MAN AND BRUTE.
Taking up the problems of psychogenesis where these were left in my previous work, I have in the present treatise to consider the whole scope of mental evolution in man. Clearly the topic thus presented is so large, that in one or other of its branches it might be taken to include the whole history of our species, together with our pre-historic development from lower forms of life, as already indicated in the Preface. However, it is not my intention to write a history of civilization, still less to develop any elaborate hypothesis of anthropogeny. My object is merely to carry into an investigation of human psychology a continuation of the principles which I have already applied to the attempted elucidation of animal psychology. I desire to show that in the one province, as in the other, the light which has been shed by the doctrine of evolution is of a magnitude which we are now only beginning to appreciate; and that by adopting the theory of continuous development from the one order of mind to the other, we are able scientifically to explain the whole mental constitution of man, even in those parts of it which, to former generations, have appeared inexplicable.
In order to accomplish this purpose, it is not needful that I should seek to enter upon matters of detail in the application of those principles to the facts of history. On the contrary, I think that any such endeavour—even were I qualified to make it—would tend only to obscure my exposition of those principles themselves. It is enough that I should trace the operation of such principles, as it were, in outline, and leave to the professed historian the task of applying them in special cases.
The lines, then, which I have laid down for my own guidance are these. My object is to seek for the principles and causes of mental evolution in man, first as regards the origin of human faculty, and next as regards the several main branches into which faculties distinctively human afterwards ramified and developed. In order as far as possible to gain this object, it has appeared to me desirable to take large or general views, both of the main trunk itself, and also of its sundry branches. Therefore I have throughout avoided the temptation of following any of the branches into their smaller ramifications, or of going into the details of progressive development. These, I have felt, are matters to be dealt with by others who are severally better qualified for the task, whether their special studies have reference to language, archæology, technicology, science, literature, art, politics, morals, or religion. But, in so far as I shall subsequently have to deal with these subjects, I will do so with the purpose of arriving at general principles bearing upon mental evolution, rather than with that of collecting facts or opinions for the sake of their intrinsic interest from a purely historical point of view.
Finding that the labour required for the investigation, even as thus limited, is much greater than I originally anticipated, it appears to me undesirable to delay publication until the whole shall have been completed. I have therefore decided to publish the treatise in successive instalments, of which the present constitutes the first. As indicated by the title, it is concerned exclusively with the Origin of Human Faculty. Future instalments will deal with the Intellect, Emotions, Volition, Morals, and Religion. It will, however, be several years before I shall be in a position to publish these succeeding instalments, notwithstanding that some of them are already far advanced.
To be continue in this ebook...