Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 60.djvu/477

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THE EARLIEST ORGANIC MOVEMENTS.

may it not have developed late, when the difficulties of living called for a new aid to life? Why may we not return to the belief that mind has a survival value?

I reply, as I have replied in another connection, that the formulation of the question begs the issue. The question assumes that there is a causal connection between biological adaptation and consciousness. Since the facts can be formulated both in biological and in psychological terms, without lapse or break in the separate series of material and mental processes, the proof of survival value must be sought elsewhere. We have considered the evidence, and found it wanting. But we can, also, meet the question on its own terms. We may answer that the difficulties of adjustment were present from the outset, nay, must have been peculiarly pressing at the outset, when life was young and inexperienced; so that mind must also have been present from the first, and could not disappear until adjustment had already proceeded some little distance. Taken in the abstract, the one possibility is as likely as the other. There is, however, a direct answer which—if we bear in mind the limitations of theory at large—seems to be satisfactory. Mind appears with life. At first, there is no differentiation of functions; mind and life are uniformly coextensive. Later, with growing complexity of the organism, come differentiation of functions and the development of a central coordinating organ. If mind and life run parallel to each other, we must suppose that mind has also suffered differentiation, and that the supreme consciousness of the organism now accompanies the functions of the supreme organ. But this is what we find. There is, in strictness, no evidence of a complete 'disappearance' of mind; our own reflexes and automatic actions, though not attended by our consciousness, may have a consciousness of their own. This hypothesis has, in fact, recommended itself to many investigators.[1]

This last objection, then, does not shake our position. Have we, now, shown the 'necessity of mind at the first appearance of life?' We have at least made its presence so reasonable and probable that we need stand in no fear of the law of parsimony. But the recurrence of the counter-arguments at the very end of our enquiry is suggestive. It reminds us that we have been dealing, throughout, with inferences and probabilities, not with demonstrations and mathematical certainties. And an argument from probability is like an india-rubber ball; you hit it, and it may fly away, or it may return to you, all the more vigorously the harder you hit. So far from convincing the reader, this paper may simply prompt him to refutation and rebuttal. All the better—provided only that he adduce new arguments.


  1. Cf., e. g., E. F. W. Pflüger, Müller's Arch. f. Anat., 1851, 484-494.