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TRANSLATION OF THE CHAPTER ON "THE UNCONSCIOUS IN INSTINCT," FROM VON HARTMANN's "PHILOSOPHY OF THE UNCONSCIOUS."
Von Hartmann's chapter on instinct is as follows:—
Instinct is action taken in pursuance of a purpose, but without conscious perception of what the purpose is.1
A purposive action, with consciousness of the purpose, and where the course taken is the result of deliberation, is not said to be instinctive; nor yet, again, is blind, aimless action, such as outbreaks of fury on the part of offended or otherwise enraged animals. I see no occasion for disturbing the commonly received definition of instinct as given above; for those who think they can refer all the so-called ordinary instincts of animals to conscious deliberation ipso facto deny that there is such a thing as instinct at all, and should strike the
1 "Instinct ist zweckmassiges Handeln ohne Bewusstsein des Zwecks."—Philosophy of the Unconscious, 3d ed., Berlin, 1871, p. 70.
word out of their vocabulary. But of this more hereafter.
Assuming, then, the existence of instinctive action as above defined, it can be explained as—
I. A mere necessary consequence of bodily organisation.1
II. A mechanism of brain or mind contrived by nature.
III. The outcome of an unconscious activity of mind.
In neither of the two first cases is there any scope for the idea of purpose; in the third, purpose must be present immediately before the action. In the two first cases, action is supposed to be brought about by means of an initial arrangement, either of bodily or mental mechanism, purpose being conceived of as existing on a single occasion only—that is to say, in the determination of the initial arrangement. In the third, purpose is conceived as present in every individual instance. Let us proceed to the consideration of these three cases.
1 "I. Eine blosse Folge der korperlichen Organisation. "2. Ein von der Natur eingerichteter Gehirn- oder Geistesmechanismus.
"3. Eine Folge unbewusster Geistesthatigkeit."— Philosophy of the Unconscious, 3d ed., p. 70.
Instinct is not a mere consequence of bodily organisation; for—
(a.) Bodies may be alike, yet they may be endowed with different instincts.
All spiders have the same spinning apparatus, but one kind weaves radiating webs, another irregular ones, while a third makes none at all, but lives in holes, whose walls it overspins, and whose entrance it closes with a door. Almost all birds have a like organisation for the construction of their nests (a beak and feet), but how infinitely do their nests vary in appearance, mode of construction, attachment to surrounding objects (they stand, are glued on, hang, &c), selection of site (caves, holes, corners, forks of trees, shrubs, the ground), and excellence of workmanship; how often, too, are they not varied in the species of a single genus, as of parus. Many birds, moreover, build no nest at all. The differences in the songs of birds are in like manner independent of the special construction of their voice apparatus, nor do the modes of nest construction that obtain among ants and bees depend upon their bodily organisation. Organisation, as a general rule, only renders the bird capable of singing, as giving it an apparatus with which to sing at all, but it has nothing to do with the specific
character of the execution. . . . The nursing, defence, and education of offspring cannot be considered as in any way more dependent upon bodily organisation; nor yet the sites which insects choose for the laying of their eggs; nor, again, the selection of deposits of spawn, of their own species, by male fish for impregnation. The rabbit burrows, the hare does not, though both have the same burrowing apparatus. The hare, however, has less need of a subterranean place of refuge by reason of its greater swiftness. Some birds, with excellent powers of flight, are nevertheless stationary in their habits, as the secretary falcon and certain other birds of prey; while even such moderate fliers as quails are sometimes known to make very distant - migrations.
(5.) Like instincts may be found associated with unlike organs.
Birds with and without feet adapted for climbing live in trees; so also do monkeys with and without flexible tails, squirrels, sloths, pumas, &c. Mole-crickets dig with a wellpronounced spade upon their fore-feet, while the burying-beetle does the same thing though it has no special apparatus whatever. The mole conveys its winter provender in pockets, an inch long and half an inch wide, within its cheeks; the field-mouse does so without the help of any such contrivance. The migratory instinct displays itself with equal strength in animals of widely different form, by whatever means they may pursue their journey, whether by water, land, or air.
It is clear, therefore, that instinct is in great measure independent of bodily organisation. Granted, indeed, that a certain amount of bodily apparatus is a sine qua non for any power of execution at all—as, for example, that there would be no ingenious nest without organs more or less adapted for its construction, no spinning of a web without spinning glands— nevertheless, it is impossible to maintain that instinct is a consequence of organisation. The mere existence of the organ does not constitute even the smallest incentive to any corresponding habitual activity. A sensation of pleasure must at least accompany the use of the organ before its existence can incite to its employment. And even so when a sensation of pleasure has given the impulse which is to render it active, it is only the fact of there being activity at all, and not the special characteristics of the activity, that can be due to organisation. The reason for the special mode of the activity is the very problem that