Page images

already seen, inasmuch as the consummation and highest moral development of instinct displays itself in self-sacrifice.

The true problem, however, lies far deeper than this. For every conception of a pleasure proves that we have experienced this pleasure already. But it follows from this, that when the pleasure was first felt there must have been will present, in the gratification of which will the pleasure consisted; the question, therefore, arises, whence did the will come before the pleasure that would follow on its gratification was known, and before bodily pain, as, for example, of hunger, rendered relief imperative? Yet we may see that even though -an animal has grown up apart from any others of its kind, it will yet none the less manifest the instinctive impulses of its race, though experience can have taught it nothing whatever concerning the pleasure that will ensue upon their gratification. As regards instinct, therefore, there must be a causal connection between the motivating sensual conception and the will to perform the instinctive action, and the pleasure of the subsequent gratification has nothing to do with the matter. We know by the experience of our own instincts that this causal connection does not lie within our consciousness;1 therefore, if it is to be a mechanism of any kind, it can only be either an unconscious mechanical induction and metamorphosis of the vibrations of the conceived motive into the vibrations of the conscious action in the brain, or an unconscious spiritual mechanism.

In the first case, it is surely strange that this process should go on unconsciously, though it is so powerful in its effects that the will resulting from it overpowers every other consideration, every other kind of will, and that vibrations of this kind, when set up in the brain, become always consciously perceived; nor is it easy to conceive in what way this metamorphosis can take place so that the constant purpose can be attained under varying circumstances by the resulting will in modes that vary with variation of the special features of each individual case.

But if we take the other alternative, and suppose an unconscious mental mechanism, we cannot legitimately conceive of the process going on in this as other than what prevails in

1 "Diese causale Verbindung fallt erfahrungsmassig, wie wir von unsern menschlichen Instincten wissen, nicht in's Bewusstsein; folglich kann dieselbe, wenn sie ein Mechanismus sein soil, nur entweder ein nicht in's Bewusstsein fallende mechanische Leitung und Umwandlung der Schwingungen des vorgestellten Motivs in die Schwingungen der gewollten Handlung im Gehirn, oder ein unbewusster geistiger Mechanismus sein."—Philosophy of the Unconscious, 3d ed., p. 77.

all mental mechanism, namely, than as by way of idea and will. We are, therefore, compelled to imagine a causal connection between the consciously recognised motive and the will to do the instinctive action, through unconscious idea and will; nor do I know how this connection can be conceived as being brought about more simply than through a conceived and willed purpose.1 Arrived at this point, however, we have attained the logical mechanism peculiar to and inseparable from all mind, and find unconscious purpose to be an indispensable link in every instinctive action. With this, therefore, the conception of a mental mechanism, dead, and predestined from without, has disappeared, and has become transformed into the spiritual life inseparable from logic, so that we have reached the sole remaining requirement

1 "Man hat sich also zwischen dem bewussten Motiv, und dem Willen zur Instincthandlung eine causale Verbindung durch unbewusstes Vorstellen und Wollen zu denken, und ich weiss nicht, wie diese Verbindung einfacher gedacht werden könnte, als durch den vorgestellten und gewollten Zweck. Damit sind wir aber bei dem allen Geistern eigenthümlichen und immanenten Mechanismus der Logik angelangt, und haben die unbewusster Zweckvorstellung bei jeder einzelnen Instincthandlung als unentbehrliches Glied gefunden; hiermit hat also der Begriff des todten, äusserlich prädestinirten Geistesmechanismus sich selbst aufgehoben und in das immanente Geistesleben der Logik umgewandelt, und wir sind bei der letzten Möglichkeit angekommen, welche für die Auffassung eines wirklichen Instincts übrig bleibt: der Instinct ist bewusstes Wollen des Mittels zu einem unbewusst gewollten Zweck."—Philosophy of the Unconscious, 3d ed., for the conception of an actual instinct, which proves to be a conscious willing of the means towards an unconsciously willed purpose. This conception explains clearly and without violence all the problems which instinct presents to us; or more truly, all that was problematical about instinct disappears when its true nature has been thus declared. If this work were confined to the consideration of instinct alone, the conception of an unconscious activity of mind might excite opposition, inasmuch as it is one with which our educated public is not yet familiar; but in a work like the present, every chapter of which adduces fresh facts in support of the existence of such an activity and of its remarkable consequences, the novelty of the theory should be taken no farther into consideration.

Though I so confidently deny that instinct is the simple action of a mechanism which has been contrived once for all, I by no means exclude the supposition that in the constitution of the brain, the ganglia, and the whole body, in respect of morphological as well as molecular-physiological condition, certain predispositions can be established which direct the unconscious intermediaries more readily into one channel than into another. This predisposition is either the result of a habit which keeps continually cutting for itself a deeper and deeper channel, until in the end it leaves indelible traces whether in the individual or in the race, or it is expressly called into being by the unconscious formative principle in generation, so as to facilitate action in a given direction. This last will be the case more frequently in respect of exterior organisation—as, for example, with the weapons or working organs of animals—while to the - former must be referred the molecular condition of brain and ganglia which bring about the perpetually recurring elements of an instinct such as the hexagonal shape of the cells of bees. We shall presently see that by individual character we mean the sum of the individual methods of reaction against all possible motives, and that this character depends essentially upon a constitution of mind and body acquired in some measure through habit by the individual, but for the most part inherited. But an instinct is also a mode of reaction against certain motives; here too, then, we are dealing with character, though perhaps not so much with that of the individual as of the race; for by character in regard to instinct we do not intend the differences that distinguish individuals, but races from one another. If any one chooses to maintain that such a predisposition for certain kinds of

« EelmineJätka »