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could not therefore have been acquired by means of natural selection.
The Origin of some of Man's Mental Faculties, by the
preservation of Useful Variations, not possible. Turning to the mind of man, we meet with many difficulties in attempting to understand, how those mental faculties, which are especially human, could have been acquired by the preservation of useful variations. At first sight, it would seem that such feelings as those of abstract justice and benevolence could never have been so acquired, because they are incompatible with the law of the strongest, which is the essence of natural selection. But this is, I think, an erroneous view, because we must look, not to individuals but to societies; and justice and benevolence, exercised towards members of the same tribe, would certainly tend to strengthen that tribe, and give it a superiority over another in which the right of the strongest prevailed, and where consequently the weak and the sickly were left to perish, and the few strong ruthlessly destroyed the many who were weaker.
But there is another class of human faculties that do not regard our fellow men, and which cannot, therefore, be thus accounted for. Such are the capacity to form ideal conceptions of space and time, of eternity and infinity—the capacity for intense artistic feelings of pleasure, in form, colour, and compositionand for those abstract notions of form and number which render geometry and arithmetic possible. How
were all or any of these faculties first developed, when they could have been of no possible use to man in his early stages of barbarism ? How could " natural selection,” or survival of the fittest in the struggle for existence, at all favour the development of mental powers so entirely removed from the material necessities of savage men, and which even now, with our comparatively high civilization, are, in their farthest developments, in advance of the age, and appear to have relation rather to the future of the race than to its actual status?
Difficulty as to the Origin of the Moral Sense. Exactly the same difficulty arises, when we endeavour to account for the development of the moral sense or conscience in savage man; for although the practice of benevolence, honesty, or truth, may have been useful to the tribe possessing these virtues, that does not at all account for the peculiar sanctity, attached to actions which each tribe considers right and moral, as contrasted with the very different feelings with which they regard what is merely useful. The utilitarian hypothesis (which is the theory of natural selection applied to the mind) seems inadequate to account for the development of the moral sense. This subject has been recently much discussed, and I will here only give one example to illustrate my argument. The utilitarian sanction for truthfulness is by no means very powerful or universal. Few laws enforce it. No very severe reprobation follows untruthfulness. In all
ages and countries, falsehood has been thought allowable in love, and laudable in war ; while, at the present day, it is held to be venial by the majority of mankind, in trade, commerce, and speculation. A certain amount of untruthfulness is a necessary part of politeness in the east and west alike, while even severe moralists have held a lie justifiable, to elude an enemy or prevent a crime. Such being the difficulties with which this virtue has had to struggle, with so many exceptions to its practice, with so many instances in which it brought ruin or death to its too ardent devotee, how can we believe that considerations of utility could ever invest it with the mysterious sanctity of the highest virtue,—could ever induce men to value truth for its own sake, and practice it regardless of consequences ?
Yet, it is a fact, that such a mystical sense of wrong does attach to untruthfulness, not only among the higher classes of civilized people, but among whole tribes of utter savages. Sir Walter Elliott tells us (in his paper “On the Characteristics of the Population of Central and Southern India,” published in the Journal of the Ethnological Society of London, vol. i., p. 107) that the Kurubars and Santals, barbarous hill-tribes of Central India, are noted for veracity. It is a common saying that “a Kurubar always speaks the truth ; " and Major Jervis says, “ the Santals are the most truthful men I ever met with.” As a remarkable instance of this quality the following fact is given. A number of prisoners, taken during the
Santal insurrection, were allowed to go free on parole, to work at a certain spot for wages. After some time cholera attacked them and they were obliged to leave, but every man of them returned and gave up his earnings to the guard. Two hundred savages with money in their girdles, walked thirty miles back to prison rather than break their word! My own experience among savages has furnished me with similar, although less severely tested, instances; and we cannot avoid asking, how is it, that in these few cases "experiences of utility” have left such an overwhelming impression, while in so many others they have left none? The experiences of savage men as regards the utility of truth, must, in the long run, be pretty nearly equal. How is it, then, that in some cases the result is a sanctity which overrides all considerations of personal advantage, while in others there is hardly a rudiment of such a feeling ?
The intuitional theory, which I am now advocating, explains this by the supposition, that there is a feelinga sense of right and wrong-in our nature, antecedent to and independent of experiences of utility. Where free play is allowed to the relations between man and man, this feeling attaches itself to those acts of universal utility or self-sacrifice, which are the products of our affections and sympathies, and which we term moral ; while it may be, and often is, perverted, to give the same sanction to acts of narrow and conventional utility which are really immoral,-—as when the Hindoo will tell a lie, but will sooner starve than eat unclean food ; and looks upon the marriage of adult females as gross immorality.
The strength of the moral feeling will depend upon individual or racial constitution, and on education and habit;—the acts to which its sanctions are applied, will depend upon how far the simple feelings and affections of our nature, have been modified by custom, by law, or by religion.
It is difficult to conceive that such an intense and mystical feeling of right and wrong, (so intense as to overcome all ideas of personal advantage or utility), could have been developed out of accumulated ancestral experiences of utility; and still more difficult to understand, how feelings developed by one set of utilities, could be transferred to acts of which the utility was partial, imaginary, or altogether absent. But if a moral sense is an essential part of our nature, it is easy to see, that its sanction may often be given to acts which are useless or immoral ; just as the natural appetite for drink, is perverted by the drunkard into the means of his destruction.
Summary of the Argument as to the Insufficiency of
Natural Selection to account for the Development of
Man. Briefly to resume my argument-I have shown that the brain of the lowest savages, and, as far as we yet know, of the pre-historic races, is little inferior in size to that of the highest types of man, and immensely superior to that of the higher animals; while it is