On the Will in Nature/Comparative anatomy

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On the Will in Nature by Arthur Schopenhauer, translated by Madame Karl Hillebrand
Comparative anatomy

Now, from my proposition: that the Will is what Kant calls the "thing–in–itself" or the ultimate substratum of every phenomenon, I had however not only deduced that the will is the agent in all inner, unconscious functions of the body, but also that the organism itself is nothing but the will which has entered the region of representation, the will itself, perceived in the cognitive form of Space. I had accordingly said that, just as each single momentary act of willing presents itself at once directly and infallibly in the outer perception of the body as one of its actions, so also must the collective volition of each animal, the totality 2 of its efforts, be faithfully portrayed in its whole body, in the constitution of its organism; and that the means supplied by its organisation for attaining the aims of its will must as a whole exactly correspond to those aims, in short, that the same relation must exist between the whole character of its volition and the shape and nature of its body, as between each single act of its will and the single bodily action which carries it out. Even this too has recently been recognised as a fact, and accordingly been confirmed a posteriori, by thoughtful zootomists and physiologists from their own point of view and independently of my doctrine: their judgments on this point make Nature testify even here to the truth of my theory.

1 der Inbegriff aller seiner Bestrebungen.


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In Pander and d'Alton's admirable illustrated work l we find: "Just as all that is characteristic in the formation of bones springs from the character of the animals, so does that character, on the other hand, develop out of their tendencies and desires. These tendencies and desires of animals, which are so vividly expressed in their whole organisation and of which that organisation only appears to be the medium, cannot be explained by special primary forces, since we can only deduce their inner reason from the general life of Nature." By this last turn the author shows indeed that he has arrived at the point where, like all other investigators of Nature, he is brought to a stand still by the metaphysical; but he also shows, that up to this point beyond which Nature eludes investigation, tendencies and desires (i. e. will) were the utmost thing knowable. The shortest expression for his last conclusion about animals would be "As the animals will, so they are."

The learned and thoughtful Burdach, 2 when treating of the ultimate reason of the genesis of the embryo in his great work on Physiology, bears witness no less explicitly to the truth of my view. I must not, unfortunately, conceal the fact that in a weak moment, misled Heaven knows by what or how, this otherwise excellent man brings in just here a few sentences taken from that utterly worthless, tyrannically imposed pseudo-philosophy, about thought being what is primary (it is just what is last and most conditioned of all) yet no representation (that is to say, a wooden iron). Immediately after however, under the returning influence of his own better self, he proclaims the real truth (p. 710): "The brain curves itself outwards to the retina, because the central part of the embryo desires

1 Pander and d'Alton, Über die Skelette der Raubtiere, [On the skeletons of predatory animals], 1822, p. 7.

2 Burdach, Physiologie, vol. 2, § 474.


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to take in the impressions of the activity of the world; the mucous membrane of the intestinal canal develops into the lung, because the organic body desires to enter into relation with the elementary substances of the universe; organs of generation spring from the vascular system, because the individual only lives in the species, and because the life which has commenced in the individual desires to multiply." This assertion of Burdach's, which so entirely agrees with my doctrine, reminds me of a passage in the ancient Mahabharata, which it is really difficult not to regard as a mythical version of the same truth. It is in the third Canto of "Sundas and Upasunda" in Bopp's Ardschunas Reise zu Indras Himmel, nebst anderen Episoden des Mahabharata, 1 (1824); Brahma has just created Tilottama, the fairest of women, who is walking round the circle of the assembled gods. Shiva conceives so violent a longing to gaze at her as she turns successively round the circle, that four faces arise in him according to her different positions, that is, according to the four cardinal points. This may account for Shiva being represented with five heads, as Pansh Mukhti Shiva. Countless eyes arise on every part of Indra's body likewise on the same occasion. 2 In fact, every organ must be looked upon as the expression of a universal manifestation of the will, i.e. of one made once for all, of a fixed longing, of an act of volition proceeding, not from

1 Bopp, Ardschunas Reise zu Indras Himmel, nebst anderen Episoden des Mahabharata [Ardshuna's Journey to Indra's Heaven, together with other episodes from the Mahabharata], 1824.

2 The Matsya Purana attributes a similar origin to Brahma's four countenances. It relates that, having fallen in love with his daughter Satarupa, and gazed fixedly at her, she stepped aside to avoid his eye; he being ashamed, would not follow her movement whereupon a new face arose on him directed towards the side where she was and, on her once more moving, the same thing occurred, and was repeated, until at last he had four faces. (Asiatic Researches, vol. 6, p. 473.) [Add. to 3rd ed.]


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the individual, but from the species. Every animal form is a longing of the will to live which is roused by circumstances; for instance, the will is seized with a longing to live on trees, to hang on their branches, to devour their leaves, without contention with other animals and without ever touching the ground: this longing presents itself throughout endless time in the form (or Platonic Idea) of the sloth. It can hardly walk at all, being only adapted for climbing; helpless on the ground, it is agile on trees and looks itself like a moss-clad bough in order to escape the notice of its pursuers. But now let us consider the matter from a somewhat more methodical and less poetical point of view.

The manifest adaptation of each animal for its mode of life and outward means of subsistence, even down to the smallest detail, together with the exceeding perfection of its organisation, form abundant material for teleological contemplation, which has always been a favourite occupation of the human mind, and which, extended even to inanimate Nature, has become the argument of the Physico-theological Proof. The universal fitness for their ends, the obviously intentional design in all the parts of the organism of the lower animals without exception, proclaim too distinctly for it ever to have been seriously questioned, that here no forces of Nature acting by chance and without plan have been at work, but a will. Now, that a will should act otherwise than under the guidance of knowledge was inconceivable, according to empirical science and views. For, up to my time, as has been shown in the last chapter, will and intellect had been regarded as absolutely inseparable, nay, the will was looked upon as a mere operation of the intellect, that presumptive basis of all that is spiritual. Accordingly wherever the will acted, knowledge must have been its guide; consequently it must have been its guide here also. But the mediation of knowledge, which, as such, is


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exclusively directed towards the outside, brings with it, that a will acting by means of it, can only act outwardly, that is, only from one being upon another. Therefore the will, of which unmistakable traces had been found, was not sought for where these were discovered, but was removed to the outside, and the animal became the product of a will foreign to it, guided by knowledge, which must have been very clear knowledge indeed, nay, the deeply excogitated conception of a purpose; and this purpose must have preceded the animal's existence, and, together with the will, whose product the animal is, have lain outside that animal. According to this, the animal would have existed in representation before existing in reality. This is the basis of the train of thought on which the Physico-theological Proof is founded. But this proof is no mere scholastic sophism, like the Ontological Proof: nor does it contain an untiring natural opponent within itself, like the Cosmological Proof, in that very same law of causality to which it owes its existence. On the contrary, it is, in reality, for the educated, what the Keraunological Proof 1 is for the vulgar, 2 and its plausibility is so great, so potent, that the most eminent and at the same time least prejudiced minds have been deeply entangled in it. Voltaire, for instance, who, after all sorts of other doubts, always comes back to it, sees no possibility of getting over it and even places its evidence almost on a level with that of a

1 I should like under this name to add a fourth to the three proofs brought forward by Kant, i.e. the proof a terrore [from teror], which the ancient saying of Petronius: primus in orbe Deos fecit timor [only fear was the origin of the belief in gods], designates and of which Hume's incomparable Natural History of Religion may be considered as the critique. Understood in this sense, even the theologist Schleiermacher's attempted proof might have its truth from the feeling of dependence, though perhaps not exactly that truth which its originator imagined it to have.

2 Socrates propounded it already in detail in Xenophon, (Memorabilia, I. 4.) [Add. to 3rd ed.]


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mathematical demonstration. Even Priestley too declares it to be irrefutable. 1 Hume's reflection and acumen alone stood the test, even in this case; in his Dialogues on Natural Religion, 2 which are so well worth reading, this true precursor of Kant calls attention to the fact, that there is no resemblance at all between the works of Nature and those of an Art which proceeds according to a design. Now it is precisely where he cuts asunder the nervus probandi [nerve of the argument] of this extremely insidious proof, as well as that of the two others in his Critique of Judgment and in his Critique of Pure Reason that Kant' merit shines most brilliantly. A very brief summary of this Kantian refutation of the Physico-theological Proof may be found in my chief work. 3 Kant has earned for himself great merit by it; for nothing stands so much in the way of a correct insight into Nature and into the essence of things as this view, by which they are looked upon as having been made according to a preconceived plan. Therefore, if a Duke of Bridgewater offers a prize of high value for the confirmation and perpetuation of such fundamental errors, let it be our task, following in the footsteps of Hume and Kant, to work undauntedly at their destruction, without any other reward than truth. Truth deserves respect: not what is opposed to it. Nevertheless here, as elsewhere, Kant has confined himself to negation; but a negation only takes full effect when it has been completed by a correct affirmation, this alone giving entire satisfaction and in itself dislodging and superseding error, according to the words of Spinoza: Sicut lux se ipsam et tenebras manifestat, sic veritas norma sui et falsi est [Just as light reveals itself and darkness, so is truth the standard for itself and for what is false]. First of all therefore we say: the world is not made with the help of knowledge, consequently also not from the outside

1 Priestley, Disquisitions on Matter and Spirit, sect. 16, p. 188.

2 Part 7, and in other places.

3 See Die Welt als W. u. V. [The World as Will and Representation] vol. i. p. 597. (vol. i. p. 631 of the 3rd ed.), "Criticism of the Kantian Philosophy."


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but from the inside; and next we endeavour to point out the punctum saliens [salient point] l of the world-egg. The physico-theological thought, that Nature must have been regulated and fashioned by an intellect, however well it may suit the untutored mind, is nevertheless fundamentally wrong. For the intellect is only known to us in animal nature, consequently as an absolutely secondary and subordinate principle in the world, a product of the latest origin; it can never therefore have been the condition of the existence of that world. 2 Now the will on the contrary, being that which fills every thing and manifests itself immediately in each thus showing each thing to be its phenomenon appears everywhere as that which is primary. It is just for this reason, that the explanation of all teleological facts is to be found in the will of the being itself in which they are observed.

Besides, the Physico-theological Proof may be simply invalidated by the empirical observation, that works produced by animal instinct, such as the spider's web, the bee's honeycomb and its cells, the white ant's constructions, &c, &c., are throughout constituted as if they were the result of an intentional conception, of a wide-reaching providence and of rational deliberation; whereas they are evidently the work of a blind impulse, i.e. of a will not guided by knowledge. From this it follows, that the conclusion from such and such a nature to such and such a mode of coming into being, has not the same certainty as the conclusion from a consequent to its reason, which is in all cases a sure one. I have devoted the twenty-seventh chapter of the second volume of my chief work to a detailed consideration

1 The point at which the life-spark is kindled. [Tr.]

2 Nor can a mundus intelligibilis [world of the mind] precede a mundus sensibilis [world of the senses]; since the former receives its material from the latter alone. It is not an intellect which has brought forth Nature; it is, on the contrary, Nature which has brought forth the intellect. [Add. to 3rd ed.]


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of the mechanical instincts of animals, which may be used, together with the preceding one on Teleology, to complete the whole examination of this subject in the present chapter.

Now, if we enter more closely into the above-mentioned fitness of every animal's organisation for its mode of life and means of subsistence, the question that first presents itself is, whether that mode of life has been adapted to the organisation, or vice versa. At first sight, the former assumption would seem to be the more correct one; since, in Time, the organisation precedes the mode of life, and the animal is thought to have adopted the mode of existence for which its structure was best suited, making the best use of the organs it found within itself: thus, for instance, we think that the bird flies because it has wings, and that the ox butts because it has horns; not conversely. This view is shared by Lucretius (always an ominous sign for an opinion) :

Nil ideo quoniam natum est in corpore, ut uti Possemus; sed, quod natum est, id procreat usum. l [Since indeed nothing originates in the body in order that we may use it, but what has originated is the cause of our using it]

Only this assumption does not explain how, collectively, the quite different parts of an animal's organism so exactly correspond to its way of life; how no organ interferes with another, each rather assisting the others and none remaining unemployed; also that no subordinate organ would be better suited to another mode of existence, while the life which the animal really leads is determined by the principal organs alone, but, on the contrary, each part of the animal not only corresponds to every other part, but also to its mode of life: its claws, for instance, are in variably adapted for seizing the prey which its teeth are suited to tear and break, and its intestinal canal to digest: its limbs are constructed to convey it where that prey is to be found, and no organ ever remains unemployed. The

1 This is expanded in vol. iv. pp. 825-843.


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ant-bear, for instance, is not only armed with long claws on its fore-feet, in order to break into the nests of the white ant, but also with a prolonged cylindrical muzzle, in order to penetrate into them, with a small mouth and a long, threadlike tongue, covered with a glutinous slime, which it inserts into the white ants' nests and then withdraws covered with the insects that adhere to it: on the other hand it has no teeth, because it does not want them. Who can fail to see that the ant-bear's form stands in the same relation to the white ant's, as an act of the will to its motive? The contradiction between the powerful fore-feet and long, strong, curved claws of the ant-bear and its complete lack of teeth, is at the same time so extraordinary, that if the earth ever undergoes a fresh transformation, the newly arising race of rational beings will find it an insoluble enigma, if white ants are unknown to them. The necks of birds, as of quadrupeds, are generally as long as their legs, to enable them to reach down to the ground where they pick up their food; but those of aquatic birds are often a good deal longer, because they have to fetch up their nourishment from under the water while swimming. 1 Moor-fowl have exceedingly long legs, to enable them to wade without drowning or wetting their bodies, and a correspondingly long neck and beak, this last being more or less strong, according to the things (reptiles, fishes or worms) which have to be crushed; and the intestines of these animals are invariably adapted likewise to this end. On the other hand, moor-fowl are provided neither with talons, like birds of prey, nor with web-feet,

1 I have seen (Zooplastic Cabinet 1860) a humming-bird (colibri) with a beak as long as the whole bird, head and tail included. This bird must certainly have had to fetch out its food from a considerable depth, were it only from the calyx of a flower (Cuvier, Anatomie Comparée vol. iv. p. 374); otherwise it would not have given itself the luxury, or submitted to the encumbrance, of such a beak.


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like ducks: for the lex parsimoniae naturae [nature's law of parsimony] admits of no superfluous organ. Now, it is precisely this very law, added to the circumstance, that no organ required for its mode of life is ever wanting in any animal, and that all, even the most heterogeneous, harmonize together and are, as it were, calculated for a quite specially determined way of life, for the element in which the prey dwells, for the pursuit, the overcoming, the crushing and digesting of that prey, all this, we say, proves, that the animal's structure has been determined by the mode of life by which the animal desired to find its sustenance, and not vice versa. It also proves, that the result is exactly the same as if a knowledge of that mode of life and of its outward conditions had preceded the structure, and as if therefore each animal had chosen its equipment before it assumed a body; just as a sportsman before starting chooses his whole equipment, gun, powder, shot, pouch, hunting-knife and dress, according to the game he intends chasing. The latter does not take aim at the wild boar because he happens to have a rifle: he took the rifle with him and not a fowling-piece, because he intended to hunt the wild boar; and the ox does not butt because it happens to have horns: it has horns because it intends to butt. Now, to render this proof complete, we have the additional circumstance, that in many animals, during the time they are growing, the effort of the will to which a limb is destined to minister, manifests itself before the existence of the limb itself, its employment thus anticipating its existence. Young he-goats, rams, calves, for instance, butt with their bare polls before they have any horns; the young boar tries to gore on either side, before its tusks are fully developed which would respond to the intended effect, while on the other hand, it neglects to use the smaller teeth it already has in its mouth and with which it might really bite. Thus its mode of defending


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itself does not adapt itself to the existing weapons, but vice versa. This had already been noticed by Galen 1 and by Lucretius 2 before him. All these circumstances give us complete certainty, that the will does not, as a supplementary thing proceeding from the intellect, employ those instruments which it may happen to find, or use the parts because just they and no others chance to be there; but that what is primary and original, is the endeavour to live in this particular way, to contend in this manner, an endeavour which manifests itself not only in the employ ment, but even in the existence of the weapon: so much so indeed, that the use of the weapon frequently precedes its existence, thus denoting that it is the weapon which arises out of the existence of the endeavour, not, conversely, the desire to use it out of the existence of the weapon. Aristotle expressed this long ago, when he said, with reference to insects armed with stings :Δια το δυμον εχειν οπλον εχει (quia iram habent, arma habent) 3 , and further on, generally speaking: Τα δ οργανα προς το εργον η φυσις ποιει αλλ ου εργον προς τα οργανα. (Natura enim instrumenta ad officium, non officium ad instrumenta accommodat) 4 . From which it follows, that the structure of each animal is adapted to its will.

This truth forces itself upon thoughtful zoologists and zootomists with such cogency, that unless their mind is at the same time purified by a deeper philosophy, it may lead them into strange errors. Now this actually happened to a very eminent zoologist, the immortal De Lamarck, who has acquired everlasting fame by his discovery


1 Galenus, De Usu Partium Animalium, i. 1.

2 Lucretius, De rerum natura, v. pp. 1032-1039.

3 Aristotle, De Partibus Animalium, iv. 6 [p. 683–7]. "They have a weapon because they have passion." [Tr.]

4 Ibid. c. 12 [p. 964b 13]: "Nature makes the tools for the work, not the work for the tools." [Tr.]


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of the classification of animals in vertebrata and non-vertebrata , so admirable in depth of view. For he quite seriously maintains and tries to prove at length, that the shape of each animal species, the weapons peculiar to it, and its organs of every sort destined for outward use, were by no means present at the origin of that species, but have on the contrary come into being gradually in the course of time and through continued generation, in consequence of the exertions of the animal's will, evoked by the nature of its position and surroundings, through its own repeated efforts and the habits to which these gave rise. Aquatic birds and mammalia that swim, he says, have only become web-footed through stretching their toes asunder in swimming; moor-fowl acquired their long legs and necks by wading; horned cattle only gradually acquired horns because as they had no proper teeth for combating, they fought with their heads, and this combative propensity in course of time produced horns or antlers; the snail was originally, like other mollusca, without feelers; but out of the desire to feel the objects lying before it, these gradually arose; the whole feline species acquired claws only in course of time, from their desire to tear the flesh of their prey, and the moveable coverings of those claws, from the necessity of protecting them in walking without being prevented from using them when they wished; the giraffe, in the barren, grassless African deserts, being reduced for its food to the leaves of lofty trees, stretched out its neck and forelegs until at last it acquired its singular shape, with a height in front of twenty feet, and thus De Lamarck goes on describing a multitude of animal species as arising according to the same principle, in doing which he overlooks the obvious objection which may be made, that long before the organs necessary for its preservation

1 De Lamarck, Philosophie Zoologique, vol. i. c. 7, and Histoire Naturelle des Animaux sans Vertèbres," vol. i. Introd. pp. 180-212.


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could have been produced by means of such endeavours as these through countless generations, the whole species must have died out from the want of them. To such a degree may we be blinded by a hypothesis which has once laid hold of us! Nevertheless in this instance the hypothesis arose out of a very correct and profound view of Nature: it is an error of genius, which in spite of all the absurdity it contains, still does honour to its originator. The true part of it belongs to De Lamarck, as an investigator of Nature; he saw rightly that the primary element which has determined the animal's organisation, is the will of that animal itself. The false part must be laid to the account of the backward state of Metaphysics in France, where the views of Locke and of his feeble follower, Condillac, in fact still hold their ground and therefore bodies are held to be things–in–themselves, Time and Space qualities of things–in–themselves; and where the great doctrine of the Ideal nature of Space and of Time and of all that is represented in them, which has been so extremely fertile in its results, has not yet penetrated. De Lamarck therfore could not conceive his construction of living beings otherwise than in Time, through succession. Errors of this sort, as well as the gross, absurd, atomic theory of the French and the edifying physico-theological considerations of the English, have been banished for ever from Germany by Kant's profound influence. So salutary was the effect produced by this great mind, even upon a nation capable of subsequently forsaking him to run after charlatanism and empty bombast. But the thought could never enter into De Lamarck's head, that the animal's will, as a thing–in–itself, might lie outside Time, and in this sense be prior to the animal itself. Therefore he assumes the animal to have first been without any clearly defined organs, but also without any clearly defined tendencies, and to have been equipped only with perception. Through this it learns to


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know the circumstances in which it has to live and from that knowledge arise its desires, i.e. its will, from which again spring its organs or definite embodiment; this last indeed with the help of generation and therefore in bound less Time. If De Lamarck had had the courage to carry out his theory fully, he ought to have assumed a primary animal l which, to be consistent, must have originally had neither shape nor organs, and then proceeded to transform itself according to climate and local conditions into myriads of animal shapes of all sorts, from the gnat to the elephant. But this primary animal is in truth the will to live; as such however, it is metaphysical, not physical. Most certainly the shape and organisation of each animal species has been determined by its own will accord ing to the circumstances in which it wished to live; not however as a thing physical in Time, but on the contrary as a thing metaphysical outside Time. The will did not proceed from the intellect, nor did the intellect exist, together with the animal, before the will made its appearance as a mere accident, a secondary, or rather tertiary, thing. It is, on the contrary, the will which is the prius [earlier], the thing–in–itself: its phenomenon (mere representation in the cognitive intellect and its forms of Space and Time) is the animal, fully equipped with all its organs which represent the will to live in those particular circumstances. Among these organs is the intellect, also knowledge itself, which, like the rest of those organs, is exactly adapted to the mode of life of each animal; whereas, according to De Lamarck, it is the will which arises out of knowledge. Behold the countless varieties of animal shapes; how entirely is each of them the mere image of its volition, the evident expression of the strivings of the will which constitute its character Their difference in shape is only the portrait of their difference in character. Ferocious animals,

1 Urthier [Urtier, or original animal].


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destined for combat and rapine, appear armed with formidable teeth and claws and strong muscles; their sight is adapted for great distances, especially when they have to mark their prey from a dizzy height, as is the case with eagles and condors. Timid animals, whose will it is to seek their safety in flight instead of contest, present themselves with light, nimble legs and sharp hearing in lieu of all weapons; a circumstance which has even necessitated a striking prolongation of the outer ear in the most timid of them all, the hare. The interior corresponds to the exterior: carnivorous animals have short intestines; herbivorous animals long ones, suited to a protracted assimilation. Vigorous respiration and rapid circulation of the blood, represented by appropriate organs, always accompany great muscular strength and irritability as their necessary conditions, and nowhere is contradiction possible. Each particular striving of the will presents itself in a particular modification of shape. The abode of the prey therefore has determined the shape of its pursuer: if that prey takes refuge in regions difficult of access, in remote hiding places, in night or darkness, the pursuer assumes the form best suited to those circumstances, and no shape is rejected as too grotesque by the will to live, in order to attain its ends. The cross-bill (loxia curvirostra) presents itself with this abnormal form of its organ of nutrition, in order to be able to extract the seeds out of the scales of the fir cone. Moor-fowls appear equipped with extra long legs, extra long necks and extra long beaks, in short, the strangest shapes, in order to seek out reptiles in their marshes. Then we have the ant-bear with its body four feet long, its short legs, its strong claws, and its long, narrow, toothless muzzle provided with a threadlike, glutinous tongue for the purpose of digging out the white ants from their nests. The pelican goes fishing with a huge pouch under its beak in which to pack its fish, when


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caught. In order to surprise their prey while asleep in the night, owls fly out provided with enormous pupils which enable them to see in the dark, and with very soft feathers to make their flight noiseless and thus permit them to fall unawares upon their sleeping prey without awakening it by their movements. Silurus (catfish), gymnotus electric eel, and torpedo electric ray bring a complete electric apparatus into the world with them, in order to stun their prey before they can reach it; and also as a defence against their own pursuers. For wherever anything living breathed, there immediately came another to devour it, 1 and every animal is in a way designed and calculated throughout, down to the minutest detail, for the purpose of destroying some other animal. Ichneumons (wasps), for instance, among insects, lay their eggs in the bodies of certain caterpillars and similar larvae, in which they bore holes with their stings, in order to ensure nourishment for their future brood. Now those kinds which feed on larvae that crawl about freely, have short stings not more than about one-third of an inch long, whereas pimpla manifestator (wasp), which feeds upon chelostoma maxillosa bee), whose larvae lie hidden in old trees at great depth and are not accessible to it, has a sting two inches long; and the sting of the ichneumon strobillae (wasp) which lays its eggs in larvae, dwelling in fir-cones, is nearly as long. With these stings they penetrate to the larva in which they bore a hole and deposit one egg, whose product subsequently devours

1 Animated by the feeling of this truth, Richard Owen, after passing in review the numerous and often very large Australian fossil marsupialia —sometimes as big as the rhinoceros—came as early as 1842 to the conclusion, that a large beast of prey must have contemporaneously existed. This conclusion was afterwards confirmed, for in 1846 he received part of the fossil skull of a beast of prey of the size of the lion, which he named thylacoleo, i.e. lion with a pouch, since it is also a marsupial. (See the Times of the 19th of May, 1860, where there is an article on "Palaeontology," with an account of Owen's lecture at the Government School of Mines.) [Add. to 3rd ed.]


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this larva. 1 Just as clearly does the will to escape their enemies manifest itself in the defensive equipment of animals that are the objects of pursuit. Hedgehogs and porcupines raise up a forest of spears; armadillos, scaly ant-eaters and tortoises appear cased from head to foot in armour which is inaccessible to tooth, beak or claw; and so it is, on a smaller scale, with the whole class of Crustacea. Others again seek protection by deceiving their pursuers rather than by resisting them physically: thus the sepia has provided itself with materials for surrounding itself with a dark cloud on the approach of danger. The sloth is deceptively like its moss-clad bough, and the frog its leaf; and many insects resemble their dwelling-places. The negro's louse is black 2 ; so, to be sure, is our flea also; but the latter, in providing itself with an extremely powerful apparatus for making irregular jumps to a considerable distance, trusted to these for protection. We can however make the anticipation in all these arrangements more intelligible to ourselves by the same anticipation which shows itself in the mechanical instincts of animals. Neither the young spider nor the ant-lion know the prey for which they lay traps, when they do it for the first time. And it is the same when they are on the defensive. According to Latreille, the insect bombyx (silkworm) kills the parnope (wasp) with its sting, although it neither eats it nor is attacked by it, simply because the parnope will lay its eggs in the bombyx's nest, and by doing this will interfere with the development of its eggs; yet it does not know this. Anticipations of this kind once more confirm the ideal nature of Time, which indeed always becomes manifest as soon as the will as

1 Kirby and Spence, Introduction to Entomology, vol. i. p. 355. [Add. to 3rd ed.]

2 Blumenbach, De humani generis varietati nativa p. 50.; [[w:Samuel Thomas von Sömmerring|Sömmerring], "On the Negro," p. 8.


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thing–in–itself is in question. Not only with respect to the points here mentioned, but to many others besides, the mechanical instincts and physiological functions of animals serve to explain each other mutually, because the will without knowledge is the agent in both.

As the will has equipped itself with every organ and every weapon, offensive as well as defensive, so has it like wise provided itself in every animal shape with an intellect, as a means of preservation for the individual and the species. It was precisely in this account that the ancients called the intellect the ηγεμονικον, i.e. the guide and leader. Accordingly the intellect, being exclusively destined to serve the will, always exactly corresponds to it. Beasts of prey stood in greater need of intellect, and in fact have more intelligence, than herbivorous animals. The elephant certainly forms an exception, and so does even the horse to a certain extent; but the admirable intelligence of the elephant was necessary on account of the length of its life (200 years) and of the scantiness of its progeny, which obliged it to provide for a longer and surer preservation of the individual: and this moreover in countries teeming with the most rapacious, the strongest and the nimblest beasts of prey. The horse too has a longer life and a scantier progeny than the ruminants, and as it has neither horns, tusks, trunk, nor indeed any weapon save perhaps its hoofs, it needed greater intelligence and swiftness in order to elude pursuit. Monkeys needed their extraordinary intelligence, partly because of the length of their life, which even in the moderate-sized animal extends to fifty years; partly also because of their scanty progeny, which is limited to one at a time, but especially because of their hands, which, to be properly used, required the direction of an understanding. For monkeys depend upon their hands, not only for their defence by means of outer weapons such as sticks and stones, but also for their


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nourishment, this last necessitating a variety of artificial means and a social and artificial system of rapine in general, the passing from hand to hand of stolen fruit, the placing of sentinels, &c. &c. Add to this, that it is especially in their youth, before they have attained their full muscular development, that this intelligence is most prominent. In the pongo or orang-outang for instance, the brain plays a far more important part and the understanding is much greater during its youth than at its maturity, when the muscular powers having attained full development, they take the place of the proportionately declining intellect. This holds good of all sorts of monkeys, so that here therefore the intellect acts for a time vicariously for the yet undeveloped muscular strength. We find this process discussed at length in the Résumé des Observations de Fr. Cuvier sur l'instinct et l'intelligence des animaux, par Flourens (1841), from which I have quoted the whole passage referring to this question in the second volume of my chief work, at the end of the thirty-first chapter, and this is my only reason for not repeating it here. On the whole, intelligence gradually increases from the rodents to the ruminants, from the ruminants to the pachyderms, and from these again to the beasts of prey and finally to the quadrumana [four–handed primates], and anatomy shows a gradual development

1 That the lowest place should be given to the rodents, seems however to proceed from a priori rather than from a posteriori considerations: that is to say, from the circumstance, that their brain has extremely faint or small convolutions; so that too much weight may have been given to this point. In sheep and calves the convolutions are numerous and deep, yet how is it with their intelligence? The mechanical instincts of the beaver are again greatly assisted by its understanding, and even rabbits show remarkable intelligence (see [Charles Georges] Leroy's beautiful work: Lettres Philosophiques sur l'Intelligence des Animaux, lettre 3, p. 49). Even rats give proof of quite uncommon intelligence, of which some remarkable instances may be found in the Quarterly Review, No. 201, Jan.-March, 1857, in a special article entitled "Rats."


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of the brain in similar order which corresponds to this result of external observation. (According to Flourens and Fr. Cuvier.) l Among the reptiles, serpents are the most intelligent, for they may even be trained; this is so, because they are beasts of prey and propagate more slowly than the rest especially the venomous ones. And here also, as with the physical weapons, we find the will everywhere as the prius [earlier]; its equipment, the intellect, as the posterius [later]. Beasts of prey do not hunt, nor do foxes thieve, because they have more intelligence; on the contrary, they have more intelligence, just as they have stronger teeth and claws too, because they wished to live by hunting and thieving. The fox even made up at once for his inferiority in muscular power and strength of teeth by the extraordinary subtility of his understanding. Our thesis is singularly illustrated by the case of the bird dodo or dronte (didus ineptus) on the island of Mauritius, whose species, it is well known, has died out, and which, as its Latin name denotes, was exceedingly stupid, and this explains its disappearance; so that here it seems indeed as if Nature had for once gone too far in her lex parsimoniae and thereby in a sense brought forth an abortion in the species, as she so often does in the individual, which was unable to subsist, precisely because it was an abortion. If, on this occasion, anyone were to raise the question as to whether Nature ought not to have provided insects with at least sufficient intelligence to prevent them from flying into the flame of a candle, our answer would be: most certainly; only she did not know that men would make candles and light them, and natura nihil agit frustra [nature does nothing in vain (Aristotle, De incessu animalium, cap. 2, p. 704b 15)]. Insect intelligence is therefore only insufficient where the surroundings are artificial. 2

1 The most intelligent birds are also birds of prey, wherefore many of them, especially falcons, are highly susceptible of training. [Add. to 3rd ed.]

2 That the negroes should have become the special victims of the slave-trade, is evidently a consequence of the inferiority of their intelligence in relation to other races; yet this circumstance does not warrant the business of slavery. [Add. to 3rd ed.]


272 THE WILL IN NATURE.

Everywhere indeed intelligence depends in the first instance upon the cerebral system, and this stands in a necessary relation to the rest of the organism; therefore cold blooded animals are greatly inferior to warm-blooded ones, and invertebrate animals to vertebrata. But the organism is precisely nothing but the will become visible, to which, as that which is absolutely prius [earlier], everything constantly refers. The needs and aims of that will give in each phenomenon the rule for the means to be employed, and these means must harmonize with one another. Plants have no self-consciousness because they have no power of locomotion; for of what use would self-consciousness be to them unless it enabled them to seek what was salutary and flee what was noxious to them ? And conversely, of what use could power of locomotion be to them, as they have no self-consciousness with which to guide it. The inseparable duality of Sensibility and Irritability does not yet appear therefore in the plant; they continue slumbering in the reproductive force which is their fundament, and in which alone the will here objectifies itself. The sun-flower, and every other plant, wills for light; but as yet their movement towards light is not separate from their apprehension of it, and both coincide with their growth. Human understanding, which is so superior to that of all other beings, and is assisted by Reason (the faculty for non-perceptible representations, i.e. for concepts; reflection, thinking faculty), is nevertheless only just proportionate, partly to Man's requirements, which greatly surpass those of animals and multiply to infinity; partly to his entire lack of all natural weapons and covering, and to his relatively weaker muscular strength, which is greatly inferior to that of monkeys of his own size; l lastly also, to the slowness with which his

1 As is likewise his capacity for escaping from his pursuers; for in this respect all the four-footed mammalia surpass him. [Add. to 3rd ed.]


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race multiplies and the length of his childhood and life, which demand secure preservation of the individual. All these great requirements had to be satisfied by means of intellectual powers, which, for this reason, predominate in him. But we find the intellect secondary and subordinate everywhere, and destined exclusively to serve the purposes of the will. As a rule too, it always remains true to its destiny and subservient to the will. How nevertheless, it frees itself in particular instances from this bondage through an abnormal preponderance of cerebral life, whereby purely objective cognition becomes possible which may be enhanced to genius, I have shown at length in the aesthetic part of my chief work. 1

Now, after all these reflections upon the precise agreement between the will and the organisation of each animal, if we inspect a well-arranged osteological collection from this point of view, it will certainly seem to us as if we saw one and the same being (De Lamarck's primary animal, or, more properly, the will to live) changing its shape according to circumstances, and thus producing all this multiplicity of forms out of the same number and arrangement of its bones, by prolonging and curtailing, strengthening and weakening them. This number and arrangement of the bones, which Geoffrey de St. Hilaire 2 called the anatomical element, continues, as he has thoroughly shown, in all essential points unchanged: it is a constant magnitude, something which is absolutely given beforehand, irrevocably fixed by an unfathomable necessity, an immutability which I should compare with the permanence of matter in all physical and chemical

1 [See Third Book of the W. a. W. u. V. [World as Will and Representation]; later also, in my Parerga, vol. ii., §§ 50-57 and § 206. (§§ 51-58, and § 210 of the 2nd edition.)

2 Principes de Philosophie Zoologique, 1830.


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changes: but to this I shall soon return. Conjointly with this immutability of the anatomical element, we have the greatest susceptibility to modification, the greatest plasticity and flexibility of these same bones with reference to size, shape and adaptation to different purposes, all which we see determined by the will with primary strength and freedom according to the aims prescribed to it by external circumstances: it makes out of these materials whatever its necessity for the time being requires. If it desires to climb about in trees, it catches at the boughs at once with four hands, while it stretches the ulna [forearm bone opposite thumb side] and radius [forearm bone on thumb side] to an excessive length and immediately prolongs the os coccygis [bone at lower extremity of spine] to a curly tail, a yard long, in order to hang by it to the boughs and swing itself from one branch to another. If, on the other hand, it desires to crawl in the mud as a crocodile, to swim as a seal, or to burrow as a mole, these same arm-bones are shortened till they are no longer recognisable; in the last case the metacarpus [hand bone between wrist and fingers] and phalanges [fingers] are enlarged to disproportionately large shovel-paws, to the prejudice of the other bones. But if it wishes to fly through the air as a bat, not only are the os humeri, [upper arm bones] radius [forearm bone onthumb side] and ulna [forearm bone opposite thumb side] prolonged in an incredible manner, but the usually small and subordinate carpus [wrist], metacarpus [hand bone between wrist and fingers] and phalanges digitorum [finger bones] expand to an immense length, as in St. Anthony's vision, outmeasuring the length of the animal's body, in order to spread out the wing-membrane. If, in order to browse upon the tops of very tall African trees, it has, as a giraffe, placed itself upon extraordinarily high fore-legs, the same seven vertebra of the neck, which never vary as to number and which, in the mole, were contracted so as to be no longer recognisable, are now prolonged to such a degree, that here, as everywhere else, the neck acquires the same length as the fore-legs, in order to enable the head to reach down to drinking-water. But where, as is the case when it appears as the elephant, a long neck


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could not have borne the weight of the enormous, unwieldy head a weight increased moreover by tusks a yard long, the neck remains short, as an exception, and a trunk is let down as an expedient, to lift up food and draw water from below and also to reach up to the tops of trees. In accordance with these transformations, we see in all of them the skull, the receptacle containing the understanding, at the same time proportionately expand, develop, curve itself, as the mode of procuring nourishment becomes more or less difficult and requires more or less intelligence; and the different degrees of the understanding manifest themselves clearly to the practised eye in the curves of the skull.

Now, in all this, that anatomical element we have mentioned above as fixed and invariable, certainly remains in so far an enigma, as it does not come within the teleological explanation, which only begins after the assumption of that element; since the intended organ might in many cases have been rendered equally suitable for its purpose even with a different number and disposition of bones. It is easy to understand, for instance, why the human skull should be formed out of eight bones: that is, to enable them to be drawn together by the fontanels [spaces between bones of fetal skull] during birth; but we do not see why a chicken which breaks through its egg-shell should necessarily have the same number of skull-bones 1. We must therefore assume this anatomical element to be based, partly on the unity and identity of the will to live in general, partly on the circumstance, that the archetypal forms of animals have proceeded one from the other, 2 wherefore the fundamental type of the whole race was preserved. It is this anatomical element which Aristotle means by his αναγκαια φυσις [necessary character and quality of nature] and the mutability of its shapes according to different

1 Richard Owen, Comparative osteology, p. 9, Walfish [cf. vol. 2, p. 428]

2 Parerga, vol. ii. § 91; § 93 of the 2nd edition.


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purposes he calls την κατα λογον φυσις [character and quality of nature corresponding to the aim and purpose] 1 and explains by it how the material for upper incisors has been employed for horns in horned cattle. Quite rightly: since the only ruminants which have no horns, the camel and the musk-ox, have upper incisors, and these are wanting in all horned ruminants.

No other explanation or assumption enables us nearly as well to understand either the complete suitableness to purpose and to the external conditions of existence I have here shown in the skeleton, or the admirable harmony and fitness of internal mechanism in the structure of each animal, as the truth I have elsewhere firmly established: that the body of an animal is precisely nothing but the will itself of that animal brought to cerebral perception as representation through the forms of Space, Time and Causality, in other words, the mere visibility, objectivity of the Will. For, if this is once pre-supposed, everything in and belonging to that body must conspire towards the final end: the life of this animal. Nothing superfluous, nothing deficient, nothing inappropriate, nothing insufficient or incomplete of its kind, can therefore be found in it; on the contrary, all that is required must be there, and just in the proportion needed, never more. For here artist, work and materials are one and the same. Each organism is therefore a consummate master-piece of exceeding perfection. Here the will did not first cherish the intention, first recognise the end and then adapt the means to it and conquer the material; its willing was rather immediately the aim and immediately the attainment of that aim; no foreign appliances needing to be overcome were wanted; willing, doing and attaining were here one and the same. Thus the organism presents itself as a miracle which admits of no comparison with any work

1 See Aristotle, De partibus animalium, III, c. 2, sub finem: πως δε αναγκαιας φυσεως κ. τ. λ.


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of human artifice wrought by the lamplight of know ledge. 1

Our admiration for the consummate perfection and fitness for their ends in all the works of Nature, is at the bottom based upon our viewing them in the same light as we do our own works. In these, in the first place, the will to do the work and the work are two different things; then again two other things lie between these two: firstly, the medium of representation, which, taken by itself, is foreign to the will, through which the will must pass before it realizes itself here; and secondly the material foreign to the will here at work, on which a form foreign to it has to be forced, which it resists, because the material already belongs to another will, that is to say, to its own nature, its forma substantialis, the (Platonic) idea, expressed by it: therefore this material has first to be overcome, and however deeply the artificial form may have penetrated, will always continue inwardly resisting.

1 The appearance of every animal therefore presents a totality, a unity, a perfection and a rigidly carried out harmony in all its parts which is so entirely based upon a single fundamental thought, that even the strangest animal shape seems to the attentive observer as if it were the only right, nay, only possible form of existence, and as if there could be no other than just this very one. The expression "natural" used to denote that a thing is a matter of course, and that it cannot be otherwise, is in its deepest foundation based upon this. Goethe himself was struck by this unity when contemplating whelks and crabs at Venice, and it caused him to exclaim: "How delightful, how glorious is a living thing ! how well adapted for its condition; how true, how real!" (Life, vol. iv. p. 223). No artist therefore, who has not made it his business to study such forms for years and to penetrate into their meaning and comprehension, can rightly imitate them. Without this study his work will seem as if it were pasted together: the parts no doubt will be there, but the bond which unites them and gives them cohesion, the spirit, the [Platonic] idea, which is the objectivity of the primary act of the will presenting itself as this or that particular species, will be wanting. [Add. to 3rd ed.]


278 THE WILL IN NATURE.

It is quite a different thing with Nature's works, which are not, like our own, indirect, but on the contrary, direct manifestations of the will. Here the will acts in its primordial nature, that is, unconsciously. No mediating representation here separates the will and the work: they are one. And even the material is one with them: for matter is the mere visibility of the will. Therefore here we find Matter completely permeated by Form; or, better still, they are of quite the same origin, only existing mutually one for the other; and in so far they are one. That we separate them in works of Nature as well as in works of Art, is a mere abstraction. Pure Matter, absolutely without Form or quality, which we think as the material of a product of Nature, is merely an ens rationis [being of thought] and cannot enter into any experience; whereas the material of a work of Art is empirical Matter, consequently already has a Form. The [distinctive] character of Nature's products is the identity of form and substance; that of products of Art the diversity of these two. 1 It is because Matter is the mere visibility of Form in Nature's products, that, even empirically, we see Form appear as a mere production of Matter, bursting forth from its inside in crystallisation, in vegetable and animal generatio aequivoca [spontaneous generation] , which last cannot be doubted, at any rate in the epizoa. 2 For this reason we may even assume that nowhere, either on any planet or satellite, will Matter come to a state of endless repose, but rather that

1 It is a great truth which [Giordano] Bruno expresses (De Immenso et Innumerabili, 8, 10): "Ars tractat materiam alienam: natura materiam propriam. Ars circa materiam est; natura interior materiae" [Art treats a foreign material, nature her own. Art stands outside matter, nature is in matter]. He treats this subject much more fully, Della causa [principio et uno], Dialogue 3, p. 252 et seqq. Page 255 he declares the forma substantialis to be the form of every product of Nature, which is the same as the soul. [Add. to 3rd ed.]

2 Thus the saying of the Schoolmen is verified: "Materia appetit formam" [matter strives after form]. Compare Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologiae, I, 50, 2, 4. See also Die Welt a. W. u. V., 3rd edition, vol. ii., chap. 24, p. 352. [Add. to 3rd ed.]


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its inherent forces (i.e. the will, whose mere visibility it is) will always put an end again to the repose which has commenced, always awaking again from their sleep, to resume their activity as mechanical, physical, chemical, organic forces; since at all times they only wait for the opportunity to do so.

But if we want to understand Nature's proceeding, we must not try to do it by comparing her works with our own. The real essence of every animal form, is an act of the will outside representation, consequently outside its forms of Space and Time also; which act, just on that account, knows neither sequence nor juxtaposition, but has, on the contrary, the most indivisible unity. But when our cerebral perception comprehends that form, and still more when its inside is dissected by the anatomical knife, then that which originally and in itself was foreign to knowledge and its laws, is brought under the light of knowledge; but then also, it has to present itself in conformity with the laws and forms of knowledge. The original unity and indivisibility of that act of the will, of that truly metaphysical being, then appears divided into parts lying side by side and functions following one upon another, which all nevertheless present themselves as connected to gether in closest relationship one to another for mutual help and support, as means and ends one to the other. The understanding, in thus apprehending these things, now perceives the original unity re-establishing itself out of a multiplicity which its own form of knowledge had first brought about, and involuntarily taking for granted that its own way of perceiving this is the way in which this animal form comes into being, it is now struck with admiration for the profound wisdom with which those parts are arranged, those functions combined. This is the meaning of Kant's great doctrine, that Teleology is brought into Nature by our own understanding, which accordingly wonders at a


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miracle of its own creation. 1 If I may use a trivial simile to elucidate so sublime a matter, this astonishment very much resembles that of our understanding when it discovers that all multiples of 9, when their single figures are added together, give as their product either the number 9 or one whose single figures again make 9; yet it is that very understanding itself which has prepared for itself this surprise in the decimal system. According to the Physico- theological argument, the actual existence of the world has been preceded by its existence in an intellect: if the world is designed for an end, it must have existed as representation before it came into being. Now I say, on the contrary, in Kant's sense: if the world is to be representation, it must present itself as designed for an end; and this only takes place in an intellect.

It undoubtedly follows from my doctrine, that every being is its own work. Nature, which is incapable of false hood and is as native as genius, asserts the same thing down right; since each being merely kindles the spark of life at another exactly similar being, and then makes itself before our eyes, taking the materials for this from outside, form and movement from its own self: this process we call growth and development. Thus, even empirically, each being stands before us as its own work. But Nature's language is not understood because it is too simple.

1 Compare Die Welt a. W. u. V, 3rd edition, vol. II, chap. 26, p. 375. [Add. to 3rd ed]