Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 6.djvu/425

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409
ANIMALS NOT AUTOMATA.

innate; the plan is ready formed in the mind, requiring no premeditation, no deliberation to determine the mode of action. In the rational actions we acquire the knowledge of these plans for ourselves, and it is the preliminary effort to determine what to do, and how to do it—to find the mode of action—that tasks our intellectual abilities. But, when we have once formed the plan, and acted upon it often enough to remember its successive steps, so that we can repeat them in action by rote without any reference to the rationale, it becomes a plan ready formed in the mind, and the acting upon it becomes habitual. The instinctive and habitual actions, then, are precisely alike in this, that both are in conformity to a plan ready formed in the mind, requiring no effort to form them for the occasion, and differ only in this, that in the instinctive we found the plan ready formed, while in the habitual we originally formed it by our own effort. If, after the latter plans had become fixed in our memory, we should forget that we had originally acquired them by our own effort, we would know no difference between the instinctive and habitual action.

The popular consciousness of this similarity is expressed in the common adage that habit is second nature. If this view, which seems to me to account for all the peculiarities of instinctive action, is correct, instinct is not a distinct faculty, capacity, property, or quality, of being, which may be compared with or substituted for reason, but has relation only to the mode in which the knowledge by which we determine some of our actions was originally obtained. Whether the innate knowledge of modes and plans is by transmission, or otherwise, does not affect the theory. It is sufficient that they are thus ready formed in the being without effort of its own.

All intelligent actions, except perhaps those which are merely imitative, must in the first instance be either instinctive or rational, the habitual coming later through the transformation of the others by repetition and memory; the instinctive, however, not being materially changed thereby.

But the foundation of all our actions must be instinctive, there being no possible way in which we could ever learn that effort is the means of using either our muscular or mental powers.

In regard to the rational actions, I see no distinction in kind, but only in degree, between those of man and the lower animals. Descending in the scale of intelligence, we may, and probably will, reach a grade of beings which do not invent or form plans to meet new occasions for action, and the efforts of such must be wholly instinctive; but I have seen both dogs and horses draw inferences, and work out ingenious plans of action, adapted to conditions so unusual and so improbable to them, as to preclude the assumption that they had been specially provided by Nature, through hereditary transmission, or otherwise, with the knowledge of the plan suited to the occasion.

Prof. Huxley asserts that matter is a cause, a power not only in