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not venture to quote any of the illustrations here given, because their force and pertinency would not be felt unless the whole lecture were perused.
Under the guidance of the scientific etymologist it becomes highly interesting to trace (so far as his successful labours at present enable us) the same elements of speech as they appear in the different languages of man and in the most remote regions of the world. For within our historic period, and amongst the civilised nations known to us, there appears to be no such thing as an absolutely new coinage of speech.
Whatever may have passed in a prehistoric period, or whatever may now be going on amongst some voluble savages, we know of nothing new in language that is not a reconstruction of the old. Everything that has a date has also a derivation. It seems here as if we had lost the faculty of making bricks from the original clay, and could only build by redisposing the bricks which our ancestors had moulded. In the following quotation the reader will easily perceive the modification we should make: "since the beginning of the world" is not the expression we should have used, but the general drift of the passage we are very far from disputing.
"We thus see," says Max Müller, "how languages reflect the history of nations, and how, if properly analysed, almost every word will tell us of many vicissitudes through which it passed on its way from Central Asia to India, or to Persia, to Asia Minor, Greece, and Italy; to Russia, Gaul, Germany, the British Isles, America, New Zealand; nay, back again, in its world-encompassing migrations, to India and the Himalayan regions from which it started. Many a word has thus gone the round of the world, and it may go the same round again and again. For although words change in sound and meaning to such an extent that not a single letter remains the same, and that their meaning becomes the very opposite of what it originally was, yet it is important to observe that since
the beginning of the world no new addition has ever been made to the substantial elements of speech any more than to the substantial elements of nature. There is a constant change in language, a coming and a going of words; but no man can ever invent an entirely new word. We speak to all intents and purposes substantially the same language as the earliest ancestors of our race; and, guided by the hand of scientific etymology, we may pass on from century to century through the darkest periods of the world's history, till the stream of language on which we ourselves are moving carries us back to those distant regions where we seem to feel the presence of our earliest fore
fathers, and to hear the voices of the
earth-born sons of Manu."
We commit our readers, and ourselves too, with great confidence to the guidance of Max Müller on matters strictly philological. We should hesitate long before we disputed any rule of etymology which had received the sanction of his judgment; and even individual derivations which startle us at first, we are willing to receive on his authority; we receive them at least till substituted by others still more cogently supported. But in that province which is common to the psychologist and the philologist, whenever the lecturer discourses on the nature and functions of language itself, we are compelled to observe that a safer guidance will be found in many an old-established author amongst us, Scotch or English. No one can deal with the wide subject of mental philosophy without being compelled to discuss, with more or less fulness, the nature of the connection between Thought and Language. Now, glancing back in memory at the list of our metaphysical writers of repute, we must say that there is hardly one of them from whom a student would not derive more precise and intelligible views on this subject than he will from the Lectures before us.
On this subject the lecturer is very vague. We, in our part of the island, who have had in our universities a Metaphysical
Chair, well filled through many generations, are probably more alive than our neighbours to a deficiency of this kind. Not that we claim to judge all men by what is loosely called "Scotch philosophy." Our own systems, doubtless, have their defects or their shortcomings, and there is scope enough for progressive development; but we are familiarised to the difficulties of these subjects. If there is much unexplored, we know where, at least, there is a solid piece of ground to stand upon. We can make a shrewd guess whether the lecturer who comes before us (let him come from what part of the world he may, or have been educated at Berlin, or Göttingen, or Paris, or Geneva), whether he has himself any sure footing in these speculative regions. An English audience, when metaphysics are touched upon, are either at the mercy of their present teacher, and are led whithersoever he pleases; or else they refuse to be led at allthey stand stock-still. We in Scotland have calmly seen the various systems of German metaphysics tower above our heads into transcendental altitudes; we have seen our neighbours clapping their hands at the cloud-built edifice, and comparing it, to our disparagement, with the modest structure of the Scotch philosophy; but we have seen these huge clouds that for a time took possession of the sky sink down and disappear-vanish into viewless vapour-while we have steadily progressed, adding stone to stone, and re-shaping here and there our more terrestrial building.
Our present lecturer, we apprehend, has been led into vague and exaggerated statements on this subject the connection between Thought and Language-by the almost excusable partiality which every master in any one science is likely to have for that science. The chemist finds in physiology only a series of chemical problems; the electrician could explain both physiology and chemistry, could he once
get his electricity fairly in play upon. them. Max Müller sees on all sides some problem of language. Language is with him essential to all reasoning; mythology is only a "diseased language ;" and all that we want towards settling our religious and philosophical differences, is a thorough knowledge of the language we use in our controversies. We can hardly believe that, on sober consideration, Max Müller would deliberately assert these three propositions which we have just set down. But with more or less distinctness they are asserted in these Lectures ; the first very positively; in the second and third he has perhaps confused himself and his hearers by not distinguishing clearly what he means by mythology, or definition. "Without speech no reason,' says Max Müller; and he censures Locke and Brown for not acquiescing implicitly in this assertion. They make what, we are persuaded, will seem to mankind in general certain exceptions, certain qualifications which are absolutely necessary. A reasoning which is carried on in propositions must, of course, require the aid of language; a reasoning whose object is to convince others must, of course, be carried on in language; and it is difficult to conceive any reasoning upon such simple subjects as a State and a Church without using the symbol of language. It is very certain that the complex organisation we call a State or a Church could not have been developed. without the aid of language. where the act of comparison or judgment (which constitutes the essence of reasoning) requires only the memory of individual objects, language is not indispensable. We may use it even here, and use it in the silence of our thoughts, from inveterate habit; but we may also limit the process of our mind to the memory of objects, and the perception of their relations. The discovery of means to an end will surely be allowed to be a process
of reasoning. Now, an inventive mechanician, meditating how to complete his design, carries his machine in his mind's eye, tries this or that expedient, applies a wheel or shapes a crank, and might spend a whole day in laborious cogitation without the least aid of language. He might have the habit of muttering to himself; but he also might conduct his mental operations without the least reference to language. The first word he uttered even to himself might be a cry of joy at his success--the old philosopher's triumphant Eureka! In the earliest stages of society there would be few processes of thought in which the aid of language would be absolutely essential. Language was first wanted and first framed for the communication of thought, for the utterance of our wishes and desires. It was afterwards, when the very materials of thought became (and became partly through the aid of language) of a more complex nature, that language assumed its second character as an instrument of thought.
2. On the subject of mythology our lecturer makes some excellent observations; we would particularly notice the distinction he has so ably drawn between the religion and the mythology of the ancient Greeks, and the clear summary he has given us of the several theories of the Greeks themselves on the origin of their mythology. But when he himself would explain this origin, he appears to resolve it ultimately into the influence of language upon thought a word becomes a person; forgetting that in the personification of natural objects there is also a preliminary process of thought, which, in some way or other, must get itself expressed in language. No doubt the given word aids marvellously in building up a mythology; but the most essential part of the process is that tendency which human beings have to see a power or a will like their own in the activities of that external nature
Accordingly, he would classify under the same category the Myths of the Dawn, which every reader of Max Müller knows form his favourite topic on ancient mythology, with the fabulous account of the barnacle goose, once stoutly asserted by the naturalists of England. There was a goose called the barnacle goose; there was a shellfish that had also got the name of barnacle, and which often clung to pieces of floating timber. There projects from the shell of this barnacle what the modern naturalist calls the foot of the animal, and what, at a distance, has some resemblance to feathers. This slight resemblance to feathers, coupled with the identity of name, gave rise to the fable that the barnacle goose came out of the shell of the barnacle that grew upon the tree. Max Müller has given us some very amusing extracts from old writers, who were not content with asserting all this as the then orthodox doctrine relative to barnacle geese, but who solemnly declare that they had seen the bird in the shell of the barnacle, and are minute in their description of the manner of its birth, nutrition, &c. Here there can be no doubt that the identity of name, favoured by the slight similarity we have mentioned, tyrannised over the imagi
nation. We have no grave obligations to call this by the term of "modern mythology;" and we are ready to believe that some of the fables of ancient mythology might be explained in a similar manner. But whether it is ancient or modern fable that we are dealing with, there is an essential difference between such cases and the myths of the Dawn. These resulted from a personification of the Dawn itself— that luminous and coloured appearance in the sky which preceded the sun. This is not an instance of the influence of language over thought, but of the spectacle of nature over thought. We who know the dawn as nothing but the light of the sun seen before the orb itself has risen above the horizon, may have some difficulty in regarding the dawn as a separate phenomenon. But to a people quite ignorant of our doctrine of the refraction of light, it would present this independent appearance. Like the rainbow, it would, in some inexplicable way, belong to the sun, but it would be an independent thing. Like the rain bow, or the wind, or the sun itself, it would not long remain a thing; it would be a power, a person, a companion of the sun. It heralded the sun, it was destroyed by the sun, or else it was carried off by certain demons, and certain other demons or deities of the Day again brought her back to be reunited to the sun.
Amongst the numerous myths of the Dawn which Max Müller discovers amongst the fables of Greece, he ranks, we may mention, the famous tale of Troy. Homer's epic, by gradual accretions and transformations, grew out of some scarce recoverable myth. Helen was the Dawn, snatched away by lawless suitors, who represent the Panis robbers of the night, and she is recovered by the sun-bright Greeks. "The siege of Troy is but a repetition of the daily siege of the East by the solar powers that every evening are
robbed of their brightest treasure of the West. That siege, in its original form, is the constant theme of the
hymns of the Veda. Sarama, it is true, does not yield, in the Veda, to the temptation of Pani, yet the first indica
tions of her faithlessness are there, and the equivocal character of the twilight which she represents would fully account for the further development of the Greek myth. In the Iliad,' Briseïs, the daughter of Brises, is one of the first captives taken by the advancing army of the West. In the Veda, before the bright powers reconquer the Light that had been stolen by Pani, they are said to have conquered the offspring of Brysaya. That daughter of Brises is restored to Achilles, when his glory begins to set, just as all the first loves of solar heroes return to them in the last moments of their earthly career. And as the Sanskrit name of Panis betrays the former presence of an r, Paris himself might be identified with the robber.
That the beautiful daughter of Zeus, the sister of the Dioskuroi, was one of the many personifications of the Dawn, I have never doubted. Whether she is carried off by Theseus or by Paris, she is always reconquered by her rightful husband. She meets him again at the setting of his life, and dies with him, pardoned and glorified. This is the burden of many a Dawn myth, and it is the burden of the story of Helen."
3. The third occasion on which our eminent philologist shows his tendency to overrate the influence of language upon thought, is where he speaks of the too well known effect of obscurity of language on the discussions of philosophers and divines. No observation is more just or more frequently made than this, that if disputants did but use their words in exactly the same sense, there would be an end to many a discussion. But this observation is only accurate when it is kept within its proper limits. Between the most intelligent of living men, using an instrument of communication that should convey the meaning of each most distinctly to the other, there would still remain topics enough for controversy.
To define words so that two disputants shall attach to them exact
ly the same meaning, and to define words so that the meaning attached to them shall be strictly in accordance with fact or truth, are two very different things; and Max Müller has overstepped this distinction. In this latter sense, a perfect definition is the last result of all our inquiries and discussions. To say of such a definition that it would put an end to disputes, is simply to say that men have attained, and generally acquiesced in, the last discoverable truth. Our lecturer has permitted himself to confound these two very different ideas connected with the word definition -the one pointing to a perfect in
strument for the communication of thought, the other to the truest thought that can be gathered under the word.
"I shall, in conclusion," says Max Müller, "give two or three instances to indicate the manner in which I think the science of Language might be of advantage to the philosopher.
'Knowledge, or to know, is used in modern languages in at least three different senses.
"First, we may say, a child knows his mother, or a dog knows his master. This means no more than they recognise one present sensuous impression as identical with a past sensuous impression. This kind of knowledge arises simply from the testimony of the senses, or sensuous memory, and it is shared in common by man and animal.
'Secondly, we may say, I know this to be a triangle. Here we have a general conception, that of triangle, which is not supplied by the senses alone, but elaborated by reason; and we predicate this of something which we perceive at the time by our senses. We recognise a particular sensuous impression as falling under the general category of triangle. Here you perceive the difference. We not only recognise what we see as the same thing we had seen before, but we must previously have gathered certain impressions into one cluster, and have given a name to this cluster, before we can apply that name whenever the same cluster presents itself again. This is knowledge denied to the animal, and peculiar to man as a reasonable being.
"Thirdly, we say that man knows there is a God. This knowledge is based
neither on the evidence of the senses nor on the evidence of reason. No man has ever seen God, no man has ever formed a general conception of God. Neither ledge of God. sense nor reason can supply a knowWhat are called the
proofs of the existence of God, whether ontological, teleological, or kosmological, are possible only after the idea of God has been realised within us. Here, then, we have a third kind of knowledge, which imparts to us what is nei ther furnished by the organs of sense, nor elaborated by our reason, and which, nevertheless, possesses evidence equal, nay superior, to the evidence of sense and reason.
"Unless these three kinds of know
ledge are carefully distinguished, the general question, How we know? must receive the most contradictory an
Here Max Müller has given us, in a few words, his theory of the nature of human knowledge theory which we will resist the temptation of discussing. He may be right or wrong in his theory; but it is unmistakable error to say that the science of language, or any logical or etymological definitions of the word knowledge, or to know, can help us in receiving it. What ideas we shall gather under this word knowledge, is precisely the subject of controversy. He thinks our knowledge of God is intuitive; others consider it a legitimate inference from the purposes, or great purpose (let us say the development of man), seen in creation. How can anything whatever, which can be described as specially pertaining to the science of language, assist us in determining this dispute? It is open to every disputant to do as Max Müller has here done-simply to beg the question by making his own definition of knowledge.
In the same triumphant way he defines the words "faith" and "to believe." He says:
"When we speak of our belief in God, or in the immortality of the soul, or in the Divine government of the world, or in the Sonship of Christ, we want to express a certainty independent