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OXFORD

,UNIVERSITY PRESS
AMEN HOUSE, E.C.

London Edinlmrgh Glasgow New York


Toronto 'tyfelbourne Capetown Bombay
Calcu tta Madras
HUMPHREY MILFORD
PUDLISIIER '1'0 THE
UNIVERSI'l'Y

PHILOSOPHY
&

HISTORY
Essays presented to

ERNST CASSIRER
Edited by
RAYMOND KLIBANSKY

and
H. ]. PATON

OXFORD

AT THE GLARENDON PRESS


1936

PREFACE
viii
never-failing support without which the present publication
would have been impossible; to its Director, Dr. Saxl, to its staff,
and to those ofits collaborators, especially Dr. H. Buchthai and
Dr. 0. Kurz, who have helped to proeure the illustrations; to
Dr. L. Labowsky and Miss M. A. Cox, who have so freely given
us ~heir time and their help; to Mrs. E. Gundolf for permission
to mclude a chapter from one of thc still unpublished works of
the late Professor Friedrich Gundolf; to the scholars who undertook the arduous task of translating the foreign contributions
into idiomatic English; and finally to the officers of the Glarendon Press for their constant advice and assiduous care in an
undertaking of no little difficulty.

CONTENTS
~. A DEFINITION OF THE CONCEPT OF HISTORY. By J
HUIZINGA, Leiden .
., THE HISTORICITY OF THINGS. By
HISTORY AND PHILOSOPHY. By

H.J. P.

L. BRUNSCHVICG,

Manchester .

Paris

RELIGION, PHILOSOPHY, AND HISTORY. By c. c. J.


Oxford

'

Paris
' TOWARDS AN ANTHROPOLOGICAL PHILOSOPHY. By n.
GROETHUYSEN, Paris
I

THE TRANSGENDING OF TIME IN HISTORY. By

53

6r

77

G. GENTILE,

Rome

SOME AMBIGUITIES IN DISGUSSIONS


TIME. By L. s. STEBBING, London.

35

WEnn,

CONCERNING CHRISTIAN PHILOSOPHY. THE DISTINCTIVENESS OF THE PHILOSOPHIC ORDER. By :E. GILSON,

'I(

February 1936

I I

27

ON THE SO-CALLED IDENTITY OF HISTORY AND PHILOSOPHY. By G. cALOGERO, Pisa .

R.K.

OXFORD,

s. ALEXANDER,

gr

CONCERNING

THE UNIVERSAL IN THE STRUCTURE OF HISTORICAL


KNOWLEDGE. By T. LITT, Leipzig

I25

ON THE OBJECTIVITY OF HISTORICAL KNOWLEDGE. By


F. MEDICUS,

1 37

Zrich

THE FORMATION OF OUR HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY. By


:E.

BREHIER,

159

Paris

'f

PLATONISM IN AUGUSTINE'S PHILOSOPHY OF HISTORY.


By E. HOFFMANN, Heidelberg

'<'

THE CARTESIAN SPIRIT AND HISTORY. By


Paris
VERITAS FILIA TEMPORIS. By F.
ET IN ARCADIA EGO. By

sAXL,

E. PANOFSKY,

173

L. LEVY-BRUIIL,
191

London

197

Princeton

223

X SOME

POINTS OF CONTACT BETWEEN HISTORY AND


NATURAL SCIENCE. By E. WIND, London

255

ET IN ARCADIA EGO
25 4
takenthe
overDe
from the
pamtmg
. . m
. the Corsini Gallery and
that
h' G uer?mo
vons Ire verswn was
b b1
'
between I625 and !628 Th 't. p~o ~ y executed as early as
was suggested to Po : b U~I Israt errmprobable that the subject
hardly have met bef~;~~~6 y t ~prelate Rospigliosi, whom he could
fl
.32, w en the 1atter returned to Rome after
having h ld
0
e a pro essorship at the University of Pisa since r62
he
hand Bellori's Statements as to Poussin, with Jhom
are quite reli:~~l~:e::~~~nai~ontac~ du~ing the latter's 1ater years,
connexion with Poussin's rcad~s ~ at e te_Hs about the prelate's
groundless either, though slightlyl~n~~~~ur~s m.Ight notl'be altogether

li~e~fno;a~ef

~:;;::~h~,r;~:":;:,o~~7a~!oiaphe;:':. ~~::'ta:::,;~ :,;~;;~::;

Louvre picture fr~m p


.
dospig I?SI mig. t have ordered the
tioned the fact that he ~~ssm, an on this occaswn might have menof the subject wh' h '. e:.re1ate, cou1d boast the original invention
Poussin but to Gu~rci~~ \~~~~e, hel;ou1~ hhave suggested not to
d 6
e cou easi Y ave met at any time
between I 6
with the J:siu~~ I h~f'
the youn?" nobleman studied at Rome
'Aurora Ludovi;i' w a~tt~ e young J?amter worked at his famous
known to be a t - fl
e .more easi1y as the 'Aurora Luriovisi' is
rans ormatwn or rather a practical criticism so to

w:en

d:~~a~l~:~~~lo ~in:~n~Awhich .~as the pri.de of the later Pope's

If th.
. em s urora m the Casmo Rospigliosi
IS were
. a person than' Pope
Clement
IX whtrue
} Itd wou1d 1be no 1ess Iuustnous
.
o la transp anted to the soil of Arcadia the medieval
~~~:p~~~da(i:xpr:ss:d in the legend of the Three Living and the
Histriomastix
a ~Im!lar way as he had transformed the content of
Vita H.
') &c., mto the ~cene represented in Poussin's Ballo della
.
. umana ' and had comed the phrase Et in Arcadia e
h.
?ar:not be traced back beyond its
orsm1 p1cture.
I give this conjecture only for what it is worth but it would b .
with the Statement of
and in
WI
t e somewhat moralizing
t h' hl h
. .
d
. ' ye
Ig Y umamst1c,
spirit of Rospigliosi's l't
Clemente IX I8 .
I erary ~n poetreal works (cf. G. Beani,
'
93, G. Canevazzi, Papa Clemente IX Poeta M d
rgoo; Dff.) Alaleona, Bulletino della Societd Filologic~ Rom~na o rge~4a,
PP 71 . .

'

~u;;~~o~fCfact~

~~~~~~aytiv\~ar~ony

appe!~a:c~c~~

B~llori

en~i~~

SOME POINTS OF GONTAGT BETWEEN


HISTORY AND NATURAL SGIENGE
By

EDGAR WIND

SHALL be concerned here with some, but by no means


with all, of the points of contact between history and the
natural sciences. It is not my intention, for instance, to dwell
on well-known facts which have not ceased tobe facts for being
ignored or forgotten by professional philosophers. In spite of
Fichte-and some minor autonomists ofthe mind-history (taken
in the customary sense of the term, as history of human fate
and achievement) began only at a certain stage ofthe development of nature. The earth had to separate from the sun and
acquire such motion, shape, and tcmperature that living bcings
could develop on it before History was (to adopt Kant's phrase-

ology) 'made possible'.


When we, therefore, speak of 'points of contact' between
nature and history, we may begin by recalling the trivial fact
that between the two there is a contact in time and hence a
transition. Once the form of this transition is being inquired
into, the most dreaded questions begin to make their appearance. What is the relation between inorganic matter and organic
life? How did we evolve from a state of nature to one of conscious
control? How did 'primitive' man, magically subjecting himself to nature's powers and apparently living in an almost
a-historical form, produce his 'civilized' descendant who, in the
moulding of his surroundings, creates and experiences historic
changes ?-I shall not discuss any ofthese questions. My problern
is far more modest. Instead ofinquiring into cosmic or cultural
events which mayillustrate the temporalintersectionoftheworlds
of nature and history, I shall confine myself to indicating some
formal points of correspondence between these two worlds-or,
tobe more prccise, between the scientific methods which render
each of them an object of human knowledge and experience.
The mere assertion that there are such correspondenccs may
appear heretical to many. 1 German scholars have taught for
decades that, apart from adherence to the most general rulcs of
1

The following refers in particular to the schools of Dilthey, Windelband, and

Rickert.

HISTORY AND NATURAL SCIENCE


257
Cicero's writings as its main source, becomes a study of tbe part
played by Cicero in the conftict between the Senate and the

256
SOME POINTS OF GONTAGT BETWEEN
logic, the studyofhistoryand thenaturalsciences are to each other
as pole and anti pole, and that it is the first duty of any historian
to forswear all sympathy with the ideals ofmen who would like
to reduce the whole world to a mathematical formula. This
:evol.t was no doubt an act of Iiberation in its time. To-day it
Is _rmntless. The very concept of nature in opposition to which
D1lthey proclaimed his Geisteswissenschaft has long been aban~oned by the scie~tists. th~ms:h:es, and the notion of a descriptwn o.f nature which mdiscnmmately subjects men and their
fates h.ke rocks and stones to its 'unalterable laws' survives only
as a mghtmare of certain historians.
Thus it need not be symptomatic of a sinful relapse into the
method of thought so generously abused as 'positivistic', if in
what ~ollows som~ exa.mples. are chosen to illustrate how the very
questwns that histonans hke to look upon as their own are
also raised in natural science. The all too sedentary inhabitants
of the 'Globus intellectualis' may, it is true, think it incredible
that their antipodes do not stand on their heads.

usurpers.
.
.
.
Generally speaking tbis migbt be termed tbe d1alectiC of the
historical document: that the information which one tries to
gain with the help of the document ought to be presupposed
for its adequate understanding.
Tbe scientist is subject to the very same paradox. The
pbysicist seeks to infer general laws of natur~ by instrumen_ts
tbemselves subject to tbese laws. For measurmg heat, a ftmd
like quicksilver is chosen as a standard, and it is claimed that it
expands evenly with increasing warmth. Y et how can such an
assertion be made without knowledge of the laws of thermodynamics? And again, how ca~ tbese la;vs ~e kn~wn except
by measurements in wbicb a ftmd, e.g. qmcksilver, IS used as a
~tandard?

Classical mechanics employs measuring rods and clocks that


are transferred from one place to another; the assumption being
tbat this alteration of place leaves untouched their constancy as
measuring instruments. This assumption, however, expresse~ a
mechanical law (viz. tbat the results of measurement are mdependent of the state of motion) the validity ofwl~icb must b_e
tested by instruments wbicb, in their turn, are rehable only 1f
tbe law assumed is valid.
The circle thus proves in science as inescapable as in history.
Every instrument and every document participates in tbe struc1
ture whicb it is meant to reveal.

I. Document and Instrument


In defiance of the rules of traditional logic, circular argum~nts are the normal method of producing documentary
ev1dence.
An historian who consults his documents in order to interpret
some political event can judge the value of these documents
only if he knows their place within tbe very same course of
events about wbicb be consults tbem.
In tbe same way, an art-bistorian wbo from a given work
draws _an inference concerning tbe development of its author
turns mto an art-connoisseur wbo examines tbe reasons for
attributing this work to tbis particular master: and for tbis
purpose be must presuppose tbe knowledge of tbat master's
development wbich was just wbat be wanted to infer.
Tbis cbange o~ focu_s fron: tbe obje;t to tbe means of inquiry,
and tbe ~onc~mitant mverswn of object and means, is peculiar
to.most b1~toncal ~tudi:s, and tbe instances given may be multiphed. a.~ lzb. An. mqmry concerning tbe Baroque, wbicb uses
Bermm s. tbeoretical utt:rances as a source for explaining the
style _of bis works, turns mto a study of tbe role of tbeory in tbe
creative process of Bernini. An inquiry concerning Gaesar's
monarchy and tbe principate of Pompey, rnaking use of

Il. The Intrusion

rif the

Observer

It is curious tbat Diltbey sbould bave considered this participation as one of the traits which distinguish the study of bistory
from the natural sciences. In bis Einleitung in die Geisteswissenschaften be admits that tbe study of 'social bodies' is less precise
tban that of'natural bodies'. 'And yet', be adds, 'all this is more
tban counterbalanced by tbe fact that I who experience and
know myself inwardly, am part of this soci~l body. ...
individual is, on tbe one hand, an element m the mteractwns

!he

' For a more detai!ed analysis of this fact and an exposition of some of its wider
" implications, cp. Das Experiment und die J;letaphysik, Tbingen, 1934, and 'Can the
Antinomies be restated?' Psyche, vol. xtv, I934
4114

I'
L

Ll

I,

SOME POINTS OF CONTACT BETWEEN


of society, ... reacting to its effects in conscious will-direction
and action, and is at the same time the intelligence contemplating and investigating all this' (p. 46 sq.).
That human agents, who form the substance of what Dilthey
calls 'the socio-historical reality', experience and know themselves 'inwardly' is a bold assertion. It transforms one of the
most troublesome moral precepts ('Know thysclf!') into a plain
and ordinary matter of fact, which is contradicted by both
ancient and modern experience. Whatever objections may be
made to the current psychology of the unconscious, it is undeniable that men do not know themselves by immediate intuition and that they live and express themselves on severallevels.
Hence, the interpretation of historical documents requires a far
more complex psychology than Dilthey's doctrine ofimmediate
experience with its direct appeal to a state of feeling. Peirce
wrotc in a draft of a psychology of the development of ideas:
'it is the beliefmen betray, and not that which they parade, which
has to be studied.' 1
Once the direct appeal to inner experience is abandoned,
Dilthey's remark ceases to contain anything that a physicist
might not apply to himself: 'I myself, who am handling apparatuses and instruments, am a part of this physical world; the
individual (i.e. the physical technician and observer) is, on the
one hand, an element in the interactions of nature, ... and he
is at the same time the intelligence calculating ;md investigating all this.'
Let it not be objected that by this 'physical travesty' the
meaning of Dilthey's statement is completely destroyed. True,
the profundity has disappeared, and what remains seems to be
rather trivial. But what the statement now conveys is not only
simple, but also true: The investigator intrudes into the process that
he is investigating. This is what the supreme rule of methodology
demands. In order to study physics, one must be physically
affected; pure mind does not study physics. A body is needed
-however much the mind may 'interpret' -which transmits
the signals that aretobe interpreted. Otherwise, there would be
no contact with the surrounding world that is tobe investigated.
Nor does pure mind study history. Forthat purpose, one must
258

1
'Issues of Pragmaticism', in The Monist, xv, 1903, p. 485. Reprinted in
Collected Papers of Charles Sanders Peirce, v, p. 297, Harvard University Press, 1934
(ed. by Charles Bartshorne and Paul Weiss).

HISTORY AND NATURAL SCIENCE


259
be historically affected; caught by the mass of past experience
that intrudes into the present in the shape of 'tradition': demanding, compelling, often only narrating, reporting, pointing
to other past experience which has not as yet been unfolclecl.
Again, the investigator is in the first instancc a receiver of
signals to which he attends and which he pursues, but on whose
transmission he has only a very limited influence. The registering ancl digesting of these signs, the functioning of this whole
'receiving apparatus', cannot be reducecl to the vague formula
of traditional antitheses ('bocly and soul', 'inward ancl outward').
The only antithesis that does apply is that between 'part' ancl
'whole'. By his intrusion into the process that is to be studied,
the stuclent himself, like every one of his tools, becomes partobject of investigation; 'part-object' to be taken in a twofold
sense: he is, like any other organ of investigation, but apart of
the whole object that is being investigated. But equally it is
only apart of hirnself that, thus externalizecl into an instrument,
enters into the object-world of his stuclies.
A limitin<Y case might certainly be imagined where this part
of his perso~ becomes equal to the whole: w.here the ~listo~ian
ceases to be anything but a product of the h1story he 1magmes
hirnself writing; where the student of documents is hirnself at
best only another document of the historical contagion to which
he is a prey. Nor will it be clenied that this limiting case is occasionally almost reached; just as there are said to be physicists
whose working process comes alarmingly near to that of thc
machirres with which they are conversant. But if any one were
to look upon this as the normal conclition, and to proclaim
the 'inescapability of such material ties' -without a sense of thc
steps and grades that hold. goo~ here-he woul~ commit. the
mistake opposite tothat wh1ch d1ssolves all mate.nal con.nexwns
into mere associations of ideas. However true lt remams that
pure mind cannot pursue. either ~istory ?r physics, because
these things clo not affect lt matenally, lt 1s also tr~e that ~he
material contact does not suffice to supply these sCiences w1th
a conscious agent. If the physicist were nothing but a physical
apparatus, there woulcl be no physics; nor would history exist,
if the historian were merely an historical clocument. (The very
formulation of these sentences contains a contradiction, for the
worcls 'apparatus' ancl 'document' cannot be clefined at all
without relation to some one who uses them for some purposc.)

SOME POINTS OF CONTACT BETWEEN


It follows that we must admit a major or minor feat of intelligence in every act of measurement or textual criticism but
that we ought to define this feat of intelligence as a mode of
behaviour, that is, as a type of event. The critical interpretation
of a document by an historian, considered as an act in time is in
the first inst~nce an event, no less than, say, the anger ;r joy
caus.ed by thrs ~ocument, as a biased contemporary may have
feit rt. In the hrstorian, too, if he is cnthusiastic about his subject, somcthing of this anger or joy will reverberate. However
by the application of the critical method the raw excitement i~
r:fined to a more thoughtful mode of behaviour. He does not
s1mply follow hisspontaneaus emotion, instead he appeals (more
or less ~~curately and successfully) to a system of grammatical
an~ cn.tical ~ules, on which he bases his interpretation and
whrch, m therr turn, are tested by being applied.
Corresponding to these grammatical and critical axioms the
experimental physicist has his axioms ofmeasurement. He,pres~pposes them and appeals to their rules, in order to show that
hrs method is correct. But what is the basis ofhis confidence that
these rules will be a safe guide in the investigation ofhis subject?
A 'pre-established harmony', in the sense of Leibniz, is unacceptable to-day. So is Spinoza's doctrine of a necessary identity in
the order and connexion of 'things' and 'ideas'. 1 Kant had tried
to eliminate the problern by the 'Copernican emotion' in his
Critique rif Pure Reason, which made the order of things dependent
upon the order of ideas, i.e. the forms of judgement. Yet in
th.e Critique rif ]udgement, the problern of the 'harmony of na{ure
With our understanding' (die Zusammenstimmung der Natur zu
unserem Erkenntnisvermgen) is again raised; only to be solved
on~e m.ore by th~t a priori and generalizing method ofreasoning
whrch IS called transeendental deduction'. Here we have the
~rux of all such t?eories :-the problern is neither capable, nor
m need, of a u~zversal solution. What is actually an experime~tal h~po.thesis h~s been ta~en for a metaphysical or epistemological pnnc1ple; whrch explams why all these doctrines without
exception, provide a theory of truth, but not of error: 2 Error
26o

Etl~ica,

pars ii, prop. vii: 'Ordo et connexio iclearum idem est ac ordo et

connex1o rerum.'
2

Cf. Spinoza's '?':ivat/v<:' .e~p~an~tion. ?f error (Ethica, pars ii, prop. xxxv)
based on t~~ proposJUon: NJ!ul m Jde1s posJtJvum est, propter quod falsae dicuntur'
(prop. xxxm).

HISTORY AND NATURAL SCIENCE


26r
can only be accounted for if the methodical rulcs of invcstigation are considered as part of the experimental hypothesis. The
investigator who constructs and manipulates his instrumcnts
believing that his method conforms with the gen?ral laws ?f
nature, may be compared with the driver of a veh~cle who, m
a country whose language and habits he knows but rm_rerfectly,
assumes that he is conforming with traffic regulatwns. An
epoch-making event in a laboratory is often ~ot. so very_ different
from an ordinary road accident. However, lt 1s pecuhar to the
physicist that-within controllable limits-he does not sl~un
but seeks these collisions, because by them he learns somethmg
of the structure of the occurrences he wants to investigate, and
of the rules of the game which he hypothetically presupposes.
'The physicist about to abandon one ofhis hypotheses ?ught t~
rejoice, for he finds an unexpected opportumty for a chscovery
(Poincare, Science et Hypothese, iv, p. g). It is fr the sake ofthese
cliscoveries that he insertshirnself into the process, and the rules
according to which he cloes so are proved by the outcome of
the experimenttobe either true or false, or doubtful.
.
.
This intrusion, of which every investigator must be gmlty rf
he wishes to make any sort of contact with bis material and to
test the rules of his procedure, is a thoroug~ly real event. _A s:t
of instruments is being insertecl, ancl the grven constellatwn rs
thereby disturbecl. The physicist clisturbs the atoms whose
.composition he wants to study. The historian clisturbs_the sl~ep
of the document that he drags forth from a clusty arcluve. 1lus
worcl 'clisturbance' is not to be taken as a metaphor, but is
meant literally. Even the astronomical physicist acts clisturbingly on nature when he s~lits up a b~am _of light that has co~e
from the stars, in order to mfer the clrrectwn and speed of the1r
motion. True he cloes not clisturb the star, but the nexus of
nature in whi~h the star is only a member. To the historian it
might, incleed, souncl like a metaphor if he is. told th.at the
clocument is clisturbed by him. For involuntanly he prctures
it as a material piece of paper, which cloes not mincl .whether it
is lying in a cupboarcl or on a table. How:ver, .rf we look
upon it as an historical ob~ect, ancl consrcler rts present
status-viz. how it has been drscarded and forgotten-as part
of the historic process itself, then this process is indeed 'clisturbed' by him who brings the forgotten worcls back to me~ory;
often a very unpleasant clisturbance-as when a traclrtwnal

SOME POINTS OF CONTACT BETWEEN


hero-worship
ness. If the tis endaugered
~d
b b y a.d.!Sclosure of the hero's weakerm lstur ance' IS take .
ffi .
sense so that
b
n m a su c1ently wide
11 em races every
'
r
fi
or intensification that . t
amp 1 catwn, confirmation,
,
lS o say ever
I'
evcry factual alteraf
f
b !
y qua ltatlve as weil as
wn our ehef no histor 1

unclertaken without the intenf
f'
.
lCa mqmry lS ever
I t 'll b
.
wn o creatmg such a disturbance
. WI
e notlced that I am no
k'
.
.
that concern ourselves
b ~ spea mg of disturbances
rather than the ob. , , .our own e Ief and our own behaviour,
thc subject of our s~~~t:ve order of historical events, which is
historicai events and ~~; ::~ ~ett~en the. obj~ctive order of
detcrmined by it no h .
e le that IS dlrectecl to ancl
speak of a traclitional ~:~~w~~~~clary ca_n be. clrawn. If I
documentary discover this
p as bemg d:sturbecl by a
the one having the o{-'ective can be expressed m two forms,
own belief fo 't
b' ~
order of events, the other our
, r 1 s su ~ect:
262

r. Tl.he effect (Nachwirkung) of this man is moclified by th'


2

C lSCOVery.
Our present opinion of th'
cliffers from that previous{~

~~~:

lS
.
.
owmg to this cliscovery,

B;~~es~entcnces are peifectly equivalent, ancl I woulcl strongly

any one to say th t h fi


P were
phoricai
ancl onl th
d a t e rst sentence is meta'
y e secon can be taken Iit 11
v

as an historical event, the 'effect' f h' h era y.


Iewecl
speaks is no less real h
o w IC the first sentence
from a star tak
t ~n, _Jet us say, the transmission of light
toricai spa~e an~nt~s a p. yslcal process. It can be tracecl in hisoflight in the spac~~~t With t~e same precision as the migration
the formcr case th
m~-contmuum ofphysics. It is true that in
that expancl in :fl e ":'ay Isn
hot pavecl with Gaussian co-orclinates
our mterc angeable clim .
b .
by symbols of historic I . .
enswns, ut IS markecl
least as insistent ancl si~ ~Igm; yet they speak a language at
In fact in a
. . m cant as any mathematical equation
t .
,
competltwn between science and history th h' .
onans woulcl be sure to s
.
.
' e ISsymbois the h
1
c~re one pomt: m dealing with their
the poli~he/ap~::r~:~:~a/~z~~ what t~e physicists, clazzled by
noticed. namely that
d:Ir equatwns, have only recently
their in~uiry re~cts o:vtehry Iscove~ regarding the objects of

e constructwn of their I
JUSt as every alteration of th . I
Imp ements;
discovery The 'H
. e Imp ements makes possible new
ermeneutics' of Schleiermacher and Boeckh
.

'

HISTORY AND NATURAL. SCIENCE


263
who in the field of philology gave this rule its dassie expression,
might have carried as a motto the words that Edelington put
at the end of his book on the modern theory of gravitation:
'We have found a strange foot-print on the shores of the unknown. Wehave devised profound theories, one after another,
to account for its origin. At last, we have succeeded in
reconstructing the creature that made the foot-print. And lo! it
is our own.' 1

III. The Selj- Transformation of Man


I may be pardoned for returning to the natural scienccs with
this anthropomorphic phrase. For it would almost seem as if
we hacl not yet carried anthropomorphism far enough in this
field. With the historical approach it has proved impossible to
separate man from his historical antecedents. Every change of
our ideas about our ancestors entails a change of our icleas
about ourselves and will indirectly affect our behaviour. In
precisely the same way, it ought to be recognized that those
successful disturbances by which we intrude into the natural
world which surrounds us amount in the last resort to clisturbances, that is modifications, of our personal equipment.
The dividing line between man and his surroundings can no
more be fixed in this case than the line of clivision between man
and his antecedents could be fixed in the other.
It is an old puzzle where to draw the line between man and
the objects of his environment. His head, we clarc say, quite
certainly belongs to him; without it, he would lose his 'identity'.
But how about his hair? And ifwe let him have that, how about
his hat? Ifhis hat is taken away, or its shape is altercd, is not
the entire form of the man altered as weil? A man accustomed
to walking with a stick becomes another man if this stick is tak:cn
from him. His gait changes, his gestures, possibly his whole
constitution. 2 There is much in the magic doctrines of sympathy
which, after rational sifting and re-interpreting, might help to
illuminate this problem. Butthereis no neecl to dcscend to such
gloomy depths to bring this wisclom to light. Did not Plato
dread even art and banish it from the state, because it transmutes ('charms' is his word) the man who exposes hirnself to
Space, Time and Gravitation, Cambridge, 1929, p. 201.
These observations do not refer to the problern of external and internal relations. The question I am discussing is that of bio-physical, not of logical, trans1
2

formation.

26<t

HISTORY AND NATURAL SCIENCE

it?. Right up to. the most recent times the poets, often without
bemg aware of 1t, have agreed with him, and gloried in their
power to transform. 1
Schalars have as a rule been more cautious. Their claim is
based on even juster foundations, but its exercise would entail
a far greater :isk, as the ~vidence in their case is more striking.
Students of h1story are still surprised, though this fact has Iong
been known, that any alteration of our knowledge of past events
:nay also alt~r our present behaviour. The corresponding claim
m. n~tural sCienc~ 1s more generally recognized. Any discovery
w1thm the domam of what is usually called 'the external world
of physics' may .Iead to technical innovations which change our
persona~ b:hav10ur. These technical innovations may at first
have ~ hmited sc~pe. Pcrhaps it is only a new way of handling
~om_e mstrument m the laboratory. Soon, however, the effect
mfrmges on the pragmatism of daily life, where it evokes wonder
or ?orror. 'There is no great invention, from fire to flying,
wh1ch has .not been hailed as an insult to some god. But if
e~ery phy~Ical a_nd ~hemical invention is a blasphemy, every
bwlog1cal mventwn IS a perversion.' 2
. Until recently, the study of Nature and History was consJdered a 'contemplative occupation', confined to men who
locked themselves up in their libraries and laboratorie~, where
they ~scaped fr?m the turmoil of the world into the quiet and
secluswn of the1r thoughts. To-day, intentionally or not, they
threaten the world by their 'discoveries'.
In an .age w~en not only reformers but despots as well often
base the1r pre~tige less on '?od' than on a limited knowledge of
nature and h1story, expenmental and documentary evidence
mould the destiny which controls our lives for better or for
worse. But even those scholars who desire now as before to
safeguard their work from the tumults of the moment ca~not
ignore the fact that apparently independent lines ~f study
converge to-day in one point: this point is the self-transformation
of man who has be~ome lord and victim of his own cognitions.
In the study of th1s self-transformation, scientific and historical
research have worked too long independently. It is timethat they
should be combined.

Translated from the German.

See the synopsis in '6kios <P6os, Untersuchungen ber die Platonische


Kunslphilosophie', Zeitschrift fr Aesthetik u. allgem. Kunstwissenschaft, vol. xxvi,
2
J. B. S. Haldane, Daedalus, London, 1924, p. 24.
1932, PP 349-73
1

THE PHILOSOPHICAL SIGNIFICANCE OF


COMPARATIVE SEMANTICS
y HENDRIK J. POS

VEN to the inexperienced immature mind speech is an

object of wonder. In so far as this attitude produces an


E
intellectual content, it leads to a conception of the relation of
speechtothat which is expressed by it, namely objects. Word
and meaning, which in the unreflective activity of speech are
always bound together, are by intellectual analysis brought face
to face, and thus there arises a relation which is at the sametime
a comparison. Wonder, in breaking up the identity, brings to
light a distinction in virtue of which the process of speech is
analysed into sound and thing. The suppressed identity tries to
re-establish itself by means of the question: How can thc word
represent the object, how can it stand for the object? The
answer to this question does notleadback to the original identity,
but does lead in the direction ofit. From this arises the attempt
to trace the sound back in some way to the object, to show the
sound as proceeding from the object already in existence. Here
we have the copy theory of specch as an answer to the question.
This theory attempts to understand the relation between word
and object on the basis of similarity. It takes its stand on those
instances which seem to be examples of such similarity, where
sound signifies sound. It secks to grasp the original elements of
speech in the imitation of sound shown in actual speech. The
relatively few instances in which a sound signifies a sound seem
to place the origin of the rise of speech clearly before us. Sound,
before it became the symbol ofthe object, was identical with the
object: it was the object before it came to mean it.
The conception of an original similarity of so und and meaning
holds only within narrow limits, for most words arenot like their
objects. The copy theory must take a new form here, if it is to
maintain itself. Where there can be no similarity between word
and object, such a correspondence must nevertheless have been
present originally. This way out, however, is only a partial help.
A similarity of sound and object is only possible with objects
which, if not themselves sounds, are at least like sounds. Now
most of the objects signified by words do not conform to this
4144

Mill