By Stephen Walker
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Additional resources for Animal Thought (International Library of Psychology)
Conscious experience is merely the ‘smell above the factory’ — the real workings of the mind are the activities of the brain. Huxley was therefore about as much of a materialist, reductionist and determinist as it is possible to be, but somehow managed to succeed in always seeming to be more morally serious than his opponents. In 1878, Huxley wrote (in six weeks) a 300-page book on Hume, in which most of Hume’s scepticism was retained, but the subjective empiricism updated so that sense impressions are interpreted as states of the brain.
The similarities are not forgotten, since it is stressed that ii terms of emotions, instincts, volition and reason, the differences are minor. A stand is taken on abstraction, however, and Romanes quote long passages of Locke. According to the frontispiece diagram abstraction begins in mammals, but Romanes adopts the Lockean view that there are things called abstract concepts which humans have but even the best of animals do not. Nothing is added to Locke in this, but Romanes goes on to give a more extensive and searching examination of the character of human language.
134), but suggests that the initial emphasis on vocalisation might have arisen from its utility in charming and impressing sexual partners and rivals—’some early progenitor of man, probably first used his voice in producing true musical cadences, that is in singing,... this power would have been especially exerted during the courtship of the sexes’ (1901, p. 133). One may wonder if Darwin was led into strangely unsound speculation by the musical evenings and protracted engagements of middle- class Victorians, but his arguments are based on a characteristically thorough examination of the biological evidence.