ways variously qualified and variously
extended—a doctrine which, I think, may be successfully defended
against Mr. Mill’s attack.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the fourth and fifth editions of his _Logic_, Mr. Mill treats, at
considerable length, the question—Is inconceivability an evidence
of untruth?—replying to criticisms previously made on his reasons
for asserting that it is not. The chief answers which he there
makes to these criticisms, turn upon the interpretation of the word
_inconceivable_. This word he considers is used as the equivalent of
the word _unbelievable_; and, translating it thus, readily disposes of
sundry arguments brought against him. Whether any others who have used
these words in philosophical discussion, have made them synonymous, I
do not know; but that they are so used in those reasonings of my own
which Mr. Mill combats, I was not conscious, and was surprised to find
alleged. It is now manifest that I had not adequately guarded myself
against the misconstruction which is liable to arise from the double
meaning of the word _belief_—a word which, we have seen, is used for
the most coherent and the least coherent connexions in consciousness,
because they have the common character that no reason is assignable for
them. Throughout the argument to which Mr. Mill replies, the word is
used by me only in the first of these senses. The “invariably existent
beliefs,” the “indestructible beliefs,” are the indissoluble connexions
in consciousness—never the dissoluble ones. But _unbelievable_ implies
the dissoluble ones. By association with the other and more general
meaning of the word _belief_, the word _unbelievable_ suggests cases
in which the proposition admits of being represented in thought,
though it may be with difficulty; and in which, consequently, the
counter-proposition admits of being {194} decomposed. To be quite
sure of our ground, let us define and illustrate the meanings of
_inconceivable_ and _unbelievable._ An inconceivable proposition
is one of which the terms cannot, by any effort, be brought before
consciousness in that relation which the proposition asserts between
them—a proposition of which the subject and the predicate offer
an insurmountable resistance to union in thought. An unbelievable
proposition is one which admits of being framed in thought, but is
so much at variance with experience that its terms cannot be put in
the alleged relation without effort. Thus, it is unbelievable that
a cannon-ball fired from England should reach America; but it is
not inconceivable. Conversely, it is inconceivable that one side of
a triangle is equal to the sum of the other two sides—not simply
unbelievable. The two sides cannot be represented in consciousness
as becoming equal in their joint length to the third side, without
the representation of a triangle being destroyed; and the concept of
a triangle cannot be framed without a simultaneous destruction of
a concept in which these magnitudes are represented as equal. That
is to say, the subject and predicate cannot be united in the same
intuition—the proposition is unthinkable. It is in this sense only that
I have used the word inconceivable; and only when rigorously restricted
to this sense do I regard the test of inconceivableness as having any

I had concluded that when this explanation was made, Mr. Mill’s reasons
for dissent would be removed. Passages in his recently-published
volume, however, show that, even restricting the use of the word
inconceivable to the meaning here specified, he still denies that
a proposition is proved to be true by the inconceivableness of its
negation. To meet, within any moderate compass, all the issues which
have grown out of the controversy, is difficult. Before passing to the
essential question, however, I will endeavour to clear the ground of
certain minor questions.

Describing Sir William Hamilton’s doctrine respecting {195} the
ultimate facts of consciousness, or those which are above proof, Mr.
Mill writes:

“The only condition he requires is that we be not able to ‘reduce it
[a fact of this class] to a generalization from experience.’ This
condition is realized by its possessing the ‘character of necessity.’
‘It must be impossible not to think it. In fact, by its necessity
alone can we recognize it as an original datum of intelligence, and
distinguish it from any mere result of generalization and custom.’ In
this Sir William Hamilton is at one with the whole of his own section
of the philosophical world; with Reid, with Stewart, with Cousin, with
Whewell, we may add, with Kant, and even with Mr. Herbert Spencer. The
test by which they all decide a belief to be a part of our primitive
consciousness—an original intuition of the mind—is the necessity of
thinking it. Their proof that we must always, from the beginning, have
had the belief, is the impossibility of getting rid of it now. This
argument, applied to any of the disputed questions of philosophy,
is doubly illegitimate: neither the major nor the minor premise is
admissible. For in the first place, the very fact that the question
is disputed, disproves the alleged impossibility. Those against whom
it is needful to defend the belief which is affirmed to be necessary,
are unmistakable examples that it is not necessary . . . . These
philosophers, therefore, and among them Sir William Hamilton, mistake
altogether the true conditions of psychological investigation, when,
instead of proving a belief to be an original fact of consciousness by
showing that it could not have been acquired, they conclude that it
was not acquired, for the reason, often false, and never sufficiently
substantiated, that our consciousness cannot get rid of it now.”

This representation, in so far as it concerns my own views, has
somewhat puzzled me. Considering that I have avowed a general agreement
with Mr. Mill in the doctrine that all knowledge is from experience,
and have defended {196} the test of inconceivableness on the very
ground that it expresses “the net result of our experiences up to
the present time” (_Principles of Psychology_, § 430)—considering
that, so far from asserting the distinction quoted from Sir William
Hamilton, I have aimed to abolish such distinction—considering that I
have endeavoured to show how all our conceptions, even down to those
of Space and Time, are “acquired”—considering that I have sought
to interpret forms of thought (and by implication all intuitions)
as products of organized and inherited experiences (_Principles of
Psychology_, § 208); I am taken aback at finding myself classed as
in the above paragraph. Leaving the personal question, however, let
me pass to the assertion that the difference of opinion respecting
the test of necessity itself disproves the validity of the test. Two
issues are here involved. First, if a particular proposition is by
some accepted as a necessary belief, but by one or more denied to be
a necessary belief, is the validity of the test of necessity thereby
disproved in respect of that particular proposition? Second, if the
validity of the test is disproved in respect of that particular
proposition, does it therefore follow that the test cannot be depended
on in other cases?—does it follow that there are no beliefs universally
accepted as necessary, and in respect of which the test of necessity is
valid? Each of these questions may, I think, be rightly answered in the

In alleging that if a belief is said by some to be necessary, but by
others to be not necessary, the test of necessity is thereby shown
to be no test, Mr. Mill tacitly assumes that all men have powers of
introspection enabling them in all cases to say what consciousness
testifies; whereas a great proportion of men are incapable of correctly
interpreting consciousness in any but its simplest modes, and even
the remainder are liable to mistake for dicta of consciousness what
prove on closer examination not to be its dicta. Take the case of an
arithmetical blunder. {197} A boy adds up a column of figures, and
brings out a wrong total. Again he does it and again errs. His master
asks him to go through the process aloud, and then hears him say “35
and 9 are 46”—an error which he had repeated on each occasion. Now
without discussing the mental act through which we know that 35 and 9
are 44, and through which we recognize the necessity of this relation,
it is clear that the boy’s misinterpretation of consciousness, leading
him tacitly to deny this necessity by asserting that “35 and 9 are
46,” cannot be held to prove that the relation is not necessary. This,
and kindred misjudgments daily made by accountants, merely show that
there is a liability to overlook what are necessary connexions in our
thoughts, and to assume as necessary others which are not. In these and
hosts of cases, men do not distinctly translate into their equivalent
states of consciousness the words they use. This negligence is with
many so habitual, that they are unaware that they have not clearly
represented to themselves the propositions they assert; and are then
apt, quite sincerely though erroneously, to assert that they can think
things which it is really impossible to think.

But supposing it to be true that whenever a particular belief is
alleged to be necessary, the existence of some who profess themselves
able to believe otherwise, proves that this belief is not necessary;
must it be therefore admitted that the test of necessity is invalid?
I think not. Men may mistake for necessary, certain beliefs which are
not necessary; and yet it may remain true that there _are_ necessary
beliefs, and that the necessity of such beliefs is our warrant for
them. Were conclusions thus tested proved to be wrong in a hundred
cases, it would not follow that the test is an invalid one; any more
than it would follow from a hundred errors in the use of a logical
formula, that the logical formula is invalid. If from the premise that
all horned animals ruminate, it were inferred that the rhinoceros,
being a horned animal, ruminates; the error would {198} furnish no
argument against the worth of syllogisms in general—whatever their
worth may be. Daily there are thousands of erroneous deductions which,
by those who draw them, are supposed to be warranted by the data
from which they draw them; but no multiplication of such erroneous
deductions is regarded as proving that there are no deductions truly
drawn, and that the drawing of deductions is illegitimate. In these
cases, as in the case to which they are here paralleled, the only thing
shown is the need for verification of data and criticism of the acts of

“This argument,” says Mr. Mill, referring to the argument of necessity,
“applied to any of the disputed questions of philosophy, is doubly
illegitimate; . . . the very fact that the question is disputed,
disproves the alleged impossibility.” Besides the foregoing replies
to this, there is another. Granting that there have been appeals
illegitimately made to this test—granting that there are many questions
too complex to be settled by it, which men have nevertheless proposed
to settle by it, and have consequently got into controversy; it may
yet be truly asserted that in respect of all, or almost all, questions
legitimately brought to judgment by this test, there is _no_ dispute
about the answer. From the earliest times on record down to our own,
men have not changed their beliefs concerning the truths of number. The
axiom that if equals be added to unequals the sums are unequal, was
held by the Greeks no less than by ourselves, as a direct verdict of
consciousness, from which there is no escape and no appeal. Each of the
propositions of Euclid appears to us absolutely beyond doubt as it did
to them. Each step in each demonstration we accept, as they accepted
it, because we immediately see that the alleged relation is as alleged,
and that it is impossible to conceive it otherwise.


But how are legitimate appeals to the test to be distinguished? The
answer is not difficult to find. Mr. Mill {199} cites the belief
in the antipodes as having been rejected by the Greeks because
inconceivable, but as being held by ourselves to be both conceivable
and true. He has before given this instance, and I have before objected
to it (_Principles of Psychology_, § 428), for the reason that the
states of consciousness involved in the judgment are too complex to
admit of any trustworthy verdict being given. An illustration will
show the difference between a legitimate appeal to the test and an
illegitimate appeal to it. A and B are two lines. How is it decided
that they are equal or not equal? No way is open but that of comparing
the two impressions they make on consciousness. I know them to be
unequal by an immediate act, if the difference is great, or if, though
only moderately different, they are close together; and supposing the
difference is but slight, I decide the question by putting the lines
in apposition when they are movable, or by carrying a movable line
from one to the other if they are fixed. But in any case, I obtain
in consciousness the testimony that the impression produced by the
one line differs from that produced by the other. Of this difference
I can give no further evidence than that I am conscious of it, and
find it impossible, while contemplating the lines, to get rid of
the consciousness. The proposition that the lines are unequal is a
proposition of which the negation is inconceivable. But now suppose it
is asked whether B and C are equal; or whether C and D are equal. No
positive answer is possible. Instead of its being {200} inconceivable
that B is longer than C, or equal to it, or shorter, it is conceivable
that it is any one of the three. Here an appeal to the direct verdict
of consciousness is illegitimate, because on transferring the
attention from B to C, or C to D, the changes in the other elements
of the impressions so entangle the elements to be compared, as to
prevent them from being put in apposition. If the question of relative
length is to be determined, it must be by rectification of the bent
line; and this is done through a series of steps, each one of which
involves an immediate judgment akin to that by which A and B are
compared. Now as here, so in other cases, it is only simple percepts
or concepts respecting the relations of which immediate consciousness
can satisfactorily testify; and as here, so in other cases, it is by
resolution into such simple percepts and concepts, that true judgments
respecting complex percepts and concepts are reached. That things which
are equal to the same thing are equal to one another, is a fact which
can be known by direct comparison of actual or ideal relations, and can
be known in no other way: the proposition is one of which the negation
is inconceivable, and is rightly asserted on that warrant. But that
the square of the hypothenuse of a right-angled triangle equals the
sum of the squares of the other two sides, cannot be known immediately
by comparison of two states of consciousness. Here the truth can be
reached only mediately, through a series of simple judgments respecting
the likenesses or unlikenesses of certain relations: each of which
judgments is essentially of the same kind as that by which the above
axiom is known, and has the same warrant. Thus it becomes apparent
that the fallacious result of the test of necessity which Mr. Mill
instances, is due to a misapplication of the test.

These preliminary explanations have served to make clear the question
at issue. Let us now pass to the essence of it.

       *       *       *       *       *

Metaphysical reasoning is usually vitiated by some covert {201}
_petitio principii_. Either the thing to be proved or the thing to be
disproved, is tacitly assumed to be true in the course of the proof
or disproof. It is thus with the argument of Idealism. Though the
conclusion reached is that Mind and Ideas are the only existences; yet
the steps by which this conclusion is reached, take for granted that
external objects have just the kind of independent existence which is
eventually denied. If that extension which the Idealist contends is
merely an affection of consciousness, has nothing out of consciousness
answering to it; then, in each of his propositions concerning
extension, the word should always mean an affection of consciousness
and nothing more. But if wherever he speaks of distances and dimensions
we write ideas of distances and dimensions, his propositions are
reduced to nonsense. So, too, is it with Scepticism. The resolution
of all knowledge into “impressions” and “ideas,” is effected by an
analysis which assumes at every step an objective reality producing
the impressions and the subjective reality receiving them. The
reasoning becomes impossible if the existence of object and subject
be not admitted at the outset. Agree with the Sceptic’s doubt, and
then propose to revise his argument so that it may harmonize with his
doubt. Of the two alternatives between which he halts, assume, first,
the reality of object and subject. His argument is practicable; whether
valid or not. Now assume that object and subject do not exist. He
cannot stir a step toward his conclusion—nay, he cannot even state his
conclusion; for the word “impression” cannot be translated into thought
without assuming a thing impressing and a thing impressed.

Though Empiricism, as at present understood, is not thus suicidal, it
is open to an analogous criticism on its method, similarly telling
against the validity of its inference. It proposes to account for our
so-called necessary beliefs, as well as all our other beliefs; and to
do this without postulating any one belief as necessary. Bringing {202}
forward abundant evidence that the connexions among our states of
consciousness are determined by our experiences—that two experiences
frequently recurring together in consciousness, become so coherent
that one strongly suggests the other, and that when their joint
recurrence is perpetual and invariable, the connexion between them
becomes indissoluble; it argues that the indissolubility, so produced,
is all that we mean by necessity. And then it seeks to explain each
of our so-called necessary beliefs as thus originated. Now could pure
Empiricism reach this analysis and its subsequent synthesis without
taking any thing for granted, its arguments would be unobjectionable.
But it cannot do this. Examine its phraseology, and there arises the
question, Experiences of _what_? Translate the word into thought,
and it clearly involves something more than states of mind and the
connexions among them. For if it does not, then the hypothesis is that
states of mind are generated by the experiences of states of mind;
and if the inquiry be pursued, this ends with initial states of mind
which are not accounted for—the hypothesis fails. Evidently, there is
tacitly assumed something beyond the mind by which the “experiences”
are produced—something in which exist the objective relations to
which the subjective relations correspond—an external world. Refuse
thus to explain the word “experiences,” and the hypothesis becomes
meaningless. But now, having thus postulated an external reality as
the indispensable foundation of its reasonings, pure Empiricism can
subsequently neither prove nor disprove its postulate. An attempt to
disprove it, or to give it any other meaning than that originally
involved, is suicidal; and an attempt to establish it by inference is
reasoning in a circle. What then are we to say of this proposition
on which Empiricism rests? Is it a necessary belief, or is it not?
If necessary, the hypothesis in its pure form is abandoned. If not
necessary—if not posited {203} _à priori_ as absolutely certain—then
the hypothesis rests on an uncertainty; and the whole fabric of its
argument is unstable. More than this is true. Besides the insecurity
implied by building on a foundation that is confessedly not beyond
question, there is the much greater insecurity implied by raising
proposition upon proposition of which each is confessedly not beyond
question. For to say that there are no necessary truths, is to say
that each successive inference is not necessarily involved in its
premises—is an empirical judgment—a judgment not certainly true. Hence,
applying rigorously its own doctrine, we find that pure Empiricism,
starting from an uncertainty and progressing through a series of
uncertainties, cannot claim much certainty for its conclusions.

Doubtless, it may be replied that any theory of human knowledge
must set out with assumptions—either permanent or provisional; and
that the validity of these assumptions is to be determined by the
results reached through them. But that such assumptions may be made
legitimately, two things are required. In the first place they must
not be multiplied step after step as occasion requires; otherwise
the conclusion reached might as well be assumed at once. And in the
second place, the fact that they _are_ assumptions must not be lost
sight of: the conclusions drawn must not be put forward as though they
have a certainty which the premises have not. Now pure Empiricism, in
common with other theories of knowledge, is open to the criticism, that
it neglects thus avowedly to recognize the nature of those primary
assumptions which it lays down as provisionally valid, if it denies
that they can be necessarily valid. And it is open to the further
criticism, that it goes on at every step in its argument making
assumptions which it neglects to specify as provisional; since they,
too, cannot be known as necessary. Until it has assigned some warrant
for its original datum and for each of its subsequent inferences, or
else has {204} acknowledged them all to be but hypothetical, it may be
stopped either at the outset or at any stage in its argument. Against
every “because” and every “therefore,” an opponent may enter a caveat,
until he is told why it is asserted: contending, as he may, that if
this inference is not necessary he is not bound to accept it; and that
if it is necessary it must be openly declared to be necessary, and some
test must be assigned by which it is distinguished from propositions
that are not necessary.

These considerations will, I think, make it obvious that the first step
in a metaphysical argument, rightly carried on, must be an examination
of propositions for the purpose of ascertaining what character is
common to those which we call unquestionably true, and is implied by
asserting their unquestionable truth. Further, to carry on this inquiry
legitimately, we must restrict our analysis rigorously to states of
consciousness considered in their relations to one another: wholly
ignoring any thing beyond consciousness to which these states and their
relations may be supposed to refer. For if, before we have ascertained
by comparing propositions what is the trait that leads us to class some
of them as certainly true, we avowedly or tacitly take for granted
the existence of something beyond consciousness; then, a particular
proposition is assumed to be certainly true before we have ascertained
what is the distinctive character of the propositions which we call
certainly true, and the analysis is vitiated. If we cannot transcend
consciousness—if, therefore, what we know as truth must be some mental
state, or some combination of mental states; it must be possible for
us to say in what way we distinguish this state or these states. The
definition of truth must be expressible in terms of consciousness;
and, indeed, cannot otherwise be expressed if consciousness cannot be
transcended. Clearly, then, the metaphysician’s first step must be to
shut out from his investigation every thing but what is subjective;
not taking for granted the {205} existence of any thing objective
corresponding to his ideas, until he has ascertained what property of
his ideas it is which he predicates by calling them true. Let us note
the result if he does this.

       *       *       *       *       *

The words of a proposition are the signs of certain states of
consciousness; and the thing alleged by a proposition is the connexion
or disconnexion of the states of consciousness signified. When thinking
is carried on with precision—when the mental states which we call
words, are translated into the mental states they symbolize (which
they very frequently are not)—thinking a proposition consists in the
occurrence together in consciousness of the subject and predicate. “The
bird was brown,” is a proposition which implies the union in thought
of a particular attribute with a group of other attributes. When the
inquirer compares various propositions thus rendered into states of
consciousness, he finds that they differ very greatly in respect of
the facility with which the states of consciousness are connected and
disconnected. The mental state known as _brown_ may be united with
those mental states which make up the figure known as _bird_, without
appreciable effort, or may be separated from them without appreciable
effort: the bird may easily be thought of as black, or green, or
yellow. Contrariwise, such an assertion as “The ice was hot,” is one
to which he finds much difficulty in making his mind respond. The
elements of the proposition cannot be put together in thought without
great resistance. Between those other states of consciousness which
the word _ice_ connotes, and the state of consciousness named _cold_,
there is an extremely strong cohesion—a cohesion measured by the
resistance to be overcome in thinking of the ice as _hot_. Further, he
finds that in many cases the states of consciousness grouped together
cannot be separated at all. The idea of pressure cannot be disconnected
from the idea of something occupying space. Motion cannot be thought
{206} of without an object that moves being at the same time thought
of. And then, besides these connexions in consciousness which remain
absolute under all circumstances, there are others which remain
absolute under special circumstances. Between the elements of those
more vivid states of consciousness which the inquirer distinguishes
as perceptions, he finds that there is a temporarily-indissoluble
cohesion. Though when there arises in him that comparatively faint
state of consciousness which he calls the idea of a book, he can easily
think of the book as red, or brown, or green; yet when he has that much
stronger consciousness which he calls seeing a book, he finds that so
long as there continue certain accompanying states of consciousness
which he calls the conditions to perception, those several states of
consciousness which make up the perception cannot be disunited—he
cannot think of the book as red, or green, or brown; but finds that,
along with a certain figure, there absolutely coheres a certain colour.

Still shutting himself up within these limits, let us suppose the
inquirer to ask himself what he thinks about these various degrees
of cohesion among his states of consciousness—how he names them, and
how he behaves toward them. If there comes, no matter whence, the
proposition—“The bird was brown,” subject and predicate answering
to these words spring up together in consciousness; and if there
is no opposing proposition, he unites the specified and implied
attributes without effort, and believes the proposition. If, however,
the proposition is—“The bird was necessarily brown,” he makes an
experiment like those above described, and finding that he can separate
the attribute of brownness, and can think of the bird as green or
yellow, he does not admit that the bird was necessarily brown. When
such a proposition as “The ice was cold” arises in him, the elements
of the thought behave as before; and so long as no test is applied,
the union of the consciousness of cold with the {207} accompanying
states of consciousness, seems to be of the same nature as the union
between those answering to the words _brown_ and _bird_. But should
the proposition be changed into—“The ice was necessarily cold,”
quite a different result happens from that which happened in the
previous case. The ideas answering to subject and predicate are here
so coherent, that in the absence of careful examination they might
pass as inseparable, and the proposition be accepted. But suppose
the proposition is deliberately tested by trying whether ice can be
thought of as not cold. Great resistance is offered in consciousness
to this. Still, by an effort, he can imagine water to have its
temperature of congelation higher than blood heat; and can so think
of congealed water as hot instead of cold. Now the extremely strong
cohesion of states of consciousness, thus experimentally proved by
the difficulty of separating them, he finds to be what he calls a
strong belief. Once more, in response to the words—“Along with motion
there is something that moves,” he represents to himself a moving
body; and, until he tries an experiment upon it, he may suppose the
elements of the representation to be united in the same way as those
of the representations instanced above. But supposing the proposition
is modified into—“Along with motion there is necessarily something
that moves,” the response made in thought to these words, discloses
the fact that the states of consciousness called up in this case are
indissolubly connected in the way alleged. He discovers this by trying
to conceive the negation of the proposition—by trying to think of
motion as _not_ having along with it something that moves; and his
inability to conceive this negation is the obverse of his inability
to tear asunder the states of consciousness which constitute the
affirmation. Those propositions which survive this strain, are the
propositions he distinguishes as necessary. Whether or not he means any
thing else by this word, he evidently means that in his consciousness
the connexions {208} they predicate are, so far as he can ascertain,
unalterable. The bare fact is that he submits to them because he has
no choice. They rule his thoughts whether he will or not. Leaving out
all questions concerning the origin of these connexions—all theories
concerning their significations, there remains in the inquirer the
consciousness that certain of his states of consciousness are so welded
together that all other links in the chain of consciousness yield
before these give way.

Continuing rigorously to exclude everything beyond consciousness, let
him now ask himself what he means by reasoning? what is the essential
nature of an argument? what is the peculiarity of a conclusion?
Analysis soon shows him that reasoning is the formation of a coherent
series of states of consciousness. He has found that the thoughts
expressed by propositions, vary in the cohesions of their subjects and
predicates; and he finds that at every step in an argument, carefully
carried on, he tests the strengths of all the connexions asserted and
implied. He considers whether the object named really does belong to
the class in which it is included—tries whether he can think of it as
_not_ like the things it is said to be like. He considers whether the
attribute alleged is really possessed by all members of the class—tries
to think of some member of the class that has _not_ the attribute—And
he admits the proposition only on finding, by this criticism, that
there is a greater degree of cohesion in thought between its elements,
than between the elements of the counter-proposition. Thus testing
the strength of each link in the argument, he at length reaches the
conclusion, which he tests in the same way. If he accepts it, he does
so because the argument has established in him an indirect cohesion
between states of consciousness that were not directly coherent,
or not so coherent directly as the argument makes them indirectly.
But he accepts it only supposing that the connexion between the two
states of consciousness {209} composing it, is not resisted by
some stronger counter-connexion. If there happens to be an opposing
argument, of which the component thoughts are felt, when tested, to be
more coherent; or if, in the absence of an opposing argument, there
exists an apposing conclusion, of which the elements have some direct
cohesion greater than that which the proffered argument indirectly
gives; then the conclusion reached by this argument is not admitted.
Thus, a discussion in consciousness proves to be simply a trial of
strength between different connexions in consciousness—a systematized
struggle serving to determine which are the least coherent states
of consciousness. And the result of the struggle is, that the least
coherent states of consciousness separate, while the most coherent
remain together—form a proposition of which the predicate persists in
rising up in the mind along with its subject—constitute one of the
connexions in thought which is distinguished as something known, or as
something believed, according to its strength.

What corollary may the inquirer draw, or rather what corollary must
he draw, on pushing the analysis to its limit? If there are any
indissoluble connexions, he is compelled to accept them. If certain
states of consciousness absolutely cohere in certain ways, he is
obliged to think them in those ways. The proposition is an identical
one. To say that they are necessities of thought is merely another way
of saying that their elements cannot be torn asunder. No reasoning
can give to these absolute cohesions in thought any better warrant;
since all reasoning, being a process of testing cohesions, is itself
carried on by accepting the absolute cohesions; and can, in the last
resort, do nothing more than present some absolute cohesions in
justification of others—an act which unwarrantably assumes in the
absolute cohesions it offers, a greater value than is allowed to the
absolute cohesions it would justify. Here, then, the inquirer comes
down to an {210} ultimate mental uniformity—a universal law of his
thinking. How completely his thought is subordinated to this law,
is shown by the fact that he cannot even represent to himself the
possibility of any other law. To suppose the connexions among his
states of consciousness to be otherwise determined, is to suppose a
smaller force overcoming a greater—a proposition which may be expressed
in words but cannot be rendered into ideas. No matter what he calls
these indestructible relations, no matter what he supposes to be their
meanings, he is completely fettered by them. Their indestructibility
is the proof to him that his consciousness is imprisoned within them;
and supposing any of them to be in some way destroyed, he perceives
that indestructibility would still be the distinctive character of the
bounds that remained—the test of those which he must continue to think.

These results the inquirer arrives at without assuming any other
existence than that of his own consciousness. They postulate nothing
about mind or matter, subject or object. They leave wholly untouched
the questions—what does consciousness imply? and how is thought
generated? There is not involved in the analysis any hypothesis
respecting the origin of these relations between thoughts—how there
come to be feeble cohesions, strong cohesions, and absolute cohesions.
Whatever some of the terms used may have seemed to connote, it will be
found, on examining each step, that nothing is essentially involved
beyond states of mind and the connexions among them, which are
themselves other states of mind. Thus far, the argument is not vitiated
by any _petitio principii_.

Should the inquirer enter upon the question, How are these facts to
be explained? he must consider how any further investigation is to
be conducted, and what is the possible degree of validity of its
conclusions. Remembering that he cannot transcend consciousness, he
sees that anything in the shape of an interpretation must be {211}
subordinate to the laws of consciousness. Every hypothesis he
entertains in trying to explain himself to himself, being an hypothesis
which can be dealt with by him only in terms of his mental states, it
follows that any process of explanation must itself be carried on by
testing the cohesions among mental states, and accepting the absolute
cohesions. His conclusions, therefore, reached only by repeated
recognitions of this test of absolute cohesion, can never have any
higher validity than this test. It matters not what name he gives to a
conclusion—whether he calls it a belief, a theory, a fact, or a truth.
These words can be themselves only names for certain relations among
his states of consciousness. Any secondary meanings which he ascribes
to them must also be meanings expressed in terms of consciousness, and
therefore subordinate to the laws of consciousness. Hence he has no
appeal from this ultimate dictum; and seeing this, he sees that the
only possible further achievement is the reconciliation of the dicta
of consciousness with one another—the bringing all other dicta of
consciousness into harmony with this ultimate dictum.

       *       *       *       *       *

Here, then, the inquirer discovers a warrant higher than that
which any argument can give, for asserting an objective existence.
Mysterious as seems the consciousness of something which is yet out of
consciousness, he finds that he alleges the reality of this something
in virtue of the ultimate law—he is obliged to think it. There is
an indissoluble cohesion between each of those vivid and definite
states of consciousness which he calls a sensation, and an indefinable
consciousness which stands for a mode of being beyond sensation, and
separate from himself. When grasping his fork and putting food into
his mouth, he is wholly unable to expel from his mind the notion of
something which resists the force he is conscious of using; and he
cannot suppress the nascent thought of an independent existence keeping
apart his tongue and palate, and giving {212} him that sensation
of taste which he is unable to generate in consciousness by his own
activity. Though self-criticism shows him that he cannot know what
this is which lies outside of him; and though he may infer that not
being able to say what it is, it is a fiction; he discovers that such
self-criticism utterly fails to extinguish the consciousness of it as
a reality. Any conclusion into which he argues himself, that there
is no objective existence connected with these subjective states,
proves to be a mere verbal conclusion to which his thoughts will not
respond. The relation survives every effort to destroy it—is proved
by experiment, repeated no matter how often, to be one of which the
negation is inconceivable; and therefore one having supreme authority.
In vain he endeavours to give it any greater authority by reasoning;
for whichever of the two alternatives he sets out with, leaves him at
the end just where he started. If, knowing nothing more than his own
states of consciousness, he declines to acknowledge any thing beyond
consciousness until it is proved, he may go on reasoning for ever
without getting any further; since the perpetual elaboration of states
of consciousness out of states of consciousness, can never produce
anything more than states of consciousness. If, contrariwise, he
postulates external existence, and considers it as merely postulated,
then the whole fabric of his argument, standing upon this postulate,
has no greater validity than the postulate gives it, _minus_ the
possible invalidity of the argument itself. The case must not be
confounded with those cases in which an hypothesis, or provisional
assumption, is eventually proved true by its agreement with facts; for
in these cases the facts with which it is found to agree, are facts
known in some other way than through the hypothesis: a calculated
eclipse of the moon serves as a verification of the hypothesis of
gravitation, because its occurrence is observable without taking for
granted the hypothesis of gravitation. But when the external world
{213} is postulated, and it is supposed that the validity of the
postulate may be shown by the explanation of mental phenomena which
it furnishes, the vice is, that the process of verification is itself
possible only by assuming the thing to be proved.

But now, recognizing the indissoluble cohesion between the
consciousness of _self_ and an unknown _not-self_, as constituting a
dictum of consciousness which he is both compelled to accept and is
justified by analysis in accepting, it is competent for the inquirer
to consider whether, setting out with this dictum, he can base on
it a satisfactory explanation of what he calls knowledge. He finds
such an explanation possible. The hypothesis that the more or less
coherent relations among his states of consciousness, are generated
by experience of the more or less constant relations in something
beyond his consciousness, furnishes him with solutions of numerous
facts of consciousness: not, however, of all, if he assumes that
this adjustment of inner to outer relations has resulted from his
own experiences alone. Nevertheless, if he allows himself to suppose
that this moulding of thoughts into correspondence with things, has
been going on through countless preceding generations; and that the
effects of experiences have been inherited in the shape of modified
organic structures; then he is able to interpret all the phenomena. It
becomes possible to understand how these persistent cohesions among
states of consciousness, are themselves the products of often-repeated
experiences; and that even what are known as “forms of thought,”
are but the absolute internal uniformities generated by infinite
repetitions of absolute external uniformities. It becomes possible also
to understand how, in the course of organizing of these multiplying
and widening experiences, there may arise partially-wrong connexions
in thought, answering to limited converse with things; and that these
connexions in thought, temporarily taken for indissoluble ones, may
afterwards be made dissoluble by presentation {214} of external
relations at variance with them. But even when this occurs, it can
afford no ground for questioning the test of indissolubility; since the
process by which some connexion previously accepted as indissoluble,
is broken, is simply the establishment of some antagonistic connexion,
which proves, on a trial of strength, to be the stronger—which remains
indissoluble when pitted against the other, while the other gives way.
And this leaves the test just where it was; showing only that there is
a liability to error as to what _are_ indissoluble connexions. From
the very beginning, therefore, to the very end of the explanation,
even down to the criticism of its conclusions and the discovery of its
errors, the validity of this test must be postulated. Whence it is
manifest, as before said, that the whole business of explanation can
be nothing more than that of bringing all other dicta of consciousness
into harmony with this ultimate dictum.

       *       *       *       *       *

To the positive justification of a proposition, may be added that
negative justification which is derived from the untenability of the
counter-proposition. When describing the attitude of pure Empiricism,
some indications that its counter-proposition is untenable were given;
but it will be well here to state, more specifically, the fundamental
objections to which it is open.

If the ultimate test of truth is not that here alleged, then what
is the ultimate test of truth? And if there is no ultimate test of
truth, then what is the warrant for accepting certain propositions
and rejecting others? An opponent who denies the validity of this
test, may legitimately decline to furnish any test himself, so long
as he does not affirm any thing to be true; but if he affirms some
things to be true and others to be not true, his warrant for doing
so may fairly be demanded. Let us glance at the possible response to
the demand. If asked why he holds it to be unquestionably true that
two quantities which differ {215} in unequal degrees from a third
quantity are themselves unequal, two replies seem open to him: he may
say that this is an ultimate fact of consciousness, or that it is an
induction from personal experiences. The reply that it is an ultimate
fact of consciousness, raises the question, How is an ultimate fact
of consciousness distinguished? All beliefs, all conclusions, all
imaginations even, are facts of consciousness; and if some are to
be accepted as beyond question because ultimate, while others are
not to be accepted as beyond question because not ultimate, there
comes the inevitable inquiry respecting the test of ultimacy. On the
other hand, the reply that this truth is known only by induction from
personal experiences, suggests the query—On what warrant are personal
experiences asserted? The testimony of experience is given only through
memory; and its worth depends wholly on the trustworthiness of memory.
Is it, then, that the trustworthiness of memory is less open to doubt
than the immediate consciousness that two quantities must be unequal if
they differ from a third quantity in unequal degrees? This can scarcely
be alleged. Memory is notoriously uncertain. We sometimes suppose
ourselves to have said things which it turns out we did not say; and
we often forget seeing things which it is proved we did see. We speak
of many passages of our lives as seeming like dreams; and can vaguely
imagine the whole past to be an illusion. We can go much further toward
conceiving that our recollections do not answer to any actualities,
than we can go toward conceiving the non-existence of Space. But even
supposing the deliverances of memory to be above criticism, the most
that can be said for the experiences to which memory testifies, is that
we are obliged to think we have had them—cannot conceive the negation
of the proposition that we have had them; and to say this is to assign
the warrant which is repudiated.

A further counter-criticism may be made. Throughout the argument
of pure Empiricism, it is tacitly assumed that {216} there may be
a Philosophy in which nothing is asserted but what is proved. It
proposes to admit into the coherent fabric of its conclusions, no
conclusion that is incapable of being established by evidence; and
it thus takes for granted that not only may all derivative truths be
proved, but also that proof may be given of the truths from which
they are derived, down to the very deepest. The result of thus
refusing to recognize some fundamental unproved truth, is simply to
leave its fabric of conclusions without a base. The giving proof of
any special proposition, is the assimilation of it to some class of
propositions known to be true. If any doubt arises respecting the
general proposition which is cited in justification of this special
proposition, the course is to show that this general proposition
is deducible from a proposition or propositions of still greater
generality; and if pressed for proof of each such still more general
proposition, the only resource is to repeat the process. Is this
process endless? If so, nothing can be proved—the whole series of
propositions depends on some unassignable proposition. Has the
process an end? If so, there must eventually be reached a widest
proposition—one which cannot be justified by showing that it is
included by any wider—one which cannot be proved. Or to put the
argument otherwise: Every inference depends on premises; every premise,
if it admits of proof, depends on other premises; and if the proof of
the proof be continually demanded, it must either end in an unproved
premise, or in the acknowledgment that there cannot be reached any
premise on which the entire series of proofs depends. Hence Philosophy,
if it does not avowedly stand on some datum underlying reason, must
acknowledge that it has nothing on which to stand.

       *       *       *       *       *

The expression of divergence from Mr. Mill on this fundamental
question, I have undertaken with reluctance, only on finding it
needful, both on personal and on general {217} grounds, that his
statements and arguments should be met. For two reasons, especially,
I regret having thus to contend against the doctrine of one whose
agreement I should value more than that of any other thinker. In the
first place, the difference is, I believe, superficial rather than
substantial; for it is in the interests of the Experience-Hypothesis
that Mr. Mill opposes the alleged criterion of truth; while it is as
harmonizing with the Experience-Hypothesis, and reconciling it with
all the facts, that I defend this criterion. In the second place, this
lengthened exposition of a single point of difference, unaccompanied
by an exposition of the numerous points of concurrence, unavoidably
produces an appearance of dissent very far greater than that which
exists. Mr. Mill, however, whose unswerving allegiance to truth is on
all occasions so conspicuously displayed, will fully recognize the
justification for this utterance of disagreement on a matter of such
profound importance, philosophically considered; and will not require
any apology for the entire freedom with which I have criticised his
views while seeking to substantiate my own.



[_First published in_ The Fortnightly Review _for November and December

When made by a competent reader, an objection usually implies one
of two things. Either the statement to which he demurs is wholly or
partially untrue; or, if true, it is presented in such a way as to
permit misapprehension. A need for some change or addition is in any
case shown.

Not recognizing the errors alleged, but thinking rather that
misapprehensions cause the dissent of those who have attacked the
metaphysico-theological doctrines held by me, I propose here to meet,
by explanations and arguments, the chief objections urged: partly with
the view of justifying these doctrines, and partly with the view of
guarding against the wrong interpretations which it appears are apt to
be made.

The pages of a periodical intended for general reading may be thought
scarcely fitted for the treatment of these highly abstract questions.
There is now, however, so considerable a class interested in them,
and they are so deeply involved with the great changes of opinion in
progress, that I have ventured to hope for readers outside the circle
of those who occupy themselves with philosophy.

Of course the criticisms to be noticed I have selected, {219} either
because of their intrinsic force, or because they come from men whose
positions or reputations give them weight. To meet more than a few of
my opponents is out of the question.

       *       *       *       *       *

Let me begin with a criticism contained in the sermon preached by the
Rev. Principal Caird before the British Association, on the occasion
of its meeting in Edinburgh, in August, 1871. Expressed with a
courtesy which, happily, is now less rare than of yore in theological
controversy, Dr. Caird’s objection might, I think, be admitted without
involving essential change in the conclusion demurred to; while it
might be shown to tell with greater force against the conclusions of
thinkers classed as orthodox, Sir W. Hamilton and Dean Mansel, than
against my own. Describing this as set forth by me, Dr. Caird says:―

 “His thesis is that the provinces of science and religion are
 distinguished from each other as the known from the unknown and
 unknowable. This thesis is maintained mainly on a critical examination
 of the nature of human intelligence, in which the writer adopts and
 carries to its extreme logical results the doctrine of the relativity
 of human knowledge which, propounded by Kant, has been reproduced with
 special application to theology by a famous school of philosophers
 in this country. From the very nature of human intelligence, it
 is attempted to be shown that it can only know what is finite and
 relative, and that therefore the absolute and infinite the human mind
 is, by an inherent and insuperable disability, debarred from knowing.
 . . . . May it not be asked, for one thing, whether in the assertion,
 as the result of an examination of the human intellect, that it
 is incapable of knowing what lies beyond the finite, there is not
 involved an obvious self-contradiction? The examination of the mind
 can be conducted only by the mind, and if the instrument be, as is
 alleged, limited and defective, the result of the inquiry must partake
 of that defectiveness. Again, does not the knowledge of a limit imply
 already the power to transcend it? In affirming that human science
 is incapable of crossing the bounds of the finite world, is it not a
 necessary presupposition that you who so affirm have crossed these

That this objection is one I am not disinclined to recognize, will
be inferred when I state that it is one I have myself raised. While
preparing the second edition of the {220} _Principles of Psychology_,
I found, among my memoranda, a note which still bore the wafers by
which it had been attached to the original manuscript (unless, indeed,
it had been transferred from the MS. of _First Principles_, which its
allusion seems to imply). It was this:―

 “I may here remark in passing that the several reasonings,
 including the one above quoted, by which Sir William Hamilton would
 demonstrate the pure relativity of our knowledge—reasonings which
 clearly establish many important truths, and with which in the
 main I agree—are yet capable of being turned against himself, when
 he definitely concludes that it is impossible for us to know the
 absolute. For to positively assert that the absolute cannot be known,
 is in a certain sense to assert a _knowledge_ of it—is to _know_ it
 as _unknowable_. To affirm that human intelligence is confined to the
 conditioned, is to put an _absolute limit_ to human intelligence,
 and implies _absolute knowledge_. It seems to me that the ‘learned
 ignorance’ with which philosophy ends, must be carried a step further;
 and instead of positively saying that the absolute is unknowable, we
 must say that we cannot tell whether it is knowable or not.”

Why I omitted this note I cannot now remember. Possibly it was because
re-consideration disclosed a reply to the contained objection. For
while it is true that the intellect cannot prove its own competence,
since it must postulate its own competence in the course of the
proof, and so beg the question; yet it does not follow that it cannot
prove its own incompetence respecting questions of certain kinds. Its
inability in respect of such questions has two conceivable causes.
It may be that the deliverances of Reason in general are invalid, in
which case the incompetence of Reason to solve questions of a certain
class is implied by its general incompetence; or it may be that the
deliverances of Reason, valid within a certain range, themselves end
in the conclusion that Reason is incapable beyond that range. So that
while there can be no proof of competence, because competence is
postulated in each step of the demonstration, there may be proof of
incompetence either (1) if the successive deliverances forming the
steps of the demonstration, by severally evolving contradictions, show
their untrustworthiness, or (2) if, being trustworthy, {221} they
lead to the result that on certain questions Reason cannot give any

Reason leads both inductively and deductively to the conclusion
that the sphere of Reason is limited. Inductively, this conclusion
expresses the result of countless futile attempts to transcend
this sphere—attempts to understand Matter, Motion, Space, Time,
Force, in their ultimate natures—attempts which, bringing us always
to alternative impossibilities of thought, warrant the inference
that such attempts will continue to fail, as they have hitherto
failed. Deductively, this conclusion expresses the result of mental
analysis, which shows us that the product of thought is in all cases
a relation, identified as such or such; that the process of thought
is the identification and classing of relations; that therefore Being
in itself, out of relation, is unthinkable, as not admitting of
being brought within the form of thought. That is to say, deduction
explains that failure of Reason established as an induction from many
experiments. And to call in question the ability of Reason to give this
verdict against itself in respect of these transcendent problems, is to
call in question its ability to draw valid conclusions from premises;
which is to assert a general incompetence necessarily inclusive of the
special incompetence.

       *       *       *       *       *

Closely connected with the foregoing, is a criticism from Dr. Mansel,
on which I may here make some comments. In a note to his _Philosophy of
the Conditioned_ p. 39, he says:―

 “Mr. Herbert Spencer, in his work on _First Principles_, endeavours
 to press Sir W. Hamilton into the service of Pantheism and Positivism
 together” [a somewhat strange assertion, by the way, considering that
 I reject them both], “by adopting the negative portion only of his
 philosophy—in which, in common with many other writers, he declares
 the absolute to be inconceivable by the mere intellect,—and rejecting
 the positive portions, in which he most emphatically maintains that
 the belief in a personal God is imperatively demanded by the facts
 of our moral and emotional consciousness. . . . . Sir W. Hamilton’s
 fundamental principle is, that consciousness {222} must be accepted
 entire, and that the moral and religious feelings, which are the
 primary source of our belief in a personal God, are in no way
 invalidated by the merely negative inferences which have deluded men
 into the assumption of an impersonal absolute. . . . . Mr. Spencer, on
 the other hand, takes these negative inferences as the only basis of
 religion, and abandons Hamilton’s great principle of the distinction
 between knowledge and belief.”

Putting these statements in the order most convenient for discussion, I
will deal first with the last of them. Instead of saying what he does,
Dr. Mansel should have said that I decline to follow Sir W. Hamilton
in confounding two distinct, and indeed radically-opposed, meanings
of the word _belief_. This word “is habitually applied to dicta of
consciousness for which no proof can be assigned: both those which
are unprovable because they underlie all proof, and those which are
unprovable because of the absence of evidence.”[24] In the pages of the
_Fortnightly Review_ for July, 1865, I exhibited this distinction as

 “We commonly say we ‘believe’ a thing for which we can assign some
 preponderating evidence, or concerning which we have received some
 indefinable impression. We _believe_ that the next House of Commons
 will not abolish Church-rates; or we _believe_ that a person on
 whose face we look is good-natured. That is, when we can give
 confessedly-inadequate proofs, or no proofs at all, for the things
 we think, we call them ‘beliefs.’ And it is the peculiarity of these
 beliefs, as contrasted with cognitions, that their connexions with
 antecedent states of consciousness may be easily severed, instead of
 being difficult to sever. But unhappily, the word ‘belief’ is also
 applied to each of those temporarily or permanently indissoluble
 connexions in consciousness, for the acceptance of which the only
 warrant is that it cannot be got rid of. Saying that I feel a pain,
 or hear a sound, or see one line to be longer than another, is saying
 that there has occurred in me a certain change of state; and it is
 impossible for me to give a stronger evidence of this fact than that
 it is present to my mind. . . . . ‘Belief’ having, as above pointed
 out, become the name of an impression for which we can give only a
 confessedly-inadequate reason, or no reason at all; it happens that
 when pushed hard respecting the warrant for any ultimate dictum of
 consciousness, we say, in the absence of all assignable reason, that
 we _believe_ it. Thus the two opposite poles of knowledge go under the
 same name; and by the reverse connotations of this name, as used for
 the most coherent and least coherent relations of thought, profound
 misconceptions have been generated.”

Now that the belief which the moral and religious {223} feelings are
said to yield of a personal God, is not one of the beliefs which are
unprovable because they underlie all proof, is obvious. It needs but to
remember that in works on Natural Theology, the existence of a personal
God is _inferred_ from these moral and religious feelings, to show that
it is not contained in these feelings themselves, or joined with them
as an inseparable intuition. It is not a belief like the beliefs which
I now have that this is daylight, and that there is open space before
me—beliefs which cannot be proved because they are of equal simplicity
with, and of no less certainty than, each step in a demonstration. Were
it a belief of this most certain kind, argument would be superfluous:
all races of men and every individual would have the belief in an
inexpugnable form. Hence it is manifest that, confusing the two very
different states of consciousness called beliefs, Sir W. Hamilton
ascribes to the second a certainty that belongs only to the first.

Again, neither Sir W. Hamilton nor Dr. Mansel has enabled us to
distinguish those “facts of our moral and emotional consciousness”
which imperatively demand the belief in a personal God, from those
facts of our (or of men’s) “moral and emotional consciousness” which,
in those having them, imperatively demand beliefs that Sir W. Hamilton
would regard as untrue. A New Zealand chief, discovering his wife
in an infidelity, killed the man; the wife then killed herself that
she might join her lover in the other world; and the chief thereupon
killed himself that he might go after them to defeat this intention.
These two acts of suicide furnish tolerably strong evidence that these
New Zealanders believed in another world to which, they could go at
will, and fulfil their desires as they did here. If they were asked
the justification for this belief, and if the arguments by which they
sought to establish it were not admitted, they might still fall back
on emotional {224} consciousness as yielding them an unshakeable
foundation for it. I do not see why a Fiji Islander, adopting the
Hamiltonian argument, should not justify by it his conviction that
after being buried alive, his life in the other world, forthwith
commencing at the age he has reached in this, will similarly supply
him with the joys of conquest and the gratifications of cannibalism.
That he has a conviction to this effect stronger than the religious
convictions current among civilized people, is proved by the fact that
he goes to be buried alive quite willingly. And as we may presume that
his conviction is not the outcome of a demonstration, it must be the
outcome of some state of feeling—some “emotional consciousness.” Why,
then, should he not assign the “facts” of his “emotional consciousness”
as “imperatively demanding” this belief? Manifestly, this principle
that “consciousness must be accepted entire,” either obliges us to
accept as true the superstitions of all mankind, or else obliges us to
say that the consciousness of a certain limited class of cultivated
people is alone meant. If things are to be believed simply because
the facts of emotional consciousness imperatively demand the beliefs,
I do not see why the actual existence of a ghost in a house, is not
inevitably implied by the intense fear of it that is aroused in the
child or the servant.

Lastly, and chiefly, I have to deal with Dr. Mansel’s statement that
“Mr. Spencer, on the other hand, takes these negative inferences as
the only basis of religion.” This statement is exactly the reverse
of the truth; since I have contended, against Hamilton and against
him, that the consciousness of that which is manifested to us through
phenomena is _positive_, and not _negative_, as they allege, and that
this positive consciousness supplies an indestructible basis for the
religious sentiment (_First Principles_, § 26). Instead of giving here
passages to show this, I may fitly quote the statement and opinion of a
{225} foreign theologian. M. le pasteur Grotz, of the Reformed Church
at Nismes, writes thus:―

 “La science serait-elle done par nature ennemie de la religion? pour
 être religieux, faut-il proscrire la science?—C’est la science,
 la science expérimentale qui va maintenant parler en faveur de la
 religion; c’est elle qui, par la bouche de l’un des penseurs . . . de
 notre époque, M. Herbert Spencer, va répondre à la fois à M. Vacherot
 et à M. Comte.”

       *       *       *       *       *

 “Ici, M. Spencer discute la théorie de l’_inconditionné_; entendez
 par ce mot: Dieu. Le philosophie écossais, Hamilton, et son disciple,
 M. Mansel, disent comme nos positivistes français: ‘Nous ne pouvons
 affirmer l’existence positive de quoi que ce soit au delà des
 phénomènes.’ Seulement, Hamilton et son disciple se séparent de nos
 compatriotes en faisant intervenir une ‘révélation merveilleuse’ qui
 nous fait croire à l’existence de l’inconditionné, et grâce à cette
 révélation vraiment merveilleuse, toute l’orthodoxie revient. Est-il
 vrai que nous ne puissions rien affirmer au delà des phénomènes? M.
 Spencer déclare qu’il y a dans cette assertion une grave erreur. Le
 côté logique, dit-il fort justement, n’est pas le seul; il y a aussi
 le côté psychologique, et, selon nous, il prouve que l’existence
 positive de l’absolu est une donnée nécessaire de la conscience.”

 “Là est la base de l’accord entre la religion et la science. Dans un
 chapitre . . . . intitulé _Réconciliation_, M. Spencer etablit et
 développe cet accord sur son véritable terrain.”

       *       *       *       *       *

 “M. Spencer, en restant sur le terrain de la logique et de la
 psychologie, et sans recourir à une intervention surnaturelle, a
 établi la legitimité, la nécessité et l’eternelle durée du sentiment
 religieux et de la religion.”[25]

I turn next to what has been said by Dr. Shadworth H. Hodgson, in his
essay on “The Future of Metaphysic,” published in the _Contemporary
Review_ for November, 1872. Remarking only, with respect to the
agreements he expresses in certain views of mine, that I value them
as coming from a thinker of subtlety and independence, I will confine
myself here to his disagreements. Dr. Hodgson, before giving his own
view, briefly describes and criticizes the views of Hegel and Comte,
with both of whom he partly agrees and partly disagrees, and then {226}
proceeds to criticize the view set forth by me. After a preliminary
brief statement of my position, to the wording of which I demur, he
goes on to say:―

 “In his _First Principles_, Part I, second ed., there is a chapter
 headed ‘Ultimate Scientific Ideas,’ in which he enumerates six such
 ideas or groups of ideas, and attempts to show that they are entirely
 incomprehensible. The six are:—1. Space and Time. 2. Matter. 3. Rest
 and Motion. 4. Force. 5. Consciousness. 6. The Soul, or the Ego. Now
 to enter at length into all of these would be an undertaking too large
 for the present occasion; but I will take the first of the six, and
 endeavour to show in its case the entire untenability of Mr. Spencer’s
 view; and since the same arguments may be employed against the rest, I
 shall be content that my case against them should be held to fail if
 my case should fail in respect to Space and Time.”

I willingly join issue with Dr. Hodgson on these terms; and proceed
to examine, one by one, the several arguments he uses to show the
invalidity of my conclusions. Following his criticisms in the order
he has chosen, I begin with the sentence following that which I have
just quoted. The first part of it runs thus:—“The metaphysical view of
Space and Time is, that they are elements in all phenomena, whether the
phenomena are presentations or representations.”

Whether, by “the metaphysical view,” is here meant the view of Kant,
whether it means Dr. Hodgson’s own view, or whether the expression has
a more general meaning, I have simply to reply that the metaphysical
view is incorrect. Dealing with the Kantian version of this doctrine,
that Space is a form of intuition, I have pointed out that only with
certain classes of phenomena is Space united indissolubly; that Kant
habitually considers phenomena belonging to the visual and tactual
groups, with which the consciousness of space is inseparably joined,
and overlooks groups with which it is not inseparably joined. Though
in the adult, perception of sound has certain space-implications,
mostly, if not wholly, acquired by individual experience; and though it
would seem from the instructive experiments of Mr. Spalding, that in
creatures born with nervous systems much more organized than our own
are at birth, {227} there is some innate perception of the side from
which a sound comes; yet it is demonstrable that the space-implications
of sound are not originally given with the sensation as its form
of intuition. Bearing in mind the Kantian doctrine, that Space is
the form of sensuous intuitions not only as _presented_ but also as
_represented_, let us examine critically our musical ideas. As I have
elsewhere suggested to the reader―

 “Let him observe what happens when some melody takes possession of
 his imagination. Its tones and cadences go on repeating themselves
 apart from any space-consciousness—they are not localized. He may or
 may not be reminded of the place where he heard them—this association
 is incidental only. Having observed this, he will see that such
 space-implications as sounds have, are learnt in the course of
 individual experience, and are not given with the sounds themselves.
 Indeed, if we refer to the Kantian definition of form, we get a simple
 and conclusive proof of this. Kant says form is ‘that which effects
 that the content of the phænomenon can be arranged under certain
 relations.’ How then can the content of the phenomenon we call sound
 be arranged? Its parts can be arranged in order of sequence—that is,
 in Time. But there is no possibility of arranging its parts in order
 of coexistence—that is, in Space. And it is just the same with odour.
 Whoever thinks that sound and odour have Space for their form of
 intuition, may convince himself to the contrary by trying to find the
 right and left sides of a sound, or to imagine an odour turned the
 other way upwards.”—_Principles of Psychology_, § 399.—Note.

As I thus dissent, not I think without good reason, from “the
metaphysical view of Space and Time” as “elements in all phenomena,”
it will naturally be expected that I dissent from the first criticism
which Dr. Hodgson proceeds to deduce from it. Dealing first with the
arguments I have used to show the incomprehensibility of Space and
Time, if we consider them as objective, and stating in other words the
conclusion I draw, that “as Space and Time cannot be either nonentities
nor the attributes of entities, we have no choice but to consider them
as entities.” Dr. Hodgson continues:―

  “So far good. Secondly, he argues that they cannot be represented
 in thought as such real existences, because ‘to be conceived at
 all, a thing must be conceived as having attributes.’ Now here the
 metaphysical doctrine enables us to conceive them as real existences,
 and rebuts the argument for {228} their inconceivability; for the
 other element, the material element, the feeling or quality occupying
 Space and Time stands in the place and performs the function of the
 required attributes, composing together with the space and time which
 is occupied the empirical phenomena of perception. So far as this
 argument of Mr. Spencer goes, then, we are entitled to say that his
 case for the inconceivability of Space and Time as real existences is
 not made out.”

Whether the fault is in me or not I cannot say, but I fail to see
that my argument is thus rebutted. On the contrary, it appears to me
substantially conceded. What kind of entity is that which can exist
only when occupied by something else? Dr. Hodgson’s own argument is
a tacit assertion that Space _by itself_ cannot be conceived as an
existence; and this is all that I have alleged.

Dr. Hodgson deals next with the further argument, familiar to all
readers, which I have added as showing the insurmountable difficulty
in the way of conceiving Space and Time as objective entities; namely,
that “all entities which we actually know as such are limited. . . .
But of Space and Time we cannot assert either limitation, or the
absence of limitation.” Without quoting at length the reasons Dr.
Hodgson gives for distinguishing between Space as _per_ceived and Space
as _con_ceived, it will suffice if I quote his own statement of the
result to which they bring him: “So that Space and Time as perceived
are not finite, but infinite, as conceived are not infinite, but

Most readers will, I think, be startled by the assertion that
conception is less extensive in range than perception; but, without
dwelling on this, I will content myself by asking in what case Space
is perceived as infinite? Surely Dr. Hodgson does not mean to say that
he can perceive the whole surrounding Space at once—that the Space
behind is united in perception with the Space in front. Yet this is
the necessary implication of his words. Taking his statement less
literally, however, and not dwelling on the fact that in perception
Space is habitually bounded by objects more or less distant, let
us test his {229} assertion under the most favourable conditions.
Supposing the eye directed upwards towards a clear sky; is not the
space then perceived, laterally limited? The visual area, restricted
by the visual apertures, cannot include in perception even 180° from
side to side, and is still more confined in a direction at right angles
to this. Even in the third direction, to which alone Dr. Hodgson
evidently refers, it cannot properly be said that it is infinite in
perception. Look at a position in the sky a thousand miles off. Now
look at a position a million miles off. What is the difference in
perception? Nothing. How then can an infinite distance be perceived
when these immensely-unlike finite distances cannot be perceived as
differing from one another, or from an infinite distance? Dr. Hodgson
has used the wrong word. Instead of saying that Space as perceived is
infinite, he should have said that, in perception, Space is finite in
two dimensions, and becomes _indefinite_ in the third when this becomes

I now come to the paragraph beginning “Mr. Spencer then turns to
the second or subjective hypothesis, that of Kant.” This paragraph
is somewhat difficult to deal with, because in it my reasoning is
criticized both from the Kantian point of view and from Dr. Hodgson’s
own point of view. Dissenting from Kant’s view, Dr. Hodgson says, “I
hold that both Space and Time and Feeling, or the material element, are
equally and alike subjective, equally and alike objective.” As I cannot
understand this, I am unable to deal with those arguments against me
which Dr. Hodgson bases upon it, and must limit myself to that which he
urges on behalf of Kant. He says:―

  “But I think that Mr. Spencer’s representation of Kant’s view is
 very incorrect; he seems to be misled by the large term non-ego. Kant
 held that Space and Time were _in their origin_ subjective, but when
 applied to the non-ego resulted in phenomena, and were the formal
 element in those phenomena, among which some were phenomena of the
 internal sense or ego, others of the external sense or non-ego. The
 non-ego to which the forms of Space and Time did not apply and did not
 belong, was the Ding-an-sich, not the {230} phenomenal non-ego. Hence
 the objective existence of Space and Time in phenomena, but not in the
 Ding-an-sich, is a consistent and necessary consequence of Kant’s view
 of their subjective origin.”

If I have misunderstood Kant, as thus alleged, then my comment must be
that I credited him with an hypothesis less objectionable than that
which he held. I supposed his view to be that Space, as a form of
intuition belonging to the _ego_, is imposed by it on the _non-ego_
(by which I understood the thing in itself) in the act of intuition.
But now the Kantian doctrine is said to be that Space, originating in
the _ego_, when applied to the _non-ego_, results in phenomena (the
_non-ego_ meant being, in that case, necessarily the Ding-an-sich, or
thing in itself); and that the phenomena so resulting become objective
existences along with the Space given to them by the subject. The
subject having imposed Space as a form on the primordial object,
or thing in itself, and so created phenomena, this Space thereupon
becomes an objective existence, independent of both the subject and the
original thing in itself! To Dr. Hodgson this may seem a more tenable
position than that which I ascribed to Kant; but to me it seems only a
multiplication of inconceivabilities. I am content to leave it as it
stands: not feeling my reasons for rejecting the Kantian hypothesis
much weakened.[26]

The remaining reply which Dr. Hodgson makes runs thus:―

  “But Mr. Spencer has a second argument to prove this
 inconceivability. It is this:—‘If Space and Time are forms of
 thought, they can never be {231} thought of; since it is impossible
 for anything to be at once the _form_ of thought and the _matter_ of
 thought.’ . . . . An instance will show the fallacy best. Syllogism is
 usually held to be a form of thought. Would it be any argument for the
 inconceivability of syllogisms to say, they cannot be at once the form
 and the matter of thought? Can we not syllogize about syllogism? Or,
 more plainly still,—no dog can bite himself, for it is impossible to
 be at once the thing that bites and the thing that is bitten.”

Had Dr. Hodgson quoted the whole of the passage from which he takes
the above sentence; or had he considered it in conjunction with the
Kantian doctrine to which it refers (namely, that Space survives in
consciousness when all contents are expelled, which implies that
then Space is the thing with which consciousness is occupied, or the
_object_ of consciousness), he would have seen that his reply has none
of the cogency he supposes. If, taking his first illustration, he will
ask himself whether it is possible to “syllogize about syllogism,” when
syllogism has no content whatever, symbolic or other—has nonentity to
serve for major, nonentity for minor, and nonentity for conclusion;
he will, I think, see that syllogism, considered as surviving terms
of every kind, cannot be syllogized about: the “pure form” of reason
(supposing it to be syllogism, which it is not) if absolutely
discharged of all it contains, cannot be represented in thought, and
therefore cannot be reasoned about. Following Dr. Hodgson to his second
illustration, I must express my surprise that a metaphysician of his
acuteness should have used it. For an illustration to have any value,
the relation between the terms of the analogous case {232} must have
some parallelism to the relation between the terms of the case with
which it is compared. Does Dr. Hodgson really think that the relation
between a dog and the part of himself which he bites, is like the
relation between _matter_ and _form_? Suppose the dog bites his tail.
Now the dog, as biting, stands, according to Dr. Hodgson, for the form
as the containing mental faculty; and the tail, as bitten, stands for
this mental faculty as contained. Now suppose the dog loses his tail.
Can the faculty as containing and the faculty as contained be separated
in the same way? Does the mental form when deprived of all content,
even itself (granting that it can be its own content), continue to
exist in the same way that a dog continues to exist when he has lost
his tail? Even had this illustration been applicable, I should scarcely
have expected Dr. Hodgson to remain satisfied with it. I should have
thought he would prefer to meet my argument directly, rather than
indirectly. Why has he not shown the invalidity of the reasoning used
in the _Principles of Psychology_ (§ 399, 2nd ed.)? Having there quoted
the statement of Kant, that “Space and Time are not merely forms of
sensuous intuition, but _intuitions_ themselves;” I have written―

 “If we inquire more closely, this irreconcilability becomes still
 clearer. Kant says:—‘That which in the phænomenon corresponds to
 the sensation, I term its _matter_; but that which effects that the
 content of the phenomenon can be arranged under certain relations, I
 call its _form_.’ Carrying with us this definition of form, as ‘that
 which effects that the content . . . . can be arranged under certain
 relations,’ let us return to the case in which the intuition of Space
 is the intuition which occupies consciousness. Can the content of this
 intuition ‘be arranged under certain relations’ or not? It can be so
 arranged, or rather, it _is_ so arranged. Space cannot be thought of
 save as having parts, near and remote, in this direction or the other.
 Hence, if that is the form of a thing ‘which effects that the content
 . . . . can be arranged under certain relations,’ it follows that
 when the content of consciousness is the intuition of Space, which
 has ‘parts that can be arranged under certain relations,’ there must
 be a form of that intuition. What is it? Kant does not tell us—does
 not appear to perceive that there must be such a form; and could
 not have perceived this without abandoning his hypothesis that the
 space-intuition is primordial.”

Now when Dr. Hodgson has shown me how that “which {233} effects that
the content . . . . can be arranged under certain relations,” may also
be that which effects its own arrangement under the same relations, I
shall be ready to surrender my position; but until then, no analogy
drawn from the ability of a dog to bite himself will weigh much with me.

Having, as he considers, disposed of the reasons given by me for
concluding that, considered in themselves, “Space and Time are
wholly incomprehensible” (he continually uses on my behalf the word
“inconceivable,” which, by its unfit connotations, gives a wrong aspect
to my position), Dr. Hodgson goes on to say:-

 “Yet Mr. Spencer proceeds to use these inconceivable ideas as the
 basis of his philosophy. For mark, it is Space and Time as we know
 them, the actual and phenomenal Space and Time, to which all these
 inconceivabilities attach. Mr. Spencer’s result, ought, therefore,
 logically to be—Scepticism. What is his actual result? Ontology. And
 how so? Why, instead of rejecting Space and Time as the inconceivable
 things he has tried to demonstrate them to be, he substitutes for them
 an Unknowable, a something which they really are, though we cannot
 know it, and rejects that, instead of them, from knowledge.”

This statement has caused me no little astonishment. That having
before him the volume from which he quotes, so competent a reader
should have so completely missed the meaning of the passages (§ 26)
already referred to, in which I have contended against Hamilton and
Mansel, makes me almost despair of being understood by any ordinary
reader. In that section I have, in the first place, contended that
the consciousness of an Ultimate Reality, though not capable of being
made a thought, properly so called, because not capable of being
brought within limits, nevertheless remains as a consciousness that is
_positive_: is not rendered _negative_ by the negations of limits. I
have pointed out that―

  “The error, (very naturally fallen into by philosophers intent
 on demonstrating the limits and conditions of consciousness),
 consists in assuming that consciousness contains _nothing but_
 limits and conditions; to the entire neglect of that which is
 limited and conditioned. It is forgotten that there is something
 which alike forms the raw material of definite thought and remains
 after the definiteness which thinking gave to it has been {234}
 destroyed”—something which “ever persists in us as the body of a
 thought to which we can give no shape.”

This _positive_ element of consciousness it is which, “at once
necessarily indefinite and necessarily indestructible,” I regard as
the consciousness of the Unknowable Reality. Yet Dr. Hodgson says “Mr.
Spencer proceeds to use these inconceivable ideas as the basis of his
philosophy:” implying that such basis consists of negations, instead
of consisting of that which persists _notwithstanding the negation of
limits_. And then, beyond this perversion, or almost inversion, of
meaning, he conveys the notion that I take as the basis of philosophy,
the “inconceivable ideas” “or self-contradictory notions” which result
when we endeavour to comprehend Space and Time. He speaks of me as
proposing to evolve substance out of form, or rather, out of the
negations of forms—gives his readers no conception that the _Power_
manifested to us is that which I regard as the Unknowable, while
what we call Space and Time answer to the unknowable _nexus_ of its
manifestations. And yet the chapter from which I quote, and still more
the chapter which follows it, makes this clear—as clear, at least, as I
can make it by carefully-worded statements and re-statements.

       *       *       *       *       *

Philosophical systems, like theological ones, following the law of
evolution in general, severally become in course of time more rigid,
while becoming more complex and more definite; and they similarly
become less alterable—resist all compromise, and have to be replaced by
the more plastic systems that descend from them.

It is thus with pure Empiricism and pure Transcendentalism. Down to
the present time disciples of Locke have continued to hold that all
mental phenomena are interpretable as results of accumulated individual
experiences; and, by criticism, have been led simply to elaborate
their interpretations—ignoring the proofs of inadequacy. On the other
hand, disciples of Kant, {235} asserting this inadequacy, and led
by perception of it to adopt an antagonist theory, have persisted in
defending that theory under a form presenting fatal inconsistencies.
And then, when there is offered a mode of reconciliation, the spirit
of no-compromise is displayed: each side continuing to claim the whole
truth. After it has been pointed out that all the obstacles in the way
of the experiential doctrine disappear if the effects of ancestral
experiences are joined with the effects of individual experiences, the
old form of the doctrine is still adhered to. And meanwhile Kantists
persist in asserting that the _ego_ is born with intuitional forms
which are wholly independent of anything in the _non-ego_, after it
has been shown that the innateness of these intuitional forms may be
so understood as to escape the insurmountable difficulties of the
hypothesis as originally expressed.

I am led to say this by reading the remarks concerning my own views,
made with an urbanity I hope to imitate, by Professor Max Müller, in a
lecture delivered at the Royal Institution in March, 1873.[27] Before
dealing with the criticisms contained in this lecture, I must enter a
demurrer against that interpretation of my views by which Professor Max
Müller makes it appear that they are more allied to those of Kant than
to those of Locke. He says:―

  “Whether the pre-historic genesis of these congenital dispositions
 or inherited necessities of thought, as suggested by Mr. Herbert
 Spencer, be right or wrong, does not signify for the purpose which
 Kant had in view. In admitting that there is something in our mind,
 which is not the result of our own _à posteriori_ experience, Mr.
 Herbert Spencer is a thorough Kantian, and we shall see that he is
 a Kantian in other respects too. If it could be proved that nervous
 modifications, accumulated from generation to generation, could result
 in nervous structures that are fixed in proportion as the outer
 relations to which they answer are fixed, we, as followers of Kant,
 should only have to put in the place of Kant’s intuitions of Space
 and Time ‘the constant space-relations expressed in definite nervous
 structures, congenitally framed to act in definite ways, and incapable
 of acting in any other {236} way.’ If Mr. Herbert Spencer had not
 misunderstood the exact meaning of what Kant calls the intuitions of
 Space and Time, he would have perceived that, barring his theory of
 the pre-historic origin of these intuitions, he was quite at one with

On this passage let me remark, first, that the word “pre-historic,”
ordinarily employed only in respect to human history, is misleading
when applied to the history of Life in general; and his use of it
leaves me in some doubt whether Professor Max Müller has rightly
conceived the hypothesis he refers to.

My second comment is, that the description of me as “quite at one with
Kant,” “_barring_” the “theory of the prehistoric origin of these
intuitions,” curiously implies that it is a matter of comparative
indifference whether the forms of thought are held to be _naturally
generated_ by intercourse between the organism and its environing
relations, during the evolution of the lowest into the highest types,
or whether such forms are held to be _supernaturally given_ to the
human mind, and are independent both of environing relations and of
ancestral minds. But now, addressing myself to the essential point, I
must meet the statement that I have “misunderstood the exact meaning
of what Kant calls the intuitions of Space and Time,” by saying that
I think Professor Max Müller has overlooked certain passages which
justify my interpretation, and render his interpretation untenable.
For Kant says “Space is _nothing else_ than the form of all phenomena
of the external sense;” further, he says that “Time is _nothing but_
the form of our internal intuition;” and, to repeat words I have used
elsewhere, “He distinctly shuts out the supposition that there are
forms of the _non-ego_ to which these forms of the _ego_ correspond,
by saying that ‘Space is not a conception which has been derived from
outward experiences.’” Now so far from being in harmony with, these
statements are in direct contradiction to, the view which I hold; and
seem to me absolutely irreconcilable with it. How can it be said that,
“barring” a difference represented as trivial, I am {237} “quite at
one with Kant,” when I contend that these subjective forms of intuition
are moulded into correspondence with, and therefore derived from, some
objective form or _nexus_, and therefore dependent upon it; while the
Kantian hypothesis is that these subjective forms are not derived from
the object, but pre-exist in the subject—are imposed by the _ego_ on
the _non-ego_. It seems to me that not only do Kant’s words, as above
given, exclude the view which I hold, but also that Kant could not
consistently have held any such view. Rightly recognizing, as he did,
these forms of intuition as innate, he was, from his stand-point,
_obliged_ to regard them as imposed on the matter of intuition in the
act of intuition. In the absence of the hypothesis that intelligence
has been evolved, it was _not possible_ for him to regard these
subjective forms as having been derived from objective forms.

A disciple of Locke might, I think, say that the Evolution-view of
our consciousness of Space and Time is essentially Lockian, with
more truth than Professor Max Müller can represent it as essentially
Kantian. The Evolution-view is completely experiential. It differs
from the original view of the experientialists by containing a great
extension of that view. With the relatively-small effects of individual
experiences, it joins the relatively-vast effects of the experiences of
antecedent individuals. But the view of Kant is avowedly and absolutely
unexperiential. Surely this makes the predominance of kinship manifest.

In Professor Max Müller’s replies to my criticisms on Kant, I cannot
see greater validity than in this affiliation to which I have demurred.
One of his arguments is that which Dr. Hodgson has used, and which I
have already answered; and I think that the others, when compared with
the passages of the _Principles of Psychology_ which they concern, will
not be found adequate. I refer to them here {238} chiefly for the
purpose of pointing out that when he speaks of me as bringing “three
arguments against Kant’s view,” he understates the number. Let me close
what I have to say on this disputed question, by quoting the summary of
reasons I have given for rejecting the Kantian hypothesis:―

 “Kant tells us that Space is the form of all external intuition; which
 is not true. He tells us that the consciousness of Space continues
 when the consciousness of all things contained in it is suppressed;
 which is also not true. From these alleged facts he _infers_ that
 Space is an _à priori_ form of intuition. I say _infers_, because this
 conclusion is not presented in necessary union with the premises,
 in the same way that the consciousness of duality is necessarily
 presented along with the consciousness of inequality; but it is a
 conclusion voluntarily drawn for the purpose of explaining the alleged
 facts. And then that we may accept this conclusion, which is not
 necessarily presented along with these alleged facts which are not
 true, we are obliged to affirm several propositions which cannot be
 rendered into thought. When Space is itself contemplated, we have
 to conceive it as at once the form of intuition and the matter of
 intuition; which is impossible. We have to unite that which we are
 conscious of as Space with that which we are conscious of as the
 _ego_, and contemplate the one as a property of the other; which is
 impossible. We have at the same time to disunite that which we are
 conscious of as Space, from that which we are conscious of as the
 _non-ego,_ and contemplate the one as separate from the other; which
 is also impossible. Further, this hypothesis that Space is “nothing
 else” than a form of intuition belonging wholly to the _ego_, commits
 us to one of the two alternatives, that the _non-ego_ is formless or
 that its form produces absolutely no effect upon the _ego_; both of
 which alternatives involve us in impossibilities of thought.”—_Prin.
 of Psy.,_ § 399.

Objections of another, though allied, class have been made in a review
of the _Principles of Psychology_ by Mr. H. Sidgwick—a critic whose
remarks on questions of mental philosophy always deserve respectful

Mr. Sidgwick’s chief aim is to show what he calls “the mazy
inconsistency of his [my] metaphysical results.” More specifically, he
expresses thus the proposition he seeks to justify—“His view of the
subject appears to have a fundamental incoherence, which shows itself
in various ways on the surface of his exposition, but of which the root
lies {239} much deeper, in his inability to harmonise different lines
of thought.”

Before dealing with the reasons given for this judgment, let me say
that, in addition to the value which candid criticisms have as showing
where more explanation is needed, they are almost indispensable as
revealing to a writer incongruities he had not perceived. Especially
where, as in this case, the subject-matter has many aspects, and
where the words supplied by our language are so inadequate in number
that, to avoid cumbrous circumlocution, they have to be used in
senses that vary according to the context, it is extremely difficult
to avoid imperfections of statement. But while I acknowledge sundry
such imperfections and the resulting incongruities, I cannot see
that these are, as Mr. Sidgwick says, fundamental. Contrariwise,
their superficiality seems to me proved by the fact that they may be
rectified without otherwise altering the expositions in which they
occur. Here is an instance.

Mr. Sidgwick points out that, when treating of the “Data of
Psychology,” I have said (in § 56) that, though we reach inferentially
“the belief that mind and nervous action are the subjective and
objective faces of the same thing, we remain utterly incapable of
seeing, and even of imagining, how the two are related” (I quote
the passage more fully than he does). He then goes on to show that
in the “Special Synthesis,” where I have sketched the evolution of
Intelligence under its objective aspect, as displayed in the processes
by which beings of various grades adjust themselves to surrounding
actions, I “speak as if” we could see how consciousness “naturally
arises at a particular stage” of nervous action. The chapter he here
refers to is one describing that “differentiation of the psychical
from the physical life” which accompanies advancing organization, and
more especially advancing development of the nervous system. In it I
have shown {240} that, while the changes constituting physical life
continue to be characterized by the _simultaneity_ with which all
kinds of them go on throughout the organism, the changes constituting
psychical life, arising as the nervous system develops, become
gradually more distinguished by their _seriality_. And I have said that
as nervous integration advances, “there must result an unbroken series
of these changes—there must arise a consciousness.” Now I admit that
here is an apparent inconsistency. I ought to have said that “there
must result an unbroken series of these changes,” which, taking place
in the nervous system of a highly-organized creature, gives coherence
to its conduct; and along with which we assume a consciousness,
because consciousness goes along with coherent conduct in ourselves.
If Mr. Sidgwick will substitute this statement for the statement as it
stands, he will see that the arguments and conclusions remain intact.
A survey of the chapter as a whole, proves that its aim is not in the
least to explain how nervous changes, considered as waves of molecular
motion, become the feelings constituting consciousness; but that,
contemplating the facts objectively in living creatures at large, it
points out the cardinal distinction between vital actions in general,
and those particular vital actions which, in a creature displaying
them, lead us to speak of it as intelligent. It is shown that the rise
of such actions becomes marked in proportion as the changes taking
place in the part called the nervous system, are made more and more
distinctly serial, by union in a supreme centre of co-ordination. The
introduction of the word consciousness, arises in the effort to show
what fundamental character there is in these particular physiological
changes which is _parallel to_ a fundamental character in the
psychological changes.

Another instance of the way in which Mr. Sidgwick evolves an
incongruity which he considers fundamental, out of what I should have
thought he would see is a {241} defective expression, I will give in
his own words. Speaking of a certain view of mine, he says:―

 “He tells us that ‘logic . . . contemplates in its propositions
 certain connexions predicated, which are necessarily involved with
 certain other connexions given: _regarding all these connexions as
 existing in the non-ego_—not, it may be, under the form in which
 we know them, but in some form.’ But in § 473, where Mr. Spencer
 illustrates by a diagram his ‘Transfigured Realism,’ the view seems
 to be this: although we cannot say that the real non-ego resembles
 our notion of it in ‘its elements, relations, or laws,’ we can say
 that ‘a change in the objective reality causes in the subjective state
 a change exactly answering to it—so answering as to _constitute a
 cognition of it_.’ Here the ‘something beyond consciousness’ is no
 longer said to be unknown, as its effect in consciousness ‘constitutes
 a cognition of it.’”

This apparent inconsistency, marked by the italics, would not
have existed if, instead of “a cognition of it,” I had said, as I
ought to have said, “_what we call_ a cognition of it”—that is, a
relative cognition as distinguished from an absolute cognition. In
ordinary language we speak of as cognitions, those connexions in
thought which so guide us in our dealings with things, that actual
experience verifies ideal anticipation: marking off, by opposed words,
those connexions in thought which _mis_-guide us. The difference
between accepting a cognition as relatively true and accepting
it as absolutely true, will be clearly shown by an illustration.
There is no direct resemblance whatever between the sizes, forms,
colours, and arrangements, of the figures in an account-book, and the
moneys or goods, debts or credits, represented by them; and yet the
forms and arrangements of the written symbols, are such as answer
in a perfectly-exact way to stocks of various commodities and to
various kinds of transactions. Hence we say, figuratively, that the
account-book will “tell us” all about these stocks and transactions.
Similarly, the diagram Mr. Sidgwick refers to, suggests a way in which
symbols, registered in us by objects, may have forms and arrangements
wholly unlike their objective causes and the _nexus_ among those
causes, while yet they are so related as to guide us correctly in
our transactions {242} with those objective causes, and, _in that
sense_, constitute cognitions of them; though they no more constitute
cognitions in the absolute sense, than do the guiding symbols in the
account-book constitute cognitions of the things to which they refer.
So repeatedly is this view implied throughout the _Principles of
Psychology_, that I am surprised to find a laxity of expression raising
the suspicion that I entertain any other.

To follow Mr. Sidgwick through sundry criticisms of like kind,
which may be similarly met, would take more space than I can here
afford. I must restrict myself now to the alleged “fundamental
incoherence” of which he thinks these inconsistencies are signs. I
refer to that reconciliation of Realism and Idealism considered by
him as an impossible compromise. A difficulty is habitually felt in
accepting a coalition after long conflict. Whoever has espoused one
of two antagonist views, and, in defending it, has gained a certain
comprehension of the opposite view, becomes accustomed to regard these
as the only alternatives, and is puzzled by an hypothesis which is at
once both and neither. Yet, since it turns out in nearly all cases
that, of conflicting doctrines, each contains an element of truth, and
that controversy ends by combination of their respective half-truths,
there is _a priori_ probability on the side of an hypothesis which
qualifies Realism by Idealism.

Mr. Sidgwick expresses his astonishment, or rather bespeaks that of his
readers, because, while I accept Idealistic criticisms, I nevertheless
defend the fundamental intuition of Common Sense; and, as he puts
it, “fires his [my] argument full in the face of Kant, Mill, and
‘metaphysicians’ generally.”

  “He tells us that ‘metaphysicians’ illegitimately assume that
 ‘beliefs reached through complex intellectual processes,’ are more
 valid than ‘beliefs reached through simple intellectual processes;’
 that the common language they use refuses to express their hypotheses,
 and thus their reasoning inevitably implies the common notions which
 they repudiate; that the belief of Realism has the advantage of
 ‘priority,’ ‘simplicity,’ ‘distinctness.’ {243} But surely this prior,
 simple, distinctly affirmed belief is that of what Mr. Spencer terms
 ‘crude Realism’, the belief that the non-ego is _per se_ extended,
 solid, even coloured (if not resonant and odorous). This is what
 common language implies; and the argument by which Mr. Spencer proves
 the relativity of feelings and relations, still more the subtle and
 complicated analysis by which he resolves our notion of extension into
 an aggregate of feelings and transitions of feeling, lead us away from
 our original simple belief—that (_e.g._) the green grass we see exists
 out of consciousness as we see it—just as much as the reasonings of
 Idealism, Scepticism, or Kantism.”

On the face of it the anomaly seems great; but I should have thought
that after reading the chapter on “Transfigured Realism,” a critic of
Mr. Sidgwick’s acuteness would have seen the solution of it. He has
overlooked an essential distinction. All which my argument implies is
that the direct intuition of Realism must be held of superior authority
to the arguments of Anti-Realism, _where their deliverances cannot
be reconciled_. The one point on which their deliverances cannot be
reconciled, is the existence of an objective reality. But while,
against this intuition of Realism, I hold the arguments of Anti-Realism
to be powerless, because they cannot be carried on without postulating
that which they end by denying; yet, having admitted objective
existence as a necessary postulate, it is possible to make valid
criticisms upon all those judgments which Crude Realism joins with
this primordial judgment: it is possible to show that a transfigured
interpretation of properties and relations, is more tenable than the
original interpretation.

To elucidate the matter, let us take the most familiar case in which
the indirect judgments of Reason correct the direct judgments of Common
Sense. The direct judgment of Common Sense is that the Sun moves round
the Earth. In course of time, Reason, finding some facts at variance
with this, begins to doubt; and, eventually, hits upon an hypothesis
which explains the anomalies, but which denies this apparently-certain
_dictum_ of Common Sense. What is the reconciliation? It consists in
showing {244} to Common Sense that the new interpretation equally
well corresponds with direct intuition, while it avoids all the
difficulties. Common Sense is reminded that the apparent motion of
an object may be due either to its actual motion or to the motion of
the observer; and that there are terrestrial experiences in which the
observer thinks an object he looks at is moving, when the motion is in
himself. Extending the conception thus given, Reason shows that if the
Earth revolves on its axis, there will result that apparent motion of
the Sun which Common Sense interpreted into an actual motion of the
Sun; and the common-sense observer thereupon becomes able to think
of sunrise and sunset as due to his position as spectator on a vast
revolving globe. Now if the astronomer, setting out by recognizing
these celestial appearances, and proceeding to evolve the various
anomalies following from the common-sense interpretation of them, had
drawn the conclusion that there externally exist no Sun and no motion
at all, he would have done what Idealists do; and his arguments would
have been equally powerless against the intuition of Common Sense. But
he does nothing of the kind. He accepts the intuition of Common Sense
respecting the reality of the Sun and of the motion; but replaces the
old interpretation of the motion by a new interpretation reconcilable
with all the facts.

Everyone must see that here, acceptance of the inexpugnable element
in the common-sense judgment, by no means involves acceptance of the
accompanying judgments; and I contend that the like discrimination must
be made in the case we are considering. It does not follow that while,
against the consciousness which Crude Realism has of an objective
reality, the arguments of Anti-Realism are futile, they are therefore
futile against the conceptions which Crude Realism forms of the
objective reality. If Anti-Realism can show that, granting an objective
reality, the interpretation of Crude Realism contains insuperable {245}
difficulties, the process is quite legitimate. And, its primordial
intuition remaining unshaken, Realism may, on reconsideration, be
enabled to frame a new conception which harmonizes all the facts.

To show that there is not here the “mazy inconsistency” alleged, let
us take the case of sound as interpreted by Crude Realism, and as
re-interpreted by Transfigured Realism. Crude Realism assumes the
sound present in consciousness to exist as such beyond consciousness.
Anti-Realism proves the inadmissibility of this assumption in sundry
ways (all of which, however, set out by talking of sounding bodies
beyond consciousness, just as Realism talks of them); and then
Anti-Realism concludes that we know of no existence save the sound as a
mode of consciousness: which conclusion, and all kindred conclusions,
I contend are vicious—first, because all the words used connote an
objective activity; second, because the arguments are impossible
without postulating at the outset an objective activity; and third,
because no one of the intuitions out of which the arguments are built,
is of equal validity with the single intuition of Realism that an
objective activity exists. But now the Transfigured Realism which
Mr. Sidgwick thinks “has all the serious incongruity of an intense
metaphysical dream,” neither affirms the untenable conception of Crude
Realism, nor, like Anti-Realism, draws unthinkable conclusions by
suicidal arguments; but, accepting that which is essential in Crude
Realism, and admitting the difficulties which Anti-Realism insists
upon, reconciles matters by a re-interpretation analogous to that
which an astronomer makes of the solar motion. Continuing all along
to recognize an objective activity which Crude Realism calls sound,
it shows that the answering sensation is produced by a succession of
separate impacts which, if made slowly, may be separately identified,
and which will, if progressively increased in rapidity, produce tones
higher and higher in pitch. It {246} shows by other experiments that
sounding bodies are in states of vibration, and that the vibrations
may be made visible. And it concludes that the objective activity
is not what it subjectively seems, but is proximately interpretable
as a succession of aërial waves. Thus Crude Realism is shown that
while there unquestionably exists an objective activity corresponding
to the sensation known as sound, yet the facts are not explicable
on the original supposition that this is like the sensation; while
they are explicable by conceiving it as a rhythmical mechanical
action. Eventually this re-interpretation, joined with kindred
reinterpretations of other sensations, comes to be itself further
transfigured by analysis of its terms, and re-expression of them in
terms of molecular motion; but, however abstract the interpretation
ultimately reached, the objective activity continues to be postulated:
the primordial judgment of Crude Realism remains unchanged, though it
has to change the rest of its judgments.

In another part of his argument, however, Mr. Sidgwick implies that
I have no right to use those conceptions of objective existence by
which this compromise is effected. Quoting sundry passages to show
that while I hold the criticisms of the Idealist to be impossible
without “tacitly or avowedly postulating an unknown something beyond
consciousness,” I yet admit that “our states of consciousness are the
only things we can know;” he goes on to argue that I am radically
inconsistent, because, in interpreting the phenomena of consciousness,
I continually postulate, not an unknown something, but a something
of which I speak in ordinary terms, as though its ascribed physical
characters really exist as such, instead of being, as I admit they are,
synthetic states of my consciousness. His objection, if I understand
it, is that for the purposes of Objective Psychology I apparently
profess to know Matter and Motion in the ordinary realistic way; while,
as a result of subjective analysis, I reach the conclusion that {247}
it is impossible to have that knowledge of objective existence which
Realism supposes we have. Doubtless there seems here to be what he
calls “a fundamental incoherence.” But I think it exists, not between
my two expositions, but between the two consciousnesses of subjective
and objective existence, which we cannot suppress and yet cannot put
into definite forms. The alleged incoherence I take to be but another
name for the inscrutability of the relation between subjective feeling
and its objective correlate which is not feeling—an inscrutability
which meets us at the bottom of all our analyses. An exposition of this
inscrutability I have elsewhere summed up thus:―

 “See, then, our predicament. We can think of Matter only in terms
 of Mind. We can think of Mind only in terms of Matter. When we have
 pushed our explorations of the first to the uttermost limit, we are
 referred to the second for a final answer; and when we have got the
 final answer of the second, we are referred back to the first for an
 interpretation of it. We find the value of _x_ in terms of _y_; then
 we find the value of _y_ in terms of _x_; and so on we may continue
 for ever without coming nearer to a solution.”—_Prin. of Psy._ § 272.

Carrying a little further this simile, will, I think, show where lies
the insuperable difficulty felt by Mr. Sidgwick. Taking _x_ and _y_
as the subjective and objective activities, unknown in their natures
and known only as phenomenally manifested; and recognizing the fact
that every state of consciousness implies, immediately or remotely,
the action of object on subject or subject on object, or both; we
may say that every state of consciousness will be symbolized by some
modification of xy—the phenomenally-known product of the two unknown
factors. In other words, _xy′_, _x′y_, _x′y′_, _x″y′_, _x′y″_, &c.,
&c., will represent all perceptions and thoughts. Suppose, now,
that these are thoughts about the object; composing some hypothesis
respecting its characters as analyzed by physicists. Clearly, all
such thoughts, be they about shapes, resistances, momenta, molecules,
molecular motions, or what not, will contain forms of the subjective
activity _x_. Now let the thoughts {248} be concerning mental
processes. It must similarly happen that some mode of the unknown
objective activity _y_, will be in every case a component. Now suppose
that the problem is the genesis of mental phenomena; and that, in
the course of the inquiry, bodily organization and the functions of
the nervous system are brought into the explanation. It will happen,
as before, that these, considered as objective, have to be described
and thought about in modes of _xy_. And when by the actions of such
a nervous system, conceived objectively in modes of _xy_, and acted
upon by physical forces which are conceived in other modes of _xy_, we
endeavour to explain the genesis of sensations, perceptions, and ideas,
which we can think of only in other modes of _xy,_ we find that all our
factors, and therefore all our interpretations, contain the two unknown
terms, and that no interpretation is imaginable that will not contain
the two unknown terms.

What is the defence for this apparently-circular process? Simply that
it is a process of establishing _congruity_ among our symbols. It is
finding a mode of so symbolizing the unknown activities, subjective
and objective, and so operating with our symbols, that all our acts
may be rightly guided—guided, that is, in such ways that we can
anticipate, when, where, and in what quantity some one of our symbols,
or some combination of our symbols, will be found. Mr. Sidgwick’s
difficulty arises, I think, from having insufficiently borne in mind
the statements made at the outset, in “The Data of Philosophy,” that
such conceptions as “are vital, or cannot be separated from the rest
without mental dissolution, must be assumed as true _provisionally_;”
that “there is no mode of establishing the validity of any belief
except that of showing its entire _congruity_ with all other beliefs;”
and that “Philosophy, compelled to make those fundamental assumptions
without which thought is impossible, has to justify them by showing
their _congruity_ with all other dicta of consciousness.” In {249}
pursuance of this distinctly-avowed mode of procedure, I assume
provisionally, an objective activity and a subjective activity, and
certain general forms and modes (Space, Time, Matter, Motion, Force),
which the subjective activity, operated on by the objective activity,
ascribes to it, and which I suppose to correspond in some way to
unknown forms and modes of the objective activity. These provisional
assumptions, having been carried out to all their consequences, and
these consequences proved to be congruous with one another and with
the original assumptions, these original assumptions are justified.
And if, finally, I assert, as I have repeatedly asserted, that the
terms in which I express my assumptions and carry on my operations
are but symbolic, and that all I have done is to show that by certain
ways of symbolizing, perfect harmony results—invariable agreement
between the symbols in which I frame my expectations, and the symbols
which occur in experience—I cannot be blamed for incoherence. On the
contrary, it seems to me that my method is the most coherent that
can be devised. Lastly, should it be said that this regarding of
everything constituting experience and thought as symbolic, has a very
shadowy aspect; I reply that these which I speak of as symbols, are
real relatively to our consciousness; and are symbolic only in their
relation to the Ultimate Reality.

That these explanations will make clear the coherence of views
which before seemed “fundamentally incoherent,” I feel by no means
certain; since, as I did not perceive the difficulties presented by
the exposition as at first made, I may similarly fail to perceive
the difficulties in this explanation. Originally, I had intended to
complete the _Principles of Psychology_ by a division showing how
the results reached in the preceding divisions, physiological and
psychological, analytic and synthetic, subjective and objective,
harmonize with one another, and are but different aspects of the same
aggregate of phenomena. But the work was already {250} bulky; and
I concluded that this division might be dispensed with, because the
congruities to be pointed out were sufficiently obvious. So little was
I conscious of the alleged “inability to harmonize different lines of
thought.” Mr. Sidgwick’s perplexities, however, show me that such an
exposition of concords is needful.

       *       *       *       *       *

I have reserved to the last, one of the first objections made to the
metaphysico-theological doctrine set forth in _First Principles_, and
implied in the several volumes that have succeeded it. It was urged by
an able metaphysician, the Rev. James Martineau, in an essay entitled
“Science, Nescience, and Faith;” and, effective against my argument as
it stands, shows the need for some development of my argument. That
Mr. Martineau’s criticism may be understood, I must quote the passages
it concerns. Continuing the reasoning employed against Hamilton and
Mansel, to show that our consciousness of that which transcends
knowledge is _positive_, and not, as they allege, _negative_, I have

  “Still more manifest will this truth become when it is observed that
 our conception of the Relative itself disappears, if our conception
 of the Absolute is a pure negation. It is admitted, or rather it is
 contended, by the writers I have quoted above, that contradictories
 can be known only in relation to each other—that Equality, for
 instance, is unthinkable apart from its correlative Inequality; and
 that thus the Relative can itself be conceived only by opposition
 to the Non-relative. It is also admitted, or rather contended, that
 the consciousness of a relation implies a consciousness of both
 the related members. If we are required to conceive the relation
 between the Relative and Non-relative without being conscious of
 both, ‘we are in fact’ (to quote the words of Mr. Mansel differently
 applied) ‘required to compare that of which we are conscious with
 that of which we are not conscious; the comparison itself being an
 act of consciousness, and only possible through the consciousness of
 both its objects.’ What, then, becomes of the assertion that, ‘the
 Absolute is conceived merely by a negation of conceivability,’ or
 as ‘the mere absence of the conditions under which consciousness is
 possible?’ If the Non-relative or Absolute, is present in thought only
 as a mere negation, then the relation between it and the Relative
 becomes unthinkable, because one of the terms of the relation is
 absent from consciousness. {251} And if this relation is unthinkable,
 then is the Relative itself unthinkable, for want of its antithesis:
 whence results the disappearance of all thought whatever.”—_First
 Principles_, § 26.

On this argument Mr. Martineau comments as follows; first re-stating it
in other words:―

 “Take away its antithetic term, and the relative, thrown into
 isolation, is set up as absolute, and disappears from thought. It
 is indispensable therefore to uphold the Absolute in existence,
 as condition of the relative sphere which constitutes our whole
 intellectual domain. Be it so: but when saved on this plea,—to
 preserve the balance and interdependence of two _co_-relatives,—the
 ‘Absolute’ is absolute no more; it is reduced to a term of relation:
 it loses therefore its exile from thought: its disqualification is
 cancelled: and the alleged nescience is discharged.

 “So, the same law of thought which warrants the existence, dissolves
 the inscrutableness, of the Absolute.”—_Essays, Philosophical and_
 _Theological_ pp. 186–7.

I admit this to be a telling rejoinder; and one which can be met only
when the meanings of the words, as I have used them, are carefully
discriminated, and the implications of the doctrine fully traced out.
We will begin by clearing the ground of minor misconceptions.

First, let it be observed that though I have used the word Absolute
as the equivalent of Non-relative, because it is used in the passages
quoted from the writers I am contending against; yet I have myself
chosen for the purposes of my argument, the name Non-relative, and I
do not necessarily commit myself to any propositions respecting the
Absolute, considered as that which includes both Subject and Object.
The Non-relative as spoken of by me, is to be understood rather as
the totality of Being _minus_ that which constitutes the individual
consciousness, present to us under forms of Relation. Did I use the
word in some Hegelian sense, as comprehensive of that which thinks and
that which is thought about, and did I propose to treat of the order of
things, not as phenomenally manifested but as noumenally proceeding,
the objection would be fatal. But the aim being simply to formulate
the order of things as present under relative forms, the antithetical
Non-relative here named as {252} implied by the conception of the
Relative, is that which, in any act of thought, is outside of and
beyond it, rather than that which is inclusive of it. Further, it
should be observed that this Non-relative, spoken of as a necessary
complement to the Relative, is not spoken of as a conception but as a
_consciousness_; and I have in sundry passages distinguished between
those modes of consciousness which, having limits, and constituting
thought proper, are subject to the laws of thought, and the mode of
consciousness which persists when the removal of limits is carried to
the uttermost, and when distinct thought consequently ceases.

This opens the way to the reply here to be made to Mr. Martineau’s
criticism—namely, that while by the necessities of thought the Relative
implies a Non-relative; and while, to think of this antithesis
completely, requires that the Non-relative shall be made a conception
proper; yet, for the vague thought which is alone in this case
possible, it suffices that the Non-relative shall be present as a
consciousness which though undefined is positive. Let us observe what
necessarily happens when thought is employed on this ultimate question.

In a preceding part of the argument criticized, I have, in various
ways, aimed to show that, alike when we analyze the product of
thought and when we analyze the process of thought, we are brought
to the conclusion that invariably “a thought involves _relation_,
_difference_, _likeness_;” and that even from the very nature of Life
itself, we may evolve the conclusion that “thinking being relationing,
no thought can ever express more than relations.” What, now, must
happen if thought, having this law, occupies itself with the final
mystery? Always implying terms in relation, thought implies that
both terms shall be more or less defined; and as fast as one of them
becomes indefinite, the relation also becomes indefinite, and thought
becomes indistinct. Take the {253} case of magnitudes. I think of an
inch; I think of a foot; and having tolerably-definite ideas of the
two, I have a tolerably-definite idea of the relation between them.
I substitute for the foot a mile; and being able to represent a mile
much less definitely, I cannot so definitely think of the relation
between an inch and a mile—cannot distinguish it in thought from the
relation between an inch and two miles, as clearly as I can distinguish
in thought the relation between an inch and one foot from the relation
between an inch and two feet. And now if I endeavour to think of the
relation between an inch and the 240,000 miles from here to the Moon,
or the relation between an inch and the 93,000,000 miles from here to
the Sun, I find that while these distances, practically inconceivable,
have become little more than numbers to which I frame no answering
ideas, so, too, has the relation between an inch and either of them
become practically inconceivable. Evidently then this partial failure
in the process of forming thought-relations, which happens even with
finite magnitudes when one of them is immense, passes into complete
failure when one of them cannot be brought within any limits. The
relation itself becomes unrepresentable at the same time that one of
its terms becomes unrepresentable. Nevertheless, in this case it is to
be observed that the almost-blank form of relation preserves a certain
qualitative character. It is still distinguishable as belonging to the
consciousness of extensions, not to the consciousnesses of forces or
durations; and in so far remains a vaguely-identifiable relation. But
now suppose we ask what happens when one term of the relation has not
simply magnitude having no known limits, and duration of which neither
beginning nor end is cognizable, but is also an existence not to be
defined? In other words, what must happen if one term of the relation
is not only quantitatively but also qualitatively unrepresentable?
Clearly in this case the {254} relation does not simply cease to
be thinkable except as a relation of a certain class, but it lapses
completely. When one of the terms becomes wholly unknowable, the
law of thought can no longer be conformed to; both because one term
cannot be present, and because relation itself cannot be framed. That
is to say, the law of thought that contradictories can be known only
in relation to each other, no longer holds when thought attempts to
transcend the Relative; and yet, when it attempts to transcend the
Relative, it must make the attempt in conformity with its law—must
in some dim mode of consciousness posit a Non-relative, and, in some
similarly dim mode of consciousness, a relation between it and the
Relative. In brief then, to Mr. Martineau’s objection I reply, that
the insoluble difficulties he indicates arise here, as elsewhere, when
thought is applied to that which transcends the sphere of thought;
and that just as when we try to pass beyond phenomenal manifestations
to the Ultimate Reality manifested, we have to symbolize it out of
such materials as the phenomenal manifestations give us; so we have
simultaneously to symbolize the connexion between this Ultimate Reality
and its manifestations, as somehow allied to the connexions among
the phenomenal manifestations themselves. The truth Mr. Martineau’s
criticism adumbrates, is that the law of thought fails where the
elements of thought fail; and this is a conclusion quite conformable
to the general view I defend. Still holding the validity of my
argument against Hamilton and Mansel, that in pursuance of their own
principle the Relative is not at all thinkable _as such_, unless in
contradistinction to some existence posited, however vaguely, as
the other term of a relation, conceived however indefinitely; it
is consistent on my part to hold that in this effort which thought
inevitably makes to pass beyond its sphere, not only does the product
of thought become a dim symbol of a product, but the process of thought
becomes a dim {255} symbol of a process; and hence any predicament
inferable from the law of thought cannot be asserted.

I may fitly close this reply by a counter-criticism. To the direct
defence of a proposition, may be added the indirect defence which
results from showing the untenability of an alternative proposition.
This criticism on the doctrine of an Unknowable Existence manifested
to us in phenomena, Mr. Martineau makes in the interests of the
doctrine held by him, that this existence is, to a considerable
degree, knowable. We are quite at one in holding that there is an
indestructible consciousness of Power behind Appearance; but whereas
I contend that this Power cannot be brought within the forms of
thought, Mr. Martineau contends that there can be consistently ascribed
certain attributes of personality—not, indeed, human characteristics
so concrete as were ascribed in past times; but still, human
characteristics of the more abstract and higher class. His general
doctrine is this:—Regarding Matter as independently existing; regarding
as also independently existing, those primary qualities of Body “which
are inseparable from the very idea of Body, and may be evolved _a
priori_ from the consideration of it as solid extension or extended
solidity;” and saying that to this class “belong Triple Dimension,
Divisibility, Incompressibility;” he goes on to assert that as these―

  “cannot absent themselves from Body, they have a reality coeval with
 it, and belong eternally to the material datum objective to God: and
 his mode of activity with regard to them must be similar to that which
 alone we can think of his directing upon the relations of Space, viz.
 not Volitional, to cause them, but Intellectual, to think them out.
 The Secondary Qualities, on the other hand, having no logical tie to
 the Primary, but being appended to them as contingent facts, cannot
 be referred to any deductive thought, but remain over as products of
 pure Inventive Reason and Determining Will. This sphere of cognition,
 _a posteriori_ to us,—where we cannot move a step alone but have
 submissively to wait upon experience, is precisely the realm of Divine
 originality: and we are most sequacious where He is most free. While
 on this Secondary field His Mind and ours are thus contrasted, they
 meet in resemblance again upon the Primary: for the evolutions of
 deductive Reason there is but one track possible to all intelligences;
 no {256} _merum arbitrium_ can interchange the false and true, or make
 more than one geometry, one scheme of pure Physics, for all worlds:
 and the Omnipotent Architect Himself, in realizing the Kosmical
 conception, in shaping the orbits out of immensity and determining
 seasons out of eternity, could but follow the laws of curvature,
 measure, and proportion.”—_Essays, Philosophical and Theological_, pp.

Before the major criticism which I propose to make on this hypothesis,
let me make a minor one. Not only of space-relations, but also of
primary physical properties, Mr. Martineau asserts the necessity: not
a necessity to our minds simply, but an ontological necessity. What
is true for human thought, is, in respect of these, true absolutely:
“the laws of curvature, measure, and proportion,” as we know them, are
unchangeable even by Divine power; as are also the Divisibility and
Incompressibility of Matter. But if, in these cases, Mr. Martineau
holds that a necessity in thought implies an answering necessity in
things, why does he refrain from saying the like in other cases?
Why, if he tacitly asserts it in respect of space-relations and the
statical attributes of Body, does he not also assert it in respect of
the dynamical attributes of Body? The laws conformed to by that mode
of force now distinguished as “energy,” are as much necessary to our
thought as are the laws of space-relations. The axioms of Mechanics
lie on the same plane with the axioms of pure Mathematics. Now if
Mr. Martineau admits this—if he admits, as he must, the corollary
that there can be no such manifestation of energy as that displayed
in the motion of a planet, save at the expense of equivalent energy
which pre-existed—if he draws the further necessary corollary that
the direction of a motion cannot be changed by any action, without an
equal reaction in an opposite direction on something acting—if he bears
in mind that this holds not only of all visible motions, celestial
and terrestrial, but that those activities of Body which affect us as
secondary properties, are also known only through other forms of {257}
energy, which are equivalents of mechanical energy and conform to
these same laws—and if, lastly, he infers that none of these derivative
energies can have given to them their characters and directions,
save by pre-existing forces, statical and dynamical, conditioned in
special ways; what becomes of that “realm of Divine originality” which
Mr. Martineau describes as remaining within the realm of necessity?
Consistently carried out, his argument implies a universally-inevitable
order, in which volition can have no such place as that he alleges.

Not pushing Mr. Martineau’s reasoning to this conclusion, so entirely
at variance with the one he draws, but accepting his statement just
as it stands, let us consider the solution it offers us. We are left
by it without any explanation of Space and Time; we are not helped
in conceiving the origin of Matter; and there is afforded us no
idea how Matter came to have its primary attributes. All these are
tacitly assumed to exist uncreated. Creative activity is represented
as under the restrictions imposed by mathematical necessities, and
as having for _datum_ (mark the word) a substance which, in respect
of certain characters, defies modification. But surely this is not
an interpretation of the mystery of things. The mystery is simply
relegated to a remoter region, respecting which no inquiry is to be
made. But the inquiry _must_ be made. After every such solution there
arises afresh the question—what is the origin and nature of that which
imposes these limits on creative power? what is the primary God which
dominates over this secondary God? For, clearly, if the “Omnipotent
Architect himself” (to use Mr. Martineau’s somewhat inconsistent name)
is powerless to change the “material datum objective” to him, and
powerless to change the conditions under which it exists, and under
which he works, there is obviously implied a power to which he is
subject. So that in Mr. Martineau’s doctrine also, there is an Ultimate
{258} Unknowable; and it differs from the doctrine he opposes, only by
intercalating a partially Knowable between this and the wholly Knowable.

Finding, as explained above, that this interpretation is not consistent
with itself; and finding, as just shown, that it leaves the essential
mystery unsolved; I do not see that it has an advantage over the
doctrine of the Unknowable in its unqualified shape. There cannot,
I think, be more than temporary rest in a proximate solution which
takes for its basis the ultimately insoluble. Just as thought cannot
be prevented from passing beyond Appearance, and trying to conceive
the Cause behind; so, following out the interpretation Mr. Martineau
offers, thought cannot be prevented from asking what Cause it is
which restricts the Cause he assigns. And if we must admit that the
question under this eventual form cannot be answered, may we not as
well confess that the question under its immediate form cannot be
answered? Is it not better candidly to acknowledge the incompetence of
our intelligence, rather than to persist in calling that an explanation
which does but disguise the inexplicable? Whatever answer each may
give to this question, he cannot rightly blame those who, finding in
themselves an indestructible consciousness of an ultimate Cause, whence
proceed alike what we call the Material Universe and what we call Mind,
refrain from affirming anything respecting it; because they find it as
inscrutable in nature as it is inconceivable in extent and duration.

POSTSCRIPT.—With the concluding paragraph of the foregoing article, I
had hoped to end, for a long time, all controversial writing; and, if
the article had been published entire in the November number of the
_Fortnightly_, as originally intended, the need for any addition would
not have been pressing. But while it was in the printer’s {259} hands,
two criticisms, more elaborate than those dealt with above, made their
appearance; and now that the postponed publication of this latter half
of the article affords the opportunity, I cannot, without risking
misinterpretations, leave these criticisms unnoticed.

Especially do I feel called upon by courtesy to make some response
to one who, in the _Quarterly Review_ for October, 1873, has dealt
with me in a spirit which, though largely antagonistic, is not wholly
unsympathetic; and who manifestly aims to estimate justly the views he
opposes. In the space at my disposal, I cannot of course follow him
through all the objections he has urged. I must content myself with
brief comments on the two propositions he undertakes to establish. His
enunciation of these runs thus:―

 “We would especially direct attention to two points, to both of which
 we are confident objections may be made; and although Mr. Spencer has
 himself doubtless considered such objections (and they may well have
 struck many of his readers also), we nevertheless do not observe that
 he has anywhere noticed or provided for them.

 “The two points we so select are:―

 “(1) _That his system involves the denial of all truth._

 “(2) _That it is radically and necessarily opposed to all sound
 principles of morals._”

On this passage, ending in these two startling assertions, let me
first remark that I am wholly without this consciousness the reviewer
ascribes to me. Remembering that I have expended some little labour in
developing what I conceive to be a system of truths, I am surprised
by the supposition that “the denial of all truth” is an implication
which I am “doubtless” aware may be alleged against this system.
Remembering, too, that by its programme this system is shown to close
with two volumes on _The Principles of Morality_, the statement that it
is “necessarily opposed to all sound principles of morals,” naturally
astonishes me; and still more the statement that I am doubtless
conscious it may be so regarded. Saying thus much by way of repudiating
that latent scepticism {260} attributed to me by the reviewer, I
proceed to consider what he says in proof of these propositions.

On those seeming incongruities of Transfigured Realism commented on
by him, I need say no more than I have already said in reply to Mr.
Sidgwick; by whom also they have been alleged. I will limit myself
to the corollary he draws from the doctrine of the Relativity of
Knowledge, as held by me. Rightly pointing out that I hold this in
common with “Messrs. Mill, Lewes, Bain, and Huxley;” but not adding, as
he should have done, that I hold it in common with Hamilton, Mansel,
and the long list of predecessors through whom Hamilton traced it;
the reviewer proceeds to infer from this doctrine of relativity that
no absolute truth of any kind can be asserted—not even the absolute
truth of the doctrine of relativity itself. And then he leaves it to be
supposed by his readers, that this inference tells especially against
the system he is criticizing. If, however, the reviewer’s inference is
valid, this “denial of all truth” must be charged against the doctrines
of thinkers called orthodox, as well as against the doctrines of those
many philosophers, from Aristotle down to Kant, who have said the same
thing. But now I go further, and reply that against that form of the
doctrine of relativity held by me, this allegation cannot be made with
the same effect as it can against preceding forms of the doctrine. For
I diverge from other relativists in asserting that the existence of a
non-relative is not only a positive deliverance of consciousness, but a
deliverance transcending in certainty all others whatever; and is one
without which the doctrine of relativity cannot be framed in thought. I
have urged that “unless a real Non-relative or Absolute be postulated,
the Relative itself becomes absolute; and so brings the argument to a
contradiction;”[28] and elsewhere I have described this consciousness
of a Non-relative manifested to us through the Relative as {261}
“deeper than demonstration—deeper even than definite cognition—deep
as the very nature of mind;”[29] which seems to me to be saying as
emphatically as possible that, while all other truths may be held as
relative, this truth must be held as absolute. Yet, strangely enough,
though contending thus against the pure relativists, and holding
with the reviewer, that “every asserter of such a [purely-relative]
philosophy must be in the position of a man who saws across the branch
of a tree on which he actually sits, at a point between himself
and the trunk,”[30] I am singled out by him as though this were my
own predicament! So far, then, from admitting that the view I hold
“involves the denial of all truth,” I assert that, having at the outset
posited the co-existence of subject and object as a deliverance of
consciousness which precedes all reasoning;[31] having subsequently
shown, analytically, that this postulate is in every way verified,[32]
and that in its absence the proof of relativity is impossible; my view
is distinguished by an exactly-opposite trait.

The justification of his second proposition the reviewer commences by
saying that—“In the first place the process of Evolution, as understood
by Mr. Spencer, compels him to be at one with Mr. Darwin in his denial
of the existence of any fundamental and essential distinction between
Duty and Pleasure.” Following this by a statement respecting the
genesis of moral sentiments as understood by me (which is extremely
unlike the one I have given in the _Principles of Psychology_, § 215,
§§ 503–512, and §§ 524–532), the reviewer goes on to say that “We yield
with much reluctance to the necessity of affirming that Mr. Spencer
gives no evidence of ever having acquired a knowledge of the meaning of
the term ‘morality,’ according to the true sense of the word.”

Just noting that, as shown by the context, the assertion {262} thus
made is made against all those who hold the Doctrine of Evolution in
its unqualified form, I reply that in so far as it concerns me, it
is one the reviewer would scarcely have made had he more carefully
examined the evidence: not limiting himself to those works of mine
named at the head of his article. And I cannot but think that had the
spirit of fairness which he evidently strives to maintain, been fully
awake when these passages were written, he would have seen that, before
making so serious an allegation, wider inquiry was needful. If he had
simply said that, given the doctrine of mental evolution as held by me,
he failed to see how moral principles are to be established, I should
not have objected; provided he had also said that I believe they can be
established, and had pointed out what I hold to be their bases. As it
is, however, he has so presented his own inference from my premises,
as to make it seem an inference which I also must draw from my
premises. Quite a different and much more secure foundation for moral
principles is alleged by me, than that afforded by moral sentiments and
conceptions; which he refers to as though they formed the sole basis of
the ethical conclusions I hold. While the reviewer contends that “Mr.
Spencer’s moral system is even yet more profoundly defective, as it
denies any objective distinction between right and wrong in any being,
whether men are or are not responsible for their actions;” I contend,
contrariwise, that it is distinguished from other moral systems by
asserting the objectivity of the distinction, and by endeavouring to
show that the subjective distinction is derived from the objective
distinction. In my first work, _Social Statics_, published twenty-three
years ago, the essential thesis is that, apart from their warrant as
alleged Divine injunctions, and apart from their authority as moral
intuitions, the principles of justice are primarily deducible from the
laws of life as carried on under social conditions. I argued throughout
that these principles so derived have {263} a supreme authority, to
which considerations of immediate expediency must yield; and I was for
this reason classed by Mr. Mill as an anti-utilitarian. More recently,
in a letter drawn from me by this misapprehension of Mr. Mill, and
afterwards published by Professor Bain in his _Mental and Moral
Science_, I have re-stated this position. Already, in an explanatory
article entitled _Morals and Moral Sentiments_, published in the
_Fortnightly Review_ for April, 1871, I have quoted passages from that
letter; and here, considering the gravity of the assertions made by the
_Quarterly_ reviewer, I hope to be excused for re-quoting them:―

 “Morality, properly so called—the science of right conduct—has for
 its object to determine _how_ and _why_ certain modes of conduct are
 detrimental, and certain other modes beneficial. These good and bad
 results cannot be accidental, but must be necessary consequences of
 the constitution of things; and 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. Having done this,
 its deductions are to be recognized as laws of conduct; and are to
 be conformed to irrespective of a direct estimation of happiness or

       *       *       *       *       *

 “If it is true that pure rectitude prescribes a system of things
 far too good for men as they are, it is not less true that mere
 expediency does not of itself tend to establish a system of things
 any better than that which exists. While absolute morality owes to
 expediency the checks which prevent it from rushing into Utopian
 absurdities, expediency is indebted to absolute morality for all
 stimulus to improvement. Granted that we are chiefly interested in
 ascertaining what is _relatively right_, it still follows that we must
 first consider what is _absolutely right_; since the one conception
 presupposes the other.”

And the comment I then made on these passages I may make now, that
“I do not see how there could well be a more emphatic assertion that
there exists a primary basis of morals independent of, and in a sense
antecedent to, that which is furnished by experiences of utility; and
consequently independent of, and in a sense antecedent to, those moral
sentiments which I conceive to be generated by such experiences.” I
will only add that, had my beliefs been directly opposite to those I
have enunciated, {264} the reviewer might, I think, have found good
reasons for his assertion. If, instead of demurring to the doctrine
“that greatest happiness should be the _immediate_ aim of man,”[33] I
had endorsed that doctrine—if, instead of explaining and justifying “a
belief in the special sacredness of these highest principles, and a
sense of the supreme authority of the altruistic sentiments answering
to them,”[34] I had denied the sacredness and the supreme authority—if,
instead of saying of the wise man that “the highest truth he sees he
will fearlessly utter; knowing that, let what may come of it, he is
thus playing his right part in the world,”[35] I had said that the wise
man will _not_ do this; the reviewer might with truth have described me
as not understanding “the term ‘morality’ according to the true sense
of the word.” And he might then have inferred that the Doctrine of
Evolution as I hold it, implies denial of the “distinction between Duty
and Pleasure.” But as it is, I think the evidence will not generally be
held to warrant his assertion.

I quite agree with the reviewer that the prevalence of a philosophy
“is no mere question of speculative interest, but is one of the
highest practical importance.” I join him, too, in the belief that
“calamitous social and political changes” may be the outcome of a
mistaken philosophy. Moreover, writing as he does under the conviction
that there can be no standard of right and wrong save one derived from
a Revelation interpreted by an Infallible Authority, I can conceive
the alarm with which he regards so radically opposed a system. Though
I could have wished that the sense of justice he generally displays
had prevented him from ignoring the evidence I have above given, I can
understand how, from his point of view, the Doctrine of Evolution,
as I understand it, “seems absolutely fatal {265} to every germ of
morality,” and “entirely negatives every form of religion.” But I am
unable to understand that modified Doctrine of Evolution which the
reviewer hints at as an alternative. For, little as the reader would
anticipate it after these expressions of profound dissent, the reviewer
displays such an amount of agreement as to suggest that the system he
is criticizing might be converted, “rapidly and without violence, into
an ‘allotropic state,’ in which its conspicuous characters would be
startlingly diverse from those that it exhibits at present.” May I,
using a different figure, suggest a different transformation, having a
subjective instead of an objective character? As in a stereoscope, the
two views representing diverse aspects, often yield at first a jumble
of conflicting impressions, but, after a time, suddenly combine into a
single whole which stands out quite clearly; so, may it not be that the
seemingly-inconsistent Idealism and Realism dwelt on by the reviewer,
as well as the other seemingly-fundamental incongruities he is struck
by, will, under more persistent contemplation, unite as complementary
sides of the same thing?

       *       *       *       *       *

My excuse for devoting some space to a criticism of so entirely
different a kind as that contained in the _British Quarterly Review_
for October, 1873, must be that, under the circumstances, I cannot let
it pass unnoticed without seeming to admit its validity.

Saying that my books should be dealt with by specialists, and tacitly
announcing himself as an expert in Physics, the reviewer takes me to
task both for errors in the statement of physical principles and for
erroneous reasoning in physics. That he discovers no mistakes I do not
say. It would be marvellous if in such a multitude of propositions,
averaging a dozen per page, I had made all criticism-proof. Some
are inadvertencies which I should have been obliged to the reviewer
for pointing out as such, but which he prefers to {266} instance
as proving my ignorance. In other cases, taking advantage of an
imperfection of statement, he proceeds to instruct me about matters
which either the context, or passages in the same volume, show to be
quite familiar to me. Here is a sample of his criticisms belonging to
this class:―

 “Nor should we counsel a man to venture upon physical speculations
 who converts the proposition ‘_heat is insensible motion_’ into
 ‘_insensible motion is heat_,’ and hence concludes that when a force
 is applied to a mass so large that no motion is seen to result from
 it, or when, as in the case of sound, motion gets so dispersed that it
 becomes insensible, it turns to heat.”

Respecting the first of the two statements contained in this sentence,
I will observe that the reader, if not misled by the quotation-marks
into the supposition that I have made, in so many words, the assertion
that “insensible motion is heat,” will at any rate infer that this
assertion is distinctly involved in the passage named. And he will
infer that the reviewer would never have charged me with such an absurd
belief, if there was before him evidence proving that I have no such
belief. What will the reader say, then, when he learns, not simply that
there is no such statement, and not simply that on the page referred
to, which I have ascertained to be the one intended, there is no such
implication visible, even to an expert (and I have put the question to
one); but when he further learns that in other passages, the fact that
heat is one only of the modes of insensible motion is distinctly stated
(see _First Prin_. §§ 66, 68, 171); and when he learns that elsewhere I
have specified the several forms of insensible motion? If the reviewer,
who looks so diligently for flaws as to search an essay in a volume he
is not reviewing to find one term of an incongruity, had sought with
equal diligence to learn what I thought about insensible motion, he
would have found in the _Classification of the Sciences_, Table II.,
that insensible motion is described by me as having the forms of Heat,
Light, Electricity, Magnetism. Even had there been in {267} the place
he names, an unquestionable implication of the belief which he ascribes
to me, fairness might have led him to regard it as an oversight when
he found it at variance with statements I have elsewhere made. What
then is to be thought of him when, in the place named, no such belief
is manifest; either to an ordinary reader or to a specially-instructed

No less significant is the state of mind betrayed in the second clause
of the reviewer’s sentence. By representing me as saying that when
the motion constituting sound “gets so dispersed that it becomes
insensible, it turns to heat,” does he intend to represent me as
thinking that when sound-undulations become too weak to be audible,
they become heat-undulations? If so, I reply that the passage he refers
to has no such meaning. Does he then allege that some part of the force
diffused in sound-waves is expended in generating electricity, by
the friction of heterogeneous substances (which, however, eventually
lapses from this special form of molecular motion in that general
form constituting heat); and that I ought to have thus qualified my
statement? If so, he would have had me commit a piece of scientific
pedantry hindering the argument. If he does not mean either of these
things, what does he mean? Does he contest the truth of the hypothesis
which enabled Laplace to correct Newton’s estimate of the velocity
of sound—the hypothesis that heat is evolved by the compression each
sound-wave produces in the air? Does he deny that the heat so generated
is at the expense of so much wave-motion lost? Does he question the
inference that some of the motion embodied in each wave is from instant
to instant dissipated, partly in this way and partly in the heat
evolved by fluid friction? Can he show any reason for doubting that
when the sound-waves have become too feeble to affect our senses, their
motion still continues to undergo this transformation and diminution
until it is all lost? If not, why does he implicitly deny that {268}
the molar motion constituting sound, eventually disappears in
producing the molecular motion constituting heat?[36]

I will dwell no longer on the exclusively-personal questions raised
by the reviewer’s statements; but, leaving the reader to judge of the
rest of my “stupendous mistakes” by the one I have dealt with, I will
turn to a question worthy to occupy some space, as having an impersonal
interest—the question, namely, respecting the nature of the warrant we
have for asserting ultimate physical truths. The contempt which, as a
physicist, the reviewer expresses for the metaphysical exploration of
physical ideas, I will pass over with the remark that every physical
question, probed to the bottom, opens into a metaphysical one; and that
I should have thought the controversy now going on among chemists,
respecting the legitimacy of the atomic hypothesis, might have
shown him as much. On his erroneous statement that I use the phrase
“Persistence of Force” as an equivalent for the now-generally-accepted
phrase “Conservation of Energy,” I will observe only that, had he not
been in so great a hurry to find inconsistencies, he would have seen
why, for the purposes of my argument, {269} I intentionally use the
word Force: Force being the generic word, including both that species
known as Energy, and that species by which Matter occupies space and
maintains its integrity—a species which, whatever may be its relation
to Energy, and however clearly recognized as a necessary _datum_ by
the theory of Energy, is not otherwise considered in that theory. I
will confine myself to the proposition, disputed at great length by the
reviewer, that our cognition of the Persistence of Force is _a priori_.
He relies much on the authority of Professor Tait, whom he twice quotes
to the effect that―

 “Natural philosophy is an experimental, and not an intuitive science.
 No _à priori_ reasoning can conduct us demonstratively to a single
 physical truth.”

Were I to take a hypercritical attitude, I might dwell on the fact that
Professor Tait leaves the extent of his proposition somewhat doubtful,
by speaking of “Natural philosophy” as _one_ science. Were I to follow
further the reviewer’s example, I might point out that “Natural
philosophy,” in that Newtonian acceptation adopted by Professor
Tait, includes Astronomy; and, going on to ask what astronomical
“experiments” those are which conduct us to astronomical truths, I
might then “counsel” the reviewer not to depend on the authority of one
who (to use the reviewer’s polite language) “blunders” by confounding
experiment and observation. I will not, however, thus infer from
Professor Tait’s imperfection of statement that he is unaware of the
difference between the two; and shall rate his authority as of no less
value than I should, had he been more accurate in his expression.
Respecting that authority I shall simply remark that, if the question
had to be settled by the authority of any physicist, the authority of
Mayer, who is diametrically opposed to Prof. Tait on this point, and
who has been specially honoured, both by the Royal Society and by the
French Institute, might well counter-weigh his, if not out-weigh it.
I am not aware, {270} however, that the question is one in Physics.
It seems to me a question respecting the nature of proof. And, without
doubting Professor Tait’s competence in Logic and Psychology, I should
decline to abide by his judgment on such a question, even were there no
opposite judgment given by a physicist, certainly of not less eminence.

Authority aside, however, let us discuss the matter on its merits.
In the _Treatise on Natural Philosophy_, by Profs. Thomson and Tait,
§ 243 (1st ed.), I read that “as we shall show in our chapter on
‘Experience,’ physical axioms are axiomatic to those only who have
sufficient knowledge of the action of physical causes to enable them
to see at once their necessary truth.” In this I agree entirely.
It is in Physics, as it is in Mathematics, that before necessary
truths can be grasped, there must be gained by individual experience,
such familiarity with the elements of the thoughts to be framed,
that propositions about those elements may be mentally represented
with distinctness. Tell a child that things which are equal to
the same thing are equal to one another, and the child, lacking a
sufficiently-abstract notion of equality, and lacking, too, the
needful practice in comparing relations, will fail to grasp the axiom.
Similarly, a rustic, never having thought much about forces and their
results, cannot form a definite conception answering to the axiom that
action and reaction are equal and opposite. In the last case as in
the first, ideas of the terms and their relations require to be made,
by practice in thinking, so vivid that the involved truths may be
mentally seen. But when the individual experiences have been multiplied
enough to produce distinctness in the representations of the elements
dealt with; then, in the one case as in the other, those mental forms
generated by ancestral experiences, cannot be occupied by the elements
of one of these ultimate truths without perception of its necessity.
If Professor Tait does not admit this, what {271} does he mean by
speaking of “physical _axioms_,” and by saying that the cultured are
enabled “to see _at once_ their _necessary_ truth?”

Again, if there are no physical truths which must be classed as _a
priori_, I ask why Professor Tait joins Sir W. Thomson in accepting
as bases for Physics, Newton’s Laws of Motion? Though Newton gives
illustrations of prolonged motion in bodies that are little resisted,
he gives no _proof_ that a body in motion will continue moving, if
uninterfered with, in the same direction at the same velocity; nor,
on turning to the enunciation of this law quoted in the above-named
work, do I find that Professor Tait does more than exemplify it by
facts which can themselves be asserted only by taking the law for
granted. Does Professor Tait deny that the first law of motion is a
physical truth? If so, what does he call it? Does he admit it to be
a physical truth, and, denying that it is _a priori_, assert that it
is established _a posteriori_—that is, by conscious induction from
observation and experiment? If so, what is the inductive reasoning
which can establish it? Let us glance at the several conceivable
arguments which we must suppose him to rely on.

A body set in motion soon ceases to move if it encounters much
friction, or much resistance from the bodies struck. If less of its
energy is expended in moving, or otherwise affecting, other bodies, or
in overcoming friction, its motion continues longer. And it continues
longest when, as over smooth ice, it meets with the smallest amount
of obstruction. May we then, proceeding by the method of concomitant
variations, infer that were it wholly unobstructed its motion would
continue undiminished? If so, we assume that the diminution of its
motion observed in experience, is proportionate to the amount of
energy abstracted from it in producing other motion, either molar or
molecular. We assume that no variation has taken place in its rate,
save that caused by deductions in moving other matter; for if {272}
its motion be supposed to have otherwise varied, the conclusion that
the differences in the distances travelled result from differences
in the obstructions met with, is vitiated. Thus the truth to be
established is already taken for granted in the premises. Nor is the
question begged in this way only. In every case where it is remarked
that a body stops the sooner, the more it is obstructed by other bodies
or media, the law of inertia is assumed to hold in the obstructing
bodies or media. The very conception of greater or less retardation
so caused, implies the belief that there can be no retardations
without proportionate retarding causes; which is itself the assumption
otherwise expressed in the first law of motion.

Again, let us suppose that instead of inexact observations made on the
movements occurring in daily experience, we make exact experiments on
movements specially arranged to yield measured results; what is the
postulate underlying every experiment? Uniform velocity is defined as
motion through equal spaces in equal times. How do we measure equal
times? By an instrument which can be inferred to mark equal times
only if the oscillations of the pendulum are isochronous; which they
can be proved to be only if the first and second laws of motion are
granted. That is to say, the proposed experimental proof of the first
law, assumes not only the truth of the first law, but of that which
Professor Tait agrees with Newton in regarding as a second law. Is it
said that the ultimate time-measure referred to is the motion of the
Earth round its axis, through equal angles in equal times? Then the
obvious rejoinder is that the assertion of this, similarly involves an
assertion of the truth to be proved; since the undiminished rotatory
movement of the Earth is itself a corollary from the first law of
motion. Is it alleged that this axial movement of the Earth through
equal angles in equal times, is ascertainable by reference to the
stars? I answer that a developed system of Astronomy, leading through
complex {273} reasonings to the conclusion that the Earth rotates, is,
in that case, supposed to be needful before there can be established
a law of motion which this system of Astronomy itself postulates. For
even should it be said that the Newtonian theory of the Solar System is
not necessarily pre-supposed, but only the Copernican; still, the proof
of this assumes that a body at rest (a star being taken as such) will
continue at rest; which is a part of the first law of motion, regarded
by Newton as not more self-evident than the remaining part.

Not a little remarkable, indeed, is the oversight made by Professor
Tait, in asserting that “no _a priori_ reasoning can conduct us
demonstratively to a single physical truth,” when he has before him
the fact that the system of physical truths constituting Newton’s
_Principia_, which he has joined Sir William Thomson in editing, is
established by _a priori_ reasoning. That there can be no change
without a cause, or, in the words of Mayer, that “a force cannot become
nothing, and just as little can a force be produced from nothing,” is
that ultimate dictum of consciousness on which all physical science
rests. It is involved alike in the assertion that a body at rest will
continue at rest, in the assertion that a body in motion must continue
to move at the same velocity in the same line if no force acts on it,
and in the assertion that any divergent motion given to it must be
proportionate to the deflecting force; and it is also involved in the
axiom that action and reaction are equal and opposite.

The reviewer’s doctrine, in support of which he cites against me the
authority of Professor Tait, illustrates in Physics that same error
of the inductive philosophy which, in Metaphysics, I have pointed out
elsewhere (_Principles of Psychology_, Part VII.). It is a doctrine
implying that we can go on for ever asking the proof of the proof,
without finally coming to any deepest cognition which is unproved
and unprovable. That this is an untenable doctrine, I need {274}
not say more to show. Nor, indeed, would saying more to show it be
likely to have any effect, in so far at least as the reviewer is
concerned; seeing that he thinks I am “ignorant of the very nature of
the principles” of which I am speaking, and seeing that my notions of
scientific reasoning “remind” him “of the Ptolemists,” who argued that
the heavenly bodies must move in circles because the circle is the most
perfect figure.[37]

Not to try the reader’s patience further, I will end by pointing out
that, even were the reviewer’s criticisms all valid, they would leave
unshaken the theory he contends against. Though one of his sentences
(p. 480) raises the expectation that he is about to assault, and
greatly to damage, the bases of the system contained in the second part
of _First Principles_, yet all those propositions which constitute the
bases, he leaves, not only uninjured, but even untouched,—contenting
himself with trying to show (with what success we have seen) that the
fundamental one is an _a posteriori_ truth and not an _a priori_ truth.
Against the general Doctrine of Evolution, considered as an induction
from all classes of concrete phenomena, he utters not a word; nor does
he utter a word to disprove any one of those laws of the redistribution
of matter and motion, by {275} which the process of Evolution is
deductively interpreted. Respecting the law of the Instability of
the Homogeneous, he says no more than to quarrel with one of the
illustrations. He makes no criticism on the law of the Multiplication
of Effects. The law of Segregation he does not even mention. Nor does
he mention the law of Equilibration. Further, he urges nothing against
the statement that these general laws are severally deducible from the
ultimate law of the Persistence of Force. Lastly, he does not deny the
Persistence of Force; but only differs respecting the nature of our
warrant for asserting it. Beyond pointing out, here a cracked brick and
there a quoin set askew, he merely makes a futile attempt to show that
the foundation is not natural rock, but concrete.

From his objections I may, indeed, derive much satisfaction. That a
competent critic, obviously anxious to do all the mischief he can, and
not over-scrupulous about the means he uses, has done so little, may be
taken as evidence that the fabric of conclusions attacked will not be
readily overthrown.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the _British Quarterly Review_ for January, 1874, the writer of the
article I have dealt with above, makes a rejoinder. It is of the kind
which might have been anticipated. There are men to whom the discovery
that they have done injustice is painful. After proof of having wrongly
ascribed to another such a nonsensical belief as that insensible
motion is heat because heat is insensible motion, some would express
regret. Not so my reviewer. Having by forced interpretations debited
me with an absurdity, he makes no apology; but, with an air implying
that he had all along done this, he attacks the allegation I had
really made—an allegation which is at least so far from an absurdity,
that he describes it only as not justified by “the present state
of science.” And here, having incidentally referred to this point,
I may as well, before {276} proceeding, deal with his substituted
charge at the same time that I further exemplify his method. Probably
most of those who see the _British Quarterly_, will be favourably
impressed by the confidence of his assertion; but those who compare
my statement with his travesty of it, and who compare both with some
authoritative exposition, will be otherwise impressed. To his statement
that I conclude “that friction must ultimately transform _all_ [the
italics are his] the energy of a sound into heat,” I reply that it is
glaringly untrue: I have named friction as a second cause only. And
when he pooh-poohs the effect of compression because it is “merely
momentary,” is he aware of the meaning of his words? Will he deny that,
from first to last, during the interval of condensation, heat is being
generated? Will he deny to the air the power of radiating such heat? He
will not venture to do so. Take then the interval of condensation as
one-thousandth of a second. I ask him to inform those whom he professes
to instruct, what is the probable number of heat-waves which have
escaped in this interval. Must they not be numbered by thousands of
millions? In fact, by his “merely momentary,” he actually assumes that
what is momentary in relation to our time-measures, is momentary in
relation to the escape of ethereal undulations!

Let me now proceed more systematically, and examine his rejoinder point
by point. It sets out thus:―

 “In the notice of Mr. Spencer’s works that appeared in the last number
 of this _Review_, we had occasion to point out that he held mistaken
 notions of the most fundamental generalizations of dynamics; that he
 had shown an ignorance of the nature of proof in his treatment of the
 Newtonian Law; that he had used phrases such as the Persistence of
 Force in various and inconsistent significations; and more especially
 that he had put forth proofs logically faulty in his endeavour to
 demonstrate certain physical propositions by _à priori_ methods, and
 to show that such proofs must exist. To this article Mr. Spencer has
 replied in the December number of the _Fortnightly Review_. His reply
 leaves every one of the above positions unassailed.”

In my “Replies to Criticisms,” which, as it was, trespassed unduly on
the pages of the _Fortnightly Review_, I singled {277} out from those
of his allegations which touched me personally, one that might be
briefly dealt with as an example; and I stated that, passing over other
personal questions, as not interesting to the general reader, I should
devote the small space available to an impersonal one. Notwithstanding
this, the reviewer, in the foregoing paragraph, enumerates his chief
positions; asserts that I have not assailed any of them (which is
untrue); and then leads his readers to the belief that I have not
assailed them because they are unassailable.

Leaving this misbelief to be dealt with presently, I continue my
comments on his rejoinder. After referring to the passage I have quoted
from Prof. Tait’s statement about physical axioms, and after indicating
the nature of my criticism, the reviewer says:―

 “Had Mr. Spencer, however, read the sentence that follows it, we
 doubt whether we should have heard aught of this quotation. It is
 ‘Without further remark we shall give Newton’s Three Laws; it being
 remembered that as the properties of matter might have been such as
 to render a totally different set of laws axiomatic, _these laws must
 be considered as resting on convictions drawn from observation and
 experiment and not on intuitive perception_.’ This not only shows that
 the term ‘axiomatic’ is used in the previous sentence in a sense that
 does not exclude an inductive origin, but it leaves us indebted to
 Mr. Spencer for the discovery of the clearest and most authoritative
 expression of disapproval of his views respecting the nature of the
 Laws of Motion.”

Let us analyze this “authoritative expression.” It contains several
startling implications, the disclosure of which the reader will find
not uninteresting. Consider, first, what is implied by framing the
thought that “the properties of matter might have been such as to
render a totally different set of laws axiomatic.” I will not stop to
make the inquiry whether matter having properties fundamentally unlike
its present ones, can be conceived; though such an inquiry, leading
to the conclusion that no conception of the kind is possible, would
show that the proposition is merely a verbal one. It will suffice if
I examine the nature of this proposition that “the properties of
matter _might have been_” {278} other than they are. Does it express
an experimentally-ascertained truth? If so, I invite Prof. Tait to
describe the experiments. Is it an intuition? If so, then along with
doubt of an intuitive belief concerning things _as they are_, there
goes confidence in an intuitive belief concerning things _as they are
not_. Is it an hypothesis? If so, the implication is that a cognition
of which the negation is inconceivable (for an axiom is such) may be
discredited by inference from that which is not a cognition at all,
but simply a supposition. Does the reviewer admit that no conclusion
can have a validity greater than is possessed by its premises? or
will he say that the trustworthiness of cognitions increases in
proportion as they are the more inferential? Be his answer what it
may, I shall take it as unquestionable that nothing concluded can
have a warrant higher than that from which it is concluded, though
it may have a lower. Now the elements of the proposition before us
are these:—_As_ “the properties of matter might have been such as
to render a totally different set of laws axiomatic” [_therefore_]
“these laws [now in force] must be considered as resting . . . not on
intuitive perception:” that is, the intuitions in which these laws
are recognized, must not be held authoritative. Here the cognition
posited as premiss, is that the properties of matter might have been
other than they are; and the conclusion is that our intuitions relative
to existing properties are uncertain. Hence, if this conclusion is
valid, it is valid because the cognition or intuition respecting
what might have been, is more trustworthy than the cognition or
intuition respecting what is! Scepticism respecting the deliverances
of consciousness about things as they are, is based upon faith in a
deliverance of consciousness about things as they are not!

I go on to remark that this “authoritative expression of disapproval”
by which I am supposed to be silenced, even were its allegation as
valid as it is fallacious, would leave {279} wholly untouched the real
issue. I pointed out how Prof. Tait’s denial that any physical truths
could be reached _a priori_, was contradicted by his own statement
respecting physical axioms. The question thus raised the reviewer
evades, and substitutes another with which I have just dealt. Now I
bring forward again the evaded question.

In the passage I quoted, Prof. Tait, besides speaking of physical
“_axioms_,” says of them that due familiarity with physical phenomena
gives the power of seeing “_at once_” “their _necessary_ truth.” These
last words, which express his conception of an axiom, express also the
usual conception. An axiom is defined as a “self-evident truth,” or a
truth that is seen _at once_; and the definition otherwise worded is—a
“truth so evident _at first sight_, that no process of reasoning or
demonstration can make it plainer.” Now I contend that Prof. Tait, by
thus committing himself to a definition of physical axioms identical
with that which is given of mathematical axioms, tacitly admits that
they have the same _a priori_ character; and I further contend that no
such nature as that which he describes physical axioms to have, can be
acquired by experiment or observation during the life of an individual.
Axioms, if defined as truths of which the _necessity_ is at once seen,
are thereby defined as truths of which the negation is inconceivable;
and the familiar contrast between them and the truths established by
individual experiences, is that these last never become such that their
negations are inconceivable, however multitudinous the experiences may
be. Thousands of times has the sportsman heard the report that follows
the flash from his gun, but still he can imagine the flash as occurring
silently; and countless daily experiments on the burning of coal, leave
him able to conceive coal as remaining in the fire without ignition.
So that the “convictions drawn from observation and experiment” during
a single life, can never acquire that character which Prof. Tait
admits physical axioms to have: in other words, physical axioms cannot
be {280} derived from personal observation and experiment. Thus,
otherwise applying the reviewer’s words, I “doubt whether we should
have heard aught of this quotation” to which he calls my attention,
had he studied the matter more closely; and he “leaves us indebted to”
him “for the discovery of” a passage which serves to make clearer the
untenability of the doctrine he so dogmatically affirms.

I turn now to what the reviewer says concerning the special arguments
I used to show that the first law of motion cannot be proved
experimentally. After a bare enunciation of my positions, he says:―

 “On the utterly erroneous character of these statements we do not
 care to dwell, we wish simply to call our reader’s attention to the
 conclusion arrived at. Is that a disproof of the possibility of an
 inductive proof? We thought that every tolerably educated man was
 aware that the proof of a scientific law _consisted in_ showing that
 _by_ assuming its truth, we could explain the observed phenomena.”

Probably the reviewer expects his readers to conclude that he could
easily dispose of the statements referred to if he tried. Among
scientific men, however, this cavalier passing over of my arguments
will perhaps be ascribed to another cause. I will give him my reason
for saying this. Those arguments, read in proof by one of the most
eminent physicists, and by a specially-honoured mathematician,
had their entire concurrence; and I have since had from another
mathematician, standing among the very first, such qualified agreement
as is implied in saying that the first law of motion cannot be
proved by terrestrial observations (which is in large measure what
I undertook to show in the paragraphs which the reviewer passes
over so contemptuously). But his last sentence, telling us what he
thought “every tolerably educated man was aware” of, is the one which
chiefly demands attention. In it he uses the word _law_—a word which,
conveniently wide in meaning, suits his purpose remarkably well. But
we are here speaking of physical _axioms_. The question is whether
the justification of a physical {281} axiom consists in showing that
by assuming its truth, we can explain the observed phenomena. If it
does, then all distinction between hypothesis and axiom disappears.
Mathematical axioms, for which there is no other definition than
that which Prof. Tait gives of physical axioms, must stand on the
same footing. Henceforth we must hold that our warrant for asserting
that “things which are equal to the same thing are equal to one
another,” consists in the observed truth of the geometrical and other
propositions deducible from it and the associated axioms—the _observed_
truth, mind; for the fabric of deductions yields none of the required
warrant until these deductions have been tested by measurement. When we
have described squares on the three sides of a right-angled triangle,
cut them out in paper, and, by weighing them, have found that the one
on the hypothenuse balances the other two; then we have got a fact
which, joined with other facts similarly ascertained, justifies us in
asserting that things which are equal to the same thing are equal to
one another! Even as it stands, this implication will not, I think, be
readily accepted; but we shall find that its unacceptability becomes
still more conspicuous when the analysis is pursued to the end.

Continuing his argument to show that the laws of motion have no _a
priori_ warrant, the reviewer says:―

 “Mr. Spencer asserts that Newton gave no proof of the Laws of Motion.
 The whole of the _Principia_ was the proof, and the fact that, taken
 as a system, these laws account for the lunar and planetary motions,
 is the warrant on which they chiefly rest to this day.”

I have first to point out that here, as before, the reviewer escapes
by raising a new issue. I did not ask what he thinks about the
_Principia_, and the proof of the laws of motion by it; nor did I ask
whether others at this day, hold the assertion of these laws to be
justified mainly by the evidence the Solar System affords. I asked what
Newton thought. The reviewer had represented the belief that the second
law of motion is knowable _a priori_, as too {282} absurd even for
me openly to enunciate. I pointed out that since Newton enunciates it
openly under the title of an axiom, and offers no proof whatever of it,
he did explicitly what I am blamed for doing implicitly. And thereupon
I invited the reviewer to say what he thought of Newton. Instead of
answering, he gives me his opinion to the effect that the laws of
motion are proved true by the truth of the _Principia_ deduced from
them. Of this hereafter. My present purpose is to show that Newton did
not say this, and gave every indication of thinking the contrary. He
does not call the laws of motion “hypotheses;” he calls them “axioms.”
He does not say that he assumes them to be true _provisionally_; and
that the warrant for accepting them as actually true, will be found in
the astronomically-proved truth of the deductions. He lays them down
just as mathematical axioms are laid down—posits them as truths to be
accepted _a priori_, from which follow consequences that must therefore
be accepted. And though the reviewer thinks this an untenable position,
I am quite content to range myself with Newton in thinking it a tenable
one—if, indeed, I may say so without undervaluing the reviewer’s
judgment. But now, having shown that the reviewer evaded the issue I
raised, which it was inconvenient for him to meet, I pass to the issue
he substitutes for it. I will first deal with it after the methods of
ordinary logic, before dealing with it after the methods of what may be
called transcendental logic.

To establish the truth of a proposition postulated, by showing that
the deductions from it are true, requires that the truth of the
deductions shall be shown in some way that does not directly or
indirectly assume the truth of the proposition postulated. If, setting
out with the axioms of Euclid, we deduce the truths that “the angle
in a semi-circle is a right angle,” and that “the opposite angles of
any quadrilateral figure described in a circle, are together equal
to two right angles,” and so forth; and if, because {283} these
propositions are true, we say that the axioms are true, we are guilty
of a _petitio principii_. I do not mean simply that if these various
propositions are taken as true on the strength of the demonstrations
given, the reasoning is circular, because the demonstrations assume the
axioms; but I mean more—I mean that any supposed _experimental_ proof
of these propositions by measurement, itself assumes the axioms to be
justified. For even when the supposed experimental proof consists in
showing that some two lines demonstrated by reason to be equal, are
equal when tested in perception, the axiom that things which are equal
to the same thing are equal to one another, is taken for granted. The
equality of the two lines can be ascertained only by carrying from
the one to the other, some measure (either a moveable marked line
or the space between the points of compasses), and by assuming that
the two lines are equal to one another, because they are severally
equal to this measure. The ultimate truths of mathematics, then,
cannot be established by any experimental proof that the deductions
from them are true; since the supposed experimental proof takes them
for granted. The same thing holds of ultimate physical truths. For
the alleged _a posteriori_ proof of these truths, has a vice exactly
analogous to the vice I have just indicated. Every evidence yielded
by astronomy that the axioms called “the laws of motion” are true,
resolves itself into a fulfilled prevision that some celestial body or
bodies, will be seen in a specified place, or in specified places, in
the heavens, at some assigned time. Now the day, hour, and minute of
this verifying observation, can be fixed only on the assumption that
the Earth’s motion in its orbit and its motion round its axis, continue
undiminished. Mark, then, the parallelism. One who chose to deny that
things which are equal to the same thing are equal to one another,
could never have it proved to him by showing the truth of deduced
propositions; since the testing process would in {284} every case
assume that which he denied. Similarly, one who refused to admit that
motion, uninterfered with, continues in the same straight line at the
same velocity, could not have it proved to him by the fulfilment of an
astronomical prediction; because he would say that both the spectator’s
position in space, and the position of the event in time, were those
alleged, only if the Earth’s motions of translation and rotation
were undiminished, which was the very thing he called in question.
Evidently such a sceptic might object that the seeming fulfilment of
the prediction, say a transit of Venus, may be effected by various
combinations of the changing positions of Venus, of the Earth, and of
the spectator on the Earth. The appearances may occur as anticipated,
though Venus is at some other place than the calculated one; provided
the Earth also is at some other place, and the spectator’s position on
the Earth is different. And if the first law of motion is not assumed,
it must be admitted that the Earth and the spectator _may_ occupy these
other places at the predicted time: supposing that in the absence of
the first law, this predicted time can be ascertained, which it cannot.
Thus the testing process inevitably begs the question.

That the perfect congruity of all astronomical observations with all
deductions from “the laws of motion,” gives coherence to this group
of intuitions and perceptions, and so furnishes a warrant for the
entire aggregate of them which it would not have were any of them at
variance, is unquestionable. But it does not therefore follow that
astronomical observations can furnish a test for _each individual
assumption_, out of the many which are simultaneously made. I will not
dwell on the fact that the process of verification assumes the validity
of the assumptions on which acts of reasoning proceed; for the reply
may be that these are shown to be valid apart from astronomy. Nor will
I insist that the assumptions underlying mathematical inferences,
geometrical and {285} numerical, are involved; since it may be said
that these are justifiable separately by our terrestrial experiences.
But, passing over all else that is taken for granted, it suffices to
point out that, in making every astronomical prediction, the three
laws of motion and the law of gravitation are _all_ assumed; that if
the first law of motion is to be held proved by the fulfilment of
the prediction, it can be so only by taking for granted that the two
other laws of motion and the law of gravitation are true; and that
non-fulfilment of the prediction would not disprove the first law of
motion, since the error might be in one or other of the three remaining
assumptions. Similarly with the second law: the astronomical proof of
it depends on the truth of the accompanying assumptions. So that the
warrants for the assumptions A, B, C, and D, are respectively such
that A, B, and C being taken as trustworthy, prove the validity of D;
D being thus proved valid, joins C, and B, in giving a character to
A; and so throughout. The result is that everything comes out right
if they happen to be all true; but if one of them is false, it may
destroy the characters of the other three, though these are in reality
exact. Clearly, then, astronomical prediction and observation can never
test any one of the premises by itself. They can only justify the
entire aggregate of premises, mathematical and physical, joined with
the entire aggregate of reasoning processes leading from premises to

I now recall the reviewer’s “thought,” uttered in his habitual manner,
“that every tolerably educated man was aware that the proof of a
scientific law _consisted in_ showing that _by_ assuming its truth,
we could explain the observed phenomena.” Having from the point of
view of ordinary logic dealt with this theory of proof as applied by
the reviewer, I proceed to deal with it from the point of view of
transcendental logic, as I have myself applied it. And here I have to
charge the reviewer with either being ignorant of, or else deliberately
ignoring, a cardinal {286} doctrine of the System of Philosophy he
professes to review—a doctrine set forth not in those four volumes of
it which he seems never to have looked into; but in the one volume of
it he has partially dealt with. For this principle which, in respect
to scientific belief, he enunciates for my instruction, is one which,
in _First Principles_, I have enunciated in respect to all beliefs
whatever. In the chapter on the “Data of Philosophy,” where I have
inquired into the legitimacy of our modes of procedure, and where I
have pointed out that there are certain ultimate conceptions without
which the intellect can no more stir “than the body can stir without
help of its limbs,” I have inquired how their validity or invalidity is
to be shown; and I have gone on to reply that―

 “Those of them which are vital, or cannot be severed from the rest
 without mental dissolution, must be assumed as true _provisionally_
 . . . . leaving the assumption of their unquestionableness to be
 justified by the results.

 Ҥ 40. How is it to be justified by the results? As any other
 assumption is justified—by ascertaining that all the conclusions
 deducible from it, correspond with the facts as directly observed—by
 showing the agreement between the experiences it leads us to
 anticipate, and the actual experiences. There is no mode of
 establishing the validity of any belief, except that of showing its
 entire congruity with all other beliefs.”

Proceeding avowedly and rigorously on this principle, I have next
inquired what is the fundamental _process_ of thought by which this
congruity is to be determined, and what is the fundamental _product_ of
thought yielded by this process. This fundamental product I have shown
to be the coexistence of subject and object; and then, describing this
as a postulate to be justified by “its subsequently-proved congruity
with every result of experience, direct and indirect,” I have gone on
to say that “the two divisions of self and not-self, are re-divisible
into certain most general forms, the reality of which Science, as
well as Common Sense, from moment to moment assumes.” Nor is this
all. Having thus assumed, _only provisionally_, this deepest of all
intuitions, far transcending an axiom in self-evidence, I {287} have,
after drawing deductions occupying four volumes, deliberately gone
back to the assumption (_Prin. of Psy.,_ § 386). After quoting the
passage in which the principle was laid down, and after reminding the
reader that the deductions drawn had been found congruous with one
another; I have pointed out that it still remained to ascertain whether
this primordial assumption was congruous with all the deductions;
and have thereupon proceeded, throughout eighteen chapters, to show
the congruity. And yet having before him the volumes in which this
principle is set forth with a distinctness, and acted upon with a
deliberation, which I believe are nowhere paralleled, the reviewer
enunciates for my benefit this principle of which he “thought that
every tolerably educated man was aware”! He enunciates it as applying
to limited groups of beliefs, to which it does not apply; and shuts his
eyes to the fact that I have avowedly and systematically acted upon it
in respect to the entire aggregate of our beliefs (axioms included) for
which it furnishes the ultimate justification!

Here I must add another elucidatory statement, which would have been
needless had the reviewer read that which he criticizes. His argument
proceeds throughout on the assumption that I understand _a priori_
truths after the ancient manner, as truths independent of experience;
and he shows this more tacitly, where he “trusts” that he is “attacking
one of the last attempts to deduce the laws of nature from our inner
consciousness.” Manifestly, a leading thesis of one of the works
he professes to review, is entirely unknown to him—the thesis that
forms of thought, and consequently the intuitions which those forms
of thought involve, result entirely from the effects of experiences,
organized and inherited. With the _Principles of Psychology_ before
him, not only does he seem unaware that it contains this doctrine, but
though this doctrine, set forth in its first edition published nearly
twenty years ago, has gained {288} considerable currency, he seems
never to have heard of it. The implication of this doctrine is, not
that the “laws of nature” are deducible from “our inner consciousness,”
but that our consciousness has a pre-established correspondence
with such of those laws (simple, perpetually presented, and never
negatived) as have, in the course of practically-infinite ancestral
experiences, registered themselves in our nervous structure. Had he
taken the trouble to acquaint himself with this doctrine, he would
have learned that the intuitions of axiomatic truths are regarded by
me as latent in the inherited brain, just as bodily reflex actions are
latent in the inherited nervous centres of a lower order; that such
latent intuitions are made potentially more distinct by the greater
definiteness of structure due to individual action and culture; and
that thus, axiomatic truths, having a warrant entirely _a posteriori_
for the race, have for the individual a warrant which, substantially
_a priori_, is made complete _a posteriori_. And he would then have
learned that as, during evolution, Thought has been moulded into
increasing correspondence with Things; and as such correspondence,
tolerably complete in respect of the simple, ever-present, and
invariable relations, as those of space, has made considerable advance
in respect of the primary dynamical relations; the assertion that
the resulting intuitions are authoritative, is the assertion that
the simplest uniformities of nature, as experienced throughout an
immeasurable past, are better known than they are as experienced during
an individual life. All which conceptions, however, being, as it seems,
unheard of by the reviewer, he regards my trust in these primordial
intuitions as like that of the Ptolemists in their fancies about

       *       *       *       *       *

Thus far my chief antagonists, passive if not active, have been Prof.
Tait and, by implication, Sir William Thomson, {289} his coadjutor
in the work quoted against me—men of standing, and the last of them
of world-wide reputation as a mathematician and physicist. Partly
because the opinions of such men demand attention, I have dealt with
the questions raised at some length; and partly, also, because the
origin and consequent warrant of physical axioms are questions of
general and permanent interest. The reviewer, who by citing against me
these authorities has gained for some of his criticisms consideration
they would otherwise not deserve, I must, in respect of his other
criticisms, deal with very briefly. Because, for reasons sufficiently
indicated, I did not assail sundry of his statements, he has reiterated
them as unassailable. I will here add no more than is needful to show
how groundless is his assumption.

What the reviewer says on the metaphysical aspects of the propositions
we distinguish as physical, need not detain us long. His account of my
exposition of “Ultimate Scientific Ideas,” he closes by saying of me
that “he is not content with less than showing that all our fundamental
conceptions are inconceivable.” Whether the reviewer knows what he
means by an inconceivable conception, I cannot tell. It will suffice to
say that I have attempted no such remarkable feat as that described. My
attempt has been to show that objective activities, together with their
objective forms, are inconceivable by us—that such symbolic conceptions
of them as we frame, and are obliged to use, are proved, by the
alternative contradictions which a final analysis of them discloses, to
have no likeness to the realities. But the proposition that objective
existence cannot be rendered in terms of subjective existence, the
reviewer thinks adequately expressed by saying that “our fundamental
conceptions” (subjective products) “are inconceivable” (cannot be
framed by subjective processes)! Giving this as a sample from which
may be judged his fitness for discussing these ultimate questions, I
pass over his physico-metaphysical criticisms, and proceed at once to
{290} those which his special discipline may be assumed to render more
worthy of attention.

Quoting a passage relative to the law that “all central forces vary
inversely as the squares of the distances,” he derides the assertion
that “this law is not simply an empirical one, but one deducible
mathematically from the relations of space—one of which the negation
is inconceivable.” Now whether this statement can or cannot be fully
justified, it has at any rate none of that absurdity alleged by the
reviewer. When he puts the question—“Whence does he [do I] get this?”
he invites the suspicion that his mind is not characterized by much
excursiveness. It seems never to have occurred to him that, if rays
like those of light radiate in straight lines from a centre, the number
of them falling on any given area of a sphere described from that
centre, will diminish as the square of the distance increases, because
the surfaces of spheres vary as the squares of their radii. For, if
this has occurred to him, why does he ask whence I get the inference?
The inference is so simple a one as naturally to be recognized by those
whose thoughts go a little beyond their lessons in geometry.[38] If the
reviewer means to ask, whence I get the implied assumption that central
forces act only in straight lines, I reply that this assumption has a
warrant akin to that of Newton’s first axiom, that a moving body will
continue moving in a straight line unless interfered with. For that the
force exerted by one centre on another should act in a curved line,
implies the conception of some second force, complicating the direct
effect of the first. And, even could a central force be truly conceived
as acting in lines not straight, the _average_ {291} distribution of
its effects upon the inner surface of the surrounding sphere, would
still follow the same law. Thus, whether or not the law be accepted on
_a priori_ grounds, the assumed absurdity of representing it to have _a
priori_ grounds, is not very obvious. Respecting this statement of mine
the reviewer goes on to say―

 “This is a wisdom far higher than that possessed by the discoverer
 of the great law of attraction, who was led to consider it from no
 cogitations on the relations of space, but from observations of the
 movements of the planets; and who was so far from rising to that
 clearness of view of the truth of his great discovery, which is
 expressed by the phrase, ‘its negation is inconceivable,’ that he
 actually abandoned it for a time, because (through an error in his
 estimate of the earth’s diameter) it did not seem fully to account for
 the motion of the moon.”

To the first clause in this sentence, I have simply to give a direct
denial; and to assert that neither Newton’s “observations of the
movements of the planets” nor other such observations continued by all
astronomers for all time, would yield “the great law of attraction.”
Contrariwise, I contend that when the reviewer says, by implication,
that Newton had no antecedent hypothesis respecting the cause of the
planetary motions, he (the reviewer) is not only going beyond his
possible knowledge, but he is asserting that which even a rudimentary
acquaintance with the process of discovery, might have shown him was
impossible. Without framing, beforehand, the supposition that there
was at work an attractive force varying inversely as the square of the
distance, no such comparison of observations as that which led to the
establishment of the theory of gravitation could have been made. On the
second clause of the sentence, in which the reviewer volunteers for my
benefit the information that Newton “actually abandoned” his hypothesis
for a while because it did not bring out right results, I have first
to tell him that, in an early number of the very periodical containing
his article,[39] I cited this fact {292} (using these same words)
at a time when he was at school, or before he went there.[40] I have
next to assert that this fact is irrelevant; and that Newton, while
probably seeing it to be a necessary implication of geometrical laws
that central forces vary inversely as the squares of the distances,
did not see it to be a necessary implication of any laws, geometrical
or dynamical, that there exists a force by which the celestial bodies
affect one another; and therefore doubtless saw that there was no _a
priori_ warrant for the doctrine of gravitation. The reviewer, however,
aiming to substitute for my “confused notions” his own clear ones,
wishes me to identify the proposition—Central forces vary inversely
as the squares of the distances—with the proposition—There exists a
cosmical attractive force which varies inversely as the squares of
the distances. But I decline to identify them; and I suspect that a
considerable distinction between them was recognized by Newton. Lastly,
apart from all this, I have to point out that even had Newton thought
the existence of an attractive force throughout space was an _a priori_
truth, as well as the law of variation of such a force if it existed;
he would still, naturally enough, pause before asserting gravitation
and its law, when he found his deductions did not correspond with the
facts. To suppose otherwise, is to ascribe to him a rashness which no
disciplined man of science could be guilty of.

See, then, the critical capacity variously exhibited in the space
of a single sentence. The reviewer, quite erroneously, thinks that
observations unguided by hypotheses suffice for physical discoveries.
He seems unaware that, on _a priori_ grounds, the law of the inverse
square had been suspected as the law of some cosmical force, before
Newton. He asserts, without warrant, that no such _a priori_ conception
preceded, in Newton’s mind, his observations and {293} calculations.
He confounds the law of variation of a force, with the existence of a
force varying according to that law. And he concludes that Newton could
have had no _a priori_ conception of the law of variation, because he
did not assert the existence of a force varying according to this law
in defiance of the evidence as then presented to him!

Now that I have analyzed, with these results, the first of his
criticisms, the reader will neither expect me to waste time in
similarly dealing with the rest _seriatim_, nor will he wish to have
his own time occupied in following the analysis. To the evidence thus
furnished of the reviewer’s fitness for the task he undertakes, it will
suffice if I add an illustration or two of the _animus_ which leads
him to make grave imputations on trivial grounds, and to ignore the
evidence which contradicts his interpretations.

Because I have spoken of a balanced system, like that formed by the sun
and planets, as having the “peculiarity, that though the constituents
of the system have relative movements, the system, as a whole, has no
movement,” he unhesitatingly assumes me to be unaware that in a system
of bodies whose movements are not balanced, it is equally true that the
centre of gravity remains constant. Ignorance of a general principle in
dynamics is alleged against me solely because of this colloquial use
of the word “peculiarity,” where I should have used a word (and there
is no word perfectly fit) free from the implication of exclusiveness.
If the reviewer were to assert that arrogance is a “peculiarity” of
critics; and if I were thereupon to charge him with entire ignorance of
mankind, many of whom besides critics are arrogant, he would rightly
say that my conclusion was a very large one to draw from so small a

To this example of strained inference I will join an example of what
seems like deliberate misconstruction. From one of my essays (not among
the works he professes to deal with) the reviewer, to strengthen his
attack, brings {294} a strange mistake; which, even without inquiry,
any fair-minded reader would see must be an oversight. A statement true
of a single body acted on by a tractive force, I have inadvertently
pluralized: being so possessed by another aspect of the question, as to
overlook the obvious fact that with a plurality of bodies the statement
became untrue. Not only, however, does the reviewer ignore various
evidences furnished by the works before him, that I could not really
think what I had there said, but he ignores a direct contradiction
contained in the paragraph succeeding that from which he quotes. So
that the case stands thus:—On two adjacent pages I have made two
opposite statements, both of which I cannot be supposed to believe. One
of them is right; and this the reviewer assumes I do not believe. One
of them is glaringly wrong; and this the reviewer assumes I do believe.
Why he made this choice no one who reads his criticism will fail to see.

Even had his judgments more authority than is given to them by his
mathematical honours, this brief characterization would, I think,
suffice. Perhaps already, in rebutting the assumption that I did not
answer his allegations because they were unanswerable, I have ascribed
to them an unmerited importance. For the rest, suggesting that their
value may be measured by the value of that above dealt with as a
sample, I leave them to be answered by the works they are directed

Here I end. The foregoing pages, while serving, I think, the more
important purpose of making clearer the relations of physical axioms
to physical knowledge, incidentally justify the assertion that the
reviewer’s charges of fallacious reasoning and ignorance of the
nature of proof, recoil on himself. When, in his confident way, he
undertakes to teach me the nature of our warrant for scientific
beliefs, ignoring absolutely the inquiry contained in _Principles of
Psychology_, concerning the relative values of direct intuitions and
reasoned conclusions, he lays himself open to {295} a sarcasm which
is sufficiently obvious. And when a certain ultimate principle of
justification for our beliefs, set forth and acted upon in the _System
of Synthetic Philosophy_ more distinctly than in any other work, is
enunciated by him for my instruction, as one which he “thought that
every tolerably educated man was aware” of, his course is one for
which I find no fit epithet in the vocabulary I permit myself to
use. That in some cases he has shown eagerness to found charges on
misinterpretations little less than deliberate, has been sufficiently
shown; as also that, in other cases, his own failure to discriminate
is made the ground for ascribing to me beliefs that are manifestly
untenable. Save in the single case of a statement respecting collisions
of bodies, made by me without the needful qualification, I am not
aware of any errors he detects, except errors of oversight or those
arising from imperfect expression and inadequate exposition. When he
unhesitatingly puts the worst constructions on these, it cannot be
because his own exactness is such that no other constructions occur
to him; for he displays an unusual capacity for inadvertencies, and
must have had many experiences showing him how much he might be
wronged by illiberal interpretations of them. One who in twenty-three
professed extracts makes fifteen mistakes—words omitted, or added,
or substituted—should not need reminding how largely mere oversight
may raise suspicion of something worse. One who shows his notions of
accurate statement by asserting that as I substitute “persistence”
for “conservation,” I therefore identify Persistence of _Force_
with Conservation of _Energy_, and debits me with the resulting
incongruities—one who, in pursuance of this error, confounds a
special principle with the general principle it is said to imply, and
thereupon describes a wider principle as being included in a narrower
(p. 481)—one who speaks of our “inner consciousness” (p. 488), so
asserting, by implication, that we have an outer consciousness—one
who {296} talks of an inconceivable conception; ought surely to be
aware how readily lax expressions may be turned into proofs of absurd
opinions. And one who, in the space of a few pages, falls into so many
solecisms, ought to be vividly conscious that a whole volume thus
written would furnish multitudinous statements from which a critic,
moved by a spirit like his own, might evolve abundant absurdities;
supplying ample occasion for blazoning the tops of pages with insulting

       *       *       *       *       *

[_A letter, drawn from_ Prof. Tait _by the foregoing criticisms, and
published by him in_ Nature, _initiated a controversy carried on in
that periodical between March 26th and June 18th, 1874. Partly in
justification of my position, and partly as tending to make clearer the
nature and origin of physical axioms, I append certain portions of the
correspondence, with some additional explanations and comments. For the
purpose of elucidation I prefix the theses I have maintained._] {297}


1. _If A produces B, then 2 A will produce 2 B._

 This is the blank form of causal relation quantitatively considered,
 when the causes and effects are simple—that is, are unimpeded by other
 causes and uncomplicated by other effects; and whenever two or more
 causes co-operate, there is no possibility of determining the relation
 between the compound cause and the compound effect except by assuming
 that between each co-operating cause and its separate effect there
 exists this same quantitative relation.

2. _This truth holds whatever the natures of the simple causes and
simple effects; and is an_ a priori _assumption made in conducting every
experiment and in reasoning from it._

 Every process of weighing, every chemical analysis, every physical
 investigation, proceeds on this truth without assigning warrant for
 it; and in allowing for the effect of any minor cause that interferes
 with the major cause, this same truth is assumed.

3. _When A is an impressed force and B the produced motion, then the
general truth that if A produces B, 2 A will produce 2 B, becomes the
more special truth called the Second Law of Motion._

 Newton’s amplified statement of this Law is:—“If any force generates
 a motion, a double force will generate double the motion, a triple
 force triple the motion, whether that force be impressed altogether
 and at once, or gradually and successively.” And his further clause,
 asserting that this law holds whether the directions of the forces
 are or are not the same, asserts a proportionality between each
 force and its produced motion, such as we have seen to be invariably
 assumed between each cause and its separate effect, when there are
 co-operating causes.

4. _This Law may be affirmed, without specification of the modes in
which the impressed force and the resulting motion are to be estimated._

 Newton’s statement is abstract. Taking for granted right modes of
 measurement, it asserts that the alteration of motion (rightly
 measured) is proportional to the impressed force (rightly measured).

5. _No_ a posteriori _proof of the general ultimate physical truth (or
of this more special truth it includes) is possible; because every
supposed process of verification assumes it._

These, cleared from entanglements, are the theses held by me, and
defended in the following pages. {298}


(_From_ Nature, _April 16, 1874._)

Absence from town has delayed what further remarks I have to make
respecting the disputed origin of physical axioms.

The particular physical axiom in connection with which the general
question was raised, was the Second Law of Motion. It stands in the
_Principia_ as follows:―

 “_The alteration of motion is ever proportional to the motive force
 impressed; and is made in the direction of the right line in which
 that force is impressed._

 “If any force generates a motion, a double force will generate double
 the motion, a triple force triple the motion, whether that force be
 impressed altogether and at once, or gradually and successively. And
 this motion (being always directed the same way with the generating
 force), if the body moved before, is added to or subducted from
 the former motion, according as they directly conspire with or are
 directly contrary to each other; or obliquely joined, when they
 are oblique, so as to produce a new motion compounded from the
 determination of both.”

As this, like each of the other Laws of Motion, is called an axiom;[41]
as the paragraph appended to it is simply an amplification, or
re-statement in a more concrete form; as there are no facts named
as bases of induction, nor any justifying experiment; and as Newton
proceeds forthwith to draw deductions; it was a legitimate inference
that he regarded this truth as _a priori_. My statement to this effect
was based on the contents of the _Principia_ itself; and I think I
was warranted in assuming that the nature of the Laws of Motion, as
conceived by Newton, was to be thence inferred.

The passages quoted by the _British Quarterly_ Reviewer from Newton’s
correspondence, which were unknown to me, show that this was not
Newton’s conception of them. Thus far, then, my opponent has the best
of the {299} argument. Several qualifying considerations have to be
set down, however.

(1) Clearly, the statements contained in the _Principia_ do not convey
Newton’s conception; otherwise there would have been no need for his
explanations. The passages quoted prove that he wished to exclude these
cardinal truths from the class of hypotheses, which he said he did not
make; and to do this he had to define them.

(2) By calling them “axioms,” and by yet describing them as principles
“_deduced_ from phenomena,” he makes it manifest that he gives the word
“axiom” a sense widely unlike the sense in which it is usually accepted.

(3) Further, the quotations fail to warrant the statement that the
Laws of Motion are proved true by the truth of the _Principia_. For
if the fulfilment of astronomical predictions made in pursuance of
the _Principia_, is held to be the evidence “on which they chiefly
rest to this day,” then, until thus justified, they are unquestionably
hypotheses. Yet Newton says they are not hypotheses.

Newton’s view may be found without seeking for it in his letters: it
is contained in the _Principia_ itself. The scholium to Corollary VI.
begins thus:―

 “Hitherto I have laid down such principles as have been received by
 mathematicians, and are _confirmed_ by abundance of experiments. By
 the two first Laws and the two first Corollaries, Galileo discovered
 that the descent of bodies observed the duplicate ratio of the time,
 and that the motion of projectiles was in the curve of a parabola;
 experience _agreeing_ with both,” &c.

Now as this passage precedes the deductions constituting the
_Principia_, it shows conclusively, in the first place, that Newton did
not think “the whole of the _Principia_ was the proof” of the Laws of
Motion, though the Reviewer asserts that it is. Further, by the words I
have italicised, Newton implicitly describes Galileo as having asserted
these Laws of Motion, if not as gratuitous hypotheses (which he says
they are not), then as _a priori_ intuitions. For a proposition which
is _confirmed_ by {300} experiment, and which is said to _agree_ with
experience, must have been entertained before the alleged verifications
could be reached. And as before he made his experiments on falling
bodies and projectiles, Galileo had no facts serving as an inductive
basis for the Second Law of Motion, the law could not have been arrived
at by induction.

Let me end what I have to say on this vexed question by adding
a further reason to those I have already given, for saying that
physical axioms cannot be established experimentally. The belief in
their experimental establishment rests on the tacit assumption that
experiments can be made, and conclusions drawn from them, without any
truths being postulated. It is forgotten that there is a foundation
of pre-conceptions without which the perceptions and inferences of
the physicist cannot stand—_pre-conceptions which are the products
of simpler experiences than those yielded by consciously-made
experiments_. Passing over the many which do not immediately concern
us, I will name only that which does,—the exact quantitative relation
[of proportionality] between cause and effect. It is taken by the
chemist as a truth needing no proof, that if two volumes of hydrogen
unite with one volume of oxygen to form a certain quantity of water,
four volumes of hydrogen uniting with two volumes of oxygen will
form double the quantity of water. If a cubic foot of ice at 32°
is liquefied by a specified quantity of heat, it is taken to be
unquestionable that three times the quantity of heat will liquefy three
cubic feet. And similarly with mechanical forces, the unhesitating
assumption is that if one unit of force acting in a given direction
produces a certain result, two units will produce twice the result.
Every process of measurement in a physical experiment takes this for
granted; as we see in one of the simplest of them—the process of
weighing. If a measured quantity of metal, gravitating towards the
Earth, counterbalances a quantity of some other substance, the truth
postulated in every act {301} of weighing is, that any multiple of
such weight will counterbalance an equi-multiple of such substance.
That is to say, each unit of force is assumed to work its equivalent
of effect in the direction in which it acts. Now this is nothing else
than the assumption which the Second Law of Motion expresses in respect
to effects of another kind. “If any force generates a motion, a double
force will generate a double motion,” &c., &c.; and when carried on
to the composition of motions, the law is, similarly, the assertion
that any other force, acting in any other direction, will similarly
produce in that direction a proportionate motion. So that the law
simply asserts the exact equivalence [or proportionality] of causes
and effects of this particular class, while all physical experiments
_assume_ this exact equivalence [or proportionality] among causes and
effects of all classes. Hence, the proposal to prove the Laws of Motion
experimentally, is the proposal to make a wider assumption for the
purpose of justifying one of the narrower assumptions included in it.

Reduced to its briefest form, the argument is this:—If definite
quantitative relations [of proportionality] between causes and effects
be assumed _a priori_, then, the Second Law of Motion is an immediate
corollary. If there are not definite quantitative relations [of
proportionality] between causes and effects, all the conclusions drawn
from physical experiments are invalid. And further, in the absence of
this _a priori_ assumption of equivalence, the quantified conclusion
from any experiment may be denied, and any other quantification of the
conclusion asserted.[42]


       *       *       *       *       *

Entire misconstruction of the view expressed above, {302} having been
shown by a new assailant, who announced himself as also “A Senior
Wrangler,” Mr. James Collier [my secretary at that time] wrote on my
behalf an explanatory letter, published in _Nature_ for May 21, 1874,
from which the following passages are extracts:―

“The cue may be taken from an experience described in Mr. Spencer’s
_Principles of Psychology_ (§ 468, note), where it is shown that
when with one hand we pull the other, we have in the feeling of
tension produced in the limb pulled, a measure of the reaction that
is equivalent to the action of the other limb. Both terms of the
relation of cause and effect are in this case present to consciousness
as muscular tensions, which are our symbols of forces in general.
While no motion is produced they are felt to be equal, so far as the
sensations can serve to measure equality; and when excess of tension is
felt in the one arm, motion is experienced in the other. Here, as in
the examples about to be given, the relation between cause and effect,
though numerically indefinite, is definite in the respect that every
additional increment of cause produces an additional increment of
effect; and it is out of this and similar experiences that the idea of
the relation of proportionality grows and becomes organic.

“A child, when biting his food, discovers that the harder he bites the
deeper is the indentation; in other words, that the more force applied,
the greater the effect. If he tears an object with his teeth, he finds
that the more he pulls the more the thing yields. Let him press against
something soft, as his own person, or his clothes, or a lump of clay,
and he sees that the part or object pressed yields little or much,
according to the amount of the muscular strain. He can bend a stick
the more completely the more force he applies. Any elastic object, as
a piece of india-rubber or a catapult, can be stretched the farther
the harder he pulls. If he tries to push a small body, there is little
resistance and it is easy to move; but he finds that a {303} big body
presents greater resistance and is harder to move. The experience
is precisely similar if he attempts to lift a big body and a little
one; or if he raises a limb, with or without any object attached to
it. He throws a stone: if it is light, little exertion propels it a
considerable distance; if very heavy, great exertion only a short
distance. So, also, if he jumps, a slight effort raises him to a short
height, a greater effort to a greater height. By blowing with his mouth
he sees that he can move small objects, or the surface of his morning’s
milk, gently or violently according as the blast is weak or strong. And
it is the same with sounds: with a slight strain on the vocal organs he
produces a murmur; with great strain he can raise a shout.

“The experiences these propositions record all implicate the same
consciousness—the notion of proportionality between force applied and
result produced; and it is out of this latent consciousness that the
axiom of the perfect quantitative equivalence of the relations between
cause and effect is evolved. To show how rigorous, how irreversible,
this consciousness becomes, take a boy and suggest to him the following
statements:—Can he not break a string he has, by pulling? tell him
to double it, and then he will break it. He cannot bend or break a
particular stick: let him make less effort and he will succeed. He is
unable to raise a heavy weight: tell him he errs by using too much
force. He can’t push over a small chest: he will find it easier to
upset a larger one. By blowing hard he cannot move a given object: if
he blows lightly, he will move it. By great exertion he cannot make
himself audible at a distance: but he will make himself heard with
less exertion at a greater distance. Tell him to do all or any of
these, and of course he fails. The propositions are unthinkable, and
their unthinkableness shows that the consciousness which yields them
is irreversible. These, then, are preconceptions, properly so called,
which have {304} grown unconsciously out of the earliest experiences,
beginning with those of the sucking infant, which are perpetually
confirmed by fresh experiences, and which have at last become organized
in the mental structure.

       *       *       *       *       *

“Mr. Spencer’s argument appears to be briefly this:—1. There are
numberless experiences unconsciously acquired and unconsciously
accumulated during the early life of the individual (in harmony
with the acquisitions of all ancestral individuals) which yield the
preconception, long anteceding anything like conscious physical
experiments, that physical causes and effects vary together
quantitatively. This is gained from all orders of physical experiences,
and forms a universal preconception respecting them, which the
physicist or other man of Science brings with him to his experiments.

“2. Mr. Spencer showed in three cases—chemical, physical, and
mechanical—that this preconception, so brought, was tacitly involved
in the conception which the experimenter drew from the results of his

“3. Having indicated this universal preconception, and illustrated
its presence in these special conceptions, Mr. Spencer goes on to say
that it is involved also in the special conception of the relation
between force and motion, as formulated in the ‘Second Law of Motion.’
He asserts that this is simply one case out of the numberless cases
in which all these consciously-reasoned conclusions rest upon the
unconsciously-formed conclusions that precede reasoning. Mr. Spencer
alleges that as it has become impossible for a boy to think that
by a smaller effort he can jump higher, and for a shopman to think
that smaller weights will outbalance greater quantities, and for the
physicist to think that he will get increased effects from diminished
causes, so it is impossible to think that ‘alteration of motion’ is not
‘proportional to the motive force impressed.’ And he maintains that
this is, in fact, a {305} latent implication of unconsciously-organized
experiences, just as much as those which the experimenter necessarily

       *       *       *       *       *

To meet further misinterpretations, a second letter was written by Mr.
Collier and published in _Nature_ for June 4, 1874. The following are
passages from it:―

“Having but limited space, and assuming that the requisite
qualifications would be made by unbiased readers, I passed over all
those details of the child’s experiences which would have been required
in a full exposition. Of course I was aware that in the bending of a
stick the visible effect does not increase in the same ratio as the
force applied; and hardly needed the ‘Senior Wrangler’ to tell me
that the resistance to a body moving through a fluid increases in a
higher ratio than the velocity. It was taken for granted that he, and
those who think with him, would see that out of all these experiences,
in some of which the causes and effects are simple, and in others
of which they are complex, there grows the consciousness that the
proportionality is the more distinct the simpler the antecedents and
consequents. This is part of the preconception which the physicist
brings with him and acts upon. Perhaps it is within the ‘Senior
Wrangler’s’ knowledge of physical exploration, that when the physicist
finds a result not bearing that ratio to its assigned cause which the
two were ascertained in other cases to have, he immediately assumes the
presence of some perturbing cause or causes, which modify the ratio.
There is, in fact, no physical determination made by any experimenter
which does not assume, as an _a priori_ necessity, that there cannot
be a deviation from proportion without the presence of such additional

“Returning to the general issue, perhaps the ‘Senior Wrangler’ will
pay some respect to the judgment of one {306} who was a Senior
Wrangler too, and a great deal more—who was distinguished not only
as a mathematician but as an astronomer, a physicist, and also as an
inquirer into the methods of science: I mean Sir John Herschel. In his
_Discourse on the Study of Natural Philosophy_, he says:―

 “‘When we would lay down general rules for guiding and facilitating
 our search, among a great mass of assembled facts, for their common
 cause, we must have regard to the characters of that relation which we
 intend by cause and effect.’

“Of these ‘characters’ he sets down the third and fourth in the
following terms:―

 “‘Increase or diminution of the effect, with the increased or
 diminished intensity of the cause, in cases which admit of increase
 and diminution.’

 “‘Proportionality of the effect to its cause in all cases of _direct
 unimpeded_ action.’

“Observe that, in Sir J. Herschel’s view, these are ‘characters’ of
the relation of cause and effect to be accepted as ‘general rules for
_guiding_ and facilitating our search’ among physical phenomena—truths
that must be taken for granted _before_ the search, not truths derived
_from_ the search. Clearly, the ‘proportionality of the effect to its
cause in all cases of direct and unimpeded action’ is here taken as
_a priori_. Sir J. Herschel would, therefore, have asserted, with Mr.
Spencer, that the Second Law of Motion is _a priori_; since this is one
of the cases of the ‘proportionality of the effect to its cause.’

“And now let the ‘Senior Wrangler’ do what Sir J. Herschel has not done
or thought of doing—_prove_ the proportionality of cause and effect.
Neither he, nor any other of Mr. Spencer’s opponents, has made the
smallest attempt to deal with this main issue. Mr. Spencer alleges
that this cognition of proportionality is _a priori_: not in the old
sense, but in the sense that it grows out of experiences that precede
reasoning. His opponents, following Prof. Tait in the assertion that
Physics is a purely experimental science, containing, therefore, no _a
priori_ truths, affirm that this {307} cognition is _a posteriori_—a
product of conscious induction. Let us hear what are the experiments.
It is required to establish the truth that there is proportionality
between causes and effects, _by a process which nowhere assumes_ that
if one unit of force produces a certain unit of effect, two units of
such force will produce two units of such effect. Until the ‘Senior
Wrangler’ has done this he has left Mr. Spencer’s position untouched.”


[After publication of the letters from which the foregoing are
reproduced, there appeared in _Nature_ certain rejoinders containing
misrepresentations even more extreme than those preceding them.
There resulted a direct correspondence with two of the writers—Mr.
Robert B. Hayward, of Harrow, and Mr. J. F. Moulton, my original
assailant, the author of the article in the _British Quarterly Review_.
This correspondence, in which I demanded from these gentlemen the
justifications for their statements, formed part of this Appendix in
its pamphlet form, as distributed among those who are competent to
judge of the questions at issue. It is needless to give permanence
to the replies and rejoinders. The character of Mr. Moulton’s
allegations, quite congruous with those I have exposed in the “Replies
to Criticisms,” may be inferred from one of the sentences closing my
reply—“Wonderful to relate, my inductive proof that proportionality [of
cause and effect] is taken for granted, he cites as my inductive proof
of proportionality itself!” The result of the interchange of letters
with Mr. Hayward, was to make it clear that “the thing I assert is not
really disputed; and the thing disputed, I have nowhere asserted.”
While, however, the controversial part of the correspondence may fitly
disappear, {308} I retain an expository part embodied in the following
letter to Mr. Hayward.]

 38, Queen’s Gardens, Bayswater,
 June 21st, 1874.

SIR,—Herewith I send you a copy of your letter with my interposed
comments. I think those comments will make it clear to you that I
have not committed myself to three different definitions of our
consciousness of the Second Law of Motion.

As others may still feel a difficulty such as you seem to have felt,
in understanding that which familiarity has made me regard as simple,
I will endeavour, by a synthetic exposition, to make clear the way in
which these later and more complex products of organized experiences
stand related to earlier and simpler products. To make this exposition
easier to follow, I will take first our Space-consciousness and the
derived conceptions.

On the hypothesis of Evolution, the Space-consciousness results from
organized motor, tactual, and visual experiences. In the _Principles
of Psychology_, §§ 326–346, I have described in detail what I conceive
to have been its genesis. Such Space-consciousness so generated,
is one possessed in greater or less degree by all creatures of any
intelligence; becoming wider, and more definite, according to the
degree of mental evolution which converse with the environment has
produced. How deeply registered the external relations have become in
the internal structure, is shown by the facts that the decapitated
frog pushes away with one or both legs the scalpel applied to the hind
part of its body, and that the chick, as soon as it has recovered from
the exhaustion of escaping from the egg, performs correctly-guided
actions (accompanied by consciousness of distance and direction) in
picking up grains. Ascending at once to such organized and inherited
Space-consciousness as exists in the child, and which from moment
to moment {309} it is making more complete by its own experiences
(aiding the development of its nervous system into the finished
type of the adult, by the same exercises which similarly aid the
development of its muscular system), we have to observe that, along
with increasingly-definite ideas of distance and direction, it gains
unawares certain more special ideas of geometrical relations. Take
one group of these. Every time it spreads open its fingers it sees
increase of the angles between them, going along with increase of the
distances between the finger-tips. In opening wide apart its own legs,
and in seeing others walk, it has continually before it the relation
between increase or decrease of base in a triangle having equal sides,
and increase or decrease of the angle included by those sides. [The
relation impressed on it being simply that of _concomitant variation_:
I do not speak of any more definite relation, which, indeed, is
unthinkable by the young.] It does not observe these facts in such way
as to be conscious that it has observed them; but they are so impressed
upon it as to establish a rigid association between certain mental
states. Various of its activities disclose space-relations of this
class more definitely. The drawing of a bow exhibits them in another
way and with somewhat greater precision; and when, instead of the ends
of a bow, capable of approaching one another, the points of attachment
are fixed and the string elastic, the connexion between increasing
length in the sides of an isosceles triangle and increasing acuteness
of the included angle, is still more forced upon the attention; though
it still does not rise into a conscious cognition. This is what I
mean by an “unconsciously-formed preconception.” When, in course of
time, the child, growing into the boy, draws diagrams on paper, and,
among other things, draws isosceles triangles, the truth that, the
base being the same, the angle at the apex becomes more acute as the
sides lengthen, is still more definitely displayed to him; and when
his attention is drawn to this relation he finds that he {310} cannot
think of it as being otherwise. If he imagines the lengths of the sides
to change, he cannot exclude the consciousness of the correlative
change in the angle; and presently, when his mental power is
sufficiently developed, he perceives that if he continues to lengthen
the sides in imagination, the lines approach parallelism as the angle
approaches zero: yielding a conception of the relations of parallel
lines. Here the consciousness has risen into the stage of definite
conception. But, manifestly, the definite conception so reached is
but a finishing of the preconceptions previously reached, and would
have been impossible in their absence; and these unconsciously-formed
preconceptions would similarly have been impossible in the absence of
the still earlier consciousnesses of distance, direction, relative
position, embodied in the consciousness of Space. The whole evolution
is one; the arrival at the distinct conception is the growing up to an
ultimate definiteness and complexity; and it can no more be reached
without passing through the earlier stages of indefinite consciousness,
than the adult bodily structure can be reached without passing through
the structures of the embryo, the infant, and the child.[43]

Through a parallel evolution arises, first the vague {311}
consciousness of forces as exerted by self and surrounding things;
presently, some discrimination in respect of their amounts as related
to their effects; later, an association formed unawares between
greatness of quantity in the two, and between smallness of quantity in
the two; later still, a tacit assumption of proportionality, though
without a distinct consciousness that the assumption has been made;
and, finally, a rising of this assumption into definite recognition,
as a truth necessarily holding where the forces are simple. Throughout
its life every creature has, _within the actions of its moving parts_,
forces and motions conforming to the Laws of Motion. {312} If it has
a nervous system, the differences among the muscular tensions and the
movements initiated, register themselves in a vague way in that nervous
system. As the nervous system develops, along with more developed
limbs, there are at once more numerous different experiences . . .
of momentum generated, of connected actions and reactions (as when
an animal tears the food which it holds with its paws); and, at the
same time, there are, in its more developed nervous system, increased
powers of appreciating and registering these differences. All the
resulting connexions in consciousness, though unknowingly formed and
unknowingly entertained, are ever present as guides to action: witness
the proportion between the effort an animal makes and the distance
it means to spring; or witness the delicate adjustments of muscular
strains to changes of motion, made by a swallow catching flies or a
hawk swooping on its quarry. Manifestly, then, these experiences,
organized during the earlier stages of mental evolution, form a body of
consciousnesses, not formulated into cognitions, nor present even as
preconceptions, but nevertheless present as a mass of associations _in
which the truths of relation between force and motion are potentially
present_. On ascending to human beings of the uncultured sort, we reach
a stage at which some nascent generalization of these experiences
occur. The savage has not expressed to himself the truth that if he
wants to propel his spear further he must use more force; nor does
the rustic put into a distinct thought the truth that to raise double
the weight he must put forth twice the effort; but in each there is
a tacit assumption to this effect, as becomes manifest on calling it
in question. So that, in respect of these and other simple mechanical
actions, there exist unconsciously-formed preconceptions. And just as
the geometrical truths presented in a rude way by the relations among
surrounding objects, are not overtly recognized until there is some
familiarity with straight lines, and diagrams made of them; {313}
so, until linear measures, long used, have led to the equal-armed
lever, or scales, and thus to the notion of equal units of force, this
mechanical preconception cannot rise into definiteness. Nor after it
has risen into definiteness does it for a long time reach the form of
a consciously-held cognition; for neither the village huxter nor the
more cultivated druggist in the town, recognizes the general abstract
truth that, when uninterfered with, equi-multiples of causes and their
effects are necessarily connected. But now observe that this truth,
acted upon with more or less distinct consciousness of it by the man
of science, and perfected by him through analysis and abstraction,
is thus perfected only as the last step in its evolution. This
definite cognition is but the finished form of a consciousness long in
preparation—a consciousness the body of which is present in the brute,
takes some shape in the primitive man, reaches greater definiteness in
the semi-civilized, becomes afterwards an assumption distinct though
not formulated, and takes its final development only as it rises into
a consciously-accepted axiom. Just as there is a continuous evolution
of the nervous system, so is there a continuous evolution of the
consciousness accompanying its action. Just as the one grows in volume,
complexity, and definiteness, so does the other. And just as necessary
as the earlier stages are to the later in the one case, are they in
the other. To suppose that the finished conceptions of science can
exist without the unfinished common knowledge which precedes them,
or this without still earlier mental acquisitions, is the same thing
as to suppose that we can have the correct judgments of the adult
without passing through the crude judgments of the youth, the narrow,
incoherent ones of the child, and the vague, feeble ones of the infant.
So far is it from being true that the view of physical axioms held by
me, is one which bases cognitions on some other source than experience,
it asserts experience to be the only possible source of these, as of
other cognitions; but it asserts, further, that {314} not simply is
the consciously-acquired experience of present actions needful, but
that _for the very possibility of gaining this_ we are indebted to the
accumulated experiences of all past actions. Not I, but my antagonists,
are really chargeable with accepting the ancient _a priori_ view;
since, without any explanation of them or justification of them, they
posit as unquestionable the assumptions underlying every experiment
and the conclusion drawn from it. The belief in physical causation,
assumed from moment to moment as necessary in every experiment and
in all reasoning from it, is a belief which, if not justified by the
hypothesis above set forth, is tacitly asserted as an _a priori_
belief. Contrariwise, my own position is one which affiliates all such
beliefs upon experiences acquired during the whole past; which alleges
those experiences as the only warrant for them; which asserts that
during the converse between the mind and its environment, necessary
connexions in Thought, such as those concerning Space, have resulted
from infinite experiences of corresponding necessary connexions in
Things; and that, similarly, out of perpetual converse with the Forces
manifested to us in Space, there has been a progressive establishment
of internal relations answering to external relations, in such wise
that there finally emerge as physical axioms, certain necessities of
Thought which answer to necessities in Things.

I need scarcely say that I have taken the trouble of making my comments
on your letter, and of writing this further exposition, with a view to
their ulterior use.

 I am, &c.,



Those who deny a general doctrine enunciated by Mayer as the basis
of his reasonings, habitually assumed by Faraday {315} as a guiding
principle in drawing his conclusions, distinctly held by Helmholtz,
and tacitly implied by Sir John Herschel—those, I say, who deny this
general doctrine and even deride it, should be prepared with clear
and strong reasons for doing this. Having been attacked, not in the
most temperate manner, for enunciating this doctrine and its necessary
implications in a specific form, I have demanded such reasons. Observe
the responses to the demand.

 1. The _British Quarterly_ Reviewer
 quoted for my instruction the _dictum_ of
 Professor Tait, that “Natural Philosophy
 is an experimental, and not an intuitive
 science. No _à priori_ reasoning can
 conduct us demonstratively to a single
 physical truth.” Thereupon I inquired
 what Professor Tait meant “by speaking of
 ‘physical _axioms_,’ and by saying that
 the cultured are enabled ‘to see _at once_
 their _necessary_ truth?’” . . .               No reply.

 2. Instead of an answer to the question,
 how this intuition of necessity can be
 alleged by Professor Tait consistently with
 his other doctrine, the Reviewer quotes,
 as though it disposed of my question,
 Professor Tait’s statement that “as the
 properties of matter might have been
 such as to render a totally different
 set of laws axiomatic, _these laws_ [of
 motion] _must be considered as resting_
 _on convictions drawn from observation_
 _and experiment, and not on intuitive_
 _perception._” Whereupon I inquired how
 Professor Tait knows that “the properties
 of matter _might have been_” other {316}
 than they are. I asked how it happened
 that his intuition concerning things
 _as they are not_, is so certain that,
 by inference from it, he discredits our
 intuitions concerning things _as they_
 _are_ . . .                                     No reply: Professor
                                                Tait told, _à propos_
                                                of my question, a
                                                story of which no one
                                                could discover the
                                                application; but,
                                                otherwise, declined to
                                                answer. Nor was any
                                                answer given by his

 3. Further, I asked how it happened
 that Professor Tait accepted as bases
 for Physics, Newton’s Laws of Motion;
 which were illustrated but not _proved_
 by Newton, and of which no _proofs_
 are supplied by Professor Tait, in the
 _Treatise on Natural Philosophy_. I went on
 to examine what conceivable _a posteriori_
 warrant there can be if there is no warrant
 _a priori_; and I pointed out that neither
 from terrestrial nor from celestial
 phenomena can the First Law of Motion be
 deduced without a _petitio principii_ . . .    No reply: the Reviewer
                                                characterized my
                                                reasoning as “utterly
                                                erroneous” (therein
                                                differing entirely from
                                                two {317} eminent
                                                authorities who read it
                                                in proof); but beyond
                                                so characterizing it he
                                                said nothing.

 4. To my assertion that Newton gave no
 proof of the Laws of Motion, the Reviewer
 rejoined that “the whole of the _Principia_
 was the proof.” On which my comment was
 that Newton called them “axioms,” and that
 axioms are not commonly supposed to be
 proved by deductions from them . . .           The Reviewer quotes
                                                from one of Newton’s
                                                letters a passage
                                                showing that though
                                                he called the Laws
                                                of Motion “axioms,”
                                                he regarded them as
                                                principles “made
                                                general by induction;”
                                                and that therefore he
                                                could not have regarded
                                                them as _a priori_.

 5. In rejoinder, I pointed out that
 whatever conception Newton may have had
 of these “axioms,” he explicitly and
 distinctly excluded them from the class
 of “hypotheses.” Hence I inferred that
 he did not regard the whole of the {318}
 _Principia_ as the proof, which the
 Reviewer says it is; since an assumption
 made at the outset, to be afterwards
 justified by the results of assuming it, is
 an “hypothesis” . . .                          No reply.

 6. Authority aside, I examined on its
 merits the assertion that the Laws of
 Motion are, or can be, proved true by
 the ascertained truth of astronomical
 predictions; and showed that the process of
 verification itself assumed those Laws.        No reply.

 7. To make still clearer the fact that
 ultimate physical truths are, and must
 be, accepted as _a priori_, I pointed out
 that in every experiment the physicist
 tacitly assumes a relation between cause
 and effect, such that, if one unit of cause
 produces its unit of effect, two units of
 the cause will produce two units of the
 effect; and I argued that this general
 assumption included the special assumption
 asserted in the Second Law of Motion. . . .    No reply: that is to
                                                say, no endeavour to
                                                show the untruth of
                                                this statement, but a
                                                quibble based on my
                                                omission of the word
                                                “proportionality” in
                                                places where it was
                                                implied, though not

 8. Attention was drawn to a passage {319}
 from Sir John Herschel’s _Discourse on the_
 _Study of Natural Philosophy_, in which the
 “proportionality of the effect to its cause
 in all cases of _direct unimpeded_ action”
 is included by him among “the characters
 of that relation which we intend by cause
 and effect;” and in which this assumption
 of proportionality is set down as one
 _preceding_ physical exploration, and not
 as one to be established by it . . .           No reply.

 9. Lastly, a challenge to prove this
 proportionality. “It is required to
 establish the truth that there is
 proportionality between causes and effects,
 _by a process which nowhere assumes_
 that if one unit of force produces a
 certain unit of effect, two units of such
 force will produce two units of such
 effect.” . . .                                 No reply.

Thus on all these essential points my three mathematical opponents
allow judgment to go against them by default. The attention of readers
has been drawn off from the main issues by the discussion of side
issues. Fundamental questions have been evaded, and new questions of
subordinate kinds raised.

What is the implication? One who is able to reach and to carry the
central position of his antagonist, does not spend his strength on
small outposts. If he declines to assault the stronghold, it must be
because he sees it to be impregnable.

       *       *       *       *       *

The trouble I have thus taken to meet criticisms and dissipate
misapprehensions, I have taken because the attack {320} made on
the special doctrine defended, is part of an attack on the ultimate
doctrine underlying the deductive part of _First Principles_—the
doctrine that the quantity of existence is unchangeable. I agree with
Sir W. Hamilton that our consciousness of the necessity of causation,
results from the impossibility of conceiving the totality of Being to
increase or decrease. The proportionality of cause and effect is an
implication: denial of it involves the assertion that some quantity
of cause has disappeared without effect, or some quantity of effect
has arisen without cause. I have asserted the _a priori_ character
of the Second Law of Motion, _under the abstract form in which it is
expressed_, simply because this, too, is an implication, somewhat more
remote, of the same ultimate truth. And my sole reason for insisting
on the validity of these intuitions, is that, on the hypothesis of
Evolution, absolute uniformities in things have produced absolute
uniformities in thoughts; and that necessary thoughts represent
infinitely-larger accumulations of experiences than are formed by the
observations, experiments, and reasonings of any single life.


[24] _Principles of Psychology_, Second Edition, § 425, note.

[25] _Le Sentiment Religieux_, par A. Grotz. Paris, J. Cherbuliez, 1870.

[26] Instead of describing me as misunderstanding Kant on this point,
Dr. Hodgson should have described Kant as having, in successive
sentences, so changed the meanings of the words he uses, as to make
either interpretation possible. At the outset of his _Critique of
Pure Reason_, he says:—“The effect of an object upon the faculty of
representation, so far as we are affected by the said object, is
sensation. That sort of intuition which relates to an object by means
of sensation, is called an empirical intuition. The undetermined
object of an empirical intuition, is called _phænomenon_. That which
in the phænomenon corresponds to the sensation, I term its _matter_;”
[here, remembering the definition just given of phenomenon, objective
existence is manifestly referred to] “but that which effects that the
content of the phænomenon can be arranged under certain relations, I
call its _form_” [so that _form_, as here applied, refers to objective
existence]. “But that in which our sensations are merely arranged, and
by which they are susceptible of assuming a certain form, cannot be
itself sensation.” [In which sentence the word _form_ obviously refers
to subjective existence.] At the outset, the ‘phenomenon’ and the
‘sensation’ are distinguished as objective and subjective respectively;
and then, in the closing sentences, the _form_ is spoken of in
connexion first with the one and then with the other, as though they
were the same.

[27] See _Fraser’s Magazine_ for May, 1873.

[28] _First Principles_, § 26.

[29] _Ibid._ § 76 (1st ed.)

[30] Compare _Principles of Psychology_, §§ 88, 95, 391, 401, 406.

[31] _First Principles_, §§ 39–45.

[32] _Principles of Psychology_, part vii.

[33] _Social Statics_, chap. iii.

[34] _Principles of Psychology_, § 531.

[35] _First Principles_, § 34.

[36] Only after the foregoing paragraphs were written, did the remark
of a distinguished friend show me how certain words were misconstrued
by the reviewer in a way that had never occurred to me as possible. In
the passage referred to, I have said that sound-waves “finally die away
in generating thermal undulations that radiate into space;” meaning,
of course, that the force embodied in the sound-waves is finally
_exhausted_ in generating thermal undulations. In common speech, the
dying-away of a prolonged sound, as that of a church-bell, includes
its gradual diminution as well as its final cessation. But rather
than suppose I gave to the words this ordinary meaning, the reviewer
supposes me to believe, not simply that the _longitudinal_ waves of
air can pass, _without discontinuity_, into the _transverse_ waves
of ether, but he also debits me with the belief that the one order
of waves, having lengths measurable in feet, and rates expressed in
hundreds per second, can, _by mere enfeeblement_, pass into the other
order of waves, having lengths of some fifty thousand to the inch, and
rates expressed in many billions per second! Why he preferred so to
interpret my words, and that, too, in the face of contrary implications
elsewhere (instance § 100), will, however, be manifest to every one who
reads his criticisms.

[37] Other examples of these amenities of controversy, in which I
decline to imitate my reviewer, have already been given. What occasions
he supplies me for imitation, were I minded to take advantage of
them, an instance will show. Pointing out an implication of certain
reasonings of mine, he suggests that it is too absurd even for me to
avow explicitly; saying:—“We scarcely think that even Mr. Spencer
will venture to claim as a datum of consciousness the Second Law of
Motion, with its attendant complexities of component velocities, &c.”
Now any one who turns to Newton’s _Principia,_ will find that to the
enunciation of the Second Law of Motion, nothing whatever is appended
but an amplified re-statement—there is not even an illustration, much
less a proof. And from this law, this axiom, this immediate intuition
or “datum of consciousness,” Newton proceeds forthwith to draw those
corollaries respecting the composition of forces which underlie all
dynamics. What, then, must be thought of Newton, who explicitly assumes
that which the reviewer thinks it absurd to assume implicitly?

[38] That I am certainly not singular in this view, is shown to me,
even while I write, by the just-issued work of Prof. Jevons on the
_Principles of Science: a Treatise on Logic and Scientific Method_. In
vol. ii., p. 141, Prof. Jevons remarks respecting the law of variation
of the attractive force, that it “is doubtless connected at this point
with the primary properties of space itself, and is so far conformable
to our necessary ideas.”

[39] See Essay on “The Genesis of Science,” in the _British Quarterly
Review_ for July, 1854, p. 127.

[40] I do not say this at random. The reviewer, who has sought rather
to make known than to conceal his identity, took his degree in 1868.

[41] It is true that in Newton’s time, “axiom” had not the same
rigorously defined meaning as now; but it suffices for my argument
that, _standing unproved_ as a basis for physical deductions, it bears
just the same relation to them that a mathematical axiom does to
mathematical deductions.

[42] The above letter, written after absence at Easter had involved a
week’s delay, and written somewhat hurriedly to prevent the delay of
a second week, was less carefully revised than it should have been.
The words in square brackets, obviously implied by the reasoning, and
specifically implied by the illustrations, were not in the letter as
originally published.

[43] Here, in explaining the genesis of special space-intuitions, I
have singled out a group of experiences which, in _Nature_, May 28, Mr.
Hayward had chosen as illustrating the absurdity of supposing that the
scientific conception of proportionality could be reached as alleged.
He said:―

 “It is hardly a parody of Mr. Collier’s remarks to say:—‘A child
 discovers that the greater the angle between his legs the greater the
 distance between his feet, an experience which implicates the notion
 of proportionality between the angle of a triangle and its opposite
 side;’ a preconception, as it appears to me, with just as good a basis
 as that whose formation Mr. Collier illustrates, but one which, as I
 need hardly add, is soon corrected by a conscious study of geometry or
 by actual measurement.”

I am indebted to Mr. Hayward for giving this instance. It conveniently
serves two purposes. It serves to exemplify the connexion between the
crude preconceptions unconsciously formed by earlier experiences, and
the conceptions consciously evolved out of them by the help of later
experiences, when the requisite powers of analysis and abstraction
have been reached. And at the same time it serves to show the failure
of my opponents to understand how, in the genesis of intelligence,
the scientific conception of exact proportionality develops from the
crude, vague, and inaccurate preconception. For while the notion of
proportionality acquired by the child in Mr. Hayward’s example, is
not true, it is an approximation towards one which _is_ true, and
one which is reached when its more developed intelligence is brought
critically to bear on the facts. Eventually it is discovered that the
angle is not proportional to the subtending side, but to the subtending
arc; and this is discovered _in the process of disentangling a simple
relation from other relations which complicate and disguise it_.
Between the angle and the arc there is exact proportionality, for
the reason that only one set of directly-connected space-relations
are concerned: the distance of the subtending arc from the subtended
angle, remains constant—there is no change in the relation between the
increasing angle and the increasing arc; and therefore the two vary
together in direct proportion. But it is otherwise with the subtending
side. The parts of this stand in different relations of distance from
the subtended angle; and as the line is lengthened, each added part
differs from the preceding parts in its distance from the angle. That
is to say, one set of simple directly-connected geometrical relations,
is here involved with another set; and the relation between the side
and the angle is such that the law of relative increase involves the
co-operation of two sets of factors. Now the distinguishing the true
proportionality (between the angle and the arc) from the relation
which simulates proportionality (between the angle and the side) is
just that process of final development of exact conceptions, which
I assert to be the finishing step of all the preceding development;
and to be impossible in its absence. And the truth to which my
assailants shut their eyes, is that, just as among these conceptions of
space-relations, the conception of exact proportionality can be reached
only by evolution from the crude notion of proportionality, formed
before reasoning begins; so, among the force-relations, the conception
of proportionality finally reached, when simple causes and their
effects are disentangled by analytical intelligence, can be reached
only by evolution of the crude notion of proportionality, established
as a preconception by early experiences which reinforce ancestral



[_From the_ Contemporary Review _for Feb. 1881. It would not have
occurred to me to reproduce this essay, had it not been that there has
lately been a reproduction of the essay to which it replies. But as
Mr. Nettleship, in his editorial capacity, has given a permanent shape
to Professor Green’s unscrupulous criticism, I am obliged to give a
permanent shape to the pages which show its unscrupulousness._]

Dreary at best, metaphysical controversy becomes especially dreary
when it runs into rejoinders and re-rejoinders; and hence I feel some
hesitation in inflicting, even upon those readers of the _Contemporary_
who are interested in metaphysical questions, anything further
concerning Prof. Green’s criticism, Mr. Hodgson’s reply to it, and
Prof. Green’s explanations. Still, it appears to me that I can now
hardly let the matter pass without saying something in justification
of the views attacked by Prof. Green; or, rather, in disproof of the
allegations he makes against them.

I did not, when Prof. Green’s two articles appeared, think it needful
to notice them: my wish to avoid hindrance to my work, being supported
partly by the thought that very few would read a discussion so
difficult to follow, and partly by the thought that, of the few who
did read it, most would be those whose knowledge of _The Principles
of Psychology_ enabled them to see how unlike the argument {322} I
have used is the representation of it given by Prof. Green, and how
inapplicable his animadversions therefore are. This last belief was, I
find, quite erroneous; and I ought to have known better than to form
it. Experience might have shown me that readers habitually assume a
critic’s version of an author’s statement to be the true version, and
that they rarely take the trouble to see whether the meaning ascribed
to a detached passage is the meaning which it bears when taken with
the context. Moreover, I should have remembered that in the absence of
disproofs it is habitually assumed that criticisms are valid; and that
inability rather than pre-occupation prevents the author from replying.
I ought not, therefore, to have been surprised to learn, as I did
from the first paragraph of Mr. Hodgson’s article, that Prof. Green’s
criticisms had met with considerable acceptance.

I am much indebted to Mr. Hodgson for undertaking the defence of my
views; and after reading Prof. Green’s rejoinder, it seems to me that
Mr. Hodgson’s chief allegations remain outstanding. I cannot here, of
course, follow the controversy point by point. I propose to deal simply
with the main issues.

       *       *       *       *       *

At the close of his answer, Prof. Green refers to “two other
misapprehensions of a more general nature, which he [Mr. Hodgson]
alleges against me at the outset of his article.” Not admitting these,
Prof. Green postpones replies for the present; though by what replies
he can show his apprehensions to be true ones, I do not see. Further
misapprehensions of a general nature, which stand as preliminaries to
his criticisms, may here be instanced, as serving, I think, to show
that those criticisms are misdirected.

From _The Principles of Psychology_ Prof. Green quotes the following

  “The relation between these, as antithetically opposed divisions of
 the {323} entire assemblage of manifestations of the Unknowable, was
 our datum. The fabric of conclusions built upon it must be unstable
 if this datum can be proved either untrue or doubtful. Should the
 idealist be right, the doctrine of evolution is a dream.”

And on these sentences he comments thus:―

 “To those who have humbly accepted the doctrine of evolution as a
 valuable formulation of our knowledge of animal life, but at the same
 time think of themselves as ‘idealists,’ this statement may at first
 cause some uneasiness. On examination, however, they will find in the
 first place that when Mr. Spencer in such a connection speaks of the
 doctrine of evolution, he is thinking chiefly of its application to
 the explanation of knowledge—an application at least not necessarily
 admitted in the acceptance of it as a theory of animal life.”[44]

From which it appears that Prof. Green’s conception of Evolution is
that popular conception in which it is identified with that set forth
in _The Origin of Species_. That my conception of Evolution, referred
to in the passage he quotes, is a widely different one, would have been
perceived by him had he referred to the exposition of it contained in
_First Principles_. My meaning in the passage he quotes is, that since
Evolution, as I conceive it, is, under certain conditions, the result
of that universal redistribution of matter and motion which is, and
ever has been, going on; and since, during those phases of it which are
distinguishable as astronomic and geologic, the implication is that no
life, still less consciousness (under any such form as is known to us),
existed; there is necessarily implied by the theory of Evolution, a
mode of Being independent of, and antecedent to, the mode of Being we
now call consciousness. And I implied that, consequently, this theory
must be a dream, if either ideas are the only existences, or if, as
Prof. Green appears to think, the object exists only by correlation
with the subject. How necessary is this more general view as a basis
for my psychological view, and how erroneous is a criticism which
ignores it, will be seen on observing that by ignoring it, I am made
to appear profoundly inconsistent where {324} otherwise there is no
inconsistency. Prof. Green says that my doctrine―

 “ascribes to the object, which in truth is nothing without the
 subject, an independent reality, and then supposes it gradually to
 produce certain qualities in the subject, of which the existence is in
 truth necessary to the possibility of those qualities in the object
 which are supposed to produce them.”[45]

On which my comment is that, ascribing, as I do, “an independent
reality” to the object, and denying that the object is “nothing without
the subject,” my doctrine, though wholly inconsistent with that of
Professor Green, is wholly consistent with itself. Had he rightly
conceived the doctrine of Transfigured Realism (_Prin. of Psy._ §
473), Prof. Green would have seen that while I hold that the qualities
of object and subject, as present to consciousness, being resultants
of the co-operation of object and subject, exist only through their
co-operation, and, in common with all resultants, must be unlike their
factors; yet that there pre-exist those factors, and that without them
no resultants can exist.

Equally fundamental is another preliminary misconception which Prof.
Green exhibits. He says―

 “We should be sorry to believe that Mr. Spencer and Mr. Lewes regard
 the relation between consciousness and the world as corresponding to
 that between two bodies, of which one is inside the other; but apart
 from some such crude imagination it does not appear, &c.”

Now since I deliberately accept, and have expounded at great
length, this view which Professor Green does not ascribe to me,
because he would be “sorry to believe” I entertain such a “crude
imagination”—since this view is everywhere posited by the doctrine
of Psychological Evolution as I have set it forth; I am astonished
at finding it supposed that I hold some other view. Considering that
Parts II. III. and IV. of the _Principles of Psychology_ are occupied
with tracing out mental Evolution as a result of converse between
organism and environment; and {325} considering that throughout Part
V. the interpretations, analytical instead of synthetical, pre-suppose
from moment to moment a surrounding world and an included organism;
I cannot imagine a stranger assumption than that I do not believe
the relationship between consciousness and the world to be that of
inclusion of the one by the other. I am aware that Prof. Green does
not regard me as a coherent thinker; but I scarcely expected he would
ascribe to me an incoherence so extreme that in Part VI. I abandon the
fundamental assumption on which all the preceding parts stand, and
adopt some other. And I should the less have expected so extreme an
incoherence to be ascribed to me, considering that throughout Part VI.
this same belief is tacitly implied as part of that realistic belief
which it is the aim of its argument to explain and justify. Here,
however, the fact of chief significance is, that as Professor Green
would be “sorry to believe” I hold the view named, and refrains from
ascribing to me so “crude an imagination,” it is to be concluded that
his arguments are directed against some other view which he supposes
me to hold. If so, one of two conclusions is inevitable. Either his
criticisms are valid against this other view which he tacitly ascribes
to me, or they are not. If he admits them to be invalid on the
assumption that I hold this other view, the matter ends. If he holds
them to be valid on the assumption that I hold this other view, then
they must be invalid against the absolutely-different view which I
actually hold; and again the matter ends.

Even were I to leave off here, I might, I think, say that the
inapplicability of Prof. Green’s arguments is sufficiently shown;
but it may be desirable to point out that beyond these general
misapprehensions, by which they are vitiated, there are special
misapprehensions. Much to my surprise, considering the careful
preliminary explanation I have given, he has failed to understand
the mental attitude assumed by me when describing the synthesis
of experiences {326} against which he more especially urges his
objections. In chapters entitled “Partial Differentiation of Subject
and Object,” “Completed Differentiation of Subject and Object,” and
“Developed Conception of the Object,” I have endeavoured, as these
titles imply, to trace up the gradual establishment of this fundamental
antithesis in a developing intelligence. It appeared to me, and still
appears, that for coherent thinking there must be excluded at the
outset, not only whatever implies acquired knowledge of objective
existence, but also whatever implies acquired knowledge of subjective
existence. At the close of the chapter preceding those just named, as
well as in _First Principles_, where this process of differentiation
was more briefly indicated, I recognized, and emphatically enlarged
upon, the difficulty of carrying out such an inquiry: pointing out that
in any attempts we make to observe the way in which subject and object
become distinguished, we inevitably use those faculties and conceptions
which have grown up while the differentiation of the two has been going
on. In trying to discern the initial stages of the process, we carry
with us all the products which belong to the final stage, and cannot
free ourselves from them. In _First Principles_ (§ 43) I have pointed
out that the words _impressions_ and _ideas_, the term _sensation_, the
phrase _state of consciousness,_ severally involve large systems of
beliefs; and that if we allow ourselves to recognize their connotations
we inevitably reason circularly. And in the closing sentence of the
chapter preceding those above named, I have said―

 “Though in every illustration taken we shall have tacitly to posit an
 external existence, and in every reference to states of consciousness
 we shall have to posit an internal existence which has these states;
 yet, as before, we must ignore these implications.”

I should have thought that, with all these cautions before him, Prof.
Green would not have fallen into the error of supposing that in the
argument thereupon commenced, the phrase “states of consciousness” is
used with all its ordinary implications. I should have thought that,
as in {327} a note appended to the outset of the argument I have
referred to the parallel argument in _First Principles_, where I have
used the phrase “manifestations of existence” instead of “states of
consciousness,” as the least objectionable; and as the argument in the
_Psychology_ is definitely described in this note as a re-statement in
a different form of the argument in _First Principles_; he would have
seen that in the phrase “states of consciousness,” as used throughout
this chapter, was to be included no more meaning than was included in
the phrase “manifestations of existence.”[46] I should have thought
he would have seen that the purpose of the chapter was passively to
watch, with no greater intelligence than is implied in watching, how
the manifestations or states, vivid and faint, comport themselves:
excluding all thought of their meanings—all interpretations of them.
Nevertheless, Prof. Green charges me with having, at the outset of the
examination, invalidated my argument by implying, in the terms I use,
certain products of developed consciousness.[47] He contends that my
division of the “states of consciousness,” or, as I elsewhere term
them, “manifestations of existence,” into vivid and faint, is vitiated
from the first by including along with the vivid ones those faint ones
needful to constitute them perceptions, in the ordinary sense of the
word. Because, describing all I passively watch, I speak of a distant
{328} head-land, of waves, of boats, &c, he actually supposes me to be
speaking of those developed cognitions under which these are classed as
such and such objects. What would he have me do? It is impossible to
give any such account of the process as I have attempted, without using
names for things and actions. The various manifestations, vivid and
faint, which in the case described impose themselves on my receptivity,
must be indicated in some way; and the words indicating them inevitably
carry with them their respective connotations. What more can I do than
warn the reader that all these connotations must be ignored, and that
attention must be paid exclusively to the manifestations themselves,
and the modes in which they comport themselves. At the stage described
in this “partial differentiation,” while I suppose myself as yet
unconscious of my own individuality and of a world as separate from it,
the obvious implication is, that what I name “states of consciousness,”
because this is the current term for them, are to have no
interpretations whatever put upon them; but that their characters and
modes of behaviour are to be observed, as they might be while yet there
had been none of that organization of experiences which makes things
known in the ordinary sense. It is true that, thus misinterpreting me
in December, Prof. Green, writing again in March, puts into the mouth
of an imagined advocate the true statement of my view;[48] though he
(Prof. Green) then proceeds to deny that I can mean what this imagined
advocate rightly says I mean: taking occasion to allege that I use the
phrase “states of consciousness” “to give a philosophical character” to
what would else seem “written too much after the fashion of a newspaper
correspondent.”[49] Even, however, had he admitted that intended
meaning which he sees, but denies, the rectification would have been
somewhat unsatisfactory, coming three months after various {329}
absurdities, based on his misinterpretation, had been ascribed to me.

But the most serious allegation made by Mr. Hodgson against Prof.
Green, and which I here repeat, is that he habitually says I regard
the object as constituted by “the aggregate of vivid states of
consciousness,” in face of the conspicuous fact that I identify the
object with the _nexus_ of this aggregate. In his defence Prof. Green

 “If I had made any attempt to show that Mr. Spencer believes
 the object to be no more than an aggregate of vivid states of
 consciousness, Mr. Hodgson’s complaint, that I ignore certain passages
 in which a contrary persuasion is stated, would have been to the

Let us look at the facts. Treating of the relation between my view and
the idealistic and sceptical views, he imagines addresses made to me by
Berkeley and Hume. “‘You agree with me,’ Berkeley might say, ‘that when
we speak of the external world we are speaking of certain lively ideas
connected in a certain manner;’”[50] and this identification of the
world with ideas, I am tacitly represented as accepting. Again, Hume is
supposed to say to me—“You agree with me that what we call the world
is a series of impressions;”[51] and here, as before, I am supposed
silently to acquiesce in this as a true statement of my view. Similarly
throughout his argument, Prof. Green continually states or implies that
the object is, in my belief, constituted by the vivid aggregate of
states of consciousness. At the outset of his second article,[52] he
says of me:—“He there” [in the _Principles of Psychology_] “identifies
the object with a certain aggregate of vivid states of consciousness,
which he makes out to be independent of another aggregate, consisting
of faint states, and identified with the subject.” And admitting that
he thus describes my view, he nevertheless alleges that he does not
misrepresent me, because, as he says,[53] “there is scarcely a page of
my article in {330} which Mr. Spencer’s conviction of the externality
and independence of the object, in the various forms in which it is
stated by him, is not referred to.” But what if it is referred to
in the process of showing that the externality and independence of
the object is utterly inconsistent with the conception of it as an
aggregate of vivid states of consciousness? What if I am continually
made to seem thus absolutely inconsistent, by omitting the fact that
not the aggregate of vivid states itself is conceived by me as the
object, but the _nexus_ binding it together?

A single brief example will typify Prof. Green’s general method of
procedure. On page 40 of his first article he says—“And in the sequel
the ‘separation of themselves’ on the part of states of consciousness
‘into two great aggregates, vivid and faint,’ is spoken of as a
‘differentiation between the antithetical existences we call object and
subject.’ If words mean anything, then, Mr. Spencer plainly makes the
‘object’ an aggregate of conscious states.” But in the entire passage
from which these words of mine are quoted, which he gives at the bottom
of the page, a careful reader will observe a word (_omitted_ from Prof.
Green’s quotation in the text), which quite changes the meaning. I have
described the result, not as “a differentiation,” but as “a _partial_
differentiation.” Now, to use Prof. Green’s expression, “if words mean
anything,” a partial differentiation cannot have the same sense as a
complete differentiation. If the ‘’object’ has been already constituted
by this partial differentiation, what does the ‘object’ become when the
differentiation is completed? Clearly, “if words mean anything,” then,
had Prof. Green not omitted the word “partial,” it would have been
manifest that the aggregate of vivid states was _not_ alleged to be the
object. The mode of treatment which we here see in little, exemplifies
Prof. Green’s mode of treatment at large. Throughout his two articles
he criticizes detached portions, and ascribes to them meanings {331}
quite different from those which they have when joined with the rest.

With the simplicity of “a raw undergraduate” (to some of whose views
Prof. Green compares some of mine) I had assumed that an argument
running through three chapters would not be supposed to have its
conclusion expressed in the first; but now, after the professorial
lesson I have received, my simplicity will be decreased, and I shall
be aware that a critic may deal with that which is avowedly partial,
as though it were entire, and may treat as though it were already
developed, a conception which the titles of the chapters before him
show is yet but incipient.

Here I leave the matter, and if anything more is said, shall let it
pass. Controversy must be cut short, or work must be left undone. I can
but suggest that metaphysical readers will do well to make their own
interpretations of my views, rather than to accept without inquiry all
the interpretations offered them.

POSTSCRIPT.—From a note appended by Mr. Nettleship to his republished
versions of Prof. Green’s articles, it appears that, after the
foregoing pages were published by me, Prof. Green wrote to the editor
of the _Contemporary Review_, saying:―

 “While I cannot honestly retract anything in the substance of what I
 then wrote, there are expressions in the article which I very much
 regret, so far as they might be taken to imply want of personal
 respect for Mr. Spencer. For reasons sufficiently given in my reply to
 Mr. Hodgson, I cannot plead guilty to the charge of misrepresentation
 which Mr. Spencer repeats; but on reading my first article again in
 cold blood I found that I had allowed controversial heat to betray
 me into the use of language which was unbecoming—especially on the
 part of an unknown writer (not even then a ‘professor’) assailing a
 veteran philosopher. I make this acknowledgment merely for my own
 satisfaction, not under the impression that it can at all concern Mr.
 Spencer” (vol. i., p. 541).

Possibly some of Prof. Green’s adherents will ask how, after he
has stated that he cannot honestly retract, and that {332} he is
not guilty of misrepresentation, I can describe his criticism as
unscrupulous. My reply is that a critic who persists in saying that
which, on the face of it, is dishonest, and then avers that he cannot
honestly do otherwise, does not thereby prove his honesty, but
contrariwise. One who deliberately omits from his quotation the word
“partial,” and then treats, as though it were complete, that which
is avowedly incomplete—one who, in dealing with an argument which
runs through three chapters, recognizes only the first of them—one
who persists in thinking it proper to do this after the consequent
distortions of statement have been pointed out to him; is one who,
if not knowingly dishonest, is lacking in due perception of right
and wrong in controversy. The only other possible supposition which
occurs to me, is that such a proceeding is a natural sequence of the
philosophy to which he adheres. Of course, if Being and non-Being are
the same, then representation and misrepresentation are the same.

I may add that there is a curious kinship between the ideas implied by
the letter above quoted and its implied sentiments. Prof. Green says
that his apology for unbecoming language he makes merely for his “own
satisfaction.” He does not calm his qualms of conscience by indicating
his regret to those who read this unbecoming language; nor does he
express his regret to me, against whom it was vented; but he expresses
his regret to the editor of the _Contemporary Review_! So that a public
insult to A is supposed to be cancelled by a private apology to B!
Here is more Hegelian thinking; or rather, here is Hegelian feeling
congruous with Hegelian thinking.


[44] _Contemporary Review_, December, 1877, p. 35.

[45] _Contemporary Review_, December, 1877, p. 37

[46] If I am asked why here I used the phrase “states of consciousness”
rather than “manifestations of existence,” though I had previously
preferred the last to the first, I give as my reason the desire
to maintain continuity of language with the preceding chapter,
“The Dynamics of Consciousness.” In that chapter an examination
of consciousness had been made with the view of ascertaining what
principle of cohesion determines our beliefs, as preliminary to
observing how this principle operates in establishing the beliefs
in subject and object. But on proceeding to do this, the phrase
“state of consciousness” was supposed, like the phrase “manifestation
of existence,” not to be used as anything more than a name by
which to distinguish this or that form of being, as an undeveloped
receptivity would become aware of it, while yet self and not-self were

[47] _Contemporary Review_, December, 1877, pp. 49, 50.

[48] _Contemporary Review_, March, 1878, p. 753.

[49] _Ibid._, March, 1878, p. 755.

[50] _Contemporary Review_, December, 1877, p. 44.

[51] _Ibid._, December, 1877, p. 44.

[52] _Ibid._, March, 1878, p. 745.

[53] _Ibid._, January, 1881, p. 115.



[_First published in_ The Westminster Review _for October 1852._]

Commenting on the seeming incongruity between his father’s
argumentative powers and his ignorance of formal logic, Tristram
Shandy says:—“It was a matter of just wonder with my worthy tutor,
and two or three fellows of that learned society, that a man who knew
not so much as the names of his tools, should be able to work after
that fashion with them.” Sterne’s implied conclusion that a knowledge
of the principles of reasoning neither makes, nor is essential to,
a good reasoner, is doubtless true. Thus, too, is it with grammar.
As Dr. Latham, condemning the usual school-drill in Lindley Murray,
rightly remarks:—“Gross vulgarity is a fault to be prevented; but the
proper prevention is to be got from habit—not rules.” Similarly, good
composition is far less dependent on acquaintance with its laws, than
on practice and natural aptitude. A clear head, a quick imagination,
and a sensitive ear, will go far towards making all rhetorical precepts
needless. And where there exists any mental flaw—where there is a
deficient verbal memory, or an inadequate sense of logical dependence,
or but little perception of order, or a lack of constructive ingenuity;
no amount of instruction will insure good writing. Nevertheless, _some_
result may be expected from a familiarity {334} with the principles of
style. The endeavour to conform to laws may tell, though slowly. And
if in no other way, yet, as facilitating revision, a knowledge of the
thing to be achieved—a clear idea of what constitutes a beauty, and
what a blemish—cannot fail to be of service.

       *       *       *       *       *

No general theory of expression seems yet to have been enunciated. The
maxims contained in works on composition and rhetoric, are presented
in an unorganized form. Standing as isolated dogmas—as empirical
generalizations, they are neither so clearly apprehended, nor so much
respected, as they would be were they deduced from some simple first
principle. We are told that “brevity is the soul of wit.” We hear
styles condemned as verbose or involved. Blair says that every needless
part of a sentence “interrupts the description and clogs the image;”
and again, that “long sentences fatigue the reader’s attention.” It is
remarked by Lord Kaimes that, “to give the utmost force to a period,
it ought, if possible, to be closed with the word that makes the
greatest figure.” Avoidance of parentheses, and the use of Saxon words
in preference to those of Latin origin, are often insisted upon. But,
however influential the precepts thus dogmatically expressed, they
would be much more influential if reduced to something like scientific
ordination. In this as in other cases, conviction is strengthened when
we understand the _why_. And we may be sure that recognition of the
general principle from which the rules of composition result, will not
only bring them home to us with greater force, but will disclose other
rules of like origin.

On seeking for some clue to the law underlying these current maxims,
we may see implied in many of them, the importance of economizing the
reader’s or hearer’s attention. To so present ideas that they may be
apprehended with the least possible mental effort, is the desideratum
towards which most of the rules above quoted point. When we {335}
condemn writing that is wordy, or confused, or intricate—when we
praise this style as easy, and blame that as fatiguing, we consciously
or unconsciously assume this desideratum as our standard of judgment.
Regarding language as an apparatus of symbols for conveying thought,
we may say that, as in a mechanical apparatus, the more simple and the
better arranged its parts, the greater will be the effect produced.
In either case, whatever force is absorbed by the machine is deducted
from the result. A reader or listener has at each moment but a limited
amount of mental power available. To recognize and interpret the
symbols presented to him, requires part of this power; to arrange and
combine the images suggested by them requires a further part; and only
that part which remains can be used for framing the thought expressed.
Hence, the more time and attention it takes to receive and understand
each sentence, the less time and attention can be given to the
contained idea; and the less vividly will that idea be conceived. How
truly language must be regarded as a hindrance to thought, though the
necessary instrument of it, we shall clearly perceive on remembering
the comparative force with which simple ideas are communicated by
signs. To say, “Leave the room,” is less expressive than to point
to the door. Placing a finger on the lips is more forcible than
whispering, “Do not speak.” A beck of the hand is better than, “Come
here.” No phrase can convey the idea of surprise so vividly as opening
the eyes and raising the eyebrows. A shrug of the shoulders would
lose much by translation into words. Again, it may be remarked that
when oral language is employed, the strongest effects are produced by
interjections, which condense entire sentences into syllables. And
in other cases, where custom allows us to express thoughts by single
words, as in _Beware_, _Heigho_, _Fudge_, much force would be lost by
expanding them into specific propositions. Hence, carrying out the
metaphor that {336} language is the vehicle of thought, we may say
that in all cases the friction and inertia of the vehicle deduct from
its efficiency; and that in composition, the chief thing to be done,
is, to reduce the friction and inertia to the smallest amounts. Let
us then inquire whether economy of the recipient’s attention is not
the secret of effect, alike in the right choice and collocation of
words, in the best arrangement of clauses in a sentence, in the proper
order of its principal and subordinate propositions, in the judicious
use of simile, metaphor, and other figures of speech, and even in the
rhythmical sequence of syllables.

The greater forcibleness of Saxon English, or rather non-Latin English,
first claims our attention. The several special reasons assignable
for this may all be reduced to the general reason—economy. The most
important of them is early association. A child’s vocabulary is
almost wholly Saxon. He says, _I have_, not _I possess_—_I wish_,
not _I desire_; he does not _reflect_, he _thinks_; he does not beg
for _amusement_, but for _play_; he calls things _nice_ or _nasty_,
not _pleasant_ or _disagreeable_. The synonyms learned in after
years, never become so closely, so organically, connected with the
ideas signified, as do these original words used in childhood; the
association remains less strong. But in what does a strong association
between a word and an idea differ from a weak one? Essentially in the
greater ease and rapidity of the suggestive action. Both of two words,
if they be strictly synonymous, eventually call up the same image.
The expression—It is _acid_, must in the end give rise to the same
thought as—It is _sour_; but because the term _acid_ was learnt later
in life, and has not been so often followed by the ideal sensation
symbolized, it does not so readily arouse that ideal sensation as the
term _sour_. If we remember how slowly the meanings follow unfamiliar
words in another language, and how increasing familiarity with them
brings greater rapidity and ease of comprehension; and if we consider
that the {337} like effect must have resulted from using the words of
our mother tongue from childhood upwards; we shall clearly see that the
earliest learnt and oftenest used words, will, other things equal, call
up images with less loss of time and energy than their later learnt

The further superiority possessed by Saxon English in its comparative
brevity, obviously comes under the same generalization. If it be an
advantage to express an idea in the smallest number of words, then
it must be an advantage to express it in the smallest number of
syllables. If circuitous phrases and needless expletives distract
the attention and diminish the strength of the impression produced,
then so, too, must surplus articulations. A certain effort, though
commonly an inappreciable one, is required to recognize every vowel
and consonant. If, as all know, it is tiresome to listen to an
indistinct speaker, or to read an ill-written manuscript; and if, as
we cannot doubt, the fatigue is a cumulative result of the attention
needed to catch successive syllables; it follows that attention is
in such cases absorbed by each syllable. And this being so when the
syllables are difficult of recognition, it will be so too, though
in a less degree, when the recognition of them is easy. Hence, the
shortness of Saxon words becomes a reason for their greater force. One
qualification, however, must not be overlooked. A word which embodies
the most important part of the idea to be conveyed, especially when
emotion is to be produced, may often with advantage be a polysyllabic
word. Thus it seems more forcible to say—“It is _magnificent_,”
than—“It is _grand_.” The word _vast_ is not so powerful a one as
_stupendous_. Calling a thing _nasty_ is not so effective as calling
it _disgusting_. There seem to be several causes for this exceptional
superiority of certain long words. We may ascribe it partly to the
fact that a voluminous, mouth-filling epithet is, by its very size,
suggestive of largeness or strength, as is shown by the pomposity of
sesquipedalian verbiage; and when great power or {338} intensity has
to be suggested, this association of ideas aids the effect. A further
cause may be that a word of several syllables admits of more emphatic
articulation; and as emphatic articulation is a sign of emotion,
the unusual impressiveness of the thing named is implied by it. Yet
another cause is that a long word (of which the latter syllables
are generally inferred as soon as the first are spoken) allows the
hearer’s consciousness more time to dwell on the quality predicated;
and where, as in the above cases, it is to this predicated quality that
the entire attention is called, an advantage results from keeping it
before the mind for an appreciable interval. To make our generalization
quite correct we must therefore say, that while in certain sentences
expressing feeling, the word which more especially implies that
feeling may often with advantage be a many-syllabled one; in the
immense majority of cases, each word, serving but as a step to the
idea embodied by the whole sentence, should, if possible, be a single

Once more, that frequent cause of strength in Saxon and other primitive
words—their onomatopœia, may be similarly resolved into the more
general cause. Both those directly imitative, as _splash_,_bang_,
_whiz_, _roar_, &c., and those analogically imitative, as _rough_,
_smooth_, _keen_, _blunt_, _thin_, _hard_, _crag_, &c., have a greater
or less likeness to the things symbolized; and by making on the ears
impressions allied to the ideas to be called up, they save part of the
effort needed to call up such ideas, and leave more attention for the
ideas themselves.

Economy of the recipient’s mental energy may be assigned, too, as a
manifest cause for the superiority of specific over generic words.
That concrete terms produce more vivid impressions than abstract
ones, and should, when possible, be used instead, is a current maxim
of composition. As Dr. Campbell says, “The more general the terms
are, the picture is the fainter; the more special {339} they are, the
brighter.” When aiming at effect we should avoid such a sentence as:

―― When the manners, customs, and amusements of a nation are cruel and
barbarous, the regulations of their penal code will be severe.

And in place of it we should write:

―― When men delight in battles, bull-fights, and combats of gladiators,
will they punish by hanging, burning, and the rack.

This superiority of specific expressions is clearly due to a saving
of the effort required to translate words into thoughts. As we do not
think in generals but in particulars—as, whenever any class of things
is named, we represent it to ourselves by calling to mind individual
members of the class; it follows that when a general word is used, the
hearer or reader has to choose from his stock of images, one or more,
by which he may figure to himself the whole group. In doing this,
some delay must arise—some force be expended; and if, by employing
a specific term, an appropriate image can be at once suggested, an
economy is achieved, and a more vivid impression produced.

Turning now from the choice of words to their sequence, we find the
same principle hold good. We have _a priori_ reasons for believing that
there is some one order of words by which every proposition may be more
effectively expressed than by any other; and that this order is the
one which presents the elements of the proposition in the succession
in which they may be most readily put together. As in a narrative, the
events should be stated in such sequence that the mind may not have to
go backwards and forwards in order to rightly connect them; as in a
group of sentences, the arrangement should be such that each of them
may be understood as it comes, without waiting for subsequent ones; so
in every sentence, the sequence of words should be that which suggests
the constituents of the thought in the order most convenient for
building it {340} up. Duly to enforce this truth, and to prepare the
way for applications of it, we must analyze the mental act by which the
meaning of a series of words is apprehended.

We cannot more simply do this than by considering the proper
collocation of substantive and adjective. Is it better to place the
adjective before the substantive, or the substantive before the
adjective? Ought we to say with the French—_un cheval noir_; or to say
as we do—a black horse? Probably, most persons of culture will say
that one order is as good as the other. Alive to the bias produced by
habit, they will ascribe to that the preference they feel for our own
form of expression. They will expect those educated in the use of the
opposite form to have an equal preference for that. And thus they will
conclude that neither of these instinctive judgments is of any worth.
There is, however, a psychological ground for deciding in favour of the
English custom. If “a horse black” be the arrangement, then immediately
on the utterance of the word “horse,” there arises, or tends to arise,
in the mind, an idea answering to that word; and as there has been
nothing to indicate what _kind_ of horse, any image of a horse suggests
itself. Very likely, however, the image will be that of a brown horse:
brown horses being the most familiar. The result is that when the word
“black” is added, a check is given to the process of thought. Either
the picture of a brown horse already present to the imagination has to
be suppressed, and the picture of a black one summoned in its place;
or else, if the picture of a brown horse be yet unformed, the tendency
to form it has to be stopped. Whichever is the case, some hindrance
results. But if, on the other hand, “a black horse” be the expression
used, no mistake can be made. The word “black,” indicating an abstract
quality, arouses no definite idea. It simply prepares the mind for
conceiving some object of that colour; and the attention is kept
suspended until that object is known. If, then, by {341} precedence of
the adjective, the idea is always conveyed rightly, whereas precedence
of the substantive is apt to produce a misconception; it follows that
the one gives the mind less trouble than the other, and is therefore
more forcible.

Possibly it will be objected that the adjective and substantive come
so close together, that practically they may be considered as uttered
at the same moment; and that on hearing the phrase, “a horse black,”
there is not time to imagine a wrongly coloured horse before the word
“black” follows to prevent it. It must be owned that it is not easy
to decide by introspection whether this is so or not. But there are
facts collaterally implying that it is not. Our ability to anticipate
the words yet unspoken is one of them. If the ideas of the hearer
lingered behind the expressions of the speaker, as the objection
assumes, he could hardly foresee the end of a sentence by the time it
was half delivered; yet this constantly happens. Were the supposition
true, the mind, instead of anticipating, would fall more and more
in arrear. If the meanings of words are not realized as fast as the
words are uttered, then the loss of time over each word must entail an
accumulation of delays and leave a hearer entirely behind. But whether
the force of these replies be or be not admitted, it will scarcely be
denied that the right formation of a picture must be facilitated by
presenting its elements in the order in which they are wanted; even
though the mind should do nothing until it has received them all.

What is here said respecting the succession of the adjective and
substantive is applicable, by change of terms, to the adverb and verb.
And without further explanation, it will be manifest, that in the use
of prepositions and other particles, most languages spontaneously
conform with more or less completeness to this law.

On similarly analyzing sentence considered as vehicles for entire
propositions, we find not only that the same principle holds good,
but that the advantage of respecting {342} it becomes marked. In the
arrangement of predicate and subject, for example, we are at once shown
that as the predicate determines the aspect under which the subject is
to be conceived, it should be placed first; and the striking effect
produced by so placing it becomes comprehensible. Take the often-quoted
contrast between—“Great is Diana of the Ephesians,” and—“Diana of
the Ephesians is great.” When the first arrangement is used, the
utterance of the word “great,” arousing vague associations of an
imposing nature prepares the imagination to clothe with high attributes
whatever follows; and when the words, “Diana of the Ephesians” are
heard, appropriate imagery already nascent in thought, is used in the
formation of the picture: the mind being thus led directly, and without
error, to the intended impression. But when the reverse order is
followed, the idea, “Diana of the Ephesians,” is formed with no special
reference to greatness; and when the words, “is great,” are added,
it has to be formed afresh; whence arises a loss of mental energy,
and a corresponding diminution of effect. The following verse from
Coleridge’s “Ancient Mariner,” though incomplete as a sentence, well
illustrates the same truth.

 “_Alone, alone, all, all alone,_
  _Alone on a wide wide sea!_
  _And never a saint took pity on_
  _My soul in agony.”_

Of course the principle equally applies when the predicate is a
verb or a participle. And as effect is gained by placing first all
words indicating the quality, conduct, or condition of the subject,
it follows that the copula also should have precedence. It is true,
that the general habit of our language resists this arrangement of
predicate, copula, and subject; but we may readily find instances of
the additional force gained by conforming to it. Thus in the line from
“Julius Cæsar”―

 “Then _burst_ his mighty heart,”

priority is given to a word embodying both predicate and {343} copula.
In a passage contained in Sir W. Scott’s “Marmion,” the like order is
systematically employed with great effect:

 “The Border slogan rent the sky!
 _A Home! a Gordon! was_ the cry;
 _Loud were_ the clanging blows;
 _Advanced,—forced back,—now low, now high,_
   The pennon sunk and rose;
 As _bends_ the bark’s mast in the gale
 When _rent are_ rigging, shrouds, and sail,
   It waver’d ’mid the foes.”

Pursuing the principle further, it is obvious that for producing the
greatest effect, not only should the main divisions of a sentence
observe this sequence, but the sub-divisions of these should have
their parts similarly arranged. In nearly all cases, the predicate
is accompanied by some limit or qualification called its complement.
Commonly, also, the circumstances of the subject, which form its
complement, have to be specified. And as these qualifications and
circumstances must determine the mode in which the acts and things
they belong to are conceived, precedence should be given to them. Lord
Kaimes notices the fact that this order is preferable; though without
giving the reason. He says:—“When a circumstance is placed at the
beginning of the period, or near the beginning, the transition from
it to the principal subject is agreeable: is like ascending or going
upward.” A sentence arranged in illustration of this will be desirable.
Here is one:

―― Whatever it may be in theory, it is clear that in practice the
French idea of liberty is—the right of every man to be master of the

In this case, were the first two clauses, up to the word “practice”
inclusive, which qualify the subject, to be placed at the end instead
of the beginning, much of the force would be lost; as thus:

―― The French idea of liberty is—the right of every man to be master of
the rest; in practice at least, if not in theory.

Similarly with respect to the conditions under which any {344} fact is
predicated. Observe in the following example the effect of putting them

―― How immense would be the stimulus to progress, were the honour now
given to wealth and title given exclusively to high achievements and
intrinsic worth!

And then observe the superior effect of putting them first:

―― Were the honour now given to wealth and title given exclusively
to high achievements and intrinsic worth, how immense would be the
stimulus to progress!

The effect of giving priority to the complement of the predicate, as
well as the predicate itself, is finely displayed in the opening of

 “_Deep in the shady sadness of a vale_
  _Far sunken from the healthy breath of morn,_
  _Far from the fiery noon, and eve’s one star,_
  _Sat_ grey-haired Saturn, quiet as a stone.”

Here we see, not only that the predicate “sat” precedes the subject
“Saturn,” and that the three lines in italics, constituting the
complement of the predicate, come before it; but that in the structure
of this complement also, the same order is followed: each line being
so composed that the qualifying words are placed before the words
suggesting concrete images.

The right succession of the principal and subordinate propositions
in a sentence depends on the same law. Regard for economy of the
recipient’s attention, which, as we find, determines the best order
for the subject, copula, predicate, and their complements, dictates
that the subordinate proposition shall precede the principal one, when
the sentence includes two. Containing, as the subordinate proposition
does, some qualifying or explanatory idea, its priority prevents
misconception of the principal one; and therefore saves the mental
effort needed to correct such misconception. This will be seen in the
annexed example.

―― The secrecy once maintained in respect to the parliamentary debates,
is still thought needful in diplomacy; and diplomacy being secret,
England may any day be {345} unawares betrayed by its ministers into
a war costing a hundred thousand lives, and hundreds of millions of
treasure: yet the English pique themselves on being a self-governed

The two subordinate propositions, ending with the semicolon and colon
respectively, almost wholly determine the meaning of the principal
proposition with which the sentence concludes; and the effect would be
lost were they placed last instead of first.

From this general principle of right arrangement may also be inferred
the proper order of those minor divisions into which the major
divisions of sentences may be decomposed. In every sentence of any
complexity the complement to the subject contains several clauses,
and that to the predicate several others; and these may be arranged
in greater or less conformity to the law of easy apprehension. Of
course with these, as with the larger members, the succession should be
from the less specific to the more specific—from the abstract to the

Now however we must notice a further condition to be fulfilled in the
proper construction of a sentence; but still a condition dictated by
the same general principle with the other: the condition, namely,
that the words or the expressions which refer to the most nearly
connected thoughts shall be brought the closest together. Evidently
the single words, the minor clauses, and the leading divisions of
every proposition, severally qualify each other. The longer the time
that elapses between the mention of any qualifying member and the
member qualified, the longer must the mind be exerted in carrying
forward the qualifying member ready for use. And the more numerous the
qualifications to be simultaneously remembered and rightly applied,
the greater will be the mental power expended, and the smaller the
effect produced. Hence, other things equal, force will be gained by
so arranging the members of a sentence that these suspensions shall
at any moment be the fewest in {346} number; and shall also be of
the shortest duration. The following is an instance of defective

―― A modern newspaper-statement, though probably true, would be laughed
at, if quoted in a book as testimony; but the letter of a court gossip
is thought good historical evidence, if written some centuries ago.

A re-arrangement of this, in accordance with the principle indicated
above, will be found to increase the effect. Thus:

―― Though probably true, a modern newspaper-statement quoted in a book
as testimony, would be laughed at; but the letter of a court gossip, if
written some centuries ago, is thought good historical evidence.

By making this change, some of the suspensions are avoided and
others shortened; while there is less liability to produce premature
conceptions. The passage quoted below from “Paradise Lost” affords a
fine instance of a sentence well arranged; alike in the priority of the
subordinate members, in the avoidance of long and numerous suspensions,
and in the correspondence between the sequence of the clauses and the
sequence of the phenomena described, which, by the way, is a further
prerequisite to easy apprehension, and therefore to effect.

                   “As when a prowling wolf,
 Whom hunger drives to seek new haunt for prey,
 Watching where shepherds pen their flocks at eve,
 In hurdled cotes amid the field secure,
 Leaps o’er the fence with ease into the fold:
 Or as a thief, bent to unhoard the cash
 Of some rich burgher, whose substantial doors,
 Cross-barr’d and bolted fast, fear no assault,
 In at the window climbs, or o’er the tiles:
 So clomb the first grand Thief into God’s fold;
 So since into his Church lewd hirelings climb.”

The habitual use of sentences in which all or most of the descriptive
and limiting elements precede those described and limited, gives rise
to what is called the inverted style: a title which is, however, by no
means confined to this {347} structure, but is often used where the
order of the words is simply unusual. A more appropriate title would be
the _direct style_, as contrasted with the other, or _indirect style_:
the peculiarity of the one being, that it conveys each thought step by
step with little liability to error; and of the other, that it conveys
each thought by a series of approximations, which successively correct
the erroneous preconceptions that have been raised.

The superiority of the direct over the indirect form of sentence,
implied by the several conclusions above drawn, must not, however, be
affirmed without reservation. Though, up to a certain point, it is well
for the qualifying clauses of a proposition to precede those qualified;
yet, as carrying forward each qualifying clause costs some mental
effort, it follows that when the number of them and the time they are
carried become great, we reach a limit beyond which more is lost than
is gained. Other things equal, the arrangement should be such that no
concrete image shall be suggested until the materials out of which it
is to be framed have been presented. And yet, as lately pointed out,
other things equal, the fewer the materials to be held at once, and the
shorter the distance they have to be borne, the better. Hence in some
cases it becomes a question whether most mental effort will be entailed
by the many and long suspensions, or by the correction of successive

This question may sometimes be decided by considering the capacity
of the persons addressed. A greater grasp of mind is required for
the ready apprehension of thoughts expressed in the direct manner,
where the sentences are anywise intricate. To recollect a number of
preliminaries stated in elucidation of a coming idea, and to apply
them all to the formation of it when suggested, demands a good memory
and considerable power of concentration. To one possessing these, the
direct method will mostly seem the best; while to one deficient in
them it will seem the worst. {348} Just as it may cost a strong man
less effort to carry a hundred-weight from place to place at once,
than by a stone at a time; so, to an active mind it may be easier to
bear along all the qualifications of an idea and at once rightly form
it when named, than to first imperfectly conceive such idea, and then
carry back to it, one by one, the details and limitations afterwards
mentioned. While conversely, as for a boy the only possible mode of
transferring a hundred-weight, is that of taking it in portions;
so, for a weak mind, the only possible mode of forming a compound
conception may be that of building it up by carrying separately its
several parts.

That the indirect method—the method of conveying the meaning by
a series of approximations—is best fitted for the uncultivated,
may indeed be inferred from their habitual use of it. The form
of expression adopted by the savage, as in—“Water, give me,” is
the simplest type of this arrangement. In pleonasms, which are
comparatively prevalent among the uneducated, the same essential
structure is seen; as, for instance in—“The men, they were there.”
Again, the old possessive case—“The king, his crown,” conforms to
the like order of thought. Moreover, the fact that the indirect mode
is called the natural one, implies that it is the one spontaneously
employed by the common people; that is—the one easiest for
undisciplined minds.

There are many cases, however, in which neither the direct nor the
indirect mode is the best; but in which an intermediate mode is
preferable to both. When the number of circumstances and qualifications
to be included in the sentence is great, the judicious course is
neither to enumerate them all before introducing the idea to which they
belong, nor to put this idea first and let it be remodelled to agree
with the particulars afterwards mentioned; but to do a little of each.
It is desirable to avoid so extremely indirect an arrangement as the

―― “We came to our journey’s end, at last, with no {349} small
difficulty, after much fatigue, through deep roads, and bad weather.”

Yet to transform this into an entirely direct sentence would be
unadvisable; as witness:―

―― At last, with no small difficulty, after much fatigue, through deep
roads, and bad weather, we came to our journey’s end.

Dr. Whately, from whom we quote the first of these two arrangements,
proposes this construction:―

―― “At last, after much fatigue, through deep roads and bad weather, we
came, with no small difficulty, to our journey’s end.”

Here by introducing the words “we came” a little earlier in the
sentence, the labour of carrying forward so many particulars is
diminished, and the subsequent qualification “with no small difficulty”
entails an addition to the thought that is easily made. But a
further improvement may be effected by putting the words “we came”
still earlier; especially if at the same time the qualifications be
rearranged in conformity with the principle already explained, that
the more abstract elements of the thought should come before the more
concrete. Observe the result of making these two changes:

―― At last, with no small difficulty, and after much fatigue, we came,
through deep roads and bad weather, to our journey’s end.

This reads with comparative smoothness; that is—with less hindrance
from suspensions and reconstructions of thought.

It should be further remarked, that even when addressing vigorous
intellects, the direct mode is unfit for communicating ideas of a
complex or abstract character. So long as the mind has not much to
do, it may be well able to grasp all the preparatory clauses of a
sentence, and to use them effectively; but if some subtlety in the
argument absorb the attention it may happen that the mind, doubly {350}
strained, will break down, and allow the elements of the thought to
lapse into confusion.

       *       *       *       *       *

Let us pass now to figures of speech. In them we may equally discern
the same general law of effect. Implied in rules given for the
choice and right use of them, we shall find the same fundamental
requirement—economy of attention. It is indeed chiefly because they so
well subserve this requirement, that figures of speech are employed.

Let us begin with the figure called Synecdoche. The advantage sometimes
gained by putting a part for the whole, is due to the more convenient,
or more vivid, presentation of the idea. If, instead of writing “a
fleet of ten ships,” we write “a fleet of ten _sail_,” the picture
of a group of vessels at sea is more readily suggested; and is so
because the sails constitute the most conspicuous parts of vessels so
circumstanced. To say, “All _hands_ to the pumps,” is better than to
say, “All _men_ to the pumps;” as it calls up a picture of the men in
the special attitude intended, and so saves effort. Bringing “_grey
hairs_ with sorrow to the grave,” is another expression, the effect of
which has the same cause.

The effectiveness of Metonymy may be similarly accounted for. “The low
morality of _the bar_,” is a phrase both more brief and significant
than the literal one it stands for. A belief in the ultimate supremacy
of intelligence over brute force, is conveyed in a more concrete form,
and therefore more representable form, if we substitute _the pen_ and
_the sword_ for the two abstract terms. To say, “Beware of drinking!”
is less effective than to say, “Beware of _the bottle_!” and is so,
clearly because it calls up a less specific image.

The Simile is in many cases used chiefly with a view to ornament; but
whenever it increases the _force_ of a passage, it does so by being an
economy. Here is an instance.

―― The illusion that great men and great events came {351} oftener
in early times than they come now, is due partly to historical
perspective. As in a range of equidistant columns, the furthest off
seem the closest; so, the conspicuous objects of the past seem more
thickly clustered the more remote they are.

To express literally the thought thus conveyed, would take many
sentences; and the first elements of the picture would become faint
while the imagination was busy in adding the others. But by the help of
a comparison much of the effort otherwise required is saved.

Concerning the position of the Simile,[54] it needs only to
remark, that what has been said about the order of the adjective
and substantive, predicate and subject, principal and subordinate
propositions, &c., is applicable here. As whatever qualifies should
precede whatever is qualified, force will generally be gained by
placing the simile before the object or act to which it is applied.
That this arrangement is the best, may be seen in the following passage
from the “Lady of the Lake:”―

 “As wreath of snow, on mountain breast,
 Slides from the rock that gave it rest,
 Poor Ellen glided from her stay,
 And at the monarch’s feet she lay.”

Inverting these couplets will be found to diminish the effect
considerably. There are cases, however, even where the simile is a
simple one, in which it may with advantage be placed last; as in these
lines from Alexander Smith’s “Life Drama:”―

             “I see the future stretch
 All dark and barren as a rainy sea.”

The reason for this seems to be, that so abstract an idea as that
attaching to the word “future,” does not present {352} itself to the
mind in any definite form; and hence the subsequent arrival at the
simile entails no reconstruction of the thought.

Such however are not the only cases in which this order is the more
forcible. As putting the simile first is advantageous only when it is
carried forward in the mind to assist in forming an image of the object
or act; it must happen that if, from length or complexity, it cannot be
so carried forward, the advantage is not gained. The annexed sonnet, by
Coleridge, is defective from this cause.

 “As when a child, on some long winter’s night,
 Affrighted, clinging to its grandam’s knees,
 With eager wond’ring and perturb’d delight
 Listens strange tales of fearful dark decrees,
 Mutter’d to wretch by necromantic spell;
 Or of those hags who at the witching time
 Of murky midnight, ride the air sublime,
 And mingle foul embrace with fiends of hell;
 Cold horror drinks its blood! Anon the tear
 More gentle starts, to hear the beldame tell
 Of pretty babes, that lov’d each other dear,
 Murder’d by cruel uncle’s mandate fell:
 Ev’n such the shiv’ring joys thy tones impart,
 Ev’n so, thou, Siddons, meltest my sad heart.”

Here, from the lapse of time and accumulation of circumstances,
the first member of the comparison is forgotten before the second
is reached; and requires re-reading. Had the main idea been first
mentioned, less effort would have been required to retain it, and to
modify the conception of it into harmony with the illustrative ideas,
than to remember the illustrative ideas, and refer back to them for
help in forming the final image.

The superiority of the Metaphor to the Simile is ascribed by Dr.
Whately to the fact that “all men are more gratified at catching the
resemblance for themselves, than in having it pointed out to them.” But
after what has been said, the great economy it achieves will seem the
more probable cause. Lear’s exclamation―

 “Ingratitude! thou marble-hearted fiend,” {353}

would lose part of its effect were it changed into―

 “Ingratitude! thou fiend with heart like marble;”

and the loss would result partly from the position of the simile and
partly from the extra number of words required. When the comparison is
an involved one, the greater force of the metaphor, due to its relative
brevity, becomes much more conspicuous. If, drawing an analogy between
mental and physical phenomena, we say,

―― As, in passing through a crystal, beams of white light are
decomposed into the colours of the rainbow; so, in traversing the
soul of the poet, the colourless rays of truth are transformed into
brightly-tinted poetry;―― it is clear that in receiving the two sets
of words expressing the two halves of the comparison, and in carrying
the meaning of the one to help in interpreting the other, considerable
attention is absorbed. Most of this is saved by putting the comparison
in a metaphorical form, thus:―

―― The white light of truth, in traversing the many-sided transparent
soul of the poet, is refracted into iris-hued poetry. How much is
conveyed in a few words by using Metaphor, and how vivid the effect
consequently produced, is everywhere shown. From “A Life Drama” may be
quoted the phrase,

 “I spear’d him with a jest,”

as a fine instance among the many which that poem contains. A passage
in the “Prometheus Unbound,” of Shelley, displays the power of the
metaphor to great advantage.

       “Methought among the lawns together
 We wandered, underneath the young gray dawn,
 And multitudes of dense white fleecy clouds
 Were wandering in thick flocks along the mountains
 _Shepherded_ by the slow unwilling wind.”

This last expression is remarkable for the distinctness with which it
calls up the features of the scene; bringing the mind by a bound to the
desired conception.

But a limit is put to the advantageous use of Metaphor, {354} by the
condition that it must be simple enough to be understood from a hint.
Evidently, if there be any obscurity in the meaning or application of
it, no economy of attention will be achieved; but rather the reverse.
Hence, when the comparison is complex, it is better to put it in the
form of a Simile. There is, however, a species of figure, sometimes
classed under Allegory, but which might well be called Compound
Metaphor, that enables us to retain the brevity of the metaphorical
form even where the analogy is intricate. This is done by indicating
the application of the figure at the outset, and then leaving the
reader or hearer to continue the parallel. Emerson has employed it with
great effect in the first of his _Lectures on the Times_.

 “The main interest which any aspects of the Times can have for us, is
 the great spirit which gazes through them, the light which they can
 shed on the wonderful questions, What are we? and Whither do we tend?
 We do not wish to be deceived. Here we drift, like white sail across
 the wild ocean, now bright on the wave, now darkling in the trough of
 the sea; but from what port did we sail? Who knows? Or to what port
 are we bound? Who knows? There is no one to tell us but such poor
 weather-tossed mariners as ourselves, whom we speak as we pass, or who
 have hoisted some signal, or floated to us some letter in a bottle
 from afar. But what know they more than we? They also found themselves
 on this wondrous sea. No; from the older sailors nothing. Over all
 their speaking-trumpets the gray sea and the loud winds answer—Not in
 us; not in Time.”

The division of Simile from Metaphor is by no means definite. Between
the one extreme in which the two elements of the comparison are
detailed at full length and the analogy pointed out, and the other
extreme in which the comparison is implied instead of stated, come
intermediate forms, in which the comparison is partly stated and partly
implied. For instance:―

―― Astonished at the performances of the English plough, the Hindoos
paint it, set it up, and worship it; thus turning a tool into an idol.
Linguists do the same with language.—Here there is an evident advantage
in leaving the reader or hearer to complete the figure. And generally
these {355} intermediate forms are good in proportion as they do this;
provided the mode of completion be obvious.

Passing over much that may be said of like purport on Hyperbole,
Personification, Apostrophe, &c., let us close our remarks on
construction by a typical example of effective expression. The general
principle which has been enunciated is that, other things equal, the
force of a verbal form or arrangement is great, in proportion as the
mental effort demanded from the recipient is small. The corollaries
from this general principle have been severally illustrated. But
though conformity now to this and now to that requirement has been
exemplified, no case of entire conformity has yet been quoted. It is
indeed difficult to find one; for the English idiom does not commonly
permit the order which theory dictates. A few, however, occur in
Ossian. Here is one:―

 “Like autumn’s dark storms pouring from two echoing hills, towards
 each other approached the heroes. Like two deep streams from high
 rocks meeting, mixing, roaring on the plain: loud, rough, and dark in
 battle meet Lochlin and Inisfail. * * * As the noise of the troubled
 ocean when roll the waves on high; as the last peal of the thunder of
 heaven; such is the din of war.”

Except in the position of the verb in the first two similes, the
theoretically best arrangement is fully carried out in each of these
sentences. The simile comes before the qualified image, the adjectives
before the substantives, the predicate and copula before the subject,
and their respective complements before them. That the passage is
bombastic proves nothing; or rather, proves our case. For what is
bombast but a force of expression too great for the magnitude of the
ideas embodied? All that may rightly be inferred is, that only in rare
cases should _all_ the conditions to effective expression be fulfilled.

       *       *       *       *       *

A more complex application of the theory may now be {356} made. Not
only in the structures of sentences, and the uses of figures of speech,
may we trace economy of the recipient’s mental energy as the cause of
force; but we may trace this same cause in the successful choice and
arrangement of the minor images out of which some large thought is to
be built. To select from a scene or event described, those elements
which carry many others with them; and so, by saying a few things but
suggesting many, to abridge the description; is the secret of producing
a vivid impression. An extract from Tennyson’s “Mariana” will well
illustrate this.

 “All day within the dreamy house,
 The doors upon their hinges creaked,
 The blue fly sung in the pane; the mouse
 Behind the mouldering wainscot shriek’d,
 Or from the crevice peer’d about.”

The several circumstances here specified bring with them many
appropriate associations. When alone the creaking of a distant door
is much more obtrusive than when talking to friends. Our attention
is rarely drawn by the buzzing of a fly in the window, save when
everything is still. While the inmates are moving about the house,
mice usually keep silence; and it is only when extreme quietness
reigns that they peep from their retreats. Hence each of the facts
mentioned, presupposing various others, calls up these with more or
less distinctness; and revives the feeling of dull solitude with
which they are connected in our experience. Were all of them detailed
instead of suggested, the mental energies would be so frittered away
in attending that little impression of dreariness would be produced.
Similarly in other cases. In the choice of component ideas, as in the
choice of expressions, the aim must be to convey the greatest quantity
of thoughts with the smallest quantity of words.

The same principle may sometimes be advantageously carried yet further,
by indirectly suggesting some entirely {357} distinct thought in
addition to the one expressed. Thus if we say,

―― The head of a good classic is as full of ancient myths, as that of
a servant-girl of ghost stories; it is manifest that besides the fact
asserted, there is an implied opinion respecting the small value of
much that passes as classical learning; and as this implied opinion
is recognized much sooner than it can be put into words, there is
gain in omitting it. In other cases, again, great effect is produced
by an overt omission; provided the nature of the idea left out is
obvious. A good instance occurs in _Heroes and Hero-worship_. After
describing the way in which Burns was sacrificed to the idle curiosity
of lion-hunters—people who sought to amuse themselves, and who got
their amusement while “the Hero’s life went for it!” Carlyle suggests a
parallel thus:―

“Richter says, in the Island of Sumatra there is a kind of
‘Light-chafers,’ large Fire-flies, which people stick upon spits, and
illuminate the ways with at night. Persons of condition can thus travel
with a pleasant radiance, which they much admire. Great honour to the
Fire-flies! But—!—”

       *       *       *       *       *

Before inquiring whether the law of effect thus far traced, explains
the impressiveness of poetry as compared with prose, it will be needful
to notice some causes of force in expression which had not yet been
mentioned. These are not, properly speaking, additional causes; but
rather secondary ones, originating from those already specified.
One is that mental excitement spontaneously prompts those forms of
speech which have been pointed out as the most effective. “Out with
him!” “Away with him!” are the cries of angry citizens at a disturbed
meeting. A voyager, describing a terrible storm he had witnessed, would
rise to some such climax as—“Crack went the ropes, and down came the
mast.” Astonishment {358} may be heard expressed in the phrase—“Never
was there such a sight!” All of which sentences are constructed after
the direct type. Again, there is the fact that excited persons are
given to figures of speech. The vituperation of the vulgar abounds with
them. “Beast,” “brute,” “gallows rogue,” “cut-throat villain,” these,
and like metaphors or metaphorical epithets, call to mind a street
quarrel. Further, it may be noticed that extreme brevity is a trait
of passionate language. The sentences are generally incomplete; and
frequently important words are left to be gathered from the context.
Great admiration does not vent itself in a precise proposition, as—“It
is beautiful;” but in the simple exclamation,—“Beautiful!” He who, when
reading a lawyer’s letter, should say, “Vile rascal!” would be thought
angry; while, “He is a vile rascal,” would imply comparative coolness.
Thus alike in the order of the words, in the frequent use of figures,
and in extreme conciseness, the natural utterances of excitement
conform to the theoretical conditions to forcible expression.

Hence such forms of speech acquire a secondary strength from
association. Having, in daily intercourse, heard them in connection
with vivid mental impressions; and having been accustomed to meet with
them in writing of unusual power; they come to have in themselves
a species of force. The emotions that have from time to time been
produced by the strong thoughts wrapped up in these forms, are
partially aroused by the forms themselves. These create a preparatory
sympathy; and when the striking ideas looked for are reached, they are
the more vividly pictured.

The continuous use of words and forms that are alike forcible in
themselves and forcible from their associations, produces the
impressive species of composition which we call poetry. The poet
habitually adopts those symbols of thought, and those methods of
using them, which instinct {359} and analysis agree in choosing as
most effective. On turning back to the various specimens which have
been quoted, it will be seen that the direct or inverted form of
sentence predominates in them; and that to a degree inadmissible in
prose. Not only in the frequency, but in what is termed the violence
of the inversions, may this distinction be remarked. The abundant
use of figures, again, exhibits the same truth. Metaphors, similes,
hyperboles, and personifications, are the poet’s colours, which he has
liberty to employ almost without limit. We characterize as “poetical”
the prose which uses these appliances of language with frequency;
and condemn it as “over florid” or “affected” long before they occur
with the profusion allowed in verse. Once more, in brevity—the other
requisite of forcible expression which theory points out and emotion
spontaneously fulfils—poetical phraseology differs from ordinary
phraseology. Imperfect periods are frequent; elisions are perpetual;
and many minor words which would be deemed essential in prose, are
dispensed with.

Thus poetry is especially impressive partly because it conforms to
all the laws of effective speech, and partly because in so doing
it imitates the natural utterances of excitement. While the matter
embodied is idealized emotion, the vehicle is the idealized language
of emotion. As the musical composer catches the cadences in which our
feelings of joy and sympathy, grief and despair, vent themselves,
and out of these germs evolves melodies suggesting higher phases of
these feelings; so, the poet develops from the typical expressions in
which men utter passion and sentiment, those choice forms of verbal
combination in which concentrated passion and sentiment may be fitly

There is one peculiarity of poetry conducing much to its effect—the
peculiarity which is indeed usually thought its characteristic
one—still remaining to be considered: we {360} mean its rhythmical
structure. This, improbable though it seems, will be found to come
under the same generalization with the others. Like each of them, it
is an idealization of the natural language of emotion, which is not
uncommonly more or less metrical if the emotion be not too violent; and
like each of them it economizes the reader’s or hearer’s attention. In
the peculiar tone and manner we adopt in uttering versified language,
may be discerned its relationship to the feelings; and the pleasure
which its measured movement gives, is ascribable to the comparative
ease with which words metrically arranged can be recognized. This last
position will not be at once admitted; but explanation will justify it.
If, as we have seen, there is an expenditure of mental energy in so
listening to verbal articulations as to identify the words, or in that
silent repetition of them which goes on in reading, then, any mode of
so combining words as to present a regular recurrence of certain traits
which can be anticipated, will diminish that strain on the attention
entailed by the total irregularity of prose. Just as the body, when
receiving a series of varying concussions, must keep its muscles ready
to meet the most violent of them, as not knowing when such may come;
so, the mind when receiving unarranged articulations, must keep its
perceptive faculties active enough to recognize the least easily caught
sounds. And as, if the concussions recur in a definite order, the body
may husband its forces by adjusting the resistance needful for each
concussion; so, if the syllables be rhythmically arranged, the mind may
economize its energies by anticipating the attention required for each
syllable. Far-fetched though this idea will be thought, introspection
countenances it. That we _do_ take advantage of metrical language to
adjust our perceptive faculties to the expected articulations, is clear
from the fact that we are balked by halting versification. Much as at
the bottom of a flight of stairs, a step more or less than we counted
upon gives us a {361} shock; so, too, does a misplaced accent or a
supernumerary syllable. In the one case, we _know_ that there is an
erroneous pre-adjustment; and we can scarcely doubt that there is one
in the other. But if we habitually pre-adjust our perceptions to the
measured movement of verse, the physical analogy above given renders
it probable that by so doing we economize attention; and hence that
metrical language is more effective than prose, because it enables us
to do this.

Were there space, it might be worth while to inquire whether the
pleasure we take in rhyme, and also that which we take in euphony, are
not partly ascribable to the same general cause.

       *       *       *       *       *

A few paragraphs only, can be devoted to a second division of our
subject. To pursue in detail the laws of effect, as applying to the
larger features of composition, would carry us beyond our limits. But
we may briefly indicate a further aspect of the general principle
hitherto traced, and hint a few of its wider applications.

Thus far, we have considered only those causes of force in language
which depend on economy of the mental _energies_. We have now to
glance at those which depend on economy of the mental _sensibilities_.
Questionable though this division may be as a psychological one, it
will serve roughly to indicate the remaining field of investigation.
It will suggest that besides considering the extent to which any
faculty or group of faculties is tasked in receiving a form of words
and constructing its contained idea, we have to consider the state
in which this faculty or group of faculties is left; and how the
reception of subsequent sentences and images will be influenced by
that state. Without going fully into so wide a topic as the action
of faculties and its reactive effects, it will suffice to recall
the fact that every faculty is exhausted by exercise. {362} This
generalization, which our bodily experiences force upon us, and which
in daily speech is recognized as true of the mind as a whole, is true
of each mental power, from the simplest of the senses to the most
complex of the sentiments. If we hold a flower to the nose for long,
we become insensible to its scent. We say of a brilliant flash of
lightning that it blinds us; which means that our eyes have for a time
lost their ability to appreciate light. After eating honey, we are
apt to think our tea is without sugar. The phrase “a deafening roar,”
implies that men find a very loud sound temporarily incapacitates them
for hearing faint sounds. To a hand which has for some time carried
a heavy body, small bodies afterwards lifted seem to have lost their
weight. Now, the truth thus exemplified, may be traced throughout.
Alike of the reflective faculties, the imagination, the perceptions
of the beautiful, the ludicrous, the sublime, it may be shown that
action exhausts; and that in proportion as the action is violent the
subsequent prostration is great.

Equally throughout the whole nature, may be traced the law that
exercised faculties are ever tending to resume their original states.
Not only after continued rest, do they regain their full powers—not
only are brief cessations in the demands on them followed by partial
re-invigoration; but even while they are in action, the resulting
exhaustion is ever being neutralized. The processes of waste and
repair go on together. Hence with faculties habitually exercised—as
the senses of all persons, or the muscles of any one who is strong—it
happens that, during moderate activity, the repair is so nearly equal
to the waste, that the diminution of power is scarcely appreciable.
It is only when effort has been long continued, or has been violent,
that repair becomes so far in arrear of waste as to cause a perceptible
enfeeblement. In all cases, however, when, by the action of a faculty,
waste has been incurred, _some_ lapse {363} of time must take place
before full efficiency can be reacquired; and this time must be long in
proportion as the waste has been great.

Keeping in mind these general truths, we shall be in a condition
to understand certain causes of effect in composition now to be
considered. Every perception received, and every conception framed,
entailing some amount of waste in the nervous system, and the
efficiency of the faculties employed being for a time, though often
but momentarily, diminished; the resulting partial inability affects
the acts of perception and conception that immediately succeed. Hence
the vividness with which images are pictured must, in many cases,
depend on the order of their presentation; even when one order is as
convenient to the understanding as the other. Sundry facts illustrate
this truth, and are explained by it: instance climax and anti-climax.
The marked effect obtained by placing last the most striking of any
series of ideas, and the weakness—often the ludicrous weakness—produced
by reversing this arrangement, depends on the general law indicated.
As immediately after looking at the sun we cannot perceive the light
of a fire, while by looking at the fire first and the sun afterwards
we can perceive both; so, after receiving a brilliant, or weighty, or
terrible thought, we cannot properly appreciate a less brilliant, less
weighty, or less terrible one, though by reversing the order, we can
appreciate each. In Antithesis, again, the like truth is exemplified.
The opposition of two thoughts which are the reverse of each other in
some prominent trait, insures an impressive effect; and does this by
giving a momentary relaxation to the faculties addressed. If, after a
series of ordinary images exciting in a moderate degree to the emotion
of reverence, or approbation, or beauty, the mind has presented to
it an insignificant, or unworthy, or ugly image; the structure which
yields the emotion of reverence, or approbation, or beauty, having for
the time nothing to do, tends to resume {364} its full power; and
will immediately afterwards appreciate anything vast, admirable, or
beautiful better than it would otherwise do. Conversely, where the idea
of absurdity due to extreme insignificance is to be produced, it may be
intensified by placing it after something impressive; especially if the
form of phrase implies that something still more impressive is coming.
A good illustration of the effect gained by thus presenting a petty
idea to a consciousness which has not yet recovered from the shock of
an exciting one, occurs in a sketch by Balzac. His hero writes to a
mistress who has cooled towards him, the following letter:―

 “Madame,—Votre conduite m’étonne autant qu’elle m’afflige. Non
 contente de me déchirer le cœur par vos dédains, vous avez
 l’indélicatesse de me retenir une brosse à dents, que mes moyens
 ne me permettent pas de remplacer, mes propriétés étant grevées
 d’hypothèques au delà de leur valeur.

 “Adieu, trop belle et trop ingrate amie! Puissions-nous nous revoir
 dans un monde meilleur!

Thus the phenomena of Climax, Antithesis, and Anticlimax, alike result
from this general principle. Improbable as these momentary variations
in susceptibility may seem, we cannot doubt their occurrence when we
contemplate the analogous variations in the susceptibility of the
senses. Every one knows that a patch of black on a white ground looks
blacker, and a patch of white on a black ground looks whiter, than
elsewhere. As the blackness and the whiteness are really the same,
the only assignable cause, is a difference in their actions upon us,
dependent on the different states of our faculties. The effect is due
to a visual antithesis.

But this extension of the general principle of economy—this further
condition to effective composition, that the sensitiveness of the
faculties must be husbanded—includes much more than has been yet
hinted. Not only does it follow that certain arrangements and certain
juxtapositions of connected ideas are best; but also that some modes
of dividing and presenting a subject will be more striking {365} than
others, irrespective of logical cohesion. We are shown why we must
progress from the less interesting to the more interesting; alike in
the composition as a whole, and in each successive portion. At the
same time, the indicated requirement negatives long continuity of
the same kind of thought, or repeated production of like effects.
It warns us against the error committed by Pope in his poems and by
Bacon in his essays—the error of constantly employing forcible forms
of expression. As the easiest posture by and by becomes fatiguing,
and is with pleasure exchanged for one less easy; so, the most
perfectly-constructed sentences unceasingly used must cause weariness,
and relief will be given by using those of inferior kinds. Further,
we may infer not only that we ought to avoid generally combining our
words in one manner, however good, or working out our figures and
illustrations in one way, however telling; but that we ought to avoid
anything like uniform adherence to the wider conditions of effect. We
should not make every division of our subject progress in interest; we
should not always rise to a climax. As we saw that in single sentences
it is but rarely allowable to fulfil all the conditions to strength;
so, in the larger sections of a composition we must not often conform
entirely to the principles indicated. We must subordinate the component
effects to the total effect.

The species of composition which the law we have traced out indicates
as the perfect one, is the one which genius tends naturally to produce.
As we found that the kinds of sentence which are theoretically best,
are those commonly employed by superior minds, and by inferior minds
when temporarily exalted; so, we shall find that the ideal form for a
poem, essay, or fiction, is that which the ideal writer would evolve
spontaneously. One in whom the powers of expression fully responded
to the state of feeling, would unconsciously use that variety in the
mode {366} of presenting his thoughts, which Art demands. Constant
employment of one species of phraseology implies an undeveloped
linguistic faculty. To have a specific style is to be poor in speech.
If we remember that in the far past, men had only nouns and verbs to
convey their ideas with, and that from then to now the progress has
been towards more numerous implements of thought, and towards greater
complexity and variety in their combinations; we may infer that, in the
use of sentences, we are at present much what the primitive man was
in the use of words; and that a continuance of the process which has
hitherto gone on, must produce increasing heterogeneity in our modes
of expression. As now, in a fine nature, the play of the features, the
tones of the voice and its cadences, vary in harmony with every thought
uttered; so, in one possessed of fully-developed powers of language,
the mould in which each combination of words is cast will vary with,
and be appropriate to, the mental state. That a perfectly-endowed man
must unconsciously write in all styles, we may infer from considering
how styles originate. Why is Johnson pompous, Goldsmith simple? Why is
one author abrupt, another involved, another concise? Evidently in each
case the habitual mode of utterance depends on the habitual balance of
the nature. The dominant feelings have by use trained the intellect to
represent them. But while long habit has made it do this efficiently,
it remains, from lack of practice, unable to do the like for the less
active feelings; and when these are excited, the usual verbal forms
undergo but slight modifications. But let the ability of the intellect
to represent the mental state be complete, and this fixity of style
will disappear. The perfect writer will be now rhythmical and now
irregular; here his language will be plain and there ornate; sometimes
his sentences will be balanced and at other times unsymmetrical; for
a while there will be considerable sameness, and then again great
variety. His mode of {367} expression naturally responding to his
thought and emotion, there will flow from his pen a composition
changing as the aspects of his subject change. He will thus without
effort conform to what we have seen to be the laws of effect. And
while his work presents to the reader that variety needful to prevent
continuous exertion of the same faculties, it will also answer to the
description of all highly-organized products both of man and nature. It
will be, not a series of like parts simply placed in juxtaposition, but
one whole made up of unlike parts that are mutually dependent.

POSTSCRIPT.—The conclusion that because of their comparative brevity
and because of those stronger associations formed by more frequent
use, words of Old-English origin are preferable to words derived from
Latin or Greek, should be taken with two qualifications, which it seems
needful to add here.

In some cases the word furnished by our original tongue, and the
corresponding word directly or indirectly derived from Latin, though
nominally equivalents, are not actually such; and the word of Latin
origin, by certain extra connotations it has acquired, may be the more
expressive. For instance, we have no word of native origin which can
be advantageously substituted for the word “grand.” No such words as
“big” or “great,” which connote little more than superiority in size
or quantity, can be used instead: they do not imply that qualitative
superiority which is associated with the idea of grandeur. As adopted
into our own language, the word “grand” has been differentiated from
“great” by habitual use in those cases where the greatness has an
æsthetic superiority. In this case, then, a word of Latin origin
is better than its nearest equivalent of native origin, because by
use it has acquired an additional meaning. And here, too, we may
conveniently {368} note the fact that the greater brevity of a word
does not invariably conduce to greater force. Where the word, instead
of being one conveying a subordinate component of the idea the sentence
expresses, is one conveying the central element of the idea, on
which the attention may with advantage rest a moment, a longer word
is sometimes better than a shorter word. Thus it may be held that
the sentence—“It is grand” is not so effective as the sentence—“It
is magnificent.” Besides the fact that here greater length of the
word favours a longer dwelling on the essential part of the thought,
there is the fact that its greater length, aided by its division
into syllables, gives opportunity for a cadence appropriate to the
feeling produced by the thing characterized. By an ascent of the voice
on the syllable “nif,” and an utterance of this syllable, not only
in a higher note, but with greater emphasis than the preceding or
succeeding syllables, there is implied that emotion which contemplation
of the object produces; and the emotion thus implied is, by sympathy,
communicated. One may say that in the case of these two words, if the
imposingness is alone to be considered, the word “magnificent” may with
advantage be employed; but if the sentence expresses a proposition
in which, not the imposingness itself, but something _about_ the
imposingness, is to be expressed, then the word “grand” is preferable.

The second qualification above referred to, concerns the superiority
of words derived from Latin or Greek, in cases where more or less
abstract ideas have to be expressed. In such cases it is undesirable
to use words having concrete associations; for such words, by the very
vividness with which they call up thoughts of particular objects or
particular actions, impede the formation of conceptions which refer,
not to particular objects and actions, but to general truths concerning
objects or actions of kinds that are more or less various. Thus, such
an expression as “the colligation of facts” is better for philosophical
purposes than such {369} an expression as “the tying together of
facts.” This last expression cannot be used without suggesting the
thought of a bundle of material things bound up by a string or cord—a
thought which, in so far as the materiality of its components is
concerned, conflicts with the conception to be suggested. Though it is
true that when its derivation is remembered, “colligation” raises the
same thought, yet, as the thought is not so promptly or irresistibly
raised, it stands less in the way of the abstract conception with which
attention should be exclusively occupied.


[54] Properly the term “simile” is applicable only to the entire
figure, including the two things compared and the comparison drawn
between them. But as there exists no name for the illustrative member
of the figure, there seems no alternative but to employ “simile” to
express this also. The context will in each case show in which sense
the word is used.



[_First published in_ The Leader _for January 3, 1852._]

In one of his essays, Emerson remarks, that what Nature at one time
provides for use, she afterwards turns to ornament; and he cites in
illustration the structure of a sea-shell, in which the parts that have
for a while formed the mouth are at the next season of growth left
behind, and become decorative nodes and spines.

Ignoring the implied teleology, which does not here concern us, it has
often occurred to me that this same remark might be extended to the
progress of Humanity. Here, too, the appliances of one era serve as
embellishments to the next. Equally in institutions, creeds, customs,
and superstitions, we may trace this evolution of beauty out of what
was once purely utilitarian.

The contrast between the feeling with which we regard portions of the
Earth’s surface still left in their original state, and the feeling
with which the savage regarded them, is an instance that comes first
in order of time. If any one walking over Hampstead Heath, will note
how strongly its picturesqueness is brought out by contrast with
the surrounding cultivated fields and the masses of houses lying
in the distance; and will further reflect that, had this irregular
gorse-covered surface extended on all sides to the horizon, it {371}
would have looked dreary and prosaic rather than pleasing; he will
see that to the primitive man a country so clothed presented no beauty
at all. To him it was merely a haunt of wild animals, and a ground
out of which roots might be dug. What have become for us places of
relaxation and enjoyment—places for afternoon strolls and for gathering
flowers—were his places for labour and food, probably arousing in his
mind none but utilitarian associations.

Ruined castles afford obvious instances of this metamorphosis of the
useful into the beautiful. To feudal barons and their retainers,
security was the chief, if not the only end, sought in choosing the
sites and styles of their strongholds. Probably they aimed as little at
the picturesque as do the builders of cheap brick houses in our modern
towns. Yet what were erected for shelter and safety, and what in those
early days fulfilled an important function in the social economy, have
now assumed a purely ornamental character. They serve as scenes for
picnics; pictures of them decorate our drawing-rooms; and each supplies
its surrounding districts with legends for Christmas Eve.

On following out the train of thought suggested by this last
illustration, we may see that not only do the material exuviæ of past
social states become the ornaments of our landscapes; but that past
habits, manners, and arrangements, serve as ornamental elements in
our literature. The tyrannies which, to the serfs who bore them, were
harsh and dreary facts; the feuds which, to those who took part in
them, were very practical life-and-death affairs; the mailed, moated,
sentinelled security which was irksome to the nobles who needed it; the
imprisonments, and tortures, and escapes, which were stern and quite
prosaic realities to all concerned in them; have become to us material
for romantic tales—material which, when woven into Ivanhoes and
Marmions, serves for amusement in leisure hours, and becomes poetical
by contrast with our daily lives.

Thus, also, is it with extinct creeds. Stonehenge, which {372} in the
hands of the Druids had a governmental influence over men, is in our
day a place for antiquarian excursions; and its attendant priests are
worked up into an opera. Greek sculptures, preserved for their beauty
in our galleries of art, and copied for the decoration of pleasure
grounds and entrance halls, once lived in men’s minds as gods demanding
obedience; as did also the grotesque idols that now amuse the visitors
to our museums.

Equally marked is this change of function in the case of minor
superstitions. The fairy lore, which in past times was matter of
grave belief, and held sway over people’s conduct, have since been
transformed into ornament for _A Midsummer Night’s Dream_, _The
Tempest_, _The Fairy Queen,_ and endless small tales and poems; and
still affords subjects for children’s story-books, themes for ballets,
and plots for Planché’s burlesques. Gnomes, and genii, and afrits,
losing their terrors, give piquancy to the woodcuts in our illustrated
edition of the _Arabian Nights_. While ghost-stories, and tales
of magic and witchcraft, after serving to amuse boys and girls in
their leisure hours, become matter for jocose allusions that enliven
tea-table conversation.

Even our serious literature and our speeches are relieved by ornaments
drawn from such sources. A Greek myth is often used as a parallel by
which to vary the monotony of some grave argument. The lecturer breaks
the dead level of his practical discourse by illustrations drawn from
bygone customs, events, or beliefs. And metaphors, similarly derived,
give brilliancy to political orations, and to _Times_ leading articles.

Indeed, on careful inquiry, I think it will be found that we turn to
purposes of beauty most byegone phenomena which are at all conspicuous.
The busts of great men in our libraries, and their tombs in our
churches; the once useful but now purely ornamental heraldic symbols;
the monks, nuns, and convents, which give interest to a certain class
of novels; the bronze mediæval soldiers used for {373} embellishing
drawing-rooms; the gilt Apollos which recline on time-pieces; the
narratives that serve as plots for our great dramas; and the events
that afford subjects for historical pictures;—these and such like
illustrations of the metamorphosis of the useful into the beautiful,
are so numerous as to suggest that, did we search diligently enough,
we should find that in some place, or under some circumstance, nearly
every notable product of the past has assumed a decorative character.

And here the mention of historical pictures reminds me that an
inference may be drawn from all this, bearing directly on the practice
of art. It has of late years been a frequent criticism upon our
historical painters, that they err in choosing their subjects from
the past; and that, would they found a genuine and vital school, they
must render on canvas the life and deeds and aims of our own time. If,
however, there be any significance in the foregoing facts, it seems
doubtful whether this criticism is a just one. For if it be the course
of things that what has performed some active function in society
during one era, becomes available for ornament in a subsequent one; it
almost follows that, conversely, whatever is performing some active
function now, or has very recently performed one, does not possess the
ornamental character; and is, consequently, inapplicable to any purpose
of which beauty is the aim, or of which it is a needful ingredient.

Still more reasonable will this conclusion appear, when we consider
the nature of this process by which the useful is changed into the
ornamental. An essential pre-requisite to all beauty is _contrast_.
To obtain artistic effect, light must be put in juxtaposition with
shade, bright colours with dull colours, a fretted surface with a plain
one. _Forte_ passages in music must have _piano_ passages to relieve
them; concerted pieces need interspersing with solos; and rich chords
must not be continuously repeated. In the drama we demand contrast
of characters, of scenes, of sentiment, of {374} style. In prose
composition an eloquent passage should have a comparatively plain
setting; and in poems great effect is obtained by occasional change
of versification. This general principle will, I think, explain the
transformation of the bygone useful into the present beautiful. It
is by virtue of their contrast with our present modes of life, that
past modes of life look interesting and romantic. Just as a picnic,
which is a temporary return to an aboriginal condition, derives, from
its unfamiliarity, a certain poetry which it would not have were it
habitual; so, everything ancient gains, from its relative novelty to
us, an element of interest. Gradually as, by the growth of society, we
leave behind the customs, manners, arrangements, and all the products,
material and mental, of a bygone age—gradually as we recede from these
so far that there arises a conspicuous difference between them and
those we are familiar with; so gradually do they begin to assume to us
a poetical aspect, and become applicable for ornament. And hence it
follows that things and events which are close to us, and which are
accompanied by associations of ideas not markedly contrasted with our
ordinary associations, are _relatively_ inappropriate for purposes
of art. I say relatively because an incident of modern life or even
of daily life may acquire adequate fitness for art purposes by an
unusualness of some other kind than that due to unlikeness between past
and present.



[_First published in_ The Leader _for October 23, 1852._]

When lately looking through the gallery of the Old Water-Colour
Society, I was struck with the incongruity produced by putting regular
architecture into irregular scenery. In one case, where the artist had
introduced a symmetrical Grecian edifice into a mountainous and wild
landscape, the discordant effect was particularly marked. “How very
unpicturesque,” said a lady to her friend, as they passed; showing that
I was not alone in my opinion. Her phrase, however, set me speculating.
Why unpicturesque? Picturesque means, like a picture—like what men
choose for pictures. Why then should this be not fit for a picture?

Thinking the matter over, it seemed to me that the artist had sinned
against that harmony of sentiment which is essential to a good picture.
When the other constituents of a landscape have irregular forms, any
artificial structure introduced should have an irregular form, that
it may seem _part_ of the landscape. The same general character must
pervade it and the surrounding objects; otherwise it, and the scene
amid which it stands, become not _one_ thing but _two_ things; and
we say that it looks out of place. Or, speaking psychologically,
the associated ideas called {376} up by a building with its wings,
windows, columns, and all its parts symmetrically disposed, differ
widely from the ideas associated with an unsymmetrical landscape; and
the one set of ideas tends to banish the other.

Pursuing the train of thought, sundry illustrative facts came to mind.
I remembered that a castle, which is usually more irregular in outline
than any other kind of building, pleases us most when seated amid
crags and precipices; while a castle on a plain seems incongruous.
The partly-regular and partly-irregular forms of our old farm-houses,
and our gabled gothic manors and abbeys, appear quite in harmony
with an undulating, wooded country. In towns we prefer symmetrical
architecture; and in towns it produces in us no feeling of incongruity,
because all surrounding things—men, horses, vehicles—are symmetrical

And here I was reminded of a notion that has frequently recurred to me;
namely, that there is some relationship between the several kinds of
architecture and the several classes of natural objects. Buildings in
the Greek and Roman styles seem, in virtue of their symmetry, to take
their type from animal life. In the partially-irregular Gothic, ideas
derived from the vegetable world appear to predominate. And wholly
irregular buildings, such as castles, may be considered as having
inorganic forms for their basis.

Whimsical as this speculation looks at first sight, it is countenanced
by numerous facts. The connexion between symmetrical architecture and
animal forms, may be inferred from the _kind_ of symmetry we expect,
and are satisfied with, in regular buildings. In a Greek temple we
require that the front shall be symmetrical in itself, and that the two
flanks shall be alike; but we do not look for uniformity between the
flanks and the front, nor between the front and the back. The identity
of this symmetry with that found in animals is obvious. Again, why is
it that a {377} building making any pretensions to symmetry displeases
us if not quite symmetrical? Probably the reply will be—Because we
see that the designer’s idea is not fully carried out; and that
hence our love of completeness is offended. But then there come the
further questions—How do we know that the architect’s conception was
symmetrical? Whence comes this notion of symmetry which we have, and
which we attribute to him? Unless we fall back upon the old doctrine
of innate ideas, we must admit that the idea of bi-lateral symmetry is
derived from without; and to admit this is to admit that it is derived
from the higher animals.

That there is some relationship between Gothic architecture and vegetal
forms is generally admitted. The often-remarked similarity between a
groined nave and an avenue of trees with interlacing branches, shows
that the fact has forced itself on observation. It is not only in
this, however, that the kinship is seen. It is seen still better in
the essential characteristic of Gothic; namely, what is termed its
_aspiring_ tendency. That predominance of vertical lines which so
strongly distinguishes Gothic from other styles, is the most marked
peculiarity of trees, when compared with animals or rocks. A tall
Gothic tower, with its elongated apertures and clusters of thin
projections running from bottom to top, suggests a vague idea of growth.

Of the alleged connexion between inorganic forms and the wholly
irregular and the castellated styles of building, we have, I think,
some proof in the fact that when an edifice is irregular, the _more_
irregular it is the more it pleases us. I see no way of accounting for
this fact, save by supposing that the greater the irregularity the more
strongly are we reminded of the inorganic forms typified, and the more
vividly are aroused the agreeable ideas of rugged and romantic scenery
associated with those forms.

Further evidence of these relationships of styles of {378}
architecture to classes of natural objects, is supplied by the
kinds of decoration they respectively present. The public buildings
of Greece, while characterized in their outlines by the bi-lateral
symmetry seen in the higher animals, have their pediments and
entablatures covered with sculptured men and beasts. Egyptian temples
and Assyrian palaces, similarly symmetrical in their general plan, are
similarly ornamented on their walls and at their doors. In Gothic,
again, with its grove-like ranges of clustered columns, we find rich
foliated ornaments abundantly employed. And accompanying the totally
irregular, inorganic outlines of old castles, we see neither vegetal
nor animal decorations. The bare, rock-like walls are surmounted by
battlements, consisting of almost plain blocks, which remind us of the
projections on the edge of a rugged cliff.

But perhaps the most significant fact is the harmony observable between
each type of architecture and the scenes in which it is indigenous.
For what is the explanation of this harmony, unless it be that
the predominant character of surrounding things has, in some way,
determined the mode of building adopted?

That the harmony exists is clear. Equally in the cases of Egypt,
Assyria, Greece, and Rome, town life preceded the construction of the
symmetrical buildings that have come down to us. And town life is one
in which, as already observed, the majority of familiar objects are
symmetrical. We habitually feel the naturalness of this association.
Amid the fields, a formal house, with a central door flanked by equal
numbers of windows to right and left, strikes us as unrural—looks as
though transplanted from a street; and we cannot look at one of those
stuccoed villas, with mock-windows arranged to balance the real ones,
without being reminded of the suburban residence of a retired tradesman.

In styles indigenous in the country, we not only find {379} the
general irregularity characteristic of surrounding things, but we may
trace some kinship between each kind of irregularity and the local
circumstances. We see the broken rocky masses amid which castles are
often placed, mirrored in their stern, inorganic forms. In abbeys, and
such-like buildings, which are commonly found in sheltered districts,
we find no such violent dislocations of masses and outlines; and the
nakedness appropriate to the fortress is replaced by decorations
reflecting the neighbouring woods. Between a Swiss cottage and a Swiss
view there is an evident relationship. The angular roof, so bold and
so disproportionately large when compared to other roofs, reminds one
of the adjacent mountain peaks; and the broad overhanging eaves have
a sweep and inclination like those of the lower branches of a pine
tree. Consider, too, the apparent kinship between the flat roofs that
prevail in Eastern cities, interspersed with occasional minarets, and
the plains that commonly surround them, dotted here and there by palm
trees. Contemplate a picture of one of these places, and you are struck
by the predominance of horizontal lines, and their harmony with the
wide stretch of the landscape.

That the congruity here pointed out should hold in every case must
not be expected. The Pyramids, for example, do not seem to come
under this generalization. Their repeated horizontal lines do indeed
conform to the flatness of the neighbouring desert; but their general
contour seems to have no adjacent analogue. Considering, however,
that migrating races, carrying their architectural systems with them,
would naturally produce buildings having no relationship to their new
localities; and that it is not always possible to distinguish styles
which are indigenous, from those which are naturalized; numerous
anomalies must be looked for.

The general idea above illustrated will perhaps be somewhat
misinterpreted. Possibly some will take the {380} proposition to
be that men _intentionally_ gave to their buildings the leading
characteristics of neighbouring objects. But this is not what is
meant. I do not suppose that they did so in times past, any more
than they do so now. The hypothesis is, that in their choice of
forms men are unconsciously influenced by the forms encircling them.
That flat-roofed, symmetrical architecture should have originated
in the East, among pastoral tribes surrounded by their herds and by
wide plains, seems to imply that the builders were swayed by the
horizontality and symmetry to which they were habituated. And the
harmony which we have found to exist in other cases between indigenous
styles and their localities, implies the general action of like
influences. Indeed, on considering the matter psychologically, I do
not see how it could well be otherwise. For as all conceptions must be
made up of images, and parts of images, received through the senses;
and as imagination will most readily run in the direction of habitual
perceptions; it follows that the characteristic which predominates in
habitual perceptions must impress itself on designs.



[_First published in_ The Leader _for December 25, 1852._]

We do not ascribe gracefulness to cart-horses, tortoises, and
hippopotami, in all of which the powers of movement are relatively
inferior; but we ascribe it to greyhounds, antelopes, race-horses, all
of which have highly efficient locomotive organs. What, then, is this
distinctive peculiarity of structure and action which we call Grace?

One night while watching a dancer, and inwardly condemning her _tours
de force_ as barbarisms which would be hissed, were not people such
cowards as always to applaud what they think it the fashion to applaud,
I remarked that the truly graceful motions occasionally introduced,
were those performed with comparatively little effort. After calling to
mind sundry confirmatory facts, I presently concluded that grace, as
applied to motion, describes motion that is effected with economy of
force; grace, as applied to animal forms, describes forms capable of
this economy; grace, as applied to postures, describes postures which
may be maintained with this economy; and grace, as applied to inanimate
objects, describes such as exhibit certain analogies to these attitudes
and forms.

That this generalization, if not the whole truth, contains at least a
large part of it, will, I think, become obvious, on {382} considering
how habitually we couple the words _easy_ and _graceful_; and still
more, on calling to mind some of the facts on which this association
is based. The attitude of a soldier, drawing himself bolt upright when
his serjeant shouts “attention,” is more remote from gracefulness than
when he relaxes at the words “stand at ease.” The _gauche_ visitor
sitting stiffly on the edge of his chair, and his self-possessed host,
whose limbs and body dispose themselves as convenience dictates, are
contrasts as much in effort as in elegance. When standing, we commonly
economise power by throwing the weight chiefly on one leg, which we
straighten to make it serve as a column, while we relax the other; and
to the same end, we allow the head to lean somewhat on one side. Both
these attitudes are imitated in sculpture as elements of grace.

Turning from attitudes to movements, current remarks will be found to
imply the same relationship. No one praises as graceful, a walk that
is irregular or jerking, and so displays waste of power; no one sees
any beauty in the waddle of a fat man, or the trembling steps of an
invalid, in both of which effort is visible. But the style of walking
we admire is moderate in velocity, perfectly rhythmical, unaccompanied
by violent swinging of the arms, and giving us the impression that
there is no conscious exertion, while there is no force thrown away.
In dancing, again, the prevailing difficulty—the proper disposal of
the arms—well illustrates the same truth. Those who fail in overcoming
this difficulty give the spectator the impression that their arms are
a trouble to them; they are held stiffly in some meaningless attitude,
at an obvious expense of power; they are checked from swinging in the
directions in which they would naturally swing; or they are so moved
that, instead of helping to maintain the equilibrium, they endanger it.
A good dancer, on the contrary, makes us feel that, so far from the
arms being in the way, they are of great use. Each {383} motion of
them, while it seems naturally to result from a previous motion of the
body, is turned to some advantage. We perceive that it has facilitated
instead of hindered the general action; or, in other words—that an
economy of effort has been achieved. Any one wishing to distinctly
realize this fact, may readily do so by studying the action of the
arms in walking. Let him place his arms close to his sides, and there
keep them, while walking with some rapidity. He will unavoidably fall
into a backward and forward motion of the shoulders, of a wriggling,
ungraceful character. After persevering in this for a space, until he
finds that the action is not only ungraceful but fatiguing, let him
allow his arms to swing as usual. The wriggling of the shoulders will
cease; the body will move equably forward; and comparative ease will
be felt. On analyzing this fact, he may perceive that the backward
motion of each arm is simultaneous with the forward motion of the
corresponding leg. If he will attend to his muscular sensations, he
will find that this backward swing of the arm is a counterbalance to
the forward swing of the leg; and that it is easier to produce this
counterbalance by moving the arm than by contorting the body, as he
otherwise must do.[55]

The action of the arms in walking being thus understood, it will be
manifest that the graceful employment of them in dancing is simply a
complication of the same thing; and that a good dancer is one having so
acute a muscular perception as at once to feel in what direction the
arms {384} should be moved to counterbalance any motion of the body or

This connexion between gracefulness and economy of force, will be
most clearly recognized by those who skate. They will remember that
all early attempts, and especially the first timid experiments
in figure-skating, are alike awkward and fatiguing; and that the
acquirement of skill is also the acquirement of ease. The requisite
confidence, and a due command of the feet having been obtained, those
twistings of the trunk and gyrations of the arms, previously used to
maintain the balance, are found needless. The body is allowed to follow
without control the impulse given to it; the arms to swing where they
will; and it is clearly felt that the graceful way of performing any
evolution is the way that costs least effort. Spectators can scarcely
fail to see the same fact, if they look for it.

The reference to skating suggests that graceful motion might be defined
as motion in curved lines. Certainly, straight and zig-zag movements
are excluded from the conception. The sudden stoppages which angular
movements imply, are its antithesis; for a leading trait of grace is
continuity, flowingness. It will be found, however, that this is merely
another aspect of the same truth; and that motion in curved lines is
economical motion. Given certain successive positions to be assumed by
a limb, then if it be moved in a straight line to the first of these
positions, suddenly arrested, and then moved in another direction
straight to the second position, and so on, it is clear that at each
arrest, the momentum previously given to the limb must be destroyed at
a certain cost of force, {385} and a new momentum given to it at a
further cost of force; whereas, if, instead of arresting the limb at
its first position, its motion be allowed to continue, and a lateral
force be impressed to make it diverge towards the second position, a
curvilinear motion is the necessary result; and by making use of the
original momentum, force is economized.

If the truth of these conclusions respecting graceful movements be
admitted, it cannot, I think, be doubted, that graceful form is that
kind of form which implies relatively small effort required for
self-support, and relatively small effort required for movement. Were
it otherwise, there would arise the incongruity that graceful form
would either not be associated at all with graceful movement, or that
the one would habitually occur in the absence of the other; both which
alternatives being at variance with our experience, we must conclude
that there exists the relationship indicated. Any one hesitating to
admit this, will, I think, do so no longer on remembering that the
animals which we consider graceful, are those so slight in build as
not to be burdened by their own weight, and those noted for fleetness
and agility; while those we class as ungraceful, are those which are
alike cumbrous and have the faculty of locomotion but little developed.
In the case of the greyhound, especially, we see that the particular
modification of the canine type in which economy of weight is the most
conspicuous, and in which the facility of muscular motion has been
brought to the greatest perfection, is the one which we call most

How trees and inanimate objects should come to have this epithet
applied to them, seems less obvious. But remembrance of the fact
that we commonly, and perhaps unavoidably, regard all objects under
a certain anthropomorphic aspect, will help us to understand it. The
stiff branch of an oak tree standing out at right angles to the trunk,
gives us a vague notion of great force expended to {386} keep it in
that position; and we call it ungraceful, under the same feeling that
we call the holding out an arm at right angles to the body ungraceful.
Conversely, the lax drooping boughs of a weeping-willow are vaguely
associated with limbs in attitudes requiring little effort to maintain
them; and the term graceful, by which we describe these, we apply by
metaphor to the boughs of the willow.

I may as well here venture the hypothesis, that the idea of Grace as
displayed by other beings, has its subjective basis in Sympathy. The
same faculty which makes us shudder on seeing another in danger—which
sometimes causes motions of our own limbs on seeing another struggle
or fall, gives us a vague participation in all the muscular sensations
which those around us are experiencing. When their motions are violent
or awkward, we feel in a slight degree the disagreeable sensations
which we should have were they our own. When they are easy, we
sympathize with the pleasant sensations they imply in those exhibiting


[55] A parallel fact, further elucidating this, is supplied by a
locomotive engine. On looking at the driving wheel, there will be
found, besides the boss to which the connecting rod is attached, a
corresponding mass of metal on the opposite side of the wheel, and
equidistant from the centre; or, if the engine be one having inside
cylinders, then, on looking between the spokes of the driving-wheel,
it will be seen that against each crank is a block of iron, similar
to it in size, but projecting from the axle in the reverse direction.
Evidently, being placed on opposite sides of the centre of motion, each
crank and its counterbalance move in opposite directions relatively to
the axle; and by so doing, neutralize each other’s perturbing effects,
and permit a smooth rotation. This relationship which exists between
the motions of the counterbalance and the crank, is analogous to that
which exists between the motions of the arms and legs in walking; and
in the early days of railway-locomotion, before these counterbalance
weights were used, locomotive driving-wheels were subject to violent
oscillations, analogous to those jerkings of the shoulders which arise
when we walk fast without moving our arms.



[_First published in_ The Leader _for April 15, and May 13, 1854._]

It is a common opinion that beauty of character and beauty of aspect
are unrelated. I have never been able to reconcile myself to this
opinion. Indeed, even those who hold it do so in an incomplete sense;
for notwithstanding their theory they continue to manifest surprise
when they find a mean deed committed by one of noble countenance—a fact
implying that underneath their professed induction lies a still living
conviction at variance with it.

Whence this conviction? How is it that a belief in the connexion
between worth and beauty primarily exists in all? It cannot be innate.
Must it not, then, be from early experiences? And must it not be that
in those who continue to believe in this connexion, spite of their
reasonings, the early and wide experiences outweigh the later and
exceptional ones?

Those who do not admit the relationship between mental and facial
beauty, usually remark that the true connexion is between character
and expression. While they doubt, or rather deny, that the _permanent_
forms of the features are {388} in any way indices of the forms of
the mind, they assert that the _transitory_ forms of the features are
such indices. These positions seem scarcely consistent. For may we
not say that the transitory forms, by perpetual repetition, register
themselves on the face, and _produce_ permanent forms? Does not an
habitual frown by-and-by leave ineffaceable marks on the brow? Is not
a chronic scornfulness presently followed by a modified set in the
angles of the mouth? Does not that compression of the lips significant
of great determination, often stereotype itself; and so give a changed
form to the lower part of the face? And if there be any truth in the
doctrine of hereditary transmission, must there not be a tendency to
the re-appearance of these modifications as new types of feature in the
offspring? In brief, may we not say that _expression is feature in the
making_; and that if expression means something, the form of feature
produced by it means something?

Possibly it will be urged, in reply, that changes of expression affect
only the muscles and skin of the face; that the permanent marks they
produce can extend but to these; that, nevertheless, the beauty of
a face is mainly dependent upon the form of its bony framework;
that hence, in this chief respect, there cannot take place such
modifications as those described; and that, therefore, the relationship
of aspect to character, while it may hold in the details, does not hold
in the generals.

The rejoinder is, that the framework of the face _is_ modified by
modifications in the tissues which cover it. It is an established
doctrine in physiology, that throughout the skeleton the greater
or less development of bones is dependent on the greater or less
development of the attached muscles; that is, on the exercise of them.
Hence, permanent changes in the muscular adjustments of the face will
be followed by permanent changes in its osseous structure.

Not to dwell in general statements, however, let me cite cases in which
the connexion between organic ugliness and {389} mental inferiority,
and the converse connexion between organic beauty and comparative
perfection of mind, are distinctly traceable.

It will be admitted that the projecting jaw, characteristic of the
lower human races, is a facial defect—is a trait which no sculptor
would give to an ideal bust. At the same time, it is a fact that
prominence of jaw is associated in the mammalia generally with
comparative lack of intelligence. This relationship, it is true, does
not hold uniformly. It is not a direct but an indirect one; and is thus
liable to be disturbed. Nevertheless, it holds among the higher tribes;
and on inquiry we shall see why it holds. In conformity with the law
that organs develop in proportion as they are exercised, the jaws are
relatively large where the demands made on them are great; and diminish
in size as their functions become less numerous and less onerous. Now,
in the lower mammals the jaws are the sole organs of manipulation—are
used not only for mastication, but for seizing, carrying, gnawing, and,
indeed, for everything save locomotion, which is the solitary office
performed by the limbs. Advancing upwards, we find that the fore-limbs
begin to aid the jaws, and gradually to relieve them of part of their
duties. Some creatures use them for burrowing; some, as the felines,
for striking; many, to keep steady the prey they are tearing; and
when we arrive at the monkeys, whose fore-limbs possess such power
of prehension that objects can not only be seized, but carried and
pulled to pieces by them, we see that the jaws have fewer functions.
Accompanying this series of changes, we see a double change in the form
of the head. The increased complexity of the limbs, the greater variety
of actions they perform, and the more numerous perceptions they give,
imply a greater development of the brain and of its bony envelope. At
the same time, the size of the jaws has diminished in correspondence
with the diminution of their functions. And by this simultaneous
protrusion of the upper part of the cranium {390} and recession of its
lower part, what is called the _facial angle_ has increased.

Well, these co-ordinate changes in functions and forms have continued
during the civilization of the human race. On contrasting the European
and the Papuan, we see that what the one cuts in two with knife and
fork, the other tears with his jaws; what the one softens by cooking,
the other eats in its hard, raw state; the bones which the one
utilises by stewing, the other gnaws; and for sundry of the mechanical
manipulations which the one has tools for, the other uses his teeth.
From the Bushman state upwards, there has been a gradual increase
in the complexity of our appliances. We not only use our hands to
save our jaws, but we make implements to save our hands; and in our
engine-factories may be found implements for the making of implements.
This progression in the arts of life has had intellectual progression
for its necessary correlative. Each new complication requires a new
increment of intelligence for its production; and the daily use of
it develops the intelligence still further. Thus that simultaneous
protrusion of the brain and recession of the jaws, which among lower
animals has accompanied increase of skill and sagacity, has continued
during the advance of Humanity from barbarism to civilization; and has
been, throughout, the result of a discipline involving increase of
mental power. And so it becomes manifest that there exists an organic
relationship between that protuberance of the jaws which we consider
ugly, and a certain inferiority of nature.

Again, that lateral jutting-out of the cheek-bones, which similarly
characterizes the lower races of men, and which is similarly thought
by us a detraction from beauty, is similarly related to lower habits
and lower intelligence. The chief agents in closing the jaws are the
temporal muscles; and these are consequently the chief active agents
in biting and mastication. In proportion as the jaws have much work,
and correspondingly large size, must the temporal muscles {391} be
massive. But the temporal muscles pass between the skull and the
zygomatic arches, or lateral parts of the cheek-bones. Consequently,
where the temporal muscles are massive, the spaces between the
zygomatic arches and the skull must be great; and the lateral
projection of the zygomatic arches great also, as we see it in the
uncivilized and partially civilized races. Like large jaws, therefore,
of which it is an accompaniment, excessive size of the cheek-bones is
both an ugliness and an index of imperfection.

Certain other defects of feature, between which and mental defects it
is not thus easy to trace the connexion, may yet be fairly presumed
to have such connexion in virtue of their constant co-existence with
the foregoing ones: alike in the uncivilized races and in the young
of the civilized races. Peculiarities of face which we find regularly
associated with those just shown to be significant of intellectual
inferiority, and which like them disappear as barbarism grows into
civilization, may reasonably be concluded to have like them a
psychological meaning. Thus is it with depression of the bridge of the
nose; which is a characteristic both of barbarians and of our babes,
possessed by them in common with the higher quadrumana. Thus, also,
is it with that forward opening of the nostrils, which renders them
conspicuous in a front view of the face—a trait alike of infants,
savages, and apes. And the same may be said of wide-spread alæ to
the nose, of great width between the eyes, of long mouth, of large
mouth,—indeed of all those leading peculiarities of feature which are
by general consent called ugly.

And then mark how, conversely, the type of face usually admitted to
be the most beautiful, is one that possesses opposite peculiarities.
In the ideal Greek head, the forehead projects so much, and the jaws
recede so much, as to render the facial angle larger than we ever find
it in fact. The cheek-bones are so small as scarcely to be traceable.
The bridge of the nose is so high as to be almost or quite in {392}
a line with the forehead. The alæ of the nose join the face with but
little obliquity. In the front view the nostrils are almost invisible.
The mouth is small, and the upper lip short and deeply concave. The
outer angles of the eyes, instead of keeping the horizontal line, as
is usual, or being directed upwards, as in the Mongolian type, are
directed slightly downwards. And the form of the brow indicates an
unusually large frontal sinus—a characteristic entirely absent in
children, in the lowest of the human races, and in the allied genera of
the _primates_.

If, then, recession of the forehead, protuberance of the jaws, and
largeness of the cheek-bones, three leading elements of ugliness,
are demonstrably indicative of mental inferiority—if such other
facial defects as great width between the eyes, flatness of the nose,
spreading of its alæ, frontward opening of the nostrils, length of
the mouth, and largeness of the lips, are habitually associated with
these, and disappear along with them as intelligence increases, both
in the race and in the individual; is it not a fair inference that
all such faulty traits of feature signify deficiencies of mind? If,
further, our ideal of human beauty is characterized not simply by the
absence of these traits, but by the presence of opposite ones—if this
ideal, as found in sculptures of the Greek gods, has been used to
represent superhuman power and intelligence—and if the race so using
it were themselves distinguished by a mental superiority, which, if
we consider their disadvantages, produced results unparalleled; have
we not yet stronger reasons for concluding that the chief components
of beauty and ugliness are severally connected with perfection and
imperfection of mental nature? And when, lastly, we remember that
the variations of feature constituting expression are confessedly
significant of character—when we remember that these tend by repetition
to organize themselves, to affect not only the skin and muscles
but the bones of the face, and to be transmitted to offspring—when
we thus find that there is a {393} psychological meaning alike in
each passing adjustment of the features, in the marks that habitual
adjustments leave, in the marks inherited from ancestors, and in
those main outlines of the facial bones and integuments indicating
the type or race; are we not almost forced to the conclusion that all
forms of feature are related to forms of mind, and that we consider
them admirable or otherwise according as the traits of nature they
imply are admirable or otherwise? In the extremes the relationship is
demonstrable. That transitory aspects of face accompany transitory
mental states, and that we consider these aspects ugly or beautiful
according as the mental states they accompany are ugly or beautiful,
no one doubts. That those permanent and most marked aspects of face
dependent on the bony framework, accompany those permanent and
most marked mental states which express themselves in barbarism
and civilization; and that we consider as beautiful those which
accompany mental superiority, and as ugly those which accompany mental
inferiority, is equally certain. And if this connexion unquestionably
holds in the extremes—if, as judged by average facts, and by our
half-instinctive convictions, it also holds more or less visibly in
intermediate cases, it becomes an almost irresistible induction, that
the aspects which please us are the outward correlatives of inward
perfections, while the aspects which displease us are the outward
correlatives of inward imperfections.

I am quite aware that when tested in detail this induction seems not
to be borne out. I know that there are often grand natures behind
plain faces; and that fine countenances frequently hide small souls.
But these anomalies do not destroy the general truth of the law, any
more than the perturbations of planets destroy the general ellipticity
of their orbits. Some of them, indeed, may be readily accounted for.
There are many faces spoiled by the misproportion of features that are
in themselves good; others, by defects of skin, which, though they
indicate defects of {394} visceral constitution, have no relationship
to the higher parts of the nature. Moreover the facts that have been
assigned afford reason for thinking that the leading elements of facial
beauty are not directly associated with _moral_ characteristics, but
with _intellectual_ ones—are the results of long-continued civilized
habits, long cessation of domestic barbarism, long culture of the
manipulative powers; and so may co-exist with emotional traits not at
all admirable. It is true that the highest intellectual manifestations
imply a good balance of the higher feelings; but it is also true that
great quickness, great sagacity in ordinary affairs, great practical
skill, can be possessed without these, and very frequently are so. The
prevalent beauty of the Italians, co-existing though it does with a
low moral state, becomes, on this hypothesis, reconcileable with the
general induction; as do also many of the anomalies we see around us.

There is, however, a more satisfactory explanation to be offered than
any of these—an explanation which I think renders it possible to admit
the seeming contradictions which the detailed facts present, and yet
to hold by the theory. But as more space will be required for showing
this than can here be spared, I must defer going further until next
week. In the meantime, my own conviction may be expressed in a formula
in which I have often before uttered it:—The saying that beauty is but
skin-deep, is but a skin-deep saying.


All the civilized races, and probably also the uncivilized ones, are
of mixed origin; and, as a consequence, have physical and mental
constitutions in which are mingled several aboriginal constitutions
more or less differing from each other. This heterogeneity of
constitution seems to me the chief cause of the incongruities between
aspect and nature which we daily meet with. Given a pure race, subject
to constant conditions of climate, food, and habits {395} of life,
and there is reason to believe that between external appearance and
internal structure there will be a constant connexion. Unite this race
with another equally pure, but adapted to different conditions and
having a correspondingly different physique, face, and mind, and there
will occur in the descendants, not a homogeneous mean between the two
constitutions, but a seemingly irregular combination of characteristics
of the one with characteristics of the other—one feature traceable to
this race, a second to that, and a third uniting the attributes of
both; while in disposition and intellect there will be found a like
medley of the two originals.

The fact that the forms and qualities of any offspring are not a mean
between the forms and qualities of its parents, but a mixture of
them, is illustrated in every family. The features and peculiarities
of a child are separately referred by observers to father and mother
respectively—nose and mouth to this side; colour of the hair and eyes
to that—this moral peculiarity to the first; this intellectual one to
the second—and so with contour and idiosyncrasies of body. Manifestly
if each organ or faculty in a child was an average of the two
developments of such organ or faculty in the parents, it would follow
that all brothers and sisters should be alike; or should, at any rate,
differ no more than their parents differed from year to year. So far
however, from finding this to be the case, we find not only that great
irregularities are produced by mixture of traits, but that there is no
constancy in the mode of mixture, or the extent of variation produced
by it.

This imperfect union of parental constitutions in the constitutions of
offspring, is still more clearly illustrated by the re-appearance of
peculiarities traceable to bygone generations. Forms, dispositions,
and diseases, possessed by distant progenitors, habitually come out
from time to time in descendants. Some single feature, or some solitary
tendency, will again and again show itself, after being apparently
lost. It is notoriously thus with gout, scrofula, {396} and insanity.
On some of the monumental brasses in our old churches are engraved
heads having traits still persistent in the same families. Wherever,
as in portrait galleries, a register of ancestral faces has been kept,
the same fact is more or less apparent. The pertinacity with which
particular characteristics re-produce themselves is well exemplified
in America, where traces of negro blood can be detected in the finger
nails, when no longer visible in the complexion. Among breeders of
animals it is well known that, after several generations in which no
visible modifications were traceable, the effects of a cross will
suddenly make their appearance. In all which facts we see the general
truth that an organism produced from two organisms constitutionally
different, is not a homogeneous mean; but is made up of components,
taken in variable ways and proportions from the originals.

In a recent number of the _Quarterly Journal of the Agricultural
Society_ were published some facts respecting the mixture of French
and English races of sheep, bearing collaterally on this point. Sundry
attempts had been made to improve the poor French breeds by our fine
English ones. For a long time these attempts failed. The hybrids bore
no trace of their English male ancestry; but were as dwarfed and
poverty-stricken as their French dams. Eventually the cause of failure
was found to lie in the relative heterogeneity and homogeneity of the
two constitutions. The superior English sheep were of mixed race; the
French sheep, though inferior, were of pure race; and the compound,
imperfectly co-ordinated constitution of the one could not maintain
itself against the simple and completely balanced constitution of the
other. This, at first an hypothesis, was presently demonstrated. French
sheep of mixed constitution having been obtained by uniting two of the
pure French breeds, it was found that these hybrid French sheep, when
united with the English ones, produced a cross in which the English
characteristics were duly {397} displayed. Now, this inability of a
mixed constitution to stand its ground against an unmixed one, quite
accords with the above induction. An unmixed constitution is one in
which all the organs are exactly fitted to each other—are perfectly
balanced: the system as a whole, is in stable equilibrium. A mixed
constitution, on the contrary, being made up of organs belonging to
two separate sets, cannot have them in exact fitness—cannot have them
perfectly balanced; and a system in comparatively unstable equilibrium
results. But in proportion to the stability of the equilibrium will be
the power to resist disturbing forces. Hence, when two constitutions,
in stable and unstable equilibrium respectively, become disturbing
forces to each other, the unstable one will be overthrown, and the
stable one will assert itself unchanged.

The imperfect co-ordination of parts in a mixed constitution, and this
consequent instability of its equilibrium, are intimately connected
with the vexed question of genera, species, and varieties; and, with a
view partly to the intrinsic interest of this question, and partly to
the further elucidation of the topic in hand, I must again digress.

The current physiological test of distinct species is the production
of a non-prolific hybrid. The ability of the offspring to reproduce
itself is held to indicate that its parents are of the same species,
however widely they may differ in appearance; and its inability
to do this is taken as proof that, nearly allied as its parents
may seem, they are distinct in kind. Of late, however, facts have
been accumulating that tend more and more to throw doubt on this
generalization. Cattle-breeders have established it as a general
fact, that the offspring of two different breeds of sheep or oxen
dwindle away in a few generations if allied with themselves; and
that a good result can be obtained only by mixing them with one or
other of the original breeds—a fact implying that what is true of
so-called species, is, under a modified form, true of varieties also.
{398} The same phenomena are observable in the mixtures of different
races of men. They, too, it is alleged, cannot maintain themselves as
separate varieties; but die out unless there is intermarriage with
the originals. In brief, it seems that the hybrids produced from two
distinct races of organisms may die out in the first, second, third,
fourth, fifth, &c., generation, according as the constitutional
difference of the races is greater or less. Now, the experience of
the French sheep-breeders, above-quoted, suggests a rationale of
these various results. For if it be true that an organism produced
by two unlike organisms is not a mean between them, but a mixture of
parts of the one with parts of the other—if it be true that these
parts belonging to two different sets are of necessity imperfectly
co-ordinated; then it becomes manifest that in proportion as the
difference between the parent organisms is greater or less, the
defects of co-ordination in the offspring will be greater or less.
Whence it follows that, according to the degree of organic incongruity
between the parents, we may have every gradation in the offspring,
from a combination of parts so incongruous that it will not work at
all, up to a combination complete enough to subsist permanently as a
race. And this is just what we find in fact. Between organisms widely
differing in character, no intermediate organism is possible. When
the difference is less, a non-prolific hybrid is produced—an organism
so ill co-ordinated as to be capable only of incomplete life. When
the difference is still less, there results an organism capable of
reproducing itself; but not of bequeathing to its offspring complete
constitutions. And as the degrees of difference are further diminished,
the incompleteness of constitution is longer and longer in making its
appearance; until we come to those varieties of the same species which
differ so slightly that their offspring are as permanent as themselves.
Even in these, however, the organic equilibrium seems less perfect;
as is illustrated {399} in the case I have quoted. And in connexion
with this inference, it would be interesting to inquire whether pure
constitutions are not superior to mixed ones, in their power of
maintaining the balance of vital functions under disturbing conditions.
Is it not a fact, that the pure breeds are _hardier_ than the mixed
ones? Are not the mixed ones, though superior in size, less capable of
resisting unfavourable influences—extremes of temperature, bad food,
&c.? And is not the like true of mankind?

Returning to the topic in hand, it is manifest that these facts
and reasonings serve further to enforce the general truth, that
the offspring of two organisms not identical in constitution is a
heterogeneous mixture of the two, and not a homogeneous mean between

If, then, bearing in mind this truth, we remember the composite
character of the civilized races—the mingling in ourselves, for
example, of Celt, Saxon, Norman, Dane, with sprinklings of other
tribes; if we consider the complications of constitution that have
arisen from the unions of these, not in any uniform manner, but with
utter irregularity; and if we recollect that the incongruities thus
produced pervade the whole nature, mental and bodily—nervous tissue
and other tissues; we shall see that there must exist in all of us an
imperfect correspondence between parts of the organism that are really
related; and that as one manifestation of this, there must be more or
less of discrepancy between the features and those parts of the nervous
system with which they have a physiological connexion.

If this be so, then the difficulties which stand in the way of the
belief that beauty of character is related to beauty of face are
considerably diminished. It becomes possible to admit that plainness
may co-exist with nobility of nature, and fine features with baseness;
and yet to hold that mental and facial perfection are fundamentally
connected, and will, when the present causes of incongruity have worked
themselves out, be ever found united.



[_First published in_ Fraser’s Magazine _for October 1857._]

When Carlo, standing, chained to his kennel, sees his master in the
distance, a slight motion of the tail indicates his but faint hope that
he is about to be let out. A much more decided wagging of the tail,
passing by-and-by into lateral undulations of the body, follows his
master’s nearer approach. When hands are laid on his collar, and he
knows that he is really to have an outing, his jumping and wriggling
are such that it is by no means easy to loose his fastenings. And when
he finds himself actually free, his joy expends itself in bounds, in
pirouettes, and in scourings hither and thither at the top of his
speed. Puss, too, by erecting her tail, and by every time raising her
back to meet the caressing hand of her mistress, similarly expresses
her gratification by certain muscular actions; as likewise do the
parrot by awkward dancings on his perch, and the canary by hopping and
fluttering about his cage with unwonted rapidity. Under emotions of an
opposite kind, animals equally display muscular excitement. The enraged
lion lashes his sides with his tail, knits his brows, protrudes his
claws. The cat sets up her back; the dog retracts his upper lip; the
horse throws back his ears. And in the struggles of creatures in pain,
we see that a like relation {401} holds between excitement of the
muscles and excitement of the nerves of sensation.

In ourselves, distinguished from lower creatures by feelings alike more
powerful and more varied, parallel facts are at once more conspicuous
and more numerous. Let us look at them in groups. We shall find that
pleasurable sensations and painful sensations, pleasurable emotions
and painful emotions, all tend to produce active demonstrations in
proportion to their intensity.

In children, and even in adults who are not restrained by regard for
appearances, a highly agreeable taste is followed by a smacking of the
lips. An infant will laugh and bound in its nurse’s arms at the sight
of a brilliant colour or the hearing of a new sound. People are apt to
beat time with head or feet to music which particularly pleases them.
In a sensitive person an agreeable perfume will produce a smile; and
smiles will be seen on the faces of a crowd gazing at some splendid
burst of fireworks. Even the pleasant sensation of warmth felt on
getting to the fireside out of a winter’s storm, will similarly express
itself in the face.

Painful sensations, being mostly far more intense than pleasurable
ones, cause muscular actions of much more decided kinds. A sudden
twinge produces a convulsive start of the whole body. A pain less
violent, but continuous, is accompanied by a knitting of the brows, a
setting of the teeth or biting of the lip, and a contraction of the
features generally. Under a persistent pain of a severer kind, other
muscular actions are added: the body is swayed to and fro; the hands
clench anything they can lay hold of; and should the agony rise still
higher, the sufferer rolls about on the floor almost convulsed.

Though more varied, the natural language of the pleasurable emotions
comes within the same generalization. A smile, which is the commonest
expression of gratified feeling, is a contraction of certain facial
muscles; and when the smile broadens into a laugh, we see a more
violent and {402} more general muscular excitement produced by an
intenser gratification. Rubbing together of the hands, and that other
motion which Hood describes as the washing of “hands with invisible
soap in imperceptible water,” have like implications. Children
may often be seen to “jump for joy,” Even in adults of excitable
temperament, an action approaching to it is sometimes witnessed. And
dancing has all the world through been regarded as natural to an
elevated state of minds. Many of the special emotions show themselves
in special muscular actions. The gratification resulting from success,
raises the head and gives firmness to the gait. A hearty grasp of the
hand is currently taken as indicative of friendship. Under a gush of
affection the mother clasps her child to her breast, feeling as though
she could squeeze it to death. And so in sundry other cases. Even in
that brightening of the eye with which good news is received we may
trace the same truth; for this sparkling appearance is due to an extra
contraction of the muscle which raises the eyelid, and so allows more
light to fall upon, and be reflected from, the wet surface of the

The bodily indications of painful emotion are equally numerous, and
still more vehement. Discontent is shown by raised eyebrows and
wrinkled forehead; disgust by a curl of the lip, offence by a pout.
The impatient man beats a tattoo with his fingers on the table, swings
his pendant leg with increasing rapidity, gives needless pokings to
the fire, and presently paces with hasty strides about the room. In
great grief there is wringing of the hands, and even tearing of the
hair. An angry child stamps, or rolls on its back and kicks its heels
in the air; and in manhood, anger, first showing itself in frowns, in
distended nostrils, in compressed lips, goes on to produce grinding of
the teeth, clenching of the fingers, blows of the fist on the table,
and perhaps ends in a violent attack on the offending person, or in
throwing about and breaking the furniture. From {403} that pursing of
the mouth indicative of slight displeasure, up to the frantic struggles
of the maniac, we find that mental irritation tends to vent itself in
bodily activity.

All feelings, then—sensations or emotions, pleasurable or painful—have
this common characteristic, that they are muscular stimuli. Not
forgetting the few apparently exceptional cases in which emotions
exceeding a certain intensity produce prostration, we may set it down
as a general law, that alike in man and animals, there is a direct
connexion between feeling and movement; the last growing more vehement
as the first grows more intense. Were it allowable here to treat the
matter scientifically, we might trace this general law down to the
principle known among physiologists as that of _reflex action_.[56]
Without doing this, however, the above numerous instances justify the
generalization that every kind of mental excitement ends in excitement
of the muscles; and that the two preserve a more or less constant ratio
to each other.

       *       *       *       *       *

“But what has all this to do with _The Origin and Function of Music_?”
asks the reader. Very much, as we shall presently see. All music is
originally vocal. All vocal sounds are produced by the agency of
certain muscles. These muscles, in common with those of the body at
large, are excited to contraction by pleasurable and painful feelings.
And therefore it is that feelings demonstrate themselves in sounds as
well as in movements. Therefore it is that Carlo barks as well as leaps
when he is let out—that puss purrs as well as erects her tail—that the
canary chirps as well as flutters. Therefore it is that the angry lion
roars while he lashes his sides, and the dog growls while he retracts
his lip. Therefore it is that the maimed animal not only struggles, but
howls. And it is from this cause that in human beings bodily suffering
expresses itself not only in {404} contortions, but in shrieks and
groans—that in anger, and fear, and grief, the gesticulations are
accompanied by shouts and screams—that delightful sensations are
followed by exclamations—and that we hear screams of joy and shouts of

We have here, then, a principle underlying all vocal phenomena;
including those of vocal music, and by consequence those of music in
general. The muscles that move the chest, larynx, and vocal chords,
contracting like other muscles in proportion to the intensity of the
feelings; every different contraction of these muscles involving,
as it does, a different adjustment of the vocal organs; every
different adjustment of the vocal organs causing a change in the sound
emitted;—it follows that variations of voice are the physiological
results of variations of feeling. It follows that each inflection or
modulation is the natural outcome of some passing emotion or sensation;
and it follows that the explanation of all kinds of vocal expression,
must be sought in this general relation between mental and muscular
excitements. Let us, then, see whether we cannot thus account for the
chief peculiarities in the utterance of the feelings: grouping these
peculiarities under the heads of _loudness_, _quality or timbre_,
_pitch_, _intervals_, and _rate of variation_.

       *       *       *       *       *

Between the lungs and the organs of voice, there is much the same
relation as between the bellows of an organ and its pipes. And as the
loudness of the sound given out by an organ-pipe increases with the
strength of the blast from the bellows; so, other things equal, the
loudness of a vocal sound increases with the strength of the blast
from the lungs. But the expulsion of air from the lungs is effected by
certain muscles of the chest and abdomen. The force with which these
muscles contract, is proportionate to the intensity of the feeling
experienced. Hence, _a priori_, loud sounds will be the habitual
results of strong feelings. That they are so we have daily proof. The
pain which {405} if moderate, can be borne silently, causes outcries
if it becomes extreme. While a slight vexation makes a child whimper,
a fit of passion calls forth a howl that disturbs the neighbourhood.
When the voices in an adjacent room become unusually audible, we infer
anger, or surprise, or joy. Loudness of applause is significant of
great approbation; and with uproarious mirth we associate the idea of
high enjoyment. Commencing with the silence of apathy, we find that
the utterances grow louder as the sensations or emotions, whether
pleasurable or painful, grow stronger.

That different _qualities_ of voice accompany different mental states,
and that under states of excitement the tones are more sonorous than
usual, is another general fact admitting of a parallel explanation.
The sounds of common conversation have but little resonance; those
of strong feeling have much more. Under rising ill temper the voice
acquires a metallic ring. In accordance with her constant mood, the
ordinary speech of a virago has a piercing quality quite opposite to
that softness indicative of placidity. A ringing laugh marks joyous
temperament. Grief, unburdening itself, uses tones approaching in
_timbre_ to those of chanting; and in his most pathetic passages
an eloquent speaker similarly falls into tones more vibratory than
those common to him. Now any one may readily convince himself that
resonant vocal sounds can be produced only by a certain muscular effort
additional to that ordinarily needed. If after uttering a word in his
speaking voice, the reader, without changing the pitch or the loudness,
will _sing_ this word, he will perceive that before he can sing it,
he has to alter the adjustment of the vocal organs; to do which a
certain force must be used; and by putting his fingers on that external
prominence marking the top of the larynx, he will have further evidence
that to produce a sonorous tone the organs must be drawn out of their
usual position. Thus, then, the fact that the tones of excited feeling
are more vibratory than those of common {406} conversation, is another
instance of the connexion between mental excitement and muscular
excitement. The speaking voice, the recitative voice, and the singing
voice, severally exemplify one general principle.

That the _pitch_ of the voice varies according to the action of the
vocal muscles, scarcely needs saying. All know that the middle notes,
in which they converse, are made without appreciable effort; and all
know that to make either very high notes or very low notes requires
considerable effort. In either ascending or descending from the pitch
of ordinary speech, we are conscious of increasing muscular strain,
which, at each extreme of the register, becomes painful. Hence it
follows from our general principle, that while indifference or calmness
will use the medium tones, the tones used during excitement will be
either above or below them; and will rise higher and higher, or fall
lower and lower, as the feelings grow stronger. This physiological
deduction we also find to be in harmony with familiar facts. The
habitual sufferer utters his complaints in a voice raised considerably
above the natural key; and agonizing pain vents itself in either
shrieks or groans—in very high or very low notes. Beginning at his
talking pitch, the cry of the disappointed urchin grows more shrill as
it grows louder. The “Oh!” of astonishment or delight, begins several
notes below the middle voice, and descends still lower. Anger expresses
itself in high tones, or else in “curses not loud but _deep_.” Deep
tones, too, are always used in uttering strong reproaches. Such an
exclamation as “Beware!” if made dramatically—that is, if made with a
show of feeling—must be many notes lower than ordinary. Further, we
have groans of disapprobation, groans of horror, groans of remorse. And
extreme joy and fear are alike accompanied by shrill outcries.

Nearly allied to the subject of pitch, is that of _intervals_; and
the explanation of them carries our argument a step {407} further.
While calm speech is comparatively monotonous, emotion makes use of
fifths, octaves, and even wider intervals. Listen to any one narrating
or repeating something in which he has no interest, and his voice will
not wander more than two or three notes above or below his medium
note, and that by small steps; but when he comes to some exciting
event he will be heard not only to use the higher and lower notes of
his register, but to go from one to the other by larger leaps. Being
unable in print to imitate these traits of feeling, we feel some
difficulty in fully conveying them to the reader. But we may suggest
a few remembrances which will perhaps call to mind a sufficiency of
others. If two men living in the same place, and frequently seeing
one another, meet, say at a public assembly, any phrase with which
one accosts the other—as “Hallo, are you here?”—will have an ordinary
intonation. But if one of them, after a long absence, has unexpectedly
returned, the expression of surprise with which his friend greets
him—“Hallo! how came you here?”—will be uttered in much more strongly
contrasted tones. The two syllables of the word “Hallo” will be, the
one much higher and the other much lower than before; and the rest of
the sentence will similarly ascend and descend by longer steps. Again,
if, supposing her maid to be in an adjoining room, the mistress of the
house calls “Mary,” the two syllables of the name will be spoken in an
ascending interval of a third. If Mary does not reply, the call will
be repeated probably in a descending fifth; implying the slightest
shade of annoyance at Mary’s inattention. Should Mary still make no
answer, the increasing annoyance will show itself by the use of a
descending octave on the next repetition of the call. And supposing the
silence to continue, the lady, if not of a very even temper, will show
her irritation at Mary’s seemingly intentional negligence by finally
calling her in tones still more widely contrasted—the first syllable
{408} being higher and the last lower than before. Now, these and
analogous facts, which the reader will readily accumulate, clearly
conform to the law laid down. For to make large intervals requires
more muscular action than to make small ones. But not only is the
_extent_ of vocal intervals thus explicable as due to the relation
between nervous and muscular excitement, but also, in some degree,
their _direction_, as ascending or descending. The middle notes being
those which demand no appreciable effort of muscular adjustment;
and the effort becoming greater as we either ascend or descend; it
follows that a departure from the middle notes in either direction
will mark increasing emotion; while a return towards the middle notes
will mark decreasing emotion. Hence it happens that an enthusiastic
person, uttering such a sentence as—“It was the most splendid sight I
ever saw!” will ascend to the first syllable of the word “splendid,”
and thence will descend: the word “splendid” marking the climax of
the feeling produced by the recollection. Hence, again, it happens
that, under some extreme vexation produced by another’s stupidity,
an irascible man, exclaiming—“What a confounded fool the fellow is!”
will begin somewhat below his middle voice, and descending to the word
“fool,” which he will utter in one of his deepest notes, will then
ascend. And it may be remarked, that the word “fool” will not only
be deeper and louder than the rest, but will also have more emphasis
of articulation—another mode in which muscular excitement is shown.
There is some danger, however, in giving instances like this; seeing
that as the mode of rendering will vary according to the intensity of
the feeling which the reader feigns to himself, the right cadence may
not be hit upon. With single words there is less difficulty. Thus the
“Indeed!” with which a surprising fact is received, mostly begins on
the middle note of the voice, and rises with the second syllable; or,
if disapprobation as well as astonishment is felt, the {409} first
syllable will be below the middle note, and the second lower still.
Conversely, the word “Alas!” which marks not the rise of a paroxysm
of grief, but its decline, is uttered in a cadence descending towards
the middle note; or, if the first syllable is in the lower part of
the register, the second ascends towards the middle note. In the
“Heigh-ho!” expressive of mental or muscular prostration, we may see
the same truth; and if the cadence appropriate to it be inverted, the
absurdity of the effect clearly shows how the meaning of intervals is
dependent on the principle we have been illustrating.

The remaining characteristic of emotional speech which we have to
notice, is that of _variability of pitch_. It is scarcely possible here
to convey adequate ideas of this more complex manifestation. We must
be content with simply indicating some occasions on which it may be
observed. On a meeting of friends, for instance—as when there arrives
a party of much-wished-for visitors—the voices of all will be heard to
undergo changes of pitch not only greater but much more numerous than
usual. If a speaker at a public meeting is interrupted by some squabble
among those he is addressing, his comparatively level tones will be
in marked contrast with the rapidly changing ones of the disputants.
And among children, whose feelings are less under control than those
of adults, this peculiarity is still more decided. During a scene of
complaint and recrimination between two excitable little girls, the
voices may be heard to run up and down the gamut several times in
each sentence. In such cases we once more recognize the same law: for
muscular excitement is shown not only in strength of contraction, but
also in the rapidity with which different muscular adjustments succeed
one another.

Thus we find all the leading vocal phenomena to have a physiological
basis. They are so many manifestations of the general law that feeling
is a stimulus to muscular {410} action—a law conformed to throughout
the whole economy, not of man only, but of every sensitive creature—a
law, therefore, which lies deep in the nature of animal organization.
The expressiveness of these various modifications of voice is therefore
innate. Each of us, from babyhood upwards, has been spontaneously
making them, when under the various sensations and emotions by which
they are produced. Having been conscious of each feeling at the same
time that we heard ourselves make the consequent sound, we have
acquired an established association of ideas between such sound and
the feeling which caused it. When the like sound is made by another,
we ascribe the like feeling to him; and by a further consequence we
not only ascribe to him that feeling, but have a certain degree of it
aroused in ourselves: for to become conscious of the feeling which
another is experiencing, is to have that feeling awakened in our own
consciousness, which is the same thing as experiencing the feeling.
Thus these various modifications of voice become not only a language
through which we understand the emotions of others, but also the means
of exciting our sympathy with such emotions.

       *       *       *       *       *

Have we not here, then, adequate data for a theory of music? These
vocal peculiarities which indicate excited feeling, _are those which
especially distinguish song from ordinary speech_. Every one of the
alterations of voice which we have found to be a physiological result
of pain or pleasure, _is carried to an extreme in vocal music_. For
instance, we saw that, in virtue of the general relation between mental
and muscular excitement, one characteristic of passionate utterance is
_loudness_. Well, its comparative loudness is one of the distinctive
marks of song as contrasted with the speech of daily life. Though
there are _piano_ passages in contrast with the _forte_ passages, yet
the average loudness of the singing voice is much greater than {411}
that of the speaking voice; and further, the _forte_ passages of an
air are those intended to represent the climax of its emotion. We
next saw that the tones in which emotion expresses itself, are, in
conformity with this same law, of a more sonorous _timbre_ than those
of calm conversation. Here, too, song displays a still higher degree
of the peculiarity; for the singing tone is the most resonant we can
make. Again, it was shown that, from a like cause, mental excitement
vents itself in the higher and lower notes of the register; using the
middle notes but seldom. And it scarcely needs saying that vocal music
is still more distinguished by its comparative neglect of the notes in
which we talk, and its habitual use of those above or below them; and,
moreover, that its most passionate effects are commonly produced at
the two extremities of its scale, but especially at the upper one. A
yet further trait of strong feeling, similarly accounted for, was the
habitual employment of larger intervals than are employed in common
converse. This trait, also, every ballad and _aria_ systematically
elaborates: add to which, that the direction of these intervals, which,
as diverging from or converging towards the medium tones, we found to
be physiologically expressive of increasing or decreasing emotion,
may be observed to have in music like meanings. Once more, it was
pointed out that not only extreme but also rapid variations of pitch,
are characteristic of mental excitement; and once more we see in the
quick changes of every melody, that song carries the characteristic as
far, if not farther. Thus, in respect alike of _loudness_, _timbre_,
_pitch_, _intervals_, and _rate of variation_, song employs and
exaggerates the natural language of the emotions;—it arises from a
systematic combination of those vocal peculiarities which are the
physiological effects of acute pleasure and pain.

Besides these chief characteristics of song as distinguished from
common speech, there are sundry minor ones {412} similarly explicable
as due to the relation between mental and muscular excitement; and
before proceeding further, these should be briefly noticed. Thus,
certain passions, and perhaps all passions when pushed to an extreme,
produce (probably through their influence over the action of the heart)
an effect the reverse of that which has been described: they cause a
physical prostration, one symptom of which is a general relaxation
of the muscles, and a consequent trembling. We have the trembling of
anger, of fear, of hope, of joy; and the vocal muscles being implicated
with the rest, the voice too becomes tremulous. Now, in singing,
this tremulousness of voice is effectively used by some vocalists in
pathetic passages; sometimes, indeed, because of its effectiveness,
too much used by them—as by Tamberlik, for instance. Again, there
is a mode of musical execution known as the _staccato_, appropriate
to energetic passages—to passages expressive of exhilaration, of
resolution, of confidence. The action of the vocal muscles which
produces this staccato style, is analogous to the muscular action which
produces the sharp, decisive, energetic movements of body indicating
these states of mind; and therefore it is that the staccato style
has the meaning we ascribe to it. Conversely, slurred intervals are
expressive of gentler and less active feelings; and are so because they
imply the smaller muscular vivacity due to a lower mental energy. The
difference of effect resulting from difference of _time_ in music, is
also attributable to this same law. Already it has been pointed out
that the more frequent changes of pitch which ordinarily result from
passion, are imitated and developed in song; and here we have to add,
that the various rates of such changes, appropriate to the different
styles of music, are further traits having the same derivation. The
slowest movements, _largo_ and _adagio_, are used where such depressing
emotions as grief, or such unexciting emotions as reverence, are to be
portrayed; while the more rapid movements, _andante_, {413} _allegro_,
_presto_, represent successively increasing degrees of mental vivacity;
and do this because they imply that muscular activity which flows
from this mental vivacity. Even the _rhythm_, which forms a remaining
distinction between song and speech, may not improbably have a kindred
cause. Why the actions excited by strong feeling should tend to become
rhythmical, is not obvious; but that they do so there are divers
evidences. There is the swaying of the body to and fro under pain or
grief, of the leg under impatience or agitation. Dancing, too, is a
rhythmical action natural to elevated emotion. That under excitement
speech acquires a certain rhythm, we may occasionally perceive in the
highest efforts of an orator. In poetry, which is a form of speech used
for the better expression of emotional ideas, we have this rhythmical
tendency developed. And when we bear in mind that dancing, poetry, and
music are connate—are originally constituent parts of the same thing,
it becomes clear that the measured movement common to them all implies
a rhythmical action of the whole system, the vocal apparatus included;
and that so the rhythm of music is a more subtle and complex result of
this relation between mental and muscular excitement.

But it is time to end this analysis, which possibly we have already
carried too far. It is not to be supposed that the more special
peculiarities of musical expression are to be definitely explained.
Though probably they may all in some way conform to the principle that
has been worked out, it is impracticable to trace that principle in its
more ramified applications. Nor is it needful to our argument that it
should be so traced. The foregoing facts sufficiently prove that what
we regard as the distinctive traits of song, are simply the traits
of emotional speech intensified and systematized. In respect of its
general characteristics, we think it has been made clear that vocal
music, and by {414} consequence all music, is an idealization of the
natural language of passion.

       *       *       *       *       *

As far as it goes, the scanty evidence furnished by history confirms
this conclusion. Note first the fact (not properly an historical one,
but fitly grouped with such) that the dance-chants of savage tribes
are very monotonous; and in virtue of their monotony are more nearly
allied to ordinary speech than are the songs of civilized races.
Joining with this the fact that there are still extant among boatmen
and others in the East, ancient chants of a like monotonous character,
we may infer that vocal music originally diverged from emotional speech
in a gradual, unobtrusive manner; and this is the inference to which
our argument points. From the characters of the intervals the same
conclusion may be drawn.

 “The songs of savages in the lowest scale of civilization are
 generally confined to the compass of few notes, seldom extending
 beyond the interval of the _fifth_. Sometimes, however, a sudden
 transition into the octave occurs, especially in sudden exclamations,
 or where a word naturally dictates an emphatic raising of the
 voice. The _fifth_ especially plays a prominent part in primitive
 vocal music. . . . But it must not be supposed that each interval
 is distinctly intoned: on the contrary, in the transition from one
 interval to another, all the intermediate intervals are slightly
 touched in a way somewhat similar to a violinist drawing his finger
 rapidly over the string from one note to another to connect them;
 and as the intervals themselves are seldom clearly defined, it will
 easily be understood how nearly impossible it is to write down such
 songs in our notation so as to convey a correct idea of their natural

Further evidence to the same effect is supplied by Greek history.
The early poems of the Greeks—which, be it remembered, were sacred
legends embodied in that rhythmical, metaphorical language which strong
feeling excites—were not recited, but chanted: the tones and cadences
{415} were made musical by the same influences which made the speech
poetical. By those who have investigated the matter, this chanting
is believed to have been not what we call singing, but nearly allied
to our recitative—nearly allied but simpler. Several facts conspire
to show this. The earliest stringed instruments had sometimes four,
sometimes five strings: Egyptian frescoes delineate some of the simpler
harps as thus constituted, and there are kindred representations of
the lyres and allied instruments of the Assyrians, Hebrews, Greeks and
Romans. That the earliest Greek lyre had but four strings, and that the
recitative of the poet was uttered in unison with its sounds, Neumann
finds definite proof in a verse ascribed to Terpander, celebrating his
introduction of the seven-stringed lyre:―

 “The four-tonèd hymns now rejecting,
   And yearning for songs new and sweet,
 With seven strings softly vibrating,
   The lyre anon shall we greet.”

Hence it follows that the primitive recitative was simpler than our
modern recitative, and, as such, much less remote from common speech
than our own singing is. For recitative, or musical recitation, is in
all respects intermediate between speech and song. Its average effects
are not so _loud_ as those of song. Its tones are less sonorous in
_timbre_ than those of song. Commonly it diverges to a smaller extent
from the middle notes—uses notes neither so high nor so low in _pitch_.
The _intervals_ habitual to it are neither so wide nor so varied. Its
_rate of variation_ is not so rapid. And at the same time that its
primary _rhythm_ is less decided, it has none of that secondary rhythm
produced by recurrence of the same or parallel musical phrases, which
is one of the marked characteristics of song. Thus, then, we may not
only infer, from the evidence furnished by existing barbarous tribes,
that the vocal music of pre-historic times was emotional speech very
slightly exalted; but we see that the earliest vocal music of which we
have {416} any account, differed much less from emotional speech than
does the vocal music of our days.

That recitative—beyond which, by the way, the Chinese and Hindoos
seem never to have advanced—grew naturally out of the modulations and
cadences of strong feeling, we have indeed current evidence. There are
even now to be met with occasions on which strong feeling vents itself
in this form. Whoever has been present when a meeting of Quakers was
addressed by one of their number (whose practice it is to speak only
under the influence of religious emotion), must have been struck by
the quite unusual tones, like those of a subdued chant, in which the
address was made. On passing a chapel in Wales during service, the
raised and sing-song voice of the preacher draws the attention. It is
clear, too, that the intoning used in churches is representative of
this mental state; and has been adopted on account of the congruity
between it and the contrition, supplication, or reverence, verbally

And if, as we have good reason to believe, recitative arose by degrees
out of emotional speech, it becomes manifest that by a continuance
of the same process song has arisen out of recitative. Just as, from
the orations and legends of savages, expressed in the metaphorical,
allegorical style natural to them, there sprung epic poetry, out of
which lyric poetry was afterwards developed; so, from the exalted
tones and cadences in which such orations and legends were delivered,
came the chant or recitative music, from which lyrical music has since
grown up. And there has not only thus been a simultaneous and parallel
genesis, but there has been reached a parallelism of results. For
lyrical poetry differs from epic poetry, just as lyrical music differs
from recitative: each still further intensifies the natural language
of the emotions. Lyrical poetry is more metaphorical, more hyperbolic,
more elliptical, and adds the rhythm of lines to the rhythm of feet;
just as lyrical music is louder, more sonorous, more extreme in its
{417} intervals, and adds the rhythm of phrases to the rhythm of
bars. And the known fact that out of epic poetry the stronger passions
developed lyrical poetry as their appropriate vehicle, strengthens the
inference that they similarly developed lyrical music out of recitative.

Nor indeed are we without evidences of the transition. It needs but
to listen to an opera to hear the leading gradations. Between the
comparatively level recitative of ordinary dialogue, the more varied
recitative with wider intervals and higher tones used in exciting
scenes, the still more musical recitative which preludes an air, and
the air itself, the successive steps are but small; and the fact that
among airs themselves gradations of like nature may be traced, further
confirms the conclusion that the highest form of vocal music was
arrived at by degrees.

We have some clue to the influences which have induced this
development; and may roughly conceive the process of it. As the
tones, intervals, and cadences of strong emotion were the elements
out of which song was elaborated; so, we may expect to find that
still stronger emotion produced the elaboration; and we have evidence
implying this. Musical composers are men of acute sensibilities. The
Life of Mozart depicts him as one of intensely active affections
and highly impressionable temperament. Various anecdotes represent
Beethoven as very susceptible and very passionate. Mendelssohn is
described by those who knew him as having been full of fine feeling.
And the almost incredible sensitiveness of Chopin has been illustrated
in the memoirs of George Sand. An unusually emotional nature being thus
the general characteristic of musical composers, we have in it just
the agency required for the development of recitative and song. Any
cause of excitement will generate just those exaggerations which we
have found to distinguish the lower vocal music from emotional speech,
and the higher vocal music from the lower. Thus it becomes credible
that the four-toned recitative of the {418} early Greek poets (like
all poets, nearly allied to composers in the comparative intensity of
their feelings), was really nothing more than the slightly exaggerated
emotional speech natural to them, which grew by frequent use into
an organized form. And we may infer that the accumulated agency of
subsequent poet-musicians, inheriting and adding to the products of
those who went before them, sufficed, in the course of many centuries,
to develope this simple four-toned recitative into a vocal music having
great complexity and range.

Not only may we so understand how more sonorous tones, greater extremes
of pitch, and wider intervals, were gradually introduced; but also how
there arose a greater variety and complexity of musical expression.
For this same passionate, enthusiastic temperament, which leads the
musical composer to express the feelings possessed by others as well as
himself, in more marked cadences than they would use, also leads him to
give musical utterance to feelings which they either do not experience,
or experience in but slight degrees. And thus we may in some measure
understand how it happens that music not only so strongly excites
our more familiar feelings, but also produces feelings we never had
before—arouses dormant sentiments of which we do not know the meaning;
or, as Richter says—tells us of things we have not seen and shall not

       *       *       *       *       *

Indirect evidences of several kinds remain to be briefly pointed
out. One of them is the difficulty, not to say impossibility, of
otherwise accounting for the expressiveness of music. Whence comes
it that special combinations of notes should have special effects
upon our emotions?—that one should give us a feeling of exhilaration,
another of melancholy, another of affection, another of reverence?
Is it that these special combinations have intrinsic meanings apart
from the human constitution?—that a certain number of aërial waves
per second, followed by a certain other {419} number, in the nature
of things signify grief, while in the reverse order they signify
joy; and similarly with all other intervals, phrases, and cadences?
Few will be so irrational as to think this. Is it, then, that the
meanings of these special combinations are conventional only?—that
we learn their implications, as we do those of words, by observing
how others understand them? This is an hypothesis not only devoid of
evidence, but directly opposed to the experience of every one; and
it is excluded by the fact that children, unconventionalised though
they are, show great susceptibility to music. How, then, are musical
effects to be explained? If the theory above set forth be accepted,
the difficulty disappears. If music, taking for its raw material the
various modifications of voice which are the physiological results of
excited feeling, intensifies, combines, and complicates them—if it
exaggerates the loudness, the resonance, the pitch, the intervals,
and the variability, which, in virtue of an organic law, are the
characteristics of passionate speech—if, by carrying out these further,
more consistently, more unitedly, and more sustainedly,it produces
an idealized language of emotion; then its power over us becomes
comprehensible. But in the absence of this theory the expressiveness of
music appears inexplicable.

Again, the preference we feel for certain qualities of sound presents
a like difficulty, admitting only of a like solution. It is generally
agreed that the tones of the human voice are more pleasing than any
others. If music takes its rise from the modulations of the human voice
under emotion, it is a natural consequence that the tones of that voice
appeal to our feelings more than any others, and are considered more
beautiful than any others. But deny that music has this origin, and the
only alternative is the untenable one that the vibrations proceeding
from a vocalist’s throat are, objectively considered, of a higher order
than those from a horn or a violin.

Once more, the question—How is the expressiveness of {420} music to be
otherwise accounted for? may be supplemented by the question—How is the
genesis of music to be otherwise accounted for? That music is a product
of civilization, is manifest; for though some of the lowest savages
have their dance-chants, these are of a kind scarcely to be dignified
by the title musical: at most, they supply but the vaguest rudiment
of music, properly so called. And if music has been by slow steps
developed in the course of civilization, it must have been developed
out of something. If, then, its origin is not that above alleged, what
is its origin?

Thus we find that the negative evidence confirms the positive, and
that, taken together, they furnish strong proof. We have seen that
there is a physiological relation, common to man and all animals,
between feeling and muscular action; that as vocal sounds are produced
by muscular action, there is a consequent physiological relation
between feeling and vocal sounds; that all the modifications of voice
expressive of feeling are the direct results of this physiological
relation; that music, adopting all these modifications, intensifies
them more and more as it ascends to its higher and higher forms;
that, from the ancient epic poet chanting his verses, down to the
modern musical composer, men of unusually strong feelings prone to
express them in extreme forms, have been naturally the agents of these
successive intensifications; and that so there has little by little
arisen a wide divergence between this idealized language of emotion
and its natural language: to which direct evidence we have just added
the indirect—that on no other tenable hypothesis can either the
expressiveness of music or the genesis of music be explained.

       *       *       *       *       *

And now, what is the _function_ of music? Has music any effect beyond
the immediate pleasure it produces? Analogy suggests that it has. The
enjoyments of a good dinner do not end with themselves, but minister to
bodily well-being. Though people do not marry with a view to maintain
the race, yet the passions which impel them to marry secure its {421}
maintenance. Parental affection is a feeling which, while it conduces
to parental happiness, ensures the nurture of offspring. Men love to
accumulate property, often without thought of the benefits it produces;
but in pursuing the pleasure of acquisition they indirectly open the
way to other pleasures. The wish for public approval impels all of
us to do many things which we should otherwise not do,—to undertake
great labours, face great dangers, and habitually rule ourselves in
ways that smooth social intercourse; so that, in gratifying our love
of approbation we subserve divers ulterior purposes. And, generally,
our nature is such that in fulfilling each desire, we in some way
facilitate fulfilment of the rest. But the love of music seems to exist
for its own sake. The delights of melody and harmony do not obviously
minister to the welfare either of the individual or of society. May we
not suspect, however, that this exception is apparent only? Is it not
a rational inquiry—What are the indirect benefits which accrue from
music, in addition to the direct pleasure it gives?

But that it would take us too far out of our track, we should prelude
this inquiry by illustrating at some length a certain general law
of progress;—the law that alike in occupations, sciences, arts, the
divisions which had a common root, but by gradual divergence have
become distinct, and are now being separately developed, are not truly
independent, but severally act and react on one another to their mutual
advancement. Merely hinting thus much, however, by way of showing that
there are many analogies to justify us, we go on to express the opinion
that there exists a relationship of this kind between music and speech.

All speech is compounded of two elements, the words and the tones in
which they are uttered—the signs of ideas and the signs of feelings.
While certain articulations express the thought, certain modulations
express the more or less of pain or pleasure which the thought gives.
Using the word _cadence_ in an unusually extended sense, as {422}
comprehending all variations of voice, we may say that _cadence is the
commentary of the emotions upon the propositions of the intellect_.
This duality of spoken language, though not formally recognized, is
recognized in practice by every one; and every one knows that very
often more weight attaches to the tones than to the words. Daily
experience supplies cases in which the same sentence of disapproval
will be understood as meaning little or meaning much, according to the
vocal inflections which accompany it; and daily experience supplies
still more striking cases in which words and tones are in direct
contradiction—the first expressing consent, while the last express
reluctance; and the last being believed rather than the first.

These two distinct but interwoven elements of speech have been
undergoing a simultaneous development. We know that in the course of
civilization words have been multiplied, new parts of speech have been
introduced, sentences have grown more varied and complex; and we may
fairly infer that during the same time new modifications of voice have
come into use, fresh intervals have been adopted, and cadences have
become more elaborate. For while, on the one hand, it is absurd to
suppose that, along with the undeveloped verbal forms of barbarism,
there existed developed vocal inflections; it is, on the other hand,
necessary to suppose that, along with the higher and more numerous
verbal forms needed to convey the multiplied and complicated ideas of
civilized life, there have grown up those more involved changes of
voice which express the feelings proper to such ideas. If intellectual
language is a growth, so also, without doubt, is emotional language a

Now, the hypothesis which we have hinted above, is that, beyond the
direct pleasure which it gives, music has the indirect effect of
developing this language of the emotions. Having its root, as we
have endeavoured to show, in those tones, intervals, and cadences of
speech which express {423} feeling—arising by the combination and
intensifying of these, and coming finally to have an embodiment of its
own; music has all along been reacting upon speech, and increasing
its power of rendering emotion. The use in recitative and song of
inflections more expressive than ordinary ones, must from the beginning
have tended to develope the ordinary ones. The complex musical phrases
by which composers have conveyed complex emotions, may rationally
be supposed to influence us in making those involved cadences of
conversation by which we convey our subtler thoughts and feelings. If
the cultivation of music has any effect on the mind, what more natural
effect is there than this of developing our perception of the meanings
of qualities, and modulations of voice; and giving us a correspondingly
increased power of using them? Just as chemistry, arising out of
the processes of metallurgy and the industrial arts, and gradually
growing into an independent study, has now become an aid to all kinds
of production—just as physiology, originating from medicine and once
subordinate to it, but latterly pursued for its own sake, is in our day
coming to be the science on which the progress of medicine depends;—so,
music, having its root in emotional language, and gradually evolved
from it, has ever been reacting upon and further advancing it.

It will scarcely be expected that much direct evidence in support of
this conclusion can be given. The facts are of a kind which it is
difficult to measure, and of which we have no records. Some suggestive
traits, however, are to be noted. May we not say, for instance, that
the Italians, among whom modern music was earliest cultivated, and who
have more especially excelled in melody (the division of music with
which our argument is chiefly concerned)—may we not say that these
Italians speak in more varied and expressive inflections and cadences
than any other people? On the other hand, may we not say that, confined
almost exclusively as they have hitherto been to their national {424}
airs, and therefore accustomed to but a limited range of musical
expression, the Scotch are unusually monotonous in the intervals and
modulations of their speech? And again, do we not find among different
classes of the same nation, differences that have like implications?
The gentleman and the clown stand in decided contrast with respect to
variety of intonation. Listen to the conversation of a servant-girl,
and then to that of a refined lady, and the more delicate and complex
changes of voice used by the latter will be conspicuous. Now, without
going so far as to say that out of all the differences of culture to
which the upper and lower classes are subjected, difference of musical
culture is that to which alone this difference of speech is ascribable;
yet we may fairly say that there seems a much more obvious connexion of
cause and effect between these than between any others. Thus, while the
inductive evidence to which we can appeal is but scanty and vague, yet
what there is favours our position.

       *       *       *       *       *

Probably most will think that the function here assigned to music is
one of very little moment. But reflection may lead them to a contrary
conviction. In its bearings upon human happiness, this emotional
language which musical culture develops and refines, is only second in
importance to the language of the intellect; perhaps not even second
to it. For these modifications of voice produced by feelings, are the
means of exciting like feelings in others. Joined with gestures and
expressions of face, they give life to the otherwise dead words in
which the intellect utters its ideas; and so enable the hearer not only
to _understand_ the state of mind they accompany, but to _partake_ of
that state. In short, they are the chief media of _sympathy_. And if we
consider how much both our general welfare and our immediate pleasures
depend on sympathy, we shall recognize the importance of whatever makes
this sympathy greater. If we bear in mind that by their fellow-feeling
men are led {425} to behave justly and kindly to one another—that
the difference between the cruelty of the barbarous and the humanity
of the civilized, results from the increase of fellow-feeling; if we
bear in mind that this faculty which makes us sharers in the joys and
sorrows of others, is the basis of all the higher affections; if we
bear in mind how much our direct gratifications are intensified by
sympathy,—how, at the theatre, the concert, the picture gallery, we
lose half our enjoyment if we have no one to enjoy with us;—we shall
see that the agencies which communicate it can scarcely be overrated
in value. The tendency of civilization is to repress the antagonistic
elements of our characters and to develope the social ones—to curb
our purely selfish desires and exercise our unselfish ones—to replace
private gratifications by gratifications resulting from, or involving,
the pleasures of others. And while, by this adaptation to the social
state, the sympathetic side of our nature is being unfolded, there
is simultaneously growing up a language of sympathetic intercourse—a
language through which we communicate to others the happiness we feel,
and are made sharers in their happiness. This double process, of which
the effects are already appreciable, must go on to an extent of which
we can as yet have no adequate conception. The habitual concealment of
our feelings diminishing, as it must, in proportion as our feelings
become such as do not demand concealment, the exhibition of them will
become more vivid than we now dare allow it to be; and this implies
a more expressive emotional language. At the same time, feelings
of higher and more complex kinds, as yet experienced only by the
cultivated few, will become general; and there will be a corresponding
development of the emotional language into more involved forms. Just as
there has silently grown up a language of ideas, which, rude as it at
first was, now enables us to convey with precision the most subtle and
complicated thoughts; so, there is still silently growing up a language
of feelings, which, notwithstanding its present {426} imperfection, we
may expect will ultimately enable men vividly and completely to impress
on each other the emotions which they experience from moment to moment.

Thus if, as we have endeavoured to show, it is the function of music to
facilitate the development of this emotional language, we may regard
music as an aid to the achievement of that higher happiness which it
indistinctly shadows forth. Those vague feelings of unexperienced
felicity which music arouses—those indefinite impressions of an unknown
ideal life which it calls up, may be considered as a prophecy, the
fulfilment of which music itself aids. The strange capacity which we
have for being affected by melody and harmony, may be taken to imply
both that it is within the possibilities of our nature to realize those
intenser delights they dimly suggest, and that they are in some way
concerned in the realization of them. If so the power and the meaning
of music become comprehensible; but otherwise they are a mystery.

We will only add that, if the probability of these corollaries be
admitted, then music must take rank as the highest of the fine arts—as
the one which, more than any other, ministers to human welfare. And
thus, even leaving out of view the immediate gratifications it is
hourly giving, we cannot too much applaud that musical culture which is
becoming one of the characteristics of our age.


An opponent, or partial opponent, of high authority, whose views were
published some fourteen years after the above essay, must here be
answered: I mean Mr. Darwin. Diligent and careful as an observer beyond
naturalists in general, and still more beyond those who are untrained
in research, his judgment on a question which must be {427} decided by
induction is one to be received with great respect. I think, however,
examination will show that in this instance Mr. Darwin’s observations
are inadequate, and his reasonings upon them inconclusive. Swayed
by his doctrine of sexual selection, he has leaned towards the view
that music had its origin in the expression of amatory feeling, and
has been led to over-estimate such evidence as he thinks favours that
view, while ignoring the difficulties in its way, and the large amount
of evidence supporting another view. Before considering the special
reasons for dissenting from his hypothesis, let us look at the most
general reasons.

The interpretation of music which Mr. Darwin gives, agrees with my own
in supposing music to be developed from vocal noises; but differs in
supposing a particular class of vocal noises to have originated it—the
amatory class. I have aimed to show that music has its germs in the
sounds which the voice emits under excitement, and eventually gains
this or that character according to the kind of excitement; whereas
Mr. Darwin argues that music arises from those sounds which the male
makes during the excitements of courtship, that they are consciously
made to charm the female, and that from the resulting combinations of
sounds arise not love-music only but music in general. That certain
tones of voice and cadences having some likeness of nature are
spontaneously used to express grief, others to express joy, others to
express affection, and others to express triumph or martial ardour, is
undeniable. According to the view I have set forth, the whole body of
these vocal manifestations of emotion form the root of music. According
to Mr. Darwin’s view, the sounds which are prompted by the amatory
feeling only, having originated musical utterance, there are derived
from these all the other varieties of musical utterance which aim to
express other kinds of feeling. This roundabout derivation has, I
think, less probability than the direct derivation. {428}

This antithesis and its implications will perhaps be more clearly
understood on looking at the facts under their nervo-muscular aspect.
Mr. Darwin recognizes the truth of the doctrine with which the
foregoing essay sets out, that feeling discharges itself in action:
saying of the air-breathing vertebrata that―

 “When the primeval members of this class were strongly excited and
 their muscles violently contracted, purposeless sounds would almost
 certainly have been produced; and these, if they proved in any way
 serviceable, might readily have been modified or intensified by the
 preservation of properly adapted variations.” (_The Descent of Man_,
 vol. ii., p. 331.)

But though this passage recognizes the general relation between
feelings and those muscular contractions which cause sounds, it does so
inadequately; since it ignores, on the one hand, those loudest sounds
which accompany intense sensations—the shrieks and groans of bodily
agony; while, on the other hand, it ignores those multitudinous sounds
not produced “under the excitement of love, rage, and jealousy,” but
which accompany ordinary amounts of feelings, various in their kinds.
And it is because he does not bear in mind how large a proportion of
vocal noises are caused by other excitements, that Mr. Darwin thinks “a
strong case can be made out, that the vocal organs were primarily used
and perfected in relation to the propagation of the species” (p. 330).

Certainly the animals around us yield but few facts countenancing his
view. The cooing of pigeons may, indeed, be named in its support; and
it may be contended that caterwauling furnishes evidence; though I
doubt whether the sounds are made by the male to charm the female. But
the howling of dogs has no relation to sexual excitements; nor has
their barking, which is used to express emotion of almost any kind.
Pigs grunt sometimes through pleasurable expectation, sometimes during
the gratifications of eating, sometimes from a general content while
seeking about for food. The bleatings of sheep, again, occur under the
promptings of various feelings, usually of no great {429} intensity:
social and maternal rather than sexual. The like holds with the lowing
of cattle. Nor is it otherwise with poultry. The quacking of ducks
indicates general satisfaction, and the screams occasionally vented by
a flock of geese seem rather to express a wave of social excitement
than anything else. Save after laying an egg, when the sounds have
the character of triumph, the cluckings of a hen show content; and on
various occasions cock-crowing apparently implies good spirits only.
In all cases an overflow of nervous energy has to find vent; and while
in some cases it leads to wagging of the tail, in others it leads to
contraction of the vocal muscles. That this relation holds, not of one
kind of feeling, but of many kinds, is a truth which seems to me at
variance with the view “that the vocal organs were primarily used and
perfected in relation to the propagation of the species.”

The hypothesis that music had its origin in the amatory sounds made
by the male to charm the female, has the support of the popular idea
that the singing of birds constitutes a kind of courtship—an idea
adopted by Mr. Darwin when he says that “the male pours forth his
full volume of song, in rivalry with other males, for the sake of
captivating the female.” Usually, Mr. Darwin does not accept without
criticism and verification, the beliefs he finds current; but in this
case he seems to have done so. Even cursory observation suffices to
dissipate this belief, initiated, I suppose, by poets. In preparation
for dealing with the matter I have made memoranda concerning various
songbirds, dating back to 1883. On the 7th of February of that year I
heard a lark singing several times; and, still more remarkably, during
the mild winter of 1884 I saw one soar, and heard it sing, on the
10th January. Yet the lark does not pair till March. Having heard the
redbreast near the close of August, 1888, I noted the continuance of
its song all through the autumn and winter, up to Christmas {430} eve,
Christmas day, the 29th of December, and again on the 18th January,
1889. How common is the singing of the thrush during mild weather in
winter, everyone must have observed. The presence of thrushes behind my
house has led to the making of notes on this point. The male sang in
November, 1889; I noted the song again on Christmas eve, again on the
13th January, 1890, and from time to time all through the rest of that
month. I heard little of his song in February, which is the pairing
season; and none at all, save a few notes early in the morning, during
the period of rearing the young. But now that, in the middle of May,
the young, reared in a nest in my garden, have sometime since flown,
he has recommenced singing vociferously at intervals throughout the
day; and doubtless, in conformity with what I have observed elsewhere,
will go on singing till July. How marked is the direct relation between
singing and the conditions which cause high spirits, is perhaps best
shown by a fact I noted on the 4th December, 1888, when, the day being
not only mild but bright, the copses on Holmwood Common, Dorking,
were vocal just as on a spring day, with a chorus of birds of various
kinds—robins, thrushes, chaffinches, linnets, and sundry others of
which I did not know the names. Ornithological works furnish verifying
statements. Wood states that the hedge-sparrow continues “to sing
throughout a large portion of the year, and only ceasing during the
time of the ordinary moult.” The song of the blackcap, he says, “is
hardly suspended throughout the year;” and of caged birds which sing
continuously, save when moulting, he names the grosbeak, the linnet,
the goldfinch, and the siskin.

I think these facts show that the popular idea adopted by Mr. Darwin
is untenable. What then is the true interpretation? Simply that like
the whistling and humming of tunes by boys and men, the singing of
birds results from overflow of energy—an overflow which in both cases
{431} ceases under depressing conditions. The relation between
courtship and singing, so far as it can be shown to hold, is not a
relation of cause and effect, but a relation of concomitance: the two
are simultaneous results of the same cause. Throughout the animal
kingdom at large, the commencement of reproduction is associated with
an excess of those absorbed materials needful for self-maintenance;
and with a consequent ability to devote a part to the maintenance of
the species. This constitutional state is one with which there goes a
tendency to superfluous expenditure in various forms of action—unusual
vivacity of every kind, including vocal vivacity. While we thus see
why pairing and singing come to be associated, we also see why there
is singing at other times when the feeding and weather are favourable;
and why, in some cases, as in those of the thrush and the robin, there
is more singing after the breeding season than before or during the
breeding season. We are shown, too, why these birds, and especially the
thrush, so often sing in the winter: the supply of worms on lawns and
in gardens being habitually utilized by both, and thrushes having the
further advantage that they are strong enough to break the shells of
the hybernating snails: this last ability being connected with the fact
that thrushes and blackbirds are the first among the singing birds to
build. It remains only to add that the alleged singing of males against
one another with the view of charming the females is open to parallel
criticisms. How far this competition happens during the pairing season
I have not observed, but it certainly happens out of the pairing
season. I have several times heard blackbirds singing alternately in
June. But the most conspicuous instance is supplied by the redbreasts.
These habitually sing against one another during the autumn months:
reply and rejoinder being commonly continued for five minutes at a time.

Even did the evidence support the popular view, adopted {432} by Mr.
Darwin, that the singing of birds is a kind of courtship—even were
there good proof, instead of much disproof, that a bird’s song is a
developed form of the sexual sounds made by the male to charm the
female; the conclusion would, I think, do little towards justifying
the belief that human music has had a kindred origin. For, in the
first place, the bird-type in general, developed as it is out of
the reptilian type, is very remotely related to that type of the
_Vertebrata_ which ascends to Man as its highest exemplar; and, in the
second place, song-birds belong, with but few exceptions, to the single
order of _Insessores_—one order only, of the many orders constituting
the class. So that, if the _Vertebrata_ at large be represented by a
tree, of which Man is the topmost twig, then it is at a considerable
distance down the trunk that there diverges the branch from which
the bird-type is derived; and the group of singing-birds forms but a
terminal sub-division of this branch—lies far out of the ascending
line which ends in Man. To give appreciable support to Mr. Darwin’s
view, we ought to find vocal manifestations of the amatory feeling
becoming more pronounced as we ascend along that particular line of
inferior _Vertebrata_ out of which Man has arisen. Just as we find
other traits which pre-figure human traits (instance arms and hands
adapted for grasping) becoming more marked as we approach Man; so
should we find, becoming more marked, this sexual use of the voice,
which is supposed to end in human song. But we do not find this. The
South-American monkeys (“the Howlers,” as they are sometimes called),
which, in chorus, make the woods resound for hours together with their
“dreadful concert,” appear, according to Rengger, to be prompted by
no other desire than that of making a noise. Mr. Darwin admits, too,
that this is generally the case with the gibbons: the only exception
he is inclined to make being in the case of _Hylobates agilis_, which,
on the testimony of Mr. Waterhouse, he says ascends and descends the
scale by {433} half-tones.[58] This comparatively musical set of
sounds, he thinks, may be used to charm the female; though there is no
evidence forthcoming that this is the case. When we remember that in
the forms nearest to the human—the chimpanzees and the gorilla—there is
nothing which approaches even thus far towards musical utterance, we
see that the hypothesis has next to none of that support which ought to
be forthcoming. Indeed in his _Descent of Man_, vol. ii., p. 332, Mr.
Darwin himself says:—“It is a surprising fact that we have not as yet
any good evidence that these organs are used by male mammals to charm
the females:” an admission which amounts to something like a surrender.

Even more marked is the absence of proof when we come to the human
race itself—or rather, not absence of proof but presence of disproof.
Here, from the _Descriptive Sociology_, where the authorities will be
found under the respective heads, I quote a number of testimonies of
travellers concerning primitive music: commencing with those referring
to the lowest races.

“The songs of the natives [of Australia] . . . are chiefly made on
the spur of the moment, and refer to something that has struck the
attention at the time.” “The Watchandies seeing me much interested
in the genus Eucalyptus soon composed a song on this subject.” The
Fuegians are fond of music and generally sing in their boats, doubtless
keeping time, as many primitive peoples do. “The principal subject
of the songs of the Araucanians is the exploits of their heroes:”
when at work their “song was simple, referring mostly to their
labour,” and was the same “for every {434} occasion, whether the
burden of the song be joy or sorrow.” The Greenlanders sing of “their
exploits in the chase” and “chant the deeds of their ancestors.” “The
Indians of the Upper Mississippi vocalize an incident, as—‘They have
brought us a fat dog,’:” then the chorus goes on for a minute. Of
other North-American Indians we read—“the air which the women sang
was pleasing . . . the men first gave out the words, which formed
a consummate glorification of themselves.” Among the Carriers (of
North America) there are professed composers, who “turn their talent
to good account on the occasion of a feast, when new airs are in
great request.” Of the New Zealanders we read:—“The singing of such
compositions [laments] resembles cathedral chanting.” “Passing events
are described by extemporaneous songs, which are preserved when good.”
“When men worked together appropriate airs were sung.” When presenting
a meal to travellers, women would chant—“What shall be our food? shell
fish and fern-root, that is the root of the earth.” Among the Sandwich
Islanders “most of the traditions of remarkable events in their history
are preserved in songs.” When taught reading they could not “recite a
lesson without chanting or singing it.” Cook found the Tahitians had
itinerant musicians who gave narrative chants quite unpremeditated. “A
Samoan can hardly put his paddle in the water without striking up some
chant.” A chief of the Kyans, “Tamawan, jumped up and while standing
burst out into an extempore song, in which Sir James Brooke and myself,
and last not least the wonderful steamer, was mentioned with warm
eulogies.” In East Africa “the fisherman will accompany his paddle,
the porter his trudge, and the housewife her task of rubbing down
grain, with song.” In singing, the East African “contents himself with
improvising a few words without sense or rhyme and repeats them till
they nauseate,” Among the Dahomans any incident “from the arrival of
a stranger to an {435} earthquake” is turned into a song. When rowing,
the Coast-negroes sing “either a description of some love intrigue or
the praise of some woman celebrated for her beauty.” In Loango “the
women as they till the field make it echo with their rustic songs.”
Park says of the Bambarran—“they lightened their labours by songs,
one of which was composed extempore; for I was myself the subject of
it.” “In some parts of Africa nothing is done except to the sound of
music.” “They are very expert in adapting the subjects of these songs
to current events.” The Malays “amuse all their leisure hours . . .
with the repetition of songs, which are for the most part proverbs
illustrated. . . . Some that they rehearse in a kind of recitative
at their _bimbangs_ or feasts are historical love-tales.” A Sumatran
maiden will sometimes begin a tender song and be answered by one of the
young men. The ballads of the Kamtschadales are “inspired apparently by
grief, love, or domestic feeling;” and their music conveys “a sensation
of sorrow and vague, unavailing regret.” Of their love-songs it is said
“the women generally compose them.” A Kirghiz “singer sits on one knee
and sings in an unnatural tone of voice, his lay being usually of an
amorous character.” Of the Yakuts we are told “their style of singing
is monotonous . . . their songs described the beauty of the landscape
in terms which appeared to me exaggerated.”

In these statements, which, omitting repetitions, are all which the
_Descriptive Sociology_ contains relevant to the issue, several
striking facts are manifest. Among the lowest races the only musical
utterances named are those which refer to the incidents of the
moment, and seem prompted by feelings which those incidents produce.
The derivation of song or chant from emotional speech in general,
thus suggested, is similarly suggested by the habits of many higher
races; for they, too, show us that the musically-expressed feelings
relevant to the immediate occasion, or to past occasions, are feelings
of various kinds: now of simple good {436} spirits and now of joy
or triumph—now of surprise, praise, admiration, and now of sorrow,
melancholy, regret. Only among certain of the more advanced races, as
the semi-civilized Malays and peoples of Northern Asia, do we read of
love-songs; and then, strange to say, these are mentioned as mostly
coming, not from men, but from women. Out of all the testimonies there
is not one which tells of a love-song spontaneously commenced by a man
to charm a woman. Entirely absent among the rudest types and many of
the more developed types, amatory musical utterance, where first found,
is found under a form opposite to that which Mr. Darwin’s hypothesis
implies; and we have to seek among civilized peoples before we meet, in
serenades and the like, music of the kind which, according to his view,
should be the earliest.[59]

Even were his view countenanced by the facts, there would remain
unexplained the process by which sexually-excited sounds have been
evolved into music. In the foregoing essay I have indicated the various
qualities, relations, and combinations of tones, spontaneously prompted
by emotions of all kinds, which exhibit, in undeveloped forms, the
traits of recitative and melody. To have reduced his hypothesis to a
shape admitting of comparison, Mr. Darwin should have shown that the
sounds excited by sexual emotions possess these same traits; and, to
have proved that his hypothesis is the more tenable, should have shown
that they possess these same traits in a greater degree. But he has not
attempted to do this. He has simply suggested that instead of having
its roots in the vocal sounds caused by feelings of all kinds, music
has its roots in the vocal {437} sounds caused by the amatory feeling
only: giving no reason why the effects of the feelings at large should
be ignored, and the effects of one particular feeling alone recognized.

       *       *       *       *       *

Nineteen years after my essay on “The Origin and Function of Music” was
published, Mr. Edmund Gurney criticized it in an article which made its
appearance in the _Fortnightly Review_ for July 1876. Absorption in
more important work prevented me from replying. Though, some ten years
ago, I thought of defending my views against those of Mr. Darwin and
Mr. Gurney, the occurrence of Mr. Darwin’s death obliged me to postpone
for a time any discussion of his views; and then, the more recent
unfortunate death of Mr. Gurney caused a further postponement. I must
now, however, say that which seems needful, though there is no longer
any possibility of a rejoinder from him.

Some parts of Mr. Gurney’s criticism I have already answered by
implication; for he adopts the hypothesis that music originated in
the vocal utterances prompted by sexual feeling. To the reasons above
given for rejecting this hypothesis, I will add here, what I might have
added above, that it is at variance with one of the fundamental laws of
evolution. All development proceeds from the general to the special.
First there appear those traits which a thing has in common with many
other things; then those traits which it has in common with a smaller
class of things; and so on until there eventually arise those traits
which distinguish it from everything else. The genesis which I have
described conforms to this fundamental law. It posits the antecedent
fact that feeling in general produces muscular contraction in general;
and the less general fact that feeling in general produces, among other
muscular contractions, those which move the respiratory and vocal
apparatus. With these it joins the still less general fact that sounds
indicative of feelings vary in sundry {438} respects according to the
intensity of the feelings; and then enumerates the still less general
facts which show us the kinship between the vocal manifestations of
feeling and the characters of vocal music: the implication being that
there has gone on a progressive specialization. But the view which
Mr. Gurney adopts from Mr. Darwin is that from the special actions
producing the special sounds accompanying sexual excitement, were
evolved those various actions producing the various sounds which
accompany all other feelings. Vocal expression of a particular emotion
came first, and from this proceeded vocal expressions of emotions in
general: the order of evolution was reversed.

To deficient knowledge of the laws of evolution are due sundry of Mr.
Gurney’s objections. He makes a cardinal error in assuming that a more
evolved thing is distinguished from less evolved things in respect
of _all_ the various traits of evolution; whereas, very generally, a
higher degree of evolution in some or most respects, is accompanied
by an equal or lower degree of evolution in other respects. On the
average, increase of locomotive power goes along with advance of
evolution; and yet numerous mammals are more fleet than man. The stage
of development is largely indicated by degree of intelligence; and
yet the more intelligent parrot is inferior in vision, in speed, and
in destructive appliances, to the less-intelligent hawk. The contrast
between birds and mammals well illustrates the general truth. A
bird’s skeleton diverges more widely from the skeleton of the lower
vertebrates in respect of heterogeneity than does the skeleton of a
mammal; and the bird has a more developed respiratory system, as well
as a higher temperature of blood, and a superior power of locomotion.
Nevertheless, many mammals in respect of bulk, in respect of various
appliances (especially for prehension), and in respect of intelligence,
are more evolved than birds. Thus it is obviously a mistake to assume
that whatever is more {439} highly evolved in general character is
more highly evolved in every trait.

Of Mr. Gurney’s several objections which are based on this mistake here
is an example. He says—“Loudness though a frequent is by no means a
universal or essential element, either of song or of emotional speech”
(p. 107). Under one of its aspects this criticism is self-destructive;
for if, though both relatively loud in most cases, song and emotional
speech are both characterized by the occasional use of subdued tones,
then this is a further point of kinship between them—a kinship which
Mr. Gurney seeks to disprove. Under its other aspect this criticism
implies the above-described misconception. If in a song, or rather
in some part or parts of a song, the trait of loudness is absent,
while the other traits of developed emotional utterance are present,
it simply illustrates the truth that the traits of a highly-evolved
product are frequently not all present together.

A like answer is at hand to the next objection he makes. It runs thus:―

 “In the recitative which he [Mr. Spencer] himself considers naturally
 and historically a step between speech and song, the rapid variation
 of pitch is impossible, and such recitative is distinguished from the
 tones even of common speech precisely by being more monotonous” (p.

But Mr. Gurney overlooks the fact that while, in recitative, some
traits of developed emotional utterance are not present, two of its
traits are present. One is that greater resonance of tone, caused by
greater contraction of the vocal chords, which distinguishes it from
ordinary speech. The other is the relative elevation of pitch, or
divergence from the medium tones of voice: a trait similarly implying
greater strain of certain vocal muscles, resulting from stronger

Another difficulty raised by Mr. Gurney he would probably not have set
down had he been aware that one character of musical utterance which
he thinks {440} distinctive, is a character of all phenomena into
which motion enters as a factor. He says:—“Now no one can suppose that
the sense of rhythm can be derived from emotional speech” (p. 110).
Had he referred to the chapter on “The Rhythm of Motion” in _First
Principles_, he would have seen that, in common with inorganic actions,
all organic actions are completely or partially rhythmical—from
appetite and sleep to inspirations and heart-beats; from the winking
of the eyes to the contractions of the intestines; from the motions
of the legs to discharges through the nerves. Having contemplated
such facts he would have seen that the rhythmical tendency which is
perfectly displayed in musical utterance, is imperfectly displayed in
emotional speech. Just as under emotion we see swayings of the body and
wringings of the hands, so do we see contractions of the vocal organs
which are now stronger and now weaker. Surely it is manifest that the
utterances of passion, far from being monotonous, are characterized by
rapidly-recurring ascents and descents of tone and by rapidly-recurring
emphases: there is rhythm, though it is an irregular rhythm.

Want of knowledge of the principles of evolution has, in another place,
led Mr. Gurney to represent as an objection what is in reality a
verification. He says:―

 “Music is distinguished from emotional speech in that it proceeds not
 only by fixed degrees in time, but by fixed degrees in the scale. This
 is a constant quality through all the immense quantity of embryo and
 developed scale-systems that have been used; whereas the transitions
 of pitch which mark emotional affections of voice are, as Helmholtz
 has pointed out, of a gliding character” (p. 113).

Had Mr. Gurney known that evolution in all cases is from the indefinite
to the definite, he would have seen that as a matter of course the
gradations of emotional speech must be indefinite in comparison with
the gradations of developed music. Progress from the one to the
other is in part _constituted_ by increasing definiteness in the
time-intervals and increasing definiteness in the tone-intervals.
Were it {441} otherwise, the hypothesis I have set forth would lack
one of its evidences. To his allegation that not only the “developed
scale-systems” but also the “embryo” scale-systems are definite, it
may obviously be replied that the mere existence of any scale-system
capable of being written down, implies that the earlier stage of
the progress has already been passed through. To have risen to a
scale-system is to have become definite; and until a scale-system has
been reached vocal phrases cannot have been recorded. Moreover had Mr.
Gurney remembered that there are many people with musical perceptions
so imperfect that when making their merely recognizable, and sometimes
hardly recognizable, attempts to whistle or hum melodies, they show
how vague are their appreciations of musical intervals, he would have
seen reason for doubting his assumption that definite scales were
reached all at once. The fact that in what we call bad ears there
are all degrees of imperfection, joined with the fact that where the
imperfection is not great practice may remedy it, suffice of themselves
to show that definite perceptions of musical intervals were reached by

Some of Mr. Gurney’s objections are strangely insubstantial. Here is an

 “The fact is that song, which moreover in our time is but a limited
 branch of music, is perpetually making conscious efforts; for
 instance, the most peaceful melody may be a considerable strain to a
 soprano voice, if sung in a very high register: while speech continues
 to obey in a natural way the physiological laws of emotion” (p. 117).

That in exaggerating and emphasizing the traits of emotional speech,
the singer should be led to make “conscious efforts” is surely natural
enough. What would Mr. Gurney have said of dancing? He would scarcely
have denied that saltatory movements often result spontaneously from
excited feeling; and he could hardly have doubted that primitive
dancing arose as a systematized form of such movements. Would he
have considered the belief that stage-dancing is evolved from these
spontaneous movements {442} to be negatived by the fact that a
stage-dancer’s bounds and gyrations are made with “conscious efforts”?

In his elaborate work on _The Power of Sound_, Mr. Gurney, repeating in
other forms the objections I have above dealt with, adds to them some
others. One of these, which appears at first sight to have much weight,
I must not pass by. He thus expresses it.

 “Any one may convince himself that not only are the intervals used
 in emotional speech very large, twelve diatonic notes being quite an
 ordinary skip, but that he uses extremes of both high and low pitch
 with his speaking voice, which, if he tries to dwell on them and make
 them resonant, will be found to lie beyond the compass of his singing
 voice” (p. 479).

Now the part of my hypothesis which Mr. Gurney here combats is that,
as in emotional speech so in song, feeling, by causing muscular
contractions, causes divergencies from the middle tones of the voice,
which become wider as it increases; and that this fact supports the
belief that song is developed from emotional speech. To this Mr.
Gurney thinks it a conclusive answer that higher notes are used by the
speaking voice than by the singing voice. But if, as his words imply,
there is a physical impediment to the production of notes in the one
voice as high as those in the other, then my argument is justified if,
in either voice, extremes of feeling are shown by extremes of pitch.
If, for example, the celebrated _ut de poitrine_ with which Tamberlik
brought down the house in one of the scenes of William Tell, was
recognized as expressing the greatest intensity of martial patriotism,
my position is warranted, even though in his speaking voice he could
have produced a still higher note.

Of answers to Mr. Gurney’s objections the two most effective are
suggested by the passage in which he sums up his conclusions. Here are
his words.

  “It is enough to recall how every consideration tended to the same
 result; that the oak grew from the acorn; that the musical faculty
 and pleasure, which have to do with music and nothing else, are the
 representatives and {443} linear descendants of a faculty and pleasure
 which were musical and nothing else; and that, however rudely and
 tentatively applied to speech, Music was a _separate order_” (p. 492).

Thus, then, it is implied that the true germs of music stand towards
developed music as the acorn to the oak. Now suppose we ask—How many
traits of the oak are to be found in the acorn? Next to none. And then
suppose we ask—How many traits of music are to be found in the tones of
emotional speech? Very many. Yet while Mr. Gurney thinks that music had
its origin in something which might have been as unlike it as the acorn
is unlike the oak, he rejects the theory that it had its origin in
something as much like it as the cadences of emotional speech; and he
does this because there are sundry differences between the characters
of speech-cadences and the characters of music. In the one case he
tacitly assumes a great unlikeness between germ and product; while
in the other case he objects because germ and product are not in all
respects similar!

I may end by pointing out how extremely improbable, _a priori_, is Mr.
Gurney’s conception. He admits, as perforce he must, that emotional
speech has various traits in common with recitative and song—relatively
greater resonance, relatively greater loudness, more marked divergences
from medium tones, the use of the extremes of pitch in signifying the
extremes of feeling, and so on. But, denying that the one is derived
from the others, he implies that these kindred groups of traits have
had independent origins. Two sets of peculiarities in the use of the
voice which show various kinships, have nothing to do with one another!
I think it merely requires to put the proposition in this shape to see
how incredible it is.

       *       *       *       *       *

Sundry objections to the views contained in the essay on “The Origin
and Function of Music,” have arisen from misconception of its scope.
An endeavour to explain the _origin_ of music, has been dealt with
as though it were a theory of music in its entirety. An hypothesis
{444} concerning the rudiments has been rejected because it did not
account for everything contained in the developed product. To preclude
this misapprehension for the future, and to show how much more is
comprehended in a theory of music than I professed to deal with, let me
enumerate the several components of musical effect. They may properly
be divided into _sensational_, _perceptional_, and _emotional_.

That the sensational pleasure is distinguishable from the other
pleasures which music yields, will not be questioned. A sweet sound
is agreeable in itself, when heard out of relation to other sounds.
Tones of various _timbres_, too, are severally appreciated as having
their special beauties. Of further elements in the sensational pleasure
have to be named those which result from certain congruities between
notes and immediately succeeding notes. This pleasure, like the primary
pleasure which fine quality yields, appears to have a purely physical
basis. We know that the agreeableness of simultaneous tones depends
partly on the relative frequency of recurring correspondences of the
vibrations producing them, and partly on the relative infrequency
of beats, and we may suspect that there is a kindred cause for the
agreeableness of successive tones; since the auditory apparatus which
has been at one instant vibrating in a particular manner, will take
up certain succeeding vibrations more readily than others. Evidently
it is a question of the _degree_ of congruity; for the most congruous
vibrations, those of the octaves, yield less pleasure when heard in
succession than those of which the congruity is not so great. To
obtain the greatest pleasure in this and other things, there requires
both likeness and difference. Recognition of this fact introduces us
to the next element of sensational pleasure—that due to contrast;
including contrast of pitch, of loudness, and of _timbre_. In this
case, as in other cases, the disagreeableness caused by frequent
repetition of the same sensation (here literally called “monotony”)
results from the exhaustion which any single {445} nervous agent
undergoes from perpetual stimulation; and contrast gives pleasure
because it implies action of an agent which has had rest. It follows
that much of the sensational pleasure to be obtained from music depends
on such adjustments of sounds as bring into play, without conflict,
many nervous elements: exercising all and not overexerting any. We
must not overlook a concomitant effect. With the agreeable sensation
is joined a faint emotion of an agreeable kind. Beyond the simple
definite pleasure yielded by a sweet tone, there is a vague, diffused
pleasure. As indicated in the _Principles of Psychology_ (§ 537),
each nervous excitation produces reverberation throughout the nervous
system at large; and probably this indefinite emotional pleasure is
a consequence. Doubtless some shape is given to it by association.
But after observing how much there is in common between the diffused
feeling aroused by smelling at a deliciously scented flower and that
aroused by listening to a sweet tone, it will, I think, be perceived
that the more general cause predominates.

The division between the sensational effects and the perceptional
effects is of course indefinite. As above implied, part of the
sensational pleasure depends on the relation between each tone and the
succeeding tone; and hence this pleasure gradually merges into that
which arises from perceiving the structural connexions between the
phrases and between the larger parts of musical compositions. Much
of the gratification given by a melody consists in the consciousness
of the relations between each group of sounds heard and the groups
of sounds held in memory as having just passed, as well as those
represented as about to come. In many cases the passage listened
to would not be regarded as having any beauty were it not for its
remembered connexions with passages in the immediate past and the
immediate future. If, for example, from the first movement of
Beethoven’s Funeral-March sonata the first five notes are detached,
they appear to be meaningless; {446} but if, the movement being known,
they are joined with imaginations of the anticipated phrases, they
immediately acquire meaning and beauty. Indefinable as are the causes
of this perceptional pleasure in many cases, some causes of it are
definable. Symmetry is one. A chief element in melodic effect results
from repetitions of phrases which are either identical, or differ
only in pitch, or differ only in minor variations: there being in the
first case the pleasure derived from perception of complete likeness,
and in the other cases the greater pleasure derived from perception
of likeness with difference—a perception which is more involved, and
therefore exercises a greater number of nervous agents. Next comes, as
a source of gratification, the consciousness of pronounced unlikeness
or contrast; such as that between passages above the middle tones and
passages below, or as that between ascending phrases and descending
phrases. And then we rise to larger contrasts; as when, the first theme
in a melody having been elaborated, there is introduced another having
a certain kinship though in many respects different, after which there
is a return to the first theme: a structure which yields more extensive
and more complex perceptions of both differences and likenesses. But
while perceptional pleasures include much that is of the highest, they
also include much that is of the lowest. A certain kind of interest, if
not of beauty, is producible by the likenesses and contrasts of musical
phrases which are intrinsically meaningless or even ugly. A familiar
experience exemplifies this. If a piece of paper is folded and on one
side of the crease there is drawn an irregular line in ink, which,
by closing the paper, is blotted on the opposite side of the crease,
there results a figure which, in virtue of its symmetry, has some
beauty; no matter how entirely without beauty the two lines themselves
may be. Similarly, some interest results from the parallelism of
musical phrases, notwithstanding utter lack of interest in the
phrases themselves. The kind of interest {447} resulting from such
parallelisms, and from many contrasts, irrespective of any intrinsic
worth in their components, is that which is most appreciated by the
musically-uncultured, and gives popularity to miserable drawing-room
ballads and vulgar music-hall songs.

The remaining element of musical effect consists in the idealized
rendering of emotion. This, as I have sought to show, is the primitive
element, and will ever continue to be the vital element; for if “melody
is the soul of music,” then expression is the soul of melody—the
soul without which it is mechanical and meaningless, whatever may
be the merit of its form. This primitive element may with tolerable
clearness be distinguished from the other elements, and may coexist
with them in various degrees: in some cases being the predominant
element. Anyone who, in analytical mood, listens to such a song as
_Robert, toi que j’aime_, cannot, I think, fail to perceive that its
effectiveness depends on the way in which it exalts and intensifies
the traits of passionate utterance. No doubt as music develops, the
emotional element (which affects structure chiefly through the forms
of phrases) is increasingly complicated with, and obscured by, the
perceptional element; which both modifies these phrases and unites them
into symmetrical and contrasted combinations. But though the groups
of notes which emotion prompts admit of elaboration into structures
that have additional charms due to artfully-arranged contrasts and
repetitions, the essential element is liable to be thus submerged in
the non-essential. Only in melodies of high types, such as the _Addio_
of Mozart and _Adelaide_ of Beethoven, do we see the two requirements
simultaneously fulfilled. Musical genius is shown in achieving the
decorative beauty without losing the beauty of emotional meaning.

It goes without saying that there must be otherwise accounted for
that relatively modern element in musical effect which has now almost
outgrown in importance the {448} other elements—I mean harmony. This
cannot be affiliated on the natural language of emotion; since, in
such language, limited to successive tones, there cannot originate
the effects wrought by simultaneous tones. Dependent as harmony is on
relations among rates of aerial pulses, its primary basis is purely
mechanical; and its secondary basis lies in the compound vibrations
which certain combinations of mechanical rhythms cause in the
auditory apparatus. The resulting pleasure must, therefore, be due
to nervous excitations of kinds which, by their congruity, exalt one
another; and thus generate a larger volume of agreeable sensation. A
further pleasure of sensational origin which harmony yields is due to
contrapuntal effects. Skilful counterpoint has the general character
that it does not repeat in immediate succession similar combinations of
tones and similar directions of change; and by thus avoiding temporary
over-tax of the nervous structures brought into action, keeps them in
better condition for subsequent action. Absence of regard for this
requirement characterizes the music of Gluck, of whom Handel said—“He
knows no more counterpoint than my cook;” and it is this disregard
which produces its cloying character. Respecting the effects of harmony
I will add only that the vague emotional accompaniment to the sensation
produced by a single sweet tone, is paralleled by the stronger
emotional accompaniment to the more voluminous and complex sensation
produced by a fine chord. Clearly this vague emotion forms a large
component in the pleasure which harmony gives.

While thus recognizing, and indeed emphasizing, the fact that of many
traits of developed music my hypothesis respecting the origin of music
yields no explanation, let me point out that this hypothesis gains a
further general support from its conformity to the law of evolution.
Progressive integration is seen in the immense contrast between the
small combinations of tones constituting a cadence of grief, or anger,
or triumph, and the vast combinations of {449} tones, simultaneous
and successive, constituting an oratorio. Great advance in coherence
becomes manifest when, from the lax unions among the sounds in which
feeling spontaneously expresses itself, or even from those few musical
phrases which constitute a simple air, we pass to those elaborate
compositions in which portions small and large are tied together into
extended organic wholes. On comparing the unpremeditated inflexions
of the voice in emotional speech, vague in tones and times, with
those premeditated ones which the musician arranges for stage or
concert room, in which the divisions of time are exactly measured, the
successive intervals precise, and the harmonies adjusted to a nicety,
we observe in the last a far higher definiteness. And immense progress
in heterogeneity is seen on putting side by side the monotonous chants
of savages with the musical compositions familiar to us; each of which
is relatively heterogeneous within itself, and the assemblage of which
forms an immeasurably heterogeneous aggregate.

       *       *       *       *       *

Strong support for the theory enunciated in this essay, and defended
in the foregoing paragraphs, is furnished by the testimonies of two
travellers in Hungary, given in works published in 1878 and 1888
respectively. Here is an extract from the first of the two.

 “Music is an instinct with these Hungarian gipsies. They play by
 ear, and with a marvellous precision, not surpassed by musicians
 who have been subject to the most careful training. . . . The airs
 they play are most frequently compositions of their own, and are in
 character quite peculiar. . . I heard on this occasion one of the
 gipsy airs which made an indelible impression on my mind; it seemed
 to me the thrilling utterance of a people’s history. There was the
 low wail of sorrow, of troubled passionate grief, stirring the heart
 to restlessness, then the sense of turmoil and defeat; but upon this
 breaks suddenly a wild burst of exultation, of rapturous joy—a triumph
 achieved, which hurries you along with it in resistless sympathy.
 The excitable Hungarians can literally become intoxicated with this
 music—and no wonder. You cannot reason upon it, or explain it, but its
 strains compel you to sensations of despair and joy, of exultation
 and excitement, as though under the influence of some potent
 charm.”—_Round about the Carpathians_, by Andrew F. Crosse, pp. 11,
 12. {450}

Still more graphic and startling is the description given by a more
recent traveller, E. Gerard.

  “Devoid of printed notes, the Tzigane is not forced to divide his
 attention between a sheet of paper and his instrument, and there is
 consequently nothing to detract from the utter abandonment with which
 he absorbs himself in his playing. He seems to be sunk in an inner
 world of his own; the instrument sobs and moans in his hands, and is
 pressed tight against his heart as though it had grown and taken root
 there. This is the true moment of inspiration, to which he rarely
 gives way, and then only in the privacy of an intimate circle, never
 before a numerous and unsympathetic audience. Himself spell-bound by
 the power of the tones he evokes, his head gradually sinking lower
 and lower over the instrument, the body bent forward in an attitude
 of rapt attention, and his ear seeming to hearken to far-off ghostly
 strains audible to himself alone, the untaught Tzigane achieves a
 perfection of expression unattainable by mere professional training.

 This power of identification with his music is the real secret of
 the Tzigane’s influence over his audience. Inspired and carried away
 by his own strains, he must perforce carry his hearers with him as
 well; and the Hungarian listener throws himself heart and soul into
 this species of musical intoxication, which to him is the greatest
 delight on earth. There is a proverb which says, ‘The Hungarian only
 requires a gipsy fiddler and a glass of water in order to make him
 quite drunk;’ and, indeed, intoxication is the only word fittingly to
 describe the state of exaltation into which I have seen a Hungarian
 audience thrown by a gipsy band.

 Sometimes, under the combined influence of music and wine, the
 Tziganes become like creatures possessed; the wild cries and stamps of
 an equally excited audience only stimulate them to greater exertions.
 The whole atmosphere seems tossed by billows of passionate harmony;
 we seem to catch sight of the electric sparks of inspiration flying
 through the air. It is then that the Tzigane player gives forth
 everything that is secretly lurking within him—fierce anger, childish
 wailings, presumptuous exaltation, brooding melancholy, and passionate
 despair; and at such moments, as a Hungarian writer has said, one
 could readily believe in his power of drawing down the angels from
 heaven into hell!

 Listen how another Hungarian has here described the effect of their
 music:—‘How it rushes through the veins like electric fire! How it
 penetrates straight to the soul! In soft plaintive minor tones the
 _adagio_ opens with a slow rhythmical movement: it is a sighing
 and longing of unsatisfied aspirations; a craving for undiscovered
 happiness; the lover’s yearning for the object of his affection; the
 expression of mourning for lost joys, for happy days gone for ever;
 then abruptly changing to a major key, the tones get faster and more
 agitated; and from the whirlpool of harmony the melody gradually
 detaches itself, alternately drowned in the foam of overbreaking
 waves, to reappear floating on the surface with undulating
 motion—collecting as it were fresh power for a renewed burst of fury.
 But {451} quickly as the storm came it is gone again, and the music
 relapses into the melancholy yearnings of heretofore.’” _The Land
 beyond the Forest_, vol. II, pp. 122–4. Lond. 1888.

After the evidence thus furnished, argument is almost superfluous. The
origin of music as the developed language of emotion seems to be no
longer an inference but simply a description of the fact.


[56] Those who seek information on this point may find it in an
interesting tract by Mr. Alexander Bain, on _Animal Instinct and

[57] _The Music of the Most Ancient Nations, &c._, by Carl Engel. This
quotation is not contained in my essay as originally published, nor
in the version of it first reproduced in 1858. Herr Engel’s work was
issued in 1864, seven years after the date of the essay.

[58] It is far more probable that the ascents and descents made by
this gibbon consisted of indefinitely-slurred tones. To suppose that
each was a series of definite semi-tones strains belief to breaking
point; considering that among human beings the great majority, even of
those who have good ears, are unable to go up or down the chromatic
scale without being taught to do so. The achievement is one requiring
considerable practice; and that such an achievement should be
spontaneous on the part of a monkey is incredible.

[59] After the above paragraphs had been sent to the printers I
received from an American anthropologist, the Rev. Owen Dorsey, some
essays containing kindred evidence. Of over three dozen songs and
chants of the Omaha, Ponka, and other Indians, in some cases given
with music and in other cases without, there are but five which have
any reference to amatory feeling; and while in these the expression of
amatory feeling comes from women, nothing more than derision of them
comes from men.



[_First published in_ Macmillan’s Magazine _for March 1860._]

Why do we smile when a child puts on a man’s hat? or what induces us
to laugh on reading that the corpulent Gibbon was unable to rise from
his knees after making a tender declaration? The usual reply to such
questions is, that laughter results from a perception of incongruity.
Even were there not, on this reply, the obvious criticism that laughter
often occurs from extreme pleasure or from mere vivacity, there would
still remain the real problem—How comes a sense of the incongruous
to be followed by these peculiar bodily actions? Some have alleged
that laughter is due to the pleasure of a relative self-elevation,
which we feel on seeing the humiliation of others. But this theory,
whatever portion of truth it may contain, is, in the first place, open
to the fatal objection that there are various humiliations to others
which produce in us anything but laughter; and, in the second place,
it does not apply to the many instances in which no one’s dignity is
implicated: as when we laugh at a good pun. Moreover, like the other,
it is merely a generalization of certain conditions to laughter;
and not an explanation of the odd movements which occur under these
conditions. Why, when greatly delighted, or impressed with certain
unexpected contrasts {453} of ideas, should there be a contraction
of particular facial muscles and particular muscles of the chest and
abdomen? Such answer to this question as may be possible, can be
rendered only by physiology.

       *       *       *       *       *

Every child has made the attempt to hold the foot still while it
is tickled, and has failed; and there is scarcely any one who has
not vainly tried to avoid winking when a hand has been suddenly
passed before the eyes. These examples of muscular movements which
occur independently of the will, or in spite of it, illustrate
what physiologists call reflex-action; as likewise do sneezing and
coughing. To this class of cases, in which involuntary motions are
accompanied by sensations, has to be added another class of cases, in
which involuntary motions are unaccompanied by sensations:—instance
the pulsations of the heart; the contractions of the stomach during
digestion. Further, the majority of seemingly-voluntary acts in such
creatures as insects, worms, molluscs, are considered by physiologists
to be as purely automatic as is the dilatation or closure of the iris
under variations in the quantity of light; and similarly exemplify the
law, that an impression on the end of an afferent nerve is conveyed
to some ganglionic centre, and is thence usually reflected along an
efferent nerve to one or more muscles which it causes to contract.

In a modified form this principle holds with voluntary acts. Nervous
excitation always _tends_ to beget muscular motion; and when it rises
to a certain intensity always does beget it. Not only in reflex
actions, whether with or without sensation, do we see that special
nerves, when raised to states of tension, discharge themselves on
special muscles with which they are indirectly connected; but those
external actions through which we read the feelings of others, show us
that, under any considerable tension, the nervous system in general
discharges itself on the muscular system in general: either with or
without the {454} guidance of the will. The shivering produced by
cold implies irregular muscular contractions, which, though at first
only partly involuntary, become, when the cold is extreme, almost
wholly involuntary. When you have severely burnt your finger it is very
difficult to preserve a dignified composure: contortion of face, or
movement of limb, is pretty sure to follow. If a man receives good news
with neither facial change nor bodily motion, it is inferred that he
is not much pleased, or that he has extraordinary self-control: either
inference implying that joy almost universally produces contraction
of the muscles, and so, alters the expression, or attitude, or both.
And when we hear of the feats of strength which men have performed
when their lives were at stake—when we read how, in the energy of
despair, even paralyzed patients have regained for a time the use of
their limbs; we see still more clearly the relation between nervous
and muscular excitements. It becomes manifest both that emotions and
sensations tend to generate bodily movements, and that the movements
are violent in proportion as the emotions or sensations are intense.[60]

This, however, is not the sole direction in which nervous excitement
expends itself. Viscera as well as muscles may receive the discharge.
That the heart and blood-vessels (which, indeed, being all contractile,
may in a restricted sense be classed with the muscular system) are
quickly affected by pleasures and pains, we have daily proved to
us. Every sensation of any acuteness accelerates the pulse; and how
sensitive the heart is to emotions, is testified by the familiar
expressions which use heart and feeling as convertible terms. Similarly
with the digestive organs. Without detailing the various ways in which
these may be influenced by our mental states, it suffices to mention
the marked benefits derived by dyspeptics, as well as other invalids,
from cheerful society, welcome news, {455} change of scene, to show
how pleasurable feeling stimulates the viscera in general into greater

There is still another direction in which any excited portion of the
nervous system may discharge itself; and a direction in which it
usually does discharge itself when the excitement is not strong. It
may pass on the stimulus to some other portion of the nervous system.
This is what occurs in quiet thinking and feeling. The successive
states which constitute consciousness, result from this. Sensations
excite ideas and emotions; these in their turns arouse other ideas
and emotions; and so on continuously. That is to say, the tension
existing in particular nerve-centres, or groups of nerve-centres, when
they yield us certain sensations, ideas, or emotions, generates an
equivalent tension in some other nervous structures, with which there
is a connexion: the flow of energy passing on, the one idea or feeling
dies in producing the next.

Thus, then, while we are totally unable to comprehend how the
excitement of certain nerve-centres should generate feeling—while, in
the production of consciousness by physical agents acting on physical
structures, we come to a mystery never to be solved; it is yet quite
possible for us to know by observation what are the successive forms
which this mystery may take. We see that there are three channels along
which nerve-centres in a state of tension may discharge themselves; or
rather, I should say, three classes of channels. They may pass on the
excitement to other nerve-centres that have no direct connexions with
the bodily members, and may so cause other feelings and ideas; or they
may pass on the excitement to one or more motor nerves, and so cause
muscular contractions; or they may pass on the excitement to nerves
which supply the viscera, and may so stimulate one or more of these.

For simplicity’s sake I have described these as alternative routes,
one or other of which any current of nerve-force must take; thereby,
as it may be thought, implying that {456} such current will be
exclusively confined to some one of them. But this is by no means the
case. Rarely, if ever, does it happen that a state of nervous tension,
present to consciousness as a feeling, expends itself in one direction
only. Very generally it may be observed to expend itself in two; and
it is probable that the discharge is never absolutely absent from any
one of the three. There is, however, variety in the _proportions_ in
which the discharge is divided among these different channels under
different circumstances. In a man whose fear impels him to run, the
mental tension generated is only in part transformed into a muscular
stimulus: there is a surplus which causes a rapid current of ideas. An
agreeable state of feeling produced, say by praise, is not wholly used
up in arousing the succeeding phase of the feeling and the new ideas
appropriate to it; but a certain portion overflows into the visceral
nervous system, increasing the action of the heart and facilitating
digestion. And here we come upon a class of considerations and facts
which open the way to a solution of our special problem.

For, starting with the truth that at any moment the existing quantity
of liberated nerve-force which in an inscrutable way produces in us
the state we call feeling, _must_ expend itself in some direction, it
follows that, if of the several channels it may take, one is wholly or
partially closed, more must be taken by the others; or that if two are
closed, the discharge along the remaining one must be more intense; and
that, conversely, should anything determine an unusual efflux in one
direction, there will be a diminished efflux in other directions.

Daily experience illustrates these conclusions. It is commonly remarked
that the suppression of external signs of feeling, makes feeling more
intense. The deepest grief is silent grief. Why? Because the nervous
excitement not discharged in muscular action, discharges itself
in other nervous excitements—arouses more numerous and more {457}
remote associations of melancholy ideas, and so increases the mass
of feelings. People who conceal their anger are habitually found to
be more revengeful than those who explode in loud speech and vehement
action. Why? Because, as before, the emotion is reflected back,
accumulates, and intensifies. Similarly, men who, as proved by their
powers of representation, have the keenest appreciation of the comic,
are usually able to do and say the most ludicrous things with perfect

On the other hand, all are familiar with the truth that bodily activity
deadens emotion. Under great irritation we get relief by walking about
rapidly. Extreme effort in the bootless attempt to achieve a desired
end, greatly diminishes the intensity of the desire. Those who are
forced to exert themselves after misfortunes, do not suffer nearly
so much as those who remain quiescent. If any one wishes to check
intellectual excitement, he cannot choose a more efficient method
than running till he is exhausted. Moreover, these cases, in which
the production of feeling and thought is hindered by determining the
nervous energy towards bodily movements, have their counterparts in
the cases in which bodily movements are hindered by extra absorption
of nervous energy in sudden thoughts and feelings. If, when walking,
there flashes on you an idea that creates great surprise, hope, or
alarm, you stop; or if sitting cross-legged, swinging your pendent
foot, the movement is at once arrested. From the viscera, too, intense
mental action abstracts energy. Joy, disappointment, anxiety, or any
moral perturbation rising to a great height, destroys appetite; or, if
food has been taken, arrests digestion; and even a purely intellectual
activity, when extreme, does the like.

Facts, then, bear out these _a priori_ inferences, that the nervous
excitement at any moment present to consciousness as feeling, must
expend itself in some way or other; that of the three classes of
channels open to it, it must {458} take one, two, or more, according
to circumstances; that the closure or obstruction of one, must increase
the discharge through the others; and, conversely, that if, to answer
some demand, the efflux of nervous energy in one direction is unusually
great, there must be a corresponding decrease of the efflux in other
directions. Setting out from these premises, let us now see what
interpretation is to be put on the phenomena of laughter.

       *       *       *       *       *

That laughter is a form of muscular excitement, and so illustrates
the general law that feeling passing a certain pitch habitually vents
itself in bodily action, scarcely needs pointing out. It perhaps needs
pointing out, however, that strong feeling of almost any kind produces
this result. It is not a sense of the ludicrous, only, which does it;
nor are the various forms of joyous emotion the sole additional causes.
We have, besides, the sardonic laughter and the hysterical laughter
which result from mental distress; to which must be added certain
sensations, as tickling, and, according to Mr. Bain, cold, and some
kinds of acute pain.

Strong feeling, mental or physical, being, then, the general cause of
laughter, we have to note that the muscular actions constituting it
are distinguished from most others by this, that they are purposeless.
In general, bodily motions that are prompted by feelings are directed
to special ends; as when we try to escape a danger, or struggle to
secure a gratification. But the movements of chest and limbs which
we make when laughing have no object. And now remark that these
quasi-convulsive contractions of the muscles, having no object, but
being results of an uncontrolled discharge of energy, we may see whence
arise their special characters—how it happens that certain classes of
muscles are affected first, and then certain other classes. For an
overflow of nerve-force undirected by any motive, will manifestly take
first the {459} most habitual routes; and if these do not suffice,
will next overflow into the less habitual ones. Well, it is through the
organs of speech that feeling passes into movement with the greatest
frequency. The jaws, tongue, and lips are used not only to express
strong irritation or gratification, but that very moderate flow of
mental energy which accompanies ordinary conversation, finds its chief
vent through this channel. Hence it happens that certain muscles round
the mouth, small and easy to move, are the first to contract under
pleasurable emotion. The class of muscles which, next after those of
articulation, are most constantly set in action (or extra action, let
us say) by feelings of all kinds, are those of respiration. Under
pleasurable or painful sensations we breathe more rapidly: possibly
as a consequence of the increased demand for oxygenated blood. The
sensations that accompany exertion also bring on hard breathing; which
here more evidently responds to the physiological needs. And emotions,
too, agreeable and disagreeable, both, at first, excite respiration;
though the last subsequently depress it. That is to say, of the bodily
muscles, the respiratory are more constantly implicated than any others
in those various acts which our feelings impel us to; and, hence,
when there occurs an undirected discharge of nervous energy into the
muscular system, it happens that, if the quantity be considerable, it
convulses not only certain of the articulatory and vocal muscles, but
also those which expel air from the lungs. Should the feeling to be
expended be still greater in amount—too great to find vent in these
classes of muscles—another class comes into play. The upper limbs are
set in motion. Children frequently clap their hands in glee; by some
adults the hands are rubbed together; and others, under still greater
intensity of delight, slap their knees and sway their bodies backwards
and forwards. Last of all, when the other channels for the escape of
the surplus nerve-force have been filled to {460} overflowing, a yet
further and less-used group of muscles is spasmodically affected: the
head is thrown back and the spine bent inwards—there is a slight degree
of what medical men call opisthotonos. Thus, then, without contending
that the phenomena of laughter in all their details are to be so
accounted for, we see that in their _ensemble_ they conform to these
general principles:—that feeling excites to muscular action; that when
the muscular action is unguided by a purpose the muscles first affected
are those which feeling most habitually stimulates; and that as the
feeling to be expended increases in quantity it excites an increasing
number of muscles, in a succession determined by the relative frequency
with which they respond to the regulated dictates of feeling. To which
as a qualifying and complicating factor must be added the relative
sizes of the muscles; since, other things equal, the smaller muscles
will be moved more readily than the larger.

There still, however, remains the question with which we set out.
The explanation here given applies only to the laughter produced
by acute pleasure or pain: it does not apply to the laughter which
follows certain perceptions of incongruity. It is an insufficient
explanation that in these cases, laughter is a result of the pleasure
we take in escaping from the restraint of grave feelings. That this
is a part-cause is true. Doubtless very often, as Mr. Bain says, “it
is the coerced form of seriousness and solemnity without the reality
that gives us that stiff position from which a contact with triviality
or vulgarity relieves us, to our uproarious delight,” And in so far
as mirth is caused by the gush of agreeable feeling which follows
the cessation of unpleasant mental strain, it further illustrates
the general principle above set forth. But no explanation is thus
afforded of the mirth which ensues when the short silence between the
_andante_ and _allegro_ in one of Beethoven’s symphonies, is broken by
a loud sneeze. In this, and hosts of like cases, the mental tension
is not coerced but {461} spontaneous—not disagreeable but agreeable;
and the coming impressions to which attention is directed, promise a
gratification which few, if any, desire to escape. Hence, when the
unlucky sneeze occurs, it cannot be that the laughter of the audience
is due simply to the release from an irksome attitude of mind: some
other cause must be sought.

This cause we shall arrive at by carrying our analysis a step further.
We have but to consider the quantity of feeling which exists under such
circumstances, and then to ask what are the conditions determining the
direction of its discharge, to reach a solution. Take a case. You are
sitting in a theatre, absorbed in the progress of an interesting drama.
Some climax has been reached which has aroused your sympathies—say, a
reconciliation between the hero and heroine, after long and painful
misunderstanding. The feelings excited by this scene are not of a kind
from which you seek relief; but are, on the contrary, a grateful relief
from the painful feelings with which you have witnessed the previous
estrangement. Moreover, the sentiments these fictitious personages
have for the moment inspired you with, are not such as would lead you
to rejoice in any indignity offered to them; but rather, such as would
make you resent the indignity. And now, while you are contemplating the
reconciliation with a pleasurable sympathy, there appears from behind
the scenes a tame kid, which, having stared round at the audience,
walks up to the lovers and sniffs at them. You cannot help joining
in the roar which greets this _contretemps_. Inexplicable as is this
irresistible burst on the hypothesis of a pleasure in escaping from
mental restraint; or on the hypothesis of a pleasure from relative
increase of self-importance, when witnessing the humiliation of
others; it is readily explicable if we consider what, in such a case,
must become of the feeling that existed at the moment the incongruity
arose. A large mass of emotion had been produced; or, to speak in
physiological language, a large portion of the nervous {462} system
was in a state of tension. There was also great expectation with
respect to the further evolution of the scene—a quantity of vague,
nascent thought and emotion, into which the existing quantity of
thought and emotion was about to pass. Had there been no interruption,
the body of new ideas and feelings next excited, would have sufficed to
absorb the whole of the liberated nervous energy. But now, this large
amount of nervous energy, instead of being allowed to expend itself
in producing an equivalent amount of the new thoughts and emotions
which were nascent, is suddenly checked in its flow. The channels
along which the discharge was about to take place, are closed. The new
channel opened—that afforded by the appearance and proceedings of the
kid—is a small one; the ideas and feelings suggested are not numerous
and massive enough to carry off the nervous energy to be expended. The
excess must therefore discharge itself in some other direction; and in
the way already explained, there results an efflux through the motor
nerves to various classes of the muscles, producing the half-convulsive
actions we term laughter.

This explanation is in harmony with the fact that when, among several
persons who witness the same ludicrous occurrence, there are some
who do not laugh, it is because there has arisen in them an emotion
not participated in by the rest, and which is sufficiently massive
to absorb all the nascent excitement. Among the spectators of an
awkward tumble, those who preserve their gravity are those in whom
there is excited a degree of sympathy with the sufferer, sufficiently
great to serve as an outlet for the feeling which the occurrence had
turned out of its previous course. Sometimes anger carries off the
arrested current; and so prevents laughter. An instance of this was
lately furnished me by a friend who had been witnessing the feats at
Franconi’s. A tremendous leap had just been made by an acrobat over a
number of horses. The clown, seemingly envious of this success, made
ostentatious preparation for doing the like; {463} and then, taking
the preliminary run with immense energy, stopped short on reaching the
first horse, and pretended to wipe some dust from its haunches. In most
of the spectators, merriment was excited; but in my friend, wound up by
the expectation of the coming leap to a state of great nervous tension,
the effect of the baulk was to produce indignation. Experience thus
proves what the theory implies; namely, that the discharge of arrested
feelings into the muscular system, takes place only in the absence
of other adequate channels—does not take place if there arise other
feelings equal in amount to those arrested.

Evidence still more conclusive is at hand. If we contrast the
incongruities which produce laughter with those which do not, we
see that in the non-ludicrous ones the unexpected feeling aroused,
though wholly different in kind, is not less in quantity or intensity.
Among incongruities which may excite anything but a laugh, Mr. Bain
instances—“A decrepit man under a heavy burden, five loaves and two
fishes among a multitude, and all unfitness and gross disproportion;
an instrument out of tune, a fly in ointment, snow in May, Archimedes
studying geometry in a siege, and all discordant things; a wolf in
sheep’s clothing, a breach of bargain, and falsehood in general; the
multitude taking the law in their own hands, and everything of the
nature of disorder; a corpse at a feast, parental cruelty, filial
ingratitude, and whatever is unnatural; the entire catalogue of
the vanities given by Solomon, are all incongruous, but they cause
feelings of pain, anger, sadness, loathing, rather than mirth.” Now in
these cases, where the totally unlike state of consciousness suddenly
produced, is not inferior in mass to the preceding one, the conditions
to laughter are not fulfilled. As above shown, laughter naturally
results only when consciousness is unawares transferred from great
things to small—only when there is what we may call a _descending_

And now observe, finally, the fact, alike inferable _a priori_ {464}
and illustrated in experience, that an _ascending_ incongruity not
only fails to cause laughter, but works on the muscular system an
effect of the reverse kind. When after something very insignificant
there arises without anticipation something very great, the emotion we
call wonder results; and this emotion is accompanied not by contraction
of the muscles, but by relaxation of them. In children and country
people, that falling of the jaw which occurs on witnessing an imposing
and unexpected change, exemplifies this effect. Persons wonder-struck
at the production of a striking result by a seemingly-inadequate cause,
are frequently described as unconsciously dropping the things they held
in their hands. Such are just the effects to be anticipated. After
an average state of consciousness, absorbing but a small quantity of
nervous energy, is aroused without notice, a strong emotion of awe,
terror, or admiration; joined with the astonishment due to an apparent
want of adequate causation. This new state of consciousness demands
far more nervous energy than that which it has suddenly replaced; and
this increased absorption of nervous energy in mental changes, involves
a temporary diminution of the outflow in other directions: whence the
pendent jaw and the relaxing grasp.

One further observation is worth making. Among the several sets of
channels into which surplus feeling might be discharged, was named
the nervous system of the viscera. The sudden overflow of an arrested
mental excitement, which, as we have seen, results from a descending
incongruity, must doubtless stimulate not only the muscular system, as
we see it does, but also the internal organs: the heart and stomach
must come in for a share of the discharge. And thus there seems to be
a good physiological basis for the popular notion that mirth-creating
excitement facilitates digestion.

       *       *       *       *       *

Though, in doing so, I go beyond the boundaries of the {465} immediate
topic, I may fitly point out that the method of inquiry here followed,
opens the way to interpretation of various phenomena besides those of
laughter. To show the importance of pursuing it, I will indicate the
explanation it furnishes of another familiar class of facts.

All know how generally a large amount of emotion disturbs the action of
the intellect, and interferes with the power of expression. A speech
delivered with great facility to tables and chairs, is by no means so
easily delivered to an audience. Every schoolboy can testify that his
trepidation, when standing before a master, has often disabled him
from repeating a lesson which he had duly learnt. In explanation of
this we commonly say that the attention is distracted—that the proper
train of ideas is broken by the intrusion of ideas that are irrelevant.
But the question is, in what manner does unusual emotion produce this
effect; and we are here supplied with a tolerably obvious answer. The
repetition of a lesson, or set speech previously thought out, implies
the flow of a very moderate amount of nervous excitement through a
comparatively narrow channel. The thing to be done is simply to call
up in succession certain previously-arranged ideas—a process in which
no great amount of mental energy is expended. Hence, when there is a
large quantity of emotion, which must be discharged in some direction
or other; and when, as usually happens, the restricted series of
intellectual actions to be gone through, does not suffice to carry
it off; there result discharges along other channels besides the one
prescribed: there are aroused various ideas foreign to the train of
thought to be pursued; and these tend to exclude from consciousness
those which should occupy it.

And now observe the meaning of those bodily actions spontaneously set
up under these circumstances. The schoolboy saying his lesson, commonly
has his fingers actively engaged—perhaps in twisting about a broken
pen, or perhaps in squeezing the angle of his jacket; and if told to
keep his {466} hands still, he soon again falls into the same or a
similar trick. Many anecdotes are current of public speakers having
incurable automatic actions of this class: barristers who perpetually
wound and unwound pieces of tape; members of parliament ever putting
on and taking off their spectacles. So long as such movements are
unconscious, they facilitate the mental actions. At least this seems
a fair inference from the fact that confusion frequently results from
putting a stop to them: witness the case narrated by Sir Walter Scott
of his school-fellow, who became unable to say his lesson after the
removal of the waistcoat button which he habitually fingered while in
class. But why do they facilitate the mental actions? Clearly because
they draw off a portion of the surplus nervous excitement. If, as above
explained, the quantity of mental energy generated is greater than can
find vent along the narrow channel of thought that is open to it; and
if, in consequence, it is apt to produce confusion by rushing into
other channels of thought; then, by allowing it an exit through the
motor nerves into the muscular system, the pressure is diminished, and
irrelevant ideas are less likely to intrude on consciousness.

This further illustration will, I think, justify the position that
something may be achieved by pursuing in other cases this kind of
psychological inquiry. A complete explanation of the phenomena,
requires us to trace out _all_ the consequences of any given state of
consciousness; and we cannot do this without studying the effects,
bodily and mental, as varying in quantity at one another’s expense. We
should probably learn much if in every case we asked—Where is all the
nervous energy gone?


[60] For numerous illustrations see essay on “The Origin and Function
of Music.”




 _8th Thousand._
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 1. Religion and Science.
 2. Ultimate Religious Ideas.
 3. Ultimate Scientific Ideas.
 4. The Relativity of All Knowledge.
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 1. Philosophy Defined
 2. The Data of Philosophy.
 3. Space, Time, Matter, Motion, and Force.
 4. The Indestructibility of Matter.
 5. The Continuity of Motion.
 6. The Persistence of Force.
 7. The Persistence of Relations among Forces.
 8. The Transformation and Equivalence of Forces.
 9. The Direction of Motion.
 10. The Rhythm of Motion.
 11. Recapitulation, Criticism, and Recommencement.
 12. Evolution and Dissolution.
 13. Simple and Compound Evolution.
 14. The Law of Evolution.
 15. The Law of Evolution, continued.
 16. The Law of Evolution, continued.
 17. The Law of Evolution, concluded.
 18. The Interpretation of Evolution.
 19. The Instability of the Homogeneous.
 20. The Multiplication of Effects.
 21. Segregation.
 22. Equilibration.
 23. Dissolution.
 24. Summary and Conclusion.

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 1. Organic Matter.
 2. The Actions of Forces on Organic Matter.
 3. The Re-actions of Organic Matter on Forces.
 4. Proximate Definition of Life.
 5. The Correspondence between Life and its Circumstances.
 6. The Degree of Life varies as the Degree of Correspondence.
 7. The Scope of Biology.


 1. Growth.
 2. Development.
 3. Function.
 4. Waste and Repair.
 5. Adaptation.
 6. Individuality.
 7. Genesis.
 8. Heredity.
 9. Variation.
 10. Genesis, Heredity, and Variation.
 11. Classification.
 12. Distribution.


 1. Preliminary.
 2. General Aspects of the Special-Creation-Hypothesis.
 3. General Aspects of the Evolution-Hypothesis.
 4. The Arguments from Classification.
 5. The Arguments from Embryology.
 6. The Arguments from Morphology.
 7. The Arguments from Distribution.
 8. How is Organic Evolution caused?
 9. External Factors.
 10. Internal Factors.
 11. Direct Equilibration.
 12. Indirect Equilibration.
 13. The Co-operation of the Factors.
 14. The Convergence of the Evidences.


 The Spontaneous-Generation Question.



 1. The Problems of Morphology.
 2. The Morphological Composition of Plants.
 3. The Morphological Composition of Plants, continued.
 4. The Morphological Composition of Animals.
 5. The Morphological Composition of Animals, continued.
 6. Morphological Differentiation in Plants.
 7. The General Shapes of Plants.
 8. The Shapes of Branches.
 9. The Shapes of Leaves.
 10. The Shapes of Flowers.
 11. The Shapes of Vegetal Cells.
 12. Changes of Shape otherwise caused.
 13. Morphological Differentiation in Animals.
 14. The General Shapes of Animals.
 15. The Shapes of Vertebrate Skeletons.
 16. The Shapes of Animal Cells.
 17. Summary of Morphological Development.


 1. The Problems of Physiology.

 2. Differentiations between the Outer and Inner Tissues of Plants.

 3. Differentiations among the Outer Tissues of Plants.

 4. Differentiations among the Inner Tissues of Plants.

 5. Physiological Integration in Plants.

 6. Differentiations between the Outer and Inner Tissues of Animals.

 7. Differentiations among the Outer Tissues of Animals.

 8. Differentiations among the Inner Tissues of Animals.

 9. Physiological Integration in Animals.

 10. Summary of Physiological Development.


 1. The Factors.

 2. _À Priori_ Principle.

 3. Obverse _à priori_ Principle.

 4. Difficulties of Inductive Verification.

 5. Antagonism between Growth and Asexual Genesis.

 6. Antagonism between Growth and Sexual Genesis.

 7. Antagonism between Development and Genesis, Asexual and Sexual.

 8. Antagonism between Expenditure and Genesis.

 9. Coincidence between high Nutrition and Genesis.

 10. Specialities of these Relations.

 11. Interpretation and Qualification.

 12. Multiplication of the Human Race.

 13. Human Evolution in the Future.


 A Criticism on Professor Owen’s Theory of the Vertebrate Skeleton.

 On Circulation and the Formation of Wood in Plants.

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 1. The Nervous System.
 2. The Structure of the Nervous System.
 3. The Functions of the Nervous System.
 4. The Conditions essential to Nervous Action.
 5. Nervous Stimulation and Nervous Discharge.
 6. Æstho-Physiology.


 1. The Substance of Mind.
 2. The Composition of Mind.
 3. The Relativity of Feelings.
 4. The Relativity of Relations between Feelings.
 5. The Revivability of Feelings.
 6. The Revivability of Relations between Feelings.
 7. The Associability of Feelings.
 8. The Associability of Relations between Feelings.
 9. Pleasures and Pains.


 1. Life and Mind as Correspondence.
 2. The Correspondence as Direct and Homogeneous.
 3. The Correspondence as Direct but Heterogeneous.
 4. The Correspondence as extending in Space.
 5. The Correspondence as extending in Time.
 6. The Correspondence as increasing in Speciality.
 7. The Correspondence as increasing in Generality.
 8. The Correspondence as increasing in Complexity.
 9. The Co-ordination of Correspondences.
 10. The Integration of Correspondences.
 11. The Correspondences in their Totality.


 1. The Nature of Intelligence.
 2. The Law of Intelligence.
 3. The Growth of Intelligence.
 4. Reflex Action.
 5. Instinct.
 6. Memory.
 7. Reason.
 8. The Feelings.
 9. The Will.


 1. A Further Interpretation Needed.
 2. The Genesis of Nerves.
 3. The Genesis of Simple Nervous Systems.
 4. The Genesis of Compound Nervous Systems.
 5. The Genesis of Doubly-Compound Nervous Systems.
 6. Functions as Related to these Structures.
 7. Psychical Laws as thus Interpreted.
 8. Evidence from Normal Variations.
 9. Evidence from Abnormal Variations.
 10. Results.


 On the Action of Anæsthetics and Narcotics.



 1. Limitation of the Subject.

 2. Compound Quantitative Reasoning.

 3. Compound Quantitative Reasoning, continued.

 4. Imperfect and Simple Quantitative Reasoning.

 5. Quantitative Reasoning in General.

 6. Perfect Qualitative Reasoning.

 7. Imperfect Qualitative Reasoning.

 8. Reasoning in General.

 9. Classification, Naming, and Recognition.

 10. The Perception of Special Objects.

 11. The Perception of Body as presenting Dynamical, Statico-Dynamical,
 and Statical Attributes.

 12. The Perception of Body as presenting Statico-Dynamical and
 Statical Attributes.

 13. The Perception of Body as presenting Statical Attributes.

 14. The Perception of Space.

 15. The Perception of Time.

 16. The Perception of Motion.

 17. The Perception of Resistance.

 18. Perception in General.

 19. The Relations of Similarity and Dissimilarity.

 20. The Relations of Cointension and Non-Cointension.

 21. The Relations of Coextension and Non-Coextension.

 22. The Relations of Coexistence and Non-Coexistence.

 23. The Relations of Connature and Non-Connature.

 24. The Relations of Likeness and Unlikeness.

 25. The Relation of Sequence.

 26. Consciousness in General.

 27. Results.


 1. The Final Question.
 2. The Assumption of Metaphysicians.
 3. The Words of Metaphysicians.
 4. The Reasonings of Metaphysicians.
 5. Negative Justification of Realism.
 6. Argument from Priority.
 7. The Argument from Simplicity.
 8. The Argument from Distinctness.
 9. A Criterion Wanted.
 10. Propositions qualitatively distinguished.
 11. The Universal Postulate.
 12. The test of Relative Validity.
 13. Its Corollaries.
 14. Positive Justification of Realism.
 15. The Dynamics of Consciousness.
 16. Partial Differentiation of Subject and Object.
 17. Completed Differentiation of Subject and Object.
 18. Developed Conception of the Object.
 19. Transfigured Realism.


 1. Preliminary.
 2. Co-ordination of Data and Inductions.
 3. Co-ordination of Syntheses.
 4. Co-ordination of Special Analyses.
 5. Co-ordination of General Analyses.
 6. Final Comparison.


 1. Special Psychology.
 2. Classification.
 3. Development of Conceptions.
 4. Language of the Emotions.
 5. Sociality and Sympathy.
 6. Egoistic Sentiments.
 7. Ego-Altruistic Sentiments.
 8. Altruistic Sentiments.
 9. Æsthetic Sentiments.

 _3rd Edition, revised and enlarged._
 In 8vo., cloth, price 21s., Vol. I. of



 1. Super-Organic Evolution.

 2. The Factors of Social Phenomena.

 3. Original External Factors.

 4. Original Internal Factors.

 5. The Primitive Man—Physical.

 6. The Primitive Man—Emotional.

 7. The Primitive Man—Intellectual.

 8. Primitive Ideas.

 9. The Ideas of the Animate and the Inanimate.

 10. The Ideas of Sleep and Dreams.

 11. The Ideas of Swoon, Apoplexy, Catelepsy, Ecstacy, and other forms
 of Insensibility.

 12. The Ideas of Death and Resurrection.

 13. The Ideas of Souls, Ghosts, Spirits, Demons.

 14. The Ideas of Another Life.

 15. The Ideas of Another World.

 16. The Ideas of Supernatural Agents.

 17. Supernatural Agents as causing Epilepsy and Convulsive Actions,
 Delirium and Insanity, Disease and Death.

 18. Inspiration, Divination, Exorcism, and Sorcery.

 19. Sacred Places, Temples, and Altars; Sacrifice, Fasting, and
 Propitiation; Praise and Prayer.

 20. Ancestor-Worship in General.

 21. Idol-Worship and Fetich-Worship.

 22. Animal-Worship.

 23. Plant-Worship.

 24. Nature-Worship.

 25. Deities.

 26. The Primitive Theory of Things.

 27. The Scope of Sociology.


 1. What is a Society?
 2. A Society is an Organism.
 3. Social Growth.
 4. Social Structures.
 5. Social Functions.
 6. Systems of Organs.
 7. The Sustaining System.
 8. The Distributing System.
 9. The Regulating System.
 10. Social Types and Constitutions.
 11. Social Metamorphoses.
 12. Qualifications and Summary.


 1. The Maintenance of Species.

 2. The Diverse Interests of the Species, of the Parents, and of the

 3. Primitive Relations of the Sexes.

 4. Exogamy and Endogamy.

 5. Promiscuity.

 6. Polyandry.

 7. Polygyny.

 8. Monogamy.

 9. The Family.

 10. The _Status_ of Women.

 11. The _Status_ of Children.

 12. Domestic Retrospect and Prospect.

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 8. Consultative Bodies.
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 10. Ministries.
 11. Local Governing Agencies.
 12. Military Systems.
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 19. Political Retrospect and Prospect.

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(_Being Part VI. of the PRINCIPLES OF SOCIOLOGY._)


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 5. The Ruler as Priest.
 6. The Rise of a Priesthood.
 7. Polytheistic and Monotheistic Priesthoods.
 8. Ecclesiastical Hierarchies.
 9. An Ecclesiastical System as a Social Bond.
 10. The Military Functions of Priests.
 11. The Civil Functions of Priests.
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 11. Egoism _versus_ Altruism.
 12. Altruism _versus_ Egoism.
 13. Trial and Compromise.
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 15. Absolute Ethics and Relative Ethics.
 16. The Scope of Ethics.


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 7. Subjective Difficulties—Emotional.
 8. The Educational Bias.
 9. The Bias of Patriotism.
 10. The Class-Bias.
 11. The Political Bias.
 12. The Theological Bias.
 13. Discipline.
 14. Preparation in Biology.
 15. Preparation in Psychology.
 16. Conclusion.

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 1. The New Toryism.
 2. The Coming Slavery.
 3. The Sins of Legislators.
 4. The Great Political Superstition.

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 In two vols. 8vo, cloth, price 16s.,


 1. Progress: its Law and Cause.
 2. Manners and Fashion.
 3. The Genesis of Science.
 4. The Physiology of Laughter.
 5. The Origin and Function of Music.
 6. The Nebular Hypothesis.
 7. Bain on the Emotions and the Will.
 8. Illogical Geology.
 9. The Development Hypothesis.
 10. The Social Organism.
 11. Use and Beauty.
 12. The Sources of Architectural Types.
 13. The Use of Anthropomorphism.


 1. The Philosophy of Style.
 2. Over-Legislation.
 3. The Morals of Trade.
 4. Personal Beauty.
 5. Representative Government.
 6. Prison Ethics.
 7. Railway Morals and Railway Policy.
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 10. Parliamentary Reform: the Dangers and the Safeguards.
 11. Mill _versus_ Hamilton—the Test of Truth.

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 3. Laws in General.

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 6. “The Collective Wisdom.”

 7. Political Fetichism.

 8. What is Electricity?

 9. The Constitution of the Sun.

 10. Mr. Martineau on Evolution.

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 12. Transcendental Physiology.

 13. The Comparative Psychology of Man.

 Price 2s. 6d.,



DAVID DUNCAN, M.A., Professor of Logic, &c., in the Presidency College,


Something to introduce the work of which an instalment is annexed,
seems needful, in anticipation of the time when completion of a volume
will give occasion for a Permanent Preface.

In preparation for _The Principles of Sociology_, requiring as bases of
induction large accumulations of data, fitly arranged for comparison,
I, some twelve years ago, commenced, by proxy, the collection and
organization of facts presented by societies of different types,
past and present; being fortunate enough to secure the services of
gentlemen competent to carry on the process in the way I wished.
Though this classified compilation of materials was entered upon
solely to facilitate my own work; yet, after having brought the mode
of classification to a satisfactory form, and after having had some
of the Tables filled up, I decided to have the undertaking executed
with a view to publication; the facts collected and arranged for easy
reference and convenient study of their relations, being so presented,
apart from hypothesis, as to aid all students of Social Science in
testing such conclusions as they have drawn and in drawing others.

The Work consists of three large Divisions. Each comprises a set
of Tables exhibiting the facts as abstracted and classified, and a
mass of quotations and abridged abstracts otherwise classified, on
which the statements contained in the Tables are based. The condensed
statements, arranged after a uniform manner, give, in each Table or
succession of Tables, the phenomena of all orders which each society
presents—constitute an account of its morphology, its physiology, and
(if a society having a known history) its development. On the other
hand, the collected Extracts, serving as authorities for the statements
in the Tables, are (or, rather will be, when the Work is complete)
classified primarily according to the kinds of phenomena to which they
refer, and secondarily according to the societies exhibiting these
phenomena; so that each kind of phenomenon as it is displayed in all
societies, may be separately studied with convenience.

In further explanation I may say that the classified compilations and
digests of materials to be thus brought together under the title of
_Descriptive Sociology_, are intended to supply the student of Social
Science with data, standing towards his conclusions in a relation like
that in which accounts of the structures and functions of different
types of animals stand to the conclusions of the biologist. Until there
had been such systematic descriptions of different kinds of organisms,
as made it possible to compare the connexions, and forms, and actions,
and modes of origin, of their parts, the Science of Life could make no
progress. And in like manner, before there can be reached in Sociology,
generalizations having a certainty making them worthy to be called
scientific, there must be definite accounts of the institutions and
actions of societies of various types, and in various stages of
evolution, so arranged as to furnish the means of readily ascertaining
what social phenomena are habitually associated.

Respecting the tabulation, devised for the purpose of exhibiting social
phenomena in a convenient way, I may explain that the primary aim
has been so to present them that their relations of simultaneity and
succession may be seen at one view. As used for delineating uncivilized
societies, concerning which we have no records, the tabular form
serves only to display the various social traits as they are found to
co-exist. But as used for delineating societies having known histories,
the tabular form is so employed as to exhibit not only the connexions
of phenomena existing at the same time, but also the connexions of
phenomena that succeed one another. By reading horizontally across a
Table at any period, there may be gained a knowledge of the traits of
all orders displayed by the society at that period; while by reading
down each column, there may be gained a knowledge of the modifications
which each trait, structural or functional, underwent during successive

Of course, the tabular form fulfils these purposes but approximately.
To preserve complete simultaneity in the statements of facts, as read
from side to side of the Tables, has proved impracticable; here much
had to be inserted, and there little; so that complete correspondence
in time could not be maintained. Moreover, it has not been possible
to carry out the mode of classification in a theoretically-complete
manner, by increasing the number of columns as the classes of facts
multiply in the course of Civilization. To represent truly the progress
of things, each column should divide and sub-divide in successive ages,
so as to indicate the successive differentiations of the phenomena.
But typographical difficulties have negatived this: a great deal has
had to be left in a form which must be accepted simply as the least

The three Divisions constituting the entire work, comprehend three
groups of societies:—(1) _Uncivilized Societies_; (2) _Civilized
Societies—Extinct or Decayed_; (3) _Civilized Societies—Recent or Still
Flourishing_. These divisions have at present reached the following

DIVISION I.—_Uncivilized Societies._ Commenced in 1867 by the gentleman
I first engaged, Mr. DAVID DUNCAN, M.A. (now Professor of Logic,
&c., in the Presidency College, Madras), and continued by him since
he left England, this part of the work is complete. It contains four
parts, including “Types of Lowest Races,” the “Negrito Races,” the
“Malayo-Polynesian Races,” the “African Races,” the “Asiatic Races,”
and the “American Races.”

DIVISION II.—_Civilized Societies—Extinct or Decayed._ On this part of
the work Dr. RICHARD SCHEPPIG has been engaged since January, 1872. The
first instalment, including the four Ancient American Civilizations,
was issued in March, 1874. A second instalment, containing “Hebrews and
Phœnicians,” will shortly be issued.

DIVISION III.—_Civilized Societies—Recent or Still Flourishing._ Of
this Division the first instalment, prepared by Mr. JAMES COLLIER, of
St. Andrew’s and Edinburgh Universities, was issued in August, 1873.
This presents the English Civilization. It covers seven consecutive
Tables; and the Extracts occupy seventy pages folio. The next part,
presenting in a still more extensive form the French Civilization, is
now in the press.

The successive parts belonging to these several Divisions, issued at
intervals, are composed of different numbers of Tables and different
numbers of Pages. The Uncivilized Societies occupy four parts, each
containing a dozen or more Tables, with their accompanying Extracts.
Of the Division comprising Extinct Civilized Societies, the first part
contains four, and the second contains two. While of Existing Civilized
Societies, the records of which are so much more extensive, each
occupies a single part.

 H. S.
 _March, 1880._

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 _In Royal Folio, Price 16s._,
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 FIRST PRINCIPLES                       16_s._

 PRINCIPLES OF BIOLOGY. 2 vols.         34_s._

 PRINCIPLES OF PSYCHOLOGY. 2 vols.      36_s._

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          DITTO           Vol. II.      18_s._

(_This Volume includes the two following Works, which are at present
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 POLITICAL INSTITUTIONS                 12_s._


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This is Volume II (1891) of Spencer’s three volume series of Essays.
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search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.