Typos p. 151: similiar [= similar]; p. 156: descendents [= descendants]; p. 159: inadquate [= inadequate]; p. 163: delterious [= deleterious]; p. 165: postuated [= postulated]; p. 166: periodcal [= periodical]; p. 170: philospher [= philosopher]; p. 171: separatness [= separateness]; p. 173: elminates [= eliminates]; p. 174: sensient [= sentient]; p. 174: pre-Socatric [= pre-Socratic]; p. 179: tadoples' [= tadpoles']; p. 181: authoriities [= authorities]; p. 208: unwieldly [= unwieldy]; p. 208: knowldge [= knowledge]; p. 209: feasability [= feasibility]; p. 211: actvity [= activity]; p. 215: Methusalah [= Methuselah]; p. 216: Back to Methusalah [= Back to Methuselah]; p. 217: mainy [= mainly]; p. 217; peristence [= persistence]; p. 225: organims [= organisms]
The Attributes of the Life Forces I
But, generally speaking, in order to reach fruitful conclusions concerning these questions it is desirable to have lived for years where, alone in civilized communities today, one may view life with approximate accuracy, because it is still, as it were, naked, opulent and varied enough, both in the animal and vegetable realms, to reveal its secrets.
Then, unless one resembles too closely the tired, listless and Nature-surfeited peasant, certain precious discoveries cannot escape one; and among the more striking of these is the fact that behind the visible phenomena of the daily scene unmistakable prevailing trends become noticeable. They appear like pervasive rules of procedure, governing life's processes in both animals and plants, and are as unexpectedly different from our superficial first assumptions as they possibly could be. Ultimately they seem to merge into one universal trend or bias, which appears to us as a cosmic influence informing all living things; and it can be so precisely recognized that its attributes and their manner of operation may be clearly defined.
Let us, therefore, explore the vast panorama of Nature as displayed in our small world alone, without troubling ourselves
As a result of a close and steady observation of them, above all as they reveal themselves in the behaviour of living things, we feel entitled to draw the following conclusions:
(A) They give fair-field and no favour to all alike, no matter of what kind. This is shown, not only by the indiscriminate attacks of pathogenic organisms on both men and animals, not only by the enormous amount of distress, irritation, pain, and even lethal disease, which may afflict both men and animals through the action of micro-organisms and insects of all kinds, and not only by the bellum omnium contra omnes that never ceases among plants and animals, but also by the multitude and wide dissemination of parasitic organisms. L. A. Borradaile tells us, for instance, that "from the amoeba to man there is probably no animal which is not attacked by some parasite and, as many species of parasite are confined to one host, it is probable that parasitic animals are not greatly inferior in numbers to all the others together, though their habits prevent the fact from being generally realized" (The Animal and its Environment, 1923, p. 102).
The parasites which enter the bodies of their victims and grow at the latter's cost, are in certain climes hardly to be avoided. In 1947, for instance, it was estimated that out of a world population of 2,170 million, 644,000,000 were affected by the intestinal round-worn (Ascarsis lumbricoides), 456,800,000 by hookworm (Necator and Ancyclostoma), and 355,000,000 by whipworm (Trichuris). The infection by beef-tapeworm (Taenia saginata) affected 38,900,000, by pork-tapeworm (Taenia Solium) 2,500,000, and by the variety known as Hymenolepsis nana 20,200,000 (H.Y.B. Chap. XVI).
As for flies, quite apart from the annoyance and disease they cause among men, the distress and debility they produce in cattle, horses and other browsing animals, is often serious. Darwin, discussing this very matter, says: "It is not that the larger quadrupeds are actually destroyed (except in some rare cases) by flies, but they are incessantly harassed and their strength reduced, so that they are more subject to disease, or not so well enabled in a coming dearth to search for food, or to escape from beasts of prey" (O. Chap. VI). We cannot be surprised that even
I need hardly point out that the very existence and survival of many species of animals and insects depend on the supply of victims they are able to secure among other species. The carnivora would die out if among antelopes and other kinds of prey they were no longer able to exercise their reign of terror. The insect world is full of similiar examples. The scorpion-spider cannot even reproduce its kind if it has not a dead scorpion in which to lay its eggs. Consequently "the spider goes out and kills a scorpion for its reproductive needs" (L.D.C. Chap. XIII).
(B) They are quite indifferent regarding what we human beings of a late civilization called "quality". In other words, they show no "taste" or fine discrimination in our sense. This is shown by the vast amount of what we cannot help considering as "ugly", or "repulsive" features in Nature. Indeed, the whole gamut of her achievements, from the transcendent beauty of some of the cats, down to the least attractive or her batrachians and gastropods, some venomous snakes, some fishes, and "certain hideous bats" (O. Chap. XV), seems to indicate that no distinguishable inclination to beauty rather than to ugliness characterizes the life processes, and that what appears to take place is a random production of either, according to the exigencies of the evolutionary hazards.
(C) They give no sign of favouring any upward trend in the evolution of living things, whether plants or animals. "Natural selection" occurs destitute of all civilized humanity's estimates of desirability. Indeed, the evolutionary steps securing survival are so often steps downward or backward, that the examples of "retrograde metamorphosis" in Nature, as Spencer pointed out some ninety years ago, "outnumber all others" (see his article on "Mr. Martineau on Evolution" in the Contemporary Review of June 1872; and, for one or two interesting examples of such retrograde metamorphosis, the article by Sir Heneage Ogilvie in L. 6.7.57). Yet the number of people, even among the well-read, who still believe that the "survival of the fittest" means the survival of the "better" and "stronger" and "more highly organized", continues to be surprisingly large.
For we see animals and plants doing not merely the bare necessary to keep alive, but also everything possible with the view of overcoming other species. They do not merely sustain their own lives, they obtrude themselves on other lives, even other lives belonging to their own species. They all assault, invade, and trespass on, alien territory. We need only watch them for a little while in order to be convinced of the error of assuming existence as the be all and end all of their striving. For what soon strikes us chiefly in contemplating animals, even quite young ones is that they feel above all, and coûte que coûte, the need to discharge their strength, to make something else pay for their good fettle and high spirits. Their first concern, as soon as they stir, is to importune their surroundings, to enjoy using and expressing energy, if possible at the cost of some other life that is to say, in overpowering, subduing, or merely intimidating and scaring other creatures.
The unleashed dog rouses the neighbourhood with his bark; seizes a fallen branch and shakes it, growling angrily the while. He charges other dogs on his path; fights them, and chases every creature within sight. He will even chase and try to bully the fast-revolving wheels of a passing car. He revels in his strength and fleetness.
The domestic cat, like her cousins the leopard and panther, kills for the sheer joy of suppressing life, and will overpower many more creatures than it needs for its sustenance. The pole-cat behaves in the same way, as does the ferret which "will kill twenty rabbits in rapid succession for the mere exercise of its killing powers" (L.D.C. Chap. XIII). According to William Cowper, even the dog enjoys this sport, and it is significant that, in illustrating this, the poet shames his spaniel "Beau" for wantonly killing a bird, by likening him to man. He admonishes his pet as follows:
"Nor did you kill that you might eat,
And ease a doggish pain,
For him, though chased with furious heat,
You left where he was slain.
"My dog! what remedy remains,
Since, teach you all I can,
I see you, after all my pains,
So much resemble man?"
(On a Spaniel called Beau, etc.)
The joy of this behaviour consists in the assertion of self, in becoming aware of one's strength, and experiencing mastery. Even horses, let loose, will gallop wildly round, hurling clods high into the air, showing teeth, or actually feigning to bite one another.
Birds are even more self-revelatory in their wanton assertion of superiority. No observer, however limited his psychological flair, can watch the farmyard cockerel flap his wings and crow, and yet fail to infer that more is intended by this gesture than merely to charm the hen or secure survival. He may achieve survival for his kind by this self-assertive behaviour; but this result is but a by-product of his expansive sense of ego, his buoyant high spirits, with which he hurls defiance at the rest of bird life.
The poetical and anthropomorphic notion which led some nineteenth-century naturalists to assume that the cock-bird sings in order to charm and lure the female by appealing, as they doubtless imagined, to her aesthetic sense, is probably as wide of the mark as are other psychological howlers mentioned in this book; and it is surprising to find Darwin among the sentimentalists in this respect. (See his Descent of Man, Ed. 1883, Part I, Chap. III; Part II, Chaps. VIII and XIII. In the latter he says, "The true song of most birds" seems "as a charm, or merely as a call to the other sex".) Here, despite his scientific attitude of mind, he is hardly better than Wordsworth who, some sixty years earlier, had written:
"It was the season of unfolding leaves . . .
And small birds singing happily to mates. . . .
A tall ash tree, to whose topmost twig
A thrush resorts, and annually chants,
At morn and evening from that naked perch
A time-beguiling ditty, for the delight
Of his fond partner, silent in the nest."
(The Excursion, Book VI)
"Avian song", says Mr. Percival Staples, "is primarily a form of intimidation . . . song in the main is an expression of challenge, or triumph of possession, or defiance." As to the harmless little robin, Mr. Staples says, he "intimidates both by colour and song" (Birds in a Garden Sanctuary, 1946, Chap. VIII). Major R. W. G. Hingston is even more emphatic, and violently joins issue with Darwin. Replying to the question why the male bird pours out its volume of song, he says: "As a threat to the rivals that hold the territories around him. It is an utterance that signifies that he has staked a claim and that any intruder who crosses his boundary will be driven out with all the force at his command. It is in fact a psychological weapon similar in function to conspicuous colour. . . . And since the louder is the threat that reaches the rival, the more menacing will be its effect on him, it is clearly an advantage for every male to pour forth his song from some considerable height." Singing, in fact, is a matter of "hostility and threat", one bird is trying to "shout his rival down", (The Meaning of Animal Colour and Adornment, 1933, Chap. X). Mr. James Fisher agrees with Major Hingston. Referring to Darwin's belief that bright colouring in birds is an adaptation for attracting the female, he says: "It is probable that the bright colours and adornments of certain male birds have as their primary biological purpose intimidation and threat rather than attraction" (Watching Birds, 1953, Chap. VII). And in a later chapter he says: "The main function of song in most perching birds must be regarded as signalling the possession of a territory" (Ibid. Chap. VIII. Professor P. M. Sheppard, in Natural Selection and Heredity, 1958, Chap. I, confirms Major Hingston's point of view).
It is but fair to Darwin to add that he mentions two authorities Daines Barrington and Gilbert White of Selborne who take the view of song recently restated by Mr. Staples and Major Hingston (O. Part II. Chap. XIII). But he himself abides by the opinion of the poets.
When, however, we bear in mind the behaviour of birds in general, and even of farmyard hens and their tendency to
The strangely revealing phenomenon, known as "the Peck Order", has been the subject of very few studies; but these can leave us in no doubt that in our domestic fowls a natural tendency is commonly manifested which, exhibited by man, would unhesitatingly be classed as something more dynamic and obtrusive than the mere Will to Live.
Messrs. A. M. Guhl, N. E. Collias and W. C. Allee, reporting on the "Mating Behaviour in Small Flocks of White Leghorns", discuss the privileges enjoyed by a hen whose aggressive behaviour towards other hens establishes her high in the hierarchy of her flock. "High-ranking hens [in 'the Peck Order']", they say, "possess a greater freedom of activity as compared with those of low social status; for example, they have precedence of food" . . . and "fewer eggs are laid by hens in the lower half of the social order than those composing the more aggressive half" (Reprinted from Physiological Zoology, Vol. XVIII, October 1945).
Professors A. M. Guhl and W. C. Allee, in "Some Measurable Effects of Social Organization in Flocks of Hens", moreover, tell us that "there is some justification for thinking that these laboratory findings are indicative of similar relations in the wild", and they confirm the finding that "high social rank" among domestic fowls secures for those who enjoy it substantial advantages over "those nearer or at the bottom of the given hierarchy". For instance, "hens low in the social order may not realize their full potentiality in egg production" ( Reprinted from Physiological Zoology, Vol. XVII, July 1944).
Professor A. M. Guhl, in a learned paper on "Social Behaviour of the Domestic Fowl", writes as follows: "In small flocks one hen pecks all in her pen without being pecked in return, another hen is pecked by all and pecks none. The other hens in the group may be arranged in an order between these two according to the number of birds each pecks. This ranking of despotism or 'bossism' forms a dominance order or peck order . . . definite dominance-subordination patterns become habitual and thus the peck order is established.
"Birds ranking high in the hierarchy have precedence at the
In short, it would be difficult to discover in all Nature a more perfect primitive parallel to human social and political institutions deriving from the Will to Power; and when we remember that Professors Guhl and Allee regard these laboratory findings as "indicative of similar relations in the wild", it seems justifiable to conclude that among the blind forces governing phenomena, at least in the organic world, a factor is operative which in recent years has been identified by psychologists and social philosophers as the Will to Power. When, moreover, we consider how far back birds, as the immediate descendents of the early reptiles, originated in the evolutionary ladder, we appreciate how deep and primordial this factor must be.
Thus, when Professor McDougall declares that "animals struggle for more and better life" (R.S.L. Chap. I), and when Mcneile Dixon maintains that "the will to live, by the very law of its being, searches diligently in each and all of its embodiments for more and fuller life" (T.H.S. Chap. III), they really understate a fact which points to an aspiration in organic life, broader, more convulsive and upsetting than mere self-preservation. For, as Hegel somewhere points out (I have forgotten exactly where), substantial increases in quantity amount to qualitative changes. If this is so, it seems legitimate to argue that the excess of the demand for life, as seen in the ultra-aggressive and egocentric self-assertion of animals, points to some basic instinct of a quality different from mere self-preservation, or the Will to Live, and suggests what Plato and Nietzsche believed to be the fundamental motivation of all living things a blind striving after power.
We see the same striving in the vegetable world. There, as in the world of animals, there is such an excess of insurance and re-insurance against extinction, such a wealth of means for overpowering rival species, that to suppose that mere survival is the aim, leaves the prodigious abundance of seed and the ample
"All hate the rank society of weeds,
Noisome and ever greedy to exhaust
The impoverish'd earth; an overbearing race,
That, like the multitude, made faction mad,
Disturb good order . . ."
(The Task, "The Garden".
The italics mine: A.M.L.)
When, therefore, we read, "There is no exception to the rule that every species increases naturally at so high a rate that the progeny of a single pair, if not destroyed, would soon cover the earth" (Ray Bridger, Q. July 1958: "Nature and Man"), we are again reminded of Hegel's remark and understand how both Plato and Nietzsche, confronted with the kind of facts we have enumerated, concluded that something more than the struggle for existence was the animating subconscious motive, and that this motive was the longing for ascendancy and power. Thus Nietzsche rejected Schopenhauer's Will to Live as inadequate, and described the basic impulse of all life as the Will to Power; whilst over two thousand years ago, Plato stated the matter thus:
"My notion would be, that anything which possesses any sort of power to affect another, or to be affected by another, if only for a single moment, however trifling the cause and however slight the effect, has real existence, and I hold that the definition of being is simply power" (The Sophist, Trans. by Jowett. The words are spoken by the Eleatic Stranger).
When we turn from animals and plants to man, however, the reasons for rejecting Schopenhauer's Will to Live and preferring the Will to Power become more than ever compelling; for unable as we are to regard man as outside Nature, despite his progressive mastery over natural phenomena, we see him as an essential part of her system, and the very act we perform when we
Indeed, we have the highest authority for declining to set man outside Nature. Even if it may be extravagant to claim that Nature has become wholly conscious in him, his affinity to her as her child makes him as reliable an exponent of her deepest currents and trends as any animal or plant. Here most thinkers are in agreement with Professor A. N. Whitehead, who stated the case with commendable clarity when he said, "It is a false dichotomy to think of Nature and man. Mankind is that factor in Nature which exhibits in its most intense form the plasticity of Nature" (A.O.T. Chap. I).
Thus, when we inquire of the deepest thinkers. What is Nature's most fundamental urge as manifested in man? we are not surprised to find them confirming the conclusions we have formed from our survey of animals and plants, and supporting the generalizations of both Plato and Nietzsche.
Aristotle says outright that all men aspire to ascendancy (Rhetoric, I. xi. 1370B.). Hobbes unhesitatingly concurs. "I put for a general inclination of all mankind", he says, "a perpetual and restless desire of power after power, that ceaseth only in death" (Leviathan, Part I. Chap. XI). In the discourse entitled "Von der Selbst-Ueberwindung" (On Self-Mastery) in Thus Spake Zarathustra, Nietzsche expounds the doctrine of the Will to Power as basic in man. But the principle is repeated in all his works and, especially in the two posthumous volumes of The Will to Power, is postulated of the Universe in general. Dr. Adler, in his Praxis und Theorie der Individual-Psychologie (1920, Chap. I), says definitely that, "The outcome of the most exhaustive study shows that we can best understand all psychological motivation of any kind whatsoever, if we recognize as its most general and indispensable condition, that its aim is to achieve ascendancy and superiority" (Die eingehendste Betrachtung ergibt nun, doss wir die seelischen Bewegungen aller Art am besten verstehen können, wenn wir als ihre allgemeinste Voraussetzung erkannt haben dass sie auf ein Ziel der Ueberlegenheit gerichtet sind". Freud also recognizes the Will to Power as dominant in man, and although he seems to prefer to designate it as a Bemaechtigungstrieb (Will to Over-Power), he recognizes it as constituting an essential part of the sexual instinct, and thence of all the lusts of aggression and cruelty so
Veblen is another exceptionally deep thinker who regarded man as actuated chiefly by the Will to Power. "The strongest craving of man's nature", he says, "is, in one way or another, to be set over his fellows" (Thorstein Veblen and His America, by Jos. Dorfman, 1940, Chap. VIII); whilst Browning, in Bishop Blougram's Apology (1855), states the case at least for one man as follows:
"There's power in me and will to dominate,
Which I must exercise, they hurt me else."
Nor need we do more than turn to the latest treatises on child psychology-such works, for instance, as Susan Isaac's Social Development in Children, Dr. Kate Friedländer's The Analytical Approach to Juvenile Delinquency, and August Aichhorn's Verwahrloste Jugend in order to find abundant evidence of the lust of dominion in raw human nature. (For relevant passages from these and other similar works, see my Child: An Adult's Problem, 1948, Chap. IV.)
So there appear to be substantial grounds for the view that a striving after supremacy or power, is the basic trend of all Nature, and that Schopenhauer's Will to Live, like the Struggle for Existence of our nineteenth century biologists, gives but an inadquate idea of the radical trend of the forces governing life's processes. In other words, there is more in these forces than a mere readiness to vegetate, or survive even on a lavish scale; and unless we turn a blind eye to most of the more disturbing, importunate and gratuitously obtrusive tendencies of both animals and plants, we are constrained to postulate a basic drive in Nature, more dynamic, convulsive, upsetting, and consequently, of course, more "evil", than merely the will to persist and keep one's head above water.
Indeed, it must have struck the kind of thinker who has been led to read the Will to Power between the lines of Nature's picture-book, that it is otiose and romantic to hope ever to over-
What can be the good, then, of speaking of "eternal peace, or of a future of "loving concord" for all mankind, or of any state in which rivalry of some kind, violence, high-handed appropriation and expropriation, oppression of some kind, and discord, have been wholly eliminated? What possible trace of realism remains in Shaw's attribution of all wickedness to poverty, or in Marx's implication that what men call "evil" will disappear when once a classless society is established?
Surely, it must be obvious that if truly the Will to Power is basic in all life, we cannot eliminate what men call evil unless it be possible to alter the very foundations of existence.
C. E. M. Joad agrees. Alluding to all this futile idealism of our late nineteenth-century publicists and Utopians, he says: "It failed to make provision for what has come to seem to me, if not the greatest of human vices, the most potent source of human misery: man's lust for power over his fellow men". (R.O.B. Chap. III, iii). Unfortunately, as we have seen, man in this respect is only the heir of his mother, Nature; and it is beyond his capacity to remould both her and her offspring. It was only by assuming that he could do so, that Herbert Spencer was able to be sufficiently untrue to himself and to his generally consistent realism to feel certain that what we call evil and immorality must disappear and that man must become perfect.
To hold typically liberal views, therefore, and to assume that if we liked we could all settle down to love one another and live in perfect amity and harmony together, is possible only to those idealists who are congenitally blind to the true character of all life; whilst as for those numskulls who begin to see and think of the Will to Power only when figures like Napoleon, Stalin or Hitler appear, and who overlook it wholly in themselves, their wives, their children and their cat, they are even more dangerous than the idealists aforesaid; because they scent and suspect an awkward and unamiable feature of existence only when it is already thundering down upon them, and are like people who are not aware of the volcano at the end of their garden, before they and their home are smothered in tons of burning lava.
It is the presence throughout Nature, in the worlds of both plants and animals, of exemplars of this ultimate victory of the will to power, which has doubtless led so many to assume that evolution is always necessarily progressive. When Robert Chambers, in the middle of last century, spoke of the "doctrine of progressive development"; claimed "that there has been a progression of animal life upon the globe", and said, "all organic things are essentially progressive" (V.N.H.C. Chap. VI); and when even men as learned as Ivan Müller and James Martineau in the late nineteenth century falsely interpreted Spencer's "Survival of the Fittest" as meaning the survival of the "best", "strongest" and "most highly organized", it is evident that they were unwittingly considering only those ultimate products of the relatively fewer progressive lines in the evolutionary process and, in their ignorance of the biological facts, overlooking the examples of downward or degenerative change which outnumber the former.
Be this as it may, it seems highly probable that whenever, as observers of life, we see impressive majesty and compelling grace, whenever we are confronted by transcendent natural beauty, whether in plant or animal form, we are in the presence of the products of this hidden dynamic factor in all living matter, which has defeated the insidious influences of (a), (b) and (c) in the evolutionary process; and the fact that even the most ingenuous, least sophisticated of human beings can instantly appreciate the essential quality of such products of the Will to Power, and feel exalted by the mere contemplation of them, as if a current of sympathy kindled in the spectator a sense of the same power that has staged the object he marvels at, is an indication
We vaguely apprehend the infective potency of a natural product of this will to power whenever we contemplate a particularly fine example, whether of plant or animal, that flaunts its nourishing life arrogantly before us. A gigantic oak in full leaf, a horse-chestnut in bloom, a bird in mating plumage, or a stag "in the glory of its full equipment" going forth to try its strength against others of its kind-such spectacles enthral us probably because they evoke in us an emotion expressive of the Will to Power in ourselves; and this momentarily exalts us because it enhances our feeling of potency. When, for instance, Job describes the horse and asks, "Hast thou given the horse its strength? hast thou clothed his neck with thunder?" And then adds, "the glory of his nostrils is terrible. . . . He paweth in the valley; and rejoiceth in his strength. . . . He mocketh at fear. . . . He swalloweth the ground with fierceness and rage" (Job xxxix. 1924) when Job thus voices his rapture over the spectacle of a fine animal, it is evident that he felt moved by it very much as I have suggested we all are by similar natural products of the Will to Power triumphing over the baser influences of the evolutionary process.
Wordsworth was probably also instinctively conscious of this effect of gazing at the kind of natural product I have described, when he wrote:
"I speak in recollection of a time
When the bodily eye, in every stage of life
The most despotic of our senses, gained
Such strength in me as often held my mind
In absolute dominion."
(The Prelude, Book XII)
All artists know this feeling, and when their genius, by enshrining it in a work of art, enables us to share it, we enjoy, as it were vicariously, the exaltation they felt when they painted the object or scene that inspired it.
It cannot, therefore, seem other than ominous, or at least disquietingly significant, that our present age should be characterized chiefly by the prevalence of sentiments and prejudices which aim at generally suspecting, if not actually disparaging, all
Nor, in this connection, should we forget how, in the graphic arts of our day, especially in their more modern developments, a conspiracy appears to be afoot to banish all representations of such natural products as bear the stamp of the Will to Power, and in fact every aspect of Nature which heretofore, by its beauty and persuasive grandeur, subtly animated this same will in ourselves. Indeed, such is the extravagance with which this tendency is now displayed, that a form of art eliminating every trace of this same will threatens to supersede all those other kinds of graphic representation for which the arts have been patronized in the past. I refer, of course, to so-called "abstract art".
(e) The fifth conclusion which it seems to me legitimate to draw concerning the forces behind phenomena, relates to their amorality, or their lack of all those moral principles with which civilized societies regulate human intercourse.
It hardly needs saying that in all Nature there is no trace of any such morality. On the contrary, every kind of thuggery, deception, fraud, duplicity and mendacity, finds its ablest and most unscrupulous exponents in Nature. It is true that much of this criminality is designed to protect the creatures practising it, just as much of the thuggery contributes to their survival; but the practices in question remain dishonest and immoral (in our sense) notwithstanding. We find caterpillars imitating twigs to such perfection that their worst enemies fail to recognize them. We also see butterflies mimicking dried leaves and beetles resembling moss, so exactly that their disguise completely deludes the
Often the deceptive mimicry works the other way about that is to say, not to protect an insect or animal, but to hoodwink its prey. Thus the camouflage of stripes or cloudy patches on many cats' coats, including those of the tiger and leopard, by imitating the play of light and shade in long grass or brushwood, enable beasts of prey to approach the quarry, or to lie in ambush for it, whilst remaining unobserved. An Oriental tree-shrew, by its likeness to a squirrel, is enabled to approach and pounce on small birds or animals which mistake it for a vegetable feeding squirrel. But of all these devices, whether for facilitating or preventing capture, the fundamental feature is their mendacity, their intent to defraud, and this, in some form or another, is common to all life.
Our burglars draw flannel or woollen coverings over their boots in order not to be heard when perpetrating their depredations. But if you examine a cat's paws with their pads like softly inflated elastic, and the wealth of hair growing between the digits, you behold Nature's more perfect method of equipping a predatory creature for successful rapine.
Some writers achieve popularity in England by trying to show that the roots of much precious moral behaviour are to be found in Nature, and besides emphasizing, as Wordsworth did, the moral purity of life raw and undefiled as manifested in "little children", even claim that animals are often exemplary moralists. Axel Munthe, for instance, doubtless owed much of the success of his San Michele, in Anglo-Saxon countries at least, to this Nature exaltation. He even assures us that "animals cannot lie", a statement which, to anyone familiar with no other animals than our domestic cat and dog, will immediately appear untrue.
Many, including Herbert Spencer, have even sought to derive altruism and so-called "unselfishness" from Nature, and have traced its roots to the mammary function of the female with young. They thus foist on the forces governing life's processes an alleged human virtue which is rapidly becoming a dangerous vice in our societies (see Data of Ethics, 1879, Chap. XII). We cannot be surprised if churchmen follow suit and when B. H. Streeter (Reality, Chap. VI) maintains that "in the tenderness of the tigress for her cubs as in the loyalty of the wolf to the pack there is the germ of what in man we call a moral sense", we see the error of the philosopher reflected in the popular mind.
Apart from the fact that altruism, or so-called "unselfishness", cannot be postuated as invariably desirable and that therefore there are no grounds for supposing, as modern Europeans do, that it may be set up as an ideal of conduct to be universally pursued; it is not in the least self-evident that in Nature motherhood is necessarily altruistic. Thus Spencer, like those who have since emulated him, proved himself unconsciously preoccupied with modern civilized conditions among human beings when he assumed that the female's mammary function, for instance, could legitimately be made the source of altruism.
Admittedly, when you are thinking of modern Western societies, most of whose women are lacking in vigour and stamina and often seriously debilitated, and a large proportion of whom are too old at the time of the birth of their first child to be good nursing mothers, lactation especially when prolonged to the desirable nine months cannot help appearing as a self denying sacrifice of the most gruelling kind. It is then a profoundly disagreeable ordeal, undergone only with great reluctance, and therefore "unselfish". For, apart from the fact that the very sentiments prevailing throughout Western civilization tend to make a function such as lactation appear to modern women "undignified" and too reminiscent of dairy cattle to be other than dishonouring; when any creature, through what cause soever in this case, sub-normality and failing stamina cannot give from
We appreciate this all the more when, remembering the average and relatively late age for marriage in England, we learn that only 55 per cent of mothers in the age-group 1619 are in England today found capable of adequate lactation, and only 19 per cent in age-group of 28 and over. For the capacity to lactate is greatest under the age of 20 and diminishes even during the twenties (B.M.J. 9.10.54 and 18.12.54).
Taking all this into consideration and even assuming that conditions were, in regard to this matter, slightly better in his day than they are now, we can perhaps understand how it was that a usually profound realist such as Herbert Spencer could have made the mistake of applying to Nature what was really true only of ourselves in the latter half of the nineteenth century.
For in Nature, as every breeder of animals must have discovered, what chiefly concerns the lactating female is to discharge her load, to relieve the congestion in her mammary organs. Hence the well-known fact that she very soon favours those young in her litter who are vigorous and prompt "strippers" of her dugs. Thus, if she has occasion to transfer her young to a fresh lair, she will always make certain that the most vigorous feeder of her family usually the most flourishing is transferred first, even if it may mean abandoning all the rest.
Furthermore, no breeder of animals can have failed to notice how quickly the female's interest in her progeny wanes and finally vanishes, as her mammary secretions subside and the periodcal pressure in her dugs gradually ceases. To ascribe the function of lactation in such an animal to "altruism" is therefore an abuse of language, let alone of popular credulity; and I suggest that my view of the causes of Spencer's misunderstanding of this matter is probably the only satisfactory way of accounting for this strange, though by no means isolated, example of superficiality in his philosophy.
It may be objected that, in birds, the unremitting labours of a parent pair to shelter and feed their fledglings, is a more convincing and incontestable example of natural altruism; because in their case there can be no question of seeking relief from accumulated secretions.
But the matter is not as simple as it seems; for the fundamental
Dr. Dawes says, "We can hardly credit wasp or bird or fish with an awareness of the ultimate ends to be gained by their chain-like pattern of behaviour" (ibid.) No! Their actions are probably only a little less automatic than those of the honey-bee; and if we cannot suppose the honey-bee altruistic it seems unwarranted to ascribe altruism to parent birds providing for their fledglings. This view receives a measure of support from Messrs. A. W. P. Robertson and R. D. Powell, who maintain that "the parental instinct, even among the most intelligent birds, seems scarcely to have developed at all, which largely accounts for the remarkable success of the cuckoo in its parasitic ways". (Bird-Watching Days, 1938, Chap. 8. They might have added other examples besides the tolerance of the cuckoo by many parent birds).
The whole subject of altruism in Nature, as understood by modern Europeans, is as a matter of fact so much steeped in sentimental anthropomorphism that it is difficult to clear it of confusion and determine the essential principle which, in this respect, is everywhere observed. If, therefore, we try to rid our minds of all the false sentiment which most of us are brought up to associate with so-called "unselfish" and "selfish" actions, and
A lover who would have the idiocy to try to persuade his sweetheart that he fell in love with her out of purely unselfish motives, would not unnaturally be thought guilty of the gravest affront, and the girl would quite rightly feel it as such. She wishes to hear that he wants her because in every way by her beauty, her charm and her character the thought of winning her gives him the utmost pleasure, and the promise of permanent bliss.
"Unselfish love" is a mendacious invention of false psychology and of confused and distorted thinking. I never found it anything but an enormous pleasure to perform even the most menial, even the most unsavoury, task for my sick mother. Had anyone whispered to me that I was being "unselfish", I should have laughed in their face. The very fact that courtesy sometimes prompts us to say "It's a pleasure" when we are doing a friend a rather boring service, shows that we instinctively wish to purge the action of the taint of resentment with which "unselfishness" always infects it.
In Nature, there is no exception to the rule that all vital functions are performed with delight and impatient self-gratification. Therefore they are selfish, and Nature can rely on their being performed with clock-like regularity and without the slightest hesitation or hitch. If Nature had been more like Charlotte M. Yonge, or Herbert Spencer, and counted on "unselfishness" to execute her processes, we should now all be extinct, or we might never have existed. So that to derive altruism from Nature is to confound her forces with a couple of benighted modern matrons discussing their husbands, or their servants, in a London drawing-room.
That outstanding sixteenth-century French genius, Montaigne, also knew it and laboured under no illusions concerning the source of many of man's less engaging traits. "Nature a," he says, "ce crains-je elle mesme attaché à l'homme quelque instinct a l'inhumanité"; and elsewhere, anticipating Nietzsche, he declares, even "au milieu de la compassion, nous sentons au dedans, je ne sçay quelle aigu-douce poincte de volupté maligne à voir souffrir autruy, et les enfants le sentent". (E. Vol. III, Book III, Chap. I, and Vol. II, Book II, Chap. XI. "Nature herself has I fear, planted in man an instinctive tendency to inhumanity . . . even in our throes of compassion, we feel in our inmost hearts a sort of bitter-sweet thrill of malicious voluptuousness at seeing someone else suffer. Children feel this, too.").
It is thus as hopeless to seek the sources of human morality in Nature as to try along evolutionary lines to derive it from obscure rudiments in natural phenomena. To this, however, it may be objected that since, as I have argued, man is not to be separated from Nature, his morality must be natural.
This is, of course, true. But it is natural only in the sense that honey, or silk, or a pearl, is natural. Like them, however, it is a peculiar product of a particular species in special circumstances, and not necessarily repeated elsewhere. In the social life of man, morality became a means, sine qua non, of regulating the customary conduct that made communal survival possible hence the name. It curbed the instincts where they threatened to interfere with conduct that promoted orderly communal life, and controlled primitive impulses so as to adapt them to social order. Consequently, in the world of Nature, which is entirely run by instinct, morality plays no rôle and is not required to play any. Could it play such a rôle it would be wholly destructive. It is, therefore, not a necessarily pervasive feature of natural life, and can no more be postulated of all Nature than can honey or silk. Indeed, except for theological purposes, there seems to be no
It is this failure to recognize morality as a specific by-product of one group of earthly creatures, in the same sense as silk, honey, or a pearl is such a specific product, that accounts for the faulty attribution of moral qualities to the power behind phenomena as one of its most essential features, and for the endless confusions, anomalies and inconsistencies that have inevitably resulted from it. For to postulate a God who is essentially all goodness, when this goodness is understood as the ideal of perfect virtue, conceived by a certain human group as necessary to their existence, is about as sensible as to postulate a God whose chief distinction is that of being a virtuoso in the production of raw silk, honey, or pearls.
When once we appreciate this and understand that the error of such a gratuitous conception accounts for anomalies like the postulation of a God who is the fountain of goodness and at the same time the Creator of a Universe full of evil features (a confusion which, as we have seen, baffles even churchmen), we acquire a much clearer idea, not only of life and the Universe, but also and above all, of the power behind phenomena, which we then cease to clothe with disfiguring attributes.
Yet I cannot remember ever to have come across any moral philospher, even of the Rationalist school, who, having recognized the error I have described, proceeded to argue about the power behind phenomena, or the forces governing life's processes, as wholly divorced from morality and having no more essential relation to it than to silk or honey.
The Attributes of the Life Forces II
At this moment of history, with everyone steeped in the dualistic doctrine that views the living world as consisting of matter and mind, it is difficult to imagine and to affirm the indissoluble unity of these two aspects of life. Willy-nilly, however, unable as we may feel to separate living matter from intelligence, we nevertheless find ourselves insensibly inclining to the view that it is twofold. So long have we been inured to the false dichotomy, "Body and Soul", that we see it mirrored everywhere, despite our knowledge of the fact that it implies a separateness of which we have not the slightest evidence.
The oneness of life and intelligence, the indissoluble unity of the two, may be a complete mystery, as complete as that of the Universe itself; but that need not deter us from postulating their inseparability if we can point to no evidence indicating their separatness. It is all the more important to acknowledge this, seeing that speculations arising out of the assumption that they must be separate lead merely to confusion and contradiction. When, therefore, C. E. M. Joad, for instance, declares that "the mode of mind-body interaction is, in fact, a mystery" (R.O.B. Chap. IV), he surely deprives himself of all right to argue as he does later in the same book, as if it were not a mystery and as if we understood it; particularly as he says in Chapter VIII that
To speak of the life of even the simplest protozoon, or of the lowliest cell in any animal or vegetable body, is therefore tantamount to asserting both its vitality and its intelligence. For it turns out that there is no knowledge of the two ever being asunder. No matter what comfort this may incidentally afford to morons, it cannot be too emphatically stated that to assume any dualism here, as even the most distinguished scientists and philosophers are wont to do, is to commit oneself to endless confusions and to inferences for which there are no incontestable grounds. To return for the moment to the moron, it therefore seems probable that whilst perhaps his highest rational faculties may be defective, his individual body cells, of which he is alleged to possess about 60 billion, must certainly retain their intelligence, otherwise he would cease to live.
The sixteenth-century wizard, Giordano Bruno, knew this intuitively. He was so deeply convinced that intelligence was ubiquitous throughout the whole structure of the Universe that in 1587 he declared it the property even of "stones and the most imperfect things" (G.B. Chap. XII). Nor, if we accept the evolutionary theory, is it possible to doubt what must four centuries ago have appeared the most extravagant nonsense. For if, as all evolutionists agree, at some time or other, organic must have sprung from inorganic matter, and if the former is in every sense conterminous with intelligence, a primordial and rudimentary form of intelligence must have been latent and inherent in "stones and the most imperfect things".
At least, something in the nature of an intelligence-potential must have been there. May we perhaps regard the diversities of crystal formation in various inorganic substances as an indication that the rudiments of intelligence reside in them? Sir J. Arthur Thomson replies that we may. "There may be", he says, "in the crystal and the waterfall the analogue of what we call mind in
Professor Karl Heim is another modern thinker who upholds this point of view, and he maintains that the scientific facts already ascertained about the matter "show with undeniable clarity that the cleavage between 'dead' material and the world of life is one that has already been bridged". He points out that "because there is an equivalence of structure between single-celled organisms and the molecules of the physicist, of a kind which elminates the difference between the organic and the inorganic worlds, the 'principle of continuity' suggests the idea that an inner life may stand behind the elementary structures of inorganic reality, one which is still further removed from our human life of soul than is the inner life of plants, but one which we must assume to be there". His description of the life and formation of crystals, of their power of assimilating material from their environment, and of adapting themselves to it, compels the conclusion that there can be no sharp and unbridgeable division between the organic and the inorganic. Indeed, he actually cites the virus which causes disease in tobacco plants as an example of a form of matter concerning which it is difficult to decide whether it belongs to the organic or the inorganic group. The whole chapter in which he deals with this question should be read by anyone wishing to obtain confirmation of Giordano Bruno's daring claim of four centuries ago (T.S.W.V. Chap. VI). Albert Ducrocq, in his book The Origin of Life (1957, Chap. V), devotes a whole section to the subject of the Tobacco Mosaic Virus and the rôle such forms of life play as a possible link between the organic and inorganic; and, in Chapter VI, he says, "In the light of what we positively know of the chemistry of organic matter, it seems but reasonable to assume that, prior to the evolution of the cell, the primitive life
Whether Freud was thinking of Bruno when he wrote Jenseits Des Lustprinzips (1923, especially Chap. V) a book which, although repeatedly denigrated by his critics, is in my opinion one of the greatest of his achievements I cannot say; but when he implied that there is in all life, especially sensient and highly organized life, a recurrent longing for death, and that this is to be interpreted as a subconscious yearning in harassed and hypersensitive beings for the peace, apathy and insensibility of their remotely distant inorganic condition, he evidently acknowledged a continuity, an unbroken sequence from the inorganic to the organic, which involves the assumption of some original measure of intelligence in the former. Is this perhaps what Plato also meant when he pronounced the obscure doctrine that "not being is shown to partake of being"? (The Sophist. The whole argument runs from pp. 244 to 266 of the Dialogue.)
If, however, there should appear to be anything incredible in the identification of life with intelligence, it resides not so much in understanding such an identity, as in explaining how it has come to pass that a fact so palpable and everywhere conspicuously manifested, could ever have been overlooked, or disregarded, to the extent of becoming in the minds of most people merely another instance of a dualistic alloy.
No one would dream of dividing a gold object into its metal base and its yellowness, yet an error equivalent to this is committed every time a scientist or a philosopher speaks as most of them do of "Matter and Mind", when the matter in question is known to be living. Even when it is not living, according to Bruno, its alleged twofoldness is gratuitous, and we cannot now deny that he had serious grounds for this contention.
Ever since the supersession of the pre-Socatric, by the Socratic Greeks, European mankind has been reeling along life's course afflicted with this drunken diplopia; and, in view of the false reasoning and unfounded conclusions to which it has inevitably led, no one can be surprised at the confusions and irreconcilable feuds which it has always provoked throughout modern history.
The most enlightened scientist, like the best-informed church-
Even such an old hand as C. E. M. Joad at philosophical argument and the co-ordination of scientific data with a coherent account of life and the Universe, cannot help dropping into the conventional dualism of his upbringing. Although he can admit that "even plants may be supposed to be aware of their own physical needs", and that "there is no sharp dividing line between plants and animals" in awareness "of their own bodily needs, but also of the world of matter external to their bodies" (R.T.P. 1935, Chap. VIII) facts which indicate the co-extensiveness of life and intelligence-he suggests that "mind may have pre-existed the body and may survive it" (R.O.B. Chap. II). In discussing clairvoyance and telepathy, moreover, he observes that such phenomena are unthinkable "if spatially connected with one particular brain", and adds, "if it [mind] is loose from the brain, loose in the double sense of not being dependent upon the brain for its existence and of not being confined in respect of its activities to the area of space which the brain occupies, its apparent ability to affect and be affected by occurrences in matter situated at a distance from the brain and body which it would be normally said to animate, is no longer comprehensible". (R.O.B. Chap. VIII).
This is equivalent to somebody's telling a hypothetical prophet of wireless broadcasting that, unless the B.B.C. could be free or "loose" to enter every house in turn to communicate its programmes, listeners distributed all over England could never receive them. By this I have no wish to suggest any precise similarity between wireless transmission of sound and clairvoyance and telepathy. It is merely an example of the kind of error to which attachment to a dualism based on no evidence may lead those who, like Joad, seem to be unable to rid their minds of it. If exception be taken to my claim that the dualism in question is based on no evidence, let me remind the reader that relatively this is true. For although there is massive evidential
We naturally expect a belief in the independence of matter and mind in churchmen, and are surprised when they do not display it. As recently as 1931, the Right Rev. E. W. Barnes, Bishop of Birmingham, for instance, felt able to say, "When the materialist persuasively makes matter produce mind, I admire his skill as I admire that of a conjuror. But the higher is not produced by the lower." He then proceeds: "Matter and its interactions do not constitute the source of all that is: mind is not a product of material change" (S.R. IV).
No wonder that, in the same volume, Professor J. S. Haldane felt it necessary to declare that "for biology, physical interpretation is only a partial and imperfect interpretation" (S.R. III). To my mind, indeed, the last words of Bishop Barnes' statement seem equivalent to saying, "Yellowness is not a product of the metal gold. The higher is not produced by the lower."
But when we turn from the churchmen to the scientists, we see little improvement, for we find Professor McDougall asking: "What are the essential questions on which we may expect more light from psychical research? Does mind transcend matter? Or is all that we call mental, intellectual or spiritual activity, is all understanding and reason, all moral effort, volition and personality, merely the outcome and expression of a higher synthesis of physical structures and processes, and therefore subject to the same general laws and interpretable by the same general principles as those which physical science arrives at from the study of the inanimate world, etc.?" And he concludes, "It is the old problem of animism versus mechanistic monism" (R.S.L. Chap. V).
There is little in all this to suggest that Professor McDougall has ever got beyond the dualistic conception of "Matter-Mind", or has ceased to see the problem of life and intelligence as another outcome of that double vision which somewhere about the 4th century B.C. led to the separation of body and mind (soul).
Not until we grow accustomed to perceiving the operation of some form of intelligence in every particle every cell of living matter, can we appreciate the error of the conception, matter and mind, which has formed the bone of contention between
Sir Heneage Ogilvie describes very graphically the repairing activities of body cells. "The study of a healing wound", he says, "gives the same impression of a group of individual cells setting about the day's work, each of them a specialist, each of them doing a defined job extremely well, yet all members of a large community, subscribing to its terms and working under a supreme directorate. The study of a healing wound gives the same impression of connective-tissue cells hurrying to the scene of damage, and setting about to repair it, just as the termites hasten to repair the hole in their ant-hill" (L. 6.7.57).
Even if we deny these body-cells intelligence, we must at least grant them memory the remembrance of the work which for aeons they have been called upon to perform, whether for constant maintenance, repair, or the construction of whole organs. It was evidently some such thought that led Dr. Ewald Hering, the eminent German physiologist, to postulate "Memory as a General Function of Organic Matter" (see U.G.A.F.).
But memory is not the only function of which the cells, whether of plants or animals, have to be capable in order to
Dr. Alexis Carrel, the famous cytologist, did not hesitate to say of tissue and blood cells that they appear to be endowed with instinct (Human Biology, Ed. Prof. E. V. Cowdroy, 1930, p. 16); whilst Dr. William Sheldon maintains that "a cell is a living thing with a personality". (Varieties of Delinquent Youth, 1949, Chap. V, 5). Professor J. S. Haldane also argues compellingly to show that, in describing living processes, a mathematical interpretation neglects most of the elements of our experience; a physical interpretation neglects somewhat fewer; a biological interpretation fewer still, and a psychological interpretation least of all (The Philosophy of a Biologist, 1935, Retrospect). Again, in Lecture III of The Philosophic Basis of Biology (1931), he denies that the phenomena of life are amenable to a physio-chemical interpretation and claims that, although it is useless to attempt to do so in detail with our present knowledge, if we were sufficiently well-informed, the behaviour of plants, of individual cells in our bodies, and even stones and molecules, would have to be regarded as "conscious". Reminiscent as this is of Bruno and
When we reflect on the work living cells have to accomplish, we have little difficulty in believing that, as Dr. Hoffman tells us, "every cell in the body has a source of food, a sewer-drain and a telephone". (L.D.C. Chap. V). Commenting on the power of regeneration in tadpoles, hydras, salamanders, or rat liver, after portions (such as tadoples' tails) have been excised. Dr. Hoffman says, "the growth [i.e. re-growth] involves many millions of cells. . . . How the animal is able to restore the part must depend on a blueprint of the scheme of things. Maybe each cell that grows back again has inherited instructions on exactly what to do. It would seem that every cell of the animal body has the information stored away to meet Just such emergencies requiring regeneration". (L.D.C. Chap. IX).
In man, both the nerves and the liver possess this power of regeneration. Sir Heneage Ogilvie tells us, "Any other tissue when damaged is damaged permanently; when cut it is healed by connective tissue; when mutilated the missing part is not replaced. It cannot produce fresh cells of its own specialized type. The liver can do all these things. If it is damaged by disease, fresh liver tissue can grow to replace that which was lost. If a lobe is cut away, a fresh lobe of similar structure can replace it." And what do these highly intelligent but "simple cells" of the liver have to do? They are, says Sir Heneage, "in fact responsible for processes of the utmost diversity and complexity". The liver "is the chemical factory of the body. Food is taken into the alimentary canal and broken down by digestive juices, and the simple compounds that result are absorbed by the intestinal villi. The energy of life is provided by oxidation, for which the red corpuscles absorb oxygen from the lungs and carry it to the site of combustion. But the final processing of the proteins, fats and carbohydrates, the breaking down of complex nitrogenous radicals into simple fuel units that are stored and handed out as they are wanted, the building up of other radicals into the larger molecules that are used by the tissues for repair and renewal of their structure, and into those enormous protoplasmic chains that are the individual structure of the body all this is done by the liver. . . . The liver cell, like the amoeba, combines simplicity of structure with complexity of function. Each other cell in the body has one function only. . . . The liver cell can do
Who, after this, can doubt the intelligence of living cells? Thus, we can follow Dr. Hoffman when he concludes, "each cell seems to have in its make-up the blueprint for its special job . . . in each one of the billions of millions of living cells in the world today, there is a pattern, a guide, or mould, or working plan. This is an immortal molecular template because it has been reproducing itself incessantly since the beginning of life over two million years ago" (L.D.C. Chap. XIII).
It would be helpful to quote more. But it is hoped that enough evidence has been adduced to sustain the claim that all living matter is also intelligent matter, just as all gold metal is also yellow metal, and that to see any dualism here, any separate and independent factors that can be termed respectively "matter and mind", is merely to display the familiar symptoms of that inebriate condition which, ever since the dawn of the 4th century B.C., has afflicted Western humanity.
When once, however, we recognize the necessity of seeing intelligence wherever there is life, and no matter how mysterious the co extensiveness of the two may seem to us, we take an important step towards a better understanding, even if we still lack a clear explanation, of most natural phenomena. We get an inkling of the reasons for the prodigious versatility and resource of Nature, whether in the vegetable or animal kingdom; we appreciate the unlimited possibilities of her inventiveness, operating without hesitation throughout these vast armies of cells, all endowed with sense and sensibilities. We cease to halt spell-bound at her wonders; but rather expect little else.
When we are told of the Oak Eggar moth, for instance (Lasiocampa quercus), that if we wish to obtain any male of the species, it is not necessary to release a female, or even to keep her in an open box. The males will soon appear even if she is carried in a closed box in one's pocket. Or when we are told that the males of those moths with highly developed pectinated antennae, will suddenly appear from a distance of even a mile or more, and gather round a box containing a virgin female of their breed, when once the box has been placed in the open-when, I say, we are told such facts as these, we feel no more inclined to mistrust our ears than when we hear from a friend about an
We understand how it comes about that the larvae of the Ichneumon fly, when they hatch out from the eggs their mother has carefully deposited in the body of a live caterpillar, know how to live in the fatty portions of their host's body, and scrupulously to avoid all its vital parts, so that they may grow to maturity before their living larder dies of exhaustion. We also understand how the hairy ammophila can sting the grub which it uses, in nine different nerve centres, and then attacks its head, biting into it just far enough to paralyse without killing it. As Professor Karl Heim says, "Men could only perform operations of this kind after the most careful study of anatomy and the nervous system, and then only by surgical training and the use of the most delicate instruments". (T.S.W.V. Chap. IV, 24).
We also see, though perhaps more vaguely, the possibility of auto- and hetero-suggestion, even if their modus operandi may still seem obscure. Even the problem of cancer loses much of its gruesome mystery; for, when we learn from medical authorities, who imagine they are employing metaphor, that it is an aberration of the body or blood-cells, a sort of frenzied deviation from a norm of behaviour, we can at once appreciate that their language is no more than factual and not even picturesque. Yet, when Dr. Nolan Lewis declared cancer to be "paranoia on the cellular level", and when Dr. J. Berenblum spoke of cancer cells as suffering from "a split personality", we may feel sure that even their medical colleagues suspected them of using figurative language.
But if, like ourselves, the cells of plants and animals, as intelligent components of larger corporations, can be driven mad by excesses, whether of provocation, irritation, septic conditions, or confusion and conflict, there is no reason to doubt that today there is a profusion of such excesses everywhere in our civilized communities, and that their cumulative effect on the cells of the human organism abundantly accounts for the increase in the incidence of cancer, now generally acknowledged by all authoriities.
In England and Wales, for instance, the total cancer deaths was in 1935, 47,292; in 1954, 76,515; and in 1955, 91,340. Even when allowance is made for improved diagnosis, population growth, and the increasing number of older people, it cannot
We have but to think of such reckless abuses as now result from injurious diet habits. As a simple example of such abuses, take the present dangerously high consumption of sugar in England and Wales, which are now the greatest sweet-eating countries in the whole world, including the U.S.A. In 1956, "we spent £255,000,000 on chocolates and sweets-equal to more than half a pound each every week. This was £10,000,000 more than in 1955. . . . The second half of 1956 saw sales as high as at any time in the history of the industry" (Daily Mail, 4.6.57).
Almost sixty years ago, when the consumption of sugar and sweets was much less than it is today. Dr. Chalmers Watson declared, "that a very large part of the sugar consumption is surplus to body requirements and throws a resulting strain on the tissues". (Med. Press and Circular, 9.11.32). Two years later Dr. Nixon pointed out that it "may irritate the gastric mucosa" (B.M.J. 6.1.34); whilst Dr. J. H. P. Paton produced evidence to show that all the epithelium of the body is impaired by the excessive ingestion of carbohydrates (Journ. Amer. Med. Assoc., 29.10.32). Dr. Paton also made the interesting observation that the graphs of sugar consumption and the cancer death-rate since 1850 run nearly parallel. There may be no connection between the two, but the coincidence is disquieting.
Other dietetic abuses could be mentioned and discussed in detail. But there is no space to do more than hint at one or two of them. First of all, there is the present excessive consumption of carcass fat which, according to Dr. A. F. Blackburn, has a direct bearing on cancer incidence (Cancer: Causation, Prevention and Treatment, 1939. Also Dr. N. Waterman's Diet and Cancer, 1938, Preface and Part III, where the same view is advanced and supported by Dr. Freund of Vienna). And in view of the fact that nowadays, owing to a virtual fraud, carcass fat is universally foisted on all those who eat margarine, or whose cooked food contains it; even vegetarians and those of us who, although meat eaters, avoid fat, are fed to some extent on carcass fat. I suggest that this is a fraud, because margarine is no longer made exclusively from copra, as it used to be (hence its name, which is everywhere wrongly pronounced "marjerine"); and now contains chiefly, if not wholly, the carcass fat either of whales or
There is also today almost universal and persistent over-eating in all classes of the community, a vice which years ago poverty mercifully placed beyond the reach of the poor, and which Dr. F. L. Hoffman, for one, mentions as among the probable causes of malignant growths (Cancer and Diet, 1937, especially pp. 636, 661, 662665). At all events, there is no doubt that over-eating imposes a severe strain on the body tissues and is therefore a source of distress to the body cells. Nor should we forget the wholesale and indiscriminate and often unnecessary use of X-rays, which it is now known can cause cancer of the blood (leukaemia) and even other forms of malignant disease. And last, but not least, the present dangerous abuse of insolation, which is known to account for the high incidence of skin cancer among gardeners and the general population in a country like Australia.
As for septic conditions, they abound in our civilized societies. The pollution of the air by motor-car and diesel engine fumes; the chemical disinfection of our piped water, which is made necessary by the universal pollution of our rivers; and the adulteration of our bread by whitening agencies, are all productive of irritant effects on our body tissues. There is also widespread inadequacy of the respiratory function, especially in badly co-ordinated townsfolk and their children; enfeebled peristaltic action of the intestines owing to general asthenia and, above all, dysaemia through lack of healthy out-of-door exercise.
All these causes together are enough to account for distress and confusion in the body cells; but when in addition we think of the incompatibility and disparity introduced among body cells, and therefore disturbing their ability to perform their traditional tasks, by the mixture of types and stocks which has been going on in Europe and elsewhere ever since the means of transport made most populations fluid, we cannot wonder that the cells of the average modern human organism suffer from "split personality" and "paranoia on the cellular level". For what happens is that this constant mixture of types and stocks causes cells of markedly disparate provenance to come together in the same organism, with the result that they are what the French call "dérouté" and unable to work in perfect harmony at their appointed job. The fact that this cell-disparity is an important
Now we know from our experience with plants and animals that whenever Nature has confusion forced upon her, as when some grafts impose a strain of a different race upon a main stem, or when animals of different breeds whether of pigeons, ducks, pigs, rabbits or horses are crossed, the state of cell-confusion caused by such disparate matings leads to Nature's seeking refuge in a retreat to greater simplicity, that is to say, in an act of reversion or regression to an earlier less specialized form; so that instead of a confused mixture of the two disparates, a leap backwards is taken to an earlier form. Darwin, for instance, found that the wild rock pigeon was the product of crosses between such highly cultivated types as the Nun and the Tumbler; and he obtained similar results from crosses in pigs, horses and rabbits, etc. Cognate results have been produced by the crossing of disparate races of mice. In fact, Darwin found that "the act of crossing in itself gives an impulse towards reversion" (The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication, 1885, Chap. XIII; also Chap. II, p. 13).
These facts have an important bearing on the problem of cancer: because it is acknowledged by all authorities without exception that cancer cells are very similar to embryonic cells; that, in fact, they too represent a regression or reversion to a simpler and less differentiated type of cell; and I submit that it is here that we find the essential link between the state of confusion and conflict in the body cells of modern man, caused by the various agencies I have enumerated, and the sensational increase in the incidence of cancer.
So that the recognition of the plant and animal cell as a living centre of intelligence, helps us to understand not only the many wonders of botany and zoology, but also such morbid conditions as malignant growths. At all events, we have seen enough to make us hesitate before dismissing the pathologist as a romancer when he speaks of cancer as a cell-aberration or as cellular dementia.
The Attributes of the Life Forces III
When, in his essay on Milton (1825), Macaulay expressed the astonishing opinion that "Perhaps no person can be a poet, or even enjoy poetry, without a certain unsoundness of mind", and when he added, still more astonishingly, "Truth is essential to poetry, but it is the truth of madness", was he thinking of poor William Cowper, whose mind repeatedly became unhinged during the course of his relatively long life? Whether this was so or not, however, he would have been the first to acknowledge the fundamental truth expressed in one of the poet's most famous hymns (Ancient and Modern, No. 373), which opens with the lines:
"God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform."
Those who sing this hymn, like its poet-author, certainly express in fanciful form what, in the Universe, has always stirred thoughtful people to perplexed and wholehearted admiration. But in spite of their fancifulness, the lines surely do not express "the truth of madness". Considering the age when they were written their sense implies the highest sanity. The most enlightened modern scientist might alter their terms, but would hardly hesitate to subscribe to their sentiment. For the deeply mysterious way in which the wonders of the Universe are performed does
There is in fact no problem, however abstruse and apparently insoluble, which we do not see the forces of Nature solve with the utmost virtuosity; and in contemplating the infallibility of their methods we are driven willy-nilly to the conviction that an intelligence very much higher than any we know must be a pervasive quality of living matter.
From the smallest mammal the English Lesser Shrew (Sorex Pygmacus), hardly two inches in length and a little over an ounce in weight to the largest of all, the Blue Whale (Balaenoptera Sibbaldi), which may be 89 feet long, whose liver alone weighs a ton, whose heart weighs 1,000 lb. and whose total weight is 136 tons (i.e., the total weight of twenty-seven elephants), we find in the animal world alone so much at which to stare in speechless wonder, and so many conundrums brilliantly solved, that we abandon all doubt concerning the uncanny omnipotence of Nature's life forces. Volumes could be filled with examples amplifying this statement. We must confine ourselves to only a small selection.
There is a problem in kangaroo life, Nature's solution of which is a good illustration of her infinite resourcefulness. For reasons connected with the adult kangaroo's method of locomotion and other peculiarities which need not be gone into here, the young are born so small and imperfect that, not only have they to be placed at birth in a pouch on the maternal abdomen, specially adapted to their needs, but, owing to their helpless and immature state, are also unable to suck at their mother's dugs. But for the mother's power to inject milk into her offspring's mouths, therefore, they would inevitably perish. But "forcible feeding", as our prison authorities know only too well, has grave dangers. The food may enter the respiratory organs and cause suffocation, or at least serious disorders; and in creatures so young and helpless these fatal complications could hardly be avoided. How did the life forces solve this difficult problem? By a special valve adjustment at the head of the trachea? By attenuating the flow of the milk to a mere trickle, to allow all of it to be swallowed as it arrives? Neither of these unreliable solutions was chosen. The safer and more "foolproof method chosen by Nature was, as Darwin explains, to elongate the immature animals' larynxes to such an extent as to make them reach the "posterior end of
The life story of the Sitaris Beetle presents another striking example of resource. The problem here was, how could the larvae of this beetle, which can only develop into a fully-fledged insect by battening on honey, be provided with a suitable environment for its growth? This is how the problem was solved:
The female lays her eggs at the entrance of a subterranean passage made by a bee of the genus Anthophora; for only by clinging to such a bee can the larva hope to ensure its own survival. Those larvae that fail to do so inevitably perish. Having, however, succeeded in securing a hold on the back of a bee, the larva is borne high into the air when its host soars on its hymenal flight. Then, as the bee has intercourse with the female of its species, the Sitaris larva seizes the opportunity to change over in mid-air from one aircraft to the other, and is thus able to return with the female to the nest where she has built up her store of honey for the offspring she expects to have. When she has laid her eggs, the Sitaris larva selects one of them, destroys its contents in a few days and, using its shell as a sort of coracle, floats away on the surface of the honey, "feeding on it until strong enough to develop into a fully-fledged insect". (T.S.W.V. Chap. VI, 24).
A startling instance of the infinite resource and ingenuity of the life forces was related by Sir James Gray, C.B.E., F.R.S., in his Presidential Address to the British Association at York on and September 1959, when he spoke of the extraordinary capacity of certain fish to detect the presence of foreign objects even in total darkness. The fish known as Gymnarchus, for instance, can do this with remarkable precision by surrounding itself with an electric field; and Sir James pointed out that "the weight of the mechanism involved, including the animal's brain, amounts only to a few grains; whilst a man-made instrument of comparable performance would involve at least a ton of highly complex electronic machinery". (Nature, 5.9.59).
Just as wonderful, if less spectacular, is the enormous power generated by the roots and tender fibres of young growing plants; and this is especially noticeable when they happen to be situated in slender crevices in rocks or stone masses, or when overlaid by stone or concrete slabs. When we consider the softness of their
"The growing rootlets of shrubs and trees exert an almost incredible force", says Dr. Arthur Holmes, "as they work down into crevices. Cracks are widened by expansion during growth and wedges of rock are forcibly shouldered aside. . . . The roots of trees grow down into cracks and assist in splitting up the rocks". (The Principles of Geology, 1944, Part II, Chap. VIII; and Part I, Chap. III).
Speaking of the living energy of plants. Dr. F. H. Shoosmith says, "A considerable amount of energy is required, for example, to force the growing rootlet through the soil, or to raise the stem and its burden into the air against the force of gravity. Indeed, the force exerted by growing plants is surprisingly great: rocks may be splintered and masonry dislocated by growing roots and stems; and heavy paving-stones have been lifted by the steady upthrust of massed fungi". (Life in the Plant World, 1932, Chap. I).
When we bear in mind the tender texture of fungi, we can hardly believe that such feats can be possible. Yet, like myself, everyone who has done much gardening knows these facts to be absolutely true; and if I have often wondered how a plant could possibly succeed in penetrating soil into which I could hardly press my fork, I have no doubt that, amazing though it is, the phenomenon is a commonplace of gardening experience.
Is an author supposed to be more soulful, more deeply aware of the mystery of life if, after describing such wonders as are given above, he hints shyly at the idea that the answer to their perplexing features is the transcendental wisdom of the Creator? One feels that one is rather expected to do something of the sort. But would it help? Would it make their mystery less mysterious? And, in this respect, one must agree with John Cowper Powys who, referring to Wordsworth's "magnificent poem", Tintern Abbey, and his dark hints about the Power uniting all worldly phenomena, aptly remarks: "The mystery of life unrolls itself before us in sufficient majesty and tragic beauty
At any rate, when once we have earnestly pondered the kind of natural feats of legerdemain which I have illustrated in the foregoing examples, it cannot be difficult to believe that, to the forces governing life's processes anything is possible; and we obtain a mental image of the Universe and of its evolutionary history which, although it may be illuminated and substantiated by the contributions of Darwin and his followers, is a richer, wider and more credible interpretation of the facts than anything we can glean from orthodox science.
By this I do not mean that any personal researches I have made have so far enabled me to add any positive discoveries to those already recorded. The most I wish to claim is that many intricate and obscure problems which orthodox science either lays aside unsolved, or else attempts to solve by means of vague conjectures, seem at least to have acquired greater simplicity and clarity when once we fully grasp the significance and bearing of the monistic identification of life and intelligence, which I have suggested. For if we can imagine the difference, both of strategy and rules of play, between a game of draughts or chess, played with pieces wholly inert, and such a game played with pieces endowed with a modicum of brain-power, which enables them to co operate in achieving the success of a good player, just as each individual soldier in an army co-operates with the High Command, we can appreciate the huge gulf separating a life-process operating elements conceived as inert, and the same process conducted with elements conceived as, to some extent at least, capable of autonomic action.
In this sense, there is much to be said for Nietzsche's and Samuel Butler's criticisms of Darwin. I am fully aware of the injustice of many of Nietzsche's remarks, especially in Aphorisms 684 and 685 of The Will to Power. Indeed, most of them are the direst nonsense. Like a good many more, including such learned men as Dr. Martineau, Ivan Müller, etc., Nietzsche misunderstood Darwin's main contentions. He assumed, for instance, that the survival of the fittest through natural selection must mean the survival of the "better", the "stronger" and the "more highly organized". Now, although, as others have also observed (Huxley, George Eliot and Professor Darlington),
As I have myself scored the various passages in my own copy of The Origin of Species, which are certainly misleading on this matter, I can understand how many people, with an imperfect grasp of the main principle, could have been led to misunderstand it. This, however, hardly excuses real scientists.
Nevertheless, when Nietzsche declared "Darwin hat den Geist vergessen" (Götzendämmerung, 1888, Section IX, 14. "Darwin forgot the mind intelligence"), he was undoubtedly right. Even if it be argued that, as a scientist, Darwin could deal only with what he could find evidence for and prove, the criticism is still justified; because, like other Evolutionists, he certainly felt bound to speculate upon the possible or probable causes of what he called "spontaneous variations" (see, for instance, O. Chaps. I, II and IV). In the 1876 Edition of O. (Chap. I), he admits that "We are profoundly ignorant of the cause of each variation or individual difference", and yet it never seems to have struck him, as it did Lamarck, that the minds of organisms constituted of billions of cells, all sparkling with intelligence, might help to play an essential part in any gradual or spontaneous metamorphoses they might at any time undergo.
Samuel Butler, in sympathy with the older Evolutionists Erasmus Darwin and Lamarck stated very much the same views as Nietzsche did on this question, but with much greater emphasis and a far more impressive display of scientific knowledge. Referring to Darwin's claim that the operation of natural selection, acting as a preserver of chance variations favourable to the survival of a plant or animal, constituted the principal factor in evolution, he says: "The accumulation of accidental variations which owed nothing to mind either in their inception,
Thus it seems both fair and true to say that Darwin failed to reckon with or allow for a probably most important factor in the genesis of variations, and therefore in the origin of species; and even if so far it has not proved possible to postulate with faultless accuracy and scientific precision anything about the rôle played by intelligence in these processes, it does not follow that we should hesitate to allow for the possibly formidable participation of intelligence in their operation, more particularly as, although the evidence Lamarck and Butler gathered concerning this participation may be considered as inconclusive, it is nevertheless so highly significant that, to base any theory upon it, was less conjectural and audacious than might at first sight be supposed.
In any case, as the possible participation of intelligence in the genesis of variations has, as we shall see, a direct bearing on religion and religious observances, we cannot afford to overlook it and, in the discussion on evolution which is to follow, account will have to be taken of the possible rôle of the mind in the transformations that have overtaken living organisms since the dawn of life on earth. Thus, the extent to which Nietzsche's and Butler's criticism of Darwin may be scientifically defended will be described in the next chapter; and as we now have at our disposal much evidence which was not available when Butler and, a fortiori when Lamarck, were writing, it is hoped that a stronger case may be made out for their claims than they were able to present themselves.
The Attributes of the Life Forces IV
The fact that all species of plants and animals, from the lowest to the highest, have in the course of ages evolved from some kind of primordial matter which must have come into existence how, we do not know viâ an assumed series of transformations, from dust, through crystals, enzymes and filterable viruses, is now admitted by all investigators. Also undisputed, as we have seen, is the fact that the living matter composing all plants and animals, consists of myriads of cells, all of which are able to perform the functions necessary for the nourishment, growth, repair and adaptation to environment, of the vegetable or animal bodies which they compose.
Less general agreement, however, prevails regarding the capacity inherent in each cell, which enables it to perform these vital functions and to regulate its actions so as to execute, or work out, what has been called its "blueprint" or "template" that is to say the plan of its individual being. As we have seen, the ineluctable conclusion to which this inherent capacity of the cell leads us, is that it has a psychological property, recognized by a number of authorities as "memory"; but which in final analysis is seen to be equivalent to intelligence. For, where memory prompts purposive action, we cannot deny it intelligence, and we are driven to a belief in the unexceptional association of all living matter with intelligence. Indeed, the two appear to be everywhere co extensive and indissoluble, and to infer a dualism from their co-existence can lead only to confusion
Thus only can we understand purposeful adaptation, whether in plant or animal, as a process in which memory and intelligence co-operate; and when Dr. Erasmus Darwin (in Botanical Garden, "Vegetable Animation", 1791) declared that, "The individuals of the vegetable world may be considered as inferior or less perfect animals", he hinted at this idea. One hundred and forty three years later. Sir J. Arthur Thomson merely echoed the doctor-poet when he said, "There is something of the animal in many a plant, and something of the plant in many an animal". (B.F.E. Vol. II, Bk. II, Chap. VIII). The Venus fly-trap, that quickly closes its toothed bi-lobed blade when an insect touches its sensitive hairs, abundantly confirms this claim. Indeed, according to Sir J. A. Thomson, this plant is even able to learn from experience (B.F.E. Vol. I, Chap. I, 3). There is also the still more astonishing water-plant mentioned by Spencer, which captures infant fish (F.O.E.); whilst in the plant called Vallisneria, the male flowers approach still nearer to animality, as they detach themselves from the parent stem, and float on the surface of the water to the female ones.
The fundamental problems of adaptation to ambient conditions, variation and natural selection, or the survival of the fittest, as these processes occur in Nature to effect the evolutionary march of life, are insoluble if we approach and try to explain them without always assuming some sort of intelligence in all living matter; and here it seems to me that biologists like Darwin, Haeckel and their followers,, and philosophers like Spencer, unnecessarily hampered themselves and invited the justifiable attack of lay thinkers like Nietzsche and Samuel Butler. Hence the justice of Professor McDougall's description of Darwin's theory of evolution as "a theory denying by implication all other agency and influence than the mechanical" (R.S.L. Chap. I).
For the orthodox school of Evolutionists have taught us to
Hence the error, common among those who read qualitative discrimination into the terms "natural selection", of supposing that the survival of the fittest necessarily implies the survival of the "better", "stronger" or "more highly organized". For if we understand it as Darwin did (see, for instance, O. Chap. XI, Sect. 8), merely as the favouring of winners in the struggle, whether they win by improving or degrading themselves, we at once appreciate that no melioristic tendency is implied.
Nevertheless, however destitute of superior endowment (from the human standpoint) those who survive may sometimes be, there have been countless examples of both improvement and of higher organization; and, according to the evolutionary theory it is these advances in development which account for the ultimate emergence of all the higher organisms, including man, from the protozoa and the earliest forms of organic life.
Darwin put the matter thus: "As many more individuals of each species are born than can possibly survive; and as, consequently, there is frequently recurring struggle for existence, it follows that any being, if it vary however slightly in any manner profitable to itself, under the complex and sometimes varying conditions of life, will have a better chance of surviving, and thus be naturally selected." He states furthermore that he is convinced "that natural selection has been the most important, but not the exclusive means of modification". (O. Intro.).
But the fact that such creatures as the tape-worm, for instance,
Although Darwin considered natural selection the principal factor in the evolution of species, he, and to a greater extent Spencer, thought it by no means the only factor. Whilst both rejected Robert Chambers' vague "impulse to advance" (Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation, 1844), which Dr. Erasmus Darwin and Lamarck had adumbrated in different terms, together with Dr. Darwin and Lamarck's claim that "the promptings of desires and wants produced growths of the parts subserving them", they both accepted what Spencer called "the single vera causa" of evolution that Dr. Darwin and Lamarck had advanced to wit, "the modification of structure resulting from modification of function".
"Inadequate to explain the major part of the facts [of evolution] as is the hypothesis of the inheritance of functionally produced modifications", says Spencer, "yet there is a minor part of the facts, very extensive though less, which must be ascribed to this cause" (F.O.E.); and he proceeds to enumerate weighty reasons for including this factor as an indispensable contribution to the evolutionary process.
Thus both Dr. Darwin and Lamarck were to some extent vindicated by the two original champions of the modern theory of evolution; for, in the first chapter of O. (6th Edit. 1902, p. 12), Darwin says that "with animals the increased use or disuse of parts has had a more marked influence", and he gives illuminating instances of this phenomenon. Again in the Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication and in The Descent of Man, he makes similar admissions. In the Preface to the 1883
Spencer is even more emphatic. "To me," he says, "the ensemble of the facts suggests the belief, scarcely to be resisted, that the inheritance of functionally produced modifications takes place universally . . . if we admit the inheritance of functionally produced changes, we are justified in concluding that this inheritance . . . has been not simply a co-operating factor in evolution, but has been a co-operating factor without which organic evolution, in its higher forms at any rate, could never have taken place. . . . It seems scarcely reasonable to accept without clear demonstration, the belief that while a trivial difference of structure arising spontaneously is transmissible, a massive difference of structure, maintained generation after generation by change of function, leaves no trace in posterity" (F.O.E.).
These admissions not only vindicate Dr. Darwin and Lamarck for having maintained that use and disuse have exerted a potent influence on the evolutionary process, but also support their claim that acquired characteristics are, however insensibly, ultimately transmitted. Professor Weismann's theory of the real continuity of the germ-plasm, extending from generation to generation, implied that, as the hereditary mass for the offspring was separated off from the hereditary mass that formed the mother, before the body of the mother was formed, the offspring were in essentials the siblings of the mother and could take from her no character that she might subsequently acquire. This seemed to have administered the death-blow to the theory of the transmission of acquired characteristics, and to have proved, not only Dr. Darwin and Lamarck, but also Darwin and Spencer wrong.
But there were dissentient voices. For once more the omission to reckon with "the spirit", as Nietzsche called it, or the intelligence of all living matter, could be charged against another Evolutionist in the person of Professor Weismann; and although his view was adopted by the neo-Darwinians, material modifications of his claims were soon insisted on.
It cannot surprise us that such a view aroused much opposition. Professor E. W. McBride dismisses it as "only the old eighteenth century theory of 'evolution' or 'preformation' under another name". And he adds, "Within the last fifteen years carefully devised experiments have proved beyond reasonable doubt that the effects of use and disuse are inheritable." Thus, he concludes, "the mainspring of evolution, as Lamarck said over one hundred years ago, is the response of the animal to its environment, in plain language acquired habit". Dr. M. S. Pembrey, even more emphatic, says, "There appears from the physiological point of view to be no ground for the assumption that the germ cells are absolutely stable, and live a life apart from the common life of the organism." He also says, "There is no evidence that the germ cells are shielded from the influence of the general conditions which affect the nutrition of the body. Indeed, there is abundant evidence to the contrary" (E. Chap. VII).
Professor J. B. S. Haldane says of the differences due to a creature's process of adaptation to variations in its environment, that "a very slight tendency of characters so acquired to be inherited, might have an important evolutionary effect"; whilst, with reference to the inheritance of acquired characters, he says, "this is true in a few cases" (C.O.E. Intro. and Chap. II). But if it has been shown to be true in a few cases, may not the fact that it has not been proved in more cases be attributed to possible imperfections in the relevant experiments, or to their having deviated too sharply from Nature's slow and often insensible methods? J. Maynard Smith, on the other hand, seems to suggest that, whether or not acquired characters are transmitted, depends on the degree of bodily change involved. "An organism", he maintains, "can produce gametes whose hereditary properties,
Professor L. A. Harvey put the matter very well, when he wrote: "It is fundamental to the Neo-Darwinian theory that Weismann's concept of the inviolability of germ plasma by soma is correct, and that mutational changes in the germ complex arise solely at random. . . . It is arguable, however, that the 'separateness of the gonad from the rest of the soma' is a philosophical concept of the same order as that of the soul and the body. As such it may have been valid in the state of biological knowledge in Weismann's time, but today it has become undermined to the point of collapse by the work of endocrinologists, experimental embryologists, physiologists and cytologists, and it now provides very dubious foundations for the Neo-Darwinian argument" (N. 10.5.58: Review of Dr. G. S. Carter's A Hundred Years of Evolution).
Thus, apart from the vindication of the pre-Weismannite Evolutionists which this latter-day testimony affords, it is interesting especially from the angle of my argument in Part I, Chapter VII supra to find a modern scientist rejecting by implication, as no longer tenable, the philosophic concept of "the soul and the body", or, in other words, the dualism of the Socratics and Christianity. Professor J. B. S. Haldane concurs. "My own prejudice", he says, "is in favour of Monism", and he is opposed to falling back "on mind and body dualism" (C.O.E. chap. VI).
But whilst this timely revision of the Neo-Darwinian doctrine, although not wholly justifying the emphasis Lamarck and a lay writer like Butler placed on the inherited effects of use and disuse, adds little to our understanding of the process of speciation, it restores our confidence in conclusions with which a century ago Darwin and Spencer had made us familiar. Nevertheless, it leaves us with the crucial problem of evolution the cause of variation and mutation still unsolved. Unless we wish again to revert to Lamarck and Butler and assume that variability and changes in the germ-plasma are the outcome of what Butler called "cunning" and Lamarck described as the result of "grands changemens dans les circonstances", and hence
He explains his idea as follows: "The new needs, having made certain new bodily structures necessary, the cumulative effect of the efforts made by the animal to meet these new needs, actually causes the new bodily structures to come into being." ("De nouveaux besoins ayant rendu telle partie nécessaire, ont réellement, par suite d'efforts, fait naître cette partie.") When once the rudimentary bodily changes that result from this conscious effort at adaptation, become fortified and confirmed by repeated use, they lead to permanent new structures in the species (En suite, son emploi soutenu i.e., of the rudimentary structure "l'a peu à peu fortifié, developpé et a fini par l'aggrandir considérablement"). (P.Z. Ière Partie, Chap. VII.)
In this way, Lamarck pictured the variations that gradually bring about speciation, as a more or less deliberate achievement of the animal itself; and Samuel Butler, following his hint, conceived the fundamental cause of variation as "cunning", as opposed to Darwin's "chance", which Butler signified by the word "Luck".
When we bear in mind that "all the major steps in the evolutionary scale involve the appearance of entirely new structures" (Professor H. Graham Cameron, F.R.S., N. 23.8.58), we at once appreciate how important it is, and how profitable it promises to be, to find some means of substantiating if possible Lamarck's intuitions concerning the cause or causes of variation.
In order to follow the reasoning in my later chapters, it is therefore essential to bear Lamarck's ideas in mind; for, although they were admittedly conjectures a fact that justified Darwin and Spencer and the later Evolutionists in declining to countenance them, they reveal such penetrating insight that we cannot now dismiss them as confidently as the orthodox biologists have hitherto done. Neither Lamarck nor Butler, owing to their wanting certain data which I shall presently adduce, was able conclusively to show Lamarck's guess was right. But I hope to
The only part of it which Darwin and his followers may be said to have confirmed, is the claim that use and disuse and the transmission of acquired characters, are significant, though minor, factors in the process of evolution; for what they stressed above all, as we know, was natural selection acting on "chance" variations. Indeed, it was the mystery surrounding the origin of variations and mutations which led to the use of the expression "chance" in describing them. Hence Butler's question, "luck or cunning?", which he made the subject of a whole book in 1887; and hence his claim that orthodox biologists, by implicitly resorting to what was no less a guess than was Lamarck's own theory-for to explain natural phenomena by "chance" is a confession of ignorance-were no more scientific than the pioneers of evolution whom they condemned. Indeed, Darwin admitted as much; for in O. (Chap. V), commenting on his attribution of variations to chance, he says, "This, of course, is a wholly incorrect expression, but it serves to acknowledge plainly our ignorance of the cause of each particular variation."
The difference between Mr. Darwin and Lamarck", says Butler, "consists in the fact that Lamarck believes he knows what it is that so disturbs the constitution to induce variation, whereas Mr. Darwin says he does not know" (L.O.C. Chap. XVII). As I have already suggested, the trouble with Lamarck was that he only "believed" he knew. Had he been able to substantiate his belief, science would have acquired a theory of evolution in the early nineteenth century, to which Darwin's contribution would have been but an important accessory.
In the 1876 edition of O., Darwin said, "We are profoundly ignorant of the cause of each variation or individual difference." Again in the 1883 edition of D.O.M. (Part I, Chap. II), he said: "With respect to the causes of variability, we are in all cases very ignorant." This means that up to the moment of the actual appearance in any organism of features differentiating it, however slightly, from its ancestors, the Darwinian biologists know nothing concerning the history of such features. As Alfred Tylor observed, "The great difficulty in Mr. Darwin's works is the fact that he starts with variations ready-made, without trying as a rule to account for them, and then shows that if these varieties are beneficial the possessor has a better chance in the great
The earlier Evolutionists did at least try to account for the origin of new features, and Lamarck, as we have seen, suggested a theory of their origin which, if true, implied the co-operation of the following important factors:
(a) A constructive and organizing power in the living organism, which in response to appropriate stimulation, even of an emotional or merely imaginative kind, could initiate structural changes and concentrations of energy, with corresponding modifications in the germ-plasm.
(b) A capacity in the soma and germ-plasm to respond to such stimulation, provided always that it is given with adequate intensity and in strict accordance with the only conditions under which such stimulation can work.
In regard to factor (a), I shall presently adduce reasons for assuming that there is, in the living organism under special conditions, the capacity to suscitate and apply certain powers of construction and modification; and, as these reasons were unknown to Lamarck and his disciple, Butler, we can but applaud their insight in having, without these reasons, postulated the rôle of this indispensable factor in the genesis of variations.
As to factor (b), I hope also to be able to show that the stimulation of the power referred to under (a) is possible, and under what strict conditions such stimulation may be expected to work.
Before dealing with these fundamental matters, however, it is important to prepare the ground by considering a few further facts about evolution which have not yet been mentioned. We find all Evolutionists agreed regarding the connection between variation and changed conditions, a fact which confirms one at least of the earlier Evolutionists' claims; for Lamarck never failed to stress the importance of what he calls "grands changemens dans les circonstances", and the concomitant "changemens dans les besoins", as indispensable precursors of variation.
Darwin repeatedly refers to the "action of changed conditions" in initiating variation (O. Chaps. I, II, and XII). Spencer concurs (F.O.E.), whilst a more recent authority Professor J. Z. Young is sufficiently convinced of the potency of changed environmental conditions in initiating variation, to suggest that
It seems fairly certain that few plant and animal species existing during a period of orogenesis, for instance, could have undergone the geological changes then occurring without suffering either extinction, or being stimulated to marked changes in their habits, needs and desires, and hence, in their constitution; and Darwin, well aware of this, concludes that, "The complex and little known laws governing the production of varieties are the same, as far as we can judge, with the laws which have governed the production of distinct species. In both cases physical conditions seem to have produced some direct and definite effect, but how much we cannot say" (O. Chap. XV). He might well have added, "Nor can we say how."
Regarding factor (6), there is abundant implied support from orthodox biologists; for, however the stimulation works, and no matter what the necessary conditions for its successful working may be, they all acknowledge that a considerable influence is exerted upon the reproductive system by changes in external conditions.
Darwin says clearly, "With respect to what I have called the
Spencer also believed in the power of changed conditions to influence the reproductive system; although, if I understand him correctly, he thought the influence indirect and that it acted as the result of "changed functions of organs", registering themselves in some way by "changed proclivities of the reproductive elements" (F.O.E. p. 409). This is surely tantamount to saying that the genes are affected and that mutation may be the result.
A more recent investigator, Dr. M. S. Pembrey, F.R.S., adduces many reasons for believing that changed conditions affect not only the cells of the body but also the germ cells. He also claims that, "The germ cells are influenced by the other cells of the body and are liable to variation." Thus, he declares, "There is an interaction between the germ cells and the other cells of the body; of this there is no doubt" (E. Chap. VII). Sir J. Arthur Thomson has also given many reasons for this belief, and many instances of variation caused by changes in external circumstances (B.F.E. Vol. II, Book II, Chap. VIII).
One of the earliest investigators to recognize this fact was the eminent German physiologist. Professor Ewald Hering. Regarding the intimate relation of all the body cells, which is secured by the nervous system, the blood and the various other vital humours of the body, and the resulting influence of this integration of the organism on its conscious and unconscious life, he made the following important, original and, as we have seen, wholly justifiable statement: "Does this not indicate that the gonads stand in a closer and more essential relation to the remaining parts, especially to the nervous system, than do the other organs, and that conversely the experiences, whether conscious or unconscious, of the whole organism consequently cause a more pronounced reaction in the germ cells than elsewhere?" (U.G.A.G. Weist uns dies nicht darauf hin, dass der
Professor Hering here speaks of the influence of both the conscious and unconscious experiences of the organism upon the germ-cells; which is most important for our thesis; and as early as 1870 postulated the integration of the organism through the nervous system, the blood, and the other vital body humours, some fifty-six years before Sir Charles Sherrington published his Integrative Action of the Nervous System.
Thus, in considering the whole process of evolution in its bearing on religion, we have to keep all these findings in mind; because, as we shall see, we can understand neither evolution nor the fundamental practices of religion, unless we grasp how the intimate connection that may be established between the germ-cells, the rest of the body, and environment, plus the organism's means of contacting the innovatory and formative powers of life, effect development and change, whether in animals or man.
The description of the modus operandi of this connection and of the means whereby the organism uses it to adapt itself and to master the problems with which its environment presents it; and furthermore, to show the bearing these activities have on religious practices, will be the burden of the ensuing chapters.
The Attributes of the Life Forces IV (continued)
In view, however, of the objections raised, not only by philosophers and free-lance biologists such as Nietzsche and Butler, but also by scientists as eminently qualified as Tylor and Professor McDougall, to the implied denial by latter-day orthodox Evolutionists of "any other agency and influence than the mechanical" in the process of organic evolution, which has led to all past and present forms of plant and animal life, is it not possible not to say, probable that some important property inherent in living matter may have been overlooked, or deliberately scouted, in the speculations of modern biologists concerning the factors involved in the evolutionary process?
Furthermore, is it not possible that the failure to allow for this property has been due to an earlier failure to put two hitherto unconnected phenomena together? For if we are now able narrowly to describe these two hitherto unconnected phenomena, and can show that, at least during the last forty years, they have been known, although persistently unconnected by science, it seems to me that we may be able to make out a good title to the view that an explanation of variation and mutation has lain to hand for at least four decades of our century although it appears to have been neglected. Nor is it irrelevant to point out that, in view of Lamarck's pregnant, although unsupported, hints of over a century ago, it seems surprising that when once some support for them became possible, as it did early in the present century,
At all events, it now seems unquestionable that what McDougall quite properly deplored and Nietzsche and Butler denounced in the Darwinian theory the absence of any allowance for the rôle of the mind in the evolutionary process suggests a clue to the solution of the problem of variation and mutation; and that, unless we allow for the operation of this indispensable factor, the presence of which, as a component of all living matter, is now a commonplace of modern science, we cannot hope to discover how the variability, on which natural selection depends for its effects, ultimately arises.
Those who have so far followed the facts relating to the origin of species, recorded in the previous chapter, will be able to understand the conclusions we now feel entitled to draw from them.
When we contemplate the general picture presented by the world of living creatures, and observe particularly the gradual multiplication in the more complex animals of the purposeful structures which now differentiate them from the simpler organisms from which they derive; when, that is to say, we follow the insensible development of jaws, for instance, from the anterior branchial arches in the early chordates, some 350 million years ago; the gradual transformation of fins into limbs in the earliest amphibians; the immense lengthening of the digits and the growth of the interdigital membranes, which ultimately enabled the first bats to master aerial locomotion; and the host of other purposeful changes, complications of bodily parts, and transformations, culminating in the production of creatures as highly organized and complex as the various mammals of our day, including the primates and man; when, I say, we carefully note these developments and bear in mind Professor Cameron's statement that "all the major steps in the evolutionary scale involve the appearance of entirely new structures" (N. 23.8.58), and that these new structures in the favoured races meet the needs, often urgent, of the creatures that develop them, it is difficult to resist the conclusion to which Lamarck was driven when he postulated the rôle of effort on the part of the organism itself in initiating the formative activities which provide the means of mastering or becoming adapted to environmental conditions.
Another impression which will probably force itself upon the intelligent reader of any current treatises on evolution, is that these learned catalogues of biological data reveal but a surface no doubt an accurate, but albeit an external, view of the results they record and the process by which they have been reached. These works, especially those by physiologists and anatomists, certainly give much evidence of probing into the internal structures of the creatures whose genealogy they examine. But their scrutiny remains superficial. There is no attempt to deal with that essential component of all living matter, which, as we have seen, is intelligence. The mental force animating the cellular units of the organisms described, is never even given a thought. Yet, it must be assumed, otherwise the learned scientists concerned confess themselves either out of touch with or actually opposed to the cytologists whom I have abundantly quoted. Thus the variability and the genetic mechanism upon which Darwinian selection acts, is taken for granted. It is admitted that "the most important evolutionary agency is natural selection operating on the raw material of heritable variation provided by mutations" (Sir Julian Huxley: E.A.P. 1); yet the nature of the force or forces leading to this essential "raw material", if not deliberately scouted, is at least not mentioned.
Are there then serious grounds for inclining to I refrain from saying "embracing" a new theory, amplified so as to provide for the operation of this hidden force, a theory that would vindicate Lamarck? I submit that there are, and that these grounds not only shed a new light upon evolution and religion, but also receive indirect and powerful confirmation from the very fact that they offer a rationale, hitherto non-existent, of many otherwise obscure religious practices.
Why then, the reader may ask, have they been overlooked? Because, although they were already discernible in Darwin
The inevitable consequence has been a state of isolation in every one of the sciences, which has too often culminated in complete alienation. The scientists investigating the different aspects of life therefore often speak a language hardly intelligible to their colleagues across the way. They hold and can hold no "summit conferences" at which their departmental discoveries and conclusions could be collated and correlated.
If, for instance, as a writer with no classical scholarship, I was able over forty years ago, to make an original contribution to Greek mythology, which was acknowledged as such by The Journal of Hellenic Studies, it was simply because the leading authorities in medicine never met their opposite numbers in classical scholarship at a Summit Conference. (See my Man's Descent from the Gods, 1921.)
Very occasionally, as we have seen, a protest is raised by scientists outside the circle of orthodox biology, against the unreasonable mechanistic outlook of the authoritative Evolutionists. But it never seems to effect its intended purpose. No protest could have been more emphatic, for instance, than that pronounced by Professor McDougall in 1925. After pointing out that "It is now widely recognized that the strict neo-Darwinian theory of organic evolution is inadequate", because it ignores mind; he says of this theory, "It finds itself at the conclusion of its attempt with mind upon its hands as an enormous remainder or surd which cannot be intelligibly brought into the scheme and yet cannot be ignored, save at the cost of absurdity of the whole scheme."
Then, after remarking that "the Lamarckian hypothesis is out of favour" for the present "for lack of any conclusive evidence in its support", he goes on to say, "But to reject, tentatively or wholly, the Lamarckian hypothesis is not to rule mind out of the account as a creative agency. Mind is the only creative agency of which we have any conception." Finally, he makes this
But if in 1925, Professor McDougall still felt unable to offer sufficient conclusive evidence to support the Lamarckian hypothesis to which he obviously inclined, I submit that at the present moment the position is not nearly so desperate. Indeed, even in his own day, thirty-five years ago, there was, as I hope to show, already enough evidence to hand to enable anyone, familiar as he was with other departments of scientific knowledge, at least to attempt the outline of a scheme which would have lent the Lamarckian hypothesis considerable credibility; yet he never made this attempt.
Dr. Magnus Pyke, in an interesting treatise, remarks that "here and there are the grade-one people who are capable of seeing the underlying relation between apparently disconnected facts" (N.L.S. Chap. I). Now, Professor McDougall was certainly one of these "grade-one people". If he did not make the attempt in question, therefore, it must have been owing to the extreme caution established scientists have to observe lest they forfeit the authority they enjoy in the opinion of the academic world.
What then are the disconnected facts, the underlying relation of which would have vindicated Lamarck, shed important light on the evolutionary process, and simultaneously explained many a problem connected with religion and religious practice?
I suggest that they are, on the one hand, biological variation occurring under special circumstances, which we shall examine; and, on the other, those facts, positive knowledge of which has been recently acquired (although acted upon blindly for thousands of years), proving that it is possible for living organisms, and certainly for man (although perhaps less possible for him) to influence, and even to enlist the co-operation of, the formative, improvisatory and innovatory forces of living matter.
In other words, I suggest that it is now legitimate to postulate the feasability of reaching and summoning to any activity whatsoever, and with any object (i.e., evil or benign), the hidden
I intend to make a further claim and to suggest that it is now probably consistent with acknowledged facts to say that we can reach and stimulate to any activity whatsoever (evil or benign) these same hidden forces even outside and beyond the range of our own living organism. It will, however, be noticed that in this connection I say "probably", as I do not regard this claim as nearly so well established as the former one. For the moment I shall be concerned only with the former claim.
It is common knowledge that for centuries mankind have been aware of their capacity, in certain not wholly conscious states, of contacting and summoning to activity powers in their bodies not normally under their control. In the East, among the religious devotees of Tibet and the Yogis of Hindustan and nearer home, among the dervishes of Algiers, this has been a familiar fact for a much longer period than in Europe. But even in Europe it began to be known as early as the sixteenth century, and by the eighteenth, in France, the phenomenon was sufficiently recognized to be examined by a royal commission composed of eminent scientists. Nor did this commission, which reported its findings in 1784, deny all the claims advanced by the practitioners who were applying the phenomenon therapeutically. All it did was to deny, quite properly, that any "magnetic fluid" was concerned in the cures effected by its means, whilst not denying the validity of the cures themselves.
According to Professor McDougall, three centuries were required "to establish the occurrence" of the phenomenon "among the facts accepted by the world of European science" (E.B. 1908, Vol. XIV); and this phenomenon was Hypnotism, a state in which it was found that the formative and innovatory forces of living matter could be mobilized.
Meanwhile a noted English surgeon had used it early in the nineteenth century to perform many major operations, such as the amputation of limbs, painlessly and with excellent results. (Ibid.) It was really only the discovery of chloroform in 1848 and the confusion by the public of hypnotism with some of the
Some of the effects attained by means of it are enumerated by Professor McDougall as "the production of blisters, erythemata and ecchymoses of the skin (the so-called stigmata) in positions and of definite shapes determined by verbal suggestions, and the rapid healing of wounds or burns with almost complete suppression of inflammation; and with these may be put the complete suppression or prevention of pain, even pain of such severity as normally accompanies a major surgical operation" (B.M. Chap. XXV).
Dr. Albert Moll instances the formation of blisters which Dr. Ernst Jendrássik of Budapest caused by suggestion in a subject under hypnotism, and the appearance of stigmata induced by suggestion in a subject at the Salpêtrière by Pierre Janet. He also describes how Dr. Flach of Aschaffenberg, by applying a cold key to the skin of a girl of twenty and suggesting that the key was red-hot, caused a blister to form (Hypnotism, 1909, Chap. III). The evidence we possess of physiological processes and bodily tissue changes, induced by hypnotic suggestion, which normally are quite beyond our control, is in fact so massive that volumes would be required to enumerate it all (see, for instance, Lectures IX, X, and the Observations Cliniques, I to XVII, in Professor H. Bernheim's classical work, Hypnotisme, Suggestion, et Psychothérapie, 1890; Dr. Ewald Hecker's Hypnose und Suggestion im Dienste der Heilkunde, 1893, and Dr. August Forel's Der Hypnotismus, Seine Bedeutung und Seine Handhabung, 1889, especially Section V). In his work on hypnotism, Dr. Hecker says of the examples of the bodily processes and changes induced by hypnotic suggestion: "Above all, they are so bafflingly plentiful that to try to explain them as the result of mere accident or self-deception is quite out of the question." (Sie sind vor allen Dingen so verblüffend zahlreich, dass von einem Spiel des Zufalls, oder von einer Selbsttäuschung absolut nicht die Rede sein kann.")
Now, apart from the successful use of hypnotism in surgery and midwifery, these cases alone make it clear that in the hypnotic state it appears to be possible to call into actvity forces which, in the normal state, are quite inaccessible and cannot be
How does an authority like McDougall describe the condition of the hypnotized subject? He says, "increased suggestibility is its essential symptom". That is true enough; but it is not enough, because, added to the increased suggestibility is the subject's singular capacity to get into touch with the formative and usually inaccessible forces inherent in living matter, which, in his unhypnotized state he is quite unaware of, and incapable of mobilizing, or of stirring to any activity whatsoever. We are therefore entitled to infer that if the living organism is to be capable of activating the formative and improvisatory forces inherent in its cells, it is of paramount importance that its volition should be suspended and that only a suggestion of any desired effect should reach them. For the essential condition of the subject's ability to activate the forces in question is his total surrender of his conscious mind, and above all of his volition, to the hypnotist; and, be it noted, not to the hypnotist's will as many assume, but only to his suggestions. If we lose sight of this crucial fact, we are unable to understand not only the phenomenon of hypnotism but many kindred phenomena which I shall now discuss, including some of the more fundamental aspects of religious practice.
When, however, I tell the reader that even a mind as cultivated and shrewd as that of the late A. J. Balfour (later Lord Balfour) seems to have been unable to grasp this essential fact, the failure of lesser minds to understand it may appear less surprising. But of this anon; for we shall see that even a thinker as intelligent as Bernard Shaw also misunderstood the phenomenon of suggestion in states in which the body becomes capable of reacting formatively to it.
M. B. Arnold, a writer in the Journal of Abnormal Social
We shall see this abundantly confirmed by subsequent and substantially different researches into the power of mobilizing the hidden and secret forces latent in living matter; for, in the second decade of this century, the whole of Western Europe and the United States were suddenly confronted with a novel and astonishing doctrine and technique which, although they had similar roots to those of hypnotism, approached the problem of producing results hitherto achieved only by hypnotists, from an original and unprecedented point of view.
I refer to the discoveries of Dr. Émile Coué, based upon the work of Alexandre Bertrand, who maintained that what is called the hypnotic state is due to the influence of a patient's imagination acting upon himself.
This gave Coué the clue to his own solution of the problem, which as we know, was to the effect that all cures and bodily changes brought about by hypnotism are really the outcome not of hetero- but of auto-suggestion, resulting from the abandonment of his own will by the hypnotized subject. Thus, as Coué's school taught: "Our formula must not be 'who will can', but 'who imagines can'." And on this basis that is by furnishing his patient's imagination in the desired way Coué soon began to obtain the most startling results in cures and other forms of bodily effects related to functions and physiological processes hitherto looked upon as beyond, or inaccessible to, any mental influence whatsoever.
We have but to read Charles Baudouin's Suggestion and Auto-Suggestion (1920, especially Part III, Chap. IV), in which many impressive results of Coué's method are recorded, in order to appreciate that not only in therapeutics but in every field of human endeavour, mental and physical, Coué's technique for enlisting, or more properly invoking, the formative and improvisatory forces latent in living matter, at once frees us from the
What the general public and even a man of A. J. Balfour's intellectual stature appear to have overlooked in the theory propounded by Coué, was that the will must not for one moment enter into the mental operations by which the effects of auto-suggestion may be secured. So accustomed have people become to believing that in every effort or aim: that Man may think realizable, "will-power" of some sort must come into play, that almost everybody only too readily took for granted that Coué, in spite of all he emphatically states to the contrary, must really have meant us to exercise our wills after all. They read into his method a doctrine which, if they had possessed the rare capacity of being able to read accurately, was the very converse of that which he taught.
For no one could have been more explicit than he was. "Above all," he says, "the will must not intervene in the practice of auto suggestion. This recommendation is absolutely essential" (S.A. Part II, Chap. I). If will is allowed to intervene, as too often and too easily happens with us "go getters" and "end-gainers", the very reverse of what we actually crave comes to pass.
Baudouin speaks of this "discovery of the law of reversed effort" as Coué's "most original contribution, his stroke of genius." (Ibid.)
Nevertheless, extraordinary as it may seem, most of the readers of Baudouin's book, with whom I discussed it at the time, had either overlooked this indispensable proviso, this essential condition if auto-suggestion is to be practised harmlessly, or else had failed to see its importance. I was dining at Lady Cunard's in Carlton House Terrace on Friday, 3rd March 1922, and having the good fortune to be seated by A. J. Balfour, our conversation naturally gravitated to the subject of Baudouin's account of Coué, which everyone was talking about at that time. My astonishment can therefore be imagined when I gathered that although the distinguished statesman had read the book, he had not grasped the crucial importance of the "law of reversed effort". At the risk of boring him, I there and then tried to explain the matter to him. What I actually said was this: After startling him a little by declaring that if the Government under-
Bernard Shaw is another example of carelessness in the reading of Baudouin; for, speaking of those biologists with whose views he sympathized and who scorn the mechanistic theories of Darwin and his school, and ascribe all evolutionary advances to the individual organism's own efforts and desires, he says: "They have observed the simple fact that the will to do anything can and does, at a certain pitch of intensity, set up by conviction of its necessity, create and organize the new tissue to do it with" (B.T.M. 1921, Preface).
It is possible that, when he wrote this, Shaw was not aware of Coué's discovery about the law of reversed effort, and that therefore this criticism is unjust; for only a year elapsed between the publication of Baudouin's book in English and that of the play in question. But other printings of the Methusalah Preface, published after 1921, when Shaw had learned about Coué, retained this passage. Besides, the passage shows how even a highly intelligent man, as late as the second decade of this century, could still share the popular view that the operative factor in hypnotism and its related phenomena, which mobilizes
Does such evidence of intellectual superficiality in Shaw perhaps justify Dr. H. J. Eysenck's castigation of him (S.N.P. Part II, Chap. VI)? It will be remembered that, after mentioning "the nonsense" Shaw writes about science in Everybody's Political What's What, and The Black Girl in Search of God, Dr. Eysenck, among other stinging remarks, says, "it shows clearly how a highly intelligent person can utterly misunderstand the aim and purpose of scientific experiments". Lord Tweedsmuir, writing in 1907, was even more scathing. "He [Shaw]", he said, "has no more claim to be called a thinker than a man with a Kodak to be called an artist" (extract from "London Letter" in the Scottish Review).
Whether this is justified or not, I suggest that at any rate we may regard it as well established that the prevalent and popular view of the powers involved in auto-suggestion and any spiritually contrived therapy, and the forces involved in any organic advance whatsoever (assumed to be individually initiated) is that they are invariably volitional. For how can we expect the common man to be more shrewd and perspicacious than Shaw? Nor is it at all unlikely that the relative speed with which Coué's auto-suggestion faded out of fashion, was due to a popular misunderstanding which was fatal to any success that could attend its exercise.
When we come to consider the bearing all this has, not only on evolution, but also on religion, we shall be able to appreciate with added conviction the extreme importance of Coué's law of reversed effort and the light it sheds on religious practice.
The Attributes of the Life Forces V
On the other hand, peristence of type for as long as millions of years, as for instance in Amphioxus, Heterodontus and Sphenodon, in lung-fish and lamp-shells, and even in such mammals as opossums, hedgehogs, dogs, pigs and lemurs, points, as many biologists suppose, to a certain constancy in the circumstances of these creatures' lives. Thus, Sir Julian tells us that "there has been no improvement in birds, regarded as machines for flying, for perhaps 20 million years, none in insects for more than 30"; both of which facts seem to indicate that the creatures concerned have during all these ages found little amiss in their mastery of their environment; and since any such failing would indicate an environmental change sufficient to account for it, it seems probable that in one respect at least their conditions have been stable. "Some less advanced types of organization," Sir Julian continues, "such as lung-fish and lamp-shells, have remained unchanged for 300 million years or more" (E.A.P. Chap. I).
Of Amphioxus, Professor J. Z. Young says, it "shows us approximately the conditions of the early fish-like chordate living in the Silurian some 400 million years ago, and that it has undergone relatively little change in all the time since"; whilst of the sharks he says,, they "are quite like their Palaeozoic ancestors". Heterodontus is similar to fossils in Trias, 180 million years ago; and the lizard Sphenodon "has changed little since Permian times, 250 million years ago". As to opossums and hedgehogs, he tells us that they "are quite similar to those of
The facts seem to indicate that variation and mutation (I refer to the "small mutations" important in evolution), far from being universal or inevitable, more probably represent the organism's reaction to any change in the environment which disturbs an equilibrium previously established between it and its conditions. This appears the more likely when we learn from Professor J. B. S. Haldane that the "genes for a major character, say hair density, may be replaced rather rapidly in response to environmental change" (E.A.P. Chap. VIII); for in this example we have a change which may be very adverse and dangerous for the organism; and the fact that the state of distress thus created provokes a rapid readjustment of the kind described, lends colour to the view that variation and mutation are organic responses to any environmental change serious enough to destroy the harmony previously established between the organism and its milieu.
If this is so, it would go a long way towards elucidating the problem of variation. Nor, in the circumstances, can we regard as other than important the researches of the German worker, Professor Tornier, who makes it appear probable that mutations owe their origin to "a bad environment" (E. Chap. VI). If therefore any change in an environment reduces the mastery over it hitherto enjoyed by an organism, Tornier's researches seem to warrant the conclusion that "small mutations", and consequently variations, follow.
Indeed, this is neither more nor less than what we should have expected; for, if the efforts of striving and the mute desires which, according to Lamarck, detonate the latent formative forces of the body in order ultimately and however insensibly to induce structural change (Shaw's organization "of new tissue to do it with"), leading to the differentiation of species, these efforts, etc., would be much more likely to be made when changes adverse to the organism set in. Nor, if such rapid replacement of genes "for a major character" as Professor Haldane mentions, is the organism's response to a particular environmental change (in this case, of temperature), does it seem unreasonable to infer that a similar process takes place for other characters.
The effort amounts to a blind S O S, in which the desired end is imagined and its accomplishment assumed as inevitable. In the organisms lower than man, no volition would accompany these mute aspirations, because will implies the conception either of some definite thing willed, or of some definite power that will can urge or impress.
The creatures lower than man, knowing of no means not knowing, for instance, that fins may be changed into limbs leave the means to Nature, or the life forces, and only imagine successful adaptation, not narrowly defined, lying ahead. They only ardently desire a happy consummation. The most they might do, as we shall see, is to picture themselves in imagination surmounting the difficulties the changed environment confronts them with. And, as there is no limit to the power and resource of the life forces, the most intricate and ingenious means of overcoming these difficulties are generally found. The fact that this is not always so is suggested by the evidence we have of the sudden extinction of certain animal species, as in the period between the Tertiary and the Eocene.
What creatures lower than man, however, never do, is to doubt their success in ultimately overcoming an environmental change; because doubt presupposes some conception of the possibility, feasibility, or probability of an individual modification, and that conception they cannot have. It is man's intellect that here is prone to defeat his purpose, and Troward says quite correctly that "our intellect becomes the greatest hindrance to our success, for it only helps to increase our doubts" (E.L.M.S. Chap. VIII).
Now, there is nothing mystical or magical in this intervention
It is, however, man's fatal misfortune that all the immense advantages his consciousness affords him, are heavily outweighed in most of his species by introducing into human desires and aspirations two factors absent from the animal's more subconscious thought-doubt and volition. By jeopardizing his chances of seeing his aspirations realized, they lead to endless frustration and despair. "Belief in limitation is the only thing that causes limitation, because [by suggestion] we thus impress limitation upon the creative principle." Thus says Troward (Ibid. Chap. XIII), and he is right. Only in religion has man instinctively, presumably lighted upon the means for mitigating
We have but to think of what the result would be if a hypnotist, in suggesting to a subject that the cold key he is about to lay on her arm was really white-hot, added the proviso, "If it really is white-hot."
Bearing all this in mind, if we now attempt to picture the stages by which an advance, or merely adaptive change, is gradually effected in an animal organism, let us suppose that we were witnesses of some great earthly convulsion, whether due to orogenesis or a fundamental climatic change, and let us choose for our example the divergence that must have taken place between the cat and the dog in ages past.
As everyone must know, who has lived for any length of time in their company, these two animals have a number of similar behaviour traits and anatomical features, which lead one to suspect their common origin. Unlike horses and cattle, they both lap their drink. In a modified form, the dog will for a much shorter period than the cat play with any small prey it happens to catch; and like the cat it will cover up its excrement, or at least try to. The dog's clumsy, inaccurate and slap-dash attempts to do this compare lamentably with the cat's more methodical, painstaking and always successful performance of the same operation; but the similarity, though now remote, is unmistakable there. Similarly, a dog, especially after partaking of any rich gravy or other savoury fluid meal, will, with the same sketchy perfunctoriness, attempt to clean its jowl and cheeks with its forepaws, exactly like a cat, though again with much less thoroughness and grace. It certainly does not keep itself as clean and odourless as the cat. This is probably because, relying on speed for safety, it can be more careless about being traced, than the cat in its limited woodland haunts.
Their period of gestation is about the same and the females of both species are exemplary mothers. Both animals, in their own particular way, become their owner's devoted retainers and show the same jealousy of rivals. I once possessed a cat which, during the absence of my wife and me on holiday, pined away, refused all food, and threatened to die, until one of us, just in the nick of time, dashed to the veterinary surgeon (the late Sir Frederick Hobday) who had charge of her and had notified us of her condition, and removed her from his care.
Their differences are now, of course, conspicuous. Their voices have nothing in common and they express their emotions differently. The dog has no nictitating membrane and no retractive claws, though the elastic ligament which draws back the cat's claw is present in the dog's digits, but too weak to effect retraction. The dog has no homy projections covering its tongue, and its sense of smell, like its speed, is superior to the cat's. But the very superiority it enjoys over the cat in olfactory sensitiveness considerably mars its charm; for it has turned the dog into an obsessional undinist with a compulsion neurosis manifesting itself as an insatiable interest in other dog's excretions, even to the extent of impairing the dog's value as company on a walk. Although average dog owners, especially the women among them, appear wholly to overlook these grave drawbacks, together with the revolting practices to which they often lead, and will even kiss a dog on its nose and let it lick their faces; to the person of more fastidious tastes, who happens to be free from the two or three obscure complexes which all passionate dog-lovers suffer from, the cat, with its more delicate and discreet sexual behaviour, will always seem the more attractive pet, especially as, from the point of view of intelligence, there is not much difference between the two animals.
Although the teeth of both animals have many similarities, the dog has more than the cat and a longer snout with which to accommodate them. Owing probably to the fact that the dog's self-preservation is not dependent on any penetrating power of its claws, these are not lifted from the ground as the cat's are, when it is running or walking. If the cat's were like this, they would be blunted by the soil over which it travels, and be useless for clinging to the vertical sides of a tree-trunk when it is escaping from an enemy. The cat's constant care to keep its claws sharp gives the clue to the reason for the superb mechanism by which its claws remain suspended above the ground when it is walking.
The dog is thought to be a very ancient specialized form of the Fissipaedia, a sub-order of the Miacidae, from which both animals have evolved. But the cat, too, can claim a very ancient
At all events, both animals descend from a common Miacid stem, and branched off from it probably some 30 million years ago in the Miocene. Their common ancestor may have been something like the civet, whose claws are only half retracted and, at the time of the separation of the two species, were probably at a rudimentary stage allowing of the alternative developments we now see established.
Now, we know that in the Miocene there were considerable upheavals marked elevations of land accompanied by, or causing the production of wide prairies and arid conditions. We also know that during the preceding geological eras (the Oligocene and Eocene) there was a period during which large forests had spread over the earth, accompanied by humid conditions. At that moment in the Earth's history, therefore, it is not improbable that the common Miacid ancestors of the dog and cat found themselves broken into two large groups, each of which was confronted by different circumstances, and thenceforth had to solve in different ways the problem of evading the larger fauna that preyed upon them.
On the one hand, the group relegated to the plains and prairies had to cultivate habits and nurse desires which led them to develop high travelling speed, together with the anatomical modifications that made it possible; and, on the other, a group which, finding itself confined to the still extant forestland of the Oligocene, sought safety and survival by a different adaptation. For generations, probably, it gazed longingly up at the tall trees of its native haunts and, whilst ardently desiring to gain rapid access to their heights, may have simultaneously made incessant attempts to achieve this end, picturing itself climbing with lightning speed the vertical trunks to escape the many predators that were decimating its kind. In either group, the intensity of the desires provoked by the lethal perils that threatened, and the vividness with which the manner of escape was imagined, would have caused the communication of powerful suggestions to the formative powers latent in the organisms of its members, and thus the suitable adjustments would eventually have come about: the dog insensibly increasing its performance until it was capable of reaching the speed of forty miles an hour (Contemporary
At all events, from all we know of the response readily made by the formative forces latent in the body-cells of all organisms to repeated and intensive suggestions, there is nothing either fantastic or mystical about this tentative sketch of the probable events which preceded the ultimate differentiation of the two groups of ancestors of the dog and the cat. Nor does the fact that its outstanding features may well prove applicable in principle to the whole of the evolutionary process, detract from its probable validity. On the contrary, it explains so many hitherto inexplicable phenomena, and incidentally so abundantly confirms Lamarck's remarkable intuitions, that if we had to make our choice from among the many theories advanced concerning the causes of variation and the relation of matter to mind, it would seem unreasonable to decline to give the theory outlined in this chapter at least careful consideration.
For, if we have been able to offer a speculative description of an evolutionary process such as that which produced the dog and the cat, without any appeal to magic or fantasy, we have surely made some headway towards solving not only the mystery of mutation, but also that of the body-mind relation. And to remain any longer reluctant to accept this solution, argues a disinclination to grant the monistic postulate with which we started, according to which living matter is conceived as indissolubly compounded of life and intelligence a postulate which Professor McDougall approached repeatedly in his treatise (B.M.), but which he never has the independence or courage to accept. Throughout Chapter XIII of his book, and the chapters that follow, he seems disposed ever more and more to embrace Animism, by which he implies that he favours the dualistic theory of soul acting on body and existing independently of body, when all the while a theory presenting far fewer difficulties and explaining many more facts, seems to be cogently indicated by the data I have set out in this Part II of the present work. And it is all the more surprising that he adopted this view, seeing that, in the passage I have quoted from Chapter IX of E. on pages 242243 supra, he appears to embrace the views advanced in this chapter.
Whether we are entitled, as Troward thought we were, to assume that the suggestions thrown out intensively by an ardently aspiring being, can reach the life forces outside our own selves; whether, that is to say, we may believe that we are able by suggestion to move, as it were, the cosmic life forces to affect the course of our own or other people's lives, is a question much more difficult to decide than that which has occupied us in the foregoing discussion. But if there is truth in telepathy, clairvoyance, and in the alleged terrifying powers of primitive medicine-men and shamans to inflict curses upon people, it seems as if there must be means of moving the cosmic forces through suggestion to produce effects beyond ourselves. The data regarding the unfailing efficacy of medicine-men's curses, are certainly too well authenticated to be lightly dismissed, and many scientists have already expressed their belief in telepathy. Professor McDougall is among the more emphatic who have done so. Speaking of the evidence of the reality of telepathy, he says, "It must suffice to say that it is of such a nature as to compel the assent of any competent person who studies it impartially", whilst Dr. Eysenck, in Part I, Chapter III of his book (S.N.P.), leaves us in no doubt that there is too much evidence in support of both telepathy and clairvoyance for us to be able to regard them as myths. "Both clairvoyance and