Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 78.djvu/54

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fact, no finite reason like ours in quality, however much it may surpass it in degree) can hope to understand the production of even a blade of grass by mere mechanical causes. . . . It is absolutely impossible for us to derive from Nature itself grounds of explanation for purposive combinations," such as living beings are (§ 78). In short, we must regard organisms as part of the cosmic mechanism; and we can not so regard them. How these two assertions are to be harmonized is a thing "which our reason does not comprehend. It lies in the supersensible substrate of Nature, of which we can determine nothing positive, except that it is the being-in-itself of which we merely know the appearance" (§81). Kant, in short, had by this time acquired the vicious habit of affirming both sides of a contradiction and leaving it to "the supersensible" to reconcile them. Passages from the last "Kritik" may therefore be cited which seem to conflict with his earlier assertions of a sheer gap between the inorganic—the realm of mechanism—and the organic—the realm of teleology. But equally copious, or more copious, repetitions of those assertions may also be found. And upon the definite question of the possibility of "equivocal generation," Kant, as the foot-note already cited shows, remained true to his often-repeated opinion; the very notion of such a thing was to him an absurdity.

7. The "Anthropology" of 1798.—In his seventy-fourth year Kant returned to the subject of anthropology. His "Anthropologie in pragmatischer Hinsicht" does not, indeed, deal chiefly with the questions to which his earlier anthropological writings are devoted; the greater part of it is a rather miscellaneous but not uninteresting combination of his "critical" psychology and ethics with the purely temperamental convictions, tastes and prejudices of a septuagenarian bachelor professor, on matters of every-day life and social intercourse. Thus we find laid down, quite as a maxim of applied science, the practical observation that "eating alone (solipsismus convictorii) is not healthy for philosophers," though relatively harmless for mathematicians and historians. Any philosophirende Gelehrten inclined to the practise of dining in solitude will surely desist when they learn that they are thereby falling into solipsismus convictorii. The "Anthropologie" contains, however (in a footnote), one curious passage which has sometimes been quoted as evidence of Kant's acceptance of transformism. The human infant, Kant observes, comes into the world with a cry. This is characteristic of no other animal; and since it must, so long as man remained in the wild state, have been dangerous to both mother and child (by inviting attack from other animals).

We must suppose that in the primitive epoch of nature with respect to this class of animals. . . this outcry of the new-born was unknown, and that there subsequently supervened a second epoch, in which both parents had attained the degree of civilization necessary for the household life. . . . This remark carrier us far; for example, it suggests the thought whether this second epoch might