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plex as to be prepared with a corresponding manner of action for each one of the successive emergencies of life as it arose, would not take us in for good and all, and look so much as if it were alive that, whether we liked it or not, we should be compelled to think it and call it so; and whether the being alive was not simply the being an exceedingly complicated machine, whose parts were set in motion by the action upon them of exterior circumstances; whether, in fact, man was not a kind of toy-mouse in the shape of aman, only capable of going for seventy or eighty years, instead of half as many seconds, and as much more versatile as he is more durable? Of course I had an uneasy feeling that if I thus made all plants and men into machines, these machines must have what all othermachines have if theyare machines at all—a designer, and some one to wind them up and work fKeTrrpbut I thought this might wait for the present, and was perfectly ready then, as now, to accept a designer from without, if the facts upon examination rendered such a belief reasonable.
If, then, men were not really alive after all, but were only machines of so complicated a make that it was less trouble to us to cut the difficulty and say that that kind of mechanism was "being alive," why should not machines ultimately become as complicated as we are, or at any rate complicated enough to be called living, and to be indeed as living as it was in the nature of anything at all to be? If it was only a case of their becoming more complicated, we were certainly doing our best to make them so.
I do not suppose I at that time saw that this view comes to much the same as denying that there are such qualities as life and consciousness at all, and that this, again, works round to the assertion of their omnipresence in every molecule of matter, inasmuch as it destroys the separation between the organic and inorganic, and maintains that whatever the organic is the inorganic is also. Deny it in theory as much as we please, we shall still always feel that an organic body, unless dead, is living and conscious to a greater or less degree. Therefore, if we once break down the wall of partition between the organic and inorganic, the inorganic must be living and conscious also, up to a certain point.
I have been at work on this subject now for nearly twenty years, what I have published being only a small part of what I have written and destroyed. I cannot, therefore, remember exactly how I stood in 1863. Nor can I pretend to see far into the matter even now; for when I think of life, I find it so difficult, that I take refuge in death or mechanism; and when I think of death or mechanism, I find it so inconceivable, that it is easier to call it life again. The only thing of which I am sure is, that the distinction between the organic 'and inorganic is arbitrary; that it is more coherent with our other ideas, and therefore more acceptable, to start with every molecule as a living thing, and then deduce death as the breaking up of an association or corporation, than to start with inanimate molecules and smuggle life into them; and that, therefore, what we - call the inorganic world must be regarded as up to a certain point living, and instinct, within certain limits, with consciousness, volition, and power of concerted action. It is only of late, however, that I have come to this opinion.
One must start with a hypothesis, no matter how much one distrusts it; so I started with man as a mechanism, this being the strand of the knot that I could then pick at most easily. Having worked upon it a certain time, I drew the inference about machines becoming animate, and in 1862 or 1863 wrote the sketch of the chapter on machines which I afterwards rewrote in "Erewhon." This sketch appeared in the Press, Canterbury, N.Z., June 13, 1863; a copy of it is in the British Museum.
I soon felt that though there was plenty of amusement to be got out of this line, it was one that I should have to leave sooner or later; I therefore left it at once for the view that machines were limbs which we had made, and carried outside our bodies instead of incorporating them with ourselves. A few days or weeks later than June 13, 1863, I published a second letter in the Press putting this view forward. Of this letter I have lost the only copy I had; I have not seen it for years. The first was certainly not good; the second, if I remember rightly, was a good deal worse, though I believed more in the views it put forward than in those of the first letter. I had lost my copy before I wrote "Erewhon," and therefore only gave a couple of pages to it in that book; besides, there was more amusement in the other view. I should perhaps say there was an intermediate extension of the first letter which appeared in the Reasoner, July 1, 1865.
In 1870 and 1871, when I was writing "Erewhon," I thought the best way of looking at machines was to see them as limbs which we had made and carried about with us or left at home at pleasure. I was not, however, satisfied, and should have gone on with the subject at once if I had not been anxious to write "The Fair Haven," a book which is a development of a pamphlet I wrote in New Zealand and published in London in 1865.
As soon as I had finished this, I returned to the old subject, on which I had already been engaged for nearly a dozen years as continuously as other business would allow, and proposed to myself to see not only machines as limbs, but also limbs as machines. I felt immediately that I was upon firmer ground. The use of the word "organ" for a limb told its own story; the word could not have become so current under this meaning unless the idea of a limb as a tool or machine had been agreeable to common sense. What would follow, then, if we regarded our limbs and organs as things that we had ourselves manufactured for our convenience?
The first question that suggested itself was, how did we come to make them without knowing anything about it? And this raised another, namely, how comes anybody to do anything unconsciously? The answer "habit" was not far to seek. But can a person be said to do a thing by force of habit or routine when it is his