By Stephen Walker
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Additional resources for Animal Thought (International Library of Psychology)
312) Even the greater size of the human brain, though it ‘doubtless will one day help to furnish an explanation of the great gulf which intervenes between the lowest man and the highest ape in intellectual power’, was not to be regarded as crucial, since ‘the difference in 53 weight of brain between the highest and lowest men is far greater, both relatively and absolutely, than that between the lowest man and the highest ape’. Huxley went into other obvious possibilities. The gyri and sulci of the human cerebral hemispheres tend to be more complicated than those of the chimpanzee, but ‘Every principal gyrus and sulcus of a chimpanzee’s brain is clearly represented in that of a man’.
Human subjective experience was thus kept firmly within the confines of scientifically investigatable material reality. 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.
It follows as a principle of method that the more cases and analogies we can accumulate, the better. In particular, Hume proposes that the comparison of different species of animal is useful in studies of anatomy and physiology, giving the example of the circulation of the blood —we can understand the principle of circulation more thoroughly if it can be observed in fishes and frogs. The same proposal is then stated for psychology: Hume suggests that his theory of human understanding and his theory of the origin of the human passions ‘will acquire additional authority, if we find that the same theory is requisite to explain the same phenomena in all other animals’ (1902, p.
Animal Thought (International Library of Psychology) by Stephen Walker
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