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From The Quarterly Review. However this may be, most partial DARWIN ON EXPRESSION.*
critics will, we think, admit that there is MR. DARWIN has added another vol- a marked falling-off both in philosophical ume of amusing stories and grotesque tone and scientific interest in the works illustrations to the remarkable series of produced since Mr. Darwin committed works already devoted to the exposition himself to the crude metaphysical concepand defence of the evolutionary hypothe- tion so largely associated with his name. sis. Few, however, except faithful disci- The “Origin of Species” contained a ples will regard this new work as con- number of typical facts carefully selected, tributing much either to the author's admirably described, and skilfully marfame, the scientific treatment of expres- shalled in support of the general argusion, or the support of the general theory. ment. The tone of the exposition was For ourselves, we must confess to having moreover cautious, sober, and perfectly risen from its perusal with a feeling of candid. No attempt was made to disthe profoundest disappointment. Know- guise the partial and provisional nature ing the point to which Sir Charles Bell's of the results arrived at. The conception admirable essay had carried the exposi- of gradual evolution by means of natural tion of the subject, and finding from Mr. selection was stated as an hypothesis Darwin's introduction that he had given towards which many facts seem to point, special attention to it for upwards of but which in the present state of our thirty years, we naturally expected that knowledge could not be positively verithe volume would throw some fresh light fied. In “ The Descent of Man," while on the philosophy of expression. This the relevant facts were far fewer, and the anticipation has not been realized. Of gaps in the evidence wider and more course the work contains a number of serious, the tone of the reasoning founded the careful observations, ingenious reflec- on them was confident even to dogmatism. tions, and faithful analogies with which in the present work, especially in the earMr. Darwin's writings abound. But with lier or animal part, the facts, even when regard to the interpretation of expression well established, are vague and ambiguin men or animals, there is no advance ous, while many of the more important on previous inquiries; while in relation are doubtful and disputed. A large proto the most important branch, human portion of them would indeed suit almost expression, the exposition is positively any other hypothesis quite as well as Mr. retrograde, sinking far below the high Darwin's, and many directly suggest a level already reached. In his zeal for his counter theory. Yet on the strength of favourite theory, Mr. Darwin seems to this obscure and uncertain evidence Mr. regard the nobler and more distinguish- Darwin claims to have established his ing human emotions with a curious kind general conclusion by even an excess of of jealousy, as though they had no right proof. to scientific recognition. He dwells at This significant result naturally suglarge only on the lower and more animal gests many reflections. Amongst others aspects and elements of emotion, and it raises the question as to the influence seems at times almost unwilling to admit which the wholesale importation of hythat an expression is human at all, unless potheses into many of its branches has he can verify its existence in some of the had upon the development of modern lower animals. His one-sided devotion science, and in particular the manner in to an à priori scheme of interpretation which the leading hypothesis of evolution seems thus steadily tending to impair the has affected the recent progress of the author's hitherto unrivalled powers as an science of natural history. It has unobserver.
doubtedly influenced very largely their
whole spirit and procedure. During the • The Expression of the Emotions in Man and last fifteen years not only have special Animals. By CHARLES Darwin, M.A., F.R.S., &c. With Photographic and other Illustrations. London: branches been revolutionized, but science
itself — the very conception of what is
scientific — appears to have undergone a (and prolific fields to cultivate, the divivery serious change. Instead of desig- sion of labour becomes a necessity, and nating what is most rigorous, exact, and the ardent specialist, engrossed in his assured in human knowledge, natural own work, is comparatively indifferent to science is fast becoming identified with other and more remote scenes of exertion. what is most fluctuating, hypothetical, This absorption of mind in a single direcand uncertain in current opinion and tion may be a secret of success in science, belief. It is worth inquiring for a mo- but it tends to narrow the vision to a parment what amount of gain and loss is ticular area of inquiry and to give exaggerinvolved in the change, what are the ated importance to one class of results. relative advantages and disadvantages The kind of knowledge with which the accruing to science from the disturbing specialist is most familiar comes almost element of speculative conjecture which unconsciously to be regarded as the only the Darwin hypothesis has so largely kind of real knowledge, its phenomena introduced.
being the typical facts and its generalizaIn the first place, there can be little tions the ultimate laws of nature. The doubt that the theory of evolution, like ignorance of other subjects even by proany large intellectual conception provi- ficients in science, may thus be denser sionally uniting widely sundered spheres and more hopeless than in minds of lower of knowledge, may, under proper regula- culture and intelligence. As Dr. Lyon tion, have a very salutary effect. If its Playfair has recently said, in discussing. true character be kept in view, the theory the mutual relation of professional and is likely to do good rather than harm. liberal studies, “the focusing of light It will prompt inquiry after the links con- upon a particular spot, while it brilliantly necting various branches of science, and illuminates that spot, intensifies the darkthus turn observation and research into ness all around.” And the darkness is wholly new directions. Under its influ- usually most impenetrable at points ence attention will be fixed with interest further removed from the specialist's own and anticipation on the interspaces in the field of vision. Continually engaged in map of natural knowledge, which would the study of sensuous facts and the workbe neglected so long as the different ing of material forces, he becomes relaprovinces were held to be separate and tively insensible to the phenomena and independent kingdoms. In short, it powers of the moral and spiritual universe. would establish a sort of temporary fed- He not unnaturally comes to regard these eration between the different provinces mental realities as altogether imaginary of science, and thus suggest and encour- or wholly unknown, denying that they age the prospect of their more intimate can ever become objects of science, or and lasting union. In this way such a indeed knowledge in the limited meaning conception helps to correct one of the he attaches to the term. With such inmost serious incidental evils connected quirers the terms metaphysical and theowith the rapid progress of science -- the logical are convenient and compendious tendency to isolation and exclusiveness. epithets for describing their special ignoIt has long been a reproach against the rances and favourite aversions. They votaries of physical research, that they look, indeed, with impatience and suspiare, as a rule, specialists, wise only in cion on all theories designed to give a one, or at most one or two departments speculative basis to the different branches of inquiry, and thus taking a somewhat of science, and unite all lines of investilimited and one-sided view of nature's gation into a totality or universum of operations. The provinces of natural knowledge. knowledge are too vast and varied to be The doctrine of evolution acts as a cormastered in detail by any single mind, rective to this separatist tendency of anaand even accomplished students can at lytical inquiry. It expands the horizon most have a first-hand acquaintance with of science, and illuminates a wider proscomparatively few. With so many wide I pect. For the old notion of nature as an aggregate of independent parts it substi- application. Excitable but untrained tutes the larger and more vital concep- minds would eagerly welcome it, and tion of all being mutually related and con-' through the open avenues of fancy and stituting an organic whole. The old feeling it will gain access to numbers who lines of rigid difference, the hard isolat- cannot estimate its value and know nothing boundaries, including ultimate dis- ing of the evidence upon which it rests. tinctions of form and substance, melt Nay, where the passion for novelty is away before the incessant ebb and flow, stronger than the power of scrutinizing flux and reflux, of common elements and proofs and estimating impartially the common forces. The same constituents force of reasoning, even earnest students are found in the mightiest orbs above us of science may be led astray by hastily as in the dust beneath our feet, and the adopting the guidance of a grand convicsame processes are illustrated in the for- tion or belief instead of following the • mation alike of a star, a gem, or a flower. slower but surer road of experimental Man himself occupies a subordinate place verification and inductive proof. The in a vast secular procession which has partial though still popular acceptance of moved on through interminable ages in the new doctrine will thus be likely to the past, and, like the shadowy train that illustrate in its working the evils assostartied Macbeth in the Witches' Cavern, ciated with outbursts of social and relistretches out to the crack of doom in the gious enthusiasm. It will operate as a future. Such a conception has undoubt- disturbing force in science, introducing edly a power and dignity of its own that, into its domain elements of confusion apart from definite evidence, would make and perplexity from which it had hitherto it almost irresistibly attractive to a cer- been almost wholly free. And subjected tain order of minds. If it seems at first to this newer influence science can no sight to aggrandize nature at the expense longer claim any immunity from the perof man, the unwelcome impression is ils and difficulties besetting other and soon removed by perceiving that it virtu- less positive branches of inquiry. In proally annihilates the distinction between portion to their rash adoption and indisthem. In the same way its bearing upon criminate use the new doctrines must the moral universe is purposely left ob- produce injurious results both speculative scure in the ambiguity as to whether it and practical. may ultimately tend to materialize spirit These evils are, indeed, already apparor spiritualize matter. Ardent and imag- ent in almost every department of inquiinative minds, enamoured of natural in- ry. As we have seen, the theory of evoquiry, will not hesitate at speculative dif- lution supplies physical science with a ficulties of this kind, or inquire too curi- speculative basis or philosophy which it ously about the links of proof. They will sorely needed, and with a kind of religion be fascinated by the novelty and gran- as well. At least the grand cosmical deur of a conception that seems to rend conception gives a powerful emotional the veil in nature's temple, and reveal stimulus to a certain order of susceptible her hidden mysteries; that avowedly gath- minds, which may be regarded as a speers the scattered rays of knowledge into cies of inverted religious feeling. But a focus for the purpose of illuminating what is thus gained in one direction is the past, the present, and the possible; certainly lost in another. While giving that regards geological ages as moments to science a philosophy and religion, the in the rythmical evolution of universal great hypothesis has also brought with it life, and planetary systems as mere all the vices usually associated with the specks in the fathomless abyss of infinite' more excited types of metaphysical and being. Such an hypothesis appeals quite theological discussion. The intellectual as strongly to the imagination and the ! evils thus introduced are exemplified in emotions as it does to the judgment and the writings of even the more eminent the reason, and hence the danger of its scientific men belonging to the evolutionpremature acceptance and indiscriminate ist school. No doubt the hypothesis
gives a breadth, vigour, and animation to sumed except those which really exist, the expositions of its best representa- and are sufficient to produce the effect. tives, such as Tyndall and Huxley; but, Now, the power of spontaneous and sysat the same time, it infects their specu- tematic transmutation which Mr. Darlative reasoning and results with an ele- win's hypothesis assumes has not yet ment of vagueness and unceriainty which been shown to exist ; the slight variaeven the most confident tone and tren- tions within fixed and narrow limits, chant style cannot altogether conceal. which is all he demonstrates, being wholly Then, again, the polemical writings of insufficient to produce the the school abound with the strained em- changes attributed to it. The fatal flaw phasis, eager word-catching, the rhetor- is the absence of evidence as to the existical denunciations and appeals which ence and working of the power which the characterize the lower forms of religious theory assumes. The furthest line in the controversy.
past along which science can travel fails But the most serious result is the in- to supply the needed links of proof. Not road which these imposing hypotheses only the long historical period, but the are making on the method and language immensely, longer geological eras of science. With regard to the first silent on this vital point. The records point, Mr. Darwin himself leads the way of thousands and hundreds of thousands in the virtual abandonment of the induc- of years have been ransacked in vain for tive method. While nominally inductive, the needed evidence. When pressed his procedure is really deductive, and de- with these difficulties, Mr. Darwin takes ductive of the most unscientific and illog- refuge in infinite time and unknown ical kind. Mr. Darwin tells us that his space, in the alleged imperfection of the favourite speculation has guided and in- geological record, and the assumed eons fluenced his scientific observations and of animated nature that died and made no reflections for upwards of thirty years. sign. Here, of course, he cannot be folAt length he propounds it avowedly as lowed, and is at perfect liberty, therefore, an hypothesis, the fragmentary and im- to fabricate his imaginary proofs in any perfect evidence deduced in its support way, and to any extent he pleases. To being eked out with ingenious analogies cover this sort of retreat, or at least to and fanciful suggestions. The hypothet-afford ample room for this sort of indefiical character of the speculation is fully nite appeal, Professor Tyndall formally admitted by the few eminent names in claims free scope for the exercise of the science who have given it a welcome. On imagination in science. He admits the other hand, men as eminent as Mr. / “that, in more senses than one, Mr. DarDarwin in his own department have win has drawn heavily upon the scienstrongly asserted that not one of the tific tolerance of his age. He has drawn points essential to the establishment of heavily upon time in the development of the hypothesis is proved ; in short, that his species; and he has drawn adventuas yet it has no really scientific evidence rously upon matter, in his theory of panin its support. But in his recent works genesis.” But he boldly demands that Mr. Darwin boldly employs the unveri- in science the speculative faculty shall be fied hypothesis deductively to explain the free to wander into regions where the origin and history of man, and interpret hope of certainty would seem to be enwhat is most characteristic in human ex- tirely shut out. In other words, when a pression. And he does this with all the daring scientific speculator finds himself confidence of a theological disputant ap- in difficulties – becomes bankrupt in fact plying some dogmatic assumption, such - he must be allowed to draw upon the as universal depravity or satanic 'influ- bank of fancy at will, with the assurance ence, or defending some sectarian sym- that his draft, if eyed with suspicion by bol, such as Sacramental Efficacy or an older-established scientific firms, will be Effectual Call. In this, it need hardly be eagerly honoured by excited, credulous, said, Mr. Darwin completely abandons and expectant novices. the true attitude of science, which is that The philosophy and psychology of the of suspended judgment on points not yet school are, to a large extent, infected with proved.
the same vice. While nominally experiAgain, in attempting to establish his ential and inductive, they are really, to a theory, Mr. Darwin violates the funda- characteristic extent, à priori and hypomental canons of scientific inquiry — thetical. The system of Mr. Herbert Newton's celebrated laws, that in inter- Spencer, the chief philosophical expopreting nature no causes are to be as- l nent of evolution, is essentially deductive, its central propositions being as- sults. Unfortunately, however, all sciensumed, and only illustrated by occasional tific conjectures need verification ; and but wholly insufficient references to ex- it is only after this necessary process that perience. The psychology of the school, the man of genius can be finally distinagain, rests on an extreme and one-guished from the daring but wayward sided theory, and the spirit of observa- speculator. However this may be, Dr. tion, though largely, cultivated, is still Maudesley, practically illustrates the liguided and controlled by the exigencies cense he claims for men of genius. Acof the theory. One important point of customed to the observation and treatthe theory for example, is, that we ment of mental diseases, and thus habithave no perception of externality and uated to the psychological side of his distance through the sense of sight; no science, he boldly resolves all bodily aildirect and intuitive perception of these ments into mental disorders. All disrelations at all, indeed, the knowledge turbances in any part of the physical being arrived at in a roundabout and op- system – in the lungs or liver, the stomerose manner by means of our muscular ach or kidneys — may, according to him, and tactile experiences. The well-known be ultimately traced to a temporary loss facts of animal life - such as that of of local memory. He asserts, indeed, chickens catching flies without any pre- that every organic element of the animal vious experience, as soon as they leave body is endowed with this mental power the shell — directly contradict this view. the pittings of small-pox being due to The facts rest on the express observa- the fact that the virus of this terrible tion and testimony of eminent naturalists, disease has a peculiarly tenacious memand they have recently been verified ory. Extremes meet, and the ultraafresh in a series of thoroughly scientific physical school, in its latest developand exhaustive experiments. But Pro- ments, tends to become more metaphysifessor Bain, in dealing with the objec- cal than the metaphysicians. As prevition, founded on the instinctive percep- ous speculators of the same school had tion of the lower animals, virtually denies made mind a function of the body, so the fact. He maintains that there “does their more advanced followers are rapidly not exist a body of careful and adequate making body a mere function of mind. observations on the early movements of An evil almost equally great connected animals.” Elsewhere he still more ex- with this rapid and somewhat random deplicitly repudiates the testimony of natu- velopment of extreme theories is the conralists on the point. “ It is likewise said fusion of tongues, or rather of technical that the chick recognizes grains of corn languages it has introduced. If any of at first sight, and can so direct its move the great masters of scientific expression ments as to pick them up at once ; being belonging to the last generation could thus able to know the meaning of what look into the writings of some of their it sees, to measure the distance of objects successors, they would be aghast at the instinctively, and to graduate its move- loose style and mongrel dialect which in ments to that of knowledge — all which is, many instances have taken the place of in the present state of our acquaintance their own purity, dignity, and precision with the laws of mind, wholly incredible." of scientific statement. The chief conThe last statement would be more accu- fusion, so far as language is concerned, rately expressed in the paraphrase arises from the promiscuous use of terms * All which facts are on the theory the appropriated respectively to body and author has adopted wholly inadmissible.” mind, as though they meant exactly the In other words, the facts must be denied same thing. No abuse could be more opin the interest of the theory.
posed to good taste and scientific accuThe same tendency to substitute spec- racy. Physics and physiology have a ulations for proof is seen in the physio- definite and established language of their logy as well as in the psychology of the own, and so also have psychology and school. Even so vigorous and independ- metaphysics. There are exact and apent a thinker as Dr. Maudesley cannot propriate terms for describing mental escape the prevalent rage for hypotheses. states and activities, and also for deIndeed, he has a theory designed, per- scribing bodily states and activities, and haps almost unconsciously, to cover the the first rule of scientific clearness and free use of the speculative element in precision is that they should be kept which he delights, that the man of ge- distinct. The new school, however bius is independent of the slow inductive some deliberately, and others through processes, and leaps at once to their re-| the force of evil example -- habitually