Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 13.djvu/536

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tinuing to be, before he called the two by the names right and wrong. But as the mere fact that the contrast was there, and always had been there, at the very root of things, produced at once the appropriate feeling in the first mind, so did the feeling produce in due time the words in which it is expressed. Take the first and commonest action in the struggle for existence. The meanest creature that lives seeks instinctively to escape from its enemy by flight. But man alone can think, as t he flies from his pursuer, with an energy quickened by his knowledge of what death is and means: "All this is unutterably wrong. I have a right to save my life, this thing or creature has no right to take it from me." Such, or something like this, were the first thoughts of the first conscience, the first expression of the conviction that there was a Tightness in the world.

Whatever else may be urged against this account of the origin of conscience, it seems to me certain that those phenomena, upon which intuitionalists have particularly relied as being beyond the reach of analysis, and therefore of discovery, are fully and precisely accounted for. Take, for instance, the word creation, which men have used because of their feeling that there were things in the world of instantaneous, and therefore of specially divine, origin—a feeling which gave rise to the most sublime utterance of antiquity: "God said, Let there be light, and there was light." Now the poetical beauty and religious truth of such phrases are surely not in the least degree prejudiced by the scientific statement that these "creations" correspond to those critical epochs in the progress of evolution when, by the union or marriage of one set of conditions with another, a third is instantaneously, and for the first time, called into being. Such an epoch, resulting in the origin of conscience, was that in which a being conscious of himself said, or thought, or felt, "I am," and then, confronted with a world of opposing and destructive forces, added, "and I have a right to be."

So, too, the truth contained in the assertion that conscience is innate, intuitional, and imperative, is seen to be in harmony with the foregoing account of its origin. It is innate in the sense that, though undoubtedly impressed from without during long periods upon man in his animal state, it was not gradually impressed upon him in his intelligent state, but was, from the first, part of the mental furniture with which as a rational being he commenced his life upon earth. It is, in short, not a composition, i. e., the result of various tendencies such as pleasure, utility, and the like, but, in the sense explained above, a creation, coeval with man himself, the inheritance of the first human being no less than of the last.

Again, it is intuitional in the sense that it has a direct necessary and immediate perception of an external something, named rightness, with which it is correlated. Man, by virtue of his conscience, is obliged to believe that there is right and wrong, just as by virtue of his eye he is obliged to believe there is light and darkness. And this belief exists