ANIMAL INTELLIGENCE is a subject which has always been of considerable interest to philosophical minds; but, as most of you are probably aware, the interest attaching to this subject has of late years been greatly increased by the significance which it has acquired in relation to the theory of descent. The study of animal intelligence being thus, without question, fraught with high importance to the science of our time, in adducing before this illustrious assembly some of the results which that study has yielded, I shall endeavor to treat them in a manner purely scientific. I shall try, as much as possible, to avoid mere anecdote, except in so far as it is desirable that I should put you in possession of a few typical facts to illustrate the various principles which I shall have occasion to expound. I shall seek to render apparent the more important of the issues which the subject, as a whole, involves, as well as the considerations by which alone these issues can be legitimately settled. I shall attempt to state my own views with the utmost candor; and if I shall appear to ignore any arguments opposed to the conclusions at which I shall arrive, it will only be because I believe those arguments to admit of easy refutation. And, in order that my exposition may be sufficiently comprehensive, I shall endeavor to point out the relations that subsist between the intelligence of animals and the intelligence of man. The aim and scope of the present lecture will therefore be to discuss, as fully as time permits, the facts and the principles of Comparative Psychology.
As human intelligence is the only order of intelligence with which we are directly acquainted, and as it is, moreover, the highest order of intelligence known to science, we may most conveniently adopt it as our standard of comparison. I shall therefore begin by very briefly detailing those principles of human psychology which we shall afterward find to be of the most essential importance in their bearings on the subject which I have undertaken to discuss.
When I allow my eyes to travel over this vast assembly, my mind receives, through their instrumentality, a countless number of impressions. So far as these impressions enter into the general stream of my consciousness, they constitute what are called perceptions. Suppose, now, that I were to close my eyes, and to fix my attention on the memory of some particular perception which I had just experienced—say the memory of some particular face. This mental image of a previous perception would be what is called an idea. Lastly, suppose that I were to analyze a number of the faces which I had perceived, I
- An evening lecture delivered before the British Association at Dublin, August 16, 1878.