H Croft Hiller.

Against dogma and free-will and for Weismanism online

. (page 1 of 27)
Online LibraryH Croft HillerAgainst dogma and free-will and for Weismanism → online text (page 1 of 27)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


THE JAMES K. MOFFITT FUND.



LIBRARY OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA.



GIFT OF

JAMES KENNEDY MOFFITT

OF THE CLASS OF '86.



Accession No.



Class No.




AGAINST DOGMA AND FREE-WILL

AND

FOR WEISMANNISM.



AGAINST

DOGMA AND FEEE-WILL



AND



FOR WEISMANNISM,



BY



H. CEOFT HILLEE.



SECOND EDITION.





WILLIAMS AND NORGATE,

HENRIETTA STEEET, COVENT GAEDEN, LONDON; AND
20, SOUTH FREDERICK STREET, EDINBURGH.

1893.



LONDON :

C. NORMAN AND SON, PRINTERS, HART STREET
COVENT GARDEN.



Betucatefc,

AS A TOKEN OF ESTEEM,

TO J. P. NISBET, AUTHOR OF "THE INSANITY OF GENIUS " AND
"MARRIAGE AND HEREDITY."



109332



PREFATORY NOTE TO FIRST EDITION.



SOME ingenious critic, after scanning the ensuing pages,
may exclaim : here is a book against dogma, yet filled with
dogma !

The writer's reply to such an exaggeration of fact would
be : that the Dogma referred to in the title is the Dogma of
ecclesiasticism ; that, to dogma, merely as dogma, he has
no objection; that he is even prejudiced in its favour,
provided the dogma be corroborated by Fact ; that he is
quite content if his own dogma stands or falls with the
evidence on which it is based.

List of works from which the principal quotations in this
book have been extracted.

ALVIELLA (Count Goblet d'), Professor of the History of Eeligions at the
University of Brussels. " Lectures on the Origin and Growth of the
Conception of God, as illustrated by Anthropology and History."

ARNOLD (Matthew), Formerly Professor of Poetry in the University of Oxford
and Fellow of Oriel College. " God and the Bible," and " Literature
and Dogma."

BAIN (Alexander, LL.D.), Professor of Logic in the University of Aberdeen.
" Mind and Body." 7th edition.

BASTIAN (H. Charlton, M.A., M.D., F.E.S.), Professor of Pathological Anatomy
and of Clinical Medicine in University College, London ; Physician to
University College Hospital and to the National Hospital for the
Paralyzed and Epileptic. "The Brain as an Organ of Mind." 4th
edition.

DRAPER (John William, M.D., LL.D.), Late Professor in the University of
New York. "History of the Conflict between Eeligion and Science."
21st edition.

FARRAR (J. A.), " Paganism and Christianity."



Till PREPATOEY NOTE TO FIRST EDITION.

FERRIER (David, M.D., LL.D., F.R.S., F.K.C. p.), Professor of Neuropathology,

King's College, London ; Physician to King's College Hospital and to

the National Hospital for the Paralyzed and Epileptic. " The Croonian

Lectures on Cerebral Localization."
LUYS (J.), Physician to the Hospice de la SalpStriere. " The Brain and its

Functions."
MAUDSLEY (Henry, M.D., F.R.C.S.), Professor of Medical Jurisprudence in

University College, London. " Kesponsibility in Mental Disease."
MOMERIE (A. W., M.A., D.SC., LL.D.), Late Fellow of St. John's College,

Cambridge. Late Professor of Logic and Metaphysics in King's College,

London. "Inspiration, and other Sermons."
MOORHOUSE (James, D.D.), The Eight Reverend, Bishop of Manchester,

" Dangers of the Apostolic Age."

NISBET (J. F.), " Marriage and Heredity," 2nd edition, and " The Insanity
of Genius."

BEDFORD (B. A., M.A., LL.B.), Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologe-
tics, New College, Oxford. "The Christian's Plea against Modern
Unbelief." 3rd edition.

BIBOT (Th.), " Heredity." 2nd edition.

SPENCER (Herbert), " First Principles." 5th edition.

WALLACE (Alfred Bussel, LL.D., F.L.S.), " Darwinism."

WEISMANN (Dr. August), Professor in the University of Freiburg inBreisgau.
" Essays upon Heredity and Kindred Biological Problems." Volume I.,
2nd edition. Volume II, 1st edition. Edited by E. B. Poulton, M.A.,
F.R.S., F.L.S., F.O.S. Selmar Schonland, Ph.D., Hon. M.A. Oxon., and
A. E. Shipley, M.A., F.L.S. " The Germ-Plasm." Translated by W. N.
Parker, Ph.D., and Harriet Ronnfeldt, Ph.D.

To all the above-mentioned authors, the writer of this
book tenders his sentiments of obligation. Though his
own views may cause pain to some of these writers, and
may be expressed in a manner apparently opposed to
appreciation of their works, the opposition is merely
apparent. The writer is not too obtuse to realize that
error, as well as truth, may be honestly propounded with
masterly ability; but, all the less, in that case, should
he who believes he promulgates truth, scruple to use any
deadly weapon at hand only provided (would that pro-



PREFATORY NOTE TO FIRST EDITION. IX

mulgators of " truth " had always observed this proviso)
the weapon kills phantoms, but harms no bodies !

To those scientists whose works confirm, and have en-*
abled him to forcibly formulate his own views, the writer
is under an inestimable obligation. Especially he begs to
thank Drs. Weismann, Luys and Ferrier, from whose
labours the views expressed in this treatise derive that
scientific authentication, without which, they would be
merely as trustworthy as the views, say, of a modern
philosopher !



INTRODUCTION TO THE SECOND EDITION.



SINCE the first part of this work was published, a consider-
able amount of criticism, some eulogistic, some cautiously
dissentient, some blindly abusive, has been directed at the
author. He has been taxed with mis-applying the scientific
verifications which he promulgates; with propounding
untenable socio-political doctrines ; with desiring to over-
throw " morality " and religion. What, on the other side,
he has been credited with achieving need not be here
recounted.

Views tending to radically modify long-accepted conven-
tionalities must arouse opposition and even blind resentment.
The writer is fully assured that those critics who have
" brains " and honesty of purpose will ultimately recall their
strictures. Therefore he accepts with equanimity their
present " canister " (these abusive critics, be it observed,
manifest a greater partiality for wild shooting with " canister "
than for exact aim with " round-shot " or " bullets " !).

On the other hand, the author is under obligation to some
of the criticism because it has been the means of enabling
him to further elucidate and establish certain propositions
which, in the earlier treatise, were either discussed cursorily
as being subsidiary to the main purpose, or, were not as
fully expounded as they deserved. Such criticism was that
which the writer fortunately provoked from the editor of
the National Reformer, and to which criticism he was per-



>\

V



INTRODUCTION TO THE SECOND EDITION. XI

mitted to reply in that organ. He is sanguine enough to
hope that the controversy, now placed, as fully as practicable,
before the reader, may strongly tend to establish the writer's
propositions among the intelligent public.

Again, as some of the main theses advanced in the earlier
treatise are based on the researches of Professor Weismann,
the author has been impelled to incorporate in this volume
a sketch of Weismannism and two articles referring to that
subject, which originally appeared in the National Reformer.
It is hoped that the reader may thus be afforded a more
coherent grasp of the newly-discovered biological facts
than could be obtained from the necessarily incidental
treatment accorded to the subject in the earlier treatise.

Finally, as a reply to those critics who have taxed him
with assailing " morality," the author has added the short
essay entitled " Social Expediency."

The writer will here express his obligation to Mr. W.
Platt Ball for reading the ensuing biological chapters and
offering courteous suggestions of which the writer has
gratefully availed himself. He further has a high apprecia-
tion of the moral effect likely to ensue from the outspoken
manner in which he has been supported by a scientist of
Mr. Ball's eminence. Nor, on the other hand, can the
writer deny himself the luxury of a little sentimental
outpouring with regard to Mr. Robertson, whose unfailing
courtesy, whose combative thoroughness, whose intellectual
power, and, particularly, whose earnest criticism of proposi-
tions which, at present, the Press seems discreetly anxious
to keep at arm's length, have rendered to the writer, a hard
duty, the adequate denunciation of Mr. Robertson's fallacies.
The writer can readily appreciate Mr. Robertson's zeal to



Xll INTRODUCTION TO THE SECOND EDITION.

maintain the subjective propositions for which he so
strenuously contends as being essential to social advance.
On the other hand, the writer feels assured that a man of
Mr. Eobertson's intellectual calibre will ultimately adapt
himself to the conditions imposed by recent research, more
especially, as these new conditions are inevitably destined
to prevail and are not really antagonistic to Mr. Robertson's
essential projects, but, on the contrary, are far better
calculated to promote them than are the products of mere
a priori ratiocination by which those projects have been,
hitherto, to a large extent, supported.

The writer regrets that the National Reformer is about
to expire. During the few months he has known of its
existence, he has read it with more interest than any other
periodical literature. He hopes that its successor, the Free
Review, may maintain the high level of intellectual and
literary excellence which has characterized the National
Reformer.

September 9th, 1893.



CONTENTS.

AGAINST DOGMA AND FKEE-WILL

INTRODUCTION.

PAGE

THE writer's scheme Preliminary definitions of Truth, Nature, and

the Law of Nature ........ 1

CHAPTER I.

The methods of Science contrasted with those of Dogma The
theories of Lamarck, Darwin, and Weismann considered in
respect to physical, mental, and moral evolution Their bearing
on the metaphysics of Dogma The "unstable equilibrium" of
Society Selfishness, the root-motive of humanity Good and
evil shown to be social expediency and inexpediency Virtue
and vice dependent on organism. ..... 8

CHAPTER II.

Consciousness arises only after other cerebral actions Metaphysics

useless to prove " free-will " The velocity of thought measured . 34

CHAPTER III.

The brain can only think through co-operation of the peripheral
sensibilities Case illustrating this The brain shown to be a
machine Cerebral heat considered in reference to " free-will "
Moral and sensual" 4 pain The genesis of right and wrong
Sacerdotalism and morality Memory explained The importance
of the memorizing faculty Hypnotism, in reference to " free-
will " Judgment, will, intelligence : what they are The futility
of trying to oppose Nature Human achievements : what they are
according to Science The Inscrutable of Science contrasted with
the deity of orthodoxy Ferrier's experiments in cerebral locali-
zation : their bearing on "free-will" Pathology in reference to
" free-will "Embryology, in reference to an originally perfect
man ........ 40

CHAPTER IV.

Human Knowledge merely relative The Deity of Science The
Religion of Science Dogma and Eeason Miracles Visions
Prophets Religion must satisfy Reason Conscience : what it is
The expediency of fifty years hence . . . .95



XIV CONTENTS.

CHAPTER V.

PAGE

Two representative views of "free-will": those of the Bishop of
Manchester and Mr. Nisbet contrasted The former shown a
contradiction in terms A supernaturally free will must be
constant in action ; cannot vary with organism No amalgama-
tion possible of Science with the metaphysics of Dogma We
must either grant, or deny " free-will,* absolutely : a limited
"free-will" is incomprehensible Dogmatic and scientific
religions irreconcilable ...... 106

CHAPTER VI.

The genesis of " volition " illustrated Dogma's " ego " assumed and
shown incomprehensible and unnecessary Human penalties
more efficacious than the assumed supernatural, in restraining
mankind "Everlasting punishment" considered Dogmatic
religion has not changed human nature The Keligion of Science
opens "the bowels of compassion" The old idea of creation
exploded Dogma has renounced the claim to a special inspira-
tion of her traditions What is the criterion by which men are
now to decide her authority in matters outside the physical
cosmos? Prophecy and Mania Why a later thinks as an earlier
generation The renunciation of "free-will" not equivalent to
fatalism The drift of social evolution .... 118

CHAPTER VII.

The anthropomorphism of Dogma irreconcilable with " free-will "
Expounders of " orthodoxy " are now superfluous The com-
parative claims of ecclesiasticism and Science on the intellectual
respect of mankind Ecclesiasticism exemplifies the unalterable
edict of Nature : that men shall be selfish How ecclesiastics can
be honest Science seeks to destroy no true religion . . 139

CHAPTER VIII.

Ecclesiasticism is effecting its own disintegration The "eminent
Thirty-eight "The anthropomorphism of modern orthodoxy
compared with that of the ancient Jews The Church of England
must pitch overboard Dogma, or Dogma will send her to the
bottom A cursory consideration of the Canon, showing how
rife was contention as to its authenticity All religions, equally
with all organisms, strictly the product of evolution . . 148



CONTENTS. XV

WEISMANNISM.

PAGE

PREFACE TO RUDIMENTARY WEISMANNISM 161

CHAPTER I. RUDIMENTARY WEISMANNISM 161

CHAPTER II 168

CHAPTER III 175

CHAPTER IV. SPENCER OR WEISMANN ? . 182

CHAPTER V. WEISMANNISM AND ITS

ADVERSARIES 187

INTRODUCTION TO WEISMANNISM AND

SOCIOLOGY .197

CHAPTER VI. WEISMANNISM AND SOCIO-
LOGY ... ... 222

CHAPTER VII 230

CHAPTER VIII 234

CHAPTER IX. SOCIAL EXPEDIENCY . . 245

CONCLUSION 265

APPENDIX. ROMANES AND WEISMANN . 273

INDEX 287



COERIGENDA AND SUPPLEMENTARY NOTES.



Note to page 125, as continuation of first paragraph :

With a refinement of diabolical ingenuity, it was even propounded that
helpless babes were not exempt from these eternal tortures. Does not it
arouse all the resentment in human nature to know that such lies as the
following were foisted on the minds of grief-stricken mothers by a Church
which professed to exemplify the doctrine of universal Love ? " Hold
most firmly, and by no means doubt, that little children, whether they die
before or after birth, pass, without the holy sacrament of baptism, from
this world, to be punished with the everlasting punishment of eternal
fire." (St. Fulgentius.)

We can now treat this stuff with the contempt it deserves ; but think of
the thousands upon thousands of mothers who believed it ! Think of the
human agony represented by those few words, then ask yourselves
whether that agony has been outweighed by the raptures of all the
" saints " and " converted sinners " of Christianity.

Note to page 141, as continuation of second paragraph :

Unless the bishop, as a true follower of Augustine, Calvin, and other
vehicles of the revelation of vengeance, wishes us to believe that the Deity
deliberately consigns certain creatures to perdition, we must infer that this
" directive originating activity " is beyond the power and the knowledge
of Deity : otherwise, that the Creator is neither omnipotent nor omniscient.
No verbal quibbles will enable us to escape this dilemma.

Page 67, line 18 :

For Deldoeuf read Delboeuf .

Read, instead of text, page 71, lines 20-22 : -

If reminiscent and peripheral excitations contend and neither prevail,
volition is not manifested : the individual hesitates. If this is a marked
characteristic of the cerebral conformation, the individual is said to be
timid, irresolute, too cautious.

Read, instead of text, page 121, line 24 :
If it cannot fix human responsibility.



AGAINST

DOGMA AND FREE-WILL.



INTRODUCTION.



THE writer's original aim was, in a few lines, to place
those who might witness or read a certain stage-play, at his
own standpoint, in respect to the psychological problem
involved in one of his characters Fen ton.

One cannot argue with a colour-blind person about
chromatics. The public are in much the same position with
respect to certain psychical realities, as is the colour-blind
man with respect to chromatics. Hence the writer intended,
in a short preface to his play, to provide against inevitable
misapprehension. However, as the subject widened out
under treatment, he felt impelled to considerably diverge
from his earlier intention. He realized that, to adequately
express his views, a much more serious demand than origin-
ally contemplated must be made on the reader's attention,
and that if such views represent truth, as, after mature
reflection and inquiry, the writer believes they do, then it
was his duty to help, as others are helping, to propagate
them.

The world is now on the brink of an epoch-making
renunciation of doctrines which, for centuries, have been the
instruments of Nature in her work of evolution, but which,
having served their purpose, are now destined to be thrown
aside.

It must be evident to every earnest person who can

1



2 INTKODUCTION.

recall his doctrinal convictions of twenty years ago, that
time has played havoc with them ; that the blind trustful-
ness which once rendered him a willing affiriner of dogmatic
mystery, is now supplanted by disquieting doubts rendering
him either a scoffer at, or merely a mechanical votary of
his idol. These phases of mental condition represent its
average contemporary character in relation to Dogma, and
as Dogma, to the mass of mankind, through long-enduring
custom, has represented the very essence of religion, the
latter has naturally been prejudicially affected by the im-
pending fall of Dogma. The mind of civilization is now
awaiting a fresh revelation. This revelation Science is
destined to afford.

In the ensuing pages we purpose accomplishing what, so
far as we are aware, has not, under like conditions and
in the same manner, been attempted. We purpose to
demolish the hypothesis of " free-will " and the dogmatic
assumptions based on that hypothesis. We shall endeavour
to achieve our end by utilizing the latest scientific verifica-
tions, which we hope to place before the reader under new
aspects and which we shall supplement by certain specula-
tions not familiar to the general public, to the average
scientist, or even to some philosophers. We shall meet the
" free-will " advocate on his own ground ; we shall grant
his premisses, and we hope, by his own premisses, to
demonstrate the utter fallacy of his conclusions.

The first research to which we shall devote attention will
be Weismann's latest verifications respecting the origin of
life and the factors of heredity. These go to the very root
of organic existence, and must radically affect all our
religious and sociological notions. Mr. Herbert Spencer's
philosophy, based on the fallacy that extraneous influences
may be transmitted hereditarily, will now need considerable
modification, and we shall find that the reforming zeal so
characteristic of contemporary society, is likely to develop
unforeseen consequences.



INTRODUCTION. 6

We shall next glance at Darwin's theory of Natural
Selection. This accounts satisfactorily for the evolution of
all types of organism, and, we shall try to show, is incon-
sistent with the prevalent conceptions of " free-will " and
an anthropomorphic deity.

Incidentally, in the course of our examination of the
various branches of scientific research bearing on our sub-
ject, we shall venture to expound, and, we trust, establish,
certain ethical propositions of a novel and, we believe,
vitally important nature. We hope to establish so firmly
that the most sinuous verbal dexterity of opponents shall
be powerless against our conclusions, the fact that the
current notions of good and evil are radically false; that
the conventional definitions of virtue and vice are entirely
untrue ; that real morality is as different a thing from the
"morality" of Dogma as is ethereal vibration from what
we sensually apprehend as light; that all the deductions
dependent on these conventions are, in the not distant
future, bound to be discarded by thinking men. We fully
apprehend the gravity of these pretensions which we
deliberately make, and the issue of which we confidently
await.

As an inevitable inference from the new truth, it will
become evident that what are euphemistically termed the
rights of property are destined to suffer some hard rubs.
As human faculties are entirely dependent on the accident
of bodily conformation, society will soon decide that the
material results of the successful exercise of such faculties
belong rather to society than to the individual recipient of
Nature's bounty. To what extent such reasoning will be
carried into practice will depend on the needs of society
and will vary with its fluctuating standards of expediency.
The principle itself will be universally admitted.

We shall prove, we believe, to demonstration, that every
phase of cerebral action involving thought and what we call
volition, is as strictly a natural phenomenon, entirely

1 *



1NTEODUCTION.

dependent on organic factors, as is the circulation of the
blood. We shall satisfactorily account to reason if not to
emotion for every action of what it has pleased certain
theorists to define as a supernatural attribute, by the same
methods which these theorists would apply to explaining
the action of steam on a locomotive. We .intend that these
methods shall as logically explain the phenomenon of
mental, as of mechanical, energy.

In furtherance of this purpose, we shall have to direct
the reader's attention to the latest verifications of scientific
psychology, a due comprehension of which will enable him
to form the only possible rational conception of what it has
hitherto been the business of metaphysics to involve in a
hopeless maze of fallacious verbiage. Having considered
all the departments of cerebral activity, we shall specially
devote ourselves to an attack on dogmatic pretension, the
absurdity of which we hope to effectually demonstrate.

In the course of our work we shall be compelled to
record a protest against some inconsistencies in the pro-
cedure of certain eminent scientists and thinkers, who,
while furthering the work of demolition, have shrunk from
the logical issue of their own achievements. As seeking
truth only, and as realizing to what extent truth has
hitherto been shackled by the devices of the partisans of
fallacy, we feel bound to deprecate any concession to the
adversary, under whatsoever guise that concession may
appear. We feel that the ground must be cleared of all
obstructions to an accurate perception and a final settlement
of the great issues : are the doctrines of " free-will " and an
anthropomorphic deity longer tenable by thinking men ?

If we may seem occasionally to lapse into an impetuosity
of treatment of our subject^ unusual in logical controversy,
it is because we believe that the advocate is the best fighter
against popular prejudice. Our work aims at arousing
society from a condition of lethargic insouciance towards
exploded fallacy, to an intelligent appreciation of a newly



INTKODUCTION. O

acquired truth. There being no reason why the emotive
should not help truth as it has helped Dogma, we have
endeavoured so to combine the judicial with the rhetorical
appeal that each may touch the mind specially responsive
to its influence.

It will be advisable here to define the meanings we
attach to three terms which, being concise and expressive,
will be freely used in the course of this treatise. By
' ' Nature " we mean, not a metonymical confusion of cause
and effect involving personification of the Cosmos, but, the
evolutionary method, so far as it has been ascertained by j
Science, of that mysterious Energy behind the universe.
We trust that the reader will bear in mind this definition,
as a loose and utterly untenable significance, inducing
trains of thought diametrically opposed to any reliable
process of inquiry, is frequently attached to the term.

By " Truth " we mean a conclusion verified by reason
apart from emotion.

Truth, as concerns humanity, can only be measured by
consciousness. There may be, and probably there is, truth
outside consciousness ; but if it cannot be authenticated by
human apprehension, that truth is beyond the range of
practical consideration. When man's sensibility impels
him towards such problematical truth, the impulse merely
induces a subjective conclusion absolutely derived from
.anterior subjective conclusions. Generations of men adopted
the subjective conclusion that the sun moved round the
earth ; even now, mere sensibility inclines us to adopt the
illusion which only reason and experience enable us to
discard. The human being untaught from birth the



Online LibraryH Croft HillerAgainst dogma and free-will and for Weismanism → online text (page 1 of 27)