Our receptive apparatus. Sensation. Perception. Conception. Intuition. Art as the language of the future. To what extent does the three-dimensionality of the world depend upon the properties of our receptive apparatus? What might prove this interdependence? Where may we find the real affirmation of this interdependence? The animal psyche. In what does it differ from the human? Reflex action. The irritability of the cell. Instinct. Pleasure-pain. Emotional thinking. The absence of concepts. Language of animals. Logic of animals. Different degrees of psychic development in animals. The goose, the cat, the dog and the monkey.
IN order exactly to define the relation of our psyche to the external world, and to determine what, in our receptivity of the world, belongs to it, and what belongs to ourselves, let us turn to elementary psychology and examine the mechanism of our receptive apparatus.
The fundamental unit of our receptivity is a sensation. This sensation is an elementary change in the state of our psyche, produced, as it seems to us, either by some change in the state of the external world in relation to our consciousness, or by a change in the state of our psyche in relation to the external world. Such is the teaching of physics and psycho-physics. Into the consideration of the correctness or incorrectness of the construction of these sciences I shall not enter. Suffice it to define a sensation as an elementary change in the state of the psyche—as the element, that is, as the fundamental unit of this change. Feeling the sensation we assume that it appears, so to speak, as the reflection of some change in the external world.
The sensations felt by us leave a certain trace in our memory. The accumulating memories of sensations begin to blend in consciousness into groups, and according to their similitude tend to associate, to sum up, to be opposed; the sensations which are usually felt in close connection with one another will arise in memory in the
same connection. Gradually, out of the memories of sensations, perceptions are compounded. Perceptions—these are so to speak the group memories of sensations. During the compounding of perceptions, sensations are polarizing in two clearly defined directions. The first direction of this grouping will be according to the character of sensations. (The sensations of a yellow color will combine with the sensations of a yellow color; sensations of a sour taste with those of a sour taste.) The second direction will be according to the time of the reception of sensations. When various sensations, constituting a single group, and compounding one perception, enter simultaneously, then the memory of this definite group of sensations is ascribed to a common cause. This "common cause" is projected into the outside world as the object, and it is assumed that the given perception itself reflects the real properties of this object. Such group remembrance constitutes perception, the perception, for example, of a tree—that tree. Into this group enter the green color of the leaves, their smell, their shadows, their rustle in the wind, etc. All these things taken together form as it were a focus of rays coming out of the psyche, gradually concentrated upon the outside object and coinciding with it either well or ill.
In the further complication of the psychic life, the memories of perception proceed as with the memories of sensations. Mingling together, the memories of perceptions, or the "images of perceptions," combine in various ways: they sum up, they stand opposed, they form groups, and in the end give rise to concepts.
Thus out of various sensations, experienced (in groups) at different times, a child gets the perception of a tree (that tree), and afterwards, out of the images of perceptions of different trees there emerges the concept of a tree, i.e., not "that tree," but trees in general.
The formation of perceptions leads to the formation of words, and the appearance of speech.
The beginning of speech may appear on the lowest level of psychic life, during the period of living by sensations, and it will become more complex during the period of living by perceptions; but unless there be concepts it will not be speech in the true meaning of the word.
On the lower levels of psychic life certain sensations can be expressed by certain sounds. Therefore it is possible to express common impressions of horror, anger, pleasure. These sounds may serve as signals of danger, as commands, demands, threats, etc., but it is impossible to say much by means of them.
In the further development of speech, if words or sounds express perceptions, as in the case of children, this means that the given sound or the given word designates only that object to which it refers. For each new similar object must exist another new sound, or a new word. If the speaker designates different objects by one and the same sound or word, it means that in his opinion the objects are the same, or that knowingly he is calling different objects by the same name. In either case it will be difficult to understand him, and such speech cannot serve as an example of clear speech. For instance, if a child call a tree by a certain sound or word, having in view that tree only, and not knowing other trees at all, then any new tree which he may see he will call by a new word, or else he will take it for the same tree. The speech in which "words" correspond to perceptions is as it were made up of proper nouns. There are no appellative nouns; and not only substantives, but verbs, adjectives and adverbs have the character of "proper nouns"—that is, they apply to a given action, to a given quality, or to a given property.
The appearance of words of a common meaning in human speech signifies the appearance of concepts in consciousness.
Speech consists of words, each word expressing a concept. Concept and word are in substance one and the same thing; only the first (the concept) represents, so to speak, the inner side, and the second (the word) the outer side. Or, as says Dr. R. M. Bucke (the author of the book Cosmic Consciousness, about which I shall have much to say later on), "A word (i.e., concept) is the algebraical sign of a thing."
It has been noticed thousands of times that the brain of a thinking man does not exceed in size the brain of a non-thinking wild man in anything like the proportion in which the mind of the thinker exceeds the mind of the savage. The reason is that the brain of a Herbert Spencer has very little more work to do than has the brain of a native Australian, for this reason, that Spencer does all his characteristic mental work by signs or counters which stand for concepts, while the savage does all or nearly all his by means of cumbersome recepts. The savage is in a position comparable to that of the astronomer who makes his calculations by arithmetic, while Spencer is in the position of one who makes them by algebra. The first will fill many great sheets of paper with figures and go through immense labor; the other will make the same calculations on an envelope and with comparatively little mental work. 1
In our speech words express concepts or ideas. By ideas are meant broader concepts, not representing the group sign of similar perceptions, but embracing various groups of perceptions, or even groups of concepts. Therefore an idea is a complex or an abstract concept.
In addition to the simple sensations of these sense organs (color, sound, touch, smell and taste), in addition to the simple emotions of pleasure, pain, joy, anger, surprise, wonder, curiosity and many others, there is passing through our consciousness a series of complex sensations and higher (complex) emotions (moral, esthetic, religious). The content of emotional feelings, even the simplest—to say nothing of the complex—can never be wholly confined to concepts or ideas, and therefore can never be correctly or exactly expressed in words. Words can only allude to it, point to it. The interpretation of emotional feelings and emotional understanding is the problem of art. In combinations of words, in their meaning, their rhythm, their music—the combination of meaning, rhythm and music; in sounds, colors, lines, forms—men are creating a new world, and are attempting therein to express and transmit that which they feel, but which they are unable to express and transmit simply in words, i.e., in concepts. The emotional tones of life, i.e., of "feelings," are best transmitted by music, but it cannot express concepts, i.e., thought. Poetry endeavors to express both music and thought together. The combination of feeling and thought of high tension leads to a higher form of psychic life. Thus in art we have already the first experiments in a language of the future. Art anticipates a psychic evolution and divines its future forms.
At the present time an average man, taken as a norm, has attained to three units of psychic life: sensation, perception, and conception. Furthermore, observation reveals the fact that some people at certain times acquire a new, fourth unit of psychic life, which different authors and different schools name differently, but in which an element of knowledge or ideas is always united with an emotional element.
If Kant's ideas are correct, if space with its characteristics is a property of our consciousness, and not of the external world, then the three-dimensionality of the world must in this or some other manner depend upon the constitution of our psychic apparatus.
It is possible to put the question concretely in the following manner: What bearing upon the three-dimensional extension of the world has the fact that in our psychical apparatus we discover the categories above described—sensations, perceptions and concepts?
We possess such a psychical apparatus and the world is three-dimensional. How is it possible to establish the fact that the three-dimensionality of the world depends upon such a constitution of our psychical apparatus?
This could be proven or disproven undeniably only with the aid of experiments.
If we could change our psychic apparatus and should then discover that the world around us was changing, this would constitute for us the proof of the dependence of the properties of space upon the properties of our consciousness.
For example if we could make the above-mentioned higher form of psychic life (which appears now accidentally as it were and depends upon insufficiently studied conditions) just as definite, exact, and subject to our will as is the concept; and if the number of characteristics of space increased, i.e., if space became four-dimensional instead of being three-dimensional, this would affirm our presupposition, and would prove Kant's contention that space with its properties is a form of our sensuous receptivity.
Or if we could diminish the number of units of our psychic life, and deprive ourselves or someone else of conceptions, leaving the psyche to act by perceptions and sensations only; and if by so doing the number of characteristics of the space surrounding us diminished; i.e., if for the person subjected to the test the world became two-dimensional instead of three-dimensional, and indeed one-dimensional as a result of a still greater limitation of the psychic apparatus, by depriving the person of perceptions—this would affirm our presupposition, and Kant's idea could be considered proven.
That is to say, Kant's idea would be proven experimentally if we could be convinced that for the being possessing sensations only, the world is one-dimensional; for the being possessing sensations and perceptions the world is two-dimensional; and for the being possessing, in addition to concepts and ideas, the higher forms of knowledge the world is four-dimensional.
Or, more exactly, Kant's thesis in regard to the subjectivity of space-perception could be regarded as proven (a) if for the being possessing sensations only, our entire world with all its variety of forms should seem a single line; if the universe of this being should possess but one dimension, i.e., should this being be one-dimensional in the properties of its receptivity; and (b) if for the being possessing, in addition to the faculty of feeling sensations, the faculty of forming perceptions, the world should have a two-dimensional extension; if all our world with its blue sky, clouds, green trees, mountains and precipices, should seem to him one plane; if the universe of this being should have only two dimensions, i.e., if this being were two-dimensional in the properties of its receptivity.
More briefly, Kant's thesis would be proven could we be made to see that for the conscious being the number of characteristics of the world changes in accordance with the changes of its psychic apparatus.
To perform such an experiment, effecting the diminution of psychic characteristics is not possible under ordinary conditions—we cannot arbitrarily limit our own, or anyone else's psychic apparatus.
Experiments with the augmentation of psychic characteristics have been made and are recorded, but in consequence of many diverse causes they are insufficiently convincing. The chief reason for this is that the augmentation of psychic faculties yields, first of all, so much of newness in the psychic realm that this newness obscures the changes proceeding simultaneously in the previous perception of the world; one feels the new, but is not capable of defining the difference exactly.
The entire body of teachings of religio-philosophic movements have as their avowed or hidden purpose, the expansion of consciousness. This also is the aim of mysticism of every age and of every faith, the aim of occultism, and of the Oriental yoga. But the question of the expansion of consciousness demands special study; the final chapters of this book will be dedicated to it.
For the present, in proof of the above stated propositions with regard to the change of the world in relation to psychic changes, it is sufficient to consider the assumption concerning the possibility of a smaller number of psychic characteristics.
If experiments in this direction are impossible, perhaps observation may furnish what we seek.
Let us put the question: Are there not beings in the world standing toward us in the necessary relation, whose psyche is of a lower grade than ours?
Such psychically inferior beings undoubtedly exist. These are animals.
Of the difference between the psychical nature of an animal and of a man we know very little: the usual "conversational" psychology deals with it not at all. Usually we deny altogether that animals have minds, or else we ascribe to them our own psychology, but "limited"—though how and in what we do not know. Again, we say that animals do not possess reason, but are governed by instinct. As to what exactly we mean by instinct we do not ourselves know. I am speaking not alone of popular, but so-called "scientific" psychology.
Let us try to discover what instinct is, and learn something about animal psychology. First of all let us analyze the actions of animals, and see wherein they differ from ours. If these actions are instinctive, what inference is to be drawn from the fact?
What are those actions in general, and how do they differ?
In the actions of living beings within the limits of our usual observation we discriminate between those which are reflex, instinctive, rational and automatic.
Reflex actions are simply responses by motion, reactions upon external irritations, taking place always in the same way, regardless of their utility or futility, expediency or inexpediency in any given case. Their origin and laws are due to the simple irritability of a cell.
What is the irritability of a cell, and what are these laws?
The irritability of a cell is defined as its faculty to respond to external irritation by a motion. Experiments with the simplest mono-cellular organisms, have shown that this irritability acts according to definite laws. The cell responds by a motion to outside irritation. The force of the responsive motion increases as the force of the irritation is intensified, but in no definite proportionality. In order to provoke the responsive movement the irritation must be of a sufficient intensity. Each experienced irritation leaves a certain trace in the cell, making it more receptive to the new irritations. In this we see that the cell responds to the repetitive irritation of an equal force by a more forceful motion than the first one. And if the irritations be repeated further the cell will respond to them by more and more forceful motions, up to a certain limit. Having reached this limit the cell experiences fatigue, and responds to the same irritation by more and more feeble reactions. It is as if the cell becomes accustomed to the irritation. It becomes for the cell part of a constant environment, and it ceases to react, because it is reacting generally only to changes in conditions which are constant. If from the very beginning the irritation is so weak that it fails to provoke the responsive motion, it nevertheless leaves in the cell a certain invisible trace. This can be inferred from the fact that by repeating these weak irritations, the cell finally begins to react to them.
Thus in the laws of irritability we observe, as it were, the beginnings of memory, fatigue, and habit. The cell produces the illusion, if not of a conscious and reasoning being, at any rate of a remembering being, habit-forming, and susceptible to fatigue. If we can be thus deceived by a cell, how much more liable are we to be deceived by the greater complexity of animal life.
But let us return to the analysis of actions. By the reflex actions of an organism are meant actions in which either an entire organism or its separate parts acts as a cell, i.e., within the limits of the law of variability. We observe such actions both in men and in animals. A man shudders all over from unexpected cold, or from a touch. His eyelids wink at the swift approach or touch of some object. The freely-hanging foot of a person in a sitting position moves forward if the leg be struck on the tendon below the knee. These movements proceed independently of consciousness, they may even proceed counter to consciousness. Usually consciousness registers them as accomplished facts. Moreover these movements are not at all governed by expediency. The foot moves forward in answer to the blow on the tendon even though a knife or a fire be in front of it.
By instinctive actions are meant actions governed by expediency, but made without conscious selection or without conscious aim.
They appear with the appearance of a sensuous tincture to sensations, i.e., from that moment when the sensation begins to be associated with a sense of pleasure or pain.
As a matter of fact, before the dawn of human intellect, throughout the entire animal kingdom "actions" were governed by the tendency to receive or to retain pleasure, or to escape pain.
We may declare with entire assurance that instinct is a pleasure-pain which, like the positive and negative poles of an electro-magnet, repels and attracts the animal in this or that direction, compelling it to perform whole series of complex actions, sometimes expedient to such a degree that they appear to be sensible, and not only sensible, but founded upon foresight of the future, almost upon some clairvoyance, like the migration of birds, the building of nests for the young which have not as yet appeared, the finding of the way south in the autumn, and north in the spring, etc.
But all these actions are explained in reality by a single instinct, i.e., by the subservience to pleasure-pain.
During periods in which millenniums may be regarded as days, by selection among all animals the types have been perfected, living along the lines of this subservience. This subservience is expedient, that is, the results of it lead to the desired goal. Why this is so is clear. Had the sense of pleasure arisen from that which is detrimental, the given species could not live, and would quickly die out. Instinct is the guide of its life, but only as long as instinct is expedient solely; just as soon as it ceases to be expedient it becomes the guide of death, and the species soon dies out. Normally "pleasure-pain" is pleasant or unpleasant not for the usefulness or the harm which may result, but because of it. Those influences which proved to be beneficial for a given species during the vegetative life, with the transition to the more active and complex animal life begin to be sensed as pleasant, the detrimental influences as unpleasant. As regards two different species, one and the same influence—say a certain temperature—may be useful and pleasant for one, and for another detrimental and unpleasant. It is clear, therefore, that the subservience to "pleasure-pain" must be governed by expediency. The pleasant is pleasant because it is beneficial, the unpleasant is unpleasant because it is harmful.
Next after instinctive actions follow those actions which are rational and automatic.
By rational action is meant such an action as is known to the acting subject before its execution; such an action as the acting subject can name, define, explain, can show its cause and purpose before its execution.
Automatic actions are actions which have been rational for a given subject, but because of frequent repetitions they have become habitual and are performed unconsciously. The acquired automatic actions of trained animals were previously rational not in the animal, but in the trainer. Such actions often appear as rational but this is a complete illusion. The animal remembers the sequence of actions, and therefore its actions appear to be considered and expedient. They really were considered, but not by it. Automatic actions are often confounded with instinctive ones—in reality they resemble instinctive ones, but there is an enormous difference between them. Automatic actions are developed by the subject during its own life, and for a long time before they become automatic it must be conscious of them. Instinctive actions, on the other hand, are developed during the life-periods of the species, and the aptitude for them is transmitted in a definite manner by heredity. It is possible to call automatic actions instinctive actions worked out for itself by a given subject. It is impossible, however, to call instinctive actions automatic actions worked out by a given species, because they never were rational in different individuals of a given species, but were compounded out of a series of complex reflexes.
REFLEXES, INSTINCTIVE AND "RATIONAL" ACTIONS, ALL MAY BE REGARDED AS REFLECTED, i.e., AS NOT SELF-ORIGINATED. BOTH THESE AND OTHERS, AND STILL A THIRD CLASS, COME NOT FROM MAN HIMSELF, BUT FROM THE OUTSIDE WORLD. MAN IS THE TRANSMITTING OR TRANSFORMING STATION FOR CERTAIN FORCES: ALL OF HIS ACTIONS IN THESE THREE CATEGORIES ARE CREATED AND DETERMINED BY HIS IMPRESSIONS OF THE OUTSIDE WORLD. MAN IN THESE THREE SPECIES OF ACTIONS IS, IN SUBSTANCE, AN AUTOMATON, UNCONSCIOUS OR CONSCIOUS OF HIS ACTIONS. NOTHING COMES FROM HIM HIMSELF.
With the exception of sensations of the outer world, only the higher category of actions, i.e., conscious actions 1 appears to depend on something else. But the aptitude for such actions is seldom met with—only in some few persons whom it is possible to describe as MEN OF A HIGHER TYPE.
Having established the differences between various kinds of actions, let us return to the question propounded before: In what manner does the psyche of an animal differ from that of a human being? Out of the four categories of actions the two lower ones are accessible to animals. The category of "conscious" actions is inaccessible to animals. This is proven first of all by the fact that animals have not the power of speech as we have it.
As has been shown before, the possession of speech is indissolubly bound up with the possession of concepts. Therefore we may say that animals do not possess concepts.
Is this true, and is it possible to possess the instinctive mind without possessing concepts?
All that we know about the instinctive mind teaches us that it acts possessing sensations and perceptions only, and that in the lower grades it possesses sensation only. The being which does its thinking by means of perceptions possesses the instinctive mind which gives it the possibility of exercising that choice between the perceptions presented to it which produces the impression of judging and reasoning. In reality the animal does not reason its actions, but lives by its emotions, subject to that emotion which happens to be strongest. Although indeed, in the life of the animal, acute moments sometimes occur when it is confronted with the necessity of choosing among a certain series of perceptions. At such moments its actions may seem to be quite reasoned out. For example, the animal, being put in a situation of danger acts often very cautiously and wisely, but in reality its actions are directed not by thoughts but principally by emotional memory and motor perceptions. It has been previously shown that emotions are expedient, and that the subjection to them in a normal being must be expedient. Any perception of an animal, any recollected image, is bound up with some emotional sensation or emotional remembrance—there are no non-emotional, cold thoughts in the animal soul, or even if there are, these are in-active, and incapable of becoming the springs of action.
Thus all actions of animals, sometimes highly complex, expedient, and apparently reasoned, we can explain without attributing to them concepts, judgments, and the power of reasoning. Indeed, we must recognize that animals have no concepts, and the proof of this is that they have no speech.
If we take two men of different nationalities, different races, each ignorant of the language of the other, and put them together, they will find a way to communicate at once.
One perhaps draws a circle with his finger, the other draws another circle beside it. By these means they have already established that they can understand one another. If a thick wall were put between them it would not hamper them in the least—one of them knocks three times, and the other knocks three times in response.
The communication is established. The idea of communicating with the inhabitants of other planets is founded upon the idea of light signals. It is proposed to make on the earth an enormous lighted circle or a square to attract the attention of the inhabitants of Mars and to be answered by them by means of the same signal. We live side by side with animals and yet cannot establish such communication. Evidently the distance between us and them is greater, and the difference deeper, than between men divided by the ignorance of language, stone walls, and enormous distances.
Another proof of the absence of concepts in the animal is its inability to use a lever, i.e., its incapacity to come independently to an understanding of the principle of the action of the lever. The usual objection that an animal cannot operate a lever because its organs (paws et cetera)are not adapted to such actions does not hold for the reason that almost any animal can be taught to operate a lever. This shows that the difficulty is not in the organs. The animal simply cannot of itself come to a comprehension of the idea of a lever.
The invention of the lever immediately divided primitive man from the animal, and it was inextricably bound up with the appearance of concepts. The psychic side of the understanding of the action of a lever consists in the construction of a correct syllogism. Without constructing the syllogism correctly it is impossible to understand the action of a lever. Having no concepts it is impossible to construct the syllogism. The syllogism in the psychic sphere is literally the same thing as the lever in the physical sphere.
His mastery of the lever differentiates man as strongly from the animal as does speech. If some learned Martians were looking at the earth, and should study it objectively from afar by means of a telescope, not hearing speech, nor entering into the subjective world of the inhabitants of the earth, nor coming in contact with them, they would divide the beings living on the earth into two groups: those acquainted with the action of the lever, and those unacquainted with such action.
The psychology of animals is in general very misty to us. The infinite number of observations made concerning all animals, from elephants to spiders, and the infinite number of anecdotes about the mind, spirit, and moral qualities of animals change nothing of all that. We represent animals to ourselves either as living automatons or as stupid men.
We too much confine ourselves within the circle of our own psychology. We fail to imagine any other, and think involuntarily that the only possible sort of soul is such as we ourselves possess. But it is this illusion which prevents us from understanding life. If we could participate in the psychic life of an animal, understand how it perceives, thinks and acts, we would find much of unusual interest. For example, could we represent to ourselves, and re-create mentally, the logic of an animal, it would greatly help us to understand our own logic and the laws of our own thinking. Before all else we would come to understand the conditionality and relativity of our own logical construction and with it the conditionality of our entire conception of the world.
An animal would have a peculiar logic. It indeed would not be logic in the true meaning of the word, because logic presupposes the existence of logos, i.e., of a word or concept.
Our usual logic, by which we live, without which "the shoemaker will not sew the boot," is deduced from the simple scheme formulated by Aristotle in those writings which were edited by his pupils under the common name of Organon, i.e., the "Instrument" (of thought). This scheme consists in the following:
A is A.
A is not Not-A.
Everything is either A or Not-A.
The logic embraced in this scheme—the logic of Aristotle—is quite sufficient for observation. But for experiment it is insufficient, because the experiment proceeds in time, and in the formulæ of Aristotle time is not taken into consideration. This was observed at the very dawn of the establishment of our experimental science—observed by Roger Bacon, and formulated several centuries later by his famous namesake, Francis Bacon, Lord Verulam, in the treatise Novum Organum—the "New Instrument" (of thought). Briefly, the formulation of Bacon may be reduced to the following:
That which was A, will be A.
That which was Not-A, will be Not-A.
Everything was and will be, either A or Not-A.
Upon these formula, acknowledged or unacknowledged, all our scientific experience is built, and upon them, too, is shoe-making founded, because if a shoemaker could not be sure that the leather bought yesterday would be leather tomorrow, in all probability he would not venture to make a pair of shoes, but would find some other more profitable employment.
The formulæ of logic, such as those both of Aristotle and of Bacon, are themselves deduced from the observation of facts, and do not and cannot include anything except the contents of these facts. They are not the laws of reasoning, but the laws of the outer world as it is perceived by us, or the laws of our relation to the outer world.
Could we represent to ourselves the "logic" of an animal we should understand its relation to the outer world. Our cardinal error concerning the psychology of animals consists in the fact that we ascribe to them our own logic. We assume that logic is one, that our logic is something absolute, existing outside and independent of us, while as a matter of fact, logic but formulates the laws of the relations of our psyche to the outside world, or the laws which our psyche discovers in the outside world. Another psyche will discover other laws.
The logic of animals will differ from ours, first of all, from the fact that it will not be general. It will exist separately for each case, for each perception. Common properties, class properties, and the generic and specific signs of categories will not exist for animals. Each object will exist in and by itself, and all its properties will be the specific properties of it alone.
This house and that house are entirely different objects for an animal, because one is its house and the other is a strange house. Generally speaking, we recognize objects by the signs of their similarity; the animal must recognize them by the signs of their difference. It remembers each object by that sign which had for it the greatest emotional meaning. In such a manner, i.e., by their emotional tones, perceptions are stored in the memory of an animal. It is clear that such perceptions are much more difficult to store up in the memory, and therefore the memory of an animal is more burdened than ours, although in the amount of knowledge and in the quantity of that which is preserved in the memory, it stands far below us.
After seeing an object once, we refer it to a certain class, genus and species, place it under this or that concept, and fix it in the mind by means of some "word," i.e., algebraical symbol; then by another, defining it, and so on.
The animal has no concepts: it has not that mental algebra by the help of which we think. It must know always a given object, and must remember it with all its signs and peculiarities. No forgotten sign will return. For us, on the other hand, the principal signs are contained in the concept with which we have correlated that object, and we can find it in our memory by means of the sign for it.
From this it is clear that the memory of an animal is more burdened than ours, and this is the principal hindering cause to the mental evolution of an animal. Its mind is too busy. It has no time to develop. The mental development of a child may be arrested by making it memorize a series of words or a series of figures. The animal is in just such a position. Herein lies the explanation of the strange fact that an animal is wiser when it is young.
In man the flower of intellectual force blooms at a mature age, often even in senility; in the animal, quite the reverse is true. It is receptive only while it is young. At maturity its development stops, and in old age it undoubtedly degenerates.
The logic of animals, were we to attempt to express it by means of formulæ similar to those employed by Aristotle and Bacon would be as follows:
The formula A is A, the animal will understand. It will say (as it were) I am I, etc.; but the formula, A is not Not-A, it will be incapable of understanding. Not Not-A is indeed the concept.
The animal will reason thus:
This is this.
That is that.
This is not that.
This man is this man.
That man is that man.
This man is not that man.
I shall be obliged to return to the logic of animals later on; for the present it is only necessary to establish the fact that the psychology of animals is peculiar, and differs in a fundamental way from our own. And not only is it peculiar, but it is decidedly manifold.
Among the animals known to us, even among domestic animals, the psychological differences are so great as to differentiate them into entirely separate planes. We ignore this, and place them all under a single rubric—"animals."
A goose, having entangled its foot in a piece of watermelon rind, drags it along by the web and thus cannot get it out, but it never thinks of raising its foot. This indicates that its mind is so vague that it does not know its own body, scarcely distinguishing between it and other objects. This would happen neither with a dog nor with a cat. They know their bodies very well. But in relation to outside objects the dog and the cat differ widely. I have observed a dog, a "very intelligent" setter. When the little rug on which he slept got folded and was uncomfortable to sleep on, he understood that the nuisance was outside of him, that it was in the rug, and in a certain definite position of the rug. Therefore he caught the rug in his teeth, turned it and pushed it here and there, the while growling, sighing, and moaning until some one came to his aid, for he was never able to rectify the difficulty.
With the cat such a question could not even appear. The cat knows her body very well, but everything outside of herself she takes as her due, as given. To correct the outside world, to accommodate it to her own comfort, never comes into the cat's head. Perhaps this is because she lives more in another world, in the world of dreams and fantasies, than in this. Accordingly, if there were something wrong with her bed the cat would turn herself about repeatedly until she could lie down comfortably, or she would go and lie in another place.
The monkey would spread the rug very easily indeed.
Here we have four beings, all quite different; and this is only one example: it would be possible to collect others by the hundred. And meanwhile there is for us just one "animal." We mix together many things that are entirely different; our "divisions" are often incorrect, and this hinders us when it comes to the examination of ourselves. To declare that manifest differences determine the "evolutionary grade," that animals of one type are "higher" or "lower" than those of another, would be entirely false. The dog and the monkey by their intellect, their aptness to imitate, and by reason of the dog's fidelity to man, are as it were higher than the cat, but the cat is infinitely superior to them in intuition, esthetic sense, independence, and force of will. The dog and the monkey manifest themselves in toto: all that they have is seen. The cat, on the other hand, is not without reason regarded as a magical and occult animal. In her there is much hidden of which she herself does not know. If one speaks in terms of evolution, it is more correct to say that the cat and the dog are animals of different evolutions, just as in all probability, not one, but several evolutions are simultaneously going forward in humanity.
The recognition of several independent and from one standpoint equivalent evolutions, developing entirely different properties, would lead us out of a labyrinth of endless contradictions in our understanding of man and would show us the path to the only real and important evolution for us—the evolution into superman.
83:1 R. M. Bucke. "Cosmic Consciousness," p. 12.
90:1 Generally speaking, we do not observe these actions, because we confuse them with "rational" actions; the principal cause of this confusion is that we call "rational" actions conscious—which they are not.
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