"We have now reached that stage that we must admit that there is a mind within us, in our inner world, and a mind without us, in the outer world. What we call this mind, the Ego, the soul within us, and the Non-ego, the world-soul, the God without us, is a matter of indifference. The Brahmans appear to me to have found the best expression. They call the fundamental cause of the soul, of the Ego, the Self, and the fundamental cause of the Non-ego, of the World-soul, of God, the highest Self. They go still farther, and hold these two selves to be in their deepest nature one and the same—but of this another time. To-day I am content, if you will admit, that our mind is not mere steam, nor the world merely a steam-engine, but that in order that the machine shall run, that the eye shall see, the ear hear, the mind think, add, and subtract, we need a seer, a hearer, a thinker. More than this I will not inflict on you to-day; but you see that without deviating a finger's breadth from the straight path of reason, that is from correct and honest addition and subtraction, we finally come to the soul-phantom and to the idea of God, which you look upon with such blood-thirstiness. I have indicated to you, with only a few strokes, the historical course of human knowledge. There still remains much to fill in, which must be gained from history and the diligent study of the sacred books of mankind, and the works of the leading philosophers of the East and the West. We shall then learn that the history of mankind is the best philosophy, and that not only in Christianity and Judaism, but that in all religions of the world, God has at divers times spoken through the prophets in divers manners, and still speaks.
"And now only a few words more over another somersault. You say that the mind is not a prius, but a development out of matter. You are right again, if you view the matter only from an embryological or psychological standpoint. A child begins with deep sleep, then comes dream-sleep, and finally awakening, collecting, naming, adding, subtracting. What is that which awakens in the child? Is it a bone, or is it the soft mass which we call brain? Can the gray matter within our skulls give names, or add? Why, then, has no craniologist told us that the monkey's brain lacks precisely those tracts which are concerned with speech or with aphasia?(36) I ask again, Can the eye see, the ear hear? Try it on the body under dissection, or try it yourself in your sleep. Without a subject there is no object in the world, without understanding there is nothing to understand, without mind no matter. You think that matter comes first, and then what we call mind. Where is this matter? Where have you ever seen matter? You see oak, fir, slate, and granite, and all sorts of other materies, as the old architects called them, never matter. Matter is the creation of the mind, not the reverse. Our entire world is thought, not wood and stone. We learn to think or reflect upon the thoughts, which the Thinker of the world, invisible, yet everywhere visible, has first thought. What we see, hear, taste, and feel, is all within us, not without. Sugar is not sweet, we are sweet. The sky is not painted blue, we are blue. Nothing is large or small, heavy or light, except as to ourselves. Man is the measure of all things, as an ancient Greek philosopher asserted; and man has inferred, discovered, and named matter. And how did he do it? He called everything, out of which he made anything, matter; materia first meant nothing more than wood used for building, out of which man built his dwelling. Here you have the whole secret of matter. It is building-material, oak, pine, birch, whichever you prefer. Abstract every individual characteristic, generalise as you will, the wood, the hyle, always remains. And you will have it that thought, or even the thinker, originated from this wood. Do you really believe that there is an outer world such as we see, hear, or feel? Where have we a tree, except in our imagination? Have you ever seen a whole tree, from all four quarters at once? Even here we have something to add first. And of what are our ideas composed, if not our sense-perceptions? And these perceptions, imperfect as they are, exist only in us, for us, and through us. The thing perceived is and always remains, as far as we are concerned in the outer world, transcendent, a thing in itself; all else is our doing; and if you wish to call it matter or the material world, well and good, but at least it is not the prius of mind, but the posterius, that which is demanded by the mind, but is always unattainable. Even the professional materialist ascribes inertia to matter. The atoms, if he assumes atoms, are motionless, unless disturbed. From whence comes this disturbance? It must proceed from something outside the atoms, or the matter, so that we can never say that there is nothing in the universe but matter. And now if we ascribe motion to the atoms, or like other philosophers, perception, then that is nothing more nor less than to ascribe mind to them, which, however, if you are right, must first evolve itself out of this matter. If we wind something into these atoms, then we can also wind something out of them; in doing this, however, we give up at the outset the experiment of letting mind evolve itself out of matter. Give an atom the germ-power of an acorn, and it will develop into an oak. Give an atom the capacity of sense-perception, and it will become an animal, possibly a man. But what was promised us was the development of feeling and perception out of the dead atoms of hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, carbon, etc. Even if we could explain life out of the activities of these atoms, which may be possible,—although denied by Haeckel and Tyndall,—still feeling, perception, understanding, all the functions of mind, would remain unexplained. J. S. Mill is certainly no idealist, and no doubt is one of your heroes. Well Mr. Mill declares that nothing but mind could produce mind. Even Tyndall, in his address as President of the British Association in Belfast, declared in plain words that the continuity of molecular processes and the phenomena of consciousness constitute the rock on which all Materialism must inevitably be shattered.
"Think over all of this by your iron stove, or better still at some beautiful sunrise in spring, and you will see before you a more glorious revelation than all the revelations of the Old World."
Yours faithfully, F. Max Mueller Oxford, November, 1896.
Concerning The Horseherd
The appearance of my article in the Deutsche Rundschau seems to have caused much headshaking among my friends in Germany, England, and America. Many letters came to me privately, others were sent directly to the publishers. They came chiefly from two sides. Some were of the opinion that I dealt too lightly with the Horseherd; others protested against what I said about the current theory of evolution. The first objection I have sought to make up for in what follows. The other required no answer, for I had I think, in my previous writings, quite clearly and fully explained my attitude in opposition to so-called Darwinism. Some of my correspondents wished peremptorily to deny me the right of passing judgment upon Darwin's doctrine, because I am not a naturalist by profession. Here we see an example of the confusion of ideas that results from confusion of language. Darwinism is a high-sounding, but hollow and unreal word, like most of the names that end in ism. What do such words as Puseyism, Jesuitism, Buddhism, and now even Pre-Darwinism and Pre-Lamarckism signify? Everything and nothing, and no one is more on his guard against these generalising termini technici than the heroes eponymi himself. What has not been called Darwinism? That the present has come out of the past, has been called the greatest discovery of the nineteenth century. Darwin himself is not responsible for such things. He wished to show how the present has come out of the past, and he did it in such a manner that even the laity could follow him and sincerely admire him. Now, of course, it cannot be denied that if we understand Darwinism to mean Darwin's close observations concerning the origin of the higher organisms out of lower as well as the variations of individuals from their specific types, caused by external conditions, it would as ill become me to pass either a favourable or unfavourable judgment as it would Darwin to estimate my edition of the Rig-Veda, or a follower of Darwin to criticise my root theory in philology, without knowing the ABC of the science of language. If, however, we speak of Darwinism in the domain of universal philosophical problems, such as, for instance, the creation or development of the world, then we poor philosophers also have no doubt a right to join in the conversation. And if, without appearing too presuming, we now and then dare to differ from Kant, or from Plato or Aristotle, is it mere insolence, or perhaps treason, to differ from Darwin on certain points?
This was not the tone assumed by Darwin, giant as he was, even when he spoke to so insignificant a person as myself. I have on a previous occasion published a short letter addressed to me by Darwin (Auld Lang Syne, p. 178). Here follows another, which I may no doubt also publish without being indiscreet.
* * * * *
Down, Beckenham, Kent, July 3, 1873.
"DEAR SIR: I am much obliged for your kind note and present of your lectures. I am extremely glad to have received them from you, and I had intended ordering them.
"I feel quite sure from what I have read in your work, that you would never say anything to an honest adversary to which he would have any just right to object; and as for myself, you have often spoken highly of me, perhaps more highly than I deserve.
"As far as language is concerned, I am not worthy to be your adversary, as I know extremely little about it, and that little learnt from very few books. I should have been glad to have avoided the whole subject, but was compelled to take it up as well as I could. He who is fully convinced, as I am, that man is descended from some lower animal, is almost forced to believe, a priori, that articulate language has been developed from inarticulate cries, and he is therefore hardly a fair judge of the arguments opposed to this belief."
With cordial respect I remain, dear sir, Yours very faithfully, Charles Darwin.
This will at all events show that a man who could look upon a chimpanzee as his equal, did not entirely ignore, as an uninformed layman, a poor philologist. Darwin did not in the least disdain the uninformed layman. He thought and wrote for him, and there is scarcely one of Darwin's books that cannot be read by the uninformed layman with profit. And in the interchange of acquired facts or ideas, mental science has at least as much right as natural science. We live, it is true, in different worlds. What some look upon as the real, others regard as phenomenal. What these in their turn look upon as the real, seems to the first to be non-existent. It will always be thus until philology has defined the true meaning of reality.
It is, however, a worn-out device to place all those who differ from Darwin in the pillory of science as mystics, metaphysicians, and (what seems worst of all) as orthodox. It requires more than courage, too, to class all who do not agree with us as uninformed laymen, "to accuse them of ignorance and superstition, and to praise our friends and disciples as the only experts or competent judges, as impartial and consistent thinkers." Through such a defence the greatest truths would lose their worth and dignity. The true scholar simply leaves such attacks alone. It is to be regretted that this resounding trumpet blast of a few naturalists renders any peaceful interchange of ideas impossible from the beginning. I have expressed my admiration for Darwin more freely and earlier than many of his present eulogists. But I maintain, that when anthropogeny is discussed, it is desirable first of all to explain what is understood by anthropos. Man is not only an object, but a subject also. All that man is as an object, or appears to be for a time on earth, is his organic body with its organs of sense and will, and with its slowly developed so-called ego. This body is, however, only phenomenal; it comes and goes, it is not real in the true sense of the word. To man belongs, together with the visible objective body, the invisible subjective Something which we may call mind or soul or x, but which, at all events, first makes the body into a man. To observe and make out this Something is in my view the true anthropogeny; how the body originated concerns me as little as does the question whether my gloves are made of kid or peau de suede. That will, of course, be called mysticism, second sight, orthodoxy, hypocrisy, but fortunately it is not contradicted by such nicknames. If an animal could ever speak and think in concepts, it would be my brother in spite of tail or snout; if any human being had a tail or a forty-four toothed snout, but could use the language of concepts, then he would be and remain a man, as far as I am concerned, in spite of all that. We, too, have a right to express our convictions. They are as dear to us as to those who believe or believed in the Protogenes Haeckelii. It is true we do not preach to the whole world that our age is the great age of the study of language and mind, and that it has cast more light on the origin of the mind (logogeny) and on the classification of the human race (anthropology) than all other sciences together. A little progress, however, we have made. Who is there that still classifies the human race by their skulls, hair, anatomy, etc., and not by their speech? If, like zooelogy, we may borrow countless millions of years, where is there any pure blood left, amid the endless wars and migrations, the polygamy and slavery of the ancient world? Language alone is and remains identical, whoever may speak it; but the blood, "this very peculiar fluid," how can we get at that scientifically? It is, however, and remains a fixed idea with these "consistent thinkers" that the sciences of language and mind lead to superstition and hypocrisy, while on the other hand the science of language gratefully acknowledges the results of zooelogy, and only protests against encroachments. Both sciences might advance peacefully side by side, rendering aid and seeking it; and as for prejudices, there are plenty of them surviving among zooelogists as well as philologists, which must be removed viribus unitis. What is common to us is the love of truth and clearness, and the honest effort to learn to understand the processes of growth in mind and language, as well as in nature, in the individual (ontogenetically) as well as in the race (phylogenetically). Whether we now call this evolution or growth, philology at all events has been in advance of natural science in setting a good example, and securing recognition of the genetic method. Such men as William Humboldt, Grimm, and Bopp did not exactly belong to the dark ages, and I do not believe that they ever doubted that man is a mammal and stands at the head of the mammalia. This is no discovery of the nineteenth century. Linnaeus lived in the eighteenth century and Aristotle somewhat earlier. I see that the Standard Dictionary already makes a distinction between Darwinism and Darwinianism, between the views of Darwin and those of the Darwinians, and we clearly see that in some of the most essential points these two tendencies are diametrically opposed to each other. There is one thing that naturalists could certainly learn from philologists, viz., to define their termini technici, and not to believe that wonders can be performed with words, if only they are spoken loud enough.
The following letter comes from a naturalist, but is written in a sincere and courteous tone, and deserves to be made public. I believe that the writer and I could easily come to terms, as I have briefly indicated in my parentheses.
* * * * *
An Open Letter To Professor F. Max Mueller.
"RESPECTED SIR: Your correspondence in this periodical with the 'Horseherd' has no doubt aroused an interest on many sides. There are many more Horseherds than might be supposed; that is to say, men in all possible positions and callings, who after earnest reflection have reached a conclusion that does not essentially differ from the mode of thought of your backwoods friend.
"The present writer considers himself one of these; he is, indeed, not self-taught like the Horseherd, but a scientific man, and like you, a professor; but as he had no philosophical training, and he has only reached his views through observation and reflection; in contrast to you, the profound philologist, he stands not much higher than the Silesian countryman. And to complete the contrast, he adds, that he has long been a severe sufferer. So that instead of guiding the plough on the field of science with a strong hand, he must remain idly at home, and modestly whittle pine shavings for the enlightenment of his home circle.
"I do not know whether the Horseherd will consider that his argument has been refuted when he reads your letter by his warm stove. In this, according to my view, you have practically failed. (My counter arguments shall follow later.)
"Yes, I find in your reasoning very remarkable contradictions. You acknowledge for instance the infinity of space and time, and in spite of this you say that there was a time before the world was a year old. I do not understand that. We must assume for matter, for that is no doubt what you mean by the term 'world,' the same eternity as for space and time, whose infinity can be proved but not comprehended. (_Well, when we say that the world is 1898 years old, we can also say that it once _ was a year, or half a year old; of course not otherwise_.)
"A 'creation' in the sense of the various religions is equally incomprehensible to us. (Certainly.)
"But I do not wish to enlarge on this point any farther. Here begins the limit of our thinking faculties, and it is the defect of all religions that they require us to occupy ourselves with matters that lie beyond this limit, that never can be revealed to us, since we are denied the understanding of them; a revelation is at all events a chimera. For either that which is to be revealed lies beyond our senses and ideas,—and then it cannot be revealed to us,—or it lies on this side, and then it need not be revealed to us. (This is not directed against me.)
"I believe, moreover, dear sir, that through your comparative studies of religion you must reach the same conclusion as myself, that all religious ideas have arisen solely in the brain of man himself, as efforts at explanation in the broadest sense; that dogmas were made out of hypotheses, and that no religion as a matter of fact reveals anything to us. (Not only religious ideas, but all ideas have arisen in the brain.)
"You express a profound truth when you say that atheism is properly a search for a truer God. I was reminded by it of a passage in one of Daudet's novels, in which the blasphemy of one who despairs of a good God, is yet called a kind of prayer. You will therefore bear with me if I explain to you how a scientific man who thinks consistently can reach a conclusion not far removed from that which prompted the Horseherd to turn a somersault.
"Good and evil are purely human notions; an almighty God stands beyond good and evil. He is as incomprehensible to us in moral relations as in every other. (From the highest point of view, yes; but in the lives of men there is such a distinction.)
"Only look at the world! The existence of the majority of living creatures is possible only through the destruction of others. What refined cruelty is expressed by the various weapons with which animals are provided. Some zooelogist ought to write an illustrated work entitled, The Torture Chamber of Nature. I merely wish to touch upon this field; to exhaust it would require pages and volumes. Your adopted countryman, Wallace, seeks, it is true, to set aside these facts by a superficial observation. That most of the animals that are doomed to be devoured, enjoy their lives until immediately before the catastrophe, takes none of its horror from the mode of death. To be dismembered alive is certainly not an agreeable experience, and I suggest that you should observe how, for instance, a water-adder swallows a frog; how the poor creature, seized by the hind legs, gradually disappears down its throat, while its eyes project staring out of their sockets; how it does not cease struggling desperately even as it reaches the stomach.
"Now I, who am but a poor child of man, full of evil inclinations according to Biblical lore, liberated the poor frog on my ground. But 'merciful nature' daily brings millions and millions of innocent creatures to a like cruel and miserable end.
"I intentionally leave out of consideration here the unspeakable sufferings of mankind. Believers in the Bible find it so convenient to argue about original sin. Where is the original sin of the tormented animal kingdom?
"Of course man in his unutterable pride looks with deep disdain on all living creatures that are not human. As if he were not bone of their bone, as if suffering did not form a common bond with all living creatures! (I have never done that, but I think that it is difficult to establish a thermometer of suffering.)
"Do you not bethink you, honoured student of Sanskrit, of the religion of the Brahmins? In sparing all animals, the Hindus have shown only the broadest consistency.
"There will come a time when there will be only one religion, without dogma: the religion of compassion. (Buddhism is founded on Karunya, compassion.) Christianity, lofty as is its ethical content, is not the goal, but only a stage in our religious development.
"It is a misfortune that Nietzsche, the great keen thinker, should have been misled into an opposite conclusion by the mental weakness, the paralytic imbecility, which gradually enveloped his brain like a growth of mould. And the foolish youths, who esteem the expressions of this incipient insanity as the revelations of a vigorous genius, swear by his later hallucinations about the Over-man and the blond beast.
"A specialist in mental disease can point out the traces of his malady years before it openly broke out. And as if he had not written enough when the world still considered him of sound mind, must men still try to glean from the time when his brain was already visibly clouded?
"How few there are who can pick out of the desolate morass of growing imbecility the scanty grains of higher intelligence! There will always be people who will be impressed, not by the sound part of his thought, but by his paradoxical nonsense. (May be.)
"But—I am straying from the path. Now to the subject. I perfectly understand that the majority of religions had to assume a good and evil principle to guard themselves against the blasphemy of attributing all the suffering of the world to an all-merciful Creator. (Some religions have done this, on the theory that an almighty God stands beyond good and evil.) The devil is a necessary antithesis to God; to deny him is the first step made by the consistent man of science toward that atheism which originates really from the search for a better God. The Horseherd is wrong when he denies the existence of things beyond our power of conception. There are, as can be proved, tones that we do not hear, and rays that we cannot see. There are many things that we shall learn to comprehend in the hundreds of thousands of years that are in store for mankind. We are merely in the beginning of our development. Something, however, will always remain over. The 'Ignorabimus' of one of our foremost thinkers and investigators will always retain its value for us. (Most certainly.)
"The other world is of but little concern to him who has constantly endeavoured to lead a good life, even if he has never given much thought to correct belief. If personal existence is continued, our earthly being must be divested of so many of its outer husks that we should scarcely recognise each other, for only a part of the soul is the soul. (What we call soul is a modification of the Self.) If, however, an eternal sleep is decreed for us, then this can be no great misfortune. Let the wise saying in Stoboei Florilegium, Vol. VI, No. 19, in 'praise of death' serve to comfort us: 'Ἀναξαγόρας δύο ἔλεγε διδασκαλίας εῖναι θανάτου, τὸν τε πρὸ τοῦ γενέσθαι χρόνον καὶ τὸν ὕπνον,'—'Anaxagoras said that two things admonished us about death: the time before birth and sleep.'
"The raindrop, because it is a drop, may fear for its individuality when it falls back into the sea whence it came. We men are perhaps only passing drops formed out of the everlasting changes of the world-sea. (Of what does the world-sea consist but drops?)
"Those who think as I do constitute a silent but large congregation: silent, because the time is not yet ripe for a view that will rob thousands of their illusions. We do not preach a new salvation, but a silent, for many, a painful, renunciation. But the profound peace that lies in this view is as precious to those who have acquired it as is the hope of heaven to the believer. In honest doubt, too, lies a saving power as well as in faith; and your Horseherd is on the path of this salvation. (I believe that too.)"
With great respect, Yours very faithfully, Ignotus Agnosticus.
* * * * *
Whilst I received this and many other letters from many lands, no sign of life reached me from my Horseherd. He must have received my letter, or it would have been returned to me through the post. I regretted this, for I had formed a liking for the man as he appeared in his letter, and he no doubt would have had much to say in reply to my letter, which would have placed his views in a clearer light. He was an honest fellow, and I respect every conviction that is honest and sincere, even if it is diametrically opposite to my own. Now, my unknown friend could have had no thought of self in the matter. He knew that his name would not be mentioned by me, and it would probably have been of little concern to him if his name had become known. The worst feature of all discussions is the intrusion of the personal element. If for instance in a criticism of a new book we emphasise that which we think erroneous, for which every author should be grateful, we feel at the same time, that while desiring to render a service to the cause of truth, we may not only have hurt the book or the writer, but may have done a positive injury. The writer then feels himself impelled to defend his view not only with all the legitimate arts of advocacy, but also with the illegitimate. This poor truth is the greatest sufferer. As long as two paths are open, there is room for quiet discussion with one's travelling companion as to which may be the right and best path by which to reach the desired point. Both parties have the same object in view, the truth. As soon however as one goes, or has gone his own way, the controversy becomes personal and violent. There is no thought of turning back. It is no longer said: "This is the wrong path," but "You are on the wrong path," and even if it were possible to turn back, the controversy generally ends with, "I told you so." Poor Truth stands by sorrowfully and rubs its eyes.
Now what was the Horseherd to me, and what is he now, even if he has been brought to what he called a joyful end by his catarrh "verging upon a perfect asthma." There was nothing personal between us. He knew me only by that which I have thought and said; I knew of him only what he had gathered in his hours of leisure, and had laid aside for life. I have never seen him face to face, do not know the colour of his eyes, hardly even whether he was old or young. He was a man, but he may be even that no longer. Everything that in our common view constitutes a man, his body, his speech, his experience, is gone. We did not bring these things with us into the world and probably shall not take them away with us. What the body is, we see with our eyes, especially if we attend a cremation, or if in ancient graves we look into the urns which contain the grayish black ashes, whilst near by there sleeps in cold marble, as in the Museo Nazionale in Rome, the lovely head of the young Roman maiden, to whom two thousand years ago belonged these ashes, as well as the beautiful mansion that has been excavated from the earth and rebuilt round about her. And the language, the language in which all our experience here on earth lies stored, will this be everlasting? Shall we in another life speak English or Sanscrit? The philologist knows too well of what material speech is made, how much of the temporal and accidental it has adopted in its eternal forms, to cherish such a hope, and to think that the Logos can be eternally bound to the regular or irregular declensions or conjugations of the Greek, the German, or even the Hottentot languages. What then remains? Not the person, or the so-called ego—that had a beginning, a continuation, and an end. Everything that had a beginning, once was not, and what once was not, has in itself, from its very beginning, the germ of its end. What remains is only the eternal One, the eternal Self, that lives in us all without beginning and without end, in which each one has his true existence, in which we live, move, and have our being. Each temporal ego is only one of the million phenomena of this eternal Self, and such a phenomenon was the Horseherd to me. It is only what we recognise in all men as the eternal, or as the divine, that we can love and retain. Everything else comes and goes, as the day comes in the morning and goes at night, but the light of the sun remains forever. Now it may be said: This Self, that is and abides, is after all next to nothing. It is, however, and that "is" is more than everything else. Light is not much either, probably only vibration, but what would the world be without it? Did we not begin this life simply with this Self, continue it with this Self, and bring it to an end with this Self? There is nothing that justifies us in saying that this Self had a beginning, and will therefore have an end. The ego had a beginning, the persona, the temporal mask that unfolds itself in this life, but not the Self that wears the mask. When therefore my Horseherd says, "After death we are just as much a nullity as before our birth," I say, quoderat demonstrandum is still to be proved. What does he mean by we? If we were nothing before birth, that is, if we never had been at all, what would that be that is born? Being born does not mean becoming something out of nothing. What is born or produced was there, before it was born or produced, before it came into the light of the world. All creation out of nothing is a pure chimera for us. Have we ever the feeling or experience that we had a beginning here on earth, or have we entirely forgotten the most remarkable thing in our life, viz., its beginning? Have we ever seen a beginning? Can we even think of an absolute beginning? In order to have had our beginning on earth, there must have been something that begins, be it a cell or be it the Self. All that we call ego, personality, character, etc., has unfolded itself on earth, is earthly, but not the Self. If we now on earth were content with the pure Self, if in all those that we love, we loved the eternal Self and not only the appearance, what then is more natural than that it should be so in the next world, that the continuity of existence cannot be severed, that the Self should find itself again, even though in new and unexpected forms? When therefore my friend makes the bold assertion: "After our death we are again as much a nullity as before our birth," I say, "Yes, if we take nullity in the Hegelian sense." Otherwise I say the direct contrary to this: "After our death we are again as little a nullity as before our birth. What we shall be we cannot know; but that we shall be, follows from this, that the Self or the divine within us can neither have a beginning nor an end." That is what the ancients meant in saying that death was to be best understood from the time before birth. But we must not think that each single ego lays claim only to a part of the Self, for then the Self would be divided, limited, and finite. No, the entire Self bears us, just as the entire light illumines all, every grain of sand and every star, but for that reason does not belong exclusively to any one grain of sand or star. It is that which is eternal, or in the true sense of the word that which is divine in us, that endures in all changes, that makes all change possible, for without something that endures in change, there could be no change; without something continuous, that persists through transformation, nothing could be transformed. The Self is the bond that unites all souls, the red thread which runs through all being, and the knowledge of which alone gives us knowledge of our true nature. "Know thyself" no longer means for us "Know thy ego," but "Know what lies beyond thy ego, know the Self," the Self that runs through the whole world, through all hearts, the same for all men, the same for the highest and the lowest, the same for creator and creature, the Atman of the Veda, the oldest and truest word for God.
For this reason the Horseherd was to me what all men have always been to me—an appearance of the Self, the same as I myself, not only a fellow-creature, but a fellow-man, a fellow-self. Had I met him in life, who knows whether his ego or his appearance would have attracted me as much as his letter. We all have our prejudices, and much as I honour a Silesian peasant who has spent his life faithfully and honestly in a strange land, I do not know whether I should have sat down by his iron stove and chatted with him about τὰ μέγιστα.
I also felt as I read his letter, that it was not a solitary voice in the desert, but that he spoke in the name of many who felt as he felt, without being willing or able to express it. This also has proved to be entirely true.
Judging by the numerous letters and manuscripts that reach me, the Horseherd was not alone in his opinions. There are countless others in the world of the same mind, and even if his voice is silenced, his ideas survive in all places and directions, and he will not lack followers and defenders. The striking thing in the letters that reached me was that the greater number and the most characteristic among his sympathisers did not wish their names to be known. What does this signify? Do we still live on a planet on which we dare not express what we hold to be the truth—planet Terra so huge and yet so contemptibly small? Has mankind still only freedom of thought, but not freedom of utterance? The powers may blockade Greece; can they blockade thoughts on wings of words? It has been attempted, but force is no proof, and when we have visited the prisons in which Galilei or even Giordano Bruno was immured, we learn how nothing lends greater strength to the wings of truth than the heavy chains with which men try to fetter it. It is still the general opinion that even in free England thought and speech are not free, that in the realm of thought there is even less freedom on this side of the Channel than on the other.(37) Oxford especially, my own university, is still considered the stronghold of obscurantists, and my Horseherd even considers the fact that I have lived so long in Oxford a circonstance attenuante of my so-called orthodoxy. Plainly what is thought, said, and published in England, and especially in Oxford, is not read. In England we can say anything we please, we must only bear in mind that the same consideration is due to others that we claim from others. It is true that from time to time in England, and even in Oxford, feeble efforts have been made, if not to curtail freedom of thought, at least to punish those who laid claim to it. Where possible the salaries of professors were curtailed; in certain elections very weak candidates were preferred because they were outwardly orthodox. I do not wish to mention any names, but I myself have received in England, even if not in Oxford, a gentle aftertaste of this antiquated physic. When at the request of my friend Stanley, the Dean of Westminster Abbey, I delivered a discourse in his venerable church, which was crowded to the doors, petitions were sent to Parliament to condemn me to six months' imprisonment. I was accosted in the streets and an ordinary tradesman said to me, "Sir, if you are sent to prison, you shall have at least two warm dinners each week from me." I am, to be sure, the first layman that ever spoke publicly in an English church, but I had the advice of the highest authorities that the Dean was perfectly within his rights and that we were guilty of no violation of law. I therefore waited in silence; I knew that public opinion was on my side, and that in the end the petition to Parliament would simply be laid aside. Later on it was attempted again. At the time that I delivered my lectures on the Science of Religion at the university of Glasgow, by invitation of the Senate, I was accused first before the presbytery at Glasgow, and when this attempt failed, the charge was carried before the great Synod at Edinburgh. In this case, too, I went on my way, in silence, and in the end, even in Scotland, the old saying, "Much cry and little wool," was verified. This proverb is frequently heard in England. I have often inquired into its origin. Finally I found that there is a second line, "As the deil said when he shore the sow." Of course such an operation was accompanied with much noise on the part of the sow, but little wool, nothing but bristles. I have never, however, had to turn my bristles against the gentlemen who wished to shear me.
I am of opinion, therefore, that those who wished to espouse the cause of my Horseherd should have done so publicly and with open visor. As soon as any one feels that he has found the truth, he knows also that what is real and true can never be killed or silenced; and secondly, that truth in the world has its purpose, and this purpose must in the end be a good one. We do not complain about thunder and lightning, but accustom ourselves to them, and seek to understand them, so as to live on good terms with them; and we finally invent lightning conductors, to protect ourselves, as far as we can, against the inevitable. So it is with every new truth, if it is only maintained with courage. At first we cry and clamour that it is false, that it is dangerous. In the end we shake our wise heads and say these are old matters known long since, of which only old women were afraid. In the end, after the thunder and lightning, the air is made clearer, fresher, and more wholesome. When I first read the long letter of my Horseherd, I said to myself, "He is a man who has done the best he could in his position." He has let himself be taught, but also irresistibly influenced, by certain popular books, and has come to think that the abandonment of views that have been instilled into him from his youth is so brave and meritorious, that all who disagree with him must be cowards. This inculcation of truth into childish minds is always a dangerous matter, and even if I do not use the strong expressions that are used by my friend,—for I always think, the stronger the expression the weaker the argument,—I must admit that he is right up to a certain point. It does not seem fair that in the decision of the most important questions of life the young mind should have no voice. A Jewish child becomes a Jew, a Christian child a Christian, and a Buddhist child a Buddhist. What does this prove? Unquestionably, that in the highest concern in life the child is not allowed a voice. My friend asks indignantly: "Is there anything in face of our knowledge, and of the realm of nature and of man's position in it, so unbearable, yes so odious, as the inoculation of such error in the tender consciousness of our school children? I shudder when I think that in thousands of our churches and schools this systematic ruin of the greatest of all gifts, the consciousness, the human brain, is daily, even hourly, going on. Max, can you, too, still cling to the God-fable?" etc.
Now I have explained clearly and concisely in what sense I cling to the God-fable, and I should like to know if I have convinced my Horseherd. I belong, above all, to those who do not consider the world an irrational chaos, and also to those who cannot concede that there can be reason without a reasoner. Reason is an activity, or, as others have it, an attribute, and there can neither be an activity without an agent, nor an attribute without a subject; at least, not in the world in which we live. When ordinary persons and even professional philosophers speak of reason as if it were a jewel that can be placed in a drawer or in a human skull, they are simply myth-makers. It is precisely in this ever recurring elevation of an adjective or a verb to a noun, of a predicate to a subject, that this disease of language, as I have called mythology, has its deepest roots. Here lies the genesis of the majority of gods, not by any means, as it is generally believed I have taught, merely in later quibbles and misunderstandings, which are interesting and popular, but have little reference to the deepest nature of the myth. We must not take these matters too lightly.
I recognise therefore a reasoner, and consequent reason in the world, or in other words, I believe in a thinker and ruler of the world, but gladly concede that this Being so infinitely transcends our faculties of comprehension, that even to wish only to give him a name borders on madness. If, in spite of all of this, we use such names as Jehovah, Allah, Deva, God, Father, Creator, this is only a result of human weakness. I cling therefore to the God-fable in the sense which is more fully set forth in my letter, and it pleased me very much to see that at least a few of those, who as they said were formerly on the side of the Horseherd, now fully agree with me, that the world is not irrational. Here is the dividing line between two systems of philosophy. Whoever thinks that an irrational world becomes rational by the survival of the fittest, etc., stands on one side; I stand on the other, and hold with the Greek thinkers, who accept the world as the expression of the Logos, or of a reasonable thought or thinker.
But here the matter became serious. To my Horseherd I thought that I could make myself intelligible in a humorous strain, for his letter was permeated with a quiet humour. But my known and unknown opponents take the matter much more seriously and thoroughly, and I am consequently obliged at least to try to answer them seriously and thoroughly. What my readers will say to this I do not know. I believe that even in short words we can be serious and profound. When Schiller says that he belongs to no religion, and why? because of religion, the statement is short and concise, and yet easily understood. I shall, however, at least attempt to follow my opponents step by step, even at the risk of becoming tedious.
And first of all a confession. It has been pointed out to me that in one place I did my Horseherd an injustice. I wrote: "You are of opinion that to love God and your neighbour is equivalent to being good, and are evidently very proud of your discovery that there is no distinction between good and evil. Well," I then continue, "if loving God and your neighbour is equivalent to being good, then it follows that not loving God and not loving your neighbour is equivalent to not being good, or to being evil. There is, then, a very plain distinction between good and evil. And yet you say that you turned a somersault when you discovered that there was no such distinction."
Well, that looked as though I had driven my friend into a corner from which he would find it difficult to extricate himself. But I did him an injustice and shall therefore do everything in my power to right it. My memory, as it so frequently does, played me a prank. At the same time that I answered him, I was in active correspondence with one of the delegates to the Chicago Parliament of Religions, at which the love of God and one's neighbour had been adopted, as a sort of article of agreement which the followers of any or every faith could accept. Thus it befell that I supposed the Horseherd in America to stand at the same point of view, and consequently to be guilty of a contradiction. Such is, however, not the case; he made no such concession of love of God and one's neighbour in his letter. If he therefore insists that there is no distinction between good and evil, I cannot at least refute him out of his own mouth. The only place where he is inconsistent is where he concedes that he could not strike a dog, but is filled with bloodthirstiness toward the Jewish idea of God. Here he clearly holds it good that he cannot be cruel to an animal, and that he looks upon bloodthirstiness as a contrast. He also concedes that a lie can never accomplish any good, and believes that the truth is beautiful and holy. If a lie can accomplish no good, only evil, then there must be a distinction between good and evil. And what is the meaning of beautiful and holy, if there is no contrast between good and evil. But I shall argue this point no farther, but simply say peccavi, and I believe that he, and those like-minded with him, will be satisfied with that. How different it would have been, however, had I been guilty of such a mistake in a personal dispute! The injured party would never have believed that my oversight was accidental, and not malicious, in spite of the fact that it would have been the most stupid malevolence to say that which every one who can read would instantly recognise as untrue. But enough of this, and enough to show that my Horseherd at least remained consistent. Even when he so far forgets himself as to say, "God be praised," he excuses himself. Only he has unfortunately not told us what he really means when he says that good and evil are identical. Good and evil are relative ideas, just like right and left, black and white, and although he has told us that he turned somersaults with joy over the discovery that this distinction is false, he has left us in total darkness as to how we shall conceive this identity.
But let us turn back to more important things. My opponents further call me sharply to account, and ask how I can imagine that the material world can be rational, or permeated with reason. I believed that it must be clear to every person with a philosophical training, that there are things that are beyond our understanding, that man can neither sensibly apprehend nor logically conceive an actual beginning, and that to inquire for the beginning of the subjective self, or of the objective world, is like inquiring for the beginning of the beginning. All that we can do is to investigate our perceptions, to see what they presuppose. A perception plainly presupposes a self that perceives, or that resists, and on the other side, something that forces itself upon us, or, as Kant says, something that is given. This "given" element might be mere confusion, but it is not; it displays order, cause and effect, and reveals itself as rational. This revelation of a rational world may, however, be explained in two ways. That there is reason in nature, even the majority of Darwinians admit, but they think that it arises of itself, since in the struggle for life that which is most adapted to its conditions, fittest, best, necessarily survives. In this view of the world, however, if I see it aright, much is admitted surreptitiously. Whence comes all at once this idea of the best, of the good, the fit, the adapted, in the world? Do roasted pigeons fall from the sky? Is the pigeon itself an accidental combination, an evolution, that might as well have been as it is, or otherwise? It is all very fine to recognise in the ascending series of protozoa, coelenterata, echinoderms, worms, mollusks, fishes, amphibia, reptiles, the stages of progress toward birds and finally to mammals and man. But whence comes the idea of bird or pigeon? Is it no more than an abstraction from our perceptions of thousands of birds or pigeons, or must the idea of bird, of pigeon, even of the wood pigeon, be there already, that we may detect it behind the multiplicity of our perceptions?
Is the pigeon, in whose wing each feather is counted, a mere accident, a mere survival which might have been what it is or something different, or is it something willed and thought, an organic whole? It is the old question whether the idea preceded or followed the reality, on which the whole Middle Ages broke their teeth, the question which separated and still separates philosophers into two camps,—the Realists and the Nominalists. I think that the latest investigations show us that the Greek philosophers, and especially Plato, saw more correctly when they recognised behind the multiplicity of individuals the unity of the idea, or the species, and then sought the true sequence of evolution not in this world, in a struggle for existence, but beyond the perception of the senses, in a development of the Logos or the idea. The circumstances, it appears to me, in this view remain just the same; the sequence, and the purposiveness in this sequence, remain untouched, only that the Greeks saw in the rational and purposive in nature the realisation of rational progressive thoughts, not the bloody survivals of a monstrous gladiatorial combat in nature. The Darwinians appear to me to resemble the Roman emperors, who waited till the combat was ended, and then applauded the survival of the fittest. The idealist philosophy, be it Plato's or Hegel's, recognises in what actually is, the rational, the realisation of eternal, rational ideas. This realisation, or the process of what we call creation, can never be conceived by us otherwise than figuratively. But we can make this figurative presentation clearer and clearer. That the world was made by a wood cutter, as was originally implied in the Hebrew word bara, and in the German schoepfer, schaffer, in the English shaper, or in the Vedic tvashta, and the Greek τέκτων, was quite comprehensible at a time in which man's highest product was that of the carpenter and the stone mason; and in which the name of timber (materies) could become the universal name for matter (ὕλη, wood). After this idea of the founder of the universe as a carpenter or builder was abandoned as inadequate, the world was divided into two parties. The one adopted the theory of material primitive elements, whether they be called atoms, or monads, or cells, which by collision or struggle with each other, and by mutual affinity, became that which we now see around us. The other saw the impossibility of the rise of something rational out of the irrational, and conceived a rational being, in which was developed the original type of everything produced, the so-called Logos of the universe. How this Logos became objectively and materially real, is as far beyond human comprehension as is the origin of the cosmos out of countless atoms, or even out of living cells. So far, then, one hypothesis would be as complete and as incomplete as the other. But the Logos hypothesis has the far-reaching advantage, that instead of a long succession of wonders,—call them if you like the wonder of the monads, or the worm, or the mollusk, or the fish, or the amphibian, or the reptile, or the bird, or, lastly, man,—it has but one wonder before it, the Logos, the idea of thought, or of the eternal thinker, who thought everything that exists in natural sequence, and in this sense made all. In this view we need not even abandon the survival of the fittest, only it proceeds in the Logos, in the mind, not in the outward phenomenal world. It would then also become conceivable that the embryological development of animated nature runs parallel with the biological or historical, or as it were recapitulates it, only the continuity of the idea is far closer and more intimate than that of the reality. Thus, for instance, in the development of the human embryo, the transition from the invertebrate to the vertebrate may be represented in the reality by the isolated amphioxus, which remains stationary where vertebrate man begins, and can make no step forward, while the human embryo advances farther and farther till it reaches its highest limit.
In order now to infer from these and similar facts that man at one time really existed in this scarcely vertebrate condition of the amphioxus,—a conclusion which, strictly understood, yields no meaning,—we can make the case much more easily conceivable if we represent the thinking, or invention of the world, as an ascending scale, in which even the least chromatic tone must have a place without a break, while the principal tones do not become clear and full until the requisite number of vibrations is attained. These gradations of tone are the really interesting thing in nature. As the full, clear tones imply certain numerical relations among the vibrations, so the successive stages or the true species in nature imply a will or thought in which the true Origin of Species has its foundation. That natural selection, as it is called, could suffice to explain the origin of species, was doubted even by Huxley,(38) who yet described himself as Darwin's bull-dog.
If we have followed the supporters of my Horseherd so far, I should like here to enter a caveat, that is indeed of no great significance, but may turn one or another from a by-way, which the Horseherd himself has not avoided. He speaks of the place of man in nature; he thinks (like so many others) that man is not only an animal belonging to the mammalia, which no one has ever denied, but that he is of the same nature as the animal world. He need not therefore have accepted the whole simian theory, at least he does not say so; but that each man, and the entire human race, has descended from an unknown pair of animals, he appears to receive as indubitable. This would not, so far as I can see, make the slightest difference in the so-called dignity of mankind. If man had a prehensile tail, it would not detract from his worth. I myself have little doubt that there were men with tails in prehistoric or even in historic times. I go still farther and declare that if ever there should be an ape who can form ideas and words, he would ipso facto be a man. I have therefore no prejudices such as the advocates of the simian theory like to attribute to us. What I and those who agree with me demand of our opponents, is merely somewhat keener thought, and a certain consideration for the results of our knowledge, such as we on our side have bestowed on their researches. They have taught us that the body in which we live was at first a simple cell. The significance of this "at first" is left somewhat vague. This cell was really what the word means, the cella (room) of a dumb inhabitant, the Self. The essential thing is and remains what was in the cell. Through gemmation, differentiation, segmentation, evolution, or whatever other technical expressions we may use for division, multiplication, budding, increase, etc., each cell became a hundred, a thousand, a million. Within this cell is a bright spot into which not even the microscope can penetrate, although whole worlds may be contained therein. If it is now remembered that no one has ever succeeded in distinguishing the human cell from the cell of a horse, an elephant, or an ape, we shall see how much unnecessary indignation has been expended in recent years over the simian origin of the human race, and how much intelligent thought has been wasted about the animal origin of man, that is of the individual. My body, your body, his body, is derived (ontogenetically) from the cell, is in fact the cell which has remained persistently the same from beginning to end, without ever, in spite of all changes, losing its identity. This cell in its transformations has shown remarkable analogies with the transformations of other animal cells. While, however, the other animal cells in their transformations remain stationary here and there, either at the boundary line of worms, fishes, amphibia, reptiles, or mammals, the one cell which was destined to become man moves on to the stage of the tailed catarrhine apes, then of the tailless apes, and without staying here it irresistibly strides towards its original goal, and only stops where it is destined to stop. Speaking, however, not phylogenetically, but ontogenetically, at what point does our own cell come in contact with the cell that was intended to become an ape, and that became and remained an ape? If we accept the cell theory in its latest form, what meaning can there be in the statement of the late Henry Drummond, that "In a very distant period the progenitors of birds and the progenitors of men were one and the same"?(39) Would not a very small quantity of strictly logical thought have cut off a priori the bold hypothesis that directly or indirectly we descend from a menagerie? Every man, and consequently all mankind, has accomplished his uninterrupted embryological development on his own account; no man and no human cell springs from the womb of an ape or any other animal, but only from the womb of a human mother, fertilised by a human father. Or do men owe their being to a miscarriage?
As many streams may flow alongside of each other and through the same strata, and one ends in a lake while the others flow on and grow larger and larger, till finally one river attains its highest goal, the sea, so the cells develop for a time alongside of each other, then some remain stationary at their points of destination, while others move on farther; but the cell that has moved forward is as little derived from the stationary cell as the Indus from the Sarasvati. It is at the points of destination that the true species digress, and when these points are reached, the specific development ceases, and there remains only the possibility of the variety, the origin of which is conditioned by the multiplicity of individuals; but which must never be confounded with a true species. Every species represents an act of the will, a thought, and this thought cannot be shaken from its course, however close temptation may often come.
With this I believe I have cleared up and refuted one of the objections that my correspondents made, at any rate to the best of my ability. Whoever is convinced that each individual, be it fish or bird, springs from its own cell, knows ipso facto that a human cell, however undistinguishable it may be to the human eye from the cell of a catarrhine ape, could never have been the cell of an ape. And what is true ontogenetically, is of course true phylogenetically. For myself this inquiry into the simian origin of man never had any great interest; I even doubt whether the Horseherd would have laid great stress upon it. His champions, however, plainly consider it one of the principal and fundamental questions on which our whole view of the world must be erected. In my opinion so little depends on our covering of flesh, that as I have often said, I should instantly acknowledge an ape that could speak, that is, think in concepts, as a man and brother, in spite of his hide, in spite of his tail, in spite of his stunted brain. We are not that which is buried or burned. We are not even the cell, but the inhabitant of the cell. But this leads me to new questions and objections, which have been made by the representatives and successors of the Horseherd, and to which I hope to reply on some other occasion, assuming that my own somewhat dilapidated cell holds out so long against wind and rain.
F. MAX MUeLLER. FRASCATI, April, 1897.
Language And Mind
The number of Horseherds appears to grow each month. He would rejoice to see the letters of men and women who are all on his side, and give me clearly to understand that I should by no means imagine that I have refuted my unknown friend. The letter of Ignotus Agnosticus in the June number of the Deutsche Rundschau is a good example of these communications. I have read it with much interest, and have partly dealt with it in my article in the same number; but I hope at some future time to answer his objections, and those of several other correspondents, more fully. I should have been glad to publish some of these letters. But first, they are too long, and they are far inferior in power to the letter of the Horseherd. Moreover, they are usually so full of friendly recognition, even when disagreeing with me, that it would ill become me to give them publicity. That there was no lack of coarse letters as well, may be taken for granted; these however were all anonymous, as if the writers were ashamed of their heroic style. I have never been able to understand what attraction there can be in coarseness. The coarse work is generally left for the apprentice. Everything coarse, be it a block, a wedge, or a blade, passes as unfinished, as raw, jagged, and just the reverse of cutting. No one is proud of a coarse shirt, but many, even quite distinguished people, proudly strut about the streets in a coarse smock of abusive language, quite unconcernedly, without any suspicion of their unsuitable attire.
Well, I shall endeavour to be as fair as I can to my unknown opponents and friends, the coarse as well as the courteous. I cannot be coarse myself, much as it seems to be desired in some quarters that I should. Each one must determine for himself what is specially meant for him.
I cannot of course enter into all the objections that have been made. Many have very little or nothing to do with what lay nearest the Horseherd's heart. The antinomies, for example, on the infinity of space and time, have long since belonged to the history of metaphysics, and have been so thoroughly worked out by Kant and his school that there is hardly anything new to be said about them. In the question about the age of our world, we need only distinguish between world as universe and world as our world, that is, as the earth or the terrestrial world. A beginning of the world as universe is of course incomprehensible to us; but we may speak of the beginning of the earth, especially of the earth as inhabited by man, because here, as Lord Kelvin has shown, astronomical physics and geology have enabled us to fix certain chronological limits, and to say how old our earth may be, and no older or younger. When I said of the world, that though it were millions of years old, there still was a time before it was one year or 1897 years old, I referred to the world in the sense of our world, that is, the earth. Of the world as universe this would scarcely be said; on the contrary, we should here apply the axiom that every boundary implies something beyond, i.e. an unbounded, until we arrive at the region where, as people say, the world is nailed up with boards. Many years ago I tried to prove that our senses can never perceive a real boundary, be it on the largest or the smallest scale; they present to us everywhere the infinite as their background, and everything that has to do with religion has sprung out of this infinite background as its ultimate and deepest foundation. Instead of saying that by our senses we perceive only the finite or limited, I have sought to show (On the Perception of the Infinite) that we everywhere perceive the unlimited, and that it is we, and not the objects about us, that draw the boundary lines in our perceptions. When I also called this unknown omnipresence of the infinite the source of all religion, this was the highest, the most abstract, and the most general expression that could be found for the wide domain of the transcendent; it had of course nothing to do with the historical beginnings of religion. When the Aryans felt, thought, and named their god, their Dyaus, in the blue sky, they meant the blue sky within the limits of the horizon. We know, however, that while they called the sky Dyaus, they had in mind an infinite subject, a Deva, a God. But, as stated, these things were remote from the Horseherd, and he would scarcely have had anything to object.
His chief objection was of a quite different nature. He wished to show that the human mind was a mere phantom of man's making, that there are only bodies in the world, and that the mind has sprung from the body, and therefore constituted, not the prius, but the posterius of those bodies. This view is evidently widely disseminated and has found very abundant support, at least in the letters addressed to me. "The mind," so wrote the Horseherd, "is not a prius, it is a development, a self-evolving phenomenon." Everything is now development, and there is no better salve for all ills than development. If our knowledge of development is taken in the sense of scientific historical inquiry, then we all agree, for how can there be anything that has not developed? In order to know what a thing is, we must learn how it became what it is. A much-admired philosopher, recently deceased, Henry Drummond, who was quite intoxicated with evolution, nevertheless admits quite plainly in his last work, The Ascent of Man, that "Order of events is history, and evolution is history" (p. 132). With this I am of course quite satisfied, for it is what I have been preaching in season and out of season for at least thirty years. But this order, or this sequence of facts, must be proved with scientific accuracy, and not merely postulated. If then my Horseherd had been content to say, "The human mind is also a development," certainly no student of history, least of all a philologist, would have contradicted him. But he says: "Max, all German savants, or, if you please, the majority of them, still labour under the delusion that mind is a prius. But nonsense, Max, mind is a development, a self-evolving phenomenon. One would consider it impossible that a thinking man, who has ever observed a child, could be of any other opinion; why seek ghosts behind matter? Mind is a function of living organisms, which belongs also to a goose and a chicken."
In the Horseherd such language was excusable, but for philosophers to talk in the same style is strange, to say the least. How can such an assertion be made without any proof whatever, without even a few words to explain what is meant by the term "mind"? The German like the English language swarms with words that may be used interchangeably, though each of them has its own shade of meaning. If we translate Geist (Spirit) as mind, then we must consider that "spirit," in such expressions as "He has yielded up his spirit," means the same as the principle of life or physical life. The same is true of "spirit" in such a phrase as "his spirit has departed." But easy as it is to distinguish between spirit in the sense of the breath of life, and spirit in the sense of mind, the exact definition of such words as intellect, reason, understanding, thought, consciousness, or self-consciousness becomes very difficult, to say nothing of soul and feeling in their various activities. These words are used in both English and German so confusedly that we often hesitate merely to touch them. Now if we say that the mind is a development, and is not a prius, what idea ought it to suggest? Does this mean the principle of life, or the understanding, or the reason, or consciousness? We suffer here from a real and very dangerous embarras de richesse. The words are often intended to signify the same things, only viewed under different aspects. But as there were various words, it was believed that they must also signify various things. Different philosophers have further advanced different definitions of these words, until it was finally supposed that each of these names must be borne by a separate subject, while some of them originally only signified activities of one and the same substance. Understanding, reason, and thought originally expressed properties or activities, the activities of understanding, of perceiving, of thinking, and their elevation to nouns was simply psychological mythology, which has prevailed, and still prevails just as extensively as the physical mythology of the ancient Aryan peoples.
It would be most useful if we could lay aside all these mouldy and decayed expressions, and introduce a word that simply means what is not understood by body, the subject, in opposition to the objective world. It would by no means follow that what is not body must therefore exist independent of the body. It would first of all only declare that beside the objective body perceived by the senses, there is also something subjective, which the five senses cannot perceive. The best name for this appears to me still to be the Vedantic term Atman, which I translate into "the Self" (neuter), because our language will scarcely allow the phrase "the Self" (masculine). "Soul" has a too tender quality to be the equivalent of Atman.
This Self is something that exists for itself and not for others. While everything that is purely corporeal only exists for us men, inasmuch as it is perceived, the Self exists by reason of the fact that it perceives. While the Esse of all objects is a percipi, a something perceived, which has come into knowledge, the Esse of the self is a percipere, a perceiving, a knowing, that is, the Self can only be thought of as self-knowing. The Self exists even when it does not yet clearly know itself, but it is not the real Self until it knows itself; and it requires long and earnest thought for the Self to know or recognise itself as different from the ego or the body. But if the Self has once come to itself, the darkness or the phenomenal appearance which the Vedanta philosophers called Avidya (not knowing, ignorance), or also Maya (appearance, or illusion), vanishes.
The origin of this ignorance, this illusion, or the world of appearance, is a question which no human being will ever solve. There are questions which must be set aside as simply ultra vires by every reasonable philosophy. We know that we cannot hear certain tones, cannot see certain colours; why not then understand that we cannot comprehend certain things? The Vedanta philosophers consider the Avidya (ignorance) as inexplicable, and this was no doubt originally implied in the name which they gave it. Their aim was, to prove the temporal existence of such an Avidya, not to discover its origin; and then in the Vidya, the Vedanta philosophy, to set forth the means by which the Avidya could be destroyed. How or when the Self came into this ignorance, Avidya, or Maya (illusion, or the phenomenal world), the Vedanta philosophers no more sought to explain than we seek to explain how the Self comes into the body, the bodily senses, and the phenomenal world which they perceive. We begin our philosophy with what is given us, that is, with a Self, that in its embodiment knows everything that befalls the body; that for a time is blended with the body, till it attains a true self-knowledge, and then, even in life, or later in death, by liberation from its phenomenal existence, or from the body, again comes to itself.
How this body, with its senses that convey and present to us the phenomenal world, originated or developed, is a question that belongs to biology. So far as is possible to the human understanding, this question has been solved by the cell theory. The other question is the development of what we call mind, that is, the subjective knowledge of the phenomenal world. To this the body, as it exists and lives, and the organs of sense, as they exist, are essential. We know that all sense-perceptions depend upon bodily vibrations, i.e. the nerves; and if we wish to make plain the transition of impressions to conscious ideas, we can best do so through the assumption of the Self as a witness or accessory to the nerve-vibrations. This, however, is only an image, not an explanation, for an explanation belongs to the Utopia of philosophy. How it happens that atoms think, atomists do not know, and no one should imagine that so-called Darwinism has helped or can help us even one step farther. Whatever some Darwinians may say, nothing can be simpler than the frank admission of ignorance on this point on the part of Darwin. The frank and modest expressions of this great but sober thinker are generally passed over in silence, or are even controverted as signs of a temporary weakness. To me, on the contrary, they are very valuable, and very characteristic of Darwin.
In one place(40) he says, "I have nothing to do with the origin of the primary mental power any more than I have with that of life itself." In another place(41) he speaks still more plainly and says, "In what manner the mental powers were first developed in the lowest organisms is as hopeless an inquiry as how life first originated." Let no one suppose, therefore, that all gates and doors can be opened with the word "evolution" or the name Darwin. It is easy to say with Drummond, "Evolution is revolutionising the world of nature and of thought, and within living memory has opened up avenues into the past and vistas into the future such as science has never witnessed before."(42) Those are bold words, but what do they mean or prove? DuBois-Reymond has said long before, "How consciousness can arise from the co-operation of atoms is beyond our comprehension." In the Contemporary Review, November, 1871,(43) Huxley speaks just as decidedly as Darwin in the name of biology, "I really know nothing whatever, and never hope to know anything, of the steps by which the passage from molecular movement to states of consciousness is effected." Molecules and atoms are objects of knowledge. If we ascribe knowledge to them, they immediately become the monads of Leibnitz; you may evolve out of them what you have first involved into them. Knowledge belongs to the Self alone, call it what we will. The nerve-fibres might vibrate as often as they pleased, millions and millions of times in a second; they would never produce the sensation of red if there were no Self as the receiver and illuminator, the translator of these vibrations of ether; this Self, that alone receives, alone illumines, alone knows, and of which we can say nothing more than what the Indian philosophers call sak-kid-ananda, that it exists, that it perceives, and as they add, that it is blessed, i.e. that it is complete in itself, serene and eternal.
If we take a firm stand on this living and perceiving Self (for kid is not so much thinking as perceiving, or knowing), there can then be no question that it is present not only in men, but in animals as well; only let us beware of the inference that what we mean by human mind, that is, understanding and reasoning thought, is a necessary function of all living organisms, and is possessed also by a goose or a chicken. It is just the same with the perceiving Self as it is with the cell. To the eye they are all alike. To express it figuratively, one cell has a ticket to Cologne, another to Paris, a third to London. Each reaches its destination, and then remains stationary, and no power on earth can make it advance beyond the place to which it is ticketed, that is, its original destination, its fundamental eternal idea. It is just the same with the perceiving Self. It is true that the Self sees, hears, and thinks. As there are animals that cannot see, that cannot hear, so there are animals—and this class includes the whole of them—that cannot speak. It is true that the speaking animals, that is men, have passed the former stations on a fast train; but they did not leave the train, nor have they anything in common with those who remained behind at previous stations, least of all can we consider them as the offspring of those that remained behind. This is only a simile, and should not provoke ridicule. Of course it will be said that those who can journey to Cologne may go on to Paris, and once in Paris may easily cross the Channel. We must not ride a comparison to death, but always adhere to the facts. Why does not grass grow as high as a poplar, why is care taken, as Goethe says, that no tree grows up to the sky? A strawberry might grow as large as a cucumber or a pumpkin, but it does not. Who draws the line? It is true, too, that along every line slight deviations take place right and left. Nearly each year we hear of an abnormally large strawberry, and no doubt abnormally small ones could be found as well. But in spite of all, the normal remains. And whence comes it, if not from the same hand or the same source which we compared with the ticket agent at the railway station, in whom all who are familiar with the history of philosophy will again readily recognise the Greek Logos?
These comparisons should at least be so far useful as to disclose the confusion of thought, when, for instance, Mr. Romanes holds that it is not only comprehensible, but the conclusion is unavoidable, that the human mind has sprung from the minds of the higher quadrumana on the line of natural genesis. The human mind may mean every possible thing; the question therefore arises if he refers only to consciousness, or to understanding and reason. In the second place the human mind is not something subsisting by itself, but can only be the mind of an individual man. We cannot be too careful in these discussions—otherwise we only end by substituting bare abstractions for concrete things. We do not know the human mind as anything concrete at all, only as an abstraction, and in that case only as the mind of one man, or of many men. How can it then be thought that my mind or the mind of Darwin sprang from the minds of the higher quadrumana. We may say such things, but what meaning can we attach to them? The same misconception exists here, if I am not mistaken, as in the statement, that the human body springs from the bodies of the higher quadrupeds—a misconception to which we have already referred. That has absolutely no sense if we only hold firmly, that every organised body was originally a cell, or originates in a cell, and that each cell, even in its most complicated, manifold, and perfect form, always is, and remains, an individual. It is useless therefore to talk of a descent of the human mind from the minds of the higher quadrupeds, for no intelligible meaning can be discovered in it; we should have to fall back on a miscarriage, and to set up this miscarriage as the mother of all men, and without a legitimate father. Such are the wanderings of a wrong method of thought, even if it struts about in kingly robes.
Above all things we must settle what we are really to understand by the mind of the higher quadrupeds as distinguished from the human mind. What is there lacking in these animal minds to make them human? And what do they possess, or what are they, that they should claim equal birth with man? How much obscurity there is in these matters among the best animal psychologists is seen when, for instance, we compare the assertions of Romanes with those of Lloyd Morgan. While the former sets up a natural genesis of the human mind from animal mind as being indisputable and as not being thinkable in any other way, the latter, his greatest admirer, says, "Believing, as I do, that conception is beyond the power of my favourite and clever dog, I am forced to believe that his mind differs generically from my own."(44) Undoubtedly by "generically" is meant, according to his genus or his genesis. But in spite of this, the same savant says in another place, that he cannot allow that there is a difference in kind, that is in genere, between the human mind and the mind of a dog. If men would only define their words, such contradictions would in time become impossible.
What men and animals have in common is the Self, and this so-called Self consists first of all in perception. This perception belongs, as has been said, to those things which are given us, and not to those which can be explained. It is a property of the eternal Self, as of light, to shine, to illumine itself, that is, to know. Its knowing is its being, and its being is its knowing, or its self-consciousness. If we take the Self as we find it, not merely in itself, but embodied, we must attribute to it, besides its own self-consciousness, a consciousness of the conditions of the body; but of course we must not imagine that we can make this embodiment in any way conceivable to us. It is so—that is all that we can say, just as in an earlier consideration of the embodiment and multiplication of the eternal Logos we had to accept this as a datum, without being able to come any nearer to the fact by conceptions, or even by mere analogies. This is where the task of the psychologist begins. Grant the self-consciousness of the individual, although still very obscure; grant the sentient perception; everything else that we call mind is the result of a development, which we must follow historically in order to understand that it could not come about in any other way. But where are the facts, where the monuments, where the trustworthy documents, from which we can draw our knowledge of this wonderful development?
Four sources have been propounded for the study of psychogenesis. It has been said that to investigate the development of the human mind, the following objects must be scientifically observed: (1) The mind of a child; (2) the mind of the lower animals; (3) the survivals of the oldest culture, as we find it in ethnological collections; (4) the mind of still living savages. I formerly entertained similar hopes, but in my own melancholy experience all these studies end in delusion, in so far as they are applied to explain the genesis of the human mind. They do not reach far enough, they give us everywhere only the products of growth, the result of art, not the natural growth, or the real evolution. The observations on the development of a child's mind are very attractive, especially when they are made by thoughtful mothers. But this nursery psychology is wanting in all scientific exactness. The object of observation, the child that cannot yet speak, can never be entirely isolated. Its environment is of incalculable influence, and the petted child develops very differently from the neglected foundling. The early smile of the one is often as much a reflex action as the crying and blustering of the other, from hunger or inherited disease. Much as I admire the painstaking effort with which the first evidences of perception or of mental activity in a child have been recorded from day to day, from week to week, these observations prove untrustworthy when we endeavour to control them independently. It has been said that the mental activities of a child develop in the following order:—
After three weeks fear is manifested;
After seven weeks social affections;
After twelve weeks jealousy and anger;
After five months sympathy;
After eight months, pride, sentiment, love of ornament;
After fifteen months, shame, remorse, a sense of the ludicrous.(45)
We may generalise this scale as much as we please, and gradually permit the gradations to vanish, but I doubt if even two mothers could be found who would agree in such an interpretation of their children's looks. Add to this that this whole scale has very little to do with what, in the strict sense of the word, we call mind. From fear up to shame and penitence are all manifestations simply of the feelings, and not of the mind. We know that what we call fear is often a reflex action, as when a child closes its eyelids before a blow. What has been named jealousy in a child, is often nothing but hunger, while shame is instilled into one child, and in others is by no means of spontaneous growth.
The worst feature of such observations is that they are very quickly regarded as safe ground, and are reared higher and higher until in the end the entire scaffold collapses. In order to establish the truth of this psychologic scale in children still more firmly, and at the same time to make good its universal necessity, an effort has been made to prove that a similar scale is to be found in the animal kingdom, and of course what was sought has been found. Romanes asserts that the lowest order of animals, the annelids, only show traces of fear; a little higher in the scale, in insects, are found social instincts such as industry, combativeness, and curiosity; another step higher, fishes exhibit jealousy, and birds, sympathy; then in carnivorous animals follow cruelty, hate, and grief; and lastly, in the anthropoid apes, remorse, shame, and a sense of the ridiculous, as well as deceit. It needs but one step more to make this scale, which belongs much more to the sphere of feeling than the realm of thought, universally applicable to all psychology. How should we otherwise explain the parallelism between the mental development of infants and that of undeveloped animals? One need but take a firm hold of such observations, and they are transformed into airy visions. Who, for instance, would dare to distinguish the traces of fear in annelids from those of surprise in higher animals? Nevertheless fear occupies the first place, surprise the third. And what mark distinguished combativeness in insects from jealousy in fishes? In the same way I doubt if any two nurses would agree in the chronology of the phenomena of the infant disposition, and have therefore long since given up all hope of obtaining any hints either in embryological or physiological development, about the real historical unfolding of the human consciousness, either out of a nursery or out of a zooelogical garden.
As for ethnological museums, they certainly give us wonderful glimpses into the skilfulness of primitive man, especially in what relates to the struggle for life; but of the historic or prehistoric age of these wood, horn, and stone weapons, they tell us absolutely nothing. Whoever thinks that man descended from an ape, may no doubt say that flint implements for kindling fire belonged to a higher period, post hominem natum, although it has been thought that even apes could have imitated such weapons, though they could not have invented them. Romanes, in his book on Mental Evolution in Animals, has collected a large number of illustrations of animal skilfulness; the majority of them, however, are explained by mere mimicry; of a development of original ideas peculiar to animals in their wild state, apart from the contact and influence of human society, there is no trace. Even the most intelligent animal, the elephant, acquires reason only in its intercourse with men, and similarly the more or less trained apes, dogs, parrots, etc. All this is very interesting reading, and an English weekly, The Spectator, has from week to week given us similar anecdotes about wonderfully gifted animals from all parts of the earth, but these matters lie outside the narrow sphere of science.
What then remains to enable us to study the earliest phase of development of the human mind accessible to us? If we go to savages, whose language we only understand imperfectly, these observations are of course still more untrustworthy than in the case of our own children; at all events we must wait before we receive any really valuable evidence of the development of the human mind from that source. I repeat that the human mind itself, as far as it perceives, must simply be accepted as a fact, given to us and inexplicable, whether in civilised or uncivilised races; but only in its greatest simplicity, as mere self-conscious perception—a perception which in this simplicity can in no wise be denied to animals, although we can only with difficulty form a clear idea of the peculiarity of their sentient perceptions.
Where can we observe the first steps that rise above this simple perception? I say, as I have always said, In language and in language alone. Language is the oldest monument which we possess of man's mental power, older than stone weapons, than cuneiform inscriptions, than hieroglyphics. The development of language is continuous, for where this continuity is broken, language dies. After every Tasmanian had been killed or had died, the Tasmanian language ipso facto ceased; and even if any literary remains had survived, the language itself would have to be reckoned, like Latin and Greek, with dead languages. Thousands of them may have disappeared from the earth; in its development a language may have changed as much as Sanskrit to Bengali; but it suffers no break, it remains always the same, and in a certain sense we still speak in German the same tongue as was spoken by the Aryans before there was a Sanskrit, a Greek, or a Latin language. Consider what this signifies. Chronologically, we cannot get at this primitive Aryan speech. Let us assume that Sanskrit, Greek, and Latin were spoken as independent national tongues at least fifteen hundred years before our chronology—what an age had elapsed before these three, as well as the remaining Aryan tongues, could have diverged so much as Sanskrit diverges from Greek and Greek from Latin. The numerals are the same in these three languages, and yet katvaras sounds quite differently from τέσσαρες and quatuor and our four. The words for eight, octo in Latin, ὀκτώ in Greek, and ashtau in Sanskrit, are nearly identical; and it is even possible that the lesser deviations in the pronunciation of these words demanded no great interval of time. But now let us consider what lies behind these ten numerals. There is the elaboration of a decimal system from 1 to 10, no, to 100 (ἑκατόν), Sanskrit satam, centum. There is the formation and fixing of names for these numbers, which must have been originally more or less arbitrary, because numbers only subordinate themselves with difficulty to one of those general ideas which are expressed in the Aryan roots. Besides these words are, even in their oldest attainable forms, already so weather-beaten, that in most cases it is impossible even to guess their etymology and original meaning. We see that the names for two and eight are dual, while those for three and four clearly have plural endings. But why eight in the primitive Aryan was a dual, and what were the two tetrads, which, combined in asht-au, oct-o, ὀκτ-ώ, expressed the number eight, will probably never be discovered. It is possible that asht-i was a name for the four phases of the moon, or for the four fingers of the hand without the thumb. Analogies occur in other families of language, but certainty is beyond our reach. If we now consider what mental effort is necessary to work out a decimal system, and to secure general recognition and value for the name given to each number, we shall readily realise what remote periods in the development of the human mind open up before us here, and of how little use it would be to try to establish chronological limits. Old as the Vedas, old as the Homeric songs may be, what is their age compared with the periods that were required not only to work out the numerals but the entire treasury of Aryan words, and the wonderful network of grammar that surrounds this treasure, which also was complete before the separation of the Aryan languages began. The immeasurable cannot be measured, but this much stands immovable in the mind of every linguist, that there is nothing older in the entire Aryan world than the complete primitive Aryan language and grammar, in which nearly all the categories of thought, and consequently the whole scaffold of our thinking, have found their expression.
Of course it will be said that all this only applies to the Aryan race, and that they constitute only a small and perhaps the youngest portion of the human race. Well, it is difficult to prove that the Aryans constitute the least numerous subdivision. We know too little of their great masses to attempt a census. That they are the youngest branch of the human race is really of no consequence; we should then have to assume against all Darwinian principles, various, not contemporaneous, but successive monstrosities, slowly ascending to humanity, and this would only be pure invention. Nothing absolutely compels us to ascribe a shorter earthly life to those races which speak Chinese, Semitic, Bantu, American, Australian, or other languages, than to the Aryans. That all races have begun on a lower plane of culture, and especially of the knowledge of language, will no doubt be universally acknowledged. But even if we only place the first beginnings of the Aryan race at 10,000 B.C., there is time enough for it and other races to have risen, and also to have again declined. The difference would merely be that the Aryans, in spite of many drawbacks, on the whole constantly progressed, while the Australians, Negroes, and Patagonians, forced into unfavourable positions, remained stationary on a very low level. That their present plane can in any respect, and especially in regard to their language, supply a picture of the earliest condition of the human race, or even of certain branches of it, is again mere assumption, and as bare of all analogy as the attempt to see in the salons of London a picture of Aryan family life before the first separation. There are savages who are cannibals. Shall we conclude from this that the first men all devoured each other, or that only those who were least appetising remained over as survivals of the fittest? It is remarkable how many ideas are current in science which the healthy human mind, after short reflection, silently lays aside. Any one who has occupied himself with the polysynthetic tongues of the Redskins, or with the prefixes in the languages of the Bantus, knows how much time must have been needed to develop their grammar, and how much higher the makers of these languages must have stood than those who speak them now.